To Be Still

To Be Still

Psalm 46:10 (AMP) “Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”

As I sit in His Presence today, I am waiting. Wondering about some details that just don’t add up. Asking for clarity and divine discernment. Introspection leads to listening. I want to hear His Voice. I want to do what He says to me. So different from my younger days, when dissatisfaction created distance between us, now it only leads to a greater desire to know, recognize and understand Him more. Completion is my purpose. Fulfillment is the potential of my life. To be fully invested in Christ body, mind and spirit until my soul prospers and runs over to every person I encounter in this dark and dying world. To light in every darkness and speak words that lead to life. To love so extravagantly that all they see is God’s Love poured out before them in spite of me.

Yet soon, I will have to close the Bible, turn off the computer and leave the prayer closet/study. The door will be open and life come pouring in like a wave unhindered. I will face challenges. I will have trials. All opportunities to grow a little closer and wade a little deeper into the fathomless grace that I have been given. As I go, my greatest longing is to just be still. To be still and know. To be still and recognize. To be still and understand that He is My God. It would be so much easier if I could stay right here in His Presence. To distance myself from the pressures of life persistently bearing down on my chest, stealing my breath, taking my attention, and just to be still. Oh for a moment of selah today, a moment to pause and reflect on the walls of the strong tower, my refuge, and my strength.

Psalm 46:1-6 (AMP) God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], a very present and well-proved help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken and slip into the heart of the seas, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its roaring. Selah. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. The holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her [His city], she will not be moved; God will help her when the morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered and were moved; He raised His voice, the earth melted.

Reading these words today, I am encouraged. Feeling like Peter whose desire for the Lord took him out of the boat to walk on water, but the winds and the waves got in his way. Sometimes faith feels like swimming in an endless ocean, too far out to turn back but so far gone the shore is not in sight. It is then that our life hangs in the balance. It is in that moment that we become aware of grace that is like an ocean – you know the one where we are sinking. God is good. God is always good. He is love. Endless love. Fathomless love. His Purpose and Plan for my life is complete lacking no good thing unless maybe my full attention sometimes. In the past, the adrenaline might kick in right about now. I would have to make the decision to fight for my faith or flee with what is left of my left. Oh, I am too far gone now. Like Jacob in Genesis 32, his wives, children and livelihood crossed over on the other side. Jacob was alone. Nothing to go back to, just Jacob and God wrestling through the dark of night. Holding tightly to the Lord, who said, “Let me go for the day is breaking.” Jacob refused. He declared to the Lord, “I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing on me.” Jacob was given his heart’s desire. No longer would he be known for his struggles, but as the one who came face-to-face with God. Do you remember what happened when Moses came face-to-face with the Lord? God’s Glory shone so brightly on his face that he covered it as not to frighten them. Oh for Your Glory, Lord. I desire that new name. I want to be the one who despite her many struggles and insufficiencies experienced the Glory of Your Grace full immersed and overflowing.

God is our refuge and our strength. His Presence is a mighty and impenetrable fortress that allows us to be still and know – no matter what conditions or circumstances are circling our life. I am so thankful today for His Presence. The Lord does not only promise to keep us safe and secure in His Presence but offers freedom from fear so faith can grow, develop and mature into deep roots that keep us well-grounded so that we learn to thrive in life and not just merely survive. (Psalm 92:14) Jacob fled for his life which didn’t amount to much except the Lord was with him. He served Laban faithfully and flourished even in exile. He encountered the Lord in the stillness of the night upon his return. He was 97 years old. Oh for us to know, understand and recognize that our journey with the Lord is a lifelong endeavor seldom offering immediate gratification or instantaneous harvests. It is a life of sowing and reaping governed by the promise of God that what we plant is what we will reap. God has blessed Jacob in the natural but in his old age he wanted God’s Blessing to reach into the depths of his heart and change him.

Lord, help me to be still. To know, recognize and understand that my life is a process. Grace to faith to trust to confident hope. To complete the cycle again and again until my heart is secure in the stronghold of your love. I don’t want to end the process or escape the pressure. I want you Lord. I will not let go until You bless me with the desire of my heart. Lord teach me to fully rely on Your Sovereignty today. You go before me and fall in behind me. You pursue me passionately with Goodness and Unfailing Love. Teach me to pursue you with my whole heart.

Psalm 37:3-7 (AMP) Trust [rely on and have confidence] in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed [securely] on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him also and He will do it. He will make your righteousness [your pursuit of right standing with God] like the light, and your judgment like [the shining of] the noonday [sun]. Be still before the Lord; wait patiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him…

Trust is to rely on and have confidence in the Lord. Our ability to trust is in direct correlation with what we believe to be true. Faithfulness is God’s Quality that I believe in along with His Goodness. He is faithful while I can only try to be. My only real chance at faith is created by the amazing grace that I have been given. Do good. Dwell in the land. Feed on His Faithfulness. Such a simple thing, yet a daily challenge with the pressures of life bearing down on us. Dare I believe that in the midst of adversity that God is giving me the desires of my heart? Yes, and a thousand times, yes! Such understanding doesn’t come without a price. It will require my complete undoing. It will take all of my heart, mind, soul and body fully invested in Jesus Christ. It will be in my weakness. It will be found when I fail. Those who commit their life to Christ must put all expectation in the Lord, His Word, His Will and His Way. It is a day by day – moment to moment process to build trust and confidence in the Lord. It is a daily pursuit and endless process that requires endurance. Endurance is marked by stillness. Those who endure must learn to be still.

James 4:6-8 (AMP) But He gives us more and more grace [through the power of the Holy Spirit to defy sin and live an obedient life that reflects both our faith and our gratitude for our salvation]. Therefore, it says, “God is opposed to the proud and haughty, but [continually] gives [the gift of] grace to the humble [who turn away from self-righteousness].” So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you. Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your [unfaithful] hearts, you double-minded [people].

Oh Jesus just a few more minutes together before I must leave this place of refuge. This quiet place in our home filled with Your Spirit and like-minded people. I am persuaded today that nothing can separate me from the Love of God. I know that all things work together for my good because I am called according to His Purpose and desire it above all things. Yet still, to be still is such a challenge sometimes especially when the ocean of grace is so vast that I cannot see from shore to shore. What lies beneath the surface frightens me. The length of this journey overwhelms me. The enemy taunts me. His lies raise the hairs on the back of my neck. God gives more and more grace to those who forgo pride and float in humility. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Resist. Withstand. Strive against. Oppose. If I simply resist, the temptation to give up or give in then he must go. The enemy cannot do anything to me other than lie to me. If I silence the lie with God’s Truth – He must go. Our closeness to the Lord allows us to endure such harsh conditions and one day realize that the thing that carried us through was His Grace. It is enough. It is more than enough. It is always sufficient. It leads me to faith. It is the one thing that I trust most because without it – I don’t stand a chance.

Psalm 84:1-4 (AMP) How lovely are Your dwelling places, Lord of hosts! My soul (my life, my inner self) longs for and greatly desires the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. The bird has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young—even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. Blessed and greatly favored are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence; they will be singing Your praises all the day long. Selah.

Have you ever encountered a spider web? You didn’t see it. Like a carefully laid net to capture you, it overtakes you or so it seems. You flail around as if consumed in invisible fire to get away from it. It is not the web that you are afraid of but the little spider that may be lurking in it who more than likely ran away when you destroyed its home. The world’s largest spider is ironically called the Goliath spider…no kidding. It is about 11 inches in diameter making shudder just to think about it. Though a deadly ambusher of small rodents and even a bird – to date it has not consumed a human. Thank God! However, even a small spider will cause a grown man to jump and scream. So many times – this is how those filled with the Power of Christ respond to the words of the enemy. When walking through the woods, I must look out for spiders. It is their dwelling place. Their home and not mind. But in my house, the spiders are quickly killed and disposed of. It is my home and they are not welcome. Where are you living today?

To live in the Presence of God is a place that goes with us. He lives in us. The world is not our home. However, God gave us dominion over it in Genesis. My authority is evident by the Christ in me but if I have no confidence in Christ – I will remain subject to my fear and insecurities because I have no idea of the strong tower and refuge available for those who take grace to access faith and live in it by trust. Just outside the door awaits all the pressure and pain along with cares and concerns that comprise this life we live. I will be tested and tried by the many challenges. The enemy has new lies and careful traps ready to trip me up and cause me to stumble. The Lord offers a strong tower and refuge for those who desire to enter in and to be still. These are His People who will experience blessing and favor in their life. As their soul prospers in the Peaceful Place of God so will their everyday life no matter how tough it gets. Lord, my soul, my life and my inner self long for you. I greatly desire to live in Your Presence today. Help me to do so. Show me the way deeper into the courts called beautiful, peaceful and strong. Teach me to be still today. Show me how to put all my life in you, Jesus!

Psalm 84:12 (AMP) O Lord of hosts, how blessed and greatly favored is the man who trusts in You [believing in You, relying on You, and committing himself to You with confident hope and expectation].

Power of Stillness

power-of-stillness

Mark 4:38-40 (NLT) Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Today is Friday. Tomorrow begins a long weekend, I cannot wait. I do not have any solid plans or places that I must be. I am free to stay home and lounge around. Piddle with projects. Discover new ones. I do not have to wear “real” clothes rather delighting in yoga pants and a t-shirt. I love our home. It has become my refuge. Looking back to my younger days, I used to thrive on weekends on the go. Running about as many places and doing as many things as possible until time was up and back to the routine of life, but not anymore. Cramming as much life into every minute, I must have thought I was missing something only to find I have it all right here. Over the years, the more that God has given us and the more we have been able to do – I value the stillness of this sanctuary called home.

Where do you find sanctuary? Where is the place called rest? Do you have a quiet place or retreat? Do you have a refuge to find solace in? A breathing space not consumed by activity and time constraints. I don’t think it is a natural space at all but a place satisfied in our heart. The confidence in knowing that it is well with our soul that soothes the need to find more, do more and be more. Complete trust in who He is rather than what we must do allows us to be still in the Lord. One thing I have noted over the past five decades of life is when that stillness is required to hear the Voice of God, sense His Spirit and build our faith. Fear tells us to run but faith says stand right here. Doubt promotes disbelief that makes us indecisive causing a drift that carries us here and there. Anxiety creates anxiety that will not allow us to stop moving.

Jesus was asleep. One might think that the disciples would notice that He was absolutely undisturbed therefore not concerned about the storm that raged around them. The rocking of the boat did not unsettle His Confidence that He was in full power and had absolute authority the wind and the waves. They panicked. They didn’t tap Jesus on the shoulder and gently awaken Him to tell him about the storm. They shouted. “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” I will be the first to admit that I do that sometimes. When all hell breaks loose, give the Lord a not so gentle reminder that I am in trouble, I am not going to make it, why me or don’t you care Jesus? So Jesus got up and commanded the storm to cease. Turning to them – “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

These men were not new converts. They had given up their life to follow Jesus, witnessed many miracles, heard the Word of God spoken by the Word, and lived in His Presence. Yet still struggled with faith that produced a confidence in hope so profound that not only could they keep their position in the storm but recognized the power and authority that Jesus had over the environment of their life. Faith without confidence is not faith at all but just an idea. It is a concept longing for understanding to solidify our stand that we hope is a reality. Stillness expresses full confidence in God even when our environment is unfavorable, disaster looms around every bend, people lose all senses, and the world comes crashing down around us. It is the strictest of confidence that is completely convinced that God is in control. I will not be moved.

Psalm 46:10 (NLT) “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

On our moving day, the house empty of its contents. Every possession crammed in trucks, cars, trailers and any other vehicle offered to us, I received a phone call from the bank. There had been a miscalculation and there were additional funds needed to close. Not a hundred but thousands. I am discussing this with the lender, when the new buyer comes to inspect their pending purchase. The realtor interrupts me to question a higher than usual utility bill discovered when they contacted the city about new service. It must be settled before closing early the next morning. Meanwhile, all of our helpers were beginning to panic that there might not be room for the remaining items and the rental company had closed for the day. Finally in my car, so loaded it barely moved , I dared to take a breath. I knew in my heart that God had ordained this move to the county for our family. As new chapter of life and new season was turning it felt like all the words were falling off the page. What seemed so certain suddenly chaos! The phone buzzed but my thoughts overwhelmed me. At that moment, I couldn’t even tell you where the kids were or if anyone had loaded up the dogs. I did what any sane, rational, human woman might do…I sobbed.

Well, it all worked out. Every single detail to the tiniest degree just like God had planned. I share all the details with you because doing the Will of God does not always mean a peaceful journey from here to there. “There” is forever. It is the future and hope we live for whether we know it or not. It takes tests and trials of trust to convince our hard, stubborn and wavering heart that God really is in complete control. This is only possible when I yield control to Him. I will never yield complete control of my life to Jesus Christ without storms to try my faith and reveal its insufficiency. God’s Power is only perfect in my weakness. He doesn’t need my help though I attempt to do so all the time. He doesn’t need my opinion, His Word will do exactly what it says it will do. He needs nothing from my but to trust Him wholeheartedly.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NLT) God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

My power flows through Presence. Jesus did not come to bring peace to the world but stir things up. (Matthew 10:34-36) We live here so obviously this stirring occurs in the environment where we live. If you happened to come upon a house that was on fire, would you leisurely walk up to the front door and ring the doorbell. Wait for a few minutes, then knock. Wait a few more and call out to see if anyone was home. Of course, not. You would do everything in your power to alert anyone inside. Get the picture? However, Jesus did bring peace. He packaged it as a gift for those who belong to Him. (John 14:27) Peace is not found in conditions or circumstances but to be still in His Presence and maintain our position. Peace is discovered by faith in confident hope.

With this in mind, it is important to note that while transferring our existence from death to life and allowing God’s Renewal and Restoration to remodel our heart and mind, there may be uncertainty along the way. The transition of moving unsettles me. I don’t like the homeless feeling or nomadic state. I long for the security of my home, refuge, space. Yet there are times when God compromises my comfort to remove complacency from my life. He wants me to invest all of my life in His Kingdom. To live in His Peace. To take full advantage of His Power. My power flows from His Presence in my life.

Psalm 46:4-7 (NLT) A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. 

Stillness is the strong confidence in God’s Full Power and Authority over every condition of our life. It is not in the environmental condition surrounding this life. Love is growing colder by the day. Sin is rampant and quickly multiplying. The world is shaking at the close proximity of Jesus Christ. Christians are finally believing the Book of Revelation just might be true. Believers desire revival again. Movement is not the answer. The power of His Presence is. To step out of this world’s ideology and stand on the Word of God refusing to move at any cost. If you read Matthew 24, it gets worse before it gets better. There is no need to panic. Just to move our life into His Presence fully. God is our Refuge and Strength. He fights for us. He will deliver us. We must only believe without seeing and endure to the end to be saved. He didn’t tell us to win but rather has already given us victory! Do you believe? Will you be still?

Psalm 37:5-7 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Stillness is a position of trust. To be still and know that He is the Lord takes more than a casual relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a full on marriage to Him. To become one with Him. It is to know Him. To believe in Him. To be committed to Him. I love my husband. There are days when I am not so lovable and neither is he but it is our commitment to Christ and each other that bridge the gap of human imperfection, selfishness and pride. Jesus is perfect but I am not. On the days, I don’t understand, become overwrought, or believe the lie of the enemy even for a second, I must decide to remain still based on what I know not how I feel or how things look. His Presence is my position of power in all things and every situation. It is not an emotional reaction but a committed response to who He is not how I feel.

To trust the Lord requires letting go of certain feelings. There are emotions that keep us from fully trusting the Lord and the blessing of His Presence. Psalm 37 lists some of those emotions that must be replaced with faith. Things such as worry (1-2), anger (8-9), fear (12-13), greed (21-22), pride (27-28), ignorance (30-31) and more. There are certain things that comprise our position in His Presence because they destroy our faith. These are some of those things. Certainly the world would justify our feelings and need to react. However, trusting the Lord means to wait until His Word comes to pass in our life. Holding our position in His Presence even though our thoughts tell us to run or escape. To move from this impossibility and settle for less. What are you going to do today? We are free to choose. Lord, help me to choose faith and confident hope over anything I feel today.

Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. 

Is your home your refuge? Do you find comfort in place where you live? I am blessed to have a peaceful home. Partly because our children are most grown but mostly because our family has invited the Holy Spirit to live here. Most every day, just like you I must go about my daily tasks and responsibilities outside of the four walls of this place. The same Holy Spirit (the Presence of God) goes with me. I can allow Him to be my peace, refuge and strength by faith and confident hope. This allows me to excel in the stillness of trust to allow Christ to have complete authority and power over my life. When we divide our interests between the Kingdom and the world, it makes for a shaky foundation. Our marriage to Christ compromised when we give our attention and love to other gods. The stillness of God including the overwhelming gift of perfect peace and inexpressible joy can be with me always when I choose to live in the Power of His Presence and be still. It allows me to respond to His Promises rather than reacting to worldly problems. My natural home is a refuge only because Jesus lives here, too. He lives in our heart. He goes where we go so we can always be still. Greater is He who lives in me – to believe it means to trust Him, have faith in Him, have confidence in the hope I have in Him and to be still in Him – all day…everyday! So let the wind blow, let the storms surge, let the whole earth shake…my heart is full of His Presence and I will not be moved. There is power in stillness to live in His Presence undeterred and unshaken you will not be moved.

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.

Simply Come

Simply Come

Ephesians 3:10-12 (NLT) God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

To come boldly and confidently into God’s Presence. I pray for spiritual boldness for my family, friends, and church. In fact, I was praying for the confidence and boldness yesterday. As I continued to clamor on to the Lord about boldness, confidence, assurance, strength and power, somehow it became all about me. After all, isn’t that what the Lord wants of us His People. To walk with our heads held high, shoulders squared, and stride through life without a worry or care. This is boldness. To proclaim the Word of God and all its rightness to a world that has gone terribly wrong. After all, this is the Good News of the Gospel right? If you do all these things that He will accept us and bless us? That’s not exactly what it says…

We are conditioned to believe that might makes right and majority rules, but truly in this passage that applies to many it is all about just one. The one who chooses to come boldly and confidently each day…to surrender their life and submit their journey to Jesus Christ. Where is the courage in that? Where is the strength and manifestation of power? I thought boldness and confidence would create dominion over the enemy in my life. It will. It does. But you will have nothing to do with it other than the fact – you repented, turned your life over to Christ and choose to believe that He will do exactly what He has promised over and over again.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Spiritual boldness and hopeful confidence are demonstrated solely in one’s ability to depend completely on Jesus Christ. To walk into His Presence, no matter how difficult our circumstances or deplorable our conditions and give Him every burden and care with complete and utter satisfaction in that very moment the Lord will do exactly what His Word promised that He would do. It is when our response to life is focused on the “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.” My boldness and confidence is a product of faith. It is my ability to believe beyond human perception and prevailing problems. We come to the Lord not to display our ability but rather to completely rely on His Willingness and Promise to deliver.

We come boldly to the throne of our Gracious God. It is all about grace. The bond that holds us to His Grace is faith. Faith that continues to hold tightly refusing to let go no matter how hard the struggle will become confident hope. I find that when I hear God’s Voice that He generally speaks His Word to me. Now I can take that “Word” and my mind can play out every possible scenario. However now that I have lived and experienced the Lord and His Ways, I find that I seldom see the full picture of what He is doing until years after He tells me what He is doing. He never tells me how or when, only that He will. We live by believing not seeing so this should be more than enough.

2 Corinthians 5:7-8 (NLT) For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 

For we live by believing and not by seeing. It is very difficult to believe without seeing but Jesus called such people blessed. The ones who cannot see Him with human eyes but know Him in their heart. Does my life reflect such a belief? It is important that it does.

Revelation 3:2-3 (NLT) Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.

Go back. Go back to what you heard. Go back. Go back to what you believed. Coming to Christ like a child full of wonderful dreams and full of aspirations yet along the way fighting just to stay in the game when it takes too long or requires more than one expected. God told me that our son would live and not die. (Psalm 118:17) Audibly and directly, I heard the Lord speak directly to me. I expected God to heal our son. I told others that He would do it over and over again. He did. It would take more than three years and multiple treatments with lasting effects for remission to become a reality.

Crossing the finish line is not always what the movies and media make it out to be. Sometimes it is not a sprint to the finish, but a last ditch effort of strength just to get over the line claiming victory. I absolutely believe that this is exactly how God plans it over and over again. Why? Because when I am weak, His Power works best in me. God’s not looking for spiritual giants, but rather childlike faith of a boy. Like David who was so in love with God that even a worthless insult was more than his young heart could bear so he defended the honor of His God. His power was not in his weapon – just five smooth stones and a slingshot. It was not his personal ability for he already proclaimed that God would give him the giant’s head that day. No, it was in his willingness to step out in faith and confidence no matter what the outcome that day. The size of the giant was no comparison for his faith and trust in the Lord.

Hebrews 10:20-24 (NLT) By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

We joined our pastor and his family for dinner the other night. He chose a newly opened restaurant. I knew driving over on a Friday night that it would be packed. It was. The parking lot was overflowing requiring multiple circles to finally find a spot. Walking up to the restaurant, people resembled a mound of mad ants racing all over the place. Once inside, the hostess handed us a device to let us know when a table was ready with the warning it could be awhile. Patrons were packed in that place like sardines. Conversation was impossible – it was too noisy to even think. Ugh! The food was good and the night fun, but honestly, it would have gone much differently had it just been our little family. We avoid crowded inconvenience. We do not like to wait. So when a new place comes along, it is our nature to let the hype die down before our first visit. This is our choice. To be comfortable. To choose convenience. And in this case, there is nothing wrong with that. But…

When we make the same choices because coming before Jesus makes us uncomfortable or choosing not to wait, it is a bigger blessing that is missed. It is complete satisfaction that is avoided. We come to Jesus the first time for free grace. We want free love. It is our desire to have everything that He promised to give us. However, when we come to understand that there is a process of acquisition called faith people begin to draw back. They move away from the Lord when things get tight or uncomfortable. They choose immediate gratification rather than everlasting contentment. It is human nature to avoid long lines and extended wait times. Self-prescribed conditions that were never part of our covenant call us to do or be something other than what the Lord requires. All of this avoidance leads to defeat when all He really wanted or asked us to do was simply come.

Hope anchors my soul to the place that requires nothing more than His Love and Grace in all of its sufficiency. Faith is confidence that the Lord will do what He said in His Time and His Way. Those who choose to come boldly and hold tightly to the promise are not implying person strength or fortitude but absolute trust that God will do what He promised to do!

I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT) But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

As men, women and children of God – it is our responsibility to life a godly life. Boldness is found in repentance turning our life over day by day to the Power and Authority of Jesus Christ. To come boldly means nothing more than living a life of true repentance and genuine faith by surrendering all that we are to His Love, Grace and Mercy believing that HE is able to do more than we can think or ask. It is confirmed by our willingness to come before the Lord and wait there no matter how long He takes. Surrender sounds so simple. Human nature balks at giving up. Of course, this is the Lord’s Way because it total contradicts our flesh. To fight the good fight of faith is done most of the time standing in the Presence of God calling His Name and waiting for His Reply. We can outlast our enemy because we live for eternity. There is no time limit on God’s Promise for my life.

I John 5:13-15 (NLT) I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

To simply come, that is all that is required. To come boldly means to continually and honestly give the Lord the real estate of our life without any doubt but total faith. Confidence in the Lord allows us to stand before Him, worship at His Feet, and praise Jesus publically before a single thing changes just because we know that He does more than we think or ask. Confident hope comes with the annihilation of my flesh. Self-help and self-confidence gets me nowhere in the Kingdom because it is by His Grace I am saved through what? Faith.

Let’s get back to the basics today. The faithful expectation that brought us to Jesus in the first place. The very thing that made us love Him from the start. The Lord isn’t looking for anything from me. He doesn’t want me to change anything but directions. He will complete the good work in us that He began. We continue the process in surrender submitting all that we are, have and do to Who He is. My only goal in life is to please the Lord. He doesn’t require nearly as much as we have dictated in doctrine and eluded to from the pulpit. God wants you. Jesus died for you. He placed on other requirement on us other than to come boldly before His Throne to receive His Love, Grace and Mercy. Tangible blessings are the provision of God in our life unlocked by obedience. Faith and hope are blessings that can only be given when we simply come into His Presence giving up who we are to be more like the Lord.

Romans 5:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

Like A Child

Like A Child

Matthew 18:2-5 (NLT) He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

Naturally, since today is Father’s Day, my mind is on the Father. Of course, my earthly dad comes to mind. I am thankful to have one who loves Jesus. But this morning, for these moments before life gets busy all over again, I have the opportunity to sit in the Presence of My Heavenly Father and bask in His Love. He is a Good Father. I know we sing that the Lord is good. We tell others that He is, too. But do we really know and understand the Goodness and Greatness of Grace and the privilege that we have to know God personally and intimately.

When I was very young my parents divorced and I lived with my mom. On the weekends, I would go to my grandparent’s house. It was my favorite place on earth. In the back of their home was a whitewashed garage, on one side was my granddad’s ice cream truck. Yes, after he “retired, my grandpa drove up and down the beach selling ice cream. I was a lucky kid. On the other side, there was a makeshift apartment made to help their only son through a rough spot. My dad wasn’t always there when we visited. I would sneak back to the little room that he stayed in and sit in the middle of his bed smelling his pillow. I just wanted to be with my dad. I wanted to feel his presence. The sad story of divorce has a happy ending as my dad found a wonderful bonus mom for me. They have been together the majority of my life.

This story is shared to talk about presence. Presence is all that there is to connect with our Heavenly Father for now as we live this life in preparation to be with Him forever. Faith binds us to hope so we know what we are after. Prayer is how we communicate with God. His Spirit helps us to see through the darkness and walk in the Light of His Love. But the thing that we desire above all things is to be with our Father and to live in His Presence. As a human child, I longed to spend time with my natural father. How much more as a Child of God do I long to be with Him! If you enter this place called Presence just one time, you will only want to find it more and more.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” What does this mean? Should we shirk the responsibilities of life and live in a church building somewhere? Do we give up our jobs to carry a cross around the world and back? Do we stop caring for ourselves waiting for others to do it for us? No. Children represent total trust and dependency. We are to love, trust, and honor God as our Father.

Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

God set forth certain principles for children. They are to obey their parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your mother and father which is the first commandment with a promise. So that it may go well with you. Obedience, honor and respect for our parents is a commandment by God. I know as a parent that I am not always worthy of such things in my imperfection nevertheless the Lord still requires it of my children. In exchange for obedience regardless of my behavior, my children are blessed with a promise.

Obedience is essential for maintaining parental relationships. However, there are many rebellious people in the world. Parents don’t always set forth good examples. We have countless kids in our church whose parents drop them off at the door. These children have outgrown their parents spiritually but the Lord still requires them to respect them. Colossians 3:20 goes one step further saying, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Like a child, obedience is essential in establishing a place in God’s Presence as His Child.

Rebellion causes dissension in any relationship. Two parties cannot walk together going their own way. Jesus invites us to accept His Yoke of salvation. His Invitation is simple. Are you weary? Burdened? I will give you rest. My Yoke is easy. Partnering our life with Christ allows us access into the Presence of God. We must remain in the Lord to walk into the innermost chamber of God’s Presence. This cannot be accomplished our way. There is only One Way. His Name is Jesus. Any other attempt would be an act of rebellion because it is contrary to God’s Way? The road is narrow. Repentance is turning our life back to the Lord. It is maybe better explained turning our life “over” to the Lord. This is the act of obedience that brings back to a child-like state of total dependency and trust in the Lord.

I Peter 2:2-3 (NIV) Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Hebrews 5:12-14 (NIV) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

In Proverbs 23:24 it says that “the father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.” Challenged to enter the Kingdom as children does not exempt us from spiritual maturity. Immaturity does not honor our father. It means that he failed at his task to train us up the way that we should go naturally and spiritually. Some may even use it as an excuse, well God knows my heart. Bless your little heart, He does! He knows the plan and purpose put there because He wrote every single word. The Lord knows your potential because He already provided everything you need to fulfill it. He also gave you His Spirit so there would be an answer to every question, calm in the storm, certainty in the selection and motivation to move in the right direction. You are fully equipped lacking no good thing. He is a good father remember, He gave His All just for you.

Honoring our father’s instruction, teaching and guidance increases our knowledge. Once applied to our life, it becomes wisdom. It feeds and nourishes our soul. It is in such a process that we grow. Let’s face it. Our parents always become a whole lot smarter as we mature. So it is with our Heavenly Father as He is able to work all the details of our life into the Goodness that is promised. (Romans 8:28) This cannot happen outside of respect, obedience, dependency and trust like a child.

Matthew 7:8-11 (NIV) For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 

When I was a little girl, I pursued my father’s presence. He was not with me at that time. I did not really know how to reach him as a little kid. But now I know exactly where he is and how to get in touch with him. I also have learned to pursue my Heavenly Father’s Presence. In fact, in coming to know God more has improved my relationship with my natural dad. Why? My expectation is met in God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His Spirit fills every void and lack in my life. This enables my earthly relationships to be filled with love, grace and mercy because I am complete in Christ. No longer needing or wanting anything less than God’s Best allows me to give love and acceptance effortlessly to others. I depend on God for everything I need.

When my children come home, they do not have to knock on the door but enter boldly. Most of the time, they go look in the fridge even when they are not hungry. They have a relationship with us. They know that they are always welcome. They know we love to see them. They call us when they need us. They call us just to talk. We are bound together by love. This is exactly the relationship that God desires. He wants to be our Father. (Jeremiah 3:19) He longs for His Children. It is time to give up our wandering, prodigal ways and answer the call. Even when that call requires change, discomfort or challenges us, we must pursue Him at all costs. Why? He is a Good Father. He loves us. His Kingdom holds treasures of inheritance for His Children and He invites us to come boldly like a child.

I John 3:1-2 (NIV) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 

 

No Peace on Earth

No Peace on Earth

Luke 2:13-14 (NIV)

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Peace on earth. Goodwill to men. It is the song of the season but I am afraid that we may have somehow misinterpreted its meaning. Christmas is a celebration of Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace. He is not the Ruler of this planet. The earth is dominated by darkness. The world infiltrated with sin. Jesus came to give His People the opportunity to escape the world and one day enter eternity. Somehow the toxic message that the Lord will change the world for our good, blessing us financially, changing our circumstances, impacting the consequences of our life in some Santa-like fashion. It is all wrong. Jesus did not come to bestow peace on earth. I know you think this may be crazy. It may even not be something you want to hear as it puts a damper on your holiday cheer. But if we don’t get it right, we have nothing to celebrate.

 

Christmas produces mixed emotions in people. For many years, the holidays depressed me even after I came to follow Jesus. I hated the way it made me feel. It was a task to decorate the tree. The only part I like was giving to the ones I loved. I did not feel the peace and joy promised in Christmas songs and turned them off. Bah humbug! Some people struggle with loneliness and isolation without family to celebrate and friends who do not notice they are alone. The stirring of one’s heart at Christmas makes for a mixture of emotion. It can cause so many conflicted feelings that there is no peace. Stress and anxiety are usually the overriding factor. Can we stop for a minute? Put down the cookie sheet or roll of tape. Stop thinking about the to-do list. Will there ever be peace of earth? No.

When the angels announced the arrival of Jesus, here is what they said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” There it is. In our haste to finish the Christmas program or finish reading the story to leave cookies for Santa, we have missed it. Peace is reserved for those on whom His Favor rests.” Peace is not a condition given to the world. Peace is produced by faith in the human heart of those who are Children of the Living God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 10:34-38 (NIV)

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

The innocent and precious baby pictured laying in a manager was a rebel rouser. He did not come to bring “peace on the earth”. No, He came with sword in hand to divide the Kingdom of God from those who choose to remain in the darkness. Those who choose to love Jesus more than anything or anyone else enduring to the end will be saved. Salvation is the free gift of grace that flowed down the Cross in the bright red Blood of Jesus. However, it burns through hearts like hot lava flow from an active volcano. You either love Jesus or you love the world. You choose to follow the Lord or remain lost in darkness. There is no gray but meaningful separation. It is important to our faith that we know the purpose of Jesus and what He came to do in order to properly choose between life and death.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

God is the God of Peace. (Romans 16:20) God is not a god of disorder but His Kingdom established in peace. (I Corinthians 14:33) Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The kingdom that will last forever is heaven, not the world that is headed for destruction. Jesus provided to us the gift of salvation and overflow of grace that establishes our peace with God. (Ephesians 2:13-16) Now at peace with God, we gain access to the Kingdom of God with an open invitation into the Presence of God. (Romans 5:1-2) This is possible by faith. Peace with God is only possible through the Blood of Jesus. (Colossians 1:19-20) The Good News or Gospel that we share is that of Peace with God through the Blood of Jesus. (Ephesians 6:15) Stay with me.

John 16:33 (NIV)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

It is impossible for this world to line up with the Word of God and be at peace with God because of rampant sin and love grown cold. It is wrapped up in darkness and evil. The Word is this planet’s death sentence. However, for you and I it contains all of God’s Precious Promises of blessing and favor to those who believe, live by faith at peace with God.

John 14:26-27 (NIV)

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

In a nutshell, peace becomes possible through the Blood of Jesus. Those who are saved by His Grace are promised peace. It is an act of faith. Our faith in the Lord affords us peace with God and the peace of God in our hearts and minds. The world cannot give peace for it has no peace. There will not be peace on earth as long as sin and darkness prevail. The peace that God offers us in His Son is personal. It is intimate. It is His Spirit in us that produces peace in us. (Galatians 5:22) The Holy Spirit enters us by faith. Faith comes by what? Hearing the Word of God which the Spirit confirms, writing it on our heart, imprinting it in our mind until peace like a river flows there us that we are more than conquerors in Christ. This shifts our expectation from man and money to God the Father through Jesus the Son.

There was a woman with an issue of blood who pressed through the crowd because she knew that if she could just touch the hem of his robe that she would be saved. Her community had shunned her. Doctors poked and prodded. She was neglected and abused though her issue was not of her doing. When her faith pushed her into the Presence of Jesus, what happened? “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:25-34) Jesus saved, healed and delivered her. What did He say, “God in peace and be freed from suffering.” Okay, maybe the lack of peace in your life is of your own bad choices. Well, the Peace of God is for you, too. There was a woman who was called sinful. Apparently a known prostitute that entered the house of a Pharisee (wonder how they knew her) and anointed the feet of Jesus with the most precious thing she had. While so many others had taken from her, rather than withholding herself, she knelt at Jesus feet weeping, washing His Feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. What happened? Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” and then, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

 

Peace is not a worldly status but a personal and intimate gift from the God of Peace through His Son, Jesus to you. The Lord desires intimacy with you. He fills you with His Spirit so that even though this world is chaotic and hostile – you can still live by faith in confident hope that you are well taken care of and loved by Him. It doesn’t matter if you are saved, lost or wandering – God wants to give you His Peace. You will never find it in this world. It is a deposit made into you when you ask Jesus to be your Savior and make Him Lord of your life. It is the peace in us that permeates around us as God makes good of every detail of our life even the hard ones, tragic and confusing issues that we cannot make sense of on our own. Evil will prevail in the earth but it does not have to have its way with you or me.

Romans 14:17-18 (NIV)

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

Lord, forgive me for all the times I have asked and prayed for you to make peace around me rather than allowing you to cultivate it in me. The Kingdom of God is established in peace. Venturing into His Presence, we experience the Peace of God. It begins to fill us. We must allow the Lord to work in us and through us as peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9) But too many times, we expect peaceful outcomes all around us without anything changing in us. This life means nothing if we gain the world but lose our soul. When we love and serve Christ, His Peace begins to overtake us so no matter what is happening around us – we continue on the journey. It is faith wrapped in confident hope that keeps us going. It is what God says not the world that influences us. It is our dedication to Christ that drives us no matter how loud the storm, high the mountain or deep the valley. God wants you to have His Peace this Christmas.

 

Colossians 3:15-16 (NIV)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

I know that you are busy. You have a million things to do. If your heart is overwhelmed, Jesus has just what you need to make the push through this season. He wants to give you His Peace all over again. Stop doing and decide to bask in His Presence. I promise it will be the best ten minutes, half hour or even hour of your entire day. You will get more accomplished afterward because life will be in perspective even if not a single thing changes. The Peace of God is personal. It is intimate. It is a gift one can only experience in the Presence of our God who entrusts us to carry to others in this world. Thank you Jesus for peace. I would not have made it this far without it. I ask you for more today in the Name Above All Names.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NIV)

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

For Granted – A Devotion

For Granted

Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!

 

Scanning status updates on Facebook, there are several that I look for closely each day. The ones from those in the frontlines of battle against cancer that I follow and pray for in the midst of the fight. The overcomers who are on the other side. The families of those left behind to sort out life without the people they love. There is one in particular. She is the mother of a teenage girl who is fighting the exact same cancer our son has battled. In the midst of treatment, I pray for her and her family who like so many others are not only facing this but a plethora of other problems that seem to come along at just the right time. Her update today was about not taking things for granted like home, clean hair and your own bed. I had to smile. When we were finally discharged from his last long stay in the hospital, I had real tears of joy when I laid down in a bed for the first time in over a month. It was pure heaven on earth in that moment. There are a lot of things in life that we take for granted. Some are small like a food in our pantry even though we are convinced there is nothing to eat, clothes overflowing in our closet yet we are certain that we have nothing to wear, and needs that are met in the midst of endless wants and desires. Contentment and peace can be found in these things when they become compromised in our life. In fact, just this morning, I went in and gathered my middle-school pre-teen at 4:45 AM to give her lots of hugs and kisses because I fell asleep before putting her to bed last night. There have been so many days and nights in the last three years when I have not been able to hug and kiss my children because I was caring for their sibling. I believe the biggest blessing found in some of our trials and hardships in life is to finally see those things we take for granted in each day and use every opportunity allowed us in this lifetime to enjoy them and take full advantage of them.

I would have lost heart. My heart has been broken beyond repair by the events of our life. Things have not turned out at all like I thought that they would. My husband and I had many struggles in our childhood that taught us how to be survivors. We faced many challenges as young adults trying to find purpose and meaning in this thing called life and the God who promised us abundant life. Life seemed to be “perfect” just about the time cancer wrecked the perfectly painted picture in our mind’s eye. Now as we seem to be in the midst of a respite from fighting this disease, waiting to determine the outcome of the final treatment, I am faced with the reality that I have lost some time with my children that I intend to get back. During my frequent trips to the doctor with our son that have taken me far from home, one of my daughters managed to grow up and is now on the edge of the nest preparing to begin her new life as a wife. How did this happen? My heart is beginning to heal from this ordeal. My heart will never be the same again but I would never have survived my life and broken heart if I did not believe that I will see the Goodness of God in the land of the living. I love this verse. It aptly describes the life of any believer especially those who have been given the privilege of being broken before the Lord to find that He is really all we need.

Psalm 116:59 (NKJV)

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.  Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

 

The Lord has granted us His Grace. He is righteous and cannot change. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever which means the life that God prepared for us has been granted and never will be rescinded because it would be contradictory to His Divine Nature that makes Him God. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29) It doesn’t matter what people think of you, God knows you and has called you blessed. The conditions of your life bear no indication of the future and hope that God has planned for those who seek Him wholeheartedly. We complicate the Gospel with all the dos and don’ts of righteousness rather than accepting the fact that it says, “Whosoever come…”and being humble enough to leave it at that. God’s Mercy is the only thing that keeps us from destruction, destitution, defeat and yes, even death. He is our only Hope and it is high time we began to take His Grace, Mercy and Love for granted. Now hang on just a minute, take God for granted? Yes, take God for granted. Let me ask you this, when you come home after a long day at work do you hesitate before opening the front door and walking into the house that you paid for? Do you wait for someone to open the fridge and offer you some food? Are you hesitant to rummage through the drawers to find some comfortable clothing? Of course not, because you believe that these things belong to you. Your name is on the mortgage or lease so you own it. Those who truly believe that the Lord’s Grace, Mercy and Love belong to them will walk in the Presence of the Lord with the same level of comfort. To believe is to take for granted God and everything that He has promised for your life while living in such a way as to allow them to be granted in our life.

I Chronicles 4:9-10 (NKJV)

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.

 

I love Jabez. He was born an underdog. Imagine if every time your mom called your name that she was calling you a pain. I have five children who can all be a pain from time to time but when I bore them in pain never once did I imagine naming them after the pain I felt. There was strong consideration given when choosing what they would be called that had nothing to do with the birth experience. So every single time someone called Jabez they called this man “pain”. Ouch! Imagine how mean and ruthless the other children must have been but read what God chooses to share with us about this man. Jabez was more honorable than his brothers and his mother. He was a good guy despite the raw deal that he had been given. I work in a technical school that serves countless students who got a “raw deal” in life that led to many bad choices, yet they are trying to change the course of their life. Working in Student Services, there are times when we need family information for financial aid purposes and these young people confide abandonment by their parents, imprisoned dads and absent moms who dropped them off at grandma’s house and never came back. This is not one story but hundreds of them. Jabez called on the Lord and took for granted that God would bless him. His honor did not allow Jabez to pursue God with a sense of entitlement but to cry out in desperation to the only one who could change who he was in spite of what he had been called. God honored his prayer and blessed this man. It really doesn’t matter what your parents called you at birth. You may even have been labeled a “mistake”. It doesn’t even matter how you were raised or if left to fend for yourself in this dark world. It matters not where you are right now reading these ramblings of someone who wants to believe with every fiber of my being. What matters is that God has called you to be more than you are right now! He knows your name and if you have called on His Name to be your Savior and Lord than your name is written in His Book that gives you forever beginning today. Jabez wanted God’s Blessing, His Influence and to live forever with God. God granted his request because Jabez dared to believe and take God for granted everything that was promised. See to take for granted has a positive and negative definition. When we take God for granted in the positive sense, we are indicating that we believe Him. To take for granted is to accept without question or hesitation. The Lord has invited us to come boldly into His Presence and make our requests known to Him. But that’s not all, He invites us to live in that place walking daily with Him. What a privilege that I used to take for granted when I thought I could live life successfully on my own wavering and wobbling back and forth in and out of His Presence. I need the Lord. I must have Him. I will take for granted that He is with me every step of the way by living what I believe and waiting for Him to come and do the rest.

Romans 4:16-22 (NKJV)

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

It is time to live like Abraham who took it for granted that the Lord was working on His Behalf all day every day. He did not allow His Faith in God to be influenced or changed by the course of his life. When things didn’t look like God promised, Abraham just kept walking with the Lord until it did. When he was 100 years old and the Lord told him that he would be a daddy, I believe that while Sarah laughed Abraham went to build a crib. What do you have to lose by taking God for granted today and believing Him at His Word? Nothing. What do you have to gain? Everything and then some more than you could even think to ask for. Walking with God is one thing. Believing Him allows a close fellowship that should never be taken for granted! God is good all the time. His Goodness is constantly pursuing us. He wants to bowl us over with His Love and Compassion for us. Grace gave us the gift of righteousness that allows us to have everything God promised, do everything that He said we could do, and be all that He promised we would be. Disbelief keeps us from being that person. Those who take for granted that God is who He says that He is, will do all that He has promised to do, and is with us even to the ends of the earth will live out ever promise that the Lord has granted them. Take God for granted today!

Matthew 19:26 (NKJV)

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”