Humble Calling

Humble Calling

Ephesians 5:21 (NIV) Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Submission is a commandment of God given out of reverence for Christ. An act of humility far from human nature and often misunderstood. It is important to not ignore the call of God on our life to submit, but to fully embrace it and learn to live by it. Submit to one another. The world might tell us that it is a weakness. However, according to scripture, it is a powerful alignment with God and His Word. To submit means to give over or yield to the power or authority of another. The Greek word “hypotasso” gives in more in depth meaning to the believer. It means “under God’s arrangement” or to place in alignment with His Plan and Purpose. Our life lived in alignment with the Lord allows Heaven to come to earth. It is the gateway by which Kingdom outcomes are possible over human impossibilities.

“Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” The same connotation of the Greek word is used in I Peter 2:18 that is used in Ephesians 5:21. Submission is not necessarily to those who are worthy but in all situations of authority. If you are subject to a person who is given authority over your life, submission is the choice made to remain subject to and under the power of the person. Notice that the position in I Peter is to the “slave” not the “servant”. A slave is under the authority of the master and must be subject to them. However, we are servants of the Living God by choice. Submission is a choice. It is the humble giving our life to Jesus Christ. To reverence Him in every interaction.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV) Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

It is important to read God’s Word in context. Follow God’s Example as dearly loved children. God’s example to us is Jesus Christ. The Word made flesh to demonstrate a plan incomprehensible and illogical outside of faith. A King who put down His Crown to come to die for His People. To make a way for those who rebelled against it in the first place. To restore right standing and release the Spirit of adoption to us. Jesus submitted to God’s Authority out of love for us. We submit to authority out of love and reverence for Christ. To walk in love, one must submit their life to others. It is the only way. To give up our life as “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Submission is to take our divinely ordered place in a relationship. You cannot force submission it is an offering and sacrifice of our life that can only be made by the individual. Joseph understood the importance of submission. When taking captive by the Midianites, sold to Potiphar, falsely accused, sent to jail, forgotten for years and even in the house of Pharaoh – at any time Joseph could have rebelled against the unjustness of his treatment and difficult circumstances but instead he humbled himself before the Lord. In each position, Joseph served God by serving others. When his brothers came before him, he forgave them. He did not withhold anything from them but wept in joy at seeing them again. The same ones who threw him in a pit to die. Forgiveness is a form of submission. It is also a requirement of God.

Romans 13:1-5 (NIV) Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

The authorities that exist have been established by God. The last election for the President of the United States was downright nasty. I have many friends who are no longer friends on social media because of the ugliness and riotous rants being posted. It doesn’t matter who you voted for. The day after the election the person in power is God’s Elected Authority. Now before you decide to shut me off, leave the page, or sent me an outrageous opinion, I believe that all presidents are divinely appointed. I believe that once in office as a citizen of the United States and a believing Child of the Living God it is my duty to submit and pray for them. My faith, trust and hope is fully invested in the Lord so it really doesn’t matter who God places in authority over me as long as I remain in alignment and full submission to God and the authority who He has chosen for His Purpose. I must remain in submission to remain in alignment with God. I know this is hard to grasp but let me set forth some ideas.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 – God has a predesigned plan for my life that includes a future and hope. If I seek Him wholeheartedly, I will have every single promise and spiritual blessing ordained for my life. My hope and future are not dependent on the authority and power in this life but my willingness to live a submitted life in accordance with God’s Word, Will and Way.

Romans 8:38-39 – Nothing can separate me from the Love of God. I live in service to the Living God. My full expectation is that the Love of God will overpower any injustice or insecurity that I experience. In other words, God is in control of my life including the authorities over me. God changed the heart of Pharaoh to let His People go – I serve the same God.

Romans 8:28 – If I believe that God works all things together for my good because I love Him, it includes every power and authority that governs my life in the natural. Submission to God is to live under His Arrangement. At no point in time do I believe that God every set down His Authority or Sovereignty but rather has ordered every single moment of life for my good and His Glory.

When submitting our life to the Lord, it becomes our service to submit to all authority and power placed over our life rather chosen or prescribed. To end this debate scripturally, “whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.”

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

”Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) I encourage you to read the story of Joseph. His journey is a wonderful example of humility. It is to choose forgiveness over bitterness. We are not to do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Pride tells us otherwise. We have a right to our opinion. However, as Children of God it is His Truth that is the seed of all prosperity in our life. To grow, develop and mature into the masterpiece He calls us to be requires submission like clay in the potter’s hands.

I Peter 5:5-7 (NIV) In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Humble yourselves under God’s Mighty Hand…that He may lift you up in due time. God has promised to make all things beautiful in His Time. We cannot fathom God’s Work from beginning to end so we must trust Him. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Eternity is in our heart. It is our purpose and destination. It is accepted through humility beginning with His Grace. It is lived in humility by loving Jesus and others more than ourselves. Rather than fighting authoritative power it is our humble calling to submit to all authority AND be like Jesus Christ. Submission is reverencing Christ and His Selfless Sacrifice. Am I better than Jesus? Do I have the right to rebel? No, it is my privilege in Christ to submit to mankind in this life in order to live in alignment with eternity. I am given the opportunity every day to live reverently for the Lord by humbly serving and submitting my life to others. This is the life each of us is called to live in Christ. It is to put all my expectation in the Lord and cast all my cares with it. Trusting the Lord will always require submission. There cannot be two masters in our life. We serve the Lord by serving others.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

No Longer Condemned

No Longer Condemned

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

The enemy of all mankind will use just about any bat handed to him. He is aggressive and ruthless in his attack against humanity. He hates people. So when given the opportunity to remind us of faults, failures and shortcomings – he capitalizes completely. Given our inability to earn salvation or restore our relationship with God outside of Christ creates a vulnerability to these tactics. Shame and regret are his biggest enforcers of our insecurity and inability to own our new relationship with God through His Son. We are no longer condemned but empowered by God’s Grace to become new creations. If only we could see the Gloriousness of God and His Goodness concerning us to silence the lie of the enemy in our life.

God doesn’t wait with a huge sledgehammer to smash us when we sin. In fact, our sin grieves God. His Hate for sin doesn’t extend to the offenders. He only hates sin not those who live in it. Unconditional love is probably the greatest love of all and easiest to maintain if our heart would only receive it and our head able to conceive it. Hurt and betrayal harden our heart to such a thing in light of our own broken emotions. This limits the Body of Christ in fully filling each position. It hinders the Kingdom coming to earth in disbelief. God wants to break the stronghold of condemnation over your life. Whether promoted by religion or simply a lack of knowledge. He wants to break through this barrier and free you from this hindrance in your life. God is good. He wants His Glory to fill us to overflowing…despite what we may think of ourselves?

John 3:18-20 (NKJV) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

Why does God love me? How do I know that He does? How can I be sure? Well, the Word of God tells us that God is love (I John 4:8) and He first loved us (I John 4:19)! God’s Word is the credibility of my faith and the logic that I must live by to successfully overcome every lie introduced by the enemy. I must believe God’s Word is for me and about me. I must allow His Spirit to sow the Word in my heart so it will become the wisdom of my life. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love and Desire for me. (John 1:14) The Love of God for mankind is who He is. We cannot make God love us because He already does. His Mercy each day delivered to everyone regardless of what they believe and how they live is evidence that His Love will stop at nothing to apprehend us.

The only condemnation is disbelief. To refuse the Love of God given in His Son Jesus Christ is the only condemnation possible for people. When presented with the Light of His Love, yet they choose darkness rather than light. Aha! Said all the religious people with a Pharisee-spirit in them. No this does not mean that sinners are condemned but rather those who do not desire a relationship with God. The application of grace does not mean that a person is no longer a sinner just forgiven. Doing some things right (or religiously) does not promote you to a higher level in God. In fact, the more humble the person the closer to God. Those who reject His Love. This is very different that feeling unworthy or insignificant. There are a whole lot of people in the world who entered our churches and rather than experiencing the selfless and unconditional love of God – they were condemned by Christians and wandered empty and helplessly back into the darkness. Shame on us for putting a higher price on our love than God puts on His Love. He stops at nothing to make a way for us to enter right standing and promote a restored relationship with even the most violent offender.

2 Corinthians 3:7-10 (NKJV) But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) This is one of the most known verses in the Word of God. God loved us. He sent His Son to save us. But there is more to the story that is relevant and true. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The purpose of Christ was not two-fold. He did not come to save some and condemn others. God is never double-minded. Jesus came that the world might be saved and have everlasting life. There is no condemnation in Christ today. If you feel condemned, it is not from God. God is love! His Mercy is new every morning. He loved you first. He loves you the most. His Grace is enough to gain access to every blessing and experience His Glory in your life. You don’t have to do everything right just love His Son and believe in Him for salvation. A brand new life as a new creation is only accessible through Christ. He gives it to us with a helper that will help us in our weakness. Take knowledge and turn into wisdom. There is no sin insurmountable to an ounce of Christ’s Precious Blood – you are not condemned but made alive again. Resurrection life and power are working its way through you to make its way out of you. Put down the big bat of condemnation, shame, guilt or any other lie that the enemy handed you today. You have a purpose and plan designed for you by the Hand of God. The whole point is that you will know His Love. Gird yourself in the Truth that God loves you. Jesus died for you! His Grace is enough for you! You are alive again! Now walk in that freedom! Live in His Glory! He is for you! Never ever not once against you! Jesus is Our Champion – claim your victory today!

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

Until We Tremble Too

Unti We Tremble Too

Matthew 17:20-21 (NKJV)  So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Have you ever prayed and it seemed like nothing is happening? Have you believed with all your heart yet still things did not go well? Walking by faith and not by sight is a challenge. It takes a full body, mind and spirit change to meet such a demand. The five senses of the body are acutely aware of its surroundings and work together to make it through each day. It’s called survival. To give in to the current conditions or circumstances of our natural life is not God’s Will for us. Yet, we do it for lack of understanding or full application of faith in our daily endeavors. We save the “big things” for God and attempt to tackle the mundane tasks and small things ourselves. This is not exactly what the Word of God tells us to do, but it is the culture of church today. Lives made a little better just by knowing the Name of Jesus. Well, need I remind you today as I am also reminded – “You believe that there is one God. You do well. (Good for you paraphrased). Even the demons believe – and tremble!”

The demons believe and tremble. The problem is not in the belief system of the enemy. It is in the mind and heart of God’s People. Do we know the Name of Jesus? Do we believe? Do we tremble at the Power and Authority given to us in the Name of Jesus Christ? Jesus spoke and demons fled, dead people came to life, and even the wind and rain obeyed Him. His Power and Authority was evident yet still some did not believe. In Luke 9:1, Jesus gave the same power and authority to His Disciples. Power over all demons and to cure diseases. They still couldn’t do it. The Lord reiterated in Luke 10 that He gives us the power to “trample serpents and scorpions, and all the power over the enemy and nothing shall by all means hurt you.” Do we believe? Do we tremble at the awesomeness of such a gift? To have all power and authority in this life delivered to us by the Christ in us for signs, miracles and wonders. Do we believe? Do we tremble at His Name?

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

It is one thing to imply belief in our words and actions but it quite another to initialize and implement faith. Faith is active. It is alive. It grows when planted. It must be invested to reproduce or it is just an unused resource. The measure of faith given to us is to be used now. Today. Not for big things but everything. Faith is a tangible substance not a passing thought or idea. It is a full investment of this life into eternity that will produce Kingdom productivity supernaturally in the natural. It begins by believing. Believing not just in the existence of Christ, the Gift of God that is eternal life but becoming fully aware and accepting of His Power and Authority handed to us by way of the Cross and Resurrection. We cannot use a weapon we do not possess or refuse to take hold of. A gun in a gun safe behind a locked door is no good if the intruder sneaks in at night. We are unarmed and not ready. But to sleep with the weapon locked and loaded by your bed ensures that you will not be caught unaware. Where is your weapon today?

Obedience is essential. We must not only read God’s Word. Know God’s Word. We must become fully compliant and obedient to God’s Word to have His Authority and Power. Obedience (hupakoe) means to listen with a compliant submission and agreement. Doubt tells us that when happened in Biblical times cannot happen now. Miracles are for fairy tales and fiction not real life. Reading God’s Word will never be enough. The Word of God makes faith logical. It is the revelation of the seed of faith’s potential in our life and the encouragement needed to sow it daily. Real faith is defined by obedience. To strive daily to live God’s Word and fulfill His Purpose.

The Spirit-Filled Bible offers commentary on strongholds that I found to be quite powerful and revealing. A stronghold is first established in our mind. Behind every stronghold is a lie – a place of personal bondage where God’s Word has been held subject or enslaved to any unscriptural idea or personally confused belief. I remember many years ago teaching a Youth Sunday School Class. In the course of the lesson, I mentioned that Jesus never married or had a family of his own while on the earth. I was quickly refuted by a 13-year-old who was adamant that the Lord married Mary Magdalene and had a family. I tried to explain through passages in the Word that this was simply not true. Her family had watched a movie that made this appear to be Truth to her. She could not be convinced otherwise. Eve was caught up in a lie of twisted truth. The enemy does it all the time. Appealing to our mind with a half-truth or skewed interpretation of God’s Word. Behind every lie is a fear and behind every fear that is an idol. Idols exist and are established wherever there exists a failure to trust the provisions of God that belong to us in Christ. Strongholds are broken by Truth that is turned to trust manifested in obedience even when completely contrary to the world and society norm. It is in such a place our heart and mind are changed and become one. Faith grows to confidence in this place. As strongholds come down and faith arises – our body, mind and spirit prosper in Truth as our soul prospers. Suddenly, our life becomes subject to the Kingdom of God and not this world and all its problems, temptations or trials.

Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!”

There are many who say that they believe there is a god. There are even those who believe in the one true God. There are some who believe that Jesus is His Son and that He died on the Cross for their sins. Churches are filled with believers. My greatest fear is that when I met Jesus face-to-face that He would say, “I never knew you…” I cannot even fathom that moment of separation. Faith is given to us to develop a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ which gives us access to the Father. The Father who fully embraces us as His Children again. We can now enter His Presence, talk to Him, listen to Him, and the potential of His Word is now our promise. All of this wonderful! God is good! If I do not realize that importance of obedience in claiming the Kingdom of God and my place as a Child of God through faith and belief in God’s Power and Authority over my life – I will miss out on the impossibilities becoming my possibility. More than that – I may miss out on the greatest love affair ever known. See casting out demons and healing diseases is pretty impressive but it is unconditional love that most people truly seek – the rest is just icing on the cake. Lord, may our belief be captivated by Your Word today, fortified by the Truth of Your Great Love for us. Father, help us to plant faith and sow confidence in Your Love that leads to obedience. Help us Holy Spirit to tear down every stronghold, expose every lie, destroy every fear and knock over every idol so Your Power and Authority will be manifested by Your Grace. Help us in our weakness. God give us insight, discernment, revelation, knowledge and understanding to become our wisdom. Father, help us to know you more. Jesus – we want you to know our name. Lord, may we press in until we tremble at Your Name too! Let everything we do and say rise from this purpose in our life. Amen!

Luke 10:19-20 (NKJV)  Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

New Strength

New Strength

Isaiah 40:28-29 (NKJV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.

Fasting and prayer are excellent means to delve deeper in the Presence of God and move higher in understanding and faithful expectation. Fasting is a form of discipline that removes the strongholds imposed by life to take hold of the supernatural strength and power of God. Fasting often creates weakness in our body. It is an opportunity to allow God’s Strength and Power to take over. Fasting inevitably creates weakness as our flesh is denied the natural portions it usually receives. It rebels. It becomes fatigued, tired and pained by the process. Our mind doesn’t help matters as it promotes shortcuts along the way to bring relief to the body’s suffering. For me, the third day of any fast is the toughest. It seems that all that is within me is saying, “Enough is enough!” It is in such moments, we need God’s Strength. His Power is made perfect in weakness if we can wait it out. I have come to the Lord today not in my earnest weakness but frustration. I have endured this process many times and yet still my flesh has a strong influence in my life. I know the proverbial wall that rises up yet I still think of ways to compromise and substitute obedience to God with excuses. I concur with Paul today, For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NKJV) Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Turning to the Word of God, I am looking for new strength today. Strength to overcome my flesh and human weakness and experience the renewal promised in these verses of Isaiah 40. My flesh is weak. It is ready to give up and find another way other than self-denial. My desire today is for the renewal of strength and release of God’s Power. I must wait on the Lord to receive it. There is no other way to have His Strength. To mount up high above circumstances and conditions. To run the race of faith and not be weary. To walk upright in humility with God and not faint. I want it all. I want it now. But God says I must wait on Him…

Lamentations 3:25 (NKJV) The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

Waiting is not my favorite. However, it is essential to experiencing God’s Goodness in our life. To wait (qavah) is to wait for, look for, expect, and hope. Qavah is the root word of tiqvah which means hope and expectancy. Waiting on God is more than just sitting around in idleness but a place of hopeful expectancy born of faith. Like a farmer, watching and waiting for each seed to grow into an abundant harvest. He waits and watches anticipating the tiniest sprout and carefully observing the process to full maturity. Every seed has the potential to produce far greater than itself but it must endure the process and press through the dark until it reaches the light and its purpose is fulfilled. You have a purpose. You have a plethora of promises. You have far greater potential than you are aware of. It is all a product of faith that decides to wait in full anticipation and confident hope that God is faithful. The Lord is good. His Word true. He rewards those who seek Him.

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NKJV) You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

I can remember days that I thought would never end. Trials and temptations, whether pass or fail, that I was not sure how I would make it past or rise above. Maybe you can relate, all those times you just didn’t know how to make it one more day, one more step or even one more breath. But you did! The Power of God is not for the strong. It is not born of natural strength but in our human weakness. “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” New strength that comes from the Lord is birthed in our weakness and inability to do it alone. It is in our complete undoing before Christ that there is room for Him to fill the void left in its place.

He gives power to the weak…

Before balking at weakness, we should understand that the power received in it is far greater than anything you or I could produce naturally. In Deuteronomy 8:18, the same word is used to describe increase. Power (koach) means vigor, strength, force, capacity, wealth, means or substance. His Power can produce a variety of desirable things our life when given proper placement. All of these things are attributable to physical, mental or spiritual vitality. In our weakness, His Power has room to move and reproduce. It renews us. As our soul prospers, our life is increased in all areas. The first step to new strength, power and prosperity is total weakness and humility before the Lord.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

The weakness I am feeling today is by choice. Subjecting my body to fasting along with prayer, it is evident it is working as I am weak, tired and fatigued. My mind is reeling with all the reasons to stop short, give up and give in. And then I hear the Spirit of the Lord say, “But wait…” Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. Wait on the Lord. Know that He is for me. He is ready to release His Power in my life as I am completely undone. Total weakness is the way to receive it. The invitation clearly set forth in Matthew 11 is presented to me today, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” I am not ashamed to admit that I need Jesus today. I want His Power and His Strength so rather than giving in to my weakness, I surrender my weakness to the Lord. I need new strength and power. He promises to renew my strength and help me to rise above physical inability to run and not be weary. He promises that I will walk and not faint. His Grace is enough for me. The promise is claimed after waiting while hope is found within it.

Psalm 18:1-3 (NKJV) I will love You, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised…”

Pick Up Your Sword

Pick Up Your Sword

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

As believers, the Lord has given us a powerful weapon to overcome the enemy each day. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. There have been several studies over the last five years due to the concern of Bible illiteracy. People express a fondness for the Bible but only about 20% of professing Christians actually read it on a daily basis. Almost one out of every ten houses own a Bible and the average household has three. Even with all those Bibles on hand, about half of Americans read very little of it. One in ten have not read any of it. About 13 percent, opened it to read a few sentences. About 30% say they have read a few passages or stories. A few more statistics if you will bear with me, twenty-two percent read a little bit each day routinely, while a whopping thirty-five percent say that they have not read it at all. I could continue to bore you with statistics found in the studies but they would only be a cause for alarm. To believe in Jesus Christ requires knowing the Word of God.

The illiteracy of the church is a problem. It is a hindrance to the growing, maturing and developing the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh as a living demonstration of God’s Love and Affection for mankind. To know Jesus it is imperative to know the Word of God intimately and personally. There were a number of reasons why people did not read the Bible in the study including it is not a priority and busyness. Others just don’t read as a whole while others could not see its relevance in their daily life. Only a small percentage did not own a Bible with just ten percent disagreeing with it. If only ten percent disagree with the Word of God, it means that ninety percent do see value in its pages yet still do not make an effort to read, study, and work it in their life. Why?

Hosea 4:6 (NKJV) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

God’s People are literally destroyed for lack of knowledge. When the enemy comes with a lie, the only way to combat it is with truth. God’s Word gives us a new identity in Jesus Christ. To know who we are, what we are called to do, and empowered with the strength of confidence to do it. I will not have confidence in someone I don’t know. Stranger danger is important to the safety of our children. If God and His Way (Jesus) are strangers in our life, what recourse is there when the enemy tells us otherwise? It is important to our spiritual wellbeing and success to know Christ intimately and completely. My husband and I have been married for almost two decades. He is my best friend. I know him inside out. I know how he thinks. I know how he lives. I know him intimately. If someone tells me something about him, I know immediately if they are telling the truth because I know my husband. Christ is our bridegroom. He is my Salvation. (Acts 28:28) He is the Word of God wrapped in a human body to identify with in this life until I reach forever. (John 1:14)

Matthew 4:1-4 (NKJV) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

The leadership team of our church is currently fasting and praying together. It is only day two and my body is mad about the whole thing. It is crying out for relief from hunger and to overcome fatigue. Though I am hungry and tired, I still must continue to work and care for my family. Jesus was taken into the wilderness to be tempted. He fasted for forty days and nights. He was hungry. The enemy came to Jesus to tempt Him. Jesus responded with the Word of God as a weapon. It is important to understand the relevance and power of God’s Word to overcome every temptation in life. Of note, it is the Holy Spirit who led Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted. When tempted from a divine standpoint is a positive test. Remember Job, God said, “Consider my servant…” God wanted to bless Job. Job had a pride problem. God allowed His Servant to be tempted to move Him from stagnancy to supernatural double portion blessing.

“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

It is important to the vitality of our spiritual existence that the Word of God become a priority in our life. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” The Blood of the Lamb gives way to salvation. The Word of God is our testimony. The Spirit uses the Word of God as a sword. It is the very thing that overcomes the enemy and his lies in our life. It is the essence of the renewed mind and steadfast spirit. It is the foundation of our faith. Without it, we will not be able to stand against the enemy’s attack. Forfeiting victory to ignorance. A starved and depraved spirit man will not win against the principalities and darkness but be bound and drug back into bondage. We secure our freedom in Christ with His Word that empowers our faith with knowledge that produces faith and confidence in His Grace provided by the Blood and boldness to speak the Word of God in our life that overwhelms every enemy and foe against the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is besieged each day in a barrage of lies and half-truths. The problem in the church today may be spiritual illiteracy but it is easily overcome by the Truth.

Ephesians 6:14-17 (NKJV)  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

When the Bible uses “word” it has two distinct connotations. There is “logos” and “rhema”. The “logos” word is the message. The Bible in its entirety is the “logos” word. “Rhema” is the portion which the believer wields as a sword in the time of need. In verse 14, there is mention of “having girded your waist in truth”. This would be the “logos” word. Our confidence in Christ comes from the Word. However, the Word of God is mentioned in verse 17 as the sword of the Spirit. It is not enough to read the Word but it must declared in our life to have an effect. The Word of God wins the battle when it is used in our conversation and prayers. Used to nullify the lie of the enemy, the Truth keeps us from the bondage of the lie. The only weapon afforded to us is the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Everything else is straightforward confidence and trust in God’s Power to sustain us. We do not win by might or power but by using the Word of God effectively and efficiently in our life to overcome. Are you armed for battle today? Are you ready to fight back and regain all that the enemy has taken from you? David faced the giant with only five smooth stones and a slingshot in the natural. But it was all those long nights tending sheep and meditating on the Word of God, writing it down, and mulling over it that honed his spirit for battle. He did not win by might or power that day. The Lord was with Him.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. You have been given a weapon. It is time to use it. Do you read the Word of God every day? I challenge you to do so. Not out of religion or routine but to establish a sound relationship with Jesus Christ. You must know Him to love and trust Him. He is the Word. Without intimate knowledge of the Bible, how will you be able to discern the truth from a lie? I cannot see Him. I must seek His Face and His Heart where it can be found. Once I gain confidence in Christ, I will see that there is power in the Word to be used in my life. The foundation of faith is widen in this place. Trust is established based on it. Confident hope is discovered and then becomes our desire. The sword is two-edged. It not only strikes down the enemy but continually separates the flesh and spirit to do away with those things hindering us from victory each day. It works for us and in us at the very same time.

Isaiah 54:7 (NKJV) No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.

I do not own a handgun. I will not own one unless properly trained in using it. To have a loaded weapon in the house does me no good against an unwanted intruder or attacker unless I know how to use it. The Bible laying on a dusty shelf is powerful. It has the ability to arm its owner and ward off the attacker. We perish when we don’t know how to use it. Faith must be established in confident hope. NO weapon formed against you shall prosper. This is God’s Word for your life hidden in the closed pages of the unused Bible. It has the power and potential to save, heal and deliver you from every temptation or attack the enemy brings. If I don’t know, understand, and believe the Word of God – it’s power remains contained in the pages and I will not overcome experiencing anything promised there. To know the Word, to believe it and to use it is our salvation and deliverance in every situation.

I challenge you to get in the Word of God today. Pick up your sword. Study it for yourself. Ask the Lord to reveal His Person to you as He comes to life from the pages. It is the truth that governs the life of the believer, freeing us from the bondage of lies tying us to our current condition, circumstance and situation. It is a constant reminder of our identity as sons and daughters of God – greatly love, constantly empowered and deeply desired. It gives us worth. It infuses faith with substance making every impossibility totally impossible. It puts the enemy on the run. You need His Word. Like any good food, once it is tasted, it changes our appetite and creates a hunger for it. We are not weak and helpless but mighty in power. Our power is in the Blood of the Lamb and the Word in our life. Our testimony arising from temptation and test that is overcome. Let God tell you about your life today. Don’t be a Christian statistic. Jesus wants you to have a rich and satisfying life that is exceedingly abundantly more than you can think or ask. The Word of God is the seed that produces such a life.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,  and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Praying for Prosperity

Praying for Prosperity

I Chronicles 4:10 (NKJV) And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.

Several years ago, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson wrote a book titled “The Prayer of Jabez”. It was a huge hit. Based on just two verses of in the Old Testament, it would become a mainstay of prayer for many. It also would be turned into a “prosperity gospel” of sorts which many mega ministries. I am not against prosperity gospel at all. I believe that God wants to bless His People…as their souls prosper putting natural resources in proper order and focusing on the spiritual blessings and fruit of His Spirit. It is our goal to seek the Kingdom of God first, then God will add other things. I can personally attest that as the Kingdom becomes your focus all that glitters is no longer gold and those simple fruits will become the substance of satisfaction for our daily life.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

God is good. He is a gracious Father. He is an excellent provider for His Children. He loves to bless us. What parent doesn’t like to bless their children? To give them better than what they had. To make their life comfort and complete in every way possible. The selflessness of parenthood is definitely a trait handed down by the Father who would give His Son to provide access to those who were once lost to Him. The Fruit of the Spirit consisting of love, joy, and peace are the three things people long for the most. We want to experience kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and even self-control. These are not naturally occurring qualities in humanity. However, spiritually they are all overflowing from God’s Kingdom as the Holy Spirit looks for fertile places in our hard hearts to plant them deep within, watering them with the Word of God, protecting them, nurturing them, giving them time to grow, develop and mature. This is soul prosperity. A soul that is able to produce such things no matter how things are going all around us. To experience love, joy and peace on the most challenging day, diverse conditions and overwhelming circumstances knowing, trusting and believing that God is good, His Love Constant and our life secure in the Father’s Hand.

Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV) Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Before taking one more step, I just have to say to all the parents and guardians of children, consider every single word spoken to them carefully. The power of death and life are in our tongues. The future is seeded by the words sown into these little ones. Every word counts. Words sown that cannot be taken back can be removed by repentance. It is okay to tell our kids when we are wrong or harsh. It doesn’t make us a bad parent or show weakness. It teaches them to be humble and apologize as well. We must lead by example. Now back to Jabez…

His mother named him Jabez because an excruciating and overwhelming experience. He was innocent. An infant in the womb on his way out. Yet his mother, in her pain, hurt and frustration, labeled her precious baby – “He will cause pain.” Jabez was not a label of the past but a terrible prediction and prophesy of his life in general. Evil oaths, angry words, and verbal confusion cause negativity to distill into human reality. Whether spoken by others about you or it is by our own declaration, curses concentrate on our soul like a cancer silently growing into a dysfunctional determination of our destiny. God wants to change all that today. He is providing us an example of changing the course of time and inevitability of our future to align it with what He has called us and become who He created us to be. New creations are born of the context and content of our conversation. Will I be who the world says that I am or who God created and called me to be?

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed…”

The first thing to note in this passage is that Jabez was a believer. He believed in God enough to converse with him. I Chronicles 4:9 tells us that he was honorable. Access to God the Father comes through His Son, Jesus Christ. You cannot come to the Father but through the Son. There is no other way. God loves you. He hears you. But He cannot grant your petition outside of faith in Jesus Christ. To come close to us would be the end of us as His Goodness consumed the sin within us. By grace we are saved through faith, the Grace of God is provided in the Blood of the Son. I know the Cross was messy, violent and overwhelming but it is absolutely necessary to identity with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus to have eternal life and access to God. Through Jesus, we can come boldly and ask anything in His Name and God’s Will is granted to us which as is exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask.

Jabez asked God to “bless me indeed.” The word “indeed” is important. It means in fact, in reality, in truth, truly. It is added for emphasis to confirm and amplify the previous statement. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Jabez asked God to bless him indeed. God desires to bless His Children. Those who desire a life that prospers in the fullness of God. I believe this prayer is born of the revelation of God’s Love for us. To suddenly realize through divine interaction that there is more to life than this for God’s People accessed through the intimate relationship apart from the world’s influence. The more I love the Lord the less appealing sin becomes because it causes a breach between us. I want to please God simply because I love Him.

Jabez believed opening his heart to the possibility of supernatural increase in his life. You have been promised provision from the surplus supply of Heaven. God has given us every spiritual blessing. We are provided an inheritance. More than enough. Surrendering our life and every natural resource of our life to His Word, His Work and His Will precipitates prosperity. Divine prosperity begins in our heart, mind, and soul as we give God more and more of the property of our life including time, talent and treasure investing in the Kingdom.

“Enlarge my territory…”

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NKJV)  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The fullness of God cannot be contained in the finite area of our life. The sheer capacity of His Goodness requires room to expand and grow in us. Jabez asked God to take the boundaries and borders off of his life. He invited the Lord to stretch him beyond comfort, convenience and control. He was allowing God to break every chain, remove every hindrance, tear down every wall even those self-constructed, and erase every lie.  The endless possibility of God is overwhelming outside of trust and reliance on the Lord. The shaking and moving of life once settled to “enlarge” our territory can be very frightening. Like Peter jumping out of the boat was thrilling and exciting until he saw how big the waves and powerful the wind were, then his faith ran out and he was drowning in doubt. When you ask for more, increase and enlargement it produces an unsettling of our heart, mind and soul so that God can release the full potential of our life.

John 12:24-25 (NKJV) Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

To enlarge our territory is to destroy human expectation altogether. To step into the unknown regions of God’s Providence including provision and promises which is to walk entirely by faith and not by sight or human rationalization. Miracles happen in the impossible. If you can do it, God’s Plan is bigger. I wonder how many truly can pray this prayer with an open and honest heart willing to accept the challenges of enlargement required for fulfillment. To jump fearlessly into the depths of God’s Love even we cannot feet cannot touch the solid ground of logic to bask in the deeper things and hidden places of blessing and prosperity. A seed must go in the ground to be fruitful. It must die to self and give way to change in substance and form in order to fulfill its potential. We must be willing to do the same.

“That Your hand would be with me…”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God is ready to empower all who invite His Works and Resources of Power. God’s Power is released by His Authority to those who humbly accept His Grace as enough. Grace is provided to us and must be accepted in humility. We must give up control in order to be satisfied by grace. Is God’s Grace enough for you today? Ask yourself the question, do I have regrets? Do I live in shame? Do I doubt God based on my ability? To ask God to place His Hand upon us is complete surrender to His Authority, Power and Grace in our life. To say, I am not enough but You are my everything. To accept human weakness, release it to Presence and let His Spirit fill you with exactly what you need experience resurrection power. Jabez knew his limitations. He was well aware of his imperfections. He asked the Lord put your Hand upon me. He didn’t ask the Lord to open His Hand before Him. To desire the Heart of God we accept the Grace of God and invite His Power and Authority to operate in our weakness humbly. We must live a life of humility before the Lord to access His Power in our life.

“That You would keep me from evil…”

Psalm 119:10-12 (NKJV) With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes.

God gives us everything needed to part ways with sin in our life. We have His Word. Jesus is the Word of God that came wrapped in flesh and bones to demonstrate God’s Love. The Word of God is the Truth concerning us and must become the logic for faith to grow and prosper in our life. It feeds our Spirit. It builds the foundation to stand on when nothing in our life is going right. It is the waiting place of trust that soothes our heart and mind while patience in God’s Timing is developed. The Lord wants to keep us from evil. We partner in the process by continually consuming the Word of God to feed our soul.

John 14:26 (NKJV) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

The seed of the Spirit is God’s Word. He plants it in our heart, nurtures it, and protects it while it becomes His Fruit reaching its full potential in our life. Sin usually is prefaced by an unfulfilled desire or unmet expectation. We must fill the voids in our life or the enemy will offer substitutions and counterfeits. The Holy Spirit is our helper. Jesus gave us His Spirit to facilitate a productive and prosperous life. We must maintain our relationship with God through His Son Jesus to have that. The Word of God and His Spirit creates an environment within us that produces a new heart and new mind that desires more than status quo. Partnering with God means running from evil and pursuing that which is good. Jabez asked the Lord to partner with him in this process.

“That I may not cause pain!”

Matthew 18:2-4 (NKJV) Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Children possess a certain innocence and helplessness when they come into the world. Like soft clay, moldable by those around them and what they experience. We have been studying childlike faith in a series at church. Coming to the Father as a child with the natural expectancy of our innocent youth. However, being born to imperfect people, there is a solid chance that your expectations may not have been met. Perhaps your family, like mine, is clearly dysfunctional. Disappointment, betraying, abandonment, abuse, neglect, and more cause children to become broken adults with unmet expectation, bitterness, boundaries, walls and insecurities that cause them to approach God with caution. They are reluctant to trust. Fearful of surrender. Too broken to give too much. Generational curses plague us. Word curses spoken over entire bloodlines cause a people in bondage who want God’s Blessings, His Promises and to prosper but cannot even dare to believe a single word is true, trustworthy or for them when it comes to the Lord. Friend, God is good. He is a Good Father. It doesn’t matter how you got here, what you went through, or how many times you have fallen – His Heart yearns for you. He loves you and desires you above all things. His Grace is enough to lift you up into His Arms, wash you with His Word, wrap you up in righteousness, and fully revive, restore and renew your life. You have to come to Him like a child. Jabez did just that. Uttering the one thing that he thought was unsolvable, unfixable, and unthinkable. God – that I may not cause pain. His mother’s label was erased in that moment as “God granted Him what He requested.”

Psalm 1:3 (NKJV) He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

It has been 17 years since I read I Chronicles 4:9-10 for the first time. I have it hanging on the wall in my house. I have read it in passing a number of times and prayed the same prayer. I believe the seed planted by it has finally begun to bear fruit. I don’t see the prosperity gospel in the net worth of my life or what I have but the fact that when I wake up – the Lord is with me. When I go through the day, He is still with me. When I lose my way, He is right there waiting for me. When I lose it, He still listens. The Presence of God has caused my life to prosper with in my heart and soul. God wants to bless us. He desires nothing more than to give us His Absolute Best. But God will release nothing to me that will destroy me, distract me or detour me from His Purpose. My heart is His First Priority. My salvation is His Purpose. To seek the Kingdom of God first allows everything in His Storehouses to be released to me without changing the condition of my heart or ability to trust Him. If I have all that I need, want and desire outside of my relationship with Christ, I would leave Him and so would you. It is human nature. It is in my need for Jesus that I have found true prosperity. The kind that Paul describes when he says, “I know how to be abased and how to abound.” The secret is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. If I have live apart from Jesus to have it, I don’t want it. The prayer of Jabez is about so much more than filling our bank account with funds, our homes with stuff, and expanding our influence. It is about becoming a new creation and claiming the future and hope God promised no matter how it impacts our existence today. He must increase. I must decrease. To live is Christ and die is gain. When our soul truly prospers the seed of faith hidden inside of it, you will prosper in all seasons and all ways.

3 John 1:2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

When I Can’t

Life is beautiful .Young woman and clouds  .

Philippians 4:12-13 (ESV) I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I can’t do this again. I just can’t. Do you feel that way today? Life is hard. Struggles are real. The burdens can be overwhelming even to the strongest person. The harsh reality is that some things are unavoidable. Life does not present options when it comes to the tests, trials and troubles that come with each new day. When the hit comes, the employment ends, the debt takes over, the diagnosis comes or the relationship is broken – you have no other choice but to go through it. When you come to the end of your proverbial rope all that is left is to tie a knot and hang on. I understand. I truly do.

Many years ago, our family vacationed in Orlando, Florida. Visiting a water park, our youngest was thrilled to find out she met the height requirement to embark on the giant water slides. For years, I graciously relegated myself to accompany the younger children while my thrill-seeking husband would go with the older children to ride giant roller coasters and water slides. The truth is that I am not a fan of fear. I don’t like adrenaline rushes. I am not okay with being scared. I hid in the kiddie lands and pools of our trips. However, now I felt the pressure not to allow my fear to extend to her so I agreed to go with her. Ugh! Climbing the stairs slowly – she was bounding up them joyfully to keep up with the “big kids”. Arriving at the top, all I could think was “heck no” as I could see the entire park from the vantage point. It was a straight shot to the bottom. I was already backing up when I saw them pack my itty bitty in the tube and her say, “Come with me, mama!” How could I back out now? I didn’t. I want my children to be brave and courageous. I did not want to give her the spirit of fear. God doesn’t give us that spirit either. At the bottom, my little girl was jumping up and down ready to go again. Overcoming fear is a challenge every day. Some opportunities come with choices, others there is no choice.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” I wish I could say that the “I can do” comes before the trial or trouble is over but it is my experience that most days I feel the weakness in certain areas of my life. When our son was in the midst of battling cancer, time and time again people would say, “I couldn’t do it.” Friend, when that thing you fear the most does happen – you have no choice but to do something. It may not be pretty or how you expected to respond but you will do something as long as you are breathing. The Lord offers us strength and power. His Spirit inside of us the essence of His Strength and Power. Looking at the verse right before this power verse that is readily shared, printing, and projected is the truth about the strength Paul speaks of – I know…

Proverbs 8:14 (ESV) I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” is a forgotten truth found in Hosea in the Old Testament. It is true today. Faith dies, hope dies and people die because they claim to know God but simply don’t know Him at all. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh so that people could be brought back to life. The Word of God written through inspiration of the Holy Spirit are pieces of the Bread of Life to be consumed on an ongoing basis just as regular food. It feeds our soul giving us the counsel, sound wisdom and insight that gives us strength. Scripture reading, meditation, memorization and recitation is a form of communion offered to us each day. It empowers us with the truth about every situation. It shows us the possibilities of faith. It adds weight to the anchor called hope. Proverbs 24:5 tells us that “a wise man is full of strength and a man of knowledge enhances his might.” We need God’s Word to feed our spirit and overcome our flesh every day. Failure to thrive in a human being is a condition of malnourishment. It cannot be overcome in a day but is resolved with a solid nutrition plan over the course of time. Is your spirit man starving today? Have you been feeding him or her on a regular and ongoing basis? Proverbs 24:10 states candidly “if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is too small.”

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I can’t. I hate to admit this when it is true. I loathe my weaknesses. I don’t expect to fail so when I do it is the ultimate letdown. Who does? Our person comes prepackaged with this little (or not-so-little thing) called pride. It is the flesh. It rivals the Spirit inside of us because it must die to give up control. Pride fights to the death to be in control. Humility is not fashionable and deemed weakness in the world. What is that thing you have pleaded with the Lord about? What is the very thing that keeps coming back to fight your feelings and flesh time and time again? Why? Why does it keep happening? Why God? It is okay to ask God why as long as we do so with the understanding that His Ways are higher than our own and His Thoughts, so it is with full knowledge that it is probably still going to allude our intellect. I will never let God do until I can’t. There I said it… the truth that must come to light but is never going to feel good at first.

Faith is not about what I can do but what I allow Christ to do in and through me. It is in my weakness that His Strength and Power can work miracles in my life. When I finally quit trying to control the outcome, do everything for Him, or be something that I am not. It is that moment when I cry out to the Lord, “I can’t do this anymore” that He can finally rush in and fill the voided bravado and façade of control to be my strength and my power. He promises to be my strength and shield so while He is fighting my battles, righting my way, healing my body, working every detail for my good – His Hand still keeps me safe. He is covering me. It hurts. I am weak. The Lord offers to be my strength today. He is ready to release His Power in my life because when I am weak…I am strong.

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

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” How do I find my way from desperation to delight in the same breath? Reading Psalm 73 this morning, I hear the Lord whisper, “I know the desires of your heart. I haven’t forgotten. I am not done yet.” Oh, how I needed such encouragement. Peaks and valleys do not change the heart or mindset of God concerning His Children. His Intentions for us are always the same. The outcome of the test or trial including our ability to remain faithful in it or not does not change what God is doing in us and for us. It is all working together for our good and His Glory if we can just remember that God is a good father. His Love is constant. His Power is mighty. His Strength invincible. He is working it in us and through us. Our flesh will fail. Our heart might go with it. BUT God…He is my strength of heart and my portion forever. He will never fail because His Love for me never fails.

Psalm 84:5-7 (ESV) Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.

Isaiah 40:29 (ESV) He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Psalm105:4 (ESV) Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!

Just like that, fireworks for my spirit and soul. These promises are for those who think they can’t do it anymore. Those who are growing weary in well-doing. The ones considering climbing down from watchtower of waiting. The ones who might feel they are drowning in doubt or weighed down by discouragement. The valley is deep but God’s Love is deeper. The night seems dark but Light lives in you. You may feel faint but don’t worry His Strength is about to take over. Maybe the drought in your life is not meant to be doused with rain but saturated by the spring welling up within you. Sometimes it is our expectation that limits us until we put all of our expectation in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the One who promised us a rich and satisfying life so maybe it is His Way, His Truth and His Life we needed all along. Perhaps it had to come to this for us to finally reach out and take hold of Him. Who knows? All I know is that when I feel like I can’t – Jesus not only promised that He can but that He will!

Psalm 68:35 (ESV) Awesome is God from his sanctuary the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

Time To Prophesy

Time To Prophesy

Romans 4:16-17 (NLT) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

“Prophesy over your life.” I could hear the soft whisper and feel the gentle stirring as the Lord is nudging me a little. It is not a weird sensation or awkward urge just a tender bit of encouragement from an enormous God who has extravagant plans for my life…and yours, too. In the overt move across the nation to neutralize God and disembody Christ’s Church, I wonder if the effectiveness of such an overture is because we do not hear and respond to the Lord on a personal basis or in an intimate setting. Is our striving for a relationship or to maintain a religious agenda limiting our effectiveness? Oh don’t get me wrong. I love church. It is one of my favorite places to be. I love to praise. Worship. Fellowship. Learn. Encourage and be encouraged. However, I must be honest. I have been to many churches over my lifetime which means I guess I haven’t found the right one or the One lives in me keeps moving me. I have discovered in times of perplexity if I call out to the Lord for help He rushes in to offer it but it is usually not with a way to help or change others but an inward push to change me.

May I be honest and a bit transparent today? Ok, thanks! I have struggled with discouragement over the last couple of weeks. You know the times and seasons when you wonder if you made a wrong turn, got ahead of the Lord or maybe have fallen out of step. Looking around, life does not look like you expected. You are provided for but not necessarily prospering the way God’s Word says you will. The Word of God and His Promises have not yet come to pass. The blessings in your life are obvious but not exceedingly and abundantly more than you can think or ask. Like a long trip to a new destination, when it takes a little too long, or maybe you begin to question the directions given so you begin to look back and see if maybe you missed a turn along the way. Usually, it happens right before the next turn comes or you arrive. I know God’s Word. I believe it is true. I know the Lord is good. He is faithful. He is true. Now what? God is telling me to prophesy.

Such a churchy word, prophesy. Surely you have to have a master’s degree in theology and some kind of super anointing to be that guy or girl who prophesies, right? Nope. Not at all. In Joel 2:28, it says, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.” Across all translations it is consistent in translation that God will pour out His Spirit and ALL PEOPLE will prophesy. In Acts 2:17-18, on the Day of Pentecost, it happened for the first time in a group setting. Peter reminded everyone of the prophet’s words. I remember sitting in my first “full gospel” church. I quiet woman who was very shy was two rows ahead of us. At the end of the service, everyone had their heads bowed and eyes closed in prayer and she started shouting and speaking in tongues. My head shot up and my eyes opened. She was giving a prophetic word to the church. The pastor gave an interpretation and I whispered to the Lord, “Please don’t ever do that to me.” Well, I have recanted on those words and asked forgiveness. I know that such things are doctrinally challenging and hair-splitters for congregations but the point of my sharing this is that God promised that EVERYONE who is Spirit-filled will prophesy. You. Me. Everyone.

Now before you make the same mistake that I did, let’s talk about prophesy and what it really is. To prophesy is to declare or foretell by divine inspiration. Pretty cool, huh. Romans 10:19 tells us that if we “declare” with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that salvation is fully accomplished. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God tore the veil in the temple from top to bottom so now nothing could stop us from living in His Presence. It also began to raise the dead. Immediately. Opening graves and pulling out people. When Jesus rose again, He said, “I will send the Holy Spirit…the Holy Spirit (will come) and fill you with the Power of Heaven,” (Luke 24:49) Most people who call themselves Christians agree on these points. The disagreement is in manifestation. So let’s talk about prophesy specifically according to the Scripture so we can be empowered by it today.

The promise comes by faith. It’s true. Faith gives substance to what is believed. Faith pleases God. Faith makes the impossible possible even in the smallest measure. In Romans 4:17, the New International Version tells us about the father of faith – Abraham. What did Abraham do that was so great? He believed in the God who gives life to the dead AND “calls into being things that were not.” The Bible is filled with great potential for believers. However, I think most if not all would agree that many things have not come to pass in our life. Therefore, it is a book of prophesy…right? Could the basic elements of prophesy begin by something as simple as declaring God’s Word over our life?

Ezekiel 37:4-10 (NIV) Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

“The tongue has the power of life and death…” (Proverbs 18:21) Oh, if we only believed that to be true. We would be so careful to make sure the words of our mouth and meditation of our heart agreed. (Psalm 19:14) This is the part where I get really excited and don’t want to finish writing but just bask in the Presence of my Precious God. “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord!” We have been given a book filled by divine inspiration promises and blessings yet to be discovered in our life. We have the Word of God. It belongs to us. Every single thing in God’s Word is mine. He does not lie or change His Mind. His Word cannot return to Him until it completely accomplished what it was sent out to do. If God speaks to you in a dream or vision (again Joel 2:28 says that He will), it remains circulating in your life until it comes to pass. We have been given a prophetic vocabulary. Why are we withholding it? Hmm…

So I prophesied as commanded…the prophet obeyed God. Did what He told him to do. The bones came together. The Word of God did exactly as promised but there was no life in the bones. Hang on. Simple obedience like sowing and reaping will perform as expected each time. What is planted will grow.  Religiosity will draw people together but the Spirit gives life. It is the Breath of God that sparks revival, fuels renewal and builds a vast army called the Body of Christ into a living, breathing form. In John 4, Jesus meets the woman at the well. He tells her that the time is coming and has now come when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. We must allow God’s Word and Spirit to work its way from inside of us outside of us. We must not only speak the Word of God but give it life in our breath by believing it. The Spirit and Truth belong to us. Live in us. Work all things together for our good and God’s Glory when we begin to obey the Lord and speak to the dry, dead areas of our life the Word of God and release His Spirit to do what God promised to do. Jesus said, “The very words I speak are truth and life.” It is time to prophesy.

I Corinthians 14:1-4 (NLT) Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.

There is a difference between speaking in tongues and prophecy. There I have said it. Everyone groan and cringe if necessary. I will give you a moment to reposition yourself in your seat. I am going merely on the Word of God here. Love should always be our highest goal. Love for God. Love for Jesus. Love for people. You should desire the Gifts of the Spirit beginning with the Fruit of the Spirit – absolutely. Speaking in tongues is a prayer language between us and the Father. I do believe in the gift of tongues. I do not believe that you must have this gift to be fully effective as a believer. It is a gift from God to us. We have the option to use it or not. The ability to prophesy is also a gift. The Word of God in this passage tells us that we should desire the gift of prophesy more than any other gift. When I pray in tongues, it edifies me. It is for my relationship with Jesus Christ and our communication. When I prophesy, it takes the Word of God in me and allows the Spirit of God to breathe life in it and it pours out on others. When I teach a Bible Study, I love it when people see Jesus like I do. I love it when they see themselves in God’s Word. For them to experience just the slightest essence of God’s Love gives me an overwhelming rush because God really is that good. The one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. What better way to represent the Awesome God who loves us so much.

This discouragement I have felt was linked to the circumstances of life and my current condition but as I prophesy God’s Word over my life and now share it with you – I am encouraged. Prophesy is the very thing that the church needs. In the most practical form, we have all the elements needed to project God’s Blessing, His Purpose, and His Plan to others wrapped tightly in His Love. The Word of God for my life is power. His Spirit is the result of grace that is more than enough when I am not which is most of the time. What would happen if rather than getting stuck in ourselves, wrapped up in religion, and caught up in disputes if we all just began to prophesy life to all the dry, dead and broken things in our life and church and community? What is the potential? Every promise of God is the potential. A strong and sound Body to be the Bride. So many possibilities if we only believe enough to prophesy in our life and others today. Prophecy is the practical application of God’s Word in every conversation. It is to breathe life in dead things and see them come back to life. It is to encourage. It is simple It is not my job to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ palatable or preferable…just to prophesy and watch dead things come to life. I have the power to change my life. The Spirit of the Living God lives in me and His Word is my inheritance. It is time to prophesy in my natural life what already is in the Heavenly Realm. It will prosper my life and encourage others if I simple take the time to prophesy.

John 6:63 (NLT) The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

 

Where Is Your Faith?

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Luke 8:22-25 (NLT) One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

The rain and wind must have awakened our newest fur baby or maybe it was just time to go, whatever the case, it was clear she meant business. It was still dark swinging my legs over the side of the bed thinking I am too old for this, but she is oh so worth it. Our family adopted a black lab puppy a few weeks ago. Usually our dogs have been acquired at an older age from someone who took on the responsibility of pet ownership and decided several months in that it wasn’t for them. Our family considers our dogs members of our family. At any rate, she was barely nine weeks old when she became our fur-ever baby. She is very large as her dad is a giant, so sometimes it is hard to remember she is not even three months old. She is extremely laid back and conservative. She approaches new things curiously – stepping in not running to it – and holding her ground yet pensively. Very different from our little Chihuahua with the heart and personality of a Rottweiler, who despite her small size is always in charge or so she thinks. I was interested to see how Scout responded to the storm. She just walked right in it like any other time. The rain didn’t bother her. The flashes of lightning did not get her attention. Even the thunder was not big deal to her, she just went about her business like it was any other morning on any other day. In the distance, I could hear other dogs not so fortunate as our little ones who I was drying off on the back porch. No barks or howls just whimpers. I wonder why their owners didn’t take them out of the rain. Give them proper shelter to keep them dry. Maybe their food is all soggy now or washed away in the storm. Poor puppies! Even Scout takes notice standing with her nose in the air, looking out in the darkness, her tail stops wagging as she listens…I wonder if she knows what they are saying.

I will be the first to admit that I wasn’t thankful for today’s rain. It means that I cannot finish painting the latest restoration I am working on in my “free time”. It’s going to be a mess getting to church. Why even bother doing my hair? Yuck. But then I thought about the fertilizer my husband put down yesterday that will work best with the added water, and the fact that rain is essential. We haven’t had any in a while. I crawl back in bed with the puppy satisfied and our tiny one in the bed – safe, secure and content as the storm really kicks up. I drift off to sleep to the sound of the rain.

Jesus told his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” The men obeyed Jesus and everyone got in a boat to head over as He instructed. Obedience is not always a quiet ride. Just by doing what the Lord instructs us to do or being led by His Spirit does not guarantee a clear forecast in life. It isn’t always smooth sailing ahead. Having enough faith to get on the boat is not always enough to carry us to the other side. Once on the boat, Jesus took a nap. While he was sleeping, “a fierce storm came” and the boat filled with water. They were in “real” danger. Let’s stop there for a moment. What constitutes real danger? Loss of control. When there is nothing humanly possible to do who do we look for? Jesus, of course. In their panic, they go and awaken the Lord. He immediately rebukes the wind and rain. Turning to the men who had walked with him, talked with him, heard all his best messages so far and even experienced miracles with their eyes and asks, “Where is your faith?”

“Where is your faith” today? How far have you trusted Jesus? On the shore, to the dock, on the boat, across the water, or to the middle of the storm? At what point did you go to Jesus and ask Him for help or abandon this crazy thing called Christianity because it didn’t work out like you thought? Where is your faith? Is it in the vessel, the storm or the Savior? We can obey Jesus Christ taking Him at His Word and never trust Him enough to rest in His Authority and Power over our life. Fear and insecurity are based on a lack of confidence. It is seldom as much about the reality of the outcome but merely a perception based on the current situation or experience. The realm of hope which is available to God’s People comes with peace and rest unaffected by a change in natural conditions resting on a Supernatural God.

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

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for. Real faith is necessary to please God. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6) To say one believes must be evidenced in our life not just our words. Anyone who comes to the Lord must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. Obedience is not always faith-based. In fact, to do what the Word of God tells us to is much easier sometimes then doing what the Holy Spirit impresses on our heart. The doing that can be incorporated into our routine, schedule or agenda works well for us. The knowing conceived through God’s Word and verbally repeated is good for us, too. We like it. Memorization that never becomes meditation does nothing for us. It cannot get past our head to make it into our heart. Reciting is one thing but remember is truly another. It is when faith is required that it is revealed. The moment that religion becomes reliant on a relationship. It is the times when everything falls apart and I am completely undone when I must run to Jesus because my faith has run out. These are the opportunities to make something real out of the seeds planted in our life but not given to the ground to produce a harvest. Or sometimes, it is all the seeds that have not grown into anything yet.

Matthew 17:19-20 (NLT) Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “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.”

Animal experts believe that dogs that fear thunder and lightning do so based on past experience. A time when it occurred and they’re expectation of care not met. Experience at an early age. Another theory, dogs respond to storms based on their owner’s attitude and actions. How might believers respond to life if they truly knew the potential called faith and purpose called hope? What if we really believed the words recited from the Bible? What if the promises claimed were not worth giving up on? What if we were willing to wait it out until the end? Trusting. Believing. Clinging to God and His Word until it came to pass in the land of the living as He promised. “Nothing would be impossible.”

Too many time, God is given the benefit of human experience rather than the honor of being constant, sovereign and all-mighty. We expect God to be like our natural father and/or caregiver. We put our faith in Him in a limited supply because of fear and insecurity from past experiences with imperfect people. God is faithful. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. If He has told you He will do it – God will absolutely do it according to His Plan. In the meantime, His Children are offered this refuge called peace that allows us to wait on Him no matter how long it takes. The Power of God is no match for the storms of life. At His Word, the wind dies down, the rain dries up, the thunder ceases and lightning goes dark. One word. His Word. So if the storm is still raging all around you – does that mean that the Hand of God is losing its hold – has He come to the end of His Reign? Is His Authority null and void now? No. Absolutely not. The storms in our life offer us the opportunity to see where faith ends and fear begins. This is essential in developing faith that just gets by in the natural to wonder-working power in God’s Supernatural.

I want to live in the place where “nothing is impossible.” The place and time where my life is ruled by peace and favor not worry and anxiety. To be the kind of believer that takes God at His Word first and can walk strong and courageously through life no matter the conditions I face. That is who I want to be so I guess that is an invitation to God to let it rain in my life. When you open the Windows of Heaven, I accept that some rain will fall, storms come, wind blow and thunder roar. I know you have me safe and secure in the Palm of Your Mighty Hand.

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Having been through many storms in life, I am happy to report that God has not failed me. He has been with me, carried me through and set my feet solidly on the other side. This is not to imply that I came through with flying colors but rather a broken heart held in hands raised to God for healing and restoration many times. The undoing of me is messy and not pretty but absolutely necessary to have the life I believe God has planned and prepared for me. I do believe. I need the Lord to help me overcome my unbelief today. In doing so, I am inviting a storm or two to come. I am asking for a forecast of rain. I know the rain is coming. It is well with my soul. I know that the Lord will never leave me or fail me no matter how many times I fail or fall down – He is still right there working all things together for my good like He promised. (Romans 8:28) He continues to perfect that which concerns me day by glorious day. (Psalm 138:8) If we can just overcome our disbelief, fears and insecurities about God’s Ability and Willingness to do exactly what He has promised enough to ride out the storms of life to the end – we would see the Glory of God overwhelm us and He would do more than we can even think to ask for. (Ephesians 3:20) All things would be possible just because we believed. Thank you Lord! Help me, Jesus to make it to that place of stillness as You bring me safely into the harbor! Lord, give me peace and confidence to trust you a little more, a little longer and a little farther than ever before! In Jesus Name!

Psalm 107:28-30 (NLT) “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!

Reviving Relationships

Reviving Relationships

Proverbs 11:30 (NLT) The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.

It’s a girl’s weekend – Woo Hoo! My mom, sister, sister-in-love, oldest daughter and I have ventured to a women’s conference out of town. Over the years, the Lord has grown our family and knit us together beyond the commitment of family to the covenant of friendship. We do not get to choose our familial relationships. It is ordained by God and heredity. However, friends are not the same. We do decide who is allowed in the inner circle of our lives. Those who can be trusted to share life with beyond superficial communication and ordinary contact. Some people are wonderful at maintaining such connections. Thoughtful and dedicated to each relationship. Others not so much. I see it in my own family among my children. Some are social and make friends easily. Some not so much. Others gather friends easily and others move from one friend to the next.

It always happens once reconnected with these ladies. I remember how much I love them and miss them in my everyday life. We live in different places. From Missouri to New Hampshire to Florida, yet put us in a room together and the laughter begins to flow as words and stories fill the room. I love that. I cherish that. We are called to be friends and have friends. God loves relationship. He loves friendship. He created families and encourages us to be friends. Yet, the enemy attacks such a kinship daily. Strife lingers in most families deemed imperfect and dysfunctional. It’s not a people problem. It is a sin problem. The only solution for sin is the Blood of Jesus that provides us a sufficiency of grace to draw from and spread all around.

The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life. Each day our life is comprised of a series of sowing and reaping. Planting seeds for the next season and harvesting the crops of the last. Those who sow love, grace and friendship will receive the same. But if I feel alone, isolated and lacking in this area, the Lord will provide every seed I need to sow it into my future. Wise people are those who sow God’s Word in their life to allow its promises to grow will make the decision to pursue relationships and work to maintain them. Why? It fills our life with His Love, Grace and Goodness as it multiplies around us.

Luke 1:39-42 (NLT) A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.

As many know, Elizabeth carried John the Baptist who would become the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Mary had just been told by the angel that she was carrying the Son of God. Jesus and John the Baptist were destine for friendship. Mary and Elizabeth were cousins. Mary chose to go to her cousin who must have been her friend and confidant to share her good news. When she arrived on the threshold of Elizabeth’s home, the baby inside of her swelling form leapt with joy. It says that in that moment, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. God has made an investment in those who He predestined for relationship. The seeds in others hidden for us as a deposit to be discovered in the midst of friendship. He ordained this between Mary and Elizabeth. He also ordered it for the next generation – Jesus and John.

We must learn the value of friendship. If we understand that it is ordained by the Lord and blessed by the same, it will become worthwhile. It is essential to becoming the Body of Christ rather than a dysfunctional and barren union that lacks productivity or prosperity. Friendships should be evident in the Body – the whole Bride of Christ is to be presented without blemish or handicap to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords which is not possible if it is all torn apart. Relationships are messy. Family drama just plain foolishness. It is much easier to shake the dust off our feet and walk away then to fully engage and fight for friendship. The Lord has blessed friendship. He loves harmony above all things.

Psalm 133:1-3 (NIV) How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

I struggle reading the story of Job. Engaged in the good fight for faith in the midst of great tragedy and devastation, I find his friends religious and annoying. They are constantly berating him and accusing him and seemingly judging him. I wonder why Job keeps answering their knock on the door. I think as I sat scraping my sores with fragments of pottery with a broken heart and tear-stained face that I would probably respond to their intrusion with a “go jump of Mount Sinai” retort. Job continues to engage with them. It was well worth his time. In Job 42, the Lord instructs Job to pray for his friends and so he does. It is immediately following the restoration of friendship through forgiveness that “the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!” (Job 42:10) Could there be a blessing that we are missing due to an unwillingness to nurture and maintain friendships in life? Absolutely! What the Lord does for others He will do for us? He has no favorites. I am God’s Favorite Child just like you are.

Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT) “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Elizabeth and Mary experienced the Power of Agreement when two friends become one by faith. The Holy Spirit joined them right then and there. This is the same promise given to us by Jesus in this passage. Ecclesiastes 4:12 elaborates with A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Relationship is God’s Security in our life as it unites the Body of Christ in to a faith-fighting machine. The enemy is powerless against God’s People standing together as one. We must seek to agree with our family and build strong bonds of friendship within each structure. Our families include those given by birth or joined by association. Any seed of potential friendship that is not cultivated is purpose left to die in the ground. Real friends have bonds closer than family ties. (Proverbs 18:24) It takes work. It requires our attention. We need the Fruit of God’s Spirit to feed and nourish godly relationships in our life to build long lasting and diehard friendships. Iron sharpens iron. (Proverbs 27:17) It smooths rough edges and breaks off hard parts especially in our hearts. We need those kinds of friends to grow, mature and develop in our walk with the Lord. They are the very ones who God uses to speak instruction, wisdom and direction into our lives. These are the ones who will be His Voice to us. The heartfelt counsel of a friend is valuable and sweet. (Proverbs 27:9) The Lord has hidden treasure in each one to be unearthed and bound in Heaven to experience blessings only given by a good, good God!

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

If we only knew the promise hidden in real abiding relationships called friendship, I believe it would become a priority in our life. God has given us such an opportunity to be empowered by investing our life in others if only we believe. I will admit that I have taken relationships and friendships for granted countless times in my lifetime. Allowed distance or even dispute to separate me from people who I know the Lord has specifically placed in my life. There is no such thing as a coincidence for those called by God just constant opportunity to experience His Grace, Goodness and Glory like gentle waves washing over our life. The enemy wants to make us think that people are the problem when really they are the reality of blessing in our life. No greater love for Jesus is shown than when we lay down our life for our friends. It is not all about the big things but each day giving up a little bit of my way to maintain peace and prosperity in friendship. God blesses every relationship that is harmonious and unified. He loves it. His Spirit cannot help but come in the midst of such agreement. Maybe we have missed the true meaning of revival. Maybe just maybe it will begin with the restoration of true friendship and real relationships in the Body of Christ that cause an outpouring of His Love too great to deny! We won’t know unless we try! We can start with our family and work our way out until ripples become a current that changes the atmosphere with His Love. We must revive relationships and be committed to friendship to experience the Fullness of God’s Love.

Romans 15:5-6 (NLT) May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.