Perfecting Love

Perfecting Love

I John 4:17-19 (NLT) And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

The local department store is filled with helium heart-shaped balloons. Aisles overflowing with chocolate and conversation hearts expressing “true love”. A jungle of stuffed animals larger than life surround me. The smell of fresh cut flowers and rose bouquets fill the air. It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s all about love. Expressing love with trinkets and tokens. I will admit I am after some of these things for my family as well. The perfect gift to express my deep affection for those I love and cherish.

Our family “went to town” together. My husband joined us. Not because he likes to shop but he loves us and wants to be with us. We meet our oldest daughter and precious new grandson at her favorite store wandering the aisles. There is nothing really that is needed just spending time with them. Together sharing candy hearts and chocolate on our way to the local mall, it is becoming the perfect date. Entering the mall, there is a section filled with sparkles and tulle. It is almost prom season so the girls and I begin looking through racks of newly discounted dresses. Our middle daughter has a big week. She turns 18. Soon, she will go to her last prom and graduate high school. Where has the time gone? She sees a dress and deems it the perfect princess dress. While she is trying on graduation dresses, I pull it off the rack. She is one of our princesses so it only seems fitting that she would try it on. She made her graduation selection and her eyes sparkle as I enter the dressing room with the “princess” dress. As it slipped over her head, and pooled to the floor nothing could wipe the smile from her face as she whispered, “I love it!”

Well, the end of the story, her dad approved and it came home with us. There was no real thought or discussion about the price or the timing of the purchase only that she loved it and we love her. I am a bargain hunter. It is my goal in life to get a good deal. Hence the huge discount signs walking in caught my attention. But when she put on the dress, and her countenance changed – I just wanted to bless her because I love her! We were blessed to spend precious moments together – to be in each other’s presence. That really doesn’t happen very often. Like every other family – we are busy. We all have places to go and things to do. I wonder if that could be called our Valentine’s date. I wonder if that is really what God is after. Precious moments of time together. To love each other and learn to love others with the same commitment as the ones in our earthly family. To be together and enjoy each other with no real agenda. To stop worrying about all the details of life and wander off together.

And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. I wonder sometimes if we have overcomplicated the perfecting of love. My husband can go buy every box of candy, flower and stuffed animal in the store but if he doesn’t love me the other 364 days of the year – it really doesn’t represent anything other than marketing dominating another holiday. We can get all dressed up and go on a fancy date but if we do not have love for each other – what’s the point? We can follow every rule and regulation in the Bible. Even get dressed up and head on church “dates” every Sunday but if we do not love then what’s the point? I Corinthians 13 tells me I can do all these things even understanding God’s Secrets and have faith that moves mountains but if I don’t have love – “I would have gained nothing.”

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

I Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Are you dating God or devoted to Him? This is the question in my mind. Dating is when the decision to love is made. It is the testing of our partnership that leads to union. But once married, the covenant of love is a commitment. I Corinthians 13 is God’s Definition of Love. It is not limited to our spouse, family and friends because God sees us all as beloved children. Often – our love and commitment to people is not the same as how we approach the Lord. Expectations are put in others that really belong to the Lover of our soul. God’s Love for us is perfect. His Presence in us allows us to perfect our love for Him and others. Love is a discipline not an emotional overture. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we must be lovers.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. What keeps us from loving the Lord with all our heart and loving others the same way? Fear. Perfect love expels all fear. However, humans are not trusting souls. Grace is difficult to accept when we know the level of sin and shame once lived with. Does God really love us with unconditional love? Does He really pursue us with unfailing love and goodness every single day? Is He really a good, good Father? The answer is a resounding “yes”. It is impossible to replicate perfect love without first knowing and accepting it. You don’t have to understand it to receive it but you do have to experience it to exemplify it in your life. I cannot give away something I do not have. There is nothing to give if I do not know the Love of God and live in it.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

The source of our fears, worries, regret, shame and deepest concerns are not products of God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit in us. He has not given us the spirit of fear or timidity. The Lord has given us His Power which is from a grace that overcomes every weakness. He has given us perfect love in spite of ourselves. He has given us self-discipline to produce change in us from death to life. It is not by anything we do or say but in the truest revelation of a love worth having and worth giving to the world. Fear comes from doubt. It takes the Gospel and turns into religious habits skipping God’s Intent to form a family of perfect lovers and uses discipline to mold and shape others to fit human expectation. For example, we love those who think like we do but if they make bad choices and still manage to come to church on Sunday – they face people who scorn, shun, or shame them rather than the unconditional love of Christ. If I try not to sin, but do not do it out of love for Jesus Christ it is not enough. I must love Jesus so much that I avoid sin because of that love and devotion. I can make better choices. I can do different things. It doesn’t change the fact that I still sin every day and struggle with my flesh. I am no better than the person committing a crime. I have already failed God enough to require every ounce of His Son’s Blood. Friend, we are all in this together. We are all the least of these. The very ones who put Jesus on the Cross. I can change my ways but I can only get to God by His Son – Jesus Christ who is THE WAY.

Romans 8:38 (NLT) And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

What are your fears today? What are you worried about? Do you have things that keep you awake at night? Doubt in God’s Perfect Love causes us to feel that way. To think that there is a limit to the Limitless Love of God given to us through His Son, Jesus. It is the lie of the enemy that keeps us from being overcomers. The greatest barrier in the life of a believer is doubt. The mountain to be moved is not an obstacle in the world but in us. The place where God cannot move is because we do not believe in the God of more than enough, greater than he that is in the world, and the perfect Lover of the less than lovable. I must be completely convinced that there is nothing that can ever separate me from God’s Love in order to live in love with Jesus Christ. To accept God’s Unconditional Love is to admit my weakness and live in His Grace. Pride dies in this place. Human expectation is exchanged for Godly Expectation. Ordinary becomes extraordinary. Natural turns into the supernatural.

I John 4:9-10 (NLT)  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

I John 4:15-16 (NLT) All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

I encourage you…no challenge you to read I John 4 today. The love of God is the birthplace of confidence and trust in the Lord. It cannot be skipped or overlooked. It must be undertaken above all things. I cannot become who God has planned and purposed me to be outside of His Unfailing and Unconditional Love. I must be completely confident in the sufficiency of grace at the forsaking of self in order to have all that God has ordained and planned for my life. I must live in His Perfect Love and allow His Love to perfect me. God’s Idea of Perfect is to be completely overtaken by His Love until His Love overflows from us. It requires an honest and forthright examination of our heart, mind and soul for true transparency. It means allowing the Holy Spirit to tear down strongholds built by fear and doubt to protect us with the Sword of His Spirit – the Word of God. Until we understand and believe in God’s Love for us – we can never effectively express it to others. God loves you. He wants to bless your time together. He wants to fill you to overflowing with good things. He will perfect love in us when we choose to put our trust in Him.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT) For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

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Flawless

Flawless

Psalm 18:30 (NIV) As for God, his way is perfect: the Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.

God’s Way is perfect. The Lord’s Word is flawless. Do you believe it? Do I? Our words indicate a confidence that our way does not always reflect. If God’s Way is perfect, why do we choose our way most of the time? If His Word is flawless, why do not we pursue His Wisdom on a daily basis or listen for Him each new day? His Way is perfect. The Word is flawless. It is our insecurity and imperfection that challenge our heart and mind when it comes to confidently and boldly living in agreement with His Way, His Will and the Word.

We have five children. Each one with their own individual personalities. Our family rules have not changed over the years. Yet as they have grown into adulthood, our adulting kids have the right to live their life as they see fit. Once accountable to us, they are now responsible for the choices made and pathways pursued. As their parent, I love and support them but cannot change the impact of their actions or consequences of decisions. I may offer advice or opinion but it is purely suggestive.

God has given us a perfect way. From the beginning, it is human nature to choose our own way. Jesus offers us access to the Father. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life by which we can be reunited with the Father once again. All of heaven rejoices when one lost soul returns to the fold. He forgives us, loves us and immediately begins to revive, renew and restore us. It is reconciliation to Christ that begins to radically change our life. To be reconciled to Christ is to choose His Way rather than continuing to seek our own way.

How can I have God’s Perfect way when I am imperfect? How can perfection be possible once I have messed up and made countless mistakes? Shame? Regrets? Weaknesses? Is it possible to become flawless once flawed? Flawlessness is defined as having no defects or faults especially none that diminish value or worth. Or to have no discernable blemishes or imperfections. To be perfect. The word “discernable” is important to the definition of flawlessness in Jesus Christ. Sin will always be the blemish and imperfection that keeps us from oneness with God the Father. The Blood of Jesus Christ covers the sin and washes it away. I am flawless in Christ. However, when I look in the mirror – I see me staring back. To change my perception of self – I must find my identity in Christ. The identity of Christ is the Word of God.

John 1:14 (NIV) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God. The Word became flesh to come be with us. To show us the Way back to the Father. He made the way to become the Sons and Daughters of God once again. To know our true identity including who we are, what we can do, what we are given and where we are going requires knowledge, understanding and application of God’s Word (Jesus) to our life. In Hosea 6:8, it warns that people die because of a lack of knowledge. The Spirit comes to live inside of us. A holy inhabitation from on high that is given to us and accepted without action only willingness. It is the Word of God that deals with our flesh and its doubt, fear, anxiety and insecurity. The flesh is a much more challenging beast to tame.

Matthew 5:48 (NIV) Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Be perfect. Be flawless. How is it possible? It is. You can live in the perfect will of God without being perfect.

Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV) Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Who better to explain the process of reconciliation than the man who persecuted early Christians than Paul? He was a murderer. He was an enemy of the Cross? When he met Jesus it changed everything including his identity as Saul becomes Paul. You have a new identity in Christ that is flawless. The process of reconciliation takes knowledge and understanding of the Word to integrate it in our heart and mind. This allows us to become living sacrifices by the renewing of our mind. (Romans 12:2) Our identity is not established by what we think but in Who Christ is. It us up to us to allow the Word and Spirit to solidify our identity by faith and confidence in Who we are becoming rather than the world’s perception of us. To become a new creation means I must change my mind about who or rather whose I am.

Romans 5:9-10 (NIV) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:14) It is important to understand that reconciliation is fully accomplished through Christ, who is the Word. Reconciling my life to the Word allows the blessings and promises of Heaven to flow into my natural life. It is not a requirement but definitely my privilege. I can only accomplish this by giving up my way to pursue His Way completely. It is evident in Matthew 19:21 that something simple becomes complicated when we must choose between this life and Kingdom living. Jesus is the author and finisher of faith in us. He is called the “Perfecter” of faith. It is the Christ in us that permits flawless in the imperfect being called mankind. However, I must reconcile or accept and bring into agreement my life with the Word. This is the beginning of abundant life. This is consummation of worship when Jesus ordained it be in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4)

Philippians 1:6 (NIV) Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Over the next few days, we will continue to study the impact of the Word in our life. It is often easier to accept the Spirit of God who is in us because our emotions and feelings are often impacted by the Gifts and Fruits that He produces. However, if the Spirit of God in us is not properly armed with the Word of God then the lie of the enemy will win every time. The Shield of Faith gains strength from the Word and a shield protects while the sword brings victory. The Word is our sword. It is effective in circumcising our heart to expose doubt, fear, insecurity and disbelief to be routed out so that God’s Love can take root in its place. To live confidently and boldly in Christ requires a relationship with the Word. You cannot fully know Christ apart from the Word because He is the Word. Christ began a good work in us. It is by His Spirit and the Word that it becomes the Masterpiece that He promised. Christ is flawless and brings His Character to those who desire it. Who are willing to allow the Word be the map and compass of their life? To assume His Identity and let go of any other label or title. Be confident. You can be perfect even with all your imperfections. You can do, have and be all the Word promised because the Word cannot and will not return to God void of completion. To live a flawless life is to live in the sufficiency of God’s Grace fully surrendered to the Spirit and Truth. The Word is the Truth that makes us perfect!

James 1:22-25 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

Less than Perfect

Less than Perfect

Matthew 5:48 (NIV) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Mom guilt. I struggle with it from time to time. I feel like my kids deserve more of time. Wife guilt. I want to be a good wife. To meet all my spouse’s expectation and earn a good reputation at the gate as the Proverbs 31 woman. Ministry guilt. Why am I struggling to begin this new call on my life? I usually charge in headfirst without a care or fear of failure. What about all those times when I feel insignificant? Unqualified? Undeserving? Am I alone? Do you struggle with imperfection? Do you wonder why your life or ability to perform doesn’t seem to make the cut?

I am not perfect. In fact, so far from it I cannot even perceive it. Yet God’s Word says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” How is that even possible? Religious doctrine will give you an out. A carefully constructed list of do’s and don’ts based on the expectation of others who are probably not doing any of the listed items either. My imperfection and flawed character is not a hopeless situation but an opportunity for God to do something miraculous. We must decide what perfection looks like in the eyes of the Father in order to properly examine our own heart and mind for evidence it exists.

Matthew 5:48 (AMP) You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Amplified Bible gives a brief description of what it might mean to “be perfect”. To grow into spiritual maturity both in mind and character while actively integrating godly values into your daily life. God doesn’t have a long list of character traits. The Word of God is careful instruction with a waiver called grace that allows us to be imperfect. We get so caught up sometimes in all the “things” Christians aren’t supposed to do, saying everything Christians are supposed to say, and acting like saved folk should that we miss the real life-changing endeavor that molds and shapes our character to be just like our Father in Heaven.

Ephesians 5:1 (AMP) Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]…

To be perfect is to imitate God. To be like Him. Oh no big deal! I thought it would be much more difficult than being like God…(sarcasm intended). It seems impossible to do so primarily because man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks inside the heart. (I Samuel 16:7) He sees the contents of a man’s heart and decides that’s the one for me. Think of all the failures in the Bible who went on to be mighty men and women of God. Imperfect in their choices, rebellious in their decisions, reckless in their ways, yet in the end God molded and shaped their character into exactly who He created each one to be so they would take their place in history for our benefit.

God is love. “The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]” I John 4:8 God has given us perfect love. His Intent is to love us so His Mercy meets us with each coming day. (Lamentations 3:22-24) His Love would not stop at my sin, but overflows with grace that is enough to cover it and allow me to live in close fellowship with Him again. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Even in my weakness, I am given His Power. Perfect love casts out all fear. (I John 4:18) The fear that produces doubt and insecurity about the Love that God has for us is dissolved in the Truth that nothing can separate us from the Love of God. (Romans 8:38-39)

The word “perfect” comes from Teleios which means the end or finished product. The presence of Jesus Christ within us completes us. His Spirit works inside of us to produce a finished product. The perfection that God is after is simple – perfection in God is love.

The emphasis in the command to “be perfect” is not on flawless moral nature but to have an all-inclusive love that seeks the good of all. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God with a purpose that no one else can accomplish. (Psalm 139) He has scripted a plan with a future and hope of good and not evil for you. (Jeremiah 29:11) The secret to that life is to seek Him wholeheartedly. It is more about identifying with the Love of God that will not allow us to love others less that matures us from the inside out.

Colossians 4:12 (AMP) Epaphras, who is one of you and a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. [He is] always striving for you in his prayers, praying with genuine concern, [pleading] that you may [as people of character and courage] stand firm, [spiritually mature] and fully assured in all the will of God.

Epaphras is noted as someone who was “always striving” for others in his prayer life. He prayed with “genuine concern.” He was pleading for those on the brink of giving up or giving in. He was pulling for them rather than pushing them over the edge. He was noted as spiritually mature and absolutely confident in God’s Love, His Word and His Will. I believe that perfection in Jesus Christ is full acceptance of His Love to the degree that it is enough to lavish on others. His Love becomes who we are.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” (I Corinthians 13:11) Is there a reason this scripture is in the “love” chapter of the Bible by chance? God is love. His Divine Character manifested and magnified in us is His All-Consuming Passion for us. His Love is endless and unconditional. Perhaps, our inability to be perfect is to keep us in a place of humility. Looking for love and giving love off as a beacon. Brokenness makes room for togetherness. It binds people together. When all the personal agendas are removed, personal interests are set aside, and people start loving people – it makes beauty from ashes.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

What if the only way to achieve perfection is to become one? What if completion is only possible by incorporating the members of the Body of Christ into one functioning, living, breathing unit rather than the splintered sections it has become? What if to be perfect means loving each and striving for one another?

Love is the constant factor. It is the standard of living that believers are called to. Not just any kind of love, but a love so deep and abiding that it is needed to breathe. God’s Love infiltrates every dark place in us producing light glorious light. The more we accept God’s Love for us – the more we have to draw from. God loves you. He loves me. I am insignificant or small in His Eyes – but complete lacking no good thing. The more confident I become in God’s Love for me the more consistent I will be in loving others. His Love changes us from the inside out. Faith grows fruit that gives us an offering for others contradictory to the “what’s-in-it-for-me” world that we live in. My war against the flesh begins to take a turn when love dictates my life and not my emotions or feelings. God lives in me. The enemy wants me to believe that I am nothing, insignificant, unimportant and most of all unloved. It is simply not true. God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son. There is no greater love than to lay one’s life down. Jesus did that for me. His Love is for me and it will never let me down. I may be less than perfect but the Love of God is working to perfect me day by day so I will rest in His Promise that He will perfect all that concerns me (Psalm 138:8) starting with love. If perfection in God is defined by love, I have the opportunity in each moment with each encounter to be made perfect when I choose love.

I love my family. My husband, my children and even my grandchild yet to be born. Maybe I am a more perfect wife and mother than I thought. Not because I do not make mistakes but because the presiding factor in these relationships is true love. I would most certainly lay down my life for any of them – in a heartbeat. I have friends who I love, too. What if I am evaluating my worth by the wrong standard? Jesus thought I was to die for. God thought I was worth being so He created me. I am imperfectly perfect in the parameters of God’s Love.

I Corinthians 13:3 (NIV) If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Not Moment to Spare

not-a-spare-moment

Matthew 6:26-27 (NLT)  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?

Stop. Just stop. Stop moving. Stop talking. Stop thinking. Stop worrying. Just stop for a moment. Now take a deep breath and one more. With the first breath, the natural process of oxygenation put life giving air back into the cells of your body and in that second you became a little bit healthier whether you felt it or not. The second breath, hopefully, allowed God’s Spirit along with His Peace to permeate your weary, stressed out, overloaded, maxed out self to feel the Presence of God all around you. If not, maybe by the time you read this, it will happen as it should.

This season is already a rush hour but the general consensus of people I know who live and work around me is go…go…go and then some. I cannot begin to delineate all the unexpected things going on around me as if everyone I know is being pelted with worry, fear, sorrow and more including our family. After going through a rough season, things seemed to be getting back to normal. After Thanksgiving, it was like every irritating minion of hell was meddling all around. Every time something was planned…something came up. Each time a list has been made… it has been torn up. Nothing was getting done. Everything was in an upheaval. Can I get an “amen”? AMEN!

By the end of the week, my heart was heavy. I was exhausted. I was agitated. As if holiday stress was not enough…life stressors were mounting, too causing a domino effect. Sometimes it is not the big things in life that cause us to fall apart but all the little things that bury us! Many believers reserve their faith in the Lord for the big things and hold tightly to all the small and seemingly insignificant details of life. You are valuable to God. He created you to be a priceless masterpiece and his personal treasure. You are not the person you see in the mirror but the One who He dearly loves and desires above all else. So quickly we forget…

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? No they cannot but instead rob us of special moments prepared for us by God. Consumed by control and steered by stinking thinking, quickly we forget who we are in Jesus Christ. We are the Sons and Daughters of God. Every need is met. Every promise given. Every blessing prepared. Every moment lined up to perfection. God has a plan consisting of moments in time that lead to a future and hope. It is beautiful by design and perfectly timed.

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.

I am usually a very calm person. Over the years and with age, my panic button has been pushed further and further from my hand. I have endured many things, trials, troubles, heartaches and brokenness. I have seen the Hand of God revive, renew and restore things in my life over and over again. It takes a lot to break me to the point of tears and giving up. Last week, it was a perfect storm. By Friday, I was done. Finished. Our little dog was poisoned on Monday night which turned into three different vet visits including hauling her to work. I had a carefully planned holiday list that was now coming apart. We did not have a tree. Christmas shopping had not yet begun. People I loved I would not be able to see due to holiday schedules beyond our control. This piled on a whole lot of life already in progress when my husband reminded me that he was going out of town broke me. I could not see Christmas coming together, the dog on the mend, the presents bought, wrapped or delivered. I could not think beyond right then enough to prepare yet another list to discard. You know the kind of week that I am talking about because many of you have experienced the same. Well…

God makes everything beautiful in His Time. Each day I poured out my heart to the Lord. Christmas is a struggle emotionally for me. Why God? Why are you allowing all these other things to pile up? Finally unable to carry the load, I just pushed it across the table until it all fell into His Lap. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Meeting everyone’s expectations is hard. I don’t know how He is able to do more than we can think or ask other than He really is Perfect in all of His Ways. Worry and stress cannot add a moment to our life. I believe wholeheartedly that faith and trust can redeem time and add moments to our life filled with supernatural qualities that far exceed anything you or I could do with a spare moment. So here’s what happened…

The vet cleared our little dog of permanent damage and sent her home to rest and recover with a plan to keep her nourished for the weekend. She began to perk up bit by bit. By Saturday, she was beginning to eat a little bit here and there all on her own. Looks like she is going to make it. At a Christmas party, some of my loved ones surprised me with a quick trip to town to celebrate Christmas. Game on devil God is doing His Thing. At the party, suddenly hopelessly broken relationships showed some signs of mending. After the first night of solid sleep and good rest, Saturday seemed a bit brighter. By the end of the day and four hours of shopping with my sweet husband who hates the mall, Christmas shopping is almost done. A quick trip to the local hardware store, a tree was chosen in about five whole minutes which is a family record. It is decorated and I am almost positive one of the most perfect trees our family has ever gotten. The first Christmas celebration was a success and by the end of the night the first batch of decorated cookies produced and consumed. In a single 24 hour period, everything I was worried about is already done. But how? God redeems our time according to His Plan when we trust Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is often read at funerals but maybe it should be read long before. It reminds us that in accordance with Psalm 139 every moment of our life is prerecorded by God before our birth. It points back to Jeremiah 29 that tells me God has a plan with a future and hope for me. I must only seek Him wholeheartedly to find it. I can look ahead to Romans 8 that promises every detail of my life will be worked out for my good and His Glory if I will just hang on and take my stand in this moment for the next one that is coming. Timing is everything to God because He is perfect and never compromises. If only we knew this ahead of time, we could see that God does everything in His Timing without a moment to spare and it is always beautiful.

What do people really get for all their hard work? Depends on who or what they are working for in a broad sense. If you are working for something you already have isn’t it a waste of time. Shouldn’t we strive for what we do not have instead? God promises to provide for us and supply our every need. He knows the desires of each heart and longs to fulfill it according to His Will. We all have a purpose and plan for our life that is better than one can comprehend so the Lord works to fulfill it by created faith experiences and God encounters. However, human nature doesn’t seek God in the good times but only under duress. What if we concluded as Solomon did to be happy and enjoy our life. Happiness is a choice. Joy is a product of God in us. Everything I have and am able to do is a Gift of God. I only carry out steps and live moments already given to me by my Father. Why am I worrying? There is purpose for my life. I have a future and hope. God has already ordered my steps and handwritten every moment. What do I worry and stress?

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT)  And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

This too shall pass…wise words spoken for a long time. It will. One way or the other this moment will be spent and this season will transition to the next. What will you do while you wait? Will you worry about a life already provided for? Will you stress over a season of joy? Emmanuel has come and God is with us. The enemy can do nothing more than knock on your door and beat on the windows, God will not let Him in.

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

You know last week I felt really dumb for being so worried over our pet. I berated myself for feeling worried, anxious and stressed over her well-being. I even apologized as I prayed to the Lord for her healing when other people are going through so much. Yet in that moment, the anxiety real and heartache truly felt. I believe that the Lord loves us so much that He cares about every moment of our life. The ones used for His Glory. The ones when we barely get by. The ones when we fail miserably. The ones when we give up completely. Every useful and spare moment of our day – God is there as He works our life together for the good things that He has in store for us.

Faith doesn’t allow us to see what we hope for. Trust is the opportunity to believe that it is there. Faith is a choice. Trust is a decision. Do I believe that every moment of my life is handwritten and provided for by the Lord according to His Riches in Glory? Do I trust that His Grace is enough power and strength to keep me going, catapult me over my circumstances and move me from season to season? Hope is not anything that can be seen but filled with infinite impossibilities ready to be manifested in my life. People who tithe testify of bank accounts and registers that just don’t make sense. Those who trust the Lord can exchange every spare moment for something perfectly supernatural. Will that be you today?

Your worry, stress, sorrow and regret will not add a single moment to your life but rob us of precious moments that the Lord has in store for us. Isn’t it time to shove all those burdens over to Him in exchange for His Peace that puts a guard over the door to our heart and window of our soul so when the enemy comes making a racket our response will be – It is well with my soul because God’s Timing is perfect for me!

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

Matthew 6:26-27 (NLT)  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?

Stop. Just stop. Stop moving. Stop talking. Stop thinking. Stop worrying. Just stop for a moment. Now take a deep breath and one more. With the first breath, the natural process of oxygenation put life giving air back into the cells of your body and in that second you became a little bit healthier whether you felt it or not. The second breath, hopefully, allowed God’s Spirit along with His Peace to permeate your weary, stressed out, overloaded, maxed out self to feel the Presence of God all around you. If not, maybe by the time you read this, it will happen as it should.

This season is already a rush hour but the general consensus of people I know who live and work around me is go…go…go and then some. I cannot begin to delineate all the unexpected things going on around me as if everyone I know is being pelted with worry, fear, sorrow and more including our family. After going through a rough season, things seemed to be getting back to normal. After Thanksgiving, it was like every irritating minion of hell was meddling all around. Every time something was planned…something came up. Each time a list has been made… it has been torn up. Nothing was getting done. Everything was in an upheaval. Can I get an “amen”? AMEN!

By the end of the week, my heart was heavy. I was exhausted. I was agitated. As if holiday stress was not enough…life stressors were mounting, too causing a domino effect. Sometimes it is not the big things in life that cause us to fall apart but all the little things that bury us! Many believers reserve their faith in the Lord for the big things and hold tightly to all the small and seemingly insignificant details of life. You are valuable to God. He created you to be a priceless masterpiece and his personal treasure. You are not the person you see in the mirror but the One who He dearly loves and desires above all else. So quickly we forget…

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? No they cannot but instead rob us of special moments prepared for us by God. Consumed by control and steered by stinking thinking, quickly we forget who we are in Jesus Christ. We are the Sons and Daughters of God. Every need is met. Every promise given. Every blessing prepared. Every moment lined up to perfection. God has a plan consisting of moments in time that lead to a future and hope. It is beautiful by design and perfectly timed.

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.

I am usually a very calm person. Over the years and with age, my panic button has been pushed further and further from my hand. I have endured many things, trials, troubles, heartaches and brokenness. I have seen the Hand of God revive, renew and restore things in my life over and over again. It takes a lot to break me to the point of tears and giving up. Last week, it was a perfect storm. By Friday, I was done. Finished. Our little dog was poisoned on Monday night which turned into three different vet visits including hauling her to work. I had a carefully planned holiday list that was now coming apart. We did not have a tree. Christmas shopping had not yet begun. People I loved I would not be able to see due to holiday schedules beyond our control. This piled on a whole lot of life already in progress when my husband reminded me that he was going out of town broke me. I could not see Christmas coming together, the dog on the mend, the presents bought, wrapped or delivered. I could not think beyond right then enough to prepare yet another list to discard. You know the kind of week that I am talking about because many of you have experienced the same. Well…

God makes everything beautiful in His Time. Each day I poured out my heart to the Lord. Christmas is a struggle emotionally for me. Why God? Why are you allowing all these other things to pile up? Finally unable to carry the load, I just pushed it across the table until it all fell into His Lap. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Meeting everyone’s expectations is hard. I don’t know how He is able to do more than we can think or ask other than He really is Perfect in all of His Ways. Worry and stress cannot add a moment to our life. I believe wholeheartedly that faith and trust can redeem time and add moments to our life filled with supernatural qualities that far exceed anything you or I could do with a spare moment. So here’s what happened…

The vet cleared our little dog of permanent damage and sent her home to rest and recover with a plan to keep her nourished for the weekend. She began to perk up bit by bit. By Saturday, she was beginning to eat a little bit here and there all on her own. Looks like she is going to make it. At a Christmas party, some of my loved ones surprised me with a quick trip to town to celebrate Christmas. Game on devil God is doing His Thing. At the party, suddenly hopelessly broken relationships showed some signs of mending. After the first night of solid sleep and good rest, Saturday seemed a bit brighter. By the end of the day and four hours of shopping with my sweet husband who hates the mall, Christmas shopping is almost done. A quick trip to the local hardware store, a tree was chosen in about five whole minutes which is a family record. It is decorated and I am almost positive one of the most perfect trees our family has ever gotten. The first Christmas celebration was a success and by the end of the night the first batch of decorated cookies produced and consumed. In a single 24 hour period, everything I was worried about is already done. But how? God redeems our time according to His Plan when we trust Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is often read at funerals but maybe it should be read long before. It reminds us that in accordance with Psalm 139 every moment of our life is prerecorded by God before our birth. It points back to Jeremiah 29 that tells me God has a plan with a future and hope for me. I must only seek Him wholeheartedly to find it. I can look ahead to Romans 8 that promises every detail of my life will be worked out for my good and His Glory if I will just hang on and take my stand in this moment for the next one that is coming. Timing is everything to God because He is perfect and never compromises. If only we knew this ahead of time, we could see that God does everything in His Timing without a moment to spare and it is always beautiful.

What do people really get for all their hard work? Depends on who or what they are working for in a broad sense. If you are working for something you already have isn’t it a waste of time. Shouldn’t we strive for what we do not have instead? God promises to provide for us and supply our every need. He knows the desires of each heart and longs to fulfill it according to His Will. We all have a purpose and plan for our life that is better than one can comprehend so the Lord works to fulfill it by created faith experiences and God encounters. However, human nature doesn’t seek God in the good times but only under duress. What if we concluded as Solomon did to be happy and enjoy our life. Happiness is a choice. Joy is a product of God in us. Everything I have and am able to do is a Gift of God. I only carry out steps and live moments already given to me by my Father. Why am I worrying? There is purpose for my life. I have a future and hope. God has already ordered my steps and handwritten every moment. What do I worry and stress?

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT)  And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

This too shall pass…wise words spoken for a long time. It will. One way or the other this moment will be spent and this season will transition to the next. What will you do while you wait? Will you worry about a life already provided for? Will you stress over a season of joy? Emmanuel has come and God is with us. The enemy can do nothing more than knock on your door and beat on the windows, God will not let Him in.

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

You know last week I felt really dumb for being so worried over our pet. I berated myself for feeling worried, anxious and stressed over her well-being. I even apologized as I prayed to the Lord for her healing when other people are going through so much. Yet in that moment, the anxiety real and heartache truly felt. I believe that the Lord loves us so much that He cares about every moment of our life. The ones used for His Glory. The ones when we barely get by. The ones when we fail miserably. The ones when we give up completely. Every useful and spare moment of our day – God is there as He works our life together for the good things that He has in store for us.

Faith doesn’t allow us to see what we hope for. Trust is the opportunity to believe that it is there. Faith is a choice. Trust is a decision. Do I believe that every moment of my life is handwritten and provided for by the Lord according to His Riches in Glory? Do I trust that His Grace is enough power and strength to keep me going, catapult me over my circumstances and move me from season to season? Hope is not anything that can be seen but filled with infinite impossibilities ready to be manifested in my life. People who tithe testify of bank accounts and registers that just don’t make sense. Those who trust the Lord can exchange every spare moment for something perfectly supernatural. Will that be you today?

Your worry, stress, sorrow and regret will not add a single moment to your life but rob us of precious moments that the Lord has in store for us. Isn’t it time to shove all those burdens over to Him in exchange for His Peace that puts a guard over the door to our heart and window of our soul so when the enemy comes making a racket our response will be – It is well with my soul because God’s Timing is perfect for me!

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

Too Familiar

too-familiar

Isaiah 6:1-5 (NIV) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

The Fox and the Lion

When first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran away and hid himself in the wood. Next time however he came near the King of Beasts he stopped at a safe distance and watched him pass by. The third time they came near one another the Fox went straight up to the Lion and passed the time of day with him, asking him how his family were, and when he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then turning his tail, he parted from the Lion without much ceremony.

The moral of Aesop’s Fable, The Fox and the Lion, is “familiarity breeds contempt”. Contempt is disrespect and disgrace. It is to disregard authority. Sometimes it is evident in an act of willful disobedience. What does this have to do with anything about God? It has become heavy on my heart that maybe there are times when I become too familiar with God. I am a Child of God. He is my Friend. Jesus is my Savior. He is everything to me. However, in the midst of our relationship his character is not changed by our close proximity. God remains Sovereign. Jesus is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

When the old adage came to mind, I did a little research as to its origin and found the old fable about the fox and the lion. When the fox first encountered the lion, he ran away in fear. The second time he saw the King of Beasts remaining safely distant watched as he passed by. By the third time, the fox became confident in the presence of the lion even chatting with him before “turning his tail” leaving without “much ceremony”. As I pause here, I have to wonder. The lion was gracious to the fox as without a moment’s hesitation – he could have easily overtaken the inferior creature and consumed the small animal. Did the fox take the lion’s grace for granted? Yes. He turned his back on the lion. How many times have I taken my relationship with God for granted becoming casual, comfortable and complacent in the Presence of the Creator of the Universe? Many times I am afraid. His Presence fills a sanctuary and I am too prideful to honor Him in fear that others might think I have fallen short in some way when in truth I fall short every day.

So I looked up the word “familiar” to decide how it can breed contempt in my relationship with God. Here is what I discovered:

Familiar has six definitions that when compared to the Word of God gives way to careful consideration.

Isaiah 6:1-3 (NIV) ) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

To be commonly known or seen. We serve a God who we cannot seen. Jesus told Thomas blessed are those who worship but have yet to see Him. Is it possible that because I cannot “see” a full manifestation of His Glory and view Him in the confines of Heaven that I do not see Him as He is. “I saw the Lord, high and exalted”. To see the Lord rather naturally or spiritually should produce the same result – “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” I can enter the Presence of God. I can enter with confidence and boldness thanks to Jesus Christ. But let me be clear that I am never, ever comfortable there. Have we taken God and His Presence for granted reducing the Living God to a created being?

I Corinthians 13:12 (NIV) For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Well-acquainted or thoroughly conversant. What we know about God and see is only a reflection as in a mirror. A mirror is based on perception. Our position before the mirror, the lighting in the room or other variants determine our view. When I decide that I know what God is doing and that my relationship is complete because I know Him completely. Where is the need for faith and trust? His Ways are higher and so are His Thoughts. I will know the Lord when I stand before Him face to face. For now, all I can rely on is faith in His Love and Grace for my life. This is where religious people can fall victim to contempt. Having God’s Word as a resource and His Spirit as our Guide our perception is still only partial…for now.

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Informal, easy going, unceremonious. Does my life grieve the Holy Spirit of God? I believe that our contempt for the Lord in our disregard for the Spiritual Fruit being cultivated in us each day. Things like bitterness, rage, anger, slander, and malice consume and kill spiritual fruit such as love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control destroy the growth of new life as a new creation that God intended for us through Jesus Christ. We do not worry about it and continue to allow willful disobedience to rule our life because someone hurt our feelings, offense takes over or it’s just too hard to do what God has instructed.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Closely intimate and personal. God desires intimacy with us. Jesus wants our relationship to be personal. However, due to becoming too familiar with the Lord, is it possible that He is now taken for granted? It is human nature to assume certain things, but when our expectation is not met it can be disappointing and downright devastating. Our intimate and personal relationship must be with the understanding that He is God. The Great I Am who is truly Sovereign. He cannot change His Mind. We must be changed. With this thought in mind, do we assume certain things about the Lord based on false confidence that we know everything that there is to know about Him? Is our expectation of the Lord set on our wants, needs and desires or do we seek His Will in all things?

Luke 7:40-45 (NIV)  Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.

Taking liberties and presuming. When the woman poured perfume on Jesus, washed his feet with her tears, and wiping them with hair – the Pharisees were appalled. Jesus addressed the homeowner and religious man with this story. I am humbled as I read it again. How many times do I enter the Presence of the Living God as though I have a right to be there? What has allowed me to ever believe that a single one of my sins is a lesser offense than anyone else’s? I have no right to judge another person but do by refusing to share the Gospel with them because I am too busy worrying about my own life, needs, wants and desires? I have it all. I have Jesus. May I never take for granted the Presence of My Lord, the Holy Inhabitation of His Spirit or the opportunities that I have to share His Great Love.

Hebrews 12:22-29 (NLT) But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Domesticated or tame. Do not mistake the character of our Creator as meek or mild. Our God is a consuming fire. Only those who know Jesus and have made them Savior and Lord will receive grace and redemption. The familiarity that has bred contempt in us must go. Coming to the altar of God and seeing Him for Who He really is requires repentance, humility and submission to the One and Only Sovereign God. We must accept the Omnipotence of God, His Omnipresence and Omniscience completely to live in His Presence. Religion lives in the outer court. I want behind the veil where Jesus is. I can know Him. But I must never allow familiarity to breed contempt in my life that causes me to disregard who God is and what He is doing.

Isaiah 6:6-10 (NIV) Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

Jesus lives in our heart. But is He on the Throne? It is easy to reduce Him to the status of ordinary but He remains extraordinary. God is good and He is also GREAT! Lord, I am sorry for the ways that I have taken you for granted and reduced you to humanity. Show me the places in my life where you are but are not Lord. Help me to clear the way for you to have Your Will, Way and Throne again!

Exodus 3:13-14 (NIV) Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

Always Perfect

perfect-always

Psalm 27:4-6 (NLT) The one thing I ask of the Lord—   the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music.

Last night, I had the profound privilege of attending an open-air concert called the Night of Joy. Hosted by Walt Disney World, sitting in an open stadium, hundreds of people created a scene out of Heaven worshipping the Lord together. This is indeed a privilege that not many people around the world are given. We are fortunate in American that even though people reject, refuse and retaliate against God and the Name of Jesus that we still have the opportunity to praise Him publically.

One of the artist was Chris Tomlin who is probably one of the greatest praise and worship leaders of all time. He sang, “Good, Good Father” along with the “church” in attendance last night. The verse “You are perfect in all of your ways” was repeated over and over again. I always stop to wonder in the midst of that song, if we truly know what we are telling the Lord. Such a confession means “God, I trust You”. No matter what I may be going through, the impossible thing that I am facing, the overwhelming hurt I am trying to overcome – God, I believe that YOU are perfect in all of your ways. The statement is true. It is valid. It cannot be accepted with some trials and troubles along the way. It must be confirmed and written in our heart by His Word. We must rely on His Spirit to help us understand a God who is perfect and how that impacts our life.

In the midst of doing life today, can we just stop and meditate on the Lord’s Perfection? Rather than just singing along with a song, or reiterating church rhetoric, can we think about what we believe for just a minute? Do you believe that God is perfect in all of His Ways? Do I believe it? God’s Perfection is not complex. It is incomprehensible to humans who have never experienced such. It seems cruel and unbending. God is relentless. He does not lie or change His Mind. While at times this does seem harsh, the Truth is it is our security. It means that there is nothing I can do to separate myself from the Love of God. It is confirmation that no matter how far I run or deep into darkness that I wander – His Love will find me.

Matthew 5:48 (NLT) But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Human inability to be perfect creates an immediate trust issue among people. We put our expectation in others who fall short of such a thing, then label God with the human qualities others have shown us. We cannot believe in a perfect God because we try to make the Lord like other people. Who is like you Lord in all the earth? Matchless love and beauty, endless worth. Nothing in this world can satisfy. Jesus, You’re the cup that won’t run dry. If only we could experience the perfection of God for just a moment…maybe then we would understand God’s Perfection is His Love.

You are to be perfect. I do not believe that the Lord would set a standard that people could not attain. If He calls us to perfection, it is totally possible. We must know the perfection of God. His Perfection is Love. Love covers a multitude of sin. Love is His Grace. His Grace is enough for me. It allows me to say that He is perfect in all of His Ways even when I am uncomfortable and inconvenienced by the process because I know His Perfection is filling me and His Process just makes more room.

Matthew 19:20-22 (NLT) “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Perfection is found in following Jesus because He is Perfection. As we do what He did, say what He said, and love like He loved, perfection is not far from us as it once was. The problem is not with His Process but His People. If rather than trying to wrap our head around being perfect, we would allow our heart to get wrapped up in His Perfect Love – our life would be perfect. Satisfaction and contentment are found in Jesus. Too often – it’s those “things” or “possessions” that keep us from the “perfect” life because we will not give them up to go where Jesus goes. This is not about the tangible or the acts of kindness or even Christian service. It is to surrender all that we are and ever hope to be to the Plan of God to be filled completely with His Love. The Light that drives all darkness away.

John 17:22-24 (NLT)  “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!

Jesus prayed for us to have “perfect unity”. There was a glimpse of that in the crowded statement as men, women, young and old worshipped the Name of Jesus together. Suddenly the lines were erased defining denomination, organization and congregations. For a moment, it was like Heaven. I believe Jesus came in our midst because for a second or two we were in perfect unity. It was all about Jesus and not about us. Jesus prayed for this on His Way to the Cross. Just hours before every sin of every person was heaped upon Him, Jesus prayed for us that we could experience the Glory of perfect unity with the Father, Son and His Church. This is perfection. To God it begins and ends with His Love.

Philippians 3:12-15 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.

What if today moving forward everyone agreed that God is perfect in all of His Ways? Would it tear down the walls built by people to create a “perfect” church? It might. Saul achieved great things for God before he became Paul. He did not persecute the Christians as a criminal but because of his convictions as a devote Jew who loved God the Father with all of his heart. Jesus showed Saul a better way, gave him a new name, and made him a new creation. Could it be we all need an experience with Jesus to forget the past? Past religion, convictions, denominations and the like to ask the Lord to show us His Perfection once again. To fill us with His Love all over again so we can see the renovations needed in the church and connect the Body of Christ. What if when we disagree, we would believe God is perfect in all His Ways and able to make it known to us rather than causing more separation than we are currently experiencing now. I wonder…

Psalm 27:11-14 (NLT) Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I’ve never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence. Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Lord, help our unbelief today. Help us understand Your Perfection and makes us perfect as you are perfect. What? You do believe that He is perfect in all of His Ways? Is the evidence visible in your life? Do you praise Him in the storm? Do you trust Him in all things never experiencing worry, stress or anxiety? Do you follow His Word to the letter? Do you go where He calls you? Do you say “yes” to Him every time? Do you surrender to His Leading? Do you submit to His Will? See if we really believe that God is perfect in all of His Ways – we would not hesitate in faith anymore. Thank you Lord for the stirring and conviction in my heart today. I must not only say that You are perfect in all Your Ways but must believe it with my heart and live it with my life.

Colossians 3:13-15 (NLT) Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Imperfect People

Imperfect People

Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT) Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

There are but three commodities existent in both Heaven and earth – faith, hope and love. We are warned not to store up our treasures here on earth for those things which can be contained may also be consumed by moths and rust among other things. The three assets of faith, hope and love are secured and guarded in the Kingdom. It is an investment beyond the here and now that will last for eternity. Where our treasure is – there our desire will be as well. Good talk!

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

Our eyes perceive the world around us. As long as our eyesight remains healthy, there is no problem. Over the last several years, my eyesight has been in sharp decline with a condition called presbyopia. Now before you assemble the saints of God to pray, let me assure you it is not fatal. My eyesight is changing due to a loss of elasticity of the lens of my eye caused by middle and old age. (Sigh) At first, it was subtle. If I just pushed my arm out a bit farther, everything came into focus again. However, as more time passed, either my eyes got worse or my arm got shorter so I began using reading glasses purchased at the local department store which worked for a while. When I could no longer see clearly without the readers, it was time for bifocals. Oh, the joys of getting older. Now I must wear contacts or glasses just about all the time especially if I am cooking, shopping or reading something that matters. Otherwise, I may add the wrong ingredient, pay the wrong price, or not fully comprehend that which I am attempting to understand.

Your eye is like a lamp that provides light to your body. The illumination of knowledge and understanding that will be used as wisdom comes through the perception our eye. The light that enters the eye creates an image that our brain perceives. We must also develop our spirit man/woman so that godly knowledge, wisdom and discernment are also applied so that the benefit of our choices are deposits into Heaven. The Light of His Love found in Jesus Christ, His Word and His Spirit are vital to expose any darkness hidden within us that may be keeping us from connecting fully with the Lord. Over time, as human beings, physical maturity sets in even if not mentally given. We grow up. Our body is born dying day by day. However, our spirit is born of salvation. We are given the Holy Spirit to nurture our body, mind and spirit so that our destiny steps over the lines of death and the grave into everlasting eternity. We must set our sights on Heaven.

I Corinthians 13:9-13 (NLT) Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

I am not perfect. My hope of becoming a perfect will not happen as long as I am alive. It is impossible until since is completely removed from my life. My soul is the only part of me that will ever achieve complete wholeness and perfection. Let that sink in for a moment. This world focuses more on our physical and mental state disregarding our spiritual well-being which currently is in sharp decline. We must all become good people. There is no higher calling to become godly people anymore. Even the church has stopped pushing and pressing us to greater things, because people just want to have a good life. The God life is to invest in a coming Kingdom with a soon and coming King. Nobody wants to wait.

I used to work really hard to be the best. My drive and motivation was to run things even though I didn’t realize it. My bullish tendencies wrecked many china shops along the way with total disregard for the feelings of others. I thought I was doing it all in the Name of Christ. However, the only things that God really wants to see in our life for now are faith, hope and love. These are the forever fruits sown by His Spirit so we are invested in Heaven.

One of the responsibilities in my workplace is proofreading. I read documents, mark errors and make corrections for other writers. I earn a living critiquing and editing. I know it is a nerdy job but for some reason I enjoy it. I like to make things better. I enjoy creating processes leading to greater success. God just wired me that way. However, if I am proofreading my own work, I tend to miss things. My attempts to perfect others are lost on myself. I tend to overlook certain mistakes because I am familiar with them. The examination of our life is quite the same. It is easy to point out the erroneous ways of others while missing our own weakness and imperfections.

Nobody is perfect except one. God is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) God’s Way is perfect. (Psalm 18:30) Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) His Word is perfect. (Psalm 19:7) The Lord’s Peace is perfect. (Isaiah 26:3) Jesus has been proclaimed the Champion of Faith and our Perfect Leader. (Hebrews 2:10) We have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living because we became imperfect due to sin. (Romans 3:23) But the Word of God promises that the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13) How do we endure? Faith in God through Jesus Christ. When we invest our life to faith in Christ, we become fruitful and productive people both here as in Heaven. (John 15:5-7) Nothing we do for the Lord is ever useless when we abide in His Love. We are complete in Christ when we endure to the end holding tight to faith, hope and love letting everything else go just to know Him more.

“But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.” When I read these words this morning, it was like dawn breaking in my heart and soul all over again. When the time of perfection comes…do you fight with being perfect? I do. Like Paul in Romans 7 struggling with the fact I know better but still do many things. The idea of the Holy Spirit completely taking over but somehow encountering opposition of old things, past sins, and bad habits that I thought had gone away. When I perceive my life comparing it to worldly standards, things are good. But when I compare my life to Christ, oh how much farther I have to go. The struggle is real. The enemy uses this conflict to try to deviate us from the Plan of God to make us victorious and prosperous in all things. It says in this verse that “these partial things will be useless.” I must learn to discern the things of worth to the Glory of God and those things that will remain impartial and die one day. It is not an easy task but with God’s Word and His Spirit I can try.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” Thank you Lord for insight today into what really matters to You! My faith matters. My hope matters. My love for the Lord demonstrated in my love for others…all others. These are the investments of my life that contribute to forever. Nothing else matters. Everything else will end one day but these three things will last forever. They are eternal. When the rich young man asked what he must do to enter Heaven, he was okay with following God’s Instructions until the commandment was to sell all his possessions and give it to the poor to follow Jesus. He went away sad and dejected for he had many “things”. What is that thing keeping you from perfect faith, perfect hope, and perfect love? I am asking myself the same thing. I cannot be perfect. But it doesn’t mean I must not mature.

Philippians 3:6-9(NLT) I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

When our son was undergoing chemotherapy for the first time, we stayed in a facility with other patients and caregivers going through the very same ordeal. All sick in their body with cancer. Most of the tenants were much older than our son. As we entered the dining hall, I could feel eyes on us filled with pity. One night talking with one of our friends in the lodge, she began to cry. She told me, “I deserve my cancer. I was a smoker for more than 30 years. What has he done?” (Referring to our son) “He hasn’t lived long enough to make bad choices. Why must he go through this horrible ordeal?” I stopped her and told her that she didn’t deserve this horrible disease either. I think as we grow older we begin to accept the consequences of disease or defeat based on our life choices…even Christians. God’s Grace is sufficient for me and all of my past transgressions. However the enemy wants to make us think that if we didn’t earn it than we cannot keep it.

Paul thought he was serving God in persecuting the Christians. After he met Jesus, he changed his ways repenting and turned to follow the Lord. What if he had given up or become discouraged? Surely everyone who knew him must have thought that he was a hypocrite. Paul was honest about his imperfect ways and his need for Jesus. Paul discarded everything else counting it as garbage compared to knowing Christ. Have I? Is there anything in my life that I hold more dear and precious than my relationship with Jesus? We must evaluate our walk daily for three things – faith, hope and love. Everything and anything else in my life that holds precedent or priority over these three qualities and achievements are worthless, useless garbage and not accountable to the Kingdom. I have these eternal qualities because of the Grace given to me through Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Our life is filled with partial images of perfection that too many times set the standard for our life. God’s Standard of Living comes after this life ends and when we step into forever. If the contents of my life do not include faith, hope and love, I have failed and will not see the eternity that I know long for. If I have not planted my faith, hope and love as my treasure in Heaven, I have nothing to yield from when I arrive. We complicate our life with routines, religion, tradition, and expectations not placed on us by the Lord. This viewpoint magnifies our imperfection rather than keeping us focused on His Perfection which offers a superb grace that sets every sinner free. We no longer get what we deserve. We don’t have to earn it. We must only endure this life of lesser things on a pilgrimage to perfection achieved in Christ alone. Lord, take my eyes off the worthless things and keep me focused on You today. Perfect that which concerns me as Your Word promises and I will do my best to follow You and accept Your Grace when I fall short. I am imperfect. My life is incomplete. I will not be discouraged or defeated by my inability to live a perfect life and be a flawless person but invest all my faith, hope and love in what I will be when I meet You face-to-Face.

Colossians 1:27-28 (NLT) For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.

 

 

Word for the Weary

Word for the Weary

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NKJV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

 

Are you weary today? Tired? Exhausted? Are you physically or mentally overworked, overtired or overwrought? Are you fatigued and pained by the pressures of life? The life of a believer is called the good fight of faith which reason. It is a battle to remain standing against the assault of the enemy. It’s early. I was up late. I am so tired that tears are involuntarily falling down my face. Yawn after yawn arise without warning. I was tempted to hit snooze on the alarm and get a few more minutes of sleep but experience tells me that God gives me more in thirty minutes than a well-earned nap ever will so I sit down behind the glare of the monitor and open my journal to a clean new page. All I can think to write is “weary”. Just weary. Lord, do you have a word for the weary ones today. Those who live in your Love by faith holding tightly to confident hope yet feel the strain their heart nevertheless. Surely there is a promise or two for those of us who refuse to let go thought struggling to hang on.

 

This is not about giving up on the Lord, walking away or choosing to backslide or wander. This is about holding on to the promise that God made you until it comes to pass. It is waiting well past our understanding with a mustard seed size of faith to a hope that overwhelms us and seems too unrealistic to expect or undertake. Yet something inside of refuses to quit. Will you meet me in this place Lord? Or is this just part of the test? When I pass it, then will you come to renew and restore me like you promised? When will the weary find rest and replenishment?

 

Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Hold on? Those who wait on the Lord SHALL (plan to, intend to, expect to) renew their strength. Is it always up to the Lord to give us new strength? Do we as human beings inhabited by the Holy Spirit have the ability to produce renewal from the inside out? If so, then how? Why must we wait on the Lord? What does patience have to do with anything if Christ lives in me? Good question.

 

Matthew 9:35-37 (NKJV) Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

 

Jesus was moved with compassion for them because they were weary and scattered. Note – He healed every sickness and disease so this was not physical illnesses and imperfection. There were multitudes of weary people. I wonder if the weariness that Jesus saw was that of the people looking for the Messiah living in the valley of decision who were waiting for something or someone but couldn’t see that He was right there standing in front of them so they were scattered. The harvest is plenty. The laborers are few. Many people walk into church one way and leave just like they came. We must have compassion like Jesus and become mission minded. I can meet the physical needs of others simply by sharing what I have. It doesn’t require faith or trust just a change of heart. We can tell others how to walk in righteousness or we can take them by the hand and escort them to Jesus. Either way their walk does not impact my ability to seek and trust God on my own. Weariness is exhaustion produced by hard work. When we give our all to follow Jesus and seek His Presence in our life, even when the reward is not clearly evident or seems impossible, yet we continue to wait on the Lord it can and will produce weariness in our heart, mind, soul and body…with good reason.

 

James 1:2-4 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

 

Who celebrates hard times and trials in life? Not me. But it is totally possible to have joy and find praise in our heart during the rough spots and overwhelming trials that occur in our life. We must dig in even when our legs are shaky along with our hearts. Even when my hands struggle to find strength to worship the Lord, I must find a way to do it anyway. My faith is strong but my body weak. My heart beats for the Lord, but my weary soul is not rejoicing. I must find my praise in this position more so than the rest. This is the birthplace of patience. The very thing that I need to be complete lacking nothing. Why? Why press on? Why dig deeper? What’s the point of wearing myself out for a promise that is whispered and the glimmer hope that I have found? By your patience possess your souls.” (Luke 21:19)

 

Romans 15:5-6 (NKJV)  Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

We serve the God of Patience. He will grant us comfort if we decide to be like Him. As we grow in patience, there will be more grace in our life. When we cannot see His Way or find His Footsteps, His Grace meets us and takes hold of us pulling us closer to Him. Our pursuit in the Lord is to develop a lifelong relationship with the God of Love. Not only that, we are to be patient like Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:5)

 

Hebrews 6:11-12 (NKJV) And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

Do you desire the promises of God to come to pass in your life? Patience is a requirement although it makes us weary. Attached to the full assurance of hop that what we desire will come to pass in the end, we decide to hang on. We must be very, very careful not to become sluggish or weary in doing good. (Galatians 6:8-10) As believers who desire God’s Will and Perfect Plan, we must have our heart and mind set yielding to the Holy Spirit for His Holy Inhabitation and commit to mold and shape us into who we were called and created to be.

 

2 Samuel 17:1-3 (NKJV) Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Now let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and weak, and make him afraid. And all the people who are with him will flee, and I will strike only the king. Then I will bring back all the people to you. When all return except the man whom you seek, all the people will be at peace.”

 

Ahithophel had a good plan. David had an even Greater God. Knowing that his army could not overtake David and his mighty men in hand-to-hand combat, he devised a plan to overtake them when they were weak and weary. Friend, the enemy has a target on your back as a born-again believer who is striving to live in His Love and produce His Patience. He is coming for you! Weariness produces weakness and vulnerability that the enemy is keenly tuned into especially if you are always griping and complaining about it. The Lord protected David and his men from the attack. Esau gave up his birthright and inheritance for one meal. He grew weak and weary and when he smelled the good food desiring natural satisfaction and immediate gratification – he forfeited his future. (Genesis 25:29-34; Hebrews 12:16-17)

 

Galatians 6:8-10 (NKJV)  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

 

Let us not grow weary while doing good for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Are you disheartened today? Fighting the good fight, but it seems to be falling short? I am right there with you. One of David’s mighty men was a warrior named Eleazar. (II Samuel 23:9-10) Going to battle, he had the Israelite army with him. Once engaged, they retreated but Elezar arose and attacked the Philistine giants until his hand was weary and his hand stuck to the sword. The Lord brought him victory. Why? He did not give up. He did not give in. He became weary and kept swinging. Do not put down your sword. Do not drop that shield of faith. Do not leave behind the belt of truth or breastplate called righteousness. You have been called to fight of your faith so do it.

 

Jacob wrestled with an angel. The angel struck his hip when Jacob’s persistent nature refused to let go. Why would the Lord do such a thing? Jacob wanted the blessing so He refused to let go. The Lord wanted to fill his life with grace.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV) Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 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. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Weariness produces weakness. God’s Power works best in my complete and utter inability. When I cannot do another thing, speak another word or even attempt to wait any longer. I am filled with the sufficiency of God’s Grace. Patience leads to possession of our soul. We must learn to wait on the Lord even when we are weary. To embrace our weaknesses as the birthplace of faith that allows our soul to prosper in God’s Grace. Stop beating yourself up because you are weak or weary but understand that you are positioned for His Grace and Glory to rise up from within you. We have a measure of faith that we are born with. When that seed begins to grow, other things must give way. Things like impatience and agitation, etc. Jacob’s persistence paid off but it came at a price physically. Oh how I understand this all too well. That thing that broke you is a blessing in disguise because when you finally were empty – God was able to fill you up again.

 

I Timothy 6:11-112 (NKJV) But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

 

Keeping swinging that sword today, no matter how tired you have become. If you are weak and weary allow the Lord to fill you with His Grace and Love by yielding it to him fully. We must pursue godliness, faith, love, PATIENCE, and gentleness in every endeavor. We cannot and must not give up in the good fight of faith but consistently and persistent fight harder for new levels and depths of God’s Grace, Love and Mercy. We must hold tight to the eternity with full assurance that God will do exactly as He promised accepting the Grace of God through Jesus Christ more and more. To say, I can’t but God can rather than grumbling and complaining all the time is important. I am weary today. There are some things that I just do not understand. Nevertheless, the Lord has promised to satiate (my) weary soul and replenish (my) sorrowful soul as well. To admit weakness allows the sufficiency of God’s Grace to restore us right where we are if nothing immediately changes. Our soul is safe and secure in the Lord. Breathe deep today. Talk to the Lord. Stir up the Holy Spirit to produce those fruits that nourish our soul and satisfies our thirst for more of Him. Do not give up when you are tired. Do not give in when you are weary. Press on in the Name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Tiny Cracks

white flower growing on crack street, soft focus.

Luke 6:47-49 (NIV)

“As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

 

We have lived in our house more than ten years. I remember when it was just a few cinder blocks with plumbing pipe shooting up out of the ground. I love it then and I love it now. I can still recall the day I pulled up to find the finishing touches all in place. It was perfect in every way. In awe of the Goodness of God, it seems like the waves of grace move continually over me at the revelation that God is good all the time and blesses us far beyond our comprehension. However, over time, the house was broken in. With kids and pets and life, the once pristine walls and surfaces show a bit of age. If you look closely at the floors, there are tiny cracks here and there as the house has settled over the years. Some houses develop major foundation issues with settling cracks. Others fall into large sinkholes beneath the foundation as the earth moves and shifts with time. It is important the foundation of our life. This house is just a building constructed by the hands of man. The home inside it is a work of God. Sometimes I forget to separate the two. My house is not my family. It is our souls bound together in love and harmony that have grown into the unity we have now. The love expressed by each person has formed a solidified bond that the storms of life and fiery trials could not destroy. The foundation of our home and life is Jesus Christ.

 

As I have prepared the house to put it on the market, I was more and more aware of the settling cracks that had formed in different places. How long had they been there? When did they begin to come apart? Though nothing major and totally acceptable in sound construction, I am aware of them. I don’t like the way they look. I don’t want others to see them either. I wonder if we form tiny cracks in the foundation of our life when we become comfortable and settle some over life. You know when our pursuit of God becomes a marathon rather than a furious foot chase. When our passion cools to a low boil and our soul simmers with a slight hint of complacency. When other things begin to take the place of time spent bonding with the Lord and spending time in His Presence. I am turning 50 this year. I am seeing some tiny lines and wrinkles that were not there just the other day. While my age does not concern me, but rather a testimony of survival, I am beginning to notice changes in my appearance and even in my personality that seems attributable to the passage of time. I must also examine my heart, my mind and my soul to see if the foundation of my life is intact. I am entering a new season. No, I am not looking back. Nor am I looking ahead, no today I am looking inside.

 

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV)

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.

 

It makes me laugh how the Lord leads me into these conversations. This morning, I came to the Lord needing peace. My heartfelt desire was His Perfect Peace. Once you have experienced the Peace of God, it is very difficult to live any other way. You know that there is a better way. It took a huge storm and massive trial for me to discover the Rock I have found in Jesus Christ. He keeps in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you. My peace does not come from me or the conditions of my life – but is found solely in the Lord. I know that. I do not always remember it or live according to it but the Truth remains regardless of my response. But sometimes we do not move on to the next verse, which would only make sense that when the Lord offers us something, surely He will tell us how to attain it. Maybe we want God’s Promises but forsake and forgo His Plan. I know because I do it, too.

 

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, THE LORD HIMSELF, is the Rock eternal. Notice how it is repeated within His Statement – for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock. Our life is a building process. We are establishing our existence in Jesus Christ. There is no peace found in life worth having outside of our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. We can try to find security by being responsible and building a good life for us and our family, but unless we dig just a little big deeper into the true foundation of life, we will be disappointed.

 

Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV)

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

 

Psalm 27:4, one thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life. I love this verse. It is my passion. It is my pursuit. It is my complete undoing. We do not construct anything of worth. God is the expert builder who brings dead things back to life. He is the One who takes all our broken pieces together and displays a masterpiece of beauty. He set me high upon a rock. It is in the day of trouble, trial and tragedy when the foundation of our life is put on full display. When an earthquake hits a city, the expertise of a builder and wisdom of his plan is discovered. Those who built on firm foundations leave behind something of worth. But those who did not take the time to focus on the foundation and connecting every part of the infrastructure will be revealed as homes and offices crash to the ground. This life is temporary. In those moments of shaking, are my feet set high on the rock or am I swallowed up by the cracks in my foundation?

 

Matthew 7:24-25 (NIV)

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

 

Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh and sent to live among us. To show us a new way, a better way of life beyond our five senses and inevitable death. Those who took the Word and put it into practice are considering wise builders with lives established in Christ that can withstand any storm. It will not fall for the foundation is the Rock. Stay with me…

 

Acts 7:48-51 (NIV)

“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things? “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

 

What kind of house will you build for me? We are living stones that need a good foundation to build upon. We have God’s Word. He offers to be the Cornerstone of our life. (Psalm 118:22-23) We try to build a good life with what the Lord has given us. Is it enough? Psalm 127:1-2 tells us that unless the Lord builds a house – we labor in vain. Jesus is the Cornerstone who the builders rejected. Are we still rejecting Him today? We come to Jesus and want a Savior. To build our life with Christ as the Cornerstone requires just a little bit more. We must make Him Lord. He must be the foreman of construction in the process of growth and development. We can do nothing apart from Christ. His Spirit is cultivating the things in us that are needed to firmly establish us on His Foundation…are we allowing God’s Spirit to fill in the cracks and insufficiencies in us or are we cutting corners to ease the cost, cease the labor, and create a comfortable environment?

 

Matthew 16:15-19 (NIV)

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

 

And I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will be my church. I have read this passage countless times, but I think I missed something very important. When Jesus said, this to his disciple, He was not telling Peter that he was the rock, but that the faith in him was the foundation of growth that would become His Church. The personal revelation of Jesus Christ is only the beginning, but when we acknowledge His Person as Messiah, Son of the Living God and continue to do so day by day our feet our firmly planted in faith which is the foundation of our life in Jesus Christ. Peter was not the rock but the faith evident in his profound declaration. Jesus doesn’t desire parrots chirping back at him but rather confident believers who declare who He is in their everyday life. As we continually invest every bit of time, talent and treasure in building the Kingdom by faith our life will prosper on the firm foundation. Storms will not crush us. Earthquakes will not move us. Every fiery dart from Hell will not touch us. We will be on the Rock that is higher than I. Hannah said it best in her prayer, “There is no one holy like the Lord, there is not besides you, there is no Rock like our God. Are there some cracks in your foundation today? Have little openings appeared in the midst of settling? Are you comfortable? Do you need perfect peace today? Do you want a little rest? To those who believe, the Stone is precious. (I Peter 2:7) He will be the Cornerstone of our life, if we establish our life by faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Psalm 127:1-2 (NIV)

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.

 

Our house has been on the market for many weeks now. People have paraded through it. Agents toured the rooms. Each Thursday for as long as I can remember has been “cleaning day” in our house. For the past month, it has turned into the complete purging of every room and closet. I have noticed things about the house that I didn’t notice before it went up for sale. Many little projects and small repairs that needed to be made. I can note every imperfection. We have not sold the house and I will admit I was a bit discouraged. As I cleaned last night, it was not with the usual fervor but rather just washed, vacuumed, dusted, and the like as I have every other Thursday for years. I am thankful for this house. I know that our days here are numbered. In the waiting, I have grown impatient. I asked the Lord to give me peace today. He gave me more than that as I could see the tiny cracks in my foundation, my faith if you will that needed just a little more Jesus. See my life is not a house or even the people who live in it. It is Jesus. When everything in my life is placed on the Rock, it becomes immovable, unshakeable and everlasting. Everything else has to go. See what it says in Psalm 127, unless the Lord builds my house or my life, it is all in vain. Unless the Lord watches over all transactions and interactions in my life, the “guards” stand in vain. I can get up early and worry if we will have a showing today and go to bed late wondering if this is “really” His Plan, but it too is in vain. God grants sleep (or peace) to those He loves. The cracks in my faith do not make Him love me any less but rather just make room for His Grace to be applied. His Mercy is new every morning to cover my fear, doubt and worry lines that have no place in my life because I have nothing to fear. Perfect peace is a process. The process of moving our life from reality to the Rock. Faith is the process of acquisition that allows us to have perfect peace.

 

Soon a home inspector will come to examine our house for a prospective buyer, then an appraiser will come to access its worth, Lord let us find favor with man concerning the sale of this house. But more importantly, let the Holy Spirit examine my heart today and fill any cracks in my foundation. Make my faith strong in You. Be the foundation of my life, Jesus. May I find favor with you, Lord. I give myself to You!

 

Ephesians 2:19-21 (NIV)

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

 

 

To Be Perfect

To Be Perfect

Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Is perfection even possible? Paul said, “not that I have already attained or am already perfected”, so is there a subtle implication in his words that by pressing toward the mark and laying hold of Christ our life will somehow become perfect? What is perfection anyway? Perfection is defined as the highest degree of proficiency, skill or excellence. It is the “perfect” example of something. The word “perfect” means conforming absolutely to the description of definition. Excellent and complete. Exactly fitting. Entirely without any flaws, defects or shortcomings. I am human being filled with everything that makes me just the opposite of perfect so what’s the point? How can I ever be perfected when every fiber of my being and character are contrary to it? Perfect comes from the Latin word “perfectio” which means a finishing. Over time, we have defined perfect but the root of it all is finishing. This means that perfection is not how we start but found in our finishing. Our growth and development that leads to completion is the very thing that perfects us. If we can change our perspective on perfection, perhaps people will stop compromising and accepting substitutions and choose to be perfect.

 

Forgetting those things which are behind me can be such a challenge. Seldom do I dwell on my past successes, but rather all the times I gave up, fell short or thoroughly messed up. The enemy gladly shoves the memories of all my faults and failures into my face inviting me to question God’s Perfect Grace. To be perfect as God has promised and desires us to be requires reaching forward to those things given by faith and confident hope. These are the impossibles made possible for those who believe. Do you believe? This is the foundational question that must be answered to attain a perfected life.

 

James 1:4-8 (NKJV)

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

 

Perfection is finishing. It is not how we begin, but those who endure until the end of this process of growth and development in Christ. The Lord wants to make us perfect and complete, lacking nothing. It will require wisdom which when we take what we know and apply it to our life. Otherwise, it is misplaced zeal. Hosea warns that His People perish from a lack of knowledge. Ignorant Christianity will never get us into Heaven. It is the heart and mind bent on perfection willing to do whatever it takes to make it to the end that will be saved. Faith is a life without fear and doubt producing full confidence and contentment in God and His Ways beginning with Jesus who is the Only Way to the Father. No one comes to the Father but by me. Do not be deceived for a double-minded man (or woman) is unstable in all of their ways.

 

Matthew 5:48 (NKJV) Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

 

Jesus said that we would be perfect. We would be finished. Made complete. Whole lacking nothing. Yet, in all things I am imperfect. The first thing I must do is accept that fact that I am nothing apart from Christ and can do nothing outside of our relationship that is worthwhile or beneficial for my future. There are a couple of things required to achieve perfection.

 

Genesis 6:5-9 (NKJV)

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

 

Grace releases God’s Power of Perfection in our life. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. But as we read further, it says that he was a just man, perfect in “his generations” and that he walked with God. Everyone requires the Grace of God. No one is exempt. It is the daily overflow of God’s Grace that allows us to move deeper in righteousness and closer to the Lord. Noah found favor with God not because he was perfect but because he desired a relationship with God the Father and worked to maintain it. His Works did not define that process but God’s Grace given to Noah. Noah and his family would be the only generation to survive the total demolish of the earth. Would our pursuit of God save our family from destruction? Does my life exemplify the grace and goodness that I have been delivered?

 

Psalm 18:30-32 (NKJV)

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.

 

God is perfect in all of His Ways. He will not change any of His Ways or that makes Him indecisive and changeable which invalidates His Perfection. He got it right the first time. Man mistakes God’s Grace for a change of heart. God is not emotional. He is Sovereign. He loved us and chose us from the very beginning. He established the Way for us before we were born into sin. He knew us and loves us because He created us. You don’t have to believe the Word of God to make it any more valid or true. The Truth stands alone. In an ever-changing world with compromised morals, mixed feelings, gray areas and convoluted ideas of grace, we must take God’s Word as the whole and absolute truth making it the foundation of our thoughts and filling our hearts with its knowledge to be wise when it comes to Christ. Perfection is impossible outside of the Lord.

 

God is My Strength and Power. Do you agree today? Think about it before you answer because the next mind-blowing revelation might rock you as it did me. To truly believe that God is perfect requires two things – weakness and surrender. You will never give God everything when your life is perfect. It is in the devastating revelation that you are weak and helpless that surrender is accomplished. It is in THAT moment when perfection becomes possible in our life.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (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. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Weakness acquires His Strength. We cannot become strong in the Lord until we discover our own human weakness. We want to do what is right but cannot. We desire perfection but fall short. It is right here in this place of giving up and giving in that His Perfecting Power is manifested in our life.

 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

 

God’s Power requires full surrender of our life to God’s Plan and accepting His Grace. Grace is the key to perfection. We must accept God’s Strength and Power in order to allow our heart and mind to change according to His Will and Way. We can do nothing apart from the free gift of God. We must learn to walk in His Way.

 

Psalm 19:7-11 (NKJV)

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.

 

The truth behind grace is the absolute solidity of God’s Word as true. Do you believe God’s Word? It must be the unadulterated truth of our life to move past the opening stages of the gift of grace to the perfecting qualities of faith in God. We must grow, develop and mature in our relationship with Jesus Christ in the dispensation of His Grace to become who God created us to be. Life does not get easier, just more purposeful. It does not turn down the heat of fiery trials just keeps us safe and gives them meaning. It is the conversion of our heart and soul in becoming a living sacrifice that allows us to be transformed and perfected according to His Word. (Romans 12:1-2) It does not change the past but our future.

 

Matthew 19:20-22 (NKJV)

The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

 

In this parable, the dilemma faced in the pursuit of perfection is revealed. Heartbreakingly true, it happens every day. The young man was raised in religion and performed quite well. But when Jesus reached inside his heart to expose his weakness, the young man could not let it go. He could not become weak for the Lord giving up the security and comfort of his wealth. He could not give Jesus his weakness which was his love of position and power. So he took his perfect worldly life and went his way rather than answering the call of Jesus to follow me. What is keeping you from perfection today? I know with vivid clarity the areas keeping me. The things I choose to build my own strength rather allowing the Lord to be my strength. The areas of weakness I hide from the risk of exposure that would allow Him to make me strong. God invites me to have perfection. I was created to be perfect but chose iniquity. (Ezekiel 28:15) If I make a commitment to perfection (Psalm 101:2), He promises to perfect all concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) He will keep me in perfect peace if I set my mind on Him. (Isaiah 26:2-4) God has given us so many promises as a result of the perfection that He gives us by His Grace. (I Corinthians 7:1) If only we would consider the opportunities of grace rather the opposition of our flesh to following His Way, what would happen? We might just be perfected.

 

Ephesians 4:12-16 (NKJV)

For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

 

To be perfect is the fulfillment of God’s Grace in our life. To take the gift we have been given, open it and apply it to our life. This is a direct result of one’s decision to accept our weakness and desire His Strength, while we surrender our life to accept His Power of Transformation and the conversion of our soul from death to life. Christ was perfected in the third day. Not on the Cross but in His Resurrection from the tomb. This is how God’s Power works in us. The same power that brought Jesus out of the grave is the same power in us that allows us to be perfected in Christ. (Luke 13:32; Hebrews 5:8-9) We have a purpose that grace accomplishes. His Strength and Power allows us to be finished, made complete and lacking nothing. God is not finished with you yet…He is just beginning. In giving our life to Him, walking His Way and choosing to take Him at His Word, we are promised to be perfect! His Love makes us perfect!

 

Colossians 3:14 (NKJV) But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.