Time of Visitation

Time of Visitation

I Chronicles 16:28-31 (ESV) Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

Many Christians are preparing to attend a morning church service at the place of worship today. Some dedicated servants are already there turning on the lights, making coffee, and praying over each seat in preparation for the people. God bless them all! Pastors are fine tuning their notes while the musicians do the same all in hope that a visitation of God’s Spirit will precipitate salvation experiences and supernatural encounters with the Living God. What about you? Did you prepare to meet with Jesus this morning? Have you invited His Spirit to have His Way in your heart today? Or like many, are you just trying to get out of bed and figure out what to wear? If I can just make it out of the house, we all have those days.

There is an opportunity today for each one of us who love, desire and seek the Lord. A place in time reserved to usher Him in, invite Him to stay, and give Him space in the place of greatest need in our heart and mind. In fact, if you don’t make it to a church building today, as a “living stone” and part of the Kingdom of God – you have the uncanny ability to unite with His Church right where you are. The Word of God warns us not to forsake our fellowship with others. It is uniquely important and vital to spiritual success. Praise is the weapon of warfare. It is the prophetic voice to the worried heart. It is a reminder to the wandering mind. It is the anchor of truth that secures our soul. We must continually live a life of praise and worship to remain constantly connected to His Kingdom.

To ascribe means to credit to God as our source. It means to attribute everything in our life to His Care and Faithfulness – the things He has done and yet to do. It is the implication of our faith and allegiance to Christ as King Jesus who sits in power and authority over every instance and moment of our life. It is the ultimate declaration of Jesus is Lord. It creates a sense of belonging when applied corporately. “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” In Psalm 95, the voice of God united in praise is the full representation of Heaven. All voices crying out as one – “The Lord reigns.” What is your declaration today?

Luke 19:36-40 (ESV)  And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Worship is the opportunity to unite with Heaven in one voice. There is power in the declaration that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The enemy wants to silence the voice of God’s People on earth in yet another attempt to keep us from connecting with the Kingdom. A Kingdom connection will always produce confidence in the faithfulness of God – but to be disconnected allows doubt, fear, and insecurity to take over. Friendships struggle with this sometimes. When one friend feels left out or isolated, and suddenly the person feels helpless and alone because one missed call or invite suddenly becomes an offense because they feel excluded. People long to be connected. They desire relationships even when in denial that they need anyone at all. We are created to be a people united as one body and thus even when our heart and mind says, “No!” our very soul longs for it with a resounding, “Yes!”

And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” This verse has been on my heart for a couple days now. “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” I am a worshipper. I am not a musician or singer or can’t even dance very well. I still love praise and worship. It stirs up my spirit and has become my lifeline when I feel distance between me and my God. It is like breath to my body when I am struggling. It refreshes my soul by reminding me of His Faithfulness. It reminds me who I am and who I belong to! But there is more to the story… the complexity of God’s Word becomes simple when digested I guess.

Luke 19:41-44 (ESV) And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

The Pharisees told Jesus to stop the ridiculous uproar surrounding His Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem. The very people who He came for rejected his person and in fact were plotting to kill him. God desired peace with His People. He wanted them to accept His Son – the Messiah and be reunited with Him. They chose differently and Jesus wept as He rode into the city. Here are the words penetrating my heart today – “And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Even in the midst of destruction, the stones will cry out worship and praise to the Lord. The city would be destroyed because it did not know the time of His Visitation. As we go to church and participate in services today, it is with the profound and precious opportunity to make a Kingdom connection and declare together in unison that “the Lord reigns” and acknowledge King Jesus as one people in the unity of praise. Don’t miss the time of visitation! Standing in church, sitting in a pew, welcoming visitors at the door, and even preaching a great message means nothing if Jesus is not the King of our life and acknowledged as such. We must seek to stay connected with His Kingdom in full allegiance to our soon coming King and Lord of Lords. I cannot impress the urgency in my heart today that rather than singing songs, waving hands, and participating that we become a people desperate to usher the Presence of God at every opportunity. To recognize that the King is among us and that His Desire is to be with us! You have a place in the heavenly throng to worship the King and invite Him into your midst. Do not miss His Time of Visitation! He is coming for you!

Psalm 95:1-3 (ESV) Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

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Fight for You

fight-for-me.jpg

Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Our middle daughter still lives at home while attending school. She is employed by a new restaurant that is just starting out. Living in the county, it is difficult to start such a business and endure the cost until patrons begin to help meet budgets. A little more than a week ago, she had the unfortunate situation arise and her paycheck was returned for non-sufficient funds. Now our daughter only works a night or two a week as she attends class Monday through Friday all day long. She contacted her employer who assured the funds would be available immediately and given to her. She is learning to adult in the safety of our home. Her father and I assisted her financially in the interim while she attempted to work with her employer. However, the limited funds impacted her social life and freedom she had come to enjoy. If mama pays, I have a say is the rule. She had been handling the situation completely until I received a call from my defeated teenager. The bank informed her that they needed a new check to process and they could not redeposit the old one. The restaurant manager disagreed so she sat on the verge of tears overwhelmed with frustration and called her mama.

Can I just say that it had been very hard to intervene from the beginning? I asked for the owner’s name and telephone number. She hesitantly obliged as she did not want to lose her job or cause a problem. I have to be honest. I was ready to burn the place down and call the Labor Department. As the phone rang, I prayed that the Lord would keep me to the point and calm. The young man who answered sounded to be about 20 years old. I told him who I was, my daughter’s name and that she needed to be paid immediately. No hesitation or wavering in my voice. He must have felt that parental authority because before I could finish – he told me his location and that if she would come to the establishment that he would honor her check. Well, my daughter was quite relieved but now concerned that due to my intervention she would lose her job as all expected cutbacks. Within 30 minutes, the message came that there would be cutbacks. Her name was NOT on the list. Isn’t God good? Yes, God!

The Lord will fight our battles for us. In fact, the victory is secure in Jesus Christ. When my daughter cried out for assistance, of course mama bear came charging through the forest. She works hard in school and maintains good grades. She is a dedicated and committed worker. She loves Jesus and tries to make good choices according to her faith. Truth is I would have helped her from the beginning, NOT because of all the former qualities and characteristics I shared, simply because she is my daughter and she belongs to me. No one will cause her ill will or come against her without facing mama bear. Just ask the Labor and Delivery nurses who attended our grandson’s birth, God bless them all. If we love our children and desire good things for them, how much more does the Father love us?

Deuteronomy 3:18-22 (ESV) “And I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel. Only your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in the cities that I have given you, until the Lord gives rest to your brothers, as to you, and they also occupy the land that the Lord your God gives them beyond the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you.’ And I commanded Joshua at that time, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. So will the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’”

The life you may be settling for is not the one that God intended for you to have. He did not promise you poverty. He did not threaten you with enemies. He did not tell you to struggle. The Lord has given you possession. Power and authority to take over the place you occupy and vision and dreams to claim that which is beyond human reach but acquired by supernatural application. The Lord has given you protection. He will fight for you. You just have to trust Him enough in the transition. You already own the new season, position, or place that His Grace has given you. You just simply have to take the land. Finally, God didn’t tell you to go it alone. The Lord has given you His Presence. He will take out the giants, overthrow kingdoms, and give you victory in all things. You are not made to survive but to thrive. He did not create you to exist but to flourish.

You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you. The Lord doesn’t need you to fight His Battles or even your own for that matter. Our position in this relationship is to trust and obey. To fall into complete alignment with His Will and His Way all laid out in fine detail in His Word (who is Jesus in human form so we have an earthly example). Do you believe that God is for you? Do you believe that He is with you? Has He made you a promise that seems too good to be true? Well its not! God is with you. He is for you. He is always good. He is always victorious. He is your protector. He is your provider. By choosing to live in the Presence of God all of these benefits belong to believers, oh there is the missing ingredient – do you believe?

Luke 11:10-14 (ESV)  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

You are a Child of God. You must tell yourself daily, “God is good and He is for me.” You must remind your heart and mind, “I am a Child of God and exactly who He says that I am.” Your identity must be founded in the person of Jesus Christ and trust must bind us to that realization to hang on until His Glory comes and Goodness fills the vacancies and voids of our life. Too many time it is a settlement, compromise or substitution that is chosen out of doubt which produces fear and anxiety that produces an identity crisis.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

In the meantime, what am I fighting for? Faith. We must fight for our faith. Faith is evident in one’s ability to cling to Christ until the promise comes rather than grabbing hold of the next best thing. It is to pray and seek the Lord’s assistance with full confidence that He is working behind the scenes. It is to entrust every single detail of our life to Him as He promises that it will be turned into good. It is to believe without a single doubt that there is nothing that can separate you from His Love so it is easy to put every expectation in Him. He promises to meet and exceed them all! We must fight the good fight of faith in order to live a life of obedience as good children who love and trust their Father. My daughter called mama because she knew she would answer. She shared her problem and frustration with me. When I asked her to trust me and give me the phone number, she was obedient. I called and they answered – praise God! The Lord was already there and the cash in hand. Not only that with favor, He gave her double for her trouble in protecting her position and giving her more shifts. God is a good Father. He is so in love with you! Why not share your burdens with Him today! He will fight for you!

Psalm 84:11-12 (ESV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Pardon the Interruption

Pardon the Interuption

James 1:2-5 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

The pity party was in full effect. I set my alarm for 4:30 AM during the week to spend time with Jesus. It should give me two hours to do what I need to do and sit in His Presence to study, meditate and pray for a bit before getting ready for the day. This morning as I fed the dogs, took them out, gathered dirty clothes from the girls room, tidied their bathroom, started laundry, cleaned out the fridge, made lunches for everyone and detox tea for me, I could feel myself getting frustrated. I set this time aside years ago to spend specifically with the Lord and somehow it has been overtaken by lesser things. My poor husband encountered the pity party. I might add that I recently started a new diet and now on day 3 am tired and irritable anyway. Compound that with menopause and people it is not pretty. As I slide into the seat and sit with my Jesus, I realize that it is my own fault. So pardon the interruption as I share the details of my morning and it is only 5:45 AM.

I am an over doer. I have a Martha spirit and am asking the Lord to help produce Mary’s heart. I am comfortable when in control. I like the house tidy, laundry done and family happy. I am a pleaser who is running out of time in her 24-hour day. The Lord leads me to James. Oh no – not the Book written by the tell-it-like-it-is disciple with no filter at all. Count it all joy. I am counting on the wrong things to bring me joy. When life is imbalanced and Jesus tumbles from the throne of my heart to somewhere beneath a pile of dirty laundry – I have made a terrible mistake. I wonder sometimes if the greatest “trial” humanity faces is simply time management. I hear people say all the time, “I am too busy!” We are all busy. Just as each one has a 24-hour day, each is granted the privilege and freedom to decide how to spend the most precious commodity given to us. Time.

Steadfastness is not busyness. Being the perfect wife, mother, grandmother, employee and even Christian is not about being busy but steadfast. Steadfast in pursuing those things that increase our faith, trust and hope so that our confidence is secure in Jesus Christ. His Kingdom is not built by our hands but comprised by our hearts. When steadfastness has its full effect, it makes us complete lacking nothing.

Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV) Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Diligence becomes duty in our determination. When our commitment is to the world and people, there will never be contentment because it is not offered by such things. It is in our commitment to follow Christ that true contentment is revealed. Paul said that he “learned” in whatever situation “I” am content. Two things here. Contentment is a learned behavior. It is a discipline that takes time and energy. It is painstaking as one must kill the flesh and suffocate pride to achieve it. He also states “I” am content meaning his contentment is not based on other factors but a person decision to live in such a state. My grumbling and complaining today does not reflect a life of confident hope and total trust but one of doubt and fear. When I am content, it doesn’t matter what is going on around me because I can still count it all joy.

When I allow tasks to take over time, I allow the enemy to rob me of the source of complete contentment. I can do all things THROUGH Christ. When my priorities are out of order, then my pursuit is led off course. I become task driven and not Christ following. It interrupts the flow of God in my life because it is through Christ that I have righteousness that allows me to live in the Presence of God filled by His Spirit. The truth I that I love taking care of my family, I like my job, and the tasks associated with such things really are not a burden. I am content with my life yet know God is still working on me and Christ has things to do through me. The problem is that I allowed an interruption to become a full-blown pity party when really I am just have a busy morning that I have the power to change. “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (I Timothy 6:6-8)

Philippians 2:12-16 (ESV)  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

So…pardon the interruption today as the Lord carefully and lovingly puts me in check. It is easy to let the burdens, cares and worries of life rob us of precious moments better spent with the Lord. As I put my priorities back in order, I realize that my life becomes complicated when I am not content. When I begin to try to do or be something other than Christ called me to be. I am making changes. The Holy Spirit has really been heavy on my heart lately. It is kind of like the detox tea that I have been drinking. As I digest it each day, it detoxifies my body. Cleans me internally and externally – I can see the impurities and toxins leaving my body. Sometimes even strong believers who serve seemingly sinless and flawless lives could use a good flush now and then – it is only in removing and reorganizing such things that we order our life and prosper as He promised. Just keeping it real today! God is good. He loves us. He loves me. He has a plan and purpose for my life that is just for me. I am not in a competition. I should probably live in that peace each day. It might just eliminate the worries of comparison that keep me striving for wife, mother, employ and Christian of the year. Lord, let me be a Light of Your Love today. Keep me from running in circles and laboring in vain. Thank you for your Presence that is my peaceful place of constant reflection that it is all about YOU Lord, and not about me. I can do all things THROUGH Christ!

Colossians 1:10-12 (ESV)…So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

In the Shadows

in the shadow

Psalm 91:1-2 (ESV) He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

A shadow is only possible in the presence of light. Without light there is no shadow. This may seem completely obvious to those who live according to this world, but to a believer this could be an incredible revelation. When the groundhog emerges from winter hibernation, it looks for a shadow which would indicate a longer winter and later spring. If there is no shadow, spring has arrived and so his long wait is over. This is the tradition that Americans observe on February 2nd called Groundhogs Day.

I was listening to a worship set with Darlene Zschech who spoke these words. Shadows only exist in the presence of light. This is such an encouragement. Sometimes you have to live it to fully experience it. She talked about her husband who walked with her through her battle against cancer. This was truly his revelation as they traveled through the “valley of the shadow of death”. His fight against fear brought him through the valley to the mountaintop. If we dwell in the shelter of the Most High – we abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Every trial and tribulation is overshadowed by the Presence of His Light and His Love.

“My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” There is a difference between dwelling in darkness and living in the shadows. Everyone faces trials, tribulation, pain, and betrayals in life. No one is exempt from hardship. There is always a struggle. We must endure to the end to be saved. When the shadows of fear, worry, anxiety and even death linger around us rather than dwelling on the darkness – it is important to trust the light. Light always drives away the darkness. Darkness cannot exist in light. The brighter the light the farther the darkness must recede. To know and trust that God is the Light of our life and see Him in every situation will eliminate fear of darkness and allow us to bask in His Glory in every season and situation of life. There is purpose in every occasion. We walk with ordered steps. If only we could learn to trust the Lord to drive out all darkness and stop being afraid of our own shadow.

Psalm 107:12-16 (ESV) Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

To live in the shadow of the Almighty is a place of constant trust and pursuit of God’s Presence. It is to think less about the cares and burdens of this life and focus intently on the purpose hidden within us and derived by God. Walking through time, there will be good times and not-so-good times but the promise is that the Lord makes good of every detail in our life when we love and trust Him. There are times when the conditions and circumstances entice into the bond of doubt that keeps us locked up in the darkness when we have access to glorious light. We must call on the Light to break us free from the darkness. He comes every single time. He is just waiting for us to call to Him. His Love is steadfast and nothing can ever separate us from Him. We must only desire to be with Him and call His Name.

The limits on our life are humanly placed. God has promised abundance to us. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The enemy comes with his only weapon – a lie and tries to take what the Lord has already given to us and is prospering in us. Light reigns supreme and darkness must flee from it. He chases away the darkness and it is only a shadow in the Presence of the Living God. We must turn our eyes from the shadows in life and keep them squarely on the Light. The Light of His Love is the promise that no matter what battle we face – we win!

Psalm 84:11-12 (ESV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

The Lord is our sun and shield. The presence of shadows is not evidence of darkness but the existence of light. He surrounds us and bestows his favor and honor to us. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly rather than cowering in fear. You can be bold and courageous no matter how low the valley goes because His Shadow is covering you. No labor of faith is in vain. Your trust is not without reward. You just have to keep moving. The higher the sun the less likely a shadow. When we choose to exalt the Lord and keep King Jesus in control of our life – He drives out all darkness. We must exalt the light over darkness which means trusting the Lord rather than wallowing in fear and doubt.

Thank you Lord for your promise. You will be our sun and shield. Drive out every dark corner and shadowy place today King Jesus. Let me not fear the shadows but recognize that it only means you are with me. You never leave me. You will never let me down. I give you all power and authority over my life and relinquish complete control. I trust you God with all my situations and circumstances. I will not give in to my condition but continue to exalt you with the highest praise. My desire is to live only in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 27:1-3 (ESV) The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

Just to Know

To Know

Psalm 46:10-11 (NIV) He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of praying people at the end of our church service. I am always moved by such an honor when connecting and agreeing with other believers standing before the Lord. As the pastor began to exhort and dismiss the congregation, I was acutely aware of the woman standing next to me. She had not come forward yet I felt strongly that I was to share this verse in Psalm 46 with her. So just as any “obedient” believer would do – I returned to my seat to gather my belongings without saying a word. The Holy Spirit began tugging at my heart. I could not leave without telling her. Of course, as only God can do, she knew exactly what the Lord was saying to her and her husband’s face confirmed her affirmation. I had to laugh when it popped up in my Bible application as the verse of the day. Was this a word for my life, too? Maybe yours?

Performance is human nature. Sin gave us full responsibility for the life that it wrecked. Rather than full reliance with God – our lack of compliance called for a penalty. With Jesus Christ repaying the debt of sin, we are gifted with our freedom once again. Freedom to choose the path of life to take. Course of life to engage in. Righteousness to live in right relationship with God again. Free to live in the peace of His Presence or continue to try to outperform His Grace. There is no obligation in freedom. Yet somehow humanity has decided that the gift of eternal life is not free. Grace is not enough. Righteousness – some kind of lost leader that draws us in only to discover that it is not exactly what originally promised. When the Lord calls you – He equips you – when religion tells us otherwise. By grace – we are saved through faith – not of ourselves but through Jesus Christ. It is a gift that cannot be repaid. Set free to choose who to serve and how much passion to invest. The Lord invites us into the quietness of living at peace with Him. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Your God. A Good God. A Loving and Graceful God. A Kind God overflowing with goodness for you. A God of Refuge. A Mighty Fortress that protects you in the storm and keeps the wind and rain from moving or displacing you. I Am. No, really, I AM!

Psalm 46:1-7 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Do you dwell in the Peace of God today? I try to. Yet there are days when distractions and delays challenge my human nature. When God is ever-present and still ever-elusive to me, the stillness produced by confidence turns to insecurity. Sink or swim? Neither be still. To be completely still and unmoved by my situation, circumstances or current conditions to KNOW and believe that God is with me. It is an exercise of extreme discipline to persevere past our emotions and natural inclinations. To stand rather than try to build a new exit. To stay the course rather than reroute. To be still and know that God is going to do exactly as He promised if we would only persist in knowing and trusting Him more.

God is constant. He is our refuge. He is our strength. He is an EVER-PRESENT help in danger. THEREFORE – I will not fear. Fear is produced by doubt and insecurity. This is the downfall of most believers in claiming their calling and stepping out by faith. Fear consumes the faith that is growing from a heart given to God but not fully committed to becoming convinced.

Matthew 14:28-30 (NIV) “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Peter was a risk taker. Whenever Jesus said, “Follow me.” Peter followed. I believe that there was an immediate connection between the two that kept Peter pursuing the Living God. Peter was not the perfect disciple. The Bible tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Faith is a whole lot of fear and trembling. If we do not face our fear and confront it with faith, then it will hinder us for the rest of our life. How better to face our fears than to walk by faith? To walk by faith and not by sight. Fear is a natural emotion conducive to survival of humanity. Healthy fear, for example, if I do not look both ways before crossing a road that I may get hit by a car. Healthy habit of self-preservation. Common sense. This behavior came from parents or guardians who instilled it. Coming to Christ, we can now live a fearless life yet nevertheless should still look both ways before crossing the street. Faith is the same. It is not about leaping off mountains or running blindly across busy highways during rush hour. Faith is fear of God as in awe and respect. To put our perspective in the perception that God has of our life from beginning to end and live according to His Word by faith. It is way more disciplined and specialized then some religious folks make it. Taste and see that He is good. Test me. Try me at my Word. See God is all about opportunities. The prime opportunity for every believer is to trust Him. Trusting God is not a dangerous venture but the sublime moment when peace replaces the need to perform and we become followers of Christ rather than trying to build our own road to nowhere.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place through the Blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the House of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings… (Hebrews 10:19-22) We can live in perfect peace when our heart and mind agree with full assurance that faith has great potential. The belief that the hope given to us by Jesus Christ will never lead us to disappointment makes us followers. Peter got it all wrong a lot. He kept messing up. He proclaimed Christ to His Face and then denied Him on His Way to the Cross. However, Jesus still met him on the beach that day. Jesus called Peter a rock. Not just some rolling stone, but the foundation of His Church. You are part of the same Body as a living stone in His Temple. You have a place of importance. You are not insignificant to the ministry or in the effort to share the gospel. You must only be at peace with the Living God.

Peace with God is a complete confidence – mind, body, spirit and soul that He will do exactly what He promises in His Word – in you, for you and through you. The belief that His Grace is sufficient. The understanding that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us and to walk through the gate each and every day. Your ability to change your life does not impress God. To develop certain disciplines and holy habits is not what He is after. You can do nothing for the Lord because He did it all for you. Complete and absolute stillness comes when peace prevails in our life. When we decide that He is perfect in all of His Ways, trust becomes our refuge. We will not be moved from His Presence when peace is found there. To be still and KNOW that He is God – it changes everything beginning with me.

Isaiah 26:2-4 (NIV) Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

God is ALWAYS Good

God is Always Good

Psalm 145:6-10 (NLT) Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness. The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you.

God is always good. He is a good God with great plans, purpose and promises for each one of His Created Ones. Every person who was born comes with a measure of faith and eternity tucked in their heart. This is the content called purpose to pursue and find the place of our origin and find our true identity in God through Jesus Christ. Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe that He is good to you? Have you ever whispered God why is this happening to me? Or maybe asked God why He is doing this to you or allowing bad things to happen? The psalmist writes, “Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness.” My grandmother was pivotal in me finding Christ and giving my life to Him. Sadly the greatest growth in my life did not come until after her passing. So I wonder, in my musings and meditation, if when we get to Heaven the Lord shows us the fruit of our life? The things that we did not see come to pass or know had reached their full potential. Are these the crowns to lay at His Marvelous Feet? There are things in my life that do not seem as though they have turned out for good yet. How about you? If everyone will share the story of God’s Wonderful Goodness they must somehow be made aware of it, right?

Psalm 23:6 (NLT) Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

God is always good. His Goodness and Unfailing Love constantly pursue us. All the days of my life, God is with me. He is in my past. He is here today. He has already gone ahead to my future. I cannot truly understand that omnipresence of God with a logical mind. I can only grasp for it by faith. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. If true, it means that God is always good. Because of Jesus, the Unfailing love and Goodness that follows me can one day overtake me when I choose to repent and turn into it. God’s Goodness is not compromised by my rebellion simply just beyond my reach.

Psalm 31:18-20 (NLT) How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues.

To receive God’s Goodness is simply to step into His Presence. It is established in His Word that He is good. It is also presented that He pursues us with love and goodness. We must only step into His Presence to receive it. When I bake a cake, I begin to mix eggs and sugar together. It becomes a creamy substance and then I fold in flour, salt, and baking powder with a little flavoring. I must mix it all together and incorporate all the ingredients then bake it so it becomes a lovely dessert. If I don’t include all the ingredients, it will not be what I expect. If I try to eat the eggs raw, it will be disgusting and far from satisfying. God is trying to incorporate His Love, Kindness and all of His Goodness in our life. We must fully incorporate God in our life beginning with Christ in us and folding all the details of life by faith to trust that He is making good of all the ingredients.

Romans 8:28 (NLT)  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.

God is always good. He is taking all the ingredients of our life and making a beautiful masterpiece of it. He takes all the details of our life and wraps them in unfailing love and stirs them with His Goodness until it becomes something of worth. Something good. Do you believe God is good today? Do you believe Him enough to trust Him with everything?

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

God’s Goodness is for the land of the living. It is for your everyday life. It may not come to pass today but in the proper time – God’s Word will come to pass. It cannot and will not return to Him void. Our investment is confidence. Using the faith that He has given us to turn it into trusting His Process and waiting on His Timing simply because you know that He is always good!

Hebrews 4:4-5 (NLT) For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—

Once you experience God’s Unfailing Love and His Overwhelming Goodness – there is not turning back. Once you have a homemade pound cake, the others just don’t compare. To make a homemade pound cake is expensive and time consuming. You can buy one already made or try a shortcut recipe but you cannot expect the same satisfaction. Jesus promised a rich and satisfying life. A reward for those who endure to the end. Repentance is turning from our way and stepping into God’s Way through His Son, Jesus. It is from that place that His Goodness catches us. Those who experience such a moment with the Living God are hooked. His Goodness will overtake them. They will never be the same or satisfied with anything less. God is always good!

Psalm 34:8 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Half Baked

Half Baked

Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Our little grandson came for his first visit to our house. He is just over a week old. Tiny and helpless but perfect in every way. As I sat holding him inspecting every little feature as he peacefully slept in my arms. Time stood still in those moments. Everyone told me that becoming a grandparent would be a blessing but I could not fathom until now just how wonderful it is. As I continued to rock back and forth, I realized that with age and maturity experience has taught me to savor this time with him. He has wonderful godly parents who will raise him. My role is to enrich his life and enjoy every moment.

It’s funny how people mellow with age. The kitchen could wait. Laundry just fine in the hamper. The television turned off with all its incessant blaring. Just to sit in the little man’s presence while he slept brought peace to me. I imagined what it would be like when those little legs began running all around. I thought about the things we would take about and discoveries made together at Grammy and Big Poppa’s house. All this contemplation brought force by a little human who is just as imperfect in all his humanness as me yet making me a better person just knowing him for one week. I wonder what life might be like if our amazement and awe of Jesus were the same. To decide it worthwhile to sit and spend time getting to know Him, falling in love with Him, and giving up something to give the One who loves us most and best to have a place in our life and busy schedules. Honestly, in those moments, nothing else really mattered but spending time with my grandson. What if we gave up something worthless to give worthwhile time to Jesus?

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.

I do not live in regret. Shame is gone thanks to the Lord. However, I have wasted a good majority of my life on worthless endeavors. Time consuming traps by the enemy to steal precious moments that cannot be regained or relived. Thankfully, I have a promise hidden in Romans 8:28 that tells me that God takes every detail of my life into careful consideration and turns it into something good. Our spiritual life comes and goes in seasons just like our natural life. If I blink too long, my children will all be out of the nest and my grandson chasing his dreams and aspiration. Time is the only commodity once spent that cannot be reclaimed. The Work of Christ within me doesn’t necessarily add to my everyday life but extends my existence into eternity. Why not invest some of my time to the things that are valuable. Paul understood. Most of his adult life was shrouded by religion. He became a murderer for the cause. He didn’t know the Word in person just by perception. Religion had not given way to a relationship. When Saul met Jesus everything changed. Has Jesus done the same for you?

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.

To know Christ and become one with Him. Is this the relationship you desire? To love Christ and be loved by Him completely. To build your life on a faith so tangible that it becomes shelter in every storm. To have a hope so concrete that you can approach the Throne of God regularly, boldly and with absolute confidence. Me too. It is my heart’s desire. In order to make it my mission, it must be worthwhile. I must see the value and worth of the exchange of my time for more of Him. Going to church won’t do it only encourage me. Other believers are trying to find the Way, too. Pastors and preachers are human beacons yet still struggle with fleshly battles and rebellious thoughts. The Truth that is valuable for my life is God’s Word. Jesus is the Word who came wrapped in flesh. His Spirit fills me. His Right Hand extended. He is waiting for the Sword that will tear down and cut through every lie the enemy has presented me until only tangible Truth governs my life and directs my movement.

Psalm 119:33-40 (NLT) Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart. Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found. Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money! Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Reassure me of your promise, made to those who fear you. Help me abandon my shameful ways; for your regulations are good. I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness.

Everyone has the same amount of time given in a single day. We all wake up with 24 hours and choose how it will be portioned by our mind, will and emotions. I shudder when someone claims to be “too busy” and even catch myself when I try to use the excuse. Priorities are the cut marks that portion out our time. We choose what is important and what is worthy of our time. The Word of God is absolutely essential to become one with Christ as Paul describes in Philippians. Jesus is the Word. We need to know the Word of God to know Jesus intimately and completely. His Spirit uses God’s Word to seed our heart and prosper our soul. With empty hands, there is nothing for God’s Spirit – the Holy Spirit to produce His Good Fruit.

Giving our time to seek God and know Jesus in His Word empowers us with some excellent tools for godly success. Consider the following:

The Word of God

  1. Teaches me. (Vs. 33)
  2. Gives me understanding. (Vs. 34)
  3. Convicts me. (Vs. 35)
  4. Produces eagerness. (Vs. 36)
  5. Leads me to repentance. (Vs. 37)
  6. Reassures me. (Vs. 38)

7, Helps me. (Vs. 39)

  1. Renews my life. (Vs. 40)

The Word of God is absolutely vital to our vitality as believers. It requires us taking a portion of time allotted to something worthless and applying it to something worthwhile. Saul knew the Word. He knew the rules and regulations strictly enforcing the religious mandate. Everything changed when Paul met Jesus Christ who is the Word. Suddenly, the rules and regulations that once convicted him set him free to become a bright light in a dark world. Salt becomes worthless if it is not salty. What’s the point if it adds nothing to our life? (Matthew 5:13)

I Corinthians 3:20-23 (NLT) And again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; he knows they are worthless.” So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you— whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas encountered a problem. The people decided they were idols and tried to worship them. How silly right? Maybe not. When the Word of God is spoon-fed to us by speakers, preachers, pastors and teachers ONLY – it is a leftover. God has promises, blessings and hidden things that are just for you that will not come from the teaching of another. It is very easy in this age of media to listen to many great podcasts of sermons and teachings BUT the Word of God is the source of seed for our life. When I hear people quoting people and not the Word of God or more importantly Jesus Christ – there is an immediate concern. The enemy also knows the Word of God intimately. He is quite adept at twisting and turning the truth just enough to make it dangerous. If you do not know the Word personally and intimately, you will fall for his traps and snares every time. You cannot consider the message you are hearing if you have no Truth to compare it to. There is a strong warning in the Bible of false teachers. How will you know if the word you live by is from a man or God if you do not know His Word? Impossible.

Hosea 7:8-10 (NLT) “The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, making themselves as worthless as a half-baked cake! Worshiping foreign gods has sapped their strength, but they don’t even know it. Their hair is gray, but they don’t realize they’re old and weak. Their arrogance testifies against them, yet they don’t return to the Lord their God or even try to find him.”

One of the list of “to-dos” with our grandson is baking. To sit him on the counter and bake cookies and cakes together during the holidays. I cannot wait to let him lick the spoon and see his chocolate covered face. In Hosea, the prophet shares this warning, “My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.” Some translations say, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” You can know a lot about one thing or a little bit about everything, but if you do not know Jesus Christ it really doesn’t matter when time runs out. In Chapter 7 it warns that a co-mingled life can make us worthless as a “half-baked” cake. Have you ever bit into a cake or brownies that were not quite done yet? I want only the best for my family including that new little baby. God wants His Very Best for you. He detailed your life and all its possibilities in His Word. He even sent His Word to us to demonstrate His Great Love and Desire for us. Can we set aside some of our life to know the Word and fall in love with Jesus? Lord, turn my eyes from worthless things to fully engage in a worthwhile pursuit of You! I want to know You and be known by You! May I never lose the wonder of Your Word and desire to find You in it each day!

I John 1:1 (NLT) We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.

 

Are You Listening?

Are You Listening

Proverbs 8:32-35 (NIV) “Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.

My husband and I were having a normal conversation on an ordinary day. He kept saying, “What?” I would repeat the previous statement. This continued until I insisted on a visit to the doctor and hearing test concerned that he may have hearing issue. He laughed and said, “Or at least they can tell me if it is selective hearing loss!” Oh my goodness! Always the jokester. I read on social media recently that a husband told his wife that scientists have found that men say about 10,000 words a day while women say about 20,000. His wife shouts back from the kitchen, “It’s because we have to repeat everything twice to you blockheads.” The husband responds, “What?” And there you have it, what science deems a response to “higher level of protein” is really just a need to be heard…

Psalm 50 tells us that “the Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets.” Who is He speaking to? You. Me. All of us. God still speaks today. Whispering to those He calls beloved in an effort to illicit a response and release the instruction that leads to abundance in all things as God has ordained and predestined for us. Are you listening? Am I listening? When we hear His Voice is it easily recognized and discerned from all the other influences in our life? The Lord has called the listeners “blessed”. Those who watch and wait at His Doorway. Those who do will find life everlasting and overflowing with His Abundance.

Psalm 78:1-3 (NIV) My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.

God speaks to us. The truth is that He speaks to us every day from the rising of the sun until it sets. God is encouraging us, teaching us, leading us, and guiding us to better things by better ways. We choose the voice who guides us each day. However, His Thoughts are not my (natural) thoughts and inclinations. (Isaiah 55:8) His Ways are not my instinctual ways, attitude or actions but much higher altogether. God leads us to the narrow road less followed and the higher way not always perceived in our humanity. There are two keys things necessary to discern God’s Voice from the other influences.

John 14:26 (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.

We absolutely need the Holy Spirit to discern the Voice of God. The Advocate who weighs earthly logic and Heavenly Knowledge to give us the upper hand. Faith is not logical in our present state of mind. It is only by continually allowing His Spirit to mold and shape us that we adopt the mindset of Christ that allows us to follow through with His Actions.

Matthew 4:4 (NIV) Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

The Word of God is essential. If I may paint a picture, the Holy Spirit lives in you and me. He is the advocate and our personal warrior who enables us to overcome the enemy. The only weapon the enemy can use against us is the lie. The Shield of Faith protects us from those fiery darts. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit that cuts to the Truth. When you know the Truth, you will not accept the lie. Matthew 4:4 is the response of Jesus to the lie of the enemy. What is yours?

I have been to many churches and found them all unique. There are churches that emphasis the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. However, the Word is often overlooked. I grew up in a Bible-based church that focused solely on studying scripture and silenced the Holy Spirit. The church I believe that will be the “remnant” church of the end times will worship in Spirit and Truth just as Jesus tells the woman at the well in the Book of John. We must be filled by the Spirit and the Word in order to rightly divide the Truth from the lie even in our churches and small groups.

Proverbs 1:20-23 (NIV) Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.

The Lord is relentless in His Pursuit of us. Psalm 23 tells us that His Goodness and Unfailing Love follow us all the days of our lives. God desires us to dwell in His Presence. He wants to communicate with us. Commune with us. He lives inside of us as a holy consummation of the covenant of love that He has made with us. He wants to pour His Thoughts in us so we will overcome the lie of the enemy and stop living in lack. Lack comes in many forms. It is not a material or monetary term. The Fruit of God’s Spirit grows in the vacated spaces occupied by substitutions and compromise. As our soul prospers in Spirit and Truth, so will we. We must be listening for God’s Voice in every moment of every day to have all that He has promised and ordained to bless us with in this life leading to eternity.

I Kings 19:11-13 (NIV) The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah left Mount Carmel victorious over the prophets of Baal. God accepted his sacrifice proving their religion a farce and 450 were killed that day. Jezebel was infuriated and in her rage leveled a death threat against God’s Man, Elijah. He fled to a cave high atop a mountain. It’s funny how easy a lie can ensnare us. Just when everything seemed to be going so well, and then our feet get tangled in a half-truth or subtle suggestion. The enemy of our soul knows the Word of God personally. Jesus is the Word of God. He saw satan fall from Heaven. Who better to twist and taint the Truth but one who knows it intimately inside and out? With this in mind, the best defense is a good offense. You can prepare for the lie of the enemy by engaging in the Truth. Faith is credible and logical when rooted and grounded in the Word of God.

God did not yell at His Servant or berate him for falling for the oldest trick in the Book. No, he came to him in a gentle whisper and called him by name. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God is intent on the one. He will leave the 99 just to find you in the midst of delays, detours or distractions. He understands our vulnerability when it comes to believing the lie. He has empowered us to overcome yet in our weakness – His Grace is always enough.

Have you fallen for the lie of the enemy? Have you stopped listening? There is a difference between ignoring God and ignorance. If you know the Word and are filled by the Spirit and choose to do what you want to do – there is a sin problem in your heart today. Repent and let Him lead to the better way. The problem is most likely fostered by a faith plagued by fear, doubt and insecurity creating disbelief. He is not mad at you but still insists on communicating His Love to you one-on-one.

If you have never heard the Voice of God, you are in for a real treat. There is nothing more relevant in your life than to hear the Words of the One who created you. Your Father in Heaven who loves you perfectly and completely. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Word of God hidden in our heart begins to cut through the lie to expose the Truth. The Holy Spirit holds firmly the Shield of Faith to protect the tender, broken heart that has repented and presented itself to the Lord. God is speaking to you today. He has secrets just for you. Thoughts that will blow your mind with possibility. He desires a personal relationship with you that will bring you together as one. God is speaking to you. Are you listening?

Psalm 27:8 (NIV) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Beware of the Thief

Beware of the Thief

Matthew 6:19-21(ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

It is finally Christmas Eve. To some it is a time of elation while preparing to gather with family and friends to begin a two-day celebration. To others it is a lonely time that will drag on for what seems like forever. If you are the mom and dad, it is show time. Things get a little crazy with all the cooking and preparations to pull off the biggest night of the year for children. Who am I kidding? My adult daughter still expects a full stocking. The demands high and expectations even higher it is easy to become distracted and overwhelmed in the midst of it all. I would also like to warn you that there is a thief lurking in our midst.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) The thief wants to steal your joy. He wants to take your peace. Bent on destruction, he does not come through unsecured windows or unlocked doors. He invades our heart and makes his way to our mind. If our attitude can be accessed, it will change our actions. Allowing darkness to take the place of Light.

Matthew 24:43 (ESV)  But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.

It is written that Jesus will come as a thief in the night. I believe it. However, it also warns us as believers that the thief who is our enemy is prowling around as well. He is seeking the one who he can easily devour. We are to remain alert. Stand guard. Be ready. We do not overcome the enemy by fighting back but standing on faith and confident hope as our platform of trust. It means raising our level of above humanity to heavenly. We must be prepared before the thief comes. Locking the door to our heart. Shutting the windows to our mind. Allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us and sustain us with the Fruit that affords us self-control. We have the Power of God in us to keep the thief from robbing us. Will we be ready when he comes?

I Peter 5:8-10 (ESV) Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 

In all our busyness, rushing here, running there, and attempts to perfect the final details of Christmas, I am reminded this morning that it is important to be watchful. Your adversary is prowling around seeking someone or something to devour today. Resistance is to reject the lie that is being offered instead of the truth. Firmness in our faith is total reliance of Jesus Christ to meet our needs and exceed our expectations. God’s Grace is for us. It’s in us. It is the generosity of God’s Heart given to us for us to in turn give to others. The Lord will restore you. He will confirm you. He will strengthen and establish you. Do not let the enemy rob you of special moments and blessings over temporary things. Release the idea of perfection and embrace the fullness of His Grace. Let it be your portion. It is enough.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

Where is your treasure today? Is it in a safe place untouched by temporary problems or immediate pressure? Is it locked up where the enemy cannot touch it much less take it? You are the keeper of your heart. You determine who resides there. You decide how much control is relinquished in your natural life to Kingdom principles. When Christ set you free, you were free indeed. That means you control your life and destiny. Salvation and true repentance afford us the opportunity to exchange ordinary for extraordinary and natural for supernatural. The enemy pulls out his arsenal of lies the moment someone decides to give their all to Jesus. We must work diligently to let go of worthless things and grab tightly Kingdom Blessings. Love, joy and peace are the Fruit of God’s Spirit gifted to us for full satisfaction. We must continually work to maintain the Presence of God in our life so the enemy cannot try to come and take these from us. Are you full of love, peace and joy today? I hope that you are. Now before you get in the kitchen, go to the mall, start wrapping or have your first glass of eggnog, get into His Presence and make a Kingdom Deposit. What is in the Kingdom is inaccessible to the enemy.

Psalm 18:1-3 (ESV) I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

There is a thief diligently seeking to steal, kill, destroy and devour every good thing that the Lord has in store for His People. We must be alert. Sober-minded. Utilizing the Spirit’s Gift of self-control to overcome the enemy. He cannot take what is put securely in the Hand of God by faith. God is our refuge. He is our Strength. He is the Stronghold that keeps the enemy out. Have you called upon the Lord today? He wants to surround you and fill you with love, joy and peace this Christmas. We must only be available and willing to receive.

Romans 16:20 (ESV) The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

The Cleansing and Call

The Cleansing and Call

Isaiah 6:6-8 (NLT) Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Everyone reading these words today are called by God. There is an express purpose which will lead to absolute fulfillment for those who answer this beckoning of God within them. The purpose you have is cultivated by faith. Faith that believes in its unseen reality and fruitfulness. What is your calling? You may think you know what it is based on the terms and conditions of natural life. However, there is a whispering of the Lord to each human heart to come closer. It is the urgency within us reminding us that there has to be more to life than this. God’s Call requires a cleansing. Righteousness is only attained and maintained by the Grace of God flowing through us. The Blood of Jesus Christ makes our offering of affection for the Living God acceptable gaining us access to His Presence. Many will hear the call of God but refuse to allow His Spirit to remove every barrier and purpose between themselves and full satisfaction. To choose something less than God’s Plan for our life in no way lessens it’s worth or potential but simply is our decision to settle for something less.

Psalm 24:3-6 (NLT) Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.

Before Isaiah could answer God’s Call, he had to first enter His Presence. It was in this place of worship that the prophet encountered the Living God. The moment that one is in the Presence of the Lord there is absolutely no way to maintain our pride or prejudice. God is perfect. His Presence presses us to release sin in order to move a little closer to His Perfection. It is in this atmosphere of melting flesh that our spirit rises to answer the call. It is through the cleansing process that God prepares us.

Only those whose hands and hearts are pure… Jesus had only twelve close companions. Yet even in the close knit community of a handful of chosen men, one still managed to betray the Lord. Human nature is depraved and innately in opposition and rebellion against God and His Spirit who lives inside believers. The Presence of God offers a glimpse inside as full transparency reveals just how sinfully corrupt people really are and creates a desire to change. So often normal life and church culture are varying positions with certain acceptable behaviors, attitudes and actions based on one’s environment not their inner evolution of death to life. To integrate our personality into one being completed in Jesus Christ requires a right relationship that is constantly maintained and the focal point of life and aspiration.

There are daily requirements not set by God as a religious routine but the necessary steps to maintain a right relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ, His Son. Studying the Word of God. Meditating on it. Doing what it tells us. Prayer. Fasting. Cultivating the Fruit of His Spirit. Using our faith to move mountains. Telling others about Him. However, none of these will ever produce fulfillment apart from true and constant repentance. Removing the barrier of sin, shame and regret are essential to come boldly before His Throne.

I Peter 2:9-10 (NLT) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29) There is no expiration date on the promises and purpose of God for your life. The only limit on your potential is placed there by you. Dead dream are buried in doubt, but faith can bring them back to life again. Isaiah was changed in the Presence of God and answered the call on his life. If you read a little further in Chapter 6 you find that the message of the messenger was not a bright and cheerful exhortation but a stern warning from God of the consequence of sin and rebellion. Thank you God for grace today!

One encounter with the Living God will change you. It allows you to experience the freedom associated with your identity. How often we forget that we are sons and daughters of the most high God living far beneath the standard that He has given us. If only we believed…referring back to the disciples it is also noted that though they walked and talked with the Messiah daily some still did not believe. It is a conscious decision to answer God’s Call. It requires clean hands and a pure heart. These are not available by any other means but through Christ and His Resurrection Power inside of us. We must remove every barrier and release what is held in our hands to receive the consciousness of our calling and carry it out.

Psalm 51:9-13 (NLT) Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.

One must never forget the importance and relevance of daily repentance. To continually examine our heart and ask the Lord for His Cleansing Power all over again. It keeps us close to Him. It revitalizes His Spirit and keeps the fire of passion burning within us. A loyal spirit can be challenging when the adversary continually feeds our flesh lies and substitutions. It would be easy to settle for a good life. The moment of salvation begins a process of fruitful production in every life as a form of sowing and reaping in a fertile heart. However, there are times when we allow sloppiness and busyness to keep us from the Presence of God. God is perfect. His Plan is perfect. I am not. It requires a constant process of purification to find full satisfaction.

When our daughter was very young, I noticed some developmental milestones were off. Not significantly, but enough for me to know something was wrong. Her pediatrician decided she may have some form of cerebral palsy. For ten months, they poked, prodded, scanned and tested her. There was nothing to suggest any form of disease, illness or infirmity. We were given a referral to a Neurological Specialist at a teaching hospital. The doctor came in and immediately noted that she looked “pretty good to me”. I would not define this as a stellar moment in my walk with the Lord because I lost it. I reprimanded him harshly for his flippant remark. All those months of watching her struggle in therapy, and the continual noting of muscular spasticity and pain that no one was aware of had taken its toll. He quickly examined her and left the room with hands full of all the medical records I had brought to him. Upon his return, he apologized. He told us that he saw horrible cases each day so she looked great in comparison. Then he said, “But if it was my little girl, I would not be satisfied either.”

Today as I consider the call of God on my life and the process by which it is obtained, I have reflected on that visit. We would be willing to forego the process just to accept the mediocre improvement gained by simply coming to Christ. But God is a good father. He will not allow us to settle for less than His Best. He will pursue us relentlessly with His Unfailing Love and Goodness hoping to captivate us by it one day. He will stop at nothing to lead us to a life of full satisfaction and complete fulfillment. He gave us a purpose, provided a plan, fills our life with everything needed to achieve it and then waits for us to come. I wouldn’t settle for the life my daughter was living if there was a better way. How much more God our Father feels about you and me!

Lord, create in me a clean heart today yet again. Renew a right and loyal spirit in me that pursues You. Remove every sin that I have ignored, entertained or may not be aware of. Thank you for the Blood of Jesus that covers me. I ask you Lord to show me your better way today and give me the willingness to go after it. In all things and all ways Lord – send me! I answer Your Call with a resounding, “Yes!”

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.