Worth the Fight

fight for it

I Timothy 6:12 (NLT) Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

Life is hard. It’s a battle every day. There is no rest for the weary. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Responsibilities. Busyness. Problems. Bad reports. Unexpected. Is this really what being a Christian is all about? This is the plight of humanity. Where is the peace and comfort promised by Christ? How does one attain it in a world gone crazy and a chaotic life? It is available. It is attainable. It is for you. You must fight for it.

Let’s talk about Jesus for a minute…

Matthew 10:34-36 (NLT) “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household!’”

The prevailing force in the world is contrary to God and His Premise of Love. The enemy of our soul seeks to steal, kill and destroy the very essence of life, love, peace, and joy as prescribed by God brought through Christ for our life. God’s Goodness is for us. He lives in us. But the world is not going to get any better, in fact it is daily worsening. Jesus did not come to save the planet. He did not come to bring world peace. Jesus came to give people a choice. An opportunity to have everlasting life, healing, prosperity and more. He promises a rich and satisfying life marked by abundance. He never forces this life on us but rather gives it as a gift. There must be a choice. There is no compromise. Choosing between darkness and light is the privilege given to us by the Lord and is our daily endeavor.

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

Jesus came to set the world on fire. He came to stir the pot and turn up the heat. The choice is between this life and eternal life. We want a better life but God is ready to give us the best life. See we would settle for less to escape the process because walking by faith and not by sight is tough. It is easier to give in to our mind, will and emotions rather than crucifying our flesh day by day. Jesus called Himself the Light of the World. A beacon of hope to a dying earth. He came to illuminate the darkness and expose every lie so that people could make a credible choice and escape the bondage of sin, death and the grave to have resurrection power and life. We get to choose each day who we serve and the life we live. What is your passion today?

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

The gift of peace of mind and heart is from Jesus. He gave us peace. It is not like the peace and security of the world and all its treasures. It is a promise that no matter what – God loves us. He is for us. He wins our battles. He heals our body. He has made a place for us in forever. He will never leave us or forsake us. We need only one thing – faith.

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

Jesus overcame the world. We have victory in Jesus Christ. In every battle, there is an opportunity to triumph by faith in the Living God. I cannot serve two masters. I must decide each day whether my life, my choices, my attitude and actions will serve the Lord or my flesh. I make that choice. I can do it well-informed by God’s Word which makes faith just a little more logical or I can ride blindly through life carried by the current of emotions or every storm that rises up. You will fight for what you believe.

Fight the good fight for the true faith.

Fighting the good fight for true faith is intentional living. It is not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude. God’s Word is very clear in His Instruction and His Spirit uses it to guide us in our decision making and action taking in this life. The mindset of the believer must be that of a soldier. One enlisted in the Kingdom must live in allegiance to Heaven rather than the earth. Soldiers do not shirk from battle but engage in warfare. To align with both sides would make them a traitor. To commit high treason is a crime. Choice is a benefit. We choose each day who to serve. It is in this choice that our outcome is determined. Faith is contrary to what the world thinks, knows and believes. We must walk by faith. It is a daily battle to overcome fear, doubt and anxiety. Confident hope is born of such battles – the ones given to believing rather than seeing. Total trust and reliance on the Lord does not come without a battle. Pride falls hard. Weakness is not a chosen state but necessary for a power shift in our life from mediocre and mundane to marvelous and miraculous.

“When a child learns to walk and falls down fifty times, he never thinks to himself – “Maybe this isn’t for me?” I read this on social media and completely identified. How many times in our Christian walk do we give up when all hell breaks loose in our life? Or maybe even before that when things get uncomfortable, inconvenient or uncontrollable? God created and called you. He loves you. He made the Way for you. He provided everything you need. He even gave you every spiritual blessing. You have an inheritance. He even goes so far to indicate that He will do more than you can even think to ask for. We do not fight from the place of victory that is given because we do not believe we win. The never-say-die bravado linked to our pride will give until it hurts and fight to the end. Why do we give up so easily when it comes to our faith? Faith is complete reliance and total trust on someone other than ourselves. Soldiers fight together for a cause. Soldiers become brothers and sisters banded together. They lay down their lives not only for each other and those thankful for their freedom but nameless and faceless people who take advantage of and abuse the liberty offered and hate them for what they do. I am reminded today that without faith it is impossible to please God. I must live by faith. I must fight for my faith. It is important. It is relevant. It is a game changer. It is a life giver. Though I may fall fifty times, I must get up fifty-one.

2 Timothy 2:3-4 (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.

Jesus told us that the one who endures to the end will be saved. Faith must endure to the end in order for us to be victorious. We must learn to walk, live and breathe by faith in all things. There will be suffering. There will be bad days, hard times and enemies along the way. The Lord promises to prepare a table before them for us. We are in this world but not of it so we must not get tied up in “civilian life” but strive for eternal life. The Goodness of God for this life is ours for the taking. We walk in victory so no lying down on the job. God is for us and no weapon formed against us will be successful. We must believe to succeed at this thing called faith. It is worth fighting for. Jesus overcame the world and so can you – by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony. So do it! Faith is worth fighting for every day in every way.

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

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Soul Wellness

Soul Wellness

Psalm 131 (NKJV) Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

Psalm 131 describes the heart of one who fully and completely trusts the Lord. The words are not eloquent painting a picture of divine intervention and a perfect life. It is more a surrender and submission of the psalmist’s heart, mind and soul to the Sovereignty of God. It is simple truth about simple trust. My heart is not haughty or my eyes lofty. Pride crucified. Completely convicted of its own inadequacy and inability to be effective on its own. The first step to trusting the Lord is humility. Grace is accepted in our absolute weakness. It is the moment the Power of the Living God is manifested in us…not necessarily around us. The expectation that Jesus came to change our situation and save the earth is false. He came for one thing. He died for a single cause. It was for me. It was for you. His Desire for us so great that He set aside His Throne to come and live a humble life as our example and to be crucified as a sacrifice for us. My heart is humbled at such a thought. The idea that a perfect and sinless man would lay down his life for me is overwhelming in the first place, but to add that it is the deity of God who took my place is incomprehensible even to those who believe.

As I write these words today, there is a hurricane headed in our direction. The sky is growing darker and the wind beginning to pick up. It is midmorning and the neighborhood is eerily quiet as the community waits, watches and wonders what will happen next. Fully prepared with food and supplies, the unpredictability of nature and the weather is still unnerving. Standing outside it is clear even the birds, squirrels and animals that live in the trees around our house have gone into hiding. Vivid images being broadcast from the center of the hurricane make it clear things are destined to change. In the stillness, I am reminded – the will of God is stillness for our soul no matter what the situation. I do not understand the nature and condition of the world in which I live. I am not entirely sure why bad things happen to good people or why the innocent die young. The more I think I know the less I seem to understand many things. However, I have come to know a few simple things – God is good. He loves me. He is for me. Christ lives in me. His Spirit helps me. In the Lord, I will trust.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

Yesterday, the wind began to pick up just a little bit. A tree fell in our yard. There was only a gentle breeze. How could it cause such damage? On closer inspection, I found that the tree was completely rooted on the inside. Though it looked fine from the exterior, the interior was fragmented and crumbling easily picked apart with my bare hands. It wasn’t the wind that knocked over the tree and caused it to fall but rather the tree was dying on the inside already. When the breeze came along it could not stand anymore. An object lesson for me, I believe. Maybe it Is not the problems in life that cause us to stumble or fall crying out to the Lord, but rather out inward condition of distrust and disbelief that push us over when things start moving and shaking around us. Rather than trusting our Good Father, Loving God, Savior, Redeemer, Protector and Friend, our inward condition causing outward consequences. I want to trust the Lord. I want to be welcomed into the Kingdom of God. I must be unshakable and immovable in my faith which is evidenced by trust.

What if the situations and circumstances that come with life are not the cause of our fall, fail or future? What if it is just the conduit that causes us to see our current condition? The tree was on the verge of falling already. It was deteriorating rapidly on the inside. The first brisk breeze that came along knocked it over. Could it be that it is not the things that happen to us that are the problem but rather reveal the contents of our heart? Psalm 131 says, “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul…” The security of our heart, mind and soul are manifested by trust. To trust the Lord making Him our refuge and strength. This means letting go of the three “C’s” (comfort, control and convenience) to fully embrace Christ in all things.

Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) Be still, and know that I am God…

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God is our refuge. He is our strength. He is a very present help in trouble. The humble heart knows this and puts trust in the character and divine nature of our loving, faithful Father and Friend. We must trust the Lord. Trust is reliance on the integrity, strength, ability and surety of the Lord with full confidence. It is the confident expectation or hope given to us as an indication of faith in our life. Hope is futuristic. It is intact whether our natural circumstances or condition indicate its relevancy. God is God with or without our belief. Our belief does not fuel His Power but aligns us within it. Miracles are made up of impossibilities. It is such times that God becomes our hope and security. Without impossible situations there would be no signs, wonders or miracles. It is the shaking of our heart, mind and soul that reveal the contents of our heart and soundness of our trust. It is when we can be still in just knowing that He is God when simple trust becomes evident.

Psalm 62:1-2 (NKJV) Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

There is a great deal of uncertainty in the city and surrounding area. Our lives may change dramatically in the next 24 hours depending on the intensity of the hurricane when it reaches our area. More than 20 people have died in its wake. We have prepared to the best of our ability for the storm. Our home is well-constructed and completely insured. There is a generator with a fresh supply of gasoline and plenty of food and water if needed. Now we wait… If tomorrow tragedy strikes what will be my response? Will I be able to say, “It is well with my soul”? Where we wait is the tell-tale sign of the outcome in moments such as these.

Triumph over tragedy is found in the Lord and in God alone. It is the peace that passes understanding that allows us to draw our next breath when it is all we have left. His Love is the place where shattered pieces of broken hearts find healing. The Refuge called Presence is the hiding place for God’s People. His Grace is our strength yet only evident in our complete and utter weakness that causes us to humble our heart before Him.

Today as I wait for the storm to pass, I am challenged to examine my heart and listen for the inner voice of my soul. Will I wait silently before the Lord knowing that He alone is my salvation? Will I be moved? Will I stay put in my faith and simple trust believing that no matter what tomorrow holds that He holds me firmly in place? We put so much emphasis on what we can see, feel, hold and touch in this life that sometimes it is the moving and shaking of those things that cause us to inspect the contents of our heart and soul. My deep desire is that when morning comes – the voice that I hear will say, “It is well with my soul!”

When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul”.

Romans 15:13 (NKJV) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Perfect Peace

Be Still and Know.

John 14:27 (NKJV) Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 

With a Category 4 Hurricane moving toward the state of Florida, things are a little crazy about now. Pandemonium has ensued as people attempt to prepare for the devastating effects of potential winds of more than 100 mph. We have a plenty of water. A fully stocked pantry. I will pick up a generator and gas cans from a friend. The highways are filled with cars barely moving. Living in north Florida, there is no doubt the storm will impact us but the folks in south Florida are being evacuated. Will they have a place called home to return to? Will they be able to continue to work? Will their family and friends who chose to stay make it through okay? Will they have enough money and time to reach safety? Should I stay or should I go? Fatigue and exhaustion are a dangerous mix that ignites overwrought emotions. Let’s stop for just a moment. Take a deep breath. Yes, I know there is so much to do. I know danger is only a day or two away.

Stepping out into the cool morning air, fall is coming. Today is beautiful. The sun is shining with a few sparse clouds and a lovely breeze blowing. Our yard is freshly cut. The trees are full and green. I take it all in because it may not look the same way in a few days. Life does not come with a guarantee that there will never be rainy days or even hurricanes. It doesn’t mean that your perfectly healthy children will not one day become terminally ill cancer patients. Tragedy is part of life. As long as the earth is still in existence, there will be good days and not-so-good ones. The world will not last forever. Seasons come and seasons go. God is our constant. He doesn’t change. Rain produces rainbows as a reminder that even when the rain comes pouring from the sky or flood waters rise that He will never destroy the earth or His People. His Word cannot return to Him void. His Sovereignty is never in question. The Lord must work within the parameters of freedom. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. Therefore, storms come and go, but the hope that anchors our soul is found only in the Lord who is constant. Unchanging.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. This is important. It is the foundation of our faith as believers upon which our belief system is built. The moment God doesn’t do what He says or falls short – we have a problem. Do you have peace today? Peace that passes your human understanding. Faith is only logical if we know God’s Word and believe it. I hate cancer. I loathe every vile of it in every innocent victim whose life it has infiltrated. I will war against it all the days of my life. But I cannot say that I am not thankful for the peace the trial produced in my life. The perspective of faith triumphing over tragedy is not as I expected. There is no glory or victory lane in the natural. I thought when our son was finally in remission that I would leap, shout and run around the hospital. It was not like that. Oh there was exceeding joy but what emerged was a quiet confidence in the awesomeness of God. Three years of praying, crying and trusting – repeating words and promises until I was blue in the face that made medical personnel think I was crazy. I just couldn’t believe that God was not good. I couldn’t fathom that He wouldn’t do what He said. He said it. I heard Him. I knew it was Him. When every other word and report was to the contrary, I would whisper…”But you promised, God!” The process of perfect peace is not found in the good times and great seasons of life but those times of disappointment, devastation or desperation when all you have is the Lord and all you need is for Him to do what He said…so you decide to be still and know that He is God.

Psalm 4:6-8 (NKJV) There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?” Lord, lift up the light of Your Countenance upon us. You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Jesus came to give us perfect peace. He promised in His Word. The word “peace” is “shalom” which means completeness, wholeness, peace, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, and harmony. It is the absence of agitation and discord. Shalom is a derivative of “shalam” which means to be complete, perfect and full. Thankfulness and contentment that is not contingent on your current situation or circumstances. The kind of peace that the Lord is gifting us with is complete and constant confidence in His Love for us and Goodness toward us. Jesus didn’t come to bring world peace. (Matthew 10:34) He did give us His Peace. The confidence of His Love and Salvation. Peace of heart and mind unmoved by world events or natural disaster. The kind of peace that can only be found by the one who seeks to attain it.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I find it interesting that despite public service announcements of being prepared for a hurricane that so many people are without the proper supplies. I think it is ironic that with running water in every household that so many are using all their gas to find cases of bottled water. I have no room to talk. I bought four cases of bottled water and had nothing on supply but some snack food when it became clear the storm was coming. I have lived in Florida my whole life. I have experienced other storm similar storm systems. I was not ready when the first warning came. We have a God who loves us. His Son, Jesus, died to give us access to Him. We are given new mercy every morning. His Grace is enough for every weakness. There is a Book of Instruction crammed full of promises, warnings and guidance. More than half of the church today is on anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications. Again, I am only stating facts there is no condemnation. Rain falls on the just and unjust. Life happens. Sin is rampant. Evil and darkness is at every turn. There are wars and rumors of war. There is a hurricane about to cover the state of Florida. Do you have peace today? Do you have perfect peace?

The Peace of God is available to those who are righteous. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Too often we stop at salvation and save the rest of God’s Promises for a rainy day. Well, maybe for you that rainy day is today. See there is nothing any storm in life can rob you of that is eternally of worth. Your soul is secure in Jesus Christ. God forbid if you leave this world today – you will be fully embraced in His Loving Arms. It’s a win-win situation for those who believe. However, the Peace of God that surpasses human understanding is evidence of such confident hope. Faith expresses itself in peace that is fully reliant on God and His Faithfulness. I’ve seen that peace before radiating on a man’s face. Our son-in-law’s grandfather was diagnosed with a heart that was failing. He was not given a long time to live. The pallor of his complexion due to poor heart function made it evident that the Lord would come for him soon. Yet sitting in church singing old hymns with his hand held high with a smile plastered across his face, it was clear that he did not fear death but welcomed it as an open invitation into the arms of Jesus. That’s the kind of peace I strive for and long for every moment of every day. I have experience a small portion and desire it full force in my heart and mind. The Lord has promised it to me and you, too. We must only pursue it to have it.

The Lord is with us friend. The wind and waves know His Name. They recognize His Voice. Do you? He is speaking to us all today. “Be still and know.” Know me. Trust me. Love me. Pursue me. Let me be your peace. Your comfort. Your confidence today and always.

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control, and in the middle of the war, You guard my soul,
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm

Call to Rest

Call to Rest

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.”

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Rest is important in the life of a believer. To take a step out of the busyness of life to physically and mentally rest and be rejuvenated. The enemy uses overloaded schedules, rigid routines, and mounting pressures to perform as a means of distraction until people become so overwhelmed by the persistent pull of responsibility that faith in God forgets He is in control of our life. A couple of months ago, I felt the gentle whisper of a loving Savior confirmed by the voice of my husband the call to rest. Life has been hectic. Chaotic. Crazy. It is time to get away. The beach is our favorite place to unwind and getaway. Today we leave for a respite.

Of course, this morning the dog woke me up in the wee hours of the morning. My brain then refused to go back to sleep so I packed and repacked the car in my head. I woke up grumpy. Worried a little about work and other things circling my thoughts. I need to rest. Not just rest my body and mind but my soul. So do you… It is important to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ more than serving Him physically. We must connect our heart and mind with Him. Just like a natural marriage requires such attention to continue to thrive, it is important to spend time with the Lord away from the cares, worries and burdens of life. I plan to do just that…

Love, joy and peace are the Fruit of God’s Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) They are not naturally occurring in a world that demands all our time. They call it a rat race for a reason with hurrying and scurrying all around. The Kingdom of God is not based the pursuit of such things. All that we need, want and desire are fulfilled when we come to Him. He gives us rest. Rest is from the word “anapauo” – ana meaning “up” and pauo meaning cessation from toil and refreshment.

Prosperity begins in the soul. To prosper in our soul impacts our natural life. Prosperity in our natural life that does not reach our soul can do nothing to bring satisfaction. Jesus is the Bread of Life. (John 6:35) Those who live in Christ find full satisfaction not in what they have but who He is. Only those who taste and see His Goodness will understand the value of such peace. Just like any food in life, you have to try it to see if you like it.

Matthew 6:25-32 (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. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”

What are you worried about today? What burdens your heart and mind? Robs you of sleep. Steals your attention. Keeps you weary. Tells you to give up. What causes fear to overtake your confidence? What is keeping your faith small? It is important to examine our heart and mind to answer these difficult questions. It will identify the areas of our life not entrusted to the Lord giving us the opportunity to surrender each burden and care to Him. Worry, anxiety, stress and fear evaporate when faith grows in us. Total trust in God’s Goodness and Greatness in our life. Confident hope that the grace of Jesus Christ is enough to release of His Power and Authority in every situation. These are the qualities that allow us to release every burden to the Lord and yoke our life to Christ.

God knows exactly what you need. I used to tell the young girls in our youth group that women are natural gathers. Born with little baskets on each arm designed to nurture and care for future families. The enemy wants to fill them with unnecessary things. It is important to empty our baskets on a regular basis and continue to carry only those things given to us by Christ. We can discern such things in His Word and communicating with the Lord in prayer. Living in His Presence gives us the peace and confidence to say, “No” to lesser and unnecessary things because our faith is in God alone because man cannot fill our expectation.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Perfect peace. There is nothing like it. It comes when our life is yoked to Christ. Partnered with Him, the waves of the storm cannot remove us from the anchor called hope. Together – we are unstoppable because He overcame the world and handed us victory – Jesus is our champion. He has given us every spiritual blessing, provides all that we need, and promises to do more than we can think, ask or imagine. We have it all but settle for less when working for things already given. Trusting the Lord means resting in Him. It means releasing cares, worries, burdens, anxieties, fears and insecurities to take on the yoke called righteousness that by faith makes all things possible in Jesus Christ. To live in Christ is the place of perfect peace.

Psalm 23:1-3 (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.

The Lord calls us to rest and leads us as well. He is a good shepherd who cares for his sheep. He will leave the 99 just to find the one who is missing. Distractions lead us off course. The lie of the enemy is that God is not enough and His Grace insufficient. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s examine our own heart and mind today. Find all the burdens, cares, concerns and worries. Take captive fear and doubt that are adversaries of faith. Go to Jesus and give them “up” and to be refreshed, restored and renewed. His Love for you will never let you down. We must trust and believe that God is good. Good to us. He is for us. He fights our battles and wins our wars. To step into partnership and presence allows us to let go of the lead and follow the Lord to love, joy and perfect peace. This is the place called rest. Well, I am off to the beach. I am stepping out of life to find solace with my family and seek the Face of Jesus at the sea. My prayer for you today is rest. May God apprehend your heart all over again and fill it with His Love, Joy and Peace. Amen and amen.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

My Heart Response

The Response

Romans 8:31-32 (NIV) What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Life is 10% of what happens and 90% of how you respond to it. This statement is applicable in our natural and spiritual life. Allowing experiences to influence and impact our life is generally up to the individual clearly evident in those who triumph in tragedy or those quickly overcome. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? Too much most of the time. Communication is complicated. Texting leaves wide open interpretation of emotions and feelings never implied. Offense builds a fence around the human heart marking it no trespassing as others venture by. Pride hardens the human heart until it no longer responds with kindness, compassion or love. No longer pliable it breaks at every hurt, betrayal or trauma without grace and mercy to keep it soft, pliable and humble. God has given us the opportunity to respond to an invitation. The promise is salvation and even success. It came at a high price in the sacrifice of His Son…His Only Son…Jesus. What is our response today? It is relayed in our response to the world around us, the things that happen to us, and how we live the next moment.

Romans 8:28-30 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Not responding is a response. What is our response to the Lord today? Do we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him? Oh, we say that we do. But do we really? It is evident in our mind, will and emotions. It is determined by our reaction to bad news, ugly people and unjust treatment. If I believe that every detail of my life is predetermined by God and predestined for my good and His Glory before it begins, my reactions in life will be defined by such knowledge and not unmet expectation. I have a purpose. My life prescribed before I was born. (Psalm 139) I came prepackaged with hope for the future. (Jeremiah 29) My future is filled with good and not despair. It all sounds wonderful. It requires one thing. My whole heart. I must wholeheartedly pursue the Lord beyond being right, full of pride and finding my own way. Trust is knowing that God is knowing AND believing that God is working all things together for my good and living like it.

2 Peter 1:4-8 (NLT) 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. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Make every effort to respond to God’s Promises. We walk by faith and not by sight. Therefore, I must keep my eyes and attention on the promises of God and not the problems all around me. Life is hard. The struggle is real. People can be problematic and dramatic but they are not the problem. The enemy is working day and night in his realm of influence to “steal, kill and destroy” every relationship. That’s right. The enemy is not interested in what you have or what you do. He is hell bent on destroying your relationship with the Lord and every other person because that stops you from fulfillment. We are in this world but not of it. Building a Kingdom that will overpower the earth and create a new heaven and new earth under the Kingship and Lordship of Jesus Christ. No more sickness. No more pain. No more sorrow. No more struggle. Just life everlasting in the Presence of God together with all of His People. The enemy hates relationship. We must not get upset with people for their imperfection or inability to meet our needs, wants and desires. We must not react to offence or insult but rather apply grace, love and mercy to overpower the enemy and stop his attack. He becomes powerless in the presence of grace.

How do I respond to God’s Promises? Supplement our faith. Make it stronger and more vital by adding moral excellence. Moral excellence comes with knowledge of God’s Word, His Plan and His Promises. Moral excellence is not trying to be perfect. It is about understanding that there is more to life than this and responding by accepting a higher standard of living. It is the continuous effort not to settle for less than God’s Best, substitutions or quick fixes but striving to obtain all that God has for you by faith. Knowledge produces self-control which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in our life. (Galatians 5:23) The Word of God sows seeds of faith that grow into discipline. The disciplined will become Disciples of Christ, not by blind trust, but absolute and confident faith in the truth that He who promised is faithful. Self-control allows endurance and patience to be developed for longevity in life. This is not a sprint to eternity but a marathon. Patient endurance creates character called godliness. It gives us grace, mercy, love, joy and peace to generously spread around in the waiting and watching for the Lord. Godliness produces brotherly love and genuine affection for people that allows us to love them unconditionally. Suddenly our life is about God and His Goodness rather than us and our pride.

Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

The last couple of weeks, I have been studying about submission. Surrendering all of my life to the Lord and His Promises. Giving my life to other people. Investing my faith in grace, love and mercy continuously. Laying, tying and binding every bit of pride to the altar of God rather than the throne of self. God is good. He is faithful. His Word always produces life. What I have found in these passages is that submission sounds so ominous or foreboding but it really is all about freedom. I have lived long enough in Christ that seeds are becoming fruit. Good fruit. I have seen the Lord do more than I can ask, think or imagine just as He promises in Ephesians 3:20. There is more to come. It would be easy to see all the good things that the Lord has done and settle right here. However, He has called to me. “Come and talk with me.” How will my heart respond? The psalmist said, “Lord, I am coming!” It is important today, while it is still today, that our heart responds to the Living God.

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

There will be many opportunities to react or respond today. I wonder what today might be like if we decided to live in the absolute belief and total trust that in Christ we are more than conquerors. Those who live in a place of victory in the shadow of our Champion, Jesus, have nothing to prove but rest in His Glory. It is from such confidence and hope that I am able to respond to God’s Promises rather than reacting to the irritants and chaos of this life including other people. I have nothing to prove. I am a Child of the King. A humble, loving and gentle Lord who laid down His Life to give me victory, authority and power in this life leading to the everlasting. Those with nothing to prove do not have to be prideful but live in confidence. Are you confident in Christ today? Do you believe and live life as more than a conqueror? You can. It is all part of God’s Plan and Promise for your life. It begins by responding to the Lord and living in His Presence.

Revelation 3:20-21 (NIV) Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Life’s Greatest Liability

Life's Greatest Liability

Luke 6:36-38 (NKJV) Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

The greatest liability in the life of a believer is unforgiveness. To restrict the mercy, compassion, love and grace given to us is the source of limitation and lack that often goes unnoticed creating frustration and unmet expectation. It binds and restricts the one who holds it tightly. Joyce Meyer said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die.” T.D Jakes tells it like this – “unforgiveness denies the victim the possibility of parole and leaves them stuck in the prison of what was, incarcerating them in their trauma and relinquishing the change to escape beyond the pain.” And finally “forgiving someone may cost you your pride but not forgiving them will coast you your freedom.”

Mercy is not only characteristic of God the Father, but the overflow of His Existence. (Deuteronomy 7:9) His Mercy endures forever. (Psalm 106:1) It is freely given to us each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) The Lord is our portion. The One in whom our hope is secure. Mercy is defined as compassion and kind forbearance shown toward an offender. Sin is offensive to God. Pride resides in the human heart producing rebellion against God when given the opportunity. Unforgiveness is one of its most effective traits. The decision to harbor unforgiveness in our heart is to sow seeds of bitterness that will take root and choke out the relationship being restored in us producing new life, new love and new creations. How many times has Luke 6:36-38 been attributed to lesser things? Prosperity of our soul begins with the forgiveness of God given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. It continues to grow and develop in us when we choose to extend the same grace, love and mercy to others.

Matthew 6:14-15 (NKJV) “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus emphasizes the importance of a right relationship with God. He does not stop there but also right relationships with people. Building and maintaining right relationships is the development and advancement of God’s Kingdom and strengthens the Body of Christ. To know God is the highest pursuit of righteousness. To be in an ongoing and thriving relationship with God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of forbearance or forgiveness in us which is evidence of our relationship with the Triune God. Understanding the importance of forgiveness to vitality in Christ is essential in our spiritual growth and development which is soul prosperity. The Lord even put in the model of daily prayer. (Matthew 6:11-13) We must live in a constant state of mercy and forgiveness to maintain a constant connection to God and His Kingdom.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Jesus did not give some mathematical formula but instead “seventy times seven” is used to imply limitless forgiveness. Unforgiveness is a liability and misuse of the binding power and authority given to us by Christ. It is forgetfulness on our part of God’s Grace towards us or to somehow imply ourselves more deserving than another. It restricts and binds. It is dangerous to our body, mind and spirit working like a cancer eating away at us. It is mishandling Kingdom power. It limits our prayer life. (Mark 11:25-26) It is sin retention in our life. (John 20:22-23) Unforgiveness is a liability to the believer creating limitation and lack while restricting the abundance that God has for those who live in a right relationship with Him. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He is intimately aware of our sin as it is the very thing that nailed His Precious Son to the Cross. God’s expectation of His People is love and forgiveness as described in I Corinthians 13. Love never fails. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.”

Psalm 52:8-9 (NKJV) But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. I will praise You forever, because You have done it; And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good.

We have been given the love, grace and mercy of God. It is released in all fullness to the believer as seed to do with it what we choose. Freedom is established in the Son, the Word of God. The very first benefit given to us that makes way for every other blessing. (Psalm 103) To overstep forgiveness is to restrict abundance in our life. All blessings are contingent on the Grace of God that allows His Goodness to be poured out on the unworthy and imperfect chosen by adoption. When we decide to not forgive another person for their offense, it is to refuse God’s Blessings in our life and choose our own portion. Pride chooses its own way bypassing righteousness found in the Grace of God by way of humility. Is there lack in your life? Are you limited? Does your prayer life seem stagnant? Do you lack love, joy or peace? Search your heart with me today. Look for any seed of unforgiveness or bitterness. God’s Grace will cover it as you rip it out by the root. Freedom is poured out the moment we choose to forgive. It may not mean a mended relationship but it will restore righteousness when heartfelt and sincere. Do not let it be a liability but let grace and mercy by an asset as you thrive in the Presence of God today.

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the excusable in you.” C.S. Lewis

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

 

 

Peace with God

Peace with God

Job 22:21-22 (NIV) “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.

These are the words of Eliphaz to his friend, Job during the worst time of his life. Job’s children were gone. His wealth gone. Everything God had blessed him with in his lifetime taken from him within a single day. Even his own physical health compromised, I am quite certain that he was not looking for a sermon but sympathy from his friends. The story of Job is one, though hard to read and difficult to comprehend, is absolutely necessary to understand true submission to God. “Submit to God and be at peace with Him.” This may imply that Eliphaz had decided that Job must have sinned against God to invite such tragedy into his life. From a human aspect – it would be the natural assumption. However, his words I believe are led by the Holy Spirit and not his own intellect. Submission to the Lord in all things will give us peace. The Holy Spirit produces peace in our life as a fruit. As our soul prospers so does our life, but I do not believe that God will allow us to prosper in this life if it compromises eternal life. “

“In this way prosperity will come to you.” Everyone has a natural desire to prosper. To see increase and live in abundance. It is a common thread of commerce. However, peace does not come from financial security but confident faith that there is more to life than this. A place of eternity rest offered through Jesus Christ. The Lord has given us His Spirit to produce the kinds of fruit that satisfies our soul and causes our heart and mind to prosper in God’s Word which is His Plan for us. “Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.” I have studied the Word of God every day for the last eight years. Each morning getting up early to read, study and meditate on it. I want to extract every single truth, promise and blessing hidden within the pages of text. I do not say this to boast but rather to share that even though I have spent countless hours poring over the Word of God, I find new things every single day. It is life to my heart, mind, thoughts and soul. It is never old but always fresh and new.

Romans 10:2-4 (NIV) For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Our zealousness and enthusiasm serving God must be based on His Word. Faith comes by hearing and found in God’s Word. We desire righteousness but do not fully understand what it entails. Pride wants to earn it. Somehow find a way to deserve the Grace of God. It is impossible. Yet still religiosity can interrupt our relationship when pride tells us – “I can do it.” The only way of reconciliation with God is through His Son, Jesus. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can make it to God except through Him. The Word made flesh to live among us is none other than Jesus. I must submit to God’s Righteousness fully accepting His Grace in my weakness. His Power is complete in my life when I do. The story of Job depicts man’s struggle with pride. Doing everything right cannot erase our sin or promote a relationship with God. It is our thriving relationship with Jesus that gives us total access to God the Father and His Power in this life.

Divine discipline as recorded in Hebrews 12 is not in the form of punishment. It is God’s Love at work in us to remove barriers of pride, fear, and insecurity that keep us from reconciling our life to God through His Son, Jesus. It is always born of love, mercy and grace. God cannot punish those who believe as it would be contrary to His Word. God doesn’t take back His Promises but daily pursues us in order to bless us. It is His Desire to give us the desires of our heart. Misalignment spiritually creates conflict in our life. (James 4:1-6) Our friendship with God makes us enemies of the world. I want more of God’s Grace. To have it means moving my life from this world to Kingdom living by constantly pursuing a relationship with God by way of accepting His Grace more and more which means I must decrease and He must increase in me. Pride is crucified in this place and submission fully embraced as a way of life.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

To be reconciled with God is live at peace with Him. Submission to God comes in the form of acceptance of His Grace as enough for my life. His Power is manifested in my weakness and inability to accomplish anything of worth outside of my relationship with Jesus Christ. I must become a new creation. Pride must be executed so that the fulfillment of His Purpose can be accomplished in me. I must learn to submit. Humbling myself before the Lord and other people. God has a plan containing a future and hope that oversteps death into eternity. By faith, I can achieve it. I must understand my place as a participant in this process. I must humble myself before the Lord which means also extending it to other people.

“Submit to God and be at peace with Him” is not a threat or form of punishment. It is an invitation. Like a wedding invitation all in white tied with a scarlet bow, bidding us to come and participate in the greatest love story ever written. To be His Bride. To await His Coming with real enthusiasm not overrated zeal. His Word gives us the opportunity to know Him. His Spirit is the intimate consummation of His Betrothal. We have a promise, not only of a fantastic future, but blessings for the land of the living. Pride will never exalt us to the level of confirmation that humility born of absolute trust in the Living God allows. It is the destruction of the platform of pride that spiritual elevation takes to the new levels and life intended by God. I must live in Christ to find them. He must increase and I must decrease. I must live at peace with God in Christ Jesus to reach my full potential. Sometimes it is the moment when all we have is the Lord, that we find He is all we ever need.

Colossians 1:19-20 (NIV)  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Freedom of Forgiveness

Freedom of Forgiveness

Micah 7:18-19 (NKJV) Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His Anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

A woman scorned went to one of the places she and her thought-to-be true love had spent a great deal of time. A quiet park by a lake surrounded with trees. In the dark of night with only the moon for light, she was on a mission. The serenade of crickets and frogs soon disrupted by the objects hitting the water with a variety of loud splashes. The concert grew silent as her mumbled words were followed by the crashing and then sinking tokens of love now lost. She drove to their “secret place” and unloaded every gift that he had ever given her. Hundreds of dollars sunk into the mud and sludge at the bottom of the lake. She wiped her tears and moved on that night.

The latest craze is painted rocks. Rocks with pictures and/or messages placed in hidden and obvious places for unsuspecting people to find. A new kind of pay-it-forward inspiration, the rocks are meant to bring spontaneous joy and express human kindness to the one who is lucky enough to find one. A quick smile at a low cost. But I wonder what might happen, if rather than putting useless images on little rocks, we put the sins, hurts, betrayals and turmoil that create unforgiveness on a rock and threw it into the lake. Attaching all the thoughts and emotions that unforgiveness offers to each stone, and them tossing them away and letting each one sink to the bottom of a lake out of sight, out of mind, and void of emotion forever. Would there be freedom? Would it expand the capacity to love in our life? Would it heal our bodies, minds and emotions?

Insecurities build walls with stones of forgiveness every day. God offers a solution. It is called mercy. Kindness counts. However, water poured on a rock has no point of entry. Our hearts become hard and callous when continually hammered by hurt and disappointment. People will always let us down – most unintentionally yet it still happens. We must become acutely aware of those things living in us in the form of hurt that has produced unforgiveness. A lack of forgiveness is a detriment to the Kingdom of God and limits our life from His Blessings. To offer forgiveness in the absence of the expectation of full restoration is not the kind God exhibits or wants. He is looking for a united and harmonious family. God casts our sins into the depths of the sea. He is asking the very same of me.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV) Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The first benefit of God in our life is His Mercy. His Willingness to forgive all of our sin through His Son Jesus Christ. It gives us complete access to Heaven. It is from this standpoint that believers are able to bind and loose things between Heaven and earth. It is from this place of undeserved mercy and copious grace that fills my life with God’s Goodness and Glory in abundant proportions. It is also from this place that I must release the same forgiveness in my life. Forgiveness is a process that is coupled with trusting God. How so?

The more I am able to trust God with the expectations of my life the more willing I will be to release others from this obligation. Unmet expectation is the source of unforgiveness. When another person doesn’t do what we expect them to do, doesn’t act as we expect them to act, doesn’t meet the obligation of relationship that we have put upon them, or fail to meet any other ethical, moral, physical or emotional, and yes, even spiritual obligation – unforgiveness rears its ugly head.

Who forgives all your iniquities…

I believe that forgiveness gives us access to all the benefits of God that come through relationship. Hope meets and exceeds our expectation. It has its own set of standards and timeline for execution that requires absolute and total trust in the Lord…not people. However, to allow unforgiveness to remain is to leave a lock on the door to our blessings and promises in God. The Lord wants to open the doors and windows our life to let Him fill it with all the good things that He has already provided to us.

Daniel 9:9-10 (NKJV) To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness. If He is our portion, the same belongs to us. We have the ability to forgive and offer mercy to others. Am I willing to forgive like the Lord? Psalm 86 says that the Lord is good and ready to forgive. Psalm 99:8 calls God the God-Who-Forgives. It is in His Very Name. Mercy is His Character. To love first. To love confidently. To love completely. God desires mercy. He loves when we love like He does. He moves closer when our heart forgives because it gives Him more room to expand and fulfill our desires apart from limitation. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory. I believe that there is not a living breathing human being that cannot find a person who needs their forgiveness. I need to forgive. Forgiveness leads to full restoration.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NKJV) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus offered a model of prayer in Matthew 6. Included in the prayer are these words, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” They come right after give us our daily bread. I wonder if we somehow miss the point that the Lord included these words in His Prayer Model. Forgiveness and mercy are not supplements but substance in our life. If my life is lacking this may be the primary source, the blockage, the backup and the wall that must come down. Forgiveness is an opening that allows God’s Mercy and Love to make a way for new relationship. Restoration always makes way for relationship. We are building a Kingdom of Souls that are knit together. The bond must be in place. I must be open, willing, and ready to forgive at all times in order to experience God’s Power in all things. Here are some truths about unforgiveness:

Unforgiveness represents smallness of soul. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Unforgiveness restricts our life. It limits the mobility of God’s Power to work in us and through us as we have deemed His Grace insufficient in our life.

Unforgiveness inflicts suffering in our bodies, minds and emotions. It is literally unhealthy.

Unforgiveness creates isolation with a wall of stones placed day by day with unmet expectation.

Unforgiveness does not promote Kingdom living. To sustain an unforgiving heart is a liability as a believer mishandles Kingdom privileges and power. It is a direct misuse of binding and loosing as ordained in Matthew 18:18-19.

Each of us own a heart and soul. God has offered us mercy, grace and forgiveness as healing balm to fill every void, bind together the broken pieces, and meet every expectation so that we can express the Light of His Love. How am I doing? I am asking myself today. I am asking the Lord to examine my heart and reveal any unforgiven debt that I have been holding on to. I desire fulfillment. Full satisfaction. Completeness in Christ. Every good thing that the Father has for me. It begins with forgiveness. Accepting God’s Mercy and Forgiveness. Paying it forward to everyone who I have left unforgiven. New life, new creation, restoration, renewal and yes, even revival begin in such a place. I want to be there to see it come.

Matthew 9:4-6 (NKJV) But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

As the church continues to cry out for revival, I wonder if our heart’s desire must change just a bit. Perhaps if we searched the depths of our heart and continued to pursue full redemption, restoration and renewal from the Lord for ourselves that maybe our heart might change to more like Jesus toward people. People struggle every day accepting the fullness of God’s Mercy and Grace as demonstrated through those representing His Son, Jesus and call themselves Christians. Crusaders of the Cross who have become blood thirsty rather than covered in the Blood of Jesus surrendered to His Spirit. God is love. His Message is Love. His Desire is Love. His Kingdom is Love. Love is impossible outside of forgiveness and full restoration of relationships. We would accept a miracle in our midst faster than to fully live in God’s Love and Forgiveness by placing all our own expectation in Him. Forgiveness begins in me. I must accept that I am fully forgiven and restored in Jesus Christ. Secondly, I must extend the same to all mankind. All of His Wonderful Benefits are produced by this process by His Hand. Forgiveness comes from God those who have fully accepted it will freely give it. So today, maybe its time to grab a handful of smooth stones and begin to write some things on them that need to be forgiven. Take them to a river, lake or even the ocean and throw them as far as possible. It doesn’t stop there. Begin to pray for complete forgiveness and total restoration. Find a way to forgive that person. If possible, let them know. The freedom of forgiveness far outweighs the comfort of isolation.

Mark 11:24-26 (NKJV) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

 

 

 

Praying for Prosperity

Praying for Prosperity

I Chronicles 4:10 (NKJV) And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.

Several years ago, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson wrote a book titled “The Prayer of Jabez”. It was a huge hit. Based on just two verses of in the Old Testament, it would become a mainstay of prayer for many. It also would be turned into a “prosperity gospel” of sorts which many mega ministries. I am not against prosperity gospel at all. I believe that God wants to bless His People…as their souls prosper putting natural resources in proper order and focusing on the spiritual blessings and fruit of His Spirit. It is our goal to seek the Kingdom of God first, then God will add other things. I can personally attest that as the Kingdom becomes your focus all that glitters is no longer gold and those simple fruits will become the substance of satisfaction for our daily life.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

God is good. He is a gracious Father. He is an excellent provider for His Children. He loves to bless us. What parent doesn’t like to bless their children? To give them better than what they had. To make their life comfort and complete in every way possible. The selflessness of parenthood is definitely a trait handed down by the Father who would give His Son to provide access to those who were once lost to Him. The Fruit of the Spirit consisting of love, joy, and peace are the three things people long for the most. We want to experience kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and even self-control. These are not naturally occurring qualities in humanity. However, spiritually they are all overflowing from God’s Kingdom as the Holy Spirit looks for fertile places in our hard hearts to plant them deep within, watering them with the Word of God, protecting them, nurturing them, giving them time to grow, develop and mature. This is soul prosperity. A soul that is able to produce such things no matter how things are going all around us. To experience love, joy and peace on the most challenging day, diverse conditions and overwhelming circumstances knowing, trusting and believing that God is good, His Love Constant and our life secure in the Father’s Hand.

Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV) Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Before taking one more step, I just have to say to all the parents and guardians of children, consider every single word spoken to them carefully. The power of death and life are in our tongues. The future is seeded by the words sown into these little ones. Every word counts. Words sown that cannot be taken back can be removed by repentance. It is okay to tell our kids when we are wrong or harsh. It doesn’t make us a bad parent or show weakness. It teaches them to be humble and apologize as well. We must lead by example. Now back to Jabez…

His mother named him Jabez because an excruciating and overwhelming experience. He was innocent. An infant in the womb on his way out. Yet his mother, in her pain, hurt and frustration, labeled her precious baby – “He will cause pain.” Jabez was not a label of the past but a terrible prediction and prophesy of his life in general. Evil oaths, angry words, and verbal confusion cause negativity to distill into human reality. Whether spoken by others about you or it is by our own declaration, curses concentrate on our soul like a cancer silently growing into a dysfunctional determination of our destiny. God wants to change all that today. He is providing us an example of changing the course of time and inevitability of our future to align it with what He has called us and become who He created us to be. New creations are born of the context and content of our conversation. Will I be who the world says that I am or who God created and called me to be?

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed…”

The first thing to note in this passage is that Jabez was a believer. He believed in God enough to converse with him. I Chronicles 4:9 tells us that he was honorable. Access to God the Father comes through His Son, Jesus Christ. You cannot come to the Father but through the Son. There is no other way. God loves you. He hears you. But He cannot grant your petition outside of faith in Jesus Christ. To come close to us would be the end of us as His Goodness consumed the sin within us. By grace we are saved through faith, the Grace of God is provided in the Blood of the Son. I know the Cross was messy, violent and overwhelming but it is absolutely necessary to identity with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus to have eternal life and access to God. Through Jesus, we can come boldly and ask anything in His Name and God’s Will is granted to us which as is exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask.

Jabez asked God to “bless me indeed.” The word “indeed” is important. It means in fact, in reality, in truth, truly. It is added for emphasis to confirm and amplify the previous statement. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Jabez asked God to bless him indeed. God desires to bless His Children. Those who desire a life that prospers in the fullness of God. I believe this prayer is born of the revelation of God’s Love for us. To suddenly realize through divine interaction that there is more to life than this for God’s People accessed through the intimate relationship apart from the world’s influence. The more I love the Lord the less appealing sin becomes because it causes a breach between us. I want to please God simply because I love Him.

Jabez believed opening his heart to the possibility of supernatural increase in his life. You have been promised provision from the surplus supply of Heaven. God has given us every spiritual blessing. We are provided an inheritance. More than enough. Surrendering our life and every natural resource of our life to His Word, His Work and His Will precipitates prosperity. Divine prosperity begins in our heart, mind, and soul as we give God more and more of the property of our life including time, talent and treasure investing in the Kingdom.

“Enlarge my territory…”

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NKJV)  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The fullness of God cannot be contained in the finite area of our life. The sheer capacity of His Goodness requires room to expand and grow in us. Jabez asked God to take the boundaries and borders off of his life. He invited the Lord to stretch him beyond comfort, convenience and control. He was allowing God to break every chain, remove every hindrance, tear down every wall even those self-constructed, and erase every lie.  The endless possibility of God is overwhelming outside of trust and reliance on the Lord. The shaking and moving of life once settled to “enlarge” our territory can be very frightening. Like Peter jumping out of the boat was thrilling and exciting until he saw how big the waves and powerful the wind were, then his faith ran out and he was drowning in doubt. When you ask for more, increase and enlargement it produces an unsettling of our heart, mind and soul so that God can release the full potential of our life.

John 12:24-25 (NKJV) Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

To enlarge our territory is to destroy human expectation altogether. To step into the unknown regions of God’s Providence including provision and promises which is to walk entirely by faith and not by sight or human rationalization. Miracles happen in the impossible. If you can do it, God’s Plan is bigger. I wonder how many truly can pray this prayer with an open and honest heart willing to accept the challenges of enlargement required for fulfillment. To jump fearlessly into the depths of God’s Love even we cannot feet cannot touch the solid ground of logic to bask in the deeper things and hidden places of blessing and prosperity. A seed must go in the ground to be fruitful. It must die to self and give way to change in substance and form in order to fulfill its potential. We must be willing to do the same.

“That Your hand would be with me…”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God is ready to empower all who invite His Works and Resources of Power. God’s Power is released by His Authority to those who humbly accept His Grace as enough. Grace is provided to us and must be accepted in humility. We must give up control in order to be satisfied by grace. Is God’s Grace enough for you today? Ask yourself the question, do I have regrets? Do I live in shame? Do I doubt God based on my ability? To ask God to place His Hand upon us is complete surrender to His Authority, Power and Grace in our life. To say, I am not enough but You are my everything. To accept human weakness, release it to Presence and let His Spirit fill you with exactly what you need experience resurrection power. Jabez knew his limitations. He was well aware of his imperfections. He asked the Lord put your Hand upon me. He didn’t ask the Lord to open His Hand before Him. To desire the Heart of God we accept the Grace of God and invite His Power and Authority to operate in our weakness humbly. We must live a life of humility before the Lord to access His Power in our life.

“That You would keep me from evil…”

Psalm 119:10-12 (NKJV) With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes.

God gives us everything needed to part ways with sin in our life. We have His Word. Jesus is the Word of God that came wrapped in flesh and bones to demonstrate God’s Love. The Word of God is the Truth concerning us and must become the logic for faith to grow and prosper in our life. It feeds our Spirit. It builds the foundation to stand on when nothing in our life is going right. It is the waiting place of trust that soothes our heart and mind while patience in God’s Timing is developed. The Lord wants to keep us from evil. We partner in the process by continually consuming the Word of God to feed our soul.

John 14:26 (NKJV) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

The seed of the Spirit is God’s Word. He plants it in our heart, nurtures it, and protects it while it becomes His Fruit reaching its full potential in our life. Sin usually is prefaced by an unfulfilled desire or unmet expectation. We must fill the voids in our life or the enemy will offer substitutions and counterfeits. The Holy Spirit is our helper. Jesus gave us His Spirit to facilitate a productive and prosperous life. We must maintain our relationship with God through His Son Jesus to have that. The Word of God and His Spirit creates an environment within us that produces a new heart and new mind that desires more than status quo. Partnering with God means running from evil and pursuing that which is good. Jabez asked the Lord to partner with him in this process.

“That I may not cause pain!”

Matthew 18:2-4 (NKJV) Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Children possess a certain innocence and helplessness when they come into the world. Like soft clay, moldable by those around them and what they experience. We have been studying childlike faith in a series at church. Coming to the Father as a child with the natural expectancy of our innocent youth. However, being born to imperfect people, there is a solid chance that your expectations may not have been met. Perhaps your family, like mine, is clearly dysfunctional. Disappointment, betraying, abandonment, abuse, neglect, and more cause children to become broken adults with unmet expectation, bitterness, boundaries, walls and insecurities that cause them to approach God with caution. They are reluctant to trust. Fearful of surrender. Too broken to give too much. Generational curses plague us. Word curses spoken over entire bloodlines cause a people in bondage who want God’s Blessings, His Promises and to prosper but cannot even dare to believe a single word is true, trustworthy or for them when it comes to the Lord. Friend, God is good. He is a Good Father. It doesn’t matter how you got here, what you went through, or how many times you have fallen – His Heart yearns for you. He loves you and desires you above all things. His Grace is enough to lift you up into His Arms, wash you with His Word, wrap you up in righteousness, and fully revive, restore and renew your life. You have to come to Him like a child. Jabez did just that. Uttering the one thing that he thought was unsolvable, unfixable, and unthinkable. God – that I may not cause pain. His mother’s label was erased in that moment as “God granted Him what He requested.”

Psalm 1:3 (NKJV) He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

It has been 17 years since I read I Chronicles 4:9-10 for the first time. I have it hanging on the wall in my house. I have read it in passing a number of times and prayed the same prayer. I believe the seed planted by it has finally begun to bear fruit. I don’t see the prosperity gospel in the net worth of my life or what I have but the fact that when I wake up – the Lord is with me. When I go through the day, He is still with me. When I lose my way, He is right there waiting for me. When I lose it, He still listens. The Presence of God has caused my life to prosper with in my heart and soul. God wants to bless us. He desires nothing more than to give us His Absolute Best. But God will release nothing to me that will destroy me, distract me or detour me from His Purpose. My heart is His First Priority. My salvation is His Purpose. To seek the Kingdom of God first allows everything in His Storehouses to be released to me without changing the condition of my heart or ability to trust Him. If I have all that I need, want and desire outside of my relationship with Christ, I would leave Him and so would you. It is human nature. It is in my need for Jesus that I have found true prosperity. The kind that Paul describes when he says, “I know how to be abased and how to abound.” The secret is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. If I have live apart from Jesus to have it, I don’t want it. The prayer of Jabez is about so much more than filling our bank account with funds, our homes with stuff, and expanding our influence. It is about becoming a new creation and claiming the future and hope God promised no matter how it impacts our existence today. He must increase. I must decrease. To live is Christ and die is gain. When our soul truly prospers the seed of faith hidden inside of it, you will prosper in all seasons and all ways.

3 John 1:2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Peace of Mind

Peace of Mind

Matthew 8:23-26 (NKJV)  Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Faith. Heavily marketed in the church and weighty in the Word of God often tossed about flippantly in Christian conversation, but what is faith? I know…I know…”faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I’ve read it too. It is one thing to read and another altogether to comprehend, understand and put to good use the Word of God by applying it to our daily life. Muscles must be exercised to build a strong body. Faith is essential to a building God’s Kingdom. The concept of faith is widely publicized within most congregations around the world. Yet it remains hidden in the hearts of mankind trying to grow from the confines of human logic and beyond rationalization to radicalization of the Kingdom finding its way to earth.

“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Jesus did not rebuke the disciple but the tempest around him. The work of our Lord is not to change the condition, circumstances or situations around us but to create strong faith and confident hope within us. The world has a predetermined future that is quickly coming to pass. It will not survive the return of Christ. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. The Lord returns for His People – those who know Him, love Him and live in relationship with Him. He calls us His Bride implying an intimate soul tie between Jesus and His Beloved. His Love stronger than death, His Jealously as cruel as the grave, His Passion that of a fiery flame that many waters could not quench, no flood could drown it, and He gave His Life to secure it. Why is fear a continual threat to our faith? Why is worry and stress filling us with doubt? Where is confident hope? To say that I have faith and confident hope without peace of mind and rest in my soul is to live a dangerous lie. Faith and confident hope will fill our life with peace. I need peace of mind. Jesus wants to give you peace of mind.

I Corinthians 2:16 (NKJV) For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Jesus gave us a piece of His Mind. It’s called faith. He provides us a measure of faith that has great potential. The faith comes in the form of seed. The more it is sown in our life the greater the harvest. Faith is a substance the size of a mustard seed. The Parable of the Farmer scattering seed tells of the variety of ways that it never gives way to its full potential. The enemy snatches the unprotected seed. There are those who receive God’s Word but because of a hard heart cannot receive it. There is no way for the roots of His Love to penetrate the callous exterior. Then there is seed sown in thorns that is choked out by distractions of life the points are marked with worry, stress and anxiety rising up from certain insecurities. The seed though full of great potential to prosper is unfruitful. But then there is the one who receives the Word of God with a fertile heart. Pressing it into the broken places, diligently sowing each day in anticipation of spiritual growth of faith that will become the substance of hope and source of life. We have the great potential of faith provided to us as a measure. What we do with it is up to us. That’s what freedom is all about. Faith is found in the Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God who came in the flesh to show us how much God loves us by giving up His Life for us. We must believe to receive His Kingdom.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NKJV) Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

“Little faith” is not the absence of faith or unbelief or distrust. It means underdeveloped faith. Faith will not meet its full potential unless it is cultivated in our life. When faith grows into confidence, it will sustain our life and fill us with peace no matter what the natural conditions are around us. It is the peace of heart and mind that Jesus is in full control. When the “tempest” or storm rose up, Jesus was sleeping but rather than following the example of their Master – the disciples viewed it as complete disregard. He was right there with them. They could see Him and still didn’t have enough faith to weather the storm. They knew Him but still did not believe in His Power and Authority. Even the demons know the Name of Jesus including His Power and Authority, so they tremble when they hear it. Do we who are called by His Name feel the same way? The Presence of Jesus in our life is the peace of mind needed to overcome all fear, doubt, worry and anxiety. Faith is the substance of such confidence. We must sow the Word of God and know the Word of God to grow faith and confidence trust that is fully matured and able to rest in the worst of natural conditions.

Matthew 6:30-33 (NKJV)  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

What are you worried about today? What has you so stressed out? This is the field to sow in. The place where fear reigns is the most in need of faith today. Jesus has all authority and power over natural conditions. By faith we give him permission to have His Way in that area of life. Maintaining control is never the answer. Grace becomes power in weakness. When I yield that field to the Lord, He begins to develop my faith into confidence in that area. Sow His Word in that field. Not once, but daily until it grows into confidence and peace. Continually. Wait for His Word to take root and grow there. God’s Promises are not dependent on anything we do other than to trust and believe. Prosperity is a soul condition. The overflow of a soul fully trusting and totally confident in Jesus will be an abundance and increase simply flowing from our belief.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NKJV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Faith is the most valuable commodity of our spiritual life. It is the basis of all fruitfulness and productivity. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. There must be an investment. Seed must go in the ground to yield its full potential. God desires to give us His Kingdom. GIVE IT TO US. We cannot earn it, deserve it or in any way acquire it but by faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot access the Father but by the Son. We must pursue faith. We must make an effort to sow it in our life. It is a hidden treasure. We must dig deeper. It is the most valuable treasure we have therefore we must protect and preserve it above all things.

Matthew 14:28-31 (NKJV)  And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Peter was the most impulsive, impetuous, spontaneous, compulsive and emotional disciple. He was all over the map. Jesus prophesied to him early on that “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This was long before Peter would deny Jesus three times. See the Lord sees the potential of our faith and uses the details of our life to produce it. Faith is not just for our church life it is for every facet of our life. Peter knew Jesus was the Son of God in his heart. The heart that would waver back and forth. The heart that would be broken at his betrayal of his best friend. The heart that would be revived by an empty tomb. The heart that would dive over the edge of the boat into the sea and swim to shore just to be with Him. Your potential is within you today. The enemy uses trials to tempt us to abort our mission of sowing faith and reaping confidence. He doesn’t want you to experience the Peace of God and enter His Rest because if you do – you will invest more and more of your life into it. I am challenged to find the areas of my life not prevailing in His Perfect Peace and break up the hard ground to plant seeds of faith. I want the peace of God in every area of my life.

Matthew 16:5-8 (NKJV) Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?”

One final thing to think about today. How many times do we worry and fret over things that never actually happen? I am typing this with my hand in the air. There was a situation recently when I received bad news and felt the downward spiral of emotions begin to drag me down. The more I prayed about the situation, I could sense the Lord essentially telling me to “hold tight”. Not to worry or stress or fear or be anxious but to simply wait on Him. It took a whole lot of prayer and studying the Word to get to that place but finally I decided to package the concern up and hand it to the Lord. FEAR is false evidence appearing real. Human reasoning grabs hold of it as the logical and obvious choice. The enemy wants us to think that God’s Love, Grace, Mercy and Favor have a limit which is true. The limit is our faith. If I extend faith and trust to that problem or concern it makes the impossible become possible. Well, as sure as I am sitting in this chair, I am seeing a plan far greater than I imagined begin to unfold. It far exceeds what I could think, ask or imagine. God is good. He is faithful. His Promises all true. I must simply sow my faith and trust into His Way, Will and Word to have every good thing that is provided, promised and potential in my life. Start small. My advice is to not forsake small beginnings. Begin to speak God’s Word over that situation. Work daily to release every burden associated and yoke that part of your life to Jesus. It’s going to be hard. The struggle is real. The more you try the greater the opposition from the adversary. Take it as a sign you are doing something right. Faith planted always grows. Confident trust opens the door to perfect peace…every single time. You may not have bread today but that seed of faith will leaven into the Bread of Life allowing us to taste and see that the Lord is good!

Mark 9:24 (NKJV) Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”