Don’t Stop Believing

Don't Stop Believing

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Cue the music, I love 80’s music. Although I tend to gravitate toward mostly Christian music nowadays, my kids hate when an oldie but goodie comes on because I cannot help but crank it up and sing along. “Don’t Stop Believing” is a classic. It’s funny how our mind works. Certain thoughts will filter through the folders of memory and pull out random thoughts and ideas. Lately the Holy Spirit has really been pressing me to evaluate my faith and belief system. Oh, I assure you that I am sold out to Jesus Christ just some spring cleaning meditation and self-examination. I do not want to become comfortable or complacent in my pursuit of Jesus and His Kingdom. But what I am beginning to see and now believe is that like the woman who had but a small jar of oil hidden on a shelf who did not tap into it until she was completely desperate (2 Kings 4), there are things in my life intended for prosperity and blessing that remain hidden. The Lord wants me to be like the woman with the alabaster box who broke the seal pouring her perfume over the head of Jesus. (Matthew 26) Why is it that we wait to believe until death knocks on the door when we should be beating down the door of God’s Kingdom? See the difference. I do, at least I am beginning to.

Keep asking and you will receive. Keep seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened. Everyone who asks receives. Everyone who seeks finds. Everyone who knocks the door is opened. God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:11) His Grace is enough – it is sufficient in its ability to turn my weakness into His Power. God’s Gifts and His Call can never be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29) What does that have to do with me? Well in Genesis 1 – the Lord blessed us. He instructed us to be fruitful, increase, fill the earth, and subdue it. Purpose, prosperity, generosity and power. It all belongs to us directly from God. But sin came hindered us from fulfilling His Mandate for us. (Romans 3:23) No longer able to live according to God’s Glorious Standard. Jesus came to remove the burden of sin and death so that once again the Kingdom of God and His Call could be fulfilled in our life. It is a free gift. (Romans 6:23) Now we have eternal life, the life that in our heart is our desire. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) When we connect with the Kingdom of God and live according to God’s Standard including His Glory and Grace – we become complete lacking no good thing. (James 1:4) This is all part of the reconciliation process as our life begins to come into alignment with the Word, Will and Way of God, the Father. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) Why am I not asking for every spiritual blessing I have been promised? Why am I not seeking the secrets and hidden things of the Kingdom every day? Why do I not beat down the doors to God’s Presence every single day until the door opens so I may come boldly before His Throne with every need, worry, care, burden and desire? Why? Have I stopped believing? Have I established a limit to the Love of God?

I Corinthians 15:9-10 (NLT) For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

The last rollercoaster I ever rode was at Six Flags over Georgia. I looked up the name so I could share it with you and laughed out loud. It was called Goliath. I have never been so terrified in all my life but gave in to the ridiculing of my children to ride it with them. When I got off the ride, I was mad. I remember walking away, shaking my head and declaring that I would never ever ride another thrill ride again. I haven’t. It was on that ride that our son blacked out. Having a major concussion in middle school, and after speaking to his doctor – it was concluded that because of post-concussion syndrome – he probably should not ride rollercoasters anymore. He was very disappointed but felt so bad agreed. Well, now I cannot help but wonder if it was his brain or the hidden tumor growing in his body next to it. I had no idea the giant that would soon be awakened in our life. After our son’s bone marrow transplant, he was declared in remission after three long years of battling. When I came home, life was far from normal. Within a month, my birth mother passed away unexpectedly and my oldest daughter married. Four months later, she and her husband were called to ministry 21 hours away. All those days to be made up from being apart while I cared for her brother, would have to wait for another day. I walked along that year deciding that I love God but I could not do this “faith” fight anymore. I took the sword that slayed those giants and gently hid it on a shelf. Believing came at a high price. I just couldn’t do it anymore. We can love the Lord and even trust Him but not believe for the Kingdom. We can accept His Daily Provision like manna but not press for the Promised Land of Favor that He has for us. The enemy uses fear and doubt to apprehend us and shut us in a cell with a lockless door. We wait for forever to come. We long for eternity. God has goodness for us in the land of the living. We must ask. We must seek. We must keep knocking. Why don’t we?

When Saul became Paul, he was called to minister to the family and friends of countless people were slaughtered at his hand or by his command. Yet somehow Paul discovered the sufficiency of God’s Grace was enough to stand before them and share of God’s Love, Grace and Favor. He overcame doubt and disbelief to live what He believed. My life must be lived to the Glory of God but what Glory is there to a lamp that is hidden under a basket out of sight. There are things God has called me to do, say and be that are well out of my comfort zone and will require a daily commitment to ask, seek and knock. The only reason that I have the Favor of God is because of the Blood of Jesus. (I Peter 1:17-19) The Power of the Blood is for the remission of sins and restoration of the Glorious Standard of Living that is the Kingdom of God. Salvation is a multifaceted gift that takes a lifetime to unfold as God completes the good work that He began before you were born and insists on completing in spite of you.

Romans 14:16-17 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.

God supplies everything we need every day. Is that enough for you? Are you okay with just enough? Why, when we serve a God of more than enough? The earth is all about daily provision or what we eat and drink. The Kingdom of God is not a matter of provision but a place of prosperity. We must learn to ask for, seek after and knock on the door of God’s Presence for Kingdom Favor rather than just getting by. You have not because you ask not. (James 4:2-3) We do not ask because we do not believe. We must believe with wholehearted confidence that God has a plan that contains a future and hope for our good. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) We must believe that He works every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) We must believe and be confident that God’s Goodness is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) To believe is to ask, to believe is to seek, and to believe is to knock – every day.

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT) Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit[f] on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say I am?” Here me today – it doesn’t matter who God is to anyone else or the reality of Jesus for every other person in the world. Who do you say that He is? The life changing moment that you believe Jesus is the Son of God, who died for your sins, rose on the third day, and handed you the Keys to His Kingdom enough to do something with it – is the day heaven and earth become united in your life. The connection is made by faith. Faith shows the reality of what we hope for…your faith is shown not by what you say but what you do with your life. It is the evidence of things not seen soon to be a reality in your life and for the Kingdom. Why did you stop believing? Abraham took his faith all the way to the mountain with a knife poised and ready to plunge right through the beating heart of his 100-year-promise. God called Abraham – His Friend. Why? He believed. He believed in a God who can raise the dead back to life. What about you? If you believe that the moment you die, you will be brought to life in eternity, why can’t you believe God for simply things like favor? Increase? Prosperity? Power and influence? Such simple things offered by an awesome God left on the shelf like the bottle of oil, God has ordained and anointed you for His Glory. Is your life glorious? Maybe if like the woman with the alabaster box – we choose to ask, seek and beat open every door between us and Jesus to pour our life in His Lap, maybe we will discover the pressed down, shaken together and overflowing life that the Lord has promised His People. We must believe again. Believe that God is good. Believe that He is for us. Believe that He is with us. Believe that He desires us. Believe that the Lord will do exactly as He said. Don’t stop believing today! Crank it up and play it loud. Let your life be one of asking, seeking, knocking and believing and watch what the Lord will do!

James 2:21-24 (NLT)  Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

 

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Am I Content?

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I Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

Am I content? Am I satisfied? Did you know that contentment and satisfaction are two different things? Our purpose in Christ is to become complete. Satisfaction is completion. Our faith is tested so that endurance grows within us producing the fruit of God’s Spirit so that we will become fully developed, perfect and needing nothing. (James 1:4) In a world motivated by supply and demand, it is hard to discern sometimes what real satisfaction looks like or how it may be achieved. The Word of God tells us that true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. Contentment is not satisfaction but rather the idea that in all circumstances, conditions and situations that it is well with my soul.

I brought nothing into this world. However; once arrived it becomes a life of acquisition. From the earliest age, images are placed in the minds of children that they “need” things to be content. Parents with good intentions fill their kid’s lives with all the “things” they never had trying to give them a better life. If I have food and clothing, I should be content. Am I? Are you? It is important that believers discover the meaning of contentment and strive for it in this life. Otherwise, distractions and detours will take over as the demand for more takes over and we forget that less is more in the Kingdom. The first will be last. Less of me. More of Him. I must decrease. He must increase in my life. Satisfaction is fulfillment. Contentment is our disposition until it arrives.

To understand the concept of contentment, I looked it up in the dictionary. The meaning is to be satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else. Wow! Not very encouraging… What does the Bible say about contentment? Believe it or not – the dictionary offered the Bible’s perspective in great detail on the meaning of contentment. Contentment as the world sees it is weakness. It means to settle for what life hands you and just be mediocre if that is your “lot” or some random throw of fate’s dice. When I take this meaningless, mediocre existence I have on the earth and invest it in Jesus Christ suddenly my life as extraordinary and supernatural potential. Contentment is the waiting place for God’s People. It is where we grow, develop and mature while God takes every detail of our life and works it for His Glory. Lord, I desire contentment today. Teach me to be content.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Contentment is the state of mind in which one’s desires are confined to their lot in life whatever that may be. I believe that God will generously provide all I need. I say that but do I believe that. God supplies seed to the sower. If I am not giving from my current supply, there is no need to increase it. The beginning of contentment is to set our heart and mind on God’s Will for our life. To decide that His Purpose and His Glory are what is desired over money, influence and earthly power. We cannot go in two different directions. I must choose my destination. Money is nothing more than a tool or resource in life. Contentment is a heart condition not based on what I have or have not. It doesn’t pursue God’s Hand but is intent on knowing His Heart.

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

Believe it or not, I found this “Biblical” definition of contentment listed in the dictionary. “It arises from an inward disposition and is the offspring of humility and of an intelligent consideration of the rectitude (righteousness) and benignity (favor) of divine providence, the greatness of divine promises and our unworthiness, as well as, the gospel opens us up to rest and peace forever.” Contentment is clearly a product of faith or our inward disposition of hope that stems from a relationship with Jesus Christ alone. It is the “offspring” of humility. Pride is man over God – humility exalts Christ above all things. Faith is intelligent consideration of God’s Righteousness – the part of Him that does not lie or change His Mind because He is always right and always exceeding in goodness towards us. The favor of God is for us. He pursues us daily with unfailing love and goodness. To receive it means to make the intellectual choice to repent and turn around to receive it. I cannot have God’s Righteousness and Favor in my life completely that produces contentment if I am a heart divided chasing after other things.

The greatest asset of my faith is confident hope that affords me rest and peace right in the middle of the uncertainty of the life I live in this world. It means that no matter what occurs in my “temporary” residence I do not invest eternal confidence in those things that will rot and decay fully trusting the Lord for full satisfaction. “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.” (2 Peter 1:4)

I can do all things through Christ is to value the Lord above all things. To put Him at the center of our life including mind, soul and body without excluding all natural and spiritual pursuits. He is the priority in all things to those who desire contentment that leads to full satisfaction and completion. This is an ongoing process in a world filled with the contrary. We must take control of our thoughts, emotions, and desires turning our passion from worldly things to invest them fully in Jesus Christ.

There are five things that contentment opposes. These are critical in evaluating our current state of mind and if contentment is our mindset.

  1. Contentment opposes envy.

“For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” (James 3:16) Do you envy what other people have or the life they live? Do you get mad when others are blessed? Envy is the root of bitterness that strangles contentment is us. It dims the light of God’s Love in us. Confidence is shattered in comparison because I can only see the outward product and cannot see the source. All that glitters is not gold. You do not know their circumstances or situation. You cannot see their heart. We must not allow jealously to ruin us from the inside out.

  1. Contentment opposes greed.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Money cannot satisfy our soul. It cannot save us. It cannot heal us. It cannot deliver us in all things. When the money runs out or is not enough, what then? I shared with someone yesterday the story of our son who was denied coverage for the treatment that ultimately put him in remission. He would have died without it. The price of human life was about $300,000. What is the price of a human life? The world places a limited sum on your head. I hope you will never find out what that is. Jesus Christ decided you were priceless. Worth having to the extent that He died just to give you life and spend eternity with you. Do you always want more? Is your job more important that church? Church feeds our soul. To come together as believers is agreement that prospers our life. What is your priority? God’s Word asks us to tithe just ten percent giving back to the Lord just a tenth of the monetary wealth that He gives us. Do you tithe?

  1. Contentment opposes ambition.

“Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.” (Proverbs 13:10) Humility is the offspring of contentment. Human ambition and drive runs over a whole lot of people every day. It is a dog eat dog world. Life is not fair so often it is the source of discontentment. Bad things happen to good people. Bad people get good things. I am not a resident of this world but a temporary resident who has allegiance to a far greater Kingdom. It is my absolute faith and confident hope that will allow me to lay my life down now to have it all. Are you humble? Do you think if you don’t do it nobody else will? Do you look down on others or lend a hand to pull them up?

  1. Contentment opposes anxiety.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34)

When I worry, stress and become anxious – I am no longer content. On those days when I feel such emotions overtaking my mind, stealing my joy, and compromising my confidence, it is an instant sign that I need to run into the Presence of God. To be content is confidence in God’s Love, Favor and Goodness to fully supply our life and satisfy our soul. To worry is to doubt. Doubt is evidence of disbelief. Disbelief means I need to fortify my faith. I do this by feeding on the Word, diving into my prayer closet, and praising my way out. We must be constantly aware of this condition and seek the Lord to overcome it. These are not the seeds that produce the abundant harvest of promises that is promised by God to His Children.

And finally (as if I wasn’t already convicted enough):

  1. Contentment opposes complaining.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” (Philippians 2:13-15)

What is the confession of your mouth over your current condition or situation? If set our heart and mind on praise and promises, it will come pouring out of mouth. The Holy Spirit will remind us of all of God’s Promises if we feed our heart, mind and soul God’s Word deciding it is the truth that prevails in our life. When I complain, I am saying that God is not able to do what He promised. I am declaring that the Grace of Jesus Christ is not enough for me. I am professing discontentment with the Lord because He is my provider. Ouch! Lord, I ask you to forgive me for all the times I have unjustly complained about your provision and blessings in my life. Give me a heart that always resounds in praise and thankfulness for You indeed have been so good to me.

Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT) So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Are you content today? You don’t have to be satisfied with who you are or where you are because God is still working to perfect all that concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) It takes time to work out every detail for our good. (Romans 8:28) It takes a lot of time and energy to fully invest our life in the Lord and allow Him to help us work out our salvation. (Philippians 2:12) The Lord has promised us His Goodness IN the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) It is my absolute belief, complete faith and confident hope that allows me to be content while God has His Way in my life. It doesn’t mean to settle for anything but rather engage in the process of completion with peace of mind, rest and wellness in our soul. God is not finished with the masterpiece called you. Don’t rush the project or abandon it altogether just because what you see currently is not what you want or think you need. I must examine my own heart today. I must uproot everything that opposes contentment in my life and plant seedling promises from His Word in my heart. God will do exactly as He promised. I must only trust Him. Thankfulness must overtake those thoughtless words and accusations. God is good. He is good father and perfect provider. It is well with my soul.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Why Am I Surprised

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Luke 12:24-26 (NLT) Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

As I have shared before, we have two little fur babies in our family. One of the Chihuahuas is thirteen and the other just turned three. Both are rescue puppies. Families took them not realizing the responsibility and now they live with us. Each morning when I get up before I do anything else, I feed them and take them outside. Once outside due to their small size, I watch over them as birds of prey have shown interest in them before. I am their provider and protector. I have not forgotten to feed them or care for them a single day. Yet every morning when I head to the kitchen, they are elated. Exuberant beyond what should be over less than a cup of food between the two and the tiny treat when they come in from outside. They seem so surprised that I do this every day. Today as I did the same thing that I do every day, three ravens circled overhead. I was pretty sure that I heard their call but looked to sky to be certain there was no danger. As the sunshine covered my face and I felt its warmth, I had to shield my eyes from its intensity and brightness. That’s when it hit me, God does for me every single day what I do for his smallest creatures. Do I greet Him as they greet me with enthusiasm and awe in each moment? Am I surprised in His Excellent Caregiving? Do I find it unexpectedly even though it is promised every single day? Do I worry? Do I fret?

God promises to provide for us and supply all of our needs. He has already told us that His Plan is for our good and that He will take every detail of our life working it out for this purpose. His Glory is reserved for us and is reflected by faith that is confident enough in His Love to trust Him. Trust is expressed in peace. Our peace is found in the Lord. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. God desires to sustain us in life. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Why am I so surprised that God is good and when He remains faithful? That’s right – God desires to prosper you and overload you with every good gift Heaven has to over as He throws open the windows of His Dwelling Place allowing it to overflow and flood the life ready and willing to receive. You are dearly loved. Highly favored. Greatly desired. God is caring for you even when you feel lost, alone, disappointed and afraid. Our perspective in life never changes our position in God’s Hand and Heart.

Luke 12:27-31 (NLT)  “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

Seek first the Kingdom of God above all else. He will give you everything you need. Do you believe that today? No, do you really, really believe it. I think sometimes people are quick to make confessions that have no place in their heart but have been engrained in their head. In our head, it is simply a reaction. When it comes from our heart, it is a response.

Are you a worrier? I used to be a chronic stress monkey. Having a houseful of children and a handful of a husband, I decided from day one it was my “job” to perform miracles giving them a perfect life. I was to provide for them physically, emotionally and spiritually. I was to protect them with my life. I was to “do” everything that I could to fulfill every need, want, desire and dream every expressed. I was to be the constant encourager and motivator. Lead facilitator. I could go on but I think every mom gets the picture and even some dads. (Wink!) Personal performance pressure that even seeps into our church life sometimes but let’s not even go their today. The list is long enough already. The reality of this who sordid mess of details is that all of the “me” stuff I was trying to do did not express my belief in the Lord but rather was emanating my unbelief. Lord, help my unbelief so that I may believe. Be careful what you pray for friend…God is always faithful.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I was floored. Yet still able to get up and “manage” our life accordingly. I was able to work remotely from the hospital and care center. I could run household affairs via internet, cellphone and my little command center. It was all running smoothly and order quickly restored … the first time. But then there was a second time… okay I still managed to get myself up, dust myself off and keep going. And then there was relapse number three less than three months later and without warning we entered the “realm of hope” and now everybody was scrambling a bit unsure of our son’s future anymore. The call came that cancer had spread throughout his entire body. Well, that is when my whole well-constructed life and perfectly planned lifestyle feel completely apart. If you can imagine a fragile vase in all of it brilliant perfection be slammed by a giant hand on your driveway as hard as possible, yep friends that was my very prideful and fully self-consumed heart. There was no going back. I could not put the pieces back together again. Normal would become something completely new. My perspective on life completely changed during the long trial and battle for our son’s life. I realized I have absolutely no control over my life. I cannot give my husband or kids a perfect life. It was that moment or series of moments in time when my quest for God became a passionate pursuit. I had to find Him. I had to find shelter “beneath His Altar” like the sparrow. (Psalm 84:3) When I let out my breath in desperation, His Breath could finally fill me and His Spirit take over. Now I depend solely on the Lord…He is my expectation. He is my confidence. He is the one who I trust! This is how His Grace becomes our strength. Not in our ability to keep it all together, and do things for ourselves but when the reality finally hits us that Jesus is all we need. It took a lot for me to get there. Pride stood in the way. Past hurts kept me prisoner. If no one else would do it (even the Lord) then I would just do it myself. When I got to the end of me, thankfully my Lord was there waiting to help and do everything that He promised.

Luke 12:32 (NLT) “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

The Father wants to give His Kingdom to you. Nothing would make Him happier. Like the father of the prodigal son, the Lord is just patiently with great longing anticipating your return. The moment that you will turn from worry, stress, anxiety, doing and not doing to find Him right there waiting for you. In exchange, His Spirit will fill your life with good fruit like love, joy and peace just to name a few. These things will nourish your heart and soul. It will change your mind, thoughts and perspective on life. It gives God “great happiness” to give you the Kingdom. He gave what was most precious so that you and I would have the opportunity to be righteous again and benefit from every blessing the Kingdom has to offer. He never changed His Mind or stopped loving you. He has been waiting for you with great anticipation and expectation.

The other day our old dog got left outside accidentally alone for more than ten minutes. In the fenced back yard with the back door to our porch open, he was safe but he panicked. Somehow he made his way out of the yard and was wandering down the road when I found him. Why? He was afraid that he could not get in the house where we were so he started looking for another way. He was impatient when he barked and we didn’t immediately respond and open the door. He has cataracts so his vision is not clear. He is very old and feeble so had he encountered any form of opposition from even the smallest creature – he is too weak to fight or even run away. All he had to do was sit on the nice rug by the back door in the enclosed porch on a picture perfect day with great weather and rest until we got around to letting him back in. But no. He began to worry. He became impatient. He started to stress. He got anxious. Y’all better not be judging my dog who has a brain the size of a walnut and an IQ to match when we do EXACTLY the same thing day after day after day. When God doesn’t do it our way or fast enough – we wander. Our thoughts wander and then our feet will follow. So what should we begin doing instead…

Philippians 4:6-10(NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

I hear those engines idling high out there. I know the holiday season begins next week. In fact, I just realized it on Wednesday myself. Managed to work all day, grab some paint to refinish a dresser and visit two grocery stores to complete the shopping for one meal that seems to cost a fortune AND STILL forget a couple things. I get it. It is go mode because right after that is the Christmas rush, push and ugh. Stress overload in three, two, one…NO! Not today. Not this year. Not this season. Don’t worry about anything. We must command our mind to stop worrying it will not happen on its own. Dig into the Word and find your peace to make it through a season that promotes pressure and performance not required by our Father to possess the Kingdom.

Tell God what you need. Thank Him for all He has done. Yes, done. It is done. It is finished to quote Jesus. Nothing in this world, life or holiday season is worth relinquishing the peace that the lord offers our heart. His Peace will guard our hearts and minds how? As you live in Christ Jesus just like the sparrow and tiny birds that dwell at His Altar so can you? Faith is the seed the size of a mustard seed meant to grow into a tree that what? “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Let the Peace of God reign in your heart and home this holiday season. Each morning when I get up, those two little fur babies jump and bark overjoyed by my arrival to do just what I promised nothing more or less. Two scoops of food and trip to the yard where I carefully watch over and protect them. It is what I promised to do for them when I adopted them and became their master. God does the same for me and you. How do we greet Him each morning? Do we acknowledge Him at all? Has fear overtaken our faith? Has doubt stolen our trust? God is still providing. He is always pursuing us with His Unfailing Love and Goodness. He is always working on our behalf. Do we even notice? Or are we still trying to “do” it all ourselves? Lord, forgive me for all the days that I have taken your loving kindness, provision, protection, blessing and prosperity for granted. Today will not be that day!

Romans 16:20 (NLT) The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Bird’s Eye View

Birds Eye View

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

At the closing table signing papers for our new house, the previous owners told us about the hummingbirds. They had left a hook on the front porch for a feeder in the place that theirs had been and told us that if we replaced it the hummingbirds would come. I have never had a bird feeder in my yard before or hung nectar for hummingbirds. Funny that of all the things they could have shared about life in this house it would be about the little fluttering creatures. On a supply run, I decided to buy a feeder and some red nectar and give it a go. Sure enough not one but three hummingbirds drained it quickly. The feeder is hung outside the windows to the study so in the early morning sunlight or late as the sun finally sets, they are there flittering around it. In the flowerbed just outside is a two-prong hook, it is also for bird feeders. I think I will try my hand at some feeders for the other winged friends in our yard. Don’t laugh at me for my enthusiasm. This is a different life for me. God has brought me to a place that I have never been before and a lifestyle I didn’t even know would be appealing – His Ways are higher than my ways.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Adjusting to my taste of country living has made me reevaluate some things in my life. God has a plan for us. Sometimes it seems unclear and elusive. In fact, most of the times that is the case. What if we looked at life from a bird’s eye view? What if rather than focusing on what we see right in front of us, we were able to fly over our current condition to see the bigger picture from the heights of the heavens? Birds have that unique ability. They can fly. If danger approaches, they can fly away quickly. If the storm rolls in, they can rise above it or use the wind to lift them higher. The birds clearly have the advantage it seems. Looking through God’s Word, I find several examples given to us by a fine feathered friends to remind us that we serve a God who has ways and thoughts higher than our own. We cannot see all that the Lord is doing so like these creatures who depend on the Lord for everything – we must learn to do the same.

Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

If I forget to refill the nectar in the feeder, the hummingbirds will still be just fine. The Lord provides the nectar they need in flowers. They do not need me. I enjoy caring for them and watching them come near. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet the Father feeds them.” Did you know that no matter how hard you work, toil and labor that God is our provider? He gives us the ability to go to work and earn income but it is not according to the hours we put in or one’s ascent up the corporate ladder that determines our prosperity. No, it is God’s Blessing and Favor that gives us the good things that we enjoy. If I stress and worry my life away, I have wasted precious time. It does not impact God’s Faithfulness in the slightest. God supplies our needs. Birds do not worry, stress or fret over food – they trust the Lord.

Before moving on, I would like to point out that birds also understand sacrifice. They were called by God as a sufficient sacrifice in the Book of Leviticus. In Genesis 8, birds were part of the covenant sacrifice bringing together God and Abram (who would become Abraham). Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” (Genesis 15:4-9) We must sacrifice our life for Jesus Christ. We must give up our way to follow His Way… the only way. You cannot head in two directions at the same time. One way must be conceded. I am crucified with Christ now I live.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV) He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Birds know that their provision rests is found in the Presence of God. By faith, they continually look for what they need with complete confidence that the Lord will supply. I am quite certain that our winged friends are not plagued by emotions and feelings that distract and detour them along the way. We must stop relying on what we feel and experience becoming completely dependent on the Lord and taking Him at His Word.

Matthew 10:28-30 (NIV) Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

God is our protector. We have no reason to fear. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground outside the Father’s care, how much more important are you to the Lord? He knows the number of hairs on our head and dares the enemy to touch just one of them. I rebuke fear from your life in the Name of Jesus. In order to maintain one’s courage, we must believe that God is our protector and continually seek His Refuge.

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.” (Psalm 84:2-4) The sparrow and her friend, the swallow, choose to make their nest in the Presence of God. They have decided that He is everything they need and desire so they live right there with the Lord. Too many times we live double lives – one way in church and another in life. Wondering why we do not live up to God’s Glorious Standard by settling for substitutions and compromises. We must learn to wait on the Lord living in His Presence while “He perfects that which concerns you (us).” Psalm 138:8.

I Kings 17:3-6 (NIV) “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”

Ravens represent those who choose to obey the Lord. When God wanted his prophet to be fed, He instructed the ravens to do so and they did. What do I do when God instructs me to do something? Is obedience my immediate reaction or an afterthought? Do I miss opportunities to take God at His Word? Am I even listening at all?

Matthew 3:16-17 (NIV) As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

The dove represents the Holy Spirit. The Mind of Christ given to us by the Father to help us in our weakness and to give us understanding of God’s Ways. The Spirit of God descended “like a dove” on Jesus after He was baptized. We are given the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord. He is our partner in life who guides and instructs. The dove made an appearance in Genesis 8 when Noah released the dove over and over again to find the place God had sent them. To know it was time to open the arc and make their home in that place. We should use the Holy Spirit as our guide as well. He is in us. He is active. The Spirit of the Living God is essential in explaining God’s Word to us, revealing His Secrets and giving us complete understanding that can be turned to wisdom.

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV) Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Everyone loves the eagle. He reveals God’s Renewal and Restoration to us. His Promise to renew our strength when we grow weary and restore our hope when all seems lost. It says that those who hope in the Lord will “soar on wings like eagles.” Are you able to rise above your circumstances today? Have the burdens of life weighted you down? In Job 39, we find the ostrich which is a flightless bird. She is referred to as a bird who God “did not endow with wisdom or give her a share of good sense.” I don’t want to be like an ostrich who buries her head in the sand when trouble comes. I want to be like an eagle who soars above this finite view of life to see things as God sees them. I want to know His Ways that are higher than my ways. I want confidence in the Lord’s Provision and Protection living in His Presence all the days of my life. It requires a new perspective and not one that is based on the ground. I must take a bird’s eye view of life to live as they do.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NIV) Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Purpose in Every Step

Purpose in Every Step

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

“Life is a series of experiences each one of which makes us bigger even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.” (Henry Ford) If only we could view the concept of life in its entirety from a single vantage point, only then could we see that every moment and each step a culmination of God’s Perfect Plan. Each moment holds purpose. Every step leads to blessing. In each opportunity, there is a chance to experience new life. Life is hard. Each day seems to bring the unexpected. It doesn’t seem to fill us with satisfaction as one might that it would. We get bad news. We trip and fall. We make mistakes. After all, we are only human.

“So I run with purpose in every step.” Today I wonder what might happen if we changed our thinking to test the idea out – that each step has purpose woven in it. I no longer believe in leaps of faith but walking by faith. Leaps skip important steps laden with purpose, provision and prosperity that the Lord placed there for me. I leap when I am fearful and do not believe that He is with me each step of the way. It is my inability to accept that He goes before me and follows me with His Hand of Blessing on my head. (Psalm 139:5) When I was a child and my dad was trying to direct me through a crowd of people, he would place his hand on the top of my head to gently guide me along from behind. I naturally would not pull away or buck his direction, but would allow his hand to guide me along. I trusted my dad. I knew that he was holding on to me because he did not want to lose me along the way. What an awesome Father in Heaven that we have who desires to do the same for us each day?

Life and all its experiences are not random, but carefully orchestrated by the Hand of God. He recorded all of our days and moments before our birth or first breath. God has promised that He knows His Plans for us. He promises that each contains a future and hope. An all-inclusive opportunity for those who choose to seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) The Lord also makes two additional important promises in the Word of God for those who choose to answer His Call and walk in His Ways – He will perfect that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) and He will make good of every detail of my life. (Romans 8:28) When you take all of these precious promises and put them in a pretty package with a humongous bow, what do you get? Purpose requiring character and endurance to achieve. I can have a tremendous amount of potential hidden inside of me by God (and we do) but until I activate potential by allowing God to develop my character, it will never become purpose.

Deuteronomy 8:1-3 (NLT) “Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 

My purpose is completely dependent on God’s Plan. Why? He created me. The Lord predesigned me for the purpose that He would place in my heart. To fulfill it, I must be willing to obey all of His Commands. What about freedom? We are free. Christ set us free indeed. Freedom is not forced, therefore the Lord cannot make us choose His Way yet offers it to us day by day. He also gives us new mercies so that if we mess up (which we will) that we will not be defined by our inability to walk perfectly through but our willingness to get up and keep trying no matter how many times we fall.

Each wilderness wandered into is an opportunity to know God more. To increase our trust and commitment to Christ. It allows us to test the contents of our heart, mind and soul while disciplining our body to keep up. There is purpose in the wilderness that you may be wandering in today. You don’t know if you are going the right way because things don’t look like you thought they would. The details of your life are not turning out as you expected. There has to be more so you keep pressing to find your way through. Our experiences increase our endurance especially those that do not make sense. We press harder to get to the other side. We push on the doors of heaven with our prayers and petitions to the Lord. Humility is stumbled upon in the wildernesses of life. It is apprehended by faith when God’s People see that there is nothing worth having apart from the Lord.

Psalm 105:17-22 (NLT) Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free; the ruler of the nation opened his prison door. Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household; he became ruler over all the king’s possessions. He could instruct the king’s aides as he pleased and teach the king’s advisers.

Joseph was a dreamer. He was convinced that the Lord would do as He suggested in the visions the young man was having. It was all the fuzzy details in between that Joseph did not see ahead of time or understand while he was going through them that would be the problem. Fulfillment has an appointed time that cannot be rushed or purpose is aborted. Joseph had to go to the pit to get to the palace. But note, Joseph did not own the palace but had all power, dominion and authority over it. This is our life in Christ. It may resemble the natural. We may not own a thing. But we have the Power of God inside of us to overcome the world.

God does not thrust the weight of the world on our shoulders but has handed it over to Jesus Christ. This is an important detail. God builds our character to rule and reign with Him but doesn’t always give us the promise as a possession.  Joseph enjoyed all the benefits of the kingdom but did not bear full responsibility for it. Joseph served the Lord in every position. He surrendered his life to God no matter where he ended up. What about you? Are you looking to serve God completely somewhere else? Do you think certain situations or conditions have to change for fulfillment to come? Friend, the Lord has placed you right where you are for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14)

Psalm 103:7-8 (NLT) He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

Do you know the character of God? We are made in His Image so it is important in our development of purpose and character that we know God’s Character. When Moses asked God to show him His Glorious Presence, the Lord obliged saying, I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” God is characterized by unfailing love and commitment to each of us. In Psalm 103, the psalmist reminds us of God’s Character. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  He does not constantly accuse us and is not mad at us. God does not punish us for our sins and does not deal harshly with us thanks to the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. His Unfailing and Unconditional Love for each us has no boundaries. He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west. He is our Father filled with tenderness and compassion for the plight of His Children on their pilgrimage home. The Lord knows we are weak. He gave us His Spirit to help us in our weakness. This is the character of God. It is the moral and mental attitude toward each of us. We must believe in the Character and Nature of God to be just that to trust Him with our heart, mind and soul for forever.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.” (Helen Keller) Helen Keller literally had to walk by faith and not by sight due to blindness from birth. Yet, she still struggled. We all do. Character is not easily achieved in life but one of our most valuable assets. No one rejoices when trouble comes especially if it is more than we can bear. Yet it is through life’s experiences that challenge us when endurance develops strength of character. We cannot see our character until it is expressed in life. Our ability to believe and trust the Lord when life is not favorable or we become increasingly more uncomfortable indicates that we have godly character. However, disbelief is evidence of a wayward soul and a lack of divine inclination. (John 8:42-45) You will resemble your master…whoever that may be.

Our character produces actions consistent with our true belief. Genuine faith will be expressed by God’s Fruit productivity in life. If we do not believe, we will not sow. If we do not sow, we will not harvest. If we do not grow, we will die in famine. Famine can be defined as any condition that keeps us from growing and producing in life. Godly hope never leads to disappointment. Hope is for those who choose to have faith and trust in God no matter what their condition may be. Complete confidence and trust in the Character of God and His Reliability come from a daily walk with Him.

We will adopt the mentality and assume the identity of the company that we keep. (I Corinthians 15:33-34) Be mindful, alert and aware of those around you. The influence and impact of others is important. “Bad company will corrupt good character.” If godly character is important to you, it will require immersing your mind in the Word of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to fill your heart, and surrendering each and every step to God’s Will every day. It takes just one step in the wrong direction to change one’s destination.

Hebrews 1:2-3 (NLT) And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

We are in the final days. There is no denying that Jesus is making His Final Decent. Prophecy is being fulfilled day by day. Time is running out. I need to make this time count. Jesus has provided us with the Father’s Inheritance once forfeited by sin. Godly character allows us to move deeper in the Presence of God for our life fulfilling the purpose found there. It is up to me whose identity I will assume. When pressure is applied to my life, what is expressed? This is a clear indication of what fills my heart governing my mind. I need to know. I want to know. I desire to have godly character. The kind that endures to the end so I will be saved. Jesus has given us the power to choose the life that we live and the character allowed to develop in our life. I want to understand what really matters. I want to live in such a way that God sees me as pure and blameless. His Grace is enough for me. I must believe in God’s Goodness and Grace enough to trust Him in the wildernesses and broken places in life. We must desire righteous character and live to attain it. This is the purpose found in each step.

Philippians 1:10-11 (NLT) For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

 

Fully Equipped

Fully Equipped

Isaiah 45:4-8 (NLT)

“And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things. “Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the Lord, created them.”

As the proud mama of five amazing kids, I have seen the wonder of God’s Creation in these fine human beings. Oh, they are not perfect but enchantingly imperfect. Our youngest daughter will be thirteen in a month, and I am a bit nostalgic looking back over the years. All moms and dads have that overwhelming feeling in the middle of long sleepless nights and battling through adolescence that there is no end in sight to this parenting thing. Longing for relief, they fantasize about the days of empty nesting. To all the young parents, a word of warning from those of us on the other side. Be careful what you wish for, it happens all too fast. I have already set three young adults off into their future, but now I want them back. With a soon-to-be sixteen and thirteen year old, the school age years are waning. When you have children in the twenties and some in their teens with a wide age gap, it is funny how the parenting changes a bit. Learning from the oldest to the youngest, it is a sad reality that people really do mellow with age. I find that the things that I thought were so important matter less and less compared to sharing time and just being together. Not that standards and certain values don’t mean anything, just reordered to their proper place, I find that I yell a whole lot less than I used to. Perhaps it is because I don’t have so many to muster anymore. I don’t get worked up over the little things like I used to. Anyway, thank you for indulging me on my walk down memory lane.

God, our Father, is a good dad. He equipped us from the beginning as He knew exactly what each day would bring and the choices we would make in the midst of them. He provided everything we needed from the beginning to win every war and survive any famine. We have everything we need from the moment of our creation. As parents, we try to do the same for our children. Some are good parents attentive to their young ones every need answering every call while other children are forced to learn from survival techniques when those who birthed them do not answer the call to love and support them. The truth remains that no matter who you are, where you came from or how you were raised, the potential and promise of God inside of you is not limited in any way by the circumstances of life – God, your Father, has already provided. If we get to know our Father in Heaven, we will tap into the inner strength, purpose and provision already hidden inside of our life. If we can answer the question, “Whose Your Daddy?” with a resounding You are God! Our potential and purpose unit with God’s Power and we become unstoppable by faith and confidence in Him.

Psalm 33:16-22 (NLT)

The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory— for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.

Dude! I have a good friend that when something hits her and the lightbulb in her head comes on with understanding, she says, “Dude!” I love it. As I read this today, I heard her voice in my head at the revelation of My Father in Heaven and how awesome He is. We are well-equipped to successfully navigate life and reach eternity to bask in His Glory forever. However, we must learn to tap into that power to release it in our life beginning with the source. Strength in the Lord is not manifested like it does in the world. In fact, the Bible say that when I am weak then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10) I do not believe the statement that God does not give us more than we can handle…of course He does. I must reach the end of my human strength to tap into His Strength. His Strength relies on my ability to have faith and trust in my God and depend on Him. When I can do it, I do. It is the moment that I cannot take another step or breathe in again that He can move in my life. So with that thought in mind, it is not what the Lord puts in our hand or gives us to fight with naturally that is our strength. Money doesn’t fix our problems but allows the real substance of our heart to be exposed. Personal power shows the man inside of us rather than who we were to attain the trust of others. Our dependency in Christ is a total surrender of our power to depend on His Power. True strength and security are only found in the God in us.

This is where the rubber hits the road, do you love and trust the Lord for a better life or for eternal life. He equipped us to endure to the end so we will be saved not to have a comfortable life here on earth. This is not our home. We are temporary residents. This world should not be our happy place but the Presence of God the only place that we feel peace and joy like never before. If you fit in with the world, you are using its resources to survive. But the moment you tap into the Holy Spirit and Living God in you depending and relying on His Influence, Instruction and Power to make it through this life as a foreigner journeying for home, the purpose of your life is released and suddenly you live from glory to glory and victory to victory. See then the battles all around you cannot touch your peace. The threats of destruction and rejection of others cannot steal your joy. Now you are winning the race of faith and holding on to confident hope.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

 

You have got to read the instructions. I have spent many Christmas Eves in total frustration because pride got the better of me and I decided I could put something together without the benefit or help of the one who produced it. Silly me. Read the instructions. God’s Word is essential to our success as believers. I have some very stubborn children who come by it honestly. I can warn them. I can give my opinion based on experience but once they reach adulthood, there is very little I can do about their choices. God has written out His Way in His Word. If we strive to follow His Word and do things God’s Way, it makes life a whole lot easier. However, we must fight our flesh’s desire for power every step of the way. The world is no help. The modern day church is not much better vying for the attention of people rather than an outpouring of God one must be very careful where they are fed and with whom they worship. Saying all that, you have no guide without the Word of God a daily source of spiritual nutrition. Why? You have no idea if what you are being told or led to do really is from God or a watered down lie of the enemy. You have nothing to base your life decisions on other than human opinion or worldly influence. Read the instructions. God not only inspired man to write them out but He sent His Son to display His Truth in living color. The Word equips us to do every good work.

Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT)

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

God has gifted us all with the ability to equip and empower other people. Faith must grow to be effective. These are the gifts that Christ gave the church and then it is followed by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. I know what you are saying, I do not hold any of these positions. Of course, you do. The word apostle means any of the followers of Jesus who carried the Christian message to the world. Apostle in the Greek means “one who is sent out.” I think the Great Commission covered that for those who call themselves followers of Christ. Prophet is one who speaks for God out of divine inspiration. Have you told anyone what the Lord has done for you? Evangelists are revivalist. Have you shared Jesus with a stranger before? Prayed for someone you did not know. A pastor is a minister. I know pastors who are great ministers and those who have the title but do not minister at all. What does it mean to minister? To give service care or aid. Teachers. Moms and dads – it happened the moment you became a parent. Everyone teaches people something by their attitude and actions every single day. People exalted these titled positions in the church. Those who call themselves this are no better than the ones doing it in life. Just because you get paid to be these things doesn’t make you one, it is lifestyle of surrendering your heart and mind to Christ and allowing God to use you by His Power that changes everything. Do not be deceived. God created us all with aspects of these positions in us to be cultivated in Christ and released in the world. You and I are equipped to do so. Are we doing it?

Spiritual maturity is essential to become the person that God called and created you and I to be. He not only created us to be His Children but equipped us to do so. If we feel ill-equipped, we must only move closer to the Source of Life who has everything we need. We are to grow, develop and mature in the Lord so that we can fulfill His Purpose. His Unfailing Love and Freedom given in Christ will not allow God to force us to accept His Calling and fulfill His Plan for us knowing it is the best. He waits on us to take our position. To live humbly with our God. To love Him more than this life. To love others more than ourselves. We are equipped to do this special work so why aren’t we doing it? People who use the equipment of God will speak the Truth in love, make the Body fit together by finding their place, and find their special work doing it with due diligence fitting of our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:2-7 (NLT)

 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 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. 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.

One year ago today, our daughter married her true love. When our son-in-law came to me with his brilliant idea to marry our daughter, I asked him to please wait until her brother’s health issues were resolved. We were preparing to go to transplant. In his excitement, he assured me it would be great just what the family needed. Little did we know at that time, the insurance company would deny his transplant ensuing a battle lasting for months. On top of that, cancer came back to invade his body a fifth time. In the midst of it all, we were planning a wedding. I remember telling the groom’s mom, if I can make it to the front row of the ceremony with all of my children standing in front of me healthy and whole, I know it will be all right. Even though the wedding would be postponed a month, it happened on this day one year ago. I remember slowly panning the wedding party and thinking look what the Lord has done. We passed the one-year mark of remission a few months ago. For the past year, the Lord has allowed me to rest and recoup this last long battle. Now I know that through it all, He was strengthening and empowering me for His Glory and now He is telling me to go. I have no idea what is next or what the Lord is up to but with the utmost confidence I can say, “I am equipped to do the Will of God and now I want to do it. Here I am Lord, send me.”

You have been given everything you need to live a godly life. Just because you didn’t go running across the finish line of the last test with hands in the air and feet pounding the pavement, in no way means that you did not finish well. I think those who crawl across the finish line get the most out of the challenge because that is when we have allowed the Lord to become our Strength and Source in life. It is in our weakness that we accept God’s Strength. I challenge you today to survey your equipment. Are you in tune with God’s Spirit living inside of you? Are you reading the Word? Are you in the chat room with God called prayer? Are you doing something anything for the Lord bringing Glory to His Name? We have it all. He lives inside of us. Faith is planted in our heart called eternity. We are born with it. It is up to us if we will supplement and facilitate its growth or let it die. This is the only way to effectively respond to God’s Promises. If you want what He says, you have to live how He prescribed to have it. I want all of Jesus. I don’t want to come up short. I am properly equipped now I intend to use it. I pray that each person who reads this today will tap into the Power and Purpose of God hidden inside their heart grabbing hold of the faithfulness of His Unfailing Love, trusting in the fact that He is always good, and knowing He is working His Plan in their life today enough to partner with the Lord in every endeavor.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NLT)

Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

Completely

Completely

Proverbs 3:5-6 (TLB)

 If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.

 

Not sure if this has ever happened before when my quiet time with the Lord from yesterday crept into today too, but I am a stubborn person and sometimes quite obstinate so I can see why the Lord may feel the need to drive the message home. I have also been known to be a half-listener and to hear only what I want to hear. Hey, at least I am honest. Yesterday was a tough day, one that replays each year. I lived it only one, yet find myself reliving it each year as it passes. The day our son was diagnosed with cancer apparently left a mark deep inside my soul and a scar on my heart that is still tender despite the Lord has been true to His Word. The Lord told me that night in a dirty hospital bathroom as I cried on the floor, tears falling on the gray tile and yelling in the mirror as He hushed me, calmed me and instructed me that our son would indeed live and not die. But before I heard His Word, He asked me one question. “Do you trust me?” It seemed so unnecessary and irrelevant at the moment, because I did trust the Lord. Why else would I have surrendered my life to Him? Yes, Lord I trust you. I did. I really and truly did.

Trust the Lord completely. Completely means having all parts or elements; lacking nothing; whole; entire; full; finished; ended; and concluded. Furthermore, it means thorough, entire, total, undivided, uncompromised, and unmodified. We are supposed to trust the Lord COMPLETELY. How can a human being doing such a thing? We think we do. But to do so would mean that one would never experience fear, worry, stress, anxiety or devastation again. But there is hope that I found in God’s Word yesterday that I never realized before. Ephesians 2:8 (TLB) says, Because of his kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God.” Trust is not a human quality but a gift from God. Mind blown. Like truly what a relief for people like me who trust the Lord, but struggle to trust Him COMPLETELY.

Psalm 37:3-5 (TLB)

Trust in the Lord instead. Be kind and good to others; then you will live safely here in the land and prosper, feeding in safety. Be delighted with the Lord. Then he will give you all your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him to help you do it, and he will.

Commit EVERYTHING you do to the Lord. Trust Him to HELP you do it. This whole idea of trust coming from God will change our lives forever if we can somehow in our finite intelligence completely wrap our head around God’s Love for us. Trust in His Love is the very thing that changes us forever. Salvation is a demonstration of God’s Love for us not condemnation. Jesus did come to sign our death certificate but tear it up. There is joy in our salvation if we can find a way to trust the Lord to do it. I thought I trusted the Lord but then it became a matter of life or death. Time for the rubber to hit the road. When God said, “Do you trust me?” I thought, of course look at all I am doing to live for you and trying to serve you. Oh, but none of that matters without faith that trusts the Lord completely. Trusting the Lord is a “moment by moment” endeavor of taking every minute of our life and believing He is doing something with it. Think about it. Psalm 139:3 tells us that every moment God knows exactly where we are. It says in verse 16 that those moments are already recorded. God can be trusted with every facet of our life. He gives us what we need to trust Him more. Why? He wants to bless us so we can live safely in a world that is hostile towards Him. He wants to feed us and provide for us. He wants to fill us with inexpressible joy. He wants to give us our heart’s desire. This requires supernatural trust that comes from seeking the Lord and living in His Presence day by day so we will be granted such to love Him more.

Genesis 39:7-9 (TLB)

One day at about this time Potiphar’s wife began making eyes at Joseph, and suggested that he come and sleep with her. Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in the entire household; he himself has no more authority here than I have! He has held back nothing from me except you yourself because you are his wife. How can I do such a wicked thing as this? It would be a great sin against God.”

We all know the story of Joseph who went from the pit to the palace in Genesis. Father’s favorite son but hated sibling. Thrown into a bit – trust destroyed. Sold to slavery to live in bondage. Sent to Potiphar’s house to be hounded by his wife. Let’s stop there for a moment before Joseph winds up in prison. I have read this story so many times that I breeze past this exchange like I ignore the “Housewives of” you pick the city. Today, I have new insight to the commentary of Joseph. “Look”, he told her, “your husband (my master) trusts me with everything. He has given me equal authority in this household. The only thing that is withholding from me is you. Now why on earth would I do such a wicked thing?” Then Joseph says this, “It would be a great sin against God.” What about her husband? This opens Joseph’s heart to us so we can look in. Everything Joseph did from the pit to the palace this man did because he trusted God not the people around him. It doesn’t mention a bad attitude or anything other than Joseph finding favor in each step. Now at that moment a bitter man or one who wanted something other than God’s Best might have given in to his flesh. Most men in his position would – he was a slave to the master what better way to get him back or even find more favor in the household by having the wife’s favor, too. The people in the story were not as important or relevant as the God in Joseph’s heart. What if we approached life the same way? Working for the Lord in every capacity including our relationships, home, job and church? What if when we don’t do the right thing it is not an offense against the people in those positions but rather against the Lord inside us? Game changer. For real, this is a complete and total shift in our mentality.

To totally and completely trust the Lord is to have faith in Him above all other relationships and interactions in our life. To make Him the Source of every need, want and desire believing enough to do the right thing, continually seeking His Face, and following His Way. We don’t always to that because our trust is limited. When we decide that He is everything we need and all that we want, the Lord increases our trust. The situations and circumstances we face to burn away the insufficiency of faith that limits our trust can be brutal but the revival in our heart changes EVERYTHING.

Psalm 33:4-5 (TLB)

For all God’s words are right, and everything he does is worthy of our trust. He loves whatever is just and good; the earth is filled with his tender love.

 

God loves us. We can trust Him. All of God’s Words are right and filled with His Loving Kindness. He does not want to harm us but prosper us. His Love is defined by justice and goodness for His People. We cannot trust ourselves. We tired that and failed. Job 8:14 likens trusting ourselves to trusting a spider’s web. God blesses us even in our wandering. The grumblers and complainers were fed in the wilderness with manna and quail. They were weakly following God but disobeying Him at the same time. Little trust but still provided for. (Deuteronomy 8:15-16) God knows we have trust issues. He supplies the Love and Mercy that we need to trust Him more. We cannot trust the Lord for other things until we decide that He has saved us. (Psalm 13:5-6) Salvation is the beginning of a right relationship with God. Those who endure to the end will be saved. Endurance is required for faith to grow and trust to be firmly established.

Psalm 112 promises the reward of trust as: 1) blessed beyond expression; 2) happiness; 3) our children are honored and favored by God; 4) darkness may come, but the Light of His Love will always overcome it; 5) all will go well for you; 6) evil circumstances will not overtake us; and 7) confidence that God will take care of us. There are more nuggets of truth associated with trusting God. If we want it, He will give us more trust. It comes at the price of self.

Psalm 34:8-10 (TLB)

Oh, put God to the test and see how kind he is! See for yourself the way his mercies shower down on all who trust in him. If you belong to the Lord, reverence him; for everyone who does this has everything he needs. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those of us who reverence the Lord will never lack any good thing.

 

I have felt many times that our son’s battle with cancer exhausted the limits of my trust. To God be the glory, honor and power because I know that He healed and delivered Him. I cannot count the times God supernaturally intervened on his life. This has nothing to do with my commitment to God. It is the limits of my faith and trust. See at the end of this journey, I feel like I have reached the limit like if another test comes it might be too big for me because this one took it all out of me. What a relief and rejoicing to discover – trust is not my issue but God’s Gift to me. He is the One who fills me with His Love, Grace and Mercy to trust Him more. I cannot trust God like I need to outside of His Presence. It is my connection to the Source of Life – Jesus Christ that allows me to continue to trust Him more. We can test God and see how kind He is not worrying if trust will be our issue. Those who are willing to test Him will be given the trust they need to endure whatever happens in the process. God is more than enough. The Lord is all-powerful and able to overcome every situation if we will simply hand it over to Him and wait until He is done. Those who reverence the Lord will never lack any good thing. It is His Promise to love us completely and never settle for less that brings about blessing in our life. Trust is God’s Issue. Surrender is ours.

Psalm 80:17-18 (TLB)

Strengthen the man (or woman) you love, the son (or daughter) of your choice and we (I) will never forsake you again. Revive us (me) to trust in you.

Half Empty or Half Full

Half Empty or Half Full

Hebrews 11:1-3 (NLT)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

I discovered a list of quotes that I found quite enlightening. The question – “Is the glass half empty or half full?” Here are some of them:

  • The optimist says the glass is half full.
  • The pessimist says the glass is half empty.
  • The project manager says the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
  • The realist says the glass contains half the required amount of liquid for it to overflow.
  • And the cynic… wonders who drank the other half.
  • The worrier frets that the remaining half will evaporate by next morning.
  • The fanatic thinks the glass is completely full, even though it isn’t.
  • The entrepreneur sees the glass as undervalued by half its potential.
  • The Buddhist says don’t worry, remember the glass is already broken.
  • And of course my favorite: The radical thankful child of Jesus says, “THE CUP RUNNETH OVER.”

As you can see there are many different perspectives on the list and these are just a few it was endless with the perceptions of so many who have viewed the glass for themselves. I wonder today how you see the glass of your life. I have contemplated this recently and found that over the last few years somehow mine had drastically changed. I have always been an optimist. The glass was always half full in my reasoning of life. There was always possibility. Everything could have a happy ending. But with the twists and turns of life, although my faith was still intact, my heart had somehow become too realistic. Rather than focusing my whole life on the God who makes all things possible even the impossible, I had concentrated it solely on the healing of our son which, of course, was successfully. But the rest of my life had been placed precariously on hold, now I no longer had the kind of faith that saw the potential of God in all of my life. I was living on reserves and that needed to change. It is day by day.

God wants His Goodness to be evident in every area of my life and reflect His Glory. God has already provided everything I need to survive and thrive in this lifetime on my way to meet Him in Eternity. He did not pack my life like a lunch to get us through the day but continually supplies those who love Him enough to trust Him with a bountiful feast right in the enemy’s face. God is faithful and that faithfulness is our assurance that everything He promised in His Word has the potential to be a reality in my life. God wants to bless us. It has been His Plan all along even when we lost our way or deliberately walked away – we were ordained to be blessed therefore it is our inheritance in God through Christ Jesus. He decided it before we were born and the Lord intends to keep His Promise. So what is the problem? Why are we lacking? We are not. We have all these things. What we do not have is faith? We do not see them because we look at the natural rather than relying on confident hope that God will do exactly as He promised so we accept counterfeits and substitutions rather than allowing God to do His Best as He promised. The glass is half empty but we are about to make it half full by changing our perspective on life. Looking at things through our faith, attaching confident hope to each one. Faith draws us closer to God. Hope allows us to see what He offers and confidence tells it is true. Fear and doubt hide God’s Provision, Goodness, Faithfulness and Blessing from us so we think that we lack what we need survive when in reality we are about to thrive.

Philippians 4:19 (NLT)
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

 

God has provided everything we need today. It is within our reach. Most of the time, our focus is not on what we have but what we think we lack. Our wants have a funny way of becoming our needs when focused upon. God promised to give us the desire of our heart. Those who delight in Him will have whatever their heart desires. (Psalm 37:4) He promises those who seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live like it will be given everything they need. (Matthew 6:33) We want God’s Provision but do we really want God. This is the first step to having all that His Kingdom has to offer. If you don’t want God but just His Stuff that makes you a thief. God promises to supply all of our needs. God promises to provide seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. He provides for us and increases our resources as we give it away. In other words, when fear of lack limits our giving it limits our resources, too. God loves a cheerful giver. Generosity is fearless giving. When we withhold anything in our life, it because limited. Think about that. We remain half full in our fear.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT)

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Fear is a lack of confidence. Do you believe that God is ALWAYS good? I do. I don’t know that I have always felt that way. But even in believing that God is good, we must accept that He is always good to us. He does not ever set us up for failure. He does not teach us a life lesson but prepares us from the inside out. The Holy Spirit tempers our life teaching us the right way to live. This cultivates the soil of our soul so that all the fruit of the Spirit can be produced there. (Galatians 5:22-23) When the Lord passes before Moses to show Him His Glory and Goodness – He made a key statement eluding to future salvation in Jesus Christ. The Lord said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”(Exodus 33:19) The Lord said I will show mercy and compassion to anyone I choose. This was not possible under the Law but came through Jesus Christ. God intended to get His Goodness to mankind. Jesus grants us access to the Kingdom of God and every single promise that He has given us. We connect with Jesus by faith. Faith builds confidence in us that what we hope for is a reality enough to wait on it peacefully and patiently. His Goodness has nothing to do with us. He made the choice. He pursues us with unfailing love that insures His Goodness. (Psalm 23:5-6) Nothing we have done in the past and submitted to the Cross will hinder us because God makes all things work together for our good. (Romans 8:28) To believe this changes our perspective on life from failure to fulfillment when we believe that God is good!

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NLT)

“Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

 

“My covenant of blessing will never be broken!” The Lord is whispering this to you today. Yeah you! The one who like me gets wrecked at the thought of such unfailing love, grace, mercy and goodness in the midst of the disaster I once made of my life. The one who cannot accept that His Love overcame all sin and shame. The one who cannot believe that God is that good. His Faithful Love remains intact. God is not a man. He cannot lie or change His Mind. (Numbers 23:19) Until we believe that wholeheartedly and without reservations, some blessings in our life will remain on hold. Not because He is withholding them from us but are limiting our self. What must happen? We must come to the Lord. He waits for us to come to Him so that He can show us His Love and Compassion. Remember what He told Moses, I will show my love and compassion to whom I choose. Well, He sent Jesus Christ to grant us access so He is saying I choose you now come on! (Isaiah 30:18) To ask Jesus to be our Savior is one thing, but when we make Him the Lord of our life – we choose to step into His Presence and live there. By doing so a radical change begins to happen as His Favor becomes active in our life. Those who live fearlessly and confidently in the Presence of God will discover the blessings that they heard about only to believe at one time that they were too good to be true. When He becomes our treasure, the Lord releases His Glorious Riches and Resources in our life. We must look at things through eyes of faith and confident hope to see them and attain them. This is the Promise of those who love the Lord and serve Him – “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! (Isaiah 55:10-12) Every Promise of God for our life has been released into the atmosphere and is circulating overhead waiting for those who by faith lift their hands in praise in pain, dare to be thankful under pressure and choose to believe that God’s Goodness and Love is for them. They pour out their life from a glass that seems half full to be supplied with overflowing resources from Heaven when God opens the sky to pour out His Glory on them.

Psalm 139:5-6 (NLT)

You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

 

Nothing can ever separate us from the Love of God. When He created us it was with love and careful intentions. He recorded every moment of our life before we were born. (Psalm 139:16) He has a good plan with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) All you must do to have it is seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:13) Looking at Him and not the world around you. Advice and opinions are free. They come invited or uninvited, solicited or not. What does the Lord say about your life? That is what you need to tap into and discover. What does He have planned? One thing that I know from this passage today is that He goes before me and follows me. He has placed His Hand of Blessing on my head. This tells me that my glass is always half full. There is always potential for God to release a blessing in my life. The rest is up to me. Will I believe? Will I trust? Will I obey? If I do, my life becomes limitless. I will abound in all things by faith and confidence in My God alone. My current situation does not dictate the future of my blessing. (Psalm 84:6) I am just passing through on my way to glory. Even in my wandering on my way back, He guards all that is mine. (Psalm 16:5) There will be nothing lost, wasted or stolen from my life even if I fail. The Lord is protecting my inheritance as I find my way to Him. The blessing of the Lord comes with no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22) This makes it all worth waiting for.

Matthew6:21-23 (NLT)

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

 

Thank you Lord for opening my eyes back to the Light of Your Love today. Thank you for changing my perspective again. I can feel your Hands on my face gently but persistently turning my focus back to You. I apologize Lord for looking the other way. My glass has never been half empty but always have full. In fact, my cup is running over today when I think of all you have done and look at our life through eyes of faith rather than fear. I am optimistic again. But more than that I am confident! Confident in Your Love, Your Faithfulness, Your Goodness and Grace that is leading me into Your Glory. My glass is full today just because of your love. Keep my eyes on You Lord,

What is your treasure today? What is the desire of your heart? Your eyes are the lamp that leads you to where you are going. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His Wonderful Face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His Glory and Grace.  What a great old hymn and wonderful reminder that will change our perspective back to where it should have been all along! Is your glass half empty or half full today? Only you can decide.

I Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Living in More Than

Living in More Than

John 14:1-3 (NLT)

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

 

We live in the endless possibility of more than. That’s right, no matter who you are or where you live inside you is the potential to always have more than enough. We are promised that God will supply our needs. (Philippians 4:19) He gives us everything we need to live a “godly” life (2 Peter 1:3) which I might add is defined by abundance. Jesus didn’t come to give us a so-so life but abundant life. (John 10:10) Sin kept us from God’s Glorious Standard of living. If the Blood of Christ is indeed sufficient for the remission of sin, than we now have the ability to live in the abundance of God’s Glorious Standard of Living once again. Like the Jefferson’s, we are moving on up! Those who delight in the Lord will be given their heart’s desire. (Psalm 37:4) Why are believers limited rather than living in the overflowing abundance of God? First, you have to believe that you serve a Great Big God who is able to do all these things He has promised. Second, you have to believe that the same Great Big God is totally, completely, and unconditionally in love with you! Faith is the ability to live in the abundance of God. Without faith, it is impossible to please God and enter His Presence. We have to believe that we are called to live in a place called more than. It sounds so easy. Though the journey is hard, the blessings and benefits are completely overwhelming.

Matthew 6:25-26 (NLT)

 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?”

 

Do you think a million dollars would change your life? Of course, it would. Do you think a million dollars would change you? Of course. If you were given the choice of a million dollars cold hard cash today or to follow Christ for the rest of your life, what would you choose? Maybe you are thinking that’s dumb, I would follow Jesus! Oh really, how much time do you give to your job versus the amount of time spent with the Lord? The Lord knows our heart. He knows when we truly want Him and when we only want His Stuff. There is no doubt in my mind that the Kingdom of God is full of stuff and that for those with a steady heart it will be poured out in abundance but the problem is that most people cannot see abundance past the limitation of cold hard cash. They do not see life beyond today, tomorrow or anything natural. A lump sum of money deposited in our bank account that we may use any way that we see fit is not necessarily beneficial to our future. It will make life easier today but what if that trial, hardship or struggle was meant to strengthen our relationship with Christ and create more dependency on Him – then what? Will the money bring us satisfaction? Probably not, considering 97% of instant millionaires are broke in the first three years.

I have often shared the story of my grandfather and the Trans-Am. We were meandering through the lot just after I had turned 16 just kicking tires walking off a full meal. When I saw the car, I know in that moment it put stars in my eyes. My obvious desire was not missed by my grandfather who stopped and was silent. The more I fell in love with the car on the spot, the deeper his frown became. He said, “I would love to get this car for you. I can tell how much you love it. But this car would ruin you. You wouldn’t do the things that you are supposed to do but rather focus on the car.” Such wisdom that resonates in my mind today long since his passing. He loved me so much that he would not give me the thing I wanted. God sees past our impulsivity and need for immediate gratification to forever, He has decided those things that will hinder us from arriving safely to His Kingdom and in His Great Love keeps them from us because He loves us that much! There is more to life than things. There is more to life than money.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)

 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The very thing that keeps flourishing rather than floundering in life is the Love of God. We have to allow the Lord to increase the capacity of our faith to a point ready to receive all that He has for us. Our life situation will not change until we are changed first. God’s Love will not allow us to have anything in our life that keeps us from Him. His Love is fierce. It is jealous. His Love is always more than enough. It makes us more than conquerors. Overwhelming victory belongs to those willing to fight the good fight of faith. The inner struggle to remain faithful no matter what. Nothing can separate us from the Love of God given to us by Jesus Christ. Nothing. No sin. No other power. Nothing in this world. Nothing. So if God’s got a tight hold on us, it must be us that needs to get a tighter grip on the Lord. Faith is the connection to abundance. It is the missing link. The ability to trust the Lord to love us and care for us rather than doing it ourselves and making our own way. Can you do it? If you try you will begin to experience God’s Abundance in your life.

2 Kings 4:2-6 (NLT)

“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.

Whenever God is working to stretch my faith a little (or a lot), it seems we go to visit the woman in 2 Kings. She was a widow. Her husband a former prophet now gone to be with the Lord. Her debts more than she could pay the government was threatening to take her two sons as slaves for repayment. She was desperate. Elisha asked her what she had to work with. She said, “Nothing at all, except this flask of olive oil.” There is always something to work with in our life when we have faith in God. It may seem small and insignificant to us but the moment that we put in the Lord’s Hands in faith it becomes abundant. The only limitation that day on the oil flowing was the amount of jars she had obtained. If you are willing to put yourself out there for the Lord, He promises to keep abundance flowing as more than in your life.

Psalm 37:18-19 (NLT)

Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

 

The Grace of God given in the Blood of Christ allows us to live as innocents even though we have sinned a lot. Those who choose by faith to accept the gracious love of God will have an inheritance that lasts forever. Forever does not have a beginning or an end – it begins in the believer’s life the moment they believe. They will not be disgraced in hard times. It doesn’t say that there will not be hard times. It says that even in famine they will have more than enough. Are you looking for the jars to fill or asking for oil to fill jars you do not have?

Psalm 63:5 (NLT) You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.

 

God will satisfy you more than any tangible item in our life. When we hunger and thirst for more of Him, seeking to satisfy this desire with His Word, His Way and His Will suddenly the abundance of God begins to flow in all directions of our life. God begins to do supernatural things that defy the natural. This is a true story – I use a journal every single day to write about my time spent with God. I bought a journal right before I left to accompany our son for his bone marrow transplant because I was more than halfway through with the other one. I anticipated my need and went ahead to meet it. Well apparently there were either more pages in the old book or God was trying to show me something because I just finished it. The new journal has sat there empty for over nine months. God knows our needs, wants and desires better than we do. He knows what we need to have more faith. He knows whether or not what we want will satisfy our soul. He also sees our heart’s desires. He can only fulfill a heart that desires Him – otherwise there is no room. We are limited by our faith in receiving God’s Abundance. Increase your faith and you will move into more than.

Psalm 45:7 (NLT)

You love justice and hate evil. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.

 

There are a whole lot of rich, unhappy people. Mo’ money, mo’ problems is true for those with unjust and out-of-tune hearts. Money only exemplifies the heart condition of a person allowing them to live out what they secretly dream about. But for those who simply decide to love the Lord and turn from evil (which means nothing more than loving God more than sin) they will live with more joy than anyone else. Love and peace produce a joy that man cannot touch. The satisfaction and contentment of God in our life allows us to love others freely without obligation. It just overflows from our heart that has been filled with the Joy of the Lord.

Ephesians 3:19-21 (NLT)

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

One thing that you have to say about my friend the widow is that she was game. When Elisha told her to go collect jars from her neighbors, she did it. She had no idea that everything she needed was in that one flask of oil. She didn’t realize until she started filling those jars just what the Lord was about to do for her. She just took her faith and went with it. I wonder if as she asked for each jar doubt rose up in her. I imagine the enemy kept asking her what she was going to do with all these jars when she didn’t have enough oil to fill one. Why was she wasting her time? Her heart was racing as she picked up that flask. Her desperation brought her to the Lord where she placed the last little bit of faith that she had, God gave her more than she could even think to ask for. She wanted to save her children that day, but the Lord saved them forever. God will always do more than we might ask or think for His Children. That is you and me.

I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT)

 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

 

God is doing something in my life today. He is also trying to do something in yours. He has a Plan that is far greater than anything we might think or ask for. He wants to get it to us and is just waiting on enough faith to get things going. I know that in my case, there is a great deal of change around me. I know that I am working harder right now in the midst of transition. I have peace most of the time but there are days when my faith seems too weak and small to carry through the challenges of change to commit to the future. This Word is for me but I think it might be for many others, too. Your life is churning and changing as God works in our midst. Our humanity says run for cover, but our heart says hang on a minute. There is wonderful joy ahead in that place of more than enough. We just have to make it through the testing and trials that refine our faith to make room for it. I know life is hard. The struggle is most definitely real. But nothing is wasted and it is always worth it. The more we learn to love and trust Jesus without ever seeing Him, the more of His Glory that produces inexpressible joy fills us. The Lord has promised us that these trials and temptations we are facing are not “more than” we can handle. He knows our weaknesses and dealt with them on the Cross. Now we have His Spirit that helps us as we grow. Your life has true potential just because you believe. If we do not give up, we will live in more than. It is a place of abundance handed to us by God as He raises us up to His Glorious Standard of Living once again. All because He loves us!

Psalm 130:5-6 (NLT)

I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word. I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn, yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.

One Step Closer – A Devotion

One Step Closer

Ephesians 1:16-18 (NLT)

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

 

As I have confessed before, I am a bargain shopper. I am always in pursuit of a good deal. I believe that being a good steward of what the Lord gives us is important. But there are some household items that I have learned it really is not a good idea to cut corners. For example, garbage bags are one thing I now pay a little more for as there is a long-term benefit. Our family can produce some rubbish now. It is really nice when the bag does not break or leak on our clean floor. With a coupon or store discount, I am usually only paying about a dollar more but it is well worth the price. Another thing is toilet paper. Inadvertently, I recently grabbed a package of one-ply toilet paper because I was looking at the price rather than the packaging. It was a little less than two-ply though I did not notice the difference at the time. The blissful ignorance did not last long as the complaints began almost immediately. My husband offered to get a second job for “real toilet paper”. Our kids all grumbled and griped about how harsh it felt and useless it was. Even my adult daughter on a visit yelled from the restroom, “Hey mom, what’s up with the prison toilet paper.” I hope to never make that mistake again. Sometimes we get caught up in the doing like budgeting and forget about the overall goal which is financial freedom. I think this is the case for most extreme coupon clippers. If you need the item, then it is a good deal but converting your garage, basement and half of your house to hold all the stuff you accumulate is called hoarding. What does this have to do with the Lord! We must use our spiritual wisdom to pursue Jesus Christ and be His Holy People. The Lord is working to do more than we could think or ask. Righteousness is remaining in right standing with God which is a faithful position relying on confident hope. Religion and routine tell us to do the “good” things that we know to do but faith reminds us that God is giving the increase.

I want to be a good steward of all things that the Lord has blessed us with. This includes my time, talent and treasure. However, I must be careful not to be caught up in the doing and consumed with seeking the steps that He has ordered for my life. I must move from the Lord could do this in my life to the Lord will do this. I must move from the Lord will do this to the Lord is doing it. This means that sometimes, I must do less so He can do more. Confident hope should persuade me that I am a holy person who is His Rich and Glorious Inheritance. It should encourage me that by faith I will have all that the Lord promised not because I can do anything at all but am willing by faith to follow Christ’s example. We must know the meaning of confident hope to take one step closer to the fulfillment of our Lord.

Psalm 37:23-28 (NLT)

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. The godly always give generous loans to others, and their children are a blessing. Turn from evil and do good, and you will live in the land forever. For the Lord loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly. He will keep them safe forever, but the children of the wicked will die.

Before our son was diagnosed with cancer, I was all about doing everything “right”. It was almost a religion to me especially when it came to my job. I could not understand why people did not give 100% to the company that paid them so well with good benefits. I had not time for those who just wanted to “make eight”. Though I am still not a fan of laziness, through the process of walking our son through his healing I have discovered that there is more to life than “right”. It’s called grace. Everyone is pursing something that requires taking one step after another. There are those who plan each step and those who head off in random directions after radical pursuits. I am a planner who does not like surprises so I try to prepare for all scenarios. News flash – didn’t see the whole kid and cancer thing coming. It completely and totally interrupted, overturned and reorganized my life in a single moment. The good thing was I felt as though a weight had been lifted as the oppression of the rat race of this world gave way to putting all my faith and hope in God. In that moment, I really didn’t care what was transpiring at the office. That didn’t change when I returned to work either. I began taking lunch breaks and leaving on time. I started affording grace for the lack of motivation in others looking for ways to motivate them. My co-workers all expressed their approval of my new attitude. I pray a lot that the Lord will forgive me for my religious spirit and to keep my heart right with confident hope. I do not have to rely on my job for fulfillment. I do not depend on my company for provision. The Lord has proven in this season of our life that He will meet our needs and give us the desires of our heart even when we are weak and helpless unable to do a thing.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of our life. Somehow, some way in the midst of the grueling hardship of the last three years rather than being mad at God, I have decided that He really does love me and that He is good all the time. Rather than trying to make my life “right”, I am choosing righteousness that doesn’t seem as harsh as religion dictates. I choose by faith to hold tightly to the Hand that the Lord offers in each day as a part of His Mercy. God’s Children don’t have to beg for His Goodness and Provision but simply look for it and it is there. His Word directs us to those things that He has hidden in our life not found walking it our way. (Psalm 119:130-133) Sometimes it is through a valley of weeping that we discover life’s greatest blessings because in those moments we are humbled enough to seek the Lord and follow His Way. (Psalm 84:6) It doesn’t have to be like this but for some of “us” it is the only way because pride likes right more than humility. Trust me…that’s me. The godly are never abandoned. The Lord is always with them. Godly people live in the freedom of generosity never worrying that there is not enough but knowing that He is more than enough. Who are the godly? Simply put they are the ones who choose to turn from evil and do good. This is not a religious choice or radical decision but rather a heartfelt desire to take one step closer to the Lord our God. I want you more than anything else so I will forfeit my plan to follow yours Lord.

Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

 

Has the Lord ever laid something on your heart to do, you accept it by faith and attempt to begin the process but don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Me, too. That’s why I think the Lord likes to spring things on me rather than allowing me to marinate too long over what He is doing in my life. I am a headstrong runner who is ready to take that idea or desire and run with it. God has a perfect plan. I like to “go”. His Plan takes time and has ordered steps. I just want my feet to move. Faith tells me to hold my position until it is time. My human nature is pouring gas on the fire telling me to get this show on the road. Experience is saying, “Wait for the Lord!” My body is going full throttle. The Lord determines our steps because He is good and demands justice in our life. He will never lead you to compromise or substitutions no matter how much we beg. The Lord put that desire in our heart for an appointed time and it will not be delayed. He is waiting for us to get ready. To count the cost. To be ready to endure to fulfillment. The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way? Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.” (Proverbs 20:24-25) We think we want certain things in our life but we do not know the cost. The Lord does because He paid it and He knows every step that we must take to have it. He will never let the righteous fall. God does not require His Children to beg. He will not release you until everything is ready. The Lord looks at our heart. He tests our faith. He decides if our hope is confident enough to withstand the next step closer before He allows us to go.

Proverbs 14:15 (NLT)

Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.

 

So here I stand today…considering my next steps. Faith tells me to wait on the Lord even though it seems like He is moving in slow motion. Confident hope tells me that He is working every detail out for His Good (Romans 8:28), perfecting my way (Psalm 138:8) and preparing me for His Plan containing a future and hope. I must be prudent in considering my next step and the step after that to determine if it is a step closer to the Lord or in my own direction. God gives us dreams and visions that will lead to total fulfillment that only His Goodness can produce. They can only obtained by faith according to His Plan, His Steps and His Timing. The Lord is compelling His People to consider godliness. Think about holiness. It is not a blind pursuit just one that requires senses other than we are used to. Let’s not get caught up in the doing of religion but the undoing of a true connection to Jesus Christ. Only then will we learn to rejoice in the confident hope we are given rather than becoming consumed in forcing God’s Hand. Focus on love and doing the Will of God – His Way and He will take care of you!

Romans 12:9-18 (NLT)

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.