Like an Arrow

Like an Arrow

Isaiah 49:1-4 (NIV) Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.” But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”

I had this vision of an arrow sailing through the air. I could not see the archer who shot it. The target was not clear. It was simply whistling by. It was for me. Not intended to harm me but to pierce my heart. I knew that there was a message for those who are far from the beginning but cannot see the end. Endurance is a quality that God instills in us to win. Jesus said, “Those who endure to the end will be saved.” The beginning of a thing is excited with a rush all its own. The end is triumphant and often a welcome relief from the journey. However, the battle is won and target achieved in the middle. The ones who decide to continue when nothing is clear. Like an arrow, the archer has a target in sight.  A mark that is aimed for. He releases the arrow to cover the distance and when it arrives at the destination fulfill its purpose. The arrow does make a sound it just does what it was created to do. What about you? Are you in the middle of something? Wondering if you will ever make the mark or maybe feeling as though you missed it altogether? Does your life seem to be a perpetual flight with no landing in sight? Oh friend, there is purpose in your destination too wonderful to miss.

He made me a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. Persistence, perseverance, patience, endurance, discipline and the like are contrary to human nature. To wait on the Lord and trust in His Purpose and Plan are difficult to an untrusting people who have been tainted by disappointment, betrayal, pain, and a lack of fulfillment. How do I know that the designated purpose delineated for me will bring me the full satisfaction that is promised? Well, there is only one way to find out. A polished arrow has been through some refinement or perhaps a great deal of fires and forging to prepare it for the moment of release. It is carefully hidden in the archer’s quiver for an appointed time and destination. The waiting can be the hardest part. We miss the peacefulness of His Rest eager to see if He will be faithful. If we could only learn to overcome doubt and fear in order to embrace the Faithfulness of God – who is the mighty archer ready to release us at any moment.

But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”  Can I encourage you today that God is not finished with you yet? Perhaps, He has not even begun to show you the reward set aside for you at the end. We must stop saying that our labor is in vain just because it has not hit the mark yet. Discouragement laced with the lie of the enemy tells us that our strength is spent with nothing to show for it. Grace says that in my weakness I will have His Power as my own. To place our life in God’s Hand completely is the only way to reach the mark and claim the prize. However, it is not in our doing anything but rather submitting our life to His Hand, remaining in His Presence and going where He sends us.

Isaiah 49:5-6 (NIV) And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him    and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

How often the words in Psalm 139 escape us! The part where the Lord reveals that every single day of our life is carefully recorded before a moment lived. The promise of Romans 8 that He works every detail of our life for good simply because of our love for Him. No matter what happens in life or what I do – nothing will ever separate me from His Love. His Grace offers power in my complete weakness. To trust Him and know Him releases the full potential in my life to achieve God’s Purpose and Plan. Not because I am worthy of any of it – but because He is good and does not lie or change His Mind. He is faithful. Someone needs to hear that today. Stop beating yourself up because of faults and failures. Don’t look back – keep your eyes fixed on the future. Reclaim your joy and peace again by positioning yourself in His Presence and waiting for the Lord to do what He promised. All things will work together when we stop trying to work it all out and figure it out as well. God has a plan. He has a purpose just for you. He will do exactly as He promised.

Philippians 3:10-12 (NIV) I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

What is your mark today? Goal? Prize? Desire? Purpose? We all have one. The primary purpose of our life is to know Christ and be united with God the Father to become part of His Kingdom. The benefits and blessings of such a pursuit are the potential of our life and purpose. In Hebrews 12, there is insight to something that I never noticed before. “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Did you see it? It says, “The race marked out for us”. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean you can’t believe it! We must fix our eyes on Jesus. He must be and remain our primary focus to persevere in the pressing for the mark. Your destination is divine. The pathway secure. You just have to keep on keeping on to make it.

There are some other things that the arrow reminds us to do. We must aim for something. (I Corinthians 9:26-27) It is said that if you aim for nothing you will hit it every time. This is true in trying to experience Kingdom life lived without expectation. We must aim for consistency. (2 Corinthians 5:8-9) We must aim for honor. (2 Corinthians 8:20-21) Honoring God in all we do will keep us steady on course. People are not the problem but each one holds potential. However, the enemy will send fiery darts towards us to cause our arrow to lose course. (Ephesians 6:16) Do not be distracted. Keep the faith. Aim to remain faithful and focused in the flight. (2 Timothy 2:4) There are many arrows in God’s Quiver each with its own purpose – we must aim for unity. (2 Corinthians 13:11-12) We are in this together. Fighting for the same faith. Trusting in the same Lord. Members of the same body. Residents of His Kingdom not at war with each other but all that comes against it.

I Timothy 1:5 (NIV) The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

The aim of our charge or tip of the arrow must always be a deep and penetrating love that cuts through our heart to produce a good conscience and sincere faith. The only good in me is Jesus Christ. My faith is in Him as He is the “pioneer and perfecter” of it. On those days when it feels like we just keep on keeping on, it’s easy to lose sight of where we came from or where we are going. These are the days when our eyes must go back to the archer. The arrow that honors the archer stays on course and hits the target every time. It may seem like you are flying aimlessly to nowhere but if God is the One who released you – I promise that you are going places. Amazing and wonderful destinations of prosperity and fulfillment. Have faith in the Archer today. Stay the course. Hit the mark. You will be found faithful in the end and have the rich and satisfying life that He has sent you after.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

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Go the Distance

Go the Distance

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

What is your purpose? What are you passionate about? Do you have a plan? We live each day in anticipation of tomorrow and miss the moments given in each breath. How do I know? How many times do you go to bed on Monday only to wake up and its Friday again? Or write the date only to find that a quarter of the year has passed in what seems like just a few days? Time continually passes by and seasons change so what do I have to show for it? Well, I have a seasoned marriage of almost two decades. We have four adult children and one teenager. I have a beautiful and precious grandson. I am blessed to have a nice home with a mortgage attached. A good job. All these tangible blessings given by the goodness of God but the one thing still elusive is the fulfillment of purpose. All these “people” and “things” are wonderful. I do not take them for granted. Even those things not quantified but rather quality of life such as good physical and mental health. I am truly grateful for all that the Lord has given me. Yet still I have not achieved my calling or claimed the prize that I know is set before me.

How do I know? Do you ever have the feeling that there has to be more? Maybe there are things you have been chasing without success for years? In your home, marriage, job or ministry. God placed a purpose inside your heart. He sprinkled it with just enough faith to get you started. He wrapped the whole thing in eternity and said, “Go for it!” But then life happened… now you wonder if it really was for you or did it have an expiration date. Why do you travel so many miles and live countless moments yet they do not add up to the fulfillment and satisfaction you had hoped for? Why? You have not gone the distance yet. You are still en route. Premature promises are abortion of purpose. There is a time prescribed by God when that thing inside you will be birthed just like He has promised. Will you go the distance?

There are three disciplines needed to achieve Kingdom purpose that will also prove effective in earthly endeavors. We must be disciplined to make it to the end. Endurance is required for heavenly pursuits. Jesus told us that directly. Yet, we put limits on God by rewriting His Plan to meet our preference. To maintain the three “c”s of our demise – comfort, convenience, and control. These are the things that keep us in the present rather than pursuing our purpose. There are some things that have to change if we are to reach the prize of our high calling and inherit the prosperity already predestined for us.

Pursuit

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Every single person ever born was created by God with purpose. (Psalm 139) His Thoughts of you and for you more numerous than stars in the nighttime sky or grains of sand on an endless beach. He has a plan for your life that contains a future and hope. It is a good one! He predestined us to become a masterpiece. We have all the parts and when placed in His Hands – it becomes exactly what He purposed it to be. The key is pursuit. What are you after in life?

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! You can pursue whatever it is you would like in this lifetime. But you cannot have the things of God without pursuing the heart of God – Jesus Christ. He is the founder and perfecter of our faith. The one who takes a seed of faith and makes it the masterful purpose individually prescribed by God for our life. We get to the Father through the Son. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He came to give us a rich and satisfying life full of abundance. Not by chance, but on purpose. His Example was not void of the struggles faced with all the temptation that goes with it. He dealt with natural challenges such as hunger and later on torture all with His Eyes on the prize. It was for the joy on the other side of the Cross that He endured it. We must take up our Cross and pursue Jesus Christ for our purpose. It is not a diversified effort. There is no double standard. You cannot live for this world and engage in the Kingdom.

Persistence

Luke 18:1-5 (ESV) And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 

The value of purpose pays for persistence. How worthwhile is your purpose? What is the end result? Is it eternity? Eternity can be birthed in the home, workplace, and every social arena of life. It is our light shining in the darkness that makes us like a city on a hill. We are in this world but not of it. However, if our heart does not value the purpose God has placed in our heart pushing to get out then we will not be persistent. Persistence is essential. It means to continue steadfastly and firmly in purpose, maintaining the course of action in spite of any and all opposition. The widow had a purpose. The purpose was of value and worthwhile to her. She kept going to the judge, “Give me justice against my adversary.” He finally gave her justice.

During our son’s battle with cancer, it was decided that the medical team would try a bone marrow transplant. Clinical studies had shown some results in this area. It looked like we were fighting a losing battle but this offered some hope after four rounds of chemotherapy. We began the workup for the transplant but the insurance company denied coverage so the hospital refused treatment. To make it very clear, our son was going to die. We had no more time. The cancer was aggressive. Chemo was no longer working. Even with the transplant, there was only a 2% chance of survival. Without it, there was 100% that he would not according to medical science. You better believe that I began to persist for his treatment. For six months, I prayed and persisted exhausting every possible avenue from the local level to governmental level. But God… persistence pays off. I believe that when we believe the Word of God for our life nothing is impossible. My persistence did not move the heart of man but it did move the Heart of God. After the final denial, I bowed my head in an empty office with all but my desk lamp on. There were no tears. There was no wailing, pleading or begging. Honestly, I think I was too broken for that. I had been rejected over and over again. I simply repeated to the Lord exactly what He told me from the beginning of the journey – “Lord, You said, ‘Your son will live and not die…’ I am taking you at Your Word. Lord, I have done everything possible to make this happen – the rest is up to You!” I turned off the light, locked the door and went home. It was not dramatic or climactic. I had persisted now God had to provide. He did! Purpose requires persistence.

Perseverance

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Purpose becomes our passion. Passion must lead to pursuit, persistence and perseverance to yield its gain otherwise it just fizzles out like every other human emotion and feeling. If lust begins with passion, but becomes purpose when it turns into passionate love. I think sometimes just as lust and love can be confused – so is purpose and passion. The relationship of the two is bound by commitment. If you are not committed to your purpose – passion is just a feeling. If you are not passionate about your purpose – you will lose interest quickly. We talk about suffering for Jesus Christ. We do not suffer for Him. Our suffering is our flesh dying inside of us giving way to new life and new possibilities found only in a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ. Our life must become one with Him. That means that every earthly endeavor has eternal possibilities according to the purpose of our design.

Faith is given to us in a measure and grace makes it fruitful. Peace with God is a fertile field that will yield the abundance God promised for us. Misplaced passion in earthly endeavors produce only natural results. It is our passionate pursuit of Jesus Christ that makes the supernatural our reality. This requires perseverance. Suffering produces endurance when we must push past the pressure of pain to continue. Endurance produces character. Failure is not falling down but rather refusing to get up. Character is the hand that grabs hold of the fallen. Pride tells us to give up – perseverance tells us to get up. Character produces hope because it is when our identity as a Child of God becomes our life. Hope will never put us to shame. It doesn’t lead to disappointment. Those who decide to become passionate about their purpose will pursue, persist and persevere with confidence knowing and believing that God does not lie or change His Mind. What He says He will do. What He purposed will come to pass. His Word is our compass straight to success. We must go the distance. Why? “I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (I Corinthians 9:23)

Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Going the Distance

The Long Road Ahead

Revelation 3:10-12 (NLT)  “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

From time to time, I have the privilege of teaching in our church. To share the Word of God like a warm bread basket of fresh rolls with others is an overwhelming responsibility that I find great pleasure in just like having guests over to eat a good meal together. However, there are times when the fresh word given to me from the Word of God and served up by His Spirit is not received as “I” think it should be. Like seeds falling on pavement or water splashing from a rock, last night was one of those times. While preparing, I sampled the thoughts and ideas for my own life and could see areas that the Lord was enriching me but when offered to others it was rejected like stale crumbs to be discarded. My heart was heavy. I was ready to leap off the platform when it was over.

It would be easy to quit. Give up. Never put myself out there again. It is not God’s Will. I know what I am supposed to do but struggle with not doing it. Immediately I begin to evaluate me. My “performance”. Maybe I should yell more. Jump around a little. Be more dynamic. Be more like this preacher or dramatic like this teacher. What if it is not about me at all? Well…now we are getting somewhere. What if everything was exactly as the Lord planned it last night? What if the lesson for me is perseverance not to make a better performance but to continue through the process until His Word prospers into His Purpose and His Plan?

“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere…” To persevere is to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. It means to persist in anything undertaken even when faced with difficulty, obstacles or discouragement. To continue steadfastly. It doesn’t sound fun. It requires overcoming our flesh and pride to attain God’s Best. I want to live in the Presence of God. As close as humanly possible before crossing over into forever. In order to do this, perseverance will be a characteristic that the Lord works to develop in my life. I must persevere to reach my desired destination.

2 Kings 13:16-19 (NLT)  Elisha told him, “Put your hand on the bow,” and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands. Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.” Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

The King Jehoash of Israel came to Elisha on his deathbed. He was perplexed by the Arameans. Elisha put his hands over the king’s hands and shot an arrow. The arrow directed by God’s Hand illustrated victory over Aram in the immediate battle. However, there were more to come. The king was instructed to take the remaining arrows and strike them on the ground. I am quite certain that his royal majesty did not understand the significance and maybe felt a little silly hitting the shafts against the ground. He stopped after striking the ground three times and Elisha with his last bit of strength became angry. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” Why? It is perseverance that leads to overwhelming victory. When things go beyond human comprehension and walking by faith not by sight becomes a requirement, what is your response? What do we do with the promise of victory? Overcoming? Healing? Prosperity? Pursue it for a season and then give up? Press in for a lifetime?

2 Kings 5:9-11 (NLT) So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me!

What do you do when life does not go as expected? When the healing doesn’t come overnight? You are not given a means of escape? When the hits keep on coming? Do you give up? Naaman had leprosy. He came to Elisha’s house for healing. The Man of God gave him simple instructions. But rather than immediately heading off to the Jordan River, Naaman became offended and walked off in anger. The Jordan River was not a clean spring of clear water. Oh how our pride tries to stay alive when it is time to persevere. What condition is lingering because obedience is wavering? What if you did what the Lord said and defied human logic to hold on by faith? What if your promise is not held up by the Lord but you refuse to press on?

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)  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.

Walking out of church last night feeling defeated, I ran into the pastor. He had spent the evening with the youth. He asked about the service. I said, “Tough crowd.” He said, “Tell me about it.” I didn’t have to ask about his small group as the kids came pouring out excitedly chattering about their experience. I have the same privilege next week to continue this teaching on the Word of God. (with a slight sigh) I know that the Lord has a word of encouragement and instruction for our people. I know that I am the one to deliver it. But honestly it is way easier to share these things in a blog sent out to hundreds of people without consciousness of their reaction or response. It works for me. But for obedience tells me that in six short days, I will climb the same steps. I may even get the same response from the people. But the acceptance, affirmation and approval of others is nice but not needed. I must focus on one thing. One thing only. “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.” (Psalm 27:4)

I must forget the past. I have to look forward to what lies ahead. I must press on (persevere) to reach the end of the race. I want the heavenly prize. To hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” To have something… anything to lay at His Feet will be worth it to me. The world can keep its applause and willy-nilly emotions. Just get me there, Jesus. Holy Spirit lead the way. I will be faithful to the end. I will go the distance.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

 

Keep Climbing

Keep Climbing

Romans 5:1-4 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

I wish I could blame the dog for waking me up so early on Saturday, but that is not the case. Turning over this morning, I am completely certain that every bone in my body made some kind of unnatural sound. Once I transitioned my position, everything hurt. I decided to use my three-day weekend to paint. Not just a room but probably half of our house. Though I conquered most of it in one day, there is still some tasks left to complete. Full of excitement and expectation in the beginning, I am fighting the dread of climbing the ladder again today. As I try to jot down notes in my journal, I can hardly hold the pen much less scribble anything legible. Hours of holding the paintbrush cutting in trim has left my hands sore. My husband warned me not to overdo it and once again my stubbornness did it anyway. Turning on the light, I feel a bit of satisfaction seeping in my tired body. I can see an end in sight, but honestly I am not sure how to get there.

As believers, there are seasons of great success and then those marked “perseverance.” Though my body is aching and muscles screaming, I know that it will be worth it. When our new furniture arrives on Tuesday, everything will come together so I press on. I guess the easy part is seeing. I know that these things will happen. I have a receipt from the store to prove these items belong to me. The delivery service has called twice to confirm the date. I have been preparing because I know and have confidence. What might happen if as believers with an inheritance of hope if we truly had confidence that God’s Goodness is for us and His Promises were true. To believe that if we just pressed a little longer and held on a little tighter that what is written will be received.

Therefore is a definitive term. It means “for that reason” or “consequently”. Since we have been justified by faith. Justified by the Blood of Jesus and the grace dispensation associated with it, I now can receive from the Father again. All I need is faith. It means that when I suffer, endure and choose to persevere. I will have exactly what God promised. Suffering is pain, distress or hardship. Everyone goes through some form of suffering usually on any given day but only those who live by faith have hope.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

It is much easier to be confident of things that are natural. The tangible items that can be seen, heard, or touched. The hope I have is certain, but faith is wavering. My participation in the process of redemption is singular. It is faith. The sum total of my responsibility is to trust the Lord enough to keep pressing and pushing for the higher calling and greater things that become the rich, satisfying and abundant life that I have been promised. Just as my painting project will produce something new and appealing, how much more does the Lord want to do in us and for us? I can quit now and leave everything half-finished and each day it would mock me. However, I want to see the results and gain the satisfaction so I will pick up the paintbrush with tired hands again and climb the ladder with my sore legs. Did you stop halfway in pursuing the thing God has for you? Did you give up on a dream? Did you decide the mountain of doubt you are facing will get the best of you? Well, God gives second chances. In fact, it is my experience that every time I say, “I will” He does!

If the past was so wonderful, you would not have left it behind. The past is comfortable. It is convenient. It gives us an illusion of control because we know the consequences and outcome of our actions. We give up easily and run back thinking it is better than pushing through the pain and pressing through the pressure. How many times have you started the climb only to slide back down in complacency? There is a prize at the end of perseverance called hope. It is worth having. It makes every care, worry and concern given over to confidence yield its potential as God works every detail of our life for good. He will perfect that which concerns us when we give it all to Him. He promises to give rest to those who come to Him and partner with Him for life. It begins with a decision. It requires holding tight to our confidence when our body says to quit.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)  Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 

The Lord is faithful. Our confidence in His Faithfulness will increase our ability to endure and persevere when things get uncomfortable or even seem impossible. Our confident hope is not in our ability but the Sovereignty of God that makes Him perfect. He never lies or changes His Mind about us even if we fail miserably or get lost or settle for lesser things. The Lord meets us with new mercy each day. He says, “Let’s try this again.” Hope is worth having. It requires character-building challenges along the way. It will present pressure that requires perseverance. Hope comes with a guarantee that life will not give you. Hope never leads to disappointment.

Draw near to the Lord today. He will draw near to you. He has done everything possible to prepare you for His Purpose and Promises now you must engage in the process which always requires perseverance. There are no shortcuts that will produce the Glory of God in our life. We are called to endure. Those who do will be saved and our hope of an abundant met to the fullest extent.

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NIV)  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

“Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

 

Keep Striking the Arrows

Keep Striking the Arrows

2 Kings 13:17-19 (NLT) Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.” Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

Have you ever tried to tackle closet that is too full? The spare room or office that has become a catch-all? When I was visiting my daughter a week before her move, there was not a box packed or closet emptied. She was overwhelmed. Pregnant. Relocating for the second time in just a few months. A 21-hour plus drive from the north to the south. The journey from promise to reality is no joke. Anything worth having requires an investment. It is not uncommon or unusual to get dismayed when our process seems delayed, detoured or distant. The Lord often has to undo us to redo everything for our best and according to His Glory. We become uncomfortable as our life is inconvenient. Things seem chaotic and out of control as God remakes our life, shapes us and molds our character. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts so much higher.

I guess I am at the place some call middle age. It doesn’t bother me too much other than there are some things that God has promised that haven’t come to pass. In fact, there are some things that seem downright impossible. I am the person who loves spring and fall cleaning. I love to take things apart, put them back together, organize and reorganize. Chaos is not my favorite. I prefer control and insight rather than those times when the Lord keeps us in the stillness of waiting without the ability to see what lies ahead. Yesterday, I did a gut check. I sought the Lord on my current position. Am I where you want me, Lord? Am I doing what you want me to do? I need to know what to do, Lord. “Keep striking the arrows…” Hmm…

Romans 4:20-24 (NLT) Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

I have heard this message taught about the king who sought instruction from Elisha. The potency and power in his words may just be that it was the final ones of the prophet’s natural life. The first arrow shot from the window was the “Lord’s arrow” and I believe it marked the promise. The promise that was in the distance. The promise of victory not yet attained. Do you have a promise? Does it seem like it is taking forever? David was anointed to be king 22 years before it happened. Joseph had a dream but did not know that it included a pit, slavery, false accusations, and famine. Abraham was promised to be the father of many nations but it took 90 years to have his first child. God is not a man. He does not lie or change His Mind. The promise and plan for our life is secure. His Call is irrevocable. His Word cannot return to Him lacking fulfillment. This does not mean that the Lord will hurry it up, change it up or in any way lessen its perfection or completion to accommodate our confidence, control, comfort and/or convenience.

With this in mind, my attention is drawn to the other arrows. I know the Promises of God spoken to me and outlined in His Word. Some have manifested and others just out of reach. In order to reach fulfillment, I must “keep striking the arrows.” What does that even mean? If you are like me, too invested to go back now and looking in the distance as if it is too far – I believe this is for us today. Tired of running the race, but too stubborn to give up now.  Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. Elisha grew angry with the king. Why did you stop at just three times? Why stop short? What if these arrows had inscriptions on each shaft? Instructions written by the Hand of God to encourage us today.

Faith

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

As believers, we must strike out in faith every single day. Faith is the very thing that pleases God. Without faith, there is no righteousness. We cannot come to the Father except by having faith in His Son, Jesus. The first arrow is clearly marked faith. Faith in Jesus. Faith in God. Faith in the promise. Faith that cannot give up on the reality of confident hope in our life.

Endurance

Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Endurance produces character in Christians. (Romans 5:3-4) Jesus said that the one who endures to the end will be saved. We must work consciously every day to strip off the weight of sin and even laziness to purse God. It is important. The second arrow is marked endurance. This arrow is haggard and a bit ragged but will be the one that goes the farthest in achieving godly purpose and wins the pursuit of righteousness but it ref uses to fall short.

Patience

Hebrews 10:36 (NLT) Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

The ugliest arrow is marked patience. No one likes to wait. Everyone is always in a hurry. Patience is not optional but integral when it comes to the things of God. Everything has a season and time in our life. It doesn’t mean that it makes sense to us but is sequential to the fulfillment ordered by the Lord for your life. Patience is our response to God’s Promises. It is the supplement of faith that keeps us yoked to the Lord. It quiets our busyness. It softens our timeline. It allows us to step back and see things from another perspective. We must learn patient endurance to make it to completion. (2 Peter 1:5-7) Patience is better than pride that insists on its way in its own time. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Humility

James 4:18 (NLT) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

Humility is the broken arrow. The arrow that finally gives way to God’s Will. This arrow has been through some battles. It has won some and lost many in its own vain attempts at glory. Now full accepting the grace of God it gives up its own way to follow Him. The Bible says that we must clothe ourselves in humility. God creates humbling opportunities but ultimately it is a personal decision to surrender our will and way to Jesus Christ.

Obedience

I Samuel 15:22-23 (NLT) But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

God’s Word is our instruction book for life. Like any list of instructions, if you skip one, your expectation should change as well. To expect the same results with only partial obedience is silly. If you skip a step in a recipe, you risk ruining the meal. We must read the Handbook of Life which is our directions. The arrow marked obedience is essential. It is a quiet arrow that listens more than it talks. The Word sharpens its tip so that it will not fly off course. Jesus is our example of complete obedience. (Philippians 2:7-10)

Perseverance

I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT) But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

Perseverance is steady persistence. It is continuance in a state of grace to the end. It is to continue to fight the good fight of faith even when you don’t feel it, see it or know if you really want it. It is the arrow that is the heaviest because there are times you cannot even lift it… but somehow by His Grace you do. These are the arrows to strike the ground with. They are not aimed at the enemy or other people. Jesus Christ has made you victorious. He has overcome the world. He has handed His Victory to you. Live like it.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

May the Lord give you a new grip today. To grab hold of these arrows and continue striking the ground until your victory comes. Do not give up. Discipline is essential. It is not always pleasant but will always be worth it. The satisfaction of finishing far outweighs the trouble it took to get there. You can do this. You have all everything you need at your disposal. Run with purpose in each step. Don’t shadowbox. Your time is worth more than that. Take a rest. Don’t give up or give in but press in to the Father today. He is for you. Jesus has handed you the victory – pursue it. Keep striking those arrows and surely it will come to pass!

 

 

Pathway to Purpose

Pathway to Purpose

Ephesians 1:7-10 (NIV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

There is more to our purpose in Jesus Christ than just to be saved. The fulfillment of Christ is to make us complete lacking nothing. It is a process of sowing seeds of His Word in us, allowing His Spirit to cultivate them, and God will grow them into full satisfaction. Can I ask you a question today? Are you satisfied? Before you answer, think of your needs, wants and desires. If there is a single one, then the answer is “no” I am not satisfied with my life. Settling is not a characteristic of satisfaction and complaining is not born of contentment. Just enough is not good enough when it comes to God’s Standard of Living which is defined by more than enough. Beginning with our soul, the Fruit born of the Spirit is the first fruit of fulfillment. When there is enough love, joy, and peace in our life to be characteristic of our nature overflowing in all conditions and circumstances, it is then that we are finally on track to fulfillment. Until then, fulfillment is only a figment of our imagination. God is able to exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or even imagine. How do I find my way to fulfillment? What will it take to achieve purpose in my life?

Romans 11:22-24 (NIV) Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

The desirability of salvation is without question. Of course, we desire for Jesus to be our Savior. It is a win for us without any investment. I can do nothing to save myself. The kindness of God in the Gift of His Son is ours for the asking. There is another component to Christ called Lordship. To make Jesus the Lord of my life is cause for my flesh to offer up resistance. Why? My flesh must die for Christ to assume His Place as Lord of my life. This is a huge chunk of meat right out of the Word of God that many struggle to understand as they strive to achieve purpose beyond just being saved. It’s not easy.

Consider therefore the kindness (salvation) and sternness (sovereignty) of God. Do you ever think that there has to be more to life than this? Not eternity or forever, but right here, right now. I do. I believe that there are three qualities that must become part of our character in order to achieve God’s Purpose in our life. To reach fulfillment there must be perseverance, persistence and patience. Not exactly the fuzzy, feel-good fodder peddled in the modern day church. If your purpose in life is to endure to the end and enter the Kingdom than it is important to know and understand God’s Word and His Way in order to fulfill His Will which is that none should die but find eternal life.

Perseverance

Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

Perseverance is continued steady belief and efforts, withstanding discouragement or difficulty with persistence. It will take effort on our part to continually sow God’s Word in our heart and protect it and nurture it while it grows into fulfillment, purpose and full productivity in our life. We must become acutely aware of sin in our life because it is the very thing that trips us along the way, entangling us in lies, and binding us in things that will keep us from the finish line if allowed to remain. God is Sovereign. Grace didn’t change His Character but is a product of His Steadfast and Unconditional Love which does not change either. God has provided all of the grace needed to step out of sin and live on purpose that leads to completion in Christ. It is up to us to decide to put effort into the process or settle for something less or accept a substitution. The race of faith is a clearly marked pathway which requires perseverance.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) The testing of our faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that we will be complete, mature and fulfilled lacking nothing. We want the end result therefore we cannot forgo the process of completion. When facing trials, it is important to stop focusing on the temporary and keep our eyes fixed on the promise. The Word of God for our life does not change. Your situation will throughout your entire life as God molds you, moves you and motivates you to fulfillment.

Persistence

Romans 2:6-7 (NIV) God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

Persistence is to continue steadfastly and firmly in purpose with a course of action especially in spite of opposition and discouragement. You still keep pressing and pushing on the boundaries and barriers between you and God’s Purpose which leads to fulfillment. Believing in God’s Word for your life in the process of persistence. You must know what God says about you, who He tells you that you are, what He has commissioned you to do, and what He is doing in you. You must be full of faith and confidence in the Word of God and the person of Jesus Christ. You must rely on His Spirit to take God’s Word which is the logic of faith and make it the wisdom of your life.

Bless her heart! I love the persistent widow in Luke 18. She knew what belonged to her and would not be stopped until she received it. She came to him time and time again, “Grant me justice against my adversary!” Over and over again until she finally wore the poor man down. He didn’t fear God and was not moved by any other motivation than to stop this woman from bothering him day after day. In fact, it eludes to the fact that he thought she might be a little crazy. God grants us justice against our adversary. Jesus is our champion who gives us the victory. If we believed that God would be our justice, and Jesus really was our champion, we would be more persistent for the prize rather than settling for sloppy seconds or immediate gratification of settlement. If we believed, we would persist. Lord, help me to stop settling for anything less and teach me to persist in all areas of my life!

Patience

Colossians 1:8-12 (NIV) For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

“You must be patient.” I loved my grandmother. She was a godly woman who led me to the Lord. If she said these words to me once, she spoke them a thousand times. I was born impatient. Perhaps, if honest, we all are not born with a propensity to wait graciously for anything. We want it quick and in a hurry. Some say, “Don’t pray for patience” while others encourage it. Can I let you in on a little secret? The Holy Spirit is already working on producing the fruit of longsuffering in us. It doesn’t matter if you pray for it or not, it is already a work in process inside of you. Great endurance and patience are absolutely essential to fulfillment. God makes everything beautiful in His Time… not ours. The Gospel is a story of great patience demonstrated by Jesus Christ. In I Timothy 1, Paul attributes his salvation to the immense patience of Jesus Christ as he calls himself the worst sinner. We all could make the same confession. We must endure to the end to be saved according to Jesus – that is going to take some time. In fact, it is going to take your whole life. Diligence will require tremendous patience as God works every detail of our life to fulfillment and completion. (Romans 8:28) (Hebrews 6:11-12)

“A person’s wisdom yields patience.” (Proverbs 19:11) The Word of God is seed for our life. It must be planted. It must be given time to take root and grow. No farmer gets an immediate harvest from a seed the very next day. He must wait. He must be patient. God’s Word is harvested into wisdom when applied to our life. It increases our ability and willingness to wait on the Lord once we have tasted His Goodness and experienced His Glory.

2 Corinthians 8:10-12 (NIV) And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

Perseverance, persistence, and patience do not produce new things in our life. They produce the Promise, Purpose and Prosperity of God already given to us according to His Plan including our future and hope in Him. Let that sink in for a moment. If it already exists, we cannot produce it. Therefore, these three qualities are not a requirement but a privilege. It is up to us if we are willing to engage in the Plan of God called purpose or if we are good with the life currently lived. Why settle for less than full satisfaction? Because it is easy, fast and affordable – I guess. God is not going to force anyone into the process but offers us potential to encourage us to try. God already has given us an inheritance now we must take the initiative to be His Sons and Daughters. We are free to choose the life to live. Will I live with eager willingness that leads to fulfillment? Or am I okay for today? The choice is mine. I choose my level of commitment. I decide if I will persevere, persist and be patient until the end. It’s my life. I choose to live on purpose today. How about you?

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NIV) Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Misfit

Misfit

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.

Forging through life in pursuit of hope led by faith, there are days when I can sit in a room for of believers and still feel like I just don’t fit in. Like a misfit, who is not suited for the environment in which I suddenly find myself yet not given to adaptation. Have you ever felt that way? I have. I do. I don’t like it. In all humility, I will be the first to admit that “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection” because the more I know Christ the less confidence I have in myself. The transition of faith fortifies confidence in hope not a sense of pride to self. I am definitely pressing to possess that thing called “perfection” or purpose that Christ Jesus first possessed me. I am finding that the more I know the Lord, trust Him, seek Him and follow Him – the more out of alignment with people that I find myself. Maybe that is what the pursuit of Jesus is all about. Letting go of fitting in with the world to fully embrace the joy of His Presence.

It is in those moments when I feel like a misfit that I must dig deep inside my heart and pull out the word or seed that God has planted there. Why am I here? How did I get here? God, what is my purpose in this place among these people? Like an ill-fitting garment, slouching over the chair, I know God has placed me exactly where I am. I am confident that the Lord is the One who led me to this place and put me right where I am. Faith is like that leading us out of comfort zone and the complacency found in it to catapult us into divine purpose that changes everything. When I feel like an outcast, out of place and out of alignment, I must ask myself – “what am I doing here?” What led me to this place? For if it is the Lord, I must only maintain alignment with Him to see all the pieces strewn across the table fall dramatically and miraculously in place. Life is like a puzzle with a beautiful picture depicted on the box. It draws us to the challenge. Once the pieces are dumped out unceremoniously on the table, the need for control and order in us begins to sort through each one. Inspecting them carefully, they must be organized all flipped to the right side and corners and edges (boundaries if you will) carefully set. Once in place, it becomes clear that the more pieces in the box and detailed the design that this could take more time than expected or allotted. Now what? Will I wait it out? Will I continue to concentrate on the finished product? Or do I swipe it all back into the box putting it on a shelf for another day perhaps when more patience is developed or someone will come help me finish it? Sometimes Christ must mess everything up to put it all back together.

Growth in anything requires total destruction of the present form to become that which is hidden inside called potential that will one day become purpose. But I am not in the Hand of the Farmer anymore, I am buried in the dirt, the shell of my exterior lies within the foundation called faith waiting for His Glory to draw me to the surface so I can see the Plan coming together and its fruit born in my life. But right now it is dark, I feel my form changing. It is an isolation that is not separation. The enemy longs for us to look in the rear view mirror. To look back and question, if we took a wrong turn or missed the turnpike. It is human nature in the process of life and journeys that take too long or head in a new direction to wonder if we have missed the destination. It is the definition of doubt. The Lord uses these times to stress the importance of true dependency on His Word, His Will and His Way. Where the Lord called you – He will complete you. You are not a misfit or mistake but rather on a mission called fulfillment to be complete in Jesus Christ.

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

The greatest love story ever written begins with these words. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God and the Word was God. It takes an experience to forge God’s Word in our heart. For me it was our son’s illness, when nothing in life could save him but Jesus. When I had absolutely no hope to hold on to in the natural, God’s Word to me the very first night was the end of the rope. I tied a knot in it and held on for dear life. It changed everything. I have seen the Lord perform miracles. I have witnessed signs and wonders that human logic cannot explain. Nothing will ever have the impact that God’s Word holding true will ever have such a profound impact on my faith. The Word is essential. It is the breath of life to every living soul. It is the thing that binds us together and creates commonality in God’s People. It reveals our heritage and birthright. It is sharper than a two-edged sword dividing bone and marrow. It is alive and powerful. (Hebrews 4:12) It is the sword of God’s Spirit that slays every lie that the enemy ever slung at us. (Ephesians 6:17) It is the rod and staff that comforts us with divine direction and discipline. (Psalm 23:4) God’s Word refreshes us like a deep cleansing breath. It reveals the character of God and every promise that He has made us that will become His Purpose and fulfill His Plan. Faith is illogical and impossible without the Word of God to define it. It is but one component of His Alignment that keeps me in place when nothing seems to fit together for my good and His Glory yet it keeps me clinging to hope.

John 14:23-27(NLT) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 

Once the Word of God takes hold of our heart, His Spirit comes to “teach you everything and remind you of everything” that the Lord has told you. We need to communicate and commune with God’s Spirit in us. Faith is going to lead us outside the borders marked trust and boundaries called fear to a place far deeper and farther than ever thought possible. As our life is unraveled to form the masterpiece the Lord has ordained it to be, the coming undone reaches our heart and soul releasing every insecurity and doubt there so faith can finally take over. The process is uncomfortable. It is not fun. It is necessary for fulfillment. To do the Will of God – we must align our life with the Spirit. It means when God tells us to go – we go. If we get there and things are not what we expected – the Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s Word and tells us to stay put. He is our Partner in the watchtower while we wait on the vision. It has an appointment in our life. If we leave the waiting too soon, we will miss hearing our name being called when the time is right.

Jesus said it plainly and made it overly simple, He said, “All who love me will do what I say.” How can I do what Jesus tells me if I do not know His Voice? He shepherds those who know His Voice and follow Him. The Word of God tells me what to do and the Holy Spirit nudges me in the right direction. He is my Advocate who is my support. (John 15:26) He is my Comforter when life is hard and uncomfortable. He is my Peace. I have the mind of Christ because His Spirit lives in my giving me hidden knowledge and secret understanding that the world and my enemy do not know. (I Corinthians 2:16) He is the Intercessor who prays for me in weakness when words escape me but is enunciated in the groaning and wailing of my soul. (Romans 8:26) I must learn to align my life with God’s Word and His Will to have His Way.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” The only way that I can live in agreement with God is through Jesus Christ. He is the Way. He is the “champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” There is a whole lot of mileage between those two words making life a marathon rather than a sprint. We prefer the sprints in life that hint at immediate gratification. Faith is a process defined by endurance. It is a lengthy endeavor requiring a sacrificial commitment of all of me for All of Him. Piece by piece our life is offered to the Lord as He shapes and molds us into who He created us to be. Have you ever watched a potter form a clay pot? It can be a brutal process. First he must begin to squeeze it and press it down hard with both hands to soften it and make it pliable. He may use some water to moisten it. Once on the wheel, it begins to spin all the while his hands creating his vision and bringing purpose to life. But if in the process, something goes awry, he will remove it from the wheel and start all over again. If he places the piece inside the kiln and sets the fire on high, any imperfection may cause the pot to break under the intense heat. God has a plan and purpose for our life defined by His Word. It is written to perfection with a future and hope that He is intent on giving His Children. His Spirit, the very essence of His Presence, accompanies us on the long journey to find the Way. We must follow the Way. He is the Author and Finisher of faith. The Champion who gives us victory. He has gone before us and falls in behind us covering and protecting us along His Path. He will never let the righteous fall. Leveling mountains and straightening our path, we cannot get there without Him.

Philippians 3:15-16 (NLT) 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. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

Back to the crowded room of Christians, believers, and righteous people, where I sit as a misfit. Knowing this is where I belong but feeling completely out of place, it is the Word of God, His Will and His Way that keeps me firmly in planted by faith. Alignment with the Lord including His Word, His Will and His Way keeps us from being distracted by how we feel because God is greater than our feelings. He put me in this place “for such a time as this.” I can choose to walk away and find a place that I am more comfortable or I can remain committed to God’s Word, Will and Way. I am free. Christ has set me free and given me the choice of the life I live. Now it is up to me. This is what the Lord has said to me and He may be whispering to you today – “we must hold on to the progress we have already made. Regret romances the past while hope embraces the future. My hope is in the Lord not this world it’s people or anything else. Hope in Jesus never ever leads to disappointment. These are not just words to me anymore but the experience I live on and lifeline I hold on to. To continue in the race of faith and make the mark of His High Calling means I cannot give up but must wait it out. Waiting is not my favorite and I daresay probably not yours either. It is necessary while the Lord takes all the pieces of our life making good on His Promise that they will be used for our good and His Glory. This life I live for Christ is walked according to faith not by the things that I see or how I feel. Faith is the substance of the things we hope for not naturally evident or occuring. If we do not bear the qualities of faith such as perseverance and endurance – it is not possible to reap the benefits of it called confident hope. Hope is the priceless commodity that only faith can grow in us. It requires aligning our life with Christ and waiting for everything else to fall into place.

Philippians 3:8-9 (NLT) 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.

Overcoming One of Those Days

overcoming one of those days

Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Are you having one of those days? Maybe it’s been a week? For some, it may even seem like one of those years? I have one of those days. Actually, it has been a week. In the midst of change, uncertainty and chaos it is clear that the Lord is doing something beyond my comprehension. Faith in my heart holds on to hope that doesn’t seem as confident but I must not let go. God is working out the details of my life for good. I want everything I do to reflect His Glory. However, my little light has been flickering with the turbulent wind blowing all around me. I woke up this morning and in the quiet I knew that the Lord was right there. He was waking me up with a Word for me. As I opened the Word of God today, it was like a bright and shiny arrow pointing to this passage. No wandering around or wondering what the Lord had to say – it was abundantly clear. Keep going. Don’t stop moving. Just one step each day will lead you to the destination. The only action deemed failure is to fall and refuse to get up or to throw up my hands and say, “I give up!” Not today devil – I am in a race for a prize that will be the key to the rich and satisfying life that Jesus promised me. It is called endurance. It is hard to obtain but worth overcoming each day that turns out to be “one of those days.”

I love days like this when in the quiet of the morning – the Holy Spirit is our encourager. He heard our prayers last night. I have a confession. This week has not been my week to get the gold star of perfection. In fact, it has been an ugly slugfest to keep my eyes on Jesus and keep moving in the right direction. Our leadership team was having prayer on Monday night. It seemed like I had been at church all weekend. Needing time to prepare for the Bible Study the very next night, longing for a family dinner followed by some snuggle time with Jesus and the study guide after a hectic day at work. I didn’t want to go. I wasn’t going to go. I went anyway. Tuesday night – the ladies of our church, the ones who I am supposed to lead, had their Bible Study. I left feeling like a complete and utter failure. I am no good at this whole organizing and executing thing. Ten times I almost text the pastor admitting defeat and telling him to find someone better for these sweet women. Instead, I went to bed. Wednesday morning, it was clear. I had nothing left. As I sat before my Savior with my head bowed, praying for the same people and situations, it seemed so redundant like water poured on a rock, I finally just admitted to the Father, “Lord, I need you today! I am stuck!” As the Lord, poured into me from His Word, I began to blog. His Words powerful and true cutting through my resolve to release a balm inside of me that I knew He was not only sharing with me but others, too. Yeah, so my computer shut down right then and there losing more than half of it. One of those days, now became one of those weeks… I could bore you with yesterday’s details but it ended with the same tired, worn-out believer dragging herself into church.

Today may be no different but my Father has prepared me in advance. He has given me these verses to hold on to and the Holy Spirit, the excellent life coach that He is, provided a detailed game plan for me that I am about to share with you. These are the things to remember not in the beginning of our race towards the prize called a satisfying life but in the midst of it. When you have come too far to turn back now, but struggle to find strength to take one more step. On those days when giving up seems more fruitful than pressing in, because your mind loudly whispers “what’s the point?” The Lord is making a point. We need to hear it and act on it today.

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith…” My life is a light. To walk by faith and not by sight causes that light to shine a little brighter as the Jesus in me begins to attract people. When those challenging and overwhelming days come, I believe is when we have the most people watching us. They are looking for a difference. Has Jesus made a real difference? Is the Savior you are talking about really capable of saving people? The key is learning to respond to God’s Word rather than reacting to our situation or circumstance in life. People are watching. Faith without works is dead. Faith is for the things unseen not those things I can do. Faith makes the impossible possible. If you believe it, your light shines because you will keep following Christ even when it’s tough and seems pointless. My life is not about me. It is about shining so bright that His Glory lights the way for others to see His Great Love. God is good on the bad days. His Goodness is not influenced by anything in my life. I connect to His Goodness by faith in His Love for me and confident hope that nothing can separate me from it. This must be the evidence of my life to be a light.

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

“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.” Jesus did not say, “Dump all your worries and cares on me including your sin and then go find something else to do.”  No, He tells us to come…bring all our weariness and heavy burdens…and I will give you rest. Then the Lord says, “Take my yoke upon you.” Jesus is not a dump site. He is the ultimate recycler of everything but sin. My boss is an avid conservationist. He will literally retrieve recyclables from the garbage. The garbage cans in our office are small receptacles but the recycling bin is huge. We must come to know and understand the context of Matthew 11:28-30 in order to understand how the Lord works in us and through us. We chalk up bad days to experience and just move on. But Jesus full of life and resurrection power, digs through the refuse of our life, because He promises to make good of every detail even the rotten ones. (Romans 8:28) The key is to bring our burdens and sins considered the weight that slows us down and YOKE our life with Him. Jesus wants to be our life partner. He wants to be our constant source of instruction and motivation but He is not in the garbage business. The Lord promised to make us a new creation but it requires becoming connected to Him as our Source. Sin is the only thing that separates us from God. Grace allows us to overcome weakness, but Jesus is the Source of Grace that covers us so all the Father sees is a son or daughter. Having one of those days? Come to Jesus and give Him all of your worries and cares. Confess your sin even relinquishing any hidden sin that may be hidden the heart. Then, yoke or attach yourself to Jesus and say, “What can I do for you today, Lord?” It may be a simple (or not so simple) as just keeping your mouth shut which on bad days may take every ounce of effort I have left.

Matthew 24:12-14 (NLT) Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” The one who endures to the end will be saved. Salvation and redemption are possible only if we finish the race of faith. Endurance is achieved in each step. Do not take for granted the path set before you. Your hope is identified as the Plan of God for your life which is marked by good things but often a product of struggle. The same principle applies to changing lifestyle habits. Incorporating a new heathier lifestyle exhibits the same kind of struggle. You want the fatty, fried foods filled with carbs and calories but in order to have a healthy body – we must defy our physical desires and replace our intake with better choices. I need to exercise as well. I loathe it. Yet as I do it and see the results in my life the pain in my body and constant overcoming the longing to be a coach potato wane. I make myself follow the plan despite my grumbling, complaining and rebelling flesh. Why? I want to live a long, healthy life and chase after grandchildren one day. Our life in Christ is the same. We must flight our flesh to have the life God promised is possible if one believes. I must crucify my flesh in order to endure. Endurance is a successful step that becomes an amazing life. Too many times we cannot see the forest for the trees or the staircase for the steps. We have a prize called Eternity. It is worth fighting for and that is exactly what we must do each day. Those who are successful will claim a prize far greater than anything on earth can achieve. Each successful step taken is one less needed to God’s Heavenly Prize.

John 21:6-8 (NLT) Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore.

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” I love this passage so much. Peter, what a character, who had undeniable passion for the Lord took quite a bit of discipline to get to the man who jumped in the water and swam about a hundred yards to shore. The same Peter who couldn’t make it a few steps walking on the water by faith would not let anything keep him from reaching Jesus. These steps of our journey to secure faith and confident hope in the Lord are not pointless but purposeful. The Promise and Plan of God for our life fills us with great potential that is impossible without faith in the Lord. Not only was Peter confident that it was Jesus, but he must have been confident in his love. Peter knew Jesus heard his denials the night before the Lord died for him. He saw Jesus looking at him through a window. Peter also remembered the day that He first recognized Jesus answering His Inquiry correctly. “But who do you say that I am?” He also knew all the things that Jesus told him like he would be the rock on which the church was built. I am sure during the three days that he thought Jesus was dead, Peter evaluated his whole life just as we do in the midst of the marathon called endurance.

Did I waste my time? Am I giving up my life for nothing? Jesus where are you? BUT when Jesus came to the beach that day – Peter knew that his faith and confident hope was alive and well. Faith will never be logical according to the conditions in life. The world is completely consumed by sin and self. Faith puts our sin in the Blood of Jesus and our self in the Person of Christ. We must strive to remain there. Jesus is our champion. I cannot produce anything good let alone prosper from the inside out apart from Him. It is in Jesus that I live, move, and exist. (Acts 17:28) “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

I Peter 1:8-9 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” You can live life looking ahead or with your eyes in the rearview mirror. Our future is either defined by our past or hope. Freedom allows us to decide. My past is over. Jesus was clear. Those who put a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God. Looking back will lead us back. Just as a batter must keep his eye on the ball, we must keep our eyes fixed on the future to maintain the right direction and stay on course. Jesus endured the Cross because of the joy waiting for Him. I will get to what His Definition of Joy is in a moment. God has given you dreams, desires and promises that requires faith to achieve in life. Total trust opens the windows of Heaven and the human heart. Once open to receive, inexpressible joy begins to bubble up and overflow not based on our circumstances but the potential of God’s Promises. If we endure one of those days, weeks or even years, by faith and nothing else, the full satisfaction called joy will well up in us so that we don’t need to depend on the world for happiness but the secret power of a prospering soul will satisfy us in the famine and cause us to grow through adversity to bear fruit in every season.

James 1:17-19 (NLT) Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

“Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.I am His Prized Possession. You are the joy that awaited Jesus on the other side of the Cross. He endured the Cross because He desired us above anything else. God is sending good and perfect promise packages to His Beloved Children every day. Opportunities and possibilities that are often overlooked by the hardships of life. Even when we are weary, tired, wandering or just wondering, God still loves us and sends His Blessings to us. The world that He died to save remained hostile toward the One who only showed it love, compassion, mercy and grace. Compared to my struggles and troubles in life, it seems so small. His Grace is enough to overcome every insufficiency in my life. His Mercy comes new every morning to refresh, renew and reassure me. Every step I take labeled endurance is a step in the right direction. I have everything I need to win the race even on those days that all I can do is stand on the faith and not move an inch. Even Jesus dealt with exhausting and frustrating people, yet still managed to love them enough to die for them. To die for us. To die for me. He endured the process to have the people. Am I willing to endure the process to have the promise?

2 Corinthians 5:15-18 (NLT)  He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

This thing called life is not a sprint it is a marathon. The Lord has painted the perfect picture of encouragement for endurance in Hebrews 12. Endurance is the ability or strength to continue despite fatigue, stress, and other adverse conditions. It is marked by hardship and hostility that should be our expectation. When life gets hard, it is evidence that maybe just maybe we are getting somewhere. The enemy has no interest in a life that is unsuccessful in faith. It has not future. Those who endure will find that you may end up having more of “those days” than ever before. Instead of looking back, press forward. Society tells us to run across the finish line, but I think in our walk with Christ it is actually crawling across when we come to the end of self and rely fully on faith to get us there.

After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” You are alive. It means that your full potential has not been reached and there is a promise waiting for you. In fact, our life is filled with promises and purpose that can only be reached when we choose to discipline our body, mind, will and emotions to hold fast to faith and confident hope rather than allowing the problems, people and persecution of life overtake us. We have the ability to overcome because greater is He who is in us. There is no power that can overtake the believer yoked to Christ. However, you will not get there apart from endurance. Endurance is the fuel that makes our light shines brighter. When all else fails, but faith in the Father prevails. I had a pastor tell me once, “Do not make permanent decisions in temporary circumstances.” Good advice.

Is it one of those days? Has it been one of those weeks? Is it shaping up to form one of those years? Be encourage today. God has not forgotten you – how could He? You are His Prized Possession. He is working a process in you that will lead to fulfillment and inexpressible joy! Stick with it. Struggles often release unknown burdens and hidden things unnecessary weight in our life. They cause us to press in deeper into the Presence of God striving for help to overcome. When I am overwhelmed, I look to Jesus the Author and Finisher of my faith. God’s Discipline in our life proves His Great Love for us. He is a Good Father on bad days. He is always cheering us on and focused on the good in us. Whether success for you today is running the race, crawling along, or just standing refusing to go back – the Lord loves you and sees that you have chosen to endure. He is Your Champion and you are His Prize. Endurance is not fun – it takes a great deal of discipline – but for those who choose to finish the race – it is absolutely essential to victory!

Here are some verses to accompany you today:

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Colossians 1:10-12 (NLT)  Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.

Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT) So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

James 1:2-3 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

2 Peter 1:5-7 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

Keep Pounding

Keep Pounding

Proverbs 10:28 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

I caught a snippet of a sermon from Elevation Church Pastor, Steven Furtick not too long ago about some arrows. It was only a segment of a series. He pointed back to the story in his commentary. I was not familiar with it and jotted down a note in my journal to look it up. But you know how it goes sometimes, time gets away from us, you get busy or head off on another rabbit trail and even the best intention is forgotten. This morning I couldn’t sleep and this story came back to my thoughts. I need to find this person and his arrows. God has something there for me that I am about to miss – propelled me out of bed and into the study. God is good! He knows our heart and its many desires. Even when He offers a nugget of golden Truth and the hidden secret to success that I desire most – but I do not listen – the Lord doesn’t give up but keeps knocking on the door to my heart, whispering in my ear and attempting to get my attention. ”My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8)

2 Kings 13:14-19 (NLT) When Elisha was in his last illness, King Jehoash of Israel visited him and wept over him. “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” he cried. Elisha told him, “Get a bow and some arrows.” And the king did as he was told. Elisha told him, “Put your hand on the bow,” and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands. Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.” Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

The final words of Elisha must be important. King Jehoash is obviously completely devastated at the impending loss of the prophet. He is crushed. His heart knows danger is coming. Perhaps, the loss of Elisha may be perceived as a new vulnerability as he is clearly God’s Man. He told the king to take a bow and arrow and prepare to shoot it. Elisha put his hands over the king’s hands. He then instructed Jehoash to open the eastern window and shoot. He did. Elisha told the king that this was the Lord’s arrow. It announced victory over Aram prophesying that they would completely conquer the Arameans. Elisha then told the king to take the remaining arrows and strike the ground with them. The king picked up the arrows striking the ground just three times. The man of God angered said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed.” The king quit pounding limiting his victory to just three times.

If we fail under pressure our strength is too small. The Power in my life is a direct result of God’s Grace. I lay claim to His Grace by faith and confident hope in the Lord. I demonstrate my faith and confident hope in my attitude and actions in life. It is not the words I speak but the life I live that demonstrates God’s Power in my life. When I am weak, He becomes my strength. I am called to live a life of overwhelming victory. However, this does not mean that I do not play a valuable part in the release of God’s Power and receiving God’s Promises in my life.

Romans 8:35-38 (NLT)  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 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.

There is nothing that can ever separate us from Christ’s Love. However, Christ’s Love does not keep trials and troubles from our life. Instead, Jesus gives us overwhelming victory. If all of God’s Children could tap into this Truth and begin pounding again – there would be a mass revival sweeping the land and uniting God’s Church. The enemy is after the Power in us. The Holy Spirit is public enemy number one and the most wanted picture on hell’s wall. Every demon is hell bent on us rejecting God’s Spirit and will not stop relentlessly pursuing us to engage in combat with the God in us. The more you love God and seek Him the greater the challenges you will face. Your faith may be as tiny as a mustard seed, but the power and potential in our faith can destroy every assignment against us. As long as my heart’s desire is to know the Lord and make Him known, I have a big red target painted in red on my back. Every day – it is up to us to plead the Blood of Jesus over us so that red mark will be our salvation.

Ephesians 3:19-20 (NLT) May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

The Love of Christ is too great for me to fully understand. His Purpose and Potential in me is to be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. He is working in me. His Mighty Power is pressing the boundaries marked doubt and disbelief to release new faith and more confident hope in the areas. What is my faith in? The Love of Jesus. Where do I find confident hope? In the Love of Jesus. We must press, push back, be persistent, and persevere to have all that the Lord has promised us in His Love. It is not the promise that must be produced. It is faith and confident trust to get past our limitation and claim overwhelming victory.

Remember the widow woman in 2 Kings 4 who Elisha visited only to find on the verge of giving up? He said, “What do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” What if the very thing you need is already housed in your life but you just haven’t tapped into it yet? What if the capacity of your faith is just not big enough to contain the outpouring God is ready to release in you, through you or to you? The oil did not stop flowing until the woman ran out of containers. The victory did not stop until King Jehoash stopped pounding. Have I limited God’s Promises in my life because I stopped pounding? Did I give up when my expectations were not met? Did I stop when I when it seemed pointless? Did I quit when I ran out of strength? Is it just taking too long? Lord, I want to keep pounding – please show me the way.

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.

I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. He promised us a rich and satisfying life. Why are we so quick to settle for good enough or just enough? Jesus already told us that the Kingdom of Heaven must be taken by force and that there is a constant war between heaven and earth. (Matthew 11:12) We limit our life when choosing comfort and complacency over constant pressing. God has given us promises and a rich inheritance. He even tell us that it is for the land of the living. When we do not press, there is no release. Religion fancies the arrival of some, but the truth is they still have the same pressures and pitfalls everyone else does some just hide behind the veil. Well, the Holy Spirit tore the veil right down the middle. The Lord has told us that He is working every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Yes, the very same chapter where He assures us that NOTHING can separate us from His Love. Don’t compare your life to other people. Do not evaluate the grass in your yard to your neighbors. The Lord has made you promises. He has given you purpose. God made a plan for you to have more than you can imagine, think or even ask for. It is time to press. To continue pressing. To never stop pressing for His Perfection in all areas of our life.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

It is essential for believers to KNOW the Word of God. To read it, study it, meditate on it, and pray it over our life. Why? Truth overtakes the lie every time. The enemy doesn’t use bold faced audacious ridiculous lies. No, his attack is subtle as he gently twists the Truth just enough to get you slightly off course. Once, he has a foot in the door – the real attack begins as the enemy works overtime to refute the Truth and get you all tangled up in words that are not what God said or meant for your life. Doubt and disbelief attach to these lies and they begin to take over our mind. Suddenly, we feel isolated and alone. No longer listening to the still small voice of God’s Spirit, we find ourselves locked in the stronghold of human reasoning. Faith is not logical outside of God’s Word. God’s Word is not productive until planted in our heart. Faith grows from it that develops into confidence so that when the enemy offers a life it is quickly shot down by the Truth. We must become violent in the push back against the enemy’s attack on our mind, will and emotions. We must close every door and lock every window. It is an all-out war just ask Paul who talks about in Romans 7 (again right before Romans 8).

Matthew 7:7-11 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

When our daughters want something and they know that I will say, “No”, they will sneak off to talk to their father. My husband may be a six-foot-one muscular guy who is quiet which is perceived as a daunting and ominous presence to some especially those who would like to date one of his girls, but when it comes to those three – he absolutely melts like a candy bar in a hot car. When they come to me asking where he is, I immediately ask them what they want because I know their intentions. God is a good father. Like my husband, He desires nothing more than to bless His Children. So many times, we don’t come to Him unless things are hopeless and we become desperate. This is not the way to pray.

Persistent prayer is the pounding action that knocks on God’s door and releases heaven on earth. Prayer is communication with God. It doesn’t matter how you pray just talk to Him. The more you converse the more you will have a relationship with His Spirit, who helps us when we don’t know how to pray and will teach us to pray. Our daughter says the blessing over the evening meal. Recently I have challenged her to change up her prayer from the one she has spoken for as long as I can remember. I am encouraging her to do so because her prayer is routine. It is not heartfelt anymore. I am hoping that as she thinks about thanking God for our food – it will change the way she thinks about talking to God about everything. We all fall into ruts and routines. Persistent prayer is asking until you receive. Seeking until you find Him. Knocking until the door opens. We give up too easy on prayer because we are used to pulling up to the drive-thru placing our order, pulling to the first window to pay for it, and picking it up at the second window – it’s called immediate gratification. Here is the problem – God is doing infinitely more than I can even think to ask for, Jesus paid for it because I couldn’t afford it, and He is preparing for me a valuable inheritance not a Happy Meal. We must be persistent in our prayer life to keep pounding.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Finally, to keep pounding it is imperative that we persevere. Holding tightly without wavering to the hoe we affirm because God can be trusted to keep His Promise. What is the promise you let go of? There are so many it is different for everyone. The dream that died and seems like it will never be revived. Did you know that after Elisha died and was entombed that a man’s dead body came body when it was thrust in the same grave? When the cold dead body touched the bones of God’s man – he came back to life. Your dream is not dead. God gave you the desires of your heart and will bring it to pass if you would just keep pounding past the pressure, pain and persecution in life. You cannot have the Kingdom of God unless you are willing to exert pressure, push back against the enemy, be persistent in prayer and persevere for your promise. It is worth having but only faith believes it. You must have faith that God is able to do exactly what He said that He would.

We must motivate and encourage each other to keep pounding. We have inside of us God’s Love, His Power, and His Spirit nothing is impossible for those who believe that and live like it. He has blessed the very ground that we walk on so if we plant seeds – we will have a harvest. It is time to expect the seed that is going in the ground around us – if any and what quality. We must sow generously in life to reap abundance. God has promised more than we can think or ask. He even calls us more than conquerors because Christ is in us. We must believe it enough to live like it. Have you stopped pounding? Well there is no time like the present to start again. Press on. Push back. Pray persistently. Persevere. Those who do will live complete and satisfying lives lacking no good thing. Don’t believe me. Try it for yourself. My faith will not produce your blessing. My hope will not lead you to the same destination. I challenge you today. Dig up that one dead dream. Or focus on the one “forgotten” promise. Commit the next 30 days to pounding for it. See what happens…

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT) Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

To Be A Champion

Confetti and trophy

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Can I encourage you a little bit today? To all those who are tired, weary, and on the verge of giving up, can I offer a little insight today? Does this race of faith seem just a little too long? Is endurance a longer word than you thought? Is persistence requiring patience you just do not have? Do not give up. Stay right where you are. You can be a champion. If Jesus Christ lives within you and eternity is etched on your heart, there is no fall to far, failure to fatal or loss to bad for you to be the victorious overcomer that the Lord has called you to be. In fact, champions are not winners all the time. Yes, you heard me correctly. It takes losses to be the lessons. It takes weakness to find new strength. It takes humility to overcome the pride that wages war against our flesh. You must breakdown fat to find muscle. You must have a broken heart to be saved.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us. What is slowing you down today? What is tripping you up? What is the obstacle that you named Goliath too big to overcome? Goliath came crashing down with a little stone marked faith planted square between the eyes. What are you hurling at that mountain refusing to move? Are you being tossed to and fro by the wind, waves and storm swirling around you? Endurance is needed for athletes to become champions. Persistence is the pays it forward for them to overcome losses to obtain the big win. Champions overcome failure to grab hold of victory. Failure does not make you a loser. Never trying again is what labels quitters. Jesus is our example. He was not a failure. The Lord never quit, but that didn’t mean in human form it was not a temptation. Jesus is our champion. He gives us the ability to be a champion, too!

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” What makes Jesus our champion? Dying on the Cross did not give Him that honor. If Jesus had died for our sin, and remained in the grave – He would not be a champion. What made Jesus our Champion is the fact that after He died – He did not stay in the grave but came walking out with the keys to death and the grave firmly in His Hand! This is our encouragement today. To fail a test, lose our way, or give in to sin now and again does not take away our potential to be overwhelmingly victorious in life. Grace would not be necessary if this were the case. God would not give us new mercy each day. Renewal, restoration and revival would not be promised if one pitfall was all it took to take away our victory. Those who endure to the end will be saved. They will obtain the crown of righteousness offered by our Champion – Jesus Christ. Somebody needs to hear that today. You are not defined by your past, your today, your failures, your shortcomings, your weakness or even devastating heartbreak – what makes you a champion is when you decide despite all things I am going get back up and do it again.

I Corinthians 9:25-27(NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Champions realize their purpose and capitalize on potential. Perseverance is an act of discipline. It is to push our mind, soul and body past the natural limitations of our flesh and decide that faith is our primary goal. Faith is never a natural thing but always dependent on the supernatural. It is all about what we cannot see, the highly unlikely outcome and even the impossible that is promised to us in God’s Word. It is the thing that makes us send away our Hagar and Ishmaels because God promised us Isaac. It is the determination to put away the things of this world to make room for His Kingdom. All athletes are disciplined in training. They set a goal in their heart long ago that is not dependent on their team but solely defined by a heart that refuses to quit and sees the glory of their goal. We must decide as believers what our true purpose is in Jesus Christ. What has He called you to do? What is your calling? Calling is not what you feel necessarily qualified to do. Purpose defines the potential of our life. It is in the commitment of our natural life to godly purpose in each step of every day that will bring it to life as we discipline our mind, soul and body to keep persevering and never give up on what God is doing in us and Christ died for us to accomplish.

Matthew 26:36-41 (NLT)  Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

I love that the Lord inspired this passage in the Word of God. We need to see the humanness of Christ in order to understand that Jesus is truly a valid example. He saw the future. He knew the agony not only of the physical nature of crucifixion, but the torture of each sin to be laid upon Him in that moment. His Father, God, was going to turn His Face from His Son. Every wretched disease would soon leave a strip down His Back. Jesus was God incarnate but His Flesh was real just like ours. His Body would feel every terrible torture that would be endured to set us free. He asked God, “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken from me.” Jesus knows what it feels like to come to the end of self. He knows the feeling of weakness due to the oppression of flesh. It doesn’t matter how willing our spirit is to follow in His Footsteps, the weakness of our body will always try to stop us.

There are many athletes who must overcome weakness, pain and injury to become a champion. It is not the absence of such things that afford them the title but their mindset that no matter what they will give their all. They are persistent in training and strengthening of their body investing countless hours in training. They give up time with their family, friends, hobbies, and just loafing around to preparation. They endure insult and injury to play the game they love so much. Pain doesn’t stop them – they push through it willing to pay the price when it’s over. Champions see the potential and prize ahead of them and refuse to give up. They may be taken out of the game but a true champion will never leave the game willingly.

2 Corinthians 6-10 (NLT) For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

God has filled each human heart with purpose. It is marked eternity and labeled with the promise “made beautiful for its own time”. Champions pursue purpose. The potential to be the best is the drive and motivation of their heart. Where do you spend your time? What is the prevailing thought you strive for? What is life all about to you? When our passion, pursuit and purpose becomes the Kingdom it will change the pathway of our life. The Light in our heart is His Glory. It shines brightly in our brokenness and weakness as death gives way to life in us. With each step of faith – our purpose becomes more evident which means our opponent sets his sight on overtaking it. Nobody wants to play the loser. They want to play the champion to take away the crown of victory.

The enemy comes like a thief to steal, kill and destroy. His onslaught more pervasive when purpose begins to breakthrough sin, shame, doubt and disbelief. The moment you believe that you will overcome – is the second you gain the enemy’s full attention. He is going to pressure you to give up and attempt to perplex you by filling your mind with lies tempting you to stop the nonsense. A stealth predator it is not uncommon for him to wait until you are alone, feeling somewhat isolated, and vulnerable to try to separate you from others. Champions are hunted. When they get knocked down, they get back up. Endurance, perseverance, persistence and discipline cause flesh to suffer but with each conquest new life is produced in us. These are the qualities that define champions. Though they are pursued they do not stop because they see the prize and desire it more than anything.

John 16:1 (NLT) “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.

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

These are the words of Jesus before He ventured to the Cross. Before He felt the coldness of death and solitude of the grave. These were his parting words before marching straight into hell and taking back the Keys to the Kingdom which was about to hand to you. Jesus knew His Purpose. He was a champion. He won the victory over death and the grave. Super Bowl Sunday is just a little over a week away. We watched the division championships last weekend. I noticed that during the presentation of the trophy – it was not the most valuable player of the game, the quarterback or the coach who received it but in each case an elderly gentleman. The announcer would then acknowledge them as the owner of the team. He was not the one who engaged in the battle on the field, took a single hit, caught a pass or even kicked a field goal. He is the one who paid the price so each one of those players could pursue their passion and achieve their purpose.

Jesus paid it all. He overcame the world so our faith would be worth something. Our purpose is faith that produces such confident hope that we can give up pursuing lesser things and overcome in all things. My life “in Christ” can achieve its purpose. My heart will satisfied when eternity is mine. Until that time, I must remain in Christ who is my champion. I must follow His Example. He never quit. Jesus never gave up. He endured suffering, temptation, isolation and even death for me to have victory over all these things. It is up to me if I will join in. Will I choose life over death? Will I pick blessing over the curse? Will I let the Light of His Love show through my broken heart, dead dreams and failures until His Glory overtakes my life? I cannot give up and be a champion. I may lose a few, but I win it all if I persevere never losing faith but always reaching for hope.

“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Just to be clear, Jesus came to be a champion. He would secure victory over sin, death and the grave once and for all. What was the joy awaiting Him when Jesus stepped down from His Throne carefully placing His Crown on the seat to come to this world? He had all of Heaven. The only thing missing was you and me. He came to this earth for just one thing. His Treasure and Special Possession. He came for us. He left everything to have us with Him forever. You and me. Ordinary people who fall, fail and stray just about every day – but Jesus wanted us. He desired us above all things and gave up His Life to have us. Will I do the same? Will you?

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 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. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ became a champion for us because He loves us. He was committed to love us even to the death, but that wasn’t long enough so He overcame death to give us a crown of righteousness so we could live as champions with Him forever. Are you fulfilling your purpose? Do you know the true potential of your life? Jesus did and He came up out of the grave to give you the power to complete it. The rest is up to you. When you feel like you have fallen too far, you haven’t the Lord is there to pick you up. When you think you have gone too far, His Spirit will lead you right back. When you wonder if it is worth it, ask Jesus because He sure thought you were. Choose to persist, persevere, pursue and prevail in every situation because in our weakness His Power is perfect. If you don’t give up but endure by faith until the end, you will win every time. Discipline is painful but defeat is agonizing. Celebrate each victory no matter how small. It is one step closer to winning it all. You are a Champion. Jesus lives in you. Don’t give up on victory today. Hold tight to your faith for it is the key. Be confident in Your Hope because God hasn’t given up on you. The best is yet to come if you believe.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)  Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.