Something New

Something New

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

One a couple more days and it will be a brand new year. Where does time go? Like sand running through an hour glass, it waits for no one. One day becomes a week, becomes a month and before you know it another year has passed. Looking back over the past year, it has been a good one. Our blessings far outweigh the struggles. The next year has many good things to look forward to – our first grandbaby will arrive. Our son will marry his love and our family grow some more. These are just the things that are known, there are so many more things that we do not know. Serving a God who chooses to do exceedingly abundantly more than I can think or ask, I am full of expectancy.

Today – considering the arrival of the New Year – I am evaluating what to take with me into 2018 and the things I am leaving behind in 2017. The passage of time is beyond our control but each one of us is given 24 hours a day to choose how to use it and the freedom to decide what goes into our future and what is left in the past. Like packing a suitcase for an upcoming trip with airline requirements and security clearances to consider, I must evaluate the baggage that I will carry from this year to the next. I want to become a new creation. I want the new that is coming. I can only have that which I make room for. When going on vacation, I always make sure that there is extra room in my luggage for souvenirs. Will there be room for the “new” that the Lord has for me? Or will I remain weighed down with this year’s junk?

Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV) “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Prayerfully I must consider the things that make up my life. The contents of my heart, the substance of my soul and every thought circling in my head. Reconciliation to God is an ongoing effort. Careful inspection of every aspect of my life. I have been given a new covenant to live by called grace. It is important not to lose sight of the terms of this agreement with God. Grace is a gift that can only be accepted. I do so by acknowledging my weakness rather than hiding behind my pride. It is to say, “Lord, here I am.” I must give my all to fully accept the new covenant given to me and allow Christ to change me from the inside out. It is a conscious decision and everyday awareness of the potential of grace to complete my life and release God’s Blessing in it.

Are there some things that I must let go of? Yes. Are there some things that I will bring with me? Of course. The most important thing to remember in the upcoming year is that God is still working on me. The promise of becoming a new creation and given new life is based strictly on my acceptance of His Grace and to live in this new covenant. Nothing in our life is ever wasted. Psalm 139 tells us that our life is prerecorded. This would have to include every mistake, shortcoming and failure to effectively supply enough grace to be called sufficient. It really doesn’t matter how this year is ending – a new one is coming. God’s Promises and Potential for our life is secure in His Covenant.

Psalm 119:35-38 (ESV) Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.

I am truly looking forward to the coming year. With all the wonderful things that I know are coming, I cannot help but be excited. God is doing new things. I do not want my limited expectation keep me from discovering all that the Lord has for 2018. It happens when I stay focused on what I see rather than embracing the unseen by faith. It is important to take some time before the ball drops and the calendar page turns to sit with the Lord and let Him show me what to take into 2018 and what should remain in 2017. To evaluate progress in reconciling my life to Him and decide what needs to be eliminated to move in closer to Him. He will lead me. The Spirit in me can turn my head from worthless things but only the willing will follow His Guidance. Lord, create in me a new heart and renew a steadfast spirit for the coming year. Lord, remove the weight that keeps me from that which you have for me. Thank you for the new life you have given me and new creation that I am becoming. Will 2018 be the year that you let the Lord do something new in you, too?

Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV) And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Advertisements

In Due Season

In Due Season

Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV) And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

As the New Year approaches, all the Christmas decorations are back in the attic. The house is restored to its normal order. I find comfort in the week between Christmas and the New Year. The weight of responsibility the holidays bring are waning while expectation of what’s to come breathes excitement into my weary soul. Looking back, the past year has yielded many unexpected blessings. Things that seemed impossible that suddenly became a reality. There are many unexpected things that turned out far better than I expected. There are some things in 2017 that I thought would happen that have not yet. I try not to heap my own aspirations unto my own back but human tendency is to do just that. God is faithful so if it didn’t happen or turnout the way that “I” planned then I must have done something wrong or missed Him altogether. Pride launches a subtle attack to lure me from waiting and watching. If it can only get me off the watchtower to the ground level so I will be impacted by what I see rather than faithful to what I know.

Are you weary in doing good? Are you ready to give up on that dream? Give in to discouragement? Throw in the proverbial towel? Call it quits? Life too hard. People too stubborn. Your heart growing hard. There are plenty of excuses to stop waiting, watching and wanting what God has. Our need for comfort, convenience and control validate them all. But those who are determined to wait on the “due season” will reap what they have sown. You cannot give up but you must give in to the proper seasons of a perfect God.

Genesis 1:14-15 (ESV) And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.

God created seasons when He created the world. They were set into motion before humans were created. Why did God create the seasons? Man was not destined to work the land until sin entered the world. Could this be an image of God’s Grace for us? Did He know that His People would betray Him from the start and provided for us anyway? Food for thought today as one considers giving up on the seasons of life due to unproductivity. The seasons of our life are predetermined and predestined by God NOT our ability to do good, be right or any other human quality. Seasons bring forth the hidden potential of fertile ground. The seed of possibility sown in fertile soil and given the proper season will produce something in us and through us because it must complete the directive of God’s Word.

Genesis 8:21-22 (ESV) And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

God created seasons with promise which would be released in Genesis 8. When Noah presented the Lord with an offering after exiting the Ark, the Lord said in his heart. I can imagine a breathless whisper. God knew people were evil and up to no good. He knew that Noah was just a man who would sin just like the rest of us. But in that moment of complete devastation, Noah chose to worship the Lord. Every earthly possession gone, he would have to rebuild from the ground up. All he had left was his family. Noah worshipped God. God instituted His Blessing on the seasons and promised that as long as the earth remains what is sown will be harvested.

Isaiah 28:23-26 (ESV) Give ear, and hear my voice; give attention, and hear my speech. Does he who plows for sowing plow continually? Does he continually open and harrow his ground? When he has leveled its surface, does he not scatter dill, sow cumin, and put in wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and emmer as the border? For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him.

God did not just create seasons and institute seedtime and harvest but He also teaches us all about sowing and reaping. Most farmers come from generations of farming families and their education is in the field. Jesus gave us His Spirit so that our sowing and reaping potential goes far beyond the natural into supernatural realms. Our eyes must be fixed on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith so that sowing and reaping will not be limited to what we see but have far greater potential. The Spirit cultivates fruit in us and reproduces enough for a generous soul. It doesn’t always come when we want it to, but it always comes in due season. I am just as guilty as the next believer. You hear the Voice of God. You grab hold of the promise and a paintbrush in the other hand. Then rather than allowing God to create the Masterpiece that He has planned – we try to do it ourselves. The Spirit of God within us knows the proper seasons and will keep us in the waiting times.

Psalm 107:33-38 (ESV) He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.

God doesn’t do things in the ordinary but extraordinary. Miracles are only possible in the midst of impossible. If I put my money in a savings account, it will generate interest according to the current market. It is complete logically and fully disclosed by the institution. God promises that every seed placed in His Hand will produce much fruit. God is always throwing in a plot twist so that no one can steal His Glory. When God does it, He makes sure that everyone knows He did it. What if the dry, barren land you are ready to abandon is actually the birthplace of your miracle? Such a place takes faith to cultivate because in the natural it is a hopeless situation, but that still small voice keeps you in place, sowing seeds, watering it with the Word, and waiting.

The answer – Keep sowing. Keep waiting. Don’t move. Stay put. In due season, at that proper time, God’s Word will come to pass. He is not mandated by a human clock or natural calendar. He waits until a thing is completed so there will be no premature delivery. The wasteland will become a waterfall. The desert will be refreshed with new springs. You must establish your city, your life, your being on the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and refuse to move until every seed comes forth that has been planted. Do not leave the field anymore. Stop making excuses. Dig in for the long haul. The Lord will do exceedingly abundantly more than you can think, ask or imagine if you do!

2 Corinthians 9:6 (ESV) The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

 

The Hope of Glory

The Hope of Glory

Romans 8:18-19 (NKJV) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

The earnest expectation of all creation is the revealing of God’s Children. Expectancy will fuel desire and drive motivation. It becomes the commander of attitude and actions. It is influenced by residency. Those limited to the conditions, circumstances and situations of only the natural world and the timeline of birth to death will never be satisfied. Coming into this world with nothing, striving for fulfillment, then dying to leave it all behind seems futile. Those who discover new life through Jesus Christ become Sons and Daughters of God with unlimited potential. However, without a pivotal shift in our expectancy, there will not be realization of the new creation that Christ has promised to make us. Instead, our light is dim and salt not salty as we try to express a glorious God in a hopeless gesture.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NKJV)  For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

God has filled our heart with light…glorious light. Jesus is the hope of glory within us desperate to make His Way out. Our old “wineskin” cannot contain the new wine of His Spirit and therefore we must become like new “wineskin”. (Matthew 9) To change and be changed is the process of transformation limited only by unwillingness. I wonder if the pressure, pain, perplexity, despair, loneliness, and devastation in us is really dying flesh giving way to new people assuming the identity of God through reliance on Christ. People would not seek the Lord any other way as pride would remain in charge of our heart and mind in our own ability to maintain a peaceful and comfortable existence. It is in our discomfort that our heart seeks the Father. It is in our displeasure His Name is called forth. When all the while His Plan and Purpose is to make our life glorious. Perhaps, just maybe, the pressure is the process of new birth that is the eternity in our heart releasing expectation that is trying to find its way out.

God has placed light in us that can only be accessed through brokenness. It sounds cruel but it is actually the remodeling of our heart and mind to let go of possible and embrace impossibility. To connect our faith and confident hope from just a concept to the conviction of our life that drives us to true repentance turning us from death to new life that permeates an ordinary existence and making it extraordinary. The weight of our expectation is His Glory. His Glory changes everything beginning here and now.

Colossians 1:24-27 (NKJV) I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 

What is Christ, the Hope of Glory, doing in you? The mystery of His Grace is revealed in His Glory. It is working through hard hearts, twisted minds, fickle feelings and futile efforts to dismiss fruitlessness and release abundance in us and through us. Our soul is the starting place. As our soul prospers so will our body, mind and spirit. As His Purpose, Plan and Potential begin to work its way from our soul to these other areas the productivity of our life changes. It all begins with pressure. Pressure begins the process. Our body releases adrenaline when pressed because fear is our first response. Fight or take flight? The fight of the flesh is a dauntless effort day by day to believe God at His Word, trust Him more than our feelings, and use faith as the logic of life. The flight extends the waiting, lengths our journey and causes delays. However, in Romans 8 there is a promise that God will still work every detail for our good. Grace is our sufficiency and it is always enough when our humanity chooses the lesser rather than engaging in the good fight of faith. Nothing in our life is every wasted as Children of a Good and Gracious Father.

Romans 8:22-24 (NKJV) For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The hope of God’s Glory being released in us comes with one requirement – change. True repentance is a heart turned to God rather than the things of this world. It is not a call to perfect but to give the Lord every imperfection. To lay our broken, tattered, used, abused, and devastated life full of disappointments, mistakes and bad choices at His Throne. To fully accept His Grace as enough to allow Him to change us from the inside without fear of punishment or destruction but giving way to His Glory. Christ has every intention of birthing a new creation from the wreck received. He is not intimidated by our wretchedness. He is not offended by our sin. It is all under covered by His Blood and removed as far as the east is from the west unless we choose to retain it. In its place, the Lord fills our voids with hope, healing and full restoration. He renews us, restores us and revives us from the inside out. The weight you are feeling and tremendous pressure you feel is the new creation inside of you working its way out. You are birthing the Glory of God given to you by His Son – Jesus. You must only endure the process to see true character and your real identity revealed.

Do not give priority to the thing causing pressure in your life? Do not focus on the problem? Embrace the potential within you. The Hope of His Glory – Jesus Christ. He has all the answers and solutions. He knows a better way. He will never leave you or forsake you but rather partners with you until the end. It only says that those who endure to the end will be saved. It means that the battle is won, the work complete, and Jesus overcame the world. You must only hold on to Him to make it to eternity. Expect God to make a masterpiece of your broken pieces. The Lord promises that He will do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to HIS POWER at work in us. God is able. He is willing. We must only embrace Jesus and engage in Him to see His Glory in our life. This is not achieved by doing anything but the realization of His Love – to comprehend the limitlessness of it – and to live in His Grace which is His Power for our life.

Luke 21:25-27 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

The Open Gate

The Open Gate

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most beautiful and photographed bridges in the world. U.S Army Captain John C. Freemont named the waters beneath the bridge “Golden Gate” strait as “it is a golden gate to trade with the Orient.” Freemont was an engineer, geographer, scientific collector and explorer who earned the nickname “Pathfinder.” The suspension bridge was built to provide a practical route for travelers across the San Francisco Bay. Before the bridge was constructed, a ferry provided service back and forth. At the time of construction, it was both the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world.

A beautiful masterpiece of craftsmanship, the Golden Gate Bridge serves a useful and productive purpose. Prior to the bridge being opened, the growth rate of San Francisco was well-below the national average. They were not prospering and needed access to the surrounding communities. To continue with new growth and development they needed access. San Francisco needed to be connected. The Golden Gate Bridge did just that and soon San Francisco was thriving again.

Yes, I am the gate.

The Kingdom of God has a gateway. His Name is Jesus. He is the gate that gives us access to the Father and His Kingdom so that as our soul prospers our life will as well. There is an abundance for those who choose the Way, the Truth and the Life. A way of provision, productivity and purpose that cannot be entered into via any other route. He is the ultimate bridge. Laying down His Life for His People (or sheep in this illustration), those who are followers of Jesus Christ will enter into new life as new creations. They have the opportunity to come and go freely without boundary or restriction. They will find good pastures that are plentiful satisfying our soul, body, mind and spirit as Christ completes us.

Are you living a rich and satisfying life? Are you content and thankful in all circumstances knowing prosperity, purpose and promises belong to you no matter how bad your situation seems? Do you believe that God is making good of every detail of your life today? Life is hard. Faith comes in small quantities and takes time to grow, develop and mature. We must be disciplined, persevering and enduring while we wait for it to prosper into God’s Promise. I am quite certain that back in the 1800’s when the Golden Gate Bridge was built in all its glory that there were many people who were afraid to cross it. Suspended above icy waters with a strong current driven by great and mighty winds. Some probably just stuck to the ferry. It was slower and cheaper. I wonder how often we stick to what is known rather than entering the open gates, good pastures and perfect promises of God for us. Hindered by doubt, fear and anxiety, settling for the known rather than venturing out into the unseen realities of faith given to those with confident hope. What is keeping you from a rich and satisfying life?

 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. (John 10:14-16)

Is abundant life for me? Yes, it is absolutely for each one of us. Jesus Christ died for us all. Accepting or rejecting Him does not change the fact that you have gained access to Heaven or the Kingdom. There is nothing you can ever do to be separated from the Love of God. (Romans 8) His Plan for you remains intact even if you choose something else. His Purpose for your life was instilled in you during the creation of your being. (Psalm 139) You are fearfully and wonderfully made no matter what you perceive yourself to be. To follow Jesus is to enter the abundance of God for our life. You must only follow Him. He is the access point who bridged the gap from our broken and busted life to secure His Kingdom and all its glory.

Too often rather than seeing the Truth of Jesus and His Grace, a carefully constructed lie made up of all these regulations and rules keep us from entering into the good pasture given to us. There is nothing I can do to ever deserve or earn the grace I have received. My only response is full acceptance of all God has for me in Christ Jesus. Any lesser life is by my acceptance of that which is not what the Father has for me. Grace is not perfection it is persistence. To constantly go before the Throne of God exchanging my messed up life to become His Masterpiece.

“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” (John 10:17-18)

The Gate is open. Jesus gives us a choice. He doesn’t force His Goodness or Glory on us but gives us daily opportunities to enter in. He calls us. Invites us. Woos us. He sacrificed His Life for those who would accept His Gift and those who would reject it. God doesn’t have favorites. He is partial towards all of us. This unconditional love is very hard to understand and accept because this world doesn’t love that way. Our experience tells that it is too good to be true. There must be a catch of some kind. You can live a life of full prosperity and abundance with complete satisfaction. It is found in the Way, the Truth and the Life – His Name is Jesus Christ and he will never let you down. You just need to follow Him. Where will He take you? Out of the mediocre life you are living into the supernatural life that He promised. He will take you from death to life. He will bring to fulfillment all those things you gave up along the way. He will redeem every tear that you have ever shed. He will take all the pieces of your broken heart and give you a new heart. The lie of the enemy limits our ability to take the first step of faith. He tells us that God doesn’t love us. He doesn’t care. Why would God allow this to happen if He is such a good God? What if we were the one who allowed it to happen by going our own way, doing our own thing, and trying something else?

 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

The Gate to God’s Kingdom is indeed narrow. It has one name – Jesus. You cannot access the Father any other way. We are people who like options. Since our family resides in Florida, I have had many opportunities to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. As a child, I had no idea how expensive such a trip was. Now taking our children, I have paid the great price. Entering the gates, you have a choice. You can ride the monorail for quick access to the Magic Kingdom. Or you can ride the much slower, Ferry. Both will get you to the same place. Upon entering the park, it is always breathtaking looking down Main Street to Cinderella’s Castle. I have been making the trip for decades and it always is the same. The gateway of life is very narrow and the road difficult because it is the least traveled. It is not the popular way or customary route of many. Yet, those who do will experience a breathtaking encounter with the Living God that will change your life forever. We choose the life that we live. Jesus gave us the freedom of choice.

There is an open gate before us today. God’s Mercy points to it each day. His Love endures forever and when He opened it – no one can ever shut it again. The promises, purpose and prosperity that is given to each of us through His Son, Jesus Christ awaits us on the other side. We must only muster enough courage and confidence to take the first step. The gate is narrow. There is only one way. If you believe that a rich and satisfying life awaits you – you will step in. If you believe God’s Abundance is for you – what are you waiting for? What is your hesitation? If you believed, you would follow the Lord right into fulfillment! Those who sow seeds of faith in the open pastures of His Grace will prosper now and forevermore. What are you waiting for?

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Give Thanks

Give Thanks

Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)  So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Thanksgiving is this week. No really, it is in just four days. How did it get here so fast? I feel the panting of the racehorse of stress and anxiety beneath me. Panting hard getting ready for the pistol shot and the gate to fall. The holidays are here…Lord help us. We also have other excitement in our family. Our son is now engaged. There is a wedding upcoming. Our daughter is expecting our first grandchild at the beginning of the New Year. Office parties some to plan others to attend. Church related activities. List making, shopping, and gift giving. I can feel the pull and stretch already.

The stores have all the fall seasonal merchandise on clearance. Rifling through a pile of placemats – I find one that says, “Give Thanks”. I pause for a moment. Looking at all the plates, platters and wall signs also marked down – it is written on many of the items. All of them hidden away on a clearance aisle. While they have been replaced with Christmas trees, ornaments, gift wrap and the like. A celebration is coming. The newborn King has arrived. Salvation is introduced to the world. Grace ready to overflow to all mankind. Hope restored for a lost world and people shrouded in darkness. We have much to be thankful for and so little of it is in this store. Hidden deep in our heart where His Spirit lives there is quiet voice reminding me – “Give Thanks. Don’t forget to be thankful. You have it all right here in Me.”

Overflowing thankfulness is not a human quality but a spiritual gift born of a made up mind and hopeful heart. To be thankful in every situation is our goal but not always the outcome. “So then” as an introduction to this passage points to a result. This has happened so then this is the result. Paul indicates that the church has shown great discipline and firm faith in Christ so then…the result is to continue to live life rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith and overflowing with thankfulness. I wonder if our hearts focus solely on living the life prescribed by the Word and continually attempting to sow seeds of faith for prosperity in all things, but we struggle with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a result of satisfaction and contentment. To be overflowing with thanksgiving means to live in a constant state so that it continually multiplies and cannot be contained. The result of living in Christ and firm steadfast faith should be thanksgiving. Are you thankful today?

Colossians 4:2 reminds us to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful for the return of Christ and to be thankful. I wonder if our prayer life is stagnant and witnessing weak because we have forgotten to give thanks. Discipline is not only a spiritual trait but can be from natural habits. Religion sets forth a standard doctrine. People who comply with the demands of the doctrine exhibit discipline but it doesn’t mean they have a relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship is formed of a different kind of discipline that changes our character and identity. Two become one making it a whole different creation. Christ promised to make us new creations. This is not possible until our attitude and actions are changed by His Word, Way and Will for us. We don’t make that change but submit to His Discipline as a disciple of Christ. Without a heart experience, an encounter with Jesus is a chance meeting. It is our heart, desires and passions that He is after to make our life fulfilled and complete. Apart from the Lord this is not possible and therefore overflowing thanksgiving the same.

Colossians 3:15 (NIV) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

“And be thankful.” This mandate comes after a long list of characteristics of God’s chosen people. We are holy and dearly loved to be clothed in compassion, kindness, tenderness, gentleness and patience. To bear burdens together and to be forgiving. With all these attitudes and actions – we are to do them in love. Live in peace with Christ and others. Then the statement comes almost like an add-on “And be thankful.” It’s almost as if it says, “You must do all these things and like it.” The giving of our life to Christ does not come with challenges and struggles along the way. We must wrestle our flesh for control of our mind, will and emotions in order to surrender our heart and mind to the Lord. We can do all of the conditions listed above but without thankfulness – is it really a heart change or merely a change in habits?

In Ezra 3, the builders had laid the foundation of the Temple. The reconstruction process was finally showing some results. They stopped to have a praise break. “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; His Love toward Israel endures forever.’” It goes on to say that many people did not share the same enthusiasm and joy. There were older priests, Levites, and family leaders who had seen the former temple that wept with sorrow. Change is hard. It is difficult to endure. As the Lord prepares His Church for eternity, it requires transformation which is more than just a habitual change or altering of appearance. He is molding and shaping a Body of People to fit together in unison and harmonious perfection. The foundation of our life is faith in Jesus Christ. Though all engaged in a personal process, it is with one purpose. Where are you today in the restoration and renewal process of Christ? Is it hard to be thankful because life is just too hard? Are you the one who is celebrating all the good things going on around you? Are you the one who weeps in sorrow when the praise team starts singing longing for the faith, love and hope that you are still trying to find?

Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV) Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Therefore…the world is certainly shaken. Love is cold. Sin rampant. It is a polluted place and perverted culture all around us. As “temporary residents” this is not our home or forever. Sometimes in the midst of our natural life our supernatural destination grows cloudy and dim. We forget that the details of our life are promised good outcomes. (Romans 8:28) We forget that Jesus will never leave us or that His Spirit is alive and well given as our helper. Burdened and pressured by the temptations and trials of life the unseen reality of our faith becomes elusive. Not only that tradition seldom gives easily to transformation, God is doing something new in the churches around the world. New vitality is rising up from ashes, as the Lord shakes Heaven and earth once more. Since we are part of the Kingdom of God and His Chosen People, we have confident hope that no matter what happens, our future is secure. For this reason alone, the Word of God says, “Let us be thankful.”

Give thanks. I don’t know the trials you are going through or the temptation you are facing, but for a few moments, just thank God for His Love, His Son, His Spirit, His Salvation, His Kingdom, and continue to thank Him for every single thing that is good in your life. We all have something to be grateful for especially if America is our home. The enemy wants to put out our passion and desire for the Lord by making us overly busy, consumed with lesser things, bound up in lies, falling into temptation, caught up in religion, hanging on to tradition, and so many complications. It is up to us to enter His Gates with Thanksgiving and His Courts not one day but every day if our intent is to be one with Christ. I must make the personal choice to begin each day with a grateful heart even when dissatisfied, discouraged or overwhelmed. It may begin as a habit but will lead to personal transformation. Peace with God removes all doubt and fear becomes love dispels them. God is good. He is good to us. He will do exactly what He promised that He would do. Trust produces thankfulness before the thing for which we asked, prayed and believed ever happens. It is the foundation of faith like mortar in its bricks. Don’t get caught in the holidays but being changed by His Holiness. The Lord longs to live in partnership with you. He desires to carry those burdens and teach you to live apart from them. (Matthew 11) He is the Gift that keeps on giving. Give thanks today for the greatest gift of all.

Psalm 100 (NIV) Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Mountains Out of Molehills

Mountains Out Molehills

Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) Let us than approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Faith is the confidence that a believer has in God’s Word for their life. God’s Word came to us – His Name is Jesus Christ. The Word of God wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love for us in living color. He died for our sins, tore the veil giving us access to His Presence so that it is our privilege to approach “God’s Throne of Grace” with confidence. Faith without confidence is not faith at all by definition. To attempt to become a Child of God outside of faith is futile. You must believe. You must do away with the doubt that creates insecurity, fear and anxiousness about our relationship with God. Christ cannot live, breathe, move in us somehow miraculously changing us into a new creature outside of faith that believes, trusts and therefore obeys the Word. We could stop there and have enough meat to chew on for a week in our Christian walk. However, the Lord will not leave us with leftovers but always provides new manna and fresh water for His People.

With this in mind, I was listening to a brief video sent to me on Twitter. The mentor referenced the report of the ten spies who went to survey the Promised Land before the Israelite people would enter. The word given to me sunk deep in my heart and began to take root. The spies came back affirming that God had indeed led them to the land of milk and honey – the Lord did exactly as He promised so far but…there were giants in the land. Acquisition would be a problem. They would have to overcome them to take the promise. What giant are you facing today? Is it doubt? Fear? Anxiety? Insecurity? Low self-esteem? A lack of faith? No confidence? Pride calls doubt so many lesser names but the reality of doubt is that it stops faith completely because faith must have confidence to be faith at all.

Numbers 13:30-33 (NIV) Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anakcome from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Caleb and the others brought back fruit from the land and confirmed it was plentiful and prosperous. Then they added the word that nullifies everything beforehand…”but”. The people who live there are powerful. They were referring to the Nephilim. Nephilim were giants. Not just men of tall stature but believed to be fallen angels who created a race of super humans in that time. Not only were these guys big, but powerful beyond their physical strength in the eyes of the Israelites. The bad report spread more quickly than the praise report that God had brought them to the place of promise. Definitive words in their reports such as “we can’t”, “all” were of great size, and probably the most damaging…”we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.” Their self-confidence shattered by comparison revealed a trust problem far greater than the giants they would face. In fact, it was their own report that made a mountain out of a molehill and raised up giants all around them.

There is always one crazy believer in God’s success stories in the Bible. The one man or woman who says not on my watch. Not today, devil. I believe God. I am going to trust the Lord. And it usually a solo effort. Moses, Noah, Jacob, Daniel, David, Peter and Paul just to name a few. Not the mightiest men or those of the greatest integrity – God called them because they believed. Caleb silenced the people when he spoke these words of faith, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” As usual, the bad report spread much faster than his report.

Whose report do you believe today? God brought you through the fire unharmed, the rough waters just fine, and has led you up to your promise – will you go for it? What do you have to lose? So many times, when the journey is long and hard the moment of truth comes and the lie of the enemy keeps us on the verge of breakthrough because somehow we forget it was never about our power, strength or energy. It was God’s Plan from the beginning and He will carry us through to the end. The Children of Israel had taken their eyes off God and began evaluating their progress and promise through natural eyes. They obviously couldn’t do it. Confidence in self will not produce the purpose God put inside of you to be accomplished by faith. It is by faith that our life pleases God and makes His Plan successful.

I Samuel 17:45-47 (NIV) David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Are you a giant builder or a giant killer? Do you make mountains out of molehills? The whole Israelite army had been camped on the side of the mountain enduring the taunts and threats of Goliath. He was backed by an army but one man held them at bay. Who will kill the giant? There was a reward. David came with a directive from his earthly father – take your brothers food and bring me back a report of their welfare. David did not set out on the journey to kill a giant but simply to do the will of his father. When he arrived, he saw the cowering soldiers and heard the threats of the giant. His response to the report he received was not like most people. David had faith in God more than man even a giant man. What about you?

David didn’t realize that what seemed like a mundane task would be a defining moment in his life. His brothers mocked him. Saul tried to change him into a soldier. In the end, David stayed true to himself. His confidence not in his stature, strength or prowess but simply in God who He loved with all his heart. “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the Name of the Lord Almighty.” By faith, David killed the giant that day with a slingshot and smooth stone. He did not build the giant with fear or add mass to the mountain of doubt, but simply came against his adversary with total and complete faith in God. His victory that day was with purpose that would flow into today. The battle belongs to the Lord. He will give it all into your hands. If you believe this enough to receive it, nothing will ever be marked impossible in your life again.

Zechariah 4:6-7 (NIV) So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”

By comparison, you may feel like a grasshopper but there is a giant slayer in all of us. Confidence in God begins by believing His Word and trusting His Spirit. Faith is confidence. It cannot be changed or redefined according to our willingness or ability. Faith is confidence in the unseen reality of the Promises of God for His People beginning with salvation moving forward to prosperity. Miracles must be marked impossible. Healing comes through illness and infirmity. Deliverance is packaged in bondage. Freedom is for the captive. Faith grows when our trust in God becomes greater than the “giants” and “mountains” in our life. Not by might, not by power but by my Spirit – the Spirit of the Living God lives in us. He is the giant killer and mountain leveler in us who gives us overwhelming victory and glorious triumph when we walk by faith and not by sight. Is there a giant before you today? Is the mountain too big? Faith and confidence in the Living God who lives in you will knock both of these down in your life if you choose to believe. Don’t let the give the giant the strength of your confidence. Do not let doubt in your heart become words of discouragement adding to the substance of the mountain. Instead, grab hold of the Word of God for your life. Speak it over your life, dead dreams and far off future. Seek to do His Will. Plan on His Promises being the reality of your life. Stop believing every bad report and spreading it around. Stand your ground. You have overcoming power and overwhelming victory locked inside you. Let it out.

I John 4:4 (NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Keep Climbing

Keep Climbing

Romans 5:1-4 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

I wish I could blame the dog for waking me up so early on Saturday, but that is not the case. Turning over this morning, I am completely certain that every bone in my body made some kind of unnatural sound. Once I transitioned my position, everything hurt. I decided to use my three-day weekend to paint. Not just a room but probably half of our house. Though I conquered most of it in one day, there is still some tasks left to complete. Full of excitement and expectation in the beginning, I am fighting the dread of climbing the ladder again today. As I try to jot down notes in my journal, I can hardly hold the pen much less scribble anything legible. Hours of holding the paintbrush cutting in trim has left my hands sore. My husband warned me not to overdo it and once again my stubbornness did it anyway. Turning on the light, I feel a bit of satisfaction seeping in my tired body. I can see an end in sight, but honestly I am not sure how to get there.

As believers, there are seasons of great success and then those marked “perseverance.” Though my body is aching and muscles screaming, I know that it will be worth it. When our new furniture arrives on Tuesday, everything will come together so I press on. I guess the easy part is seeing. I know that these things will happen. I have a receipt from the store to prove these items belong to me. The delivery service has called twice to confirm the date. I have been preparing because I know and have confidence. What might happen if as believers with an inheritance of hope if we truly had confidence that God’s Goodness is for us and His Promises were true. To believe that if we just pressed a little longer and held on a little tighter that what is written will be received.

Therefore is a definitive term. It means “for that reason” or “consequently”. Since we have been justified by faith. Justified by the Blood of Jesus and the grace dispensation associated with it, I now can receive from the Father again. All I need is faith. It means that when I suffer, endure and choose to persevere. I will have exactly what God promised. Suffering is pain, distress or hardship. Everyone goes through some form of suffering usually on any given day but only those who live by faith have hope.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

It is much easier to be confident of things that are natural. The tangible items that can be seen, heard, or touched. The hope I have is certain, but faith is wavering. My participation in the process of redemption is singular. It is faith. The sum total of my responsibility is to trust the Lord enough to keep pressing and pushing for the higher calling and greater things that become the rich, satisfying and abundant life that I have been promised. Just as my painting project will produce something new and appealing, how much more does the Lord want to do in us and for us? I can quit now and leave everything half-finished and each day it would mock me. However, I want to see the results and gain the satisfaction so I will pick up the paintbrush with tired hands again and climb the ladder with my sore legs. Did you stop halfway in pursuing the thing God has for you? Did you give up on a dream? Did you decide the mountain of doubt you are facing will get the best of you? Well, God gives second chances. In fact, it is my experience that every time I say, “I will” He does!

If the past was so wonderful, you would not have left it behind. The past is comfortable. It is convenient. It gives us an illusion of control because we know the consequences and outcome of our actions. We give up easily and run back thinking it is better than pushing through the pain and pressing through the pressure. How many times have you started the climb only to slide back down in complacency? There is a prize at the end of perseverance called hope. It is worth having. It makes every care, worry and concern given over to confidence yield its potential as God works every detail of our life for good. He will perfect that which concerns us when we give it all to Him. He promises to give rest to those who come to Him and partner with Him for life. It begins with a decision. It requires holding tight to our confidence when our body says to quit.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)  Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by 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, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 

The Lord is faithful. Our confidence in His Faithfulness will increase our ability to endure and persevere when things get uncomfortable or even seem impossible. Our confident hope is not in our ability but the Sovereignty of God that makes Him perfect. He never lies or changes His Mind about us even if we fail miserably or get lost or settle for lesser things. The Lord meets us with new mercy each day. He says, “Let’s try this again.” Hope is worth having. It requires character-building challenges along the way. It will present pressure that requires perseverance. Hope comes with a guarantee that life will not give you. Hope never leads to disappointment.

Draw near to the Lord today. He will draw near to you. He has done everything possible to prepare you for His Purpose and Promises now you must engage in the process which always requires perseverance. There are no shortcuts that will produce the Glory of God in our life. We are called to endure. Those who do will be saved and our hope of an abundant met to the fullest extent.

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NIV)  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

“Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

 

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber

James 2:20-22 (NIV) You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

Have you ever climbed a mountain? Moving through the brush excited and full of expectation. At the base of the mountain full of energy and exuberance – beginning the ascent to the top while taking in the natural beauty all around. Body, mind and spirit fully engaged. As the steps continue it gets a little steeper, naturally so, you are moving higher therefore it will require climbing to reach the highest peak. Maybe at this point, your body aches but your mind is determined to reach your destination. Minutes turn to hours and yes, you’re still steadily moving up but at this point losing sight of the surrounding beauty our mind gives way to focus on breathing and continuing to put one foot in front of the other. You are tired. You begin to contemplate giving up. This was a stupid idea. A complete waste of time. You have better things to do. Maybe I should just turn around and go back. I am not getting anywhere. This journey will never end. Pushing through the trees, they finally give way to the peak of the mountain and the limitless is right before your eyes. Breathing in deeply you cannot fully contemplate the vast beauty surrounding you. You didn’t give up. You pressed in. You made it to the top and now you can see from a new perspective.

Have you ever climbed a spiritual mountain? The feelings and emotions are really the same. You start out full of excitement and expectation at the promise of God set before you. You believe it is for you. Beginning the daunting task of walking it out seems so easy until the first obstacle rises up. This may be harder than first considered. Pressing on – more obstacles and even some opposition and now your own body works against you. The place of decision and crossroads of thought to consider rather to give up or continue to preserve. Relief sounds wonderful. Rest is appealing. An escape from the challenge seems like the most viable option. What will you do? Will you continue the climb or run back down the mountain to live a comfortable, complacent, and convenient life?

You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

The last couple of days, I have studied the mountain looking closely at its structure and evaluated it by design. We can all draw a triangle and fill it with what comprises our latest challenge and become the mountain in our life. But as discovered yesterday, the mountain is not what it seems. The mountain is nothing more than doubt ready to be overcome by faith. You have to climb the mountain to overtake it. A daily commitment to overcome doubt is the only way to have the Promise of God for those who live in His Righteousness. But how do I get there from here?

Faith and our actions must work together. Faith is made complete by the two becoming one. How is that possible? Faith in the Promise of God must become our motivation. Doubt is the obstacle. The mountain in our life may be comprised of a number of challenges, difficulties and even impossibilities. We overcome them all by believing God over our situation, circumstances, trials and trouble. God’s Word refutes the enemies lie and is the truth concerning us. Those who believe the Word of God claiming each promise personally must engage in overcoming doubt including fear, stress, anxiety and worry which keep the mountain in place. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.” (Matthew 21:21 – Jesus)

Romans 4:16-17 (NIV)  Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

The God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. This is the God we serve. He is a miracle working God who can take an ordinary life and make it extraordinary. He has a plan and purpose that will lead you directly to fulfillment but you have to work His Plan not make up your own variation. There is an amusement park about an hour and a half from our home. It is not as far away as Orlando or the Magic Kingdom. Living on a tight budget with a large family, it would be a weekend getaway. Even though many great memories were made there, it did not compare to the wonder and excitement when we took the kids to Walt Disney World. I remember our youngest watching the parade and whispering, “A real princess, mommy” in breathless awe of the fairytale unfolding before her eyes. Compromise is evidence of doubt complicating our life and deteriorating faith.

Abraham had nothing to lose. When the messengers came to deliver the news that his promise was about to arrive, he continued in his expectation just as he did the day before. For years, he and Sarah struggled with heartbreaking infertility. Abraham did not sit idly by. He did do try to compromise. He did try to do it himself. Advanced in age, it was now impossible humanly and then God showed up. The promise of God comes by faith. The ultimate promise is eternal life. It is only achieved by faith. Faith is evident in our everyday life…or at least should be to be effective.

Romans 4:18-20 (NIV) Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God…”

Here are some important truths to remember to overcome doubt today:

The promise comes by faith. If you can do it, see it, or make it happen – it is your plan – not God’s Perfect Plan. If you decide to change course, and stop pushing, pressing and planting seeds of faith in the mountain called doubt it will stay right where it is.

Against all hope – you must believe. Believing God at His Word and deciding it belongs to you is the beginning of fruitful expectation. A broken heart is a fertile heart. Humility softens our heart and it receives seeds of faith more readily. Sometimes it takes the impossible for us to finally give God all the pieces of our broken heart and allow Him to make the beautiful masterpiece that He promised in Ephesians 2:10.

Without weakening in faith – you must continue to believe. Faith is not logical because it is not based on anything we can see. Thomas encountered Jesus after the resurrection. He had followed Jesus throughout His Ministry. He was there when Jesus performed miracles. He was witness to signs and wonders. He heard the Word right from the Living Word. He saw Jesus crucified. He was at the empty tomb. Minutes before the Risen Lord walked through the walls and filled the room with His Presence. What more would anyone need to believe? Thomas had to see and touch the Lord to finally believe. What will it take for you to finally believe that Jesus is Who He said He is and will do exactly what He has promised to do? “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29 – Jesus)

Do not waver in unbelief. When did you stop trying to overtake doubt and give in to it? We all find ourselves at the crossroads of decision – continue in faith or abandon the effort. How do I know when I waver in unbelief? Fear, anxiety, stress, worry, and retreat are all characteristic of doubt. Doubt cannot coexist with belief. It is the polar opposite. If you believe, you will continue. If you believe, you will wait. If you believe, you will not go back. If you believe, you will accept no substitution. If you believe, you will obtain God’s Promise in the land of the living and forevermore.

Genesis 22:9-14 (NIV) When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Abraham finally had a son. Years and years resulting a single precious boy that would make him the “father of many nations” per the promise of God to him. Now Abraham did not see the real meaning of his promise for his eyes were on the natural. God instructed Abraham to take his “promise” to the mountain. I just want to stop here and interject – would any parent reading this do anything to intentionally harm their own child. I didn’t think so. Me either. Well, God instructed his servant to take his son to the mountain and offer Isaac as a sacrifice. How important is your promise to you? Does it have a face? Is it a person? Can you see, hear or touch it? It may be required of you. It is all too easy to decide what is best for us or to lay hold to the identity of what we need, want or desire and lose sight of the Source. The Source of Hope beyond today, tomorrow and stepping into eternity. Abraham went to the mountain but now the face of it had changed. He offered his son, his only son, Isaac to the Lord. The Lord provided the sacrifice so now we can live with the promise. Abraham called that place, “The Lord Will Provide” and to this very day it is said, “on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” What will be provided? Faith.

Your mountain must be overtaken. We overtake doubt with the Truth of His Love and faith in His Word. Jesus overcame the enemy in the wilderness and even on the mountain simply repeating the Word of God. We must remind ourselves that God love us. He is Good to us. He fights for us. He desires us. He has a promise for us. It is all received by faith that does not doubt. The mountain cannot be cast into the sea unless we believe. Faith and confident hope begin to break down pride, fear, anxiety, worry and stress. As faith grows, it breaks up any foundation of doubt so when the time is right the mountain will be cast in the sea. What is on the other side of the mountain? Well, why don’t you just go and see!

James 2:23-24 (NIV) And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

Mighty Warrior

Mighty Warrior

I Corinthians 15:57 (NIV) But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you feel victorious today? Like a mighty warrior, who celebrates the spoils of overcoming winning, do you live a confident life in Jesus Christ? God has given us celebratory victory in Jesus Christ, His Son. The ability to engage, encounter and execute His Power and Authority on the earth until He returns or we are giving the opportunity to go to Him. I do not believe that the church fully understands the concept of habitual freedom that comes from a new life in Christ that overcomes the world. Cowering in corners and compromising confinement in the lie of the enemy that this is how it will always be and there is just not enough power in the Blood. Did I get your attention? Did that rile something within you that I would dare insult the Blood of Jesus Christ as to insinuate a loss of power or potential? There is power in the Blood of Jesus Christ to break every chain and stronghold in your life. However, it is up to each one of us to commit our confidence to it. To believe that there is power in the Blood is exemplified when we live according to the authority of Jesus Christ and exercise it here on earth.

I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV) Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Why do Christians struggle with complacency and compromise in life? It’s simple. We lack confidence in Jesus Christ. If we believed that God has given us victory in His Son, Jesus, don’t you think we would chase after it wholeheartedly? My family has attended many college football games in our hometown. The passion displayed by the other sports fans and fervency of their desire to win is displayed first in their commitment to attend the games, tailgating, participating in all the fight songs, cheering on the offensive line, coaching the defense, yelling at the coaches and even taunting the other team. Standing on their feet to the final seconds tick off the clock, screaming wildly for the win and completely devastated by loss. Do we have the same commitment to victory in Christ? Our team has won a lot and currently is experiencing the worse season I can remember yet still fans spend inordinate and endless amounts of effort and expense just to stand behind their favorite team. How does our enthusiasm for such things compare to our commitment to Christ and the victory promised by God to us? “Let nothing move you.”

Always give yourselves fully to the workplace, hobbies, and people…wait no it says…always give yourselves full to the work of the Lord, because YOU KNOW that your labor is not in vain. Our commitment to Jesus Christ is based solely on our ability to trust and believe He has won the victory over death and the grave. If our Savior and Lord was willing to suffer and die on the Cross to save, heal and deliver us – why in the world would He leave us helpless and defenseless on the earth? He wouldn’t. He didn’t. You are a mighty warrior.

2 Samuel 23:8 (NIV) These are the names of David’s mighty warriors…

David had thirty-seven mighty men who fought by his side. Three of these men were his leaders. Josheb-Basshebeth, Eleazar and Shammah who were his elite companions. I believe that there is a lesson to be learned from these warriors.

2 Samuel 23:8 (NIV) Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.

The chief of these three was Josheb-Basshebeth who demonstrated the prize of endurance. He raised his spear against 800 men and killed them all in one encounter. How many times do we give up in the middle of battle? Abandoning God’s Promise of victory and settling for less than complete overcoming in any situation. Jesus said that the one who endures to the end will be saved. Maybe we do not have victory simply because we do not fight through the encounter but at some point look for an escape or make our own way. I believe that the Lord has promised to give us victory and complete satisfaction in every situation. Perhaps endurance is the missing essential?

2 Samuel 23:9-10 (NIV) Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

Eleazar was with David when he was being taunted by the enemy. The enemy was ready for battle and so was Eleazar. When the rest of the army retreated, he stood his ground. Eleazare persevered though his hand grew tired and froze to his sword. The Lord brought Him great victory that day. What do you do when others abandon the cause? Do you press in and persevere? Holding tightly to God’s Word and fighting for the promise? When everyone chooses their own way do you press and persevere to do it His Way? Eleazar did not abandon his earthly lord and His Heavenly Lord handed victory right into his hand and the spoils of victory as well.

2 Samuel 23:11-12 (NIV) Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.

Shammah stood on his promise. He would not abandon his harvest (lentils) to the enemy. The enemy in our life comes to steal, kill and destroy. God has promised us an abundant harvest. A promise and purpose of fulfillment worth having (Jeremiah 29) and a future worth fighting for. Will you defend your promise today? Will you stand and fight on the foundation of faith with the sword of the Spirit and confidence in God’s Word? He has given us victory and along with winning every other harvest and prize that is promised to those who remain faithful. Do you believe today that overwhelming victory belongs to you? A gift from God through His Son Christ? You are a mighty warrior. Strong and courageous. Ready for battle. The Son of the Living God lives in you and has achieved full authority over death and the grave making you unstoppable. So what’s stopping you today?

I John 5:3-5 (NIV)  In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Faith in God is demonstrated through obedience and service to His Son, Jesus Christ. To believe that He is worthy of our allegiance is to serve Him. In 2 Samuel 23, it also tells the story of the three mighty warriors risking life and limb just to give David a drink from a well in Bethlehem. The only thing standing between them and fulfilling the desire of their leader was an army of giants. The three men left the protection of the garrison to get the cup of water. They broke enemy lines just to bring David a single cup of water. Father, forgive us for all the times we give you less than our very best.

Love for the Lord is keeping His Commands which to those who truly have affection for Him do not find burdensome. It is in this obedience and commitment to Christ that we overcome the world. Is your faith worth fighting for? It absolutely is. Faith pleases God. In fact without it, you cannot please God in any other effort. Victory for the believer is total faith and confident trust in the hope we are given. Faith is worth fighting for. The harvest of fulfillment only feeds our confidence and strengthens our arm to praise Him during the battle and keeps our knees from becoming weak in prayer and fasting. Why abandon the promises of God so easily? We fall for the lie of the enemy because it is easily rationalized by our flesh allowing us to maintain our pride. To be a mighty warrior and secure the victory I have been given requires endurance, perseverance and faithfulness. To have overcoming power active and effective in my life is to become immersed in His Grace and live there. Less of me and more of Him. It is not the life for everyone yet the Lord includes everyone in the call to victory. Whosoever will let them come! He wants to help you live a victorious overcoming life. Do you trust Him today? Enough to fight for your faith. Endure through tough times. Persevere when abandoned. Defend the harvest the Lord has promised. Those who do will become mighty warriors.

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.”

Still Standing

Still Standing

Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV) Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

There are some things in life that just take time. The inescapable lapse of immediate gratification to absolute fulfillment have a prescribed wait time that is insurmountable. The compromise of convenience, comfort and control are conflicted in the long periods of divine intervention as God grows, develops and matures His Promise, melts a hard heart, finds a lost soul, heals a sick body, pressing our patience and producing it from within us to change outcomes around us. It takes time. Say, that with me today, it’s just going to take some time.

There are some things in my life – situations and unfavorable conditions – that I am waiting on the Lord to do His Work. Promises yet to be fulfilled. Dreams not yet a reality. Relationships in need of mending. Processes yet undone. What do you do when you have sought the Lord, prayed, and believed – and nothing has happened? You wait. You trust. You stand. The word “withstand” or antihistemi (Strong’s #436) means anti – “against” and histemi – “to cause to stand”. It suggests vigorously opposing, bravely resisting, standing face-to-face against an adversary, and standing your ground. Compare it to the commonly used word “antihistamine” which puts a block on histamines. A histamine attacks cells in the body causing the cells to swell and leak fluids. This can cause itching, runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes. An antihistamine blocks the histamines relieving the symptoms. Antihistemi tells me that with the authority and spiritual weapons granted to me I can withstand evil forces in the moment of distress. Withstanding is important in facing opposition but then comes the final exhortation in this passage…”and having done all, to stand.

Habakkuk 2:1-4 (NKJV) I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected. Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.  “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.

I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart KNOWING that the vision is for an appointed time. Faith and confident hope become trust in the waiting room of God. The place of presence where you see the Lord, feel Him, and know that He is with you yet nothing seems to be changing and often seems to be getting worse. Tiptoeing to impossible which is the birthplace of miracles where only God can receive the glory for what is not achievable by man. We want God to pour out His Glory on us but are we willing to stand and keep standing until our appointment time arrives.

Having been in the place of waiting for impossibilities to produce promises and living in the realm of hope, one might think I would become immune to long waits, difficult circumstances, hurtful situations and unfortunate disappointments but in my humanity I must be reminded to return to the watch…and climb up higher to the rampart. To look with my spiritual eyes for the hope of His Promise to work all things together for my good (Romans 8:28) and perfect that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) Up and down the ladder – the constant wavering between waiting and wondering. Thank you Lord for Your Grace that covers me when fear, doubt and anxiousness overtake me. I know God’s Word is true. I know His Promises are real and valid for me. It is my privilege to wait for Him. However, like you, I am still human – so I must remind myself when I have done all – to stand – for the just will live by faith. Faith doesn’t see the outcome from its present position but decides it is still worth having so waits for it to come.

James 2:19-20 (NKJV) But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Faith is demonstrated by our attitude and actions in life not influenced by the world but defined by our relationship with Christ. It is total trust and reliance on His Word no matter what happens in our life knowing the outcome is dependent on His Promises. We respond therefore to His Commandments with obedience to remain in alignment with the process outlined by the precedence set forth by God not society norm. To believe in Jesus Christ is not enough. To be a Christian demonstrating religious perfection is still not good enough. Our flesh responds to the good fight of faith and engages in battle against the adversary. It is when pride must lay down in humility to the sovereignty of God and wait that our reality of faith is revealed in us. It is genuine faith in God that includes the “work” called standing that exhibits confident hope. When I can do absolutely nothing to change my situation, and choose to wait on the Lord right where I am in the midst of what I am going through completely and solely dependent on His Word and Promise that faith gives way its potential and the impossible becomes my reality.

Hebrews 10:35-39 (NKJV) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

To live by faith will require wait times. It is inevitable because endurance is a quality to found in our Christ-like character. Jesus said that those who endure to the end will be saved. Endurance is not an offensive or defensive move – it is to stand no matter what your position is. To remain confident in your hope and to live by faith even during long waits and delays that weary our heart and try our emotions. The life of waiting is part of standing for the Lord. Not grumbling, complaining and striking out against others but with the same love, peace and joy found when we see His Word come to pass. The life of consistency is desired of the Lord as it resonates true and genuine faith in Him.  He loves when we believe His is Good when things go bad. He loves when we wait patiently knowing He is faithful. Our response in the waiting is the greatest test of where we stand in our faith. Are you still standing?

Isaiah 35:3-4 (NKJV) Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will  come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”