Power of Praise

Power of Praise

Psalm 108:1-5 (NIV) My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Our grandson is just four months old. He is beginning to engage with us. When he does something new and exciting, everyone smiles and praises him. When he simply sits in his seat looking around in wonder, you guessed it – we do the same thing. He is constantly being praised and affirmed even though his behavior is simple milestones in human growth and development. His mama tells him all the time that he is a good boy and he is a “cool dude”. She is constantly positively affirming her little boy. He smiles at her words. He looks to those around him for their reaction to his new endeavors. It is important to speak life over our children. To affirm them when they are good and redirect not so good behaviors. Punishment is not the goal of parenting but rather discipline. Building strong character in our youth begins with affirmation and praise at an early age. Praising tiny humans raises up confident adults.

There is power in praise. It elevates our spirit and strengthens our resolve eliminating insecurity and lack of confidence. However, it is not human nature to praise. It is all too common to be critical, to tear down, and this is usually from a place of comparison. People are created in the image of the Living God. He is the standard set that sin has stolen from us. It is our mission in life to discover the eternity hidden inside of our heart and take the measure of faith entrusted to us to pursue it as our destiny. As sons and daughters of the King, there is no need for strife or division because we are all joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

My heart, O God, is steadfast…

My heart is steadfast, loyal, faithful, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, steady, true, constant, solid and trusting. Are these the words that describe your heart connection to the Father? Do you remain steadfast in love, joy, peace, and all the other fruits of His Spirit? Praising God comes not from our current circumstances or conditions. These generally will produce complaints. Praise for the Living God must come from a confident heart. A heart that fully knows and understands that its connection to God is through His Son – Jesus therefore our boast is in nothing this world has to offer but fully consummated within a steadfast heart. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Our heart must remain constant in this truth to offer praise in every situation. Praise builds the stairway that faith will tread upon. Though one might think our praise elevates the Lord – it really is our pathway to His Presence.

I will sing and make music with all my soul…

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

Praise makes us prosper. We must make our praise project from the depth of our soul. To prosper is to make successful. The prayer to prosper and become successful is not answered unless it comes from our soul. There are many who have created shortcuts to God’s Favor that simply are not true. God honors every seed planted by faith in good ground when our soul is healthy and our heart is fertile. What is a fertile heart? A heart that is broken and remade by the Hand of God into the wonderful masterpiece that He has promised before our birth. What is a healthy soul? A soul that hungers and thirsts for righteousness. A soul that is satisfied with the Bread of Life and Living Water. A soul that pursues God’s Presence. A soul that is hopelessly and completely devoted to Jesus Christ. Our soul is eternal. It must be trained and guided to look past today and all the cares and worries of life to become confident in Jesus Christ alone.

For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

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.

Praise propels us past our problems to the promises of God for our life. It is the opportunity to remind ourselves what the Lord has promised and what He will do for us. We really have nothing to offer the Lord except our praise and adoration. There is no possible way to earn or deserve the goodness and love that He pursues us with each day. Our pride would like to somehow find a way to repay the Lord to keep itself alive, but the truth is that there is no possible way to out give God so we praise Him for His Faithfulness and Generosity to us. Praise is a valuable tool when the giant seems too big or obstacle too large. It elevates our perspective from the ground to the Heavenlies. It reveals angels unaware who are positioned for our deliverance. It excites the Spirit of God within us so that as He expands our momentary trials and troubles don’t seem that big any longer. Praise keeps us company while we wait on the Lord for proper timing brings about completion.

Acts 16:25-26 (NIV)  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Praise changes the atmosphere from hopeless to hopeful. Paul and Silas were in prison. They were arrested and severely beaten after delivering a slave girl from a demonic presence. Surely God should have protected them. Why such savage treatment? Where was God? Chained to the wall like animals, they were surely discouraged and afraid. Things were looking rather hopeless for the men of God. They were in danger. In the midnight hour… Before moving on – I think it pertinent to point out that praise is not always our first thought. Midnight is the time when one day turns into another. The Word of God says that mourning lasts for a night but joy comes in the morning. I wonder if they were crying and complaining but heard the bell toll twelve and decided to make a change. It says that they were praying and singing hymns to God with an audience of prisoners when suddenly… Do you need a suddenly today? Are you discouraged? Fearful? Anxious? On the verge of hopelessness – it is important to evaluate our vocabulary. Praise has the power to change the atmosphere. The breath of God in us released causes a change around us. Not only did the doors fly open and chains fall off of Paul and Silas but every prisoner was set free. The jailer was saved and took the men home to wash their wounds and feed them good food. The next morning the magistrates came to free them. This all happened because they choose to praise in the prison. Whatever has you captive is subject to your praise. Jesus lives in you!

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 134:1-3 (NIV) Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.

God affirms His Children. He has great affection for you. He has no intention of punishing you but rather good discipline gives footsteps direction and makes destiny divine. He put eternity in our heart for a reason. There is power and purpose awaiting those who pursue His Love with all their heart, soul, body and mind. It is important to position ourselves in His Presence to live in His Promises. Praise is our constant reminder to exalt the Lord giving Him proper placement in our life. No allegiance is a sign of rebellion. Praise communicates our allegiance to Jesus Christ and puts the enemy on notice that we have relinquished our life to Him as Savior and Lord. Praise does not exalt Christ in the sense of moving Him but rather praise moves us. We must be intentional in our praise. Praise is a powerhouse for those who choose to use it.

Psalm 86:11-12 (NIV) Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

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Bad Seed

Bad Seed

Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT) Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Is there such a thing as bad seed? At the end of Creation, God looked over all that He had made and He saw that it was “very good”. God declared it complete and not just okay but “very good.” Our seed is good. The ground is good. From the foundation of the earth, it was good. Sowing and reaping is a principle set form later in Genesis by God. Sin entered the world. Now mankind was at odds with the Lord God, and so now the ground would be cursed. The Lord told Adam that “all your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you though you will eat of its grains.” So the land now would bear good and bad in each harvest.

Sin grew more rampant and then God sent a flood to destroy the earth and everyone in it. There was one righteous man, Noah. Noah faithfully constructed the ark and entered it. God shut the door and wiped the earth clean. Noah and his family endured the destruction of the earth by flood and immediately departing the ark set up an altar consecrating the new beginning and rebuilding to God. The Lord said, “As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” (Genesis 8:22) With this brief history lesson complete on seedtime and harvest, I ask the question again, “Is there such a thing as bad seed?” I don’t think so.

When sin entered the earth, God did not curse the seed. He cursed the ground. The potential of seed remained intact. So if there is no such thing as bad seed, why are there weeds in life? Bad choices. Bad investments. Bad returns. Bad consequences. The Bible is clear that one will reap as one sows. This is not a punishment of God but a principle of life. If I plant corn in my backyard, but expect cucumbers to grow – I would be foolish. The Lord has given us seed to sow. He always gives those who plant the means to grow something in their life. It is up to us to follow the leading of God in our sowing and planting. It is our freedom to choose the seed that will be planted in our life. So if the seed is not the problem, what is? It is the ground. The soil of sowing. The condition of the field.

In this parable of Jesus, the farmer was doing what farmers do – he was planting crops. However, when the sprouts came up – there were weeds among the wheat. Panic ensued. Surely the enemy has come and sown weeds in the wheat. Has the enemy sown weeds in your wheat today? The seed that you have placed in the fertile ground will produce exactly what God has promised you. The weeds will be of no avail if you do not panic and pull up all your seed – good and bad. As you inspect the productivity of your life today, there will be good things and not-so-good things. I want to charge you today that the problem is not in your seed. It will always produce according to the promise of God for your life.

Isaiah 28:24-26 (NLT) Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds—black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat—each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.

Lord give us understanding. Teach us that you have given us good seed. Show us where to plant it. There are many seeds in our life including natural, physical, mental and spiritual. Seeds are the productivity of life. There must be an investment to yield a return. We must be careful not to eat our seed. To be generous sowers that is the charge in the New Testament. Fear is a prime hindrance when it comes to the giving of our life to God’s Potential. Fear of loss, failure, rejection and the unknown are all excuses that keep us from trusting God.

The immediate reaction of the workers was to pull all the weeds before they overtook the crops. The farmer responds with wisdom instead instructing them to leave the weeds to grow with the crops instead. Have you ever given a large offering? Maybe you invested an uncomfortable sum of money in a venture? What is the immediate reaction of most people? Regret. Remorse. The enemy wants to rob us in our sowing by convincing us it is foolish. We must know before we sow. God will instruct us in every area that we seek His Wisdom even in our giving. God isn’t looking at what you toss in the offering plate. He is not evaluating your generosity to the poor. He is not judging you by the balance in your checking account. He doesn’t even care that you spent a couple hundred dollars on new shoes and a matching purse. The Lord looks past our appearance and examines our heart. The fertile soil that yields the best harvest comes from a broken and humble heart. The seed in our hand will be blessed according to the condition of our heart not the field it is otherwise sown.

For example, you may have a dead end job with an overbearing boss. Yet, each day before you leave for work, you pray for your employer and coworkers. You arrive early to work thanking God for the opportunity. You work as unto the Lord and not man giving your all even though you are completely overlooked and taken for granted. You give the Lord the first fruits. You tithe off your meager earnings. The job is not your provider but you have decided that God is your Source. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. You will harvest a blessing – pressed down, shaken together and running over. It may not be that your boss has a heart change or the job becomes enjoyable or rewarding. The Lord of the Harvest will bless your faithfulness. He promises a harvest from your tears. (Psalm 126) God’s Eyes are always intent on our heart. We must become faithful farmers who gain wisdom and understanding from the Lord who do not move from field to field based on emotions or reactionary to the natural conditions of life. We must be people who respond to God’s Promises.

Isaiah 32:16-20 (NLT) Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest. Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down, the Lord will greatly bless his people. Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.

Jesus Christ established righteousness for God’s People. In Him, I am in right standing with God the Father. The productivity of the Kingdom is established in my covenant with God as I live at peace with Him. Quiet confidence offers the opportunity to live by faith and not by sight. When I choose God as my refuge and consecrate my life to Him, the field called my life is blessed again. The seed that is planted will always harvest the promise of God instilled in them from the beginning. God has given us seeds of peace and prosperity that will produce His Promises in our life when sown with the measure of faith given to us as well. To put good seed in the ground and let the process be completed takes a whole lot of faith and patience to see come to pass especially when the enemy tries to fill us with regret. Our seed is wrapped in righteousness and cannot help by grow and prosper. No weapon (or weed) formed against us will prosper.

Haggai 2:18-19 (NLT) “Think about this eighteenth day of December, the day when the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid. Think carefully. I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”

We are God’s Temple. His Spirit lives in us. The promise given to the people in Haggai when the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid holds true for every believer you has chosen Jesus to be Savior and Lord of their life. You have become a living stone part of the Body of Christ. The Lord is giving you this promise today. Your seed is good. It is okay to sow it generously because you do not serve a sparing God. Before a single seed is sown in your life, the Lord is assuring you today that it is good seed and the foundation of your life is blessed.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NLT)  Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

God has given you good seed. He has called the foundation of your life blessed. You have all the resources to sow goodness and produce promises. You must now find the faith to do so. To trust the Lord of the Harvest. He will instruct you. He will guide you. His Spirit inside of you is the cultivator of life. An abundant life is a product of righteousness as God’s Word accomplishes exactly what it set out to do in you and for you. Do not regret seeds sown in barren fields? They are still subject to God’s Instruction and Purpose. He will always bless the giver who gives from a humble and broken heart. He is supplies seed to the sower not to the withholder. You cannot judge the harvest by the seed. It must be planted. The giver with a heart for God does so cheerfully with godly wisdom and spiritual discernment. Don’t give under pressure. Give in to His Presence. He will prosper you from the inside out. God is good. His Seed is Good. His Word is Truth. He is Lord of the Harvest.

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

 

 

Good Fruit

Good Fruit

John 15:1-4 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:8) Have you inspected the fruit of your life lately? Is it fulfilling? Is it satisfying? Are you hungry? Our alignment to Jesus Christ is vital to survival in the Kingdom of God. It is the access point of divine productivity. If pursued by Children of God, it will produce disciples. There is a certain discipline involved by virtue of title. To be a disciple will always require discipline. A branch cannot produce the fruit of the vine if separated. To be fruitful requires our connection to Christ.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. The fruitfulness of God in our life is produced by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is specific in nature to include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) It is important to understand the fruit of God’s Spirit to find satisfaction for our soul. The soul’s appetite must become the spiritual fruit of God cultivated by His Spirit in order for its own prosperity. As it grows, our life becomes abundant and satisfied because the soul is prospering. (3 John 1:2) The Holy Spirit is Christ in us. His Holy Inhabitation that produces intimacy between us and forms a lifelong partnership destined for eternity. We must remain in Christ and He promises to remain in us. Why not the other way around? It would violate our freedom. We choose where to invest our life. God has given us such an opportunity. His Purpose, Plan and Promises do not change and are always accessible through Jesus Christ. It will always be our personal choice.

John 15:9-15 (NLT) “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Our life alignment with Jesus Christ is facilitated by careful and thoughtful obedience. Proper alignment produces overflow. Obedience that follows clear direction without deviation…ideally. However, we are only human and undisciplined by nature. Selfish in our desires and passions. Pursuing lesser things for immediate gratification rather than waiting on the Living God to produce lasting fruit. There is no one who has not fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard, which is not a behavior, but a lifestyle. In Genesis 8:22, the principle of seed time and harvest was established and the promise that goes with it. Whatever you sow, you will reap. Whatever you choose to sow in your life is exactly what will be. It is science. It is truth.

Our friendship with God is established by faith in His Son, Jesus. Faith is evidenced by trust. Confident hope is secured by faith that does not waver with life’s conditions but holds tightly to the covenant promises of God through every season. God does not lie or change His Mind. The calling on our life was established during our creation and put in to motion when God gave us our first breath. He will pursue us with unfailing love and goodness every day of our life. It is up to us whether or not grace is claimed through faith and abundant life secure.

Matthew 7:18-19 (NLT) A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

When I came back to Christ almost twenty years ago, I had made a complete and total mess of my life. I chose a church completely contrary to my upbringing. As I tried to explain my rededication to my grandmother, she lovingly and gently inquired as to some of my choices especially in denominations. I had only one response for her – “Just watch and see what kind of fruit I produce.” There is no way to make excuses for our sin or fully explain the salvation that has been given to us. The best way to share the Gospel is to live the Truth. The fruit of our life will satisfy the wary hearts of others and share a story to incredible to believe. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

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

 And immediately the fig tree withered up.

We must be very careful not to create artificial fruit. Appearances are for people. Religion paints a pretty picture and produces quite a display. To those who are hungry, thirsty and broken a perfectly composed Christian has nothing to offer. The one who has endured the process necessary to produce the Fruit of God’s Spirit will give them something of substance. Jesus has no time for fake. He is looking for faith. Those who will give up their life to have a new life. The ones who will endeavor in a relationship rather than be excited about a religion. The Lord is looking for trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit in each season. They do not wither. They prosper in all they do. They are connect with deep roots into the Source of Life and the fruit of their life is from His Spirit. We must evaluate our life by our connection to Christ. There is nothing or no one else worthy of comparison.

Matthew 12:33 (NLT) “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.”

We are created to produce good fruit. Jesus makes the fruit of our life good. His Spirit is always ready to cultivate such seeds in a fertile heart. A broken heart. A ready heart. A responsive heart. A heart that passionately pursues God’s Way, His Will and His Word will produce good fruit.

John 15:16 (NLT) You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

The rich and satisfying life promised by Jesus Christ is cultivated and reproduced as lasting fruit. It is the kind of fruit that completes us and never leaves us lacking. It is not in a natural sense though I find the deeper into the Lord I sink the more He prospers my life. The minute I stop worrying about provision or problems – it seems that the Lord provides sustenance and solutions. I must abide in Christ. Cut away those things the rob me of time, treasure and talents to fully and completely align my life with Jesus Christ. To pursue greater intimacy with Jesus than ever before because He chose to love me. It is the only reciprocal response possible as He has already given His All for me.

Matthew 21:43 (NLT)  I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.

God is a God of order. His Design is not chaotic but confirmed. He doesn’t change His Mind simply because He got it right the first time. God produces proper fruit in our life. His Purpose is not temporary but eternal. He will not produce any kind of fruit in our life that will cause us not to hunger and thirst for righteousness. The greater our pursuit of God and passion for His Purpose the less time given to lesser and worthless things. Proper fruit includes proper timing. No farmer plows a field and sows seeds today then goes back tomorrow ready to harvest. We must learn the art of endurance, patience and timing. Pulling up the plants prematurely will end the potential harvest hidden within.

Philippians 1:11 (NLT) May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

It is easy sometimes to become caught up in natural productivity and abort the productiveness of God. To live in Christ is a decision to invest our life in Him and live in alignment with the Word. Jesus is the Word. We see things a certain way even though faith tells us to wait for something better and long lasting. We decide whether or not to trust the Lord. He has given us the freedom to do so. If upon inspection the fruit of our life is not what it should be, then it is up to us to engraft our life back in Christ. The vine cannot leave its position. We must become one with Jesus for He is the Way, Truth and Life. He is the only way to the Father. Do not compare your life to others or its productivity. They do not have your purpose or potential for it is uniquely given to you. May we be filled with the fruit of your salvation today. May the Holy Spirit produce new fruit in us and prosper us from the inside out. As my soul prospers, may this life be lived in the abundance of God given to us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen and amen! Lord fill us with good fruit!

Colossians 1:9-11 (NLT) So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,

 

Living a Kingdom Life

Living a Kingdom Life

Luke 12:31-34 (ESV) “Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The Kingdom of God belongs to the righteous. Our righteousness is founded and established in Christ alone. If Jesus Christ lives in us, then the Kingdom belongs to us equally. Do we live a Kingdom life? Do I live a Kingdom life? What is such an existence? It is Your Father’s good pleasure to give you and me His Kingdom? God wants us to live a rich and satisfied life. In fact, it is the reason that Jesus Christ came to give His Life and reestablish a right relationship between God and His People. We must seek that which is given to us. We must make it our passionate pursuit to receive the fullness of God given to us in His Kingdom. But how? Where? God’s Kingdom is not a house or inhabitable dwelling. God’s Kingdom begins in the human heart, overtaking the soul, changing our mind and engaging in a lifestyle of faith and confident hope not in what we see but completely in Who we believe.

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.

The fullness of God is His Love. He is our First Love. The Father loves us in our unlovable condition and consumes us with His Love. He does not give us a portion of His Extravagant Love. He gives us all of the all-consuming and completeness of His Love through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are the fickle hearts and wavering minds that choose to love Him one day and leave Him the next. It is never God’s Will or Way to abandon us to our own devices but He continually pursues us with unfailing love and goodness. (Psalm 23:6) It is His Desire to live in relationship with us so even on our worst days new mercy is waiting for us. (Lamentations 3:22-23) His Grace is enough. It is sufficient. The power within us is the Holy Spirit who is the guarantor of God’s Faithfulness to us. He identifies us as God’s Children. He establishes Kingdom power and authority in us.

To be rooted and grounded in the Love of God is the starting point of a miraculous and prosperous life. To allow Christ to dwell in our heart and mind to the point that through faith nothing is ever impossible again because we are overtaken and consumed by His Love for us. Nothing can ever separate us from the Love of God again. Do you believe that today? You will never establish a Kingdom lifestyle outside of the complete confidence that God’s Love for you is complete and all-consuming. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)

Matthew 16:18-19 (ESV) ”And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

The revelation of Jesus Christ is life changing. It is the moment – that we decide that Christ is who He said that He is in our heart and mind the keys to the Kingdom are obtained. It is not anything we do but completely based on what we believe. Do you believe? Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say that I am?” When Peter announced with heartfelt conviction, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, everything changed. Peter would go on to make many mistakes but that did not limit the Kingdom power bestowed in that moment. Jesus did build His Church on Peter – His Rock. The firm foundation of faith that believes that God is for us. The cornerstone of faith – Jesus – provided everything we need as a perfect sacrifice who gave us access to all of God the Father and fills us with His Spirit. The moment of reconciliation when our mind, soul and body agree that He is Christ. Christ in us. This is the point when everything changes for those who believe…truly believe.

“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:18-20) When the Body of Christ begins to believe with complete confidence that we have Kingdom power, no longer will there be separation. The revelation of Christ is personal. We own it. No one can take it or apportion our faith, blessing or promise for themselves. It belongs to us. It is our inheritance. God’s Investment in us is to be used for us and others. It cannot be taken. Therefore the need for comparison and competition fades in the shadow of complete confidence in Jesus Christ. Agreement brings unity and produces miracles, signs and wonders as Christ is in our midst.

Romans 14:17 (ESV) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Every kingdom has a king, ruler or authority in command. Ours is Christ Jesus. Sometimes one must evaluate the heart and mind to resolve conflict. The enemy wants us to unseat Jesus from His Throne inside of us and allow pride to climb back up. There is nothing God wants or needs us to do. He simply wants us. He consumed with passionate love for us that is all-consuming. The conflict of confidence is created by doubt. To disbelieve that God’s Love is complete and His Kingdom within us. We must believe that the Word of God will not fail. We must plant our feet in the foundation of Jesus Christ and take a stand. He must remain on the Throne of our life to be the King of our kingdoms. Will you allow the Holy Spirit to clean house today? To remove the lesser things held on to in fear of the Power and Preeminence of Jesus Christ – our King. To sow seeds in the void left behind and pour healing oil over battle scars and wounds of the past. Let him wash away all fear, stress and anxiety to replace it with confidence in God’s Love and Power today. Speak the Word of God over yourself and situation today. I agree with you in Jesus Name that His Kingdom come – His Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Psalm 16:11 (ESV)You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

 

To Die For

To Die For 2

Philippians 2:13 (NLT) For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.

Have you ever looked back and wondered how did I get here? The twists and turns of life can lead us to surprising destinations. Each choice determines a step in one direction or the other. Distractions produce detours and delays. Unmet expectation can produce in us a feeling of desertion or maybe abandonment. If it is true that the Lord directs our steps and that His Plan cannot be undone – it means that there is potential purpose in each and every placement of our life. The hardest part of any journey is not the beginning when filled with energy and drive. It is not the end when the finish line is in sight and renewed purpose produce a motivation from our core. No, the most difficult leg of any journey is the middle. The call of endurance has its own reward. The one who answers it will be saved. They will have victory. They will overcome. However, when you cannot remember the beginning and become uncertain of the end – one must hold tightly to hope.

God has given us purpose. He has prepared a great plan. He has provided enough faith to begin the journey. It is in the sowing and reaping of this great commodity that trust leads us to greater destinations in the Lord.

Exodus 14:10-12 (NLT) As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”

The Children of Israel made it through the push to get out of slavery but they weren’t sure they had what it would take to make it into freedom. They cried out to the Lord, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt?” Our comfort. Our convenience. Our complacent life in bondage. Their complaints seem so dramatic, but don’t we do the same thing? When God transitions us from one season to the next, it is human nature to see the natural perspective but God has hidden Kingdom potential to be harvested. The harvest is in you. The faith in us that causes us to step out of the ordinary into the extraordinary is not a product of the land but of the person who God is working in and through.

Did God bring you out to die? Fail? Fall down? Grow weak? Get tired? Yes. God brings our flesh from the possible to the impossible to make miracles happen that only He can do and get credit for. It is all for our good as He completes the good work that He began in us. You cannot live in bondage and be free. You cannot rely on captivity to make you prosper. Faith becomes essential when stepping out of the boat and walking toward Jesus.

Spring cleaning is in the air. I recently tackled our guest bedroom. It became a catch all during our move a couple years ago. When I didn’t know where to put something – it went to the guest room closet. A few hours into the process, the closet was empty, but the room was a wreck. Piles of keep, giveaways, throwaways, and sell it – everywhere. I was overwhelmed and had to step away. Walking out, I shut the door behind me. After eating some lunch, I tackled the mess. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to open the door and deal with all the boxes, clothes and miscellaneous items everywhere. I just wanted to stuff it all back in the closet, shut the doors, and walk away. In the beginning, I was on a mission. In the middle, I just wanted to quit. But in the end, I have a clean closet.

Matthew 4:1-4 (NLT) Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

I know you may not want to hear it, but the Word of God is true. The Holy Spirit will lead us to the wilderness. He will take us right through the valley to prove the brightness of the Light of His Love. He will take us over the rough side of the mountain to overcome doubt by faith. He will lead us deeper than our feet can touch so we discover what trust is all about. He will allow us to be hungry to experience the fullness of those who taste and see that the Lord is good. He will take away the ordinary to produce something extraordinary in you. He will make the natural impossible to fill your life with supernatural results. God is always ready to do more than we can think, ask or imagine. The Lord has to get you out of the way to accomplish such a thing.

Why? God wants to prosper us. He wants to grow the potential inside of us. He put purpose in us that must find its way out of us. We must be broken to be made whole. We must humble ourselves to God to be exalted in His Timing. We must completely surrender our way to fully embrace the Way. Salvation is only the beginning. There is a Kingdom to enter. Faith in Christ opens a door that no one can shut but we must continually enter in, continue to follow Him, seek Him more, and commit our life to the Way of God even when it isn’t our way.

James 2:21-23 (NLT) Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.

Abraham waited 100 years for his promise, Isaac, to arrive. Yet even after that God required his son of him and Abraham did not hesitate in preparing the offering. His faith and actions worked together beyond the moment what he desired arrived, but Abraham was willing to give his son to God if that is what was required. Abraham believed God. God called Abraham righteous because of his faith. More importantly, God called Abraham his friend.

God desires a relationship with us that is not contractual but covenant. It is not our ability to meet all of his expectations but total trust that He will exceed ours that vividly displays our roles in it. We are to submit our life to the Lord and He promises to prosper our life as our soul prospers. Prosperity of the soul is faith. To receive a new heart for our broken one. To fully embrace the plan and purpose created in us to be brought forth by God. It is difficult to believe when there is no physical evidence of what the Lord has promised us. I am sure if we could have a conversation with Abraham that he would share all the frustration and fear that accompanied him on his journey to find true faith. He was a man. Just an ordinary person like us who had a dream, vision and promise from the Lord too good to let go of.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Unwavering faith is not found when we have it all together, it is discovered when everything falls apart. When our body cries out for relief, our mind is reeling, our heart is beating wildly, tears streaming, and yet somewhere in the deepest part of us – we still choose to believe. We find faith at the end of ourselves when trusting God is the only option. This hope we have is eternal. It is held on to by faith. Not superficial faith but when nothing is going right in the middle of a journey that you are ready to quit. The still small voice that says, “What are you doing here?” Let’s keep going. Pride must die in the wilderness to make our way into God’s Promise. Passionate persistence and perseverance born of a pursuit in our heart. Christ lives in us. He commands our destiny. No scheme of the enemy or plan of man can stop God’s Purpose in our life. Therefore, we must not stop in the middle but press on to the end. God is faithful. He will complete the masterpiece of our life when we put it in His Hands. His Promise is to die for – it will be the death of me. He must increase and I must decrease.

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.

Finding My Purpose

Finding My Purpse

Jeremiah 32:38-40 (NLT) They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.

What is my purpose? Why do I exist? What am I supposed to be doing? Why was I made? How can I be used by God? I have a purpose. God designed humanity to have one heart and one purpose. To be His People and that He would be our God. Sin shattered our relationship with God. He was not satisfied with judgement and predestined to give us mercy that would lead us to His Grace. In a way that only an omnipotent and omniscient Creator could, the Lord intentionally takes all those broken pieces determined to make a masterpiece once again. He desires us to become the Body of Christ. There very thing for which His Son died put rebuilt from a new foundation. Salvation provides an everlasting covenant. He will never stop doing good for us. He desires a heart of worship and will give those who seek Him that very thing.

Sometimes it is difficult to see ourselves individually within a corporate people. To know and understand the importance of our purpose in the expansive and comprehensive plan of the Living God. I have a purpose. He created me fearfully considering each step that would lead me to righteousness. He did so wonderfully giving me value and worth that only He can bring forth. I am a marvelous work though still in process. In pursuit of purpose, it is of the utmost importance to know God’s Primary Plan. Above all other things – the Lord desires to have a relationship with you and me. To live in love for the rest of our lives until one day it is only eternity that we see.

Isn’t it funny how when you think you have it all together, the next minute reveals that is not the case? I am finding my purpose in this place called life all over again. I know that I am called. I know that I am anointed simply because Christ lives in me. I have no idea what is next. In a state of transition in more ways than one, I have my feet planted in Christ my firm foundation of faith yet my head is in the clouds. My children are reaching adulthood. Our full nest down to just one. In the busyness of raising our children, it is often easy to forget that this too shall pass and one day there will no longer be the weight of responsibility that governs us now. The mounds of laundry are gone and with it our children venture off into life. This is God’s Plan. It is a good one. My job is to raise tiny disciples into fisher of people then set them off to fulfill the Lord’s Plans for them, but I don’t have to like it. What transition are you in today? New job. Unexpected life change. The ending of an old season often gives way to new faith and new trust on the faithfulness of God. We become comfortable and complacent in the current condition. God is faithful in pursuing us with unfailing love and kindness. He is always working good in us and through us even when we do not want to change.

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

The finality of God is sometimes the hardest obstacle to overcome. We all like options. When God shows us a glimpse of His Plan and Purpose, it is human nature to run off and complete the picture like Harold with the purple crayon. He only gives us a peek but we make it our plan or maybe I am the only one with the propensity to run ahead and work it out myself before God makes His Way clear. What if I don’t like God’s Plan? What if I am not happy with His Purpose? What if it is not as I expected or conducive to my plans?

The power of purpose in my life is not based on my abilities but God’s Faithfulness. These verses do not portray a power hungry being who needs to assert dictatorship over us. The Lord already has all the power. God is Sovereign and confident in it. When we someone can make our heart sure that God’s Purpose is good and way better than we could think, ask or imagine – faith grows from that place that connects with God’s Faithfulness giving Him permission to give us His Best.

Isaiah 44:6-8 (NLT) This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. Who is like me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power. Let him do as I have done since ancient times when I established a people and explained its future. Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

The Lord says to us today, “I am the First and the Last there is no other God.” This is vitally important to understanding the power of purpose in our life. The Plan of God is comprehensive taking in every detail of our life and turning it for our good. (Romans 8:28) Only an Alpha and Omega God could transverse time to take into account everything and work it all together for our good. He gives us the grace needed for His Power to overtake us and produce purpose while prospering our heart to spill over into our life.

Do not tremble. Do not be afraid. God did not give us the spirit of fear, anxiety, worry, stress or any other byproduct of doubt. The Lord has given us a measure of faith. Faith is cultivated in the goodness given to us called power, love and self-discipline. Use them well. The fear of the Lord is an awesome respect that is demonstrated in devotion and a covenant of love like marriage. Such fear becomes trust and total dependence as we learn to lean on the Lord and live in His Love.

Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? The knowledge of God’s Pervasive Presence and Persistent Pursuit of me – a sinner saved by grace – is my complete undoing. I have lived more than 50 years and I am still discovering the depths of God’s Grace, Love and Faithfulness to me. The hopes and dreams that I put in the grave because of my own weaknesses are not dead to God just deferred until their appointed time. The vault marked faults and failures do not hold His Riches or Glory designated for my life, I do when I hold my heart hostage with guilt, shame or regret. The faithfulness of God has followed me through life ushering me toward the things that He already prepared for me before I drew my first breath. It will be complete when I breathe my last. I must rely on His Faithfulness to produce the fruitfulness of purpose in me and not pluck unripe fruit from the vine. It is only when I abide in Christ that the growth I desire is produced. I must abide in His Love even though I have no idea what’s next, where I am going, how I will get there or when I will arrive. God knows and that’s gotta be enough for me.

I have a purpose. It belongs to me. No one can fulfill it. Only I can do it. Prosperity is a heart condition. God has promised to give me a new heart in place of the stony one within. As my soul prospers so will my life in the purpose already designated for me by the Living God. I must only trust Him to find my purpose.

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me!

The Journey

The Journey

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’s that time of year again. Graduations are in full swing. We are no exception. Next week, our fourth child will cross the stage of honor to receive her high school diploma. Our family will cheer her on to the next leg of her journey in life. She is filled with mixed emotions. Elation at completing high school and a bit of hesitation at the idea of adulthood. Celebrating her accomplishment, I find my nest is almost empty. With only one child left, it is hard to imagine what life will look like in a few short years when she follows her siblings in following her dreams. I cannot imagine not being a full-time mom. Though I know the blessings of adult children, it is still hard to fathom after almost 30 years entering this new season of life.

“For I know the plans I have for you…” I have seen this verse on graduation announcements, gifts and many other celebratory items. What is graduation? To bask in the laurels of accomplishment and boldly step into a new adventure. Life is a journey. God has a plan for us. Every detail of our life is important. I know when all the children were young, there was no time to consider the coming of this day. Buried in laundry, homework, and all the other responsibilities – it was hard to see past those days to a time when they would move into their purpose and achieve adulthood. Perhaps, you are there today. Or maybe with me in the nostalgia of days gone by wondering what tomorrow holds. The Plan of God for us is complete. It is not captured in a moment but discovered in a lifetime. Whether you are about to graduate from high school or college or maybe graduating from parenthood to becoming a grandparent, it is important to embrace the journey.

Proverbs 20:24 (NIV) A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it changed everything. My life was not as I planned and recovering a normal life seemed impossible. On the first anniversary of his diagnosis, I decided to get a tattoo on my wrist. When I look at it, it reads, “Faith” but if I show it to you, it reads “Hope”. It is called an “ambigram”. I do not mean to undermine anyone’s heartfelt convictions, but I do believe that the Lord led me to get this reminder permanently marked on my arm. What I didn’t know was that soon after that our son would go on to have several relapses, halt treatment due to denials by the insurance company, and enter the fight of his young life. My motive in having it was to embrace the journey not the end. There were some days I tried to scrub it from my arm. On those particularly rough days watching my child suffer, and trying to hold on to dwindling faith – I felt like a hypocrite. It seemed that those were the days when someone would ask about it. What does it say? What did it mean? To have faith and offer hope to others. Who was I kidding?

A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. In Jeremiah 29, the small morsel of truth captured in the few verses most often offered are but a glimpse of a much bigger picture. The Children of Israel were in exile for 70 years before the Redeemer would come. A lifetime to us. It speaks of future redemption not an escape from the trials and temptations of life. Psalm 34:19 tells us that a righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers them from them all. Those who endure to the end are saved. (Matthew 24:13) Life is a journey. Your current season may seem barren but there is always good fruit for those who love God. They will see His Goodness and Glory if they do not faint but wait on the Lord.

In Matthew 4, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the enemy. It was a divine destination not a wandering moment. He went to the wilderness fasting 40 days. He was praying. Yet the purpose of his mission was to give us an example of power and authority in life. To know the Word (Jesus) and experience freedom that allows us to keep moving on this journey with faith and hope when the enemy offers counterfeits, substitutions, half-truths, and lies. The Father has already handwritten and prerecorded every single moment before our first breath. (Psalm 139) We are fearfully and wonderfully made declared wonderful by God the Father. The potential in us is faith. Our faith must be planted in the firm foundation of Christ beginning with a broken heart that gives up pride to fully embrace with passion the plan of God for us. He promised to make good of every detail. He said that nothing can separate us from His Love. (Roman 8) For every sin, mistake, fault, failure and more – the Lord tells us that His Grace is enough. Sufficient to keep us on course for the future and hope that He promised.

Ephesians 1:11-14 (NIV)  In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

It would take several cups of coffee and several hours to outline my journey with Christ. There have been some momentous mountaintop encounters, supernatural experiences and then some pretty dark patches along the way. It has definitely been a long and arduous journey. My heart has been crushed beyond repair yet somehow filled with inexpressible joy and confident hope all at the same time. How can something so broken carry anything of worth? Because God created this vessel for a purpose, Jesus died to guarantee that I can achieve fulfillment in the land of the living before I enter eternity. I must but embrace the journey. The Lord has chosen me. He chose you, too. He made a plan for you from here to eternity. It is worthwhile containing a future and hope. The prosperity of life begins with a prospering soul given completely to Jesus Christ. There is nothing of worth in this world outside of knowing Christ. To die with Him and be raised to new life. If I choose to believe this, it means not a moment in my life is wasted but fully redeemed by the Lord. It may take seven minutes or 70 years but my hope is not on a timeline but eternal. Rest assured, friend – everything is going as planned. Embrace the journey – there are good things ahead.

Psalm 107:28-31 (NLT) “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

In Good Time

In the Timing

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV) For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

Living in Florida, there are not always clearly defined seasons. Winters are often unseasonably warm and the sweltering summer may begin in spring. Life can be like that for us, too. Trusting God is tough when the season does not yield the kind of fruit expected or it is taking longer than originally thought. As I study to share with the women of our church for Mother’s Day, I am struck by the words of Solomon. For EVERYTHING there is a season. Everything is an all-inclusive term leaving nothing out. To consider this means to accept that all the details of our life have something productive within them. There is time for EVERY matter under Heaven. It is easy to praise God when things turn out as expected but how one responds when a world falls apart, plan fails or loss is inevitable reveals the contents of our heart. It is in brokenness the seed gives life to its potential and so it is with the measure of faith that the Lord has invested in our hearts.

Psalm 145:14-16 (ESV) The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

It has taken the Lord more than 52 years to break through my hard heart and captivate my thoughts with the idea that every season has purpose. It has taken a long and arduous journey to realize that all things are possible with God and that His Word will not return to Him void. Youth comes with the missive that everything has to happen right now. You only live once. Make it count. Fifteen minutes represents years to those who are young and impatient. With such an impetuous nature, experience teaches many hard lessons that only one encounter with the Living God can change from disaster to destiny. When I was a child, my grandmother with great love and affection would say to me, “You must have patience.” Now that I am a grandmother – I am only beginning to understand the true potential of waiting and trusting God. I am quite sure that I will one day say these words to my little grandson as he already exhibits a lack of patience and willfulness as a little baby.

In church as children, we are taught, “He’s got the whole world in His Hands.” One worship song declares, “You hold my every moment.” And goes on to proclaim, “You hold my world in Your Hands.” The confession is there but do we actually believe what we are speaking in our life. To trust that the Lord will make good of every detail of our life (Romans 8:28) and believe that He supplies food in due season and satisfies the desire of every living thing. The Lord has promised that for EVERYTHING there is a season, but do we leave the field when it takes too long? He also says that there is time for EVERY matter under heaven. We serve an intentional God. A God who started from the beginning and has made it to the end. The details are clearly defined as destiny. The promise has purpose marked out specifically by a plan that contains a future and hope. He has set it forth in His Word. He has placed the Word in our heart. Jesus makes all things possible for those who believe. It comes down to this season. It is all about this moment. The current process has fruit that will nourish and satisfy our soul and yield true contentment and abundance. We must only believe.

Proverbs 16:4 (ESV) The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

To believe that there is godly purpose in every detail of our life takes practice. It is an intentional mindset to trust God no matter how long it takes or how close to disaster it seems. To wait beyond our patience simply because He said to. To do exactly what He said even when it is not logical, rational, comfortable, convenient or controlled. To live abandoned to God’s Purpose takes us far beyond the ordinary into the extraordinary. Walking by faith and not by sight is not something others may understand and embrace. I guess it depends what you are after in this life. Do you desire what comes naturally or that which is derived supernaturally? Do you want a mediocre life or to live in the miraculous? Who the Son sets free is truly free. The Lord will not make you take His Blessings. He will not force His Promises on you. He will not make you prosper if you decide to do something else. But for those who believe and pursue Him – God is faithful. He will do exactly as He promised at the appointed time and not a moment sooner.

Purpose is aborted outside of patience. To end the process before the product is complete is a miscarriage. The Lord has promised life exceedingly abundantly more than one can think, ask or imagine which means that there is preparation in order to produce it. Did you know that most lottery millionaires are penniless in just three short years? They receive an increase but have a heart of famine. They do not know how to manage money and invest wisely so they live recklessly. Without good counsel, many will be in deeper debt than before the windfall came. New wine will burst old wineskins causing it to spill out. (Matthew 9) So the Lord must prepare you for the promise that He has for you so that when it comes you will be ready for it.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV) He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

The Lord promises that He has made everything beautiful in its time. EVERYTHING. I cannot stress this enough today as I read the Word and feel compelled by His Spirit. God knows your life from beginning to end. He recorded it before you took your first breath. (Psalm 139) He didn’t write a fairytale. He wrote a future and hope for this life you are living. There is nothing you can do to separate yourself from the Love of God. He loves you. He pursues you with unfailing love and goodness every single day. His Mercy is new every morning. His Grace is always enough. To decide that God has a plan that does not carefully planned and recorded including our faults and failures is ridiculous. He knows. He had to. Christ finished His Work on the Cross and provided the payment for our every sin bearing the weight of each one – past, present and future – in that moment. God is omnipresent. He is omniscient. He is Sovereign. What does that mean? Everywhere. All knowing. Completely in control including all power and authority. This is the God who promises that EVERYTHING is made beautiful in its time. He put eternity in our heart so we know the goal and what to strive for. He does have the whole world in His Hands. God does hold every moment. He is exactly who He says He is and will do exactly as He promised.

I have been a mother for 28 years raising five children. My season of parenting is down to just one child and three more years before she graduates from high school. I have been a mom the majority of my life. I have lived long enough to see broken things become beautiful. I have planted fields yet to bear fruit. As the nest becomes empty, I am not sure what comes next. I don’t remember my life before I was responsible for little people. Holding my little grandson, I look at him differently. I love him with all of my heart but know that he is not my responsibility. What’s next?

The changing of seasons in life is not always easy. In fact, leaving one place for another is often a challenge as humans given to comfort, convenience and control. As I wait on the Lord for direction, I know that He makes EVERYTHING for a season. I must trust His Timing. The Lord promises a time for EVERY matter so those unresolved issues will be made right. He doesn’t just promise us resolution but says that He makes EVERYTHING beautiful in its time. There is beauty in the broken things. There is life for those dead dreams. We must only speak the Word by faith and dry bones will come to life. Timing is everything, right. God’s Timing is perfect. Every promise will be yours in good time. Will you trust the Lord of the harvest today? Will you dare to believe that His Word will not fail? Will you be there when the harvest of your heartache, the fruitfulness of your tears gives way to the beauty of His Plan and Purpose when it comes to pass? It will happen all in good time – God’s Time!

Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

 

Sacred Structure

Sacred Structure

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (MSG) You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.

Did you know that the most important structure in your life is not what you make of opportunities but rather who you become in the process? You are the Temple of God’s Spirit. Christ lives inside of you. You are the dwelling place of divine purpose, promise and possibility. You! It is so important in our pursuit of prosperity that it is understood that nothing will grow outside of the faith in us until our soul prospers. My youngest loves junk food. She is a snacker who would eat cookies, candies and sweets all day and night forgoing real food of any nutritional value. It is my responsibility as her parent to guide, instruct and help her to make good choices in this area for health and wellness. If I allow her to eat what she wants without providing what she needs, she will not grow, develop and mature into a healthy adult. We live in a day and age of indulgence with our kids. Few set proper boundaries choosing to be a friend rather than a parent. However, when children round the corner into adulthood without any form of training – the results can be devastating. My little sweet tooth recently had to get a filling. She is learning the consequence of her cravings. Lord, teach us to do the same.

The sacred structure of our life is not external but rather eternal. All the promises, blessings and benefits of God are wrapped in His Goodness. He will never give us anything that would harm us even if that very thing is harmless in itself. Miracles happen in the impossible. Who wants impossible situations in their life? Persistence comes from pressure. Who is ready to be pressed? Endurance comes in the waiting and none of us have time for that. Yet, in His Divine Supremacy, God knows exactly what our life must look like in order for us to discover the potential and purpose of that which He entrusted in our heart before our first breath. He knows exactly what it will take for us to engage in the process that will produce it. It usually comes at the end of our self. When our weakness is all that is left, and we seek out the new strength, power and ability only discovered in His Grace that is always enough and more than sufficient. How many times do we build our Babel and wonder why it is crashing down around us? You are God’s Most Sacred Structure too high a price was paid for you to live a broken or worthless life.

2 Chronicles 7:11-16 (MSG) Solomon completed building The Temple of God and the royal palace—the projects he had set his heart on doing. Everything was done—success! Satisfaction! God appeared to Solomon that very night and said, “I accept your prayer; yes, I have chosen this place as a temple for sacrifice, a house of worship. If I ever shut off the supply of rain from the skies or order the locusts to eat the crops or send a plague on my people, and my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health. From now on I’m alert day and night to the prayers offered at this place. Believe me, I’ve chosen and sanctified this Temple that you have built: My Name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always.

Solomon built the Temple of God. His project complete the Children of Israel dedicated the structure to the Lord. It was a time of celebration. Success. Satisfaction. God appeared to Solomon. Alone in the darkness of night, the God of his father, David, now sought out the son. David was a man after God’s heart. Would Solomon do the same? He whispered to His Beloved, “I accept your prayer. Yes, I have chosen this place as a temple for sacrifice and a house of worship.” But now the Lord gets to the heart of the matter, the man who was king.

If I ever shut off the supply of rain from the skies or order the locusts to eat the crops or send a plague on my people, and my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health.

There are many good things that we do “for” the Lord. Pray. Study His Word. Try to live right. Repent. Serve. Give. Share the Gospel. Worth efforts in building the Kingdom of God. But at the end of the day, God is more interested in the sacred structure of our heart rather than what we build, accumulate or achieve in life. The city on the hill and salt of the earth that is referred to is that which is built on one foundation who is Christ alone and mined from the depths of the human heart called love. Sometimes our endeavors consume us and it is easy to lose sight of righteousness in rightness. The Lord desires a relationship with us. It is not a performance but a passion deep within to find eternity by faith and have confident hope that His Love never fails. So when the things we build begin to crumble and fall, it will reveal the firm foundation of a sound sacred structure in a prospering soul. There is no greater faith demonstrated than those who believe when the unthinkable and impossible occur in life. Those who continue to live by faith when the future seems to hold nothing. Those who decide that if all there is at the end of life is Jesus – He is still all you need or want.

I Peter 2:4-8 (MSG) Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. The Scriptures provide precedent: Look! I’m setting a stone in Zion, a cornerstone in the place of honor. Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation will never have cause to regret it. To you who trust him, he’s a Stone to be proud of, but to those who refuse to trust him, the stone the workmen threw out is now the chief foundation stone. For the untrusting it’s… a stone to trip over, a boulder blocking the way. They trip and fall because they refuse to obey, just as predicted.

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone. Our life has a plan. It is the construction of a confident hope that is mortared by faith and trust in the foundation of Christ already set forth. I believe that as we begin to follow Jesus and experience early success – it is easy to become complacent. To lose the enthusiastic zeal that accompanies new love and softens the pursuit. To rest on the laurels of past victories, and stop pursing the greater things that God has in store for those who love and trust Him. When pride prevails, it will take the place of humble grace that empowers ordinary people to live extraordinary lives. Complacency is established in comfort, convenience and control. When any one or all three are compromised, it is a shaking that often causes one to seek the Lord. To cry out and call His Name again. Funny how God works! You are the most sacred structure to the Lord. He chose you to give His Spirit. To consummate covenant with a Holy Inhabitation that will impact our life in miraculous ways when given the time and space to cultivate the good fruit that feeds and nourishes our heart and soul. Sometimes God will “gut” our life to begin a renovation or restoration to the masterpiece that He had planned before time. To give us the new life as a new creation promised long ago. Do you trust Him today? Do you believe? What kind of life are you after? To live in blessed buildings or become a sacred structure? It is up to you! If at the end of your life, you have nothing to show for your hard work but you have a heart full of Jesus – You have it all!

Psalm 27:7-8 (NLT) Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

The Fallen Tree

The Fallen Tree

Psalm 1:3 (ESV) He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Engaged in the morning routine, I head outside with our dogs in the pitch black darkness before the sun rises. Our black lab begins barking into the darkness followed by the high pitched retort of our little Chihuahua. Shining the flashlight, there is a fallen tree in the backyard. Oddly there was no storm or wind in the night. Closer inspection reveals the same soft bark as the other trees that have just toppled over. I am certain that when upon further inspection in the daylight will reveal the same orange fungus in the treetop that was on the others. Curiosity leads me to Google to try to discern what is killing the small hardwoods in the backyard.

The most likely suspect is called Heart Rot. A fungus makes its way into the tree either by pruning or another injury to the bark and without notice begins to deteriorate it from the inside out. Though the tree seems to be growing and changing with the seasons, it is dying day by day. If I had leaned on it yesterday, it would have toppled over. If a storm with any kind of wind, it would have fallen just the same. Could it be the same for us when injured or neglected? Is it possible for the human heart to take on such an insult or offense and unknowingly die on the inside?

Blessed is the man or woman who walks in the counsel of the godly. Those who engage with other believers and fellowship with Christians who are likeminded. Yet human are we. To be part of the Body of Christ means oneness with Jesus Christ. He is the One who makes our heart steady and secure in every season. He is the One who fortifies us and plants us. Rooted and grounded in His Love our expectation of others is replaced by love, grace, compassion and mercy.

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.

Our strength and power is by His Spirit in our inner being. Christ dwells in our heart by faith and His Spirit works His Love all the way through us. We must be rooted and grounded in the Love of God demonstrated through the Gift of His Son – Jesus to withstand the storms of life with a heart wrapped up in and secured by the hopeful anchor of salvation. God is good. His plan for our life contains a future and hope well worth the transformation process. We must examine our heart daily. Moment by moment working to become more rooted and grounded by faith in trusting the Lord until our trust is fully invested in Christ alone. Full comprehension of God’s Love and His Grace that sustains us will cause us to let go of every other expectation that we may fully engage with the One “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Psalm 52:8-9 (ESV) But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.

How deep are your roots in the Love of God today? The green olive tree is a source of oil. Oil represents anointing. Christ who is the Anointed One lives in you and me. We are the Children of God. His Spirit dwells in us producing the good fruit that feeds our soul and establishes our trust in Him. Do you trust the steadfastness of God’s Love for you? Such love casts out all fear, doubt, insecurity, offense, and any other affliction placed in our heart by the father of lies. This creates a healthy root system as faith grows in us and hope anchors our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) Such a belief system creates a spirit of thanksgiving and fullness of joy that the storms of life cannot remove or uproot. It affords us patience that in the times of great turmoil, testing, trials and tribulation that God is with us, He is for us, and we are immovable and unshakeable in the Lord.

We must learn to live in the Presence of God and not the present. Such a lofty pursuit found in the quietness of space apportioned time to spend with the Lover of our soul, studying and mediating on His Word, listening for that still small voice whispering to us, praying face down on our knees, relying on His Spirit to work in us and through us as we learn to live in His Love moment by moment. To live any other way does not feed our faith or establish our heart which are stark contradictions to “normal” life.

I do not want to live a lie. To build a life on other people’s convictions and human doctrine with a rotting heart. It can happen. It is easy to live on the coattails of someone else’s faith until the rubber hits the road and you need your own faith to pass the test. I cannot cheat the Lord. He knows everything about me. He sees the innermost workings of my fickle heart and longs to change me from the inside out. I must allow the Lord access to the parts of me that are not okay. The doubtful darkness that looms deep inside the crevices of a broken heart. The wounded places that I cover so well. The pruning of hard seasons that I do not acknowledge left raw, opened and exposed. Lord, I do not want my heart to rot. I want to be someone known by good fruit.

Matthew 7:16-18 (ESV) You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.

Our backyard is partially cleared and on the backside of the property there are many trees. The trees that have succumbed to the fungal invasion are small. Funny, it was one of the things I liked the most about our lot. Those trees are now a detriment. We live in the South in an area prone to hurricanes. Soon, we will walk through the backyard and push on each tree to see if it is impacted by Heart Rot. The ones that are will give way under the pressure. These trees will need to be cut down and burned. Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” What kind of fruit is your life producing? We are called to live a rich, satisfying life. The only hindrance in our life is fear and doubt. Faith will always flourish. The places of insecurity or insufficiency need to be seeded with God’s Word and given careful attention. Why? Without faith, it is impossible to live a life pleasing to God. To remain in mediocrity is to stop the miraculous. To accept the ordinary is to reject the ordinary. These are the inheritances of every believer according to God’s Word. His Promises are all “yes” and “amen” according to the Spirit living in you. The only way not be blessed, prosperous and fully supplied is to somehow stop faith from producing its full potential in that area of your life. With God all things are possible if we believe. Do you believe today? Do you really believe? A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit. A diseased tree cannot bear good fruit. Lord, make me like a tree planted by living water who produces fruit in every season and leaves that do not wither or die.

Matthew 13:31-32 (ESV) He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

God has placed potential in our life that must be sown, cultivated and harvested to prosper us from the inside out. We are created to bear good fruit. He has given us the seed (His Word), the cultivator (His Spirit) and even the faith to wait on it. It is important that in our doing, serving and living for God that we do not forget to examine our heart daily. To come to the Lord and ask for forgiveness for our sin. It seems so simple yet many cannot remember the last prayer of repentance but readily remember the long list of requests. Everything I want, need, and desire are fulfilled in Christ. The only requirement is reconciling my life to His Way, Truth and allowing Him to produce life within me.

I must pay attention to my relationship to the Lord rather than getting wrapped up in religion or being right. God is God no matter who believes in Him. Jesus died for our sins and offers us the Precious Gift of Salvation whether anyone accepts it or not. The Spirit of God lives in us to be our helper whether acknowledged or not. The existence of God and His Great Love for you and me are firmly established in who He is and not what I choose. Humbling to think that even when I reject Him – God’s Love for me is secure. How have I rejected God? Anytime I choose something other than steadfast faith and confident hope in His Love. Every area of my life ruled by fear, doubt, worry, anxiety and insecurity is a place of void with a need to be filled.

When my life is fully invested in the Kingdom of God with flourishing faith and hope – it will appeal to others. The fruit of my life will feed the hungry. It will give sustenance to those who are thirsty. Bad fruit will spread like a fungus just the same. Just as many people if not more will be turned off to God by fruitless or faithless Christians each day. The efforts of Christianity become productive when faith is produced in us that others can see. The good fruit of God’s Spirit and confidence in His Love will be something worth having. It is not that I can do everything right, clean up my act or even preach a flawless gospel. It shines from the Light of His Love that has fully taken over my heart and soul. It makes me like a tree that can give good fruit in every season. To live a healthy and prosperous life full of thanksgiving and praises to God in every season knowing His Love for me is secure and so are His Promises.

Lord, I ask you to shine the Light of Your Love on the inside of me today. I am sorry for the sin that I harbor within thinking no one sees. Lord, you see it and desire to put good things in its place. Expose any unforgiveness, offense, or insecurity. Lord, I ask your Spirit to remove it and sow seeds of new faith in its place. I give my all to You again. Lord, give me a new heart and steadfast spirit in Jesus Name. Amen.

Psalm 92:12-15 (ESV) The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.