Ice Cream Dream

Ice Cream Dream

Psalm 126:1-3 (ESV) When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.

Oh the power of the mind! After a less than glorious annual visit to my doctor, it was made clear that I should make some better choices to be healthy and well. After much deliberation between my heart, mind and body, I have embarked on the low carb craze. I hate the word “diet” because it implies brevity that does not lead to long term results but rather choose the term “healthy lifestyle” to sum it all up. As soon as my body recovers from the initial insult, I will incorporate a new gym membership that will hopefully result in some kind of fitness routine. After three days of imposing strict sugar limitations, I found myself in the local yogurt shop. Before me, two large scoops of yogurt – one vanilla and the other chocolate. The clerk was very helpful in selecting topping after topping as she diligently rang up each one with a soft chime of the cash register. She was going to get the whip cream can when suddenly my alarm went off and I realized it was only a dream. Ugh! The struggle is real!

“We were like those who dream.” Do you have a dream? Dreams begin as images, ideas, emotions and sensations in our sleep. But for those who know Jesus, our dream life does not stop in the corridors of our mind but have great potential in our life. I will be the first to admit that my “ice cream dream” did not represent some hidden meaning but an inner longing for sugar. The Lord pours out His Spirit so that His Sons and Daughters giving each one the potential to dream about new possibilities that will become the prosperity of our soul if one grabs hold of it, applies faith and waits for it to come. Such a mindset is the essence of believing. People don’t like dreamers especially those who do not dream any more.

Genesis 37:18-20 (ESV) They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.”

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8) The enemy wants to kill your dream. He wants to rob you of destiny that begins in our dream life and visions. Children live in make-believe as they act out the dreams and desires in their little hearts. Life is hard and experiences break the dreamer’s heart and they cease to dream choosing to live according to the reality of today without hopeful expectation of tomorrow. Joseph was a dreamer. He was very out-spoken about the dreams and visions that the Lord had given him. His brothers said, “Here comes the dreamer. Come now, let us kill him…” And then, “and we will see what will become of his dreams.” When was the last time, your dream was so big that it scared you into discarding it as impossible? See that is what the enemy wants to do Child of the Living God! He wants you to give up on the potential of your dream and purpose that it holds because the devil knows that God is faithful and true. The enemy believes that the purpose in your dream will yield the promise that it holds more than you do.

Psalm 126:4-6 (ESV) Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Every dream has a price even my ice cream dream. As she scooped each one, she would hit a key that made a sound representing cost. Each topping would produce the same sound which raised the price I would have to pay for the delicacy. Your dream has a price. You must decide if it is worth the cost to have it and energy it will take to pursue it. You don’t have to decide all at once. I woke up before I ate the ice cream and continued on my healthy journey. People – I am not going to lie. I have ice cream in the refrigerator in the house and deep freeze in the garage. It is available even at this ridiculously early time of morning. No one would know if I ate some before starting the day. I had to make a choice. Do I maintain my condition or do I continue to my destiny? Every dream has a price. Your vision has a cost. We must decide today if we want to settle for this life or step out into Kingdom reality secured only by faith and trust in Jesus. The dreams that God gives us are according to His Purpose and Plan for us which are always exceedingly abundantly more than we could think, ask, imagine, and dream.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Everyone has food induced dreams. Too much pizza and chocolate before bed can produce some pretty crazy ones. Sometimes emotional events will also make us dream. For instance, sometimes I dream of walking through my grandparents’ house even though they are long gone to be with Jesus. I don’t want to live but linger in their presence because I still mourn the loss. And then there are the God Dreams – the ones that I know His Spirit gives me and that have great potential. You know the ones because you have them too! Fear tells us to disregard. Doubt says that it is simply not possible inserting an excuse. Faith says, “Nothing is impossible for God.” Believing says, “Every chain is breakable.” The purpose and plan that the Lord has prerecorded for us has no expiration date. We simple walk by faith and believe Him at His Word embracing our dreams that will become the prosperity of our soul that leads to success in this life and safety in the everlasting. Don’t stop dreaming. I speak resurrection power and life to every dream that is dormant with in you. May they sleep no more but flood you with new hope. Just start believing…in Jesus Name!

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

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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 Walk

The Walk

Psalm 84:11 (NIV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time. Lyndon B. Johnson

The blameless walk is not a series of perfect steps but walking with Christ every step along the way. In fact, perfection is often the enemy of faith as it drains us in our pursuit of the impossible. Like chasing the wind but never catching it while deciding the current scenery and state of affairs is the end result. The journey is made up of many steps not just the place where you are standing. It takes a series of steps to find a new destination, but how often we allow one or two to determine the outcome.

Genesis 5:24 (NIV) Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

To walk faithfully with God. This is the secret to a successful journey. He withholds no good thing from those who walk with Him. In fact, the rain falls on the just and unjust. Perhaps to walk with the Lord blamelessly is to strive to do things His Way and inherit His Promises. Our steps are ordered by the Lord. He provides a plan for our life containing a future and hope. His Word a guide for us. His Spirit is our compass. Willingness, discipline and obedience keep us on course to have every good thing already predestined for our life. God promises to use every detail for our good and His Glory.

Enoch walked with the Lord for 300 years. In all those years, I am certain being a human being that he made mistakes along the way. Like many others, he fell short of God’s Standard and even sinned. The secret of Enoch’s success was presence. He sought the Presence of God in his life every day. Faithfulness is not about our ability to do all the right things. It is not always evident in our speech. It is not a life of perfection but perspective. To see our life through the eyes of our Creator, and attempt to follow Him to the end result. Enoch was not defined by his religion but an ongoing and abiding relationship with the Lord. So close, in fact, that when it was time for him to leave the earth and enter eternity – it was a seamless transition void of suffering and death. He simply was no more.

Enoch was not the only person in the Bible swept up by God and he was no more. Elijah was walking with Elisha when suddenly a chariot of fire appeared and he was never seen again. There is a transition in life when our life is no longer our own. A place in time when trust takes over and faith flourishes in the absence of doubt. The point of destiny is defined by such moments when in our imperfection and inadequacy the Lord is able to sweep us up and away from this world…but until then we must learn to walk in the Presence of God each day.

Deuteronomy 6:6-8 (NIV) These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

The practicality of faith is its simplicity. To apply what is believed to our natural existence requires pursuing the Lord and His Presence in each step rather than waiting for a church service or special time. God desires to walk with us daily – step-by-step. The commandments given to us do not restrict our freedom but grace has given us the liberty to pursue God and step into His Presence. It gives our life purpose, potential and a plan.  To live in unison with Christ and His Spirit inside of us in a relationship that is practical. Faith is illogical outside of God’s Word. Jesus is the Word made flesh. To know Christ one must have intimacy with the Word. The instructions for living take us somewhere that we couldn’t find outside of God. What if the perception of God’s Word became a roadmap to life rather than a handbook of condemnation? There is no condemnation in Christ. He is part of God and one with Him. God is love. His Love produces mercy and grace. The enemy wants you to think that Jesus limits you in life. The truth is that when you pursue His Presence – every step has meaning and detail purposed for goodness.

Acts 17:23-25 (NIV) For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

Paul addressed the men of Athens concerning the “unknown God”. I wonder what might happen within the Body of Christ if the reality of our faith was to walk with the Lord daily. To decide with each step to seek His Presence. To determine that even on the worst day, to take one more step closer. To never give up. Never give in. The concept of a God who sits on a throne too high for us to reach and too perfect to approach was wrecked when Jesus Christ came to live with us. He then died for us. He soon came to abide within us. Now we are blameless in the Sight of God covered by the Blood of His Son, Jesus. When God sees us coming, He only sees Jesus. Perfection. Blamelessness. Righteousness.

The Lord desires to be with us. His Spirit is evidence that He is with us. Always. He never leaves us or forsakes us. We must learn to walk in the freedom of His Love. The place where you are today has purpose. A new life in Christ does not always change the scenery but it will take you to the mountaintops and keep you in the valleys of life. Christ didn’t come to change the world but to live in the hearts of those who belong to the Kingdom. When we accept Christ to save us and live in us, it is to invite the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us and direct us. He is our Savior and He also is to be our Lord. Prosperity in our life is a direct produce of abundance overflowing from our soul. As our soul prospers so will we. Success comes with the harvest. The seeds of diligence in each step will change the crop of the next season. Each step you take has potential outside of our perception in that day. So on those days when of weakness and weariness, His Grace is enough to carry us through. Nothing is wasted. We only miss the mark by deciding to quit.

Psalm 23:1-4 (NIV) The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

The Lord is a shepherd. We are his sheep. He will leave the ninety-nine to find the one who has lost its way, stepped off course, become distracted, or just plain gave up. You are important to Him. He has decided to put His Spirit inside of you to empower you, give wisdom and direction, and to be our comforter when our natural life does not reflect the vision in our spiritual life. Sometimes, we lose sight of the close proximity of God or become tired of waiting for Him to perfect those things that concern us. This does not change the fact that His Presence longs to go with us, be with us, grow in us and lead us to better things.

Lord, create a consciousness in us regarding the steps of our life. Each one has its own importance and significance because you are detail-oriented and work it all for our good. Let us never lose sight of your unfailing love and abundance of goodness that follows us all the days of our life. May we become caught up in Your Presence today.

Psalm 23:6 (NIV) Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Blinded By the Light

Blinded By The Light

I John 2:9-11 (NLT) If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.

If faith shows the reality of what is hoped for and it is the evidence or substance of things that remain unseen, then how does one every overcome spiritual blindness? I wonder if rather than simply reciting God’s Word people began to really think about it what might happen. I believe that our inability to integrate our spiritual and natural life puts people at a huge disadvantage. Living a “church” life and a normal life are mutually exclusive rather than completely inclusive. If faith is evidence of what we hope for and that which is hoped for remains unseen – how do we overcome spiritual blindness? Lost in thought today about the things that I continue to hope for including the things I know the Lord has promised to do in the “land of the living” with nothing in sight. I cannot see how His Plan and Purpose are coming together so I must decide each day if I will trust and continue to believe that God is good and in complete control of the details of my life.

Acts 17:22-28 (NLT) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

How ironic that Saul now Paul would be the one to so eloquently describe the Lord. The one who tortured and murdered countless Christians. He was a Jew and Child of God but did not recognize the Messiah. It was on the road to Damascus when a bright light surrounded him, overtaking him and even blinding him that he realized his mistake. (Acts 22:6-16) The Law of God demanded a life for a life. If God was who Saul thought he was, then he would have surely died that day in the Presence of the Living God. He did not die but was taken captive by unfailing love and overwhelming grace. Everything changed that day because Saul experienced the Love of God firsthand. However, he could not see God but rather was blinded for three days. Three dark days of being led by others. His whole life the only images portrayed in his mind. I can only imagine how he must have felt knowing the countless innocent people whose lives ended at his order. Everything Saul knew about God changed that day. Everything. The Word of God did not change but the Way of God turned Saul into Paul and the one of the greatest ministries of all time was birthed in the foreboding darkness of blindness.

What if the Lord is leading us into darkness to recognize the Light of His Love today? What if nothing makes sense to turn us back to the Word of God and seek the Way? What if life is pressing you to release the promise and purpose hidden inside of you? See I believe that when Jesus began healing blinded eyes it was not a natural change but a change of heart that He was after. The words of the prophet Isaiah read by Jesus that day rang true, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor…” Stopping here for just a moment, if the Spirit of the Lord lives inside of us, the purpose is anointing. You have been entrusted with the Good News that has a specific purpose which is to release captives, cause the blind to see, and the oppressed to be set free. The Favor of the Lord is for everyone. It is a product of God’s Love and Grace. Now that we are pumped up let’s get practical…

What if the healing does not come? What if the blinded eye does not see? What if the captive is not set free from their addiction or situation? What if the one who is oppressed remains in such conditions? What then? Is the Gospel invalid? Is it not true? Has God relinquished His Power? Has the enemy one? Am I the one who is overcome? Is God limited by my sin? Powerless in my rebellion? No, no, and no. What if all of this is with divine purpose? What if all of these situations are not physical possibilities but experiences designed for a change of heart? Here is what I am beginning to believe – the healing is in the heart change not the condition. Signs, wonders and miracles are awesome. I have experienced them firsthand. However, once the moment is over it becomes a memory memorialized in my testimony. What about the Living God? The One who lives in me. The one in who I am supposed to “live and move and exist” as His Offspring. Is He still good and still God in the waiting?

God miraculously healed our youngest daughter of severe and debilitating asthma. Not over the course of time or with medical intervention. He did it instantly. Here today gone tomorrow. Doctors scratching their heads wondering how in the world she required six medications and nebulization ever couple of hours to needing nothing at all the next. Crazy, huh? God did it just that way. Fast forward, our son is diagnosed with cancer. God gave me His Word that our son would live and not die so naturally I expected an immediate healing miraculously or medically. He relapsed four times. His bone marrow transplanted was denied by insurance. We had to fight for six long months. Ultimately – they said no. The next day – someone said, “Yes!” Nobody knows who did it or why or even how but we went with it and our son is alive today. However, his body continues to battle terrible side effects of five rounds of chemotherapy, maximum dose radiation, and the transplant. Where is God? Isn’t healing supposed to take care of all that? When will life be normal again? In this moment, I know that God is good. His Love is real. He is always faithful. Knowing is the sight that carries through the darkest days of life. The Light of God’s Love is His Favor that surrounds us in every situation even when the outcome doesn’t seem favorable to us. Faith must become our logic by which we see everyday life until the Saul in us sees life like Paul.

2 Peter 1:8-11 (NLT) The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In the passage right before this one (2 Peter 1:5) the Word of God tells us to “make every effort to respond to God’s Promises”. It goes on to talk about supplementing our faith with moral excellence and moral excellence with knowledge and knowledge with self-control and self-control with patient endurance and finally endurance with godliness so that in all things we demonstrate brotherly affection for everyone. “The more you grow like this…the more productive and useful you will be…” Failure to do so may result in shortsightedness or spiritual blindness. I believe with all of my heart that unwillingness to respond to God’s Promises with faith but maybe routine or service instead has created spiritual blindness in the Body of Christ. Faith is evidence that we have hope that cannot be seen. However, like Saul, the idea of rightness overtakes God’s Concept of righteousness which is obtained fully in the Person of Jesus Christ. This is the blindness that I believe Jesus came to heal. The blindness of a heart overtaken by fear and insecurity that is barely holding on to hope.

In John 5, Jesus encounters the man sitting by the pool of Bethesda. The porches were covered with sick people.  Blind, lame and paralyzed all around him. One of the men had been sick for 38 years. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” His response, “I can’t sir, for I have no one to put me in the water…” Hmmm. Do you want to get well? I guess it depends on your idea of wellness. Jesus ignored his excuse and told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat and walk!” The man was given a choice in that moment. Faith got up, picked up the mat and walked off that day. What about you? When Jesus passes by do you see Him, hear Him, feel Him or know Him? This man had a choice in that moment of infirmity and doubt to respond to the Word of God or remain in his current condition. The opportunity did not come when the water was stirring, people were moving, or church was hopping but in the Presence of the Lord. Could it be that our idea of salvation, healing and deliverance has caused us to turn a blind eye to the Light of His Love right before us?

John 9:2-5 (NLT) “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

God’s Light and His Love shine brightest through broken hearts and people. When we decide to give our heart to Jesus and let Him keep it – the Light of His Love will shine forth from it. Sin is rampant. Love is cold. This world is a dark place. The Light of the World lives in us. When we stop looking for why, the shame, regret and accusations are silenced and God’s Grace abounds in us and for others. What if the revival God is announcing is not about signs, miracles and wonders that produce it but hearts and minds set on finding the Light of His Love in every situation and giving it to every person. We are so set on perfect lives and certain expectations that cause us to turn a blind eye to God’s Will which is always to produce His Glory in our life while working things together for our good.

2 Corinthians 4:4-5 (NLT) Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in everything we think God hasn’t done and lose sight of all that He has done. Just the fact that I have a place in His Kingdom is enough to rejoice every day. It is not my job to have a perfect life or preferential outcomes in every situation. God did not promise a life free of problems or pressure. He promised to save, heal, deliver, provide, and prosper my life and asks only one thing of me – to love. To share this unconditional and unfailing love for Him with others. What if the miracle of revival is not birthed from God moving the water but moving our hearts? What if the Presence of God is before us but we keep looking for someone else to carry us in? What if the greatest revival of all time is waiting for us to love God wholeheartedly and people the same? Even Saul tried wholeheartedly to serve God and failed epically, that is until the Light of God’s Love surrounded him and overtook him in that moment when he became Paul. The rest of Paul’s natural life was spent for the most part in prison. He didn’t write like someone in captivity, blind or oppressed. His heart was finally free and filled with Jesus Christ. His faith no longer based on sight but full focused on faith. Lord, let that be me today.

Philippians 3:6-9 (NLT) I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Radiate

radiate

Isaiah 60:19 (NLT) No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

As the sun slowly rises, its rays fall on the study floor. Catching my attention, I look away from this study to see its radiant brilliance shining through dirty windows. Yes, I need to clean my windows. Put that on the list today. Just outside the window bushes have risen above the handrail, obstructing the view. Maybe Big Daddy will cut them back a bit for me, so that I can add those black rocking chairs that I have been waiting for spring to buy. Spring is here. Life is bursting forth after a long winter. We are full of life. Each day the Lord is working on the inside to make His Light shine outside of us. After all, He has called us to be His Light to this world. He placed His Spirit in us to produce His Glory through us. Is this the life we live? New life. Bursting from every facet of our life like a brilliant diamond under direct light. Or have a windows become cloudy and the cracks of brokenness subtly filled, so that the image is slightly askew, maybe a bit dimmed or has it grown dark altogether? The Light that shines from our inside must reflect the true radiance of God. It is not a light that flickers or impacted by any other source. It is a fiery passionate burning flame that consumes all that lies between us to emit light glorious unfiltered light. Is your light brightly shining today? Is it breaking through the darkness that surrounds you?

To radiate means to extend, spread and moving outward from the center. To project or cast forward. Light changes the atmosphere around it. Darkness cannot remain where light is present. Light is attractive. The emission draws and things to it. Is my life attractive? Is it engaging? Do I project and cast a true image of God and His Great Love? Isn’t that the most attractive thing about our Savior and Lord? The fact that His Love for us is unchanged by condition or weakness. He loves us. Case closed. He promises to fill us with His Love and release His Glory in us. It all begins with grace. Amazing grace. It sounds so sweet but is so easily mistaken. Grace is not a doorway to enter God’s Favor but the Source of the life. We live in God’s Grace which allows to be in right standing and live in the Presence of God. I cannot earn it but only receive it. I cannot ever exchange grace for entitlement but must live humbly before Jesus who is the Source of Grace.

I believe Isaiah 60 is not a futuristic place yet to come but the very opportunity Christ gives us now. It is for today. This very moment called opportunity. God’s Glory covers us in radiance that cannot be altered, filtered or covered by this world. It is the favor of God that allows us to be blessed and prosperous no matter how many clouds fill our sky or how long the night may seem. It begins “Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you!” Throughout the chapter, it tells of powerful influence as “everyone is coming home” drawn to the light. Not just ordinary people but kings are attracted as well. The radiance will also direct prosperity into our life as “they bring you the wealth of many lands.” As the Light of His Glory shines in us making its way through us until the substance of our faith is made into absolute trust with confident hope that allows us to be the light rather than groping in darkness any longer. The Lord will be your everlasting light. The events outlined in Isaiah 60 are not for eternity. The Favor of God for life is found in His Presence. To trust the Lord with our natural life allows His Light to shine through us. His Light is His Love. His Love makes the way. As His Love grows complete in us an extravagant exchange is made, our feeble attempts to earn His Grace become a willingness to accept His Grace as sufficient alone.

Isaiah 60:20-21 (NLT) “Your sun will never set; your moon will never go down. For the Lord will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end. All your people will be righteous. They will possess their land forever, for I will plant them there with my own hands in order to bring myself glory.”

If just for a moment, try to forget about the church culture familiar to you. No matter what denomination chosen or the doctrine that is subscribed to – for this second just focus on you and Jesus. Let the weight of service, the next offering, or even the sin that you struggle with evaporate from your thoughts and fall like heavy chains pooling at your feet. Say to yourself, “Jesus loves me.” The beginning and end of every bit of hope that I have as a believer is the credibility of this statement in my life evidence by my ability to believe it. Is Jesus enough? If I truly believe that then the things of this life no longer affect the light of His Love radiating from me. My ability to project the perfect life does nothing for those who feel helpless, worthless and defeated. My acceptance of God’s Love through the Grace of Jesus Christ that shines bright even on the worst days of my life is attractive to others. Grace is completed in our willingness to say, “I am weak. He is my strength.” This is not fake faith. I will never say the words “faith it until you make it.” It is of the same concept as fake it until you make it. Nobody wants to come closer only to find our love is not real, joy superficial, and peace a façade. We have eternity in our heart. The substance of our faith provided in a measure must grow into an abundant overflow of trust. Trust is the radiance of our life that makes others come closer to see what it is all about. An authentic life bears fruit not a leafy cover that gives nothing of worth. Is the Lord your everlasting light?

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Part of our son’s cancer treatment included radiation. After a series of scans and images were taken to precisely pinpoint the location and dimensions of the tumor growing in his nasopharyngeal cavity, a mathematical engineer studied the coordinates to make direct the radiation beam to hit the tumor and avoid other areas. The tumor in his head was millimeters from his brain stem so it was imperative that they not miss the mark. Before the next treatment, a new scan was taken and the coordinates reevaluated for accuracy. With all this precision, there was still a fair amount of radiation that was in the aura that projected to surrounding tissue. I share this to say that as God’s Love begins to chip away at our heart to find its way in – certain things in our life will begin to change. As His Grace, the source of our hope, begins to penetrate the thick walls and hard sides of our heart – it begins to fill us with inexpressible joy and perfect peace that is unexplainable. Though it may be painful in the brokenness as His Love overthrows the insufficiencies in our life with His Grace, the power that takes over changes us from the inside out. As it makes its way out – God’s Glory fills our life. We must experience God’s Love by trusting Him and encountering the Lord one-on-one in an intimate and personal relationship before the radiance of His Love can shine through us. Do not take for granted your alone time with Jesus. Do not stop striving to make more time to spend in His Word and prayer. The Light emanating from our life will only be as strong as the source in us. The radiation was painful. It was damaging. It broke our son’s saliva glands. They don’t work anymore. It burned his skin but the Lord has healed him. It was a painful process that eradicated the tumor called cancer from his body. The Lord removes all impurity so the purity of His Love, Life and Light can show through us.

In her book, The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp shares “cancer is what refuses to die to self.” You know the part of you, as do I which seems to be the source of our struggle when it comes to trusting the Lord. It can be many things. Insecurity, doubt, fear, or even unforgiveness. All of these things are the point of unwillingness to change and may be the very thing that are keeping God’s Glory from radiating from our life. Total trust in the Lord and His Love which is defined by His Grace is the thing that causes us to shine the brightest. It requires an inspection of the heart where He lives. Are the windows a little cloudy? Have some weeds popped up? What is it that keeps God’s Glory from bursting forth in our life? Wake up Jerusalem. Wake up church. Wake up friend. Wake up me. Nothing I “do” or “don’t do” for the Lord amounts to anything without first being covered in His Love and Grace. I cannot project a clear picture of God and His Grace outside of unconditional love for all people. The culmination of faith and hope evidenced in my ability to trust the Lord begins with believing His Love is complete. To know the Lord and His Love is to break the notion that anything I am or ever hope to be is worthwhile unless His Love fills me to overflowing. It is the Christ in me that is attractive. It is the Love of God that captures the attention of people. His Glory will come when His Love finds its place in my very human heart.

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT) The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 

God’s Love is on the horizon shining on us. Jesus is the Source. He wants to shine through us. His Glory is for us. His Favor is ours for the taking. His Love never ends. It never fails. It is more than enough. We don’t add to it or take from it. It is there for us always to step in, live in, and radiate every day. Jesus is the Source of Hope. His hope never leads to disappointment. I will never know that for sure until I am willing to love and trust Him with my whole life. It is a process. It is going to take some time. Why not start today? I am off to clean some windows. To let the light shine in. My desire is to radiate God’s Love, His Light and His Glory in my life. How about you? By allowing the Lord to penetrate my heart with pinpoint precision to the part I am withholding and eradicate it with His Love and change me from the inside out produces a spark inside me. It is then and only then that the radiance of His Love will break through the earthen vessel and be fully expressed as light glorious light that leads to life glorious life.

John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

Old Planks

Old Planks

Psalm 92:12-15 (NIV)

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

 

Our church has been blessed with a new building to hold services. It was in very poor condition when purchased and in need of renovation. The saints of God pulled together on a mission to create a place of worship, to welcome the lost, to provide healing to the sick, shelter for the broken, and a sanctuary for His Glory. Endless nights of toil and sweat have produced tears among the exhausted workers, but the diamond in the rough is now shining as it is brought back to life. The image of a tree has become the logo for the new establishment. Like a tree. We all want to be like a tree lush and full by the stream of Living Water. Who doesn’t want to thrive like the olive tree in the House of God? There is a process to our purpose. It has been brought into the light.

 

The wall behind the platform where the Word of God will be preached and worship fully expressed is covered in old planks. Cut from pallets nailed together that once bore loads too much to carry now delivered. Running my hand across them, they are weathered and worn. Sometimes I feel that way, but look where they are. Day and night in the Presence of God living in His House forever. One day, this church will be forgotten burned as the world spins to the end. However, in this moment, on this day, they are an inspiration to the weary Christian. To the believer who is broken, they shout it is well. To the one whose hope is waning and their faith is running thin – they yell hang! You are almost there. If those planks could speak to us today, they might say, “Yes, there is pain in the process! But look at us now!”

 

The righteous will grow and flourish planted in the House of God. They will bear fruit even in old age. They will stay fresh and green proclaiming the Glory of God. I want to remain in right standing with the Lord, My God always. However, in the process of purpose, it becomes unclear this hope we have in Jesus. Those times of heated refinement when it is too hot to breathe in the inescapable blaze of testing and trials, where is our God? Why has He forsaken us? When will He return? God is with us. He is in us. He is reshaping us and making us who and what we need to be to live in His Presence forever and prosper in His Kingdom just as He planned. We not miss this life or what we gained here. The glory of past achievements will not be as wonderful as we thought compared to His Goodness and Glory released in fulfillment. When we see who we are in the Light of Who He is rather than what we have become.

 

I Corinthians 15:37-39 (NIV)

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.

 

We have the best intentions. The Lord has a plan. His Plan is handwritten from beginning to end before a person takes in their first breath. He places Eternity in our heart so we will seek Him and find His Plan when our best intentions fail leaving us dissatisfied and unfulfilled. You will never find contentment or complete satisfaction outside of Jesus Christ. When we sow our life, it is like planting a tiny seed. We call that seed faith and as it grows, it will require a great deal of patience for it may seem quite slow. From the beginning, a person will develop a set of expectations. They decide who they think they are to become in Christ and what they will do for Him. Some of this is revelation knowledge but then some of it is human, too. Nevertheless as we take God’s Word – His Seed – planting it ever so deep into our soul. We wait with some expectation for it to become something far greater. God’s Word is seed to us containing all the potential for our life. (Matthew 13) The Parable of the Sower tells the fate of some seeds, but then there are the ones that take root and grow. Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:14) He is the seed in us. When God spoke to Abraham about his “seed”, He was not talking about Isaac but about Jesus. Jesus would be his seed. (Galatians 3:16) Christ in us makes us Abraham’s seed with faith that makes all things possible to those who believe God at His Word and are willing to endure the process of productivity require to grow, develop, mature and prosper in life.

 

Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

 

Right from the start salvation yields large dividends in our life as the Lord nurtures and grows that tiny seed into some faith in us. We see some things turn around and perhaps begin to make better choices. New growth buds and sprouts in our life. Things are going pretty good. Our lives are better than we deserve and we become content and complacent in this new thing called comfort. Rooted and grounded in God’s Love by faith we are beginning to notice that thing called purpose getting stronger and bolder within us. It is such a refreshing place in life tapped into that Living Water. You don’t want anything to change but it must. You do not want to leave but you will. You don’t know what is coming but it does.

 

John 15:1-3 (NIV)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”

 

Why must we be pruned? Is refinement really a must? Absolutely. God loves us too much to lower His Standards for our personal and temporary comfort. He desires us to be completely blessed not partially appeased. He cuts off everything in our life that does not bear fruit to make room for more. It’s hard to think about it when all you can feel is the pain of the cut. God’s Word is a two-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12) Stay in the Word. You will feel the stick of piercing as with exact provision the Lord prepares us for prosperity body, mind and spirit.

 

Like the tree must be cut down and sent to the mill to be processed into planks that will be nailed into pallets to carry some loads, the Lord prepares and process His People always in love but not always absent in pain. He circumcises our heart. (Deuteronomy 10:16) This is when our religion is cut down to reveal a relationship with Christ. No longer can we do anything other than submit to the Master’s Plan. Though evidence of His Great Love, it becomes a time of testing. We will live and not die if the Truth remains in us. If our life is connected to the Resurrection and Life – Jesus Christ. (John 11:25)

 

Galatians 5:22Somet-25 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Pruning allows a tree to bear fruit. In a spiritual sense, those things cut from us allow the Spirit to prosper in us. We must endure the process of God in order for the Fruit of God’s Spirit to grow freely and abundantly. Fruit doesn’t stay on the vine or it will die never fulfilling its purpose. It must be cut to be consumed. Think about it. If we never released our fruit, we would be rotting and stinking trees. Living in Florida, we once had a house built in the midst of an orange grove. Each house had one tree in the front and six in the back neatly in rows. Those trees had been there for years and produced way more fruit than we could eat. Who could we share it with? All our neighbors had the same problem? When the fruit over ripened, it would fall to the ground and begin to rot. The sweet orange blossom sent turned into the sour pungency that attracted the biting fruit flies who ate it and tried to bite us. God desires our life to be a blessing to more than just us. He allows our fruit to be sampled by others and consumed by the needy. We feel the pull and yet sometimes fail to respond. God will cut us down in order to revive us again.

 

Romans 12:1-5 (NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

 

There are many steps climbing the mountain by faith. Glory to glory requires many levels of pain. Victory to victory is not without costly encounters. We come to the Lord by faith that must be tested and tried to be found true – not by God but by you. We must know what we believe and live as one. To become a living sacrifice requires giving our all. The seed gave way to the tree which gave up its life to become wood made into a pallet but that’s not the end. Sometimes we lose sight that there is far greater purpose in life than what it seems to be right now. The younger the Christian the more passionate the cause; however, the shorter the distance until they are on their weak knees. Each test made us stronger yet broken inside. Each trial burned away the insufficiencies to reveal faith that seems so small. Our significance is not in what life looks like around us but who we have become inside of us. Those pallets were ripped from their labor. They became yoked to Christ. Did you know that there were cedar plank walls in the Temple? (I Kings 6:9) Each strip of wood with all its marks and dings made it to the place we all long for. To live in the Presence of God forevermore.

 

God is transforming us friends. Not like we would do it, but according to a blessing far greater than we could even think to ask for. He sees more in us than we sees in ourselves and loves us too much to leave us like we are. Jesus in us is the seed that grows into prosperity. I must decrease so that He can increase in my life. (John 3:30) It’s funny but I have seen this process in some of the laborers preparing the House of God for service. After weeks of working their regular jobs and devoting the rest of their time preparing the House of God, they feel like worn out wood fit for burning. However, what I see are people on purpose. Those who God loves too much to leave behind. Martha’s who are being turned into Mary’s. Joseph’s who are about to emerge. God didn’t cut down the tree without purpose. He didn’t rip it apart because it was not producing some fruit. The process of refinement leads to refreshing and renewal. It leads to revival. Why? Because in our weakness, we become strong. Grace is sufficient when “I” cannot do it anymore. (2 Corinthians 12:9) There is a promise for those who are broken. It gives God the opportunity to move in closer, deeper and greater than before. (Psalm 34:18)

 

Psalm 27:4 (NIV)

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

 

One thing. What is the one thing you desire from the Lord? I used to want many things. I had a long list of demands for things that I thought would make me complete lacking no good thing. I quickly made it through that list and did not find what I was looking for before and even after I was saved. It was when I was complete broken and my heart shattered that I realized I had the one thing in me. The one thing that I needed to be saved, fulfilled and whole. The one thing I need to have a brand new life. The one thing I needed to be complete lacking no good thing. Running my hands over the rough edges of the planks, they are beautiful. Carrying constructed together with all their variations of size, color and texture make a beautiful masterpiece when alone they were fit to be burned. I believe that is exactly what God is doing in us. Bringing us together to create a Kingdom that is beautifully one just as He planned. Have you found your place friend? Yeah, me either. At least I have come to recognize and embrace the process which leads to peace and to dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life. This is where I desire to be so I will surrender and sacrifice my life to get there.

 

Psalm 23:5-6 (NIV)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The Dwelling Place

The Dwelling Place

Psalm 84:1-4 (NIV)

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.

 

I love my new job. I am learning all about the world of insurance. I had no idea that the realm of the insured was heavily governed by state legislature but it is. I am a nerd. I love to know all the rules and regulations. I like to live within in their lines. I am comfortable in never knowing the inside of a jail or walls of a prison if I can avoid them. I would much rather dwell inside the comforts of home. In the world of property and casualty insurance for residences, there are two worlds – homeowners insurance that covers the structure and contents then there is dwelling insurance that covers our personal stuff. In the flux of learning copious amounts of information, I was not at all surprised when I began dreaming about “dwelling” this morning assuming that it was from all the useful knowledge I am gaining at work. But then in the quiet darkness of early morning before the chaos called family awakes, I could sense this was something the Lord wanted me to consider today.

Homeowners insurance covers your house and the things that make up your living quarters. But dwelling insurance covers all those things that make your house a home. Vague description I know but again this is not an infomercial. The Lord began speaking to my heart today about life. Where I live? How I live? It is important to the Lord how I live. He died so that I would a rich, satisfying life. (John 10:10) Where I dwell each day determines my success or ultimate failure in achieving such a purpose in my life. Growing up as a young child, we lived in a mobile home. I remember thinking that I wanted a “real” house one day like my grandmother and grandfather. One that did not sound like a giant box whenever anyone moved up and down the hall. I discovered as an adult that I did not really long for a house as much as the home my grandparents had together. Everything in this life is temporary. I forget that all the time and dwell on things and in things that are not permanent as though they are forever. How about you? We place high level of importance on security in this life never really contemplating what if tomorrow never comes. This is not a call of despair but rather an invitation to freedom.

The Lord wants us to dwell in His Presence today. It is not a tangible place like a house where you open a door and step in. You cannot get your GPS to guide you to your destination. It is not a filled with things but rather the One Thing we all need to live a rich, satisfying life. How do we get there from here? How do we dwell in an unseen place with an untouchable God? We must learn to find this dwelling place and move the contents of our life from the temporary life we now live into the forever place of His Presence.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NIV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

We bought the house we live in just over ten years ago as it was being built. The company had already drafted the plans and designed the house so we just watched it all come together. When we purchased our home, everything inside of it was brand spanking new. It still had tags on everything. It was painted to perfection. And then of course, we moved our band of gypsies inside and needless to say it has been well-loved. Now it is beginning to need some touchup here and there even though we strive to care for it, it is like every other physical resource we have subject to wear and tear. Painting, caulking, repairing and replacing just come with owning a house. However, something that I have discovered is that while I long to fix most little things there are some things that represent the memories that were made in this house now called a home. The imperfections came about not because we owned the property but rather because we lived in it.

The world that we live in today is a temporary place for those who love the Lord and have Jesus to be their Savior. We do not end up here forever but rather walk through this life to get to Eternity. We dwell here a short time but sometimes forget where our home is. I am just as guilty of it as the next person. The word dwell means to live or stay as a permanent resident, to reside. It also means to live or continue in a given state. Finally, to dwell is a state of mind meaning to linger over, emphasize or ponder in thought. To dwell means to live in a certain state. Dwelling is not a place but how and where we live mind, soul and body. The conditions of life are subject to the world. Where we live. How we live. What we have in relationship to things will always be subject to the degradation and downward sloping of society. But how we live mind, soul and body does not have to be dependent on outward conditions. When we decide to dwell in the House of the Lord, we change the outcome of certain situations in life. We remove ourselves from the natural so that the supernatural governs our life. This is not a physical and tangible choice but an inward change that can absolutely impact our living conditions.

Psalm 15 (NIV)

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.

Who can dwell in the Presence of God? Who can live on His Holy Mountain? The one whose walk is blameless. Build up, build up and letdown for some who read this today. It shouldn’t be. Your walk is blameless because of Jesus Christ alone. How we live is really up to you and me. I had a job. The Lord opened the door of opportunity for another. The money was the same and benefits, too. The difference between the two was dramatic though. One working for the government in a high level supervisory position which a ton of responsibility and the other a low-key position in a small insurance company with one job and low stress level. One would think the choice might be easy. It was not. The world wants us to think that success is measured by stress. It tells us to fight our way up the corporate ladder. It sucks you in to the competitive career world quickly. How can you drop the heavy workload and assume the much lighter burden without becoming suspect? We assume the conditions of where we live. When we become immersed in life it infiltrates our mind, soul and body. But if we will make the choice to dwell in the Presence of the Lord that same life because a place of blessing and peace.

It’s time to work smarter not harder. To know and understand the Will and Way of God we must know the Word of God. When we begin to feed our mind, soul and body with the Word – it strengthens our spirit man (or woman) to understand the impact of God’s Presence in our life over the expectation of mankind. But didn’t the Word of God just say that I must be “blameless” in my walk with the Lord. Yes it did. Yes you are. The world wants us to think we must do “something” to earn the Grace of God that is actually a gift. It is up to us to discover the Truth and believe it that God’s Grace is His Gift to us and know we can come boldly into His Presence and live there if we want to.

The only way to be blameless and righteous is through Jesus Christ. You cannot do anything other than to come to Him for it. (Period) End of story. We are not comfortable in our undoing but would much prefer doing something. Well that’s too bad because our sin makes our offering not acceptable. What can we “do” for the Lord today to remain faithfully in His Presence and dwell where He is? Walk in love, talk in love, and live in love with Jesus so much so that it pours out into the life of others. This changes the place we live into the Dwelling Place of God wherever that is and whoever is there with us will be forever impacted.

Psalm 37:3-4 (NIV)

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 

We have the right and freedom to choose how we live our life. A true love affair is never forced so the Lover of our soul gives us a choice whether we choose death or life. I choose life today. Life is found in the Presence of God. It is a place we cannot see or feel but can very much live. It sets the course for our daily life. There is blessing in each moment and potential in each breath as Children of the Living God. We decide whether or not we will live as permanent residents in His Company. We choose whether or not to live in our current condition or will we surrender that “state” to Jesus for quick rejuvenation and renovation. We are the ones who linger over things that don’t really matter, or emphasize our problem when we have the solution or even ponder in thought the lesser things more than the One Thing who we really need. God wants us to dwell with Him today. He will change the living conditions of those who love Him with all their heart enough to move a little closer in each day. We have to trust the Lord because we cannot see Him. We do good because we love Him. He allows us to dwell in safety in the midst of the roaring lions of this life. God’s Glory is in His Presence right where He wants us to be. (Psalm 26:8) Strength and joy surround the midst of Him. (I Chronicles 16:27) It is a safe place. (Psalm 4:8) I want the life that God has prepared for me in His Dwelling Place today far about the worthless things in this life to live in forever today.

Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV)

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

One Step Closer – A Devotion

One Step Closer

Ephesians 1:16-18 (NLT)

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

 

As I have confessed before, I am a bargain shopper. I am always in pursuit of a good deal. I believe that being a good steward of what the Lord gives us is important. But there are some household items that I have learned it really is not a good idea to cut corners. For example, garbage bags are one thing I now pay a little more for as there is a long-term benefit. Our family can produce some rubbish now. It is really nice when the bag does not break or leak on our clean floor. With a coupon or store discount, I am usually only paying about a dollar more but it is well worth the price. Another thing is toilet paper. Inadvertently, I recently grabbed a package of one-ply toilet paper because I was looking at the price rather than the packaging. It was a little less than two-ply though I did not notice the difference at the time. The blissful ignorance did not last long as the complaints began almost immediately. My husband offered to get a second job for “real toilet paper”. Our kids all grumbled and griped about how harsh it felt and useless it was. Even my adult daughter on a visit yelled from the restroom, “Hey mom, what’s up with the prison toilet paper.” I hope to never make that mistake again. Sometimes we get caught up in the doing like budgeting and forget about the overall goal which is financial freedom. I think this is the case for most extreme coupon clippers. If you need the item, then it is a good deal but converting your garage, basement and half of your house to hold all the stuff you accumulate is called hoarding. What does this have to do with the Lord! We must use our spiritual wisdom to pursue Jesus Christ and be His Holy People. The Lord is working to do more than we could think or ask. Righteousness is remaining in right standing with God which is a faithful position relying on confident hope. Religion and routine tell us to do the “good” things that we know to do but faith reminds us that God is giving the increase.

I want to be a good steward of all things that the Lord has blessed us with. This includes my time, talent and treasure. However, I must be careful not to be caught up in the doing and consumed with seeking the steps that He has ordered for my life. I must move from the Lord could do this in my life to the Lord will do this. I must move from the Lord will do this to the Lord is doing it. This means that sometimes, I must do less so He can do more. Confident hope should persuade me that I am a holy person who is His Rich and Glorious Inheritance. It should encourage me that by faith I will have all that the Lord promised not because I can do anything at all but am willing by faith to follow Christ’s example. We must know the meaning of confident hope to take one step closer to the fulfillment of our Lord.

Psalm 37:23-28 (NLT)

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. The godly always give generous loans to others, and their children are a blessing. Turn from evil and do good, and you will live in the land forever. For the Lord loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly. He will keep them safe forever, but the children of the wicked will die.

Before our son was diagnosed with cancer, I was all about doing everything “right”. It was almost a religion to me especially when it came to my job. I could not understand why people did not give 100% to the company that paid them so well with good benefits. I had not time for those who just wanted to “make eight”. Though I am still not a fan of laziness, through the process of walking our son through his healing I have discovered that there is more to life than “right”. It’s called grace. Everyone is pursing something that requires taking one step after another. There are those who plan each step and those who head off in random directions after radical pursuits. I am a planner who does not like surprises so I try to prepare for all scenarios. News flash – didn’t see the whole kid and cancer thing coming. It completely and totally interrupted, overturned and reorganized my life in a single moment. The good thing was I felt as though a weight had been lifted as the oppression of the rat race of this world gave way to putting all my faith and hope in God. In that moment, I really didn’t care what was transpiring at the office. That didn’t change when I returned to work either. I began taking lunch breaks and leaving on time. I started affording grace for the lack of motivation in others looking for ways to motivate them. My co-workers all expressed their approval of my new attitude. I pray a lot that the Lord will forgive me for my religious spirit and to keep my heart right with confident hope. I do not have to rely on my job for fulfillment. I do not depend on my company for provision. The Lord has proven in this season of our life that He will meet our needs and give us the desires of our heart even when we are weak and helpless unable to do a thing.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of our life. Somehow, some way in the midst of the grueling hardship of the last three years rather than being mad at God, I have decided that He really does love me and that He is good all the time. Rather than trying to make my life “right”, I am choosing righteousness that doesn’t seem as harsh as religion dictates. I choose by faith to hold tightly to the Hand that the Lord offers in each day as a part of His Mercy. God’s Children don’t have to beg for His Goodness and Provision but simply look for it and it is there. His Word directs us to those things that He has hidden in our life not found walking it our way. (Psalm 119:130-133) Sometimes it is through a valley of weeping that we discover life’s greatest blessings because in those moments we are humbled enough to seek the Lord and follow His Way. (Psalm 84:6) It doesn’t have to be like this but for some of “us” it is the only way because pride likes right more than humility. Trust me…that’s me. The godly are never abandoned. The Lord is always with them. Godly people live in the freedom of generosity never worrying that there is not enough but knowing that He is more than enough. Who are the godly? Simply put they are the ones who choose to turn from evil and do good. This is not a religious choice or radical decision but rather a heartfelt desire to take one step closer to the Lord our God. I want you more than anything else so I will forfeit my plan to follow yours Lord.

Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

 

Has the Lord ever laid something on your heart to do, you accept it by faith and attempt to begin the process but don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Me, too. That’s why I think the Lord likes to spring things on me rather than allowing me to marinate too long over what He is doing in my life. I am a headstrong runner who is ready to take that idea or desire and run with it. God has a perfect plan. I like to “go”. His Plan takes time and has ordered steps. I just want my feet to move. Faith tells me to hold my position until it is time. My human nature is pouring gas on the fire telling me to get this show on the road. Experience is saying, “Wait for the Lord!” My body is going full throttle. The Lord determines our steps because He is good and demands justice in our life. He will never lead you to compromise or substitutions no matter how much we beg. The Lord put that desire in our heart for an appointed time and it will not be delayed. He is waiting for us to get ready. To count the cost. To be ready to endure to fulfillment. The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way? Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.” (Proverbs 20:24-25) We think we want certain things in our life but we do not know the cost. The Lord does because He paid it and He knows every step that we must take to have it. He will never let the righteous fall. God does not require His Children to beg. He will not release you until everything is ready. The Lord looks at our heart. He tests our faith. He decides if our hope is confident enough to withstand the next step closer before He allows us to go.

Proverbs 14:15 (NLT)

Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.

 

So here I stand today…considering my next steps. Faith tells me to wait on the Lord even though it seems like He is moving in slow motion. Confident hope tells me that He is working every detail out for His Good (Romans 8:28), perfecting my way (Psalm 138:8) and preparing me for His Plan containing a future and hope. I must be prudent in considering my next step and the step after that to determine if it is a step closer to the Lord or in my own direction. God gives us dreams and visions that will lead to total fulfillment that only His Goodness can produce. They can only obtained by faith according to His Plan, His Steps and His Timing. The Lord is compelling His People to consider godliness. Think about holiness. It is not a blind pursuit just one that requires senses other than we are used to. Let’s not get caught up in the doing of religion but the undoing of a true connection to Jesus Christ. Only then will we learn to rejoice in the confident hope we are given rather than becoming consumed in forcing God’s Hand. Focus on love and doing the Will of God – His Way and He will take care of you!

Romans 12:9-18 (NLT)

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.