In the Valley

in the valley

Psalm 23 (NLT) The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Walking with my husband and fur babies, I become lost in my thoughts. Conversation fades to only the sound of our footsteps on the pavement. I thank God for this wonderful man and soul mate who He created to “do” life with me. I honestly do not know what I would be or where without his precious love. The details of life like a heavy wet blanket burdening my thoughts laying heavy in my soul. Life is hard. Not all the time, but if totally honest most of the time. I don’t understand all the details and how God is able to wrap them into something good and tie a little bow on top like His Word says He will do. The Lord has been good to me. He has been more than gracious to our family. Yet, still there are many details that do not add up. Parts of our life not prospering as the Word of God indicates they would. I know it is a season and just as I get tired during this walk, I will not stop until I round the corner and make it home – it is not my intent to stop in the valley but rather find peace here.

The Word of God tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. I am quite certain that He is exactly who Psalm 23 promises Him to be but that doesn’t make climbing the mountain any easier or the valley filled with light on any given days. The Power of the Shepherd in my life is manifested by my willingness to trust and obey His Leading in my life. It is not human nature to give up our way and follow anyone like sheep. Sheep are not known for their intelligence. In fact, just the opposite. Living in dependency to the one who leads, guides and directs them completely is the marked trait of such livestock. They are meek and cowardice. Desiring only basic care and daily needs met if they leave the flock they are immediately lost and fall victim to the environment.

John 10:9-11 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” The confidence of sheep in the shepherd is the quality that produces loyalty. Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe that He provides all we need? Do you believe that Jesus came to give you a rich and satisfying life? Do you desire to walk in His Ways and follow the Lord (the Good Shepherd) all the days of your life? Do you believe that the Goodness of God is for the land of the living? See all of these qualities and attributes of God are valid and true. However, I do not believe them, I will not experience them as I will not follow the Lord very far.

Hope is belief in the unseen. Faith is for those things that seem impossible in the natural. Yet we try to use faith and hope for things that we can have, see and do rather than applying them to the principle of prosperity that is not humanly possible. The kind of prosperity that comes as our soul prospers. Why? Dependency is not a characteristic embraced by our pride. To totally surrender the care of our life to Jesus Christ is way more difficult than one may think. The valley is like swimming so far out in the ocean you cannot see the beach you left and too far away to see the shore on the horizon. The valley requires us to totally depend on God and trust Him. It is not a bad place yet not a favorable condition. Are you in the valley today? The place of walking, waiting and watching. I am. I will admit it so that we both can find purpose and meaning in this dark, low lying place.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.”

In complete honesty, it feels like most of our days are in the valleys if you think about it. I know that the day I decided to follow Jesus Christ for the rest of my life a bright red target was placed on my life by the enemy. Thank God that the bright red blood of Jesus Christ makes it null and void as He assumes the role of Good Shepherd. I must learn to trust Him more. I must learn to follow Him when I cannot see where we are going. I must learn to seek Him when He doesn’t feel like enough. When my hands are reaching for other things, may I not stop grasping until I fully embrace Christ.

The valley is dark but Jesus is the Light of the World. His deepest desire is to live, move and exist in us so that our life becomes glorious light that reflects His Amazing and Unstoppable Love. I cannot share something that I have no experienced. My words are not convincing until I become confident in the words I am speaking. The rod of God’s Word leads me to obedience. He doesn’t punish us anymore because the Grace offered by Jesus Christ is enough. More than enough, now I can be confident in God’s Love and Care for me as His Child. Do I believe God loves me? Do I believe that He is a Good Father with only my best interest in mind? Do I believe that if I seek Him wholeheartedly His Plan will become the destination of my life? If not, I need more of God’s Word to fill the voids that lead to willful disobedience so I am encouraged to live an obedient life. And let’s be clear as I pause for a moment, obedience to the Lord is not a religious effort. It is not strict adherence to rules, regulations, doctrines or guidelines. It is absolute and total submission to Jesus Christ in a loving and committed relationship. His Spirit will lead, guide and direct us in life. Along with the rod, the Good Shepherd has a staff. Again, the Word of God is like that staff. It rescues us with the hook when losing our way. His Word equips us. It feeds our spirit. He guides us with that staff through the valley to the place of promise. Oh Lord, let me fully embrace your Word and your Will for my life today.

Enemies are a real threat to sheep who become separated or isolated from the flock. It is vitally important to maintain our relationship and close proximity to Jesus Christ. We need Him every day not just on those days that are particularly difficult. Many years ago, I had a dream. At first, I would have called it a nightmare. But not anymore, my family was visiting a state park. Our youngest became separated from us. I found her in the presence of the enemy. He kept changing forms and becoming the face of many ordinary people before taking form. I could smell the putrid burning of flesh. I prayed and cried out to the Lord. The enemy pushed my daughter into my arms unharmed. Then in the blink of an eye, I could feel his hot breath on my neck as he seethed, “If it wasn’t for the Blood of Jesus I would kill them (my children) all.” I believe that the Blood of Jesus is our protection from the enemy’s attack and assault against our life. I also believe that Jesus doesn’t stop there but actually flaunts His Love, Care and Protection of us in front of him. To trust the Lord with our life and our loves is one thing, but to live confidently in that place means we do not have to fight the enemy but simply live in the Presence of Jesus Christ who won the battle already. The enemy is powerless in my life because I believe Jesus won it all.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

The Good Shepherd is the Light of the World. He is the Word who came wrapped in flesh to share God’s Love Story for us. He did just that. When He died on the Cross, He removed everything that separated us from God. He opened a river of overflowing grace that rushes through every valley in our life whether led there or wandered to that place. God is with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. He goes before us to make our way straight. He fills in valleys. He levels mountains. He unbends curves and smooths out rough spots for us. (Isaiah 40:3-5) He comes in behind us pursuing us, wanting us and desiring our love more than anything else. Most importantly, Jesus lives in us. He is our Source of Life. Jesus prospers us and shapes our life so that it becomes a rich and satisfying one as He promised. Many times, it is in the valleys of life that this is discovered because it is those dark times and places that the Light of His Love becomes our desire. The places where disappointment and unmet expectation lead to dissatisfaction which is contrary to the Promise. We must learn to believe and depend on Jesus Christ to have the life that never leads to disappointment. A life of faith and hope. A life that learns to prosper and rejoice in the valley just as much as in the field of harvest or on the mountaintop of worship. We have the opportunity to live in the Presence of God. The one true Almighty God who loves us more than life and proved it by laying down the life of His One and Only Son, Jesus. We learn to trust the Lord in the valley.

We also experience new hunger and thirst in the valleys of life. When the details of our life do not add up to the Word of God or the vision in our heart, desperation sets in. Our desire increase for the One who makes all things new and gives life to new creation. If you have experienced the Light of His Love just once, you are hooked. It is impossible to not want more of His Love, Joy, Peace and every other good and perfect gift coming from Heaven. Trust is the only way to accomplish a true relationship with God because it is evidence of the reality of our confidence. I will not trust anyone I lack confidence in. Struggles and challenges give us the opportunity to trust the Lord just a little bit more. In our desperation, we finally cry out to the Lord who immediately comes rushing in to save His Sheep from despair or destruction. (Isaiah 41:17-20) God is leading to a place of full satisfaction. (Isaiah 49:10-12) It is on the other side of the valley.

Psalm 27:12-13 (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.

I don’t think it is possible to ignore the depth of the valley or see through its darkness in our natural abilities. I believe that the only way to successfully navigate the deepest valleys in life is with the Light of His Love and our confident belief that Jesus is a Good Shepherd. Life is a series of peaks and valleys that keep us leaning, trusting and depending on the Lord with good reason. We have a hope worth having that cannot be seen and only obtained by faith characterized by absolute confidence in God’s Saving Grace. It must believe that the Blood of Jesus is enough to overcome sin, death and the grave. We must hold tight to our hope without wavering making it the anchor for our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) What better place than in the valley when we cannot see or even find the bottom yet confidently trust the Lord. He provides in the valley. He protects in the valley. He even will prosper us in the valley. The Lord does it for those who love the Shepherd, know His Voice and follow Him to the other side. I am really not sure where the Lord is leading me or my family today. What I do know is: Jesus loves me. He died for me. He will lead me to the other side. I will have a rich and satisfying life. He is the Good Shepherd. I have all that I need to achieve what He has called me to do and prosper as my soul prospers. Amen. And Amen.

John 10:14 (NLT) “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me…”

Get Out of the Way

Get Out of the Way

Isaiah 43:18-21 (NLT) “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

Things get a little crazy around here early in the morning and when I arrive home from work. The fur babies know that it is time to eat. A frenzy ensues as they try to feverishly to be right where the action is. Each morning it is like the running of the bulls as our newest addition bolts through the house to go outside, because she knows as soon as she is finished – she gets to eat. Once back inside the house, she whines, cries, jumps and runs. She is known to stand on top of the food bin so I wait until she sits back down to open it and feed her. Her world circulates around meal time. If the pantry door opens, she takes off to see if a puppy snack might be available. In the evenings, it happens all over again. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried over the 20-pound mass of fur, legs and slobber trying to give her exactly what she wants. I am teaching her to sit and wait. She is only three months old, but she is learning quickly. I wish was as teachable as she is sometimes.

I wonder if I am the one in the way to the new things God is doing in my life. All the promises and plans that He has that I want yet I am running off, jumping around and pitching a fit in the waiting. I guess for dogs and other creatures it is more simplistic because they just want us to meet their basic needs of food and shelter with the occasional pat on the head or toss of the toy. It’s kind of funny right now that our dog is a puppy when she is impatient or even overzealous in her excitement over mealtime. However, as she grows to the 100-pound dog that she is anticipated to be. It won’t be funny anymore. As we grow in the Lord, it should be in the fruit of His Spirit that include love, joy, peace, and then everyone gets tripped up on the fourth fruit called patience. It all slows down as kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and ugh the dreaded self-control are born in us. Who doesn’t want to be loved? Who would reject joy? Who isn’t searching for peace on a daily and ongoing basis? We are human beings created in the Image of God. God promises that He has provided for us the basic needs of our life. He also has a projected plan to prosper those who desire a life according to His Plan. Is that you today? It is definitely me. I want my life to be all that God planned and purposed it to be. I must ask myself the question today, “Am I the one in the way?”

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.

This is the hope available to us in Jesus Christ. The kind of hope that requires faith beyond what we can see that delves into the depths of dependence on God whose thoughts and ways are much higher than our own. Forget all that – oh sometimes I wish I could erase my brain of all the times I have fallen and failed just like God does when I repent. When I say that I am sorry and truly strive to live apart from my bad decisions – the Lord puts it all in a sea of forgetfulness but I don’t always find myself so successful. The accuser comes to remind me of all the reasons why I do not deserve the love, joy and peace promised to me by the Lord. So I give up on the rest of the spiritual fruit that God has seeded in my life. Forget all that…

We are given some precious promises and encouraging words that include the word “forget”. God will never forget His Children. Like a mother cannot forget her newborn, but gives up her life to care for them. How much more does the Lord care for us – His Children? (Isaiah 49:15-16) In those times of silence and waiting for God to move or act as we think He should it is easy to think He has somehow as if even possible forgotten us. Nothing is further from the truth. God hasn’t forgotten a single thing about us. He knows the very number of hairs on our head. He feels the weight of our tears as He collects them. He knows the desires of our heart. He even knows dreams and visions that we have long given up on as dead and gone. God doesn’t miss a thing concerning us His Children. He does not forget. We do.

Psalm 103:1-2 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

We have a fur baby who has been with us a couple of years. Rescued when she was about nine months old, Izzy is a four pound Chihuahua. A force to be reckoned with no doubt. She came with fire in her veins and the perception that she is ferocious. When she first came to us, it was clear that she had food anxiety. When she ate each meal, it was as if she had not eaten in a month or did not know where her next meal might come from. I used a separated bowl that required her to slow down. She almost knocked herself unconscious the first few times she tried to eat from it. She learned through time and patience on our part with lots of love and affirmation that she could depend on us to feed her twice a day. Now, at meal times, she sits patiently and quietly on the rug by her bowl. She knows that I am going to take care of her. She is confident.

We must purpose in our heart and mind to remember God’s Promises for us and never to forget them. God is teaching us to trust Him. To depend on Him, my ability to do so is my willingness to depend on the Lord and trust Him at His Word. It takes time to see the Goodness and Greatness of God in our life because too often my hands and even my mouth get in the way. I want to believe but it takes a long time to deal with the disbelief of an untrusting nature and fickle heart enough to not forget that God loves me and cares for me unconditionally. I must learn to pray and praise rather than grumble and complain all the time. God is able. I am not. I cannot produce the prosperity and increase that lead to an abundance of His Blessings in my life. Just plant seeds of faith and tend to them as the Lord gives them growth and increase.

Finally, I must forget the past. I tell people all the time. God will bring to your future the fruit of the past. We don’t have to wallow in it or go back to find it. Grace says there is nothing to make up or recover. His Grace is enough to unleash His Power no matter how dark the past may be. God is enough. Jesus is enough. He lives in me so I am enough. We must learn to forget the past and press for the future as Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:13.

“See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness.”

During a recent Bible study, I was faced with the reality of my age. I do not really think about it too much. Never really have. I can tell the face in the mirror is aging and gravity is having its way with my body, but truly just never really worried about it too much. The writer quantified our days equal to seeds. When I counted the seeds based on the Biblical reference of life expectancy of 70 years, I realized I had less than 7,000 seeds left. This caught my attention. If all I have are 6,906 days left on the earth, there is a lot to be accomplished in that time. Thank you Lord that you have already started on the fruition of my life.

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

Psalm 139:16 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

These three verses should make us all leap and shout for joy. It means no matter where you are today, right now, and in this moment. The potential and purpose for your life designed by God is still intact and going according to plan. His Grace is enough because He knew just how much you needed in advance. Mercy is premeasured because this day is fully scripted. You have everything you need because He already knows exactly what you need. Your best days are to come. You wouldn’t be breathing if it wasn’t true. The Lord would take you home. Life has purpose. Life has meaning. Life is being made new according to God slowly but surely taking over every area of our life given to Him wholeheartedly. It is not what we do that changes things but rather our ability to put all our trust, hope and belief in the God who is able to carry out His Plans for us.

“The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.”

Expectancy is critical to the outcomes in our life. Unmet expectation breeds discontentment. Dissatisfaction feeds bitterness and disbelief in our life. Thankfulness will refresh us if God’s People would thank the Lord for His Blessings rather than rallying in disbelief. God is not finished with you yet. He is taking you on a journey to a place in life where love, joy and peace will give way to the rest of His Abundant Fruit that will make your life rich and satisfying. However, there are peaks and valleys. There is rushing and rest. There is a time for everything under the sun. It is filled with good times and bad. But what does God promise us…He will make all things beautiful in His Time. The Valley of Weeping will produce refreshing springs in our soul. (Psalm 84:5-7) The Lord is building your strength. He is clearing your life of those things that will potentially rob you of blessing when it comes. God is preparing you – His Masterpiece. It doesn’t matter what the atmosphere of your life is like – attitude is everything. Our constant and unwavering belief in the Power of God, His Purpose for us and His Promise in us – will allow us to hold fast to the hope given to us in Jesus Christ.

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

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Not a single moment of my life is by chance. Not a single struggle is a waste of my time. God causes EVERYTHING to work together for my good and His Glory. EVERYTHING. ALL OF IT. The Lord will PERFECT that which concerns me. These promises …precious …precious …promises are for us. They belong to me because Jesus (the Word) has given them to me. I must only accept the reality of them and believe for God’s Best to be the product of my life.

And finally…

Isaiah 43:21 (NLT) I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Let me tell you about our new puppy, Scout. I knew her puppy parents. We have been friends for a long time. Their children were part of our youth group way back when and I consider their kids to be part my own. When I heard that their dogs were having puppies, I couldn’t wait to see them. They have two purebred labs that are gorgeous. Our puppy’s dad is a massive blond lab. When the puppies were born, I came across a picture of Scout and fell in love with her. However, these were not ordinary puppies but very expensive purebred dogs. I watched her grow and change but knew they were not in our budget. I was on a trip when I got the text. The Lord had laid it on the owner’s heart to bless us with Scout. He knew how much we loved her and wanted her. He also knew that she would have a good home. I was blown away by God. I know what you are thinking it is just a dog. No, it was a desire in my heart. God gave me the desire of my heart. He has done this time and time again. Things many times no one knows about but the Lord – He just does it. Why?

God doesn’t have to do things like that for me anymore. My need, love and desire for Him is far greater than superficial things in a temporary world. I am desperate for the Lord to be in every facet of my life like my body needs breath. I cannot live without Him anymore. He is my everything yet in all of His God-ness – He still blesses me for no good reason at all. I don’t know if you understand what I am saying to you today – I pray that you hear my heart. God loves me. He loves you. We give Him pleasure. He created us for His Pleasure. That’s it. The sum total of my existence gives pleasure to God. All He wants is a relationship with me. To provide for me. Bless me. Prosper me. All I am created to do is give Him Glory. That’s it. Pressure off. I can do nothing outside of my faith to please Him. He calls us His Special Possession and His Treasure. (Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6, Deuteronomy 14:2, and Deuteronomy 26:18) God doesn’t need us but desires us. He loves us because He chooses to love, provide and care for us. There is nothing I can do to earn it just receive it.

Little Scout will learn in time that her food will get in the bowl quicker if she sits and waits patiently. She will not be so rambunctious once her trust in us is established. Lord, let me learn to be patient and still in You as well. The Lord promises to show me the way of life. He promises to grant me the joy of His Presence. He offers me the pleasure of living with Him forever. Am I the one standing in the way of that today? Is it my stubbornness? Impatience? Unwillingness? Immaturity? Lord, create in me a new heart today and renew my spirit. God I want to experience your goodness in the land of the living just as you promised. May my life bring honor and glory to Your Great Name!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Where Is Your Faith?

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Luke 8:22-25 (NLT) One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

The rain and wind must have awakened our newest fur baby or maybe it was just time to go, whatever the case, it was clear she meant business. It was still dark swinging my legs over the side of the bed thinking I am too old for this, but she is oh so worth it. Our family adopted a black lab puppy a few weeks ago. Usually our dogs have been acquired at an older age from someone who took on the responsibility of pet ownership and decided several months in that it wasn’t for them. Our family considers our dogs members of our family. At any rate, she was barely nine weeks old when she became our fur-ever baby. She is very large as her dad is a giant, so sometimes it is hard to remember she is not even three months old. She is extremely laid back and conservative. She approaches new things curiously – stepping in not running to it – and holding her ground yet pensively. Very different from our little Chihuahua with the heart and personality of a Rottweiler, who despite her small size is always in charge or so she thinks. I was interested to see how Scout responded to the storm. She just walked right in it like any other time. The rain didn’t bother her. The flashes of lightning did not get her attention. Even the thunder was not big deal to her, she just went about her business like it was any other morning on any other day. In the distance, I could hear other dogs not so fortunate as our little ones who I was drying off on the back porch. No barks or howls just whimpers. I wonder why their owners didn’t take them out of the rain. Give them proper shelter to keep them dry. Maybe their food is all soggy now or washed away in the storm. Poor puppies! Even Scout takes notice standing with her nose in the air, looking out in the darkness, her tail stops wagging as she listens…I wonder if she knows what they are saying.

I will be the first to admit that I wasn’t thankful for today’s rain. It means that I cannot finish painting the latest restoration I am working on in my “free time”. It’s going to be a mess getting to church. Why even bother doing my hair? Yuck. But then I thought about the fertilizer my husband put down yesterday that will work best with the added water, and the fact that rain is essential. We haven’t had any in a while. I crawl back in bed with the puppy satisfied and our tiny one in the bed – safe, secure and content as the storm really kicks up. I drift off to sleep to the sound of the rain.

Jesus told his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” The men obeyed Jesus and everyone got in a boat to head over as He instructed. Obedience is not always a quiet ride. Just by doing what the Lord instructs us to do or being led by His Spirit does not guarantee a clear forecast in life. It isn’t always smooth sailing ahead. Having enough faith to get on the boat is not always enough to carry us to the other side. Once on the boat, Jesus took a nap. While he was sleeping, “a fierce storm came” and the boat filled with water. They were in “real” danger. Let’s stop there for a moment. What constitutes real danger? Loss of control. When there is nothing humanly possible to do who do we look for? Jesus, of course. In their panic, they go and awaken the Lord. He immediately rebukes the wind and rain. Turning to the men who had walked with him, talked with him, heard all his best messages so far and even experienced miracles with their eyes and asks, “Where is your faith?”

“Where is your faith” today? How far have you trusted Jesus? On the shore, to the dock, on the boat, across the water, or to the middle of the storm? At what point did you go to Jesus and ask Him for help or abandon this crazy thing called Christianity because it didn’t work out like you thought? Where is your faith? Is it in the vessel, the storm or the Savior? We can obey Jesus Christ taking Him at His Word and never trust Him enough to rest in His Authority and Power over our life. Fear and insecurity are based on a lack of confidence. It is seldom as much about the reality of the outcome but merely a perception based on the current situation or experience. The realm of hope which is available to God’s People comes with peace and rest unaffected by a change in natural conditions resting on a Supernatural God.

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

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for. Real faith is necessary to please God. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6) To say one believes must be evidenced in our life not just our words. Anyone who comes to the Lord must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. Obedience is not always faith-based. In fact, to do what the Word of God tells us to is much easier sometimes then doing what the Holy Spirit impresses on our heart. The doing that can be incorporated into our routine, schedule or agenda works well for us. The knowing conceived through God’s Word and verbally repeated is good for us, too. We like it. Memorization that never becomes meditation does nothing for us. It cannot get past our head to make it into our heart. Reciting is one thing but remember is truly another. It is when faith is required that it is revealed. The moment that religion becomes reliant on a relationship. It is the times when everything falls apart and I am completely undone when I must run to Jesus because my faith has run out. These are the opportunities to make something real out of the seeds planted in our life but not given to the ground to produce a harvest. Or sometimes, it is all the seeds that have not grown into anything yet.

Matthew 17:19-20 (NLT) Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

Animal experts believe that dogs that fear thunder and lightning do so based on past experience. A time when it occurred and they’re expectation of care not met. Experience at an early age. Another theory, dogs respond to storms based on their owner’s attitude and actions. How might believers respond to life if they truly knew the potential called faith and purpose called hope? What if we really believed the words recited from the Bible? What if the promises claimed were not worth giving up on? What if we were willing to wait it out until the end? Trusting. Believing. Clinging to God and His Word until it came to pass in the land of the living as He promised. “Nothing would be impossible.”

Too many time, God is given the benefit of human experience rather than the honor of being constant, sovereign and all-mighty. We expect God to be like our natural father and/or caregiver. We put our faith in Him in a limited supply because of fear and insecurity from past experiences with imperfect people. God is faithful. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. If He has told you He will do it – God will absolutely do it according to His Plan. In the meantime, His Children are offered this refuge called peace that allows us to wait on Him no matter how long it takes. The Power of God is no match for the storms of life. At His Word, the wind dies down, the rain dries up, the thunder ceases and lightning goes dark. One word. His Word. So if the storm is still raging all around you – does that mean that the Hand of God is losing its hold – has He come to the end of His Reign? Is His Authority null and void now? No. Absolutely not. The storms in our life offer us the opportunity to see where faith ends and fear begins. This is essential in developing faith that just gets by in the natural to wonder-working power in God’s Supernatural.

I want to live in the place where “nothing is impossible.” The place and time where my life is ruled by peace and favor not worry and anxiety. To be the kind of believer that takes God at His Word first and can walk strong and courageously through life no matter the conditions I face. That is who I want to be so I guess that is an invitation to God to let it rain in my life. When you open the Windows of Heaven, I accept that some rain will fall, storms come, wind blow and thunder roar. I know you have me safe and secure in the Palm of Your Mighty Hand.

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Having been through many storms in life, I am happy to report that God has not failed me. He has been with me, carried me through and set my feet solidly on the other side. This is not to imply that I came through with flying colors but rather a broken heart held in hands raised to God for healing and restoration many times. The undoing of me is messy and not pretty but absolutely necessary to have the life I believe God has planned and prepared for me. I do believe. I need the Lord to help me overcome my unbelief today. In doing so, I am inviting a storm or two to come. I am asking for a forecast of rain. I know the rain is coming. It is well with my soul. I know that the Lord will never leave me or fail me no matter how many times I fail or fall down – He is still right there working all things together for my good like He promised. (Romans 8:28) He continues to perfect that which concerns me day by glorious day. (Psalm 138:8) If we can just overcome our disbelief, fears and insecurities about God’s Ability and Willingness to do exactly what He has promised enough to ride out the storms of life to the end – we would see the Glory of God overwhelm us and He would do more than we can even think to ask for. (Ephesians 3:20) All things would be possible just because we believed. Thank you Lord! Help me, Jesus to make it to that place of stillness as You bring me safely into the harbor! Lord, give me peace and confidence to trust you a little more, a little longer and a little farther than ever before! In Jesus Name!

Psalm 107:28-30 (NLT) “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!

It Matters

It Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like Rain

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Psalm 143:5-6 (NLT) I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.

April showers bring May flowers. A short rhyme given as a reminder that in life rain must fall but that there is potential in every storm. The flowers are blooming yet the pollen comes with it. Life is all about perception. Everything worth having usually is precipitated by a season of challenges – otherwise there would be no joy or celebration in the outcome. The seeds in the ground from the previous season long for rain. When the rain falls, the thirsty and dry soil drinks it in deeply until moisture reaches its potential. The struggle does not stop there as the dead shell of its former state begins to change and develop to reveal its purpose. The little seedling must then push through all the soil surrounding it to break through the surface. Its goal is to reach the sun glorious sun.

The Lord has hidden a tiny measure of seed in our heart called faith. It is encased by a hope called eternity. A Kingdom of our own making each one has a position and place as God’s Child with a room just for them. How Lord do I get there from here? Through all the wind, rain and storms – is it possible to keep going and constantly growing through seasons of drought and dryness? When the drought is in my heart and not atmospheric conditions, there is only one rain that will make it inside of me. The Voice of God. His Word. His Presence offers intimacy to have such conversations. The ones that refresh us like an April shower ready to produce May flowers.

I Corinthians 15:37 (NLT) And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting.

Never doubt the potential the Lord has hidden inside of you. It is the purpose given to you when He formed you in your mother’s woman. He has a plan for our life that is most definitely set in stone activated when the stone that sealed the tomb of His Precious Son rolled away. No, longer held back by sin, death or the grave – we are like tiny seeds planted in the earth with great harvest hidden in fragile vessels and broken hearts. God is ready to grow us. Develop us. Increase us. Fill our life with all that His Grace and Goodness promised thanks to unconditional and uncompromised love. But first our seed must die to self and give way to become a new creation… What does that mean exactly? Rain must fall in our life to reach the seed so it will grow. Lord, come like the rain today. 

My husband and I were texting the other day. It was a nasty, rainy day fit only to stay home in pajamas on the couch or wade your way to work. We both made it to the office. I asked how his day was going and he shared that “the rain is killing” my business. I replied something like “I thought you said we needed some rain.” He responded, “Well, praise the Lord.” Sometimes life leaves us dry and thirsty. We want rain and even need it but when it comes find it messy and inconvenient. I hate getting my feet wet but insist on walking on water. Oh Lord help me to see the necessity of rain, showers and even storms you send to give life to our hidden promise to reach full potential.

Micah 5:7 (NLT) Then the remnant left in Israel will take their place among the nations.
They will be like dew sent by the Lord or like rain falling on the grass, which no one can hold back and no one can restrain.

I believe that God is in the final stages of pulling together the remnant. A body of believers who have finally let go of religion and taken hold of a real and authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. Those who desire a connection so deep and strong in the Lord anchored by deep and abiding hope. The church is going through some growing pains. Mega churches have been broken down to small groups. People are pursuing a personal God on an intimate level. Rain is falling. Storms blow through. God is preparing His Sons and Daughters to engage in eternity with Him forever. He is coming like the rain. Are you ready to receive Him? I hate when I hear rhetoric in the words I share. Church language with negative and empty connotations. The Lord desires you. He doesn’t want to fall around us but flow through us. He doesn’t require me to change to receive Him but promises His Presence in my life will change me into the person and purpose I was created to be. It is not a doctrine but a decision to live in love with Jesus that allows living water to reach my hard heart and make it soft again.

Psalm 65:9-13 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy!

Are we mission minded or mercy filled today? What is the message resounding from my life? Do my words fall on others like refreshing rain or am I pounding them to death? Moving past the fundamentals of loving our neighbors as ourselves, it is our life calling to share a message of unfailing love and overwhelming goodness that causes seeds of faith, hope and love to begin to grow in others. I may be on a mission to tell others about the Lord but if I am not living by the great commission which is to share the love of Jesus rather than the Law of God I am failing. So into my life a little rain must fall…the kind in Psalm 65:10 that in an effort to produce a bountiful harvest must drench the plowed rows of indifference and melt the clods of harsh unforgiveness and even level my heart with humility to see that my need for Jesus never ends. The same grace given to me is provided for others. I cannot earn it or in any way aspire to deserve it but only open every area of my life to receive it.

Deuteronomy 32:1-3 (NLT) “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! Hear, O earth, the words that I say! Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord; how glorious is our God! He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!”

The blessings of God pour from Heaven each day arriving with His Mercy…always right on time. I wonder if in an effort to avoid the rain or build other shelters that it doesn’t reach us. Like water on a rock, our heart is hardened by trying to survive in the dry and thirsty land. His Word will soften our heart when allowed to penetrate the surface. His Voice will blow just the right amount of refreshment needed to make it through one more day to victory. His Grace and Mercy are enough for me to release all human expectation and desire to receive what He has planned and prepared for me. All of His Promises are good. His Purpose in me secure. I have to let the rain reach me in order to be changed into the New Creation that God has chosen me to be. There must be April rain to bring May flowers. The kings rain must reach me in order for His Favor to be my portion. Abundant harvests are the product of many seasons. What season are you in? They all have the potential for rain. Jesus is our Source. He will be our supply. He will send the rain. God is faithful. Jesus is enough. Every good and perfect gift is poised on the edge of Heaven and you are on the verge of breakthrough. You just need a little rain!

Psalm 84:5-7 (NLT) What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

It’s funny that people will say that they love the sound of rain. They find it peaceful minus crashing thunder and flashing lightning. But when we have plans, it suddenly is inconvenient. If it impacts our business, it is no longer wanted but the source of contention. See rain falls on the wicked and the righteous every single day. The Lord longs to bless us. All of us. Those who know Him and those who don’t. To know Jesus is to love Him. He is always whispering to us, inviting us to spend time in His Presence, and even knocking on every closed chamber of our heart. When the Word is able to access every part of our broken and hard heart, like rain, the blessings, prosperity, increase and abundance of God begin to grow in our life. Valleys of Weeping become a refreshing place in the Presence of the Lord. Rain even hard, beating storms become a place of blessing for those who know and love Jesus. Through every storm, God’s Grace promises to make us strong even if we stumble, fall or fail. God is so good! He is that good! In every shower, He will bloom us right where we are planted. His Word is life. Lord, saturate me with fresh rain and new beginnings in Jesus Name.

Hebrews 6:7 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing.

Chasing the Wind

Chasing the Wind

Ecclesiastes 11:4-8 (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. Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. 

Saturdays are precious in our family. Five work days and one day of church worship leave only one for my husband and I to do spend time with our children and do some chores around the house. To wake up when we want to and dawdle through the day is quite nice rushing through the week. The alarm this morning did not greet a happy and expectant employee ready to jump up and seize the day. With a sigh, I immediately began to pray and thank the Lord for the opportunity I have in the workplace and the great weekend that we had. Gratitude seems to change my attitude. It is a great help when the dark cloud of drudgery tries to overshadow God’s Goodness, His Grace and His Glory in our life.

This Saturday an industrious spirit took over as Spring Fever was in the air. Our neglected front porch is right outside the windows of the study where I write. As the morning sun beamed brightly through the windows, I decided to wash away the residue of a long winter and pollen that collected as spring arrived. Armed with all my supplies, I tackled the windows inside and out. The front porch of our house was barren. There really was no point upon our arrival and many other areas of our “new” home that needed our attention, but an image filled my head of two porch rockers. Well, you know the old saying, if mama ain’t happy then… well you know the rest. My husband and I headed to our favorite date place or the home improvement store. Loading a hand cart with two black rocking chairs, a couple small palms and a can of black paint along with a couple other “necessary” items – we headed home. After some assembly required, the two rockers were just as I imagined. We sat down to overlook our work for the day. The yard was manicured, the windows washed and porch cleaned – all the details in place. Sitting in the cool breeze, just rocking along, I realized that the newest chapter in our life had finally arrive. Our littlest girls are almost grown. The three older ones all in their twenties and living their lives. Me and my best friend rocking on the porch in the chairs that will be the place to rock our grandchildren, visit with friends, or maybe even share the greatest love story ever told with someone who is hurting. I have named the two chairs – one is satisfaction and the other will be contentment.

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.” If a perfect life were possible, grace would not be necessary. Since people are not perfect, the ability to live such an existence escapes them. To live this live pursuing our dreams and working for our goals outside of satisfaction and contentment is chasing the wind. I believe this is the meaning behind 3 John 1:2. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” Funny that it comes in 3 John and not 1 John. The prosperity of our soul is satisfaction. The confidence in Christ born of faith is called contentment. Both are qualities birthed by trust, yet hard to grasp much less hold on to in a world that lives according to immediate gratification and a constantly changing perception of what will bring these two qualities. If it were power and wealth by the world’s standards, there would not be so many people who end their life in the height of success because of dissatisfaction and disappointment feeding a disease called depression or fueling the fire of anxiety buffered by mood altering drugs and pain killers. So many talented people who no matter how successful could not catch the conditions they desired most – the peaceful stillness found in two rocking chairs on a front porch in the county.

“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.” Balance is the art of both hard work and peace of mind that is very hard to achieve outside of Jesus Christ. Striving becomes thriving when this balance is achieved. God gave us goals, dreams and desires when He placed eternity in our heart. Without a perspective of heaven or His Kingdom including the blessings and benefits that His Children have there, the joy and peace marked satisfaction and contentment are impossible. The Lord planted a seed in you and I called faith. It is the substance of all that we hope for. Unless this seed is cultivated in every area of our life – it will only bloom where it is planted. A diversified life will only contribute to stress and worry increasing our burdens but Jesus invites us to “yoke our life with Him” and He will partner with us in all our endeavors sharing the heavy load of responsibility that weighs us down in life giving us a precious promise called rest. (Matthew 11) You have the potential of prosperity in you. It will yield the two things you desire most but we must work into the fields and furrows of our heart to be incorporated in every endeavor of life or we are just chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11-12;17 (NLT) Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

The Lord has a plan for our life. Recorded before our birth (Psalm 139), it is a good one with a future and hope. God didn’t design our life for disaster. God promises to hear our prayers. He will be found by those who look for Him wholeheartedly. This is an important detail often missed in a world that cries “what is in it for me.” Life. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) All of us. He didn’t go to the Cross just so you and I could just make it but that in Him find live a prosperous life according to God’s Riches in Glory. To restore the glorious standard of living that sin had taken from us but Jesus came back from the grave to give us. He didn’t force us to take the Keys to the Kingdom but rather offers them to us each day. Our willful disposition fostered by the old Elvis anthem, “I Did It My Way” will find many in the same position that the world renowned “king of rock and roll” did. A man who could have had anything he wanted, denied himself nothing, reaped a huge reward for all his labors and fully accomplished in his industry died in addiction. We must seek soul satisfaction or risk putting all our efforts into a success that will never reach the innermost part of us. Without faith it is impossible to please God – without faith there is no satisfaction and contentment continues to wave in the wind at those who pass it by.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 (NLT)  So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

“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.” (James 1) The realization that every good thing in our life is from the Hand of God can change one’s perspective. The greatest revelation is that of Romans 8:28 in the promise that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them.” To find truth in the words and apply trust to them will change our lives forever. To believe that every good thing in our life is a product of God and not self or random fate is one thing, but to also see the potential of God in every situation and know that He will work it in our favor – now that my friend is life changing and soul altering. Soul satisfaction comes from faith that trusts God and believes in His Goodness even on our worst day.

Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 (NLT) Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. “Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.” And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”

Comparison is a joy killer. It comprises faith because it plants a seed of envy that will bloom into bitterness. God has no favorites. Before declaring the grass is greener in someone else’s yard, perhaps one might ask what fertilizer they use. See God uses every detail of our life for our good. Before comparing our life journey to another, one might decide if it is worth the cost. We are a masterpiece – each one of us an individual work of God with his or her own process of completion. The end result is the same. The process is different. To be jealous of another displays disbelief in God’s Purpose and Plan for us. It destroys satisfaction. It corrupts contentment. A seed demonstrates the growth process in God – one must first die to self. Our present form must be completely undone to incorporate His Goodness in every facet of our life until His Love completely overtakes us and trust allows all good things to grow hidden in our new heart – new life – new creation. To prosper without satisfaction and contentment is not to a blessing. Any form of prosperity does not change our heart but simply magnifies what is already in it. The Lord offers us the Mind of Christ. We must know Him, trust Him and believe Him to have perfect peace that is not challenged by condition or circumstance but leads us to safe harbor every time. The truest blessing of prosperity is a satisfied soul resting in the Peace of God even in a stormy situation.

Ecclesiastes 5:15-20 (NLT) We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

I love our new rocking chairs. I love the front porch. The wind feels good blowing on my face. I love the promise represented called satisfaction and contentment. I know they are a product of age and maturity. There is no need to chase the wind for it will blow where it will. Looking back, I do not see the broken life that I have lived and all the bad things that have happened. I do not look ahead with fear, worry or stress but I sit there rocking and thinking of all the good things that the Lord has done for us. Our youngest daughter sits at our feet with playing with our little dog laughing at her antics. She is the last of our children who is growing up so quickly before us. But I am not afraid my role as mom will soon be over. Sitting next to me is my best friend and soul mate given to me by a gracious God. Our journey has not been easy but it has been worth it. From the beginning, we decided to be yoked with the Lord. He has carried us to this point. As I continue to rock envisioning children running around the yard as the days turn into years, I ask the Lord not for more of anything but to continue this work in my heart. Give me a wealth of satisfaction and rich contentment to fill every nook and cranny of my heart. There is nothing in this world worth more than a prospering soul. It shines a new light on an ordinary life magnifying far greater potential then hard work and motivation could ever afford. To find satisfaction is really what we are after no matter how hard we try to seem confident and uncaring. We want to be loved just as we are in a world that cries to take – maybe God wants us to give. You cannot give to others what you do not possess yourself. It is common sense. You cannot share the fathomless love and endless grace of God with others until it is found within ourselves. You cannot faith it until you make it. Faith is a solid footstep in God’s Direction. Real love and true faith produce satisfaction in life because they are the seeds that God planted in us and faith in Jesus will begin to grow. Once our soul is satisfied, the sky is the limit literally as the windows of Heaven open and His Light reveals all the blessings in our life and sends down all every promise day by day.

I Timothy 6:6 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great worth.

Halfsies

Half Empty Half Full

Matthew 6:21 (NLT) Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Call me an optimist. I have heard it before. I always believe that when it comes to the age old question, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” I will always say, “Half full!” Without hesitation. I have always believed that there is more to life if we just keep a good attitude and work hard. I believe that people are good, but life is hard. I am quick to apologize. I hate broken relationships and strained communication. I was raised by a man who wasn’t afraid to try. If he broke, he always tried to fix it and many times was successful without the need for a repairman. Not everyone is like that – there are pessimists and they cannot understand such thinking. The glass is always half empty and surely has a hole. Living in bondage to stress and fear of failure, they do not try new things and become frustrated in setbacks. They often live in a state of “it is what it is” and that’s just my luck. Trust is hard for them. They seldom can apologize and struggle to forgive. Unmet expectation overshadows their victories in life. Living under a little black cloud, they do not dance with the optimist in the rain. It is all about perspective. Life perception dictates the outcomes in life because it is what fuels our motivation. To live a life that is half empty is draining. But to live a life that is half full without real expectation is to live a life of misdirected zeal and enthusiasm. We are born with a plan and it’s a good one. It comes with a future and hope that cannot be realized by the optimist or pessimist without a true change of heart. Regardless of perception our life is supplied by sowing and reaping or planting and harvesting. Positive people are rewarded with positive results. Negative people may experience success for their efforts but their perception of life robs them of the reward called satisfaction. Whether you fall into one of these personas or the other – your perception may be flawed. No really.

2 Kings 4:3-7 (NLT) And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

As I tiptoe back to this woman’s house, peering in her windows again, I cannot imagine the wonderful hope that flooded her heart and soul as she began pouring the flask of oil into all those jars. Container after container from empty to full and empty to full right before her eyes. It was a miracle that speaks to my heart today. Yes, even the optimist needs some direction when it comes to faith, trust and hope. The Lord has blessed my family and me. I cannot begin to share all the ways that the Lord has provided for us physically, financially and supernaturally. However, lately I have been nudged by the Holy Spirit to leave this place of comfort that produces complacency in life. Most of the time pursuing the deeper things of God are only possible in desperation. Look at this little lady, the threat of losing her children drove her out of her tiny box into a realm of hope overflowing. She was poor then rich not because someone gave her anything or even working two jobs. The woman took what she had, broke it open and it began to flow through her life. She saved that flask for a rainy day or maybe for such a time as this – all along all that she needed to provide increase for her family was bottled within her reach.

Matthew 6:22-23 (NLT) “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

Perception is from the Latin word meaning comprehension, literally or taking in. It is how we perceive things. To perceive means to become aware of, know or identify by means of senses and feelings. Our perception is formed by how we perceive things. Personal recognition, discernment, envisioning and understanding of life and how it works is formed by our five senses, feelings, emotions, education, knowledge, and influences in life. Our parents and guardians begin the process and then the baton is passed to instructors, mentors and even those held in high regard from presidents to pastors. It can be a mixture of many things in our life and defines how we live our life.

Jesus warned us about perception in Matthew 6. In fact, it relates to our treasure and the reality of faith in our life. Wherever your treasure is that is where your heart is pointing to and headed in the direction of based on our perception. Our eye works on the basis of its ability to process light through the lens to display an image on the retina. The retina receives the image through the lens and transforms it into an image into electrical impulses that are carried by the optic nerve to our brain. I wear contact lens to see clearly. If something gets caught between the synthetic contact lens and the lens in my eye, it obstructs my view of things. Over time, my eyesight changes and I need new lens when things are not clear anymore. Jesus is the Light of the world. We must take our perception of life, whether optimistic or pessimistic, to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven rather than the things of this world. In doing so, my perception of life changes from what I see to what I know. Jesus is the Word. Faith is illogical outside of the Word so one must focus on natural elements to survive much less thrive. Jesus said, “Your eye is the lamp that provides light for your body.” To see our life as God planned it and fully utilize the Presence of God in us – our perception must gain understanding and then apply it to our life through the Word. In doing so, life is perceived from a Kingdom perspective rather than a natural one. The greatest influence will become our life perspective.

Matthew 6:24 (NLT) “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

No one can serve two masters. If the desire of my heart (vs. 21) is to connect with God through His Son, Jesus Christ and live in His Presence. My perception of life must change from darkness to light. What does that have to do with serving two masters or even being enslaved to money? The earth is bound by economy that is not the currency of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is bound by love, grace and increase as it is a place of abundance and increase. I will connect my life to one of two sources – the Kingdom of God or the world in which I live. I researched the word “economy” and it is not what I thought it would say at all. Synonyms for the word economy are “thriftiness, thrift, and saving”. Interestingly enough the opposite of economy is “lavishness and extravagance.”

Sin caused us to “fall short of God’s Glorious Standard.” Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life who gives us access to the Father again. Do you believe it? When the Blood of Jesus washed away sin and grace is applied to my life – God’s Glorious Standard of Living becomes possible again. Are you with me so far? I must allow the Spirit of God to change my perception so I live with a Kingdom perspective of life rather than selling out to the world’s economy which keeps us in a state of thrift and, dare I say, lack. What if I told you today that the glass is not relevant? The substance in it is not as important as the substance of faith in you and I? What I do with the contents is the potential of my life? Will I keep trying to protect the glass in its half full state and add my own provisions to it? Or do I insist on constantly emptying it out so God who is my Provider and Resource must continually fill it up to maintain His Standard and radiate His Glory in my life. Let’s keep going.

Matthew 6:25-30 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. 

Jesus gives a directive – “I tell you not to worry about everyday life.” What is the source of stress, anxiety, worry, fear or doubt today? What is keeping you from doing what God has called you to do? Are you married to your job? Do you live from paycheck to paycheck? Are you constantly longing for things you cannot afford? Are you content? Are you satisfied? God is good. He is our Provider. Salvation is consummated by seeking out the Lord and living in His Presence. He put His Spirit in us and we connect with Him by pursuing Him. We pursue Him by following Jesus. The secret to success when striving for God’s Will and His Way that are His Plan for us is in our ability to trust the Lord enough to seek Him wholeheartedly. Perfect love expels fear from our life because no matter how life looks our perception of the light of His Love completes us. Our full expectation once invested by faith into God as our Provider and Christ as our Resource allows us to do things like the woman did. She took a small flask of oil and turned it into enough to cover her debt, save her sons and provide well for her household. Whether our glass is half empty or almost full in the natural doesn’t matter as much as what our faith allows us to do with it.

Matthew 6:30 (NLT) Why do you have so little faith?

Paul said this when instructing the Corinthians in his second letter. You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.” (2 Corinthians 8:9-12) Our decision to accept Jesus Christ is to ask Him to be our Savior and our Lord. When coming to Jesus it is with the best of intentions but soon it is overshadowed by “real life” and “real problems” so we begin to recant the “Jesus is Lord” part of our promise. We live a diversified life. We trust Him with our soul but not our natural life so when our soul prospers but our life does not – our perception is perplexed. Holding tight to our resources, including but not limited to our time, talent and treasures, we never fully connect to His Limitless Resources. We sow but do not reap. We plant yet never see a harvest. If we do, it is not marked by prosperity or abundance – it is just enough.

Paul’s advice for the Corinthians works for us today. We must return to our First Love and give Him our first fruits in all things. We must learn to trust God with all our life not just the portions that are comfortable to give. To live in the Presence of the Father is only possible by faith. We must seek Him to find Him. We must knock to gain entrance. We must believe that He rewards those who seek Him. Once we do, it will be evident as insomnia gives way to rest. Stress is given up for trust. Worry is no longer a problem as peace floods our heart, mind and soul. Fear gives way to perfect love that clears our perception of live to perceive the opportunities and potential of God in all things pertaining to our life. See the glass is just a glass. The contents unimportant. Given to God it will become increased, abundant and fulfilled. Take your eyes off the glass that contains that which is desired. Put your eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith. Faith fills every need and produces Godly Riches and Resources in our life to flow from the Windows of Heaven. Abundance flows from a heart full invested in knowing Jesus Christ. He promised to give us a rich and satisfying life. If the Lord cannot do that, then how can I trust Him for the Kingdom? Do you trust Jesus today? Do you believe that His Promises are true? If not, it is never too late to start. His Grace is sufficient for you. He has already given you a measure of faith to start with. Sow it in just one area of your natural life. Yoke up with Jesus Christ today and let Him show you how to walk through life in constant and confident trust. (Matthew 11:28-30) Let Him give you peace and rest. Strive for it. Fight for it. Do not stop pressing until your stress, worry, care and anxiety give way to peace. God is a good father. You are well supplied. He has already supplied every need you have. To those who keep seeking, knocking and asking – He will be found. He will open the door to His Presence. He will answer doing more than you can think, imagine or ask. Faith is the solution to a changed perception of life. Jesus is the light that changes our perspective.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word. Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

 

Weight of the Anchor

weight of the anchor

Hebrews 6:17-20 (NIV) Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. 

What a week? It is only Wednesday. Halfway through and it has tossed me about pretty good. The pressures of life have created a fair share of waves and wakes that keep this little boat called life rocking pretty good. At sea a boat is carried on top of the water, the current, tide and waves move it all around. Every ship or even small fishing boat will have an anchor. I tried to see what the average weight of an anchor might be. They vary from about ten pounds to seventy-five tons depending on the vessel it is their duty to secure. However, what I found is it is not the anchor that is most important but the chain that attaches the boat or ship to it. If a chain is too short, it will cause the fluctuation of the water to beat the vessel rather than secure it causing great danger. The chain must be the proper length to allow the ebb and flow of the waves and wake surrounding it. It is better to have no attachment to the anchor at all rather than an improper connection that could end in the ultimate destruction of the vessel anyway.

The one who Christ sets free is free indeed. But sometimes it is the service and actions of self that overtake the Truth that when Jesus split the veil in two – He stepped into His Rightful Place and now He becomes our confident hope. Not the rules and regulations of religion or self-imposed restrictive convictions that lead to ritual and tradition, it is the knowledge of His Amazing Grace and our ability to flow with it, in it and let it move through is overflowing into life. We must learn more about the hope that is given to us in Christ and how to allow it become the anchor for our soul.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV) This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…

Love the Lord your God. Listen to His Voice. It seems easier to listen to the do this and do that’s rather than the part that says, “Hold fast.” Submission and surrender are not terms of endearment in this world. They are considered strength to the enforcers but a weakness to everyone else. Comfortable in the service of God it is difficult to maintain our grip in the stillness of God. The part called trust. Yet it is in trusting the Lord, His Grace becomes most powerful. I know that this is for someone today. I know that it is for me. As I write it, my computer has shut down. Precious words sent from the Father erased in a technological glitch.

Even those closest to Jesus who walked with Him, talked with Him each day, communed and shared meals with Him struggled to maintain course in the storms of life. Uncertainty caused fear that confidence would never allow. Perfect love expels fear in our life. It doesn’t make the way easier but if our complete confidence in the Lord – our anchor called hope is firmly connected by a link of chains called faith. In the midst of a storm at sea or maybe just some high winds, the anchor at the bottom of the sea holding the great ship cannot be seen. It must be trusted to do its job. The sailors on the ship demonstrate the level of trust that they have in the anchor, its chain and even the sea-worthiness of the vessel. They are at the mercy of the sea. The wind will carry them. However, those who trust can safely sleep in the hull riding out the storm. Stillness in the Lord is not always stillness in life. We must learn to be the ones who hold fast.

Deuteronomy 11:22 and 13:4 tell us to observe God’s commands today. It is clear in the steps. Love God. Walk in obedience. Hold fast to Him. Too often love comes easy, and obedience such a struggle that it is hard to read any further. The hold fast is the ultimate and reserved for the end. It is the place called trust when we move past our superficial love and need to do something in order to rest in His Presence. When Jesus tore the veil, He became the High Priest. Confidence allows us to come boldly before Him with even the most seemingly insignificant detail in our life. Too often we try to love God in what we do rather than who He is. He is the anchor for my soul. As my soul becomes secure in Him, it will prosper becoming stronger and longer allowing us to endure those extended trials and deep hurts in order to remain steadfast holding fast to what we know is true.

Joshua 23:8 (NIV) But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.

These words are so important. Someone needs to hear them today. You are still on the watchtower. The Lord has given you the dream, desire or vision but it has taken some time. The thing you are holding onto like a Chinese fortune written on a tiny slip of paper that you have clutched so tightly now seems small and insignificant as doubt and disbelief weigh heavy on your heart. Endurance is expanded by our wait times and increase the weight of our anchor. Each moment given to trusting Jesus is one minute closer to the end and acquisition of that promise but we must not let go. To hold fast to the Lord was the Word of God to the Israelites. The Promised Land belonged to them. The battle was coming to an end and they would have the place God promised them. Holding fast in the hard times keep us focused on the Lord in the good times. We must learn to hold fast to the Lord on the way TO His Promise, so we will not forget Him IN the promise.

Revelation 3:2-3 (NIV) Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Jesus came to give us a rich, satisfying life that the enemy is hell-bent on taking from God’s Children. (John 10:10) Nothing gives the Lord more satisfaction than for His Children to reach their full potential and achieve the purpose of their creation. We are His Priceless Treasure no matter how flawed and imperfect we are. To allow those dreams and desires that were placed in our heart by God to die due to wavering faith and unconfident hope brings Him no honor or glory. To serve Him religiously and obediently will promote certain blessings bound by sowing and reaping or planting and harvest. God doesn’t want to just feed and clothe you but He has called you to prosper. Prosperity is the Promise of God for our life in all things in every season. It is accomplished by trust. Trust in the hope that keeps us weighted by faith no matter what happens in life. We have things to do that are not religions but relational. We have a purpose that is far greater than our human minds can comprehend must less accomplish. My absolute belief and total trust in the Love of God determines the weight of my anchor marked hope. To believe is to receive the blessings of God not because I was strong or finished every task but that my hope always remained secured to Jesus. Jesus is the weight that keeps me from drifting even when the boat of my life is rocking. He is the counter pressure to every pressure so my strength will never be too small. I must simply remain yoked to Him.

Matthew 11 tells us to come to Jesus with every weight and heavy burden. The misconception here is that the Lord removes them all from us and we skip happily through life. He could and would if He thought His People would still reach Heaven. The Word of God says that we are to be yoked with Him. He removed the barrier of sin that kept us from partnering together. However, when two animals are yoked, they must still walk together. Jesus promised to yoke with us. To connect Himself to us and carry the load, but we must continue to remain connected to Him. To watch yoked oxen plow a field does not sound exciting to me, but if I am the farmer and it is my land it may be. If I am expecting a harvest from this planting, it might give me peace despite the dirt on my hands and sweat on my brow. The hope that I have in Jesus Christ may not make the ground any softer, the job any easier, or the wait any shorter, but He always promises it will be worth it. He rewards those who seek Him. He promises success to those who seek Him wholeheartedly. The ones who despite the storms, waves and winds encountered let Him be the Anchor for their soul.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Perseverance and endurance are difficult processes in life. We must hold unswervingly or tightly or fast to the hope that we speak of and profess in our life. The enemy meets our confession with trials and trouble to see just how strong our hope in the Lord really is. To know God is not enough the demons know Him. We must trust the Lord far beyond that which we can see or do holding fast to the anchor called hope. You cannot see that which you hope for. If you can see it, it does not require faith at all because you can do it if you set your heart and mind to it. Those things pursued in simple agreement with others make us unstoppable. Consider the Tower of Babel. However, if a rich and satisfying life is what I desire. It cannot be accomplished outside of Christ. Faith and trust are born of perseverance and endurance. Those things that take us to the end of self to see what we find there. Those who find Jesus will never turn back or give up again. To experience His Faithfulness one time leads us to trust Him next time and the chain of our faith in Him adds another link. True freedom in Christ is to build a firm foundation of faith anchoring our soul with hope. It makes us untouchable and unconquerable and fearless in life because no matter what happens – our soul will prosper and remains secure.

It has already been “one of those weeks.” The pressures of life are weighing me down. Sensing human weakness the enemy is hot on my heels offering me subtle escapes like quitting, complaining or just sitting down refusing to move in overwhelming difficulties. I must hold fast to the hope that I have in Jesus. The Word in my heart fortifies my mind, will and emotions. It will not let them overtake me. Faith is the substance that holds our anchor in place. It is the thing that pleases God not what we do or say. The Fruit of the Spirit is prosperity to our soul. It is born of adversity. “The Broken Way” author Ann Voskamp said, “Growth often looks life total destruction.” I can identify with that on those days when my boat is getting rocked and my faith feels a little shaky. The times when I wonder God did I miss you? Am I still in step with You? This way seems dark and difficult. The wind is kicking up. The waves are rising higher. He is the Refuge I run to. He keeps me in place when all hell breaks loose around me. I must not let go. I will not give up.

Jesus, add weight to my anchor today! I know it may mean a storm, high wind or the unexpected. I trust You, Lord. I want to hold fast to You today! In all things, pulling You closer than ever before!

Isaiah 35:3-4 (NIV) Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

Boots on the Ground

boots-on-the-ground

Psalm 18:30-36 (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. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

“Boots on the ground” is a military term. It is used to convey the belief that strategic success can only be achieved through the direct physical presence of troops in a conflict area. It is the idea that presence makes prominence. Maybe concurrent with the thought that “possession is nine tenths of the law” which further implies that ownership is easier if one has possession of something or difficult to enforce if one does not. I believe that both convey confidence. Confidence in strength and power according to that which is attained. Man of valor fight for a cause dear to heart as they are called to serve and protect the people of their country. Their mind is focused on battle and maintaining the safety and security of those who reside in the land. They fight for freedom. Even if someone uses their freedom to protect their mission, they do it just the same.

Jesus Christ died to set us free. It is our option to use our freedom to trust the Lord or continue wandering in the darkness of this world. Truly – who the Son sets free is free indeed. However, if we do not know our rights as a believer it is difficult to understand the benefits offered by obedience. To choose to live for the Kingdom rather the world is impossible if we do not see the point. We can see, hear, feel, touch and experience this life with our senses. How does one come to their senses by faith that cannot see, hear, feel or touch the Lord in a tangible sense? How does one find confidence to walk by faith and not by sight? How do we win the war of flesh versus spirit when one is intimate and the other foreign? God has given us His Spirit but we must empower Him by eliminating the influence of our flesh. In short order, every lie must be dissolved in Truth so we can fully walk in the freedom intended for us and imparted by Jesus Christ.

“God’s way is perfect.” Do you believe this is true? Think about it for a moment. Do you really believe that God’s Word is true and valid for every aspect of your life? If so, do you do what it says? Are you willing to give up your will to have God’s Will just as it is without reservation? This is the freedom to be fought for by faith. To secure our freedom in Jesus Christ and walk His Perfect Way to overcoming victory in our everyday life. It’s not easy. It is not logical. It is faithful.

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights… You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.” I would venture to say that if following Jesus was easy there would have been more than 12 disciples. In fact, even in the handful of men with Jesus one still managed to betray Him. I am challenged today to find purpose in my steps. (1 Corinthians 9:26) To be surefooted as a deer enabling me to stand on a firm foundation of faith in all things. I long for the wide path of obedience called the Highway of Holiness that keeps me from slipping. I want to follow the Lord walking in close fellowship with Him as Enoch did until I disappear and only God remains. Is this even possible? Absolutely. Is it logical? Not in reality only faithfully.

Psalm 91:1-2 (NLT) Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

Trust labels the steps that lead to greater faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. It is faith in Jesus Christ that opens the door to Him in the first place. I must protect my faith. Feed my faith. Condition my faith. It is the most important thing in my life that leads to eternal life. Without, faith I will die. It promotes perseverance and endurance in me that is far from natural and instinctual. It is supernatural. A soldier joins the army with potential. It is through rigorous training and conditioning that changes his potential into purpose. When that purpose engages in battle, the soldier becomes a warrior. I want to be a warrior of faith. I have been in some fights in my life. I have the battle scars to prove it. The Lord promises those who seek refuge in Him will have security. A place of safety. This place is secured by trust.

If we continue to read Psalm 91, it tells us of more than just a place to hide in the Lord but a place also to take a stand against sin and darkness that attempts to overtake us and invade the good things in our life. By faith, “a thousand fall at your side, thought ten thousand are dying around you these evils will not touch you.” It goes on to promise that “no evil will conquer you” and “no plague will come near to your home.” His angels are positioned to protect you. I love this part. “You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet.” If you look at the verse right before this one, it says, “They (angels) will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.” Are you tired of stumbling? Are you sick of struggling? There is a better way. God’s Way is perfect.

Proverbs 3:21-26 (NLT) My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

God’s Word is a lamp for our feet. (Psalm 119:105) Common sense and discernment must become fast friends and constant companions to make faith logical for our life. God’s Word is the Truth for our life. We must learn to walk in it every single day. This takes our common senses and applies discernment too it from God’s Perspective. His Thoughts are higher than ours and so are His Ways so it is imperative that godly knowledge counteracts stinking thinking. Common sense and discernment is logical faith defined by the Word of God applied as wisdom for our everyday life. We must change the way we think by deciding the Word of God is true and valid for today.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT) 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.

I must not evaluate my life or decide my course of action based on how I feel, what I think or the circumstances in the natural. If I do, I will have life based on fate not faith. When I set my heart and mind on achieving God’s Purpose for my life which is always by faith then I will respond to His Word rather than reacting to the daily struggles I face. This will cause me to walk in victory. The man sitting on the ground asking for handouts was limited by his ability to walk. He fell victim to his circumstance and identified with his infirmity. When Peter passed, he begged for money. Peter said (to paraphrase), “No brother I will do you one better than that…” The man was immediately healed and then “walking, leaping and praising God went to the Temple with them. I cannot give others what I have not discovered and obtained for myself. I cannot pawn fake faith that doesn’t believe enough to follow through with each day. I cannot share a truth that is not a reality in my life. So if I want to walk in victory and be boots on the ground for Jesus Christ, it is imperative that I believe. Believe enough to walk with Him and follow Him each day. Where He goes I go. Are you tired of limping through life? Have you fallen on hard times? In the Name of Jesus Christ, it’s time to get up and walk. Get those boots back on the ground. Fight for your faith. You have victory up for grabs.

Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

Why does something simple seem so hard? Our faith must be daily fed the Word of God to strengthen it. We must continually strap truth to our feet so it protects us as we tread over lions, serpents and the enemy in life. (Ephesians 6:15) The enemy is acutely aware of our weakness because most days we complain and grumble showing him the insufficiencies of our faith rather celebrating our victory in Jesus with constant praise, endless worship and consistent gratitude for our freedom. We lose simply because we do not believe we win! Not me. Not anymore. I am tired of fighting losing battles especially when I have figured that the Christ in me is enough to always overcome if only I believe. Do you believe? If not, there is no partnership between common sense and discernment. The two will disagree making it even more difficult to find the way. Jesus is the Way. He is our Champion. The Author and Finisher of Faith. If I am willing ahead and stop living looking in the rear view mirror. If I choose to fix my eyes on Jesus who is before me. If I make a conscious and decisive effort to mark the pathway of my life with the Light of His Word. My path will be safe and secure in the Lord. The enemy will remain under my feet where He belongs. I will have victory in all things.

Romans 16:19-20 (NLT) But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord. This makes me very happy. I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Am I Content?

am-i-content

I Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

Am I content? Am I satisfied? Did you know that contentment and satisfaction are two different things? Our purpose in Christ is to become complete. Satisfaction is completion. Our faith is tested so that endurance grows within us producing the fruit of God’s Spirit so that we will become fully developed, perfect and needing nothing. (James 1:4) In a world motivated by supply and demand, it is hard to discern sometimes what real satisfaction looks like or how it may be achieved. The Word of God tells us that true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. Contentment is not satisfaction but rather the idea that in all circumstances, conditions and situations that it is well with my soul.

I brought nothing into this world. However; once arrived it becomes a life of acquisition. From the earliest age, images are placed in the minds of children that they “need” things to be content. Parents with good intentions fill their kid’s lives with all the “things” they never had trying to give them a better life. If I have food and clothing, I should be content. Am I? Are you? It is important that believers discover the meaning of contentment and strive for it in this life. Otherwise, distractions and detours will take over as the demand for more takes over and we forget that less is more in the Kingdom. The first will be last. Less of me. More of Him. I must decrease. He must increase in my life. Satisfaction is fulfillment. Contentment is our disposition until it arrives.

To understand the concept of contentment, I looked it up in the dictionary. The meaning is to be satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else. Wow! Not very encouraging… What does the Bible say about contentment? Believe it or not – the dictionary offered the Bible’s perspective in great detail on the meaning of contentment. Contentment as the world sees it is weakness. It means to settle for what life hands you and just be mediocre if that is your “lot” or some random throw of fate’s dice. When I take this meaningless, mediocre existence I have on the earth and invest it in Jesus Christ suddenly my life as extraordinary and supernatural potential. Contentment is the waiting place for God’s People. It is where we grow, develop and mature while God takes every detail of our life and works it for His Glory. Lord, I desire contentment today. Teach me to be content.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Contentment is the state of mind in which one’s desires are confined to their lot in life whatever that may be. I believe that God will generously provide all I need. I say that but do I believe that. God supplies seed to the sower. If I am not giving from my current supply, there is no need to increase it. The beginning of contentment is to set our heart and mind on God’s Will for our life. To decide that His Purpose and His Glory are what is desired over money, influence and earthly power. We cannot go in two different directions. I must choose my destination. Money is nothing more than a tool or resource in life. Contentment is a heart condition not based on what I have or have not. It doesn’t pursue God’s Hand but is intent on knowing His Heart.

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

Believe it or not, I found this “Biblical” definition of contentment listed in the dictionary. “It arises from an inward disposition and is the offspring of humility and of an intelligent consideration of the rectitude (righteousness) and benignity (favor) of divine providence, the greatness of divine promises and our unworthiness, as well as, the gospel opens us up to rest and peace forever.” Contentment is clearly a product of faith or our inward disposition of hope that stems from a relationship with Jesus Christ alone. It is the “offspring” of humility. Pride is man over God – humility exalts Christ above all things. Faith is intelligent consideration of God’s Righteousness – the part of Him that does not lie or change His Mind because He is always right and always exceeding in goodness towards us. The favor of God is for us. He pursues us daily with unfailing love and goodness. To receive it means to make the intellectual choice to repent and turn around to receive it. I cannot have God’s Righteousness and Favor in my life completely that produces contentment if I am a heart divided chasing after other things.

The greatest asset of my faith is confident hope that affords me rest and peace right in the middle of the uncertainty of the life I live in this world. It means that no matter what occurs in my “temporary” residence I do not invest eternal confidence in those things that will rot and decay fully trusting the Lord for full satisfaction. “And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” (2 Peter 1:4)

I can do all things through Christ is to value the Lord above all things. To put Him at the center of our life including mind, soul and body without excluding all natural and spiritual pursuits. He is the priority in all things to those who desire contentment that leads to full satisfaction and completion. This is an ongoing process in a world filled with the contrary. We must take control of our thoughts, emotions, and desires turning our passion from worldly things to invest them fully in Jesus Christ.

There are five things that contentment opposes. These are critical in evaluating our current state of mind and if contentment is our mindset.

  1. Contentment opposes envy.

“For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” (James 3:16) Do you envy what other people have or the life they live? Do you get mad when others are blessed? Envy is the root of bitterness that strangles contentment is us. It dims the light of God’s Love in us. Confidence is shattered in comparison because I can only see the outward product and cannot see the source. All that glitters is not gold. You do not know their circumstances or situation. You cannot see their heart. We must not allow jealously to ruin us from the inside out.

  1. Contentment opposes greed.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Money cannot satisfy our soul. It cannot save us. It cannot heal us. It cannot deliver us in all things. When the money runs out or is not enough, what then? I shared with someone yesterday the story of our son who was denied coverage for the treatment that ultimately put him in remission. He would have died without it. The price of human life was about $300,000. What is the price of a human life? The world places a limited sum on your head. I hope you will never find out what that is. Jesus Christ decided you were priceless. Worth having to the extent that He died just to give you life and spend eternity with you. Do you always want more? Is your job more important that church? Church feeds our soul. To come together as believers is agreement that prospers our life. What is your priority? God’s Word asks us to tithe just ten percent giving back to the Lord just a tenth of the monetary wealth that He gives us. Do you tithe?

  1. Contentment opposes ambition.

“Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.” (Proverbs 13:10) Humility is the offspring of contentment. Human ambition and drive runs over a whole lot of people every day. It is a dog eat dog world. Life is not fair so often it is the source of discontentment. Bad things happen to good people. Bad people get good things. I am not a resident of this world but a temporary resident who has allegiance to a far greater Kingdom. It is my absolute faith and confident hope that will allow me to lay my life down now to have it all. Are you humble? Do you think if you don’t do it nobody else will? Do you look down on others or lend a hand to pull them up?

  1. Contentment opposes anxiety.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34)

When I worry, stress and become anxious – I am no longer content. On those days when I feel such emotions overtaking my mind, stealing my joy, and compromising my confidence, it is an instant sign that I need to run into the Presence of God. To be content is confidence in God’s Love, Favor and Goodness to fully supply our life and satisfy our soul. To worry is to doubt. Doubt is evidence of disbelief. Disbelief means I need to fortify my faith. I do this by feeding on the Word, diving into my prayer closet, and praising my way out. We must be constantly aware of this condition and seek the Lord to overcome it. These are not the seeds that produce the abundant harvest of promises that is promised by God to His Children.

And finally (as if I wasn’t already convicted enough):

  1. Contentment opposes complaining.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” (Philippians 2:13-15)

What is the confession of your mouth over your current condition or situation? If set our heart and mind on praise and promises, it will come pouring out of mouth. The Holy Spirit will remind us of all of God’s Promises if we feed our heart, mind and soul God’s Word deciding it is the truth that prevails in our life. When I complain, I am saying that God is not able to do what He promised. I am declaring that the Grace of Jesus Christ is not enough for me. I am professing discontentment with the Lord because He is my provider. Ouch! Lord, I ask you to forgive me for all the times I have unjustly complained about your provision and blessings in my life. Give me a heart that always resounds in praise and thankfulness for You indeed have been so good to me.

Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT) So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Are you content today? You don’t have to be satisfied with who you are or where you are because God is still working to perfect all that concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) It takes time to work out every detail for our good. (Romans 8:28) It takes a lot of time and energy to fully invest our life in the Lord and allow Him to help us work out our salvation. (Philippians 2:12) The Lord has promised us His Goodness IN the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) It is my absolute belief, complete faith and confident hope that allows me to be content while God has His Way in my life. It doesn’t mean to settle for anything but rather engage in the process of completion with peace of mind, rest and wellness in our soul. God is not finished with the masterpiece called you. Don’t rush the project or abandon it altogether just because what you see currently is not what you want or think you need. I must examine my own heart today. I must uproot everything that opposes contentment in my life and plant seedling promises from His Word in my heart. God will do exactly as He promised. I must only trust Him. Thankfulness must overtake those thoughtless words and accusations. God is good. He is good father and perfect provider. It is well with my soul.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.