Plumb Line

small-beginnings

Zechariah 4:10 (NLT) Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Today is the first day of February. How are those goals and aspirations for the New Year going? Are you still eating right? Going to the gym? Saving money? Continuing your quest to read the Bible through this year? In evaluating your progress, how’s it going? Did all those good intentions become healthy habits? My daughter recently posted on social media that February would be a New Year’s do-over. All those things she wanted to start but didn’t would again be attempted. When our big plans do not immediately manifest as part of the big picture, it is human nature to be discouraged. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12) It is hard sometimes to embrace the process that makes our purpose possible. When the wait seems to long, obstacles too big and journey feels pointless – most people will give up, move on or just forget that spark started in their heart. Dreams are layered in distractions. Visions clouded by reality. Though people despise small beginnings, the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.

The Lord rejoices to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand. I had to look up a plumb line because I wasn’t really sure the use of the tool. A plumb line is a string or rope with a weight on the end of it used to see if something is perfectly vertical. The plumb line is a test to see if something is straight or to find the depth of water. The plumb line in hand makes God happy. It signifies the beginning of progress in a believer. There was nothing more than a foundation but the plan was in place.

Let’s talk about Zerubbabel for a moment. Zerubbabel was the head of the tribe of Judah – God’s Praise team. Judah means praise. Zerubbabel had purpose and potential in his birthright as he was in the lineage of David and Jesus Christ. The Lord called Judah from Babylon to return to Jerusalem. He placed it in Zerubbabel’s heart to rebuild the temple. He laid successfully laid the foundation before met with opposition. It would be 16 long years before construction could resume. In those years of delay, the people became distracted and began rebuilding their homes. The Hand of God upon them – these were not ordinary dwelling places but opulent abodes just as the Lord had promised. In the second year of Darius, something happened.

According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, “But in the second year of Darius, light dawned upon the darkness of the colony from Babylon. In that year –it was the most memorable event in Zerubbabel’s life –the spirit of prophecy suddenly blazed up with a most brilliant light among the returned captives. Their words fell like sparks upon tinder. In a moment Zerubbabel roused from his apathy, threw his whole strength into the work.” Apathy is an absence or suppression of passion, emotion or excitement. It is a lack of interest in or concern for the that others find moving or exciting. Have we become apathetic? The thought of revival was great but the process to arduous and long. Revival is not a church event but a life event. Our heart once on fire for the Promises of God settled on provision alone. We need the spark of passion that consumes apathy to fall on us again. The Spirit of Prophecy. The Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit. Lord, we need passion for our purpose today.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 

God has predesigned us with purpose. He put eternity in our heart from the very beginning. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) The plan of God comes with a future and hope always for our good. Faith believes in God’s Promise and desires His Plan. Trust becomes the plumb line in our hand. It is the test of a vertical life in alignment with God and His Purpose. God rejoices when we pick it up and waits for us to become wholehearted in our effort to find Him. Why is alignment so important? Why must our life line up with God’s Plan in order to achieve His Purpose? Simple. His Power accomplishes His Purpose. His Power achieves His Plan. His Power is waiting to come to His People to restore and revive us again. Not just a church service, or great move of God in the four walls of a temple, but for His Glory and Power to fill the earth again.

Joel 2:12-13 (NLT) That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

God is ready to pour out His Spirit on His People again. The only requirement is true repentance. Oh, we put on a good show. We do good things. We attempt the right attitude and actions. However, until we nail our personal passion to the Cross and allow passion for His House, His Kingdom and His Purpose to consume us again. It can only happen when the plumb line is set. Our desire must be for the Lord and our hearts fully exposed to His Love, Grace and His Spirit again. My heart is the tinder for God’s Spark to become a flame. Do you remember when you first fell in love with Jesus? You were passionate and committed about surrendering your life to Him. What happened? Have you left your first love? There is always enough grace and mercy to come back. You can never wander or fall too far that the Lord will not pick you up and restore you.

Joel 2:23-26 (NLT) Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring. The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil. The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you. Once again you will have all the food you want, and you will praise the Lord your God, who does these miracles for you. Never again will my people be disgraced.

Restoration is preparation. When the tribe of Judah returned from exile, they were homeless. There was not a local grocery store to buy food or Motel 6 to house them. What if God laid the foundation as a place to return to when they were ready for fulfillment? The small beginning may have been a marker for you to return to after the Lord restored you. Restoration provides the resource from which our purpose is supplied. Zerubbabel laid the foundation for the temple. It would not be rebuilt for 16 years. When he did begin to build, he was ready for the battles that would come in completing it. Do not become discouraged during the waiting period instituted by the Lord because He is preparing you. Embrace it. Engage in it. Become excited about it. Not because you see it coming to pass before your eyes but by faith that God is working every detail out for your good and His Glory even when it seems like nothing is happening at all.

Joel 2:28-29 (NLT) “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.”

Get ready! It’s coming. God is absolutely ready to pour out His Spirit again. Are you ready? Have you become distracted? Are you discouraged? Is your hope deferred and heart sick today? In Acts 2, the ministry that began with just twelve men and Jesus Christ increased to over 3,000 people in an instant. The Spirit was poured on them striking a fiery flame in the tender hearts of the people. I believe that many of those people were the ones that spent three years following Jesus Christ. Listening to His Teaching and witnessing His Miracles – the three years of ministry yielded that much fruit in one minute. God is ready to set our hearts on fire if we have set our plumb line in our hand. Do we want a vertical life? Do we want God’s Purpose? If our heart and desire is set on Him through true repentance and rejoicing in the period called restoration, this is when revival comes. When new life begins and completion complete.

His Spirit is the essence of eternal life. We are born of human passion. The Holy Spirit rebirths us with spiritual passion. (John 1:12-13) The Spirit of God ends human apathy and gives way to praise. He ignites our heart with a passionate faith that is unwilling to give up or give in when the process is too long, pain too deep or plan not coming together as we see fit. Faith is the hand that reaches out when our body fails us. Hope is the mindset that there is more to life than this if I can just hold on for one more minute. Grace is the power needed when our weakness is evident. God has supplied everything to fulfill our purpose. If only we would believe it enough to build the foundation of faith and keep the plumb line of willing obedience in our hands at all times.

2 Timothy 1:5-7 (NLT) I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

I had this dream many years ago to become a writer. I shared it with the single’s minister of our church and various people along the way. However, when I wandered from the Lord – I decided that the dream was dead. After returning to the Lord, my husband and I were taking a meal to a pastor and his wife who had just welcomed a new baby. Sitting in his living room, he began to prophecy over my life speaking those dead dreams to life. He had no way to know any of the things he voiced other than he felt the Holy Spirit was telling him these things. My husband did not even know about these small beginnings of desire in me. I left that visit in shock and awe. No plausible explanation except that the Lord had used this man to speak life to the dead dream inside me. No, I didn’t go home and write a book. Five years later, I began to write this daily blog never making the connection. This year, I am writing my first book to God be the Glory. To put time in to perspective for you, more than 30 years of waiting, wandering, and preparing.

God put eternity in your heart. He gave you a purpose. You know what your dream looks like. You know the description of your calling. You know in vivid detail the vision that you see. But life is not without distractions. The enemy is eager to offer discouragement. Time is daunting when waiting on an unseen God. I remind you today – yes you – as the Lord has reminded me. You have a spiritual gift. God gave it to you when He called you His Own Child, Special Possession and Masterpiece. Now it is time for you and I to fan the flames of His Spirit to revive the passion is us to achieve the purpose planned for us long ago. God didn’t give you the spirit of fear so refuse to accept it. Instead allow your faith to make a vertical connection with the Lord so that when His Spirit is poured out it will run down that string like oil directly into your heart. God is faithful. He promises those who make the connection – power, love and self-discipline to achieve every good thing and every God thing He has predestined you and I to do to satisfy and prosper our soul then overflow into our life. The best is yet to come. Do not despise small beginnings. Embrace them along with the plumb line in your hand. The Lord is coming. He is ready to pour out His Spirit again. Are you ready?

2 Corinthians 8:10-12 (NLT)  Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have.

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The Undoing

Onion.

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

I seldom use onions in recipes but when I do I handle them with care. Peeling off the paper-like covering, to reveal the pearly white surface releases the distinct odor of the onion. However, once you cut into it – the onion fights back as oils are released into the air that irritate our eyes producing seemingly endless tears. A trick to eliminate the tears is to cut the onion under running water. This causes the oils to be rinsed away and keep them from reaching the tear duct. Fancy trick I learned from my grandmother. You can learn a lot from grown folks. You can learn a lot about life in Christ from an onion, too.

Salvation is only the beginning of discovering our newfound freedom in Christ. Redemption is to take full advantage of the gift given to us by the Grace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Christianity and the pursuit of Christ also will produce many tears in our life. As the Lord peels back the layers of sin, shame, regret, guilt and stinking thinking, the aroma and stench of death leaving us to make room for new life, new hope, and new freedom causes tears to be released. Our life is going to produce an aroma of some kind. Will it be a fragrant sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving while claiming God’s Gift or will it be the continued stench of rotting flesh taking over again? It really is up to you and me what kind of life that is produced after coming to Jesus inviting Him to be our Savior. It is in His Lordship that a whole new existence is possible free from the chains, bondage and slavery of this life to claim freedom.

John 8:36 (NLT) So if the Son set you free – you are truly free.

Do you feel free today? Are you singing a freedom song? There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ so who the Son sets free is free indeed. The word condemnation means to pronounce guilt. It is an unfavorable or adverse judgment. It means to pronounce unfit for use or service. To force. It is to declare incurable. None of these qualities exist in the character of Christ concerning you. He is intent on freeing you from every thought, suspicion or notion that you are bound, hindered or restricted in any way, shape or form. He says that you are free…completely free…totally free. You are free to win. Free to live. Free to prosper. Free to grow. Free to love. You have absolute and complete freedom in Jesus Christ. You own Him nothing. He gave you everything. So why the long face and heavy heart today?

Christians do not experience freedom because they cannot accept the free gift of God’s Grace completely. There must be a catch. So like a prisoner who has been imprisoned far too long, the door is unlocked but they will not reach out their weary, tired, oppressed and fearful arm to open it and walk out. Jesus has set you free today. Free from sin, worry, despair, self-loathing, religion, and more You are free indeed to do as you please with this new life you have been given. What will you use your freedom for today?

Life is like an onion covered in many layers. I am like an onion who as I have grown older in life taken on many layers that do not necessarily belong to me in Jesus Christ. I wear them proudly and hold them tightly. When the Lord comes to make something beautiful out of my life, I refuse to let go of the known to take a faithful chance on the future. What lies just beneath the surface of me that He is trying to get to? We do not like brokenness and fear the cut of pruning. It produces many tears in our life. But I know a trick that I want to share with you (again) that my grandmother shared with me…you gotta run it under the water!

Romans 8:26-30 (NLT) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

The Holy Spirit is our partner when it comes to attaining the freedom offered in Jesus Christ. We need His Help. This is way too complex and comprehensive for my finite thinking and limitations of the human mind. I need His Wisdom and Guidance to wash over me and renew me as I endure the process of change from death to new life. As the Word cuts to the core of my heart, pruning out sin, eradicating the flesh that keeps me from growing, it is His Spirit that washes my wounds, heals my heart, nourishes my soul and nurtures my growth. The Holy Spirit is water the water that keeps me in those times when I don’t feel free or try to shut myself up captive in fear, doubt and worry again.

The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and waters me with it. My family is not too big on raw onions. So often when I cook, I use the dried minced onions from the spice aisle instead. This is very convenient but not as flavorful. It lends some of the taste to a recipe but not the full flavor of a freshly cut onion. Now if you take a raw onion and cook it, something changes. The flavor changes and becomes sweeter as the texture softens. This takes longer than just grabbing an onion and cutting it up. We give food time to cook but refuse to give any credence to God’s Timing and Preparation when it comes to us. The onion is only one ingredient in the recipe. Brokenness is only a part of the process. With patience and time, the onion is going to work with all the other flavors to produce a delicious dinner.

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose. His Purpose. His Recipe. His Design. This means that you are only seeing a small part of a huge picture. You are in a single step of a perfect process. Do not judge your future or forever by the tough situation, hard time or heart break you are going through right now. It is part of a beautiful masterpiece that the Lord has designed your life to be. “But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had the veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His Glorious Image.” (2 Cor. 3:16-18)

Colossians 3:10-14 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. Any part of our life lived in bondage is not of God or His Son or His Spirit. Sin doesn’t condemn us anymore. Sin happens so repentance is given so grace may be applied. Those who love the Lord will try not to sin. Love is the best motivator for repentance. Change comes more easily surrounded in purpose. It is my passion and pursuit to live in the Kingdom of God. I live in Florida. If I get in my car intent on traveling to Canada, I must go north. If I go south, I will fall into the ocean. If I go east or west the same thing will happen. My vehicle is faith. Faith is the title deed to hope that is the Kingdom of God. I must head in that direction if it is my chosen destination. With that being said, religion often adds extra layers of “things” I must do and rules to follow. My relationship with Jesus Christ is not dependent on religion or anything or anyone else. My relationship is intimate and personal. I am committed to Jesus Christ so I strive to be close to Him. To come closer means certain layers of my life have to go. Those things can hurt and produce many tears but it is full assumption of my freedom to undergo the transformation. Beauty is pain. I believe it. Letting go of how life defines me to grab hold of my destiny.

True freedom is to fully assume your new nature. To be renewed body, mind and spirit to become like Christ. It doesn’t matter what religion you belong to because it is all about our relationship with Jesus that matters. God chose to love me. It is my privilege to remove the layers of life and take on the splendor of His Kingdom. To be clothed in tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. To form strong bonds and build relationships with my brothers and sisters. To forgive and off the grace that I have so generously been given. To love and love some more. The freedom that I have is found in His Love. As I discover just how “wide, long, high and deep” His Love really is, it is then that I am able to see just how free I really am.

It is hard to remember in the midst of hurt, hardship and trials that our life is part of something bigger than what we see, know and experience every day. It is also difficult to fully understand and therefore accept that God’s Love is completely unconditional and His Grace never ending. It is with this in mind that I am reminded today I am free. I have been freed from sin, shame, guilt, and every other kind of bondage that exists in the world today. I am a soul set free in the One I love. I am destined to be part of something much bigger. To fulfill my position will be my complete undoing as God peels back the layers that keep me from fulfillment and becoming exactly who He created me to be. Brokenness will come. Tears will fall. It will be my undoing. But it will be worth it – it will be worth it all!

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Great Expectation

Great Expectation

Philippians 1:20-21 (NLT)

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.

 

What do you expect? I mean really when you came to Jesus Christ, what was your honest expectation? What did you look forward to? What did you think was likely to happen? Did you anticipate a certain occurrence or outcome? Expectancy is an attitude of hope. It is in the beginning stages of building a confident relationship with Jesus Christ. We all enter the arena of life with certain expectations based on experience. Those with little experience usually have greater anticipated outcomes because they are naïve to the probabilities of life. No child wants to grow up to be homeless, a panhandler or a convict. Life happens. For some it defines the outcome before they reach their full potential. Expectation without hold will not take us very far. Hope makes human expectation probable.

We attended a wedding last night. It had all the makings of a modern day fairytale. A beautiful princess bride walking down the aisle to meet her waiting groom followed by a wedding feast of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese with wedding cake. It was a southern event. At the end of the night, the happy couple hopped in a horse drawn carriage and rode off into the night. For the other young ladies waiting for their “prince”, it was the kind of story they dream about. But the couples who have been married for longer than a week know that the days of head while wonderful will pose challenges to the ones who choose to endure. It is all fun and games until someone’s dirty clothes are on the floor, the toothpaste is smashed down the middle or the toilet roll is on backwards. Everything was supposed to be perfect and happily ever after. At least that is what we thought it would be like until the day of “I Do!” Oh, please don’t get me wrong. I married the love of my life. We have been together well past a decade. I would do anything for my man. But my expectation of marriage is a little different than it was on during the honeymoon phase. There is a reason for the words “until death do we part.” Marriage is defined by love. Love is not an emotion but rather a commitment. The couple looked into each other’s eyes lovingly and longingly but did they hear the pastor define “love” according to I Corinthians 13. Love is patient. Love is kind. And so on. So I ask you again (and me as well), what did you expect when you came to Christ? Do you feel the same way now? Or somehow jaded have you drifted back into “reality”? We are to live in great expectation.

The young couple who got married are now in the midst of a transition, where the rubber hits the road so to speak. Marriage is a process of conveying our trust to another. Without trust, a marriage will quickly fall apart. The expectations that people have when they are united will often change over time. This is not a bad thing. It is a life thing. Our expectations are often defined, molded and shaped by experience. When we encounter Jesus Christ inviting Him to live with us and in us as our Lord and Savior, the expectations that we have are often not the reality of the hope that we have found. At first, things may seem as though nothing has changed. Often it will look like things become increasingly more difficult in the process as the enemy brings hell against us in order to try to separate us from the love that we have found. True love is commitment. Without a commitment to Christ, one will never experience the fulfillment of their expectation. After years of “serving” God, Saul finally met the Lord and went on to become Paul. He gave up religion for a relationship with Jesus Christ. Gone were the fancy dinners and rich lifestyle of the old man, as it gave way to the one who lived as the man who would say, “I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed…” The same man who would write much of the New Testament from a jail cell and bound in chains. He went on to say that because of the great expectation and hope that he had found that he would “continue to be bold for Christ.” So what about you? Do you live with great expectation? Do you have confident hope?

Proverbs 10:28 (NLT)

The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.

 

Coming to Christ must change our expectations. We must change what we anticipate the outcome to be because the Lord does not change. The expectations of the “wicked” come to nothing. The “hopes” of the godly result in happiness. The difference in our expectation is hope. Hope defines the outcomes in our life. Before we came to Jesus, we were dying so no matter what happened everyone had the same ending. However, by accepting Jesus as our Savior AND Lord, we now have the potential for a totally different outcome defined by hope. We must have confidence in the Lord to put our trust in Him and change our expectancy. God did not predestine you to have a good life but to have a glorious life. There is a difference. We will lower our expectations many times to experience immediate gratification. But God will never lower His Standards for us, no matter how much we bed. He has a great plan for us with a future and hope. He has already provided for every single need. The Lord has decided to do more than we can even think to ask for. With all this in mind, we must raise our expectancy until we expect nothing less than God’s Best.

Psalm 119:130-131 (NLT)

The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. I pant with expectation, longing for your commands.

 

To pant with expectation and longing for the Lord’s Commands may seem a bit extreme, that is until you desire something from Him. Today is September 11th. This is the day etched in American History when our homeland security was comprised. We did not engage the enemy on foreign soil but he snuck in and attacked us where we live. Game changer. Just try to catch a flight with too many ounces of shampoo and conditioner or make a pass through the x-ray machine with rivets in your jeans or an underwire bra and see what happens. When the twin towers fell, something changed around us. People began crying out to God for help. Suddenly life and death took on new meaning as a threat arose in our midst. God’s Word is the go-to for people when threatened with a problem that they cannot handle or when their feel their life is in danger. When our son was first diagnosed, I didn’t just bow my head and say a quick healing prayer. No sir, I busted down the door to His Presence, armed with His Word and fully convinced that this was not in His Plan.

How did I know God would heal our son? How did I know what to expect? How do we know what to expect as believers? What is realistic? What is required? When our son was diagnosed with a terminal disease, I knew where to go because I had been there before. Our youngest daughter developed rapid onset asthma as a toddler. I knew nothing about faith’s potential at that time. I didn’t really even know the Word of God. I had heard that the Lord was our healer, but up until that moment really had no need to trust Him in that area of our life. Over the next several months, she got worse and worse. Our family was turned upside down by her illness until the day that the Lord touched her body and healed her in an instant. Her illness required more than six medications to give her a few hours of relief. The doctor warned us that this would be a “forever” thing for her. God said, “No!” The doctor wrote “forever” on his prescription pad and underlined it. Something inside of me snapped as Heaven and hell collided. The enemy had overstepped his bounds and the Lord swiftly took care of it. During the course of her illness, I devoured the Word regarding healing and wholeness in Jesus. I prayed for more faith to believe she would be healed to fortify my hope. When the test was over, she was completely healed and it has been more than a decade. Our son would battle cancer five times. He entered the realm of hope because no one survives that many rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. He did. It has been over a year. I fully expect the Lord to take care of my children because that is my experience…now.

The Word of God is the definition of our hope in Christ. We must know what God allows and disallows to know what to expect in life. The world will tell us something different. We must learn to live in and by the Word of God. It will change our expectations and align them with His Will which is always for a higher standard of living – a glorious one.

2 Kings 5:10-14 (NLT)

But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage. But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!

Naaman had a problem. He went to the Lord through the prophet Elisha. Naaman expected the man of God to come lay hands on him and call on the Name of the Lord to heal his leprosy. Well, that is not what the Lord planned. When Elisha told Naaman to go wash in the dirty river called Jordan, he flew into a rage. He was ready to remain in his infirmity rather than swallow his pride and be obedient. Not only that, it seemed too simple. It was anticlimactic. Naaman’s human expectation almost caused him to remain in his current state. This happens to us all the time. We think believing in Jesus is too simple. Calling on the Name of the Lord not enough. We are not confident in our hope so we try other things to help God out. We use words like “but” and “if”. Your relationship to Christ is clearly defined by His Word and reinforced by His Spirit. If the Lord tells you something, you can count on it hanging on every single word. Do you? Believers must make words like “but” and “if” obsolete in their vocabulary concerning the Lord. If God said it, He meant it. He does not lie. He does not change His Mind. We must simply know the Word of God and obey it to change every outcome in our life big and small. This is what it means to live with great expectation.

Matthew 24:42-47 (NLT)

“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.

The faithful, sensible servant lives by what he believes. He lives expecting the return of his master and thus preparing for his arrival at any moment. Do you live in expectation of Christ’s arrival? I’ve got news for you. He comes to us every day when new mercy allows us to draw near. His Grace is enough to allow the holy inhabitation of Jesus to permeate our existence now AND forever. We do not have to wait to stand before Him to experience the reward of confident hope. The faithful servant did a lot of things for the master. The only difference between this servant and the other one in the story is that the faithful and sensible servant lived in great expectation of his master. He did not want the master to arrive to a state of disarray where his estate was out of order. He lived expectantly. Do you live in full expectation of Christ’s arrival every single day? The Lord lives in us. He sees our heart every single day. He hears every spoken and unspoken prayer and longing that we have. He wants to meet us here but is our life in order. Are we ready when He comes? Do we live what we believe? What would happen if we chose to live each day in great expectation and confident hope that created an inviting place for our Master in anticipation of His Coming? The Master will put us charge of all He owns. You want to see your hopes and dreams fulfilled? So do I! The key is take God’s Word and live obediently always anticipating the arrival of our Savior, Lord and Master – Jesus Christ!

 

I Peter 1:2-5 (NLT)

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. 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.

My advice to the young couple who got married last night. Put your expectation in Christ alone not your partner, He is the hope that will cause your marriage to grow and prosper. His Love is enough to allow you to love each other despite every imperfection. To those who will remember September 11th and the tragic events of that day, put your expectation in Christ and not the security of this world. The world came together for a single day. It doesn’t have to be like that only when bad times befall us. Just as those two towers exploded and crumbled, this life is fragile and on the verge of collapse under the weight of sin and darkness. There is hope. His Name is Jesus. The Light of His Love can change every outcome in our life. We are to live with great expectation. It is called confident hope. The only requirement is faith that believes our Master is indeed coming.

James 1:6-8 (NLT)

But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

Am I Ready? – A Devotion

Am I Ready

James 1:2-4 (NLT)

 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

 

Having just planned, prepared and executed a wedding as the mother-of-the-bride, I can now testify that has to be one of the most overwhelming tasks that I have ever undertaken. I am still suffering from post-traumatic wedding syndrome that makes me twitch at the thought of having two more daughters. It was not a lavish affair even maybe considered small compared to most of the weddings and receptions of today. It went off without a hitch and the kids have deemed it the “perfect” day. Hallelujah! Mission accomplished.

When our son-in-law asked for my husband’s blessing, it was not the beginning of the process. I have two sons and three daughters. My sons did not spend their entire life dreaming about and planning to become a groom, but girls innately desire to become a princess bride one day. Understandably, this may not have been the ideal time to insert such festivities in our life. If we have learned anything through our son’s battle with cancer is that we live in each day as the gift that it is. Throughout the process of preparing the nuptials, I began preparing handwritten lists and Excel spreadsheets to make sure no detail was missed. Files were made of contracts, agreements and timelines. In the beginning, it seemed that this whole wedding planning thing was a piece of cake. I really thought the hard part would be paying for it. But as the day moved closer on the calendar, things were hectic and crazy. I woke up with a wedding list and went to bed with one. Thanks to Pinterest, I never wanted to see another can of spray paint. Gold glitter pops up to this day around the house even in my gym shoes. This day had to be perfect for our little girl. We wanted it to be everything that she dreamed about her entire life. This wasn’t just any wedding – it was going to be one of the biggest days of her life. They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…you can add this one to the list.

When your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete needing nothing. This is how God sees our future. Jesus died to make it so. The Holy Spirit leads us not into just enough or a better day. The goal is that our life will measure up to the “complete and full standard of Christ.” Am I ready? I want to be. I try to be. I hope to be.

Matthew 22:14 (NLT) Many are called, but few are chosen.

I heard a song by Plumb yesterday that is one of my favorites. It is called “Lord, I’m Ready Now.” I have heard it before and thought the same thing then that I do now. I am ready. I want all that God has for me right now. I want to do all that He called me to do … right now. Faith needs to grow. Endurance stretched so that we can be ready. So naturally, after a tough time or growing experience – it is only natural to assume that we must have learned something through it all and there must be a reward on the other side. There is. We just may not be ready to receive it yet. As I read the parable about the man who prepared a wedding feast for his son, I got that twitch. You know about planning and preparing a wedding. (Matthew 22:1-14) The man thought everything was ready, but then no one showed up. Our venue for the reception was limited in capacity. My daughter married a PK (preacher’s kid) which means the extended family becomes expansive. We could only invite a select number of people which gave us a heavy heart but according to the state fire code was required. When we initially sent the invitations, only a few RSVPs trickled in. I panicked a little that maybe no one was coming. (Laughing on the inside right now.) Anyway, so the father of the groom sent out messengers to remind the guests of the great wedding feast. They still did not come. So he extended the invitation to the people in the city. When the people came to the feast, they had made no preparations beforehand wearing their everyday attire. The man was insulted. It was an honor to be invited to the feast yet they took it for granted like just another meal. It was his son’s big day. How dare they have such disregard? They were not ready. Many were called, but on that day few were chosen to actually enter in. Sometimes we think that we are ready, when we really are not. This is not a problem with us but the potential of our blessing in Him.

John 13:36-38 (NLT)

Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.

Peter was about to encounter a setback. Peter thought that He was ready to lay down his whole life for Jesus Christ. Jesus knew better looking into Peter’s heart. This would break his heart. Jesus was not done with Peter but still preparing him for the great ministry that he was promised. The Lord knew that He was about to die for Peter. Peter was only human. He could not see the end from the beginning. His faith needed more time to grow. He needed a bit more preparation. The promise was not delayed and the vision was clear, but the appointed time had not arrived because one day Peter indeed would die for his passionate pursuit of Christ. In the beginning our walk with Christ, we are enthusiastic and zealous to be with Him and follow the Lord all the days of our life. Faith requires endurance because our ways are definitely not His Ways and our thoughts must be changed and aligned with God’s. This is a process that takes time. We cannot comprehend it all at once. In fact, there are some things that we will never understand but do by faith. It is living the life of a believer day in and day out no matter what comes our way that is the challenge. As I prepared for our daughter’s wedding, it seemed so far off until it was upon us. It will be that way in our walk with the Lord. It will seem like His Promises will never get here. When they do, there may still be some challenges to overcome because our life is being completed and perfected which are not natural terms but supernatural potentials. Human nature may not fully grasp what God is doing but we must live in constant preparation for when He comes.

Luke 12:35-38 (NLT)

“Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.

Be ready. Be dressed for service. I think we have missed the meaning of this sometimes. Peter Jesus as a man was not a question – there was no doubt. It was a faith question. Did Peter believe in the deity of Jesus? When Jesus was arrested and it was rumored that He would die, Peter denied Christ. When we live as a Christian part of the time, but do not establish our life as a believer then we are not ready. It doesn’t really matter how much I go to church or how often I serve or even how much money that I give if I am not ready to meet the Lord when He comes. When the Lord comes to meet us it is personal and intimate. He is looking to see if we really believe that He is our Savior and Lord enough to commit our life to Him. His Word tells us what to do…am I doing it? His Way is clear. Am I living it? His Will is perfect. Have I submitted to it? Am I ashamed of the Gospel of Christ? When He knocks…there will be no one to answer “my door” but me. Will He be pleased? Will I be ready? I want to be.

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.

 

In the days preceding our daughter’s wedding, there were days when it seemed like the appointed time would never come and others when it was arriving too quickly to fully accomplish all that we needed to do. Never in my life have I felt so much stress and pressure mixed with excitement. When the day did finally come, it was perfect. It exceeded our expectations and more importantly the happy couple’s. I think that in our walk with the Lord it feels the same way. There are days when we don’t think He will ever come and days when we hope that Jesus waits a little longer. This whirlwind relationship that we are in seems too good to be true. It is that good. It is that true. God’s timetable unfortunately does not always align with our own but it will be worth the added preparation and extra effort to be found ready when it does come. Like the groom’s father in the parable, God wants everything to be perfect when Jesus comes to claim His Bride. Isaiah 65:1 says that the Lord is ready to respond to us but people just aren’t ready to seek His Help. We must learn to live in a state of readiness that is not that hard to accomplish. The qualities and characteristics are defined by our faith in God through Jesus Christ and not our current situation. There were times in the process that our daughter would say that she didn’t feel like a bride yet. Well, she wasn’t until that freezing day in November when everything fell neatly into place. Take a deep breath. Breathe out the stress and worry of this process called refinement. God is making your complete and perfect lacking nothing. Prepare to receive that blessing no matter how things look today. Most of our daughter’s wedding was planned at the bedside of our son. Paul wrote most of the New Testament in prison. See God’s Plan and Potential for our life includes every detail of it. (Romans 8:28) You may not “feel” ready but just the fact that you are diving into His Word, calling on His Name and trying to understand this crazy thing called life from His Perspective means that you are on the right track. Grace covers our mistakes. Mercy gives us a reason to keep going. Faith will get us there. We may not be ready right now…but the Promise is true and real for those who want to be, try to be and live to be. I am beginning to believe the more ready we are that the less ready we feel.

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NLT)

In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

On the Field – A Devotion

On the Field

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT)

All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

 

We live in a football city. It is a state college town. The team were national champions last year. The quarterback won the Heisman Trophy, as well as other awards and honors due to his athletic ability. Opponents view each encounter as a high stakes endeavor to knock out the number one team in the country for it is a coveted spot that every young player dreams of. A lower ranking team came to play Saturday night hopeful that they would be the one. See the odds were heavily stacked in their favor. The young and immature quarterback who demonstrates poise and leadership on the field would not play because of his careless lifestyle and poor judgment off the field. The second string quarterback clearly did not anticipate seeing a great deal of playing time due to the fact that his predecessor is so good. The team was resting on the laurels of their fearless leader and reputation to pull it off in the end. There would be many lessons learned on the field Saturday night. Good lessons that will benefit us all.

All athletes are disciplined in their training…at least those with a desire to win. I must be disciplined if I want to receive the Eternal Prize given to me by Jesus Christ. I do not have it as long as I am alive. All that I have right now is hope. Hope will not lead to disappoint if held on to tightly until the end. This is called endurance. Freedom in Jesus Christ makes all things allowable in my life, but not all things are beneficial. (I Corinthians 10:23) You have been given many choices in Jesus Christ. You decide whether or not you will cross the finish line of faith and have the salvation that we so desperately hope for. If grace relieved us of responsibility to Jesus Christ, there would be no need for discipline or endurance. It is our profound privilege in Jesus to run with purpose in every step. We have the potential of victory in every outcome if we do not stop running but remain focused on the finish line. I must discipline my body, mind and spirit to remain in step with Jesus Christ every step of the way until I cross over and meet Him face-to-face. I have to be ready for my Master’s return at all times because I do not know when He will come. The worst thing that could possibly happen is think that all I can do is win but to be suddenly disqualified.

Discipline is often associated with punishment. God no longer will discipline us as a form of punishment because we have accepted His Grace offered through Jesus Christ. There is nothing to punish it is all under the Blood of His Son. Now it is all about winning every battle, claiming every prize and walking in victory every single day. We live on the field of life. We have such potential but it will require discipline. The word “discipline” used in this fashion is all about readiness and preparation. It is training in accordance with the rules as not to be disqualified. It is any activity or exercise that improves our skill (which is our ability to believe and trust Him more). Discipline is the rigorous training effect of experience as we walk in the Presence of God choosing to be there and working to remain so. It is to bring to a state of order and obedience which is the pathway to life. (Proverbs 10:17) If I want to live forever with Jesus, I must learn to be disciplined in this life.

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NLT)

In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

 

Purity leads to honorable use. Readiness leads to everyday use. This is important. Discipline makes us usable to the Lord. The quarterback is vital to any team. He is the one who they look to for instruction. It is up to him to be a good leader on and off the field. His standard of living immediately changed when he accepted this role on his team. It is important for this person to remember always that they do not represent themselves but a team of individuals. Utensils are things that are useful. I used to think that this was a scripture of choice rather than acceptance. We are all called to be like “wood and clay” utensils for everyday use and every good work. But those who choose to live a life of discipline will become refined like the gold and silver utensils. These are used for special occasions and honorable use. They remain pure by example so they will be uniquely chosen. These are Christians who have chosen to develop good character. These are believers who have laid their life on the line to be more like Jesus Christ. These are the ones who live for Jesus out in the open and behind closed doors. They walk with purpose in every step who are always ready in season and out for their Master’s return. I want to be like that. I want to be that utensil in the Hand of God.

Matthew 24:43-47 (NLT)

 Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.

Hindsight is always 20/20. Wisdom makes our path quite clear. Understanding comes from knowledge that is obtained two ways – educationally or by experience. I would rather avoid trouble by heeding the warning words of another rather than walking through the fire of experience. Readiness is the key to success. There is possibilities in preparation. Those who are ready and prepared will achieve great victory. But such a life takes discipline. We have an alarm system on our house to hopefully prevent unwanted guests from coming into our home. We have tried to make ourselves ready to prevent such an invasion. However, we now have such a device because several years ago we were the victims of a home robbery. They came in and helped themselves to our stuff so we now have some protection. We are now prepared. Are you prepared for the coming of Christ? I cannot answer that question only you can. When the Master arrives will He be pleased concerning the stewardship of your life? Will He think you did a good job? We are to live in a state of readiness. The reward of preparation is victory.

Luke 12:35-37(NLT)

Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat!

When game time arrived on Saturday night, the quarterback came on the field ready to play dressed out in the team uniform with his football in hand. The coach approached the young man and instructed him to go back in the locker room and change clothes. How humbling this must have been for the young man who was clearly sending a message to the public that he wanted to play and was ready to do so. He must understand that preparation begins long before game time. Every athlete must live a disciplined life including playing by the rules. Now maybe those of you who know this young man’s story feel that he was overly punished by the institution for his childish antics. You may be right but think about this.

2 Timothy 2:4-6 (NLT)

Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.

Athletes must follow the rules to win the prize. Agreed. But he didn’t break any rules…on the field. These college superstars sign an agreement with the institution that they represent that includes a scholarship for a free education including room and board meaning that they are completely provided for while they play ball for the school. They become servants bound to this contract. Their services include certain rules and responsibilities on and off the field. They are not coerced or forced into their role on the team but chose it with the “hope” of securing a professional contract and lucrative endorsements. When we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord we enter a covenant agreement with Him. He has given us the freedom to live for Him. If we choose to follow the rules, we will live a successful and prosperous life according to our agreement with Him with the “confident hope” of salvation. You have a race to win, my friend. You cannot win the race if you do not become disciplined in following Jesus Christ not just on Sundays and Wednesdays but walking with purpose in every step. The young quarterback watched from the sidelines Saturday night. He was ready to play on the field. But the lesson to be learned is character off the field when the lights in the stadium are dark and the crowds at home that he must walk, run and live with purpose in his every step. I hope for his sake he learned something on the sidelines so that when he does go on to make it big in the National Football League – he will have the prize of integrity to at least hold on to it.

Hebrews 10:12-13 (NLT)

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

 

There was another young man who learned a valuable lesson on Saturday night under the stadium lights. When the second string quarterback took the field it would be a lesson of experience. His level of preparation over the summer training and now in daily drills probably lacked some passion, I mean how much effort is needed when you stand in the shadow of a Heisman winner. He thought that he only had to survive the first half until just before game day he learned that he must win the game. It was an ugly rout but thankfully he was victorious. I believe that from now on his purpose in practice will be to be ready each time that he steps on the field. He was sacked multiple times. He made some costly mistakes but in overtime they won. We must live ready to win. We must train to win. We must think about it in everything that we do and decide that it is God’s Will for our life. Winning is a mindset that this fortified by discipline. It is time to stop complaining about certain circumstances and make a change. It is time to stop sighing over situations and start singing His Praise. We can live in victory. It requires readiness, preparation and discipline. We are to be ready in season and out of season. I for one do not want to be disqualified. Discipline is good for me. (Isaiah 38:16-17) It allows me to have all that God promised me. I am able to acquire the rich, satisfying life Jesus gave me when He died just for me. He is my example. I have not suffered unto death so I can press on to win the prize for which I have been called!

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NLT)

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

Divine discipline allows us to walk from victory to victory in this life until we step into forever and claim our salvation. It is a fight. You are well-equipped to win but will you train to win, live to win and decide to win – that is up to each of us individually. The same power that conquered the grave lives in us. Will we use the gift that we have been given to overcome and empower our life to win in every situation and see God’s Goodness in the land of the living? This is the potential of our new life in Christ for those who choose to live by the rules and accept the responsibilities of loving God and living only for Him. You can have it all. It just depends on how you live. Will you walk in purpose today? Life is the field we play on. Will you win? Will you accept God’s Discipline as a child does his father’s love? (Proverbs 13:1) His Kingdom awaits those who do! All they do is win!

Philippians 2:14-17 (NLT)

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.