Not A Single Bloom

Not a Single Bloom

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 adopted a new family member a few months ago in the form of a Labrador retriever puppy. In the past, our family pets have included guinea pigs and Chihuahuas all under the ten pound weight limit and truly without much drive to anything other than eat and sleep. Scout is a massive black lab weighing in around 70 pounds at seven months old. At her size, it would be pretty difficult to make her do something she did not want to do. Thankfully she is a good puppy. She learns quickly. However, one thing we did not have to teach her is to retrieve. In fact, she loves to carry stuff and bring things to you. It is innate. Preprogrammed in her DNA as she was bred for hunting. The breed is considered a working class animal. She has a purpose and it comes out in her behavior naturally.

The fig tree grew from a tiny seed with great potential. All fruit-bearing trees come preprogrammed to reproduce fruit containing more seeds. When Jesus saw the fig tree, he was hungry. There should have been ripe tasty fruit hidden behind the foray of plentiful leaves. As the Lord got closer and inspected the tree, he found no fruit. Jesus cursed the tree and it dried up right then and there. It seems harsh to think Jesus would be a tree killer. To note in this passage, there were no blooms and no fruit on the tree. The potential of the tree was to bear fruit and it did not fulfill its purpose. There were two lessons to be learned that day – first the obvious example of faith inspired revelation and secondly the less obvious truth of the future of unfulfilled potential.

Matthew 21:20-22 (NLT) The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

The disciples were amazed. How did the Master speak causing the tree to wither in die just like that? It was a sight to see no doubt. I wonder if they were listening to what He said or mesmerized by what He did? This is vitally important in our walk with the Lord. We are called to walk by faith not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) However in that moment they could not take their eyes off the once alive now dead carcass of the tree once covered in leaves now reduced to firewood.

Jesus explained the power of confident faith. The kind of faith that doesn’t just prays but believes that prayer is a powerful resource in their life. Faith is empowered by our belief. If you do not believe that God will do exactly what He says, you will not have enough faith to see it come to pass. The disciples had witnessed signs, wonders and miracles yet still did not fully believe without doubting. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who EARNESTLY seek Him. You can pray for anything and if you have faith you WILL receive it. Jesus said it, but do we have enough faith to believe it. It only takes a seed of faith to produce such confidence. The seed that is planted deep within our heart and not forgotten but nurtured until it grows, develops and matures into confident hope. Hope that never leads to disappointment.  (Romans 5:5)

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Our puppy came with a purpose engrained in her being. She knows that it is her job to retrieve. In fact, she does it all the time without being send or issued a command. She walks around the house with dog toys. She carries sticks and limbs around outside. She demonstrates her potential every single day. It is up to me as her owner to cultivate her purpose by teaching her commands and obedience that will lead her to fulfillment in her potential.

The Lord has preprogrammed us with purpose. He has a plan handwritten for each one of us individually. (Psalm 139:16) You are not insignificant to the Body of Christ but incorporated in its full potential. (Colossians 3:15) The plans of God for His People are good always good. He has given us a future and hope in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) He has given us His Spirit to guide us, teach us and encourage us along the way. (John 14:26) We are full of potential and purpose! Our life is not meaningless and insignificant. The challenge is to believe it beyond what we can see. To accept that God has something bigger and strive for it even when faced with adversity. Faith is the catalyst and by believing the conduit to reaching fulfillment in Christ. But what about right now…what about today…what if there is no fruit…what if not a single bloom…what then?

Haggai 2:19 (NLT) 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.”

2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (NLT) For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

God has given us a promise. Each heart knows the promises of God spoken to them. I wonder if faith has been applied to that seed. We can condition our conversation to say all the right things producing leaves that cover the ugly side of unbelief. I can talk a good talk, but am I walking a faith walk. The fig tree had the potential to produce fruit. Planted in good soil by the side of the road, carefully watered and cared for by the Hand of God, it appeared to be a healthy tree. God doesn’t look on the outside but carefully examines the human heart. When the Lord came close to look for fruit, He found nothing. I wonder if sometimes we get caught up in the social spectrum of religion forsaking a faith-filled relationship with Jesus Christ. When the answer takes too long, the promise seems too impossible, or when the opinion of others override our confidence in Christ.

In Haggai, the Lord spoke through the prophet that He was about shake the heavens and earth once more. He promised that even in the shaking they had His Promise. I wonder if we needed the reminder today that even when nothing seems to be going right and even in the waiting that His Promise is yes and amen in Jesus Christ. The potential inside of us is not dictated by our surroundings or sufferings but rather prescribed by God beforehand so that He could do exceedingly abundantly more than we could think or ask. Do you believe that today? Your life has hidden potential released in a broken heart. Your heart is not broken by God for destruction but for full consummation of all that He has for you. Faith cannot reach a hard heart. Seeds must find fertile ground. All seeds take time to grow but the promise keeps the farmer waiting and tending the field.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT) Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1:2) This is one of my favorite verses. It is true revelation for the believer. May you prosper in all things and be in health…just as your soul prospers. God will not prosper our natural life until first we prosper in our spiritual life. The Fruit of God’s Spirit (who labels us Children of the Living God) are love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Faith in growing, developing and maturing in our life begins with these qualities. Confident hope will cultivate this kind of fruit long before the natural overflowing of abundance comes. The disciples were caught up in the awe of the moment. They couldn’t believe what their eyes had encountered. Jesus was trying to get through to their heart. Their lives as His Disciples would need a prospering soul to make it through the dark times ahead. To fulfill their purpose, they couldn’t abandon the Cross but had to follow Jesus to it.

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” How is your praise today? Can you rejoice right here and right now? Even though the fig trees have no blossoms…What is your response in such times? Jesus is the vine. We are the branches. The vinedresser will have to prune us from time to time to allow new life to come forth. Will His Praise still be on your lips in times of testing? God loves us too much to keep us from fulfillment. To give us our way when the Highway of Holiness becomes too steep. He just can’t put aside His Perfect Love to allow us to compromise for less than His Best. He is more than enough so when settling for less than enough is not in His Nature. Jesus may have cursed the fig tree that day, but He has not cursed you. He has given you and I every spiritual blessing. Now it is up to us to receive it for ourselves. You have potential – His Name is Jesus Christ. You have a purpose handwritten by God and gifted by grace. You have blessings, promises and fulfillment waiting for you. It is for now in the land of the living. Thank you Lord for the future and hope that I have in you. Teach me never to settle for leaves when fruit is my potential and purpose. Lord, help me to accept nothing less than the fulfillment you have predestined in my life! I will walk by faith. I will believe. I will not be moved.

Romans 15:1-5 (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. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

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Where’s My Blessing?

Wheres My Blessing

Ephesians 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

God has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. I am united with Christ. Where is it? Where is the “every spiritual blessing” that is clearly indicated in the Word of God? Why don’t I see it manifested in my everyday life? His Word says also that the Lord’s Goodness is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) Confidence plays a key role in accepting every spiritual blessing that is in the heavenly realms. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) The access point to reestablishing a relationship with God the Father. He is the only way to the Father who has our inheritance. An access point is only as relevant as our ability to enter it. To walk through it and move in the appropriate direction. In order to receive spiritual blessing, there must be a turnaround and movement in the appropriate pathway to have what is beyond this point. Many will open the doorway to heaven, but few will enter it.

The first step of the journey is faith and confidence is the momentum that keeps us going in the right direction. Believing is not enough if trust never produces movement toward that which is desired. Demons believe in God and His Son, Jesus. They tremble at the mention of His Name. If only God’s People might do the same, given a free will – obedience is the response to such revelation. Those who choose to obey will step into every spiritual blessing reserved for them in Heaven before stepping into eternity.

Numbers 20:9-12 (NLT) So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”

“Because you did not trust me enough…” I am convinced this is the limitation in our natural life. We do not trust God enough. Partial obedience demonstrates a lack of trust in God. God tells us to do something so controversial to what He has done in the past or that which has ever been done so we cut corners or compromise on His Word. To review, the people were complaining to Moses and Aaron (as usual) this time about their lack of water. They were thirsty. They approached the men with their complaints, whining, moaning and groaning so the two retreated to the tabernacle to seek God on the matter. The Lord gave Moses and Aaron explicit instructions to satisfy the people and demonstrate His Glory. Everything seems good so far…right? We pray to the Lord and He answers with careful instruction. The Spirit of God convicts us with nudging and urgings to trust the Lord and do what He says.

Moses went before the people just like the Lord said to do. But rather than raising His Voice which God told him to do, Moses struck the rock as he had done in the past. Ugh! Water came gushing out. Yay, God! Wait hold on! The people were satisfied. Everyone was happy. However, God was not pleased. Moses did not obey the Word of the Lord completely. He did what he had done before. He relied on his previous experience rather than stepping out in faith. He kept control and did what he was comfortable doing and God delivered to the people but Moses would pay a terrible price. The Lord told his servant, “You will not lead them into the land I am giving them.”

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

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) From glory to glory – God changes us to be more like Christ through radical faith, constant confidence and absolute obedience. The Glory in us is the Light of the World – Jesus Christ. As we submit our way to Him and yoke our life to Him – His Glory resonates through us and around us including the windows of Heaven opening and pouring out spiritual blessing. He will not do anything in our life without doing something in us first. I was made for the Glory of God. I was made to give glory to God through His Son, Jesus. My life should point to God’s Grace and Goodness and nothing I do. With this in mind, the error of Moses serves as revelation to us. We can reach heaven and still miss heaven on earth.

Moses did not enter the Promised Land for which he labored in leading the people. Why? He did not obey God fully. It did not exempt him from eternity but robbed him of success on the earth in this area. God made water flow from a rock in Exodus 17. When it came time to go before the people again, Moses reverted to experience rather than the new way God had instructed. Comfort over confidence – it happens all the time. The three C’s that threaten our confidence in God and ability to trust Him are comfort, convenience and control. God is going to move you out of your comfort to experience His Glory. Faith is often inconvenient. His Glory is beyond our control. You must decide that you will obey God to the very end and in every detail to have the fulfillment attached. The promise is accepted when faith and trust overcome fear and doubt.

“For I am about to do something new.” To walk by faith and not by sight means God’s Way is not always clearly visible or humanly logical. That’s why it requires faith. We are becoming a new creation. God is always doing new things. Miracles require the impossible. God gets the Glory completely when we lose all control. When there is nothing left to do but trust the Lord – His Light shines from our life. Obedience connects us to every spiritual blessing. Why? God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. His Word cannot return to Him void or without doing exactly as He said. It will not change course or redirect for you. Therefore God’s Mind is made up long before the trial or trouble comes our way. He already made a way. We just have to trust Him enough to do what He says completely.

Deuteronomy 28:1-8 (NLT) “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.  “The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!  “The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands… What if we made this the mandate of our life? God has given us this Book of Instructions like a cookbook of delicious recipes. Each one leads to spiritual blessing, increase, favor and abundance. We want the outcome but chose partial obedience. Picking and choosing those things that do not compromise our comfort, convenience and/or control but then wonder why we are not experiencing the success and prosperity promised. If you pick and choose to obey some of the steps in a recipe or substitute the ingredients you will alter the outcome. You may like what you get or maybe throw it in the garbage as inedible. The moment you decide to compromise is the same time when you decide for a differing result. A pilot must set the coordinates of the airplane with precision or risk reaching the destination. Obedience is not forced upon us, but a God-given choice every day. I don’t understand why one would pray for financial provision from God when they do not obey the Biblical mandate to tithe. That’s like going to a bank I do not have an account in and asking for my money. If you pick and choose obedience, you pick and choose your blessing right along with it.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Who doesn’t want the blessing of the Lord on their life? Who would shun God’s Favor? Everyone wants to prosper in their home, church and business? Those who are serious about basking in the Glory of God will seek Him wholeheartedly which includes obedience in all things. God has promised every spiritual blessing. He is our Provider. We have an ample supply of whatever we need and the means to do it for His Kingdom. Like the widow woman, we must act obediently first with finding what we have and then using it for the Glory of God. Her supply did not run out until her jars did. Our faith is the conduit of blessing in our life. To believe will lead to obedience. Obedience always releases the full blessing of God when it is wholehearted and uncompromised. So try something new today? Go to the Lord. Seek Him in His Word. Do exactly what it says. Spiritual blessing, prosperity and abundance will follow when we take Him at His Word.

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.

Tis the Season

Tis the Season

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…

There is a time for everything. Every season and every activity under the heavens has a predestined time. God made the Heavens and earth not random but completely ordered. In each season, there is blessing by design. Even those difficult times, there is good that will come for those who choose to believe that God is good and seek out the fruit of the season. I recently spent a long weekend with our daughter and her husband. They live in New England and soon will be moving back home. I am obviously elated. They are coming back with a precious souvenir – our first grandchild. Though a quick trip, we accomplished packing her entire townhouse, attending her first baby shower and last doctor’s appointment before moving. It is a new season. However, while I was away a young man who is our distant relative lost his life suddenly in a tragic motorcycle accident while a precious elderly gentleman in our church went home to be with Jesus as well. So many seasons all converging into one time and place.

Life seems to work out that way sometimes. Each season is multifaceted. There is laughter and tears all at the same time. Sometime we become so caught up in the changes that the significance of each season is missed. It is fall. Glorious fall. Living in Florida, the seasonal change is not as obvious as it is New England. Leaves do not always change into radiant color. Instead, hurricane season is upon us. Our hope is that the trees remain standing. Pumpkin spice latte is back at the local coffee shop. Pumpkins are everywhere. Maybe this year it is time to slow down a little and usher in the new season rather than letting it sneak up on me and pass me by. We usually buy a pumpkin but fall has not been fully embraced in a long time. Busyness takes over most of the time. Or maybe just trying to get by and do life. There is a time for everything and every season. Perhaps, the Lord is reminding me today to be conscious of the seasons for as they go by like fallen leaves they cannot be redeemed or put back on the tree.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 (NIV) He 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. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 

My daughter and I were going apple picking at some point in my visit. However, with all the preparations for their move, it just didn’t happen. After church, we visited the local market to grab some sandwiches and fresh fruit. We ordered our food at the deli and wandered around all the fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers in the market. There was a table of apples. All the varieties indigenous to the New England area, but they didn’t look like the ones in the grocery store down south. They were not the usual waxed and shiny kind processed and packed for distribution. These apples came straight from the tree. They had bumps and bruises on them. They were not perfect but fresh. Oh Lord, I pray that you keep me fresh in every season.

It is human natures especially of the religious kind to appear unaffected by the seasons of life. To put forth the air of perfection not possible even for those in Christ. Our appearance is not what matters but our heart. The place within us that must be broken to give way to the right kind of fruit. The seasons hold all kinds of change because without change our life will never produce anything of worth. The Word of God that is His Seed must find a fertile place to become the promise. We must accept His Way to have His Will. His Grace is power but cannot make His Power perfect in us until we get out of the way.

The seed of potential in our life called faith must be given a time and place to grow. Who cultivates faith outside of the impossible? No one really. When life is good, it is our nature to forget the One who gave us all this goodness in the first place. With age comes maturity or at least one might hope, the ability to wait when life is hard to see the good on the other side. The apples in the market are not pretty. They are not all shined up and made to look inviting. Yet, the aroma they give off makes the mouth-water and draws ones attention to them. My life must do the same thing to give glory to the one who promises no matter what to make all things beautiful in its time. A few years back when the kids felt God tug on their hearts to pursue the ministry opportunity in New Hampshire – my heart was broken. I couldn’t fathom life apart from them. Each visit I would cry for days after their departure. I love my kids. I want to do life with them. I finally had to relinquish my heartache to the Lord and trust that He would soothe my heart or fulfill the desire one day.

Could it be possible that in our attempt to escape difficult seasons that fruit is abandoned? I am quite sure this is the case. Once born, the death process begins day by day. Why plant if you have no intention of harvesting? There are seasons in life that are unavoidable yet God is in each one with the promise that there is good to be found there. There are tiny details marked impossible that He will work into His Promise by faith. Perhaps, rather than enduring the seasons, we might embrace the change. I intend to make fall come to life this year. Pumpkins will be on the porch. An “It’s Fall Y’all” sign will be purchased. I will buy at least one pumpkin-flavored drink or maybe a muffin. Colorful leaves will find a place in our home. I am determined to learn to embrace each season of life and find its worth beginning with this one.

Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV) Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

It is a new season. Life is full of change. With each new season comes more mercy and abounding grace for those who seek the One who created each season knowing the gifts, promises and blessings hidden within it. There is something in this season for you – Child of God. Look for it. Desire it. Walk through it by faith and not by sight. Stop and smell the pumpkins. You were made by God to prosper in every season of life – good or bad. Keep your eyes on Jesus and it is possible. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts not like ours so in those dark times when you feel like you are groping for just a little more faith – He will be the Light that makes the way clear. He will carry you through the seasons when you are too weak to stand. Rejoice because with every difficult season there is still good fruit to be had. Your Father will never let you down! Tis the season. Whatever it is. Pay attention. Rejoice in it. The Lord is with you! It will not fail to produce the kind of fruit that will satisfy and prosper your soul!

“It’s a new season. It’s a new day. A fresh anointing is flowing my way. It’s a season of power and prosperity. It’s a new season coming to me.” (New Season – Israel Houghton)

Those Who Prosper

Those Who Prosper

Psalm 25:12-14 (NKJV) Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity, and his descendants shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.

To dwell in prosperity and good fortune. To be successful. Who doesn’t want to live in such a condition? The Christian life is marked by prosperity. It is found in the teachings of God’s Word and discovered by those who choose it. Who is the man that “fears” the Lord? The Gift of God is eternal life. The Favor of God is prosperity. To prosper is often equated to success financially. Many people believe that money would make them secure. Money is a magnifier. It is a magnifying glass that allows freedom to reflect the inner most longings and desires of the human heart. The Prosperity that God delivers to His Children is different. It begins with a restored relationship that begins to prosper us from the inside out. It doesn’t change our outward condition or current situation but somehow changes us in an incredible and intangible way. Paul put it best when he wrote, “For I have learned in whatever state I am to be content…” (Philippians 4:11)

Genesis 26:12-14 (NKJV) Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants.”

“I can’t find my (insert something)!” The shouting begins across the house soon to be amplified by a frustrated teenager convinced that her sister took her beloved something and she wants it back. Most of the time, it is simply misplaced and no injustice has been performed. When the irate one comes to me, I begin to ask them of various places it could be. “Did you look here? Did you check there?” This only seems to incite them more until finally exasperated from trying to deal with an irrational human – I join the hunt searching for misplaced item until it is recovered.

“Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.” The Lord has ordered the steps of our life leading to soulful prosperity which does not mean that God is not going to prosper you externally but that His Primary Motivation and Intention is for you to become one with Him. Therefore, until our soul is in a prosperous state, it would be contraindicated to give us everything under the sun or who would seek the Son. My children come yelling and screaming for what they are missing because they know that if they do – I will find it to keep the peace. I am only human. There comes a point to maintain my relationship with the girls that I must relent and end the strife. I am not God. God will not bend in His Way to relieve our discomfort, restore convenience or in any way, shape or form give us control. We are free. Free to choose the life we live. God calls us blessed. We are favored and have everything needed to prosper. I wonder if like my own children, too many times we don’t want to look for it, work towards it, or be committed to the process because it is uncomfortable, inconvenient and beyond our control?

Isaac prospered. There are lessons to be learned in Genesis 26. There was a famine in the land. God told him not to return to Egypt. Why not? The metropolitan city would have resources. Government assistance to get by during this awful time. The Lord told him to “dwell in this land and I will be with you and bless you. So Isaac stayed put. Isaac was not perfect but perfectly human and even though the Lord was with him sinned. God blessed Isaac in spite of it. I think people struggle with their imperfection more than our heavenly Father does. The fact that despite our best effort – obedience, commitment and avoiding sin are daily if not momentary struggles. Continuing to read Genesis 26 – there is jealousy, opposition, adversity and dysfunctional family issues to round out the fun in this account of prosperity. That’s right. Isaac lived a prosperous life. His life was not perfect. The Lord was perfecting Isaac in the process.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NKJV) In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, so that man can find out nothing that will come after him.

There is a farmer who spends days preparing a field for planting. When the time is right, he purchases seeds to fill the straight rows that he has created. Smooth, fertile soil awaits the seed as he has tirelessly removed all the rocks and weeds that might threaten their growth or choke out the potential harvest. He spends all day until his task is complete. The Lord blesses the farmer and a gentle rain follows watering the ground and cooling his sweaty brow. After a good night sleep, the farmer goes to inspect the field the next morning. When he does not find a signal sprout, he sets fire to the field, packs up his family and moves on. Farming is not for him. He decides to try something new. This story sounds ridiculous. What person in their right mind would think a seed would turn into a sprout overnight? There is no more joy than when prosperity comes and harvests are ready. But in the meantime…what do you do? What is your behavior before the harvest? Do you wait or wander? Do you decide this isn’t for me and walk away leaving your harvest for another? Jesus is the Lord of the Harvest. The Word of God is direct – you will reap what you sow. How many fields have been left for others?

God’s Perspective of prosperity is not what the world considers it to be. The definition of prosperity is a successful, flourishing and thriving condition. Man usually equates these three things with monetary endeavors and financial success. God defines it as a soulful condition that overflows into our natural life. Prosperity, success, flourishing condition and thriving state are the characteristics of a godly life.

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

Our natural life prospers when our spiritual life does. As our soul prospers, our perspective of life, love and happiness change as well. No longer driven by the things of this world, we become Kingdom Kids reliant on our Father in Heaven and His Resources to bring satisfaction, fulfillment and contentment in our life. As “things” gain their proper placement, our life aligns with God’s Ordained Steps for us. This is not an action that opens God’s Hand but rather we decide to seek His Kingdom and find what it has for us. His Provision, Blessing and Favor already belong to us as believers. We must have to believe enough to seek Him.

Psalm 1:3 (NKJV) He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.

Has you grown tired of waiting on God? Perhaps, you have tried everything and nothing good ever seems to happen? Maybe you don’t believe God’s Goodness and Prosperity are for you at all? God forbid you are thinking – this is how it’s been and will always be. God is planting you today to be a tree not a weed. A mighty oak of righteousness able to sustain high force winds and raging storms. A place of refuge for those in need. Your resources flow deep beneath the view of others. You are watered by His Word. Your heart nourished by the Bread of Life. You have everything you need to prosper in every season. Do you believe? To God be the Glory on the good days. To God be the Glory on the not-so-good ones. To say, “It is well with my soul” with complete confidence that it really is will offer the peace that passes understanding. There will be days of opposition and adversity in your trek from here to eternity. Do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. You are a tree planted by the rivers of living water. You will bring forth fruit in every season if you do not leave the field. Your leaf does not wither but thrives and flourishes in the Son. Whatever you do WILL absolutely prosper when it flows through your heart into your life. You must be willing to wait on the Lord. Trust Him. Depend on Him. Agree with His Word. That’s really all there is to do. Obey the Lord and you will prosper from the inside out.

Deuteronomy 29:9 (NKJV) Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.

Live Chosen

Live Chosen

Matthew 22:14 (NLT) “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

I am chosen. God chose to give the life of His Son for me. Jesus chose to die for me. I am called to the Light of His Love. Do I live the life of the chosen? I am soul searching today. To move from mediocrity that seems to find its way into my heart. To remove all settlements and substitutions for lesser things and assume my position as chosen child of the living God. It is contrary to our nature. Fear, doubt, and insecurity threaten such a position. Delays turn into disappointment eroding our hope as a lack of confidence eats away at our faith. Who I am is not determined by how I feel at any given moment on any given day? My call is secure. I am chosen. It is up to me whether or not I choose to live as the chosen…

I am chosen by God to receive His Grace and Favor. (Period) This is difficult to understand and even harder to believe in a society with no grace or favor. Grace is received according to weakness. Ain’t nobody got time for that…for surely any sign of weakness will result in becoming fully consumed by that which is pursuing you. Exactly. No this is completely true. If only Children of the Living God could see what is pursuing us and chasing us down…maybe then we would give in more quickly and learn to submit to the overwhelming love of a perfect God rather than giving our life away for lesser things.

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6) God’s Favor, His Goodness and Unfailing Love, pursue us all the days of our life. His Plan is for us to live in the House of the Lord forever. It begins now. Answering the call of whosoever will come. Rather than running and rebelling from the new way of life offered, giving up our way to fully embrace God’s Way of Living. I believe if people could somehow comprehend the Love of God for them and the limitlessness of His Grace than it would be much easier to surrender and submit our life as chosen people forsaking the life of the casual Christian.

I Peter 2:9-10 (NLT) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

When I was a kid, I was not athletic at all. I was not raised in extracurricular activities. My brother and I were just trying to survive in those early years. I remember coaches lining all the kids up in P.E class for the daunting task of picking teams. I loved being the captain of a team. It meant not having to wait for your fate to be decided. You were automatically on a team. I would always pick the kids no one wanted first because I felt the sting of being the last one picked most of the time. I wanted them to feel “chosen” rather than settled for. There was nothing worse than being one of the final two or three. Watching the face of the team captain trying to pick between clearly unwanted players. A simple game of kickball would leave some feeling worthless and undesirable.

“But you are not like that…for you are chosen people.” I am in my fifties now and can still remember feeling rejected, unwanted, and undesirable. The need for affirmation is part of the human design. By the time we reach adulthood, it becomes clearly evident who has received unconditional love and acceptance and who has not. It is hard enough to walk by faith and not by sight. I believe it is even harder to accept unconditional love and grace that cannot be earned. It implies that it may not be real or can somehow be taken away. You are chosen by God. He handpicked you and desires you. Nothing you have done, can do or will do has any impact on the Father’s Love for you. It is truly unconditional and limitless. He challenges us daily to step out of the life of ordinary to embrace the extraordinary. He calls us from the natural to live supernaturally. He is offering more than enough even though we exist on just enough. His Favor is for us even when the whole world is against us. Faith and hope are the security of the elect in God. We must live as chosen people rather than ordinary people.

“As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

To live as God’s Chosen People will never be an act of religion or rightness – it is only possible because of God’s Righteousness and the Gift of Grace offered by His Son Jesus. Jesus was the Chosen One. He demonstrates the life of the chosen. Laying His Life down for others. (Matthew 12:18-21) Jesus didn’t go around boasting about who He was, demanding people do what He say and live like He did. Jesus shared the Father’s Love and Compassion. He not only taught the people but healed them. Jesus could have demanded full submission to His Authority but instead He offered His Love. Over and over again, even when people let Him down, betrayed Him, denied Him, and mocked Him on the Cross. His Grace continued to flow from Him. When He died, Jesus released His Spirit to live in us. To be our confidence that His Grace is enough. To be the cultivator of faith so it can grow, develop and mature into hope. To establish a relationship between God the Father and all of His Chosen Ones.

Ephesians 1:3-4 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

God made you with a purpose. He calls you chosen. Do you live as a chosen one? To be His Special Treasure. He created you with a purpose and plan that comes with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) You must only seek Him wholeheartedly to find it. To believe that He hand wrote a comprehensive plan for your life before you were born seems impossible given some of your life experiences. (Psalm 139:16) But God didn’t stop there, He promised to work every detail of our life for our good and His Glory so when we mess up or fall short – nothing is lost or wasted. (Romans 8:28) He calls us from the womb and equips us from birth with destiny and purpose. Why? Why me? Why you? Simply because He loves us. (Deuteronomy 7:5-7) The Lord calls us His Special Treasure.

Psalm 106:5 (NLT) Let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones. Let me rejoice in the joy of your people; let me praise you with those who are your heritage.

“So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” (Matthew 20:16 NKJV) I am called by God to become a new creation in Jesus Christ. He has a plan for my life that will lead to prosperity. To have this new life and become this new person means living as God’s Chosen People. To humble my life to His Love and Grace accepting the Lord’s Favor in my life. My value and worth as a person is made complete in Jesus Christ. I must believe it to receive it. I must believe that I am chosen. I must choose His Word and Way over my own in order to reach my destination and fulfill my destiny. I wonder today how many of you feel bound by rejection and live in walls of insecurity built to protect your fragmented heart that is battered and bruised by human love? Life is hard. People are not perfect. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. Yet God is still whispering the names of His Chosen Ones inviting them to a closer, deeper and more intimate relationship with Him. Will you answer His Call? Will you accept His Love and Grace fully so His Goodness and Favor will overtake you? The life of the chosen is not for everyone. Many church folks will forgo surrendering their life to live life securely in manmade religion rather than abandoning themselves to full submission and complete surrender to Christ. I choose to live the life of God’s Chosen. To fully accept His Love, Grace and Mercy for me. He is calling your name today. How will you respond chosen one of God? What if God hasn’t picked me? What if I am wrong? Oh friend, but what if you are right and He has called you chosen?

 

 

Proper Portion

portion control 2

Psalm 16:5 (NIV) Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.

Over the years, I have tried many dieting methods to control the fluctuation of unwanted pounds and inches. Radical dieting may offer dramatic effects but in the end the weight sneaks back on when giving in to temptation. I have found portion control to be the most effective way to lose the weight and keep it off although it requires a little thing called self-control. Eating is a social past time. It is an emotional fix. It can be a whole lot of things in our life. Some use it to fill voids or satisfy impulsive drives even addictions. Currently on vacation, I will be the first to admit that I am not making the best food choices. The fried fish sandwich and crispy fries last night were awesome. The ice cream on the couch watching football was pretty good, too. Once back to the reality of life, I must muster the self-control and mindset to resume healthy eating and making better choices.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup…

Today, as I read Psalm 16, I am reminded that I have the power to control the portions of my life. The Lord is good! His new mercy is provided each morning to fill the voids left by self and even poor choices from the day before. His Love is unconditional. His Love is never ending. It is perfectly reflective of the kind of love described in I Corinthians 13. I have a cup called my life. It is filled with many things both productive and unproductive. I have been given His Spirit to grow and nurture the Fruit of God’s Spirit that will satisfy my soul and fulfill my purpose. I make the choice each day of what fills my cup to overflowing. Will the Lord be my portion today? Will I allow His Love to be the very thing I desire above all things? Will I seek His Face before people? Will I pursue His Way avoiding all other distractions and detours? What do I desire today?

Psalm 73:25-26 (NIV) Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

My flesh and my heart WILL fail. It is historic. Each new day though I try to do the right thing, make good choices, and do exactly what the Lord tells me to do. I manage to make mistakes and fall short of His Glorious Standard of life every single day. I don’t always do what I am called to do. I don’t always love as I am called to love. I do not forgive as quickly as instructed. I do not always reflect the love and grace that I am given. Yet each new morning, as surely as the sun rises in the east, the Father offers me new mercy and the Son gives me more grace.

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. This promise is not dependent on me but solely characteristic of the Lord. When my pride tells me “what’s the point”, my soul reminds me that this is the promise. For every boundary removed and broken ground in this hard heart, there is a portion to be poured out for me. My inheritance is secure even when I live in insecurity or fear. God is the One who secures the inheritance of my life or I would have given it away long ago for lesser things. If you are struggling today in any area of your life, let me be the first to remind you that God holds your future securely in His Hand. No one can take it from you. Nothing you can do can remove you from Him. His Love is for you not against you. He must be the portion you choose to have it.

Psalm 119:57-58 (NIV) You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words. I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.

Life is all about balance. I believe that completely. When it comes to the Lord, I believe He is the one thing that must be sought after with all our heart, mind, body and soul. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. If you are a believer, and you suffer from dissatisfaction or a lack of contentment, it is up to you to find the area of your life not surrendered. If I eat ten chocolate chip cookies before dinner, I will not eat the things that are good for me like meat, vegetables or fruit because I am full of junk food. What is filling the place where the Lord can be your portion today? It is human nature to fill its own void with natural things. God has a supernatural satisfaction for us. He will be our portion. We must provide a place to be filled. His Word is the answer to our problems, but no one reads it anymore. His Presence is a place of refuge, but no one has time to seek Him. His Grace is our power in weakness, but not one is willing to give in. Without a desire for God – there is no hunger and thirst. If we do not hunger and thirst for the Lord, we will not make Him our portion. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” speaks volumes. Are you hungry for the Bread of Life or living just fine on the crumbs beneath His Table? Are you thirsty for living water or getting by on the runoff of religion? God sent His Son to satisfy our soul with righteousness and a relationship that will complete us and lead us to forever.

Lamentations 3:22-25 (NIV) Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Are you satisfied today? Are you filling certain voids with lesser things? The Lord is not offering a life of just enough but more than enough to those who choose Him as their portion. It is not a matter of “if” He will but faith that He will that causes us to stop settling for lesser things. He is our proper portion. It is our inheritance that no one can take from His Children for it is based on our heritage not our history. As I consider my heart and the contents thereof I am challenged to offer more of it to the Lord for His Ample Fulfillment. It begins by saying, “The Lord is my potion; therefore I will wait for Him.” The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy trying to take what belongs to us with subtle lies, substitutions and settlements that no Child of God must take. They often buffer our pride with feelings of comfort, convenience and control that faith does not allow. They rob us of our complete and full satisfaction offered by the Lord because our flesh fails and the human heart is fickle. Let the Lord fill you up today. Let Him by your portion for just a single day. He is ready to respond to the outpoured heart with confidence found only in perfect love. Wait for the Lord with that thing you desire most…He will come. My doing does not fulfill my purpose, it is found in my complete undoing before the Lord. Lord, empty every lesser thing from my life today to make more room for You!

Psalm 142:5 (NIV) I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

Every Morning

Every Morning

Psalm 143:8 (NIV) Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go for to you I entrust my life.

The sun rising on the beach is more glorious than any other place. The unobstructed view of light on the water resonating through the window beckons a closer look. Hovering just over the water, I am overwhelmed at the size and beauty of the sun. The light is too much to look into so I cover my eyes yet strain to see it. Before our trip is over, I think I will venture out just before dawn to see it even closer than the ocean view from the patio. Morning is full of expectation for those who believe in the Lord. Those who decide to seek Him find new mercies full of expectation and promise because of His Great Compassion for us. The new day is a new beginning. Grace covered yesterday’s faults and failures and now this new gift is received and opened with new hope. To trust Him brings me the Word that He loves me. God is for me. He is with me…right here and right now.

Isaiah 60:1-2 (NIV) “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.

God’s Glory, the Light of His Amazing Love, shines all around us. It is in the magnificence of Creation often overshadowed by the darkness, sin and lack of love in this world. People wandering and groping enshrouded in the hopelessness of a decaying and depraved society. Hopelessly devastated by hurt, betrayal, disappointment and sadness. Each morning the sun rises over the just and unjust. God pours out rain on both as well. Possibility and potential locked in each beating heart waiting for release. God didn’t stop with glory all around us.

John 8:12 (NIV) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus didn’t come to offer an escape but an experience. An encounter with Jesus Christ and the Light of His Love fills us to overflowing. It illuminates the lie of the enemy with the Truth of salvation and redemption. An offer almost too good to be true must be fully digested to nourish our soul. It is hard to comprehend the shape and size of the sun from our perspective on the earth. To look fully into its light is blinding. To fully understand the heat of it is impossible as it would consume our flesh. To estimate the size from the earth is impossible. None of this changes anything about the sun.

Jesus is the Light of God’s Love sent to illuminate the darkness of the world. To show men and women even children the glorious light available to those who believe He is the Son of God. His Love and Grace so pure it is inconceivable. Jesus is the Light. He is the Son. Those who seek Him will find Him as surely as the morning sun rises in the east. The Love of God, His Son, and His Glory is for this life. To be experienced and encountered in each new morning, day and moment for those who choose the Light. The Love of God complete with His Glory is for this life.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV) I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

This morning I woke up in a condo on the Atlantic Ocean, others witnessed the same sun rising in shelters in Houston, Texas surrounded by floodwaters. Life is hard. Bad things happen. People question the Presence of God in the midst of tragedy. When I was in the darkest days of my life at the bedside of our son fighting cancer, I had to search my soul for Light. Serious conversations with the Lord regarding all the things in my life that did not add up to His Word or resemble His Promises. Jesus asked Martha some of the same questions that I struggled with in those moments.

John 11:21-26 (NIV) “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha’s brother, Lazarus, had died. Jesus did not make it in time or according to her plan. She told the Lord, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Hopeless situations cease to exist in the Presence of Jesus Christ. The eternal quality of His Divine Character is incomprehensible to human understanding. All Martha knew is that Jesus was too late…her brother was dead. Her faith and belief in Jesus Christ was for the afterlife not this life. “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Jesus is the Light of the world. He didn’t come to lead us to eternity but live in us forever. The power and authority that He has given us is for here and now. It is for the land of the living. Do you believe? Believing doesn’t mean the darkness goes away and nothing bad ever happens. It means that no matter what happens, as a Child of God, I can wait confidently for the Son and all His Glory to shine in my life. Morning comes each day with new mercy and new opportunities to believe. I have been given enough grace to overcome my weakness and move closer to the Light. The Lord has come to the land of the living to remain in us through the passage of life.  The Lord is our portion in the land of the living. (Psalm 142:5) We must learn to look for Him here. Wait for Him in this place. Expect Him to rise up in our life like the morning sun on the beach each new day.

Psalm 116:5-9 (NIV) The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

The Son greeted you this morning whether the sun was evident where you woke up or not. His Mercies fresh and new just for you due to His Unfailing Love and Compassion for you. His Greatest Desire is to get your attention so you will accept His Love and walk in His Glory. Resurrection life and power are for the land of the living. This life. These days. Each moment. The sun rises on the just and unjust and the rains falls on us all. We decide if we will seek the Lord. To discover His Graciousness and Righteousness that leads to full satisfaction. To know His Endless Compassion. To live in His Protection and let Him be our portion. The Lord has delivered us from death but we do not wait for a new life. It begins today. With each new morning, as the sun rises so does the Son in all His Glory ready to shine on us!

Psalm 63:1-5 (NKJV) O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your Power and Your Glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

 

Life’s Greatest Liability

Life's Greatest Liability

Luke 6:36-38 (NKJV) Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

The greatest liability in the life of a believer is unforgiveness. To restrict the mercy, compassion, love and grace given to us is the source of limitation and lack that often goes unnoticed creating frustration and unmet expectation. It binds and restricts the one who holds it tightly. Joyce Meyer said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die.” T.D Jakes tells it like this – “unforgiveness denies the victim the possibility of parole and leaves them stuck in the prison of what was, incarcerating them in their trauma and relinquishing the change to escape beyond the pain.” And finally “forgiving someone may cost you your pride but not forgiving them will coast you your freedom.”

Mercy is not only characteristic of God the Father, but the overflow of His Existence. (Deuteronomy 7:9) His Mercy endures forever. (Psalm 106:1) It is freely given to us each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) The Lord is our portion. The One in whom our hope is secure. Mercy is defined as compassion and kind forbearance shown toward an offender. Sin is offensive to God. Pride resides in the human heart producing rebellion against God when given the opportunity. Unforgiveness is one of its most effective traits. The decision to harbor unforgiveness in our heart is to sow seeds of bitterness that will take root and choke out the relationship being restored in us producing new life, new love and new creations. How many times has Luke 6:36-38 been attributed to lesser things? Prosperity of our soul begins with the forgiveness of God given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. It continues to grow and develop in us when we choose to extend the same grace, love and mercy to others.

Matthew 6:14-15 (NKJV) “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus emphasizes the importance of a right relationship with God. He does not stop there but also right relationships with people. Building and maintaining right relationships is the development and advancement of God’s Kingdom and strengthens the Body of Christ. To know God is the highest pursuit of righteousness. To be in an ongoing and thriving relationship with God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of forbearance or forgiveness in us which is evidence of our relationship with the Triune God. Understanding the importance of forgiveness to vitality in Christ is essential in our spiritual growth and development which is soul prosperity. The Lord even put in the model of daily prayer. (Matthew 6:11-13) We must live in a constant state of mercy and forgiveness to maintain a constant connection to God and His Kingdom.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Jesus did not give some mathematical formula but instead “seventy times seven” is used to imply limitless forgiveness. Unforgiveness is a liability and misuse of the binding power and authority given to us by Christ. It is forgetfulness on our part of God’s Grace towards us or to somehow imply ourselves more deserving than another. It restricts and binds. It is dangerous to our body, mind and spirit working like a cancer eating away at us. It is mishandling Kingdom power. It limits our prayer life. (Mark 11:25-26) It is sin retention in our life. (John 20:22-23) Unforgiveness is a liability to the believer creating limitation and lack while restricting the abundance that God has for those who live in a right relationship with Him. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He is intimately aware of our sin as it is the very thing that nailed His Precious Son to the Cross. God’s expectation of His People is love and forgiveness as described in I Corinthians 13. Love never fails. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.”

Psalm 52:8-9 (NKJV) But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. I will praise You forever, because You have done it; And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good.

We have been given the love, grace and mercy of God. It is released in all fullness to the believer as seed to do with it what we choose. Freedom is established in the Son, the Word of God. The very first benefit given to us that makes way for every other blessing. (Psalm 103) To overstep forgiveness is to restrict abundance in our life. All blessings are contingent on the Grace of God that allows His Goodness to be poured out on the unworthy and imperfect chosen by adoption. When we decide to not forgive another person for their offense, it is to refuse God’s Blessings in our life and choose our own portion. Pride chooses its own way bypassing righteousness found in the Grace of God by way of humility. Is there lack in your life? Are you limited? Does your prayer life seem stagnant? Do you lack love, joy or peace? Search your heart with me today. Look for any seed of unforgiveness or bitterness. God’s Grace will cover it as you rip it out by the root. Freedom is poured out the moment we choose to forgive. It may not mean a mended relationship but it will restore righteousness when heartfelt and sincere. Do not let it be a liability but let grace and mercy by an asset as you thrive in the Presence of God today.

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the excusable in you.” C.S. Lewis

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

 

 

To Be Immovable

To Be Immovable

I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV) Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

The world is full of distractions. Detours are at just about every turn. Delays drain our patience. Doubt fills the void. Discouragement overshadows confidence. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. The current is swift and is always moving. Yet believers are called to be steadfast and immoveable. Feelings and emotions get the best of us sometimes and pride tells us there is no turning back. How does one become immovable? Is it possible that within our humanness there is enough character to become fully confident and totally trusting of a God who cannot be seen? To walk by faith and not by sight. It is our calling. It is the purpose of all who follow Christ. To find the diligence in discipleship that allows us to submit our life fully and completely until established in our faith and moved by nothing but the Lord. I desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, therefore; I must find such a place.

Leaving a party, I was following my husband through the winding roads of an unfamiliar place. A warning light came on indicating the tailgate of my vehicle was not fully closed. I pulled over to secure it and realized that he had continued on his way. He did not see that I had fallen behind. I took out my phone and used the app for directions. It took it a little while for it to load my location due to poor service. I waited. Once it completed the operation, it rerouted my route so I had to turn around. Finally, I was on my way again. I have lived long enough and been lost more than once so I know that the last thing I needed to do was keep driving looking trying to find my way. I had everything I needed to make it to my destination. I have confidence in the little tracking device as it has taken me many places. The hardest part is the waiting. Waiting will always be a part of our process. It is the part where trust is testing and confidence established.

Faith enables us to believe and receive. Trust is the vehicle of faith that takes us to our destination marked abundance. Human logic immediately translates the Favor of God in financial or monetary aspects. Truly the abundance of the heart and soul are love, joy and peace found only in a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. As our soul prospers so will our natural life. Proper order and priority is the key to prosperity. By faith, believers walk in God’s Fullness beginning with the Fruit of His Spirit. Love, joy and peace are only the beginning of all God has for us. He continues with “forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are the key ingredients of a steadfast and immovable life in Christ. Each one nourishing a part of our mind, soul and body otherwise left to the deterioration of sin and ignorance. That’s right…ignorance. God clearly defines ignorance as a killer. (Hosea 4:6) To serve the Lord properly is to know His Word and apply it to our life effectively.

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Confidence in God’s Word, His Power, His Authority and His Goodness will promote faithfulness. It must become a priority in our life that overcomes pride, selfishness and even busyness. To serve the Lord with persistence and diligence even when the way is unclear, uncertain, or even impossible. How do we remain unwavering, steadfast and immovable in the Lord despite hardship, hurt feelings, and overwhelming circumstances? It is a state of constant giving. To give ourselves fully to the Lord means bit by bit and piece by piece of our life is surrendering and submitted to God and His Word until all of us is fully invested in all of Him. The same verse, I Corinthians 15:58 in the New King James Versions calls brothers and sisters “beloved”. I am the one who Christ calls beloved. Like a groom to his soon-to-be bride whispered in the intimate embrace full of expectant exhilaration of the future that is at hand. I wonder how our effort and determination might change if our mind could fully conceive the capacity of God’s Love for us and His Commitment to our fulfillment as His Beloved.

I Peter 3:8-9 (NIV) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

I Peter 3:14 (NKJV) Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless…

In the popular worship song, How He Loves, my favorite verse and constant reminder is that “We are His Portion and He is our Prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in His Eyes, if grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss, and my heart turns violently inside of my chest. I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us.” The greatest hindrance in our life as a believer is doubt and disbelief. To know Christ and His Love any other way than fully is an injustice of His Grace. The Grace of God leads to righteousness through Jesus Christ to the fulfillment of every individual who fully engages in pursuing His Love completely trusting and fully faithful. Diligence comes when doubt and disbelief are eradicated.

I wonder what might happen if one fully realized the kind of love that Jesus has for us. The kind of fathomless grace offered in finding our way and fully realizing the potential of new life. Marriage always needs a whole lot of love, grace and forgiveness to successfully overcome statistics. Jesus has such grace for us. He wants to live a love story with us. We must accept His Love and grow in the relationship to find the persistence, perseverance and diligence to become steadfast and immovable. Such a realization allows us to put all expectation in the Lord and stop expecting perfection from people. It slays our pride and opens our heart to love freely and generously.

Hebrews 6:17-20 (NKJV) Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

God is constantly promoting and producing abundance for our life. What is abundance? It means to superabound, have in excess, greatly surpass and excel. The word shows the generosity of God’s Grace giving assurance that faithful use of one’s talents and gifts set the stage for one’s advancement. This is our hope in Him. New life. New creation. New things. New possibilities. However, without hope, we cannot attain such things. Hope is the anchor of our soul that keeps us persistent and patient in the testing, temptation and trials of life. When presented with an alternative, substitution, settlement or counterfeit, it is easily identifiable given our knowledge of His Character and Intentions for us so we are able to endure and remain steadfast and immovable as we await with expectation fulfillment according to His Word. Jesus did not die for us to live status quo or so-so existences. It is our disbelief and doubt that hinder due diligence.

The surety and steadfast of salvation is God’s Word. Jesus came in the flesh to live out God’s Love for us. He left with the promise to return for a bride spotless and blameless. His Grace is enough to fully transform us but it is our weakness that allows us to claim it fully and completely. Those who believe that by grace they are saved through faith and not of themselves must come to this realization to live God’s Revelation for their life.

Psalm 51:10-11 (NKJV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your Presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

This is my prayer today. I want a steadfast heart. One that is not easily distracted by the detours and delays in life but fully trusting in God’s Word, His Promise and Purpose for my life. It will require an immovable heart fully trusting Him at His Word. Walking by faith and not by sight. Waiting until He speaks, moves and leads. This is not my natural character and the very thing pride is always trying to stop. Submission to the Lord and living in full surrender will always come at the sacrifice of self. The freedom found is indescribable. The moment persistence is born of patience and one is able to wait out the process and receive the promise will change us forever.

What is stopping you today? Feed it the fruit of God’s Spirit. He gives us everything we need to overcome. In every situation, we win. It is confidence in the hope given to us that allows us to obtain the victory described in God’s Word. Jesus is our champion. We must trust the Lord to do all He has promised and allow Him to be our portion. He is our prize. Grace gives us every opportunity to live a life of fulfillment and abundance by offering the paltry sum of self for the perfection of God. Ask the Lord to give you eagerness in your pursuit of Him today. Eagerness will combine thinking and acting. It will partner planning and producing. It is inception and action that leads to follow through in our natural life for a spiritual fulfillment. To exert ourselves, make every effort, make haste, be zealous and strain every nerve to further the cause of Christ in us, through us and all around us. God is good! I believe that wholeheartedly. Am I willing to invest in it is the question? Are you immovable? Are you steadfast? Do you believe? God is good all the time. He is patient, loving and kind. He will never let us down. The Lord is our hope and salvation. He gives enough grace to overcome every weakness with power. I will be unstoppable when I become immovable because Christ is in me.

Psalm 112:6-8 (NKJV) Surely he will never be shaken; the righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established; he will not be afraid, until he sees his desire upon his enemies.

The Father’s Glory

The Father's Glory

John 15:7-8 (NIV) If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. Yet another unfathomable promise from a good, good God. The Christ in us gives power and authority to our words. This is to my Father’s Glory that you bear much fruit…showing yourselves to be my disciples. The Holy Spirit cultivates the qualities and characteristics of God in our life. To be a disciple is the glorification of God. It is exemplified by the life of Christ in living color. A life of unconditional love and incomparable compassion for all mankind. So often focusing on the Gifts of God rather than His Grace, it is easy to become caught up in the promises of God without paying attention to His Process.

I am the worst of these when it comes to trying to accomplish godly character humanly. Perhaps, you may find yourself in the very same position today. Trying to achieve the spiritual naturally is a common problem facilitated by religious tradition in many cases. Some churches still sing give me that “old-time religion”. The church needs a fresh anointing and new revelation. I need it. The sum total of my effectiveness and efficiency as a Christian is my ability to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. In the Word of God, He invited the twelve to come and follow, but not one time did Jesus invite them to be just a follower or even call them a Christian. He asked them to be My disciple. Following Christ is part of the process of becoming a disciple but it is the positioning of our entire being IN Christ that completes it. So today, let’s talk about bringing glory to the Father. We seek His Glory desiring His Presence and everything that comes when it permeates a church service or even our prayer closet at home. I don’t want just an encounter or even an experience. My heart’s desire is eternity.

God’s Word

Matthew 13:23 (NIV) “But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

God’s Word is the seed that produces good fruit in our life. It is the particle of faith that the Holy Spirit uses to create the life God promises those who believe. Without God’s Word, there is no point in our faith because it is illogical outside of His Provisionary Plan. The Word of God is the seed that when placed in a broken, fertile and receptive heart begins the spiritual reproductive process within us. Faith germinates the seed and the Fruit of the Spirit comes into existence and beings to grow and develop.

Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The Holy Spirit is essential in a believer’s life. He is the essence of Christ in us that identifies us as Children of God. It is the existence of Christ in us that offers power and authority of supernatural impact to live in our words and prayers. The Spirit produces fruit from the Word cultivated by faith. The fruit is clearly defined as love, joy and peace. The three substantial satisfiers of humanity. Everyone wants love, joy and peace. There are other fruits of the Spirit that are necessary for productivity in our ability to fulfill the commandment of Christ to love others. They are forbearance, kindness, goodness and gentleness. We strive for these in our relationships though not born of our natural mind, will or emotions. The Holy Spirit produces these qualities from the love, joy and peace found in Christ. Finally, there is self-control. Oh how this is vital to spiritual success as a disciple. To keep going when no one else is. To continue when quitting seems favorable. To remain uncomfortable when comfortable escapes are offered. To opt for convenience when inconvenience is required. To maintain control when God asks for our complete trust and confidence.

Be My Disciple

John 15:8 (NIV) This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is the Father’s Glory. It exemplifies the power of His Presence to fulfill His Purpose in us. We have no possible means of doing so. It is God’s Word planted in us. The Holy Spirit’s cultivation process. The commitment to be His Disciple… not just a Christian or a follower. To abide in Christ. To live each day for the Kingdom. I am challenged today by this passage. Do I live for the Father’s Glory? Is my life bearing fruit? Spiritual fruit? Sowing and reaping will produce the blessing of God in our life. Doing what the Word says will also create prosperity. Fullness is only accomplished when our life abides in Christ. Abundance is the surplus reserved for His Children.

Discipleship is to continually Jesus Christ. To engraft our life into His Word, His Will and His Way. Every day. Every breath. Every step. Every decision. Every moment. Not everyone will decide this is the life for them. It is not a requirement for Heaven. It is a requirement to glorify the Father. The good Father and gracious God who sends every good gift to us. The One who sent His Only Son to die for us so that we could become His Children in right standing again. God has given us an opportunity to glorify Him. It is the only “thing” we can do. God did everything else. He gave His Son. His Son gave the Spirit. God has provided for us from His Riches in Glory. He has given us the strength to do all things through Christ. The Lord has given us every spiritual blessing. We have it all. We also have the freedom to choose how to use this wonderful gift.

The Promise

John 15:9-11 (NIV) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Jesus offers His Love to us. We have the opportunity to remain in His Love. Keep His Commandments. He told us these things so that “my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Are you satisfied with your life? Are you complete in love, joy and peace? Does your life glorify the Father today? Grace is the open doorway to every bit of fulfillment found in God’s Word. No matter how we lived yesterday. The Holy Spirit wakes us up offering new mercy for the new day with new opportunities to glorify the Father, bear much fruit and be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It means I must decrease and allow Christ to increase and take over. It means fear must give way to faith. It requires doubt drowned by belief. It is the promise of fulfillment to overflowing abundance of love, joy and peace. It is a privilege. It is a promise. It is more than I can think, ask or imagine. God is good! He is a Good Father! He deserves to be glorified.

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.