Fully Equipped

Fully Equipped

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NLT) Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

Did you know that you are fully equipped to win every battle you may be facing today? You have victory in Jesus Christ that overcomes every adversarial force and defeats all opposition in your life. Christ in us is always enough to walk in triumph. The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me” is attributed to Alexander William Kinglake written in 1830. The enemy of our soul has only lies to lure us from the position of power into the entanglement of the untrue. To somehow convince us that Christ is not powerful enough to sustain us or doesn’t love us enough to care. He must convince us to step out from under the shield of God moving out of His Light to live in the dangers of darkness. Thankfully Jesus will always leave the ninety-nine to seek out the one.

The Lord has fully equipped us to do His Will. To live a life in love with Him and allow His Goodness to overtake us. It is a submissive and humble roll that does not jive with pride and self-motivation. It is a discipline discovered in His Word and through trusting the Lord day by day until our life is fully invested in His Will. It is an act of repentance that turns us from worthless things to live the Kingdom life. Every battle is won by the peace of God that keeps us firmly rooted and grounded in His Love and confident in the sustainability of His Truth. Our sword is the Word of God that tears down every lie which becomes the strongholds in our heart. To know the Truth sets us free from the lie that so easily trips us up.

2 Timothy 2:3-6 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.

Endurance is required. Called to be a “good soldier” of Christ Jesus indicates there will be battles in this life. Need I remind you that Jesus won the war? It is easy to get “tied up in the affairs of civilian life”. However, those who cannot please the One who enlisted them due to divided allegiance. You cannot fight for both sides and be a traitor to both. The enemy doesn’t care if you play both sides of the fence. Compromise is the name of the game. If he can tempt you with substitutions or settlements – he has enough of your attention to keep you from victory. Athletes cannot win a prize unless they follow the instructions and rules of the game. Each sport has a different set of rules and rewards. Finally, hardworking farmers will enjoy good fruit for they labor not in vain. How do we go from fighting to farming in this illustration? The battle is the Lord’s.

I Samuel 17:46-48 (NLT) Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.

The shepherd boy, David, was not man enough to face the giant that day. The man after God’s own heart and soon-to-be King of Israel was not only read but willing. He didn’t don the armor of King Saul but rather with just five smooth stones and a slingshot a man who held the entire Israelite army at bay. The battle belonged to the Lord. The weapon that brought the enemy down was not the stone that fell the giant but faith found in the heart of a helpless young man who loved God with an undivided heart. David declared, “This is the Lord’s battle and He will give it to us!”

Ephesians 6:10-11 (NLT) A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 

If you are facing a battle or in the midst of a war today, I must remind you that God will not take you to it if He has not made a way through it. We walk in victory. We fight from the winner’s circle. The problem is not in the outcome but in our mindset from the beginning. Be strong in the Lord and in His Mighty Power.

Trust. Dependence. Discipline. Devotion. The strategy of the enemy is to somehow dissuade your from believing God at His Word. If he can make you doubt, then faith will be overcome and fear takes over. If you continue in Ephesians, the armor of God is belt of truth, body armor of righteousness, boots soled in peace, shield of faith helmet of salvation and sword of the spirit. The armor is not designed to protect you as you fight, but to help you stand when the enemy pursues you. Why are you fighting your own battles when Jesus won the war? Every piece of armor represents confidence in Christ and His Victory. You are fully equipped to walk in victory. This is fully accomplished by faith and trust that Christ is triumphant in all things. He has power and authority to do exactly as He promised and give you a rich and satisfying life full of His Abundance.

Psalm 33:15-18 (NLT) He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.

As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. The engagement between the giant and David that day was won with a single blow. David did not even come in contact with the giant but one stone took out the enemy of Israel. When the stone was rolled away, it crushed the enemy. He is powerless because Jesus is completely victorious. The power of God for us is found in His Grace. It is always enough to overcome our weakness but must be humbly accepted. Pride wants to fight its own battles and win its own wars but it has no access to Kingdom coffers. God has promised us good things. Jesus hands us victory and says, “Go get it!” We have nothing to fear and no reason to doubt only an opportunity to take the land beginning with each step along the way.

Isaiah 45:4-6 (NLT) “And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

The Lord equipped you when He called you. When He created you and decided to love you, He prepared you beforehand for every single day of your life. (Psalm 139) You have everything you need through Jesus Christ to walk in victory even the faith needed to invest your body, mind, spirit and soul. To live fully invested in the Kingdom is to stop getting caught up in civilian affairs. As long as you are alive, there will be an enemy to tempt you. He can only use lies to persuade you but He cannot push you from the protection of God’s Will or His Way. You are free to decide this day who you will serve and what you will believe.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A couple years ago, I traded in my old SUV and purchased a new-to-me smaller SUV. For months I searched until I found the “one”, and finally upgraded. I chose the make of automobile based on consumer reports and crash testing. I wanted a safe and reliable vehicle that would run until the wheels fell off. I was looking through the manual the other day to find out if it had a certain option and how to use it. I found that my vehicle came equipped with many features I was not aware of simply because for two years I drove around with the owner’s manual in the glovebox. We have an owner’s manual. It is detailed and full of useful information for us. It is the strategy for our life that gives us overwhelming victory. No matter what and despite all things, we have been given victory in Jesus Christ. If we are not living a victorious life, it is time to read the manual and ask the Lord to show us.

You are fully equipped to overcome and walk triumphantly through life. It begins with the conviction that nothing is impossible for God who loves us with inseparability. Nothing can ever take us from that place in His Presence as People of His Kingdom if we choose to dwell there in the shadow of the Most High. It is our privilege to love and trust Him back and His Promise that in every situation there is overwhelming victory in His Son – Jesus Christ. It is not our position to fight the battle but to stand confidently knowing that we can overcome and win by the Blood of the Lam and the word of our testimony. David yelled at the giant as he ran on the field that day. He told Goliath exactly what the Lord had told him. The giant fell that day. Your giant will fall too and you will walk in victory not in your power but by His Spirit who has fully equipped you! Christ inside of you has made you unstoppable and nothing can stand in the way of His Plan or His Promise.

Zechariah 4:5-7 (NLT)  “Don’t you know?” the angel asked. “No, my lord,” I replied. Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’”

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Fresh Springs

Fresh Streams

Proverbs 18:20-21 (ESV) From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

The proverbial warning is that death and life are in the power of the tongue. It is spoken and taught on a regular basis. Cautioned that every idle word will be judged according to its fruit. Though such a small part of a large organization, the tongue is the most powerful weapon given to mankind. We can start wildfires with one tiny spark. It can also put out raging ones with just a little of its soothing calm. Communication is the sowing of many seeds. What is growing in your life today? What is the fruit of your communication today? Are you satisfied? From the fruit of my mouth, my stomach is satisfied. I am satisfied by the yield of my lips. Faith has deposited seeds of potential in full measure inside of me. They are waiting to be sown. My words are part of the process. If my words are not life giving, they will be death to my potential. Words can take the life of my dreams and seal them in dark tombs of disappointment.

Proverbs 15:4 (ESV) A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

The gentle tongue is a tree of life. It takes a tiny seed to make a giant oak. God has called us to be “oaks of righteousness”. In our frustration, He is blamed when there is no growth or development of the promise that is in us. But maybe…just maybe… it is not God’s Lack of attention that is the problem but rather the poison flowing from our lips. Right and righteousness must be partners. I can be right about a lot of things. Righteousness is given to me only through Jesus Christ. My mouth my speak truth. Truth without love is the law and seals my fate. Each word is wrapped in the breath that God began in me and carries the fruitful potential of prosperity in my life.

James 3:7-10 (ESV) For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

Jesus has cleansed the church by the washing of water with the Word. The same Word is declared living and flows within us as a steady stream. It is useful in cleansing our conversation and watering the fresh seeds planted in communication. Blessing and cursing cannot come from the same mouth without nullifying itself. If you bless it, then curse it – something will die. You are created in the image of God. The Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is resurrection power and life, lives inside of you. You will make declarations on the earth. You cannot choose to be salty and sweet at the same time. You cannot be living water and a stagnant stream together. You must choose to be a fountain of living water. You must decide that you desire to bring life and not cause death. The taming of our tongue and monitoring of our words is not easy but vital in living the life that God has promised us. We must speak His Word. We must let Him be the gatekeeper of our lips.

Exodus 4:10-12 (ESV) But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Moses was commissioned to set God’s People free. He was to go and speak to Pharaoh. Moses used the excuse that he was “not eloquent…but I am slow of speech and tongue.” I wonder if that was really what was holding Moses back or could it be his pride. He was in exiles tending flocks in a hillside because he was a fugitive from justice. A murderer. He was once a palace dweller, but now living in a pasture covered in the smell of sweat and sheep. Was it really his ability to speak that was holding him back? Sometimes our mouth gets us in trouble and pride keeps us from making it right. Look what the Lord tells Moses, His Servant, “Who has made a man’s mouth? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be your mouth and teach you what you shall speak?” In Psalm 139:4, it tells us that even before a word is fully formed on the tip of our tongue, God knows it altogether, fully or completely. It means that before our body gave breath to that thought or idea – God had already put life in it. He knows the potential of our words and the rebellion of our tongue which means that Jesus has already provided sufficient grace to secure it. It means that the potential inside of our words always has goodness attached to it. Even when rash, callous, heated or ugly words are spoken, at the submission of pride, He will bring about new life.

Luke 6:45 (ESV) The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Our life is lived in seasons. God is constantly giving us the opportunity to sow and reap in a perpetual seedtime and harvest. What we sow in each season determines the harvest that will come. The great part is that our next season of life doesn’t have to yield the same as the previous one did. Because Christ lives in us – we have the promise of new life and becoming a new creation. Our words reveal the abundance of our heart. Harsh and hurtful words are often born of the same seeds planted deep within. It is up to us to filter our speech but first we must sift through the contents of our heart. A communication problem is a heart problem…at least that’s what God’s Word indicates. If the mind, soul and body agree than our words will duly reflect its unification, but if blessing and cursing come pouring out – it is time for careful examination. No one is exempt. We will be judged by the fruit of our life. The Lord is looking at our fruit. We must become fresh streams of living water to prosper as the Lord intended inside and out.

John 7:37-38 (ESV) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

What flows from our mouth waters the seeds of promise in our life? Abundance is born of living water that produces a harvest in our soul that prospers our life. You have this kind of stream inside of you. Release it today – in Jesus Name.

Proverbs 10:19-21 (ESV) When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.  The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.

Absolute

Absolute

Psalm 147:5 (NLT) How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!

God is great. He is absolute in power. His understanding is beyond human comprehension which makes faith naturally illogical. The absoluteness of God is a stumbling block for human nature. As perfectly created imperfect beings there is a contradiction in us to be settled by grace. The weakness in us is sin. The solution for it is Jesus Christ. Like any corrosive, there is a certain erosion to the body, mind and spirit that leaves a void once the penalty of sin is paid for. The unlocked door to an opened heaven still needs a gentle push to swing wide giving us access to new life, spiritual blessing and future that God has already prerecorded for us.

Our heart has a measure of faith and eternity already deposited before our birth. It was placed in us by God the Father as a compass of calling and map to destiny. Sin calls for substitutions and certain compromises but God is holy and tells us to be holy, too. How is it possible to remove all impurity from that which is tainted? Is it possible to have the life that God predestined me to have even when I have taken detours along the way? Of course it is because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the stability of God’s Plan for us. He is the resurrection power that gives lives to dead dreams and destinies buried by sin, shame, regret, remorse and self-loathing. The absoluteness of God is our staunch defender, He doesn’t lie. He cannot change His Mind. He is Sovereign. He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. This is the absoluteness of God that will not allow His Children to settle for something less and be satisfied.

Psalm 139:13-18 (NLT) You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous— how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

God’s Plan and Purpose for your life is absolute. What does that mean? Absolute means free from imperfection, complete, perfect, not mixed or adulterated. It is pure and complete. The absoluteness of God makes His Promises unrestricted, unrestrained and unlimited. He is positive that He loves you and certain that He desires you. He is outright about His Intentions and there is nothing you can add to His Perfection. God is absolute in His Love and Intentions for you and me. We must be absolutely certain of this in order to put our faith and trust in Him.

The life by design described in Psalm 139 is not the blueprint of a perfect person but a perfectly loved Child of the Living God. Created in His Image to be like Him, the Lord carefully constructed every detail of our life and that includes the mistakes, shortcomings and weaknesses in our sin. This prerecorded life deemed “marvelous” workmanship has the potential of flawlessness. If every moment of our life was carefully laid out before our birth or a single moment passed, an all-knowing God would have to include the good days and bad. Those times when we choose less. The moments that we rebelled. Sin had to be a factor or His Grace would not be enough. God’s Thoughts concerning you and me are precious. He is absolutely positively certain of His Love for us.

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NLT) Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

Because we have these promises…let us. I need you to read this again. So…because we have these promises…let us. Are you absolutely convinced of God’s Love for you? Are you confident that no matter what happened in the past or how things look today that His Love for you is unconditional and unfailing? See I don’t think we all do or there would be more certainty in the Body of Christ. Holiness is a consecrated life reconciled to Jesus Christ. It doesn’t mean living up to a standard clearly unattainable but letting the Christ in us take over. You can’t do it. How many times must we try and fail to see that the discipline in our life is not to become Christ but to let Christ become one in us?

Confidence in the intentions of God for His People produce a life of sowing faith. The measure of faith (Romans 12:3) already given to us planted in the fertile part of our heart marked eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Everything you need to live a holy life is in us. God gave it to us. He has already invested himself in us. Christ is the catalyst to claiming every His Plan, Purpose, and Promises. It already belongs to you. You must only step into His Absoluteness to have it. His Love is not understandable. His Plan is inconceivable. His Purpose is beyond our comprehension. His Affection for us is almost too good to be true. Yet it is…He promises to perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) The angels do not even understand the limitless love and overwhelming attention that the Lord pays to us. What does it take to live in the place of true faith and actual holiness that responds to the promises of God?

Hebrews 12:10-11 (NLT) For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.  No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

God’s Plan for our life is established by His Absolute Perfection. It is certain. It cannot be changed or altered by scheme of man or the enemy of our soul. It is set in stone and written on our heart. It is through divine and personal discipline that our heart and mind become united with the Lord in holiness. Holiness is allowing the Living God to resurrection new life in us and through us. It means letting go of our plan, life goals and agendas by running them through the Word, asking God for His Will and choosing His Way every single time. It is a discipline. Discipline is not the same as punishment. We no longer are judged by God but by Christ. (John 5:21-23) How can Christ judge himself or why would He? If Christ lives in me, I will no longer be judged. It is only the parts of my life withheld from the Lord that are fodder for others. The pain of discipline is our physical, mental or natural response to change. Just like our muscles cry out after a work-out, flesh reacts to the pain of its own death. We must press through the pain with our eyes on the prize. God is absolutely and perfectly in love with you and me. His Promises belong to us and can never be taken from us. It is only by forfeit that a loss may be established. It is only the quitter who finds victory elusive. Do you trust the everlasting love of God today? Do you trust Him enough to be your absolute?

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT) So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

For the Glory

For the Glory

I Chronicles 29:11-14 (NLT) Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! 

God is great. His Power is undisputable. His Sovereignty, though highly debated, is not contingent on the belief or allegiance of others. He is God. He is all powerful. He is glorious. The Lord is victorious. His Majesty uncompromised by any other force. Everything in the heavens and everything on the earth belong to God. His Kingdom has dominion and authority in every realm. Even in a world bent on rebellion and rejection – the rocks still rejoice and praise His Name. He is the ruler of all and reigns over everything. Let that sink in for a minute. Humanity is not used to having its own opinion. Personal freedom takes the form of pride gone awry. Our thoughts form beliefs false in nature creating a random chaos which governs our life that we think is freedom but really is a form of bondage. The Kingdom is our freedom. It is the place of promise and prosperity. The point of no return where the broken is made complete and the voids in us sufficiently filled with illogical love, inexplicable grace and inexpressible joy that once was only a notion in fairytales and made for TV movies. Everything belongs to us. He offers us the Kingdom. What is keeping us from engaging in such an amazing offer?

Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! 

If it is true that everything I have has come from God, what is left for me to give Him that is truly mine? Think about it. I have an office at work. In my office is a desk, chair, computer, office supplies, and a variety of other items provided for my use. If I run out of anything, I go to the supply closet. If what I need is not there, I let the office manager know and it is purchased. Everything I need to do my job is supplied. I have few personal items in the office. But even those were either gifts from other people or purchased with the money I received from working for my employer. What truly belongs to me is not of much worth to anyone. What I own was given to me via other sources. My boss is a provider in the workplace. If I take this to a next level perspective, everything I have has come from the Lord. He has given me life. He has given me freedom. He has provided for me naturally, physically, financially and spiritually – whether I acknowledge Him or not. This truth does not change for my own peace of mind. EVERYTHING I have in my life is from God. God placed me in my current position to provide for my family and me. He has given me a source of income to supply certain things and bless our home. It all points back to Him.

Matthew 4:8-11 (NLT) Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted by the enemy. The same temptations that our Savior faced are no different than the ones that we face each day. In our weakness, the enemy comes to offer a substitution or compromise that will abort the process God has currently placed us in to prosper our soul and then our life. The greatness, power, glory, victory and majesty of His Kingdom reserved for us belongs to God and is given to us by the Father. The enemy wants us to believe that it is ours for the taking, asking or earning. Not so. The enemy offered Jesus a place at his feet. The feet that lead to delays, detours, distractions, and destruction. Jesus dismissed the enemy on the spot. He said, “For the scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.”

What if the very thing keeping us from the Kingdom is our pride? God owns greatness, power, glory and victory. He sits in majesty with Jesus at His Right Hand making intercession for us. Could it be that we do it for the glory? To become one with Jesus and live in His Kingdom means giving up everything. The only thing that belongs to us is our life because when the Son set us free – we are declared free indeed by the Father. What if it is an issue of pride? We cannot lay down a life that is so weak and feeble as to confess that there is nothing great, powerful, glorious or victorious in us because then people might see past the beautiful façade of independence and confidence portrayed by a broken wretch like me.

Matthew 18:2-4 (NLT) Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

There is a principle of faith that must be childlike in nature. A child is not consumed with the worries and cares of life. They are convinced that their parents will care for them. They are comfortable dreamers and discoverers because they do not have to worry about putting food on the table, a roof over their head or clothes on their back. They just live in the goodness of their parents. Their kingdom is the home built by their caregivers. Yes, there are things like sowing and reaping. Faithful obedience that produces things in our life. Planting and harvesting are not faithful endeavors for what a man sows God has already said that he will reap. It is a principle. Faith is a partnership. It is to believe and fully entrust our life to the Lord including everything and withholding nothing from Him. To give Him every area of our life because it already belongs to Him.

Abraham had two sons. Ishmael born of a slave woman of his own doing as he helped the Lord fulfill His Word to the man. God’s Word came to pass and his wife, Sarah, became a mother well over the age of possibility by faith in God – Isaac was born. When the Lord required his son, Isaac, Abraham made the long journey to the mountain ready to give the Lord exactly what He required. Abraham, the father of faith and friend of God, withheld nothing from the Lord. However, how many people in the same position would have brought Ishmael to God instead? A substitute or compromise or less than their best. Most people do every single day – crying out for Kingdom lives but giving worldly offerings rather than radical obedience. The reminder from God’s Word today is that EVERYTHING belongs to Him. He gave you your life and everything in it for one reason – His Glory.

We get too big for our britches as they say in the south thinking that we are contributors to our life and successes when the truth is that everything in our life is a product of God’s Love, Kindness and Goodness. His Kingdom is a place that one can only enter in humility and inhabit by His Grace. God deserves the Glory all of it. If we are not willing to let Him rule and reign in our life than rebellion takes over because His Sovereignty is not compromised by doubt and disbelief. If you want the Kingdom, full allegiance must be to God through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life – it is through Him the Kingdom is accessed and inhabited by us.

Psalm 84:11 (NLT) For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Little Faith

little faith

Matthew 17:20 (ESV) He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Dynamite was invented in 1867 by Alfred Nobel. The same Nobel who is responsible for Nobel Prizes for scientific and cultural achievements and awards. His invention of dynamite is what gave him the wealth to fund what is historically one of the most prestigious awards in the world. Before dynamite, the strongest explosive was gunpowder. Gunpowder did not have the power needed for many needs as it was very dangerous to handle especially in larger quantities. Dynamite met this need and was much safer to use.

Dynamite consists of a few common elements. Nitroglycerin, which already existed though extremely dangerous and quite unstable, is the primary potent ingredient that causes the massive explosion. Nobel took nitroglycerin and packed it in diatomaceous earth which is soft, chalky stone made nitroglycerin safer to handle. A wick and blasting cap are the final two components needed to create a stick of dynamite. Once placed in the desired location – the wick is lit and when it ignites the blasting cap causes a small explosion that triggers a much larger destructive explosion.

The Greek “dunamis” is used 120 times in the New Testament. The word refers to strength, power or ability. Yes, it is the root word for dynamite, dynamo, and dynamic. In Matthew 17, the disciples have tried to release the power of God by casting out a demon from a possessed person. It did not work. They are perplexed. When they ask Jesus, he responds “because of your little faith.” I often have read this thinking that the faith of these men too small to get the job done but I do not think that is the case at all. How much smaller can faith be than a mustard seed? What if Jesus was not talking about the size or quantity of faith but rather its handling and placement?

Mark 4:30-32 (ESV) And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Faith is given to us. God assigns us a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) We have the proper amount of faith but it must be properly handled to release God’s Power and Glory in our life. The Purpose and Plan of God for us is released as faith is planted then grows, matures and develops into a fruitful and abundant life. The seed must be buried to give way to its present form and release its divine purpose. Seeds of faith must be sown into the fertile heart in order to produce the dunamis power inside each one. Maybe when the Power of God and His Glory are not evident in our life is not because of a lack of potential or purpose but maybe abandonment of process. Unless we truly believe in the potential of each tiny seed of faith, there will be no energy expended in cultivating them. Funny that even with dynamite the powerful nitroglycerin must be enveloped in earthen material in order to be properly handled. The death of self is in living a life of faith not futility by trusting and believing God at His Word, planting it deep in our heart, lighting it with the Power of His Love, and allowing the Holy Spirit to explode inside of us until the Light reaches the world.

It only takes a stick of dynamite to release an explosion capable of great destruction. You have dunamis power inside of you in the person of Jesus Christ. We connect with His Power by faith. Faith comes in the form of seeds to be planted in a soft and fertile heart. It must grow into the confident hope. This is accomplished outside of our five senses. Faith is not logical unless it is supported by the Word of God. Quite simply – faith can only become powerful when properly handled until just the right time. God has given us a purpose and plan that is far beyond our expectation. It is not to be found in our present form but the Glorious Power that He has hidden on the inside of us just waiting to find its way out. You have faith. It must be handled properly. Thank you God for giving me the right amount of faith. Teach me to use it properly. I have Christ in me. He is enough. The Power and Glory of God is hidden inside of me. Lord, I ask that Your Power becomes the energy and drive of my life. In Jesus Name!

2 Peter 1:3-8 (ESV) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Finding My Purpose

Finding My Purpse

Jeremiah 32:38-40 (NLT) They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.

What is my purpose? Why do I exist? What am I supposed to be doing? Why was I made? How can I be used by God? I have a purpose. God designed humanity to have one heart and one purpose. To be His People and that He would be our God. Sin shattered our relationship with God. He was not satisfied with judgement and predestined to give us mercy that would lead us to His Grace. In a way that only an omnipotent and omniscient Creator could, the Lord intentionally takes all those broken pieces determined to make a masterpiece once again. He desires us to become the Body of Christ. There very thing for which His Son died put rebuilt from a new foundation. Salvation provides an everlasting covenant. He will never stop doing good for us. He desires a heart of worship and will give those who seek Him that very thing.

Sometimes it is difficult to see ourselves individually within a corporate people. To know and understand the importance of our purpose in the expansive and comprehensive plan of the Living God. I have a purpose. He created me fearfully considering each step that would lead me to righteousness. He did so wonderfully giving me value and worth that only He can bring forth. I am a marvelous work though still in process. In pursuit of purpose, it is of the utmost importance to know God’s Primary Plan. Above all other things – the Lord desires to have a relationship with you and me. To live in love for the rest of our lives until one day it is only eternity that we see.

Isn’t it funny how when you think you have it all together, the next minute reveals that is not the case? I am finding my purpose in this place called life all over again. I know that I am called. I know that I am anointed simply because Christ lives in me. I have no idea what is next. In a state of transition in more ways than one, I have my feet planted in Christ my firm foundation of faith yet my head is in the clouds. My children are reaching adulthood. Our full nest down to just one. In the busyness of raising our children, it is often easy to forget that this too shall pass and one day there will no longer be the weight of responsibility that governs us now. The mounds of laundry are gone and with it our children venture off into life. This is God’s Plan. It is a good one. My job is to raise tiny disciples into fisher of people then set them off to fulfill the Lord’s Plans for them, but I don’t have to like it. What transition are you in today? New job. Unexpected life change. The ending of an old season often gives way to new faith and new trust on the faithfulness of God. We become comfortable and complacent in the current condition. God is faithful in pursuing us with unfailing love and kindness. He is always working good in us and through us even when we do not want to change.

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT) And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

The finality of God is sometimes the hardest obstacle to overcome. We all like options. When God shows us a glimpse of His Plan and Purpose, it is human nature to run off and complete the picture like Harold with the purple crayon. He only gives us a peek but we make it our plan or maybe I am the only one with the propensity to run ahead and work it out myself before God makes His Way clear. What if I don’t like God’s Plan? What if I am not happy with His Purpose? What if it is not as I expected or conducive to my plans?

The power of purpose in my life is not based on my abilities but God’s Faithfulness. These verses do not portray a power hungry being who needs to assert dictatorship over us. The Lord already has all the power. God is Sovereign and confident in it. When we someone can make our heart sure that God’s Purpose is good and way better than we could think, ask or imagine – faith grows from that place that connects with God’s Faithfulness giving Him permission to give us His Best.

Isaiah 44:6-8 (NLT) This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. Who is like me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power. Let him do as I have done since ancient times when I established a people and explained its future. Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

The Lord says to us today, “I am the First and the Last there is no other God.” This is vitally important to understanding the power of purpose in our life. The Plan of God is comprehensive taking in every detail of our life and turning it for our good. (Romans 8:28) Only an Alpha and Omega God could transverse time to take into account everything and work it all together for our good. He gives us the grace needed for His Power to overtake us and produce purpose while prospering our heart to spill over into our life.

Do not tremble. Do not be afraid. God did not give us the spirit of fear, anxiety, worry, stress or any other byproduct of doubt. The Lord has given us a measure of faith. Faith is cultivated in the goodness given to us called power, love and self-discipline. Use them well. The fear of the Lord is an awesome respect that is demonstrated in devotion and a covenant of love like marriage. Such fear becomes trust and total dependence as we learn to lean on the Lord and live in His Love.

Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? The knowledge of God’s Pervasive Presence and Persistent Pursuit of me – a sinner saved by grace – is my complete undoing. I have lived more than 50 years and I am still discovering the depths of God’s Grace, Love and Faithfulness to me. The hopes and dreams that I put in the grave because of my own weaknesses are not dead to God just deferred until their appointed time. The vault marked faults and failures do not hold His Riches or Glory designated for my life, I do when I hold my heart hostage with guilt, shame or regret. The faithfulness of God has followed me through life ushering me toward the things that He already prepared for me before I drew my first breath. It will be complete when I breathe my last. I must rely on His Faithfulness to produce the fruitfulness of purpose in me and not pluck unripe fruit from the vine. It is only when I abide in Christ that the growth I desire is produced. I must abide in His Love even though I have no idea what’s next, where I am going, how I will get there or when I will arrive. God knows and that’s gotta be enough for me.

I have a purpose. It belongs to me. No one can fulfill it. Only I can do it. Prosperity is a heart condition. God has promised to give me a new heart in place of the stony one within. As my soul prospers so will my life in the purpose already designated for me by the Living God. I must only trust Him to find my purpose.

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me!

More Grace

More Grace

I Timothy 1:14-15 (NIV) The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

I wasn’t going to do this. I had already decided that my quiet time would be my own today. Not to be shared in the transparency of my need for God’s Grace today. I have over committed…again. My perfectionism is overriding peace within me. I have to-do list with to-do list. Heart racing to meet the expectation of many especially myself – I am begging the Lord Jesus for more grace today. I need grace. Grace wrecks perfectionism. It destroys arrogance in the moment that I realize I can’t do it all. Only one person that gets caught up in tasks who doesn’t always realize my mistake until at the edge of breakdown.

God gives grace to us in abundance. In this passage, it says that He gives grace in abundance along with faith and love as though secondary. Many that’s the problem, we try to have faith and love outside of God’s Grace. We have faith that can move mountains but cannot even step over a tiny offense. There is love for others but no love for our self. I am the world’s worst sinner who needs every bit of God’s Grace to make through one day let alone to eternity one day. Yet as many others just like me – sometimes I get the order wrong. I live by faith. Try to love. Work to produce godly fruit only attainable in my utter weakness as a part of grace. A seed placed in the ground does not do anything other than become what it is purposed and called to be. The potential of a seed is on the inside and must work its way out. The death of one form to give way to new glory. The acceptance of God’s Grace completely gives way to the life of faith and living in the Love of Jesus. Lord, I need more grace today.

Romans11:5-6 (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.

I am chosen by God’s Grace. There is nothing I can do to earn it. I will never deserve it. I cannot work to make myself worth. I am not able to transform my life. Grace is given as a gift. It can only be accepted by a fully engaged love relationship or covenant with Jesus Christ. We are vulnerable. Faith gives us the capacity to believe that a perfect God could love imperfect people. Grace is no longer grace if religion takes over with all its dos and don’ts. Yet the enemy willingly offers excuses to the logic of such by inferring that God’s Grace is limited when the Truth is that God’s Grace is enough.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV) 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.

His Grace is enough for me. It is sufficient for you. His Power is made perfect in weakness. Our pride hates the idea of surrender and submission to the Lord but grace demands it. We must use our faith in its primary state to stand on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Not because we can do anything but because He did it all. When we are weak, we seek grace. The good news for us today is that it is always available and brings power to our life.

In Ephesians 4, it tells us the God’s Grace is apportioned for us. The word “apportioned” means that the Lord has already designated all the grace that I need for this life. He has distributed proportionally to me. It belongs to me. I must do nothing more than relinquish my weakness and claim His Strength which is administered by grace. His Grace is enough because it is already assigned to me. When Christ said, “It is finished” on the Cross that included the proper portion of grace needed to save me and initiate the faith needed to achieve my purpose, overcome life’s problems, receive full provision and live in prosperity. I have all the grace I need – I must only ask for it.

Romans 5:20-21 (NIV) The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Law had a purpose. It showed humanity that it was flawed. The sin obvious in each trespass and the penalty far more than anyone could bar. Jesus Christ came with a sin solution. Grace. Where sin abounded, grace abounded more. The power of Grace is not defined by one’s capacity to ever overcome sin. It is defined as the only thing that can break sin’s debt off our life. It doesn’t matter how well we clean up or if we change every bad habit to make better choices. Religious behavior will never take the place of righteousness which can only be achieved by God’s Grace through faith in Jesus Christ. What does that mean? It doesn’t matter how hard I work – my efforts cannot produce perfection. It doesn’t matter how well I do – sin will always be an issue. It doesn’t matter how strong of a Christian I become – His Grace will only work by concession. I must give up my need to be perfect and desire to be good in order to fully accept the kind of grace that grows strong faith producing complete confidence in the Love of God. It is my acceptance of every weakness, fault, failure, mistake and shortcoming and giving it over to the Lord that His Strength and Power become my own.

Galatians 2:21 (NIV) I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

When my need to do something overshadows my need to allow Christ to complete His Work in me – I have set aside the Grace of God to maintain my pride and position. Righteousness is the place I want to be living in the Presence of God forever. It means I must set aside self on a daily if not momentary basis to fully embrace what Christ is doing inside of me. The revelation of weakness must come for the sufficiency of Christ to be received. I cannot be the person who has it all together and still be becoming the masterpiece of God’s Design. It is in the messy surrender and submission of my life piece by piece that the fullness of grace is obtained. Christ didn’t die for nothing. He died for me. His Grace is enough.

Jesus, I recognize that You are the only good and perfect gift in me. You have given your life to free me from the bondage of performance and perfection. I receive it in my weakness today.  Forgive me for trying to take the throne and ask you for more grace! I want it all! I need it today! We have nothing if first we do not accept Your Grace!

James 4:6 (NIV) But He gives us more grace…

John 1:16-17 (NIV) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 

Powerful Encounters

Powerful Encounters

James 5:13-15 (NLT) Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

Our oldest daughter is a hairdresser. She has shared how many times people would come for a cut or color and once in her chair begin to pour out their stories to her. Intimate and detailed explanations of their problems, heartaches and frustrations. The salon service somehow transformed into a therapy session. She would feel compelled to listen, offer encouragement, sympathize or empathize if she could. She was incredulous to the fact that complete strangers would offer up every sordid detail to someone they didn’t know at all. Has it ever happened to you? You meet someone and immediately they begin to pour out their heart to you. It can be awkward. Perhaps, a bit uncomfortable. I believe there is a reason.

Many years ago, the Lord laid someone on my heart to pray for. I did not like this person. This individual had caused me much heartache and many offenses had built up over time. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be saved and share eternity. I know that’s harsh but totally transparent. I was struggling with myself. How can I pray for someone who I did care for and it be earnest? I felt the Holy Spirit press in on my hard heart. His Word unraveling my selfish and stubborn thoughts with one simple utterance. What if you are the only one? Ugh! Come on Jesus there has to be someone else to do it. Not me. As I began to think of the other persons acquaintances, friends and family members – I began to realize that I may very well be the only one.

No one is exempt from hardships, sickness, distress, doubt, discouragement, fault, or failure. The Work of Jesus Christ was finished and supplied enough grace to overcome in every situation by faith and trust in Him. As a teenager decades ago, we used to fill old school buses with our youth group setting out to share Jesus Christ with people by knocking on doors and canvasing neighborhoods. Talk about rejection. People were somewhat put off, openly offended and very negative about our intrusion unless, of course, they were already Christians patting us on the back as they inwardly sang, “Onward Christian soldiers…” I vowed never to do it again. We do not serve an awkward or out-of-touch God but one who orders our steps and puts purpose in us to carry everywhere we go. What if we are taking the Gospel to the world but Jesus is bringing them straight to us within our sphere of influence?

Prayer is not a public service but a product of an inward relationship with the Lord. The intimacy of communication with the Lover of our Soul and power that is within us. This is not to negate corporate prayer or the power in a praying church but rather to help you understand that every encounter in life has the potential to be powerful. How many times does the Holy Spirit prod us to pray for one when they are standing in front of us so we write their name on our heart for our prayer closet? I am beginning to understand that this powerful anointing inside of me is more about life than Christian service in a church. I am the church and a vital part of the functioning Body of Jesus Christ. My effectiveness in righteousness is not demonstrated as greatly in the House of God as it is when I carry it out to be the light of the world, city on a hill and salt of the earth. There are opportunities to share this light, influence and salt with people every single day as they approach us pouring out their needs, wants and desires. Maybe the Lord is bringing them into our sphere of influence rather than pushing us into their personal space.

Based on the passage today, I believe there are two things vitally important to becoming sensitive in our heart to the leading of the Spirit in bringing the Gospel to others. The first is in our own homes and houses of worship. There is an inclination toward old school religion that makes people think that there are certain requirements to God’s Acceptance and Outpouring in our life. The only thing I know for sure that is needed to access God is His Son – Jesus Christ. Coming to the Lord for our needs, wants and desires is not qualified by one’s position in the community, church or even social circle, it is available through humility. Our altars are empty. The call of God is not being answered on an individual level because people feel the burden of corporate expectation. We must take the veil down in our temple because Jesus ripped it in half from top to bottom. If you are sick, seek prayer. If you are happy, sing praise. If you are in need, pursue the saints of God to pray for you. Easier said than done, right? “To give and not receive is a form of arrogance.” (Michael Jr.)

If my people will humble themselves and pray. The dysfunctional bodies called church can limit the effectiveness of prayer by become a religious organization. If I ask for prayer, will you pray for me? If I share my heart, will you give it away as gossip? If I come to the altar again, will you judge me just the same? We must humble ourselves and repent for how we treat the needs of others because truthfully we all sin and fall short of God’s Glorious Standard every day. One sin would have cost Jesus the entirety of his life right down to his very last breath. One sin. There is no unpardonable sin except to reject the Lord Jesus Christ. To decide that He is not enough and choose another way. We all have different convictions on acceptable living. It is not my place to judge anyone. When I share my convictions, it is based on the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I offer it to them in love. If they choose another way, that is their right to choose given by freedom in Jesus Christ. I still am to love them and pray for them not talk about them and shun them for religious preference.

James 5:16-18 (NLT) Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

I believe that if the Holy Spirit lives in you then He will draw out the needs of others for you to be obedient in praying for them. We must believe. Believe that there is power in the prayer of righteous people. Have the strongest of convictions that nothing is impossible with God! The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and produces wonderful results. Have we stopped praying for every little thing because we do not believe that God takes every detail of our life working it for good? (Romans 8:28) Has our timer run out and our blessing still cooking so we try something else to fill our void and meet the need? I cannot share a faith or truth that I do not believe in. God’s Greatness and Power never goes bankrupt. Not every investment yields an immediate return but it always produces a dividend.

I Peter 4:7-10 (NLT) The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

God has given us a great variety of spiritual gifts and fruit to share with each other. All others including family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, strangers and even our perceived rivals or enemies. Each encounter comes with the opportunity to be powerful. To encourage, exhort or even just listen to the heartfelt longings of another. When people come to lay the contents of their life before us, what we do with it makes the difference. You may never see the person again but did you deposit Christ in them. It can be as simple as a smile that produces conversation. We must show deep love and compassion for others that takes us out of our routine, schedule and timeline in order to become that which Christ has called and equipped us to be. To pray for someone else often refocuses us personally as well. It is easy to get caught up in life and miss many opportunities for breakthrough based on our own agendas. Lord, make us sensitive to the leading of your Spirit in every encounter. Teach us to be disciplined and discerning when opportunities arise to be shine Your Light of Love to the world. Father, keep the salt on our lips. Fill and seal our heart so it is a safe place for the secrets of others given to us for prayerful consideration. Thank you for choosing us to be Your Hands, Feet, Mouth and Heart to the world. Let us be ever aware of Your Presence and constantly led by Your Spirit – in Jesus Name!

I Thessalonians 5:14-22 (NLT) Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

Death to Life

Death to Life

Romans 6:1-3 (Message) So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!

Today is Baptism Sunday at our church. There are people who have decided to participate in the symbolic act of baptism, but I wonder if they know the true potential of such a public confession. It is the gateway by which one may enter a “new land” and “new life”. An existence of true repentance marked by a turning over of every dead thing in our life to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Oh how I wish they knew how powerful the water can be for those who step in it with such an expectation. Salvation is the beginning of a transformation process that takes a lifetime to complete. It is the moment of realization that sin is killing us and without a Savior there is no chance of life. The next doctrinal step might be a public profession of our faith in Jesus Christ and then baptism. I love the opportunity presented by Paul in this passage and the way the Message explains it to us. It is a form of house cleaning where we lay down our old life, ways, faults, failures and disappointments in order to move into a new one without all the shackles and chains of our past holding us back. A handful of people have signed up to participate in the baptism service today, but I wonder how many more might if they realized the potential of leaving it all behind and moving into the new life Christ promised us.

Romans 6:3-5 (Message) That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.

I grew up in the Baptist church. My little sister has a very soft and sweet heart. I cannot count the number of times she responded to an altar call to repent and start again with Jesus. I know you may be thinking it silly, but I think it is essential. Since when did the altar become a place of shame, where people are chided for coming again and again? I think she was baptized at just about every summer camp. My sister is a mighty woman of God who leads home Bible studies and small groups. She impacts many lives with grace and generosity. She understands the life and power of Jesus Christ because she kept coming until she found what she was looking for. Oh what might happen if the church and its people were open to true repentance and transparency before the Lord again? Not afraid to come forward for prayer and divine healing? Unashamed that they want a new life when this one is not working out for them?

John 7:38-39 (Message) On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)

When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus…

Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes…” Are you overflowing with Living Water today? Or are you feeling the thirst that comes from seasons of drought – an inner dryness that nothing in this life can seem to satisfy? The Spirit inside of us produces good fruit to nourish and satisfy our soul. There are times when the Spirit of God within us is limited because of the lack of fertile soil – He cannot sow in a hard heart. The Holy Spirit lives in us to change our life from death to life sowing good seeds in fertile soil. Faith produces seeds of potential that must be cultivated to become the promise within each one. It is up to us to provide a place for them to grow, develop and mature into the abundance that the Lord has promised us. Without water, seeds die in the ground. Without the Spirit, the believer cannot move from death to life.

To be lowered in the water is like being buried with Christ, to make an exchange of all the dead things in our life so that they either be washed away or revived again. Sin is washed away along with regret and remorse. Faith is revived in the water and new life begins in that moment for those who believe. We must be buried in Christ with fruitful expectation that His Spirit will take over and produce new life in us all over again. This is not just for the new believer but every other saint of God who has become weary in well doing or overcome by fear, doubt, anxiety or disappointment. The water is for everyone.

Romans 7:3-6 (Message) So, my friends, this is something like what has taken place with you. When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for God. For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths. But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.

When we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.

It is often easier to get caught up in the rules and regulations of our religion rather than live a life true repentance and ongoing surrender to Jesus Christ. I have nothing of worth to give God other than my whole heart. My heart and life are not worthy of His Glory but what God desires therefore enough. We are married to Jesus in the careful exchange of sin and the acceptance of His Grace. When our life is fully reconciled to Christ – all the benefits and blessings associated with our relationship are evident. When we come up out of the water – it is like the resurrection of Jesus and new life begins all over again. There is no Christian who has it all together. There is no preacher, teacher, elder, deacon, or leader that does not fall short of the Glory of God and His Standard of living. No one can live apart from sin and the only hope we have is the resurrection power and life of Jesus Christ to keep us constantly turning in repentance to receive what He died for us to have.

We no longer live under “oppressive regulations and fine print”. We are free to live a new life of freedom in God. Do you live in the perpetual freedom that God offers those who believe? Do you have living water flowing through you today? Have you been baptized? There is no limitation on the water. You can come to the river as often as you like. Repentance is turning. Cycles are circular motions without real results. It may look like revival but it is not. It is repetition. Seasons are the terms and conditions of God’s Productivity. It is the prospering soul that receives all the blessings. A season produces something. It has purpose. It gives provision. In the end, there is an abundant harvest. It is how real revival begins and perpetuates itself. It begins when we surrender every dead thing to new life.

John 5:5-11 (Message) One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?” The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.” Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. That day happened to be the Sabbath. The Jews stopped the healed man and said, “It’s the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll around. It’s against the rules.” But he told them, “The man who made me well told me to. He said, ‘Take your bedroll and start walking.’”

There was a man who had been handicapped for more than three decades. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” The man began to make excuses. Jesus told him, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking. The man did exactly what Jesus said. He didn’t even make it into the water, but received his healing from Jesus right then and there. Immediately the Pharisees began to condemn the man for breaking the rules. It was the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll on Sunday. How many people carry burdens into church and lug them right out afraid to break the rules? Or how many preachers, teachers, elders, deacons, and the like live with heavy chains because they are afraid to come to the altar and be judged by their peers? How many times do we accept death where Jesus promised life just because of our pride? Too often. Jesus gives us the opportunity to exchange every dead thing for new life. He promises to make good of every detail of our life if we would only trust Him. Nothing can every separate us from the Love of God offered in His Son, Jesus Christ. Are you allowing something to separate you?

Seek out new life today. If that comes in the form of baptism when you can lay all these burdens into the likeness of His Death and be raised to new life then jump in with both feet all over again. Jesus didn’t give up His Life so that you would like a dead existence filled with doubt, discouragement, depression, disease or defeat. He came up out of the grave and so can you. You can leave death behind and embrace new life. You can do it as often as you need it. Jesus came to give us life more abundantly. Don’t stop until you receive it no matter what the cost. If that means running to the altar, do it! If that means jumping in the waters of baptism, go! Whatever it takes – let Jesus breathe new life in you again!

John 11:25-26 (Message) You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

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.