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.”

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Where’s Your Faith?

Where's Your Faith

Matthew 21:21-22 (NLT) Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

Do you have faith today? The answer is “yes”! Everyone is born with a measure of faith and the capacity to trust. It is seed invested in us during creation for the sole purpose of discovering God’s Love and reproducing it in us until it pours out around us. However, with His Love, Grace and Mercy come the power to choose. Faith is a commodity given to us without a command. We are instructed, encouraged and exhorted to have faith in God – however, at the end of the day it is up to us where we put it, what we do with it and how we sow it.

You can pray for anything, and it if you have faith, you will receive it. Yesterday, I was tagged in a tweet that said, “Faith without works is DEAD (useless, unprofitable, worthless). Immediately without hesitation – the words came to me, “Faith is life.” What you give your faith to is what comes into existence in your life. Faith without works is dead just if it is sown into anything it produces life. Faith in and of itself is a powerful force. It always produces something in us and through us. Good or bad. Faith given to ordinary things produces ordinary results. Faith sown in the natural WILL produce natural results. Faith is seed. Faith is life. The Word of God is clear what is sown in our life will reap a harvest. What are you giving life to?

Mark 11:22-23 (NLT) Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.

“Faith is the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” This is the Bible’s definition of what faith is and its potential. The world defines faith as “confidence or trust in a person or thing”, “belief that is not based on proof”, and “belief in anything” at all. It is natural to put our faith and trust in the known and not the unknown to invest in the seen rather than unseen. Jesus tells his disciples explicitly to “have faith in God.” These simple words can harvest unconditional love, grace, salvation, transformation, healing, provision, prosperity, restoration, renewal, and revival in our life.

If you are not experiencing such things, it is time to examine our field. Where are we putting out faith? It is the place where our time, talent and treasure go. It is the place where we turn to in disappointment, discouragement or despair. It is the foundation that holds when everything is shaking, and our refuge in the storm. I believe valuable seeds of faith are often squandered in barren places. When we retrieve those seeds – replanting them in good soil of a fertile heart in love with God and choose to leave them there to be harvested in His Time – our life will become beautiful just like He said it would.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The real children of Abraham are those who put their faith and trust in God. (Galatians 3:7) There is one Lord, one faith and one baptism. (Ephesians 4:5) Life is found by putting our faith in Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) It is in Him the potential of our life is discovered. He gives fertility and vitality to our faith so it grows, develops and matures our potential into purpose which prospers into His Promises. The Lord makes it happen because He who called us is faithful. (1 Thessalonians 5:24) This doesn’t mean giving up on dreams and goals in this life even natural ones. It means investing our faith in the Lord to do all that He promised first in salvation and then in prosperity. As our soul prospers in love, our faith in God and confidence in our relationship grows into boldness so we can approach Him trusting and believing that what we pray for is in alignment with His Plan for us which always leads to fulfillment in all things.

Luke 7:44-50 (NLT) Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.  “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man that he goes around forgiving sins?” And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Do you believe that God loves you unconditionally? Do you have faith that the Grace of Jesus Christ offered in His Sacrifice is enough? Is it enough to desire a better life and seek transformation? Sin humbles us. It shows us that our way is not the best way. Love for Jesus means having confidence that He first loved us. The woman who went to Jesus did so in front of her abusers and accusers. She set down her shame and regret to pick up the sacrifice of full surrender. She poured her life’s worth at the feet of Jesus – not knowing if He would accept it but giving her all just the same. Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” The religious people mocked his words. But to the woman – His Words gave her life. Those who believe in the Love of God given to them through Jesus Christ and continually seek to love and serve Him will feel the freedom of guilt, shame and regret give way to freedom. Freedom to live in partnership with Jesus and yoked to Him. Suddenly the opinions of others aren’t as powerful because we have taken our faith from them and sown them in new life. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. (Romans 3:22)

Mark 10:51-52 (NLT) “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.  

Faith is life to our soul, body, mind and spirit. Miracles happen in the midst of unwavering faith. Diversified faith cannot produce the blessings or promises of God because they are perfect. Uncompromised by sin or human imperfection. By His Stripes, we are healed…but only when we believe God’s Promise over the doctor’s report. When we seek healing with the fervency that we seek doctors and medicine for relief. The man went to Jesus and said, “I want to see.” He came to the Lord. This is not a ploy to abandon physicians, medicine or medical attention but rather to pursue the miraculous healing of God through faith just the same. I believe God is my healer. He does so medically, miraculously and mercifully. All are miracles of faith when we put our trust in the Great Physician first. Life is found in the sowing of faith. Doctors are limited to natural life. God offers supernatural promises. Jesus sealed those promises for us including things like healing. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. (Romans 4:20-21)  

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Faith pleases God. It is impossible to please God without faith in His Son Jesus Christ. I wonder today what would happen if we decided to gather up all the faith planted in lesser things and sow them into our relationship with Jesus Christ. To partner with the Lord by faith in every aspect of our human and natural life. To try obedience. Test out prayer. To begin to seek the Lord first and then work it out. Faith without works is dead. Faith in works is death. Faith in God’s Word brings His Promises including our purpose to life.

Where have you left your faith today? Is it in people? Is it in things? Is it dying in hard ground? Are you disappointed with how your life is turning out? Hope never leads to disappointment. Faith in God through Jesus Christ gives life to dead dreams and distant visions are brought into clear view. I encourage you today. Find your faith. Plant it in a fertile heart. Spend some time in the Presence of Your Savior, Healer, Deliverer and Friend. God is a good father. He will never let you down if only you believe. Life and love are accessed and increased in our life through faith in Christ alone. The author and finisher of faith will tell you a beautiful love story and then you will live it in Jesus Name.

Romans 5:5 (NLT) And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

 

Faith is Not Enough

Faith is Not Enough

Matthew 17:20 (NLT) “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

A mustard seed is tiny and round. The diameter measures between 1 to 2 millimeters. It weighs about .000004409 pounds. A mustard seed planted in the ground will produce a tree at maturity will average between 6 and 20 feet with a 20-foot spread. In ideal conditions, exceptional plants will reach 30 feet tall. Mustard plants are hearty. They will grow in most conditions. Jesus told his disciples that if they had faith even as small as a mustard seed…nothing would be impossible. If they had faith even that small it would move a mountain. I wonder today…what would happen if we believed enough to sow a tiny seed of faith? Not a lot…just a little…real and genuine faith into the brokenness of our life, the disappointments, the despair, the longings, and unmet expectation. What would happen if we believed God? What if we believed His Word? What if rather than working so hard on the appearance of faith the church dug deep in the folds and recesses of our own hearts and minds to put a teeny tiny seed called faith? What would happen? Miracles. Healing. Life. Change. Dare, I say, “Revival.”

What if the problem is not our desire for revival to come but our willingness to sow the seed called faith necessary to produce it? To get over our situation, self, and opinions long enough to take the smallest bit of believing and planting it in even the most adverse and unfavorable conditions of our life. What would happen? If rather than cultivating division, we began to till the field together with the love and grace of our example – Jesus. I am challenged by the promise that NOTHING would be impossible if I had enough faith. NOTHING. Religion hems us in to ideology, theology, and doctrine. It stifles growth with a fence of pride, rules and regulations contradictory to flourishing growth and continual perpetuation of God’s Love to all people. People don’t leave church full of love but more self-loathing presented with a standard no one can live up to. God’s love is limitless. It is unconditional. Maybe if we believed in God’s Love, Goodness, Grace and that He is always pursing us with these qualities – faith might become our focus. What does MY faith have to do with anyone else?

Matthew 13:31-32 (NLT) Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Jesus describes the Kingdom to be like a mustard seed planted that grows into a tree where “birds come and make nests in its branches.” My faith is not just for me. It is not for my personal use. It is a demonstration of my participation in the Kingdom of God. It is what makes me effective in the Kingdom. It is fulfillment of my membership in the Body of Christ. We are given a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) The opportunity to be a part of something everlasting and much bigger than ourselves. He placed eternity in our heart to give us direction towards hope. There is no fulfillment as a believer without faith. Tangible faith. Genuine faith. Real faith. Not fruitless talk from an empty heart. It is take the faith given to us by God and the hope we have and to do something with it. But what?

The seed of faith must be planted, invested, and/or released to reach fulfillment. Putting our faith in action is releasing it into God’s Hands. It allows the seed to change and become what it was purposed to be. To reach its full potential – it must return to the careful oversight of the Maker and Creator of life in order for the transformation process to occur. God creates newness from within us. This is why we must die to self to have new life. It is impossible to maintain our present form in our present condition and step into newness of life.

Faith comes to life by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) To put a seed in the ground, but not water it or expose it to light or give it the nutrients it needs but rather abandon it is not good farming. To say one has faith but do nothing to continually cultivate and care for that seed will allow dreams to die in the ground or lay dormant. The purpose is still in the seed just as God’s Promise is still just for you but without proper care (Paul planted and Apollos watered) there will be no increase. To say, “I believe” yet live like you don’t – just isn’t enough to grow anything worthwhile or good in our life.

James 2:17-20 (NLT) So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Plot twist. Faith is not enough. Faith is but a seed hidden inside of us waiting to be planted for fulfillment. Faith is planted by trust. Total trust. It must grow. It has to undergo a transformation that you and I cannot do apart from the Lord. We need God, His Word, and His Spirit to produce the fruit that offers fulfillment to us and those we come in contact with. Our external life will only prosper as our soul does. Faith is not for tangible giving unless born of generosity reminiscent of a prospering soul. I have learned not to go by my emotions, feelings or opinion. When offered a life choice of any magnitude at all I seek the Lord. He knows what’s best for me. Sometimes it means swallowing my pride to plant that seed of faith. It means offering an apology simply to make room for a relationship to grow. Other times I have to stop worrying about myself and consider the needs, wants and desires of another entrusting my care to the Father. I find that when I am cognizant of the seeds of faith that I have been given and keep them in my right hand ready to plant – I am given many opportunities. Sometimes the growth and reward evident immediately, others over a span of days, months and years, and some harvests – I am still waiting to see come up. It is a constant perpetuation of seasons. When I allow God to be in charge of my seasons and choose to sow faith in them all – I find that whether it is a season of just enough or more than enough – I am content. When it is almost here or way far off – I can still wait. When the night has given way to weeping, and the joy of the morning not yet arrived – I can still rest in perfect peace because God is with me. He loves me. He is for me. He will never let me down. Faith grows much fruit in our life and has the potential to be a life giver to others. It can do nothing if it is not planted.

The credit card company asks, “What’s in your wallet?” Today I am asking, “What’s in your hand?” All your cares, worries, burdens and regret? All the disappointments, delays and detours of dead dreams. God makes all things new. He does it by faith. Change will not come holding on to all these things, but when you sow them by faith and trust in the Father’s Love. Miracles happen when we do that – believe God at His Word, trust Him in His Way, and seek Him wholeheartedly.

Revelation 21:5 (NLT) And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

New Gate

New Gate

Psalm 84:10-11 (NLT) A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Have you ever heard the expression “like a cow looking at a new gate”? You know the look of bewilderment, perplexity, uncertainty or even just a dazed and confused expression. The same look when you get by asking our kids to clean their room for the umpteenth time like it is a new rule in your house. I wonder if that is how the Lord feels when the gateway of opportunity swings wide yet our faith cannot seem to muster the first step because the next one is not clearly visible. Who will dare to enter the open gate? Who will seize the day? Who will walk in the new thing set before them with the same bold confidence of the past things that God has done? His Faithfulness is not in question. The Lord offers us new opportunities to love, trust, obey and be blessed by Him.

I wonder what “new thing” God is doing in your life today. Is it similar to mine? Is it the same gate I have passed through before, am coming to now or will navigate in the future? Each day is a new opportunity in the life of every believer. His Mercy meets us and His Unfailing Love and Goodness continues its pursuit of the believer. His Potential, Purpose and Promises are all lined up ready to go. Can you see them? Do you feel them? Can you reach out and grab hold of them? Yeah, me either. Dreams and visions fill my head. Thoughts form and circle that there must be more than this but how do we live behind the mediocre and mundane to explore miracles. How do I stop being ordinary to embrace extraordinary? Do I really want to settle for less than God’s Best or select substitutions to cut corners and make time speed by? The answer is “no”… I want all that God has for me. I desire that which Jesus died for me to have coming back to life on the third day to hand it to me. Finally, His Spirit lives in me. The driving force and motivator of more faith and the one who builds confident hope within. There is more to life than this and it is inside the new gate.

Genesis 28:16-18 (NLT) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it.

What a fine mess? Family drama and dysfunction at its best. None of us would know what that is all about now would we… Jacob is fleeing the wrath of Esau. He stole his birthright out from under him and take the blessing of the first son as well. In fear his mother arranged for him to give live with his uncle, Laban. So Jacob left his home. As he laid down his head that night, I wondered if he felt a twinge of regret mixed with loneliness. Was the blessing that didn’t belong to him worth it? Did he feel sadness that he was now separated from his family? While he was sleeping, Jacob had a dream. He saw the heavens open and a stairway connecting heaven and earth. Angels were traveling up and down the stairs. At the top of the threshold was the Lord who told Jacob, “I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”

What happens when the access point of opportunity to inherit the blessings of God do not look like what we thought they should or do not come the way we decided they would? What happens when things get worse before they get better? What happens when our expectation is not immediately met but predestined to take time, endurance and patience? What about those times? God opens new opportunities to us each day. His Promise to work every detail for our good means that in every situation a miracle can happen and His Word still will come to pass even when the gate marked “change” is not what we wanted or has left us broken in the field.

John 10:1-4 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.”

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can get to the Father but by Him. (John 14:6) There are no shortcuts when it comes to our relationship with God the Father. No one is righteous – not a single person. It is only through Jesus Christ, we are made right with God the Father. Who the Son sets free is free to choose the gates entered and bypassed in life. Righteousness does not always mean that people will walk in the blessings and favor of God. It is a personal choice to pursue the Lord and walk in His Ways. By faith, new gates are crossed over and new life achieved.

Psalm 24:3-8 (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. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle.

It is from this place of underserved and unearned grace that God’s Glory is on the verge of pouring over from Heaven into our life. We have the opportunity to walk in the Favor of God but our willingness is up to each of us. Who can climb the mountain of the Lord? Submitting one’s life and surrendering to God’s Way begins in His Word. The Word of God is who Jesus is. It is how we know Him and identify with Him in our life. True repentance begins the climb to a higher standard of living yet a lowering of our heart to humble ourselves before the Lord. All relationships take effort. It is work to maintain a good one. Maybe it’s not the gate you find perplexing but the mountain on the other side.

Jacob was all about acquisition, but what was coming was acquiescence. God is all about establishing a strong, solid relationship with His Beloved. (That’s us!) He desires us more than anything yet too often we desire everything else but God. Pouring our life out for our families, jobs, causes, and hobbies – there is nothing left for the Lord and very little energy or interest in what lies beyond the new gate. Can I just get some rest? Take a nap? Steal away a few hours for some “me-time”? Jacob saw heaven open before him and ministering angels going back and forth from heaven to earth. Things didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but when presented with the new gate – Jacob entered in. “Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.” (Genesis 28:20-22) When adversity came Esau rebelled, but Jacob chose obedience.

Isaiah 26:1-4 (NLT) In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation. Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!  Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

No matter what lies in the past, peace is always our future in the Lord. Our city (His Kingdom) is strong! We are surrounded by God’s Salvation and filled with His Spirit including resurrection life and power accessed by faith in God. The righteous ALWAYS have access to the Kingdom. It is never restricted or limited. We are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ that leads to true repentance. Turning from our old life, and pursuing new life. Opportunities are presented to us each day. His Word is filled with instructions to claim promise after promise and experience blessing after blessing. There is no limitation in the Lord. In fact, He meets and exceeds all expectation. We must only trust Him to boldly and confidently pass through the passages of life with our eyes on the Gate and willingness to enter in. Trust the Lord always and He presents those who do with perfect peace. The same God who gave Jacob peace and promise in a dark pasture on a lonely night is ready to do the exact same thing for you and me.

Psalm 118:19-21 (NLT) Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the Lord. These gates lead to the presence of the Lord, and the godly enter there. I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory!

New challenges. New trials. New opportunities. In all of life’s changes, God is with you. He gives us victory through His Son, Jesus Christ. No matter what lies in the next season just a step over the threshold of a brand new day – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is with you in your past, with you in the present and with you in the future. The Lord feels the same about you whether yesterday you lived in victory or experienced the agony of defeat. All sin is covered. All mistakes potential messages. Every test may be your testimony. You overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. His Name is Jesus. He is the Gate. You can enter in knowing He loves you. He will care for you. He will make you victorious no matter how impossible it seems so enter His Gates with thanksgiving and praise!

Psalm 100:3-5 (NLT) Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

 

 

Keep Striking the Arrows

Keep Striking the Arrows

2 Kings 13:17-19 (NLT) Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.” Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

Have you ever tried to tackle closet that is too full? The spare room or office that has become a catch-all? When I was visiting my daughter a week before her move, there was not a box packed or closet emptied. She was overwhelmed. Pregnant. Relocating for the second time in just a few months. A 21-hour plus drive from the north to the south. The journey from promise to reality is no joke. Anything worth having requires an investment. It is not uncommon or unusual to get dismayed when our process seems delayed, detoured or distant. The Lord often has to undo us to redo everything for our best and according to His Glory. We become uncomfortable as our life is inconvenient. Things seem chaotic and out of control as God remakes our life, shapes us and molds our character. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts so much higher.

I guess I am at the place some call middle age. It doesn’t bother me too much other than there are some things that God has promised that haven’t come to pass. In fact, there are some things that seem downright impossible. I am the person who loves spring and fall cleaning. I love to take things apart, put them back together, organize and reorganize. Chaos is not my favorite. I prefer control and insight rather than those times when the Lord keeps us in the stillness of waiting without the ability to see what lies ahead. Yesterday, I did a gut check. I sought the Lord on my current position. Am I where you want me, Lord? Am I doing what you want me to do? I need to know what to do, Lord. “Keep striking the arrows…” Hmm…

Romans 4:20-24 (NLT) Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

I have heard this message taught about the king who sought instruction from Elisha. The potency and power in his words may just be that it was the final ones of the prophet’s natural life. The first arrow shot from the window was the “Lord’s arrow” and I believe it marked the promise. The promise that was in the distance. The promise of victory not yet attained. Do you have a promise? Does it seem like it is taking forever? David was anointed to be king 22 years before it happened. Joseph had a dream but did not know that it included a pit, slavery, false accusations, and famine. Abraham was promised to be the father of many nations but it took 90 years to have his first child. God is not a man. He does not lie or change His Mind. The promise and plan for our life is secure. His Call is irrevocable. His Word cannot return to Him lacking fulfillment. This does not mean that the Lord will hurry it up, change it up or in any way lessen its perfection or completion to accommodate our confidence, control, comfort and/or convenience.

With this in mind, my attention is drawn to the other arrows. I know the Promises of God spoken to me and outlined in His Word. Some have manifested and others just out of reach. In order to reach fulfillment, I must “keep striking the arrows.” What does that even mean? If you are like me, too invested to go back now and looking in the distance as if it is too far – I believe this is for us today. Tired of running the race, but too stubborn to give up now.  Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. Elisha grew angry with the king. Why did you stop at just three times? Why stop short? What if these arrows had inscriptions on each shaft? Instructions written by the Hand of God to encourage us today.

Faith

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

As believers, we must strike out in faith every single day. Faith is the very thing that pleases God. Without faith, there is no righteousness. We cannot come to the Father except by having faith in His Son, Jesus. The first arrow is clearly marked faith. Faith in Jesus. Faith in God. Faith in the promise. Faith that cannot give up on the reality of confident hope in our life.

Endurance

Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Endurance produces character in Christians. (Romans 5:3-4) Jesus said that the one who endures to the end will be saved. We must work consciously every day to strip off the weight of sin and even laziness to purse God. It is important. The second arrow is marked endurance. This arrow is haggard and a bit ragged but will be the one that goes the farthest in achieving godly purpose and wins the pursuit of righteousness but it ref uses to fall short.

Patience

Hebrews 10:36 (NLT) Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

The ugliest arrow is marked patience. No one likes to wait. Everyone is always in a hurry. Patience is not optional but integral when it comes to the things of God. Everything has a season and time in our life. It doesn’t mean that it makes sense to us but is sequential to the fulfillment ordered by the Lord for your life. Patience is our response to God’s Promises. It is the supplement of faith that keeps us yoked to the Lord. It quiets our busyness. It softens our timeline. It allows us to step back and see things from another perspective. We must learn patient endurance to make it to completion. (2 Peter 1:5-7) Patience is better than pride that insists on its way in its own time. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Humility

James 4:18 (NLT) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

Humility is the broken arrow. The arrow that finally gives way to God’s Will. This arrow has been through some battles. It has won some and lost many in its own vain attempts at glory. Now full accepting the grace of God it gives up its own way to follow Him. The Bible says that we must clothe ourselves in humility. God creates humbling opportunities but ultimately it is a personal decision to surrender our will and way to Jesus Christ.

Obedience

I Samuel 15:22-23 (NLT) But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

God’s Word is our instruction book for life. Like any list of instructions, if you skip one, your expectation should change as well. To expect the same results with only partial obedience is silly. If you skip a step in a recipe, you risk ruining the meal. We must read the Handbook of Life which is our directions. The arrow marked obedience is essential. It is a quiet arrow that listens more than it talks. The Word sharpens its tip so that it will not fly off course. Jesus is our example of complete obedience. (Philippians 2:7-10)

Perseverance

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

Perseverance is steady persistence. It is continuance in a state of grace to the end. It is to continue to fight the good fight of faith even when you don’t feel it, see it or know if you really want it. It is the arrow that is the heaviest because there are times you cannot even lift it… but somehow by His Grace you do. These are the arrows to strike the ground with. They are not aimed at the enemy or other people. Jesus Christ has made you victorious. He has overcome the world. He has handed His Victory to you. Live like it.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

May the Lord give you a new grip today. To grab hold of these arrows and continue striking the ground until your victory comes. Do not give up. Discipline is essential. It is not always pleasant but will always be worth it. The satisfaction of finishing far outweighs the trouble it took to get there. You can do this. You have all everything you need at your disposal. Run with purpose in each step. Don’t shadowbox. Your time is worth more than that. Take a rest. Don’t give up or give in but press in to the Father today. He is for you. Jesus has handed you the victory – pursue it. Keep striking those arrows and surely it will come to pass!

 

 

Not A Single Bloom

Not a Single Bloom

Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.

We adopted a new family member a few months ago in the form of a Labrador retriever puppy. In the past, our family pets have included guinea pigs and Chihuahuas all under the ten pound weight limit and truly without much drive to anything other than eat and sleep. Scout is a massive black lab weighing in around 70 pounds at seven months old. At her size, it would be pretty difficult to make her do something she did not want to do. Thankfully she is a good puppy. She learns quickly. However, one thing we did not have to teach her is to retrieve. In fact, she loves to carry stuff and bring things to you. It is innate. Preprogrammed in her DNA as she was bred for hunting. The breed is considered a working class animal. She has a purpose and it comes out in her behavior naturally.

The fig tree grew from a tiny seed with great potential. All fruit-bearing trees come preprogrammed to reproduce fruit containing more seeds. When Jesus saw the fig tree, he was hungry. There should have been ripe tasty fruit hidden behind the foray of plentiful leaves. As the Lord got closer and inspected the tree, he found no fruit. Jesus cursed the tree and it dried up right then and there. It seems harsh to think Jesus would be a tree killer. To note in this passage, there were no blooms and no fruit on the tree. The potential of the tree was to bear fruit and it did not fulfill its purpose. There were two lessons to be learned that day – first the obvious example of faith inspired revelation and secondly the less obvious truth of the future of unfulfilled potential.

Matthew 21:20-22 (NLT) The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

The disciples were amazed. How did the Master speak causing the tree to wither in die just like that? It was a sight to see no doubt. I wonder if they were listening to what He said or mesmerized by what He did? This is vitally important in our walk with the Lord. We are called to walk by faith not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) However in that moment they could not take their eyes off the once alive now dead carcass of the tree once covered in leaves now reduced to firewood.

Jesus explained the power of confident faith. The kind of faith that doesn’t just prays but believes that prayer is a powerful resource in their life. Faith is empowered by our belief. If you do not believe that God will do exactly what He says, you will not have enough faith to see it come to pass. The disciples had witnessed signs, wonders and miracles yet still did not fully believe without doubting. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who EARNESTLY seek Him. You can pray for anything and if you have faith you WILL receive it. Jesus said it, but do we have enough faith to believe it. It only takes a seed of faith to produce such confidence. The seed that is planted deep within our heart and not forgotten but nurtured until it grows, develops and matures into confident hope. Hope that never leads to disappointment.  (Romans 5:5)

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

Our puppy came with a purpose engrained in her being. She knows that it is her job to retrieve. In fact, she does it all the time without being send or issued a command. She walks around the house with dog toys. She carries sticks and limbs around outside. She demonstrates her potential every single day. It is up to me as her owner to cultivate her purpose by teaching her commands and obedience that will lead her to fulfillment in her potential.

The Lord has preprogrammed us with purpose. He has a plan handwritten for each one of us individually. (Psalm 139:16) You are not insignificant to the Body of Christ but incorporated in its full potential. (Colossians 3:15) The plans of God for His People are good always good. He has given us a future and hope in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) He has given us His Spirit to guide us, teach us and encourage us along the way. (John 14:26) We are full of potential and purpose! Our life is not meaningless and insignificant. The challenge is to believe it beyond what we can see. To accept that God has something bigger and strive for it even when faced with adversity. Faith is the catalyst and by believing the conduit to reaching fulfillment in Christ. But what about right now…what about today…what if there is no fruit…what if not a single bloom…what then?

Haggai 2:19 (NLT) I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”

2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (NLT) For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

God has given us a promise. Each heart knows the promises of God spoken to them. I wonder if faith has been applied to that seed. We can condition our conversation to say all the right things producing leaves that cover the ugly side of unbelief. I can talk a good talk, but am I walking a faith walk. The fig tree had the potential to produce fruit. Planted in good soil by the side of the road, carefully watered and cared for by the Hand of God, it appeared to be a healthy tree. God doesn’t look on the outside but carefully examines the human heart. When the Lord came close to look for fruit, He found nothing. I wonder if sometimes we get caught up in the social spectrum of religion forsaking a faith-filled relationship with Jesus Christ. When the answer takes too long, the promise seems too impossible, or when the opinion of others override our confidence in Christ.

In Haggai, the Lord spoke through the prophet that He was about shake the heavens and earth once more. He promised that even in the shaking they had His Promise. I wonder if we needed the reminder today that even when nothing seems to be going right and even in the waiting that His Promise is yes and amen in Jesus Christ. The potential inside of us is not dictated by our surroundings or sufferings but rather prescribed by God beforehand so that He could do exceedingly abundantly more than we could think or ask. Do you believe that today? Your life has hidden potential released in a broken heart. Your heart is not broken by God for destruction but for full consummation of all that He has for you. Faith cannot reach a hard heart. Seeds must find fertile ground. All seeds take time to grow but the promise keeps the farmer waiting and tending the field.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT) Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1:2) This is one of my favorite verses. It is true revelation for the believer. May you prosper in all things and be in health…just as your soul prospers. God will not prosper our natural life until first we prosper in our spiritual life. The Fruit of God’s Spirit (who labels us Children of the Living God) are love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Faith in growing, developing and maturing in our life begins with these qualities. Confident hope will cultivate this kind of fruit long before the natural overflowing of abundance comes. The disciples were caught up in the awe of the moment. They couldn’t believe what their eyes had encountered. Jesus was trying to get through to their heart. Their lives as His Disciples would need a prospering soul to make it through the dark times ahead. To fulfill their purpose, they couldn’t abandon the Cross but had to follow Jesus to it.

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” How is your praise today? Can you rejoice right here and right now? Even though the fig trees have no blossoms…What is your response in such times? Jesus is the vine. We are the branches. The vinedresser will have to prune us from time to time to allow new life to come forth. Will His Praise still be on your lips in times of testing? God loves us too much to keep us from fulfillment. To give us our way when the Highway of Holiness becomes too steep. He just can’t put aside His Perfect Love to allow us to compromise for less than His Best. He is more than enough so when settling for less than enough is not in His Nature. Jesus may have cursed the fig tree that day, but He has not cursed you. He has given you and I every spiritual blessing. Now it is up to us to receive it for ourselves. You have potential – His Name is Jesus Christ. You have a purpose handwritten by God and gifted by grace. You have blessings, promises and fulfillment waiting for you. It is for now in the land of the living. Thank you Lord for the future and hope that I have in you. Teach me never to settle for leaves when fruit is my potential and purpose. Lord, help me to accept nothing less than the fulfillment you have predestined in my life! I will walk by faith. I will believe. I will not be moved.

Romans 15:1-5 (NLT)“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

Break the Cycle

Break the Cycle

2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

Just about every morning, I start a load of wash to start the day. This house produces mounds of laundry at an alarming rate. It is my personal ongoing challenge to find the bottom of the hamper though only able to glory in it shortly before it fills back up. The washer has different cycles according to that which I am cleaning. There is a delicate cycle for those things that are fragile or nice. There is a normal setting for all the average materials. Then there is a heavy duty one for those big loads like towels or really dirty loads. There is a plethora of other choices in between so many options just to get your items clean. When I visited Africa as a missionary, there were two sweet ladies that would gather up the laundry and in the sunshine of the day with a couple buckets of water work through all of it until it was pristine. No fancy machine with a bunch of buttons just two hardworking women beating the clothes on rocks, scrubbing with brushes, rubbing with lemon and hanging the product of the labor to dry. They were scheduled for twice a week to come to the missionary’s home. They were part of a cycle, too.

Are you living in a cycle? Or are you living in seasons? To live life making the same choices and expecting different outcomes is thought to be insanity. I don’t know if that’s the case, but it certainly is sad. I wonder if sometimes as believers the mistake is made to think we are living in seasons but only an ongoing cycle. Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. Am I a new person? Or am I the same person just doing different things? Hmmm… I was listening to my daughters talk about a situation with some friends. Teenage drama. The same scenario played out not too long ago. Hopeful that the cycle of hurt feelings was over yet clearly not. And that’s when it hit me…my own thoughts were filled with disappointment that was creeping in as frustration, bitterness and discord. Is Christ a concept in my life or is Christ my life? I am a new creation. I am a new person. I have a new life. It is not because of conditions or circumstances and certainly not dictated by people. It is up to me to break the cycle of sin and continually sow seeds in seasons including those intangible seeds that grow into the Fruit of God’s Spirit. One day my girls will mature into adults (I hope) that can see past immaturity and temporary circumstances. As Christians, it is our privilege in Christ to grow, mature and develop our character in every season. Too often, we fall prey to cycles.

A cycle is a sequence of changing states that, upon completion, produces a final state identical to the original one. Like my washing machine, I can operate in cycles that do nothing to grow, develop or mature my character and produce a harvest but yields the same results over and over again. If I do not break such sequences in my life and determine to plant the Word, pray in the Spirit and do something different – I run the risk of becoming like the fig tree which could produce beautiful leaves but could bear no fruit. It did not make it past an encounter with Christ. Is your life producing fruit? Are you doing all the “right” things but not experiencing the associated blessing? Are you living in a cycle? Religion often creates cycles in life. Repetitious rules and rituals that without true repentance and real righteousness will bear no harvest in us.

Romans 7:18-20 (NLT) And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

Galatians 4:9-11 (NLT) So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing.

Unproductive seasons are nothing more than cycles. I am now convinced that the derailment of a season turns it into a cycle. If we do not plant seeds of faith, trust and confidence and allow them to grow, develop and mature there will be no harvest. There will only be disappointment and discouragement when no blessing comes. We can endure seasons, but to get a harvest something must be sown. To reap a harvest there must be a spiritual investment. A seed in the ground must die to produce the potential within it. I wonder today if some of us have fallen into dangerous cycles rather than living from season to season. We can break these dangerous cycles by choosing to live according to the seasons.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 11 (NLT) For everything there is a season a time for every activity under heaven. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 

Galatians 6:7-9 (NLT) Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

James 1:21-22 (NLT)  So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

Who the Son sets free is free indeed. We get to choose how we live even after coming to Christ. It doesn’t mean that our lives will produce harvests of blessing and abundance no matter how we live but that His Mercy and Grace is always enough to save us. We must only endure to the end to be saved. Some Christians will live in cycles from here to eternity and walk right in. That’s not enough for me. I believe that Christ died to give me an abundant life and do exceedingly abundantly more than I can think or ask according to His Word. I believe that His Promise to make good of every detail of my life also is true and valid. Every spiritual blessing is given to me right along with everything I need. I am marked for success. I am prospering from the inside out. However, believing all these things are not enough. I must live according to the seasons and break every fruitless cycle that I once engaged in.

God promised that the seasons of our life would produce a harvest…if I carefully obey His Commands. (Deuteronomy 11:13-15) His Desire is for His People to thrive and produce good and lasting fruit in EVERY season even in drought or famine. (Psalm 1:1-3) Obedience will break cycles and turn them into seasons. Our heart must be broken, fertile and ready to receive that seed by faith and allow it to reach its full potential which means I cannot live by what I see but by faith as the Word prescribes. God is more concerned with the life produced inside of me than a tangible harvest. When my heart and soul prosper it will overflow into abundant life around me.

I Corinthians 13:11-12 (NLT) When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

James 1:23-25 (NLT) For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

The beauty of our walk with Christ is that it is individual and personal. He longs to walk with us and talk with us every day. To be yoked together as one. He knocks awaiting a personal invitation and always comes when called. He offers to be the vine with a place for branches to become engrafted and bear fruit in all seasons according to the resurrection power and life that is in Him. We have been given the opportunity as Children of the Living God filled with His Life Giving Spirit to produce good fruit. Lasting fruit. Abundant fruit. We must live each season through Christ and refuse to settle for cycles.

We must look into the mirror, not at our appearance. It is our reflection that must be determined. Sin leads to death a vicious and endless cycle. Life begets life – new life in each season. Sin is anything that is contrary to His Word, His Will or His Way. Hope never leads to disappointment. True repentance produces a love affair with Jesus so special that there is nothing of more value or worth to compare it to. It is the sweetest love that produces a desire in us for more of Him. It is produced by the seed of faith committed in trust and confident that it will be worth the wait. Are you in a cycle today? Good news! New life belongs to you. You are a new creation. You are more than a conqueror through Christ. You always win. You live from glory to glory. Anytime you would like to break an unproductive cycle – you can! Is it time to put away some childish things? Maybe it is time just to believe again. Whatever the season of your life make it productive. Find your promise. Plant God’s Word. Speak life over it every day. Wait until He comes with the harvest He promised. He will come. Will you be ready?

Isaiah 55:10-13 (NLT) “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

Hearts and Hands

Hearts and Hands

Luke 10:38-42 (Message) As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

Balance. Life in balance. God designed and ordered our life with particular steps to fulfillment. Each one has a purpose for our heart and hands. I struggle between the personalities of Martha and Mary. I tend to be more of the Type A personality of the hardworking sister. Driven by labor, responsibilities and working. I find great satisfaction in a clean house and well-ordered life. The concept of control even in the smallest of tasks gives me security. I am learning to live like Mary. The worshipper who did not worry so much about her duties but focused on Christ. In the brief visit of Jesus to their home, Mary understood the importance of sitting at His Feet. Martha was overloaded with worry and stress to please the Lord and make His Visit pleasurable. Both ladies were noble in their efforts. Their actions demonstrating their fondness and admiration of Christ, but then the joy killer called comparison set in.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” (Theodore Roosevelt) How do we admire the beauty and worth of another without questioning ourselves? Comparison with myself and the person who God created me to be as mirrored in His Word will bring improvement as I grow, develop and mature in Christ. However, when I compare myself to others it breeds only discontentment and a lack of fulfillment. I am conforming to a standard other than that purposed for me. Psalm 139 reminds me daily to praise the Lord for who I am because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I have a purpose all my own. Promises aligned perfectly to fulfill that purpose and not that of another. My perception of life must be through the Father’s Eyes in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Otherwise, I have set the standard too low…less I digress.

Comparisons can make you feel superior and other times inferior. Neither serves a useful purpose in the life of a believer. We are called to build a Kingdom. No two members will be the same. Each has a place, purpose, plan and promise which is in direct correlation with that of another. The enemy uses comparison to tear down the Body of Christ especially women. The media projects images of who we should be and what to believe. It creates a stirring that there is something to prove or improve in all of us. This may or may not be true but the kind of change society promotes is temporary but we are everlasting beings created by a Sovereign and Forever God who far outweighs today or tomorrow living in the vastness of eternity. His Son reserved a place for us there that has our name on it. Will He recognize us when we arrive?

The woman at the well in her conversation with Christ was told that true worshippers will do so in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) I believe that Martha and Mary demonstrate the two distinct personalities that the Lord carefully molds into this kind of worshipper. The one who does so in spirit and in truth. Mary was the spiritual worshipper. The one who couldn’t get enough of Jesus. She would sit at his feet, ignoring her household task, to “hanging on every word.” Martha, on the other hand, she was the worshipper in truth. She was busy preparing a meal for her guest, overseeing the task at hand, she was getting ready because she knew His Visit would be brief and she wanted to honor Him. At this point in time, Mary chose the essential. But wait there is more…

John 11:20-26 (Message) Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house. Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”  “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

Lazarus had died. The sisters were mourning their great loss when Jesus arrived. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet Him while Mary remained in the house. Martha decided to engage the Lord and went to Him. I am sure she had some questions. Where were you? Why didn’t you come sooner? We needed you, Lord. Engaging faith is demonstrated in Martha who took her matter straight to Jesus while Mary stayed in her mourning. See Martha was not the one driven by emotionalism. She was a woman of action. Jesus shared with Martha in that moment just as He had taught Mary at His Feet. Her brother would experience resurrection power and new life right before her eyes that day.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (Message) Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.

The truth in Deuteronomy is applicable today. Our heart is the place of God’s Perspective. He looks deep inside our heart to determine the changes necessary in fulfilling our purpose. We must do the same. Our attitude and actions must relate to and live in relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Word of God. Mary may have been lazy. Martha may have been lax. Their purpose was not defined by personality but rather by the Person of Christ. The Lord did not leave them the same in each encounter. To Martha – He gave her permission to rest. To quietly spend time in His Presence. To the worker, Jesus says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it…” (Matthew 11:28-30 – MSG) To the others, He says, “Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!” (Isaiah 35:3-5) To both the Lord says, Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.” (Ephesians 6:6-7 – MSG)

Romans 12:4-6 (Message) In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

I wonder news for you today! It doesn’t really mattered if you came wired like Martha or Mary. You are you because God decided you were an important part of the Body of Christ. We must learn to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Knowing the Word of God and doing as He says. It creates unity in the Body and harmony in the Kingdom. God finds great pleasure in harmony. It releases new anointing and opens the windows of Heaven. We need Marthas. We need Marys. We need every other personality the Lord saw fit to create for His Kingdom. The key is aligning our lives to Christ and with each other as one. “Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.” What a wonderful truth! You are the Light of the world – a city on a hill – you will shine in your time! Be the heart of Jesus today. Be His Hands. Be one with each other. It’s His Purpose for our life.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Humble Prayers

Humble Prayers

2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (NLT) At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16) It is not the earnestness of our prayers that move the heart of God. There I said it. I believe in the power of prayer. I have seen mighty miracles as a result of God’s People uniting to pray purposefully. I have seen God answer prayers over and over again. I understand that the Word of God instructs us to “keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.” (Matthew 7:7) It goes on to tell us to keep seeking and knocking. I have read it and I am encouraged by it. But it is still not God’s Motivation.

God is motivated by righteous people. No one is righteous – not even one. (Romans 3:10) The only pathway to righteousness is because of faith in God who forgives sinners. (Romans 4:5) Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is our gateway to God. (John 14:6) Righteousness is right standing with God. The only way that this is fully accomplished is by His Grace. His Grace that is enough for me to enter the heavenly realm and speak to the Father with bold confidence. However, sometimes religion gives us the false thought that there is more to righteousness than a relationship through repentance. It tells us that there is some act or action that makes us worthy of God’s Full and Constant Attention. The only way a person becomes righteous is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways.

Righteousness always requires repentance. Always. I was reading the story of Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33. The account of a boy who became king at the tender age of 12. Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do more evil than the surrounding pagan nations. He even set up idols in the temple constructed by Solomon dedicated to God. The Lord spoke to Manasseh and the people warning them but the ignored Him. Manasseh was taken prisoner. He was led away by a ring placed in his nose by the Assyrians bound in heavy chains. While in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before God. When he prayed the Lord listened and was moved by his request. This man had thumbed his nose at the Lord completely. He had gone so far as to practice sorcery, divination, and witchcraft consulting with psychics and mediums. Yet when Manasseh truly repented and accepted God’s Mercy in all humility it moved the Lord. He was brought back to Jerusalem and given his kingdom. He realized that God was God alone and tore down all the shrines built to honor other gods. His deeds recorded in The Book of the Kings of Israel even though every sinful deed and record of unfaithfulness is equally chronicled in The Book of the Seers right down to the location of every shrine and Asherah pole constructed with every idol placed there. God honors humble prayers.

And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.”  Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.  (Daniel 10:11-12)  Daniel prayed humble prayers. The Lord sent an angel to him to tell Daniel that he was precious to God and a command had been released in the Heavenlies to honor his humble request. I wonder today if the prayers of the righteous go unanswered because the key component of humility has been left out.

The word humble or “kana” means to bring low and into subjection. It is not exalting one’s power but fully accepting God’s Grace as enough. It is the meekness that accepts God’s Will and remains faithful to His Way even when things are not going as planned or expected. If my people will humble themselves and pray…to give up our way and fully accept His Way is to have a humble heart. Humility before the Lord also known as meekness is to be overly submissive to Him. It means to comply with all the Lord requires which is to repent and seek His Face. The answer to every prayer is found in the person of Jesus Christ who gives us access to the Father.

If you are frustrated today by unanswered prayers, consider spending some time with the Father. Examine your heart. Consider your thoughts. Filter your mind. Sometimes we lose sight of what truly is the most important aspect of our Christian life to fight battles that we are not called to fight and to wage war against people rather than standing against the enemy. We must become one people with one purpose – one heart and one mind – full of God’s Love, living in His Favor and fruitful in every way to advance His Kingdom. These are the people who know who they are in Christ and stand confidently in times of trouble. Together. I must submit and surrender my life including every prayer to God not because I am right but through the righteousness offered by the Cross. It really doesn’t matter if I am right – when I am called to be the Light!

I want to partner with you today. I ask the Lord to grant you the desires of your heart in accordance with His Perfect Will. I find it encouraging that despite all of his faults and failures, the Lord still saw fit to rescue Manasseh and restore his kingdom out of His Love, Grace and Mercy. Because of Jesus Christ, even though I have a list of faults and failures just like him that the grace and goodness God has given me is more than enough to establish His Power for His Glory in my life. He is a good God. He is an even greater Father. His Love for us is based solely on His Perception of us not our perception of ourselves – surely someone should clap. As I pray today, I lay down everything that somehow managed to take precedence above the Father. I will not be led away by the enemy’s lies today or held in bondage by unconfessed sin. I don’t want to live in exile from the Lord but am taking the time to pray humble prayers. Thank you Lord for reminding me today that you alone are my righteousness!

Romans 3:22 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Walk By Faith

Walk by faith,

2 Corinthians 5:5-7 (Amplified)  Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfillment of His promise]. So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]

I will be the first to admit that I forget who I am and whose I am sometimes. I get caught up in ordinary life and forget God’s Extraordinary Promises that are for me. I become busy with temporary things and forget I am an external creature in Christ. I forget that impossible is not the end but only the beginning of the miraculous. When life gets a little chaotic it is easy to become overwhelmed by certain circumstances and lose sight of the fact that we are victorious overcomers in Jesus with ordered steps to be triumphant marathon believers who make it to the end.

We walk by faith, not by sight…

Life is good. No really, life is really great right now. Yet deep inside I have a yearning for more. More faith. More hope. More love. More… Jesus has promised us abundant life. He is offering rich, deep and complete satisfaction to those who dare to believe and trust Him at His Word. He has given us His Spirit to boldly pursue a higher calling that transcends small and trivial earthly maneuvers into the heavenly realm of more than enough and greater things. The trouble is that life no matter how good is filled with distractions and detours along the way. There are rest stops called comfort, compromise, convenience and the worst of all control. Pride loves the last one and lives on our eventual sojourns into the place of trying to earn or deserve what is absolutely free.

Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfillment of His promise].

The irritant inside the pearl is the conduit of change. The thing that keeps us from settling is the very thing that will produce substance in our life. We are called to walk by faith. According to the Amplified Bible, faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” Faith requires rewiring our thinking when uncertainly arrives or the unthinkable happens to recognize God is at work in us and through us. The Holy Spirit begins working in us immediately. To know and understand that God is too good to every leave us as He found us means that as grace abounds and Christ expands in our life it leaves little room for our mind, will and emotions to have their way. God made us. He prepared us for “this very purpose”. He is an intentional God who created you and me with a handwritten, specific plan. He knows our strengths and weaknesses. He works in us and through us for our good and His Glory. He is always good. This is hard to understand when living in a world that everything glittery is not gold. We do not have to be suspect of the Christ in us but the enemy around us who wants to steal and stop the Glory of God from pouring out of His People illuminating a dark and devastated world.

Faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses. Faith is assurance. Are you sure today? Are you certain God is for you? He is with you? He is good? He will never let you down? These beliefs are essential when nothing is going right, when everything is falling apart and you are at the end of self. It produces the hope that is the knot at the end of all ropes when faith overtakes fear and one dares to believe that God really is doing all that He promised enough to be still and steadfast – it is the platform of the watchtower of waiting.

To extract a pearl the shell must be broken open so the expensive product is revealed. The purpose and plan of God will be exposed in brokenness. It is bigger than you. It is greater than your present form. It is worth having. You must believe enough to let God finish the good work that He has begun. A seed must die to its present form to release its full potential. (I Corinthians 15:37) While trying to hold it all together, perhaps we miss the point that the Lord is waiting for everything to fall apart so that He can take all the pieces and make it a new creation. A masterpiece just as He planned. Grace is complete in our weakness. It is the moment of letting go of all that we are to become all that He has promised.

Matthew 13:45-46 (Amplified) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, and upon finding a single pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Like the pearl of great price, God’s Purpose, Plan and Promises will cost something. It will cost you everything to follow Christ and experience all that He has for you. It means giving up the substitutions to have full satisfaction. Forgoing the mediocre to have the miraculous. His Love for us is extravagant. It is overwhelming. It is reckless. Fully consuming. The merchant who searched for fine pearls found the one of great value. He went and sold all that he had to buy it. What will you give up of your ordinary life to become one with Christ today?

So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope…

Romans 5:1-5 (Amplified) Therefore, since we have been justified [that is, acquitted of sin, declared blameless before God] by faith, [let us grasp the fact that] we have peace with God [and the joy of reconciliation with Him] through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed). Through Him we also have access by faith into this [remarkable state of] grace in which we [firmly and safely and securely] stand. Let us rejoice in our hope and the confident assurance of [experiencing and enjoying] the glory of [our great] God [the manifestation of His excellence and power]. And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Grace truly is a remarkable state. It is not a “get out of hell” free card or just getting by but rather positions us fully into rightstanding with God and in full-fledged favor. It means that whatever is found and documented in the Word of God applies to us. Unconditional love, unfailing grace, and every over-the-top promise that He has given us belongs to us. We have the title deed to it by faith in God through Jesus Christ. However, our faith must give way to hopeful confidence. Confidence that overcomes a lack of persistence in the Body of Christ. We have not because we asked not. We have not because we didn’t wait. We have not because we do not believe it belongs to us. We have not because we gave up. We have not because when the going got rough – we stopped going. We access every promise by faith. Faith that endures. Faith that perseveres. Faith that does not give up. Faith that is our foundation of everything we do in life.

And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. 

The divine extraction called purpose comes with some hardship, distress, pressure and trouble. It produces patience in us that leads to endurance which is a salvation requirement. God will not produce a single promise or blessing in our life if it compromises our salvation. Think about that for a moment. It is by proven character that leads to spiritual maturity that can handle our blessings that allows them to manifest in our life. Proven character is marked by a lifelong commitment of faith and confident hope that transcends the good days and ordinary life to fully embrace every single promise and hope tightly to the end of it without wavering. God’s Favor flows from the inside out. Until our soul prospers and our character is evident of spiritual maturity every day will be a battle with our flesh until it dies and faith is born.

Friend, God is good. He is good to us. Every good and perfect gift is from Him. He loves you. He is for you. Every promises is for you. The Lord has a plan for your life that contains a future and hope way better than you can think, imagine or ask for. It is exceedingly abundant. You just have to be ready to handle it when it gets here. There is a reason that the majority of lottery winners lose everything in the first three years. They do not know how to handle or manage finances properly. They win enough money to live comfortably for the rest of their life but squander it in a few short years.

The Lord came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Life from the natural to supernatural meeting all our needs and providing a superabundance to His People. Living beneath His Standard is our choice. I choose today to walk by faith and not by sight. In fact, when my life is turned upside down and out of control, I find peace in knowing it is the exact moment that I will relinquish my life to Jesus because I cannot do anything else. I wonder what my life might be like if in every day and with every decision I chose to make this my first choice and not the last resort. To believe and seek His Face. To live for His Glory even though I must be broken to release it. To walk by faith and not by sight right into the Presence of God, His Goodness, and His Glory today and forever. AMEN!

John 10:10 (Amplified) The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].

Ephesians 3:20-21 (Amplified) Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.