When Mountains Move

When Mountains Move

Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountain fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

“The mountains quake with their surging…” I wonder what our response might be to the moving of the mountain beneath us when the Lord starts to break apart the foundation of doubt that once was our security as pride kept us in complete control. The smallest step in faith will produce a profound rumble in the ground beneath our feet. Faith is not logical. It is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen which makes it intangible. In fact, sometimes the smallest movement of faith in our life produces an avalanche of circumstances as the enemy fights to keep us from attempting another. Fear is a fortress with an unlocked door. It binds us in the dreadful expectation of something that may not ever be a reality. Faith produces a refuge in the Presence of God that endures the moving of our mountain as the earth gives way to eternity.

It seems as though the more I desire to live by faith the more uncertain life becomes. God is an ever-present help in trouble because His Spirit lives in us. The reality of God’s Love shines from those who encounter it, engage it and somehow endure to the end. It is up to me to fan the flames of His Spirit and keep the light shining brightly even on the darkest days. I must feed my faith the Word of God to continually nourish and strengthen it. I must water it with the Word to keep it supple and growing. I must protect my seed of faith from the things that want to choke it and kill it such as fear, anxiety, stress, worry and cares. Life is hard. There is no question that everyone faces difficulties in life. The outcome is determined by our response to adversity. Do I run for cover or run to my refuge. God is with us. He is working for us. He will never let us down. He must be the place of comfort and rest when the mountain starts moving.

Psalm 46:4-7 (NIV) There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Faith displaces fear in our life but doesn’t stop the world from turning. The world is headed for destruction. There are wars and rumors of war just as the Lord predicted when He was with us. Just because you have faith doesn’t change the current conditions or natural consequences in the world, it changes us. It conditions our soul, mind and body to respond to God’s Word and His Faithfulness rather than reacting to the situations faced on any given day. I didn’t realize until today that the words, “God is within her, she will not fail” were actually words of encouragement tucked in the Bible. I needed some encouragement today. If God lives in you, you will not fail. It’s true. If we could only believe that His Word is true and relevant in our life – we just might wait to see what happens.

Haggai 2:6-9 (NIV)  “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Why shake things up? I believe that the shaking is to keep us from settling. Comfort and complacency produce a sense of control that is contradictory to allowing God’s Spirit to work in us and through us. God is determined to give us His Very Best. He doesn’t cut corners or compromise. We must press and push to stay in the Presence of God even in the midst of violent storms or shifting sands. In Luke 6:38, it talks about being “pressed down, shaken together and running over.” The giving of our life in full surrender to faith produces this kind of movement in our life. It is not a bad thing. It reveals the true wealth of our life. We have the opportunity to become refined and purified as gold.

Psalm 46:8-11 (NIV) Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Is the ground beneath you moving? Are the winds of change blowing like a hurricane through your life? Do you feel unstable? Could it be that your faith is producing some movement in the mountain of doubt you have been climbing? Faith moves mountains even in the smallest form. The changes and conditions that seem to be threatening you might be the very things moving you from complacency to confidence and producing the hope from the ashes of unmet expectation. You cannot expect to be transformed and not moved. It would be contradictory. Stagnancy is not a Kingdom condition as His Spirit flows through our life. Changing us and the outcomes of each trial. The Lord is moving us into a refuge of faith that produces confident hope that in the midst of shaking all around us – it produces a stillness just knowing that He is God. He is Good. His Love for us is unending and unconditional. He will stop at nothing to show you how much He desires you. If the mountain is moving today, do not let it move you. Keep the faith. Remain committed to confident hope. Hold on to Him with both hands. The Lord is for you. You will not fail!

Psalm 62:8 (NIV) Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

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Never Alone

Never Alone

Matthew 28:20 (NIV) “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Our youngest daughter was not feeling well when I arrived home from work. She was obviously tired and uncomfortable so we stayed home from the midweek service so I could tend to her. She is a teenager and maturing each day gradually before my eyes. Earlier in the day, I attended a routine prenatal appointment with her older sister in the same physician’s office that provided care for my baby girl all those years ago. All I could think was where had the time gone. How is it even possible that all my babies are growing up and now my grandson will soon be here? Anyway now this blossoming confident young woman just wanted her mama to take care of her again. As a mother, I cannot deny the joy it brings to my heart when my children want me or need me. It gives me no greater pleasure other than to take care of them or do things for them. As the night waned away, she asked if I would sleep with her in case she became ill in the night. Of course, I absolutely said, “Yes!”

I wonder how much joy it brings the Father when we request His Presence. Acknowledge the caregiver, provider, deliverer, healer and comforter that He is. Accept His Power in our life through His Grace that is always enough. I wonder if it makes His Heart explode as it does any other parent who greatly loves their children. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” It came at the most unlikely time. Jesus had just commissioned the disciples. Telling them to go make other disciples, share the Good News, and release His Power on the earth. Do you know what the greatest power that Jesus has to offer really is? He has all power and authority but the greatest of all is His Unconditional Love for us. It is the driving force of every other attitude and action given to us. It is the foundation of His Faithfulness. It is the governing force behind His Grace. Hebrews 13:8 tell us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Just a couple verses above that the Lord again affirms the Words of the Father for us – “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Verse 5)

Deuteronomy 31:6-8 (NIV) Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Strength and courage as a believer and Child of the Living God are born of confident faith and hope. It is the product of trusting God and recognizing His Fruitfulness in our life. It was time to go into the Promised Land. There were “giants” in the place God had led His People. They would be required to overcome fear, doubt and anxiety about their ability to secure victory and overtake those dwelling in the place God had made for them. The Lord promised that He was with them. He also swore that He had gone before them to make the way. How confident are you that the Lord is with you? Do you believe that He goes before you and falls in behind you? Do you understand that Jesus Christ released His Spirit to inhabit us taking seeds of faith and turning them into beautiful harvests of satisfying fruit? The kind of fruit that satisfies our soul and producing prosperity first in us and then through us. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. There is no need to be afraid. You must not be discouraged.

The Lord has promised that He will never leave us. How many other people have promised the same and not followed through? It is sometimes difficult to trust God with our whole heart because so many broken pieces have been given to other people and lesser things. This does not change the Promise God made us just impacts our ability to receive it with confident trust. He is with us. Do we acknowledge Him in our daily activities? Do we affirm Him with reciprocal love? Do we continue in obedience and faithfulness on those days when we cannot feel Him, see Him or touch Him with our heart? The greatest part of all is that even on those days overshadowed by fear, doubt, anxiety, discouragement, and any other fearful separation – God remains faithfully with us. He goes before us, lives in us and hems us in from behind. He does not lie. He does not change His Mind. The promise in Deuteronomy 31 still stands today.

The Lord has promised never to forsake us. This is His Covenant of Grace revealed before Jesus ever came to save us. I will never forsake, quit, leave, abandon, desert, give up on or renounce you. He doesn’t make any of this contingent on our behavior but simply states the Truth that He will not forsake us. (Period) This crucifies religion completely because God will stop at nothing to maintain a relationship with us no matter how far we wander, delay or mistrust.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NIV) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 

In order to continue to live our life in Christ, we must be confident of who He is, what He came to do, and that He actually accomplished it on the Cross as indicated in God’s Word. We cannot rely on our five senses to perceive God or the human heart to accept Him without condition. We must become rooted and grounded in His Love. We must strengthen our faith by sowing it in our life and reaping the benefits called confident hope. We must be thankful for the Presence of God that goes before us, remains with us, and falls in behind us whether we “feel” Him or not. He promised to never leave us or forsake – it is up to us whether or not we believe His Word to be true.

I have been asked many times in my life – “Why would God do this (insert bad thing or illness)? Or “why would He allow this to happen?” I wonder if it is God allowing it or us accepting such things in our life. Do we rally in our infirmities through prayer and seeking the Great Physician with as much fervency as we do doctors? Do we open the medicine cabinet first or the Word of God? Is it our practice to Google our symptoms or declare healing in our life? It may not be in God’s Approach but our own. In Christ lives all of God’s Fullness in bodily form, Jesus was as human as the rest of us but God lived in Him. What is our excuse? When He imparted His Spirit to us, now God lives in us, too. When we allow fear, doubt, anxiety and discouragement to overtake us, we choose something less than confident trust which is important to living a victorious life. Maybe it is our own choice that keeps us in the place of not enough, physical infirmities and constant defeat, when all we need to do is trust God and live in His Presence.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Last night as I crawled into bed with my ailing child, she immediately lightened in her demeanor. The thought that I was with her made all the difference in the world. Her fear of being ill in the night waned and she went to sleep in happy relief. She slept all night long knowing her mama was right here with her trusting that I would never leave or forsake her. What is our response to the nearness of God? He lives in close proximity to our heart but do we allow Him access to it? I am not a doctor nor do I have any other power of worth in me other than Jesus Christ, yet as I lay down beside her it changed her for the better just because I was there. How much more does the Father’s Presence do for us? He brings us peace. He heals our body. Restores our broken heart. He gives us confidence when facing the giants or simply trying to overcome a bad day. His Presence is the closest thing we have to Heaven and an opportunity to experience His Kingdom on the earth. I wonder if sometimes we forget that He will never leave us and certainly not forsake us. In troubled times our faith gives out and our confidence crumbles yet God is right where we are though our thought is that He was left behind or left us altogether. He does not ever leave us. God is a good Father who loves His Children. He is right there with us. Responds to our call. Keeps us in perfect peace when we trust, rely on and depend on Him. He will never let us down. His Love is unfailing. His Word will not return void. Acknowledge the Lord today. Affirm your love and affection for Him and His Nearness will be known to you. Teach your heart to trust Him more. Sow seeds of faith in all situations and wait for them to grow. He will never leave you. The Lord will not forsake you. You are never alone. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 14:26-27 (NIV)  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Stop, Drop and Roll

Stop Drop and Roll

James 3:2 (NLT) Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

I remember as a young child in school learning the technique of “stop, drop and roll” to extinguish a fire. Taught as part of health and safety, a nice fireman dressed in his gear instructed our second grade class on fire awareness. Part of his lesson was what to do if our clothing caught on fire – we were to stop, drop and roll. Consisting of three components as the name suggests, the first step is to stop. Stopping means to cease all movement which may fan the flames or even hamper those coming to one’s aid. Dropping to the ground, lying down and covering the face to avoid further injury. Finally, rolling on the ground in an effort to extinguish the fire by depriving it of oxygen. Even wrapping up in a rug if nearby to further put out any flames. I wonder if we might use the same techniques when putting out the fires started with harsh words and misunderstandings. Is it possible that stop, drop and roll might work in such conditions?

James 3:3-6 (NLT) We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.  

Recently, I have watched a beautiful friendship completely destroyed by careless words and misunderstanding. Burned to the ground as it spread through two families. I am praying for restoration, repair and rebuilding yet I cannot believe the absolute devastation. How many times to careless conversations, pointless debates or one-sided tirades destroy the beautiful harmony and unity that God has ordained for His People? Churches have literally split, divided and died from gossip, slander and malice among close friends now misaligned by the lie of the enemy who is the Father of Lies. Is it too late for grace? Oh man, I hope not. The Grace of God is always enough but like any other building the institution of relationship takes time to reconstruct. Trust is probably the hardest structure to build and maintain so once it is compromised it takes a committed effort by all to restore. How can something so small do so much damage? Why can’t we control our tongues? Why is our need to be right or defended so strong that pride keeps us from humbling our tongue and limiting our words to what is kind, necessary and true? Lord, help us today to examine our hearts, thoroughly inspect our thoughts, and completely control our tongue to bring glory to Your Great Name.

James 3:7-12 (NLT) People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

The complexity of human nature and the war against our flesh makes the products of our lips sometimes uncertain. Romans 7 talks about the war between flesh and spirit that wages war within us. We want to do what is right and try to but still do what is wrong on a regular basis. The need for constant grace is clearly definitive in the simple truth that humans are imperfect and our weakness is sin. We can change our habits. We can modify our routine. We can educate our opinion. Yet in the final stages of release our words are on a mission – to give life or pronounce death. (Proverbs 18:21) To be imitators of God and follow the example of Jesus – there will be times to be silent. To stop talking, drop to our knees in humility and roll out the flames set by the harsh words, judgment or gossip of another. Jesus was completely innocent yet in the midst of His Accusers – our Savior and Lord set forth an example that we are to learn from – He said nothing. (Matthew 27:11-14; Acts 8:32) This fulfilled the prophecy about our Lord and did not further fuel arguments. It would not hinder His Walk to the Cross. In order to fulfill God’s Destiny for our life and walk in His Ways, sometimes that means walking away from a fight right to preserve the relationship or to say, “I’m sorry” even when the offense was against you. The point is to continue to follow Jesus and not be detoured by dysfunction by the lie of the enemy. We need each other despite what the liar has said.

Psalm 34:12-14 (NLT) Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?  Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

Perhaps these verses might be labeled the “stop, drop and roll” instructions when it comes to our words. Do you want to live a long and prosperous life? I dare say no one reading this will say, “No” or “I’ll pass” but rather every day it is our goal to live in the promises and prosperity set forth in God’s Word according to the blessings prescribed for us. The scripture is clear. STOP your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Pretty straight forward but not always easy. It is important to think about what we say and how we say it. Being right doesn’t always result in righteousness. It is up to us to condition our heart and soften it with God’s Word. This will change how we think and respond to other people. We must be quick to forgive and stop the progression of bitterness within us that turns into malicious conversation. DROP – Turn away from evil and do good. Repentance is essential in transforming our communication with others. Sometimes we can do nothing more than make things right with the Lord and pray for a severed relationship until the other party softens and accepts you again. Humility brings agreement to a growing, prospering and thriving relationship. As harmony is established and unity maintained the Lord blesses both parties and creates a living flow between them. Is it really worth limiting our godly potential to allow separation to build walls that block His Prosperity in our heart and life? I don’t think so. Finally, ROLL – grace teaches us how to let things roll off of us like water off a duck’s back. We must learn to overlook the careless conversation and decide to love them anyway. We must be the one to extinguish the passionate flames of fear and insecurity that feed our pride. We give power to the words of others in our life and the same words meant to harm us can free us when grace is applied and forgiveness given or received. I want the power of God to be a daily experience all around me. I want love as strong as death to overtake me and filter into every relationship established in my life. To search for peace and maintain it means giving up my way to Christ and others daily. It doesn’t really matter if they hurt my feelings or break my heart. I am called to love them. I am ordained to live in harmony with all my brothers and sisters not just the ones of my choosing.

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

I am grieved literally sad in my spirit over the friendship recently destroyed by the enemy. I believe in the Resurrection Power of God that gives new life. As I pray for this friendship, maybe there is a family member or friend that you know of where there is distance in what was a close bond. The enemy hates relationships. He hates when people love each other. Daily satan sows seeds of offense and hurt hoping someone will take hold of them. It is up to you and me plant seeds of peace and reap the harvest of righteousness. It will take effort. You cannot sit idly by when it comes to the words used or conversation allowed. We must take the burden of repentance and give grace even when it is not deserved. There is seldom a disagreement where both parties did not hold their ground. Reconciliation takes both sides coming together as one. Our common ground is Jesus Christ. His Grace is enough for me today and you, too. We can live in love with others because His Love completes us. People are not perfect, but they are not the problem either. In fact, they are the key to a prospering, productive and long life. Praying for the full restoration of my broken friendship today. Can I join with you in doing the same? Let’s pray for protection over our relationships today and that the Spirit of God will tame our tongue.

Proverbs 17:27-28 (NLT) A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

Fan Your Flame

Fan Your Flame

2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT)  This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

“You cannot put out a fire that burns on the inside.” (Bethel Worship) I am reminded today of the spiritual gift that God has given me. I have been challenged in the last few days to test the temperature of the water boiling into passion for Christ. Have I become tepid? Is the river of life flowing inside of me lukewarm? God has not given me a spirit of fear or timidity – but have I taken it anyway? He is given me power overflowing from amazing and abundant grace – am I doused in it? Is love my passionate motivation in all things? I have self-discipline. It is produced by the Holy Spirit who tends the fire that burns within me. The passionate pursuit of Christ that began with just a spark of faith turned into confident hope.

Matthew 5:14-15 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

I am back at the furnace of the three Hebrew boys. I can feel the flame of refinement. The purification process designed to produce gold in our life. The heat that burns away all impurity to reveal the faith that is hidden within. I wonder if that is not the purpose of our life. To go through the same trials, troubles, and tragedies or to face the same temptations (rise or fall) that will demonstrate the Glory of God to all who are a witness. The church has painted a pretty picture. Religion erases the need for grace to give way to a façade of perfection not yet manifested until the return of Christ. We hide our broken hearts. Shield are scraped knees. Hide our dirty hands. When what the world really needs to see is a relationship so authentic that nothing can separate us. The Light of the Word was not lit up hiding in an upper room – but rather on a Cross for all the world to see in His Suffering. A city on a hilltop must be a reference to us. Given credibility in the Kingdom by our witness, but not to be tucked away in time. We are the reflection of His Love in its bloody, messy form. It may not be pretty but it’s the thing that we hold on to.

It’s time to fan the flame of His Spirit invested in us. To blow fresh wind on the passion growing dim within us. See when the fire is within us – the stormy winds cannot put it out. The waves of conflict or controversy will not overtake it. Trials will only make it hotter. Fearless faith rises from the ashes of burned pride as God makes beauty from them just as He promised. Our confidence becomes our conviction. Impossibilities will be the fields where faith is planted confidently and boldly knowing miracles will come up through the fertile soil.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NLT) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave.  Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.

The holy inhabitation of the Spirit of the Living God within us is the opportunity to experience true intimacy with Him. Jesus lives in us. Successful relationships thrive on intimacy. Intimacy is often considered in a physical sense but truly it is in the most spiritual sense that it is accomplished. Physical and material things change in life for they are in a constant and perpetual state of decay. Our body is born dying. Of course, we may try to maintain our appearance but truthfully the only advantage given to us is believers is new life that begins in our soul. As our soul prospers, so does our life externally. Intimacy is a close, familiar and affectionate personal relationship. It is the product of love and should encapsulate all of its characteristics. (I Corinthians 13) Those engaged in an intimate relationship know the other by close association with deep understanding and detailed knowledge of the other person. Intimacy requires openness by both individuals. It is an act of engagement that speaks, listens, knows and understands far deeper than words. Our intimacy with Jesus Christ gives us the opportunity to experience a passionate love so perfect it burns away every other perception of the word.

Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Is my love and commitment to Christ born of an intimate relationship filled with passion possessing the brightest kind of flame? It was the desire of Jesus to love us and live in complete intimacy with us that provoked Him to exhibit “love as strong as death” and “jealousy as enduring as the grave”. Nothing can separate us from God’s Love now. We are more than conquerors and confident overcomers in Christ. If believers truly believed that then there would be nothing that would keep us from the fire. We would jump in feet first in hopes to grow deeper in love with Christ.

I Peter 4:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

For everyone will be tested with fire. (Mark 9:49) What if your present trial is actually an invitation to greater intimacy with the Lord? Could it be that He is trying to demonstrate His Love for you yet again with an outcome that is miraculous? Fiery trials will happen according to the Lord. We should be glad because it is through these incidents that we become partners with Christ. It is in His Suffering that our joy is made complete and dispensed in our life through passionate and fearless faith that will not back down from the fight or the fire but valiantly and victoriously fights for love. Are you passionate about your relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you investing in your partnership with the Lord? Fan your flame. Stir the fire deep within. Let your light shine. You will not be consumed but fully connected. A flame introduces to a fire becomes one with it making it burn stronger and brighter than ever before. You are part of something bigger than yourself – become one with Jesus. Jesus came to start a fire in us producing a light so bright it burns away darkness all around us. The Light is produced by His Great Love. How bright is your light day?

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

Be Moved

 

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John 20:21-23 (NLT) Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Yesterday my daughter came to see me at the office. She had just come from a doctor visit to check the progress of our little grandson growing inside her. The doctor declared him perfect and she had ultrasound pictures to prove it. She had an ultrasound about two weeks ago and already there are so many changes in his little appearance as he grows into the little personal with a big personality that the Lord has planned him to be. Each image more fascinating than the next as the image of a baby become clear from within the hidden place of her womb. I am fascinated, enthralled and totally in love. Whenever she has an ultrasound, this little man already shows his complete displeasure. Sonographers laugh at his immediate attempts to escape their probing. He arches his back and kicks his legs. Twisting, turning and flipping over to avoid the unwanted attention. At first, it could have been a fluke but after three attempts with the same reaction I am convinced this guy has a strong will tucked in the fast beating heart. Still a bit riled from the intrusion, my daughter laid my hand on her stomach and he kicked me. I melted. Pressing a little harder, I could feel him moving around with the occasional kick. My heart was moved. It swelled and the capacity to love became even greater in that moment for a person who I cannot even hold yet.

I remember being pregnant with my own children. Feeling flutters give way to movement then resounding kicks. All the potential, possibility and promise of a new little one to love, nurture and care for. This morning as I was thinking about our little grandbaby, I was touched in the heart by the Holy Spirit. The One who lives within me given to me by Jesus as a precious and useful gift to assist in my pursuit of Him in a dark and dying world. When Jesus came to see the disciples after his death and resurrection, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” There is power in the Spirit that Jesus gave us. He is living, breathing and moving within us. What is our response when He moves? Do we respond? Do we pay attention? Does our heart leap inside our chest? I have felt the movement of other children and grandchildren inside of new mothers. But now it is different, because this grandbaby is mine and lives inside my own child. I wonder what would happen if we perceived the Holy Spirit as our own rather than watching Him move in others?

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

Repentance and turning to the Lord including baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ according to grace makes one eligible to receive the Holy Spirit. It is a gift. It is given to us as believers whether we want it or not. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman who will not force himself on anyone but eagerly waits for acceptance to activate God’s Power including the resurrection power that brought Jesus from the grave in our ordinary life. He is the guarantor of every promise that God has made to us. Jesus gave us His Word that He would never leave us or forsake us and the Holy Spirit is evidence of the reality of His Promise to us. What is our response? Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His Father’s Love. Do we invite His Spirit to accompany us through our day, instruct us in our actions, soften our attitude, give us direction, listen to His Urgings, and move when He nudges us?

Ephesians 4:30-32 (NLT) And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Conviction is a power revelation of a positive change. Pride gives it a negative connotation. The things that bring sorrow to God’s Spirit are anything contradictory to His Love. The divine nature of God is love. He demonstrates that with His Mercy, Grace, Compassion, Kindness and Goodness that He lavishes on us. The woman at the well was given insight to the powerful combination of worship that would come – true worshippers would do so in Spirit and in Truth. The Holy Spirit is a facilitator of worship in us. He gives us the words, groanings and utterances when we do not have the words to say. In times of great pain, pressure, or persecution – the Holy Spirit expresses our heart, mind and need to the Father even in something as simple as an “oh” granted in a place of prayer and surrender before the Lord. He has the power to change our vocabulary by sifting through the contents of our heart and applying the Word to it. Filling our heart and mind with the love of God that produces all the valuable produce promised in Galatians 5:22-23. In every way, the Holy Spirit is out to benefit our life. I am not sure why Christians would shun or limit the Spirit of God when His Presence in our life offers such powerful potential and the fulfillment of Christ.

Luke 4:18-19 (NLT) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)

When Jesus died on the Cross, he shouted and released His Spirit – the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 27:50) It was the Holy Spirit who tore the veil in the Temple from top to bottom. The earth shook as an earthquake erupted at the Glory and Power of God poured out that day. Immediately – resurrection power began to bring the dead to life. His Spirit now poured out would soon find its way to His People filling them with the grace provided by His Love and empowering them with it. We are those people. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. I can now fully express the love of God because I have experienced it intimately. When I feel the Spirit of God move within me, I recognize Him. I know who He is. I know what comes next is important and to pay attention. If  you have asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins and truly repented – you have been given the Holy Spirit. Do you feel Him inside of you? Do you know when He is moving, urging or nudging you to better things?

I encourage you today to acknowledge God’s Spirit. Thank the Lord for investing His Spirit full of life and power in you. The Holy Spirit was sent specifically to help you. Let Him do His Job. He is a wonderful friend, teacher, guide and companion. He wants God’s Best for you and does everything possible to make it come to pass. He is intimacy with Christ. He identifies you as a Child of the Living God with full benefits. Utilize them. God promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) His Spirit is the fulfillment of the promise. Take advantage of God’s Kindness by inviting the Spirit to have His Way in you today!

God’s Spirit is alive in you. His Presence in the life of a believer is non-negotiable. Those who belong to Christ have His Spirit. The two must become one. I wonder what might happen if our expectancy for His Spirit became as elevated as let’s say my enthusiasm and desire to feel my grandchild moving inside his mom. What would happen if we responded to His Move with the same level of attentiveness and excitement? We must be moved by the Spirit of God to reach fulfillment. He gives life and power to the believer. He is a Gift from God!

John 14:26-27 (Message) “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

Hidden Snare

Hidden Snare

Proverbs 29:25 (NIV) Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Fear is a snare. It is a trap that keeps us from the safety and security of peace. It swallows up copious amounts of time with stress, worry and anxiety rather than love, peace and joy. Fear of anything other than the Lord does not produce a single thing of worth in our life but robs us of precious minutes. “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:27) I wonder if the psalmist in Psalm 25 was talking about fear when he wrote, “The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” (Psalm 25:14-15)

The enemy wants to convince you today that God doesn’t love his people unconditionally. He tries to convict us with lies and half-truths using the Word of God in a twisted and tainted fashion. Religion concocts remedies to keep pride alive and the façade of control while people are ravaged by such antidotes. Fear of man…or anything else for that matter will prove to be a snare for God’s People. Faith is the only thing that can overcome fear. It comes at the price of seeing to believe. It is a radical form of trust in a Living God who is not perceived by our senses but known by our heart.

Job 1:6-11 (NIV) One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Job 2:3-4 (NIV) Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 

The “even-ifs” of life are those moments when despite trial, trouble or tragedy, hope remains steadfastly anchored in God alone. Job experienced times like this. He lost everything of value and worth including his children in a single day. The next day, after proving his love and devotion to the Lord – his body afflicted. The Lord allowed it. We know in the end God restored Job and gave him a double portion blessing but oh what a price he paid in the fire of refinement. Maybe you remember three Hebrew men – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Daniel 3:16-18 (NIV) Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

“But even if he does not, we want you to know…we will not serve other gods.” Our confidence in God must grow to larger than our fear of other things. Even if He (the Lord) does not, we will not serve another. Such confident trust that even in death, our complete and absolute trust is in the Lord. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we must make it through today.

Some points of interest in Job’s Account is that Satan went before the Lord in the heavenlies. God is fully aware of the enemy and his earthly activities. Secondly, the enemy asked for permission to tempt the man of God. Why in the world would the Lord allow such a thing? My faith in the Lord must be genuine. When the hedge of protection is secure and everything is going good, it isn’t that hard to be faithful to the Lord. However, when all hell breaks loose in our life, what happens next is true revelation. Even if, God doesn’t deliver me what will I do about it?

Romans 8:14-16 (NIV) For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 

You are a child of the Living God. You have every reason to live a fearless life. However, total faith in the absence of fear does not exempt you from fiery trials. In fact, it turns up the furnace seven times hotter. True repentance should produce real faith. Faith that withstands trial, trouble or even tragedy is real and genuine. It is said to be more valuable than gold. The Spirit of God gives us liberty from fear, worry, stress and anxiety but it is up to the individual the role taken in life. The sons and daughters of God are not in bondage. There is no enslavement for Christ but rather servanthood as His Beloved. Who the Son sets free is free indeed – first and foremost from fear that hinders our faith. But can we say, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

Romans 8 goes on to say…

Romans 8:28 (NIV)  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

Are you wondering today – how can any good come from this? Why would God allow such a thing to happen to me? Where is He when I need Him most? Fear whispers such terrible lies but the Truth God is with us. His Word will not return to Him void which includes this one. He will never let the righteous fall. I could go on and on with the Truth that refutes the lie of the enemy challenging the Sovereignty and Constancy of God.

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Perfect love drives out fear. (I John 4:18) The more we seek to know the Lord and His Word, the less likely it is that we will fall for the lies, traps and snares of the enemy. The Light of His Love illuminates our way so that we can overstep and bypass them. The Promise is that we are more than conquerors so even if we must fight the good fight of faith there is nothing to fear. We win. We will be victorious simply because Christ overcame the world. He is our Beloved who gives us victory after victory. There is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God. What can make us depart from it today? Usually fear is focused in that area, the thing that we just cannot seem to trust God with. Is it your family? Your finances? Your future? Whatever it is should be evident to you. It is the place where fear constantly challenges your faith. Where you feel the least hope and struggle with confidence in God. It is the place where the enemy lays his most intricate traps and seeks the Lord’s permission to challenge you on a regular basis.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

His Grace is enough! It is always sufficient. Grace gives us access to God’s Power. You have the power to overcome the enemy including every lie he tries to feed you today. Do not feed your fears. Let God’s Word feed your faith today. His Love is unconditional. You can never blow it with God in a way that cannot be overcome by His Grace. His Power is always available to us. His Love for us complete without our contribution. Finally, self-discipline is the key to overcoming fear each day. We have God’s Spirit alive and well on the inside of us. It is up to us if He will be in control of our mind, will and emotions today. Will I allow God’s Spirit to stir my faith and build strong confidence in Christ or will I let fear take over? I choose faith today. How about you? Lord, reveal all my fears to me today so that I may strive to apply faith to them. Every snare, trap and lie the enemy has laid before me so by faith I can leap over them into Your Waiting Arms. Let me live fearlessly in love with You!

You unravel me with a melody…You surround me with a song… Of deliverance from my enemies…’Til all my fears are gone. I’m no longer a slave to fear…I am a Child of God!

Tis the Season

Tis the Season

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…

There is a time for everything. Every season and every activity under the heavens has a predestined time. God made the Heavens and earth not random but completely ordered. In each season, there is blessing by design. Even those difficult times, there is good that will come for those who choose to believe that God is good and seek out the fruit of the season. I recently spent a long weekend with our daughter and her husband. They live in New England and soon will be moving back home. I am obviously elated. They are coming back with a precious souvenir – our first grandchild. Though a quick trip, we accomplished packing her entire townhouse, attending her first baby shower and last doctor’s appointment before moving. It is a new season. However, while I was away a young man who is our distant relative lost his life suddenly in a tragic motorcycle accident while a precious elderly gentleman in our church went home to be with Jesus as well. So many seasons all converging into one time and place.

Life seems to work out that way sometimes. Each season is multifaceted. There is laughter and tears all at the same time. Sometime we become so caught up in the changes that the significance of each season is missed. It is fall. Glorious fall. Living in Florida, the seasonal change is not as obvious as it is New England. Leaves do not always change into radiant color. Instead, hurricane season is upon us. Our hope is that the trees remain standing. Pumpkin spice latte is back at the local coffee shop. Pumpkins are everywhere. Maybe this year it is time to slow down a little and usher in the new season rather than letting it sneak up on me and pass me by. We usually buy a pumpkin but fall has not been fully embraced in a long time. Busyness takes over most of the time. Or maybe just trying to get by and do life. There is a time for everything and every season. Perhaps, the Lord is reminding me today to be conscious of the seasons for as they go by like fallen leaves they cannot be redeemed or put back on the tree.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 (NIV) He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 

My daughter and I were going apple picking at some point in my visit. However, with all the preparations for their move, it just didn’t happen. After church, we visited the local market to grab some sandwiches and fresh fruit. We ordered our food at the deli and wandered around all the fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers in the market. There was a table of apples. All the varieties indigenous to the New England area, but they didn’t look like the ones in the grocery store down south. They were not the usual waxed and shiny kind processed and packed for distribution. These apples came straight from the tree. They had bumps and bruises on them. They were not perfect but fresh. Oh Lord, I pray that you keep me fresh in every season.

It is human natures especially of the religious kind to appear unaffected by the seasons of life. To put forth the air of perfection not possible even for those in Christ. Our appearance is not what matters but our heart. The place within us that must be broken to give way to the right kind of fruit. The seasons hold all kinds of change because without change our life will never produce anything of worth. The Word of God that is His Seed must find a fertile place to become the promise. We must accept His Way to have His Will. His Grace is power but cannot make His Power perfect in us until we get out of the way.

The seed of potential in our life called faith must be given a time and place to grow. Who cultivates faith outside of the impossible? No one really. When life is good, it is our nature to forget the One who gave us all this goodness in the first place. With age comes maturity or at least one might hope, the ability to wait when life is hard to see the good on the other side. The apples in the market are not pretty. They are not all shined up and made to look inviting. Yet, the aroma they give off makes the mouth-water and draws ones attention to them. My life must do the same thing to give glory to the one who promises no matter what to make all things beautiful in its time. A few years back when the kids felt God tug on their hearts to pursue the ministry opportunity in New Hampshire – my heart was broken. I couldn’t fathom life apart from them. Each visit I would cry for days after their departure. I love my kids. I want to do life with them. I finally had to relinquish my heartache to the Lord and trust that He would soothe my heart or fulfill the desire one day.

Could it be possible that in our attempt to escape difficult seasons that fruit is abandoned? I am quite sure this is the case. Once born, the death process begins day by day. Why plant if you have no intention of harvesting? There are seasons in life that are unavoidable yet God is in each one with the promise that there is good to be found there. There are tiny details marked impossible that He will work into His Promise by faith. Perhaps, rather than enduring the seasons, we might embrace the change. I intend to make fall come to life this year. Pumpkins will be on the porch. An “It’s Fall Y’all” sign will be purchased. I will buy at least one pumpkin-flavored drink or maybe a muffin. Colorful leaves will find a place in our home. I am determined to learn to embrace each season of life and find its worth beginning with this one.

Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV) Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

It is a new season. Life is full of change. With each new season comes more mercy and abounding grace for those who seek the One who created each season knowing the gifts, promises and blessings hidden within it. There is something in this season for you – Child of God. Look for it. Desire it. Walk through it by faith and not by sight. Stop and smell the pumpkins. You were made by God to prosper in every season of life – good or bad. Keep your eyes on Jesus and it is possible. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts not like ours so in those dark times when you feel like you are groping for just a little more faith – He will be the Light that makes the way clear. He will carry you through the seasons when you are too weak to stand. Rejoice because with every difficult season there is still good fruit to be had. Your Father will never let you down! Tis the season. Whatever it is. Pay attention. Rejoice in it. The Lord is with you! It will not fail to produce the kind of fruit that will satisfy and prosper your soul!

“It’s a new season. It’s a new day. A fresh anointing is flowing my way. It’s a season of power and prosperity. It’s a new season coming to me.” (New Season – Israel Houghton)

Set A Guard

broken-gate

Psalm 141:2-3 (NKJV) Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.

If only the Holy Spirit had a hand to carefully yet firmly put over my mouth day in and day out. To keep me from releasing commands into the atmosphere. Oh the idle words that never need to be spoken. Words hold power. Life and death is in the tongue. It is the most difficult to restrain. Caught in the crosshairs of our mind, will and emotions as our heart tries to edit each one spoken before it is released. Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

James 3:4-6 (NKJV) Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

Everyone has words that they wish they could take back. Tiny sparks released into a dry atmosphere if withheld would have stopped mass destruction. The tongue is such a small part of our body yet the hardest to control. It is important that our tongue remains under our strict control. Each world carefully weighed and contemplated compared to Christ. We must speak His Word. Say what He said. Otherwise, there is a real danger of destroying people or causing them to turn away rather than embrace the Love of God evident in His Word. His Word is sweeter than honey. It is desirable. It is good for you. Communication is for edification. Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

Proverbs 18:20-21 (NKJV) A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

The fruit of our mouth feeds our mind, will and emotions. The words that flow from our lips are evident of the abundance of our heart. Our heart must agree with our words and our words should be in alignment with the meditation of our heart. The things spoken in private should be our declaration in public. We must feed our heart and mind good things in order to produce good fruit. The Word of God nourishes our mind. It feeds our thoughts. It produces the kind of speech and communication that God desires of His People. The power of death and life are given to me as Christ lives in me. I bind heaven and earth with the words that I speak and if not carefully chosen they can have a dire effect. Therefore…Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

It is my personal responsibility to filter the contents of my speech. It is my soulful duty to control my tongue. I will be held accountable for every single word released from my person. (Matthew 12:36) The words that come flowing out are for my good or can be to my detriment. The Word of God is clear. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth. Lord, forgive me for all the times that rotten fruit came flowing out. People are people. They are just as imperfect as I am. Father forgive them and please Lord forgive me for all my faults and failures. Make me conscious of the words that I speak right down to those I say to myself when no one else is listening. You are always listening. My words are for edification of others and to impart grace. My tongue is not a weapon of mass destruction. It should be used to build others up not tear them down. It should always give freely grace, love, mercy and kindness as a reflection of the same that I have received from you. Lord and on those days when I have nothing nice to say, let me take the advice of my elders who told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all.” Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

Isaiah 6:5-8 (NKJV) So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

God has a plan and purpose for our life. One written from the beginning that began with our birth. It is a good one with a future and hope. I wonder how many times it is hindered by unfiltered words and unworthy mandates released in our life fortified by pride or driven by bitterness. His Grace is enough even to cover all the idle, careless or harmful words released each day. It is up to me to apply grace to the words that I speak. Lord, I am undone. I am a woman with unclean lips. I have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts, and the King of Glory. Lord, I ask you to cleanse my lips today. Lord, forgive me for idle or angry words released carelessly around me. I long to fulfill your purpose for my life. It is not dependent on other people. It is solely according to living my life in alignment with you, Jesus. My mouth is for your praise and glory. Remind me of that today. Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Psalm 71:8 (NKJV) Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your Glory all the day.

 

I AM

I AM

Exodus 3:14 (NKJV) And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

I AM. A statement of the divine nature and eternal quality of God the Father. Moses in the wilderness tending the flocks of his father-in-law encountered the burning bush. The point of revelation that would take the man who once lived in a palace, by sin relegated to a pasture, to step into his purpose. God carefully scripted His Plan to his servant. Human insecurity rose up in the heart of Moses. Surely the Lord did not know who he was speaking to or the tremendous impossibility of such a plan. Moses was willing yet lacked confidence. He asked, “Who am I that I should go before Pharaoh…? The Lord responded, “I will certainly be with you.” However, that was not enough to leave the place of comfort, convenience and control. He needed a name. Not just a vision or revelation, Moses needed a name of power and authority even presence not only to influence Pharaoh to release God’s People but to encourage them to step into the newfound freedom to be offered. God’s answer was simple. “I AM WHO I AM”!

What’s In a Name?

Exodus 34:6-7 (NKJV) And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

Our daughter is expecting her first child (our first grandchild). She and her husband have chosen names for a boy and girl. Each name has a meaning and his special to them. A name is important. “I AM.” The Name of God is important to us. We must know His Name and the power and authority it contains to fulfill God’s Purpose for us. It is not enough to know His Name but His Character as well. To be convinced of who He is and His Ability to do exactly what He says. God is love. He is mercy. He is grace. He is patience. He abounds in goodness for us. He also abounds in truth which is an attribute for us but also a stumbling block to us.

In the beginning God created… (Genesis 1:1) In the beginning was God. God is not a man. He does not lie or change His Mind. (Numbers 23:19-20) In Psalm 139, the mystery of creation unraveled, God creates us and ordains purpose with a plan for fulfillment for us. Every day of our life is carefully scripted before our arrival. Isaiah 55:11 takes it one step further declaring that God’s Word cannot return to Him void. It must accomplish what is set forth to do. God is constant. He does not change which requires us to change to step into righteousness apart from sin. It means that repentance must be accompanied by the willingness to submit our life to Him.

God is justice. (Exodus 34:7) His Love for us cannot change His Character. Sin has a price. There is a penalty. God who loves us released His Word in the form of His Son, Jesus to come wrapped in flesh and live out His Love for us. We make the choice to accept God’s Love, Mercy and Grace. We are free to choose. Our choice does not define God’s Character but dictates our own destiny. We decide to live in the Light of His Love or in the darkness leading to death. God is constant. He is Sovereign. He does not live on emotions, feelings or impulse but wrapped in truth and justice. Access to God is only available through His Son who bears the same character being the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) To submit to God is to understand that He is the ultimate power and authority. He is the Creator. We are His Creation. To choose another way is the freedom given to us. The outcome is clearly detailed in the Word of God.

I Corinthians 15:23-25 (NKJV) But each one in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.

Submission to God is inevitable. He is Sovereign. He has given each man and woman a free will. The ability to choose their course of life and their destination. Each day we choose the path taken and the outcome. It is our inability to accept the constant in a world filled with variables. Each with its own agenda and plan for personal gain and happiness. The inconsistent character of people with all the flaws and imperfections leading to distrust due to inconsistently met expectation creates an inability to trust and believe in the flawless character of God and His Son, Jesus. But that does not change who God is and what His Word says about you. We must grow in knowledge and understanding of who He is to understand the Power and Authority given to us in the Great I Am. Trust is only possible in seeds of faith given time to grow in a fertile heart. God is patient. He waits for us to fall in love with Him. Submission to God and fulfillment are born of trust.

Matthew 16:15-17 (NKJV) He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 

I believe God is asking us today, “But who do YOU say that I am?” We know who great preachers and pastors call Him. We know who are parents or mentors may have believed Him to be. There comes a moment in everyone’s life when the question rises up within us to be met with the truth of our heart and mind. Jesus asked Peter the same question until it came to the moment of truth for the man. “Who do YOU say that I am?” Who do you say that He is? Faith is given in a measure like seed. The Word of God facilitates spiritual growth of good fruit that nourishes our heart and mind with the Truth of who God is. It grows within us forcing the boundaries of human understanding forcing us into new uncharted territory of repentance and obedience. How far will you go today to know the Truth of Who He Is and what He wants to do in your life? Trusting God is the first step in submission. Faith will only take you where you are willing to surrender and go. It is dependent not on any human quality. Fulfillment comes in the Name of God and Christ who lives within us.

Philippians 2:9-11 (NKJV) Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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.