Most Powerful Resource

Most Powerful Resource

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT) It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

Christ in us is the most powerful resource possessed by the believer. As the year winds down, I am challenged by the things not yet completed. Those dreams and visions of God placed in our heart to attract our faith and become the prosperity that He promised from the start. I know that God prerecorded a plan for my life marked by salvation. I am absolutely certain that the blessings He promised are for me. According to Psalm 139, I am fearfully (thoughtfully) and wonderfully (perfectly) made by the Lord. I have potential. In Jeremiah 29, He promised that the packaging of my life comes with a future and hope. I have not yet fully discovered all that it entails. As chapter 29 continues it instructs me to seek the Lord wholeheartedly and it will be mine. Over my lifetime, I have made many mistakes but in 2 Corinthians12 it tells me that His Grace is all I need to overcome the penalty of sin. All my mistakes can never amount to a blockage or barrier from what the Lord has for me because His Love is always pursuing me even in my wandering (Psalm 23). God promises that nothing can separate me from His Love and that He is working every detail of my life for my good. I have so many promises packed in my life. Now to learn how to get them out…

2 Kings 4:1-7 (NLT) One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

I love the story of the widow woman with her little jar of oil. The story is an inspiration that I return to quite often. Again today, I feel like it holds God’s Hidden Secrets for me and I must squeeze the last bit of oil from flask to jar. There is meaning here for those who long to be satisfied. Unmet expectation finds new inspiration in her plight. The prophet only offered perspective with a hint on instruction. The woman put her faith in his words and obeyed. She reached fulfillment not by a miracle but in her method. Lord, help us learn from this woman who thought she had lost it all but instead found new hope.

Her Situation – Shattered Dreams

The woman is the widow of the prophet Obadiah. He is now dead and the creditors have come to claim unpaid debts or threaten to take her children. The life she once knew is now gone. She is in a desperate situation. Desperation is often born of unmet expectation and shattered dreams. The moment the life built by our human expectation gives way to desperation. When life is not what it seems and the harsh reality of it comes crashing down around us. Where is God? Why has He abandoned me? I thought He loved me, cared for me, and was with me. She went to Elisha. She was looking for some answers. She cried out the details of her distress, desolation, and desperation to the prophet. My husband is dead. I am in debt. They are coming to take my children who are all I have left. The “new normal” produced by such situations will be the transition point from destination to destiny.

Our life in Christ can produce unrealistic expectations limited by experience. We build our own vision or dream according to what we can do or produce ourselves when God has so much more in store for us. The woman had depended on her husband and maybe even built her life around serving Obadiah as he served the Lord. Wives are to submit to their husbands. They must submit to Christ first and then the man God has given them. Sometimes these orders can shift unintentionally putting faith that belongs to the Lord into a human being. Now the man is gone so she turns to the Lord. Trial, temptation and tragedy have a way of turning us back to our first love whether we are willing to admit it or not.

The enemy continually threatens the life of a believer with lies. Lies that build strongholds around us. Notice the woman said that the creditors “threatened” to come take her children. The only thing the enemy can take from you is what you willingly give to him. Think about that for a moment. What have you allowed the enemy to apprehend with a lie? You can’t do this. You cannot have this. You are not good enough. Your life is never going to get any better. I cannot change. I am too old. Too this or too that. Too broken. Too broke. Whatever the lie the enemy has threatened you with today can be overcome by the Truth! The Truth of your life is the Word of God. It never grows stale and does not have an expiration date. The door to the cell you may be living in is not locked for who the Son sets free is free indeed.

Her Solution – What Do You Have In Your House?

The prophet asked the widow, “Tell me, what do you have in your house?” I am quite sure she did not find his question amusing. She may have sighed in exasperation. Was Elisha not listening? Did he not hear her story? Did he not understand her plight? The word “house” can be translated into family, clan, building or home. It can also be translated to the word “temple”. “Tell me, what do you have in your temple?” Now this changes everything for the modern day believer who hears this story in its proper translation.

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” (I Corinthians 6) The woman did not have resources in her home but in her temple she had more than enough. We are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit who takes our faith to produce more than enough in our life. The things our hands can hold, feel and touch in the natural become abundant and resourceful when our faith is in God’s Spirit. We are anointed with the Spirit of the Living God. He produces good fruit in us that will prosper our life once our soul is properly prospering. Her desperation turned her to God. She planted her faith in God and the resources she needed in the natural came pouring out in abundance. Enough to fill the jars she collected. Do you have a flask of oil in you untapped?

The anointing of God within us can do nothing around us until it completes its work in us. She had lived a life of faith with her husband. More than likely, her faith was in her husband and according to his faith. Now the Lord is asking her what is in her “temple”, she discovered faith. How do I know? She was obedient.

Her Salvation – “So She Did As She Was Told.” 

What if the limitation on our life is self-imposed? What if everything we need to prosper is in us? What if the Spirit of God is just waiting for faithful obedience? We want God to do it our way, in our time and according to our will most of the time. But what happens when He does it His Way, in His Timing and according to His Will. Do we obey the Lord or trek off on our own merry way? When met with seasons of hardship, it is our nature to turn to the Lord for answers, explanations, gripes and even complaints. God’s Plan for us is unchangeable. Once He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing, the Lord does not take it back. He cannot lie or change His Mind. He does not withdraw His Call on our life because our faith is lacking or obedience waning. He waits on us. When unmet expectation comes or dreams are shattered, He is usually who we run to. When we do, the Lord comes close to the brokenhearted and fills us with new life. New inspiration of His Spirit and revelation for success.

When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.” The woman put faith in God and He provided all that she needed and more. I wonder today if there is something in my temple that I put on a shelf for another day. Is it the very thing I must pour out to receive full satisfaction and live a life of fulfillment? Obedience is essential for our faith to become that which we hope for. If we are unwilling, then we will remain unfulfilled? God’s Word for our life is true. It is activated by faith in God’s Word, Will and Way. We must be willing to be faithful in hard times and drought to see the abundance of God that leads to absolute fulfillment.

2 Corinthians 1:19-22 (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.  It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

The woman had a jar of oil. She poured it out as instructed and it filled more jars than she gathered. Abundance. God wants to fill your life with abundance today. Have you left the cap on your flask? We hold on to what we have out of fear. Doubt tells us if we empty ourselves there will be nothing left for the future. This is not the mindset of God’s People. We must change our mind. Taking our confidence and putting it fully in Christ which may mean gathering all the jars of expectation spread out among lesser things. God’s Anointing of His Spirit in us is a guarantee to prosper, but the Spirit must be poured out to every area of our life. His Promises are always “yes” and “amen”. It is our fear, doubt and security that mark them “maybe” or “probably not”. What’s in your house today? What fills your temple? What is the truth that governs the economy of your life? The principle of sowing and reaping is facilitated by obedience in the life of every believer. It is also a governing principle in our natural life. If you release it, God will increase it. Lord, increase our life. Give us the faith to release it so You can increase it. Holy Spirit align us with the Father and encourage us to have faith.

2 Corinthians 9:10 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

 

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Greater Expectation

Greater Expectation

I Peter 1:3-4 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.

Now we live with great expectation…does this statement reflect your life? Are you in survival mode or thriving today? Jesus Christ has saved us and come to live inside of us. Now greater is He who lives in us than he that is in the world. We are overcomes. Handed victory over death and the grave to live in the generosity of God’s Grace bringing Heaven to earth. We have a priceless inheritance. Do we live like sons and daughters of a king? Steadfast in faith and confident in hope in our identity – we live fearlessly because of our relationship with the Sovereign God. Or do we?

Rolling out of bed this morning, I head to the kitchen to prepare our Thanksgiving turkey. It is overcast and raining outside. Our son begins his shift today as a police officer so I pray for his safety. Across the bar are all the sale papers, the emphasis “Black Friday” is coming. Sharpies in all different colors representative of each kid scattered about. The ads circled and highlighted with expectation. It seems ironic to have all these wants and “needs” on a day set aside to be thankful. They have great expectation. Maybe this year, I will break the news that Santa isn’t real.

Thankfulness is the key to contentment. It is the gateway to satisfaction. If we cannot be thankful for what we have, there is no possibility that any “thing” else will bring it about. I am thankful. I am content. I am satisfied… most of the time. However, as time goes by, it may fade especially when the things I am thankful for are just things. Even graduating to people, they will not meet my expectation and require grace in order to maintain the relationship. We live in the midst of complete imperfection. Expectation placed in the world or the things of this world will always be subject to moth and decay. Our great expectation in the priceless inheritance is to somehow take our eyes off this world and stop reaching for the lesser things to obtain the life Christ died for us to have. Things are not bad. People are not the problem. Misplaced expectation will always be left unfulfilled. God is good. He will never let us down. Our expectation must be placed in the Lord to have life more abundantly as promised.

Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT) “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Where is your treasure today? Most of mine are sleeping soundly. My family is a treasure. They are the desire of my heart to see them healthy, happy and blessed. However, I cannot put my expectation in my family. Material things are always a threat to our joy and peace as well. The vicious cycle of supply and demand create strongholds to the unsuspecting. During the holidays, this is the most difficult time of the year. Our desire to meet the expectations of others in our giving and hosting can rob us of the love, joy and peace that the Savior of the world came to give us. He is the Prince of Peace. Is the Prince of Peace ruling our life? Or is it a list of expectations full of demands on our time, talent and treasure that is quickly consuming us? Be careful. The enemy would like nothing more to hinder your thanksgiving and crash your celebration of the birth of Christ. He uses tools marked busyness and consumerism. He wields weapons of human expectation that creates burdens, worry and stress not produced by God’s Spirit.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)  Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Today, I want to be thankful. Not for what I have or who I love, but I want to be thankful for Jesus Christ alone. I know it sounds a little strange to some who don’t know Him or trust Him. My life verse this year has been Ephesians 3:20. I believe that God is able to accomplish infinitely more than I might ask or think… I do. The difficult part is that God is doing “His Mighty Work” in me. The productivity of prosperity can only reach the limits of my heart. God prospers our soul and it then manifests in our body working its way into our natural life. I must give God all of my heart today. Taking captive every rebellious thought that is desperate to meet the needs, wants and desires of others by simply trusting Him with all of my needs, wants and desires. Shoving my life across the table, giving it all back to Him again…and again if that’s what it takes until my soul is overflowing with love, joy, peace and every other good fruit the Spirit is cultivating in me. It is so easy to forget.

My life invested in Jesus Christ by faith and confident hope will prosper into absolute fulfillment and abundant life. It takes time. It requires discipline. You must endure because most of the time you must go against the flow of natural progression. It is our calling to persevere because the enemy hates contentment, satisfaction and fulfillment. His only weapon is a lie so why don’t you hurl the Truth of who you are and who lives in you right back at him. Aren’t you thankful for God’s amazing grace and infinite patience? Our Good Father guards and protects the priceless inheritance designated for us, until we follow His Lead right to it. It begins with a heart full of thanksgiving. It continues as daily we sacrifice thanksgiving to Him. Walking by faith and not by sight are a requirement which means stop grumbling, griping and complaining about your life and find the abundance hidden within it.

2 Corinthians 3:8-10 (NLT) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way.

We must expect greater glory under the new way. The Holy Spirit lives in us and is renewing us day by day with God’s Word and wisdom producing good fruit. Could it be that our expectation in Christ Jesus has set a standard too low for the living God? Are we waiting and watching for lesser things when He is ready to pour out His Glory in our life? What if the Lord really can do something glorious in our ordinary life and the only thing lacking is expectancy?

Lord, help me to have greater expectation. Eyes to see past temporary things and momentary problems. To surrender to you all my wants, needs and desires for fulfillment. Give me ears to hear you speak and lead me to Truth to overcome the lie of the enemy. Give me hands to give even when I don’t think I have anything to offer. Lord give me wisdom this season to keep focused on you and stop carrying every weight and burden offered by the enemy. He wants to steal my joy and peace but I refuse to give it away. You are my salvation. You have given me a priceless inheritance that will make its way to me in due time. Fill my heart with thanksgiving in all things and every circumstance. Let my mouth be filled with praise. Amen!

Philippians 1:20 (NLT) For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.

In Every Season

In Every Season

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

God doesn’t call the qualified – He qualifies the called. The thorn in my flesh. Are you called to do something? Do you know that God told you to go here or do this but it is so hard that you are wondering if you missed Him altogether? Same. It seems like the more sure I am going in the harder the fight to the finish. How do I know if God called me? Oh, you know. Or at least you did going into the season, but now that the ground is dry and the river run dry – you are looking for an escape. You are not alone. The enemy is hurling lies at every person who launches out in obedience with the intent of retreat. He wants you to leave the season. He wants you to abandon the field. The only thing that the enemy can use against those called by God is a lie. He wants you to accept twisted truth so that doubt will take root and grow into disbelief. He did it in the Garden and continues today.

Those who delight in the Law of the Lord, His Word both spoken and written, meditating on it day and night are like trees. Not just any tree, but the ones planted by the riverbank always watered by His Word. They will prosper in every season because they are rooted and grounded in Christ. Their leaves do not whither even in drought, and they will prosper IN ALL THEY DO. You will prosper despite the drought, famine or harsh conditions. Your life is not dependent on your atmosphere around you but the Living God within you. He is your supply and source for life and life more abundantly. Are you tapped into the Living Water within you today? Or are you trying to survive in the dry and thirsty land?

Psalm 107:33-38 (NLT) He changes rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry, thirsty land. He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands, because of the wickedness of those who live there. But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities. They sow their fields, plant their vineyards, and harvest their bumper crops. How he blesses them!

What if God has disguised your blessing in a barren land? What if it is not the enemy causes the struggle or challenging you to believe, but the Lord God? He doesn’t tempt us. The Lord will never tempt His Children. However, God will discipline us not to be confused with punishment. Endurance and perseverance are necessary qualities for success as a believer. Only those who endure to the end will be saved. Yet when we are stretched, pressured or exhausted – it is our first reaction to look for a way out. When things get rough or life is too hard – our finger points at God rather than the other direction. Our flesh is always looking for an opportunity to avoid death. The death of our flesh gives way to the Spirit. When the Spirit is poured out on dry land there is a change. However, if there is no seed planted in that season what will grow. Faithfulness is the sowing of seed in the life of every believer. To believe when there is no reason to believe is reminiscent of the Father of Faith, Abraham who waited well into his nineties to see God’s Promise.

Isaiah 44:1-5 (NLT) “But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. The Lord who made you and helps you says: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one. For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the Lord.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.”

Reading these words today, I am encouraged. Like a sprinkle of rain in the desert, it is water for my soul. Do not be afraid my chosen one. I will pour out water and quench your thirst and irrigate parched fields. I will pour out my Spirit on your family and blessing on your children. (My paraphrased version) God did not call us to survive the seasons of life – we are chosen to thrive. To thrive in God means to trust Him in every season. If He called you to a place, you must stay there until He comes or His Blessing arrives. If He called you to do something, keep doing it whether prosperity comes quickly or takes many seasons. Keep sowing even when your arms are tired and knees feel weak. Why is life so hard? It was hard before you knew Christ or you would not have been searching for a Savior. Why is it hard now? Because knowing Christ does not necessarily change the world or everyone who lives in it – the Spirit of the Living God invited to live in you is to transform you into a new creation.

My response must be to the One who called me. The One who loves me. The One who promises to never leave me or forsake me. The One who promises to perfect that which concerns me. The One who gives me perfect peace to weather every storm or wait for rain in times of drought. He is the One who promises to make good come from every detail of my life. Am I reacting to my environment or responding to its Creator?

I Thessalonians 5:24 (NLT) God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

God will not increase any part of our life apart from faith. If faith is not required, God didn’t do it. Miracles are labeled “IMPOSSIBLE” for a reason. Otherwise, we would take credit for God’s Work. Every day farmers sow seed in fields. Faithfully breaking the ground, tilling the soil, planting good seed, watering and waiting and enjoying some kind of harvest. Sowing and reaping, planting and harvest were established in the days of Noah as God promised to never flood the earth again. The rain falls on the just and unjust.

God will make it happen. How many times do we limit the Lord to our natural expectations? Our clock is preset. Our journey marked out. Our ability measured by comparison. When God doesn’t do it according to our schedule, agenda or designate path – we decide to question the Lord and his ability even his faithfulness. God didn’t tell you to force it – He said, “I’ll do it.” According to my Word, Will and Way – set out before you were born as a prerecorded (Psalm 139) plan and purpose for your life (Jeremiah 29:11) which will result in a masterpiece (Ephesians 3:20). We would settle for refrigerator art, paint by numbers, or even a sidewalk artist rendering before being willing to wait for God to make a Michelangelo or Picasso of our life. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. He does it. God is the Creator and ultimate designer of life. We must trust in every season that He who calls you (and me) is faithful to finish.

2 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

According to Ephesians 1:3, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. We have everything we need, want and desire hidden in our life for discovery. These blessings are from the “heavenly realm” so they can only be accessed by right standing with God. Salvation is only the beginning. Faith must be sown and grown in our life to keep us deeply rooted and grounded in the Love of God and His Grace which is union with Christ. Faith bores belief. The fruit of our faith is belief manifested in trust and dependence on the Living God. He has given us everything we need for living a godly life which is defined by prosperity, success and abundance according to His Word. We will only survive until our faith thrives even in the driest and barest of season knowing that He is faithful and true even when nothing we see is evidence of that.

The Kingdom of God and its fullness is available to us. We must seek the Kingdom of God above everything else which means continually searching for it, pressing toward it, and staying put in steadfast faith until the Lord reveals it, releases it or relieves us. This is only accomplished by faith in God not our senses or seasons. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises rather than our personal struggles and challenges in life. There will always be adverse conditions, unfavorable circumstances, senseless tragedy as love grows cold and sin grows rampant in this lost and dying place. But we do not rally in hope for this world, but rather press for the mark of a higher calling. To be part of a Kingdom where leaves do not wither and prosperity is the outcome of every season. For now, the Kingdom is in you. It is in me. We must trust and believe that God has given us His Glory and Excellence enough to give Him glory and excellence when times are tough and we want to quit. His Word promises it will be worth it when we learn to prosper in every season.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All of my life…in every season…You are still God…I have a reason to sing…I have a reason to worship…

 

Mountain of Sacrifice

Mountain of Sacrifice

Genesis 22:1-2 (NIV) Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

What does God require of you? What is it that God desires of you? Does He require a sacrifice? Yes. Does He desire an offering? Yes. It is important to understand exactly what God requires and desires of us to walk in alignment with His Word, Will and Way. Does such a thing mean that there is not freedom in Christ or an obligation for God’s Love? No, God loves you. He definitely desires you and has expressed His Love and Desire through the sacrifice of His Only Son to live in unity with you. However, communion and partnership with the Lord is no different than a bond of friendship or marriage. If there is not a giving of one’s way there cannot be harmony in a relationship. Giving to form a relationship is called grace. We must give up our way in order to form a new way. To surrender wants, needs and desires to be with someone else is commonplace. So why do we struggle so hard when it comes to doing so for God?

God’s Love for us is established in His Identity. God is love. (I John 4:8) To know God is to understand that the Love given to us is complete and unconditional. Our relationship of righteousness offered in the acceptance of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus allows us to return to such a position and enjoy a relationship with God the Father again. Sin separated us from God. Our chosen defiance of His Word and Way caused us to rebel from it and therefore step out of unity with Him. Repentance in the form of pouring our faults and failures before the Lord and admitting to our insufficiencies may not be all that hard, but when it comes to true repentance even strong Christians are at a loss. Picking and choosing the parts of scripture found appealing or doable but bypassing those things that conflict with our flesh including our deepest desires.

Complete confidence in the Love of God will produce true repentance not just lip service. The confession of our heart is our deep desire to serve the Lord but when it comes time to go to the mountain of sacrifice many compromises are offered in lieu of absolute obedience. Why would God summon Abraham to the mountain? Why would He torture a father in such a manner especially one who waited a lifetime for his promised son? Now Abraham is tested by God and sent to the mountain. “Take you son, your ONLY son, whom you love – Isaac…” Why would the Lord even suggest something so cruel? The Lord wasn’t after Abraham’s son, God desired his servant’s heart.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NIV) You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

The beauty of brokenness is that it draws us closer to the Lord and He is able to come closer to us. It allows us to live in intimacy with Jesus. His Spirit has freedom within the broken heart that is open and exposed for seeds of faith to be planted and given a place to grow in our life. Abraham was not a madman or out of his mind when he gathered up supplies for sacrifice and took his son to journey to the mountain. He knew exactly what he was doing, but more importantly Abraham absolutely and completely trusted God. He was confident that at the end of the day God would do something miraculous. He believed in the One who brought dead things to life. He believed and his faith saved his son.

You do not delight in sacrifice…

Are humans being truly able to sacrifice their all to the Lord? I believe it is our heart’s desire but follow through the issue. True repentance is turning our natural life over for eternal life. It is to turn from sin and embrace righteousness. Grace does not afford perfection but allows us to experience a thriving relationship with the Father through the giving of His Son. His Grace is enough therefore sacrifice is unnecessary. The sacrifice acceptable to the Lord is a broken spirit. A spirit no longer driven by the flesh but by the Holy Spirit. Abraham had one son. It was in the giving of that son that he obtained the many generations of children born of his faith. God does not delight in our sacrifice. He delights in the heart willing to give its all even when giving all is not what we want to do but we use our freedom to do so anyway.

Deuteronomy 30:8-10 (NIV) You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

God has recorded our lifetime before we were born. (Psalm 139) We are fearfully and wonderfully made with great potential. His prerecorded order promises future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The Lord promises to make good from the details of our life and nothing will ever separate us from His Love. (Romans 8) He also promise to partner with us and help us carry our burdens giving us rest. (Matthew 11) He will perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138) What’s the catch? We must search for Him wholeheartedly. To desire the Lord and His Goodness as our heart’s longing. Those who desire the Lord will seek Him and find Him in the Word. Finding Him they will then pursue Him wholeheartedly. God wants us to desire Him more than the things of this world and more than any human being. In exchange for our faithfulness and obedience, God promises success to His People. He promises to make the work of our hands prosperous. Why then does He require things of us as He did Abraham? A sacrifice and offering much greater than a tangible object or animal of some kind. Why does the Lord require our heart and everything in it?

Faith grows in a fertile and broken heart. Doubt hardens our heart keeping us from finding, following and pursuing the Living God. It tells us that His Word is not for us, His Way may not satisfy us and His Will may kill us. All the while, the Lord whispers come to the mountain and give your all. What am I giving? I am giving God my heart piece by piece – day by day – until my sacrifice is complete and satisfaction fills its void.

Small children will grab hold of things sometimes that are not necessarily good for them to have. As a parent, I had two choices to snatch if from them or to offer them something better in exchange. Either way as their parent the thing they were holding would have to be released. They made the choice to willingly release it or forcefully give it up. Throughout their childhood, I tried to instill the knowledge, wisdom and discipline to make good choices. In fact, many days dropping them off at school, my parting words would be I love you and make good choices. Life is all about choices. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. God gives us choices each day. Life or death. Blessing or cursing. Bondage or deliverance. Captivity or freedom. Settling or full satisfaction. Sickness or healing. Poverty or prosperity. We make the choice the realm in which we live – reality or hope. See there is more to life than this but we are given the opportunity to decide which life we live. Faith is the substance of things hope for and evidence of their reality. How we live decides the productivity of our faith. We all have faith. The question is have we provided a place to plant it?

Romans 2:29 (NIV) “Circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”

The spiritual significance of circumcision is to purify spiritually. It is to cut away something. Today I wonder if the sacrifice God is asking of us goes deeper than the things we do or don’t do but is actually a surrender of our heart to the Lord. The mountain of doubt which we seek to overcome keeps us from doing that so when we go to the mountain and give the Lord all we can for that moment or season, He honors it. As our heart breaks open before Him, the Lord pours into us renewal, restoration and revival. A little at a time as we give Him bit by bit and piece by piece. Do not despise small beginnings for the Lord uses them to complete us and fulfill us. To produce purpose begins with a single seed of faith that grows, develops, matures and reproduces in us and through us. The Light of our love must begin as a burning passion for the Lord on the inside before it will ever be bright enough to reach or influence the people around us.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Could it be that the Lord is not calling us to sacrifice anything of worth but everything we have? He desires us. God wants to share His Kingdom with us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. His Son, Jesus. When we struggle on the subject of sacrifice it is not because what God has for us and is promised to us is not desirable but rather the overwhelming nagging doubt that keeps us fixated on the mountain not the Mountain Mover. The Lord wants to give us a new heart in exchange for the stony heart that keeps us bound up in tight places with limited resources and chaotic emotions. He wants us to come give Him that heart of no use and allow His Spirit to work in us.

Lord, I give my heart to you again today. With each new day and each new mountain, I ask you to take my heart as a sacrifice and smash it until it is soft, pliable, moldable, and shapeable. I want to give my all. Will You take this small piece today and we will work on the rest tomorrow? Back to the mountain we go…

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

 

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.

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.”