Greater Than All

Greater Than All

John 10:27-30 (ESV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

As I have openly admitted, I spend most of time commuting praising and praying my way into town and back home again. After a challenging week, I felt like praising was the only way to finish the week and prepare for the weekend. If you are like me, the transition into the two days set aside by the world to rest are usually filled with chores, tasks and to-do lists. Taking a deep breath, I just needed to be refreshed. Do you ever just need the tangible Presence of God to sit down beside you? Riding down the road, I came to a stretch of highway surrounded by tall trees. At this particular point though, the pines and oaks seemed to be closing in around the road producing the sensation I had been feeling all week. Overwhelmed a bit, losing sight, looking for direction, and every other emotion that comes from walking by faith and not by sight following an invisible God. Suddenly, I heard the music playing, “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.” (Surrounded – Bethel) The Peace of God that passes all understanding met me right there in my car driving to work. I realized that I couldn’t see past the trees but God could and He was right there with me. All those impossible situations were possible to Him. All those inexplicable concerns were melting in His Understanding. Sometimes we must come back to the basics of faith and following the Lord in the one simple truth – God is greater than all. All my problems, misgivings, uncertainties, fears, doubts, bad choices, enemies, obstacles, and every other thing that proves challenging in my life. He is the Unchallenged Authority, not only over me, but everything else. God is Sovereign. He reigns supreme. All these qualities God instilled in Christ who now lives in me.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus is the Shepherd. We are His Sheep. Those who believe in Him will follow His Voice. His Voice doesn’t always lead us where we want to go or how we would like to do it. In fact, it is my experience that when I hear the Voice of God and do what He says His Way – it is usually the most uncomfortable, inconvenient and uncontrollable way possible. It usually is marked by the impossible because God doesn’t want to give me a good life but every spiritual blessing ordained for me that is in the Heavenly Realm accessed by faith and confident trust. This is only found in trusting the Lord and becoming completely depended on Him. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is a challenge. It will take your all. You will have to endure. You cannot give up. The promise is victory. You will always win. Greater is Who is in You than he that is in the world.

I John 4:4 (ESV) Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 

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Working in Me

Work in Me

Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

“Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.” Buddha

There is more to the story of salvation than to escape the ramparts of hell. To engage in an experience of repentance and leave the same person with the same problems with a lack of purpose is a great tragedy considering the deposit and investment that is conceived in that moment. We live in a visible world serving an invisible God. His Presence surrounds us and His Spirit lives in us but the tangible being is not so evident. We must work hard to show the results of our salvation through love-driven, passion-infused, reverent and radical obedience to the Living God. The words of Buddha hold true even if not the intent. We must work out our own salvation independent of people and fully reliant on the Lord. God is working in us even before our first encounter with Christ leading us to that moment. Once we have found our Savior and Lord the continuation of our life has the potential to be powerful and purposeful in every single endeavor because Jesus is now inside of us.

We must make a personal investment in the potential of our future. But the Work of God in us is not an external effort but rather an internal transformation. It is not an act of doing but rather a work of becoming. The work completed on the Cross by Jesus was enough to provide all the grace needed for the Power of God to fully finish that which He predestined and preordained for us. All the blessings and promises are predesigned with our only act of obedience to fulfillment. We must work God’s Plan so it will work in us. The distinguishing factor in all of this is to keep our relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life of every purpose and promise rather than becoming a willing participant of religion that is consumed by what we do more than who we are.

Mind, will and emotions are pivotal to the change of God beginning to take over within us. We must sacrifice them along with our feelings to let the Holy Spirit produce good fruit that nourishes our heart and soul instead. As our soul prospers, our spiritual life becomes primary and natural life is impacted by a crucified flesh giving way to the Holy Spirit. It is a takeover of sorts by those who long to be pursued and overtaken by God’s Unfailing Love, Amazing Grace and Constant Goodness. It is a submission of our mind, will and emotions to the Cross so that confidence in Christ and what He promised to do is our primary position. It is the moment that we take up that Cross to follow the example of Jesus that things begin to change in a good way.

James 2:19-22 (NLT) You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 

Working the Plan of God is not what we do but the confidence to lay down our life in careful and continual obedience. To trust the Lord means doing things His Way when all logic points another. Abraham is a prime example of working God’s Plan. There was no reason for him to believe that he would father one child let alone a nation. Yet, he dared to believe. The unbelievable was his absolute confidence and so he lived loving and serving God. Did he mess up? Yes. Did he make mistakes along the way? Absolutely. God did not look for his perfection but rather his perseverance that no matter what he still believed especially when there was absolutely nothing tangible to be confident – the person of God – the Great I AM – was simple enough.

“Salvation is not a self-improvement program. That can only change us on the outside. The work of God changes us on the inside.” (Zac Poonen) It is easy to change habits and make better choices. Hard work, determination and motivation will change our way of living and produce a better life. Even religious obedience can produce the benefits of sowing and reaping, but in the end if our relationship with Jesus Christ is not established – we gain absolutely nothing. There are those who will come to Christ and have a better life just because they decided to work the plan. The Bible is the precedent of obedience that leads to productivity. However, if we do not allow the Lord to work His Plan in us – our life is worthless and meaningless void of God’s Glory found in His Grace.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Greetings from Paul to the people in Philippi who belonged to Christ is one of thanksgiving for the testimony these people lived. As he continues, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work in you, will continue His Work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Friend, we are a work in progress. The only time that Christ stops working in us and through us is when we decide go our own way (He is the ONLY Way), to live a lie (contrary to Truth), and choose something other than Resurrection Life and Power given to us for today. God will do exactly as He promised. Our only job is to continually surrender our life to Him. How? “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:5) He finished the Work on the Cross for the joy set before Him. Jesus did not live for immediate gratification but eternal pleasure. His Good Pleasure is you and me. He thought we were to die for and He did. He marched into hell and took possession (title and deed) to our life. When Christ came out of the grave, His Motive always was love so rather than take ownership of us and enslave us. He gave us freedom to live in love with Him or choose something else. What is your choice today? Will you work God’s Plan by submitting everything to Jesus? Will you surrender your heart to the work that was begun in you? Do you trust that God will complete it? That is what this life is all about – falling in love with Jesus Christ! Living in a loving relationship that transcends the boundaries of time and brings heaven to earth. He gave it all to us. We must only work out our salvation with fear and trembling as His Love consumes our ordinary life and produces an extraordinary existence.

“Salvation is a work of God to show His Glory. That’s why He’s not going to let it fail.” (Paul Washer)

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Resurrection Life

Practice_Resurrection.Peterson

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

“The Kingdom of God is within you…” Leo Tolstoy

Jesus Christ is alive. He is living and breathing inside the heart and soul of every believer, but not every Christian. To follow Jesus Christ is not enough. The only way to live a life of successful faith is to let the Holy Spirit change our mind and open our heart to the truth that Christ lives in us. With Resurrection Sunday just a few days away, I am filled with excitement and expectation. I like Christmas, but I love Easter. We celebrate the arrival of the Messiah in December, but the thing that makes Jesus so powerful is the fact that He died for our sin and rose again on the third day. Except Christ be crucified AND resurrected, there is not power, authority or dominion over death. It is important that believers serve the risen Savior and Lord or they are worshipping a dead god.

To believe that the fullness of God be fully invested in Jesus Christ means nothing if He is not alive in us today. How full is a broken cup? No matter how much is poured in it would only gush out. The substance of our faith is contained in the hope of the Living God. If our faith has nothing to build upon – it has no validity. Faith in God is paramount on the fact that Jesus Christ lives in us or to make a connection with Him would be sudden death. Outside of Christ – I have no chance of living in the Presence of God day by day into eternity. The fact that Jesus Christ is alive and lives in us is what changes every impossibility into future possibility. It takes a natural life making it supernatural. Our ordinary existence becomes extraordinary when Christ comes to live in us. It is time to change our mind about the God we serve and recognize that Christ is alive and well inside of us. Christ in us identifies us as part of the Kingdom of God.

“God cannot be understood by logical reasoning but only by submission.” Leo Tolstoy

Faith is not logical. It will never be understood by human reasoning. It is not validated by what we see but Who we know. The more I know Jesus Christ – the more logical my faith becomes. As I submit my life to Him, He fills me with the fullness of God that is in Him. The Spirit produces fruit from seeds of faith like love, joy, peace, and the like. He bestows forgiveness, kindness and goodness to us in epic proportions so they begin to flow from us as we cannot contain the Favor of the Living God any longer. Too many Christians are trying to pour from empty cups. I must submit my life fully to the Lord in order to have a reservoir to draw from.

Romans 8:10-12 (NLT) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

Scrolling through social media, I came across a meme posted about the recounting of sins at the pearly gates and not realizing you were that wild or something like that. All in good fun. A particularly long comment thread caught my attention beginning with a young woman who berated the poster as sacrilegious. I will not recount the back and forth banter because quite honestly the debate a complete embarrassment to Christians. Anyway, she recanted that unless we completely separate ourselves from the world and live “sinless” lives that we will not enter Heaven. I just shook my head and scrolled on. Nobody can do that. We all have a sinful nature to be crucified daily. Religion tells us to follow all the rules and regulations and you will make it into Heaven. If there is no relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never get there from here.

I share this revelation because sinless perfection is impossible in a human being ever. Even saved, sanctified super spiritual people sin – all the time. The mindset of the believer is to do everything humanly and spiritually possible to avoid it but surrender and submit our life to the Cross when we fall short. I cannot judge or condemn another person because I have fallen short. It only took one sin and Lord knows I am capable of way more than that. Our mission in life is complete unity with Jesus Christ. Laying our life down, crucifying our flesh and living in the love of God given to us through His Son. I have no obligation to sin anymore. What does that mean? It means that the Spirit of the Living God gives me power and authority over sin. I can make better choices just because He lives. But even on my best day, the good in me and greatest potential of my life is Jesus Christ. My elevation comes from exaltation and the revelation that surrender and submission are the only way to live. “Christian joy is letting Christ live His Life out through you so that what He is…you become.” (David Jeremiah)

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT) Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

“God doesn’t throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse from the bottom of the sea, takes him up to the bank, breathes into him the breath of life and makes him alive.” (R.C. Sproul) If we could get the imagine of death in our mind, the reality of it, the brutal and abrupt end of life – maybe there would be a better sense of exactly what Christ offers us in His Resurrection. We avoid death at all costs. Born dying, we try to outrun, outlive, and outsmart the inevitable end of human life. There is another option but in order to embrace the joy of eternity one must engage in the death process prematurely. The unfathomable and incomprehensible has happened. In our revelation of the true meaning of Christ’s Resurrection is that now that same power, authority and vitality lives in us. He was crucified in weakness and raised in complete fulfillment and victory. We must engage in the same process to move from death to life. To obtain grace comes at the price of strength and ability – it is obtained in utter weakness. When we could do nothing to save ourselves – Jesus died for us. “He did not come to shame the sinners. Jesus came to save sinners.” (Reinhard Bonnke) “He came into this world to make dead people live.” (Leo Tolstoy) Apart from the Grace of God our connection with Him is religious. The consummation of our relationship with the Living God is that Christ lives in us. We have live because He is life.

Galatians 2:19-21 (NLT)  For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

I encourage you to join me if examining the heart and mind in these days leading up to Resurrection Sunday. Do you believe that Christ is alive? Do you understand that He lives in you? Do you live through Him? It is important to evaluate our personal walk with Christ each day? To compare our direction to His Directive (His Word, Will and Way). To completely empty the contents of our heart and make sure it is only faith in God that is retained and worthless things thrown away. The only thing of worth in us is Jesus Christ. If we do not fully believe and base our life on the fact that Jesus lives and resides in us – what is there to celebrate on Easter? If Christ did not emerge from the grave victorious over sin and death – folks, we have a problem. It doesn’t matter how good you are doing or successful you are at avoiding sin, without the Living God – there is nothing to live for. All those efforts following the example of Christ are meaningless if the person of Jesus does not reside inside you. The Spirit gives us life. Apart from Him, death is the only option. Revive us again, Jesus. Teach us to celebrate the power and authority that You have given us and live a resurrection life.

John 11:25-26 (NLT)  Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” Do you believe this (put your name here)?

 

Living God

Living God

Psalm 42:1-2 (NLT) As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?

The key to Christian living is a thirst and hunger for God. And one of the main reasons people do not understand or experience the sovereignty of grace and the way it works through the awakening of sovereign joy is that their hunger and thirst for God is so small. (John Piper)

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is pivotal. The fact that Jesus is alive changes everything. The passion of our pursuit as Christians must be to discover the living, breathing reality of God for ourselves. My grandparents and parents introduced me to the Lord as a child. I had an encounter with God at eleven years old. It was only the beginning. It would take decades of my life to begin to experience the vitality of living in the Presence of God. Our faith is not established in the reality of what is seen but the realm of hope that exists beyond the human eye. It is illogical outside of the Word of God which is alive as well. To hunger and thirst for the Living God requires an encounter. We must taste and see that the Lord is good to work up a desire for more of Him.

I have acquired a number of tastes based on different foods I have tried and actually liked. My biological mom was not big on vegetables. My bonus mom cooked them every night encouraging us to try them. I found that I actually liked broccoli, Brussel sprouts and asparagus. All once thought to be green and gross, but after I tasted them and found them to be quite tasty have become my choice. Not only are such vegetables palatable to me but hidden within each one are nutrients that are good for me producing benefits to my whole body. Fresh vegetables straight from the garden are the best. The price tag for organic food without the preservatives is higher than the canned goods.

If the key to Christian living is a hunger and thirst for God, it seems advantageous to try Him. What is the point of serving a powerless and lifeless concept? If faith does not give any benefit to our life than why attempt it? I wonder today how many people are serving a dead god rather than experiencing Resurrection Power and Life offered by loving and serving the Living God. What if we faced each day with an urgency to experience the Kingdom and seek encounters with the Lord? What if we truly believed that on the third day Jesus came out of the grave? Martha was looking for the Resurrection of the dead expressed in Revelation before it was even written. She was waiting for the Messiah that would call all the dead to life in one gesture. What she did not know is that the Living God was with her that day and His Intent was to call her sleeping brother from the grave in which he had laid for four long days? I wonder how many times we limit the Living God in our limited belief.

“When you have closed the Bible, you have neither closed God’s mind nor shut God’s mouth. God continues to speak, live and exist. I think we should consult the Living God for the living word for living people dealing with death, destruction and despair in the midst of our hurt humanity. I believe love will conquer all.” (Michael Eric Dyson)

Do we seek God past the Bible or beyond the church? The Lord has placed His Spirit in us. The Spirit of God is constantly seeking to plant seeds of new life so that we can become the new creation that He promised. Life in us is not dependent on our physical condition but spiritual hunger and thirst. It is our desire and appetite for the Living God that changes everything. How can we have a relationship with a dead Jesus? Except He is alive and well – what’s the point?

God is alive. He is constant. He is All-Powerful, All-Knowing and everywhere at the same time. Mind-blowing is the fact that given His Sovereignty and Pervasive Presence, He still chooses to love us in spite of ourselves. That God in all His Divine Wisdom still thought us worth every breath in His Son, Jesus is enough to praise Him and thank Him for the rest of our natural life. BUT…God didn’t stop there. Jesus came to give us a rich, satisfying life. To meet us in the land of the living and escort us to eternity. To provide an excellent example of how to live and hope for the moment we die and exit this world. He has it all covered. My lack of interest or inability to fully comprehend the extensiveness of God’s Plan, His Goodness and His Grace all wrapped in unconditional love does not exempt me from it, but is a moment wasted on a worthlessness when righteousness could release Heaven on earth in my life. God is ready to bless me. He is ready to heal me. He will restore me. He will make good on every promise. He will turn every detail of my life into something good. He will make me a masterpiece. I must only believe. Believe that God is alive. To know that I serve a Living Savior and Lord. This is the moment that my life changes.

Acts 17:22-23 (NLT) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

Who was more religious than Saul? One encounter with Jesus Christ changed him into Paul. He knew the Word of God inside out. He was a scholar. He knew the rules and regulations of religion and was a Pharisee. He persecuted Christians killing them without cause. The same man changed in an instant after meeting the Living God know stands before the council. Paul recognized their religion but now attempts to introduce them to the Living Lord. They worshipped an “Unknown God”. Do you? The same God that you have sought after is ready to meet you right where you are. His Presence is life but you must first believe that He is alive. As Easter is upon us – many will gather together to celebrate Resurrection Sunday. But few will actually realize the impact of that day. The day that Jesus came out of the grave and breathed life again was the day your life gained meaning and purpose. It was the day that every promise became your reality. It changed everything and yet many do not know this because they do not know the Living God.

“Having your spiritual radar up in constant anticipation of His Presence – even in the midst of the joyful chaos and regular rhythms of your everyday living – is paramount in hearing God, because sometimes the place and manner you find Him is the least spectacular you’d expect.” (Priscilla Shirer)

The revelation of resurrection power and life were not discoveries on a mountaintop inspired by a passionate preacher or meaningful message. In fact, it was on an oncology floor of a hospital. Our son had been fighting cancer for quite some time. Suddenly the odds were shifting or more like sliding down the scale. The doctor declared us to be living in the “realm of hope.” His survival was becoming a medical impossibility as each relapse came closer and closer together. While he underwent treatment, often sleeping through each course, I would put in headphones and listen to worship music. I was listening to Kari Jobe sing, “Forever”. It still gives me chills. The thought came to mind no doubt the enemy trying to place fear in my heart, “What if he doesn’t make it? God, what if my son dies?” As if on cue, the words shook me back to my seat, “The ground began to shake…the stone was rolled away… His Perfect Love could not be overcome… Now death where is your sting… Our resurrected king has rendered you defeated. Forever, He is glorified. Forever, He is lifted high. Forever, He is risen. He is alive. He is alive.” (Forever – Kari Jobe) I cannot explain the peace that overtook me in that moment and remains in me today. My life, the life of my husband and children forever secure in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It seems like each day more and more people I love enter eternity with Jesus. What if we did not have that hope? How awful it would be? But what if that same hope in forever could be manifested today? The same power and life demonstrated in the ordinary life of men and women. It can! His Name is Jesus. He is alive and He will do everything He promised if you only believe. In every situation and every impossible condition, there is always hope for those who have faith in the Living and Loving God.

Luke 24:4-8 (NLT) As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” Then they remembered that he had said this.

“Beware of anything that stands between you and God – the Spirit living in your soul.” (Lee Tolstoy)

Do you know the Living God? Are you hungry and thirsty for Him? The women came to tend to the body of Jesus. They did not expect to encounter angels or an empty grave. In utter shock and disbelief, they stood and listened to the angel’s good news. Jesus is alive. “He isn’t here! He is rise from the dead! Remember what He told you…” Some of us need a reminder that Jesus IS alive. We have resurrection power and life inside of us which means nothing is impossible if we believe. The women only needed a reminder to remember and then ran back to tell the others the phenomenal news that Jesus had done exactly as He said that He would do. Only some believed. Jesus spent 40 days after the resurrection trying to prove that he was alive to his own disciples. (Acts 1:3)

Do you believe that He is alive today? Do you believe that Jesus is alive? He left the grave behind – will you? Will you stop holding the stone in place and let the Living God breathe life back into dead dreams and impossibilities today? What if you are the only thing standing in the way of resurrection power and life changing your situation? What if the newness of life is sealed in doubt and disbelief that Jesus is alive and well today? Lord, don’t let that be me! I believe. I pray that Your Word penetrates hearts today. I pray that Your Spirit changes minds today! I ask Lord that you make yourself known to those who hunger and thirst for you enough to try You today! You will never let them down! You ARE alive!

Psalm 84:1-2 (NLT) How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.

 

The Quest

The Quest

I John 5:1-3 (ESV) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Obedience is to live a life of submissive compliance to God, His Son – Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Though many strive to live in such a state, it is a struggle with our flesh, pride and natural inclination. To overcome disobedience requires one act of obedience. It is the message of our life in submissive compliance with God’s Word, Will and Way that shines the brightest light. We must live a life of faith in action that relies on confident hope rather our own self-assurance.

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, oh what a foretaste of glory divine, heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His Blood. Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blessed. Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His Goodness, lost in His Love.” For many years, I sang this hymn without really knowing or experiencing the true meaning. To live a life of blessed assurance is a magnification of faith and trust in God’s Word. To live in complete confidence that His Goodness belongs to me as a product of His Love and nothing else. Grace really is enough to restore me as a Child of God and reconciliation with Christ affords me a happy and blessed life. Nevertheless I must daily fight against my mind, will and emotions that want to control my thoughts and guide my choices in this life and most of all preserve my flesh.

When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest in that moment God will endow us with power. (Ezra Taft Benson)

Romans 6:15-18 (ESV) But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Slavery to sin can be exchanged for servanthood of righteousness. Sin leads to death. I do not mean to sullen you this morning but the sin in our life always leaves a mark. A wound in need of healing. Sin decays our thoughts. It influences our actions. It is the unchecked heart that is the most rebellious. The Grace of God and His Goodness are not imparted to just anyone. They are given to the one who believes by faith. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ that gives us this precious gift that must be opened to be fully enjoyed. I cannot serve the world and serve the Lord. It is impossible as they are in direct conflict with one another. It is through remorseful repentance that radical obedience becomes our quest. To know the Love of God and seek to maintain a right relationship because of our love for Him. Sin becomes less appealing when pictured as a nail driven into the Hand of the Lover of our Soul.

Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience. (Steven Furtick)

2 Corinthians 10:5-6 (ESV)  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

The cry of the modern day church is revival. Revival starts at home. In our prayer closets and quiet times alone with the Lord. Those times when we lay our life down and pick up the cross when no one is watching and it is just us with Jesus. It really doesn’t matter how well I clean up or successful I am in changing bad habits and old ways – if I do not fully embrace faithful obedience to God out of my absolute love for Jesus Christ – I have nothing.

Our example of the greatest obedience is Jesus Christ. He submitted His Life in order to set us free and give us the opportunity to become sons and daughters of God once again. He prayed and cried out to His Father. It did not deliver Him from the obedience to the Cross but gave Him the outcome that He was after. He went to the Cross desiring us. When there was no other way, Jesus became the Way. Now our obedience is to the Way, not the law or rules and regulations of church doctrine or religion. Too often we look for a way out of our trials and temptations rather than seeing the example of Jesus who gave us the power to overcome by way of the Cross. Obedience to God doesn’t always lead to easy street but it will be the road less traveled that leads to a glorious destination with hope that never leads to disappointment. Lord, lead me to complete obedience.

God’s Promises are all on condition of humble obedience. (Ellen G. White)

Hebrews 11:8 (ESV) By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

Abraham lived a life of faith. Faith that stretched the span of 99 years until the Promise of God finally arrived. He is the example of living in righteousness before the blessing and radical obedience to the Living God. I wonder how more quickly we would respond to the Lord, His Word, His Will and His Way if we could see what was behind the curtain marked “obedience”. What if one step of faith gave us the ability to see our life from God’s Perspective? Abraham obeyed God. He wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes. He tried to find shortcuts, but in the end – the Promise of Isaac arrived just as He planned. God will never send a blessing that compromises our belief. He makes miracles out of impossible or others would take credit for the sign or wonder calling it coincidental. The blessing and promises of God are found in His Presence. We enter such a place by humble obedience. To accept God’s Grace is an act of humility magnified by faithful obedience when God’s Children begin to take Him at His Word rather than waiting for a sign to follow suit. How many times does God give you a dream that is dismissed by your condition? How often does the vision come yet is not written down or seriously considered in our own sad state? God is a miracle worker and you are His Miracle.

Obedience to God is the most infallible evidence of sincere and supreme love to Him. (Nathanael Emmons)

When we love the Lord, obedience ceases to be a burden. Obedience becomes delight. (Joseph B. Wirthlin)

Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Samuel told Saul, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” A single act of disobedience took the royal power from Saul. In I Samuel 15 – it goes on to liken disobedience to rebellion and presumption as rejection of God’s Word. How many times do we act in such a rebellious way? The Holy Spirit nudges us from the place of comfort, convenience or control and we decline His Offer for more. Every leading of God is to His Goodness. Every act precipitated upon His Grace which is always enough to infuse us with His Power. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We cannot get to God except through Him. Through Him is a loving and active relationship based on trust. When our heart truly falls in love with Jesus Christ, our feet will follow and hands will get to work. Obedience is the product of faith in action. Faith in love with the Lord and eager to live in His Presence. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Those who desire Him and His Kingdom arrive through simple acts of humble obedience carried out day by day. For those who take one step many more will follow – obedience unlocks the door to an open heaven. It is my quest. Full and faithful obedience that takes me from complacency to confident hope that is found only in a right relationship with My Father. He calls us “beloved”. God is working in us. His Spirit leads us to obedience which will always produce His Blessing as our faith grows and hope becomes confident. One moment will change a lifetime when it is a step of faith toward humble and heartfelt obedience to the Lover of our soul – this is my quest.

This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long! (Blessed Assurance)

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Time To Change

Time To Change

Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Daylight Savings Time. I will not complain. I will not gripe. I hate it. There I said it. I don’t care which clock you choose just pick one. A CNN poll shows that I am in the minority. Truth be told, I do not mind the results of the time change. I do not like the disruption of my schedule. It creates a few days of discomfort as my body whines for the extra hour of sleep. It’s change. You can say that you don’t mind change but we all are impacted by it. I painted the study in our house yesterday. I had already decided to move the furniture around so my desk faced the window. I like to change things up in the house. After 18 different renderings, I asked him to come look. He said, “I like it the old way better.” My daughter said, “It’s because you don’t like change.”

Transformation always requires change. If you are a creature of habit, it is uncomfortable to have your routine interrupted. However, I believe for the transformation from death to life requires it. We believe in God. We profess Jesus Christ. Yet, the patterns constructed by our habits and experiences are held tightly too. The Lord is offering us the opportunity to live a satisfied life. To live from glory to glory. To prosper as our soul does. To be resurrection and life in the land of the living long before we meet Him face to face. Yet the moment when change begins, most will begin to whine and complain as I do about the time change because change often makes us uncomfortable. It is new. It is inconvenient to those of who maintain order such as habits, schedules and routines that are completely compromised when the Lord steps in. It is a place of trust rather than confidence that our flesh does not want to fall into. We cannot control Christ. Christ must control us in order for our life to change from ordinary to extraordinary.

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV) “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Resurrection power and life are available to us right here and right now. I have been studying John 11 and the death of Lazarus. I am like Martha. There is comfort in control that I am slowly giving up on. She liked staying busy. She ran a tight ship. She believed in Jesus Christ to a point. But the Lord had so much more for this radical doer. When Lazarus died, she believed that he would be raised…in eternity. Jesus stood right there in front of her offering new life to her dead loved one. She went back to her busyness. She told the Lord that she believed, but did she? Really? When it came time to roll the stone away and call forth her sleeping brother – she protested. His body in the grave for four days – she was concerned about the stink of it. New life could only come if she gave up the body to receive it.

How many times do we believe to the point of return? Our mind limits us. We can only journey to the extent our belief. The moment doubt, fear, anxiety, and worries take over – it is human nature to take control of the situation. How many times has the resurrection and life stood before me and because I was losing control or ran out of faith that my courage waned and I walked away from a miracle? God wants to open the windows of Heaven and pour out a blessing on His People. However, human nature loses courage when the impossible happens or unthinkable occurs. The Lord invites us today to set our mind on higher things. To begin Kingdom thinking giving up our earthly cares and concerns. Trust is a fall from fear to faith that lifts us above our circumstances and situations to full satisfaction for those who will go. Do you believe that His Resurrection Power and Life is for you today? In the land of the living…

Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Daylight Savings Time is really a good thing. By setting our clocks forward one hour, it gives us more daylight in the summer. I will complain for a few days about the loss of sleep but fully embrace the light in the afternoon when I get off work. How many good things do we miss because our flesh doesn’t like the inconvenience? I am afraid quite a bit when it comes to the Lord. Faith is not in the seeing. Hope comes from confidence in the one who is faithful. If we are waiting for the Lord to show us His Hand, it will not happen until we give Him our heart. Fully trusting and believing in His Faithfulness now AND forever. With each new day comes the opportunity to say, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Then comes the not so fun part, I will wait for the Lord. Be strong. Let my heart take courage. And wait some more if necessary.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (ESV) From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Word of God is Jesus Christ. In John 1:4, it says, “In Him was life.” As a believer, Christ lives in you. His Breath is in your body along with the Resurrection Power and life. What is holding you back? What is keeping His Power from overflowing into the natural realm of today? Fear and insecurity keeps the stone over the dead things in our life. We doubt the Jesus of today yet claim to fully embrace our future hope. Jesus wants to breathe new life into those dead dreams today. Something will have to change. It will begin in you. Transformation is not comfortable or convenient. You will not be in control when the Lord reigns and rules in your heart. But you will be blessed beyond measure when Jesus begins to pour out the full satisfaction that He promises in His Word!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

We are transformed by the renewing of our mind. (Romans 12:2) I cannot give my life away without change. Today, I ask the Lord to change my heart and mind from natural excuses to supernatural expectation. To produce new faith and establish firm confidence that allows me to embrace change rather than trying to control it. To surrender my life like a seed put in the ground, He will transform it into exactly who and what He has called and created me to be. Lord, change me. Transform all the brokenness into the beauty you have promised. Bring every dry and dead bone back to life. I trust you Lord! Change is good when it is according to your Word, Will and Way. Teach me to embrace and embody all the changes you have in store for me!

Romans 12:2 (ESV) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Glass Houses

Glass Houses

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I love good news. Testimonies are my favorite. The impossible situations that turn into possibilities thanks to a loving, kind and good Father. The unexpected called coincidences by the world but are blessings and benefits of Kingdom Living. I certainly do not deserve the goodness that the Lord has shown me in this lifetime so far. Often I think if He did nothing else, I still couldn’t help but give Him praise for the rest of my life. But if it wasn’t for the Grace of God…the Gospel is not good news.

Grace is probably the hardest component of salvation to wrap our head around. The word “grace” in Hebrew is CHEN and CHARIS in Greek. It literally means “favor”. To bend or stoop in kindness to another as a superior to an inferior. It is the benevolent action of God by stooping down to us in His Kindness and Goodness to reach us in our need and convey upon us a benefit. It is termed as “unmerited favor”. His Mercy is the fullest expression of His Compassion for us. Grace is the action that transformed His Mercy into action that releases His Power in our life. For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a Gift of God.

Not by works, so that no one can boast…” I cannot earn God’s Grace. I cannot provoke His Grace to do more than it has already done. This is a point of contention in many religions that cannot embrace a God of Grace who loves us no matter what. It is not a form of weakness implying a reckless God who doesn’t have a backbone. No, God’s Grace portrays His Perfection. If I could earn grace that leads to salvation, I wouldn’t need the Blood of Jesus. The power of His Name would be eliminated if there was another way to God the Father. There is not. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Willful sin and rebellion does not change the heart of God for mankind. He decided to love us and therefore He does. Always. At all times. In every season. Good or bad. God’s love for us never fails. It is constant. He loved us when He created us and will love us through this life and will continue to love us whether we choose to accept His Grace that leads to salvation or not. God is love.

Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We are still sinners. It doesn’t matter if we strive for godliness and work at serving God. The Love of God established grace in our life before we knew about it or even wanted it. To consider our life worthy of grace is the point that grace loses its power by changing the definition. Grace is favor. Grace is given to the needy. It is received in our weakness. To compare my life to another believer and decide I have pleased God more or less is a dangerous game of pride. One sin required every ounce of the Savior’s Blood shed for me. The sacrifice of my life to fully embody and embrace Christ is not an act of service but simple salvation and full acceptance of grace freely given.

A socially acceptable sin still grieves the heart of God. Changed habits and better choices will never make a difference in how much God loves us or the sufficiency of His Grace given to us. You may find this a hard pill to swallow. God doesn’t have favorites. He rejoices when one comes to repentance. True repentance begins the process of full redemption that takes a lifetime to complete. It is not about perfecting us but God’s Love being perfectly for us. To become do dependent on the Love, Grace and Mercy of God that it is our constant pursuit at all times. I cannot pursue God my way. I must continually enter the Gate already opened in Jesus Christ. Nothing but the Blood of Jesus. It is the color of Grace. It is the point of absolute and complete acceptance that I am nothing outside of Jesus Christ that our lives are changed by grace.

2 Corinthians 12:8-110 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What would happen if we lived in glass houses? Total transparency between us and the world. Where everyone who walked by could peer through our windows. Would the pristine yard, freshly washed window, rooms flooded with light, and people perfectly poised and presented to the world reflect real life? To project perfection in this life of salvation is a farce. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. The Gospel is only good news because of God’s Amazing Grace. It is only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ that a new life is possible. We can change all our bad habits. Make better choices. Clean up our act and still there will be transgressions in our life. Willful thoughts. Rebellious acts. Delayed obedience or outright disobedience. Paul detailed our plight in Romans 7. The Grace of God will always be the Good News of the Gospel to others. How can I judge another person when despite my best and forthright efforts not to sin, I still manage to on a daily basis. To begin to think there is no sin in us is prideful revival – but to daily live in the constant need of Jesus Blood and His Way of Righteousness is to fully and completely declare our absolute weakness outside of His Grace. The Power at work in me is Christ. The only good thing in me is His Spirit who lives in me. I am nothing apart from Him. Grace gives me the opportunity to have a relationship and live in the perfect love of God despite my complete imperfection.

Romans 11:5-6 (NIV) So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (I Corinthians 15:10) Paul summed it up. By the Grace of God, I am what I am. What you see is who He made me? I must daily or more honestly momentarily deal with my flesh and constantly nail it to the Cross. I do not have time to put other people there because keeping myself in the Love and Grace of God is a full-time effort. His Grace to me changed everything. His Love for us is established in His Perfection. Unchanged or influenced by my behavior, but offered in spite of me. If I could achieve grace it is no longer grace so my acts of service are nothing more than offerings.

The Lord takes my weakness and gives me His Power. How will I represent the Grace given to me today? Will I reflect the Love of the Father? Will my light shine in darkness or be covered under a basket labeled pride? Without Him, I am nothing. Lord, make me the part of the “remnant chosen by grace” to be the city on the hill. Let my life be transparent before you and a glass house that others may see that while I was still a sinner you gave your life for me! Remind me that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones!

John 3:30 (NIV) ”He must become greater; I must become less.”

I Win

I Win

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.”

Our hometown college football team got a new coach this year. The former head coach had a less than stellar season with lack luster plays and poor performance. When another school came knocking with a ridiculous offer, he left and now a new head coach has come. With him comes the excitement of renewed hope for a victorious season and maybe even a national championship. Though a horrible season has ended, his arrival has created fervent expectation of what is to come. Our last season ended with everyone just trying to make it out – but now with this change in power comes a revival of team spirit and a sense of victory. He does not have the experience of our past two coaches. Yet somehow he has managed to gain the confidence of the university, boosters, players and fans without calling the first play.

Our oldest son is engaged to be married. I sent his fiancé a copy of the upcoming football schedule. In the south, football is a game changer when planning events. I know it’s crazy but it’s just how it is. She seemed a bit bewildered by the FYI text. She expressed appreciation even though she was not sure why it came. With renewed vigor, the football fans will come in droves because they once again believe winning is a possibility. They believe. Do you? Jesus gave us His Word so we would have peace. Calm. Rest. Certainty. What is our certainty – Jesus overcame the world. Every other power and authority is subject to the Lord. The Bible says, “Take heart!” How’s your heart today?

Luke 9:1-2 (NIV) When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Jesus gave his disciples His Power and Authority. The Lord sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and make a difference in the world around them. Simple instructions. After commissioning them, Jesus then gave them further instructions that I believe might benefit us today. We are bound by the Great Commission to bring the Gospel to the world. We must diligent in our efforts but first and foremost – we must believe. Believe that Jesus overcame the world. Believe that His Grace is enough so that my weakness can accept such an awesome power. Believe that the gospel is Good News worth sharing. Believe that His Power and Authority belong to us.

Luke 9:3 (NIV) He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.

First, dump all the extra baggage. Our relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord gives us right standing with God that gives us Kingdom Power and Authority. We do not need to fear, worry, or be anxious for anything. God is our Provider. He has given us every spiritual blessing that there is in heaven. He is with us always even to the end of the earth. He will give us the strength need to complete each task. God is making good of every detail in our life so our mess becomes a message. Our expectation must be fully in the Lord so trust and dependence on Him allows us to let go of those heavy weights and burdens keeping us from experiencing God’s Power and Authority in our life.

Luke 9:4 (NIV) Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.

Our circumstances, conditions and situation do not always reflect what God is actually doing in our life. It is human nature to move from those places of discomfort and inconvenience. It is our pride that wants to control the situation. God has called you to the exact place where He will manifest His Glory in your life. If God called you to it, it benefits you to remain there until His Word comes to pass and fulfillment comes. We abandon the field of blessing to settle for places of provision to appease our flesh. Stop jumping around. Stay put. Let the Lord finish the good work that He has started in you and through you. Be steadfast and immovable. Faith stays. Fear flees. Confidence digs in. Doubt keeps moving around until it is comfortable.

Luke 9:5 (NIV) “If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 

People. We must learn to stop allowing people to move us. Offense is the lie of the enemy that you do not need someone or should not forgive them. God is a God of Love, Grace and always Forgiveness. His Love is unconditional. There is nothing that you or I could ever do to persuade Him not to love us. He just does. It is by gaining confidence in the fact that God loves us and will never let us down that we begin to move the expectations of our life to him rather than putting it in imperfect people. We need each other. We are a Kingdom and Family. We are the Body of Christ and each member is important. The Glory of God is not possible where love does not abound. Affirmation and acceptance by Christ will create relationships. Our affection for our First Love and Beloved will be the motivation of our life. There will be no strongholds or barriers in the life of God’s Lovers who refuse to be dissuaded from loving others by human emotions or prideful feelings.

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.

Jesus Christ beat death and the grave. He overcame the world. Sitting at the right hand of God, He gives us His Power and Authority in all things. Are you convinced? See it is confidence in God’s Love and the Grace given through His Son, Jesus that allows us to operate in His Power and Authority. To cast out demons. Heal the sick. Encourage the brokenhearted. To be a light to those lost in darkness. To be the salty seasoning that tempts them to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” It begins by believing.

I must believe that I am more than a conqueror every day, moment by moment and in each breath. I must be convinced that there is nothing that can every separate me from the Love of God found in Jesus Christ. It is this relationship that allows me to enjoy the benefits of the Kingdom to its fullest extent. By faith every impossibility becomes possible. My life begins to change from natural to supernatural and ordinary to extraordinary. It is up to me to continually work on my faith while the Lord does everything else. I just need faith in Jesus Christ to be an overcomer and more than a conqueror with the willingness to leave the rest up to Him.

Matthew 17:18-20 (NIV)  Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Faith moves mountains. Most mountains are secured by our doubts, fears and anxious thoughts. For some it is from ignorance asking the question is God really real? Does He really love me? Is there anything such as amazing grace? There is doubt in the Goodness of God and His Intentions for us. The doers live here who think that if they aren’t “doing” something that the Lord will turn on them, punish them or stop working in their life. Lies all lies. When the disciples couldn’t cast out the demon, they went Jesus for some answers. He has already given us His Authority and Power. Why isn’t it working in my life?

Faith. It is all about and will always be about faith and trust in the Lord. Faith must be rooted and grounded in God’s Love and His Son, Jesus Christ to be actively growing and developing. As the relationship between us and our Beloved intensifies so will our desire to love and serve Him more – not because we have to but His Love for us has made it the desire of our heart. We are to share “good” news with people.

The Good News is that God loves us unconditionally and His Grace is always enough. Check your message. Is it a love story or a rule book? Finally, you win. I win. In the end, when you stick it out, persevere and endure – Jesus Christ hands the victory to you. You just have to show up. Thank you Jesus for overwhelming victory. Thank you that I am more than a conqueror. Teach me to follow Your Humble Ways rather than my own wretched wanderings. I believe today that You love me and You are always good for me and to me. Help me Lord to overcome any unbelief in Jesus Name.

Ephesians 1:18-23 (NIV)  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Slow Down

Slow-Down

Psalm 62:5-8 (ESV) For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

During the morning commute yesterday, I came upon a car going much slower than my vehicle was traveling. At first, I became agitated. Quite the contradiction from the praise music playing, it shook me from prayerful meditation to using every ounce of self-control not to honk the horn. The longer I followed the car the more worked up I became. Due to oversleeping and pure exhaustion, I was running late. Still fighting a cold and freezing in the unusually cold temperatures for the South, I just wanted them to get out of my way. How do we flip the script so quickly? Moments before, I was settled in for a long commute enjoying time with the Lord and then sudden inconvenience changes my attitude and demeanor. Guilty as charged. About that time, I passed a speed limit sign. The person in front of me was going the designated speed limit. I was frustrated because they were obeying the law while I was trying to speed past them. The Holy Spirit convicted me on the spot. There is a reason the law has mandated speed limits along with every other statute regarding the operation of a motor vehicle. I should know better as not too long ago I paid a hefty fine and attending four hours of traffic school for my bad choice. Yet, thinking about everything “I” had to do, where “I” needed to be, and “my” schedule – this person was actually keeping me from a possible bad choice.

There are many lessons that could be shared from my personal experience in that moment but this is what is relevant for me today. God is inviting me to rest. Slow down. When I woke up this morning, these words are on replay. Slow down. Trust me. Come to me. I will give you rest. I am your refuge. Disobedience is more a knee jerk reaction to impulse rather than the deepest longing of the human heart. Those who know Jesus and love Him want to do what is right yet our flesh is constantly challenging the idea of rest, trust, and refuge in the Lord because so much of it involves waiting.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Trusting the Lord produces rest in our heart and mind. Peace that passes all understanding is found in the Presence of God when He becomes our refuge. I am encouraged today by the psalmist’s thoughts – “pour out your heart before God.” What is your heart full of today? The contents are important as it is the context of our thoughts and motivates our actions. What is your primary motivation? Are you worried, stressed or anxious? Overloaded? Overwhelmed? Desperate? The Lord invites us to literally pour out our life before Him. He will help us. He will give us rest. However, we must be able to trust Him for relief.

Trusting the Lord means believing what the Word of God tells us about Him. Jesus is the Word who came down and was wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Profound Love for us. Here are some truths about the Lord today. God will become our refuge when we believe…

Psalm 36:7 God’s love for me is steadfast.

Psalm 18:30 God’s Way is perfect.

Psalm 31:19 God is always good and His Goodness is for me.

Psalm 34:8 God desires me and I must desire Him.

Psalm 46:1 God is my “very present” help.

Psalm 61:3 God is more powerful than the enemy.

Psalm 91:1 I must choose to live or dwell in God’s Presence.

Psalm 142:1 God wants to release the supernatural in my natural life.

Psalm 144:1 God is always in control.

These are just some of the qualities true of God as demonstrated in His Word. The Word is our compass. It keeps us moving in the right direction. It lights the way. Those who believe God at His Word and choose to trust Him through obedience will find peace that passes understanding and rest in the midst of chaos.

Hebrews 4:11-12 (ESV) Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The state traffic laws are not mandated to inconvenience me. They are put into place because it is determined the safest speed of travel given the conditions of the roadway and surrounding area. I decide whether or not I will obey the law. If I do not travel at the posted speed, I am breaking the law. If I get caught, there will be a consequence. A penalty to pay. The Word of God is God’s Way and Will for our life. Though unbound by the law, it is still the best course of action for our life. It leads to provision, protection and every other promise that God was inscribed in it. If I desire that life, I must follow the instructions that have been given. The law does not hurt me – it is put into place to help me.

We must slow down and carefully consider the contents of our heart and mind each day. It will dictate whether or not I react to the circumstances and conditions of my life creating consequences or I will begin to prosper in the promises of God set forth for me by the Living God. God’s Refuge, His Rest, is the quiet place of faith, trust and careful consideration of the course of life. It is a personal decision to sync my heart each day and align my life with God’s Plan. When I get overwhelmed – it is generally because my pride has begun to takeover and I begin to believe that I must “do” something, “be” somewhere or nothing will get down. Self-importance and pride cannot survive in the refuge of God. Those with diversified trust cannot sustain a restful state. “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that the Power of Christ may REST upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Be steadfast. Be immovable. Be abounding in the work of the Lord. Let your labor not be in vain. God did not call us to life of rushing. He did not anoint us to be “busy”. In fact, He has already promised to complete the work that He has begun in us. We have victory. We are overcomers in Christ. It is finished. Or is it? When our flesh fights for control – it seems to be full of good intentions but does not produce a life of godliness. Godliness is established in us by God alone. There is nothing I can do other than submit to the Holy Spirit’s work and continue to abide in Christ. God is doing exactly as He promised in His Word. We can trust Him. We can rely on Him. We can rest in Him every single day. It is a choice. Is it your choice? I must make it mine.

Hebrews 6:17-20 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Several years ago, my husband and I enjoyed a lovely cruise through the Caribbean. On the last night of our trip, the water was very rough. The large ship was being tossed about and warnings were posted to be very careful. Coming back from dinner, it was difficult to walk down the hallway without bumping into the corridor walls. Once inside our cabin, I collapsed in the big comfy bed and was drifting off to sleep. I was jostled not by the swaying ship but my husband. He was getting very nauseous and woke me in disbelief that I could actually sleep through it. I think of that night when I read this verse. The Peace of God that allows us to rest in Him is trust. Trust is the chain that connects the anchor marked “hope” to the vessel. I am a vessel. I must carefully inspect the contents to determine my connection with faith and hope. To trust the Lord is to live at rest in His Refuge. There are areas of my life still under renovation. The Promise of God still stands as He is patient, loving and kind waiting for me to figure out my salvation and work it through my life. Consider this – forever is not the future but encompasses every detail of our life – past, present and future. It all works together in the redemption plan. There is no falling backward or rushing forward just becoming. Today – I will slow down. Today – I will choose rest. Today – Lord I ask you to be my refuge.

Psalm 62:1-2 (ESV) For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Special Delivery

Special Delivery

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Tis the season of many deliveries, maybe your deliverer rides in tiny mail truck stuffing packages in the mailbox or comes in a brown truck with matching uniform or perhaps in a white truck with lovely purple accessories. Several years ago, I spent most of the holiday season caring for our son. Visits to the Infusion Room would take up to eight hours, so most of my Christmas shopping was online. Ever since then, I have continued to do so. When the delivery truck stops in front of the house, excitement builds as my kids know that it is the equivalent to Santa’s sleigh with gifts for them onboard. Moving from the city to the county, I have found that it takes the packages an extra day or two to arrive. Thanks to online tracking, it is easy to find out exactly where each one is according to the last checkpoint. However, this year there seemed to be a backup. Things were taking a little longer than usual and one package seemed to go missing altogether. It disappeared in a hub city and no further tracking was available. I called the company and they immediately resent the order. As the days ticked off the calendar, I wondered if the items would arrive in time for Christmas. Last night, I found a pile of packages in my study. Christmas has arrived.

What does this have to do with the Deliverer? The tiny package born to a peasant girl found wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manager surrounded by animals. Everything! This is the season of celebration of the greatest gift ever given. While many read the Polar Express and even journey through the book in their city, the first gift of Christmas is not a bell off the big guy’s sleigh but the greatest delivery ever made – our Deliverer – Jesus Christ. His Arrival marked the pronounced end to sin’s power, death and the grave. He walked through life flawlessly to die as the perfect sacrifice and give us His Spirit. The Spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit living inside of us as believers. The power and authority to be delivered from every bondage – physically, mentally and spiritually.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me. In the midst of holiday fanfare, parties, baking, shopping and wrapping are we truly celebrating the season when our special delivery arrived? The One who would come to bring good news, heal broken hearts, set captives free, rescue those in darkness by becoming great light. The Way, Truth and Life who connects with the Favor of God to prosper in all things pertaining to life and godliness. The power and authority of Christ lives in us. He is our Deliverer. He is our Rescuer. He is our Redeemer. Each morning He delivers new mercy on our doorstop. Throughout the day pursuing us with unfailing love and goodness. Taking every tattered detail and working it for His Good in us and through us. Grace has given us His power and authority to use. Are we?

Daniel 7:13-14 (NIV) “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

Daniel was given a glimpse of the Messiah before His Arrival. In the awesomeness of this vision, it struck fear in Daniel’s heart. The authority, glory and sovereign power of God’s Own Son in vivid display did something to him. If we could catch a glimpse as Daniel, I wonder if it would change us forever. If we could see the potential of His Power would we invest our life into living through it? The Presence of God changes everything. It is accessed only through His Son, Jesus. This allows us to come “boldly” before His Throne not as cowering minions but the Sons and Daughters of God.

Ephesians 1:18-22 (NIV) I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Emmanuel who is God with us. He is our Deliverer. The special delivery who is highly celebrated this time of year came with the potential power of the Kingdom infused in a tiny person. When Jesus died and reclaimed His Life – the Resurrection Power of God was given to all mankind through His Spirit. In fact, before man received the Spirit – Jesus released it when He died on the Cross and immediately started bringing the dead to life again. This amazing potential has been given to us. To walk in the power and authority of God is an act of humbly submitting our life to become one with Christ. In doing so, every weakness becomes empowered by His Grace and our life will begin to change. The Deliverer works body, mind, spirit and soul to makes us complete in Christ. To fill us so full of His Spirit that an abundance of His Fruit becomes the offering of our life to other people to build them up, too. We have a glorious inheritance that will still provide for us after the gifts of this Christmas are forgotten, discarded, or gone.

Ephesians 1:23 (NIV) And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

What is keeping the Deliverer from operating His Full Power and Authority in your life? What is the dead dream or forgotten promise that you desperately desire revived? Is your hope waning? Your faith struggling? Your body aching? Your mind reeling? Your spirit sinking? What is it that you need to be delivered from today? There is nothing too big or too small for the Lord concerning you. Just as parents strive to meet the expectations of their children this time of year, Your Father strives to exceedingly abundantly fulfill your life in all ways. We must allow Jesus to not only be our Savior who delivers us from death and the grave but welcome Him as Lord of our life so that His Power and Authority provides and protects for us in the land of the living. Resurrection power and life is not just futuristic. It is not on reserve for the moment you die to bring you back to life. It is here now. It came special delivery in a manger all those years ago. Jesus came to be our Deliverer. Will you accept His Delivery today?