When Heaven Opens

When Heaven Opens

Deuteronomy 28:11-14 (ESV) And the Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Last week, I had this revelation in prayer. An “open heaven” is the prayer of believers. To have the blessings and benefits of heaven make natural life supernatural. Miracles, signs and wonders are the epitome of the concept of an open heaven. Are you living an ordinary life or an extraordinary life? The open heaven is an existence that defies human reality defined by faith and confident hope that produces God’s Fruit in our life. When the Glory of God pours out, it has a definite purpose prescribed before time began. From beginning to end, the story has been written before it is time to be lived including every provision, promise, and purpose. If an open heaven is our truest desire, than we are asking the Lord to wreak havoc on our natural life.

Why? If God is good, and His Way perfect, then our imperfection and weakness must give way to His Perfection and Strength. God is Sovereign. He does not change to accommodate my flesh, preferences or demands. He is a Good Father. He knows what is best for us. To request alignment with the heavenly realm and open the windows of it, one must be ready for an undoing like never before. The Glory of God interrupts our plan to make way for His Plan to be revealed. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity. This is an absolutely true statement in the covenant made between God and all of his people…even you. God’s Prosperity begins in our soul and makes its way into our natural life. There will be no abundance in our hand until it begins in our heart.

The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands.

A treasury is the funds or the revenue of a government, corporation or institution. It can be defined as the “place where treasure is stored.” The enemy cannot take a single blessing or promise God has in store for you. Nothing can be taken from God that belongs to you. The only way to access the blessings and benefits is for the Lord to “open to you His Good Treasury.” His Good Treasury is the heavens. What opens the windows of heaven? What gives us open access to come and go? Obedience. Obedience is the next step of salvation. It is when Jesus becomes our Lord. Can I go to heaven if He is only my Savior? Absolutely. You miss all the benefits offered in salvation if He does not become your Lord.

People sow seeds every single day. The productivity of life is time, talent and treasure sown into life. When heaven opens in our life, seeds once dormant will receive new rain. God will bless the work of our hands. Obedience begins in the sowing of our life. To align our planting with God’s Timing and wait for His Season allows abundance and prosperity that worldly timing and expectation will never produce.

Matthew 3:16-17 (ESV)  And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

There are two kinds of obedience in the Kingdom. There is religious obedience and relational obedience. One is driven by love of self and the other is a passion fueled by love for Christ. Religious obedience is based on my ability to follow the regulations set forth in God’s Word. I do it because I want the associated blessing or benefit. God will bless religious obedience. However, this is not the kind of obedience that the Lord is after. He desires a relationship with you. The Love of God for us is unfailing and unconditional therefore it is not impressed with how obedient and faithful we are to rules and regulations. No…Jesus is looking for those who obey because they love Him too much not to. Obedience offered in radical love is the kind that pleases the Lord.

Why did Jesus get baptized? Hmm… I had to think about it. The first thought was because it is what the Word instructs us to do. Well that’s silly, because Jesus IS the Word. When Jesus obeyed God, not because He had to but because He knew it would please the Father, look what happens next – “the heavens were opened.” Could this actually be an illustration of radical obedience based on ridiculous love? Grace has already paid the debt for our life. God’s Favor is upon us. His Spirit lives in us. When we decide to live according to love for God everything changes as obedience opens heaven in our life. Choosing to follow Christ because we love Him leads to a way different existence than that of religious obedience.

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (ESV) “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.

To request an open heaven is to commit to a life of faithful obedience. The Word of God is clear that it is His Intention to overtake us with blessings. Jesus came to give us an abundant life. He will withhold no good thing from those who love Him and seek Him wholeheartedly. Obedience must be a heart choice and not an intellectual decision. It must be a willing surrender of our way to embrace a pursuit of our beloved. Who do you love? Who would you lay your life down for? Would you do the same for Jesus Christ? Logical faith must become practical living if our goal is to align our life with Kingdom Blessing. This means that our treasure is in heaven not on the earth but it is our full intent to open heaven and flood the earth with His Presence.

Matthew 27:50-53 (ESV) And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 

Once again the Spirit of God is poured out. The first time it came to rest upon Jesus. Then after His Death, Jesus released His Spirit to the people. The first time people could not receive His Spirit because of sin. After Jesus died, paying the price for sin, His Spirit was released on the earth. Immediately the temple veil was torn so religion was no longer a requirement and the graves gave up their spoils. Death rendered powerless to life that day. Everything changed because now heaven was accessible to all God’s People.

When heaven opens in our life – things begin to change. The more of our life given to the pursuit of the Glory of God found in His Presence – the more intimacy that is desired. Moving closer to Jesus means a displacement of self to make room for His Spirit. It will begin to change us from the inside. In the meantime, we must continue to sow good seed and wait for His Harvest. It will come. When our obedience is established in relationship – the Kingdom becomes our home.

How do I evaluate obedience? Well, the results of godly obedience that characterize a prospering soul are not selfish. If I can do it and it has no cost, it is not relationship but religion. It is the moment that I cannot give enough of me to Jesus that radical relational obedience is perpetuated. When there is a desperation to give more, do more, and be more that is beyond anything I can give, do or be – transformation begins. Why doesn’t God just open heaven over His People? Because most of the church couldn’t handle it.

The Powerful Force of His Perfection colliding with our imperfection would kill us. When our stubborn rigidity meets with His Overwhelming Grace it would destroy us. God is waiting for our heart to fall in love with Him. Our heart to be full of Him. Our soul to prosperity in Him just so we can survive His Goodness pouring out on us and in us and moving through us. I want an open heaven. To have it begins with the plea – God change me into who I need to be to absorb your Glory when it comes.

Mark 2:21-22 (ESV) “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

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To Be Continued

To Be Continued

Colossians 2:6-7 (AMP) Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in [union with] Him [reflecting His character in the things you do and say—living lives that lead others away from sin], having been deeply rooted [in Him] and now being continually built up in Him and [becoming increasingly more] established in your faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing in it with gratitude.

No resolutions this year for me. I tried to come up with some significant changes. We could all use some new habits and better choices. Each year, I have these good intentions and wonderful lists of goals. I have racked my brain for something anything that would make life significantly better. Nothing. So I dove in spiritually, and asked the Lord, “What can I do for you?” Nothing. I continued to seek out something anything that I could do differently. My motives, though I hate to admit it, is change. I want to see the promises that I know in my heart are coming today. It is human nature to try to “do” something different in order to facilitate change. The idea that “there has to more to life than this” comes from eternity hidden in our hearts. Everyone goes about the pursuit of contentment and fulfillment different ways. When choosing Jesus Christ, it is to accept the way called grace. Grace means that there is nothing I can do other than remain in the One who gives it.

I thought I would write a book or two this year, but I didn’t. I thought I would have developed a flourishing women’s ministry at our church. Nope. So when the end of December came I pulled out the bat of self-destruction and tried to figure out what was wrong with me. I am not used to this idea of failure. To set a goal and not reach it is just not like me. With a stubborn tenacity innately inscribed in my personality, when met with obstacles – I usually take the head down and charge through approach. Not this time…something is different. So studying God’s Word and seeking His Presence, I asked the Lord, “What am I doing wrong?” The revelation of God set forth in His Word and whispered in my ear doesn’t line up with my personality but it totally identifies the Person of Christ. The position that He ultimately must take in my life to bring the fulfillment and completion that He promised.

I have received Jesus Christ as my Savior. It is my heart’s desire that He is Lord of all my life. I long to walk in complete unity with Jesus. I want my life to be a reflection of His Character. To show others a love so strong that sin is unappealing to pursue His Perfection and Purpose. I must live a life rooted in Christ. His Word secures me to the foundation of faith that is the Truth that governs my existence. Every single promise belongs to me. Every spiritual blessing already given to me. There is a timeline ordered by predestination that has an appointed time for each of these things to arrive. Not because of anything I do, but because of what Christ is doing in me. My purpose for the next 365 days is simple – I must continue.

To continue can mean one of two things – I must persist in the calling of God and do as He instructed regardless of what I see. Those things I have slacked off on – I must resume in those things that God has spoken and I gave up on along the way. I shared with someone yesterday that God does not lead us to fruitless or barren fields. Never. Experience now tells me that the field will bear the fruit in due season if I continue in God’s Word and Way until it comes. Persistence and perseverance are characteristics of continuance. The current field in which I am working has proven to be a difficult one. The ground is hard. Weeds are thick. Rocks are plenty. Yet, every time I am ready to walk away, I remember that God has never led me to a place that His Blessing could not be found. So I stay and continue…not because I can do anything but based on the Truth that God’s Word never returns void. It will do exactly what it set out to do. God is good. He is always good even when I’m not. God is faithful and that seed will grow one day whether I am there to harvest its fruit or not. To be continued…

Ecclesiastes 3:1&11 (AMP)

There is a season (a time appointed) for everything and a time for every delight and event or purpose under heaven—

 He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end.

God has appointed a time in our life for everything – good and bad. It all works together for our good and His Glory. God makes everything beautiful and appropriate in His Time. The time that was recorded before you were born. (Psalm 139) You are fearfully and wonderfully made. A complex being created by an infinite God who knows exactly what is required for you to discover His Love and accept His Grace. We must take hold of 2 Peter 3:8-9 to collectively understand that God’s Promises are not held up by our activities or actions. His Spiritual Blessing is not removed when we sin. His Grace is sufficient. It is enough to have every disappointment turned into destiny. To the Lord time is not a hindrance. Timing was preset before a moment passed. Therefore, God does not keep His Eye on the clock because He is in our future waiting on our arrival. Take a deep breath. This is pretty deep, I know. Your life is already prescribed by God. You just have to live it. God is good. To choose Jesus and live in alignment with the Lord means that every blessing and promise is predestined for your future. It is not about perfection but persistence. If you love the Lord – you will seek Him wholeheartedly and find fulfillment just as He promised.

John 15:5-8 (AMP) I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.

The vitality of my life is Jesus Christ. My flesh wants to think it has the ability and wherewithal to make things happen but the truth is every good thing in my life came straight from my Father in Heaven. Jesus makes it all possible because I couldn’t get to the Father without Him. I would love to give you an epiphany of great wisdom that would change your life instantly. Faith doesn’t work that way. Confident hope comes from continuing to follow the way of faith. Commitment must be a life of to be continued. When the field doesn’t bear its fruit in our timing, it is the commitment to continue until God’s Timing comes to pass. It is to continue in God’s Word until faith becomes logical.

Let me let you in on a little secret – my need to “do” things for the Lord is not always from a heart with good intentions. There is a part of my flesh that tries to earn the favor and goodwill of God by doing something for Him. Religion is built on good intentions. Resurrection life only comes by way of an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. He is my fulfillment. He is my completion. My life is definitely to be continued this year. Maybe I will write a book… maybe I will figure out this women’s ministry thing… or maybe God will completely change things around with a supernatural plot twist. Who knows? There is never a dull moment to new life in Christ. What I do know today more than ever is that God doesn’t want me to “do” anything. The Lord did it all. He even packed me full of promise and potential working its way out of me. He just wants me to be me and let Him do the rest.

I John 5:3-5 (AMP) For the [true] love of God is this: that we habitually keep His commandments and remain focused on His precepts. And His commandments and His precepts are not difficult [to obey]. For everyone born of God is victorious and overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has conquered and overcome the world—our [continuing, persistent] faith [in Jesus the Son of God]. Who is the one who is victorious and overcomes the world? It is the one who believes and recognizes the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.

 

 

What’s Next?

What's Next

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) 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.

What’s next? The holiday season with all the hustling and bustling tends to produce an ongoing list. It is one I adhere to and attempt to follow closely. I must continue line by line or risk becoming completely overwhelmed and dysfunctional. Maintaining a peaceful mind and steady heart during such seasons can be difficult. Keeping ourselves righted in the ups and downs of activity and demands placed on our time and resources is challenging. It is with this in mind and the extra things life has added to the consumption of time that I find myself longing for the New Year. I am ready for what’s next. I am trying desperately to maintain presence and not give in to the whim to flee. Exhaustion is a tactic of the enemy to keep us from peace of mind, heart and body. If he can somehow persuade us to leave this season and time prematurely, it is at risk of leaving a harvest behind. He is bent on trying to steal, kill or destroy you. One or all three are just fine to him. To limit our life with anxiety, stress and fear (products of doubt) left to grow in our hearts and takeover our mind capturing us with our own disbelief.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time… God’s timing is important to His Promise. It is the maturation process that takes a tiny seed of faith, cultivates it in confident hope, and grows it into full satisfaction. To avoid waiting, our flesh gives into the need for relief and so we leave behind that which God is doing to do something that will produce immediate gratification. Sometimes the immediate gratification is not in a substitution but rather settlement. Settling for what we have rather than what the Lord has promised to do by abandoning faith and fruitfulness to just get by without all the pressure.

He has planted eternity in the human heart. Please understand thought you may vacate the possibilities of life the inevitability of God keeps pressing you to release what faith has for you because God is good and always pursues us with His Unfailing Love and Goodness. We can never leave Him behind for the Lord is right there with us. It is the eternity in the human heart that creates the longing for more. To be satisfied. To live in fulfillment. The drive and desire to find purpose in our life. It is all God working behind the scenes to give you the future and hope that He planned for you when He created you.

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT)  And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

God’s Purpose is that people should fear and worship Him (with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is God). God does not give us the spirit of fear but like the Great I Am that He is gives a life worth having that we would seek Him, find Him and know Him – His Grace, Goodness and Glory is always working its way into our life. The recognition of God’s awesome Presence, Power, and Purpose may not change a single situation or cure a condition but it will overwhelm us with persistent peace allowing us to stay in our current season until it yields good fruit. There is nothing more tragic than an abandoned harvest. When the seed in the ground becomes the fruit of our labor and devoured by the enemy in our absence. God will do exactly as He promised in our life. We must be determined to wait for it.

Genesis 18:13-15 (NLT) Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.” But the Lord said, “No, you did laugh.”

Why did Sarah laugh? I’ll tell you why! At almost 100 years of age, the Lord told her that she would get pregnant, carry and give birth to a son. She had tried to conceive a child her entire life. Now well past the years of natural ability – it was humanly impossible for such a thing to happen. Yet the messenger of the Lord said, “I will return about this time next year and Sarah will have a son.” She waited her whole life. She experienced overwhelming disappointment time and time again. She even tried to help God out with the whole Hagar and Ishmael fiasco. Now, in her old age and barrenness, such a revelation seemed like a cruel joke. Maybe her laughter was nothing more than stagnant bitterness mixed with sarcastic disappointment.

How long have you waited for the promise? The Lord has given us precious promises along with every spiritual blessing. We must strive to respond to God’s Promises and not life’s problems. Abraham and Sarah lived a life of transparency before the Lord. The Lord made them a promise. When it was totally impossible, the miracle happened. Whatever seems impossible in our life is the birthplace of miracles. Are you about to give up? Leave the place of waiting? Accept a compromise? Settle for a substitution? The Word of God including every promise that He has made you cannot and will not return to Him void. It must do exactly what it set out to do. Will you be waiting when it does?

Isaiah 38:19-20 (NLT) Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord.

Only the living can praise you. This made me think. Remember Martha when Lazarus had died. She told Jesus that if He had only been there then her brother would be alive. Jesus told her, “I am the Resurrection and Life.” Martha shrugged it off for eternity and kept going in her funeral preparation. What miracle are you intent on giving a funeral? What dead dream are you mourning as a lost cause? Have we put off for eternity what if for us in the next day or maybe even next hour? Jesus called forth Lazarus from the grave. He is calling to those things you have marked impossible and never. He is trying to breathe new life into your dead dreams today. Are you holding the tomb closed in doubt and disbelief?

The Lord is ready to heal me! He is ready to heal you today? Every broken thing is on the verge of restoration. Every dead thing about to experience new life. Every loss cause is about to unfold into purpose. Where will you be when it’s done? Will you be found waiting and watching for the Lord ready to respond to His Promises? The enemy is always looking for opportunities to tempt us. (Luke 4:13-14) It doesn’t matter how saved or Spirit-filled you may think you are. When he comes – he uses everything not secured by faith and confident hope against you. What will he find in your heart today?

Psalm 1:2-3 (NLT) But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

A prospering heart produces fruit in all seasons. The Lord has promised good things to me. Yet I am tempted just like everyone else to abandon intensively hard or exhaustibly long seasons for something more comfortable, convenient and controllable. I am ready for the next season in my impatience. However, I may not be ready in my heart, mind and soul. There are things I need to sow in this season to prepare the harvest of the next one. The Holy Spirit knows exactly what I need to prosper in every season and produces that fruit in me when I am willing to stay right where I am until He says otherwise.

My to-do list is long. I have learned that if I go line by line – it all gets done somehow. Maybe if we went line by line and built precept upon precept of God’s Word while constantly meditating on what He says about our life and purpose the worthwhileness of our waiting might give us the strength to continue or at least pass the time. Faith planted wisely with confident hope will make the field worthy of waiting until the fruit of our labor comes up. Maybe rather than running off to the next thing, God’s People would realize that He is doing a good thing in us and through us now that is worth waiting for. Impossible is the birthplace of miracles. It should incite praise and worship at its arrival because now God can do for us what no man could do. Lord, help me to embrace this season. To sow faithfully and wait patiently on what You will produce in me and through me. Keep your Light burning in my heart. Let me seek you wholeheartedly so I will recognize your arrival. I cannot have what is next until now comes to pass. Help me Lord to be faithful in the waiting and watching for You!

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

Mary’s Heart

"Mary holding baby Jesus"

Luke 2:19 (NKJV) But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Our daughter and her husband are moving. After spending the afternoon getting them settled in their new home, we went for a quick taco run. In the midst of conversation, I mentioned that I couldn’t believe no one had asked her to be Mary in a Christmas Program this year. She is “great with child”. Laughing she affirmed that she would have loved to play Mary in her current state. As the conversation continued, I couldn’t help but think of the mother of Jesus. How full her heart would be at the sight of her newborn baby! How in awe should would be at all the attention a newborn baby born in a stable would attract! She had no possible way to know that the fullness of her heart would one day be emptied before an old rugged cross.

The conception of Jesus was miraculous. However, the baby came naturally. He would grow and develop like other children with hints of divinity mixed in. Mary would have other children. It would be an ordinary life filled with extraordinary potential. In the midst of it all from the very beginning, Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. What are the ponderings of our heart today? What is the wonder that lights us from the inside spilling over into the world? What is the tinder for the Light that shines from the inside? Mary’s Heart was full. Mary’s Heart would be emptied. So it is with us all.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV) But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Mary was a vessel. She was the one chosen to carry the Savior of the world. Care for him. Protect him. Nurture him. Love him. Surrender him. She knew that Jesus was the Son of God. She knew that He was the Messiah – the Chosen One. Yet, she did not know the mystery of His Life, Death and Resurrection. So her human heart had to come to terms with the reality of faith in order to continue this new journey in life. We do not know or even understand the complex nature of God. Our limited comprehension must allow faith to govern our life rather than what we see, hear, touch or feel. It defies the natural to embrace supernatural living. Jesus was in his thirties when his ministry began. What did Mary do for those years before His True Identity was revealed to the world? She kept God’s Word in her heart. She pondered the Word. Held on to it. She kept all the promises and revelations of God warm in heart meditating on them until that day.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV) For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 

Every Promise of God is “yes” in the life of believers. Christ makes the Glory of God possible in our life. His Presence in us identifies us as God’s Dearly Loved Children. It is our faith that connects to that promise and waits for its arrival in confident hope. Our daughter is in her third trimester of pregnancy. She was very sick during the first three months. Stuck at home, glued to the bathroom, and no signs of life to the promise growing in her other than horrible nausea. She was still careful to consider the promise of her pregnancy and do all in her power to protect it as she battled sickness each day. She waited longingly for the first signs of life. She rejoiced in seeing the little one moving inside of her with a strong beating heart long before she could feel anything. She cried the day she found out who he was and gave him his name. She excitedly shared the moment she felt the first flutter to today with his rolls and resounding kicks. She carries the burden of the cumbersome belly and all the inconveniences of pregnancy because she knows that her son will soon arrive. We all have been given promises that are growing inside of us. What are we doing to nurture, grow and develop them while we wait? What do we ponder in our heart?

2 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. 

God has given us everything needed to live a god-like life. We must learn in our natural life to respond to the supernatural within us. Mary knew who the child was inside of her. She was well aware of his potential. She embraced the process. God has placed His Glory and Excellence inside of you. His Spirit cultivates the Fruit that feeds our soul nourishing that potential so it will become the promise. We must make every effort to respond to God’s Promises no matter what the circumstances of life. The Light inside of us has the power to drive away darkness but not if hidden by doubt or snuffed out by disbelief. The promises of God are worth having. They are life-giving. God is good and His Very Nature is to give good gifts to His Children. We must simply respond to the Love of God inside of us to have all those things that He offers freely through Jesus Christ.

Yesterday, in preparation for a little boy who has not arrived, we prepared his room. Little clothes hang in the closet. A new crib has been constructed. A giant gray elephant waits to cuddle. There is a place for him in my daughter’s new home. We must make room for our promise in our heart. Each day preparing a place for the Lord and His Promises in our life. Speaking the Truth concerning us rather than grumbling and complaining about the pains of our labor. God help us to respond to Your Promises today. Give us hearts like Mary who pondered your promise preparing the way for our promise of life and abundance. Lord, I will prepare a place for you in my heart making room for You each day.

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NLT) I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Finding Favor

Finding Favor

Luke 1:30 (NIV) But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

What believer does not want favor with God? Be careful what you wish for, ask for and pray for in life. One must always consider the cost of the request though seldom do. Imagine marry who was a teenager dreaming of her impending nuptials. She was a virgin soon to be bride. The angel of the Lord came to this young girl with wonderful news. She would have a baby. Not just any child – but the One who would be the Savior of the world. The promised Messiah would be her very own. This glorious declaration would come at a tremendous price. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.”

Why fear the Favor of God? Extraordinary wrecks ordinary. Supernatural destroys natural. Miracles are marked “impossible”. Healing requires brokenness. I could go on but I think you get the idea. To experience the fullness of God’s Favor means releasing our own expectation to allow His Fulfillment to take its place. God’s Ways are much higher than human simplicity. His Thoughts too complex for man’s understanding. To even consider the potential of a new life in Christ – one must battle fear of change and uncertainty of newness every single day. Many will find the price too high as pride battles to maintain control fueled by doubt and disbelief. How many times do we settle for the fruitlessness of our own hands giving in to the fear that God who He says and grace is not enough? You have found favor with God. What will you do with it?

Luke 1:37 (NIV) “For no word from God will ever fail.”

Mary’s Response was this “I am the Lord’s servant…may your word to me be fulfilled.” She accepted God’s Word. The final words of the angel to Mary prior to this were simply “for no word from God will ever fail.” Do you believe the infallible truth of God’s Word? Is it really possible? You will never know unless you believe. To have faith without doubt requires an effort. It is a thousand “yeses” to as many unknowns. God has a plan. He has created us with a future and hope. The potential of our life is packed in from the moment of creation. It is one’s inability or unwillingness to believe a God who surpasses understanding that limits our life.

Proverbs 3:1-4 (NIV) My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

Finding the Favor of God is essential to spiritual success and it facilitates death of our flesh at the same time. To have God’s Approval requires acceptance of His Son – Jesus Christ. This is not an arranged marriage such as the covenant entered into between Joseph and Mary as was customary in that time. It is a personal decision to give up this life and accept a new existence in oneness with Christ. To allow His Spirit to come into our broken and devastated heart to begin to remove, rebuild, restore and renew our life into that which He predestined it to be. There are many details to take into consideration so much so that only an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God could ever undertake much less accomplish in bringing it all into one plan for our good and His Glory. It takes time that most do not feel they have. It requires effort that most are unwilling to give. But for those who decide to take God at His Word waiting until He comes, there life will be filled with favor. Not just godly favor, but earthly favor as well.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

There is a soulful worship chorus that goes “I lean not on my own understanding…my life is in the hands of the Maker of Heaven…” then it says, “I give it all to You, God…Trusting that You’ll make something beautiful of me.” This must be our daily declaration in the pursuit of God’s Favor. The key to prosperity, success and abundance in all of God’s Promises is accessed by trust. When our doubts and disbelief are overcome by faith, confident hope and total trust – our heart begins to change. True repentance and great turnarounds in life begin with the decision to change directions. Godly wisdom begins with the Word. When we take God at His Word by faith and believe enough to allow His Spirit to change our attitudes and actions to alignment with the Lord everything ordained and commissioned for our life can make it to us. God’s Promises are never in question – the question is do we believe enough to allow change to put us on track to receive them.

Favor with God is always a risky pursuit. It takes our flesh and thoughts destroying all that is contrary to God’s Word. Faith defies human reasoning. It is illogical. However, without faith it is impossible to please God and walk side-by-side with Him. Lord, help our unbelief today that keeps us from saying, “Yes!” each time you whisper, “Come.”

God’s Grace produces favor in our life. Favor is not a fix-all. Noah had favor and still had to go through the flood. Joseph had favor that put him in a pit and prison before he made it to the palace. David had God’s Favor yet still committed murder. Peter had favor with God and still struggled with faith. Paul tried to kill Christianity yet found salvation and joy spending the rest of his life in and out of prison. Mary had God’s Favor at the cost of her reputation given a child who she would watch persecuted, tortured and die. I wonder today if the process of finding God’s Favor is the very reason most people never discover its true potential. Counting the cost – the price found too high or wait too long. The process that produces God’s Favor is giving all of our life to Him. To not be influenced by conditions or circumstances but trust that does not come from human perception. To say when bad times come or the unexpected happens – “I trust you, God”. Reconciling my life to God’s Plan is really quite simple. It is a step-by-step process of building a relationship of total trust through true repentance. It is not enough to be sorry for our sin, but to turn from those lesser things to fully embrace the life given to us through Christ. When we love Jesus more than sin, we will leave it easily to embrace Him fully. As we follow Christ, He leads to greater expectation than people or things but rather satisfies our soul with all the good things He promised. Favor will not reach our hands until it fully takes over our heart!

3 John 1:2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Psalm 90:17 (NIV) May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.

The Steadfast

The Steadfast

2 Chronicles 27:6 (NIV) Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.

The view of strength and power based on human perception implies influence and affluence. One might think those who have it all are set, when in truth their souls are empty. Void of peace, looking for love, and hoping for acceptance outside of the social circle, those envied and sought after often are the loneliest of them all. Even in the church, people paint a pretty picture over the reality of a life lived in fear and insecurity. Setting up a religious order, that makes us feel comfortable in our inability and effective in human weakness. The Lord tells us His Grace is enough. He has overcome the world. We have the victory. If only we believed Him enough to stand steadfast. To wait and watch for the Lord rather than human acceptance, affirmation and acknowledgement. To order each day and every single step in accordance with the one who offers all of this one neat package labeled Jesus Christ. The One who will fill us with His Spirit to produce all the things ever longed for that will overflow from a prospering soul into our natural life. If only we became the steadfast…

To be steadfast. It doesn’t sound exciting. It really seems to be quite boring. Maybe the enemy tells us it is such to keep us from the blessing and prosperity found in walking steadfast with the Lord. To daily be loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependent, steady, true and constant to our calling in Christ. What would be the impact? We would grow more powerful. It happened for Jotham, King of Judah and son of Uzziah. Though he never entered the temple built with human hands, He walked steadfastly before the Lord His God. His reign only lasted sixteen short years yet he defeated his enemies and grew in great wealth. He was a good king who walked in alignment with God’s Kingdom.

What about Enoch? He walked faithfully and steadfastly with God until he was no more because whisked him away. There is no record of his death only that God took him away. Hebrews 11:5 says that “he did not experience death” for “he was commended as one who pleased God.” Faithfulness until the end is exemplified by a steadfast and immovable heart that does not react to this life but responds to the Promises of God and His Purpose for our life now and forevermore.

I Corinthians 7:37 (NKJV)  Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well.

This passage from I Corinthians is part of Paul’s letter to Corinth regarding principles of marriage particularly referencing the unmarried and widows. While this refers to the one who cares for the unmarried, I love the inspiration to stand steadfast – He who stands steadfast in his (or her) heart, having no necessity (content) but has power over his own will (self-control) and has so determined in his (or her) that he will keep ________ , does well. There is instruction in the Word of God that is to lead us to a better life. A life filled with a future and hope. Jesus has given us freedom and complete liberty to choose how we live and make our own choices. He has given us abundant grace when we choose less than His Glorious Standard or decide to sin. True repentance leads us back into the waiting Arms of God who never left us and waits for us to respond. To be steadfast is a heart decision to choose the Lord over anyone or anything else in this life. The impact of steadfastness blesses this life – it doesn’t make sense but the Grace and Goodness of our Lord seldom does.

I Peter 5:8-11 (NIV) Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

You do not fight for victory but from victory. Jesus Christ has given us victory. We must only assert His Power and Authority in our life to secure it. The stand of steadfastness is our battle stance. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God which is the details of our covenant and what belongs to us as Children of God. It is not our job to oppose the enemy or even other people but rather to oppose our flesh. The inner tendency to try to do something that has already been done for us. The drive to be perfect or at least appear worthy of the priceless gift that has been given. To stand in opposing flesh demands a certain death. Will your faith die or your flesh? You decide. Day by day – a steadfast heart must stand on faith in God’s Word, His Will and His Way to overcome the thief who will try to steal from, kill or destroy you. How is your stand today? Are you unshakeable, immovable and fearless?

Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV) Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

Fear is a symptom of insecurity. Something inside of us is not convinced and unbelief exists. We must secure our heart and eliminate fear. The spirit of fear is not given to us by God and therefore can be refused. Fear rears its head in many ways. Stress, worry, and anxiety are just a few. When we experience any feeling or emotion of dread and do not have perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) there is a trust issue that requires immediate attention. Our steadfastness is compromised and in need of immediate attention. A steadfast mind produces a peace-filled life. Trusting the Lord defies who we are as human beings. Circumstances and situations do not impact or influence our heart when set on the Lord. It is a daily pursuit of His Presence guided by His Spirit to become a new creation as He promised. It will cost us every ounce of our flesh. As more of our natural life is yielded to Christ, He fills our voids, heals our wounds, roots out insecurity and doubt to fill our life with the good things that He has promised beginning with the soul-strengthening Fruit of His Spirit.

Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Could this be the guidelines for a steadfast life? A steadfast heart is important to our spiritual success. We have a plethora of promises yet to come to pass. There is an abundant life waiting for those who desire it enough to pursue it. Our flesh wants to fight, but our spirit guided by the Holy Spirit tells us to stand fast on the Word of God and let Him complete the work that He has begun in each of us. To be steadfast is not a proud position but a humbled existence that considers God’s Word, Will and Ways before our own. Jotham grew in power because he walked steadfastly before the Lord. Enoch did not die but instead was simply swept up in the Presence of God. The lives of both men are briefly detailed in God’s Word. The message of faithful obedience and steadfastness speaks volumes. In our need to acquiesce our flesh, it is human nature to complicate things with overwhelming details and complexity. It weaves a tangled lie making the excuse that such an existence is impossible. The simple truth is a life lived in steadfastness before the Lord is powerful.

Proverbs 4:25-26 (NIV) Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

Good Intentions

Good Intentions

Psalm 33:11-12 (NLT) But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.

I am full of good intentions. Things I would like to master in my life. Attitudes and actions that could certainly benefit from sound wisdom and complete transformation. I would like to be a better wife, mother and employee. I strive to make better choices. I would like to write a book or two or twelve. I would like to keep my house cleaner and my schedule less busy. I would like to pray more. Seek His Presence more. Do more. So often despite my best intentions, I fall far short of the goal right into insecurity. Is there anyone else who might stand with me? Someone who has good intentions that never seem to make it into reality no matter how much effort given.

The Lord’s plans stand firm forever. The dream thought to be dead. The goal believed to be given up on. The purpose considered aborted rather than birthed in this lifetime. All these things sum up the desires of our heart. Those inscribed by God’s Spirit before our life began have no expiration date. You are fearfully and wonderfully made designed with a purpose filled with promises that the Lord will bring to pass. Before you drew your first real breath, God’s Plan for your life was written from beginning to end. All those details of life which didn’t go as expected are already turned into good because you decided to accept Jesus and follow Him through this life. His Plan for our life including a future and hope are not changed by our ability to live a perfect life. We are imperfect. God is fully aware of our imperfection. It doesn’t change a single promise. We do not access God’s Presence in our perfection but imperfection. When His Grace becomes sufficient, we giving up on fixing our dysfunction and allowing Christ to function in us. There is a process. It produces pressure and sometimes even pain as death gives way to life in us and to the purpose that once was dormant due to sin.

I know what you are thinking. I feel that way sometimes, too. Those seasons of life when God seems so far. Days that I cannot seem to do anything right. Or those when the hits just keep on coming. The enemy of your soul cannot change God’s Promises, Purpose or Plan for your life or mine. The only hope that he has is to change our mind about God. To make us doubt that faith is the reality of our life which will keep us from confident hope that leads to everything the Lord has for us. Our steps are ordered. A map of carefully guided steps straight to prosperity. The enemy must distract us, detour us or somehow dissuade us from pursuing God one step at a time.

His Intentions can never be shaken.

God’s Purpose for your life cannot be shaken. It is the immovable and constant reality of our life that considered every step before one is ever taken. Even those wanderings in our life that took us through the wilderness have potential and purpose in the process of faith. Despite our good intentions, we flounder, fall and fail every day. (Romans 7) But God decided in advance what our purpose and plan would be and didn’t once think twice about or change His Mind. Your purpose will be a reality by faith because of Jesus Christ.

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s Purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21)

The Lord’s Purpose will prevail. His Intention or Purpose designed for us is not driven by how God feels about us. He loves us unconditionally. There is nothing that can separate us from His Love. (Romans 8) God is greater than our feelings. This concept is life changing to the one who believes. Regret, shame and remorse are melted. Repentance will lead to new freedom rather than emotional overtures of insecurity and fear. The debt for our life paid in full is priceless. We cannot afford it. To think that it can ever be repaid even in the slightest measure cheapens it. The love, mercy and grace of God for us can only be accepted. Acceptance of God’s Love is to release His Purpose.

I John 3:19-21 (NLT) Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.

God is greater than our feelings. I love this verse. It is a reminder that my self-perception or reputation do not change the heart and mind of God. When I do not see my worth and have no confidence – the Lord doesn’t agree with me but holds me to the same standard of grace as before. Confidence in my ability or personal strength is pride. Confidence in God and His Intentions is an act of humility. To trust the Lord more than how we feel or what we see or what we think is the beginning of heavenly acquisition when prosperity comes and purpose is fulfilled.

God knows everything. Everything. He knows what we do right and when we fail miserably yet still loves us and gives us grace. His Glory is for us and accessible by us. Faith in the love of God reaches beyond our daily perception of life overcoming our natural instinct to react to natural circumstances and respond to His Promises. Just because today did not end well, our hope is not compromised and faith still has the same potential for us. We must only believe. That’s the hardest part. To know, understand and believe in full that God’s Love for us is unconditional and His Plan uncompromised no matter what we do or lie fallen for. His Purpose for our life is not influenced by shortcomings because He is Sovereign and constant no matter what.

Don’t let the lie of the enemy keep you bound in dead dreams, hopelessness and wandering. Find out the Truth about God’s Love for you. Discover His Purpose for your life. Enter His Presence today with bold confidence. Yield your heart, mind, body and spirit to the Lord. Let Him change you from the inside out. He will show you great and mighty things. Hidden secrets that will lead to success. The Lord has a plan for you. His Future and Hope secure in Jesus Christ. It is Christ who completes us. It is our brokenness that allows Him access to our heart and mind. God is good! His Intentions for you are good. He is constant. Nothing you do or do not do will ever change God’s Deep Devotion and Love for you. This is the Truth that allows us to walk boldly through this life no matter how many times we stumble and fall. Thank you Lord for your unfailing love today. Thank you for your good intentions.

Psalm 143:8 (NLT) Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.

Most Powerful Resource

Most Powerful Resource

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT) It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

Christ in us is the most powerful resource possessed by the believer. As the year winds down, I am challenged by the things not yet completed. Those dreams and visions of God placed in our heart to attract our faith and become the prosperity that He promised from the start. I know that God prerecorded a plan for my life marked by salvation. I am absolutely certain that the blessings He promised are for me. According to Psalm 139, I am fearfully (thoughtfully) and wonderfully (perfectly) made by the Lord. I have potential. In Jeremiah 29, He promised that the packaging of my life comes with a future and hope. I have not yet fully discovered all that it entails. As chapter 29 continues it instructs me to seek the Lord wholeheartedly and it will be mine. Over my lifetime, I have made many mistakes but in 2 Corinthians12 it tells me that His Grace is all I need to overcome the penalty of sin. All my mistakes can never amount to a blockage or barrier from what the Lord has for me because His Love is always pursuing me even in my wandering (Psalm 23). God promises that nothing can separate me from His Love and that He is working every detail of my life for my good. I have so many promises packed in my life. Now to learn how to get them out…

2 Kings 4:1-7 (NLT) One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

I love the story of the widow woman with her little jar of oil. The story is an inspiration that I return to quite often. Again today, I feel like it holds God’s Hidden Secrets for me and I must squeeze the last bit of oil from flask to jar. There is meaning here for those who long to be satisfied. Unmet expectation finds new inspiration in her plight. The prophet only offered perspective with a hint on instruction. The woman put her faith in his words and obeyed. She reached fulfillment not by a miracle but in her method. Lord, help us learn from this woman who thought she had lost it all but instead found new hope.

Her Situation – Shattered Dreams

The woman is the widow of the prophet Obadiah. He is now dead and the creditors have come to claim unpaid debts or threaten to take her children. The life she once knew is now gone. She is in a desperate situation. Desperation is often born of unmet expectation and shattered dreams. The moment the life built by our human expectation gives way to desperation. When life is not what it seems and the harsh reality of it comes crashing down around us. Where is God? Why has He abandoned me? I thought He loved me, cared for me, and was with me. She went to Elisha. She was looking for some answers. She cried out the details of her distress, desolation, and desperation to the prophet. My husband is dead. I am in debt. They are coming to take my children who are all I have left. The “new normal” produced by such situations will be the transition point from destination to destiny.

Our life in Christ can produce unrealistic expectations limited by experience. We build our own vision or dream according to what we can do or produce ourselves when God has so much more in store for us. The woman had depended on her husband and maybe even built her life around serving Obadiah as he served the Lord. Wives are to submit to their husbands. They must submit to Christ first and then the man God has given them. Sometimes these orders can shift unintentionally putting faith that belongs to the Lord into a human being. Now the man is gone so she turns to the Lord. Trial, temptation and tragedy have a way of turning us back to our first love whether we are willing to admit it or not.

The enemy continually threatens the life of a believer with lies. Lies that build strongholds around us. Notice the woman said that the creditors “threatened” to come take her children. The only thing the enemy can take from you is what you willingly give to him. Think about that for a moment. What have you allowed the enemy to apprehend with a lie? You can’t do this. You cannot have this. You are not good enough. Your life is never going to get any better. I cannot change. I am too old. Too this or too that. Too broken. Too broke. Whatever the lie the enemy has threatened you with today can be overcome by the Truth! The Truth of your life is the Word of God. It never grows stale and does not have an expiration date. The door to the cell you may be living in is not locked for who the Son sets free is free indeed.

Her Solution – What Do You Have In Your House?

The prophet asked the widow, “Tell me, what do you have in your house?” I am quite sure she did not find his question amusing. She may have sighed in exasperation. Was Elisha not listening? Did he not hear her story? Did he not understand her plight? The word “house” can be translated into family, clan, building or home. It can also be translated to the word “temple”. “Tell me, what do you have in your temple?” Now this changes everything for the modern day believer who hears this story in its proper translation.

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” (I Corinthians 6) The woman did not have resources in her home but in her temple she had more than enough. We are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit who takes our faith to produce more than enough in our life. The things our hands can hold, feel and touch in the natural become abundant and resourceful when our faith is in God’s Spirit. We are anointed with the Spirit of the Living God. He produces good fruit in us that will prosper our life once our soul is properly prospering. Her desperation turned her to God. She planted her faith in God and the resources she needed in the natural came pouring out in abundance. Enough to fill the jars she collected. Do you have a flask of oil in you untapped?

The anointing of God within us can do nothing around us until it completes its work in us. She had lived a life of faith with her husband. More than likely, her faith was in her husband and according to his faith. Now the Lord is asking her what is in her “temple”, she discovered faith. How do I know? She was obedient.

Her Salvation – “So She Did As She Was Told.” 

What if the limitation on our life is self-imposed? What if everything we need to prosper is in us? What if the Spirit of God is just waiting for faithful obedience? We want God to do it our way, in our time and according to our will most of the time. But what happens when He does it His Way, in His Timing and according to His Will. Do we obey the Lord or trek off on our own merry way? When met with seasons of hardship, it is our nature to turn to the Lord for answers, explanations, gripes and even complaints. God’s Plan for us is unchangeable. Once He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing, the Lord does not take it back. He cannot lie or change His Mind. He does not withdraw His Call on our life because our faith is lacking or obedience waning. He waits on us. When unmet expectation comes or dreams are shattered, He is usually who we run to. When we do, the Lord comes close to the brokenhearted and fills us with new life. New inspiration of His Spirit and revelation for success.

When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.” The woman put faith in God and He provided all that she needed and more. I wonder today if there is something in my temple that I put on a shelf for another day. Is it the very thing I must pour out to receive full satisfaction and live a life of fulfillment? Obedience is essential for our faith to become that which we hope for. If we are unwilling, then we will remain unfulfilled? God’s Word for our life is true. It is activated by faith in God’s Word, Will and Way. We must be willing to be faithful in hard times and drought to see the abundance of God that leads to absolute fulfillment.

2 Corinthians 1:19-22 (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.  It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

The woman had a jar of oil. She poured it out as instructed and it filled more jars than she gathered. Abundance. God wants to fill your life with abundance today. Have you left the cap on your flask? We hold on to what we have out of fear. Doubt tells us if we empty ourselves there will be nothing left for the future. This is not the mindset of God’s People. We must change our mind. Taking our confidence and putting it fully in Christ which may mean gathering all the jars of expectation spread out among lesser things. God’s Anointing of His Spirit in us is a guarantee to prosper, but the Spirit must be poured out to every area of our life. His Promises are always “yes” and “amen”. It is our fear, doubt and security that mark them “maybe” or “probably not”. What’s in your house today? What fills your temple? What is the truth that governs the economy of your life? The principle of sowing and reaping is facilitated by obedience in the life of every believer. It is also a governing principle in our natural life. If you release it, God will increase it. Lord, increase our life. Give us the faith to release it so You can increase it. Holy Spirit align us with the Father and encourage us to have faith.

2 Corinthians 9:10 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

 

Greater Expectation

Greater Expectation

I Peter 1:3-4 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.

Now we live with great expectation…does this statement reflect your life? Are you in survival mode or thriving today? Jesus Christ has saved us and come to live inside of us. Now greater is He who lives in us than he that is in the world. We are overcomes. Handed victory over death and the grave to live in the generosity of God’s Grace bringing Heaven to earth. We have a priceless inheritance. Do we live like sons and daughters of a king? Steadfast in faith and confident in hope in our identity – we live fearlessly because of our relationship with the Sovereign God. Or do we?

Rolling out of bed this morning, I head to the kitchen to prepare our Thanksgiving turkey. It is overcast and raining outside. Our son begins his shift today as a police officer so I pray for his safety. Across the bar are all the sale papers, the emphasis “Black Friday” is coming. Sharpies in all different colors representative of each kid scattered about. The ads circled and highlighted with expectation. It seems ironic to have all these wants and “needs” on a day set aside to be thankful. They have great expectation. Maybe this year, I will break the news that Santa isn’t real.

Thankfulness is the key to contentment. It is the gateway to satisfaction. If we cannot be thankful for what we have, there is no possibility that any “thing” else will bring it about. I am thankful. I am content. I am satisfied… most of the time. However, as time goes by, it may fade especially when the things I am thankful for are just things. Even graduating to people, they will not meet my expectation and require grace in order to maintain the relationship. We live in the midst of complete imperfection. Expectation placed in the world or the things of this world will always be subject to moth and decay. Our great expectation in the priceless inheritance is to somehow take our eyes off this world and stop reaching for the lesser things to obtain the life Christ died for us to have. Things are not bad. People are not the problem. Misplaced expectation will always be left unfulfilled. God is good. He will never let us down. Our expectation must be placed in the Lord to have life more abundantly as promised.

Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT) “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Where is your treasure today? Most of mine are sleeping soundly. My family is a treasure. They are the desire of my heart to see them healthy, happy and blessed. However, I cannot put my expectation in my family. Material things are always a threat to our joy and peace as well. The vicious cycle of supply and demand create strongholds to the unsuspecting. During the holidays, this is the most difficult time of the year. Our desire to meet the expectations of others in our giving and hosting can rob us of the love, joy and peace that the Savior of the world came to give us. He is the Prince of Peace. Is the Prince of Peace ruling our life? Or is it a list of expectations full of demands on our time, talent and treasure that is quickly consuming us? Be careful. The enemy would like nothing more to hinder your thanksgiving and crash your celebration of the birth of Christ. He uses tools marked busyness and consumerism. He wields weapons of human expectation that creates burdens, worry and stress not produced by God’s Spirit.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)  Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Today, I want to be thankful. Not for what I have or who I love, but I want to be thankful for Jesus Christ alone. I know it sounds a little strange to some who don’t know Him or trust Him. My life verse this year has been Ephesians 3:20. I believe that God is able to accomplish infinitely more than I might ask or think… I do. The difficult part is that God is doing “His Mighty Work” in me. The productivity of prosperity can only reach the limits of my heart. God prospers our soul and it then manifests in our body working its way into our natural life. I must give God all of my heart today. Taking captive every rebellious thought that is desperate to meet the needs, wants and desires of others by simply trusting Him with all of my needs, wants and desires. Shoving my life across the table, giving it all back to Him again…and again if that’s what it takes until my soul is overflowing with love, joy, peace and every other good fruit the Spirit is cultivating in me. It is so easy to forget.

My life invested in Jesus Christ by faith and confident hope will prosper into absolute fulfillment and abundant life. It takes time. It requires discipline. You must endure because most of the time you must go against the flow of natural progression. It is our calling to persevere because the enemy hates contentment, satisfaction and fulfillment. His only weapon is a lie so why don’t you hurl the Truth of who you are and who lives in you right back at him. Aren’t you thankful for God’s amazing grace and infinite patience? Our Good Father guards and protects the priceless inheritance designated for us, until we follow His Lead right to it. It begins with a heart full of thanksgiving. It continues as daily we sacrifice thanksgiving to Him. Walking by faith and not by sight are a requirement which means stop grumbling, griping and complaining about your life and find the abundance hidden within it.

2 Corinthians 3:8-10 (NLT) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way.

We must expect greater glory under the new way. The Holy Spirit lives in us and is renewing us day by day with God’s Word and wisdom producing good fruit. Could it be that our expectation in Christ Jesus has set a standard too low for the living God? Are we waiting and watching for lesser things when He is ready to pour out His Glory in our life? What if the Lord really can do something glorious in our ordinary life and the only thing lacking is expectancy?

Lord, help me to have greater expectation. Eyes to see past temporary things and momentary problems. To surrender to you all my wants, needs and desires for fulfillment. Give me ears to hear you speak and lead me to Truth to overcome the lie of the enemy. Give me hands to give even when I don’t think I have anything to offer. Lord give me wisdom this season to keep focused on you and stop carrying every weight and burden offered by the enemy. He wants to steal my joy and peace but I refuse to give it away. You are my salvation. You have given me a priceless inheritance that will make its way to me in due time. Fill my heart with thanksgiving in all things and every circumstance. Let my mouth be filled with praise. Amen!

Philippians 1:20 (NLT) For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.

In Every Season

In Every Season

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

God doesn’t call the qualified – He qualifies the called. The thorn in my flesh. Are you called to do something? Do you know that God told you to go here or do this but it is so hard that you are wondering if you missed Him altogether? Same. It seems like the more sure I am going in the harder the fight to the finish. How do I know if God called me? Oh, you know. Or at least you did going into the season, but now that the ground is dry and the river run dry – you are looking for an escape. You are not alone. The enemy is hurling lies at every person who launches out in obedience with the intent of retreat. He wants you to leave the season. He wants you to abandon the field. The only thing that the enemy can use against those called by God is a lie. He wants you to accept twisted truth so that doubt will take root and grow into disbelief. He did it in the Garden and continues today.

Those who delight in the Law of the Lord, His Word both spoken and written, meditating on it day and night are like trees. Not just any tree, but the ones planted by the riverbank always watered by His Word. They will prosper in every season because they are rooted and grounded in Christ. Their leaves do not whither even in drought, and they will prosper IN ALL THEY DO. You will prosper despite the drought, famine or harsh conditions. Your life is not dependent on your atmosphere around you but the Living God within you. He is your supply and source for life and life more abundantly. Are you tapped into the Living Water within you today? Or are you trying to survive in the dry and thirsty land?

Psalm 107:33-38 (NLT) He changes rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry, thirsty land. He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands, because of the wickedness of those who live there. But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities. They sow their fields, plant their vineyards, and harvest their bumper crops. How he blesses them!

What if God has disguised your blessing in a barren land? What if it is not the enemy causes the struggle or challenging you to believe, but the Lord God? He doesn’t tempt us. The Lord will never tempt His Children. However, God will discipline us not to be confused with punishment. Endurance and perseverance are necessary qualities for success as a believer. Only those who endure to the end will be saved. Yet when we are stretched, pressured or exhausted – it is our first reaction to look for a way out. When things get rough or life is too hard – our finger points at God rather than the other direction. Our flesh is always looking for an opportunity to avoid death. The death of our flesh gives way to the Spirit. When the Spirit is poured out on dry land there is a change. However, if there is no seed planted in that season what will grow. Faithfulness is the sowing of seed in the life of every believer. To believe when there is no reason to believe is reminiscent of the Father of Faith, Abraham who waited well into his nineties to see God’s Promise.

Isaiah 44:1-5 (NLT) “But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. The Lord who made you and helps you says: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one. For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the Lord.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.”

Reading these words today, I am encouraged. Like a sprinkle of rain in the desert, it is water for my soul. Do not be afraid my chosen one. I will pour out water and quench your thirst and irrigate parched fields. I will pour out my Spirit on your family and blessing on your children. (My paraphrased version) God did not call us to survive the seasons of life – we are chosen to thrive. To thrive in God means to trust Him in every season. If He called you to a place, you must stay there until He comes or His Blessing arrives. If He called you to do something, keep doing it whether prosperity comes quickly or takes many seasons. Keep sowing even when your arms are tired and knees feel weak. Why is life so hard? It was hard before you knew Christ or you would not have been searching for a Savior. Why is it hard now? Because knowing Christ does not necessarily change the world or everyone who lives in it – the Spirit of the Living God invited to live in you is to transform you into a new creation.

My response must be to the One who called me. The One who loves me. The One who promises to never leave me or forsake me. The One who promises to perfect that which concerns me. The One who gives me perfect peace to weather every storm or wait for rain in times of drought. He is the One who promises to make good come from every detail of my life. Am I reacting to my environment or responding to its Creator?

I Thessalonians 5:24 (NLT) God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

God will not increase any part of our life apart from faith. If faith is not required, God didn’t do it. Miracles are labeled “IMPOSSIBLE” for a reason. Otherwise, we would take credit for God’s Work. Every day farmers sow seed in fields. Faithfully breaking the ground, tilling the soil, planting good seed, watering and waiting and enjoying some kind of harvest. Sowing and reaping, planting and harvest were established in the days of Noah as God promised to never flood the earth again. The rain falls on the just and unjust.

God will make it happen. How many times do we limit the Lord to our natural expectations? Our clock is preset. Our journey marked out. Our ability measured by comparison. When God doesn’t do it according to our schedule, agenda or designate path – we decide to question the Lord and his ability even his faithfulness. God didn’t tell you to force it – He said, “I’ll do it.” According to my Word, Will and Way – set out before you were born as a prerecorded (Psalm 139) plan and purpose for your life (Jeremiah 29:11) which will result in a masterpiece (Ephesians 3:20). We would settle for refrigerator art, paint by numbers, or even a sidewalk artist rendering before being willing to wait for God to make a Michelangelo or Picasso of our life. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. He does it. God is the Creator and ultimate designer of life. We must trust in every season that He who calls you (and me) is faithful to finish.

2 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

According to Ephesians 1:3, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. We have everything we need, want and desire hidden in our life for discovery. These blessings are from the “heavenly realm” so they can only be accessed by right standing with God. Salvation is only the beginning. Faith must be sown and grown in our life to keep us deeply rooted and grounded in the Love of God and His Grace which is union with Christ. Faith bores belief. The fruit of our faith is belief manifested in trust and dependence on the Living God. He has given us everything we need for living a godly life which is defined by prosperity, success and abundance according to His Word. We will only survive until our faith thrives even in the driest and barest of season knowing that He is faithful and true even when nothing we see is evidence of that.

The Kingdom of God and its fullness is available to us. We must seek the Kingdom of God above everything else which means continually searching for it, pressing toward it, and staying put in steadfast faith until the Lord reveals it, releases it or relieves us. This is only accomplished by faith in God not our senses or seasons. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises rather than our personal struggles and challenges in life. There will always be adverse conditions, unfavorable circumstances, senseless tragedy as love grows cold and sin grows rampant in this lost and dying place. But we do not rally in hope for this world, but rather press for the mark of a higher calling. To be part of a Kingdom where leaves do not wither and prosperity is the outcome of every season. For now, the Kingdom is in you. It is in me. We must trust and believe that God has given us His Glory and Excellence enough to give Him glory and excellence when times are tough and we want to quit. His Word promises it will be worth it when we learn to prosper in every season.

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

All of my life…in every season…You are still God…I have a reason to sing…I have a reason to worship…