In Every Season

In Every Season

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

God doesn’t call the qualified – He qualifies the called. The thorn in my flesh. Are you called to do something? Do you know that God told you to go here or do this but it is so hard that you are wondering if you missed Him altogether? Same. It seems like the more sure I am going in the harder the fight to the finish. How do I know if God called me? Oh, you know. Or at least you did going into the season, but now that the ground is dry and the river run dry – you are looking for an escape. You are not alone. The enemy is hurling lies at every person who launches out in obedience with the intent of retreat. He wants you to leave the season. He wants you to abandon the field. The only thing that the enemy can use against those called by God is a lie. He wants you to accept twisted truth so that doubt will take root and grow into disbelief. He did it in the Garden and continues today.

Those who delight in the Law of the Lord, His Word both spoken and written, meditating on it day and night are like trees. Not just any tree, but the ones planted by the riverbank always watered by His Word. They will prosper in every season because they are rooted and grounded in Christ. Their leaves do not whither even in drought, and they will prosper IN ALL THEY DO. You will prosper despite the drought, famine or harsh conditions. Your life is not dependent on your atmosphere around you but the Living God within you. He is your supply and source for life and life more abundantly. Are you tapped into the Living Water within you today? Or are you trying to survive in the dry and thirsty land?

Psalm 107:33-38 (NLT) He changes rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry, thirsty land. He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands, because of the wickedness of those who live there. But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities. They sow their fields, plant their vineyards, and harvest their bumper crops. How he blesses them!

What if God has disguised your blessing in a barren land? What if it is not the enemy causes the struggle or challenging you to believe, but the Lord God? He doesn’t tempt us. The Lord will never tempt His Children. However, God will discipline us not to be confused with punishment. Endurance and perseverance are necessary qualities for success as a believer. Only those who endure to the end will be saved. Yet when we are stretched, pressured or exhausted – it is our first reaction to look for a way out. When things get rough or life is too hard – our finger points at God rather than the other direction. Our flesh is always looking for an opportunity to avoid death. The death of our flesh gives way to the Spirit. When the Spirit is poured out on dry land there is a change. However, if there is no seed planted in that season what will grow. Faithfulness is the sowing of seed in the life of every believer. To believe when there is no reason to believe is reminiscent of the Father of Faith, Abraham who waited well into his nineties to see God’s Promise.

Isaiah 44:1-5 (NLT) “But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. The Lord who made you and helps you says: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one. For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the Lord.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.”

Reading these words today, I am encouraged. Like a sprinkle of rain in the desert, it is water for my soul. Do not be afraid my chosen one. I will pour out water and quench your thirst and irrigate parched fields. I will pour out my Spirit on your family and blessing on your children. (My paraphrased version) God did not call us to survive the seasons of life – we are chosen to thrive. To thrive in God means to trust Him in every season. If He called you to a place, you must stay there until He comes or His Blessing arrives. If He called you to do something, keep doing it whether prosperity comes quickly or takes many seasons. Keep sowing even when your arms are tired and knees feel weak. Why is life so hard? It was hard before you knew Christ or you would not have been searching for a Savior. Why is it hard now? Because knowing Christ does not necessarily change the world or everyone who lives in it – the Spirit of the Living God invited to live in you is to transform you into a new creation.

My response must be to the One who called me. The One who loves me. The One who promises to never leave me or forsake me. The One who promises to perfect that which concerns me. The One who gives me perfect peace to weather every storm or wait for rain in times of drought. He is the One who promises to make good come from every detail of my life. Am I reacting to my environment or responding to its Creator?

I Thessalonians 5:24 (NLT) God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

God will not increase any part of our life apart from faith. If faith is not required, God didn’t do it. Miracles are labeled “IMPOSSIBLE” for a reason. Otherwise, we would take credit for God’s Work. Every day farmers sow seed in fields. Faithfully breaking the ground, tilling the soil, planting good seed, watering and waiting and enjoying some kind of harvest. Sowing and reaping, planting and harvest were established in the days of Noah as God promised to never flood the earth again. The rain falls on the just and unjust.

God will make it happen. How many times do we limit the Lord to our natural expectations? Our clock is preset. Our journey marked out. Our ability measured by comparison. When God doesn’t do it according to our schedule, agenda or designate path – we decide to question the Lord and his ability even his faithfulness. God didn’t tell you to force it – He said, “I’ll do it.” According to my Word, Will and Way – set out before you were born as a prerecorded (Psalm 139) plan and purpose for your life (Jeremiah 29:11) which will result in a masterpiece (Ephesians 3:20). We would settle for refrigerator art, paint by numbers, or even a sidewalk artist rendering before being willing to wait for God to make a Michelangelo or Picasso of our life. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. He does it. God is the Creator and ultimate designer of life. We must trust in every season that He who calls you (and me) is faithful to finish.

2 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

According to Ephesians 1:3, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. We have everything we need, want and desire hidden in our life for discovery. These blessings are from the “heavenly realm” so they can only be accessed by right standing with God. Salvation is only the beginning. Faith must be sown and grown in our life to keep us deeply rooted and grounded in the Love of God and His Grace which is union with Christ. Faith bores belief. The fruit of our faith is belief manifested in trust and dependence on the Living God. He has given us everything we need for living a godly life which is defined by prosperity, success and abundance according to His Word. We will only survive until our faith thrives even in the driest and barest of season knowing that He is faithful and true even when nothing we see is evidence of that.

The Kingdom of God and its fullness is available to us. We must seek the Kingdom of God above everything else which means continually searching for it, pressing toward it, and staying put in steadfast faith until the Lord reveals it, releases it or relieves us. This is only accomplished by faith in God not our senses or seasons. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises rather than our personal struggles and challenges in life. There will always be adverse conditions, unfavorable circumstances, senseless tragedy as love grows cold and sin grows rampant in this lost and dying place. But we do not rally in hope for this world, but rather press for the mark of a higher calling. To be part of a Kingdom where leaves do not wither and prosperity is the outcome of every season. For now, the Kingdom is in you. It is in me. We must trust and believe that God has given us His Glory and Excellence enough to give Him glory and excellence when times are tough and we want to quit. His Word promises it will be worth it when we learn to prosper in every season.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (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. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All of my life…in every season…You are still God…I have a reason to sing…I have a reason to worship…

 

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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.

 

Mighty Warrior

Mighty Warrior

I Corinthians 15:57 (NIV) But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you feel victorious today? Like a mighty warrior, who celebrates the spoils of overcoming winning, do you live a confident life in Jesus Christ? God has given us celebratory victory in Jesus Christ, His Son. The ability to engage, encounter and execute His Power and Authority on the earth until He returns or we are giving the opportunity to go to Him. I do not believe that the church fully understands the concept of habitual freedom that comes from a new life in Christ that overcomes the world. Cowering in corners and compromising confinement in the lie of the enemy that this is how it will always be and there is just not enough power in the Blood. Did I get your attention? Did that rile something within you that I would dare insult the Blood of Jesus Christ as to insinuate a loss of power or potential? There is power in the Blood of Jesus Christ to break every chain and stronghold in your life. However, it is up to each one of us to commit our confidence to it. To believe that there is power in the Blood is exemplified when we live according to the authority of Jesus Christ and exercise it here on earth.

I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV) Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Why do Christians struggle with complacency and compromise in life? It’s simple. We lack confidence in Jesus Christ. If we believed that God has given us victory in His Son, Jesus, don’t you think we would chase after it wholeheartedly? My family has attended many college football games in our hometown. The passion displayed by the other sports fans and fervency of their desire to win is displayed first in their commitment to attend the games, tailgating, participating in all the fight songs, cheering on the offensive line, coaching the defense, yelling at the coaches and even taunting the other team. Standing on their feet to the final seconds tick off the clock, screaming wildly for the win and completely devastated by loss. Do we have the same commitment to victory in Christ? Our team has won a lot and currently is experiencing the worse season I can remember yet still fans spend inordinate and endless amounts of effort and expense just to stand behind their favorite team. How does our enthusiasm for such things compare to our commitment to Christ and the victory promised by God to us? “Let nothing move you.”

Always give yourselves fully to the workplace, hobbies, and people…wait no it says…always give yourselves full to the work of the Lord, because YOU KNOW that your labor is not in vain. Our commitment to Jesus Christ is based solely on our ability to trust and believe He has won the victory over death and the grave. If our Savior and Lord was willing to suffer and die on the Cross to save, heal and deliver us – why in the world would He leave us helpless and defenseless on the earth? He wouldn’t. He didn’t. You are a mighty warrior.

2 Samuel 23:8 (NIV) These are the names of David’s mighty warriors…

David had thirty-seven mighty men who fought by his side. Three of these men were his leaders. Josheb-Basshebeth, Eleazar and Shammah who were his elite companions. I believe that there is a lesson to be learned from these warriors.

2 Samuel 23:8 (NIV) Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.

The chief of these three was Josheb-Basshebeth who demonstrated the prize of endurance. He raised his spear against 800 men and killed them all in one encounter. How many times do we give up in the middle of battle? Abandoning God’s Promise of victory and settling for less than complete overcoming in any situation. Jesus said that the one who endures to the end will be saved. Maybe we do not have victory simply because we do not fight through the encounter but at some point look for an escape or make our own way. I believe that the Lord has promised to give us victory and complete satisfaction in every situation. Perhaps endurance is the missing essential?

2 Samuel 23:9-10 (NIV) Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

Eleazar was with David when he was being taunted by the enemy. The enemy was ready for battle and so was Eleazar. When the rest of the army retreated, he stood his ground. Eleazare persevered though his hand grew tired and froze to his sword. The Lord brought Him great victory that day. What do you do when others abandon the cause? Do you press in and persevere? Holding tightly to God’s Word and fighting for the promise? When everyone chooses their own way do you press and persevere to do it His Way? Eleazar did not abandon his earthly lord and His Heavenly Lord handed victory right into his hand and the spoils of victory as well.

2 Samuel 23:11-12 (NIV) Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.

Shammah stood on his promise. He would not abandon his harvest (lentils) to the enemy. The enemy in our life comes to steal, kill and destroy. God has promised us an abundant harvest. A promise and purpose of fulfillment worth having (Jeremiah 29) and a future worth fighting for. Will you defend your promise today? Will you stand and fight on the foundation of faith with the sword of the Spirit and confidence in God’s Word? He has given us victory and along with winning every other harvest and prize that is promised to those who remain faithful. Do you believe today that overwhelming victory belongs to you? A gift from God through His Son Christ? You are a mighty warrior. Strong and courageous. Ready for battle. The Son of the Living God lives in you and has achieved full authority over death and the grave making you unstoppable. So what’s stopping you today?

I John 5:3-5 (NIV)  In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Faith in God is demonstrated through obedience and service to His Son, Jesus Christ. To believe that He is worthy of our allegiance is to serve Him. In 2 Samuel 23, it also tells the story of the three mighty warriors risking life and limb just to give David a drink from a well in Bethlehem. The only thing standing between them and fulfilling the desire of their leader was an army of giants. The three men left the protection of the garrison to get the cup of water. They broke enemy lines just to bring David a single cup of water. Father, forgive us for all the times we give you less than our very best.

Love for the Lord is keeping His Commands which to those who truly have affection for Him do not find burdensome. It is in this obedience and commitment to Christ that we overcome the world. Is your faith worth fighting for? It absolutely is. Faith pleases God. In fact without it, you cannot please God in any other effort. Victory for the believer is total faith and confident trust in the hope we are given. Faith is worth fighting for. The harvest of fulfillment only feeds our confidence and strengthens our arm to praise Him during the battle and keeps our knees from becoming weak in prayer and fasting. Why abandon the promises of God so easily? We fall for the lie of the enemy because it is easily rationalized by our flesh allowing us to maintain our pride. To be a mighty warrior and secure the victory I have been given requires endurance, perseverance and faithfulness. To have overcoming power active and effective in my life is to become immersed in His Grace and live there. Less of me and more of Him. It is not the life for everyone yet the Lord includes everyone in the call to victory. Whosoever will let them come! He wants to help you live a victorious overcoming life. Do you trust Him today? Enough to fight for your faith. Endure through tough times. Persevere when abandoned. Defend the harvest the Lord has promised. Those who do will become mighty warriors.

John 16:33 (NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Worth the Fight

fight for it

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

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

Let’s talk about Jesus for a minute…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fight the good fight for the true faith.

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

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

2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.

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

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

Lessons From a Giraffe

Lessons From a Giraffe

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.

I will admit that I have become captivated by April the giraffe. A small animal farm in New York got the brilliant idea to put a 24-hour camera to record the impending birth of her calf. They have received national attention and news agencies across the country are tracking her progress. I have always loved giraffes. On a mission trip to Kenya many moons ago, I was able to go on a camera safari through a preserve where they could be seen walking in the distance. Even many yards away, they were majestic and towering over the small trees. One of the only souvenirs that I brought back was a hand-carved giraffe with her calf. Though I do not sit and watch her progress, I do leave the “giraffe cam” open on my desk at work, in the kitchen while I cook and as I sit here now she is off to the side of me. Giraffes are not particularly intelligent animals. Basic creatures driven by their desire for food and their inner drive of curiosity – I cannot help but wonder if she is aware of her popularity. Does she know what is happening in her body or the impending arrival of her newborn? How aware is she that the end of her 15-month process is near?

This morning while I wait for the computer to load, the sleeping giraffe is suddenly awakened and rises awkwardly to her feet. The movement catching my attention, I glance at the screen just in time to see a series of resounding kicks from the 150-lb, six-foot tall baby inside her belly who apparently wants out. There has been little movement noted by keepers over the last few days. Most babies in the animal kingdom and the natural world settle down right before the greatest journey of their life. It is almost time. I know that feeling. Having been blessed with five beautiful babies, I understand the end of the process. The overwhelming need for the stress on our body to end. To release the promise inside because it is ready to live and breathe on its own. There are so many feelings and emotions mixed up and overflowing in a mother just before the birth of her baby. It doesn’t matter how many children you have, each one a process of perseverance all its own. Today as I watch the mama walk in circles, her steps are slow and unsteady. She lowers her head to endure the pressure of a contraction as the little one gets ready to make its highly anticipated appearance into the world. I am feeling pressure these days. No, thank goodness, my childbearing years are done but my promise bearing years continue. The process is similar. Both require perseverance. The result of the process of pregnancy is culminated in a successful birthing process of a healthy baby. If a human body were to experience the changes to it without a purpose – no one would endure it. The reality of our promise determines our willingness and ability to persevere.

“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.” I have lived long enough to have experienced many processes in life. I have learned to persevere and yet I am still in the midst of its process. Perseverance is a test of strength. It reveals our depth of purpose according to our commitment to the process. As a Christian, faith is measured by our willingness and ability to preserve through hard times, difficult situations and those things that seem to break us completely. But the words I keep coming back to today in this passage are “you have obeyed my command to preserve.” Set free by Jesus Christ, I am free indeed. As far as I can tell there is but one commandment predicated by a new provision that I must live by according to the New Testament words of Jesus Christ who is the Word of God. I cannot find a direct command to preserve or persist in anything but this one thing that He commands. It is my purpose despite every difficulty in life or even the times I become discouraged. Are you wondering what it is? Do you already know?

Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Thankfully and by the Grace of God, the five pregnancies became five people who bless my life and give me purpose each day. My love for them gives me infinite grace and determination to care for them all of my life. Jesus demonstrated God’s Love for us by coming in the form of a man, living a completely innocent life, and then dying for our sin on the Cross. I know it sounds so brutal and messy. It was. The story did not end there. If Jesus did not complete the process, hold on to the promise, and preserve through death and the grave to emerge in Resurrection Power – there would be no salvation for us. There would be no pathway to God the Father to righteousness. Every promise has a process. Every process will require perseverance. If it is worth anything at all, there will be a struggle to find new strength even when the promise is faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God much less reach Him. Less I digress…

In Revelation 3, the Word encourages those who “have obeyed my command to preserve” that the Lord will protect them in great times of testing. It also tells us to hold on to what you have so that no one can take away the crown. You are a Kingdom Kid. You are a daughter or son of the King. However, you are on a journey home to a place that you cannot see driven by faith that is bound by confident hope and not evident by sight. In Revelation 3:8, the Lord indicates the opening of a door that no one can close – the promise. I love this part, I can identify with it completely. “You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.” The commandment of Jesus for my life is to love the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second one that Jesus has indicated as “equally” important is to love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the commandment attached to perseverance.

The love for self is natural. It is part of human survival. The love born of the Christ in us is different. It is not a natural emotion but supernatural takeover of our flesh that is crucified with Him to become the new creation that the Lord has promised. The process by which faith moves from our mind to our soul requires perseverance because it takes what is natural and overtakes it spiritually. It is the Christ in us that teaches us to love. Love is clearly defined in I Corinthians 13 and my love must bear all the qualities of Christ’s Love for obedience to be evident in my life. Even the most simple offering will not be accepted by God until I forgive those who I may grudge against to exemplify the grace I am given. Nothing I give to the Lord or attempt to do in His Honor is worthy of Him until I love Him wholeheartedly and express it to others effectively. Love is the commandment that is the subject of perseverance. It is the most difficult one of all. It requires putting aside my feelings and emotions. It is absolute and total crucifixion of pride and stubbornness. I have to lay down my life to claim my place in Heaven. Jesus came to fulfill the Law. (Matthew 5) He did it. There is not a letter of the Law that I am bound to except the one commandment which is to love the Lord and love people. Love changes everything. It sounds cliché.

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.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Jesus Christ lives inside of every believer. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of His Promise to us. It is by falling in love with the Lord that He is able to consummate His Love for us as His Grace empowers us. To do what? To live and love radically. To persevere and power through those tough days in the Name of Love. Isn’t that what pregnant woman do in the midst of vomiting, exhaustion, swelling, bedrest or complications? They will do anything to get the promise inside to become a reality. What about the Promise of God in each of us? Is it not worth having more than anything this world has to offer including comfort? Of course, it is.

“It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15) Jesus Christ came to initiate a relationship not institute a new religion. Unlocking every chain and opening every door so that the Body of Christ might become one in anticipation of His Eminent Return. I can share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a thousand people but if I cannot express His Love it will fall on deaf ears. Real Love. Authentic Love. Selfless Love. True Love. The church must learn to love to become the new creation it has the potential to be. Unconditional love is to love without condition. Without rules or regulations, the Lord did not require you to change a thing and still considered you to die for. Why do we insist on changing people? We must love them like Jesus loves us.

What is a righteous and godly life anyway? “Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” This verse makes me think of Micah 6:8, “this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” The Lord is whispering to us today and encouraging us to get it right. To pursue a righteous life. To live a godly life. To do so the way that He tells us to, a life defined by “faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” I think the word “perseverance” is tucked in there to remind us that there will be hard days, trials and tests, and those when our strength gives out making us ready to throw in the towel. You are pregnant with promises today that are worth having. So much so that the enemy is pressuring you to give up, give in, and just quit. I cannot imagine being pregnant more than 42 weeks as that is the longest pregnancies that I endured. A giraffe carries her promise for 15 months and some animals even longer. Whatever God’s Promise is for your life, it comes with a process and prescribed time. You must only endure and preserve for the reality of God’s Promise to be revealed. Faith must be our confident when waiting for that which we hope for to come. To abandon the process of pregnancy is abortion. To abandon the process of love is to end our future with the Lord. It is His Commandment to us. It is His Mandate on our life. Every other attempt to serve Him absent of love is pointless. Love is the most difficult thing to maintain. Jesus warned us that love would grow colder. It does each day. It is the love within us that makes us a new creation and our life offering incense to God. My faith is in the Love of God and His Faithfulness to me. My confidence is that His Love never fails and nothing can separate me from Him. It is from this faith and confidence that the Lord makes us new creations who can love unselfishly just because He loves us.

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.

 

Stand Firm

Stand Firm

I Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV) Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.

One’s natural inclination is to fight for a belief. To stand guard against our principles. Standing firm in one’s faith becomes a battle stance towards opposition. To be courageous is not an exterior hardness but an internal softness difficult to comprehend. Strength is not intestinal fortitude or something physically acquired. The Power of God begins and ends for us as human beings in one place. God loves us. He loves us unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what we do or how far we wander, the moment of repentance and turning back – the Lord is always right there waiting. It is our inability to fully accept the extravagance of free grace that keeps us fighting for a faith already given to us from the start.

Romans 12:3 reminds us that humility is in order “in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” God gave me my faith. I didn’t think it, create it, or earn it in any way, shape or form but rather simply accept it from the Hand and Heart of God. He fills my heart with Eternity giving me the desire to seek Him and find Him to be in that place. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) The Lord promises to make everything beautiful in His Time. Faith is the birthplace of miracles, meeting place for promises, and the platform on which we wait for the Lord because of confident hope that He will come. Could it be that we grow tired of waiting on God and standing firm in our faith because we fight for what is already our own?

Last month, our family purchased a new home. We have now bought three homes which serving the Lord and each time it is the same. We know when we find it that it is what the Lord has for us. I can’t tell you how I know, just that we do and so go through all the steps to attain that which is ours in Jesus Christ. Side note: every decision in life may be subject to God through prayer. It is up to us what we take boldly to the Throne Room of God called His Presence in our prayer room each day. God has a detailed and well-ordered plan for our life including every single detail therefore nothing is considered insignificant to the Lord. We were given a day and time to meet to close the deal. Sitting across the table from the homeowner, we took possess of the property. We signed the bank contracts assuming financial responsibility as the previous owners released the title and deed to us. They handed us the keys and garage door opener giving us last minute pointers about the neighborhood, people and various household items. We shook hands and left the office. We owned our new property. It belonged to us. We did not have to gather weapons and make a battle plan but simply pulled the huge truck with the contents of our life, open the door with the keys provided to us, and step in to our brand new home and life. The house was vacant and ready for our occupation. We only had to claim what belonged to us. What are you fighting for today that already belongs to you? I am asking myself the very same thing. Are there things in my life that require only standing in faith on His Promise, but instead I am expending a whole lot of energy trying to make it mine today? Am I fighting those things already apprehended? The enemy is defeated. I have the Keys to the Kingdom. The devil cannot “make me” do anything that I do not want to do because I am filled with God’s Spirit. Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world. I am more than a conqueror if I can only stand firm.

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NIV) For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19) Do you believe this statement? Though we know that God is not human, it is natural for us to give him human traits, qualities and characteristics that are not true. When the Lord gives us a promise, the answer is “yes” already but the part that gets us is the waiting. It is the standing issue between God and His People that we must overcome. We you continue to stand past the point of impossibility. The moment that what you were promised and that which you hope for becomes completely incomprehensible and totally impossible naturally.

I have taken many “stands” and fallen from my “watchtower” more times than I can count. It took a life or death matter to finally make me persevere to the end. It took losing it all to find what really matters in life. Why such drastic measures? Probably because we lack the determination and dedication as human beings driven by comfort and immediate gratification the ability to stand firm until the end. The Lord uses our life and His Promises to teach us to wait and watch for Him. He uses these opportunities to fortify our faith in His Foundation for our life. His Grace allows us the strength needed to get back up after stumbling or tumbling in life. He is teaching us patience. We are learning persistence, passion and perseverance in our pursuit of Christ even though it feels like temporary trails or temptations, it can have a lasting impact.

Luke 21:19 (NIV) Stand firm and you will win life.

I have seen competitions where people must stand with their hand on a car. The last one standing wins the automobile. They will endure harsh weather conditions, taunts of other contestants, overcome the temptation to quit, and even endure physical pain to win a brand new car. I have seen this same competition for other prizes. People will undergo public humiliation for “things”. What will we do to win “life”? How far will we go to enter Eternity? Matthew 13:13 warns that “everyone will hate you (me) because of me (Jesus)but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” My life is worth nothing if at the end of it, I do not find Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 6:13-18 (NIV) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

For three long years, our son battled cancer. He would have clear scans and a few weeks later cancer would creep back on the screen. All his life, as his mom, I was his nurse on call. I took care of all the bumps, bruises and occasional hurt feelings. But when the diagnosis was cancer, everything changed. I was powerless. As the stages crept up the scale, doctors, nurses and even friends and family began to lose hope. When the medical team finally did have a plan, even though a long shot, it would require months of fighting just for him to have the chance. It literally came down to the promise that God had given me the very first night as the reality and gravity set in. I ran right into His Presence demanding a response. God gave me a promise. “Trust me. Your son will live and not die to declare my works.” When the only thing you have to hold on to is God’s Promise is it enough for you to stand on? This is what it means to stand firm never lifting a finger but only to praise.

“Put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” It says absolutely nothing about fighting for your faith but to simply “stand your ground”. Let’s look at our armor again as a method of defense rather than offense. With the belt of truth buckled around your waist. The Truth or God’s Word is that which keeps us standing every time. It is the foundation of our life in Christ. Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh. He holds us up as His Word keeps us upright. The Breastplate of Righteousness covers our heart. It keeps sin away from our heart so we can love the Lord wholeheartedly. Right standing with God keeps us where we need to be in the safety of close proximity to Christ. Following Jesus keeps our feet shod in peace. We are at peace with the Lord so we can live at peace with others. Our expectations are met. With a satisfied soul, we can walk this life out in love rather than competition and expectation for lesser things. We must hold tight to the shield of faith which blocks every single lie and snare that the enemy lies before us to trick us, distract us and dissuade us from following Jesus wholeheartedly. If the enemy has part of our heart, he has all of it. The helmet of salvation protects our mind. It is confidence in the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ and His Work on the Cross. We are given the Mind of Christ and I believe this is the same thing. If we think like Jesus, we will act like Him. Finally the Sword of the Spirit, which is our only weapon and defense in this whole armor. Verse 18 tells us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” You can never pray enough as you stand firmly for the Lord. It is probably safe to say that if you do not pray you will not stand. All of these vital components are provided so that you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything, to stand!

Galatian 5:1 (NIV) It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) Standing firm will always require waiting. While we wait, it is easy to get wrapped up in doing to take our mind off things. It is the assumption that we must “do” something to make God move for us or in us that is the most dangerous lie the enemy has every told. We cannot add to or take from the Work of God or that which Jesus performed on the Cross. Salvation is complete without me and absolutely free to me. I cannot earn it. I cannot repay Christ. I can only acknowledge Him by standing firm until the end. Those who endure will be saved. What can I do? Is there anything that I am obligated to do for Christ? Yes…just one thing.

I Corinthians 16:14 (NIV) Do everything in love.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8) Standing firm will always have but one requirement. We must demonstrate His Love in everything we do. Everything. All-inclusive never exclusive – we must love one another. Hold each other up. Build one another up. Encourage each other. Reach out to one another. To form relationships with those attempting to stand firm, too. It can be a lonely venture. The only debt that we have in life is to love. Love like Jesus. Fulfill the Great Commission. Love one another. To love extravagantly, forgivingly, and unconditionally just like Jesus. That’s it.

I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NIV) So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Have you been thinking on stepping down? Is the Lord just taking a little too long? Do you doubt His Word to you? Are you experiencing opposition? Can I encourage you today? Stand firm. Do not back down, but you don’t have to keep swinging either. The battle is the Lord’s and He is fighting for you today. Surrender to Jesus. Submit to His Will. Stand firm and immovable on His Promise and remain in His Word. He is indeed working on your behalf. You are free to wait until He is down. Jesus promises that you will be complete lacking nothing. It will be worth it. Not a moment is every wasted waiting on the Lord. Stand firm, my friend, stand firm.

Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV) I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

Run with It

Run with It

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (MSG)

You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.  I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

 

Imagine you are an Olympic athlete who has trained for track for your entire life. From a young boy or girl, you discovered running. You loved it. You were good at it. The high school coach saw your potential and talked to your parents who in turn enlisted the help of other coaches and mentors to make you faster and better than you were before. You won every race it seemed growing up with little effort. But even with all the medals and trophies, the one thing you desired most was an Olympic medal. Continuing to compete in college on full scholarship, of course, you are selected to attend a time trial which you quickly qualify and will represent the US team at the next world event. Your parents are proud. You feel accomplished. It is the big day you stand in a crowded stadium looking at the same layout you have for a decade of your life. It is time to take your mark. Your heart is beating. The crowd is cheering. Sweat beads on your brow in heavy expectation. The gun sounds and the other runners are off the block. Everyone except you – you don’t move but just hold your position. What happened? You had run every other race in your life flawlessly. Is this you today? Or is this me? God has planned for this day and prepared us for this moment but when He says, “Go!” We freeze. Where is our faith that seemed so sure and our hope that once was confident? We dissolve in disappointment. We missed it.

I have never seen an Olympic contestant not come off the line of a race, but I have seen them fall short of the glory that they were pursuing. Lolo Jones is indeed one of my favorite athletes. Her story is one of triumph over adversity and total perseverance. She has won races all over the world running. But despite attending the Olympics multiple times, she has never received one for running. Yet she does not quit or give up and keeps ending up in a starting block somewhere. She is a believer. She loves God. Where is her victory? I don’t know. But she keeps running for some reason.

Are you running to win today? Are you running for eternal gold? The hardest step sometimes if the first one. I want to run. It is not my strong suit. Although I do not have the time, talent or aspiration to be an Olympic runner – I have purposed in my heart to one day run/walk a mini marathon of some sort. It is a challenge in my heart. But I have to train to do so. I cannot just come on the scene expecting to finish the race. I must build up strength and endurance for this challenge. My life does not depend on whether or not I accomplish this goal. But there are things in my life that God has told me to do that do impact my future. Will I participate? Or will I just stand on the mark?

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (MSG)

What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst. I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon. I’ll wait to see what God says, how he’ll answer my complaint. And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

 

Vision is not our problem. Everyone has a dream. I believe that God puts these desires in our heart even if our flesh modifies them. When we begin to seek the Lord, He shows us things. Secret things. Hidden things. He encourages us to write them down. Prepare for them. Pray over them. Get ready. On your mark. Get set. He promises that it will come right on time but if we do not “go” when it is time – then what? Why wouldn’t we go after it? Are you kidding? I know what you are thinking – I have thought it, too. When I am waiting on God and He opens the door for someone else, we think “what are you waiting for”. Change requires a step of faith for human beings. We are not comfortable in change. God seldom opens a door completely at first. He opens it a little and we must step through to see His Plan unfolding. We do not understand God’s Way even though it always the best way.

For someone today, it is time to run. The waiting is over. The vision is clear. The way is plain. Now you just have to go for it! What will it take to get you moving? Change is uncomfortable but will you do it for God. Is the prize He offers worth having enough to “take a four foot step on a five foot limb” as one of my favorite pastor says? It is but until we believe it is – we will not leave the mark.

Psalm 19:7-9 (MSG)
The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.

 

Before we take off, there must be confidence in God’s Direction for our life. This is something we must obtain daily in our walk with Him along with those new mercies that He leaves for us. We need to fully believe without reservation that it is God who gives us revelation that is whole and pulls our lives together from the fragments we make it to the beautiful depiction written before our birth. God makes all things work together for those who love and trust Him. (Romans 8:28) He perfects our way. (Psalm 138:8) This is the primary catapult that gets us off the starting line to running the race. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) There is no other way to have the Promises of God for our life. He is the dream giver and fulfiller.

GPS tracking is a modern day wonder but it is not always correct. There have been instances when my instinct told me to look again or recalculate because something seemed off and it was. Nothing in life is flawless…except God and His Word. We can trust Him completely with our life. Those who trust and obey will see His Glory and Goodness manifest in their life over and over again. Humans have trust issues. We struggle to believe which hinders our faith delaying our blessing. We must believe completely trusting the Will and Way of God in all things to have His Very Best in life and win the race of faith.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG)

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

 

God gives us vision. While we mull it over, He makes the way for it to come to pass. It is not delayed but every detail is falling into place. When He says, “Go!” We must find it in ourselves to take the first step, then another and another. I have seen God move mountains and do miracles in my life yet am still challenged like everyone else when it comes to big steps of faith into the realm of hope.

I find that when I am challenged I can usually can find someone in the Word of God to identify with. For our son’s journey, it was Abraham. Once I decided that the only way through this was to trust the Lord with our son, it was a challenge. Maybe not the first time I was told that he had cancer or the second, perhaps it was the third or fourth. I began to picture this mighty man of God walking up the mountain by faith. I did not have a knife in my hand but I did not have the cure to cancer either. So we kept walking. And walking. And walking. Then one day in my mind, I began cross country running up to the top. Rather than edging up the side of a cliff, I was jumping from rock to rock and I could see the dust rise from each footfall. Was I really running? No. But my spirit woman was and she intended to win. We did. We are now approaching one year of remission in a kid that was not given much of chance to live. This was our “last ditch” effort. But look what the Lord has done. We didn’t quit. Couldn’t. The price was too high. What if I learned to run like that in all things? When God says it, I just do it? What would my life be like? It would be victory after victory because Jesus is our Champion. Lord, teach me to run the race of faith in all things.

Galatians 5:7-9 (MSG)

You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment.

 

Watch your step today. The enemy is trying to create diversions and detours to keep you from successfully achieving and having all that God has for you. We must learn to guard our heart AND our way. Any deviation from the steps God has laid before us takes us from God’s Perfect Will into His Permissible Will. We cannot have the prize if we do not fulfill the necessary steps. I do not want to be disqualified. People are not your problem. Circumstances do not have the power to hinder you. Situations are not detrimental unless we choose to stop running and stay there. Faith takes us out of these places and puts us in His Presence where we find all that we need for every situation. Comfort and complacency may satisfy our flesh but it will never satisfy our soul so we will always be searching if we settle but those who break the chains of fear and run anyway by faith will win every single time.

Philippians 2:14-16 (MSG)

Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

 

Finally, Philippians 2:16 (NLT) says “do not run in vain.” If you don’t want all that God has for you don’t bother trying to chase after Him. I say that only to say you will be frustrated in your pursuit and spread the wrong message about Christ. See you are free to pursue whatever you want in this life. You can choose life or death. You can pick whether you are blessed or cursed. It is all up to you. That is what freedom is all about – anything less than the vision God has given you has the potential to become a nightmare. It is all or nothing. Why put in all the time and effort if the prize doesn’t matter? But if it does matter…why not run with it and decide that winning is the only option. Faith leads the way to victory. You must step out to finish. You cannot win if you do not try!

Hold back nothing in your pursuit of abundant life today and you will find it. When you do nothing and no one can every take it from you because it will be yours. You will own it. You were born for such a time as this. God has given you clear vision. He has ordered your steps. Now all you have to do is run with it!

Hebrews 12:10-13 (MSG)

While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!