Monday

Monday

Psalm 100 (NLT) Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

How does come so quickly? Five days seem to drag by yet two pass in a flash of light. The weekend is over and Monday is here. Ugh! Rocking in the chair on the front porch, I really needed to take a broom to the pollen and spider webs. Instead, I just rocked watching my husband plant the lovely hydrangeas that were my gift for Mother’s Day. As he worked, I thanked him for my coveted plants. He had been asking for weeks what I wanted, and finally I decided I wanted them. Are you sure? Yes, I am absolutely positive. As I sat there in the afternoon breeze, I knew that I had made the right choice. Their position in the bed was perfect. Morning sun and then partial shade. The soil remained moist which is their favorite. They would grow and fill the area just outside the dining room windows. I wondered what color the flowers might be. Hydrangeas don’t all bloom the same color but it is not because of the variety but rather the pH level of the soil. I wanted to just sit there in that chair and watch the flowers grow. But I knew in my heart all good things must come to an end because tomorrow would be Monday.

Sundays are my favorite days when we worship the Lord together. Fellowshipping with other believers. Finding new seeds of Truth to plant in our hearts growing into purpose as God designed. It goes by so fast and quickly I am thrust back into the rat race of this world. Work has been a challenge lately. Just the thought of the week ahead makes me want to avoid it at all costs. It also seems as though the last several weeks, the enemy has paid particularly close attention to my every move. As if in a game of Mario Kart, I am just tooling along in my little race car while all the other opponents throw everything but the kitchen sink in my way. To spin me out. Make me crash. Give up my joy. Relinquish my peace. I want to win the race that I am in. I want to claim the prize that Christ Jesus has called me to. So this morning, as usual, He meets me with mercy and provides more grace with a word for my life that will changes things – if I allow it in my heart and to rise up out of my mouth.

Shout with joy. Worship the Lord…with gladness. Come before Him…singing. Acknowledge that He is Almighty God. Creator of all things – caretaker of the same. Take full advantage of the access I have into His Presence – go to Him rather than waiting on Him to come to me. Give thanks. Praise Him. For the Lord is good…He is always good. His Unfailing Love and Grace never, ever run out so His Goodness is always available to me. Right here. Right now. It comes as peace and inexpressible joy to those who seek Him. In Christ alone I find that all the impending problems are disguised lies for God is with me and I will not fail.

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

We must learn to make our mouth and heart agree. There are many times, our head says one thing while our heart strives to believe another. Such disagreement will never provide the peace everyone longs for. To be of one mind and one spirit. Isn’t that what our purpose is in life? To be one with Christ – to live and move in Him. To count everything else as “garbage” compared to just knowing Jesus. Yet, we allow stinking thinking to sometimes muck up our conversation and words of doubt and discontentment begin to form and fall out of our mouth. I was made to praise the Lord. My mouth was created for worship. It is to declare God’s Glory in good times and even on bad days. My confession should reflect a heart in covenant with Jesus Christ. As Ruth to Naomi, “Where you go, I will go.” Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you.

Psalm 27:4-5 (NLT) The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.

The Presence of God is an absolute necessity in our life each day. When Jesus died on the Cross and released His Spirit, the very first thing that He did was rip the veil or curtain that separated mankind from the Living God from top to bottom. This was no small set of draperies. The Lord made it clear that His Intention was not to be a God who is far away or distant. He wants us to come to Him. Romans 12:1-2 talks about being a living sacrifice. To give up our bodies or natural life including desires and inclinations to be one with the Lord. Why? Because of all that He has done for you and me. The kind that He finds acceptable. Hmm… I have heard this verse explained many times in many different ways according to the doctrine of the preacher or teacher. But you know what I think this means…God loves us. He doesn’t need us. He desires us. There is nothing God requires me to do other than just repent or turnaround and find Him. My sin is under the Blood of Jesus Christ and I have full access to His Presence. It doesn’t mean I won’t sin and make bad choices. The worst thing I could ever do is claim or even try to convince others of my perfection.

The absence of honesty is insanity. It is very easy to assume the customs and behaviors of the world because of overall acceptance. It is easy to assume the identity of the church culture that one participates in but in the Presence of God there is clarity. He defines our life and how we live it if we enter His Presence. Not occasionally or when things get a little rough or even completely overwhelming, no when I make it the ONE THING that I seek the MOST is when I finally begin to see this life I live agree – body, mind and spirit. Such agreement with the Lord gives me the confident hope that produces heavenly communication. I can praise Him when things are good just like when everything falls apart. Worship is my life not a few songs laced with tears. He will clear the way of all obstacles when I stop holding on to them. I can enter His Presence no matter where I am or who I am with. Jesus gives us that kind of access. The kind of unlimited access that comes without penalty just purpose.

Psalm 50:15-16 (NLT) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) Thankfulness is the most fruitful part of communication. It is the remedy for discontentment that leads to doubt and discouragement. It turns our situation from hopeless to hope full. Gratitude will change our attitude. Rather than concentrating on what I am waiting for, if I can just begin to praise Him for all He has done. I will admit in a world driven by supply and demand with greedy temptation vying for our attention – it is hard to remain thankful. God’s Will for my life is found in thankfulness. Thanksgiving produces a change in my heart so significant that the Word of God says, He “will give me” His Glory. When I enter the Presence of God, my words are equally important as those cast around carelessly each day. Every word I speak bears fruit in my life good or bad. I must tend the gateway of my mouth and tame my rebellious tongue. My heart desires the Lord. My head knows His Way is best. I must make a careful and considerate commitment to continually monitor my conversation. Are my words filled with praise? Do they worship the Lord? Am I thankful? No more grumbling or complaining about God’s Care for me. That’s what we are saying by doing so that the God of all Creation is not a good caregiver but a careless Father. Which is simply not true!

Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

The God of Sunday is still God on Monday. The Presence of God that gave you goosebumps in church is the same Holy Spirit that is in you right now. You are a Child of God. He is a good father. Have you forgotten some of the good things that He has done? Or maybe you just haven’t taken full advantage of them yet? Praise Him today. Worship Him. Love on Him. Enter His Presence. Thank the Lord for all the good things that He has done and promised to do for you and in you. This is the best way to start the week. It will end your Monday blues and fill your life with His Presence including His Love, Joy and Peace that is hidden there for you. He fills our life with good things. Always. Every day. More than we can even think or imagine. I must only make myself available – letting go of every complaint – and make my heart and mind agree so my mouth declares His Praise – He is good! He is good on Sunday. He is still awesome on Monday! We serve a good God! Let’s sound like it.

Those hydrangeas in the flower bed have some blue and purple blooms on them right now. I have the ability to change the color of the flowers by what I put in the soil. I can add pH or alkaline depending on what I would like them to look like. I also have the ability to decide what blooms in my life, too. It is about my conversation. It is how I communicate with the Lord and other people. The foundation of my life will be evident in the fruit of my life. Let it always represent that I am rooted and grounded in His Love.

Colossians 2:7 (NLT) Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Smell Me

smell-me

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NLT) But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

The term for my wanderings this lazy Saturday morning would be referred to as “piddling” or even “tinkering” here in the South. Only one sleeping beauty in the quiet house unless you count the tiny princess running around my feet. As I begin a load of wash, making my way to the garage to close the door left open by my husband on his way to the woods. The old cabinet which is my next refinishing project catches my attention. Grabbing a sandpaper block, I begin to scratch the surface to see how many layers of poly are on it. I begin to inspect it. I bought it from a woman down an old dirt road who lived in a tiny mobile home. Her mother had passed and all her belongings were set up outside under tarped makeshift coverings. I couldn’t really inspect the cabinet in the darkness as the rain began falling so loading it up it was acquired sight unseen. As the gritty edge cut into the top layer, the distinct smell of years of cigarette smoke caught my attention. Sliding open the cabinet, I could smell it there, too. Memories came flooding back to me of my mother’s parents. Grandparents I hardly knew and spent little time with yet in that moment I was carried back to their tiny apartment. My mom’s house smelled just like it as she aged and the generational curse took over her life, too. It’s funny how certain smells trigger memories.

When I was in grade school, I tried everything in my power to eliminate that smoky smell from my belongings. I hate cigarette smoke. It just smells so nasty. I remember being mortified that people could smell it on my clothing. When I went to my paternal grandparent’s house, they would quickly whisk our things down to the basement washing them all and packing them away. Back then the dangers of nicotine were not known like now, it was socially acceptable and just about everyone did it. When I became an adult, I vowed that I would never smell like that again. I promised that my children would not be exposed to it. I had developed an aversion to it. So much so that I am very sensitive to how things smell. I use scented soap. Dumping copious amounts of laundry detergent and fabric softener in the washer and smelly sheets in the dryer to make sure our clothing is pleasant and aromatic long after they cleaned. Bathing and deodorant which seem only natural but to some may not be is a household requirement. Militant efforts to maintain an inviting fragrance to all who visit.

I believe that when I came to Christ sin had a distinct odor in my life. Jesus washed me in His Blood and rinsed me in His Word wrapping me in righteousness and covering me in grace – it is only then that the fragrance of my life is acceptable to God. Please note I do nothing more than submit to the process of complete restoration, Jesus did it all. Yet over time, it is human nature to maybe become a little stale. Perhaps, it is in those moments when sin is allowed to remain in the hidden places like a rotting potato lost in the pantry. No, seriously there is no worse smell I assure you. Or maybe the sweaty smell of exertion when I tried to do what Christ already has done for me because I cannot accept free grace as enough for me. Like boy funk from sweaty gym clothes, discarded socks and every other perspired soaked thing they can find piled high in their room because a whole 20 feet to the hamper is just too dang far for their teenage legs to carry them. My life is to be a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. Lord, smell me. How do I smell to You? Is the aroma of my attitude and actions pleasing to You? Or do I offend you with the odor of sin and perspiration of human perfection? Hmmm…

Philippians 3:8-9 (NLT) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Have you ever smelled body odor and checked your own armpits? Discreetly, of course. I have done it I will admit. I keep perfumed spray and lotion in my bag just in case. I have deodorant in my car and desk at work. Are you judging me right now? I hope not. We should all consider the aroma of our life and decide if we are emitting the fragrance of Christ. When I discover it is me with stinking thinking or smelling choices, I immediately do something about it as not to offend or run off anyone else. What about you? Have you smelled yourself lately? We must examine our heart and mind every day. We must wash ourselves in the Blood of Jesus that is repentance, and know Him more by washing ourselves in the Word. My life has purpose. It is to please God. How can I please the Lord if He cannot stand the smell of me?

Have you ever flipped open the garbage in the morning to discover the delicious dinner last night has turned into a gross, disgusting and offensive odor that assaults you? The meal discarded in the trash can sits and ripens into rottenness by the very next day. What we eat becomes waste that is not pleasant smelling if you catch my drift. We all have to take out the garbage inside and out to maintain a sweet smelling life. When allowed to sit and fester – the odor permeates other areas of our life until no one smells our goodness just our grossness. Everything else is worthless when compared to knowing Christ. We must be willing to discard those things that stink up our life as the worthless garbage to become one with the Lord. It is in that moment the fragrance of our life is pleasing to the Father again.

The message of God is desirable when the aroma denotes something tasty. No one wants to eat something that is terrible. How many times have my kids said to me, “taste this its awful” or “smell this I think its rotten”. Now why in the world would I want to smell something bad much less eat it. God’s Love is sweeter than anything that I have every tasted. He is Good and fills my life with good things. If my life does not reek of God’s Love and Goodness, why would anyone want to taste and see that the Lord is good? You with me so far.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT) Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

My plan for today is simple. I am going to work on my little project. First, I am going to take some wood soap and clean the cabinet inside and out. There are a few imperfections that I will quickly fix and adjust before I set to sanding it thoroughly. I have decided to stain the top and apply a coat of polyurethane. I want this old piece to come to life again. It has history. It bears the smells and scars of its past. With some time, attention and loving care, it will go from a piece of junk one step from the garbage to become my masterpiece.

We are God’s Little Projects filled with imperfections left by sin, our past, problems and more. Jesus finished His Work concerning us on the Cross. He bought us with for a tremendous price though God could stand the sight of us or the smell of us. Jesus washes us in His Blood and rinses us in His Word wraps us in righteousness covering us in His Amazing Grace – it is only then that the fragrance of our life becomes acceptable to God. I want to live in the Presence of God so I must go through the process of repentance and restoration day by day. He makes our life beautiful again as we become His Masterpiece again. The fragrance of our life is made new and attractive to the Lord and all who come into contact with us. Do you need to ask the Lord, “Smell me?” Today. Is there an unpleasant odor wafting from your life? Do people find you offensive and obnoxious when it comes to your life or do they find it pleasing and desirable? Do they want to know the Lord who has filled you with good things? Do they want what you have? Praise and worshipping God should emit a fragrance from our life that is inviting so others will want to know Him and love Him, too. How do you smell today? Can you smell me? Lord, may our lives become sweet smelling offerings and a perfume in Your Presence today!

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

The Next Step

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Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT) The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Since my mom had open heart surgery, I have made a several trips back and forth to check on her. A few years ago, my parents bought a new house in a community just outside of the city limits of their former city. Thankfully my phone has a map application that gives me step by step directs how to get from my driveway to their front door. When I plug in their address, it gives me options to choose regarding my route. There are many ways to get to their home. I can choose the fastest route which means at some point I will take the busy interstate. There is the option of the completely rural route with winding back roads which takes a while longer. I can choose a combination of both if I would like. Once I choose a route, the nifty little helper will let me know if there is an accident or traffic jam up ahead and an alternative route to avoid the congestion. If I choose it, the device will reroute me so I can keep moving. When I complete a turn, it gives me the next step in the instructions. As I proceed, it will give me indications of the remaining distance at certain increments. As I approach the next turn, it will begin to countdown even measuring it in feet until the kind voice tells me to turn here.

I remember when the original Global Positioning Systems first arrived on the market. They were a bit hit or miss and not nearly as accurate as they are now. As of February 2016, there are 32 orbiting satellites in the GPS constellation. In order to obtain accurate information, at least three of those must be able to measure a single user’s position accurately. The advance of such technology is incredibly fascinating and a bit disturbing to think that this is constantly monitoring each person’s human activity according to the device that is a dependency in this day and age. What would we do without the directions of our GPS traveling through life? I have forgotten what it is like to pull out a map and try to discern my direction. I am completely dependent on map application in my phone.

Today I am praying about my some important steps in my life. Oh how nice it would be if the Holy Spirit worked like my navigation system in my phone. If an audible voice would come across the car radio telling me when to turn, go straight or reroute because of danger up ahead. The Lord is a still small voice. He directs our steps but just like the tracking system allows us to choose the direction to take. If the voice grows silent, it is human nature to wonder if somehow we are lost. Have I missed you God? Did I make a wrong turn? Have I miss-stepped missing your plan and now fully engaged in my own? These are questions that I am asking myself today to be fully transparent. I do not want to take another step if it is not by His Design.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall. He holds them by the hand. Looking back at Peter, who stepped out of the boat into the water by faith, it is clear that his faith was not yet big enough for the journey. Yet later in the midst of his booming ministry, he offers these words, For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (I Peter 2:21) I think when Peter stepped out of the boat that he expected the Lord to carry him safely across the water. But what he learned is that each step to Jesus requires faith, not in the current conditions of our life but total trust that even when we fall, face hardship or don’t know where to step next – the Lord is holding our hand. Faith will not allow us to necessarily “see” the next step but allows us to walk on water for those who believe. Believe that Jesus is in each step of life – He is the Way Maker.

Exodus 20:24-26 (NLT) “Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me—your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you. If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use. And do not approach my altar by going up steps. If you do, someone might look up under your clothing and see your nakedness.

Plugging the desired destination into my time with the Lord today, I came across the passage tucked right after the Ten Commandments. The section was labeled, “Proper Use of Altars”. Our purpose in life is always to find our way to worship the Lord with all of our heart. To follow Him wholeheartedly (Jeremiah 29:13) and seek His Kingdom above all other things. (Matthew 6:33) How we get there is mandated by the Lord, but we are free to choose our path. God is in each step. To reach the Promise and obtain the Kingdom, my feet must always be pointed toward the altar of God, pursuing His Presence and taking steps toward total surrender and submission. Surrender is to our Savior and submission is for our Lord.

“Build for me an altar of earth…” As I journey with the Lord, God has provided everything I need for proper worship in my present life. We do not have to make it up as we go along or try to do anything ourselves. Jesus Christ did it all on the Cross. “Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered…” God promises to come and bless those who live a life of identification with the Presence of God in each footfall. God is always pursing us with unfailing love and overwhelming goodness. (Psalm 23:6) As long as my want and desire is His Kingdom and I am committed to Christ – God will bless me each time I stop and worship Him. To stop what I am doing and build an altar (worship) is to develop a consistent life of worship as the Holy Spirit cultivates faith in us helping it to grow. “If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones.” Religion can allow us to think that we can rework the pattern of worship predetermined by God which is just not the case. My ability to worship is innate. The right to worship fruitfully is a product of grace alone. I cannot make my worship anything of worth. Worshipping the Lord is an absolute surrender of my Will, Way and Works to the Cross to be covered in His Blood and made acceptable to God. It does not in any way influence God’s Love and Acceptance of me. This is completed start to finish by the Work of Christ on the Cross. This is simply how I choose to serve Him the Master of my life. Finally, “do not approach my altar by going up the steps. If you do, someone might look under your clothing and see your nakedness.” Humility allows me to walk God. Nothing more or less. If I ever come to the place that I feel somewhat entitled or think I have reached a higher level of saving grace, I have lost my way.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Many steps have added up to where I am today in this moment. Yet the sum total does not equal my expectation. As I sit and think upon God’s Word concerning the next step in my life, I am overwhelmed with a burning desire to be where He is. I want to walk humbly with my God. I want to do what is good. To do what He requires. To do what is right. I don’t want to move a single inch if it is away from Jesus. Today I am building an altar in this place, I am waiting for Him to come. To cleanse my heart and clear my mind. I don’t need to see the next step as long as I can hold His Hand all the way to the other side. There is pain in this process. Fighting hurt and discouragement every moment of the day. Yet standing here looking forward, I know that God is in every single step that I take and delights when I choose godliness.

Proverbs 2:20-21 (NLT) So follow the steps of the good, and stay on the paths of the righteous. For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it.

Reading today, I revisited Joshua in the moments before crossing the Jordan. All those years and miles of journeying to the Promise Land culminated in these final moments. (Joshua 3) The exodus was over and now it was time to enter in. The only thing between the Israelites and their promise was the surging Jordan River. God had a plan. The waters did not recede before they arrived or because they prayed. Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’” They had to get their feet wet. Stepping out on faith is never easy, but the Lord will not show you the next step until you take the first step of obedience and trust in His Word. Psalm119:133 says, “Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome with evil.” It is not enough to just read God’s Word but it must become the guide for each step. We can plan our next fifteen steps from here to what we want and desire, but the moment I cry out to the Lord to have His Way all that changes because He is the Way, Truth and Life. (John 14:6) I cannot get to God expect through Jesus. My steps must line up with His Steps and follow His Way.

Proverbs 14:12-16 (NLT) There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains. Backsliders get what they deserve; good people receive their reward. Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps. The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.

Finally, there are some pitfalls to avoid as we walk in step with Jesus today. We must not be caught up in being right but being righteous. Rightness is driven by pride. Righteousness is the fulfillment of a life surrendered to Jesus Christ. My heart must be in it. All of my heart must be invested in this journey. My heart cannot remain heavy laden with all the burdens and cares that Christ has requested yet still think I have the strength to move one step closer to Him. Backsliders get what they deserve. I cannot entertain sin. To do so is to rebel against God. The thought that I am doing all these things right so I am better than anyone else is false. To go about God’s Work my own way is wrong. The only way to keep from falling is to hold His Hand firmly. We must be prudent in pursing the Truth. The Word of God is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. I will not get through to the Promise without God’s Word and His Spirit to guide me. Finally, we must carefully consider each step in life. Commit the one’s not clear to prayer. Don’t move until God lights up the way. Be patient and enduring when we just want to escape and run away. As I sit and think about all these things, I have peace that God has considered my next step and is clearing the way. I just have to surrender my way to have His Way.

Psalm 43:3-4(NLT) Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!

My prayer today is for the Lord to send out His Light and His Truth to guide my next step. To lead me to the place where He is and to where He lives because that is where I long to be. This is the place of worship that I need to be and the place He has reserved just for me. This earth and the things in it are temporary so I must focus on the eternal. Forever. When I read about David today in 2 Samuel 6:12-16, he was in the process bringing the Ark of God – His Presence back to the city. The priests and David stopped every six steps to offer a sacrifice to God and David danced before the Lord. The life of worship is in each step. What might happen if I stopped looking for the whole staircase and took a single step wearing it out with my worship and treading it with praise. I may not be certain but my God is for sure. Life is to be lived in each step. Each one is important. It is worthy of an altar. It is worthy of my Lord. Lord, lead me.

Psalm 73:23-25 (NLT) Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.  Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.

Perfecting Praise

perfecting-praise

Psalm 92:1-2 (NLT) It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening…”

Thank God it’s Friday! I don’t think I could have made it to one more day of this week before the weekend. It has been a busy week. It is already shaping up to be a busy weekend. If I am not careful, I will get wrapped up in my to-do list and all the “things” I need to finish at work, the “things” I want to do at home, and the “things” I have to do at church until I no longer am doing what I should be doing the most. My life is very busy. Yours probably is, too. It is human nature to think that we are too busy for certain things and get our priority list out of whack but truly if I do nothing else today – I need to praise the Lord.

My commute to work is about 45 minutes one way each day. I have about an hour and a half blocked Monday through Friday with nothing to do but drive to town and back. I was concerned when we moved that I might get tired of the daily drive. This is not the case. It has become a designated praise break. After I drop our youngest off at school, I have about 40 minutes of uninterrupted Jesus time. This time is so important. I love to praise the Lord. Worship is my favorite part of every church service. I am not a musician. I cannot play an instrument. I am not able to carry a note. However, when I am alone in the car worshipping my Lord and Savior – it is as if no one is there but me and Jesus so I sing at the top of my lungs. Right about now would be a good time to thank the Lord that you do not carpool with me.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord. Are you thankful today? Do you have something to sing about? God loves you. His Love never fails. It is enough to sing about each morning. His Faithfulness is relentless and enduring. The Lord never gives up on us. It is work singing through the night. No matter how this day shapes up or falls apart, I have a reason to praise the Lord.

Psalm 42:4-5 (NLT) My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

Is your heart broken today? Are you discouraged? Overwhelmed? Weak or weary? A bit burned out or completely give out as we say in the south? Do you remember when you used to walk with the worshippers? Lead a procession of praise? Sing for joy? Be thankful? What happened? Life happens. We come to the Lord with great expectation but it is not solely based on truth and understanding so when the first storm blows in or trouble comes knocking – it takes our breath away. We begin to complain, grumble or murmur rather than praising, worshipping and singing praise to the Lord. Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart sad? When we take our hope from the Lord and place expectation in anyone or anything else, it is misplaced. He is our Rock and Salvation. He is our only Hope that does not lead to disappointment. We were created to give Him praise. It is the very reason there is breath in our body today. To do anything else is out of character. Our soul fights for its voice in the midst of our discouragement. It is ready to praise. We must learn to let it out!

Luke 19:36-40 (NLT) As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.  “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”  He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

Jesus does not need my praise. He doesn’t want it. Jesus is worthy of all praise. If I choose to withhold praise, worship, honor or glory from my Lord, “the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” Sometimes, we need a humble perspective. God did not have to save us. He is God. He is Sovereign. Yet in His Complete and Utter Perfection, He still loved us and decided to send His One and Only Son to die for us and give us life again. By asking Jesus to be our Savior and Lord is to accept this gift so graciously given. We cannot earn it or attain it any other way than the acceptance of Jesus Christ. So what makes us think in our depleted human state when the only good thing in us is the Grace of the Living God that we can withhold thankfulness, praise and adoration from Jesus for a single moment? But we do it every day.

When I choose to complain about my situation? It tells the world that my God cannot satisfy my soul. When I gripe, grumble and gossip, it expresses a void that the capacity of my Savior’s Love cannot fill so I am empty and dry. The confession of my life speaks from the inner most depths of my heart. It is not what we say in church or in the presence of other believers that tell on us, but when our love is put to the test in discomfort or inconvenience. This tells the Source of our hope and our confidence in Him. The Lord is good. In every season, He is faithful. He gave us a new life, voice and breath so that we could join in the course all around Him.

Revelation 5:11-13 (NLT) Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”

There are three voices in Heaven singing blessing, honor, glory and power filling the atmosphere with praise. The angels sing. The souls sing. The creatures sing. Everyone is singing to the Lamb. This is Heaven. This is the greatest praise break of all time that will last forever and ever because He is worthy! God has given you and me a song to sing! (Psalm 40) Are we singing it? In the Disney movie, “The Little Mermaid”, Ariel exchanged her beautiful singing voice for her sweet prince. She left the sea to live in his world. However, it was her voice that drew the prince to Ariel in the first place. What have we given up our praise for? Is there anything so precious that it would be more important than worshipping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? He is our soon and coming King. Is our allegiance to His Kingdom clearly being expressed audibly in our life? It is our voice that unites us with the declaration of heaven that Jesus is Lord. Is this our confession? Is our life filled with praise?

Psalm 150 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.  Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!

We must protect our praise today. We cannot sit back silently and let creation take our place. When you wake up each morning, it is because the Lord has provided the breath to make it through one more day. The breath in our body is given to us to express the Glory of God by following His Word and fulfilling His Purpose in our life. Dead people cannot praise God. (Psalm 6:5) Life gives us the opportunity to worship one more day. To give Him thanks. To bless His Name. Each day should begin with praise. Each night should conclude with it. Praise is the perpetual confession of faith and hope in Jesus Christ. If we grow silent, it is a reason for concern because even the rocks will cry out in His Name.

Wednesday night after church, a new mama was holding her infant son. He is just old enough to respond to his mother’s voice. She would speak to him softly and a smile would break across his face revealing a toothless grin. As she continued to engage with him, he began cooing in response to her voice. His adoration of his mama was clear. He was responding to her. Praise is our response to the Lord. It is how we express our love and gratitude for the grace we have been given and new life discovered in Jesus. Can the Lord hear our response to His Goodness today? Is He able to weed through our words to extract some glory, praise and adoration? Many will come to Jesus on “that” day telling him all the “things” they did for him and in His Name, but Jesus will say, “I never knew you!” Praise is the voice of our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. We must make it clear. Praise is our expression of salvation. Paul said, “And they praise God because of me.” (Galatians 1:24) Lord Jesus, let that be my testimony today! Let my praise be with expectation. My hope is secure in you, Lord. I will make you known today Jesus. I will not let a rock cry out in my place. Amen and amen!

I Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

 

 

 

 

Undignified Worship

Undignified Worship

Psalm 30:11-12 (NIV) You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

When our oldest daughter married a couple of years ago, her wedding was truly a celebration. After months of planning and preparing, her big day finally came. It was clear that everyone was intent on making the most of it. Not only did it mark the end of a courtship turned into a covenant, but it also was the end of the long treacherous road to her brother’s battle against cancer. When dinner was over and the music started, no one could have imagined the celebration that would begin. The carefully set tables would be pushed aside, shoes were flying, ties and jackets discarded. It was quite undignified from that moment on. The DJ said that he had never seen such a reception without alcohol. God is good!

Sitting on the front row on the cold November day, I turned to watch our bride walk with her handsome dad to meet her groom who had dissolved into tears at the sight of her. I was holding it together quite well at this point thanks to a mixture of exhaustion and mascara keeping me intact. But when she reached her destination, I panned the wedding party to find that all my beautiful children were standing before me. Handsome and beautiful, as well as, healed and whole. The enemy tried to take one of my sons but the Lord saw it fit to give me another. God is good!

Today as I think about the wedding reception, I remember the relief that it actually went off without a hitch. Wedding planning and preparation is stressful. Bringing two families together is difficult even when everyone is saved and sanctified. But in that moment, everyone in that place danced together. It didn’t matter if they were from the bride’s side or the groom’s side. I wonder if we should be dancing more as believers as I ponder the moment. I wonder if our faith gets stifled inside of us at the thought of a display considered a bit undignified. Faith without works is dead according to the Word of God. I wonder if redemption without celebration is dead, too. I wonder if we sing but don’t move beyond lip service to celebration if we have missed it.

I Peter 1:6-9 (NIV)  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Genuineness of faith is expressed in inexpressible and glorious joy. It is the salvation of our souls. Working out our salvation is a God process and our surrender to His Will and Way for us. Obedience is not a mundane following of a mediocre God. When obedience begins in our heart making its way to our hands, our soul begins to prosper and so will the productivity of our life. It matters what drives our actions and attitudes in life. If I treat others better than myself, yet secretly have hate or prejudice against them in my heart – all good deeds are fruitless. Love is the bottom line in all things. My husband and I have been married almost two decades. We have had great times and difficult seasons yet the prevailing commitment between us is always upheld by our love for Jesus first and then each other. It allows us to wake up each morning and find joy in each other even if we were at odds last night. This is the care over of faith in life. No matter what happens – the Lord gives us new mercy each morning to keep hope alive in our hearts.

Our love for the Lord should produce joy in our life that is more than just words. Singing a song comes from memory but when it causes us to lift our hands, tears running down our face, or even leads us to an altar then our praise made it into our heart. If my praise is rehearsed, I wonder if my life may be too. Habit rather than holiness. If my worship is dry, I wonder if my heart is hard and barren. When declaring His Great Name, does it press me to draw closer or do I tend to remain self-controlled. Where are the David’s who choose to dance before the Lord in an “undignified” state? Are they hiding from the Michal’s?

2 Samuel 6:14-17 (NIV) Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord.

The Lord will not force us to love Him with all of our heart. He will not force us to praise and worship His Holy Name. He provides new mercy and plenty of grace that allows us to step into righteousness and ushers us into His Presence. When will we come as David did, “dancing before the Lord with all his might”? David was leaping and dancing before the Lord as the Ark of the Lord was brought to the city. The Ark represented the Presence of God. The Spirit of the Living God now lives in us. Are we expressing the precious treasure invested in us to the watching world? Why not? Michal was David’s wife. She worshipped idols not the one true Living God. She was embarrassed by her husband and king’s ridiculous behavior. David was a man after God’s Own Heart. It did not stop him from worshipping the Lord openly. What is stopping me? What is stopping you? When God moves on our heart, why do we refuse to move?

Joshua 6:2-5(NIV) Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

Six days of silently marching around a solid wall seemed silly to those who did not understand. On the seventh day, when the people broke out into a giant praise break, the enemy must have been very confused. There was no battle. There was no fight. However, through careful obedience the walls of Jericho fell completely flat. Could it be that in our mundane praise and mediocre worship that we have limited the Lord in bringing down the strongholds of our life and breaking all the chains? We are at the wall chiseling and hammering at it but God is telling us to stand back it will fall flat. Faith doesn’t mean fighting our own battles. Faith is believing that God has given us the victory. Waiting on it. Watching for it. It means praising God today for the victory that is coming tomorrow. It is to allow Him to heal the heart hurting from past battles and overwhelming storms. We must find our way to praise the Lord with all of our might again to bring down every stronghold and set all the captives free.

Psalm 8:1-2 (NIV) Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

True and valid faith will not allow us to live in the doldrums of life. In fact, according to Psalm 8, it is through praise of children and infants that God places a barrier of protection around our life. What does our praise and worship tell the next generation? Does it portray the Living God who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Are we showing them that faith is worth it? I want my children to love and serve God. If my witness to them that it leads to a mediocre life, will they want to know Him personally? Jesus wants to set our soul free today to prosper. He desires to give you inexpressible joy that cannot bear to be contained. It is not a change in circumstances, but rather a heart change. One that doesn’t base praise and worship on how we feel about life but our love for God and His Son, Jesus alone.

Psalm 149:3-9 (NIV) Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them—this is the glory of all his faithful people.

What would happen if our life was characterized by undignified worship every day? What if rather than complaining with praised the Lord for His Faithfulness? What if rather than taking matters into our own hands, we lifted those same hands to surrender all to the Lord each day? What would happen if our live was devoted to praising the Lord in all things and blessing His Holy Name? What if our praise and worship made its way out of the four walls called church and became the premise of each temple (we are the temples of the Holy Spirit)? I am challenged today to undignified worship. The kind that gets the enemy’s attention. It says that “praise of God can be a double-edged sword” in our hands. The Word of God gives credibility to our worship as it is the foundation of faith that produces hope in us. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness to find something…anything praiseworthy and boast of the God in us. We will never be truly free until faith in the Son of God sets us totally free. Prison doors open with praise, strongholds come down with worship, and chains fall off when we life our hands to the Lord. God has given us victory and the power to overcome in all things. Undignified worship will release it in our life.

Psalm 30:4-5 (NIV) Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Rushing Water

Rushing Water

Revelation 19:6-9 (NIV) Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

What will Heaven be like? Do you ever wonder? Will it be like a great reunion? Will it be a big and vast open space? Will there really be streets of gold and mansions all around or is that just a way to entice people? Will it just be Jesus sitting on a throne surrounded in light? Will it be all these things? Our church hosted a worship night. A time of worshipping the Lord without a real order of service or programmed agenda. Just a time of moving a little bit closer to Jesus as far as each individual was willing to travel. Whenever I am in such a service, I find my thoughts wondering. Lord is this what it will be like forever with you. A place where time stands still. Time passes swiftly but seems like only a moment. Flowed with peace. Overcome with joy. Every burden lifted. Yet, we are still here. Once it is over, we walk out the doors into a cold and dark world filled with challenges, temptations, trouble and tragedy. We want Heaven. The more it is tested our taste is refined. The world is no longer satisfying and does not bring contentment only a greater thirst to find one moment or two to bask in the Light of His Love and be filled to overflowing again.

I was looking for the word “Hallelujah” today. It is the word that connects us to the Lord by accepting His Sovereign Power, submitting to His Supreme Purpose and surrendering to His Perfect Will. I find that it reminds me I am not in control of my circumstances, but praise God, no one else is either. I live under the divine authority and complete control of Jesus Christ so that no matter what weapon is formed against me – I will prosper – Hallelujah! Greater is He who is in me than He that is in the world – Hallelujah! I am blessed beyond any curse and His Promise will endure – Hallelujah! Hallelujah is a lot like “amen”. It is the acceptance of God’s Will and commitment to His Plan but submission of our life to His Authority. It is the highest praise. It is translated many ways such as praise the Lord and thanks be to God. Hallelujah is the sound of Heaven as men and women gather together in one accord to worship the Lord in all of His Holiness.

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting…” The Kingdom of God is not quiet in its celebration of the Lord so why are we? I wonder sometimes if the “order” indicated in the early church has somehow been mistranslated and traditionally handed down.  The sound of Heaven is loud. It is exuberant. It is committed to a kind of worship that connects with Jesus. There will be no sideline worshippers in Heaven on those who choose Spirit and Truth as a way of surrendering to the Lord completely. I believe that how we worship in this place is the ultimate audition for our entrance into Eternity. Will we be ready and able to worship the Lord as indicated in Revelation? Will our response be Hallelujah? Will our worship be radical enough to join others.

John 4:10 (NIV) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Jesus told the woman at the well, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you Living Water.” We must receive Living Water from Jesus to produce it in our life. Jesus went on to share with her that whoever drinks the water He gives will never thirst. They will be satisfied. Are you satisfied today? Have you asked the Lord to fill you with Living Water? The water that Jesus gives us will be like a spring of water welling up to eternal life. When God created the earth, He did not make rain at that time. No, the world was watered from within. You were not created to be “watered” or sustained by the things of this world but to be solely dependent on the Living Water inside of you.

In John 4:23-24 (NIV), Jesus tells the woman how we should worship. We must worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth. These are two vital commodities to successful entrance to the Kingdom of God because these are the ingredients of worship that cannot be avoided or ignored. The very attributes that change praise into worship. Do you have the spirit? I am not asking about manifestations of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in other tongues. This is God’s Power flowing out of you. It will not happen without the Fruit of His Spirit cultivated in us. Do you worship the Lord in Spirit? Relying on His Guidance and His Direction. Coming to Him with our weakness. Conversing with Him in crisis. He is our Helper. He was sent to teach us to move deeper in our faith and hold on to hope. The Word of God is truth. Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh, therefore, He is Truth. Worship cannot be produced without a connection to Christ and His Word. When God speaks – He speaks His Word. It is definitive. He cannot and will not contradict Himself. Jesus died and as raised again so that God’s Word could be active in our life again apart from sin. This is true perfection achieved in His Love and by His Grace which is the reason that we can move from praising God to worshipping Him successfully.

John 7:38-39 (NIV) Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Our commitment to know the Spirit and Truth applying it to our daily lives begins to produce change in us. It is a stirring deep within. Whoever believes in Jesus will start to feel rivers of life surging in their belly looking for a way out. Flowing to find a source greater than its own content. An ocean to connect with. More water to feed its flow and increase the current. The rivers of living water that Jesus promised are directly connected to His Spirit. As we begin to allow Living Water to make its way through us, it begins to create a need for greater sustenance. It is power rushing through us ready to explode like a geyser in our soul. This is worship getting ready to be expressed. Not just any worship, but the kind that blesses God’s Heart.

When Jesus was glorified, it marked God’s Acceptance of His Sacrifice. This is the very thing that allowed His Spirit to be released to help us and live in us. It was the moment that our praise turned to worship making it significant to God and worthy of His Kingdom. It’s not any sound that my head tells my mouth to produce. It is the Lord’s Spirit rising out of my belly, rushing through my heart, making its way out of my mouth that connects to His Kingdom entering the very Presence of the Living God. I want to live there. I don’t ever want to leave that place.

Psalm 42:7-8 (NIV) Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.

I wonder if it is possible to truly worship God and not surrender or submit to Him. I only say that because His Will is perfect and His Word is true. His Power is Sovereign. He does not waver or change His Mind. When deep calls to deep it is in the roar of His Waterfalls. God’s Love for us is unfailing and unrelenting too. A waterfall’s current becomes inescapable the closer you get. It sucks you in and pulls you over the edge. Maybe that is why worship is scaring to people so they only persist in praising God for what He has done rather than totally trusting and surrendering to worship Him.

God’s Love is sweeping over you today. It is live waves urging us deeper as the current goes out. He directs us with His Love. At night, He sings over us a love song. I wonder if it is like the sound of the ocean when staying in a beachside villa. Opening the doors, the breeze blows over you and the sound of the waves on the surf woo you into peaceful sleep. The Love of God is as unfathomable as the depth of the deepest sea. It feels dangerous and overwhelming sometimes. But those who trust the Lord will make the connection that is vital to move us from here and not to forever with Jesus. Worship is essential. It is our key.

Psalm 63:1-5 (NIV) You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

 

“Like the roar of rushing waters…” Heaven sounds like rushing water. Of course, it does. When the Living Water flowing in us connects with the Rushing Water flowing from His Throne, worship bursts forth like water through a dam. I cannot live in Heaven…yet. However, there is an opportunity among believers to worship in Spirit and Truth right now. Right here. To experience such a Presence of God that His Satisfaction will satisfy our dry and thirsty soul. Reaching all the dry and dead things with Resurrection Power. He is ready to revive us again but are we thirsty enough to seek Him in such a way. To surrender to His Overflow in our life and be watered from the inside out. It is our opportunity to connect with Jesus and bring Heaven to earth but we miss it week after week, day after day and moment to moment ignoring the deep crying out to deep within us. My connection to Christ fills me. United with likeminded believers creates the opportunity to increase the flow. Those who thirst for more will continue to press in until Living Water flows from the church again. It is a must. It is the sound of Heaven beginning in each belly and filling the world. Worship moves us closer. Takes us deeper. It changes us so we can encounter Him more. Am I doing my part? Are you doing yours? Lord I want to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Lord, may living water make it from my belly and wash over my world. My worship matters. Our worship matters. It connects us together forming His Bride. I want to go deeper. I want to know you more. I want to worship like they do in Heaven right here on the earth.

 

Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV) As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Acceptable Worship

Acceptable Worship

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

“This is truly the way to worship Him.” Backing up, “let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind that he will find acceptable.” What is acceptable worship? What if I am going about it all wrong? Does my life and love please the Lord? Does it copy the behavior and customs of this world? There is a fine line in the new church culture. In the good intention of reaching the nations rather than releasing an outpouring of God’s Spirit, there has been a watering down of the Gospel. Church is not a social club or civic organization. It is a fellowship of believer’s whose intent is becoming one with Jesus Christ…or at least, that is what it should be. I want to know that my worship reaches and blesses the Heart of God the Father and His Son, my Lord, Jesus Christ.

His Grace is sufficient for me. It fills me with the transforming power that brought Jesus from the grave when He handed me the Keys to the Kingdom. What will I do with such power? How will I handle this responsibility? God’s Love has reached me. Will it be without purpose? Will I remain powerless? Will my salt become salty? Will the Light of His Love burn brightly within me? Will I be established as a “city on a hill”? Worship is the rising platform that takes me from this world into the Presence of God. It is the very thing that transforms me and changes me for His Glory. It changes my mind, attitude and the way I think. Worship allows me to know God’s Will which is good, pleasing and perfect. I must find my way to acceptable worship so that I may be a living and holy sacrifice.

Psalm 118:24-29 (NLT) This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success. Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Growing up in a Southern Baptist Church, it was not acceptable to lift one’s hands in worship. In fact, there was not much emotion put into the hymns of the red-bound book that were used each Sunday to usher in the Presence of God. Since that time, I have watched services in the same church and know that it has changed completely as the Lord has answered their cry to know Him more. The first time I heard “How Great Thou Art” in a congregation that did find such worship acceptable all I could do was cry with outstretched arms throughout the entire song. I don’t know why lifting my hands created such a release in my life. Maybe it was to experience freedom to worship the Lord responding as my heart indicated rather than what doctrine specified. There are still churches today that do not allow worship to be expressed certain ways. It makes me sad.

This is the day that the Lord has made. He woke us up today. He continued to allow His Breath to flow through us maintaining our natural life. For those who are filled with His Spirit, hearts were quickened to make it count for Christ. We prayed for Jesus to save us and give us success. The Lord God has His Eyes on you. He is shining upon you. With what purpose? Is He waiting for your sacrifice? Is He watching for worship? Will I take the sacrifice of my life, convenience, comfort and bind it to the altar with commitment? The way that we live expresses our intent to worship the Lord. Our pursuit of Jesus. Our passion for Him. Our persistence in seeking Him with our whole heart. This is acceptable worship. Nothing less will do. Finding new ways to express our love for the Lord as He desires.

Psalm 51:15-17 (NLT) Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

If only worship were a song, but its not. If it were some tangible gift or offering, how much easier that might be? The only thing that the Lord desires is my heart. All of it. God desires a repentant heart intent on receive His Grace. A heart that continuously turns from sin to seek righteousness. A heart that is intent on the Light of His Love rather than sneaking back into the darkness. This is not human nature therefore requires a change. In response to our repentance and the breaking of our heart, God gives His Grace to us. The moment that we identity our overwhelming need for Jesus and respond to it, we have fulfilled the Lord’s Desire for us. (Matthew 9:13) Though many flood the altars each week, few will leave with the realization of the magnitude and complete necessity for God’s Grace and Love each day. Our heart must change to provide acceptable worship to the Lord. Our worship is expressed in faithful obedience. It responds only with love, grace, and forgiveness no matter how grave the offense choosing not to take hold of it. (Matthew 5:23-24) Until our life emanates worship beyond the three or four songs sung each Sunday and the occasional Wednesday – it is worthless.

I Chronicles 21:21-25 (NLT) When Araunah saw David approaching, he left his threshing floor and bowed before David with his face to the ground. David said to Araunah, “Let me buy this threshing floor from you at its full price. Then I will build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.” “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, and the threshing boards for wood to build a fire on the altar, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give it all to you.” But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!” So David gave Araunah 600 pieces of gold in payment for the threshing floor.

Two of my very best friends are worship leaders. Our son-in-law is also a worship leader. They have dedicated their lives, time, talent and energy into inviting God’s Presence into church services weekly. Our son-in-law writes praise and worship songs sung in congregations. I know the investment that they make to seek the Face of God and invite His Holy Spirit to come into our midst. I have attended many services with each one leading. They are anointed in their gift and called to serve the Lord. This is their sacrifice to the Lord.

“I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord…” When I read this passage today, I thought about each of these men and women of God who are dedicated to the Lord’s Work. It occurred to me that if I attend services and participate in worship with them singing in unison, it is not necessarily acceptable worship. It becomes acceptable only when I invest my life, time, talent and energy into ushering God’s Presence into my life just as they have. I am not called to music ministry. I am called to lay down my life for Jesus Christ. It is my God-given opportunity to participate in acceptable worship. It is the freedom to be transformed day by day. But if my worship doesn’t cost me something personally – and is only manufactured by another than it is of no use to me. Maybe that’s why when we lift our hands in worship and speak to the Lord in the awkward silences when the voices hush but the music plays on that we feel the Presence of the Lord finally come. He is waiting for us. He wants us. The Lord steps into our life when we offer a sacrifice of something. Anything? He consumes us with His Love even more.

Matthew 21:12-15 (NLT) Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But the leaders were indignant.

Worship without sacrifice is worthless. When Jesus entered the Temple to see the market, He got mad and cleared it like a madman. It would be remiss not to mention that our churches have become convenient. They are comfortable. We package worship on little discs or price it in fancy uploads so that it is easily accessible. This is not the worship that the Lord is after just tools to take us there. What He desires more than anything is the kind of worship that allows His Spirit to come and do the miraculous. Faith that ushers in the impossible. Hope that points to the Heavenlies. When Jesus cleared the temple of its worthless worship, He filled it with His Presence. The Lord was there. People were healed. He messed up their plan. He interrupted their program. He disorganized their order. What happened? The leaders were indignant. True worship wrecks our religion to allow for a relationship with Jesus Christ. It heals our broken heart. Making us complete and whole. New vessels are created to hold His Spirit and dispense it to this world. This is worship. To sacrifice convenience and comfort exchanging the controlled to enter the Presence of the Lord.

Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

There is a story in I Samuel 5 that recounts the story of Dagon. The Philistines had captured the Ark of God which carried His Presence. It contained the Spirit of the Living God just like is carried in us. They placed the Ark next to the carved statue of Dagon. The next morning the idol lay on the ground. It did not just fall over but somehow was now positioned facedown before the Ark. So the people hoisted it back into position. The next day, Dagon had fallen facedown before the Lord again except this time his head and hands had been broken off. We carry the same power in us thanks to Jesus Christ who released it to us immediately following His Death. Now think about it, if we have the Power of God in us it would only make sense that by carrying His Presence into our homes, workplaces and, yes, even our churches that worthless idols would begin to fall down.

As our worship becomes internal and intimate, it makes us salty and effective again. It turns our spark into a Light worthy to be placed on a hill for all to see. There is no report in I Samuel of thunder, lightning or earthquakes yet each morning a lifeless idol fell to a Superior and Supreme God. Imagine if all the strongholds, barriers and obstacles along with every chain began to silently fall away and you were free to live in the Promises of God and complete fulfillment – what then? Revival. Radical worship in complete abandonment of self to be absorbed by the Lord causes Resurrection Power to flow from our lives.

Psalm 89:15-17 (NLT) Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness. You are their glorious strength. It pleases you to make us strong.

My salvation is priceless. It costs God everything. (Romans 3:24-26) The only way that my life is of worth is when my worship is acceptable. Worship is not what we do but rather who we become in Christ Jesus. Our heart should be so full of Him that it spills over into our life. I cannot sing someone else’s song and call it my worship. I must live a life song. I must speak my own words of thankfulness. I must confess my salvation. My life should represent the transformation of my heart in the Lord. What did my worship cost me? What did I do to shine my Light? How much am I willing to give to this thing called “acceptable worship”? Faith is worship. Trust is worship. Obedience is worship. Prayer is worship. The giving of any part of my life to the Lord for His Fulfillment and His Use is worship. Worship is a regular occurrence for those who love the Lord and desire His Presence. “Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship for they will walk in the Light of Your Presence. It pleases You to make us strong.”

Psalm 50:14 (NLT) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

Shake It Off

Shake It Off

Acts 16:25-28 (NLT)

Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”

 

I must admit I have been fighting off discouragement. I think as believers, we must be real with people. To act like our new life in Christ is without challenges is to boast a lie. We still face trials, tests and even tragedy sometimes. The point of our salvation is to become a new creation. There is a whole lot of flesh and baggage to be discarded along the way. Can I get an “amen”? So with that in mind, please do not judge me in my actions. This morning I woke up to a dark and cloudy day which only allowed my mood and attitude to be persuaded to be the same. I kissed my husband, took out the dog and plopped in the chair at my desk. As the computer was loading, I began looking at Facebook on my charging IPad. First world “probs” as the kids might say. Twice on my timeline I found these words, “God has perfect timing, never early, never late, it takes a little patience but it’s worth the wait.” I get tired of waiting, don’t you? Watching, wondering and waiting for the Lord’s Promises to manifest in our life. I know His Word is true. He has proven to me over and over again that He is a good God and gracious Father, yet I still think sometimes that He takes too long. When the computer finally came to life, I went to the Bible that I use for study and typed the words “shake it off” in the search bar. Surely there would be nothing. Maybe there was a hint of sarcasm in my approach.

 

Well friend, God’s got jokes. Even when I am not happy with His Timing or my current placement, the Lord somehow manages to get through to me. The Lord doesn’t deserve my bad attitude or even my tapping foot. The great thing about Him is that He is so loving that He provides plenty of mercy and lots of grace so when I do grow tired of waiting or impatient in the process, I have what I need to hang on and not give up. It’s all God. He is an everlasting God. The Creator of everything. He does not grow tired or weary and with His Unfathomable Understanding and Unconditional Love allows us these moments to catch our breath and shake off those things keeping us from His Very Best.

 

Paul and Silas were in prison. They had been beaten, battered, and bruised. Their response was to worship God in the midnight hour – praying, singing and praising God! I have never been in jail. In fact, I do everything in my power to avoid such an experience. They were in this situation not for criminal acts but because of their faith. We are not far off in the society in which we live. In the midst of it all, there was a massive earthquake. Now before we get to the good part, think about it. It was an earthquake. The prison was shaken to its very foundation. This was no joke. The doors flew open and the chains of every prisoner fell off. Why did the Lord go to such lengths rather than just skipping to the part where doors opened and chains fell off? See this our problem as believers – we see our situation, experience the pressure of change, and feel the heat of our trial but He is an everlasting God. This is not permanent. Our condition is temporary. It is small in the grand design of God’s Purpose and Plan for us. We have faith in us that could move a mountain yet sometimes in the midnight hour – we have trouble believing for the smallest thing. One other note about this story, our life is a living, breathing testament to God, His Love, Grace and Goodness for all mankind. It would take something of epic proportions to make this more than a coincidence.

 

Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

 

There is that nagging word again “wait”. My victory comes from Him. He “alone” is my rock and my salvation and my fortress where I will never be shaken. Never is a definitive word. Standing on my faith firmly in the Presence of the Living God – I never be shaken. I must put my faith in the Almighty God and leave it there despite my contradictory nature that wants fast answers and immediate gratification. Why? Because God is doing more than I could think or ask. (Ephesians 3:20) I know this to be true. He has done this over and over yet I still do not like to wait. But in my wait time – there is promise much bigger than my current need, want or desire. It is forever. I must be firmly established by faith in Jesus Christ. I must trust the Lord to secure victory in my life. What happens when my faith is tested? What happens when my timeline challenged? What happens when I am shaken naturally? See these yield important facts that can be applied to my life successfully if I pay attention.

 

Psalm 33:10-12 (NLT)

The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes. But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.

 

God’s Plan is not challenged or change by our expectation. His Plan and Purpose for our life is predetermined as we are predestined. The mitigating factor is our ability to have faith and trust the perfection of His Plan by faith and wait for it. Obedience is crucial to fulfillment but disobedience does not change God’s Intentional Outcome for our life. It was long time in years gone by that if you stepped out of God’s Perfect Will that you could never go back. You would never attain God’s Best. If this were true, why would Jesus have died to provide grace to God’s People? If we could never live in total agreement with the Lord and obtain right standing then what would be the point? It just doesn’t make sense. The Lord’s Plan for our life is firmly established with a future and hope for all who choose to seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) Note: it says nothing about being perfect just giving God your whole heart.

 

Genesis 27:38-40 (NLT)

Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me, too!” Then Esau broke down and wept. Finally, his father, Isaac, said to him, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”

 

Hebrews 12:15-17 (NLT)

Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

Poor Esau. First, he sold his birthright to his brother because he was hungry. Then when he went to gather the meat for his father’s final meal, his brother stole his father’s blessing. Things just went from bad to worse for him. I am not sure why Esau’s life turned out the way it did. No one knows the contents of the heart except its owner and Creator. But I have found something useful in his story as I am struggling with impatience and dissatisfaction today. As his father scrambled to bless his son, he said these words, “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck” (talking about Jacob). The enemy wants to yoke me in bitterness today. He wants to immerse me in pity. He wants to trip me with discouragement and depression. If he can strip me of my joy, silence my praise, he will thwart my victory. He will cause me to be shaken rather than me shaking off the yokes that he desires to kill my faith and bring death to my dreams. He cannot stop God’s Plan for my life. But his lies can stop me if I am shaken off the firm foundation of faith I have in Jesus Christ.

 

Bitterness comes in many forms and fashions. Each one a yoke on our back or tiny hook in our flesh that keep us from standing on the Word of God by faith until it comes to pass. He whispers maybe that’s not what God said, or not what He meant. Why does he “always” make you suffer these times of waiting? God has forgotten you. He doesn’t care about you. Every single one a lie yet the flesh wants to hold on to it as a means of escape. Our flesh must die for new life to come about. If we abandon God’s Word, His Will or His Way, our flesh gets to live another day but our soul is slowing dying.

 

I Samuel 4:5-7 (NLT)

When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake! “What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, they panicked. “The gods have come into their camp!” they cried. “This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before!

 

The Presence of the Lord used to be in the Ark of the Covenant. It represented the fact that God was with them. When the Presence of the Lord came into the Israelites camp, they began to shout. Not just any shout, but the kind of praise and declaration that made the ground shake. What might happen if we announced the Lord’s Presence the same way? We have no excuse. Greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world. The Presence of God moved from a box carried outside to all of mankind in the form of God’s Spirit alive and well inside of us. We can shout right where we are, no matter what we are going through, even if we are waiting for God’s Hand to become evident in His Next Move. We do not have to wait but can begin to praise Him right now.

 

What happened next is pivotal to us as believers? When they shouted, the ground shook AND the enemy (the Philistines) panicked. The Lord was with them. They did not know what to do. Fear overtook them. What do you think the enemy will do if we begin to declare God’s Promise for our life? If we shout AMEN to God’s Word, Will and Way for our life? It we sing praises to the Lord in the middle of our situation or covered by circumstance, the enemy will flee. This is the resistance believers are missing today. We must resist the temptation to agree with the enemy and celebrate the Presence of the Lord even while we wait. In the pressing together and shaking down, we give God sacrificial praise because we are about to run over. (Luke 6:38) The secret was whispered by Isaac into Esau’s ear that day, “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” The enemy wants to rope you in, but Jesus is ready to bust you out!

 

Psalm 16:5-8 (NLT)

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

 

My daughter and I were riding home from a restaurant last night discussing the promise on which we wait. She said, “Mom, are you sure you heard from God?” Without hesitation, I says, “Yes!” I needed to hear that and am quite convinced it was the Holy Spirit that motivated her to ask. I know the Voice of God. He has spoken to me before. I have had to wait before, too. I know that He promises good things to me. I know that I will see the Goodness of God in the land of the living. I know that He is my inheritance and holds a cup of blessing over my life. I know all these things yet still must shake off the lie of the enemy and the chains of bondage that come with each lie. The Lord guards all that is mine. I must guard my heart and build up my faith. All of God’s Promises are fulfilled with a resounding “Yes” and “Amen” in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:20) Sometimes I forget that and need a reminder. Maybe just maybe this is why my life is shaken sometimes even if ever so slightly so the insufficiencies in my faith and trust are revealed for even bigger things. So today, I shake off fear, doubt, anxiety and impatience in Jesus Name. I will respond to waiting with love, joy, peace, praise and thanksgiving with the help of my Helper, the Holy Spirit. Today, I will wait and shake off anything that tells me not to any longer. The doors are opening. The chains are falling off. I am free again.

 

Hebrews 12:26-27 (NLT)

When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.

I Will Rejoice

I Will Rejoice

Psalm 118:24 (NKJV) This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

This is the day that the Lord has made, I know it. His Word already confirmed that all of my days were recorded before I was ever born, so today filled with its rushing and routine is no surprise for God. He not only made it, but filled it with all the mercy and grace that I need to get through it. These are busy times around our household. Cleaning, purging and preparing to sell our house and move, not to mention our normal routine. Our church is in the final stages of purchasing a new building which will facilitate more packing and relocating. The dreaded time change is coming. Yes, I know it will allow for more day light but it will also require some effort on my part as I spring ahead and lose an hour. I stand firm on my belief that I just wish they would pick one and keep it. Who are we fooling anyway? I set my car clock ahead several minutes to facilitate being on time. But what happens? Once I figure out the difference, I do the math in my head anyway. On top of all that my sweet husband has been away on business. I miss him. I want him to come home. He is my best friend. My soul mate. My partner in crime AND the one who takes our oldest to school when it is still dark outside AMEN and HALLELUJAH.

I thrive on order. I like routine. I keep a tight schedule. Everything has a time and place which makes me comfortable and feel slightly in control of the chaos of life. However, when my eyes opened today, I didn’t feel the peace that I normally have each morning. Just before dawn in the silence of our home when my heart and mind immediately turn to Jesus and say, “Good Morning, Lord! What are we going to talk about today?” In the last six months, the Lord has definitely stirred His Hand in our life. Many awesome and wonderful things are coming. However, it is only human to become tired or overwhelmed sometimes because if we were perfect there would be no reason for the Cross. Mercy and grace would all dry up and Heaven would come down to earth. Until that time, we must make it our choice to rejoice.

We have a tiny dog who came to live with us a year ago. Each morning, I wander through the house to let her out of her crate to eat and well you know. She is so excited each morning as she runs all around in anticipation of what equates to just a couple tablespoons of dog food. As I walk to the kitchen, she will come up and lick my foot as she goes. Right after breakfast, she will run to find a sleeping buddy to bury herself under the covers with curling up for the rest of the morning. She is satisfied. She is content. Her needs are met and she is happy about it. When she sees me, she cannot contain her joy. She will sit down next to me and writhe on the carpet in sheer elation. I can live like that with overwhelming joy and full of contentment. It is my choice. It is not reliant on my circumstances but rather on the fact that I have a God who loves me and is constantly thinking good things about me with true intentions of blessing my life with more than I can even think to ask for.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NKJV)

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

To live my life on the principle of praise has nothing to do with optimism or pessimism. Both are human feelings and emotions apart from God’s Truth about our life. God designed our life with a future and hope, both give us the confidence that in seeking Him there is complete and total fulfilment. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) It only requires our whole heart. However, when our heart and mind are not in agreement, division causes this process to stall in our life. Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS is not a suggestion but the principle of praise. To rejoice acknowledges God as our presiding power in each day. This is the day that God made. (Period) This puts God’s Name on today and places our expectation in Him for everything in it. When we rejoice in the Lord, it is evidence of trust. (Psalm 5:11-12; Psalm 33:21) To magnify the Lord minimizes the potential of problems. (Psalm 70:4) It tells the world including the enemy that our faith and hope are in the Lord and we give Him the power and authority as we commit this day, today to Jesus.

Let your gentleness be known to all men. We cannot reach out to others until we are confident in ourselves. A lifeguard in training is told to never let the victim grab hold of them in a rescue or the lifesaver may become a victim as well. The drowning person will pull them under in their panic to save themselves. We cannot share the Gospel effectively if we do not believe it ourselves. Our actions and attitudes must line up and be evident to the waiting, watching world. (Proverbs 16:33)

Be anxious for nothing. This must be the hardest part of rejoicing for most people including myself. I have the innate and profound ability to get myself worked up with unrealistic, misplaced and overwhelming expectations. It is true that one mellows with age. I also believe that spiritual development, growth and maturity will result in behavioral modification. We must make it a reality in our life. There are few things in the Lord that we have the power to control, but our attitude and actions are two things that we must learn to take command of and commit all to the Lord. God put His Name on today. Now it is my turn to write His Name on my day with praise and thanksgiving. He has provided all that I need. (Philippians 4:19) He is doing more than I can think to ask. (Ephesians 3:20-21) He has given me everything that I need to live a godly life. (2 Peter 1:2-4) I have every reason to rejoice if I put my faith and trust in the Lord. I will do it.

How do I make the choice to rejoice? It begins by prayer. Communion with the Lord each day before heading into this world to do life. To agree and be in one accord with your Creator, Father and Friend. We must humbly submit our life to the Lord each day. This is called supplication. It is the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Not my will, but Your Will today Lord!” We should thank the Lord for things He has done, is doing and those He has promised to do – right now. Today. Without waiting for anything to become a reality, just on His Word alone be thankful. Thanksgiving will remind us of God’s Promises – past, present and future. It reminds us of His Love and Faithfulness. It tells our mind to stand down because King Jesus is here. The result of this routine played out daily is holy inhabitation as the Lord moves closer in our life and joy begins to well up in us just knowing He is with us. The Holy Spirit comes to stand guard over our heart and mind. We will have peace that accompanies us through life that supersedes what we see and surpasses all human understanding. I was made for praise. I will rejoice. I will sing and not be silent of the Glory of My God today.

Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

 

God’s Thoughts are not like our thoughts and His Ways are definitely not our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9) We have been given the Mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16) but we must maintain an atmosphere that is conducive to His Presence. The Lord has empowered us with two things to fortify our heart and mind. He has given us His Word and His Spirit. His Word cuts through our thoughts to discern the godly from ungodly things in our heart and mind. (Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 119:162) We must use it daily to maintain integrity. He has given us His Spirit who takes the Word and turns it into all wisdom for us making it applicable to our life while leading and guiding us into God’s Presence each day. (John 14:26-27) We must use both of these attributes and gifts to establish a life of praise and worship of the Lord so we can rejoice in all things.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV)

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

What we think about is important? It is more important than what we say even in that our thoughts can literally build fortresses in our mind and harden our heart. The battle of life is for our heart and mind to remain set on Jesus by faith and confident hope as we live to trust Him more. What we think is pivotal in the process. It can actually hinder the principle of praise in our life. It can render us silent and steal our voice. We walk in the flesh but the war for us is in the heart and mind. It is a soulful matter. We must pull down every stronghold that is hindering our praise, cast down every argument against the Loving Faithfulness of God evidenced in His Word and demonstrated by His Spirit, and choose each day to exalt and magnify Jesus higher than any problem, obstacle or battle we are facing. God is good. He loves me. He is with me. I will rejoice.

What to think about is outlined in Philippians 4:8 quite clearly but as a reminder, here you go! We must focus on the Truth which is the Word of God. We should consider obedience in all things and motivate our hands and feet to follow by thinking this way. Continually sift through every notion or idea to keep our heart and mind untainted by sin. Seek to be pure. To uphold every concept of love in I Corinthians 13, and make it our mindset. Remind ourselves of God’s take on things and the good report in Jeremiah 29:11. Strive for moral excellence beginning with our mind. Filter the subject matter showered on our brain, washing it in the Word, running it through the Blood of Jesus to establish a virtuous mind. Every day, I must remind myself. Before my feet hit the floor, I should begin to praise my God. Rejoice is a choice. What will be your decision today? Whatever it is will impact the rest of your day. I will praise the Lord. I will magnify His Name. I will exalt King Jesus and give Him all power and authority over my life. Again, I say, I will rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, Rejoice!

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

The Beautiful Life

The Beautiful Life

Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV)

“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

 

Every little girl learns of fairytales early in life. They dream of big castles, white horses and ironclad knights who are really princes in disguise. Reality is not an issue in make believe worlds as wonderful as the imagination can wonder. During the difficult days of my parent’s divorce, just eight years old, I still remember making a checklist in my head of what I would do and not do when I grew up. I based my list on the hurt, pain and struggle of my world split in two. Loving two people who live far apart is difficult on the innocent heart constructed of happily ever after. Princesses are not real. At least, not the ones read about. Knights on white horses do not rescue damsels in distress and there is no such thing as a perfect life.

 

My favorite Disney princess is Aurora also known as Sleeping Beauty. Although my grandmother read Cinderella to me, Aurora was the one who I loved the most. She sings the song, “One Day My Prince Will Come.” It’s funny though that we do not remember the plight of the princess in each fairytale only the happy ending. Cinderella suffered the oppression of her evil step-mom and her daughters after her father’s death. Snow White was left in the woods to die. Aurora was plotted against from birth. Each princess had a plight. Each one hurt, abused or forsaken yet many little girls desire the outcome of their journey in life. Do we forget the price paid for their resolution? No. To believe will test everything our life is founded upon. It will challenge us to do things that we never once thought we could do. I read a little pictogram on Facebook that quite simply stated, “You were born to do more than pay bills and die.” A little rough around the edges but relevant and true. You will never know who you are in Christ without a little faith in a beautiful life. We have to believe that there is more to life than this to ever find it. We must decide to hope for more than is evident and realistic but hopeful and new.

 

Beauty for ashes. My life is beautiful thought I did not always think so. I am a princess who lives in a real fairytale. My Prince is coming. The process of claiming my crown is a bit challenging. It requires that knowing who I am and still living this life just the same. So this morning as I read Isaiah 61, I skipped past the beginning to see what is required. I have the Spirit of the Living God inside that has confirmed there is more to life than this. I live for the day of my soon and coming King who will rescue me. Life is beautiful. It is just how He planned. The Lord has promised that everything is beautiful in His Timing. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) I finally believe it. Do you?

 

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

 

To give them beauty for ashes…there must be a sacrifice. No Kingdom moved its castle to sit by the prince or princess. The royal one must claim their Kingdom. We have a Kingdom though unseen is unconquerable. It cannot be shaken or moved which requires us to be shaken and moved to claim it. To have it will require sacrifice – some small and others too costly to count until the day of accounting. Life leads us in choices. Small beginnings of faith fan the flame of desire for more than is offered in an imperfect world filled with imperfect people. We strive for more but to attain it requires a sacrifice of this life for the one that is coming. It is not what I do or what I say or even in what I give. It is in me. God doesn’t desire the contents or conditions of my life to be given away or changed in the slightest. He only asks for me. He want me in all my mess, mistakes and misfortune. The Lord sees me as beautiful in the ashes of sacrifice. The moment I surrender and submit my heart, mind, soul and body to loving Him fully and completely is the moment happily ever after becomes my reality. He is free to work all things together for my good now. (Romans 8:28) I have given Him permission by laying my life down at the Cross.

 

“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:16-17) This is the revelation that changed my life forever. The Truth that all God wants from me is me. Every day He pursues me with His Unfailing Love and Goodness hoping to overtake me. His Love for me is neverending. It cannot be stifled or stopped even in my best attempts to avoid Him. The Lord wants me. All of me. For many years, I tried to be a good Christian. To do all the right things. To be a good person. To share the Light of His Love. Yet, in the end, the very thing that saved me was when I could do no more. In my weakness, His Love overtakes us. With the ashes of broken dreams, disappointments and shattered hearts, Jesus begins to make us beautiful.

 

Matthew 16:24-26 (NKJV)

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

 

I must choose a Kingdom. I must decide. It is a matter of life or death that I choose well. When I choose to live for the Kingdom of God, I must die to self. “The oil of joy for mourning” comes to those who decide to live for something more than this life. If cannot flow freely in a life that is conflicted. One must make the choice if they will life for today or forever in each moment. Whoever loses His Life for Christ’s sake will find it. True joy is born of true repentance. Turning from sin and darkness to claim righteousness in the Light of His Love. The wages of sin will always be death. (Romans 6:23) To remain present in our sin after salvation will only result in a contradictory life. In such a volatile conflicted state, one will never make a clean break from this world to claim forever. Salvation means to repent of our sin. Not relinquish it for a moment or day, but to turnaround and walk the other way. You will never experience the joy of salvation unless you are truly saved.

 

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:12-14) We are not helpless bystanders but heroes and heroines in disguise. The Lord has given us the Holy Spirit to help us transition from death to life. He is the partner who should not be silent but continually sought for our eternal success. He grooms us, molds us and shapes our life so we can become conduits of joy and strength.

 

Matthew 11:27-29 (NKJV)

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

 

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” comes when by burden. To experience praise is an act of release. When we give our burdens to Christ, He gives us a reason to praise. New songs rise up in our heart as we experience freedom again. You will never fully understand praise until you have given up heaviness to have it. Come to me all you labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Few people come to the Cross of Jesus before broken. It is not until you cannot bear the load of sin and consequence that one unloads it at His Feet. We give Him just enough to readjust and keep marching. God never told you to be the strong one. It is our flesh that demands control of our strength. The Word of God says that true strength is found in weakness for that is the moment His Grace is sufficient for me.

 

The burden of our life is simple. Give Jesus all our fears, faults and failures and feed His Sheep. (John 21:15-19) How many times did Peter fail the Lord? Yet, Jesus still came to meet him on that beach. Just because life didn’t turn out the way we intended and we gave up on the Lord, doesn’t mean that He has given up on me! He keeps coming back. Jesus offers to carry the load of my life if I will just continue to share the Good News with others. To take care of His People until He comes. To get involved in messy people who just like me need Him the most. Praise comes when we surrender our life – the good, the bad and the ugly including that which we can handle and that which we cannot to say, “Yes Lord, I will feed your sheep!”

 

Psalm1:1-3 (NKJV)

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

 

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NKJV)

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 

I am almost finished with this rendition of a fairytale. Yes, this is a fairytale but true. Our life is a process. It is the process of planting our life in the Love of Jesus Christ so that we will be rooted and grounded by His Love. Through sacrifice – there is beauty. Sadness and death produce joy and life. Oppression gives way to peace, rest and praise. All these unlikely things produce an abundance in our life. The unlikely becomes likely. The impossible completely possible. However, no one willingly asks for that which produces a beautiful life. When it comes, we question God and doubt His Love in pure ignorance that is only remedied by experiences with the Lord and encounters in His Presence. These are the things that drive us there for if we would go willingly it would not be necessary to move us to better and we simply respond.

 

Our life gains purpose in the Kingdom of God because it is the place that we were created to be. When the supernatural becomes our new natural – it is in that place that satisfaction, contentment and fulfillment govern our once reckless, random and purposeless existence. We become the rebuilders the road to righteousness for others paving it in truth and genuine love. We will raise up the banner of His Love to a lost and dying world so that will know the Way. We will repair the breaches made by false prophets and fake preachers allowing wolves in the fold while silencing the lie of the enemy with the Truth of God’s Love, the profit of obedience and the sweetness of surrender so the sheep will come home. With this message of restoration a revival will begin in the final stages of preparation for our soon and coming King. (Isaiah 61:4-5) It also says that those who live this way will be well-provided for. Life is beautiful or at least it can be when we choose to believe that there is one true fairytale with a Prince called Peace. As we wait for Him, it is not in vain. He make everything beautiful in its time as we grow deeper in His Love season after season until He comes.

 

Isaiah 61:6-7 (NKJV)

But you shall be named the priests of the Lord, they shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.

 

I Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV)

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

 

When we think of a prince or princess, do we ever really consider their wealth? No. We long for a carefree life filled with love and honor. Think about it. There are not huge piles of gold or expensive gifts. We long to be saved from our ordinary life into an extraordinary existence. We are given the opportunity to become Sons and Daughters of God. The Creator of all that exists. He offers us a chance to be part of His Royal Priesthood. His Own Special People. We are special. We are wanted. All of this potential is locked up in our life waiting to be revealed by faith. When we believe that God has purpose in meaning in every facet of our life – past, present and future- we begin to see that none of this is random and all of it has meaning and purpose. Happily ever after is possible even when up to now has been hard and hurtful. Don’t give up on your dream because your life is a disaster. God makes our mess a message. I would rather listen to the wisdom of well-planted trees who have made it through all seasons which means that they may appear broken and abused but they have the best fruit that will renew my soul and refresh my spirit. Their roots lead me to living water and not some dried up pool. As I look at my life, I am living happily ever after and there are many chapters in the book. It is coming together as a beautiful story as God is faithful in each exchange.

 

John 10:9-10 (NKJV)

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they