Turning Toil into Rest

Turning Toil into Rest

Psalm 139:1-5 (ESV) O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite passages in the Word of God. Like a giant soft snuggly blanket on a cold night, I can wrap myself in God’s intentional creation and determination to love and keep me in the psalmist words. It makes the chaos of life stand still in God’s Supremacy. It makes me feel important when dark shadows of insignificance creep into my heart. God has carefully scripted the details of my life including every moment before I was born. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me and far too high for me to grasp so I am get caught up in the waves of busyness and striving that are the cast nets of the enemy to trip us up in the race of faith. To think personal appearance, qualities, abilities, and achievements even when applied to discipline, faithfulness and obedience to God in some way influences the outcome is ridiculous when I am predestined for the Kingdom – including every promise, blessing and prosperous moment that God our Father already planned and prescribed for us. Excessive pride and exceptional vanity cause the believer to strive for what is already given and long for what we already have. These two traits are the very essence of frustration. Greed for more is the appetite of pride. Discontentment is the adornment of vanity. Neither will ever bring peace nor rest in our life but a constant need to seek worthless things rather than heavenly rewards. God did not call us to live in poverty or lack. He is an excellent Father and wonderful Provider. God did not call us to walk around brokenhearted, sickly and diseased. He is the Healer. God still does miracles. Just as the plan of God was foretold, the process of God lies within us. Written on our heart, it must be opened and carefully read. There is a plan and purpose within us that will lead to full satisfaction and complete contentment. It begins in our heart not in our hands.

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

I do believe the prosperity gospel. God desires to prosper us…just as your soul prospers. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5) One of the greatest privileges as a believer is to enter the Kingdom economy on earth before entering heaven. Peter experienced such when he was asked who Christ was to him. His response opened the Hand of Jesus who gave Peter “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Peter’s confession of Christ as the Son of the God established the platform of his life on which the Lord would begin constructing the church. Psalm 103 reminds us “bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Kingdom benefits and blessings belong to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and decide to make Him the Lord of their life. We must bless the Lord with the offering of submission giving Him access through salvation to our soul first and then placing the rest of our life under His Authority and Power which will release Kingdom benefits and blessings that make ordinary existence into the extraordinary life that is exceedingly and abundantly more than is humanly imaginable filling our journey with supernatural occurrences that will always point to God!

Ecclesiastes 2:22 (ESV) What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

Where did this journey in the Word begin? I love Saturday morning. It is the only day of the week when I do not have to wake up early. The alarm is not set for 4:30 AM as usual. This morning rather than relaxing and resting my mind woke me up. Swirling with my expectations for today mixed with others expectations of me roused me until finally I got up. Busy. What is busyness anyway? Everyone is busy. But no one is too busy. Oh, I hear you ready to lop off my head. God gives each person 24 hours in a day and the freedom to choose how to use it. All things are permissible but not all things beneficial – given all the same amount of time in any given day – it is up to us to decide how it will be portioned. The pressure I was feeling caused irritability to arise and I could feel the bristling of emotions. Walking into the study, sliding into my chair, I opened my journal and wrote the following: “How do I do it all? Lord, I need you to take control of my time.” Toil and striving for anything other than Jesus Christ and His Kingdom is the product of pride and vanity. Where do I get this from? Ecclesiastes – yes the whole entire book. We must place our priority on Kingdom first. No, I did not say “ministry” or “church” first. I did say, “Christ and His Kingdom.” It is the place of allegiance for the believer that allows all other areas of life to be successful. It somehow miraculously stretches our time and energy. The word “toil” is not a Kingdom word. It’s not. Toil means hard, continuous, and exhausting labor or effort. God calls us to rest. Jesus calls to those who “labor and are heavy laden” with the promise of rest. To rest in His Love, on His Promise and trusting in His Plan. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. However, in our toiling at home, work, ministry, church, and even in our hobbies and extracurricular activities – the enemy tells us that God is please with such exhaustive toil and really it does not bring the Father any glory because though it make a man rich it brings great sorrow with it. The blessing of the Lord does not bring us sorrow but complete satisfaction and contentment in all things. Toil is birthed by vanity which refutes the declaration that His Grace is enough for me. His Power works best in my weakness. Toil is vanity’s effort to self-assert itself over the completed work of Christ in us.

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV) ”Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness AND all these things will be added to you. It is a terrible cycle entered into by most creating a vortex that separates many from the lifestyle God intended from the beginning for each one of us. We are told to be anxious for nothing. Trust and confidence that God is our provider of all things pertaining to life. It says in His Word that God has already given us every spiritual blessing. Like the widow with one flask of oil, it is up to us to find the vessels to pour it into. Most hold that little bottle of anointing in one hand and work with the other. This is not the plan of God for our life but rather to pour out the anointing in us into every area of life. No duplicity. Faith in every approach. Giving the Lord authority in every area of our life. Instead, work becomes our priority because everyone needs to money to survive, right? So our life is poured into our job, career or climbing the corporate ladder. Seeking to acquire things becomes the focus of drive and ambition. Work gets the majority of our time. Work also makes play justifiable. There is nothing wrong with balance but soon our life is filled with busyness. Add on top of that trying to serve in church as well and what a chaotic mess develops. Why? Seek first the Kingdom of God. The filling of our life with Jesus and His Anointing makes everything we do prosper and purposeful. Trouble is most give the Lord what’s left which is a pitiful pittance rather than the extravagance of our predestined masterpiece life. We must discipline ourselves to seek the Kingdom first. Above all things and ambitious journeys. God knows every need, want and desire of your heart. It is only in trusting the Lord to do as He promises that a prosperous life is achieved.

I John 2:15-17 (ESV) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, my perspective and priorities were radically changed. Not over time, but in a single moment. Funny thing is that it was not when the words rolled out of the doctor’s mouth sending my heart crashing to the floor. It was not in the two weeks of trying to reorder and reorganize our schedule to include fighting for his life. It was sitting in a parking lot waiting for him to arrive to enter treatment as I was texting the office assuring them I would be there next week. My son got out of the car and the Lord let me see with vivid clarity what death looked like. It was in that moment that the things of this world did not matter anymore. I needed Jesus. I needed Him close. I needed Him to be real. I needed Him more than anyone or anything else. I called the office in that moment telling my supervisor that I would do my best to help them but I would not be back until our son was in remission.

Friend, we must reprioritize our life. It is imperative that our heart and mind be set on Jesus and His Kingdom first. It is not an old-fashioned cry of the church but the modern day yearning of those who desire His Kingdom on earth and revival to come. The world will give as many cares, burdens, worries, fears, doubts and insecurities it takes to keep God’s People land-locked and not Kingdom-bound. The enemy knows exactly what it will take to discourage, distract, detour and dissuade you from seeking the Kingdom first. We are driven by so many drives, urges and emotions that striving just comes naturally. Comparison does not only kill our joy but chokes out contentment. King Solomon had great wealth so much so that he was able to indulge every indulgence. Nothing was kept from him yet he declares it all vanity. It’s sad because so many famous people who are envied by others end their life because of depression. I wonder if it is because when they attained what they thought would be bring them peace and happiness – they found it be an illusion of emptiness which was completely devastating. The true meaning of hopelessness, I guess, is having it all and finding it is not what you wanted. We have a hope that will never lead to disappointment. To acquire Jesus Christ and His Kingdom is to have it all. We must not get caught up in busyness. It is a prideful place of vanity that takes Christ out of the equation. Toil must be turned to rest in the peace of God that is afforded those who trust the Lord in all things. Lord, I cannot do it all. I am not supposed to. So let me do one thing and it is this one thing that I ask:

Psalm 27:4 (ESV) One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

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Imperishable Beauty

Imperishable Beauty

I Peter 3:3-4 (ESV) Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 

It’s Sunday. Everyone is still sleeping. In my closet, I am slowly looking through the embarrassing abundance of clothing for something to wear to church today. Not much for skirts or dresses, I quickly pass them by and begin assessing the pants for some that might fit properly. I’ve gained a few pounds that though I am earnestly trying to discard are stubbornly hanging on for dear life so the assessment yields few that I find acceptable. Turning to blouses – long sleeve, short sleeve, tank top. Do I wear a cardigan or kimono to cover or no? I can’t even think about shoes yet. Making my way to this place of quiet time in my Father’s Presence, this passage comes to mind. I have made no real choice or decision – it will have to wait for now. I always find something and manage to make it out the door. But this morning, the Lord is whispering to me that it is not in the earthly garments and apparel that offer any kind of attractiveness but what is hidden in our heart filled with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that God finds precious in His Sight.

Please don’t get me wrong. I believe that honoring God includes caring for His Temple. My body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. I should continually work His Spirit in my mind, body and soul for completeness. This flesh will not go to heaven but it carries me through the earth. To maintain our health only allows the glow of a healthy soul to shine through more clearly. To have a made up mind that is settled on Christ free from fear, worry, doubt and sorrow emanate that my expectancy is not in the outcomes of life but the One who lives in me.

During my stints on the elliptical machine, I listen to praise and worship music. My kids laugh at me. How can you work out to church music? I don’t think I would survive if I did not. To hear of His Love and fill my heart with encouragement as I fight my flesh to keep going while my fat screams for release keeps me going as I focus on Him. When the workout is complete, I feel refreshed in my mind and soul, as well as my body. The Spirit of God waits to be invited into every area of my life. When I open the door to my mind, soul AND body, He will enter in and begin to transform me from the inside out. What better way to represent Christ and even minister in unlikely places?

Proverbs 31:30 (ESV) Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Society focuses heavily on appearance. Social media offers a platform to present false images and alternate personas. I am in love with the filters that erase the wrinkles of time and any imperfection. Charm is deceitful. Beauty is vain when the kind of loveliness sought after is that longing for human acceptance, affirmation and affection. The Lord looks much deeper than face value. He is looking inside the broken hearts and torn apart lives that superficiality has left behind. Depression and despair cloak perfect smiles and flawless features who live in darkness without experiencing true love that is unconditional yet offered freely in overflowing abundance by the Living God to His Beloved Children.

I Samuel 16:7 (ESV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Appearances are not everything. There are some beautiful people projecting artificial contentment and satisfaction when really they are empty inside. The prospering soul begins inside of us and then God works it through our natural life as well. Our soul goes to Heaven. It is the most important feature of the human makeup. Once our soul is secure, the heart will change by falling deeper in love with Jesus each day. His Spirit slowly begins to inhabit us and permeate the space of our heart. He picks up the broken pieces and shapes our life into the beautiful masterpiece day by day. We assist Him only in the surrender of our whole spirit, mind, and body to the process. Without all of our being, there is no possible way to be complete and lack nothing. There is no fulfillment of purpose with every detail. He has a plan and our life is filled with great potential – it just takes allowing God to change our countenance from the inside out. Trusting that He will meet and exceed our expectation. To believe that nothing is impossible and discipline our mind, spirit and body to remain engaged in His Way. A new life and inexpressible joy create radiant beings that truly reflect the Love of God in the most amazing way!

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Ripe Fruit

Ripe Fruit

John 15:16-17 (ESV) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few items last week. Passing through the produce section, there was sign marked “tree-ripened fresh peaches”. Reaching for them expecting soft and supple fruit, the peaches were still a bit hard and not at all what I expected. However, this did not stop me from filling a bag anyway. An elderly gentleman in a riding wheelchair came up to the table and asked if the fruit was any good. He also felt the peaches and declared them not ripe but firm to the touch. I shared the secret to delicious juicy peaches. If you take some home and put them on the counter for a couple of days, the fruit will ripen and soften to perfection. He chuckled and said that earlier in the week that the employee stocking the fruit told him the same thing. The man is on a fixed budget and was afraid to splurge on the fruit only to be disappointed. He didn’t trust the worker so he didn’t buy any that day. He told me his story as he selected some peaches to take home.

We are called to bear fruit as disciples of Jesus Christ. To abide in the Vine so fully and completely that His Fruit begins to blossom and ripen in us. His Spirit cultivates the kind of fruit that satisfies our soul and is worth sharing with others. The man did not buy what the market was selling but he decided to lean on my personal experience that day. People relate to a Gospel that is shared like a good meal. They prefer an authentic relatable experience over a chance encounter that may not go as expected. It is not my “job” to share Christ but my privilege to offer others the abundance of goodness produced by having Him in my life living in me.

It is important to note in John 15 that the Lord has chosen us. We did not handpick him from a plethora of other gods but rather God created us as Children in His Image. Christ in us restores and rebuilds our relationship with God the Father through righteousness. I have seed worth planting and fruit worth bearing inside of me. What I do with the seeds of faith given to me in measure is up to me. Pursuing His Kingdom is a promise of reaching eternity that is already set within my heart but will I consider the cost worth paying for the privilege of the everlasting is truly up to me.

Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

God’s Word is the seed that produces every good thing in our life. Jesus is the Word. We hear the Word and must decide what to do with it. There are several choices. There are some who hear the story of Jesus and cannot comprehend such a gift or fathom the depths of His Love so they deem it unbelievable and decide to choose this life. The enemy comes and takes the seed easily discarded. There are those who hear the Word of God and believe it…at first. Like the sign on the peaches boasting “tree-ripened fruit”, they are interested until reaching for it and finding it hard. Rather than taking it home and allowing it to ripen on the kitchen counter until it is just right, they pass by the opportunity to taste and see that it is good. We are encouraged to taste and see that God is good yet do not engage in the process because it takes too long or too much energy so we take a shortcut or substitution instead. We must let the Love of God given to us through Jesus Christ take root in our heart so when tests and trials come we overcome the temptation to abandon our effort and let go. There are those who hear the Word and believe it, yet they are too busy to take the time to really meditate on it and allow it to sink in and produce its potential. The Word blossoms and good things start to happen but the process is again abandoned for the good rather than waiting on the God Fruit that is coming. Our seed (the Word) must be sown in fertile broken hearts and given time to grow, develop and mature into the Fruit it is supposed to be. The seed will always produce its potential.

Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV) “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God’s Word always produces its potential. The promise will always come. He gives seed to the sower. Those who decide to cultivate God’s Word for themselves will find new promises every single day. The fruit produced in their life becomes enticing to others who will want to know how it happened, where it came from, and how you got it. The influence in our life increases when abundance becomes our experience. The seed always produces its potential in us. It prospers our soul which in turn spills over into our life. Others will want and desire what you have suddenly opportunities will arise to share the good fruit of God’s Spirit with others time and time again because success becomes our experience.

Colossians 1:9-12 (ESV)  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

For Mother’s Day, our church gave all the mom’s succulent plants. I have the orphans sitting in the window in the dining room. I have been honest in my admission that I have a history of plant killing. I am a homicidal horticulturist or at least I was… I have painstakingly cared for the handful of plants and they are beginning to grow and thrive. I am amazed at the miracle before me. I think sometimes we decide who we are and what we will be based on our past experiences and history. God promised to give us new life. He gave us His Word with the promise of an inheritance to those who begin by sowing it in their heart and mind. Those who decide to try it out and trust Him little by little with the broken pieces of our messed up life will begin to see subtle productivity that will one day become our success. His Word is our promise that cannot return to Him without absolute fulfillment. To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord is not a religious exercise but a daily experience of sowing His Word and sharing its productivity. We have been given the opportunity to bear fruit in every good work even a simple encounter with someone at the grocery store. Many sermons will be preached. Teachings shared. Insight given. It will spread seeds of God’s Word all around but it will be those who take the time to sow it, stay with it, wait for it and then share it that will see its good fruit.

Psalm 34:8 (ESV) Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

It’s a Setup

It's a Setup 2

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

The blessing of God in our life is a divine setup. God decided to impart every spiritual blessing to us before He created us. Not only that, God the Father also had already purposed to adopt us into His Family before the realization that sin had orphaned us ever came into play. God knew you and me and yet still had already made the decision to love us no matter what the cost. I don’t think that many Christians know and understand just how profound predestination is and what a great factor it plays in life. When God decided that He would make us holy and blameless, He already knew the cost and was willing to pay it. Jesus Christ was always part of God’s Magnificent and Perfect Plan for us because God knew about our sinful nature from the very beginning. You can have the perfect Will of God because our life is a divine setup.

The Perfection of God is not compromised by His Love for imperfect people but rather He has chosen to secure the debt so there is no penalty. He gives us His Grace instead. Therefore, no matter what a depraved wretch I was before I met Jesus Christ and invited Him into my life, I am still made holy and blameless by the Perfect Will of God that He already planned and paid for. Persistence, patience and perseverance are required by us because of our rebellious nature and raging flesh that must be dealt with and put to death on a regular basis. We must learn to let the Lord’s Grace and Mercy cover our imperfection and live in His Perfect Will. It was never possible for you and me to be perfect but rather step into His Righteousness and be perfected by Christ.

Shame and regret attempt to turn our head from the possibilities of God in our life to the past that once kept us from them. Doubt keeps our neck locked in a backward position when God’s Promises whisper “just turn around”. If we believed in the sufficiency of God’s Grace, it would lead us to conclude that He is always good. We are blessed not because of our personal abilities but completely in the fact that God is good and full of grace. He has a plan that will lead to fulfillment of purpose. He is worthy of my praise simply because His Grace is always enough. It is all because of Jesus so there is no performance pressure or assumption that I can or ever will be perfect – but can fully rest on His Plan, Purpose and Promises just the same.

Ephesians 1:7-10 (ESV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In Christ alone fulfillment is possible, outside of Him our attempts to have a fully satisfying life are impossible. Jesus fills the void that sin left behind. Habits can be changed. Discipline achieved. Schedules shifted. New life can be demonstrated in human behavior but it must begin in the heart to become the new person who can have fulfillment and prosperity in God’s Perfect Plan. We must accept His Grace by being covered in His Blood, its messy process. Yet God “lavishes” grace upon us in copious amounts knowing full well that our nature is otherwise corrupt and self-seeking.

Keeping our eye on the prize is beneficial. My daughter, who six months ago had her first child, sent me a picture of an extremely healthy woman who was in excellent shape. She claimed this to be her in a few months. She is dieting and exercising. It takes self-control not to indulge in all the good food that is permissible but not beneficial. She looks at the physique she would like to achieve and it inspires her to make better choices and do the workouts on the plan. It is our nature to desire immediate and even constant gratification but what if we could see past the process to the outcome. Looking at the prize certainly justifies the price. Why do we as believers expect God to just wipe away all the consequences of our past and pave a path to our future without the suffering born of transformation? There must be a death to achieve new life.

Ephesians 1:11-14 (ESV)  In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, I was taught that God had a perfect will but that sin kept us from it. In other words, each sin committed cost us something from God’s Plan. I am convinced now that is impossible. God prerecorded every single moment of our life before our creation. (Psalm 139) He must have considered every single detail including our sin and shortcomings – otherwise God would be considered delusional. He knew beforehand that every person created would sin. Therefore, His Grace is sufficient in the price fully considered and paid completely. It is by His Grace that I am saved through faith. Faith is the confidence and blessed assurance that I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in advance as an inheritance. It means that though I fell short – Jesus (precious Jesus) filled the gap and voids in my life that once kept me from God’s Perfect Will. Jesus is enough to secure righteousness for me.

Does this mean that sinning will not keep us from God’s Perfect Will? No. The only way to receive the fulfillment of God is to be united with Christ. What relationship will ever survive if taken for granted? If I am unfaithful to my husband, surely he would want to end our marriage…I know that I would. True love doesn’t seek after itself but perfect unity with its Beloved. Christ died because of my sin. He endured awful torture and horrendous pain to see me completely forgiven and fulfilled. To engage in willful sin and rebellious behavior would clearly show that I was only attempting to use Jesus for my own personal interests without any regard for the relationship of righteousness to be formed so there is no salvation without a personal commitment to Christ deeper than the surface.

Psalm 139:15-18 (ESV) My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

I have lived more than 50 years now. Long enough to see the Goodness of the Lord in the land of the living as prescribed in Psalm 27. I share this with you because it still blows me away when God works all the details of my life for my good and His Glory. The Lord was with me as I was intricately woven. Intricately woven does not imply a careless conception but rather careful creation with divine attention. He saw my substance. Not who I was but who I might become in Him. The Lord recorded every single day of my life before I ever lived it. God’s Thoughts concerning me are precious. He is always looking to perfect my way so I am living the best possible life because His Plan for me leads to full satisfaction and complete fulfillment. He is a Perfect God who loves the most imperfect people. He predestined you for a prospering life that begins in the innermost part of our soul and works its way out. Not because we are perfect, but simply because He is.

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Plenty

Plenty

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

The word “plenty” means a full or abundant supply. It is the open invitation when unexpected guests arrive at dinner time. Here in the South, the surprised host might say, “Please stay…there is plenty” knowing full well it will be a scramble in the kitchen. Somehow it always works out though. I wonder if the food in our pantry mysteriously doubles in the invitation to others. Could it be the meat in our freezer magically grows and expands to meet our hospitality? Who knows…but all I know is that there always seems to be more than enough.

God has promised us an abundant life. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The Word of God tells us that He has already supplied all that we need. There are many stories of plenty in the Bible. The key to plenty in the Kingdom of God is obedience. To give with the full expectation that God is enough and Christ in us is sufficient as our Source and Supplier. When Moses built the tabernacle in the wilderness, somehow the Children of God left Egypt with a rich supply for their pain and suffering. So much so that Moses had to tell them to stop giving. In the Book of Exodus, an opulent design is set forth for the Tabernacle’s construction and design including the wardrobe for the priesthood. Rich and luxurious lacking nothing completely extravagant. When the time came to build it, the people began bringing in the offerings. In Exodus 36, Moses commands the people to stop bringing gifts because “their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.” They fled Egypt with only what they could carry yet still make it out alive. They had enough. In fact, they had more than enough. How is it even possible?

What about the widow woman in 2 Kings 4? Her husband, a man of God, has passed away and the debt collectors are threatening to come take her sons. She seeks out the prophet, Elisha who inquires, “Tell me, what do you in the house? The woman replies, “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Oil often represents anointing. We are anointed. Christ, the Anointed One, resides inside of us. It is in her obedience to the prophet’s instructions that the flask of oil becomes barrels of oil. Watch this – the woman does as instructed. The oil stops when the vessels are full. She had enough to pay her debts AND to live on the leftovers. God is ready to pour out plenty in our lives. In fact, the Great Multiplier is already inside of you and me as believers. It is in obedience that plenty becomes the abundance that we are looking for and satisfaction is discovered.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. The secret to satisfaction is contentment. Not that God would ever prescribe us to settle for less than enough or living in lack but to learn to be content. This requires setting our full expectation on God the Father and depending on Christ in us for everything. Our needs, wants and desires are important to the Lord. His Spirit cultivates good fruit in us to feed our hungry soul the kinds of things that lead to satisfaction. As our soul prospers, our life will prosper in the expansion. God loves a cheerful giver. How much of your life are you willing to give to God’s Cultivation called prosperity? It begins in our heart. We must learn to trust in God’s Perfection and Planning. He makes everything beautiful in its time!

Matthew 14:15-21 (NLT) That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. “Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!

Church folks love fellowship! You cannot get into the local restaurants on a Sunday around one o’clock where we live in the Bible belt. Everyone is ready to eat and commune together in the local diners and buffets. The crowds came to see Jesus. To hear what He had to say, and now it was dinnertime. The disciples weren’t about to make a fast food run, but rather send the folks away. Jesus told them to feed them. Say what? The men had a borrowed lunch of five loaves of bread and two fish to feed thousands of people. Jesus took the meager meal and blessed it. He thanked God for it. Then He broke it into pieces and gave it away. In the end, everyone was full and there was more left over than what they started with.

Do you feel pressure today? Are you dissatisfied? Are you wondering why you do not have plenty but barely enough to survive? You want to give your life away but I dare say that until it is blessed and broken on the inside – there is nothing in our hands or homes worth giving. What is meager in your hand becomes mighty in God’s Hand! What seems mediocre in life becomes magnificent in the Kingdom! What seems impossible to you right now is miraculous when Jesus takes over! Maybe the pressure is your ordinary life about to give way to something extraordinary. All these stories seemed like not enough but became more than enough through obedience. Godly obedience will always include giving because that is how He supplies us.

2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NLT) 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.

Lord, I have all that I need today to live in the land of plenty and to experience the abundant, rich and satisfying life that you promised. It is here in the now. Bless it, God. Break it. Use it for your good and glory in my life and to those around me. In Jesus Name, AMEN!

 

Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Always. To all. Do not be. In every. The absolute terms used in this passage are often ignored. Is it really possible to always rejoice? Is it logical to be gentle to all? Can one truly live anxiety free and answer the directive, “Do not be anxious about anything”? In every situation is peace truly an achievable goal and aspiration? We have the customary response of “yes” but if it is not evident in our life is it truth we speak or simply the acceptable vernacular of Christianity. Though called a peculiar people, radical Christians are not supposed to be odd in a crazy kind of way but rather decisive in the Love of God firmly and completely established in Jesus Christ. In other words, authentic faith is radical and illogical thinking to the world, but we can be credible Christians living in the peace of God that “transcends all understanding.” Jesus Christ is the guard for our heart and mind in a world set on rebellion and an enemy bent on destruction. You have within you the power to overcome in every situation. It begins by dealing with doubt.

Doubt is the culprit. The carefully laid trap of the enemy to take the promises of God and make them seem illogical and impossible. The suggestion by him that God does not have the capacity to love unconditionally and forgive completely that leads us to believe that maybe the Gospel is too good to be true…for me. If for just a moment the enemy of the human soul can muster a tiny bit of uncertainty – it becomes a fast growing weed choking out the Truth being rooted and grounded by God’s Word cultivated by His Spirit. Our hope seems unstable in a stormy sea of stirred up emotions and overwrought feelings when God is unchanged. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are the ones who waver.

I John 4:17-18 (NIV) This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Let’s face it perfection is impossible for people. Perfect love is only possible in Jesus Christ. We must place our life in Him to experience a love so profound that it transforms our life from mediocrity to magnificence just because He is perfect. Love completed in us nullifies our doubts one by one quenching fear in the fire of passionate love. There is no fear in love. Therefore, the new creation of Christ makes way for a life of peace and calm. Each worry, care and anxious thought is the product of contention with God. It is a place that His Love has not overcome our doubt and disbelief. Peace is established in us by constantly reconciling every thought, feeling and emotion to the perfect love of God given to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. God does not punish us or it would suggest that His Grace is not enough. God is disciplining (or teaching) us to live a worry-free life of careless pursuit of His Kingdom.

Luke 12:22-26 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

The title of this section in my Bible bears the heading, “Do Not Worry”. Do not worry about your life. It goes on to detail the very things that consume our thoughts on a regular basis. Our perspective is influenced by society. The key to our success as believers is our full perception to be based on God’s Word. How is God’s Word going to feed me? Cloth me? Take care of me? It already does. Look around right now. Not at what you do not have but what God has already provided you. Media heavily influences our wants, needs and desires. We keep our eyes on our neighbors rather than on Jesus and His Kingdom. To covet what someone else has keeps us from living the rich and satisfying life promised by the Lord. We must learn to set our sights higher than eye level. Walking by faith is to see and adhere to principles of an unseen Kingdom that can change our existence on the earth.

Jesus asks a very pointed question, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Good point. What comes next is even better! “Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Worry robs us of precious time. It steals moments of joy from us. It wastes time better spent sowing faith and reaping promises. Doubt will use the same ground of heart that faith is supposed to grow from. We decide what is sown in our heart and given to its cultivation. I am not in control. You are not in control. Sometimes I have to remind myself that God has already ordered the steps of my life. He put eternity in my heart so I will never be satisfied with less than God’s Best. He gave me faith so that I can reach my full potential. I have already been provided with everything I need. Every spiritual blessing fully and firmly implanted in my life. Purpose is imbedded in me by God for a prosperous life. I have the keys to God’s Kingdom…I must simply learn to use them.

Luke 12:27-31 (NIV) “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

If you read Ecclesiastes 3, it makes some valid points in the logic of peace over worry. First, there is a time for everything. Second, there is a season for every activity under heaven. It goes on to list every detail of human existence. The process that comprises the little dash between our birthday and day of departure. Finally, it says, “(God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” It is not a promise problem but a perception problem. We must change our perspective to change our pursuit. According to God’s Word, our life is predestined and predisposed to eternity. We have a destiny. It is ordered. It is timely. We must simply seek the Kingdom and these things are given as well.

Luke 12:32-34 (NIV) “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Where is your treasure today? It is usually best determined by where you invest your life? Your time, talent and treasure are the deposits made into the earth and/or Kingdom. To give our all in earthly pursuits leaves the eternity in our heart unsatisfied. The world is subject to destruction. Fear is the natural accumulation when evaluating one’s existence according to the earth. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. Wars and rumors of wars. It is not a very hopeful place. You and I carry the Light of the world inside of us. We have the Kingdom in us and the ability to share it without worry, fear, stress or anxiety. We have been given our freedom to choose how to portion our life including our heart, mind and body. In order for our life to prosper – our soul must prosper first. Our soul prospers in the Kingdom. But as in any endeavor, we must give the time and energy in pursuing it to become our reality.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44) If you want the Kingdom, you must invest your life pursuing it. To have God’s Kingdom means to live in peaceful allegiance to Jesus Christ. There is no other way to the Father. Are you willing to give up your cares, worries and anxiety to have it? Will you forfeit fear? Will you bury every doubt in the Truth that it is Your Father’s Good Pleasure to give you His Kingdom? You must only give up this worthless, dead end life to have it!

God has placed eternity in our heart. We have the potential to prosper in this life by carefully placing all of it in the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to give you a rich and satisfying life. He did it. It is finished. To claim it is to change our perspective from earth to the Kingdom. To pursue the Kingdom relentlessly will allow perfect love to overcome fear by removing all doubt. We must believe that God is good. He loves us. He will always love us. He does not punish but prospers His Beloved. If only we would follow our heart and the eternity in it.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Every Blessing

Every Blessing

Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.

I am blessed. Truly blessed. I am blessed beyond that which I could have ever imagined. To think that there could possibly be more is incomprehensible if I assess my life from the beginning. All the times I messed up, fell short, wandered off or completely rebelled against God – yet somehow sitting at my desk, looking outside, hearing the birds singing, smelling coffee brewing in the air conditioned comfort of my home – I am definitely blessed. I am a sinner. I sin every day despite every effort not to. I serve God yet still get lazy or remiss in my duties. I read His Word every day yet still stumble over lies and half-truths. My imperfection puzzles me when it comes to the blessings of God that still overtake me. How about you?

How is it possible to be blessed in our imperfection? How can God take all the details of our life and make good of them? Falling short and failing often – how is it even possible that every spiritual blessing is still available to me? The beginning of blessing is perspective. Perception is everything to those who walk by faith and not by sight. We must see our life through spiritual eyes guided and led by the Holy Spirit to walk in the blessings and prosperity of God. To live a life of rejoicing in every small beginning and victory rather than focusing on what we do not finish or have not won…yet. If I can learn to comprehend God’s Blessing – where it is and how it works? I will be like a tree planted by streams of water that yields fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

God’s Blessing is not a product of my ability to live right but provided by His Righteousness. The Spirit of Adoption makes every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places mine simply because I am a Child of God. The only thing I do is to accept my position in the Kingdom through salvation and repentance. Repentance is not kneeling before God constantly confessing what a terrible, weak person I am. It is turning over my sin and weakness for grace and power. I can only be holy and blameless through Jesus Christ so I must surrender my life to Him. He is the One who causes the seeds already planted in me along with faith to grow into the blessings and promises already ordained for me as my inheritance. By the virtue of Jesus Christ, I am redeemed and granted every blessing hidden in me once buried under sin and shame.

Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (ESV)  “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

Do you get mad when instructions for some assembly required are included? No, you get mad when they do not include instructions so you must either figure it out or wait for one to be mailed to you. Do you get frustrated cooking because the recipe has twelve steps? Do you get irate when shortcuts produce a less than fantastic meal or dessert? When the map application on your phone carefully details a route to your destination? What do you do? Follow it. If you decide to head off in your own direction and miss your destination, are you shocked and dismayed. Of course, not. Instructions guide us to success if followed and adhered to closely. Most of the time, you will get the intended or expected results. So why in the world do believers forego God’s Commandments? Instructions? Guidance? It is called the Law because God is Sovereign. He is not a man. He does not lie. He does not change His Mind. His outcomes are consistent. “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord God will set you high above all the nations of the earth and all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you.” Obedience is a choice. Blessing is always the outcome of obedience.

Now the mind-blowing revelation of it all…where is the blessing of God? It is not in His Word. It is in you! Seriously. Every spiritual blessing is hidden inside of you right now. You came into this world prepackaged with every spiritual blessing that would give you a rich and satisfying life. You even came with the fertilizer called faith. God gave you everything to prosper from the beginning to the end. It is all inside you. The blessing of God comes in the form of fruit. Read it. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Fruit comes from a seed given the place and time to grow from a seed into its full potential. All your fruit is blessed. However, seeds must be sown to grown. Seeds must die to their present form to release the fullness called potential. All seed have a purpose. You are filled with seeds of spiritual blessing. You take it everywhere you go inside of you. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

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

Further in Ecclesiastes 3, it says, “a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what has been planted…” Seasons are important in our life. Every single season from birth to death have meaning in the acquisition of spiritual blessings. To prosper means engaging in each season and continue to sow and reap along the way. God has a time appropriated for every matter under heaven. It is all under His Careful Watch and Control. What is His Purpose for us? Sometimes in the midst of drought or famine – our fear and doubt begin to attack our growing and developing faith. God does not help those who help themselves. God helps those who trust Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (ESV) What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 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 gain of a worker from his soil is dependent on the worker. Busyness can become a distraction. We look without for what lies within us. God will bless the work of man’s hands. The principle of sowing and reaping is not only spiritual but natural. Seedtime and harvest puts food on everyone’s table. I can invest all my time and energy in the workplace and have nice things. I have sown into it so I will yield something from it. Faithfulness will always have a reward. God placed eternity in our heart to reach for something higher than basic living. He has given us a measure of faith to sow with each seed. He has filled us with spiritual blessing. It comes in the form of seeds that will produce good fruit. It must be sown. It must be cultivated. It must be remembered. Many seeds produce fruit but the harvest is given to others because we abandon the field. God makes everything beautiful in its time. He does not forsake His Seed. We are not created or destined to beg for bread.

3 John 2 (ESV) Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

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

Spiritual blessings come from a prospering soul. Our life will not prosper or go well until it is well with my soul.

Galatians 5:23-25 (ESV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 

The Fruit of God’s Spirit feeds our soul. It prospers us from the inside out. We must live by the Spirit first and every spiritual blessing will follow. It is not determined by a long list of rules and regulations but rather a covenant. God’s Love for me provided me with a blessed and prosperous life. Jesus Christ died to pay the debt that kept me from it. Grace provides access to those blessings in my life. When I apply faith to every facet of my life starting with my heart and soul, something miraculous happens. The Favor of God called fruitfulness is restored and ordinary becomes extraordinary as the Heavens are accessible again. The enemy is attacking you because of the seeds of blessing and prosperity inside of you. As faith grows and godly potential is released, you become unstoppable because of Christ flourishing inside of you. Nothing is impossible for those who believe.

Proverbs 28:19-20 (ESV) Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

God has filled us with every spiritual blessing. I am blessed. You are blessed. My “land” belongs to me. It is my life. I choose what to plant in each season which determines the yield of each harvest. The blessings of God within us cannot be accessed apart from Jesus Christ. He calls himself the vine. He connects us to the source of life so that by faith each seed in us can prosper and grow. If you are only after God’s Hand, you are considered a robber and thief. The Kingdom of God is accessed through His Heart. It is a covenant relationship between the Father and His Children. As our heart and mind aligns with God and His Word, the productivity of our life will turn into prosperity. Every blessing is inside of you. It is a seed. Will you sow it?

Proverbs 10:22 (ESV) The blessing of the Lord makes rich and he adds no sorrow with it.

For the Glory

For the Glory

I Chronicles 29:11-14 (NLT) Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! 

God is great. His Power is undisputable. His Sovereignty, though highly debated, is not contingent on the belief or allegiance of others. He is God. He is all powerful. He is glorious. The Lord is victorious. His Majesty uncompromised by any other force. Everything in the heavens and everything on the earth belong to God. His Kingdom has dominion and authority in every realm. Even in a world bent on rebellion and rejection – the rocks still rejoice and praise His Name. He is the ruler of all and reigns over everything. Let that sink in for a minute. Humanity is not used to having its own opinion. Personal freedom takes the form of pride gone awry. Our thoughts form beliefs false in nature creating a random chaos which governs our life that we think is freedom but really is a form of bondage. The Kingdom is our freedom. It is the place of promise and prosperity. The point of no return where the broken is made complete and the voids in us sufficiently filled with illogical love, inexplicable grace and inexpressible joy that once was only a notion in fairytales and made for TV movies. Everything belongs to us. He offers us the Kingdom. What is keeping us from engaging in such an amazing offer?

Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! 

If it is true that everything I have has come from God, what is left for me to give Him that is truly mine? Think about it. I have an office at work. In my office is a desk, chair, computer, office supplies, and a variety of other items provided for my use. If I run out of anything, I go to the supply closet. If what I need is not there, I let the office manager know and it is purchased. Everything I need to do my job is supplied. I have few personal items in the office. But even those were either gifts from other people or purchased with the money I received from working for my employer. What truly belongs to me is not of much worth to anyone. What I own was given to me via other sources. My boss is a provider in the workplace. If I take this to a next level perspective, everything I have has come from the Lord. He has given me life. He has given me freedom. He has provided for me naturally, physically, financially and spiritually – whether I acknowledge Him or not. This truth does not change for my own peace of mind. EVERYTHING I have in my life is from God. God placed me in my current position to provide for my family and me. He has given me a source of income to supply certain things and bless our home. It all points back to Him.

Matthew 4:8-11 (NLT) Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted by the enemy. The same temptations that our Savior faced are no different than the ones that we face each day. In our weakness, the enemy comes to offer a substitution or compromise that will abort the process God has currently placed us in to prosper our soul and then our life. The greatness, power, glory, victory and majesty of His Kingdom reserved for us belongs to God and is given to us by the Father. The enemy wants us to believe that it is ours for the taking, asking or earning. Not so. The enemy offered Jesus a place at his feet. The feet that lead to delays, detours, distractions, and destruction. Jesus dismissed the enemy on the spot. He said, “For the scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.”

What if the very thing keeping us from the Kingdom is our pride? God owns greatness, power, glory and victory. He sits in majesty with Jesus at His Right Hand making intercession for us. Could it be that we do it for the glory? To become one with Jesus and live in His Kingdom means giving up everything. The only thing that belongs to us is our life because when the Son set us free – we are declared free indeed by the Father. What if it is an issue of pride? We cannot lay down a life that is so weak and feeble as to confess that there is nothing great, powerful, glorious or victorious in us because then people might see past the beautiful façade of independence and confidence portrayed by a broken wretch like me.

Matthew 18:2-4 (NLT) Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

There is a principle of faith that must be childlike in nature. A child is not consumed with the worries and cares of life. They are convinced that their parents will care for them. They are comfortable dreamers and discoverers because they do not have to worry about putting food on the table, a roof over their head or clothes on their back. They just live in the goodness of their parents. Their kingdom is the home built by their caregivers. Yes, there are things like sowing and reaping. Faithful obedience that produces things in our life. Planting and harvesting are not faithful endeavors for what a man sows God has already said that he will reap. It is a principle. Faith is a partnership. It is to believe and fully entrust our life to the Lord including everything and withholding nothing from Him. To give Him every area of our life because it already belongs to Him.

Abraham had two sons. Ishmael born of a slave woman of his own doing as he helped the Lord fulfill His Word to the man. God’s Word came to pass and his wife, Sarah, became a mother well over the age of possibility by faith in God – Isaac was born. When the Lord required his son, Isaac, Abraham made the long journey to the mountain ready to give the Lord exactly what He required. Abraham, the father of faith and friend of God, withheld nothing from the Lord. However, how many people in the same position would have brought Ishmael to God instead? A substitute or compromise or less than their best. Most people do every single day – crying out for Kingdom lives but giving worldly offerings rather than radical obedience. The reminder from God’s Word today is that EVERYTHING belongs to Him. He gave you your life and everything in it for one reason – His Glory.

We get too big for our britches as they say in the south thinking that we are contributors to our life and successes when the truth is that everything in our life is a product of God’s Love, Kindness and Goodness. His Kingdom is a place that one can only enter in humility and inhabit by His Grace. God deserves the Glory all of it. If we are not willing to let Him rule and reign in our life than rebellion takes over because His Sovereignty is not compromised by doubt and disbelief. If you want the Kingdom, full allegiance must be to God through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life – it is through Him the Kingdom is accessed and inhabited by us.

Psalm 84:11 (NLT) For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Make the Investment

Make the Investment

Colossians 2:9-10 (NLT) For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Complete lacking nothing. Fulfillment. Abundance. Oneness. The purpose of Christ in us is to give us new life as Children of God. We make excuses for the “lack” in our life to accommodate the real problem. Those areas of life not meeting our expectation are not fully given to God in our covenant with Him. People live diversified lives. Christians are people. Rather than putting all our proverbial eggs in one basket, but choosing to invest time and energy in multiple endeavors. Kingdom potential requires a Kingdom commitment. Our covenant with Christ is made complete as we learn to live in union and communion with Him forming one body, mind and spirit. It is truly a spiritual marriage and relationship that requires all of our physical, emotional, and spiritual effort to form and maintain. It is not different in the natural realm. If I half-heartedly approach my marriage, I will not have one for long. I will not reap the benefits and blessings of living a lifetime with my soul mate if I choose to share my life, mind, soul and body with someone else. It is easy to commit spiritual adultery and it be socially acceptable to the world when in fact it limits our potential relationship with Christ.

I am in this world but not of this world. Where is my investment? Where is my interest? Am I really living a Kingdom life or just merely imitating a commitment that really has not been established on a covenant level? All in. That is the commitment demonstrated by Jesus Christ on the Cross when He died for us. He gave everything to have a forever relationship with us. To give us a new life. To hand over the keys to His Kingdom giving us full dominion in this life traveling to eternity.

Matthew 6:20 (NLT) Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

How important is unity with Jesus Christ in your life? On a personal level, how much time, talent and treasure are invested in pursuing the Lover of your soul on a daily basis? Do you treasure your relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you value His Words, His Way and His Work? Where is your treasure today? If everything was taken from you, would you still say, “It is well with my soul”? My prayer for you is that you never dip to that level of abasement like Job to lose it all just to find his soul. Usually, it is the harrowing edge of life and death that call our attention beyond the daily struggles and daydreaming to the reality that this life is short. It is futile. We are merely traveling through to eternity which is far more important in the grand scheme of things called life.

Jesus hinted to the level of investment required when He shared two short parables in Matthew 13. The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl give us insight to the level of commitment required to obtain the Kingdom and God’s Standard of Living. Once you discover the Kingdom, it must become your passionate pursuit to possess it such as the man who sold everything to own the field with hidden treasure or the merchant who found a pearl of great value and also sold everything to obtain it. Kingdom life will cost us every second of every day until our last breath is exhaled. It must be the thing that we desire the most. It must be our life’s mission to find it and own it.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

What are you settling for today? Trust is the union that produces Kingdom life for ordinary people. To have faith in Christ that supersedes what we see and decide to trust Him right there at His Word. Faith is not logical apart from the Word who is Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Unconditional Love and desire for us. To trust Him with our heart. Our broken and jaded wavering heart is to believe that no matter what happens God loves us and intends to welcome us into His Kingdom. The secret is simple. Seek His Will in all you do. He will show you the path to take. It means developing a relationship with the Lord that becomes a strong union so that He becomes a viable partner in our life. Someone we confide in. Converse with. Listen to. Take instruction and guidance from. Wait for. Believe in. Trust implicitly with our life.

I Thessalonians 5:14-22 (NLT)  Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

When Jesus died for you, He did not claim you a prize or reward. He has given you and me the freedom to choose how to live life. You are free to choose the Lord or reject Him. It is really that simple. It does not change who God is or the identity of His Son or the Presence of His Spirit – the decision belongs to you. It defines you. Kingdom living is not some intricate and detailed rules and regulations set forth by doctrine or theology of great churches. It is not that “old time” religion. The Kingdom is the community formed by the Body of Christ. In other words, there is a place for you in the Kingdom. You belong there. Your new life has benefits and blessings – intangible and tangible – that are waiting for you and can be claimed by no one but you. Our covenant with Christ has given us an inheritance whether claimed or forsaken it is still designated for you. The over complication of Kingdom principles have been set forth by the church to explain the lack of consummation. In other words, if there is no open heaven – it is not our fault.

Jesus Christ offers a place for us to abide in His Love and live in unity with Him. Like God, He doesn’t lie or change His Mind but simply waits for us to respond to His Love. Grace is always enough to open the doorway to your residence in the Kingdom of God. All you must do is walk in. Moving our life into the Kingdom works just like moving to a new city, home or location. The greater the baggage the longer the process. When our family recently moved, I spent months going through our old house getting rid of all the stuff accumulated over the years. Closets were cleaned. Items sold. Many things given away. When it came time to leave, it was all packed in a moving truck, trailers and several cars to be moved to the new house. Box by box. Piece by piece. Everything found a place in our new home or was discarded. We must do the same in our spiritual life. We are not homeless. There is a place in God’s Kingdom for each of us. An open invitation to come and live that life now. It is not just an eternal promise but daily offering to taste and see that the Lord is good.

The simple steps set forth in I Thessalonians show just how easy it is to begin to plant our life in the Kingdom of new beginnings. Daily choices to seek Jesus and live in communion with Him. These are the steps of completion that lead to success and prosperity that produce natural, physical and spiritual abundance. The giving of our life to Christ is a sacrifice of this life and common practices to live in partnership with Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less. I must decrease to allow Christ to increase in my life and spill forth as He promised. Evaluate your life. How do you spend your time? Living in the rat race or fighting the good fight of faith? Working 9 to 5 or pursuing the Lord 24/7. When we acknowledge Jesus in any area of our life, abundance and blessing will follow. When we give Him our problems, Jesus has the solution. Our pain is exchanged for healing. We are Kingdom people who have real estate unspoken for that will only be claimed by commitment to become one with Christ.

John 17:22-24 (NLT)  “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!”

Complete

Complete

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

Complete. Having all parts or elements. Lacking nothing. Whole. Entire. Full. Finished. Ended. Concluded. Having all the required characteristics, skills or the like. Consummate. Perfect in kind or quality. Thorough. Entire. Total. Undivided. Uncompromised. Unmodified. In Genesis 2, God, the Father, completed creation and then rested in its wholeness and perfection. Sin separated us from encountering God and embracing His Divine Impartation of perfection for us. Jesus Christ, His Son, came to the world and paid the price of sin in full on the Cross. When our Savior and Lord said, “It is finished” the restoration of mankind to God was complete including every description listed above. The salvation of God and impartation of His Grace to humanity is absolutely complete. Those who to accept the grace that has been given and enter into the righteous relationship offered have full and unrestricted access to the Father through the Son. Let that sink in for a few minutes…

The limitation on our life and lack that may be in it is not of God. It is a breach in our trust agreement with Him. How do I know this? Because it says so in the Word of God…our connection with Christ completes us. The Christ in us fills every void left by sin, shame, regret, bad choices, old habits and weakness. His Grace must be enough to complete us or it remains powerless at best. We have faith invested in us to become confident hope that is exercised by trusting Him more. The promise and plan of the Living God for your life is complete. It has all of the elements needed for success. You will lack nothing in His Presence. He makes broken things whole again. You have all the required characteristics, skills and the like as you are created in the image of God who is absolutely perfect in all of His Ways. His Will is to completely fill your life with every good thing that was ordered and ordained for you during conception as He was with you in your mother’s womb. You are not random. God made you intentionally complete and sin tried to destroy His Work. In Christ – His Work becomes a masterpiece.

I Corinthians 13:12-13 (NLT) 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. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

The value of our life is not determined by our current situation or circumstances. Success or failure in life doesn’t determine the ultimate worth of our life. You are priceless. An innocent man, not just any man but the Son of the Living God, died for you. The Living God who decided that you were worth dying for. I could not conceive this until I had children and now grandchildren. I would gladly give my life so that any one of them may live. It would be an easy exchange. I love them with my whole heart. God’s Love for us is exponentially more than a human heart or mind can comprehend. It is perfect.

God is completely in love with you and me. The righteous relationship is not in any way impacted by our past. Grace removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. Trust removes every hindrance from the perfect plan that God preordained for us and predestined us to have. We do not understand the completeness of God for if we did it would be the greatest pursuit of our life. Instead, we work harder and try to make better choices rather than fully relying on the completeness of God to fulfill His Purpose, Plan and Promises for us. We see things imperfectly. We are puzzled by the impossibilities rather than picturing the miracles to come. With partial perspective, comfort zones are carefully constructed because doubt produces fear and insecurities about God’s Perfection and His Intentions for us. God knows me completely and loves me just the same. God’s Love for us is complete and perfect. There is no way to earn or deserve it. God would not set us up for failure when He promised us a future.

Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT) God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

In order to experience the completeness of God in our life, one must make Christ the Lord of their life. To become one with Him is to engage in fulfillment and completeness offered to us by Jesus Christ. He will gladly fill every area offered in surrender and submission with Himself which becomes the sought after prosperity of man which is not found in the natural but only experienced by a prospering soul. It is our union with Christ that offers true abundance in this life and forever.

Ephesians 3:18-20 (NLT) And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

What if the problems you are facing and lack you are currently living in is not God withholding anything from you but rather you withholding something from Him? The Love of God offered through Christ offers us completion with fulfillment of life and power. It is accepted humbling through His Grace that works best in our weakness. What if the lack in our life is actually of our own doing? It absolutely is. Oh, please don’t be offended. This is not an accusation but a providential challenge. You work hard. Give generously. Live righteously. Try to be kind. However, if there is no submission and surrender in the form of trusting God in certain areas of life – there will be lack. We must know and believe that God’s Love for us is complete and unconditional. We must live by the truth that nothing can ever separate us from His Love thanks to Jesus. Christ must fill every area of our life to experience His Fulfillment and Completion. We are part of an abundant Kingdom. Our Father is the Living God. He is good. He loves us and withholds nothing from us. Are we ready to receive?

God is able to do and accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. How? His Mighty Power at work is within us. The Christ in us is pressing and prodding us to accept the abundant life that is promised. The barriers and obstacles within us must give way to totally trust and the absolute conviction that God will do exactly as He promised. He will complete our life. We will lack no good thing. We have every spiritual blessing. It is not a God thing. It is a “me” thing if I am not experience such an existence.

Lord, I acknowledge that you are my source of hope in all things. I ask you to fill me completely with joy and peace. I will trust you more today. I receive the overflowing confident hope that faith allows and your Spirit gives in Jesus Name. AMEN!

John 10:10 (NLT) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.