Slow Leak

Slow Leak

Psalm 34:4-7 (NLT) I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

My vehicle comes equipped with a tire pressure sensor. It is very sensitive to the amount of air in each tire. Recently, I noticed that when the systems did the initial ignition check that the warning light would come on. It indicated that one of the tires was registering low on pressure. Upon inspection, it did not look any different than the other wheels. Yet each time, the light would consistently come on. I took it to the mechanic on the way to work for a manual pressure check. He looked at the tire agreeing that it did not look low but his pressure gauge showed it was indeed low on air. Over the next few minutes, he did a quick look to see if there was a nail or sharp object protruding but nothing. I made an appointment for the next day. To find the source of escaping air, the shop filled the tire with air and then slowly ran water over the tread until sure enough a little puncture was found. Thankfully the tire was under warranty and with the new one in place, I was on my way.

I have noticed lately that my heart feels a little empty, my soul just a bit dry, and I have been wondering if maybe I sprung a slow leak like my tire. Even strong Christians have days when they feel weak and tired for no apparent reason. There is usually a reason but since life is good – we focus on the good things and ignore the nagging in our spirit and warning signs that something is a bit off. That’s what believers do, right? Faith it until we make it. Recite memorized scripture and spout Christianese? Pretend it is hope that we hold on to rather than the fear, doubt, anxiety, and worry that develop into disappointment, devastation or depression? Everyone has fears. Everyone has certain doubts. Everyone worries about something. Even the strongest Christian has disappointments. We are called not to perfection but perseverance and persistence. To keep pressing past the challenges of life to grab hold of the possibilities of faith. It is messy. It can be ugly. There will be a lot of tears. We must deal with those slow leaks in our heart that cause our love, joy and peace to be emptied.

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

In the believer dwells the Holy Spirit, the very essence of Jesus Christ. He is always busy producing good fruit for soulful consumption such as love, joy, and peace. These are the fruits that allow us to thrive. Living water flows in and out of us. Jesus said that He is the Bread of Life. We have everything needed to live a rich and satisfying life full of abundance. The Kingdom belongs to us. We are connected to it so if we feel like less than enough, failures or fruitless – it warrants our immediate attention. A thief is among us.

Ephesians 6:16-17 (NLT) In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

In John 10:10, there comes a warning that there is a predator of our soul who seeks to steal, kill and destroy God’s People. You can choose to ignore him but that will not keep him from firing fiery arrows at your heart and soul. If the lie of the enemy can make it past our shield of faith and penetrate our mind, it will produce a leak in us. We must be deliberate and vigilant in our faith holding it tightly and protectively over our heart and mind. While salvation is the helmet to protect our thoughts, it is important to be on the lookout and constant defense for the enemy and aggressor the believer’s body, mind and spirit. He is always aggressively attacking seeking who can be devoured.

Ephesians 5 tells us about natural relationships such as husband and wife. It refers to Jesus who loves the church. Christ loved us so much dying was not a second thought but His Sheer Determination to have us. We are offered the Mind of Christ. To allow Him to transform our mind from the inside out. I love the illustration in Ephesians 5 where Jesus washes the wounds of His Bride with His Word. He is the Word. The Lord had to pour Himself out to wash, bind and heal our heart and mind. To make us holy and whole. To cleanse us. To restore us. To renew us. To refresh us. To revive us. Do you need to be restored, renewed, refreshed or revived? Let the Lord wash you in the water of His Word to find the leaks where love, joy and peace are escaping.

Psalm 34:17-20 (NLT) The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!

Oh friends, do you feel dry, thirsty or a bit empty today? The Lord is ready to heal you. He is ready to fill you to capacity with the abundance promised to you as His Beloved. God does not forsake His Children even when we are broken. In fact, the Word of God says just the opposite. He rushes in to the broken. Grace turns to power in our weakness not personal strength. Faith is a shield meant to protect our heart not to be a logical defense but the powerful force that keeps us standing under pressure and pressing when on the verge of giving up. Life in Christ is not always easy but promised to be work it. Psalm 34 invites us to taste and see that the Lord is good. Allow Him to change our appetite and productivity in life. Yet know and understand that even strong lions sometimes go hungry…oh but those who trust the Lord will lack no good thing which means the current situation or condition is temporary. Oh if only our natural eyes could see life from the spiritual realm – we are always living half full and never half empty. God is constantly producing good things and pouring out every spiritual blessing. Lord, show me the leaks. Come in close and heal them so I may overflow with love, peace and joy again.

Ephesians 3:17-20 (NLT) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

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Juggling Life

Juggling Life

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

God’s Promise for us is rest. The ultimate rest is in His Presence. To enter the Kingdom and rest forever in His Presence is our end result but too often we miss the opportunity to experience such peace in every moment of every single day. We juggle life. The image in my head so clear this morning in a moment of reflection. All the balls fall sometimes. The colorful commitments and circular schedules of life’s expectation exceed our time limits so anxiety takes over and tiredness ensues. To live life to its fullest requires not only hard work and perseverance but rest. At the completion of creation, God rested. He set an example for us yet in our pride it is human nature not to follow.

God has prepared rest for us. He has announced it to us in His Word. He has marked it as “just for them” or you. The passage says, “But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.” Busyness is the direct result of a lack of faith. I am not talking about activities of life but rather when the things in life eat up all our time and there is none left to rest in the Lord. He designed rest for us and leaves an open invitation to experience His Peace every day. We must learn to enter His Rest.

It is in the moment when all the things being juggled fall down that our lack of rest and peace are discovered. When unmet expectation exposes the area of our life in need of careful reprioritization – the Lord is clear that rest never escaped us but rather it was our choice not to enter in. The juggling act is not only comprised of physical activity but thoughtful overtures as well. Our mind can be more active than our body at times stealing our rest as well. Lying awake when we should be sleeping or absentminded rather than present in the moment – the enemy wants to steal our rest and peace in the Lord.

I know what you are saying for I used to say the same thing, too. “I am so busy.” Well, the true revelation about time truly humbled me. The Lord gives each person the same 24 hours a day with the freedom to use it however one desires. The productivity of our time is the prosperity of our life. If choose to invest it in seeking God’s Promise including His Rest – the fruit of His Spirit will feed our soul and prosper us from the inside out. If time is sown into the world, it will produce the things of it – good or bad. We must take our “time” and examine it. Evaluate its usage. Set priorities. Determine true satisfaction in its investment or change our strategy completely.

Matthew 11:27-30 (NLT) “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” 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.”

Jesus told the people that God had “entrusted everything to” Him. Jesus Christ has all power and authority over life including every outcome. He then invites us to “come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” I shared yesterday that our dryer had disappeared. We had called a repairman to come take a look. It was decided that it needed some parts. When they came to fix it – there was another problem so they hauled it to the shop. When I came home expecting to do laundry, there was no way to complete the task. I sat on the front porch rocking and spending time with the Lord because the dryer was gone. Now here is the irony of it – the dryer was broken in that when you turned it on it sounded like it had two tennis shoes and a large brick rolling around inside. I used it anyway. So when it was taken away – I found an alternative. I sat on the front porch in a rocking chair talking to friends and ultimately spending time with the Lord.

The yoke of Christ is faith. We must learn to rightly divide our time according to our faith in Christ which leaves little time for anxious activity and overactive minds. It means allowing God to grow and prosper our life rather than making it a diversified effort. Faith requires an exchange. You cannot live a faithful life in two places. Where is your faith today? Is it fully invested in the Lord? I am challenged to inspect the balls I juggle in life. To carefully decide if they were placed in my hands by God or I picked them up because I was afraid no one else would. Juggling is a sport that takes practice. It is all about timing. Maybe it is the same with time management and faith. Perhaps, we must practice resting. True rest is a body, mind and spirit promise. God’s Promises require perfect timing…His Timing. God is perfect in all of His Ways including His Timing. It is important to invest our faith in His Time Clock.

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

The beginning of Ecclesiastes 3 promises us that “for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Do you believe that today? Those who do will find the peace of God called rest. It is the full investment of our life in Heaven’s economy. The fertile ground of a broken heart that has decided to give itself fully to live in the Presence of God. To rely on the Maker of Heaven and Earth in every season because He is faithful to do exactly what He promised according to His Timing. God makes everything beautiful in its time. Even broken things scattered in many pieces have the potential to become a masterpiece in the Hands of God if we would only give it to Him. God blesses our lives simply because He loves us and decided to do so. When we forget that rest is a part of it, it is human nature to take His Glory. Our lift is a Gift from God for His Glory – let’s leave the juggling to Him and choose rest today.

Hebrews 4:10-11 (NLT) For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.

Peacemakers

Peacemakers 2

Matthew 5:9 (NLT) God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

Are you a peace maker? Do you strive to maintain peace and harmony with others? Are you a relationship builder or breaker? Is the Lord really that concerned with our connections to others as long as we remain in unity with Him? How important is it? Well, God blesses those who work for peace. In some translations, it says, “Blessed are the peacemakers…” Why? They will be called the children of God. How does one find and maintain peace in the end times when love has grown cold and sin rampant as Jesus foretold? We must become peacemakers to be identified as God’s Children, so we must find a way…the Way.

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.

We have been provided the Way to peace with God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Way tells us that He has already given us peace of mind and heart. It is settled within our soul to be sons and daughters of God. We must only abide in His Love to remain connected to righteousness as receivers of His Grace completely empowered to do all things through Jesus Christ. He gives us the kind of inner peace that completes us so that all expectations are met in Him. His Spirit inside of us is constantly cultivation love, joy and peace all with other beneficial and satisfying fruit to feed new relationships from a source that will never run out. We have perfect peace. It is complete. It is whole. God doesn’t give pieces of peace but in Christ we are completely reunited with Him.

I Peter 3:10-12 (NLT)  For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”

In an effort to turn from evil and do good, the instructions say to search for peace and work to maintain it. The Lord is watching us. His Ears are open when we struggle in this endeavor. But if God has already accepted the sacrifice of Jesus and given us His Peace to reconnect with the Father, what kind of peace must we search for and strive to know? Peace with all mankind. The Kingdom has to be united. Without peace, it is not possible for a country to be at rest. We must be at peace with each other. Not complacent peace that only is with those who agree with us, but even with those who constantly oppose or offend us. The commitment to peace is part of our covenant with Christ.

I Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

Peter is referencing Psalm 34 is in his letter to those he refers to as “God’s chosen people”. In chapter 3, Peter is addressing relationships. In this particular passage, he is speaking to all Christians. All of you should be of one mind (at peace). We must be sympathetic. Love one another as brothers and sisters. Not with fake superficial wordy love, but blood, sweat and tears kind of love – hands on and heart in – like Jesus loves us. We must be tenderhearted. This requires a humble attitude. We must keep our pride on the Cross daily crucifying our feelings, emotions and rightness for a constant and complete relationship with Jesus Christ AND everyone else.

Those who make peace and keep peace are Children of the living God not just in word but character as well. To love fully and completely will always produce a relationship at the price of our individuality. God has called us to live such a life and it comes with His Blessing. Paul talks about a thorn in his flesh. So many times the thorn in our flesh has a face and personality, it is one person or a group of people that create hostility. Maybe they have talked about, betrayed, offended, or hurt us in a far greater unimaginable way – how is possible to forgive them and make peace with such people knowing they will more than likely not change, not apologize and never realize just how deep our wound is? It is only possible through the peace of God that passes all understanding. The kind of relationship with the Lord that allows Him to heal our wounds, restore our joy, and revive our heart so that we are not held captives by our feelings that are contrary to His Way, His Truth and His Life that He has planned for me.

The Grace of God given to us through His Son – Jesus Christ is always enough. The unearned and undeserved favor of the Living God dispensed through the Blood of His Precious Son is sufficient for God to accept our apology and restore us for righteousness sake. Who am I to withhold such grace that is the wonder working power that restores peace among God’s People? To withhold it means there is doubt as to its potency and that is simply not true. We must become God’s Gracious Peace Makers once again to build His Church and restore His Body to become His Bride.

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Jesus is the Author and Finisher of faith. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He knows exactly how you feel and the struggles in our life – yet loves us and stays right there with us anyway. We must become peace makers again. This means capturing our worries, stress, and concerns about others and sending them to Jesus. If only we could put each one in a helium-filled balloon, so it could be carried far beyond our reach. We must become intent on gracious and thankful hearts set on pursuing peace with God which means establishing it on earth within our realm of influence. It is not about how the other person reacts to us but in our obedience in responding to God’s Love appropriately and reciprocating it as He has asked us to – loving one another. We must fix our thoughts. We must focus our heart and mind on Jesus who is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable and oh so faithful. He will produce love, joy and peace within us along with the other fruits needed to satisfy those around us while we are completely satisfied with His Love and Grace.

I must be honest before you today. This message is for me. I will be transparent. I am challenged by this in my own life. I must learn to make peace with all people to become a Child of God who lives in His Blessing and Favor. It must be my daily and ongoing effort to search for peace and seek to maintain it. Lord, help my wounded heart to receive peace and reciprocate it as You have instructed – In Jesus Name! Amen!

Psalm 29:11 (NLT) The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.

It’s A Celebration

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Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.

It’s a month of celebrations in our house. My husband and I will celebrate just shy of two decades of marriage. It is also his birthday at the end of the month. Not to mention, our oldest son’s favorite holiday – the Fourth of July. Oh, we love to celebrate birthdays gathering our family to have a meal and enjoy one another. To celebrate our marriage that has endured longer than statistically estimated to be possible. I am so thankful for my family. As believers, we are given the opportunity to rejoice always. To live a life of constant and perpetual celebration. Where every day, time and season are worth recognizing simply because God is with us and Christ lives in us.

Rejoice in the Lord always…again I say, rejoice.

Human beings are wrought with feelings and emotions based on a physical existence. Our body and mind are subject to the sensory perception of the brain according to the conditions and circumstances. The things experienced and daily encounters are met with human logic to form our reaction or response to each one. One such response is “life is not fair.” When my children would argue that something was not fair, I was quite to remind them that they were not born with tickets in their hands. The rollercoasters in life are free. Our ability to endure them and overcome fear will decide the outcome of our experience. Yet in all of life’s ups and downs there is an opportunity offered to those who believe. The ones who have asked Jesus to save them and decide to make Him their Lord. We have been given the right to celebrate and rejoice in every situation.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.

I looked up the word “reasonableness”. It means to agreeable to reason. Not exceeding the limit prescribed by reason and not excessive. Moderate. Human reason is the mental powers concerned with forming conclusions, judgements, or inferences. It is the basis and cause of our belief which defines our actions. In other words, what is your reasoning? If its cause is faith, its effect must be rejoicing. God isn’t about faking it until you make it but faithing it as you go. You cannot fake faith. You cannot pretend to trust and have the same results. Faith is only logical according to the Word of God. We must believe the Word of God and do what it says to have a logical expectation of the hopeful outcome promised by God. It’s not about hype…but all about hope.

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

The Lord is at hand. He is with you. He is for you. Nothing can separate you from His Love. No weapon formed against you will prosper. He works every detail of our life for good. Nothing is impossible for God. If His Word says it, He meant it for you! THEREFORE, do not be anxious for anything. Easier said than done, right? It all sounds good on paper but when the rubber hits the road – now that’s another story. How can I live a worry-free, stress-less, and never anxious life? Is it even possible? We must be conscious of our connection with God in each day, moment and breath. It is the only way to overcome the lie of the enemy that produces fear and doubt. We must complete the connection with Christ in us by faith and live according to the prospering of our soul. The soul seeks joy and peace. The rest of searches for happiness and immediate gratification. Earthly happiness and immediate gratification can be taken from you. The treasure of the heart is untouchable.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Peace with God are the terms and conditions of our Covenant in Christ. To be at peace with God is to be one with His Kingdom. It is a prospering soul that flourishes in the fruit of His Spirit which allows peace to permeate our life. Peace that passes ALL understanding. It means when all hell breaks loose or the world around us falls apart – we are still standing held tightly by the Lord. We must learn to guard our heart and minds in Christ by choosing to rejoice in the Lord each and every day. To celebrate His Presence.

Leviticus 23:39-41 (ESV) “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. You shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month.

On the fifteenth day of the seventh month…

It is July. Now before any Biblical scholars or historians point it out, I realize that the Jewish calendar is different than our calendar, but don’t you find it just a little funny that this is in today’s devotion. I’m just saying – God’s got jokes. Anyway…God instituted many feasts and celebrations for His People. Many of these are outlined in the Book of Leviticus. This particular feast was called the Feast of Booths. It was designated to celebrate God delivering them from Egypt. A reminder to remember the Goodness of God and His Love for His People. It was a time set aside to rejoice before the Lord God for seven days. A week of complete rejoicing and nothing else. Hmmm…

God decreed this time of rejoicing as statutorily required. It was the Law. To rejoice means to express great joy and happiness. It is a celebration. The Lord didn’t make excuses for certain conditions. For example, it doesn’t tell them to refrain if struck by drought or famine. It doesn’t give leeway for times of busyness or just a good case of the feels. No, it says, “You shall celebrate it in the seventh month of the year.” Every year. No exceptions. No excuses.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV) Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Do I rejoice in the Lord every day? It is a question only I can answer and hold myself accountable for. Each person knows their heart. God loves me. He sent His Son, Jesus to save me. He desires me. His Thoughts for me immeasurable. His Attention to me – inexplicable. His Grace is constantly flowing to me. Every fault and failure with the promise of success and prosperity because He is Good and His Faithfulness endures forever. This is the reflection of a rejoicing heart. I must remind myself of these things. I must make the conscious choice, “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” This must be my personal daily declaration to live seven days of rejoicing not just in July but every day, all year, and for the rest of my life. This is where I find peace with God complete. Not in my own faithfulness or ability to produce happiness but His Faithfulness and commitment to fill me with inexpressible joy!

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

God’s Will for my life in Christ Jesus is that I will rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances. He has given me faith to invest in this endeavor. Lord, let it grow and prosper in me. May each day be a celebration of Your Love, Faithfulness and Goodness! Amen and amen!

Isaiah 61:10-11 (ESV)  will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.

Always. To all. Do not be. In every. The absolute terms used in this passage are often ignored. Is it really possible to always rejoice? Is it logical to be gentle to all? Can one truly live anxiety free and answer the directive, “Do not be anxious about anything”? In every situation is peace truly an achievable goal and aspiration? We have the customary response of “yes” but if it is not evident in our life is it truth we speak or simply the acceptable vernacular of Christianity. Though called a peculiar people, radical Christians are not supposed to be odd in a crazy kind of way but rather decisive in the Love of God firmly and completely established in Jesus Christ. In other words, authentic faith is radical and illogical thinking to the world, but we can be credible Christians living in the peace of God that “transcends all understanding.” Jesus Christ is the guard for our heart and mind in a world set on rebellion and an enemy bent on destruction. You have within you the power to overcome in every situation. It begins by dealing with doubt.

Doubt is the culprit. The carefully laid trap of the enemy to take the promises of God and make them seem illogical and impossible. The suggestion by him that God does not have the capacity to love unconditionally and forgive completely that leads us to believe that maybe the Gospel is too good to be true…for me. If for just a moment the enemy of the human soul can muster a tiny bit of uncertainty – it becomes a fast growing weed choking out the Truth being rooted and grounded by God’s Word cultivated by His Spirit. Our hope seems unstable in a stormy sea of stirred up emotions and overwrought feelings when God is unchanged. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are the ones who waver.

I John 4:17-18 (NIV) This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Let’s face it perfection is impossible for people. Perfect love is only possible in Jesus Christ. We must place our life in Him to experience a love so profound that it transforms our life from mediocrity to magnificence just because He is perfect. Love completed in us nullifies our doubts one by one quenching fear in the fire of passionate love. There is no fear in love. Therefore, the new creation of Christ makes way for a life of peace and calm. Each worry, care and anxious thought is the product of contention with God. It is a place that His Love has not overcome our doubt and disbelief. Peace is established in us by constantly reconciling every thought, feeling and emotion to the perfect love of God given to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. God does not punish us or it would suggest that His Grace is not enough. God is disciplining (or teaching) us to live a worry-free life of careless pursuit of His Kingdom.

Luke 12:22-26 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

The title of this section in my Bible bears the heading, “Do Not Worry”. Do not worry about your life. It goes on to detail the very things that consume our thoughts on a regular basis. Our perspective is influenced by society. The key to our success as believers is our full perception to be based on God’s Word. How is God’s Word going to feed me? Cloth me? Take care of me? It already does. Look around right now. Not at what you do not have but what God has already provided you. Media heavily influences our wants, needs and desires. We keep our eyes on our neighbors rather than on Jesus and His Kingdom. To covet what someone else has keeps us from living the rich and satisfying life promised by the Lord. We must learn to set our sights higher than eye level. Walking by faith is to see and adhere to principles of an unseen Kingdom that can change our existence on the earth.

Jesus asks a very pointed question, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Good point. What comes next is even better! “Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Worry robs us of precious time. It steals moments of joy from us. It wastes time better spent sowing faith and reaping promises. Doubt will use the same ground of heart that faith is supposed to grow from. We decide what is sown in our heart and given to its cultivation. I am not in control. You are not in control. Sometimes I have to remind myself that God has already ordered the steps of my life. He put eternity in my heart so I will never be satisfied with less than God’s Best. He gave me faith so that I can reach my full potential. I have already been provided with everything I need. Every spiritual blessing fully and firmly implanted in my life. Purpose is imbedded in me by God for a prosperous life. I have the keys to God’s Kingdom…I must simply learn to use them.

Luke 12:27-31 (NIV) “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

If you read Ecclesiastes 3, it makes some valid points in the logic of peace over worry. First, there is a time for everything. Second, there is a season for every activity under heaven. It goes on to list every detail of human existence. The process that comprises the little dash between our birthday and day of departure. Finally, it says, “(God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” It is not a promise problem but a perception problem. We must change our perspective to change our pursuit. According to God’s Word, our life is predestined and predisposed to eternity. We have a destiny. It is ordered. It is timely. We must simply seek the Kingdom and these things are given as well.

Luke 12:32-34 (NIV) “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Where is your treasure today? It is usually best determined by where you invest your life? Your time, talent and treasure are the deposits made into the earth and/or Kingdom. To give our all in earthly pursuits leaves the eternity in our heart unsatisfied. The world is subject to destruction. Fear is the natural accumulation when evaluating one’s existence according to the earth. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. Wars and rumors of wars. It is not a very hopeful place. You and I carry the Light of the world inside of us. We have the Kingdom in us and the ability to share it without worry, fear, stress or anxiety. We have been given our freedom to choose how to portion our life including our heart, mind and body. In order for our life to prosper – our soul must prosper first. Our soul prospers in the Kingdom. But as in any endeavor, we must give the time and energy in pursuing it to become our reality.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44) If you want the Kingdom, you must invest your life pursuing it. To have God’s Kingdom means to live in peaceful allegiance to Jesus Christ. There is no other way to the Father. Are you willing to give up your cares, worries and anxiety to have it? Will you forfeit fear? Will you bury every doubt in the Truth that it is Your Father’s Good Pleasure to give you His Kingdom? You must only give up this worthless, dead end life to have it!

God has placed eternity in our heart. We have the potential to prosper in this life by carefully placing all of it in the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to give you a rich and satisfying life. He did it. It is finished. To claim it is to change our perspective from earth to the Kingdom. To pursue the Kingdom relentlessly will allow perfect love to overcome fear by removing all doubt. We must believe that God is good. He loves us. He will always love us. He does not punish but prospers His Beloved. If only we would follow our heart and the eternity in it.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Keep the Peace

Keep the Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just to Know

To Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

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

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

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

Good Fruit

Good Fruit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 And immediately the fig tree withered up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Time to Rest

Time to Rest 2

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

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

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

For only those who believe can enter His Rest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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