No More Rivals

No More Rivals

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

My life has purpose. The potential of my being and existence is fully encompassed in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Sovereign Lord. Why do I struggle to maintain His Preeminence in my life? There is no rival to the Lord. He has no equal. Yet in our everyday life – the struggle to trust and believe are real and valid battles in the heart and mind of every believer. Every step of faith is met with another challenging opportunity to take another. Following Jesus Christ in this life requires a depth perception of the Kingdom beyond that which our physical being and personal mindset can comprehend. We cry out for the Spirit of the Lord to fall upon us, restore and renew us and spark revival around us. What is stopping this from happening? Could it be the rivals in our life?

A rival is anything that competes for the same object or goal. It is the competition. A person or perception that disputes another’s superiority or preeminence. Who is like the Lord? Well, theoretically no one. There is nobody greater than Jesus Christ. His Power and Authority is unchallenged yet in our own life, one must decide if this is the case. A free will gives us the opportunity to believe anything and live the way that we choose. This does not in any way compromise God’s Power and Authority manifested in Jesus Christ, it only determines our outcomes and position in life. To ask the Lord to pour out His Spirit on us and desire His Will and His Way requires removal of the rivals in our life. To make Jesus Christ our champion, and put our complete faith and trust in His Ability as Sovereign Lord.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord can only occupy a surrendered and submitted life. To ask the Lord to fill us with His Spirit requires laying aside something in order for holy inhabitation to be complete. I want the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord to live in me. To occupy all areas of my life beginning with my soul, moving through my entire physical and emotional being until He resonates from my life. The process began decades ago. Today, I am still a fragile work in process. However, with each new day comes the challenging opportunity to end yet one more rivalry with the Power of God in my life. It is up to me. To cry out for His Spirit is to put to death anything that comes against my faith in God and willingness to trust the Lord more and more. I must kill those giants. Overcome the enemy. He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.

Submission is power. Grace is made perfect in my weakness. The world doesn’t operate on that belief system. In fact, to surrender is defeat according to the world. But I am only a temporary resident here, just making my way through life to eternity. Forever is a long time in comparison to a life that is only about 70 years or so on average. We must evaluate our existence for the rivalries and inconsistencies. Those areas of debilitation that the enemy has somehow convinced us hold some power over us or limit us in any way. The Love of God for us is complete. We lack no good thing in His Presence living for His Glory. He wants to take that from you. Steal your power and authority by tricking God’s People into believing that there is a limit to the Lord’s Power and Authority in our life or even a boundary to His Love. Nothing could be further from the Truth.

Luke 4:1-3 (NLT) Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. Then the devil said to him… 

The enemy is not short of arguments when it comes to God’s Word or His Power in our life. He constantly offers shortcuts and compromises us. He tests our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and Work in our life especially when God’s People are committed to living for the Lord. John the Baptist foretold His Coming. Jesus has now been baptized receiving the fullness of God’s Spirit and God said, “You are my dearly loved Son, you bring me great joy!” Can I just be real for a moment, I see a giant target being painted on the back of Jesus right about now! The enemy identified the Lord as his rival to contend with in that moment, and believed himself successful celebrating for about a minute before he realized the horrible mistake that he had made but I am getting ahead of myself.

Jesus immediately full of the Spirit went straight to the wilderness. Welcome to your new life in Christ! Purpose must be pressed to release full potential. Jesus responded to each temptation with the Word of God. Finally the enemy had finished tempting the Lord, he left him…until the next opportunity came. The enemy is not a true rival of Jesus Christ unless we allow him to compete for the Truth that occupies our life. The more real estate given to Christ in our life the more challenging it will be as the enemy attempts to take us out. Our potential is not just for our self, but as God’s Glory overtakes us the Light of His Love shines brightly for others to see. Immediately following Jesus’ trip to the wilderness where He overcame temptation, He entered the Temple and was handed the scroll of Isaiah to read. He read the words from Isaiah 61…God’s Power becomes our own by overcoming all rivals in our life. To submit and surrender to the Lord’s Power allows His Spirit…His Sovereign Spirit to manifest in our life. He becomes our purpose and gives us the power to overcome.

Isaiah 48:15-18 (NLT) Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.” And now the Sovereign Lord and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.”

“Sovereign Lord” is used approximately 290 times in the Old Testament depending on the translation you are using. It only occurs 3 times in the New Testament. Why? In the Old Testament, God put His Spirit into different people. When Jesus came in the New Testament, God put His Spirit fully into Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to His People. Matthew 27:50-52 tells us that At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.” Could this be the first documented revival? When the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was released along with resurrection power? It was the moment that God’s Power and Authority became completely available to me and you. The choice is mine if I will submit my life to the Sovereign Lord and accept His Power in my life.

God’s Power and Authority given to Jesus Christ lives in me. The only reason that I am not living in it is because I have allowed rivals to take the place of my Champion. I must overcome every hindrance in the race of faith by keeping my eyes on Jesus, my champion who initiates and perfects my faith. (Hebrews 2) How is this possible when there are so many things vying for my attention? How do I keep my eyes (and faith) on someone who I cannot see when there are so many people in the way? How does a football team win the Super Bowl? Or a baseball team the World Series? How does a fighter become Heavyweight Champion of the World? One game, one series or one bout at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Jesus Christ has given you His Spirit. The Greatness of God’s Son and all of His Sovereign Power lives and breathes in every believer. As we begin to overtake and oust the rivals in our life, Christ becomes the dominant factor in all areas of life. Do not despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) We begin with small increments of faith to build a larger foundation. (Luke 16:9-10) It begins by believing that Jesus is our champion. Our confidence is not in our ability to be faithful or righteous but that He is enough. His Grace sufficient to release His Power no matter how weak or weary that we may become. It all begins by believing. (John 1:49-51) Nathanael believed simply because Jesus told him that he saw him under the fig tree. Jesus told Nathanael that his simple act of believing would produce greater things. What did the man believe? The Word of God. He believed Jesus at His Word.

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

Do you believe? Do you believe wholeheartedly that the Lord is Sovereign and without rival? Is there anyone or anything equal to the Power of God at work in your life today? Before you answer, consider this. Your life should be prospering as your soul does in every way. Isaiah 61 clearly outlines the Power of God at work in us and through us. If my life is not being lived in God’s Power including prosperity, miracles, signs, wonders and exceptional favor, I must eliminate yet another rival. Some of the things that tempt us NOT to trust God are things like the enemy (John 10:1-3; 10:10), His lies tempt us every day. The Word of God is the only thing that will silence the lie of the enemy in our life. We must know the Word of God intimately, personally, and completely to live a successful Christian life. Jesus is the Word of God. We cannot know our Savior and Lord without it. Our flesh wants control of our life or it will die. It makes desperate attempts to challenge God’s Love, Authority and Power in our life as it does not want to submit or surrender to its own crucifixion. (Romans 7) Finally, our feelings. Our relationship with Jesus Christ must become a marriage that decides to hang on and fight for the partnership no matter how we feel on any given day or in any situation. (I Peter 5:7-9) The enemy, like Goliath, is constantly roaring his taunts and accusations at us. God is greater than our feelings. (I John 3:20) We must eliminate all rivals in our life and let Jesus be our Champion. His Sovereign Spirit will take over turning the natural into supernatural and ordinary to extraordinary.

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.

Do you desire Jesus to be your Champion today? To do so requires the elimination of all rivals in our life. We live busy lives in a world that offers many distractions. Comfort is appealing and complacency creates such a place. However, I want to live the life promised in Isaiah 61. My purpose in life is that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord be manifested in my life and overflow to the world around me. I must be disciplined. I cannot allow the things of this world to rival the championship of Jesus in my life. I have a free will. I have the right to choose the amount of my life that is sacrificed, surrendered and submitted to the Almighty. It is all up to me. I choose to run with purpose in every step. How about you? Will you say with me today, “No more rivals, Jesus! All I want is You! You are my Champion!”

Isaiah 30:15 (NLT) This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.

My Personal Account

My Personal Account

James 1:2-3 (AMP) Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].

My husband and I have been on a “business conference” in the Bahamas for almost a week. A luxury resort on hundreds of acres of beautiful beach, lush palms, and opulent settings. There is a suite in one of the buildings called the “Bridge Suite.” It was built for the late Michael Jackson and is offered at a mere “$25,000” per night to those who would like to enjoy its amenities. Walking through the marina on the way to a wonderful dinner with new friends, yachts lined the waterway all lit up in palatial splendor. Some larger than our homes, one couldn’t help but stop to look at the pristine decks fancifully lit floating effortlessly atop the calm waters. Many of these impressive vessels can be chartered for about $1,000,000 a week complete with captain and crew. What a bargain! It is rumored that one of them is currently being chartered by basketball great, Shaquille O’Neal. There is a great deal of wealth here. Earthly wealth evident in costly meals, amenities and casino tables lined with men and women tossing chips worth more than some people earn in a week – gone in a moment without regard.

Strolling through the casino on the way to our room, several associates from the company lined one table. Stopping to talk with them, I noticed that the table had five men with piles of chips and a row of dice. The gentlemen were clearly part of the casino staff and were preparing to open the table. Carefully counting the chips on the table representing the money that would be won and lost this evening. Someone offered me a place at the table and handful of chips to get started but I quickly declined. I have no idea how to play the game and no real interest in gambling. It’s just not my thing. The routine of the staff as they prepared to open the table to the eager “investors” made me consider some things in my own life.

James 1:2 in the New King James Version says, “Count it all joy…” rather than “consider it”. Counting the cost of our life. Counting it all joy. Many people would lose money last night in the casino. It is their goal to keep people at the table until they do. Those who counted the cost ahead of time brought only what they were willing to give up or able to lose gambling. Others may not have been so wise and lost more than they could afford. Our life really is about reconciliation in all of the choices that we make. Knowledge becomes wisdom or at least one would hope so. As I heard the story of the “Bridge Suite”, walked by all the yachts in the dock and even watched people throw away money at the casino – I considered the cost of my life. Jesus Christ considered my life and well being to be priceless as He thought I was to die for. Do I reconcile my life to such a standard? When I count the cost of my life, how important is it? Do I invest my life in worthwhile things or worldly fancies? Do I use common sense and godly wisdom when it comes to how I portion my life? Or do I throw away precious moments and divine opportunities on things that don’t really matter? Oh don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that Christians have to live poor existences barely scraping to get by, but rather we do so anyway because we fail to recognize God’s Full Potential and Purpose in our life.

Luke 14:28-30 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

Have you counted the cost for this new life that is offered in Jesus Christ? Sin kept us from God’s Glorious Standard of Living. Is our lack of faith going to continue to hinder us in our salvation? God didn’t call us to be impoverished but to live in abundance. Wise investors count the cost before beginning a building. They have a plan and work that plan until completion. Coming to Christ may be random, but living in the prosperity of God which is His Ultimate Purpose and Plan for us is a radical choice. There is a huge property here that was built by the Chinese government that now sits vacant. They flew in more than 8,000 workers to build an extravagant property to entice the rich and famous to their resort. However, the low paid workers were not qualified and now the cost to bring the property up to code was more than they were willing to pay and so they abandoned the project. It sits vacant to this day. Coming to Jesus Christ is only the beginning, but if we do not count the cost and invest in a firm foundation called faith our life will not be ready to support the new creation that is coming out of us. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without spiritual investment – one can only yield the natural not the supernatural or sustain it. What do I have to do to successfully count the cost?

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NLT) 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. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

If you have come to know Jesus Christ, there is a new person inside of you straining and striving to get out. There is a new life waiting for you. It is all a gift of God labeled His Plan. It is a future and hope not just for forever, but to be evident in your today. God brought us back to Himself through Jesus to change our life for the better now and today. The process is called reconciliation. It is outlined in Romans 5:10-11. As we begin to take every aspect of our life and compare it to God’s Promise for our life, there will be inconsistencies. As we continue to reconcile those inconsistencies and make them balance out – change begins to happen as God’s Abundance begins to reach us called fulfillment. Without full reconciliation to Jesus Christ, our friendship with God is not complete. Reconciliation will always be defined by our relationship to Jesus Christ.

Matthew 16:25-27 (NLT) If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.

What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? The profit of reconciliation to Jesus Christ is new life, rebirth and resurrection. But there is more to it than just that, when our life is defined by our relationship to Jesus Christ – we will thrive in the natural. Once the value of our soul becomes firmly established in Jesus Christ, the overflow of our life is in proper order. God begins to pour into us because by faith and trust it flows right back out of us. Light is produced that shines in generosity to others in every possible way. Our life secure in the Lord there is no need to focus so heavily on our life now. Trusting God will produce every spiritual blessing and we become complete lacking nothing. Soul satisfaction is the beginning of all prosperity in life.

James 1:4 (AMP) And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.

To be quite practical, I will probably never own a yacht. Not because it is not possible, but because there is no desire to do so. I would like to tour one just to see how it all fits together and how things work on a ship of that magnitude. I do have other dreams and desires that may seem impossible to some people. They are hidden in my heart. I know that one day it is quite likely that they will happen in my life. Not because of any other reason than the fact that my first desire is to reconcile my life to Jesus Christ. Faith is the most important thing in my life. When I begin to feel the burden of struggle, weight of problems and become a bit testy from the trials of life – I remind myself of the great potential hidden within me. If I engage in the process counting the cost of my choices and commitment to Christ and when I choose to participate in the process of reconciliation of ALL my life to Christ, it is then and only then that the potential of my life called purpose and prosperity become more than a possibility. They are the probability in that moment. I must make a faith my foundation, trust my motivation and hope my destination to have the new life that the Lord promises those who find their existence in Him. This is my personal account. To prosper as my soul prospers…

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

Are You Being Sifted?

sifted

Luke 22:31-34 (NLT) “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

My grandmother baked the finest Tollhouse cookies ever created. They literally melted in your mouth. She made them completely from scratch. I tried to replicate her recipe once but mine just weren’t the same. My children prefer those that come in the bright yellow package, marked Tollhouse, yet you break and bake. Of course, they do. They are ready in minutes. You can back them on a whim. There is no recipe to follow or ingredients to gather. One of the secrets to the success of my grandmother’s recipe was the sifting process. She would take the flour and pour it through her old sifter. It was made of tin, weathered by age. It had a little handle on the side with a tiny wooden knob just right for little helpers. I would run the flour through and show grandma. She would say, “Do it again.” I continued to sift the flour, baking soda and salt together over and over again until it finally met her approval. I was not a patient child. I am barely achieving patience in my fifty years of life. Each time she would send me back to sift again, I would head off with a heavy sigh. Mumbling under my breath, not sure what the point was, the flour looked just fine to me. She would take the fruits of my labor and mix it with the carefully creamed butter, sugar and egg dumping in some chocolate chips and pecans. After a good ten minutes or so, she would give me a slightly cooled yet still ooey gooey cookie with some cold milk. Heaven in my mouth, I assure you.

Jesus had already prophesied over Peter that he would be the rock on which the church would be built. His potential was clearly labeled from the start. Yet throughout Peter’s time with the Messiah, it is clear that his faith was struggling a bit and his ability to believe beyond what he could see challenged by all the distractions of life. The night before Jesus would be hoisted up on the Cross, he gathered his disciples together. At the last supper, he told Peter, “Simon, Simon, satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.” Is the enemy sifting you today? Are you feeling the pressure? Is life more specifically your “faith” life a struggle? Do you feel like giving up? Are you confused in your calling? Jesus told Peter, “I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith would not fail.” Sifting is part of the process that the Lord uses to refine our faith while the enemy intends to steal, kill and destroy our potential and purpose in Jesus Christ. It is up to us whether or not we give in to the struggle or learn to strive.

To sift means to separate, examine or question closely. Faith is compared to the size of a mustard seed. No wonder it requires such a rigorous process to be defined and determined. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Therefore, it is imperative in the life of every Christ that sifting occurs. However, our response to such an intrusive is clearly evidence of progress in our life that allows us to see what needs to be disciplined to finish the race and claim our prize. The word “sift” comes from the Old English word “siftan” which means to pass through a sieve. I wonder if this can be compared to the difficult of reaching the Kingdom when Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) Our family has always traveled with four girls including myself. Luggage space was at a premium as the girls wanted to dump their entire closet in the back of the SUV. Many times, they had to rethink, reorganize and repack their clothes, shoes, straighteners and makeup into one bag. They would have to empty the contents considering what they really needed and wanted to take. Sifting in life causes us to empty the contents of our heart and life, examining it closely for one thing – faith. Nothing else is worth taking because nothing else will gain us access into forever. All the other “things” in life are left this side of Heaven.

Job 1:1 (NLT) There was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless – a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.

The very thing that you are going through is the opportunity to sift through the contents of your life and reprioritize. Good people still must go through some things in life because our goal is godliness. Job was a good man. He was blameless in the sight of the Lord living in complete integrity. He feared the Lord and obeyed the Word staying far from evil. Yet, still he lost everything. What makes it even more difficult to understand or comprehend is that it was actually God who recommended his servant to satan that day…

Job 1:6-12 (NLT)  One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

Have you counted the cost for the faith you desire? How you considered your contribution to a new life in Christ? It requires our all. We must be willing to give up this life to save our soul, it sounds good and even looks pretty good on paper until it is required of us in the natural. This is the turning point for many Christians called to the Lord. They cannot leave this world behind so they turn back to this life. God had a plan. He knew exactly what He was doing in Job, through Job and for Job in the process of testing. The only thing Job had to do was to trust the Lord.

I used to talk a good faith talk. I desired to have a faith walk. Continually crying out to the Lord to grow, develop and mature my faith, but never really understanding what might be required of me to do so. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, the Lord asked simply if I trusted Him and I quickly agreed having no idea that a three month treatment plan would turn into a three year battle that would leave me with little left but a mustard seed of faith. It took me a good solid year to decide if I had it in me to continue to seek more faith and trust God more. I was wore torn and battle weary. There was no more of me to give to the good fight of faith. I was empty, depleted and needed Jesus more than ever just to make it through each day. What will it take for your life to come down to faith? How many layers of security must be removed? How many trials and tests to find the relevancy and validity of this tiny seed called faith that we must live by? It really is up to each one of us. Our purpose and calling are never withdrawn. God does not change His Mind about the Plan that He has made for us. We decide if it is the life that we want, need and desire above all things.

Job 41:31-34 (NLT) “Leviathan makes the water boil with its commotion. It stirs the depths like a pot of ointment. The water glistens in its wake, making the sea look white. Nothing on earth is its equal, no other creature so fearless. Of all the creatures, it is the proudest. It is the king of beasts.”

Leviathan is the enemy’s partner. He lurks under our skin and in the recesses of our mind. He is the one who questions every decision or notion to follow Christ. He challenges us with lies and half-truths designed to distract, detour and delay with his prime goal being destruction. Commotion and chaos are not of God. When our life doesn’t make sense according to the Word of God or we begin questioning His Call or even considering giving up the good fight of faith, Leviathan is lurking beneath the surface stirring things up. We are not fighting flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6) We are fighting against evil around us and pride within us. The world produces a craving and desire for physical pleasure, wanting everything we see and pride that is in our achievements and possessions. (I John 2:16) Peter thought that he was ready to die for Jesus but the truth was that he had not yet died to self. The moment one decides to give their all to Jesus – our flesh immediately fights back. The real struggle begins because to give everything to Him requires total crucifixion of our flesh. My old self must be crucified with Christ and only that birthed of His Spirit, our new life, must be allowed to live. (Galatians 2:20) To live for Jesus is to trust in the Son of God who loves me more than myself. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith must be refined and tested until all of the impurity marked by self is removed and Christ is allowed to rule and reign in me so that every day and every choice is subject to the Cross, His Divine Plan and Perfect Will. Satan is the author of confusion and the father of all lies. He will make quitting seem like the right thing to do, giving up like surrender when it is not, and the enemy hates what God is doing in us and through us and will stop at nothing to sideline us to steal our victory.

Job 42:10-12 (NLT) When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring. So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.

The Lord had a plan including a future and hope for Job. I read recently that the Book of Job is really an account of one man and his fight against pride. Pride is the exaltation of self above God put quite simply. Pride is in control when we stop trusting God and decide to do it. The times when God’s Way seems too hard or challenging so instead partial obedience seems to be a better route. We are conflicted. In such a state, we cannot serve both masters. Partial obedience is actually disobedience. The enemy stirs the water of our life with commotion fills us with confusion and suddenly the vortex of stress and pressure quickly overtakes us. Ready to give up or give in – suddenly the price to follow Christ becomes more than anyone is willing to pay. We have exactly what we need to give our all to Jesus because we are all that He desires. The question is really “Am I willing to?” Am I willing to give up my way completely? Am I willing to give up this life for forever? Am I really willing to trust the Lord? Friend, the enemy is out to sift you like wheat today. He knows every doubt and insecurity in you. He is well aware of your weakness and hears every complaint you have against God. He is absolutely hell bent on using it all against you. You are in the Hand of God and he cannot come near you unless God allows it. God promises to take every detail of our life and make something good out of it for His Glory. Our part in that is simple – trust. Do we trust Him enough to stop struggling and begin striving for the prize again? Or maybe for the first time ever? There is a hidden blessing far greater than worldly wealth waiting for those who do. It is called faith and confident hope.

Zechariah 13:7-8 (NLT) “Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die,” says the Lord. “But one-third will be left in the land. I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Why sift flour? Sifted flour is lighter. It blends with other ingredients to form a consistent batter without all the lumps and bumps. It rises better when baking as well. Removing all impurity, it refines the flour to do its job and fulfill its purpose. The enemy uses sifting as a means to destroy God’s People. But the Lord uses it to rid our life of everything hindering us from fulfillment and full satisfaction in life. The struggle is real. We must contend with difficulty. There is a real adversary to our new life in Christ. It will take violence to advance into the Kingdom. When we decide to surrender to the sifting process, and allow God to fully examine our heart and life removing every impurity, casting down every thought contrary to His Word, Will and Way so that we can run without the extra weight of sin or even ignorance – it is then that our struggle becomes striving. Striving is to exert our self vigorously in that which is desired. If that is faith, then giving up on the good fight is not an option. It means rather than fighting for compromise, we try harder to be disciplined and committed to Jesus Christ. It is to make strenuous efforts toward the goal and not focusing on our weakness, problems or feelings anymore. It is to define our purpose in God as valuable and worth the price of self. In Zechariah 8 – God talks about a “remnant”. I believe that this verse in Zechariah 13 sums up the process by which His Remnant is revealed. They are tested. They are tried and most of them give up or fall away in the effort. Those that choose to submit to this process called sifting or refinement and pass the test by faith and trust will be the remnant of God. I do not want my faith to fail me. I desire nothing more than to live in confident hope. I want God’s Will, His Word and His Way to be my every moment. I want to be that person. I want Him to be MY God!

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

 

A Balanced Life

a-balanced-life

James 2:17-18 (NLT) So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

Balance is a place that I strive for and tend to fall short. I feel like I am always busy…too busy. Looking back over my life of more than fifty years, I see the places where unimportant tasks and trivial duties took the place of time better spent in different ways. Wisdom is the product of applying new knowledge and greater understanding in life. This is not easy to come by and therefore the Word of God describes it as worth more than precious metals and stones. Time stops for no one. Each tick of the clock is a second of our life that is gone forever now becoming history. Did I use it well? Do I have regrets? Do I wish I did things differently? We all have moments and seasons wasted on lesser things – immediate gratification is highly promoted in the world in which we live. Supply and demand is the current that overtakes us. The very thing purchased yesterday at such a great price depreciates in our hands the moment it is marked “sold”. My desire is balance. I am tired of being distracted with busyness. I am motivated. I am a hard worker. I am disciplined in many areas of life. It comes with age and experience for most. I have fallen many times. I have failed more than I have succeeded. However, in my heart today, I believe that the overwhelming overcoming faith that I am after will be achieved in this place called balance. The rest entered in by those who choose to be faithful and fruitful. It is an intentional place of trusting God enough to rest in our duties of life and pursue His Kingdom passionately. Not by putting our work ethic and tendencies into the production called church – but to become one with His Presence as His Body the church.

Faith is essential in our life. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith is not only a noun, but its precipitation is a verb. We must produce good deeds from our faith. Trusting God is the definition of active faith. It gives us confidence that just because our activities do not prosper in our hands that it causes our soul and heart to flourish with the Goodness of God. The Holy Spirit does not produce tangible fruit in our heart to nourish our natural body – instead He produces the kind of fruit that prospers our soul instead. When our soul begins to prosper in God – our life will too. Not because of my works but by the faith and trust in God that allows me to release the worries and cares of this life to find rest in His Presence and share the Glory of His Kingdom.

“I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” Many people take this and turns it into I have to “work” for God in the sense of filling their schedule with work and church all the time. This is not the case at all. I will show you my faith by my good deeds. Let’s take a moment for an attitude check. How’s your attitude? Is your attitude like a gloriously delivered fruit basket filled with all the offerings of the Holy Spirit? Do people leave encouraged at speaking to you? Do they want what you have? Or run like it might be contagious? What about your activity? Busyness is an excuse given by those who have misspent their time and now have regrets. Everyone has the same amount of time in any given day. It is up to me how I use the 24 hours, 1440 minutes, and 86,400 seconds in a single day. If I am not satisfied and content, it is my own fault. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. I am the master of my life. I choose where I plant it, what I cultivate in it, and the harvest from it. God has given me the seed. I must sow it. The problem is that I cannot decide where to plant, what to sow, or when to wait for the harvest. My faith is not demonstrated in my ability to work hard, be disciplined or even in earthly success. My faith is only evident when I trust the Lord no matter my condition, circumstance or situation. It is the steadfast, confident hope that no matter what Jesus is enough.

James 2:21-22 (NLT) Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 

Faith when planted properly should cause our natural life and spiritual life to become one. We achieve balance in our life by faith in God that permeates every area of it. Diversified living creates a divided heart given to too many things and mastering none. The consummation of the holy inhabitation of the Spirit in my life should be evident in every attitude and action that I take. My works should be evident of my relationship to Jesus Christ. Everything I do should resonate absolute and total trust that God is my Father who provides and protects me. My actions complete my faith. My actions will change only if the knowledge that I live by becomes wisdom found in God’s Word, His Will and His Way. Jesus Christ is the Word of God wrapped in flesh who came as a Living Love Letter from God inviting me home. He promises all that belongs to Him will be my inheritance if I just come back to Him. This must be a wholehearted endeavor. God has big plans for my life. He offers good, future and hope. They are mind for the asking. I will have them if only I seek Him with my whole heart by faith and learning to trust Him more. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)  As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I will be the first to admit that I identify completely with Martha. I understand what motivates her and just how she ticks. I am task oriented and responsibility driven. I used to think if I didn’t do it that it wasn’t going to get done. I used to judge those who weren’t busy, stressed out and overloaded thinking them of lazy and unmotivated. It took a tragic turn in life for me to understand that my existence is not necessary to the world in which I live. It will keep going whether I am here or not. Time stops for no one.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, an elaborate schedule to alternate his care among family. It would be three months of every day treatment. I couldn’t leave my job. I had a career. I was responsible for three departments. It was our busiest time of the year. They needed me. You may want to avert your eyes because my pride is showing as I tell you of what a self-absorbed person I had become. How could I just stop working for three months? For two weeks, I wrestled to incorporate taking care of our son with my job thinking that is what any responsible employee would do. Or so I thought… when my son got out of the car at the hospital after two weeks of packing up his things and withdrawing from school – I believe that the Lord removed the veil from my eyes. I could see the shadow of death surrounding our son. Everything changed in that single moment. I called my boss that very moment. I am sorry I cannot leave my child. I am going to stand by him. I am sorry and I will do what I can to help long distance but this is where I need to be, I hope you understand. My passion and drive to succeed came colliding with the reality of death in a moment. Not just that which loomed so near, but the fact that tomorrow is not promised and I was wasting precious time. When our battle was over and our son rallied in the victory of remission, I ended up leaving my former career to take a much more laid back position. Work doesn’t come home with me any longer. It does not lay a trap of busyness. I work. I live. I play. I worship in all three because my heart and mind are finally free. What has you all tensed up? What steals precious moments from your family or even the Lord? Hey Martha, I think the Lord is calling to you – what will your heart say?

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

Balance can only be achieved by proper prioritization. There is no doubt that God wants us to be hard workers. In fact, many passages in Proverbs point to the many benefits of hard work. Such as monetary wealthy (10:4, 13:11); plentiful provision (12:11, 28:19); rewards (12:14); promotion (12:24); and prosperity (13:4, 21:5). All these things can be produced by being a hard worker. If we apply the simple truths of the Bible to our lives, we will prosper in our natural life. However, to prosper in our soul requires balancing our life of work with our life of worship. When busyness overtakes us the balance is interrupted. The demands of this world creates distractions and diversions that derail faith in exchange for pride quickly and without warning. We adopt the mentality “if I don’t do it, who will?” God says, “I will because I AM.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11-12 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.

The place of busyness that produces good things in life is also the point when life begins to feel meaningless. Busyness makes us feel vital and purposeful but if the things we do with our hands is not reminiscent of the Jesus who lives in our heart. They will quickly be overtaken. (Matthew 6:19-21) Don’t get all holier-than-thou on me either. Christians are the worst. We profess to believe by grace we are saved and then kill ourselves serving in the local church. The program and production of church becomes overtaken by pride. It inhibits worship. It allows religiosity to choke out new growth. We must find the balance of Spirit and Truth to connect with the eternity in our heart in order to achieve godly purpose that leads to total and complete fulfillment and satisfaction in Jesus Christ. This is the point when I begin to decrease and He increases in and through my life. When I no longer care about the packing out the moments of my life but connecting with the Lord in each moment.

The work of my hands alone cannot produce the life God has promised me. I must seek Him wholeheartedly or else risk finding no meaning in living. No matter how successfully I become working, it is meaningless if Jesus Christ is not the very essence in all things. (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19) I can work hard my whole life. I can build a good inheritance for our kids. Everything that I acquire will belong to someone else the day that I die. (Ecclesiastes 2:21-24) Every good thing have is a Gift from God. I must always remember that. Nothing I do will every produce His Goodness, Grace or Glory in my life. It is His Gift to me no matter how unworthy I may feel and there is nothing that I can do to earn it. The only thing I have of worth is eternity. Will it be enough to prosper with God in His Kingdom? Will the seeds I plant in life yield a harvest of believers? See the fruit of my life will not be evaluated by stuff even that which I generously give away. It will be amount of faith that I have when I meet the Lord. Will it be enough?

John 21:6-8 (NLT) Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. 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.

His invitation so simple. Come and follow me. He met them right where they were. They stopped fishing left their careers, homes and families to follow Jesus. However, through the course of His Ministry it became clear that they really did not have a clear perspective on all that it meant. Peter was passionate and impulsive. Always the first jump in and the first who wanted back out. He fumbled with this thing called faith and exactly what it meant. He even went so far to deny the Messiah just the day before that he had promised to die for. So feeling defeated and deeming all a failure, he went back to his career. However, although his life looked the same, his heart had change. Faith had been planted and cultivated in Him. His pride crucified with Christ. All Peter wanted was Jesus. When the Lord showed up on the beach that day, his man was ready and knew exactly what to do. He jumped over the boat and swam to Jesus. He didn’t care about the net-breaking wealthy haul of fish that would supply his earthly need. He knew Jesus was all that he needed and would not be stopped making his way to the Lord. I believe that through the trials, temptations, tests, and even tragedies in life – the Lord uses them to remove those things that keep us from the rich, satisfying life that He died for us to have. It doesn’t look like worldly success. It does not come with the pressure but peace found in the Presence of God. It doesn’t require us to always be so busy. It means knowing when to stop and rest. It recognizes the still, small voice when He calls and responds immediately. There is no distance too far when it is Jesus who we are after. There is no other thing in this world that gives us fulfillment other than faith. Faith is worthless until it is completed by Christ. We plant it, others water it, but only God can increase it in our heart so it overtakes every other attitude and action in life.

It is time to inspect the nets of our life like any good fishermen would. The things that clog our net keep the fisher from being captured. We are to be fishers of men. If our life is stressed out, filled with fear, doubt and anxiety it will be all men for themselves. That is not the life you are called to. You have the Mind of Jesus Christ. He has given you the power to overcome. You are more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ. Fear robs us of such things. Faith binds them to every detail of our life. It is time to check out to-do list and mark some things off. It is time to reprioritize it. Number one must always be time spent with Jesus. Don’t let busyness disrupt the balance of your life. Set your plumb line to vertical and build your foundation of faith around it. Prosperity begins in the soul and overflows in our life.

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

The Warrior

knight wearing armor and holding two-handed sword

Joel 3:9-11 (NLT) Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors. Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley.” And now, O Lord, call out your warriors!

“God doesn’t give the hardest battles to His Toughest Soldiers, He creates the toughest soldiers through life’s hardest battles.” I believe this is absolutely true. Soldiers are developed in training, but warriors are produced in battle. This is contrary to the popular quote, “God gives His Hardest Battles to His Strongest Soldiers.” Forget this idea. Erase it from your brain. This is simply not true. Close but not quite. God has placed eternity in every human heart. It is our purpose in life to secure the Kingdom and arrive at our destination. It will be a fight to the finish to hang on to our faith and secure confident hope. The enemy is real. He is waging war on God’s Elect from the moment the first breath is taken. To believe that my strength is my own puts me at a great disadvantage. The potential within me is a tiny seed called faith. The one who hates me wants to take it from me and destroy it thereby killing me.

I do not mean to discourage anyone by these words but rather to encourage you. Those who feel like weaklings and failures of faith are usually the mightiest of all God’s Warriors. My strength comes from the Lord. The Power within me is Jesus Christ. His Spirit has been given me along with the potential to overcome. This great power is manifested in my utter weakness and humility before the Lord. He is the Warrior. (Exodus 15:3) His Name is Yahweh. Psalm 144:1-2 tells us that God trains our hands for war. He gives our fingers skill for the battle. He is also our loving ally and fortress who is the tower of safety, as well as our rescuer. He is my shield who makes the nations submit to me. There is really not much room for me in this picture except through submission and surrender to the Lord in the heat of the battle and midst of war.

2 Timothy 2:4-7 (NLT) Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you.” It is important to know what exactly the fight is all about. The enemy is the author of confusion. Many battles in the Old Testament ended abruptly when the enemy camp was thrown into a state of confusion. A military unit is only as strong as the commitment of each soldier to the mission or objection. Each man’s heart set on the same thing. They become so focused on the goal that the danger surrounding them blurs in the mindset of victory. Athletes are known for the same spirit. The battle faced each day is for faith. Will I hold tight to my faith in the Mighty Warrior enough to trust Him in the face of all opposition? Will I overcome in my weakness submitted to His Grace? The only thing worth fighting for on a daily basis is faith. This is the act of endurance that allows us to reach the end of this life and receive victorious redemption through Jesus Christ. “I fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”

“Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life.” This is probably our biggest distraction. We get caught up in pointless pursuits rather than purposeful practice. We are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world. We wage war on the unseen world, against the mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) Know your enemy today. It is not the people in life who oppose you but the enemy who uses whatever means necessary to secure your defeat.

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 Christ overcame the world. “It is finished” meant it was finished. The battle over the war won for us. Now, we fight to believe it. To believe that the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ secured a place for us in His Kingdom so now we are Sons and Daughters of God. The family of unity formed by the Body of Christ binds us as God’s Army ready to fight until death for our faith. Do you believe? Jesus gave us His Spirit to help our unbelief. He knows the battles we face, the struggles of life, the heartache involved and exactly what is needed to overcome. He offers it to us in the form of His Spirit who trains us for the war of life.

John 14:16-18 (NLT) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

Jesus promised to send down His Spirit to us. When He said, “It is finished” with His Last Breath on earth – He did just that releasing His Spirit to all mankind. Now we have an Advocate who teaches us and trains those who are willing to become mighty warriors of the Lord. Not every soldier is a warrior. In 2 Samuel 24, there was a census that noted over a million capable warriors, yet in 2 Samuel 23, only 37 make the list of the mighty men. The Presence of the Holy Spirit within us empowers us to be good soldiers and fight for our faith. It is the total development of that soldier through successful engagements that make mighty warriors. We all have such potential but only few will answer the call to grow from simple soldiers to mighty warriors.

In Joel 3, warriors are called forth. Let’s go back a chapter to Joel 2. Who do we find? The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all people. Jesus has given us His Spirit with the intent of intensifying our faith, growing our confidence in God that becomes courage. The Spirit becomes our sword in the heat of battle. His Word our weapon. Faith is the shield that keeps us safe when the enemy attacks with all his fiery darts, lies and betrayal. It keeps us focused from distractions and busyness. We all have the potential to become mighty warriors but must be willing to fight for our faith to become one.

Judges 6:11-13 (NLT) Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

The Lord found Gideon hiding in a wine press threshing wheat so the enemy would not take it. He greeted Gideon, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you?” I imagine Gideon probably sarcastically chuckled a bit like Sarah’s laugh at the thought of pregnancy at 99. My current condition will never limit God’s Potential in my life unless I abandon faith. Faith makes every impossibility potential in my life. Gideon was ripe for productivity. He was about to advance from soldier to warrior even though he did not see it, feel like it, or even believe it. God called Gideon who He created Him to be not who He was.

Too often our circumstances and current condition are the thermometer of our faith rather than basing our life outcomes on the Word of God by faith. No soldier enters a battle or athlete a competition intent on losing. Faith is the mindset that in complete submission to Jesus Christ that we overcome every single time that leads us to victory. Doubt means I believe losing is an option. It implies that the Power of Christ within me is not enough. Confident hope produces courage that no matter what happens my victory is secure in the Lord both now and forever. It is not prideful, boastful or cocky just plain good old confidence that Christ is enough.

Gideon was a man. He was human. He asked the angel of the Lord to paraphrase, if I am so “mighty” why am I hiding in a winepress cowering in fear? Why is this happening to me if I have the Favor of God?” Why is life so hard? This life is temporary. The Kingdom is eternal. The Kingdom is taken by force. You must fight for your faith every day in order to enter the Kingdom. Your faith and confident hope becomes the light that leads other to victory. No solider becomes a warrior without acts of engagement and forays on the battlefield. To become a warrior means you must fight the war…and win. Why is this so important? “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive.”

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.

When sharing the wonderful testimony of our son’s victory over cancer thanks be to God, many people say, “I don’t know how you did it” or “I couldn’t have made it through like you”. I immediately stop them. When the cancer diagnosis came it wasn’t the result of a questionnaire given us the choice to opt out of the battle. No it was satan’s best attempt to kill our son and the potential within him. With four relapses, each one threw away every bit of my self-confidence. The thought that I had the power to protect and save my own children destroyed my confidence as a mother. There was little of me left by the time – we entered the realm called hope. But it was there when God’s Grace finally became enough for me that I discovered I am not the strong one at all. My faith is the strength of my life. Faith in Jesus Christ that allows Him to take over when I cannot take another step, breathe another breath, do another thing or hold all the pieces of my broken heart. It is in that very moment that I discover Jesus is all that I need. It is through these times that soldiers become warriors not the other way around. I thought I was strong and self-sufficient along with being faithful. Total surrender to the Power of God is claimed in our absolute weakness apart from Him. This is the potential of the warrior hidden within. When against all odds, our response to the war cry of the enemy is that Christ is enough to overcome and claim victory. To fight for our faith above all other things. To advance the Kingdom at all costs. To care less about our life and more about eternal life.

Nothing can separate you from the Love of God today. He is our overwhelming victory. To engage this life in Christ will create a victorious lifestyle that makes you a warrior rather than just a well-trained soldier. These are the ones who thwart the enemy at every turn. The ones who race out to face the giant. The ones who against all odds persevere not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of the Living God within them. Are you a soldier or a warrior today? You can choose to advance anything you want to by faith. The Lord is calling His Warriors as He readies His Return. Will you answer the call?

Isaiah 13:2-3 (NLT) “Raise a signal flag on a bare hilltop. Call up an army against Babylon. Wave your hand to encourage them as they march into the palaces of the high and mighty. I, the Lord, have dedicated these soldiers for this task. Yes, I have called mighty warriors to express my anger, and they will rejoice when I am exalted.”

 

Joy of Obedience

joy-of-obedience

Psalm 119:1-3 (NLT) Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.

Our oldest son was a challenging kid. High energy and very impulsive, he was a handful to say the least. He loved to find the line and cross it. He struggled with obedience and the household rules always intent on overstepping boundaries. When he entered high school, he joined the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) which was offered as a course. I really didn’t think too much of it as he had always been interested in history and military. His reading collection demonstrated his interest and his choice of programs made it clear that such things were fascinating to him. My father is a Vietnam veteran so he also engaged him as well in things of that nature. I did not link his interest to his purpose until he came to us his junior year to express interest in enlistment. Thank God for the grace given to us as parents. It seems that wisdom comes with age so the first kids produce it while the younger children benefit from it. I honestly laughed.

When our boy took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, he scored off the charts. On his first time, cold, his score was impressive enough to earn the attention of recruiters. Even though I knew he had done exceptional on the test, enlistment was a total commitment. He felt like this was his purpose in life to defend his country and the people in it while upholding the constitution. Please understand it was never my intention to dash his dream, but at this point, he was barely making it through his school. Not only that, our buddy had a problem with authority. He struggled with basic obedience such as making his bed. He ignored house rules and curfew, but how expressed a deep heartfelt desire to become a soldier who must respect authority and become radically obedient. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. He did go on to join the military and still serves in the National Guard today. He has also joined the brotherhood of law enforcement. I am proud of him. Truthfully, I was proud of him before but now I understand more fully the quality that promotes obedience in life – it is called purpose.

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey His Laws AND search for Him with all their hearts. Jeremiah 29:11-13 eludes to the very same. God has a plan for our life that includes a future (here) and hope (eternity). The catch is that those who desire such an existence and promise must seek Him wholeheartedly. Just as our son had purpose in his heart at a very young age, we all are born with purpose in our heart. God placed it there along with eternity. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) It is in the pursuit of one’s purpose that satisfaction is produced. Here is the catch: “they do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.”

So our son decided that he would enlist and did so his junior year in high school. The Army at that time offered a split option enlistment. He would go to basic training during the summer before his senior year, come home to graduate, and then finish training before immediately being deployed. I was skeptical. I have to admit, but something changed in our kid that summer as his potential started to become his passion. Upon his return, he carried out each task with his heart set on the future. His grades somewhat improved. His character was changing. During a counseling appointment, it was discovered that to graduate he would have to have almost a perfect GPA that semester. School had been a challenge for years. He graduated with just one B on his report card. Purpose releases potential in our life. When we discover our purpose and begin to walk in it our life begins to yield the potential locked away. It is our motivation. It becomes our passion and we pursue it. What is your purpose? What is the promise of God not yet evident in your life? Partial obedience will never allow us to walk with purpose.

Psalm 112:1 (NLT) Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.

God’s Purpose and Plan for my life is different than yours. It is the calling on my life. You have one too. The Body of Christ has many members each one diverse and individual. The human body is evidence of that design. Each part has its own function that keeps our organs working, limbs moving and maintains overall health. If one part of my body becomes diseased or dysfunctional the entire design is handicapped. The purpose God has placed inside of you benefits the Body of Christ and you.

The blessings of obedience are listed in Deuteronomy 28 and Psalm 112 as well as many other places in God’s Word. The most obvious is joy. How is it possible to “delight” in obeying his commands when they challenge us each day? There are benefits to obedience such as provision, protection, prosperity, promotion and many other things detailed in God’s Word. In order to enlist in the Kingdom of God, one must believe that God is good. His Love is unfailing. His Grace enough. His Plan perfect. Hope secured. Faith is required to achieve one’s purpose. Many claim to have it but few will make the conscious choice to walk in it. Those who do will find joy in the face of danger, obstacles, trials and even pain. Purpose gives way to passion that yields our person to Jesus Christ. When I am convinced that God is good and His Way perfect, I will find my purpose in Him along with every promise.

Romans 4:16 (NLT) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.

The promise of God is received by faith. The idea of obedience is overshadowed by ignorance. Obedience is not required. However, those who believe will obey. Why? They believe in the God of Abraham who “brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” If you have faith in God the evidence is obedience. Grace is sufficient in our weakness to release the power of God in us. This occurs not because we choose to willfully sin due to human weakness but because we have strived to obey God’s Word and fallen short due to human weakness. His Grace is sufficient to bridge the gap between my inability and God’s Perfect Plan for my life.

Our faith allows us to hope when there is no reason to hope. To believe based on God’s Word backed by all His Power and Authority so that no matter how things look now I can press on passionately and persistently until purpose and promise come to pass. It makes life worth living. It changes who I am into God created me to be. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. It took his whole life pursing God to find His Purpose, Isaac. God then required Abraham to make a choice. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises…are you?

Psalm 37:18-19 (NLT) Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

No matter what one’s potential in life – if we obey the Lord it will produce His Promise and Prosperity in our life. He gave you that purpose and it is directly linked to our willingness to obey. Hence the psalmist prayer, “Restore to me the joy of salvation and make me willing to obey.” In I Samuel 15:22-23, God had appointed Saul as King of Israel and things were going good. That is until Saul chose partial obedience over willing obedience. What happened? God removed His Ordination and David would become the new king. Why? God views partial disobedience as rebellion. The gray area or middle of the road called compromise is a manmade creation made to make us feel better despite our shortcomings and inability to always do the right thing. Grace is made for those who desire God and yet still fall short. Saul did not obey the Word of the Lord and the Lord told the prophet to tell him, “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 worshipping idols.”

The act of willing obedience to God is connected with one’s ability to have enough faith to trust the Lord. Not when I can make a way, but when there is no way and I still choose to trust and obey God. I Kings 17 tells of a woman and her family in the midst of famine. The prophet comes requesting a meal. Luck would have it she was about to prepare their last meal. There was no more food. She had decided to give up. Elijah did not thwart her plan but told her to go ahead but first…”make a little bread for me…” Obedience. She obeyed. God promised her that if she fed His Servant honoring the Lord with her obedience that there would “always be flour and olive oil left in your containers” to last until rain produced new crops again. She didn’t give much. She gave what she had to the Lord first. Obedience. The Bible says that God was true to His Word and she was well supplied. This was not the end of her story but only the beginning, when her son became sick. He finally died. Elijah came to her. She was obviously hurt and grieving. The prophet took the boy and God returned Him to life. She had faith in God. She trusted the Lord. She obeyed Him fully in the smallest measure so when it came time to trust Him for her son. She had the faith to bring resurrection life to her family. Our obedience to God leads us to everlasting.

1 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.

God created you with purpose. You have far greater potential within you than you will ever express according to your own ability and strength. It is our connection with God through the Blood of Jesus Christ that makes sacrifices unnecessary. Our position as Children of God secure in order to have all God promised – we must simply obey. Willing obedience that understands any other way is rebellion and stubbornness stagnates our purpose within us. There is purpose in every single step taken no matter if it results in good things or bad times because God promises to turn every detail into something for His Glory and our good. Obedience is evidence of burgeoning faith that dares to trust God in each step. To try His Way. Decide to have His Will. To live according to His Word. Not because we have to, but because we want to. Love will always add passion to obedience. When God’s Love consumes every fear, doubt and worry so boldly each day is an exercise of discipline to walk closer to the Lord than ever before. To know that sin separates us from Him so we will work to avoid it. To know that my full potential becomes purpose when connected with the Kingdom is all I need to press, push and pursue Him in each step in each day. Lord, give me a willing heart. I want to be obedient in all things. I don’t want to be disqualified but my promise, potential and purpose fully realized according to Your Will, Your Way and Your Word. In Jesus Name – this is my humble prayer today!

Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT) Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

Dead Seed

dead-seed

Psalm 126:5-6 (NLT) Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

When the messengers of the Lord came to visit Abraham, he was an elderly man. Well past the years of successful producing the sons and daughters promised to him by the Lord. Abraham had faith in the Lord but he was also realistic. He knew his wife was well past her childbearing years as well. He even was so bold to joke with God. “Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is 99 years old?” Abraham even went so far as to give God an out. “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!”

How many times does this happen to us in life? God gives us a promise like a seed in our hand. We sow it by faith into our heart and wait for it. When the wait is too long and everything dies all around it – it is human nature to give up. Abraham was to be the father of many nations but all he had was an illegitimate son. A son born of compromise not trust. In Abraham’s desperation to achieve God’s Promise, He asked God to go back on His Word and change His Mind, His Plan. He might as well have said, “Your Kingdom come, my will be done in Heaven as it is on earth.”

Dead seeds still contain the full potential that God placed in them. There are some religious doctrines that teach of the Perfect Plan of God. This is true. It deviates from the truth when it implies that sin keeps us from every achieving it. God’s Perfect Plan includes the exact amount of grace needed for every dream to come to pass and our expectation to be fully met. Is there a promise in your life that you have given up on? A dead seed buried in the cold dark ground still yet to grow despite careful nurturing.

Genesis 18:9-14 (NLT) “Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked. “She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied. Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’  Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

I must be completely honest. If a messenger of the Lord told me that I would have a baby at 50 years of age, it would probably require a visit to the local behavioral health center. My children are almost grown. Three out of the nest, one will graduate next year and our baby almost in high school. I see the finish line in the distance. I cannot imagine a pregnancy at the age of 99. I don’t even really comprehend breathing at that time. Sarah laughed to herself. Her comments were valid. “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure…” The Lord’s Response is valid. “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” If nothing is impossible for those who believe it seems that the missing element must be faith.

Hebrews 11:11-12 (NLT) It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

Sarah did have a child when she was barren and too old. She believed that God would keep His Promise. Do you? What is that thing that you were once so confident would happen that is now a dead dream buried in a wasteland? What is the promise that you have given up on? The seed is not dead. It requires only one thing to grow into the Promise of God. It’s called faith. Faith is the resurrection power that brings dead things to life. One man who was as good as dead produced a nation with so many people that there is no way to count them. Imagine the potential of your seemingly dead but only dormant seed.

Hebrews 11:17-19 (NLT) It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

Faith is acquired through sacrifice. The sacrificial seed is the hardest to press into the soil and leave in God’s Hands. For many years, I believed that I had faith in God. There were many instances when I tried a little faith here and there. It worked every time. But I was only offering God my faith in pieces. There is a real difference between seeds of sacrifice and seeds of offering. Offerings to God are what we choose to give. Sacrifice is to give Jesus Christ our all. I prayed for more faith. I sang all the worship songs about it. I prayed for it. I pursued it. Oh boy did I find it!

Our life was prospering in just about every way possible. The Favor of God evident in every tangible way and spiritually as well. I felt so blessed. I was thankful. We were obediently following Christ in every conceivable way. Life was good. When our son fell ill, I really didn’t think too much about it. He was a college student in the cesspool called university living. However, as he continued to have symptoms I became concerned. It was time to get in mom mode and get involved in his adult life, the medical team needed a little motivation. This would be the turning point of the “good life”. Within 24 hours, he was diagnosed with Stage III – IV cancer.

The night of his diagnosis, I locked myself in a filthy bathroom to go to war for my son. I charged into the Presence of God demanding an answer for such an intrusion and requested a cure. I spouted every word contrary to the attack on his body and reminded God of His Promises for us. I did everything I knew to do until I could barely whisper. God asked just one thing of me, “Do you trust me?” Of course, I did. Where had He been for the last decade of my life? Didn’t He recognize all the changes in our life? Didn’t He consider our commitment to Him? Didn’t He know that I loved Him? Why would He ask such a question? He whispered in that still small voice, “Lori, do you trust me?” “Yes Lord, I do!” He gave me a promise that night that “our son would live and not die.”

When God speaks – it is loud and clear. Through the test and trials of life, it is often human nature to entertain the other voices around us more than the still small voice inside of us. We get caught up in conversation and tangled in useless lies the enemy uses to call us from faith to doubt and disbelief. When the first course of treatment seemed to work, celebration broke out but was short-lived. By the third relapse, things took a turn. The doctors told us that he had entered the realm of hope. They were uncertain if they could cure our son with chemotherapy.

The cancer cells in his body were smart. When chemotherapy was introduced, they would go into a state of dormancy. As soon as chemo cleared his system, they would come raging back stronger and faster than ever before. The cancer formed when he contracted the Epstein-Barre virus but his immune system did not detect it. It formed a tumor. The tumor released cells into his system. These are not dumb cells but can decipher DNA. If one of my children has a virus and it spreads to another family member – such as a sibling – the symptoms and duration are generally worse because the virus picked up on the genetic code and improved its attack. Viruses mutate from carrier to carrier. With this in mind, with each dormancy, his cancer grew stronger as it was learning his DNA growing stronger and more resistant each time.

It was ultimately determined that our last chance would be a bone marrow transplant. This procedure is life threatening to a human who has never had chemotherapy. With each round received prior to transplant, it is more and more dangerous. When our son was finally approved for treatment, he had received five rounds of extensive chemotherapy. The clinical studies only showed a handful of people who survived the transplant. The choice was die from cancer or take the monumental risk of death by transplant to be one of the 2% who survived. I turned to Abraham. I had to put my son on the altar and trust the Lord to save Him. I would have been a fool not to consider the fact that God very well could have taken him, too.

This is when faith is evaluated on the most granular level. When there is nothing else to put our hope in but the Lord. When faith is the only solution offered to the test and trail before us. Faith is never accomplished standing on the dock waiting on the Lord, but when He says come jumping in over our head. I would have never offered my son or any one of my children or even my husband to the Lord willingly. I had to do it faithfully.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The most important factor in sowing and reaping supernaturally is faith. I cannot force the Hand of God or break the Heart of God to bend or shape Him to my will. I must trust Him. I must shove that thing I want to hang on the most into the ground and wait for Him to do the rest. Faith relinquishes control of our life, body, mind, will and emotions to the Power of God to mold it and shape it according to His Plan. Trusting that He is good. His Word is true. His Love is constant. His Grace is sufficient. His Power complete. The price of that is the seed called self. I must plant myself in Jesus Christ. Pride forfeited and heart completely broken is when His Power works the best.

Romans 4:16-24 (NLT)  So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. 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. 

Have you done everything you know to do to make your dream a reality? Have you tired just about everything to make God’s Promise a reality? Are you tired? Discouraged? Just about to give up? Your dream is not dead. It is dormant. It is waiting for you to introduce faith. God will take every seed entrusted to Him wrapped in faith and carried by confident trust to Him and make to grow into the Promise that He gave you. His Word says so. Abraham and Sarah testify to it. You cannot claim faith if you, your hands or ability have anything at all to do with it. Being right is not the same as righteousness. Nothing “I” do, good or bad, changes the productivity of the potential placed inside me by God. His Grace is enough. But until I realize that His Power works in weakness dreams will lie dormant and all hope seems lost. The moment I decide to entrust my life to Jesus Christ…all of it… and wrap every seed planted in my life in faith…God’s Work begins to produce the good things and great visions that He promised. How’s your faith today? If you think you can still do something to make your dream a reality, you’re not quite there yet? It is the realization that apart from Jesus I can do nothing that His Power is perfected in us. No seed is ever wasted. This is according to God’s Promise in Romans 8:28 that says He makes good of every detail of our life. Those missed opportunities are actually scheduled for the future when faith takes over. Those dead dreams are vivid reality when His Grace is enough. Nothing is wasting when faith becomes our foundation.

Romans 3:22 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

 

 

Worth the Wait

worth-the-wait

Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. 

The most difficult part of sowing and reaping is the inactivity of waiting. The seed is planted safely under fertile soil and watered sufficiently. Now what do I do until I see its potential? I must wait. Waiting takes a little thing called patience which I was not born with. One of my earliest recollections is my grandmother lovingly but firmly telling me, “Lori Lynn, you must learn to be patient.” However, historically in the church I was told whatever you do for the love of all that is holy DO NOT pray for patience. So where do I find this little genetic insufficiency called patience. Waiting. Waiting. And waiting some more. I have tried my whole life to do whatever possible to avoid waiting one moment longer than absolutely necessary. God has jokes, friend. If I pick a line at the grocery store, I can guarantee you it is behind the world’s most famous coupon queen or the cashier is slower than Christmas. Do not follow me, I am prone to extended wait times. I prefer ordering lunch from the sandwich that boasts being “freaky fast” and lives up to its name. God has prescribed the perfect plan for me and it has included long arduous periods of waiting. But, I can attest to one thing – each time I have waited for the Lord, it has been worth the wait.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT) For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

Forgive me, if this sound as though I am stating the obvious but indulge me for just a few minute. Ecclesiastes 3:1 is important. It is the purpose of waiting. Everything has a season. Not some things, but all things. This is referenced in two places. Psalm 139:16 tells us that during the Creation process as God packed us with potential that He prerecorded every moment of our life. Every year, every month, every day, every hour right down to this very minute. Jeremiah 29:11 which tells us that God has a plan for us including a future and a hope. Future is not today but later. Tie it all together with the principle that God does not lie or change His Mind, and that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever – it solidifies the truth that EVERYTHING has a season.

There is a time for every activity under Heaven. Again the word “every” is used. There is not a moment of a person’s natural existence that does not have the potential to yield His Purpose and His Promises in our life. Seeds of potential that must be pressed in the broken and fertile heart to produce those things that faith has promised in our life. If Romans 8:28 and Psalm 138:8 are correct, and they absolutely are, it means every moment of our life can yield God’s Promises and Abundant Blessings. Every detail of our life can be made into something good no matter how terrible or tragic. God is always working to perfect those things that concern us. Everything good or bad in our life can be made right through our relationship with Jesus Christ.

The seasons of life are carefully listed in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8, while some are joyous others can be quite devastating. We celebrate life but mourn death. We complain about planting but love to reap the harvest. Killing is tragic but healing is a miracle. Tearing down is tough but building up quite rewarding. Crying is soulful pain that makes us all puffy and snotty, but doesn’t laughter produce the same tears sometimes. Nobody likes the grieving process. We all love to dance even if alone when nobody is watching. Who doesn’t love a hug? Parting is such sweet sorrow. There are times to hang on and times to let go. There are times to press in and times we give up. Things kept while others discarded as unwanted, unnecessary or not beneficial. Time to tear and time to mend. A time for conversation and long separations of silence. There is good and evil and so therefore love and hate. Finally, the Latin adage of “Si vis pacem, para bellum” or if you want peace, prepare for war. The Lord went to all the trouble to touch on every season of human life. God has a plan. It is a good one with a future and hope. It will always require waiting.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

In every detail of our life, God has placed a promise. God will make everything beautiful for its own time. The seeds of potential the Lord placed in us all have a set season or time for which they are entrusted. The attempt to harvest any seed prematurely will abort the potential within it. A baby born too soon, a harvest cut before it is ripe, and even a promise entrusted to God but snatched from His Hands impatiently because there is no faith to secure it. Hope is the anchor of our soul but it is not based on anything that can be seen with the human eye. It is help secure by one’s ability to trust God at His Word. The good seed planted in our heart. It is called eternity. It is based on forever and a day.

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

Faith is defined in worldly terms as confidence and trust that is not based on proof. Tangible evidence is absent when faith is applied. Faith comes from the Latin root word “fidem” which means “to trust.” The only way to engage in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is by faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith is referred to as a mustard seed. The smallest of seeds with the largest potential. Faith demonstrates that hope is a reality in our life. It is evidence of our belief in the unseen God to the point of entrusting our life and future to Him. Hope is to look forward to (expect or anticipate) with reasonable confidence. To believe and again to trust.

In a world of broken promises, hearts and dreams, trust is a tough commodity. It is not harvested easily from our very human heart. Yet, it is in brokenness that the promise is received. If life was great all the time and our future secure – who needs a Savior? Why make Jesus Lord? Well, life is hard. Love is cold. The future uncertain. We need a Savior because sin has devastated the life that He purposed for the people who God calls His Special Treasure. Jesus died so that our faith could harvest hope in our life. Many people believe in a God or higher power, but few truly will commit their life by faith in the Truth that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I will not engage in such conversation. The need for a god comes from the eternity placed in each heart. Everyone searches for meaning and purpose in life based on this motivation. If my faith becomes a tree of life for me, it will become an attractive resting place for others. They will want what I have. What I have is not a law by which I cannot abide, but a book packed with promise and potential that by faith, hope and confidence trust – the Lord will produce in my life. It takes time.

Christian character is marked by three distinct qualities – faith, hope and love. The Lord is quick to point out that the greatest of these is love. Love for the Lord produced in our life gives us a distaste for sin. Why? Taste and see that the Lord is good. It is not based on my ability not to sin but avoidance of sin because I love Jesus. Christian character is not defined by doctrine or religious beliefs. This is why I do not argue with people about religious choice or how they choose to worship. No one could convince me. It is the moment in time when all there is to make the next breath possible is faith no matter how small, hope no matter how distant, and His Love that is not tangible yet perfect when something grows in me just a little. It is called confidence. Trust yields confidence in our Christian character. Trust is only possible by faith. Faith in its smallest form yields great potential.

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. 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.

The greatest test of my faith by far so far has been our son’s battle with cancer. The moment when his future became negotiable in this life and solely dependent on the Lord. Truth is that life is brief and uncertain no matter how hard one tries to secure it. If only each person could see the brevity of life and let it change our priorities each day. When I came to the throne boldly, angrily, devastated and broken before my God, I recanted the commitment of my life to Him demonstrated by the things done, ways served, and daily acts of devotion. The words fell on the hard cement floor accompanying the pieces of my broken heart. Like Elijah, it was after my rant, tirade, frustration and fear emptied and silence surrounded me that I heard the Voice of the Lord. It was calm and quiet just as described, the still small voice asked, “Do you trust me?” “Of course, I do!” Thinking back, I almost hurled them back insulted by the fact that clearly God did not listen to my previous rant. Chest heaving and tears flowing, the God of the Universe asked me again, “Do you trust me?” Completely broken before my Lord, I whispered, “Yes God, I trust you!” In that moment, He said, “Your son will live and not die.” This was not the end of the season, but only the beginning. It would take five years for God’s Word to come to pass.

Endurance develops strength of character. Christian character is faith, hope and love. Human expectation causes us to think that our faith is vain and trust misplaced when God’s Plan is not our way, our will, and in our timeframe. The one who endures to the end with faith, hope and love is saved. I added those three things to keep us focused on what we are after. If my faith is for today is not faith at all. If my hope is anything other than what I cannot see or do myself it is futile. If my love is conditional or contingent on any tangible quality of life – it’s not true love. Real love. Agape love. God love.

Hope will not lead to disappointment. A farmer cultivates the field, plants his seed in fertile soil, watering and caring for it when there is no sign of harvest. He trusts that something is growing underground based on what kind of seed that he has planted. A farmer believes in the process. It is his belief that allows him to wait and not dig up the harvest while it is seed in the ground. It keeps him from leaving the field when little plants sprout up rather than the harvest that he expected. It allows him peaceful rest knowing that if just waits until it is ready that he will reap what he has sown. He knows his labor is not in vain but that timing is everything. We must be like the farmer. We must be patient. We must learn to wait for God’s Promises to be ready for harvest. It is this confidence that keeps us close to Jesus through the process until the very end. It is the kind of faith and hope that opens the door to the eternity placed in our heart that satisfies our soul.

Jeremiah 29:13-14 (NLT) If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

God’s Plans for our life are always good. Never for disaster. The Lord has given you a future and hope. He has given us a desire for eternity. Forever is secure by seeking just three things wholeheartedly. Faith, hope and love that begin and end in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word made flesh. Those who desire His Kingdom will sow seeds of faith each day. God’s Word is proof of the promises that the Lord guarantees. If the tiny mustard seeds are never planted and given time to grow, how will I ever have confident hope? Hope that keeps me standing. Hope that keeps believing. Hope that endures to the end. Hope that cannot be shaken or moved by the not-so-favorable seasons of life. Hope is expectation. To look forward with reasonable confidence. Faith is only logical when confident hope causes us to trust Him more. The more we learn to trust God the greater our satisfaction, contentment and peace in this life knowing that our future is secure forever. It makes a difference. I cannot give you satisfaction, contentment or peace. I can only share what the Lord is doing in my life. My family was right. With each test of my patience and lesson in waiting – my faith in the Lord has grown into confident hope. To walk by faith and not by sight is a process developed by sowing God’s Word and waiting for it to come to pass and produce the harvest for which it is intended. It takes time. It requires waiting. 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. (James 1:2-4)

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

What are you waiting for today? What is trying your patience? What seems to be taking forever so you are considering striking it from your prayer list? What is impossible? What dream is dying? God’s Purpose for us is that our character be fully developed, perfect and complete so that we need nothing. Satisfaction and contentment are godly traits that demonstrate trust in the Lord not the evidence of life. Are you confident in God’s Word today? Do you believe His Promises? Do you trust Him? Are you willing to wait for Him to make good of all the details and perfect all that concerns you?

God’s Goodness is for now. His Glory is promised by placing all that I am into the person of Jesus Christ. Grace is only sufficient in our weakness. Waiting is not a weak position but the very place when His Power overtakes my life and becomes a harvest in my life. The fruit of His Spirit are not of this world. His Harvest is named love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is what nourishes our soul and strengthens our heart to achieve the future and hope that is offered to those who invest wholeheartedly in pursuing the Lord and His Harvest. Wait for the Lord. It is a requirement as faith and hope make us confident in His Love for us. Believing God’s Word means trusting Him to do exactly what it says, not backing down, giving up, or even complaining about it but waiting patiently until it comes to pass. He promises that everything will be beautiful in its own time. Everything even that thing which is ugly and seems to be dying will produce new life according to its purpose. Nothing is impossible with God! It will be worth the wait!

Psalm 20:4-5 (NLT) May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.

Good Seed

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Matthew 13:37-39 (NLT) Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.

The potential of the harvest is always in the seed. You will reap what you sow in the most basic form yields such a conclusion that whatever the content of the seed speaks to the end result of full development and growth potential. We must plant good seeds in our life. Johnny Chapman aka Johnny Appleseed was an American pioneer who traveled throughout Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and parts of West Virginia planting apple seeds. He did not plant trees but seeds. Not just seeds that would produce a harvest of tasty apples, but he was an American legend known to be kind and generous in many ways. Mr. Chapman was a leader in conservation. He was also a missionary. Johnny Appleseed did not share a harsh message of turn or burn but of love and generosity that would show the Light of God’s Love to many Native Americans. I wonder if Christians today could boast of the same.

What are the seeds sown in our life each day? Are they good seeds? Is there such a thing as bad seed? Well, of course, it is all indicated by the harvest. When Johnny Appleseed planted those seeds across America, he did not just toss them on the ground carelessly moving on to the next without regard. He did not do random planted but produced radical transformation. He planted nurseries that would become orchards. Each nursery surrounded by a fence to keep it safe from livestock and he left the nursery in the care of a neighbor returning once every year or two to check on them. Are we planting good seed and tending it the same?

Genesis 1:27-31 (NLT) So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

Human beings every single one born is created in the Image of God. Sin corrupted the good seed that God created limiting its potential and hindering its prosperity. The purpose which God instilled in you when He created you is not eliminated by sin at all. God created you and oversaw your life come together in your mother’s womb. No matter what the circumstances of your birth, condition of your childhood, or even bad choices made in the maturation process, none of it in any way limited the potential or promise of God built inside of you. The only limitation is sin.

Upon the entrance of humanity, God ordained two things reproduction and full authority. His Purpose for our life is that these two principles are restored to us. It begins with the elimination of sin which sounds so simple but becomes complex. Botanists have broken down the science of the plant reproduction, growth and development down to a cellular level. They have even tried to replicate the process but cannot change the factors only influence the variables. Biologists have reproduced animal life calling them clones. However, no one can reproduce human life any other way than that which was ordained by the Lord. When God create human beings things went from good to very good. If God knew our propensity to sin and rebel, how could He call people given to such “very good”, “special treasure” or even “beloved”? God sees the potential in the seed.

The potential is always in the seed. It is allowed to prosper when the elements needed to be transformed are introduced such as fertile soil, sunlight and water. Yet once committed to the ground, nobody can knows fully the mystery of growth that follows. We know the maturation process but how does it know what to do or how to do it is the burning question. God gives the increase. God knows what He is doing in seeds, animals and more importantly the human heart. Jesus Christ came to break the power of sin, death and the grave. He paid our debt in full so now the full potential of our life is not limited by it. It is by sowing the good seed of God’s Word in our heart consistently and committing our life to spiritual growth that His Full Potential breaks loose and prosperity is our portion. God created abundance for us in His Provision, Protection and Power. We just need to plant good seeds in a fertile heart to receive them.

James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

Jesus is the farmer who plants good seed in us. When Jesus came to be our Savior and become our Lord, it was as a farmer sowing good seed in us. The seed of most potential is called faith. It is by far the smallest seed but should be the most coveted. It is the seed that develops into righteousness with God. Peace is a seed given by the Holy Spirit as He produces the other fruits of God’s Spirit in us including love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This was definitely demonstrated in the life of missionary and nurseryman, Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman. He understood the relevance of the Gospel and importance of relationship as he planted good seeds. He didn’t carelessly toss it to the ground and expect it to grow. He planted nurseries which required tending. He established people who he instructed and entrusted with his gardens. He supplied their needs. He came back to check on them continually.

Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. When coming to Jesus as Savior, He gives us a tiny seed of faith offers us the platform of Himself to plant that seed in to grow deep roots. Many will call Him Savior but few will make Him the Lord of their life. Blessed are the peacemakers is often attributed to external relationships but it begins with Christ. Humbling ourselves before the Cross and remaining in Christ day after day. It is not what we do but the plowing, rending and breaking of our heart day by day allowing seeds of faith to be reproduced in us until greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. What does this mean?

Religion will never produce righteousness. It hinders the growth of spiritual fruit. Human life only produces natural things. The Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. I cannot avoid sin completely. I can attempt to make better choices and change certain habits, but my flesh likes sin whether I want to or not. With this in mind, our faith must grow into a thriving love affair with Jesus greater than our love for the sin, darkness or the world in order for us to produce the seeds of faith for others. We must make peace with God to release our potential. We must make peace with Jesus calling Him Lord to find our Way. We must allow the Holy Spirit to prosper our soul before we can be the sowers supplied by the Lord.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NLT) Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Faith sown richly produces life. As our faith grows, it expands to seed the Kingdom. It is a small seed. The smallest of them all usually hidden at the very bottom of our heart. It is discovered in complete brokenness with the realization I am nothing apart from Jesus Christ. I can do nothing good without Him. I cannot survive if He is not with me. The moment when His Grace becomes enough for us is the time when seed is released to the sower.

Everyone pictures the finish line of faith as a jubilant place. The line freshly painted rather than a line drawn in the sand. It is imagined that the “great cloud of witnesses” are cheering us on but only mockers and naysayers wait to see us fail in the greatest test of all. It is the moment that I know I cannot make it to victory or overcome in my own strength but by the grace of God that His Power is revealed in me. Most do not run through a bright colored tape with crowds and resounding applause but barely crawling on hands and knees to the finish with just enough to get one finger across the line. It is a humbling win to the world but a resounding victory to our soul when God cracks open our heart and releases our full potential that allows His Abundance to be produced by the good seed which has grown just a little more.

Mark 4:26-29 (NLT) Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

Every good seed planted in our life will yield a harvest. It doesn’t matter if it is planted and left behind. In due season, it will yield its harvest. Have you abandoned your field? When the Christian life did not change your current condition, circumstances or situation did you walk away? Did you sow good seed in your children but they became prodigal? Did you give your heart and life to another before God and man but that person changed their mind? You will reap what you sow. It is not contingent on you but completely by the Power of God that there is increase. You plant. Others water but it is God who increases our life. He cannot lie or change His Mind so if you planted faith – it is going to yield its potential.

The Word of God contains good seed. It tells us of our life potential in Jesus Christ. Every single Word in that book can be committed to fertile soil and watered by His Spirit to produce every good thing that is promised. If you are looking for worldly gain though, be warned you must plant in the world. If you love and desire money, then you must invest seed of the same. If you desire a promotion at work, you must invest the hard work and motivation to secure the position. If you desire power in this life, you must sow seeds of drive and determination in the same. But if you want the Kingdom, eternal life and Jesus Christ, it is in the Spirit that one must sow good seed.

I Corinthians 15:36-38 (NLT) What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first.  And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed.

“Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.” (John 3:6) To become one with Jesus Christ means that I must die to self. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. To become one with Him means that I must let my way go. Jesus does not force us to make such a choice but offers us the opportunity. To have all that He promised is to do all that His Word says, this is not something I can do in my flesh or it is religion. It is when I consummate my relationship by allowing faith to be the seed that gives birth to new life in me. Every seed put in the ground must die to its present form to become the potential that is inside. You reap what you sow. Yes! You also reap only as much as you sow!

2 Corinthians 9:6-10 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”  For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Are you sowing good seed? What are you investing in today? We must carefully inspect the seeds of our heart and eliminate those which have little or no potential. Weeding out the ones that will result in nothing good is worth it when the harvest comes. There will always be weeds. (Matthew 13:24-29) The enemy will do his best to choke out God’s Word, His Potential and His Promise for our life. It marks his death sentence. He wants to steal, kill and destroy our faith with seeds of doubt, discouragement, defeat and despair. We overcome by faith. Faith must have time to grow in us to supply the famine or drought that lies ahead. To feed our heart, mind and spirit when the world is intent on starving it. We sow for the next season. It is preparation for the days ahead.

Sow generously. Sow good seed generously.  We must give before receiving. Giving is essential to good planting…God planting. You must constantly take in good seed from God’s Word and through communion and communication with the Lord in order to have anything worth sowing in your life. Too many times the cares of life demand our attention. Busyness sucks every spare second. Other things demand a higher priority as the images seem larger than our God. Faith invested even in the smallest portion yield huge potential. The softest and most desperate cry, “I trust you, Lord” will produce miracles and things greater than you ever imagined. You will reap what you sow. Choose to sow in the Kingdom today and you will harvest Kingdom benefits.

2 Timothy 2:3-7 (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. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

You Reap What You Sow

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Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.’” (Genesis 8:21-22)

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” (Galatians 6:7)

There is a truth perpetuated from Genesis to Galatians of sowing and reaping or planting and harvest. This idea, though a basic concept in the natural, has supernatural potential. If believers would tap in to the importance of this promise of God the Kingdom of God would explode. The world had been wiped clean of humanity all except for Moses and his family. A complete do-over by God with this promise “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race.” This is the promise of amazing grace. No matter how sinfully depraved we are, God will always leave us fertile ground for sowing and reaping. This was a promise to the earth, as well as an eternal promise for our soul. God promised that he would not allow His Anger and Wrath to destroy all living things. This was the promise of salvation yet to come. As long as the earth remains, we are guaranteed prosperity.

Prosperity is growth potential. God has provided the platform to grow things. He has mapped out seasons. He has provided the ground for planting, the sun, the rain and even a harvest. All that is left is the act of sowing. Sowing is sacrifice. It is to commit a seed to the ground, care for it until it becomes a harvest…at least that is what good farmers do. We sow seeds of something in our life every single day. Sometimes diligent in our care and concern to wait for the harvest of our attitude or action and then other times losing hope abandoning well plowed fields to eat from other crops. It is important to evaluate the seeds of our life to determine the harvest. Do not be misled, misinformed, or misguided – what you sow you will reap, what you plant you will harvest always.

“You reap what you sow” is a statement with a negative connotation. When rumors and gossip of another’s misfortune, too many times it is used to describe a life bad choices. Though completely true, it is hissed as a curse against those who are broken, burdened, struggling, failing or falling. As Christians, I have seeds planted in me by God cultivated by His Spirit to give to others when they stumble or fall for the lie of the enemy. Do I share them? When God gave us the promise of seedtime and harvest, I do not believe it was a threat but a promise of salvation, deliverance, mercy and grace. A Savior was coming to be our Sacrifice. Like a seed, He died and was buried in the ground. (I Corinthians 15:36-37) Jesus didn’t stay in the ground and the harvest of salvation made available to us through Resurrection Power now offered to us the same way. God has provided all that is need to prosper us. Where is our seed? Have we planted it well? Do we even know what good seed is? Where to get it? How to farm it? How to wait for it to grow? When to harvest it? We are farmers who sow seeds that will become the Kingdom of God? How are we doing so far?

God was pleased with the sacrifice of Noah. It was in that moment that God ordained sowing and reaping. It is a covenant promise not a conventional tool. It is not a financial concept though it works there too. God was giving us hope. He was preparing the ground for Jesus. He was preparing us for His Arrival. Now the Savior has come, He died for our sin, His Sacrifice acceptable to God now we have been handing the seeds and told to plant – are we planting?

Isaiah 61:3 (NLT) To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Beauty for ashes. Who doesn’t want a beautiful life? The quaint little house with the white picket fence. The perfect family who never quarrels or hits hard times. The sun is always shining and the rain never falls. The bills always paid. The unexpected never knocks. No talk of disease, sickness or death. Wouldn’t it be beautiful? Yes, maybe but only temporarily.

Sin is the root of the imperfection of this world. Let’s just say that hypothetically that an apple was the fruit Eve chose from the Tree of Knowledge that day. God created every living thing with the ability to reproduce. This is the same apple that the seeds of every other apple tree is produced from. Even if we do our best to build the perfect life with the perfect family and perfect home and perfect portfolio – the influence of sin will never ever escape us in this lifetime. To sow in this life is not good ground but temporary provision for a certain death.

A beautiful life is eternal life. The point when we step out of what is to what Jesus promised. The promise is not for this life but the hope that I have in forever with the Lord. No more sin. No more shame. No more darkness only Light. No more sorrow. No more sickness. No more pain. Nothing reminiscent of what sin provided in this life but only the fulfilled promise of God in eternity. This is where sowing becomes the harvest that satisfies the soul. It is the place of completion where nothing is lacked. It means sacrificing this life to have forever.

Everyone wants beauty but do not want to endure the fire for the ashes that it takes. Everyone wants abundance but will we sow seeds sacrificially because that is what it takes. My way will never produce the abundant harvest that I am promised. Sacrifice is not giving what I want or can afford to lose but giving my all. Sacrifice is everything. It means giving up this life to have eternal life. For it is the pursuit of righteousness, our seeds become established as mighty, immovable and great oaks.

I Corinthians 3:6-8 (NLT) I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

God gives us increase. He gives us growth potential. Grace is the power source of productivity in our life and works the same as planting. We have nothing of worth to give outside of Jesus Christ within us. I have been compelled in this New Year to stop sowing worthless seeds and really evaluate the potential of my productivity. Stop focusing on things that don’t really matter and examine my heart make sure it is set on what really matters. Am I sowing the right seed? Am I watering (and waiting) as it changes into that which God has promised and ordained to happen? Am I depending on God to grow, develop and mature it into what HE decided it should be? Am I sowing into this life or eternity?

Looking back over my life, I have had many experiences. My life is blessed. God has prospered our family and we are well cared for. However, the harvest you see is born of seeds planted long ago. I have finally lived long enough to inspect the fruit of my life. I see the things grown from my mistakes and harvested in bad choices. God has managed in His Unconditional Love, Overwhelming Grace and Mighty Power to turn them out for my good. I have been through the fire of testing and trials too many times to count. Suddenly there is less of me and I am finally okay with that. Brokenness has made a place in my heart to deep and wide for anything to fill but the Love of Jesus Christ. He holds me together now. I have sown many tears and now see their blessings. I have tried to plant when the season cold, ground heart and in drought-like conditions. These are the times when emotions and feelings cannot be our forecaster but commitment the driving force. Looking ahead, to the future called hope, I want to be an expert farmer for the rest of my life. How about you? If you don’t mind, I think I might stay here as long as it takes. I really want to plant to harvest for the Kingdom. I have sown in this life and God has been faithful. Now I want to sow for a future forever with Him.

Today I will sow. Lord, let my seed by of Your Word according to Your Will planted Your Way. Today I will water. Holy Spirit, lead me to the seeds that need nurturing, watering, covering, and care. Today I will harvest – every good and perfect gift comes from You!

Hebrews 6:7-10 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it. Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.