Faith is Not Enough

Faith is Not Enough

Matthew 17:20 (NLT) “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

A mustard seed is tiny and round. The diameter measures between 1 to 2 millimeters. It weighs about .000004409 pounds. A mustard seed planted in the ground will produce a tree at maturity will average between 6 and 20 feet with a 20-foot spread. In ideal conditions, exceptional plants will reach 30 feet tall. Mustard plants are hearty. They will grow in most conditions. Jesus told his disciples that if they had faith even as small as a mustard seed…nothing would be impossible. If they had faith even that small it would move a mountain. I wonder today…what would happen if we believed enough to sow a tiny seed of faith? Not a lot…just a little…real and genuine faith into the brokenness of our life, the disappointments, the despair, the longings, and unmet expectation. What would happen if we believed God? What if we believed His Word? What if rather than working so hard on the appearance of faith the church dug deep in the folds and recesses of our own hearts and minds to put a teeny tiny seed called faith? What would happen? Miracles. Healing. Life. Change. Dare, I say, “Revival.”

What if the problem is not our desire for revival to come but our willingness to sow the seed called faith necessary to produce it? To get over our situation, self, and opinions long enough to take the smallest bit of believing and planting it in even the most adverse and unfavorable conditions of our life. What would happen? If rather than cultivating division, we began to till the field together with the love and grace of our example – Jesus. I am challenged by the promise that NOTHING would be impossible if I had enough faith. NOTHING. Religion hems us in to ideology, theology, and doctrine. It stifles growth with a fence of pride, rules and regulations contradictory to flourishing growth and continual perpetuation of God’s Love to all people. People don’t leave church full of love but more self-loathing presented with a standard no one can live up to. God’s love is limitless. It is unconditional. Maybe if we believed in God’s Love, Goodness, Grace and that He is always pursing us with these qualities – faith might become our focus. What does MY faith have to do with anyone else?

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.”

Jesus describes the Kingdom to be like a mustard seed planted that grows into a tree where “birds come and make nests in its branches.” My faith is not just for me. It is not for my personal use. It is a demonstration of my participation in the Kingdom of God. It is what makes me effective in the Kingdom. It is fulfillment of my membership in the Body of Christ. We are given a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) The opportunity to be a part of something everlasting and much bigger than ourselves. He placed eternity in our heart to give us direction towards hope. There is no fulfillment as a believer without faith. Tangible faith. Genuine faith. Real faith. Not fruitless talk from an empty heart. It is take the faith given to us by God and the hope we have and to do something with it. But what?

The seed of faith must be planted, invested, and/or released to reach fulfillment. Putting our faith in action is releasing it into God’s Hands. It allows the seed to change and become what it was purposed to be. To reach its full potential – it must return to the careful oversight of the Maker and Creator of life in order for the transformation process to occur. God creates newness from within us. This is why we must die to self to have new life. It is impossible to maintain our present form in our present condition and step into newness of life.

Faith comes to life by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) To put a seed in the ground, but not water it or expose it to light or give it the nutrients it needs but rather abandon it is not good farming. To say one has faith but do nothing to continually cultivate and care for that seed will allow dreams to die in the ground or lay dormant. The purpose is still in the seed just as God’s Promise is still just for you but without proper care (Paul planted and Apollos watered) there will be no increase. To say, “I believe” yet live like you don’t – just isn’t enough to grow anything worthwhile or good in our life.

James 2:17-20 (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.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Plot twist. Faith is not enough. Faith is but a seed hidden inside of us waiting to be planted for fulfillment. Faith is planted by trust. Total trust. It must grow. It has to undergo a transformation that you and I cannot do apart from the Lord. We need God, His Word, and His Spirit to produce the fruit that offers fulfillment to us and those we come in contact with. Our external life will only prosper as our soul does. Faith is not for tangible giving unless born of generosity reminiscent of a prospering soul. I have learned not to go by my emotions, feelings or opinion. When offered a life choice of any magnitude at all I seek the Lord. He knows what’s best for me. Sometimes it means swallowing my pride to plant that seed of faith. It means offering an apology simply to make room for a relationship to grow. Other times I have to stop worrying about myself and consider the needs, wants and desires of another entrusting my care to the Father. I find that when I am cognizant of the seeds of faith that I have been given and keep them in my right hand ready to plant – I am given many opportunities. Sometimes the growth and reward evident immediately, others over a span of days, months and years, and some harvests – I am still waiting to see come up. It is a constant perpetuation of seasons. When I allow God to be in charge of my seasons and choose to sow faith in them all – I find that whether it is a season of just enough or more than enough – I am content. When it is almost here or way far off – I can still wait. When the night has given way to weeping, and the joy of the morning not yet arrived – I can still rest in perfect peace because God is with me. He loves me. He is for me. He will never let me down. Faith grows much fruit in our life and has the potential to be a life giver to others. It can do nothing if it is not planted.

The credit card company asks, “What’s in your wallet?” Today I am asking, “What’s in your hand?” All your cares, worries, burdens and regret? All the disappointments, delays and detours of dead dreams. God makes all things new. He does it by faith. Change will not come holding on to all these things, but when you sow them by faith and trust in the Father’s Love. Miracles happen when we do that – believe God at His Word, trust Him in His Way, and seek Him wholeheartedly.

Revelation 21:5 (NLT) And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

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Less than Perfect

Less than Perfect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Gate

New Gate

Psalm 84:10-11 (NLT) A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Have you ever heard the expression “like a cow looking at a new gate”? You know the look of bewilderment, perplexity, uncertainty or even just a dazed and confused expression. The same look when you get by asking our kids to clean their room for the umpteenth time like it is a new rule in your house. I wonder if that is how the Lord feels when the gateway of opportunity swings wide yet our faith cannot seem to muster the first step because the next one is not clearly visible. Who will dare to enter the open gate? Who will seize the day? Who will walk in the new thing set before them with the same bold confidence of the past things that God has done? His Faithfulness is not in question. The Lord offers us new opportunities to love, trust, obey and be blessed by Him.

I wonder what “new thing” God is doing in your life today. Is it similar to mine? Is it the same gate I have passed through before, am coming to now or will navigate in the future? Each day is a new opportunity in the life of every believer. His Mercy meets us and His Unfailing Love and Goodness continues its pursuit of the believer. His Potential, Purpose and Promises are all lined up ready to go. Can you see them? Do you feel them? Can you reach out and grab hold of them? Yeah, me either. Dreams and visions fill my head. Thoughts form and circle that there must be more than this but how do we live behind the mediocre and mundane to explore miracles. How do I stop being ordinary to embrace extraordinary? Do I really want to settle for less than God’s Best or select substitutions to cut corners and make time speed by? The answer is “no”… I want all that God has for me. I desire that which Jesus died for me to have coming back to life on the third day to hand it to me. Finally, His Spirit lives in me. The driving force and motivator of more faith and the one who builds confident hope within. There is more to life than this and it is inside the new gate.

Genesis 28:16-18 (NLT) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it.

What a fine mess? Family drama and dysfunction at its best. None of us would know what that is all about now would we… Jacob is fleeing the wrath of Esau. He stole his birthright out from under him and take the blessing of the first son as well. In fear his mother arranged for him to give live with his uncle, Laban. So Jacob left his home. As he laid down his head that night, I wondered if he felt a twinge of regret mixed with loneliness. Was the blessing that didn’t belong to him worth it? Did he feel sadness that he was now separated from his family? While he was sleeping, Jacob had a dream. He saw the heavens open and a stairway connecting heaven and earth. Angels were traveling up and down the stairs. At the top of the threshold was the Lord who told Jacob, “I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”

What happens when the access point of opportunity to inherit the blessings of God do not look like what we thought they should or do not come the way we decided they would? What happens when things get worse before they get better? What happens when our expectation is not immediately met but predestined to take time, endurance and patience? What about those times? God opens new opportunities to us each day. His Promise to work every detail for our good means that in every situation a miracle can happen and His Word still will come to pass even when the gate marked “change” is not what we wanted or has left us broken in the field.

John 10:1-4 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.”

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can get to the Father but by Him. (John 14:6) There are no shortcuts when it comes to our relationship with God the Father. No one is righteous – not a single person. It is only through Jesus Christ, we are made right with God the Father. Who the Son sets free is free to choose the gates entered and bypassed in life. Righteousness does not always mean that people will walk in the blessings and favor of God. It is a personal choice to pursue the Lord and walk in His Ways. By faith, new gates are crossed over and new life achieved.

Psalm 24:3-8 (NLT) Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle.

It is from this place of underserved and unearned grace that God’s Glory is on the verge of pouring over from Heaven into our life. We have the opportunity to walk in the Favor of God but our willingness is up to each of us. Who can climb the mountain of the Lord? Submitting one’s life and surrendering to God’s Way begins in His Word. The Word of God is who Jesus is. It is how we know Him and identify with Him in our life. True repentance begins the climb to a higher standard of living yet a lowering of our heart to humble ourselves before the Lord. All relationships take effort. It is work to maintain a good one. Maybe it’s not the gate you find perplexing but the mountain on the other side.

Jacob was all about acquisition, but what was coming was acquiescence. God is all about establishing a strong, solid relationship with His Beloved. (That’s us!) He desires us more than anything yet too often we desire everything else but God. Pouring our life out for our families, jobs, causes, and hobbies – there is nothing left for the Lord and very little energy or interest in what lies beyond the new gate. Can I just get some rest? Take a nap? Steal away a few hours for some “me-time”? Jacob saw heaven open before him and ministering angels going back and forth from heaven to earth. Things didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but when presented with the new gate – Jacob entered in. “Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.” (Genesis 28:20-22) When adversity came Esau rebelled, but Jacob chose obedience.

Isaiah 26:1-4 (NLT) In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation. Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!  Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

No matter what lies in the past, peace is always our future in the Lord. Our city (His Kingdom) is strong! We are surrounded by God’s Salvation and filled with His Spirit including resurrection life and power accessed by faith in God. The righteous ALWAYS have access to the Kingdom. It is never restricted or limited. We are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ that leads to true repentance. Turning from our old life, and pursuing new life. Opportunities are presented to us each day. His Word is filled with instructions to claim promise after promise and experience blessing after blessing. There is no limitation in the Lord. In fact, He meets and exceeds all expectation. We must only trust Him to boldly and confidently pass through the passages of life with our eyes on the Gate and willingness to enter in. Trust the Lord always and He presents those who do with perfect peace. The same God who gave Jacob peace and promise in a dark pasture on a lonely night is ready to do the exact same thing for you and me.

Psalm 118:19-21 (NLT) Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the Lord. These gates lead to the presence of the Lord, and the godly enter there. I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory!

New challenges. New trials. New opportunities. In all of life’s changes, God is with you. He gives us victory through His Son, Jesus Christ. No matter what lies in the next season just a step over the threshold of a brand new day – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is with you in your past, with you in the present and with you in the future. The Lord feels the same about you whether yesterday you lived in victory or experienced the agony of defeat. All sin is covered. All mistakes potential messages. Every test may be your testimony. You overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. His Name is Jesus. He is the Gate. You can enter in knowing He loves you. He will care for you. He will make you victorious no matter how impossible it seems so enter His Gates with thanksgiving and praise!

Psalm 100:3-5 (NLT) Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

 

 

Not A Single Bloom

Not a Single Bloom

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

We adopted a new family member a few months ago in the form of a Labrador retriever puppy. In the past, our family pets have included guinea pigs and Chihuahuas all under the ten pound weight limit and truly without much drive to anything other than eat and sleep. Scout is a massive black lab weighing in around 70 pounds at seven months old. At her size, it would be pretty difficult to make her do something she did not want to do. Thankfully she is a good puppy. She learns quickly. However, one thing we did not have to teach her is to retrieve. In fact, she loves to carry stuff and bring things to you. It is innate. Preprogrammed in her DNA as she was bred for hunting. The breed is considered a working class animal. She has a purpose and it comes out in her behavior naturally.

The fig tree grew from a tiny seed with great potential. All fruit-bearing trees come preprogrammed to reproduce fruit containing more seeds. When Jesus saw the fig tree, he was hungry. There should have been ripe tasty fruit hidden behind the foray of plentiful leaves. As the Lord got closer and inspected the tree, he found no fruit. Jesus cursed the tree and it dried up right then and there. It seems harsh to think Jesus would be a tree killer. To note in this passage, there were no blooms and no fruit on the tree. The potential of the tree was to bear fruit and it did not fulfill its purpose. There were two lessons to be learned that day – first the obvious example of faith inspired revelation and secondly the less obvious truth of the future of unfulfilled potential.

Matthew 21:20-22 (NLT) The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

The disciples were amazed. How did the Master speak causing the tree to wither in die just like that? It was a sight to see no doubt. I wonder if they were listening to what He said or mesmerized by what He did? This is vitally important in our walk with the Lord. We are called to walk by faith not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) However in that moment they could not take their eyes off the once alive now dead carcass of the tree once covered in leaves now reduced to firewood.

Jesus explained the power of confident faith. The kind of faith that doesn’t just prays but believes that prayer is a powerful resource in their life. Faith is empowered by our belief. If you do not believe that God will do exactly what He says, you will not have enough faith to see it come to pass. The disciples had witnessed signs, wonders and miracles yet still did not fully believe without doubting. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who EARNESTLY seek Him. You can pray for anything and if you have faith you WILL receive it. Jesus said it, but do we have enough faith to believe it. It only takes a seed of faith to produce such confidence. The seed that is planted deep within our heart and not forgotten but nurtured until it grows, develops and matures into confident hope. Hope that never leads to disappointment.  (Romans 5:5)

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Our puppy came with a purpose engrained in her being. She knows that it is her job to retrieve. In fact, she does it all the time without being send or issued a command. She walks around the house with dog toys. She carries sticks and limbs around outside. She demonstrates her potential every single day. It is up to me as her owner to cultivate her purpose by teaching her commands and obedience that will lead her to fulfillment in her potential.

The Lord has preprogrammed us with purpose. He has a plan handwritten for each one of us individually. (Psalm 139:16) You are not insignificant to the Body of Christ but incorporated in its full potential. (Colossians 3:15) The plans of God for His People are good always good. He has given us a future and hope in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) He has given us His Spirit to guide us, teach us and encourage us along the way. (John 14:26) We are full of potential and purpose! Our life is not meaningless and insignificant. The challenge is to believe it beyond what we can see. To accept that God has something bigger and strive for it even when faced with adversity. Faith is the catalyst and by believing the conduit to reaching fulfillment in Christ. But what about right now…what about today…what if there is no fruit…what if not a single bloom…what then?

Haggai 2:19 (NLT) I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”

2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (NLT) For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

God has given us a promise. Each heart knows the promises of God spoken to them. I wonder if faith has been applied to that seed. We can condition our conversation to say all the right things producing leaves that cover the ugly side of unbelief. I can talk a good talk, but am I walking a faith walk. The fig tree had the potential to produce fruit. Planted in good soil by the side of the road, carefully watered and cared for by the Hand of God, it appeared to be a healthy tree. God doesn’t look on the outside but carefully examines the human heart. When the Lord came close to look for fruit, He found nothing. I wonder if sometimes we get caught up in the social spectrum of religion forsaking a faith-filled relationship with Jesus Christ. When the answer takes too long, the promise seems too impossible, or when the opinion of others override our confidence in Christ.

In Haggai, the Lord spoke through the prophet that He was about shake the heavens and earth once more. He promised that even in the shaking they had His Promise. I wonder if we needed the reminder today that even when nothing seems to be going right and even in the waiting that His Promise is yes and amen in Jesus Christ. The potential inside of us is not dictated by our surroundings or sufferings but rather prescribed by God beforehand so that He could do exceedingly abundantly more than we could think or ask. Do you believe that today? Your life has hidden potential released in a broken heart. Your heart is not broken by God for destruction but for full consummation of all that He has for you. Faith cannot reach a hard heart. Seeds must find fertile ground. All seeds take time to grow but the promise keeps the farmer waiting and tending the field.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT) Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1:2) This is one of my favorite verses. It is true revelation for the believer. May you prosper in all things and be in health…just as your soul prospers. God will not prosper our natural life until first we prosper in our spiritual life. The Fruit of God’s Spirit (who labels us Children of the Living God) are love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Faith in growing, developing and maturing in our life begins with these qualities. Confident hope will cultivate this kind of fruit long before the natural overflowing of abundance comes. The disciples were caught up in the awe of the moment. They couldn’t believe what their eyes had encountered. Jesus was trying to get through to their heart. Their lives as His Disciples would need a prospering soul to make it through the dark times ahead. To fulfill their purpose, they couldn’t abandon the Cross but had to follow Jesus to it.

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” How is your praise today? Can you rejoice right here and right now? Even though the fig trees have no blossoms…What is your response in such times? Jesus is the vine. We are the branches. The vinedresser will have to prune us from time to time to allow new life to come forth. Will His Praise still be on your lips in times of testing? God loves us too much to keep us from fulfillment. To give us our way when the Highway of Holiness becomes too steep. He just can’t put aside His Perfect Love to allow us to compromise for less than His Best. He is more than enough so when settling for less than enough is not in His Nature. Jesus may have cursed the fig tree that day, but He has not cursed you. He has given you and I every spiritual blessing. Now it is up to us to receive it for ourselves. You have potential – His Name is Jesus Christ. You have a purpose handwritten by God and gifted by grace. You have blessings, promises and fulfillment waiting for you. It is for now in the land of the living. Thank you Lord for the future and hope that I have in you. Teach me never to settle for leaves when fruit is my potential and purpose. Lord, help me to accept nothing less than the fulfillment you have predestined in my life! I will walk by faith. I will believe. I will not be moved.

Romans 15:1-5 (NLT)“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

Proper Portion

portion control 2

Psalm 16:5 (NIV) Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.

Over the years, I have tried many dieting methods to control the fluctuation of unwanted pounds and inches. Radical dieting may offer dramatic effects but in the end the weight sneaks back on when giving in to temptation. I have found portion control to be the most effective way to lose the weight and keep it off although it requires a little thing called self-control. Eating is a social past time. It is an emotional fix. It can be a whole lot of things in our life. Some use it to fill voids or satisfy impulsive drives even addictions. Currently on vacation, I will be the first to admit that I am not making the best food choices. The fried fish sandwich and crispy fries last night were awesome. The ice cream on the couch watching football was pretty good, too. Once back to the reality of life, I must muster the self-control and mindset to resume healthy eating and making better choices.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup…

Today, as I read Psalm 16, I am reminded that I have the power to control the portions of my life. The Lord is good! His new mercy is provided each morning to fill the voids left by self and even poor choices from the day before. His Love is unconditional. His Love is never ending. It is perfectly reflective of the kind of love described in I Corinthians 13. I have a cup called my life. It is filled with many things both productive and unproductive. I have been given His Spirit to grow and nurture the Fruit of God’s Spirit that will satisfy my soul and fulfill my purpose. I make the choice each day of what fills my cup to overflowing. Will the Lord be my portion today? Will I allow His Love to be the very thing I desire above all things? Will I seek His Face before people? Will I pursue His Way avoiding all other distractions and detours? What do I desire today?

Psalm 73:25-26 (NIV) Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

My flesh and my heart WILL fail. It is historic. Each new day though I try to do the right thing, make good choices, and do exactly what the Lord tells me to do. I manage to make mistakes and fall short of His Glorious Standard of life every single day. I don’t always do what I am called to do. I don’t always love as I am called to love. I do not forgive as quickly as instructed. I do not always reflect the love and grace that I am given. Yet each new morning, as surely as the sun rises in the east, the Father offers me new mercy and the Son gives me more grace.

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. This promise is not dependent on me but solely characteristic of the Lord. When my pride tells me “what’s the point”, my soul reminds me that this is the promise. For every boundary removed and broken ground in this hard heart, there is a portion to be poured out for me. My inheritance is secure even when I live in insecurity or fear. God is the One who secures the inheritance of my life or I would have given it away long ago for lesser things. If you are struggling today in any area of your life, let me be the first to remind you that God holds your future securely in His Hand. No one can take it from you. Nothing you can do can remove you from Him. His Love is for you not against you. He must be the portion you choose to have it.

Psalm 119:57-58 (NIV) You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words. I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.

Life is all about balance. I believe that completely. When it comes to the Lord, I believe He is the one thing that must be sought after with all our heart, mind, body and soul. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. If you are a believer, and you suffer from dissatisfaction or a lack of contentment, it is up to you to find the area of your life not surrendered. If I eat ten chocolate chip cookies before dinner, I will not eat the things that are good for me like meat, vegetables or fruit because I am full of junk food. What is filling the place where the Lord can be your portion today? It is human nature to fill its own void with natural things. God has a supernatural satisfaction for us. He will be our portion. We must provide a place to be filled. His Word is the answer to our problems, but no one reads it anymore. His Presence is a place of refuge, but no one has time to seek Him. His Grace is our power in weakness, but not one is willing to give in. Without a desire for God – there is no hunger and thirst. If we do not hunger and thirst for the Lord, we will not make Him our portion. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” speaks volumes. Are you hungry for the Bread of Life or living just fine on the crumbs beneath His Table? Are you thirsty for living water or getting by on the runoff of religion? God sent His Son to satisfy our soul with righteousness and a relationship that will complete us and lead us to forever.

Lamentations 3:22-25 (NIV) Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Are you satisfied today? Are you filling certain voids with lesser things? The Lord is not offering a life of just enough but more than enough to those who choose Him as their portion. It is not a matter of “if” He will but faith that He will that causes us to stop settling for lesser things. He is our proper portion. It is our inheritance that no one can take from His Children for it is based on our heritage not our history. As I consider my heart and the contents thereof I am challenged to offer more of it to the Lord for His Ample Fulfillment. It begins by saying, “The Lord is my potion; therefore I will wait for Him.” The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy trying to take what belongs to us with subtle lies, substitutions and settlements that no Child of God must take. They often buffer our pride with feelings of comfort, convenience and control that faith does not allow. They rob us of our complete and full satisfaction offered by the Lord because our flesh fails and the human heart is fickle. Let the Lord fill you up today. Let Him by your portion for just a single day. He is ready to respond to the outpoured heart with confidence found only in perfect love. Wait for the Lord with that thing you desire most…He will come. My doing does not fulfill my purpose, it is found in my complete undoing before the Lord. Lord, empty every lesser thing from my life today to make more room for You!

Psalm 142:5 (NIV) I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

Pathway to Purpose

Pathway to Purpose

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

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

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

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

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

Perseverance

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

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

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

Persistence

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

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

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

Patience

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Access

Total Access

Hebrews 4:15-16 (MSG) Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

My key ring has many keys on it. My car key is obvious with the controls to the lock and alarm system. I use it to open the doors and turn the ignition. There is a key to the front door of our house and one to the new office building. I am pretty sure that there is also one to the old office. I think another is to my mother-in-law’s house and there may even be one to my parent’s home as well. There are a number of silver and gold keys that I have no idea what they go to but I am afraid to take off the key chain just in case I figure out what they might go to. Our pastor has tried to give me a key to the church. I know where a key is hidden for a friend’s place. Keys represent access. They are a responsibility. The keys in my purse represent places that I am allowed to enter. When I left my last job, I returned a heavy ring of keys to all the buildings on campus. I no longer have access as an employee. The keys in our hand may change with transitions in life but there is another set of keys that are eternally in our hand for our use.

Matthew 16:19 (MSG) “And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

Peter made a simple declaration. “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus asked the disciples to tell Him who they thought He was. Who am I to you? Not the others, or the crowd, or the religious leaders. It was a personal question that would lead to a revelation so powerful that it changed everything for Peter. He stepped into his destiny by simply stating who Jesus was to him that day. He would be the rock on which the new church was built. Do you believe today that Jesus is the Christ, Messiah, Son of the Living God who gave up His Life for your sins so you have decided to love Him, trust Him and believe in Him? Is He your Savior? Are you striving to make King Jesus the Lord of your life? Well according to the Word of God, you and I now have “complete and free access to God’s Kingdom.” But that’s not all…we have been given “keys to open any and every door without barriers between heaven and earth or vice versa. A yes on earth is a yes in heaven and a no on earth is a no in heaven. Power and authority belong to us on the key ring pressed into our hand with the simple statement – You are Jesus. You are the Christ. Messiah. Son of the Living God. You belong to me Jesus.

There are two forms of the word “access”. Access comes in the form of a noun and verb. Access is the ability, right or permission to approach, enter, speak with or use. We are given access to God the Father, His Presence, His Spirit, His Kingdom, His Power, His Resources, His Wisdom, His Favor and His Glory just to name a few benefits. God is totally accessible to us through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Access as a verb means TO make contact with or gain access to; to be able to reach, approach or enter. There are many believes today who have access but do not take the opportunity TO access God and all that goes with knowing the Father and becoming His Child.

My children are beginning to exit the nest. Three are adults who are out adulting. One is a senior in high school who is beginning to see the scenery outside the protection and provision of her parents so she is stretching her wings preparing to fly. We have but one baby left who has a few more years before her time will come. No matter how old they get – my kids will always have access to my home. They can raid my refrigerator. Use what they need. Stay as long as they want to. They are my children. I love them. I always have and always will. God loves us even more than we love our own kids. He calls us His Children and provides us access. We must be willing TO access His Presence.

Ephesians 2:16-18 (MSG) Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.

We have “equal access” to the Father. God doesn’t have favorites. There are just some who are willing to access and others who are not bold enough to do so. I love how this translation describes the Cross as a place of embrace. It was where the Father grabs the prodigal child covers us in His Robe called Righteousness and puts the ring on our finger showing all that I am His Child. It is also where we gain equal access. Christ came to hand us the keys to the Kingdom. To offer every blessing and benefit hidden in the Presence of God for His Children.

Have you ever been to a shopping club before? The kind of establishment where you must have a membership to take advantage of low prices and great bargains. If you are a guest, you can look but cannot buy anything. You can see what is available but cannot take advantage of it until you become a member. There are a few days a year when they open their store to the public who can come make purchases without a membership in order to attract new members. But if you are a card carrying member, you are free to make your selections, purchase them and take them home. It is all according to your level of access. There are some people who approach the Presence of God as outsiders. Just want to take a look around but not make the commitment to become a member and have what they desire. There are others who come to church every once in a while, slide some spare change in the offering plate, try to be a good person, volunteer and experience blessings here and there but still do not come into the full abundance offered. But then there are those bold folks who dare to believe they have equal access and step into His Presence boldly and confidently. They have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and believe. Through Christ, they come boldly and receive bountifully more than can be thought, asked or imagined. (Ephesians 3:20) I want that kind of access. Full membership in the Kingdom of God is living by faith and in Christ. As demonstrated by Peter, it is not doing all the right things, making all the best choices or never messing up – it is in the personal relationship with Jesus. That’s really all that is needed to have all God has promised.

Romans 5:1-2 (MSG) By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

By faith in Jesus Christ, we have open access to God’s Grace and Glory. We can stand tall and shout His Praise with confidence. Faith is the access point into all God has for us. Our potential, purpose and prosperity is all right there in the Presence of God waiting for us to come boldly and receive it. There is nothing for me to do open that door – Jesus holds it open for me. Jesus made the way for me to live in the Kingdom with our Father, God. He did it all. All I must do is enter in to gain access to everything I need, want and desire by the Father’s Design. My inheritance is in that place. In Revelation 3, it tells me that Jesus is “opening doors no one can lock and locking doors no one can open.” It goes on to offer encouragement for those who have been struggling and striving. “I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough.” When the doors in our life seem too heavy or are hopelessly locked, it is easy to become discouraged. Doubt that access to God is open to us. But the Lord reminds us here that He opens and locks the doors in our life. He also acknowledges our human capacity and understands our weaknesses. Therefore, He does it. He is doing it. He is working out all the details of our life for our good and His Glory. He will open the right door when it is ready. During those long seasons of waiting before a locked door, remember that we always have open access to His Presence. In fact, I am beginning to think that the waiting is an intermission to get just a little closer, do a little deeper and embrace the Lord in such a way.

Ephesians 3:11-13 (MSG) All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!

Ephesians 3:11-12 (ESV)  This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Boldness is without hesitation or fearfulness. It is daring courage. To be forward and forthcoming. Bold people live beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action. They do what most people only imagine. Boldness is the product of confidence. Confidence in Christ produces boldness that changes our right to access into the act of accessing the Kingdom and all God planned and prepared for us as His Children. We can come boldly because of Christ, but most be confident in the person of Christ to gain access. God’s Whole Purpose in sending His Son is to become accessible to us. He desired us. He wants to be close to us. He wants to live where He is all of the time. He misses us when we stray. Welcomes us when we return. God’s Word tells us who He is, who we are, and builds our confidence with knowledge. The Holy Spirit takes these tidbits of truth and weaves them into wisdom. Wisdom becomes confident in the hope we have in Jesus and becomes bold. So when the enemy offers a lie, it can be recognized and refused. When the details of our life do not add up, we do not need to be discouraged but encouraged to come boldly before God and say, “What’s up?” God planned the pathway called access and has given us the boldness to enter in. The Holy Spirit ripped the veil in the temple from top to bottom opening a doorway no one can shut. His Grace is enough to give us fearless, confident and bold access to the Father expecting and believing every detail of His Word to be the reality of faith in my life.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

When was the last time you took advantage of your total access with God? Have you been in His Presence lately? Have you entered the doors that He has opened? Oh wow…that’s a tricky question. See God offers us opportunities every day. He has given us the Keys to His Kingdom. Faith is required to access all that belongs to us in Jesus Christ. It means when the Lord opens the door – we must walk through it. Walking by faith and not by sight having bold confidence in God’s Word, Will and Way enough to come boldly. It is my experience that the doors God opens are not always the ones I expected and seldom lead to where I thought we were going…it is always way better than I can think, ask or imagine. But in the transition on the threshold – I find that sometimes I hesitate. Not today…today I will come boldly.

Ephesians 3:12 (NLT) Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

Through It All

Keep Walking

Exodus 14:13-16 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.”

Most churches have used the anthem “No Longer Slaves” in the worship set as it has grown in popularity. The bridge of the song belted out “You split the sea so I could walk right through it… My fears were drowned in perfect love…You rescued me, so I can stand and sing…I am a Child of God. Such an empowering message, which makes the one praising and worshiping God in that corporate moment feel strong and immovable. Right? At least I do. It reminds me of all the times God has brought me through tough even tragic situations. The times that I thought I couldn’t find my next breath much less my next step. Church ends and life begins again.

How do I carry that mentality from church into real life? The feeling of strength and power when all hell is breaking loose in my life. How do I maintain confident trust in the Lord when the walls of water around me grow tumultuous? How do I hold an anchor that I cannot see or feel the weight of? I don’t know about you but I think walking on water seems preferable to “drowning” in perfect love. You know having the faith to walk with Jesus above the wind and waves. Need I remind you, Peter jumped out of the boat by faith but found that his heart was not ready for the journey so he immediately sank…let’s read about it.

Matthew 14:27-31 (ESV) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 

Different scenario same God. While the Egyptians pursed the Israelites, there didn’t seem to be a real choice in the faith matter. Either walk through the Red Sea or die on the beach, not favorable but definitely with great reward. The boat was being beaten by the winds and waves. The disciples were afraid. Jesus came to them walking on the water. He did not split the sea or calm the storm yet but when Peter asked to come to him. Ever hear the song, “Oceans”…ever sang it out loud. We ask the Lord to challenge us, take us deeper, move us closer to Him, allow us to live in His Presence but when the opportunity comes – our flesh fails. Faith is clearly too small to keep us buoyant. The Lord faithfully, loving and always reaches down to catch us. It took a whole lot of faith to walk between two walls of suspended water but the people had no choice it was move or die. Peter had a choice. Intrigued by Jesus, he thought he was ready to walk with the Lord. When his feet hit the water, I believe that Peter thought Jesus would impart some super power to him and he would magically stay on top of the water. Not the case then and not the case now.

Our super power is faith. But just like every other super hero, it takes time to cultivate our power into something tangible, useful and, yes, even powerful. For a new driver, putting the right foot on the accelerator and pushing it down hard the first time seems exhilarating and easy at first. The powerful force of the engine engaging as sweaty hands clutch the steering wheel while our entire body is catapulted forward makes us think maybe there is more to this than I thought. At least, I hope so. Faith is powerful but it comes in raw form. It is dispensed in our heart as a small measure and left up to us if it will remain a seed or be harvested into a mighty force. However, my power is not in myself. It is not part of my being. It is the Christ in me. In order to find the power invested in me by my Creator and see it manifest in my life – there will be pressure applied to my life to force it out.

Whether external (as the Israelites experienced) or internal (as Peter experienced) – faith is the power that God desires to express from our life. What if that thing that is pressing, pushing or bearing down upon you is not to overtake you but rather to move you to something better? What if He is moving you from a mundane life to supernatural existence? Could it be that you have somehow settled for less than enough when the Lord has more than enough instore for you? Or maybe just maybe there is more than you can think, ask or imagine that stinking thinking has stopped you from dreaming and doing? The Lord will never leave you in Egypt. He won’t let you drown in fear and doubt. He has already given you every spiritual blessing now you just have to go after it, reach out to take hold of it or move to where the promise is!

Romans 12:3 (ESV) For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned means that you already have been apportioned the faith you need to be triumphant and victorious in every situation. It is in you. It came with Christ. Now what are you going to do with it? What did the Lord say to Moses when he came to them relaying the fear of the people in the midst of their complaining? He said, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.” God has given you faith and power. Jesus has given you the grace to make it through. All that is left to do is what He tells us to. We must go through it. Peter asked. Jesus answered. Sure, come to me. The disciple who followed Jesus, heard Him teach the Word, saw Him perform mighty miracles, and was overwhelmed by all the followers. He definitely knew the Lord but his faith was still too small to make it a few feet on top of the water. The cry of the living sacrifice is give me faith to give more of me. I believe the Lord is telling us that He already gave it to us now it is time to do something with it.

2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (ESV) So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

For we (are to) walk by faith and not by sight. I have added that “are to” because if it were that easy our churches would like fearlessly in a state of ongoing revival. Flesh would not weigh us down but faith create a light so bright it would illuminate the world with God’s Love. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) The only way to know what measure of faith evident in our life is through testing. When I make a cake, I measure the ingredients to ensure it will be delicious. Any good recipe has a process, it takes time, and one must go through all the steps using the proper ingredients. Our life in Christ is the same.

We are free to choose the amount of faith cultivated in our life but the measure is the same. It starts small but has the potential to turn into something big. The Lord is our courage. He is our strength. He promises victory to those who trust Him, follow Him, and stay with Him. I cannot do that where I am now but must keep walking no matter how relentless the enemy or overwhelming the storm. Eyes on Jesus not my circumstances. Faith entrusted and invested in Him not the evidence of my life. He is faithful. He knows it’s going to take some time – that’s why the Lord blesses endurance with salvation and life. He knows that I will mess up, my flesh will fail but Jesus promises that His Grace is enough for me and will work even better in my humble weakness.

I don’t know what you are going through today. I only know my own struggles and battles but I know this. God is good. He is faithful. He will help me if I trust Him. He will give me courage. He will be my strength. He is constant and unfailing. The Lord always responds to my cries. He has never left me or forsaken me even when I have given up myself. See the Lord gave you and I faith because He has something bigger and better for us. If only, we will keep moving, breathing and existing in Him until we have it. This is what we hope must for and truly believe. Do you feel pressure? Do you feel pushed to make a move? Seek the Lord today. Call on His Name. Ask Him for direction. Offer your heart and mind to Him for careful inspection. Let Him weed out those thoughts that have you all tangled up. Sometimes just seeing things from God’s Perspective or tying His Promise to your problem will lift your head up to see that help has arrive. His Name is Jesus. He overcame the world…let Him overtake your heart. He will walk through it with you!

Psalm 3:3-4 (ESV) But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

As Soon As

As Soon As.jpg

Jeremiah 29:10-11 (Message) This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

“As soon as”…the prequalification or prerequisite factor – the waiting game called life. As a child, such a statement seems terminal when it calls for patience that last more than five minutes. Sometimes even that is a stretch for those with infernal impatience such as myself. At least in the natural when someone says, “as soon as” there is an element of gratification as one can watch and see as they fulfill the ordered list on the way to fulfillment. And then there is faith, hope and God. God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as”… then I will.

These words are the most difficult because it is hard enough to see the Lord’s inner workings or His Mighty Hand come in to play. Hindsight is generally 20/20 with God but what is right in front of us elusive. Faith and hope are the qualities that God is developing in us by teaching us to love, lean and trust Him more. Oh what a difficult task especially when the stakes may seem quite high. As soon as…and not a day more. Faith keeps us waiting until as soon as comes. Hope makes waiting worth every minute. In the meantime…

I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home.” There are days that I feel as though I am living in exile. Those seasons when the conditions and circumstances of my life do not line up with the Word of God. The times when I stepped out in faith and feel like I am still floating rather than walking on water or swimming in the depths of the deep to which He has called me. These are the times when trust is our portion and confidence is our hope. The “what we know” of God and foundation called Christ keep us from falling. God promises that He will show up. He will do just as He promised. There will be the rejoicing of “being brought back home” from this place of invisible exile…if I am just patient and wait on Him.

“I know what I am doing.” Depends on who is driving…I guess. I remember getting in the car with our first new driver. The moment that he started the car, I knew I was in trouble. He was ready to throw it in reverse and speed out of the driveway. I patiently (or at least I thought I was calm) asked him to wait while I reiterated instructions and safety measures that I felt necessary. He rolled his eyes and told me, “I know what I am doing.” I did not believe him. He pulled out, slammed on the brakes, changed gears, and floored it the three houses to the corner and stopped for the stop sign halfway in the road of the intersection. He then graciously turned on the blinker and before I could catch my breath was off again. The only word that I could utter was “stop”! He seemed confused. No, I demanded he stop right there and pull into the neighbor’s driveway. I got out of the car and walked all the way home officially resigning from my position as driver’s education mom. Walking in the house, my husband said calmly, “That was quick, how did it go?” “Terrible.” I responded. He inquired as to the well-being of our son with “Where is he?” I replied, “Probably in the driveway up the street where I left him!” As I walked into our room and shut the door. Like any good dad, my husband retrieved our son and taught him how to drive.

When I got into the car with our son that day, I knew full well that he was a newbie. I was well aware of his inexperience. It was his lack of trust and unwillingness to pay attention that drove me out of the vehicle that day. God keeps telling me day after day, “I know what I am doing.” Some days I sit back and enjoy the ride trusting that He is God. He is a good father. He loves me with all of His Heart and knows what is best for me. And then…there are all those other days when I don’t and try to take the wheel and drive to my own destination.

I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Psalm 139:16 tells me that “like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” If this is true (which I believe that it is), it means that God knows every moment of every single day of my life before I take a single step or breathe within it. He knows all the good times and all the not so good times that will come. He understands that some days I will get this thing called faith right walking in faithful, humble obedience and then days that I come in like a wrecking ball. Like a carefully constructed school lunch, God gives me mercy each morning and on every bad day, a snack of grace at night. I have everything that I need to successfully live out God’s Plan and Purpose despite my fickle heart and rebellious flesh. God prepared it for me when He designed my life. Challenges are opportunities to experience the championship of faith. Pressure gives way to Presence in my life. Every difficult thing interwoven with His Plan for my Destiny and Divine Destination.

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:28 MSG) The come-from-behind promise of God that ensures as His People, as His Precious Children, that we cannot and will not miss an ounce of His Goodness or single provision of His Plan and Purpose is that He works “every detail of our lives” into something good. All that is required is loving Him.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 (Message) “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.

What if while waiting on the Lord, I am not waiting on Him at all but rather He is waiting on me? Is it possible that God has His Act together but I am the one struggling? Sure it is. We take an ounce of knowledge and try to work it into absolute wisdom. God’s Thoughts are higher than my thoughts and so are His Ways, yet somehow in my human finite thinking I take a word or wisp of truth and try to build my whole life on it. I know I am the only one so just bear with me while I work this out. What if we replace the word “when” with the words “as soon as”? It would go something like this:

When As soon as you call on me, when as soon as you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When As soon as you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when as soon as you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.

What if the ball is in my court and rather than “as soon as” being God’s next move rather He is waiting on my next move. Will it be closer to Him? Will I decide to come to Him? Will I decide to pray? Will I begin searching for the Lord wholeheartedly? Will I get serious about this life after God’s Own Heart? Will there be a day when I want Him MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE? The promise to those who make their way to this place is that the Lord will “make sure you won’t be disappointment.” Hope never leads to disappointment. Hope is not reserved for what we can see, do or logically make happen in our life. It is evidenced by faith in the substance that we cannot perceived naturally with our senses or logically with our mind but know to be true because He lives in us. Perhaps, I need to spend my time waiting on the Lord doing something different. It is not God’s Move but mine that He is waiting on today.

Psalm 27:7-9 (Message) Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs: “Be good to me! Answer me!” When my heart whispered, “Seek God,” my whole being replied, “I’m seeking him!” Don’t hide from me now!

“My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8 NLT) I love this verse so much. It has been on my heart a lot lately. You know with five kids, I hear the word “mom” all the time. It catches my attention even when it is not my own brood. My husband and I were riding in the minivan one day filled to overflowing with all the children. I was driving and not really paying attention to the banter in the back. When suddenly, he blurted out in a stern voice, “Don’t you hear them calling you?” Apparently, the peanut gallery had been saying, “Mom…mom…mom” and I didn’t respond to them because basically I had tuned them out. It happens. However, let one of them cry out in fear, hurt or distress and I can hear them across the house, outside, down the street or in the next county. There is a difference in the sound of their cry. I believe that God always listens when we speak to Him. He hears our every word. However, I also believe that our conversations with the Lord become mindless chatter over time. A check off on the to-do list of godliness rather than a personal and intimate conversation with the Lover of our soul and the One our soul loves.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (Message) How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

“As soon as” can mean waiting on the Lord but most of the time I believe that He is waiting on us. Our response to God’s Promises is faith and confidence that this hope we have is valid, authentic and real enough to pursue with passion each day. We put our passion into so many worthless things when the reality of Christ is that God has already blessed us with every good thing that He has. We are made with purpose on the verge of prosperity if only one might make their way into His Presence choosing to live there. His Presence is our promised land. It is not a religious place filled with routine, ritual or tradition. It is not a place of performance or service. It is the place where we come to know and respond by wanting Jesus more than anything else – as soon as will be accomplished. Everything I need, want and desire is fulfilled in the rich and satisfying life that Jesus Christ is offering me. I have more than enough. I am more than enough because Christ lives in me. Nothing is impossible for those who live by faith not fear. As soon as, I learn to live, move, exist and breathe in the midst of His Presence – I believe that the time will pass and so will the season. It will be time to harvest from all those tears, find joy in the midst of mourning and I will be restored, revived and renewed just as He promised. As soon as…

Isaiah 30:18 (Message) But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right—everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.

The D-Word

Dare To Be Disciplined

 

Philippians 3:12-16 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.

It’s funny as I type this today, that spellcheck on my computer doesn’t care for the word “Christlike”. It has the red squiggly line under it that means it doesn’t recognize it or suggesting that I select an acceptable alternative for it. Isn’t that life most days? Autocorrect and spellcheck are used for grammatical and typographical errors but omit certain legitimate words according to the usual vocabulary. It is even modified as not to offend others. Sigh. Yes, I have inserted a sigh. I am not a runner. I am not built for endurance. Patience are a challenge for me most days. I am cool under pressure… most of the time. But as time goes by, things don’t change, my plans don’t line up, and fatigue sets in – the thought “there has to be more to life than this” brings me to a choice. The valley of decision. It is a low place with many dark corners. It is filled with echoing voices and shadows of doubt and fear that tell me just quit. Stop. Give up. Quit. What’s the point? Life cannot ever be normal again. There will always be problems. Constant pressure. What are you going to do? My head is filled with circling thoughts of why I should give to all these suggestions made valid by my feelings and emotions. But then I hear it…that still small voice inside of me…probably a lot like the one Elijah heard on the mountain after the earthquake, fire, and storm…”What are you doing here?” The Lord spoke these words to the prophet. So many victories in his corner, so many miracles already in his midst, yet still the voice of doubt and fear drove him into hiding. The voice I hear today is just a bit different. The Lord says, “Press on.”

2 Timothy 4:7-10 (NLT) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. Timothy, please come as soon as you can.  Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia.

Before you pick up the bat of comparison and begin beating yourself soundly in the head for feeling this way today, let’s look at the Super Christian Paul. Paul fought the good fight. He finished the race. He remained faithful. He knew in his heart that his days were numbered and soon he would claim the prize. The crown of righteousness which the Lord would hand to him. He was ready. Paul was also human. Immediately following this confident statement comes the cry of man struggling and feeling isolated. “Timothy, please come as soon as you can.” Everyone had gone on their way. The only one left with Paul was Luke. He was calling for backup. Paul needed some support. It is only natural in this life of following Christ to have days when the pressure is overwhelming, doubt may kick in, discouragement gets the best of us, our emotions out of whack, and even when throwing in the towel seems like a viable option. It doesn’t mean that you do not love God or desire Him with all of your heart. It means, dear friend and follower of Christ, that you are human.

Matthew 26:36-40 (NLT) Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 

Jesus understands how pressure feels. He knows what it means to want to give up. He also decided to press on. The Last Supper over and the betrayal of his follower, Judas revealed. Our Savior and Lord is well on His Way to the Cross. The hour had come. The end was near. He needed to talk to His Father one more time before this final journey to the Cross. He already knows the one who claims to love him most and the person who professed dying for him would soon deny ever knowing Him. Yet, Jesus asks him to come and keep watch while He prays. Well, Peter, James and John were exhausted from their journey. Still mulling over His Words, they fall asleep. Even after Jesus said to them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” – still they could not keep their eyes open. In those final moments, Jesus petitions His Father in Heaven, “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” I cannot imagine how the words of the Son must have ravaged the Father’s Heart.

I believe that when in the midst of a trial or plagued by problems that when we pray – the Father’s Heart breaks for us. The Word of God admits that He is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18) What a promise? Especially for those who feel abused, violated, betrayed or isolated. The Lord is with you. He is close to you. He is ready to rescue you. You must press on. You cannot give up. It is now when the breakthrough comes because God can easily access the brokenhearted.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT)  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Our body works against us. Our thoughts rally to stop this foolishness. Our emotions and feelings press us to give up. Why all the pressure? Why am I so perplexed? Why isn’t following Jesus easy? All the workings of our flesh are enticed by temptation working against us from the inside out. The enemy is aiding it in every way possible. Why? “There is a light shining in the darkness for you today. It invites you to live in the Presence of God. To experience His Glory in your life. To radiate the Favor of God. To become a beacon of hope to those who are lost and dying. To have this great treasure means pressing in rather than giving in to the pressures of life. Sin is not the problem for those who have fully experienced God’s Love, Grace and Mercy responding by faith that says, “Jesus, I want you.” It doesn’t mean my life will look radically different the morning after I ask Him into my heart. It is the starting point of the race to the finish line marked faith. It is going to be a long, tedious journey. My flesh and feelings are going to try to trip me up. The enemy will be shooting fiery darts at me all along the way. Those who cheer me on in the beginning may not make it to the end. But there is a prize worth having and I intend to take it.

2 Corinthians 9:22-27 (NLT) When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 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.

It is a privilege to participate in this race of faith. It is a divine opportunity provided to me by Jesus Christ. I would also like to run the Disney Princess Marathon races. If you must know, I would be thankful just to survive a 5K or 3.1 mile race. I must admit that I am not a runner. I am not sure that I could make it one mile running and not dying. In fact, I will tell you the same thing I tell other people – if you see me running you should too, because something is probably chasing me. Now how in the world can a 51-year-old mom who is out of shape make it to a Disney Princess marathon? I guess first I would have to make up my mind that I wanted to do it and set a goal with certain steps to achieve before the next race. Given the popularity of these events, I should probably go ahead and sign up now. It might be a good idea to invest in some good running shoes. The next is probably the hardest part of all – I would then have to discipline myself to train for the marathon. Ugh! The D-word wreaks havoc in us. It is the boundary and barrier for most people when it comes to achieving even the smallest goal or aspiration. What overcomes the thought of discipline – devotion. What is devotion? It is profound dedication and consecration. An earnest attachment to a person or cause. Devotion is the attachment or assignment to any purpose. In the Biblical sense, devotion is an act of worship including worship for a special use.

Are you dedicated to Jesus Christ? Fully devoted heart and soul to knowing Him fully and having His Way in your life? Me, too. Discipline is the choice to take what we know about the Lord and His Word and apply it to our life. Not just in word, but in every attitude and action much like an athlete eyeing a prize. It is not an endeavor casually undertaken but a full-on effort to make every part of our life conform to that of overwhelming victory. After all, Christ is our Champion according to Hebrews. To those who disciplined, dedicated and fully devoted probably the worst word they will ever hear is disqualified. “So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”

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

I do not believe that discipline is the same as punishment. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but that through Him that I would be saved. Thank you, Jesus! However, it is human nature to view discipline as punishment. When I go to the gym after missing days, weeks, months or the past year – my muscles scream for relief as I press through the pain and work through the notion that quitting would be so much easier. No one is punishing me. I want more. I desire to be healthy. I pay for the membership to undergo such “torture”. Devoted to Christ, the pressure inside of us is His Way of making us into the masterpiece that He purposed and designed us to be. It is the molding and shaping of character so that endurance will keep us until His Glory is released in our life. I must press past every pain, insecurity, fear and emotion if I am dedicated to this cause called Christ. Anything worth having requires a higher price, I must decide today if I will pay that price. If I will endure tough times, difficult seasons and painstaking processes to let Christ have His Way in my life which will lead to a rich and satisfying life just as He promised. I must press on to have that which the Lord is calling me to. I must not give up or give in but allow the Lord to strengthen my tired hands to life them in worship and my weak knees to seek Him in prayer. The only thing that must not happen is I cannot and will not quit, give up or give in. I am His Prized Possession. No discipline is enjoyable. Can I get an “amen”? It is worth the peaceful harvest that is coming for those who decide to be devoted to right living and following His Way.

Isaiah 38:16-20 (NLT) Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord.