Keep the Peace

Keep the Peace

Matthew 10:11-15 (MSG) “When you enter a town or village, don’t insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave. “When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way. You can be sure that on Judgment Day they’ll be mighty sorry—but it’s no concern of yours now.

Where in the world did the saying, “Save the drama for your mama” originate? This mama doesn’t want any drama. The world today thrives on the dramatic overtures of emotional tirades and all about the “feels”. It is important to set boundaries and guards as filtration of certain thoughts and ideas that stimulate emotions ultimately causing a reaction. According to a good old-fashioned dictionary, drama is any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting or striking interest or results. It is highly emotional, tragic or turbulent in nature. In the age of technology and social media relationships, the filter once set by face-to-face communication has created a commonplace of tirades and overtures of drama that becomes barriers in life.

When Facebook released the “unfollow” button, I was overjoyed. I do not want to unfriend anyone. It sends the wrong message. How can you love your enemies when you can’t even stand the sight of them? Social media has a way of producing unprecedented courage and bouts of bad judgment, as it becomes a platform (or soapbox if you will) for dramatic tirades, rants and even off-handed slights. I don’t want to be a part of it. God doesn’t want His People to fall into the trap of offense or become entangled in bitterness which are produced by mislead emotions and misunderstood gestures and comments. I wonder what would happen if we unfollowed people to maintain peace rather than unfriending them completely? To unfollow…it’s Biblical. To unfriend…is not.

Jesus sent his disciples out with specific instructions. Travel light. (Matthew 10:9-10) Leave the baggage behind. There is a lesson to be learned in these verses. People tend to carry their feelings like luggage from one place to the next. It is human nature supported by pride and selfishness that causes people to allow personal feelings to take precedence over someone else. To carry the weights and burdens of past hurts is not the Will of God for us. Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” We must release the burden of bitterness and take hold of grace to the fullest extent which means forgiving others and forgiving ourselves to love freely in a world that no longer knows what love is. Offense is an enticing offer but builds a stronghold around our heart that hinders the one who harbors such feelings. When the Lord sent His Followers out to be the light of the world and share His Message, he told them not to take anything with them including money. Why? Relationships require dependency and trust. Jesus was instructing them to form bonds with the community which would require humility.

Let’s move on as not to meddle. When Jesus sent His Disciples to share the good news – the instructions given are useful today. If you are welcomed, be gentle in your conversation. If you are not, quietly withdraw. Oh, the wisdom in the Lord’s instruction. Our rights are forfeited for righteousness in coming to Christ. We are commissioned to people. Christian ministry begins and ends with people. All people. The ones we love, like and dislike all fall under the same category in the heart and mind of Christ. We must learn to build the Kingdom of God rather than allowing it to be destroyed by drama. Drama keeps us locked in today because it is an emotional instance rather than a supernatural existence. To leave behind our emotions, and decide to pursue the heart and mind of God through His Son, Jesus Christ is an act of complete humility and surrendering our emotions for God’s Will.

Luke 10:5-6 (MSG) “When you enter a home, greet the family, ‘Peace.’ If your greeting is received, then it’s a good place to stay. But if it’s not received, take it back and get out. Don’t impose yourself.

Luke relays the same experience like this, “When you enter a home, greet the family, “Peace”… How do you greet others? Is it with peace? Every encounter with another person should be in the pursuit of peace. If I cannot project peace to people, I must find it first within myself so that I have an overflow for others. We are called to be a body – not just any body – but the Body of Jesus Christ. How can a hand hate a foot? What good is a thumb that cannot work with the other fingers on the same hand? It sounds silly – I know. It happens all the time.

Ephesians 4:30-32 (MSG) Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

The only weapon that the enemy has to use against us is the lie. The lie of the enemy allows bitterness and offense to be viable emotions and feelings. The Lord warns in His Word about these two lies. We must tend that which grows in our heart and mind carefully. To be rooted and grounded in God’s Love through Jesus Christ means relinquishing our right to be bitter and offended. We must work diligently to silence gossip even those words veiled in false concern and regard. You can be the place where cutting, backbiting and profane talk end. You have the power within you of resurrection power and life including the ability to bind and loose. When gossip makes it to your ear, you can stop it and reverse the curse with blessing…if you choose to pursue peace. Proverbs 16:28 warns that “Troublemakers start fights and gossips break up friendships, but Proverbs 19:11 says, “Smart people know how to hold their tongue – their grandeur is to forgive and forget. My behavior can grieve the Lord. We must become diligent in pulling up bitterness before it takes root. We must teardown walls of offense. God in Christ forgave you. He forgave me. Who am I to withhold love, grace and forgiveness from others?

Romans 18:19-21 (MSG) So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.

The pursuit of peace will sometimes require a quiet withdrawal. We must learn to live in the robe of righteousness offered to us by Christ. The wardrobe God has chosen for us is compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline. To be even-tempered – not emotional. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises and not react to people. It is hard to remember but a simple truth. People are not our problem but comprise our purpose. Every person in our path is divinely placed by the Lord. Whether it is to instruct, influence or enhance us or it is our mission to offer them something or maybe an equal exchange. We are all predestined to be part of something greater than could ever be accomplished on our own. The person who is deemed offensive or unforgivable may very well be the one who holds the keys to the next open door. The people divided are hindered by separation because the Lord has given us the command of unity – one heart, one mind, and one purpose – Jesus Christ.

When a relationship is broken by bitterness and offense, it breaks the heart of God. Like two quarrelling children hurts the heart of a parent, ugliness and strife between two people (any two people) does the same to God. We must learn to reconcile our life to Christ completely so that we can learn from His Example and reconcile our relationships as people. People are not in control of your destiny – Jesus Christ controls every outcome of our life. People do not have the power to hurt you unless you give them access to that which belongs to Christ. Our full expectation must be in the Lord to protect our heart in earthly relationships. When I don’t want to forgive, I must remember that He forgave me. When I don’t want to forget, I must remind myself that the Father chooses to release my sin into a sea of forgetfulness. When I want to lash out at others, I try to remember these careful instructions – if they welcome you, be gentle… if they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. To maintain peace with God through His Son Jesus – I must keep the peace with others. His Way is not my way. His Thoughts are not my thoughts. However, His Way and His Thoughts are what I desire. I am chosen by God for this new life. I must wear love and never be without it.

Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG) So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

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Safe

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John 10:27-30 (ESV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

No guilt in life, no fear in death – this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath – Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man can every pluck me from His Hand until He returns or calls me home – here in the power of Christ I stand. (In Christ Alone written by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend) These powerful lyrics led me to seek out the promise and security of the thought that there is nothing that can pluck me from His Hand. The permanent security in a chaotic life that is substantial enough to “command my destiny” is what I am after. I no longer subscribe to a normal life. It is not possible. Consequences, circumstances and certain conditions wrecked the notion that there is such a novelty. I am absolutely okay with it. It repositioned me by default. I had to make a conscious decision. Would I live a random existence being tossed to and fro or would I choose to live in the reality of my faith?

In John 10, Jesus tells us that He is the Good Shepherd. The kind of caretaker who lays down his life for his sheep. The Lord is dedicated to our preservation. He is the one who will leave the 99 to pursue the one who is lost or fallen. The shepherd who keeps track of each one signifying each one’s individuality and importance to Him. He came with a distinct purpose. Not only is the Good Shepherd devoted to our preservation, but He is intent on our prosperity. He warns of the thief who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus goes on to say that His Purpose is to give us live and that we would have it abundantly. Our life has potential far greater than may be seen but that has caught the attention of the adversary. The enemy viciously attacks the sheep especially those who wander astray. But the Good Shepherd will continue to pursue us so that He can revive, renew and restore us in righteousness. He saves, heals and delivers us. He is the Good Shepherd.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary offers this insight concerning these powerful promises for our life. “The safety of the saints inferred from these two. If this be so, then none (neither man nor devil) is able to pluck them out of the Father’s hand, not able to deprive them of the grace they have, nor to hinder them from the glory that is designed them; not able to put them out of God’s protection, nor get them  into their own power. Christ had himself experienced the power of his Father upholding and strengthening him, and therefore puts all his followers into his hand too. He that secured the glory of the Redeemer will secure the glory of the redeemed. Further to corroborate the security, that the sheep of Christ may have strong consolation, he asserts the union of these two undertakers: ‘I and my Father are one, and have jointly and severally undertaken for the protection of the saints and their perfection.’” You are safe today. Safe and secure in the Hand of God placed there by Jesus Christ. We must maintain our confidence in the security of God to fight the insecurity sown in us by the enemy. Doubt produces fear that can flush us from God’s Hand due to the natural adrenaline response known as fight or flee. Innately ingrained in us to fight for survive because of our separation from God now must be reprogrammed to remain confidently positioned in righteousness even when the storm rages and the heat of battle ensues.

Proverbs 18:10 (ESV) The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

You are safe today. Our strength and stability are not what has secured us. Weakness does not take us from it. No, you are safe today because you are held by the Lord in the palm of His Mighty Hand. No one can take you from Him. No one will ever displace us from His Love. It is our confident hope that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is God’s Solemn Promise and Divine Character never to lie or change His Mind about us but rather He will hold us gently but tightly forever in palm of His Hand. Sometimes we must declare to our mind, soul and body that we are safe. To remind ourselves that the conditions around us do not indicate our outcomes in Christ. The Name of Jesus is power. There is none above or beside Him. He reigns. He wins. He is life. He is our Good Shepherd who makes us safe.

Psalm 119:114-117 (ESV) You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God. Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope! Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!

Just to Know

To Know

Psalm 46:10-11 (NIV) He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of praying people at the end of our church service. I am always moved by such an honor when connecting and agreeing with other believers standing before the Lord. As the pastor began to exhort and dismiss the congregation, I was acutely aware of the woman standing next to me. She had not come forward yet I felt strongly that I was to share this verse in Psalm 46 with her. So just as any “obedient” believer would do – I returned to my seat to gather my belongings without saying a word. The Holy Spirit began tugging at my heart. I could not leave without telling her. Of course, as only God can do, she knew exactly what the Lord was saying to her and her husband’s face confirmed her affirmation. I had to laugh when it popped up in my Bible application as the verse of the day. Was this a word for my life, too? Maybe yours?

Performance is human nature. Sin gave us full responsibility for the life that it wrecked. Rather than full reliance with God – our lack of compliance called for a penalty. With Jesus Christ repaying the debt of sin, we are gifted with our freedom once again. Freedom to choose the path of life to take. Course of life to engage in. Righteousness to live in right relationship with God again. Free to live in the peace of His Presence or continue to try to outperform His Grace. There is no obligation in freedom. Yet somehow humanity has decided that the gift of eternal life is not free. Grace is not enough. Righteousness – some kind of lost leader that draws us in only to discover that it is not exactly what originally promised. When the Lord calls you – He equips you – when religion tells us otherwise. By grace – we are saved through faith – not of ourselves but through Jesus Christ. It is a gift that cannot be repaid. Set free to choose who to serve and how much passion to invest. The Lord invites us into the quietness of living at peace with Him. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Your God. A Good God. A Loving and Graceful God. A Kind God overflowing with goodness for you. A God of Refuge. A Mighty Fortress that protects you in the storm and keeps the wind and rain from moving or displacing you. I Am. No, really, I AM!

Psalm 46:1-7 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Do you dwell in the Peace of God today? I try to. Yet there are days when distractions and delays challenge my human nature. When God is ever-present and still ever-elusive to me, the stillness produced by confidence turns to insecurity. Sink or swim? Neither be still. To be completely still and unmoved by my situation, circumstances or current conditions to KNOW and believe that God is with me. It is an exercise of extreme discipline to persevere past our emotions and natural inclinations. To stand rather than try to build a new exit. To stay the course rather than reroute. To be still and know that God is going to do exactly as He promised if we would only persist in knowing and trusting Him more.

God is constant. He is our refuge. He is our strength. He is an EVER-PRESENT help in danger. THEREFORE – I will not fear. Fear is produced by doubt and insecurity. This is the downfall of most believers in claiming their calling and stepping out by faith. Fear consumes the faith that is growing from a heart given to God but not fully committed to becoming convinced.

Matthew 14:28-30 (NIV) “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Peter was a risk taker. Whenever Jesus said, “Follow me.” Peter followed. I believe that there was an immediate connection between the two that kept Peter pursuing the Living God. Peter was not the perfect disciple. The Bible tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Faith is a whole lot of fear and trembling. If we do not face our fear and confront it with faith, then it will hinder us for the rest of our life. How better to face our fears than to walk by faith? To walk by faith and not by sight. Fear is a natural emotion conducive to survival of humanity. Healthy fear, for example, if I do not look both ways before crossing a road that I may get hit by a car. Healthy habit of self-preservation. Common sense. This behavior came from parents or guardians who instilled it. Coming to Christ, we can now live a fearless life yet nevertheless should still look both ways before crossing the street. Faith is the same. It is not about leaping off mountains or running blindly across busy highways during rush hour. Faith is fear of God as in awe and respect. To put our perspective in the perception that God has of our life from beginning to end and live according to His Word by faith. It is way more disciplined and specialized then some religious folks make it. Taste and see that He is good. Test me. Try me at my Word. See God is all about opportunities. The prime opportunity for every believer is to trust Him. Trusting God is not a dangerous venture but the sublime moment when peace replaces the need to perform and we become followers of Christ rather than trying to build our own road to nowhere.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (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.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place through the Blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the House of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings… (Hebrews 10:19-22) We can live in perfect peace when our heart and mind agree with full assurance that faith has great potential. The belief that the hope given to us by Jesus Christ will never lead us to disappointment makes us followers. Peter got it all wrong a lot. He kept messing up. He proclaimed Christ to His Face and then denied Him on His Way to the Cross. However, Jesus still met him on the beach that day. Jesus called Peter a rock. Not just some rolling stone, but the foundation of His Church. You are part of the same Body as a living stone in His Temple. You have a place of importance. You are not insignificant to the ministry or in the effort to share the gospel. You must only be at peace with the Living God.

Peace with God is a complete confidence – mind, body, spirit and soul that He will do exactly what He promises in His Word – in you, for you and through you. The belief that His Grace is sufficient. The understanding that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us and to walk through the gate each and every day. Your ability to change your life does not impress God. To develop certain disciplines and holy habits is not what He is after. You can do nothing for the Lord because He did it all for you. Complete and absolute stillness comes when peace prevails in our life. When we decide that He is perfect in all of His Ways, trust becomes our refuge. We will not be moved from His Presence when peace is found there. To be still and KNOW that He is God – it changes everything beginning with me.

Isaiah 26:2-4 (NIV) Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

Good Fruit

Good Fruit

John 15:1-4 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:8) Have you inspected the fruit of your life lately? Is it fulfilling? Is it satisfying? Are you hungry? Our alignment to Jesus Christ is vital to survival in the Kingdom of God. It is the access point of divine productivity. If pursued by Children of God, it will produce disciples. There is a certain discipline involved by virtue of title. To be a disciple will always require discipline. A branch cannot produce the fruit of the vine if separated. To be fruitful requires our connection to Christ.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. The fruitfulness of God in our life is produced by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is specific in nature to include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) It is important to understand the fruit of God’s Spirit to find satisfaction for our soul. The soul’s appetite must become the spiritual fruit of God cultivated by His Spirit in order for its own prosperity. As it grows, our life becomes abundant and satisfied because the soul is prospering. (3 John 1:2) The Holy Spirit is Christ in us. His Holy Inhabitation that produces intimacy between us and forms a lifelong partnership destined for eternity. We must remain in Christ and He promises to remain in us. Why not the other way around? It would violate our freedom. We choose where to invest our life. God has given us such an opportunity. His Purpose, Plan and Promises do not change and are always accessible through Jesus Christ. It will always be our personal choice.

John 15:9-15 (NLT) “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Our life alignment with Jesus Christ is facilitated by careful and thoughtful obedience. Proper alignment produces overflow. Obedience that follows clear direction without deviation…ideally. However, we are only human and undisciplined by nature. Selfish in our desires and passions. Pursuing lesser things for immediate gratification rather than waiting on the Living God to produce lasting fruit. There is no one who has not fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard, which is not a behavior, but a lifestyle. In Genesis 8:22, the principle of seed time and harvest was established and the promise that goes with it. Whatever you sow, you will reap. Whatever you choose to sow in your life is exactly what will be. It is science. It is truth.

Our friendship with God is established by faith in His Son, Jesus. Faith is evidenced by trust. Confident hope is secured by faith that does not waver with life’s conditions but holds tightly to the covenant promises of God through every season. God does not lie or change His Mind. The calling on our life was established during our creation and put in to motion when God gave us our first breath. He will pursue us with unfailing love and goodness every day of our life. It is up to us whether or not grace is claimed through faith and abundant life secure.

Matthew 7:18-19 (NLT) A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

When I came back to Christ almost twenty years ago, I had made a complete and total mess of my life. I chose a church completely contrary to my upbringing. As I tried to explain my rededication to my grandmother, she lovingly and gently inquired as to some of my choices especially in denominations. I had only one response for her – “Just watch and see what kind of fruit I produce.” There is no way to make excuses for our sin or fully explain the salvation that has been given to us. The best way to share the Gospel is to live the Truth. The fruit of our life will satisfy the wary hearts of others and share a story to incredible to believe. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!”

 And immediately the fig tree withered up.

We must be very careful not to create artificial fruit. Appearances are for people. Religion paints a pretty picture and produces quite a display. To those who are hungry, thirsty and broken a perfectly composed Christian has nothing to offer. The one who has endured the process necessary to produce the Fruit of God’s Spirit will give them something of substance. Jesus has no time for fake. He is looking for faith. Those who will give up their life to have a new life. The ones who will endeavor in a relationship rather than be excited about a religion. The Lord is looking for trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit in each season. They do not wither. They prosper in all they do. They are connect with deep roots into the Source of Life and the fruit of their life is from His Spirit. We must evaluate our life by our connection to Christ. There is nothing or no one else worthy of comparison.

Matthew 12:33 (NLT) “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.”

We are created to produce good fruit. Jesus makes the fruit of our life good. His Spirit is always ready to cultivate such seeds in a fertile heart. A broken heart. A ready heart. A responsive heart. A heart that passionately pursues God’s Way, His Will and His Word will produce good fruit.

John 15:16 (NLT) You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

The rich and satisfying life promised by Jesus Christ is cultivated and reproduced as lasting fruit. It is the kind of fruit that completes us and never leaves us lacking. It is not in a natural sense though I find the deeper into the Lord I sink the more He prospers my life. The minute I stop worrying about provision or problems – it seems that the Lord provides sustenance and solutions. I must abide in Christ. Cut away those things the rob me of time, treasure and talents to fully and completely align my life with Jesus Christ. To pursue greater intimacy with Jesus than ever before because He chose to love me. It is the only reciprocal response possible as He has already given His All for me.

Matthew 21:43 (NLT)  I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.

God is a God of order. His Design is not chaotic but confirmed. He doesn’t change His Mind simply because He got it right the first time. God produces proper fruit in our life. His Purpose is not temporary but eternal. He will not produce any kind of fruit in our life that will cause us not to hunger and thirst for righteousness. The greater our pursuit of God and passion for His Purpose the less time given to lesser and worthless things. Proper fruit includes proper timing. No farmer plows a field and sows seeds today then goes back tomorrow ready to harvest. We must learn the art of endurance, patience and timing. Pulling up the plants prematurely will end the potential harvest hidden within.

Philippians 1:11 (NLT) May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

It is easy sometimes to become caught up in natural productivity and abort the productiveness of God. To live in Christ is a decision to invest our life in Him and live in alignment with the Word. Jesus is the Word. We see things a certain way even though faith tells us to wait for something better and long lasting. We decide whether or not to trust the Lord. He has given us the freedom to do so. If upon inspection the fruit of our life is not what it should be, then it is up to us to engraft our life back in Christ. The vine cannot leave its position. We must become one with Jesus for He is the Way, Truth and Life. He is the only way to the Father. Do not compare your life to others or its productivity. They do not have your purpose or potential for it is uniquely given to you. May we be filled with the fruit of your salvation today. May the Holy Spirit produce new fruit in us and prosper us from the inside out. As my soul prospers, may this life be lived in the abundance of God given to us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen and amen! Lord fill us with good fruit!

Colossians 1:9-11 (NLT) So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,

 

Time to Rest

Time to Rest 2

Hebrews 4:1-3 (NLT) God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. 

It is time for some rest. The last month has been a whirlwind of activity. God knows what we need and when we need it. At the beginning of spring, I booked a condo at the beach for Memorial Day weekend. A celebration for our daughter’s high school graduation and getaway for the family. This morning I have been packing and gathering things together to head out later today. As I come into this quiet place, it is with a thankful heart. I was uncertain whether or not to spare the expense and forego the trip due to home renovations and the inevitable expenditures with graduation, etc. My husband and I agreed if we didn’t do it now it wouldn’t happen. We are workers. Rest is a struggle for us. We do not stop until we hit the proverbial wall. Yesterday, sitting in my office I encountered the barrier – mind, soul and body shutdown. I need to rest.

God’s Promise of entering rest still stands – earthly and eternally. We should pay attention to our need for rest. God’s Work in us and through us is complete in Christ. Our toil is in vain. God never intended for His People to toil in vain and struggle until reaching forever. When He created the world, even God rested from His Work. It is good to rest. Pride tells us there is no rest for the weary. That is true if you do not believe. You will work hard for the rest of your life in vain if you do not come to the understanding that God’s rest is for you today.

For only those who believe can enter His Rest.

Faith and trust produce rest in the Lord. To know and understand that God’s Plan is constantly enacted in us and through us so that our doing is simple obedience – nothing more or less. There is not a single activity under the sun that is not orchestrated and ordained by God for our life. Ecclesiastes 3 details all the many activities. Psalm 139 reminds us that our life is prerecorded by the Lord with each day in vivid detail. To think that rest is not for us is to declare that we know what’s best for our life. This is dangerous my friend.

Mark 6:30-32 (NLT) The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone.

The disciples were led by Jesus to a quiet place to rest. They had been on a ministry tour. They were tired. They hadn’t eaten. Pouring out physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – Jesus took them to a quiet place where they could be alone. Now reading on – we find out that the people followed them and a miracle was coming. However, I would like to pause for a moment to remind you… and me…

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

The thought that there is no rest for the weary is the lie of the enemy to drain us. He wants to tire us out to the point of exhaustion. To be overwrought in emotionalism and overwhelmed by our situation and circumstances. It is all part of his ploy to take us out of the constant comfort and care of Christ to cast us into chaos. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I WILL give you rest.” Sometimes the problem is that in our doing, we have taken the full load of our life and become unyoked from Christ. We live in partnership and reconciled to Jesus Christ but if at some point we no longer abide in His Love – we stop producing the fruit that nourishes our soul and keeps us peacefully resting in the Lord. His Yoke is easy. His Burden is light. When we become too tired, weary in well doing and overcome by exhaustion – it is usually because we have assumed full responsibility for our life rather than keeping it entrusted to Him. Guilty as charged…

Hebrews 4:9-11 (NLT)  So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest.

For the next handful of days, I am going on a getaway with my family. The forecast calls for rain, but I don’t care. I am going to find respite and rest as I have been carefully instructed by my heavenly Father. To become restored will always require responding to the Voice of Jesus when He calls us. For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. I believe in hard work. I believe in doing your best. I believe that everything we do should be done to glorify God and honor His Son, Jesus. Resting is included in such activities. To never cease from our labors of life is an indication of a void in our trust that His Grace is always sufficient and enough. We can do nothing to earn or deserve the Love God has for us. He is a Good Father who blesses our life. Simple obedience includes coming to the Lord with our weariness and accepting His Rest. Thank you Jesus for rest. I will enter it today…all over again.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

Tiny Box

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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.

Oh what if we could wrap our thoughts in a tiny box and put them on a shelf. To unclutter our mind and organize our thoughts in such a way that worry, anxiety and stress could be alleviated in such a simple gesture. Each morning when the alarm sounds at 4:30 a.m., it is easy to hit the snooze button. One would think after years it would be a habit but I still moan and groan about it most of the time. So when my mind wakes me up somewhere around 3:00 a.m., my body begins to revolt. Tossing and turning, adjusting and readjusting, from the right to the left. I often begin to pray since I believe God is the only one up at such an awful hour. Finally, it is useless to try to drift back asleep so I tumble out of the bed. Those thoughts circling in my head are the things that wake me up. If I allow my mind to start to contemplate the day yet before me, I know I have lost the battle and will give in.

Set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits… How do I set my sights on the realities of heaven, when life keeps me completely preoccupied? How does one walk by faith and not by sight in actuality? Is faith really practical thinking? Is it logical at all? If so, how do I set, put, place my mind in the realm of hope as if wrapped in a tiny box and put in the Hands of God? The challenge is often accepted in powerless situations when life is too hard to handle so you have to let it go, but what about every other day? How do I live a Kingdom life in a loud, intrusive world? To think about the things of heaven and not the things of earth seems irrational and irresponsible somehow yet it is the reminder given in Colossians 3 today.

2 Timothy 2:3-7 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.  And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

We have but one enemy and a fierce adversary. He has nothing to lose. Everything to gain. So he sows weeds to choke out God’s Words, and lies to trip us up along the way. Eve was not persuaded by a boldface lie but rather a subtle half-truth. Jesus overcame every temptation by the Word of God. Jesus did not have to defend who He was instead he simply recited the Truth which is the Word of God to the enemy until he left. As believers, too often we get caught up in “civilian” affairs. Rather than fighting the good fight of faith, we fight everyone else including ourselves for things already given and promises already made. We are Kingdom kids. We have an inheritance untouched and untainted resting in the Presence of God and acquired through repentance and reconciliation to Jesus Christ. There is nothing in this world for us. We are temporary residents on a journey to eternity. Faith gets us there. The power to believe beyond what is perceived by human senses but carried in our heart. We must learn to keep our heart and mind set on Heaven. The realities of faith are given to the righteous who can do this – those who remain undaunted and undistracted by the common problems of life given to the reality that God is enough in every situation.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Last year, my husband and I were overjoyed to find out that our daughter and her husband were moving closer to home. For three long years, they had lived in the North about 21 hours away. Shortly after the news another announcement came that they were expecting their first child. I could not believe God’s Goodness and Grace in giving me the desire of my heart. Well, soon after that, plans began to unravel. The church delayed the transfer. It seemed as though she would deliver before moving. How would I get to her when the baby was coming? How could this be happening? So my daughter and I made a pact to put the situation in a tiny box and pray about it. We did not discuss it further. It literally was such a hard thing that we both just put it in God’s Hands and walked away. Well, as it turns out, God moved them as planned but closer than originally thought. Instead of four hours away, they live 30 minutes from us. Our grandson came right on time with us all gathered to celebrate his arrival. God had a plan. The Lord worked out the details. We didn’t have to worry or work it out – He did it all!

I share this with you because I am learning to live life through Christ. The new life that He promised us can only be attained by faith that becomes confident hope. Our confidence is built on trust. We must learn to trust the Lord in every situation even when it is beyond logical comprehension or even the slightest possibility. This is how the reality of heaven is discovered in an ordinary life. When the Lord opens doors, no one can close it. We have the power to bind and loose things but only by faith. We must make faith practical and intentional in our life. Everyday life not just overwhelming situations. To take each worry, care, fear, insecurity, doubt, what if, regret, and every other negative thought or idea and put them in tiny boxes sending them up to the one who relieves all fear and takes care of His Beloved Children. God did not give us the spirit of fear. Do not take hold of it. He gave us His Spirit to produce the fruit that nourishes our soul, fortifies our heart, and changes our mind.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Word of God is clear. Don’t worry about anything. What are you worried about today? What is your greatest concern? Does fear rule your life and make your choices? Do you doubt the validity of God’s Word today? Doubt is manifested in our thoughts in the form of fear, worry, stress, and anxiety. All are characteristic of insecurity. We must become firmly rooted and grounded in God’s Love through His Son, Jesus Christ. Pray about everything. It sounds crazy to whisper things to God rather than rushing off to try to them. You must tell the Lord exactly what you need and wait for Him to respond to experience the new life found only in Jesus Christ. When the impossible comes, give it to Him. When you are overwhelmed, cry out to Him. He is waiting for your call. He is ready to respond to your cries in the night. When our faith begins to wrap each impossibility in a tiny box and send it up to Heaven, it is exchanged for peace that exceeds anything we can understand. The Holy Spirit guards the faithful heart willing to trust the Lord and live life through Jesus Christ. He gives us perfect peace that goes beyond human comprehension and logic. It is the conviction that anything is possible if we just believe enough to give it all to God!

Do you have something ready for that imaginary box? A problem too great. A circumstance too overwhelming. A situation that seems to have no positive ending. Give it to the Lord today. You have tried everything else. The secret is letting it go and filling the void with God’s Word. His Promises always produce good things by faith in the heart willing to believe.

Romans 12:2 (NLT) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Quiet Place

Quiet Place

I Peter 3:10-12 (ESV)  For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Faith is a quiet place. Once the battle of our heart and mind are won, faith takes the place of fear, anxiety and worry when our confidence is in the foundation of Christ alone. Few will ever find such a place because the enemy works day and not to uproot us with circumstances, conditions and concerns in that natural that keeps us from supernatural revelation that with God all things are possible for those who simple and fully believe. To say one has faith and continue to strive is inconsistent. The Lord offers us peace that passes all understanding. It is up to us to make up our mind who we believe and even more important who to serve. We do not lean on faith when our confidence is secure because it is our hope that sustains us. Trust and believing begins with seeds of faith planted in the Kingdom. Over time, it becomes confident hope that quiets every storm and keeps us in the waiting. Faith is a peaceful and quiet place of dwelling in the Presence of God no matter what the conditions of your life may be.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to love life and see good days. Do you? There are simple instructions in this passage beginning with our conversation and communication. We must keep our tongue from speaking evil and our lips from speaking deceit. What does this mean? Our heart and mind must agree to produce words that affirm our faith and trust in the Lord rather than the current situation. We must learn to speak of His Goodness to us. It is important that our mouth speaks His Word not the way it is. Rebellion is anything contrary to God’s Word, Will and Way including what we say. To say, “I believe” and then express doubt marked by complaining, grumbling and malice is to refute our previous claim. Faith is in God alone and His Careful Concern for us that gives us confidence no matter what life looks like that He works every detail for our good.

We must turn away from evil and do good. We must stop allowing evil to penetrate our heart and mind. It is imperative to the growth and maturity of faith that we carefully filter what we feed our heart and mind on a regular basis. Like a diet counts caloric intake or carb monitoring, it is the same with our soul. To read the Word of God and study its way, but then not carefully examine what we see, hear and engage in is contradictory living. We become frustrated because those things attributed to faith are not producing good fruit when the problem is that in our fertile heart are seeds of faith and weeds of sin. We must challenge ourselves in every moment of every day to do good. Regardless of how we are treated or what we face that our character resembles that of our Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ.

I must seek peace and pursue it. Peace doesn’t find us – we must pursue it. Peace that passes understanding is offered but one must decide to accept it before it takes over. The meek inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. (Psalm 37) Meekness is humility. A peaceful and quiet nature not governed by pride. Humility is exactly what God is looking for in His People to given them an abundance of peace. Peace that comes from knowing He is fighting our battles and we must only be still. Faith is quiet and gives way to thresholds of peace in God’s People. The Lord promises us peace that passes all understanding and that peace guards our hearts and minds in Christ. Do you need peace today? You must pursue it. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but it is the tearing down of strongholds in our mind. To think like God thinks and respond per His Instructions. The battle is won in the natural. We must win the war in our heart and mind to stand victorious.

I Peter 3:4 (ESV) But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

This treasure of a verse is tucked in between careful instruction regarding submissiveness. Submission is the duty of every wife to her husband. There is power in submission to authority found only by the humble. We are ALL the Bride of Christ which is the submissive role in the relationship…woman or man. Our place in our covenant relationship with Jesus requires us to submit to His Authority and Power in all things. Our heart is thereby covered in the “imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” deemed precious in God’s Sight. We do not fight for the Lord. He fights for us. If we are still, we win. It is when our flesh tells us to do more than what God has instructed that we overstep boundaries of faith into a place that we are not called to be. We do not argue the Word of God for it is truth and therefore verified all by itself. We are not in conflict with people because that would be like our right arm trying to subdue the left arm. Faith is quiet when our heart is submitted and secure in Christ alone.

Isaiah 32:17-18 (ESV) And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

Righteousness will produce peace in our life. Right standing with God is not based on performance but acceptance. Crazy I know and often times difficult to fully comprehend so it is human nature to throw ourselves into serving God as though it somehow is repayment of our debt to Him. The truth is that the purest form of worship is to do so by living a peaceful life. The result of righteousness is a quiet life wrapped in trust. It means trusting God in all matters and at all times simply because He is God. He loves us unconditionally. His Grace is always enough. He pursues us with His Goodness. We are His Delight. There is nothing we can do to ever change that even when living in the depths of darkness. His Love never fails us though we constantly fail Him. God’s People, those who live by faith, will abide, dwell, and live in peaceful habitation. The Holy Inhabitation of Jesus is the Holy Spirit. Peace is one of the fruits that He is cultivating in us with seeds of faith. Are you living in perfect peace today? Is your dwelling place secure? Is your existence a quiet resting place that draws others to it? If not, it can be.

Psalm 46:10 (ESV) “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Be still. Know that I am God. Faith is not logical. I say it all the time. Faith is not a practical form of living widely accepted by the average person. It doesn’t make sense at all most of the time. In fact, faith is usually developed when faced with the impossible. In other words, in situations where there is no other choice. God wants you and I to have faith. He desires to give us peace of mind and soul security so we can prosper in every area of life. It’s definitely not a “God” problem. God will do exactly as He promised that He would do. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. We must be still and wait for the Lord. Stop fighting for every lost cause and with every person who doesn’t agree with you and be still in the Presence of the Lord who fights for you and gives you victory time and time again. You can only do this when you KNOW that He is God. When that knowing becomes living in confident hope.

Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

When our oldest son was overseas serving our country, I had this verse on my refrigerator. I prayed this over him every time I was in the kitchen. He was in a foreign land unwanted and in the enemy’s territory but God was with him. I prayed that the Presence of God would surround him especially in his sleep. I wanted him to have peace and rest each night though far from home and in constant danger. The Lord brought him back safely. Reading this today, I wonder if we are all not facing battles every day. Battles of our heart and mind without absolute confidence in the hope we have so our striving becomes strife. We begin to fight for something that already belongs to us simply for the asking. God will give us His Peace. We can rest in the stillness of the quiet place of faith. The Lord is in our midst. He is the Mighty One who will save, heal and deliver us. He rejoices over us with gladness because He loves us. He quiets us, soothes us and revives us in His Love. He signs over us as a mother to their sleeping child out of an overflowing love from the innermost depths of their heart as only a parent could understand. God loves us. We can trust that love in all circumstances and craziness of this life. We must only step over the boundaries of fear, doubt and insecurity into the quiet place called faith.

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Thankful Heart

Thankful Heart

Psalm138:1-2 (ESV) I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

Today is my birthday. It is just an ordinary day to me. I will let you in on a little secret. Taking another year doesn’t really bother me, I believe age is just a number. It is all the extra attention that I find to be the most uncomfortable. I am a giver. I love to bless other people. The position of receiver makes me want the day to pass more quickly. There is vulnerability in being the recipient. It creates a feeling of obligation in the acceptance of a gift. There is humility in the posture of receiving because it creates expectation. This morning as I fed the dogs, started laundry, working on the Mother’s Day plans for church, my heart began to recount all the blessings in my life. I am a grandmother now. Oh how I love that little guy. My life and my home the one that I dreamed of as a little girl. Life has not always been perfectly but now looking back it is turning out beyond anything I could have asked for, considered or imagined. Even though there were times I just knew all my bad choices, horrible habits, years of wandering, and inability to walk in constant obedience would result in a consequence – I just cannot find them now. God has certainly taken all those details making good on His Promise that unfailing love and possibility would be birthed in even the tiniest of details. Today – I am thankful with my whole heart.

I wonder what would happen if we lived each day in such a state. To be thankful with our whole heart would certainly change our mind. It would alter thoughts and reposition our perspective in life completely. Human nature is giving to comparison and complaining that eats away at our confidence in the God who works out all the details and even perfects that which concerns us. To be grateful acknowledges Him and to do so before the rush and radiance of His Glory comforts us in the waiting. I have received much from the Lord and to Him I must return my praise, glory, honor and worship. He takes our whole life and makes a masterpiece of it – can we give Him our whole heart in return?

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. (Psalm 138:3) I didn’t ask for anything for my birthday this year despite my husband’s pleadings for some ideas. I was bestowed a crown fitting for a queen or at least my dentist charged me like it was. I really am content. The only thing I wanted today was to be surrounded by my family and closest of friends. To fellowship together and enjoy each other’s company over dinner somewhere. To hug all my kids and squeeze my littlest grand – there is nothing I am more thankful for than this. The Holy Spirit lives in us growing and developing fruit to feed our soul. The first of which is love. Love then joy and peace. These three things are essential. Given to us with a measure of faith to cultivate them fully in our life. Our heart is the fertile soil of new beginnings. I wonder if thankfulness and gratitude is an added nutrient that accelerates growth in us like a good fertilizer on flowers or the lawn. To weed out all the fear, doubt and insecurity sown in us by the enemy to choke out the confident hope that leads to impossibilities and prosperity overtaking us from the inside out. As I call on the Name of the Lord today – it is with two simple word not nearly enough for all He has done – Thank You!

I Thessalonians 5:16-19 (ESV)  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

The Lord WILL and DOES perfect all that concerns you and me. It takes a lifetime to produce the miracle inside of us called new life. It takes a lot of planting for our heart and mind to prosper. We facilitate that process only in our “yes”. In the waiting, it is our willingness to praise and worship the Lord for who He is that is essential in tending that which is growing with us to manifest in our life. We can rejoice always. We can pray to a listening God without ceasing. We can give thanks in all circumstances because His Word will not return to Him void. It will accomplish exactly what it set out to do. He does perfect all that concerns us out of His Unfailing Love and Faithfulness in spite of us. This is the Will of God for our life. To prosper as our soul does. Let the Holy Spirit fill you with new life, new love, and new possibilities today. It begins with a simple “yes” watered in thanksgiving.

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord endures forever.

What Is Your Passion?

Passion

Matthew 22:37-40 (MSG) Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

What is your passion? Passion is any powerful feeling or compelling emotion in us. It produces a drive for that desire that is the kindling that creates tinder. When such a feeling or emotion is nurtured, it becomes inflamed. What is your drive in life? Is it to love the Lord your God with all your heart? The most important passion in our life is the one that consumes our time and energy. What are you after? What takes over your thoughts? What is that demands your time and is given its worth? Human beings are filled with many emotions, feelings and overtures both of God and not of God. The flesh has a passion all its own. Our heart also has passion that it longs to pursue. We decide what passion is fueled and allowed to exist in our life. So what about you? What is your passion today?

Love. To love God with all our heart. The other translations use the word “heart” instead of passion. The thought provoking Message Bible describes our love for God as passionate. Are you passionate about your relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you pursue Him? Do you long to be filled by Him? Is He truly your beloved? To be passionate means having or compelled by or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling. It produces an urgency and fervency within us to overtake that which is desired. It also means to express it. To let it out in some sort of demonstration or portrayal. Purpose without passion is just a plan – it will not produce anything at all because there is no investment. Purpose fueled by passion will create prosperity in our life. The very thing given our time and energy will yield its gain if not abandoned but pursued. It is the law of sowing and reaping. Those with passion do not give up because there as inner drive that overtakes us. Hence, it is important to examine our heart and evaluate our feelings and emotions on a regular basis.

Revelation 2:2-5 (MSG) “I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can’t stomach evil that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause that you never wear out. But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall! Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.”

Have you walked away from your first love? Maybe, wandered away unknowingly? It can happen. The church of Ephesus was doing all the “right” things but forgot about fueling their relationship with Christ. Everything we do, say and give our life to must be through our love and passion for Jesus Christ. The pursuit of His Heart must be our drive and desire each day in all things. If we are not careful, our partnership with the Lord becomes a business contract rather than marriage covenant. God will do exactly as He promised apart from love. His Love for us is constant. He passionately pursues us. Making the Way for us to live in right standing as sons and daughters of God. He will not lie. He cannot change His Mind and be God. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. He is good even when we are not. God’s Passion and Commitment to us is never in question it is always consistent. It is our love and devotion to the Lord that hangs in the balance.

Recover your dear early love. The start of a love affair is generally a passionate overture of raw emotion. The buildup tremendous but letdown coming. The emotions, feelings and desires of love must become a commitment to be long lasting. The imperfection of people make it impossible to fully live up to the expectation of love without a tremendous amount of grace and submission. Where’s the fun in that? A life of love may not always be fanciful and fun, but godly love will always be fruitful and produce in us a satisfied and fulfilled life. When our first love is Jesus – our expectation of full satisfaction and absolute abundance are secure. If we hold steadfast to the hope given to us in every situation – contentment will be complete. Humanity is all about the “feels”. I wonder what might happen if our passion was turned to the Lord and pursued Him first. What would the possibilities be? I cannot lead others to a place I have never been. I cannot describe an experience that I have never encountered. I cannot share a love that I have not found.

I John 4:1719 (MSG) God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

What is your passion? I asked before and I ask you again. What is the greatest drive and desire in your life today? What if we were completely honest even if only with ourselves? Examining the contents of our heart with transparency, considering our desires and drive, evaluating our time and how it is spent. What if we truly laid out our life and took an account of where it is being spent? Would our greatest pursuit be the Heart of God with a passionate love for Jesus Christ? I can only look into my own life. We are to love others as we love ourselves. Do you love you today? I have found that only through my relationship with Jesus Christ have I established any self-worth. In Romans 7, Paul describes the struggle of life with the selfish and prideful nature of his flesh constantly combatting the goodness and grace of God at work in him. Such is the struggle of every believer to fully invest their heart in pursuing God with passion.

Our heart must fall in love with Jesus Christ. Our passion must become pursuing Him at all cost if His Promise and Prosperity is our deepest longing. Our soul must prosper before anything in our natural life will. Our soul prospers when our heart, mind and body are fully committed to loving Jesus Christ. It will require our careful attention and honest evaluation of the contents and contracts in our life. Jesus came to become our beloved…He calls us beloved. It is from this loving covenant relationship with Christ filled with passion that we can pursue others with perfect love. Desiring nothing from them because our needs and desires are fulfilled by Christ. It is in the sowing of love that we receive it.

Is it time to rekindle passion? Is it time to pursue something new? If your life is fully satisfied or overflowing in abundance, it may be time to return to your first love. To bless the work of our hands without having our heart could result in the death of many who call themselves Christians but do not know Christ or love Him. It is easy to take those we love for granted and Jesus is not exempt. His Grace and Goodness are not doormats but doorways to a rich and satisfying life. We must be passionate in our pursuit of His Love.

Psalm 23:6 (MSG) Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

Song of Solomon 5:6-7 (MSG) Hang my locket around your neck, wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing—it sweeps everything before it. Flood waters can’t drown love, torrents of rain can’t put it out. Love can’t be bought, love can’t be sold—it’s not to be found in the marketplace.

It’s A Good Friday

It's A Good Friday

Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

After a long and stressful day at work full of deadlines, I was driving home so thankful that it was finally the weekend. I thought about the day filled with too much to do and not enough time to do it thanking the Lord that I made it when it occurred to me that it was only Thursday. I still had to get through Friday. Ugh! Have you ever done that before? What a letdown! As I could feel exhaustion overtake me and complaints begin to rise up in my throat, I remembered it was Good Friday. Why do they call it “Good”? Jesus was about to face the most horrible day of his natural life. He cried out to the Father to take the awful cup of suffering from Him. If there was any other way but to endure the Cross, it had to happen quickly. Well, as Christians we know that Jesus went to the Cross and died for our sins. He would rest in the tomb for three long days. Can you imagine what His Disciples and Followers must have been thinking? None of this met their expectation. When the women arrived to attend the body of the “dead” teacher, master, and Messiah, the angels would meet them and said, “Remember what He said…” It is in the days preceding the victorious emergence of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord that probably the best lesson for His People is taught. What do you do in the waiting? What happens when nothing turns out as planned? What happens when our expectancy wavers on the brink of devastation? How can we call such days “good”?

I am not comparing my busy and exhausting week to the suffering of Jesus Christ simply using it as an illustration. When we think the journey is almost over, only to discover a few forgotten steps. When it looks like the walls are coming down, but the Lord says, “Keep walking.” On the edge of breakthrough, when you cannot fathom moving another inch, pressing any harder, or enduring another minute. But you do… That my friend is the Grace of God working in you! Jesus set an example for us. He was focused. His heart set on you and me – those He calls, “Beloved”. He couldn’t go back, yet in the flesh – how could he continue? But He did…

Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

What has eternity blossomed in your heart today? What is your most hopeful aspiration? Do you have a dream, goal or vision? Of course, you do! You are a Child of the Living God who is creative in His Ways. He didn’t call you to a mundane or mediocre life. Just as Jesus exemplifies sometimes we must fix our focus on the “joy” that is just on the other side of that which is so difficult. We must keep our heart and mind on guard in perfect peace that God will do exactly as He promised. After all, isn’t Jesus a prime example of the faithfulness of our Father?

Hebrews 12:3 (AMP) Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

On this Good Friday, we must consider and meditation on Jesus. He endured betrayal, hostility, abandonment and abuse all in a single day and still decided that we were worth dying a brutal and tragic death for. To consider and compare our discomfort and inconveniences to the suffering of Christ should help us gain perspective. He went to the grave and walked in to hell to take back your life from the hand of the enemy. Three long days later, Jesus emerged from the grave victorious in His Efforts. He didn’t only give you the gift of eternal life but every promise that once was withheld due to rejection and rebellion against God are now available in righteousness. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He came that we might have a rich and satisfying life. He came to give us His Abundance from the coffers of the Kingdom. Surely if Christ could do all that – we can make it another day striving to live apart from sin, walk with Jesus and endure a hard day or rough season. We must set our heart, mind and soul on the joy set before us and secured by our Savior. It is indeed a good Friday!

Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP) “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me[following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

It’s going to be a busy weekend for Christians. It is the biggest weekend with high attendance for churches. There will be many festivities. Shopping for just the right outfit. Running all around. Can we stop for just a moment and fix our eyes on Jesus! When you think about complaining, remember that you have victory in every situation today! If you do not quit or give up but just believe – breakthrough is coming! We serve a risen Lord. Even His Disciples struggled with doubt and disbelief. Can you imagine what was running through their heads waiting for the stone to roll away? What happened? This is not what they expected. Jesus says, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest!” He doesn’t give us the kind of rest the world does. A quick respite from running to and fro. God gives us peace of mind and heart that even on our worst day it is a good day thanks to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Luke 21:25-28 (AMP)  “There will be signs (attesting miracles) in the sun and moon and stars; and on the earth [there will be] distress and anguish among nations, in perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea and the waves, people fainting from fear and expectation of the [dreadful] things coming on the world; for the [very] powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with [transcendent, overwhelming] power [subduing the nations] and with great glory. Now when these things begin to occur, stand tall and lift up your heads [in joy], because [suffering ends as] your redemption is drawing near.”