No More Resolutions

No More Resolutions

2 Peter 1:4-5 (NLT) 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. 

Renew. Restore. Revive. Radical. Reckless. To respond. The “R”’s of my rambling for 2018. Tonight at sundown or a little after, our family will begin our annual fast for the New Year. For eleven days, through fasting and prayer, as a body of believers (yes, just the four of us), we will seek the Face of God for many areas of our life. To focus our family and life in one direction. The Way. To turn away from the worthless things that so easily captivate our attention and rob us of time. As I began to write in my journal today, I found these words forming from the ink of the pen. I am asking the Lord to renew me from the inside out. To restore me after a month of minor illness and inconvenience. To revive my passion and desire to pursue Him wholeheartedly leaving behind the distractions from 2017. To make my love for others radical in recognition of His Love for me. To be reckless in my pursuit of Christ making faith seem the only option. To respond to all of God’s Promises. To believe that God is doing exactly what He said and to let His Spirit fortify my fickle heart. I can make a list of habits to change, budgets to follow, and schedules to keep but if Christ is not the priority in all of them – what’s the point?

No more resolutions. The power to change is the Christ in me. It is not something I do but what He does in me. I am giving up on resolutions and instead this year I choose to respond to God’s Promises instead. Why? Because of His Glory and Excellence, He has given (me) great and precious promises. These promises enable (me) to share in His Divine Nature. A resolution is a firm decision on my part to do or not to do something any longer. It is the action of solving a problem, dispute or contentious matter. It is me. A resolution is self-resolve to fix something that appears to be broken or dysfunctional. Well…I have come to the conclusion after fifty-one years of life – I can’t fix it. I cannot make “me” a better person. I am going to fail. I will mess up. I will fall short. I will give up, give in and give out depending on the situation. The only good thing in me is Jesus Christ. The Power of Christ is manifested in my weakness. So this year, I no longer resolve to make me a better person but let Christ transform me into a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Titus 3:4-7 (NLT) But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

Jesus Christ revealed God’s Kindness and Love for us. When He saved us, it was finished. The process of redemption complete. The renewal process made available to all mankind. He washed our sin away. Gave us a new birth and new life through His Spirit. Generously His Spirit is on us identifying us as God’s Precious Children. It is said that you do not pick your parents which is absolutely true. In this case specifically, God chose you. He chose me. God, the Father, decided that He loved us and wanted us. His Reckless Love would stop at nothing to have us. I wonder what would happen if for just a moment, a single solitary second, we could completely wrap our head around the Truth that the entire process of salvation and redemption is a direct result of the Love of God. He had no other intention but to pour out unfailing love and unfathomable goodness on His Beloved. Would we respond differently? Absolutely. Religion would be crushed beneath the heaviness of unconditional love in the church and “whosoever come” would be plastered over the doors and altars while those who want to be loved would come pouring in.

Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Grace is the reason that God loves me and is for me. It is the essence of relationship that if we could just wrap our heads tightly around it – faith would not be so hard and confident hope the common sense of our life. We can go into the world and try to share the love of Jesus Christ but until we understand that His Love, Grace and Kindness are for us and there is nothing further that we can do but receive it – our message is in vain. Perfect love casts out all fear. Fearless faith comes from a heart that comes to know God’s Unfailing Love and accepts it as a way of life. This will enable us to “respond” to God’s Promises rather than trying to earn them or deserve them which cannot be done.

Proverbs 3:3-4 (ESV) Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

This year it is my deepest desire to live in God’s Steadfast Love and Faithfulness to the fullest. I must bind His Promises around my neck and continually inscribe them on my heart. My love is imperfect. It tends to be conditional. It has flaws and faults that the Lord continually works on. I will never love like Jesus unless I love through Jesus. The Christ in me must be given wide open space. The Spirit in me must be the ruler of my heart, mind, soul and body at all times. The Favor of God and Good Success that I believe God has promised us is not in my ability to do everything right this year, but to continually seek the Lord wholeheartedly. I must decrease so that He can increase.

I wonder what would happen in our natural life if we lived as though supernatural promises were inevitable. What if we decided that God is good, His Love unfailing, His Grace enough, and His Faithfulness forever? Would it change the potential of our life? Would it change us? We must invest our mind, soul, body and spirit into obtaining the promises of God which begins by believing that they actually exist and are obtainable rather than living a diversified life with one foot in the world and the other in the Kingdom. It is impossible to establish dual residency with God. He is not a wishy washy – halfhearted God. You love Him or you hate Him. There is no coexistence in the Kingdom. You embrace Christ or idols. See we live in a world of moving lines and shifting sand – it makes a completely constant God who is always good and always loving and always kind very hard to believe so we must not lean on our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

2 Peter 1:5-7 (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.

Responding to the Promises of God. This is my resolve for this New Year. This is the year that I will allow God to be God and simply cling to Him. I must supplement faith with qualities and characteristics produced by God’s Spirit inside of me. I must embrace and acknowledge the Holy Spirit as He is my teacher, guide, counselor and even comforter in the process of becoming a new creation. Transformation is not comfortable. It is inconvenient. It is uncontrollable. It takes time that I don’t think I have. Yet, in the end, it will all be worth it. Forever is the past, present and future wrapped neatly into a package called life. God knows the beginning from the end. It is His Unfailing Love and Faithfulness that has brought you this far and will carry you through. You have done nothing to facilitate the process other than present your worthless life to Jesus Christ. Rather than making any more resolutions. This year I am changing my resolve. I want all that God has for me. I must submit my life to Christ all over again. All of it. Holding nothing back, making the decision that this life is not about me – nevertheless Christ is for me. His Promises are real. His Love is true. His Word lasts forever. He is faithful. To this I will respond…

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

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In Due Season

In Due Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Hope of Glory

The Hope of Glory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Open Gate

The Open Gate

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

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

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

Yes, I am the gate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where’s Your Faith?

Where's Your Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

To Prosper

To Prosper

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

It is God’s Will for you to prosper. He created a plan for you which is to prosper without harm and to give you hope and a future. It is plainly and clearly written and easily discernable in His Word. If you stop with just this one verse in Jeremiah 29, you miss the whole point of the passage. It is God’s Plan for you to prosper but the how of it comes in the next two verses. Prosperity is produced by relationship.

“You will call on me and come and pray to me.” Righteousness is established when one turns from their old way to receive God’s new way. New life comes to us by way of relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, the Word is so bold to say that there is no other way to the Father. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. To prosper body, mind and spirit requires new life given to us by Jesus Christ. As we become a new creation by planting seeds of righteousness in our fertile and broken heart, feed on the Bread of Life and continually bask in Living Water there is an inner transformation performed by the Spirit of God that produces life and life more abundantly. It is all about relationship. Faith turns to trust and the impossible changes to possibility in our life according to the hope we now have.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Relationship is a heart investment that prospers into an overflow from our life. The beginning of any relationship begins with an encounter. The encounter such as repentance creates an experience. The experience impacts of one of two ways. To prosper the experience must produce pursuit. You cannot overtake something you do not decide to pursue. For example, I met my husband through a chance encounter with friends. He caught my attention. I decided that I wanted to know him so I pursued him. We have been married almost two decades and I still pursue him in our relationship. Our relationship has prospered over the years into more than just an encounter. God wants to invest His Kingdom in our life. We must make room for Him and pursue Him with our whole heart. The more of our life given to Christ the more likely abundance will produce an overflow in all of our life.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16; 19-20 (NIV) See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Love is a choice. Pursuit is a choice. Obedience is a choice. These are the choices made by those who desire to prosper in life. God has set it all before us in His Word. The Word became flesh to come and demonstrate God’s Unconditional Love for us and provide the way to prosper in a right relationship with God again. We choose our path. Life and prosperity are options but so are death and destruction. God does not set conditions on us and therefore does not control the consequences of life. It was preset before time began. Sin leads to death. God is life. Jesus gives us eternal life by paying the penalty of sin. God could not exempt His Own Son from the consequence of sin. Jesus bled and died to pay the price. Our choices lead to consequences. Repentance leads to grace and prosperity. New life is created by making a better choice. Choosing to follow Jesus Christ, yoke our life to Him, accept and replicate His Way in our life will make a difference, we will prosper according to His Words and Instructions. You can live under the mandate of grace and never receive the full benefits of His Kingdom. It is all about choices. “Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.” (Deuteronomy 29:9)

Psalm 128:1-2 (NIV) Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) If relationship produces prosperity, our relationship with God will reach our home first. Our union with our spouse and/or children will begin to produce new fruit under God’s Careful Instruction. If our house is out of order, it will be unfruitful or produce bitter fruit. The roles in each home must fall under the guidelines of God’s House in order for the home to prosper. We must serve the Lord and respect His Commands in them. Husbands must love their wives as Christ loves the church. Wives must submit to their husband’s leadership. Children must honor and respect their parents. There must be sound discipline. Love abounds in God’s Household rules and grace abounds even more. When we invite the Lord, His Presence and His Spirit to dwell in our homes and live in our families, we will prosper in these relationships. The world today defines family as anything goes, but the Lord has set parameters for the household. They are not stringent or regulatory but absolutely necessary to prosper according to God’s Word.

Proverbs 16:20 (NIV) Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

If relationship is a product of trust, then prosperity must include trust as well. True repentance is to accept God’s Grace and to turn from sin and darkness to live in love and light. We trust the Lord to do what He promised as we give up the known to pursue the unknowns in God’s Fathomless Grace. The one who gives heed to God’s Instruction and does what they say will be like a tree by streams of living water able to prosper in every season. (Psalm 1:1-3) Some seasons are not favorable, but hard, cold and dry. We live in a loveless world full of sin and darkness. Righteous living is not always welcomed. In fact, the enemy prowls around seeking who he can steal from, kill or destroy. The Light within us is a beacon only riles his anger and draws his attention. We must trust the Lord in those seasons even sowing seeds among our tears knowing that His Joy comes in the morning and we will harvest every seed sown in righteousness no matter how hard the seasons sown in might be.

Proverbs 11:10 (NIV) When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices…

Proverbs 11:25 (NIV) A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

When the righteous prospers it blesses their community. I wonder if the church of the Living God is not prospering because it is not a generous church. Are we reaching our communities with credible love from tangible offers of time, talent and treasure or meager offerings reluctantly given? The more sown into relationship the greater prosperity the church will experience. The overflow is produced by a current. The current that influences overflow is giving. Prosperity is produced by relationship. The greater the relationship the more prosperous it becomes. The righteous are promised prosperity. It is only accessible through relationship. Relationship with God. In our homes, churches and yes, our community. The limit on prosperity is our willingness to engage in relationships. As our soul prospers, so will we. It begins inside of us and increases in overflow in our obedience to release it. It is the seed that creates new harvests. To prosper begins with relationship. Lord, may the promise of prosperity sown in my heart be a blessing that overflows in every area of my life through unity, harmony and sound relationships that bring honor and glory to your Great Name!

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Through the Fire

Through the Fire

Isaiah 54:16-17 (NLT) “I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction. And I have created the armies that destroy. But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me. I, the Lord, have spoken!

How can it be only Wednesday? I feel like a whole week has been shoved into two days. I am tired. I am weary. I am drained. It has been days of warfare. I cling to the promise that no weapon turned against you will succeed. Sometimes in life it is not the major problems or troubles that overtake us but the minor issues that pile up. My Bible flipped open is like a weight on my desk while these words apply pressure to my chest. Why has it been so hard for so long? I am not in the midst of a pity party rather a sojourn to survey the success of my plight. To be honest and transparent, my current assignment has been a challenge from the start. I am usually up to the test. Ready to take on the impossible. Driven to live in obedience to Christ. In this moment of introspection, I must take into account the cost of the Cross. Is the price too high to follow this destiny? What more will it take to reach my destination? This heaviness is like iron. I had to fight for my quiet time. Silence the voices in my head to hear His Spirit in the dark. God I know you called me to this place for such a time as this. I know you have supplied all that I need. This is a fertile field ready for seeds to be planted, nurtured and grown.

When reading the Word of God, we like to pick and choose among the verses finding the Bread of Life most palatable to feed our starving flesh. The living water needed to wash our wounds and sustain us for another day. This hunger and thirst finds no satisfaction. It continually cries out for more. The flame in the fire keeps getting hotter. I am reminded that to fully understand I must read the entire book – not just the scripture that is appealing. Every entrée has a recipe. Every product has instructions. The words proceeding the overcoming passage I am clinging to today are not the encouragement I am after but rather “I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons for destruction.”

2 Kings 6:1-7 (NLT) One day the group of prophets came to Elisha and told him, “As you can see, this place where we meet with you is too small. Let’s go down to the Jordan River, where there are plenty of logs. There we can build a new place for us to meet.” “All right,” he told them, “go ahead.” “Please come with us,” someone suggested. “I will,” he said. So he went with them. When they arrived at the Jordan, they began cutting down trees. But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. “Oh, sir!” he cried. “It was a borrowed ax!” “Where did it fall?” the man of God asked. When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. Then the ax head floated to the surface. “Grab it,” Elisha said. And the man reached out and grabbed it.

The prophets were on a mission. Their plight to build a bigger place of worship was stamped “approved” by the Lord through His Prophet, Elisha. The place they were sent had provision to complete the project. They even invited the Presence of the Lord to join them asking the man of God to come along. They began their work and immediately encountered opposition. Ugh! There is always opposition while pressing and pushing through to God’s Plan. He gives us provision, provides us the place, and even gives us His Presence. So why the pressure, pain and problems? It seems like cruel irony (no pun intended). To position us to prosper and then allow such things to happen. Has the Lord set us up to fail? Is He trying to punish us for something in our past? Why does it have be so hard and hurtful? The process of God does not only have purpose around us but it always has a purpose in us. To see God move around us it must first begin within us. The pain, pressure and problems give way to persistence and perseverance. You will need it down the road. The greater the potential the greater the opposition. At some point, the haters must become our motivators. The impossible the birthplace of miracles.

The man who lost his borrowed ax cried out to the Lord. Elisha answered with a miracle. A sign to him that God had kept His Promise and indeed was with them. The impossible gave way to a miracle. I wonder today if the problems I am facing is the Lord’s Attempt to prepare me in this seemingly impossible place for His Power and Glory that is coming. My ax head is definitely sinking today. So I will call upon the Lord, my energy is zapped and efforts are failing.

2 Kings 6:15-17 (NLT)  When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.  “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

Awesome sauce! Reading farther down the chapter, now there is a battle. We must fight for our ground. The ax was already heavy now must I beat my plowshare into a sword? The king of Aram waged war against Israel. The struggle is real. The Kingdom of God is always under attack. We must take it by force. Not the force of our own strength, but rather total reliance, dependence and trust in the Lord. Faith must give way to confidence that doesn’t look through natural eyes.

When the servant came to Elisha overtaken by fear, it was rightfully so. The Aramean army had surrounded them and wanted Elisha. Elisha instructed the king of Israel sharing secrets that no one could have known but a spy. The servant saw the vast army and knew they were done but God didn’t see things that way and neither did Elisha. When the servant’s eyes were open by the Lord – it was then that he could see the army of the Lord which was larger, stronger, and surrounding then the opposition. Sometimes in the heat of our battle, we must find some time to hide in the Presence of God allowing Him to open our eyes to see our Avenger. Christ is the ultimate overcomer. He lives inside of us.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.

We do not wage war as humans do even when there is an army at our door. We use God’s Mighty Weapons. They are not like worldly ones designed to kill. The weapon is the Word of God. It is the sword of the Spirit used to expose every lie the enemy has touted. We have a shield of faith to deflect the fiery darts of the enemy and a breastplate of righteousness for the ones that make it through. We have been given a gospel of peace. Yet if peace is what you after it might be best to prepare for war. What keeps us from seeing God, knowing His Plan and following by faith is not the opposition but rather the proud obstacles, rebellious thoughts and interworking of our own treacherous mind and traitorous heart that get the best of us. It is in full obedience that victory is claimed. God is forging our heart and mind. He is engrafting us fully by burning away everything in us contradictory to His Word, Will and Way. He is perfecting His Plan in us so the potential fulfillment of purpose will be achieve. The heat is getting hotter so that these trials will prove that our faith is genuine.

2 Peter 1:7 (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

“I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction.” The fire of refinement is not meant to destroy us but to reveal that which is within us. As our soul prospers, so do we. The once ironclad heart is refined and turned into a faithful heart that is considered far more precious than mere gold. He is strengthening our faith to make us powerful. He is preparing us for His Promises. The Lord has given us purpose and potential with a plan for successful abundance. He is getting me out of the way. When this work is finished, it will not be for my glory. It is for His Glory.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18) When King Nebuchadnezzar turned up the heat of the furnace seven times hotter, the three Hebrew men were not cheering. They did not goad the king. They simple stated their faith. God will deliver us or redeem us either way we are not bowing down, giving in or giving up on the Lord. (Paraphrase) The heat of the fire may seem hotter than ever before – it just means that there is purpose and potential inside of us yet to be discovered. God is burning away every impurity because of His Love, Grace and Mercy we will not be consumed. He is faithful. His Word is true. If we must go through the fire, He goes with us. The Lord will not leave us or forsake ever. He is with us always even to the ends of the earth. Lord, give me strength, endurance, persistence and perseverance to make it through the test to triumph. I want to live for your Glory and if that means walking through fiery trials so be it. Greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world!

Romans 8:34-37 (NIV) Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

 

Faith is Not Enough

Faith is Not Enough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break the Cycle

Break the Cycle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A New Thing

New-Thing

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT) “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

If only forgetting was easy, but it’s not. The past has a way of grabbing our attention and holding it tightly. It doesn’t even have to be a negative experience to captivate our gaze distracting us from the future. When life turns out better than expected, it keeps us locked in the present wary of change. To live in the limbo of faithful expectation and ongoing willingness to leave the comfort of the known to explore the unknown is contrary to human nature. The idea of foregoing inconvenience silences the call “send me” but rather “keep me right here” is the hidden hope of the wary heart. Pride holds tightly to the concept of control hushing the thought of humility allows God’s Power to work in our weakness by His Grace. Who wants to be weak? I do.

This morning – I heard a whisper in the darkness just before dawn. I want to do a new thing. At first, I thought it was my husband mumbling in his sleep but turning to face him peacefully sleeping I knew it wasn’t him. I heard it again. “I am doing a new thing.” Walking through the sleeping condo to find a quiet place, the sun is peaking through the clouds over a calm ocean. The same ocean that once upon it in a little pink ring toppled my girls and I with one rogue wave. Dare I go again? Dare I say, “Yes Lord, I am ready”? The last time I felt the urge to follow my faith – diving into the Word of God seeking out His Promises – it led me to a hospital, a bad report, a sick child, the very edge of my faith. It was my complete undoing. Dare I say, “Do it again, Lord.” Unravel me. Undo me. Break my heart before you. You see life is good. My life has exceeded my expectation in so many ways. Dare I tempt fate? Do I trust the Lord for more? Fulfillment is a longing deep in every heart. Faith is the issue at hand.

I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

This is the part that is challenging. The “pathway through the wilderness” marked with many temptations. “Rivers in the wasteland” which may mean a season of drought or barrenness. Faith is the requirement to achieve new things in the Lord. To fully embrace His Way and walk out His Word to the place marked full satisfaction, complete contentment and fulfillment of purpose. To have these things means letting go of the past, forgetting how God did all those great and mighty things so we won’t miss the “new” thing that He is doing. To embrace expectation in the Character and Nature of God not His Previous Doing or Outpouring. Expectation formed by experiences might make us miss what the Lord is doing now because of limited perspective. Our expectation must remain fully and confidently in the Love and Goodness of God full of Grace for His People.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

My life is not perfect. My faith far from it. My confidence strong but still weak at times. I have achieved things in Christ that were once impossible. Yet, He has called me to more, I must decide if I am willing to step out of this place and into the future of my faith. To let go of what He has done to receive the new things yet to come. The Lord leads us from glory to glory. Always qualified with an invitation as the He cannot and will not force the Gift of Grace, Goodness or Glory based on unconditional love and forgiveness on us or it wouldn’t be a gift or love at all. We choose to go to new places and have the new things whispered to our heart each day. We must forget the former things and embrace faith as the reality of our life.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NLT) When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 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.

When I think of all that the Lord has done in my life, I fall on my knees in thankfulness. Today in thankfulness, I am also reminded that He offers “glorious, unlimited resources” to “empower” us and give us inner strength through His Spirit for more. Christ in me is always striving to make me “more than a conqueror” to walk in the victory. To claim every promise and blessing offered through right-standing with the Father for which He died to give me. His Offer still stands and cannot be achieved in a moment but takes a lifetime crossing over into forever to receive fully and completely. How can I say, “No”? God’s Purpose is that I will know the parameters of His Boundless Love and Blessing in my life. His Goal is that I will experience the fullness and completion offered by a life lived IN Christ. It is all too great for me to understand. Yet, nevertheless, my ignorance is given knowledge, understanding, discernment and wisdom through His Spirit to say, “Yes” when He says, “I want to do a new thing.” Lord, thank you for always offering me more when I would be willing to settle for less.”

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.