The Open Gate

The Open Gate

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most beautiful and photographed bridges in the world. U.S Army Captain John C. Freemont named the waters beneath the bridge “Golden Gate” strait as “it is a golden gate to trade with the Orient.” Freemont was an engineer, geographer, scientific collector and explorer who earned the nickname “Pathfinder.” The suspension bridge was built to provide a practical route for travelers across the San Francisco Bay. Before the bridge was constructed, a ferry provided service back and forth. At the time of construction, it was both the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world.

A beautiful masterpiece of craftsmanship, the Golden Gate Bridge serves a useful and productive purpose. Prior to the bridge being opened, the growth rate of San Francisco was well-below the national average. They were not prospering and needed access to the surrounding communities. To continue with new growth and development they needed access. San Francisco needed to be connected. The Golden Gate Bridge did just that and soon San Francisco was thriving again.

Yes, I am the gate.

The Kingdom of God has a gateway. His Name is Jesus. He is the gate that gives us access to the Father and His Kingdom so that as our soul prospers our life will as well. There is an abundance for those who choose the Way, the Truth and the Life. A way of provision, productivity and purpose that cannot be entered into via any other route. He is the ultimate bridge. Laying down His Life for His People (or sheep in this illustration), those who are followers of Jesus Christ will enter into new life as new creations. They have the opportunity to come and go freely without boundary or restriction. They will find good pastures that are plentiful satisfying our soul, body, mind and spirit as Christ completes us.

Are you living a rich and satisfying life? Are you content and thankful in all circumstances knowing prosperity, purpose and promises belong to you no matter how bad your situation seems? Do you believe that God is making good of every detail of your life today? Life is hard. Faith comes in small quantities and takes time to grow, develop and mature. We must be disciplined, persevering and enduring while we wait for it to prosper into God’s Promise. I am quite certain that back in the 1800’s when the Golden Gate Bridge was built in all its glory that there were many people who were afraid to cross it. Suspended above icy waters with a strong current driven by great and mighty winds. Some probably just stuck to the ferry. It was slower and cheaper. I wonder how often we stick to what is known rather than entering the open gates, good pastures and perfect promises of God for us. Hindered by doubt, fear and anxiety, settling for the known rather than venturing out into the unseen realities of faith given to those with confident hope. What is keeping you from a rich and satisfying life?

 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. (John 10:14-16)

Is abundant life for me? Yes, it is absolutely for each one of us. Jesus Christ died for us all. Accepting or rejecting Him does not change the fact that you have gained access to Heaven or the Kingdom. There is nothing you can ever do to be separated from the Love of God. (Romans 8) His Plan for you remains intact even if you choose something else. His Purpose for your life was instilled in you during the creation of your being. (Psalm 139) You are fearfully and wonderfully made no matter what you perceive yourself to be. To follow Jesus is to enter the abundance of God for our life. You must only follow Him. He is the access point who bridged the gap from our broken and busted life to secure His Kingdom and all its glory.

Too often rather than seeing the Truth of Jesus and His Grace, a carefully constructed lie made up of all these regulations and rules keep us from entering into the good pasture given to us. There is nothing I can do to ever deserve or earn the grace I have received. My only response is full acceptance of all God has for me in Christ Jesus. Any lesser life is by my acceptance of that which is not what the Father has for me. Grace is not perfection it is persistence. To constantly go before the Throne of God exchanging my messed up life to become His Masterpiece.

“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” (John 10:17-18)

The Gate is open. Jesus gives us a choice. He doesn’t force His Goodness or Glory on us but gives us daily opportunities to enter in. He calls us. Invites us. Woos us. He sacrificed His Life for those who would accept His Gift and those who would reject it. God doesn’t have favorites. He is partial towards all of us. This unconditional love is very hard to understand and accept because this world doesn’t love that way. Our experience tells that it is too good to be true. There must be a catch of some kind. You can live a life of full prosperity and abundance with complete satisfaction. It is found in the Way, the Truth and the Life – His Name is Jesus Christ and he will never let you down. You just need to follow Him. Where will He take you? Out of the mediocre life you are living into the supernatural life that He promised. He will take you from death to life. He will bring to fulfillment all those things you gave up along the way. He will redeem every tear that you have ever shed. He will take all the pieces of your broken heart and give you a new heart. The lie of the enemy limits our ability to take the first step of faith. He tells us that God doesn’t love us. He doesn’t care. Why would God allow this to happen if He is such a good God? What if we were the one who allowed it to happen by going our own way, doing our own thing, and trying something else?

 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

The Gate to God’s Kingdom is indeed narrow. It has one name – Jesus. You cannot access the Father any other way. We are people who like options. Since our family resides in Florida, I have had many opportunities to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. As a child, I had no idea how expensive such a trip was. Now taking our children, I have paid the great price. Entering the gates, you have a choice. You can ride the monorail for quick access to the Magic Kingdom. Or you can ride the much slower, Ferry. Both will get you to the same place. Upon entering the park, it is always breathtaking looking down Main Street to Cinderella’s Castle. I have been making the trip for decades and it always is the same. The gateway of life is very narrow and the road difficult because it is the least traveled. It is not the popular way or customary route of many. Yet, those who do will experience a breathtaking encounter with the Living God that will change your life forever. We choose the life that we live. Jesus gave us the freedom of choice.

There is an open gate before us today. God’s Mercy points to it each day. His Love endures forever and when He opened it – no one can ever shut it again. The promises, purpose and prosperity that is given to each of us through His Son, Jesus Christ awaits us on the other side. We must only muster enough courage and confidence to take the first step. The gate is narrow. There is only one way. If you believe that a rich and satisfying life awaits you – you will step in. If you believe God’s Abundance is for you – what are you waiting for? What is your hesitation? If you believed, you would follow the Lord right into fulfillment! Those who sow seeds of faith in the open pastures of His Grace will prosper now and forevermore. What are you waiting for?

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

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Good Intentions

Good Intentions

Psalm 33:11-12 (NLT) But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.

I am full of good intentions. Things I would like to master in my life. Attitudes and actions that could certainly benefit from sound wisdom and complete transformation. I would like to be a better wife, mother and employee. I strive to make better choices. I would like to write a book or two or twelve. I would like to keep my house cleaner and my schedule less busy. I would like to pray more. Seek His Presence more. Do more. So often despite my best intentions, I fall far short of the goal right into insecurity. Is there anyone else who might stand with me? Someone who has good intentions that never seem to make it into reality no matter how much effort given.

The Lord’s plans stand firm forever. The dream thought to be dead. The goal believed to be given up on. The purpose considered aborted rather than birthed in this lifetime. All these things sum up the desires of our heart. Those inscribed by God’s Spirit before our life began have no expiration date. You are fearfully and wonderfully made designed with a purpose filled with promises that the Lord will bring to pass. Before you drew your first real breath, God’s Plan for your life was written from beginning to end. All those details of life which didn’t go as expected are already turned into good because you decided to accept Jesus and follow Him through this life. His Plan for our life including a future and hope are not changed by our ability to live a perfect life. We are imperfect. God is fully aware of our imperfection. It doesn’t change a single promise. We do not access God’s Presence in our perfection but imperfection. When His Grace becomes sufficient, we giving up on fixing our dysfunction and allowing Christ to function in us. There is a process. It produces pressure and sometimes even pain as death gives way to life in us and to the purpose that once was dormant due to sin.

I know what you are thinking. I feel that way sometimes, too. Those seasons of life when God seems so far. Days that I cannot seem to do anything right. Or those when the hits just keep on coming. The enemy of your soul cannot change God’s Promises, Purpose or Plan for your life or mine. The only hope that he has is to change our mind about God. To make us doubt that faith is the reality of our life which will keep us from confident hope that leads to everything the Lord has for us. Our steps are ordered. A map of carefully guided steps straight to prosperity. The enemy must distract us, detour us or somehow dissuade us from pursuing God one step at a time.

His Intentions can never be shaken.

God’s Purpose for your life cannot be shaken. It is the immovable and constant reality of our life that considered every step before one is ever taken. Even those wanderings in our life that took us through the wilderness have potential and purpose in the process of faith. Despite our good intentions, we flounder, fall and fail every day. (Romans 7) But God decided in advance what our purpose and plan would be and didn’t once think twice about or change His Mind. Your purpose will be a reality by faith because of Jesus Christ.

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s Purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21)

The Lord’s Purpose will prevail. His Intention or Purpose designed for us is not driven by how God feels about us. He loves us unconditionally. There is nothing that can separate us from His Love. (Romans 8) God is greater than our feelings. This concept is life changing to the one who believes. Regret, shame and remorse are melted. Repentance will lead to new freedom rather than emotional overtures of insecurity and fear. The debt for our life paid in full is priceless. We cannot afford it. To think that it can ever be repaid even in the slightest measure cheapens it. The love, mercy and grace of God for us can only be accepted. Acceptance of God’s Love is to release His Purpose.

I John 3:19-21 (NLT) Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.

God is greater than our feelings. I love this verse. It is a reminder that my self-perception or reputation do not change the heart and mind of God. When I do not see my worth and have no confidence – the Lord doesn’t agree with me but holds me to the same standard of grace as before. Confidence in my ability or personal strength is pride. Confidence in God and His Intentions is an act of humility. To trust the Lord more than how we feel or what we see or what we think is the beginning of heavenly acquisition when prosperity comes and purpose is fulfilled.

God knows everything. Everything. He knows what we do right and when we fail miserably yet still loves us and gives us grace. His Glory is for us and accessible by us. Faith in the love of God reaches beyond our daily perception of life overcoming our natural instinct to react to natural circumstances and respond to His Promises. Just because today did not end well, our hope is not compromised and faith still has the same potential for us. We must only believe. That’s the hardest part. To know, understand and believe in full that God’s Love for us is unconditional and His Plan uncompromised no matter what we do or lie fallen for. His Purpose for our life is not influenced by shortcomings because He is Sovereign and constant no matter what.

Don’t let the lie of the enemy keep you bound in dead dreams, hopelessness and wandering. Find out the Truth about God’s Love for you. Discover His Purpose for your life. Enter His Presence today with bold confidence. Yield your heart, mind, body and spirit to the Lord. Let Him change you from the inside out. He will show you great and mighty things. Hidden secrets that will lead to success. The Lord has a plan for you. His Future and Hope secure in Jesus Christ. It is Christ who completes us. It is our brokenness that allows Him access to our heart and mind. God is good! His Intentions for you are good. He is constant. Nothing you do or do not do will ever change God’s Deep Devotion and Love for you. This is the Truth that allows us to walk boldly through this life no matter how many times we stumble and fall. Thank you Lord for your unfailing love today. Thank you for your good intentions.

Psalm 143:8 (NLT) Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.

Give Thanks

Give Thanks

Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)  So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Thanksgiving is this week. No really, it is in just four days. How did it get here so fast? I feel the panting of the racehorse of stress and anxiety beneath me. Panting hard getting ready for the pistol shot and the gate to fall. The holidays are here…Lord help us. We also have other excitement in our family. Our son is now engaged. There is a wedding upcoming. Our daughter is expecting our first grandchild at the beginning of the New Year. Office parties some to plan others to attend. Church related activities. List making, shopping, and gift giving. I can feel the pull and stretch already.

The stores have all the fall seasonal merchandise on clearance. Rifling through a pile of placemats – I find one that says, “Give Thanks”. I pause for a moment. Looking at all the plates, platters and wall signs also marked down – it is written on many of the items. All of them hidden away on a clearance aisle. While they have been replaced with Christmas trees, ornaments, gift wrap and the like. A celebration is coming. The newborn King has arrived. Salvation is introduced to the world. Grace ready to overflow to all mankind. Hope restored for a lost world and people shrouded in darkness. We have much to be thankful for and so little of it is in this store. Hidden deep in our heart where His Spirit lives there is quiet voice reminding me – “Give Thanks. Don’t forget to be thankful. You have it all right here in Me.”

Overflowing thankfulness is not a human quality but a spiritual gift born of a made up mind and hopeful heart. To be thankful in every situation is our goal but not always the outcome. “So then” as an introduction to this passage points to a result. This has happened so then this is the result. Paul indicates that the church has shown great discipline and firm faith in Christ so then…the result is to continue to live life rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith and overflowing with thankfulness. I wonder if our hearts focus solely on living the life prescribed by the Word and continually attempting to sow seeds of faith for prosperity in all things, but we struggle with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a result of satisfaction and contentment. To be overflowing with thanksgiving means to live in a constant state so that it continually multiplies and cannot be contained. The result of living in Christ and firm steadfast faith should be thanksgiving. Are you thankful today?

Colossians 4:2 reminds us to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful for the return of Christ and to be thankful. I wonder if our prayer life is stagnant and witnessing weak because we have forgotten to give thanks. Discipline is not only a spiritual trait but can be from natural habits. Religion sets forth a standard doctrine. People who comply with the demands of the doctrine exhibit discipline but it doesn’t mean they have a relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship is formed of a different kind of discipline that changes our character and identity. Two become one making it a whole different creation. Christ promised to make us new creations. This is not possible until our attitude and actions are changed by His Word, Way and Will for us. We don’t make that change but submit to His Discipline as a disciple of Christ. Without a heart experience, an encounter with Jesus is a chance meeting. It is our heart, desires and passions that He is after to make our life fulfilled and complete. Apart from the Lord this is not possible and therefore overflowing thanksgiving the same.

Colossians 3:15 (NIV) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

“And be thankful.” This mandate comes after a long list of characteristics of God’s chosen people. We are holy and dearly loved to be clothed in compassion, kindness, tenderness, gentleness and patience. To bear burdens together and to be forgiving. With all these attitudes and actions – we are to do them in love. Live in peace with Christ and others. Then the statement comes almost like an add-on “And be thankful.” It’s almost as if it says, “You must do all these things and like it.” The giving of our life to Christ does not come with challenges and struggles along the way. We must wrestle our flesh for control of our mind, will and emotions in order to surrender our heart and mind to the Lord. We can do all of the conditions listed above but without thankfulness – is it really a heart change or merely a change in habits?

In Ezra 3, the builders had laid the foundation of the Temple. The reconstruction process was finally showing some results. They stopped to have a praise break. “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; His Love toward Israel endures forever.’” It goes on to say that many people did not share the same enthusiasm and joy. There were older priests, Levites, and family leaders who had seen the former temple that wept with sorrow. Change is hard. It is difficult to endure. As the Lord prepares His Church for eternity, it requires transformation which is more than just a habitual change or altering of appearance. He is molding and shaping a Body of People to fit together in unison and harmonious perfection. The foundation of our life is faith in Jesus Christ. Though all engaged in a personal process, it is with one purpose. Where are you today in the restoration and renewal process of Christ? Is it hard to be thankful because life is just too hard? Are you the one who is celebrating all the good things going on around you? Are you the one who weeps in sorrow when the praise team starts singing longing for the faith, love and hope that you are still trying to find?

Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV) Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Therefore…the world is certainly shaken. Love is cold. Sin rampant. It is a polluted place and perverted culture all around us. As “temporary residents” this is not our home or forever. Sometimes in the midst of our natural life our supernatural destination grows cloudy and dim. We forget that the details of our life are promised good outcomes. (Romans 8:28) We forget that Jesus will never leave us or that His Spirit is alive and well given as our helper. Burdened and pressured by the temptations and trials of life the unseen reality of our faith becomes elusive. Not only that tradition seldom gives easily to transformation, God is doing something new in the churches around the world. New vitality is rising up from ashes, as the Lord shakes Heaven and earth once more. Since we are part of the Kingdom of God and His Chosen People, we have confident hope that no matter what happens, our future is secure. For this reason alone, the Word of God says, “Let us be thankful.”

Give thanks. I don’t know the trials you are going through or the temptation you are facing, but for a few moments, just thank God for His Love, His Son, His Spirit, His Salvation, His Kingdom, and continue to thank Him for every single thing that is good in your life. We all have something to be grateful for especially if America is our home. The enemy wants to put out our passion and desire for the Lord by making us overly busy, consumed with lesser things, bound up in lies, falling into temptation, caught up in religion, hanging on to tradition, and so many complications. It is up to us to enter His Gates with Thanksgiving and His Courts not one day but every day if our intent is to be one with Christ. I must make the personal choice to begin each day with a grateful heart even when dissatisfied, discouraged or overwhelmed. It may begin as a habit but will lead to personal transformation. Peace with God removes all doubt and fear becomes love dispels them. God is good. He is good to us. He will do exactly what He promised that He would do. Trust produces thankfulness before the thing for which we asked, prayed and believed ever happens. It is the foundation of faith like mortar in its bricks. Don’t get caught in the holidays but being changed by His Holiness. The Lord longs to live in partnership with you. He desires to carry those burdens and teach you to live apart from them. (Matthew 11) He is the Gift that keeps on giving. Give thanks today for the greatest gift of all.

Psalm 100 (NIV) Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Mountains Out of Molehills

Mountains Out Molehills

Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) Let us than approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Faith is the confidence that a believer has in God’s Word for their life. God’s Word came to us – His Name is Jesus Christ. The Word of God wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love for us in living color. He died for our sins, tore the veil giving us access to His Presence so that it is our privilege to approach “God’s Throne of Grace” with confidence. Faith without confidence is not faith at all by definition. To attempt to become a Child of God outside of faith is futile. You must believe. You must do away with the doubt that creates insecurity, fear and anxiousness about our relationship with God. Christ cannot live, breathe, move in us somehow miraculously changing us into a new creature outside of faith that believes, trusts and therefore obeys the Word. We could stop there and have enough meat to chew on for a week in our Christian walk. However, the Lord will not leave us with leftovers but always provides new manna and fresh water for His People.

With this in mind, I was listening to a brief video sent to me on Twitter. The mentor referenced the report of the ten spies who went to survey the Promised Land before the Israelite people would enter. The word given to me sunk deep in my heart and began to take root. The spies came back affirming that God had indeed led them to the land of milk and honey – the Lord did exactly as He promised so far but…there were giants in the land. Acquisition would be a problem. They would have to overcome them to take the promise. What giant are you facing today? Is it doubt? Fear? Anxiety? Insecurity? Low self-esteem? A lack of faith? No confidence? Pride calls doubt so many lesser names but the reality of doubt is that it stops faith completely because faith must have confidence to be faith at all.

Numbers 13:30-33 (NIV) Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anakcome from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Caleb and the others brought back fruit from the land and confirmed it was plentiful and prosperous. Then they added the word that nullifies everything beforehand…”but”. The people who live there are powerful. They were referring to the Nephilim. Nephilim were giants. Not just men of tall stature but believed to be fallen angels who created a race of super humans in that time. Not only were these guys big, but powerful beyond their physical strength in the eyes of the Israelites. The bad report spread more quickly than the praise report that God had brought them to the place of promise. Definitive words in their reports such as “we can’t”, “all” were of great size, and probably the most damaging…”we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.” Their self-confidence shattered by comparison revealed a trust problem far greater than the giants they would face. In fact, it was their own report that made a mountain out of a molehill and raised up giants all around them.

There is always one crazy believer in God’s success stories in the Bible. The one man or woman who says not on my watch. Not today, devil. I believe God. I am going to trust the Lord. And it usually a solo effort. Moses, Noah, Jacob, Daniel, David, Peter and Paul just to name a few. Not the mightiest men or those of the greatest integrity – God called them because they believed. Caleb silenced the people when he spoke these words of faith, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” As usual, the bad report spread much faster than his report.

Whose report do you believe today? God brought you through the fire unharmed, the rough waters just fine, and has led you up to your promise – will you go for it? What do you have to lose? So many times, when the journey is long and hard the moment of truth comes and the lie of the enemy keeps us on the verge of breakthrough because somehow we forget it was never about our power, strength or energy. It was God’s Plan from the beginning and He will carry us through to the end. The Children of Israel had taken their eyes off God and began evaluating their progress and promise through natural eyes. They obviously couldn’t do it. Confidence in self will not produce the purpose God put inside of you to be accomplished by faith. It is by faith that our life pleases God and makes His Plan successful.

I Samuel 17:45-47 (NIV) David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Are you a giant builder or a giant killer? Do you make mountains out of molehills? The whole Israelite army had been camped on the side of the mountain enduring the taunts and threats of Goliath. He was backed by an army but one man held them at bay. Who will kill the giant? There was a reward. David came with a directive from his earthly father – take your brothers food and bring me back a report of their welfare. David did not set out on the journey to kill a giant but simply to do the will of his father. When he arrived, he saw the cowering soldiers and heard the threats of the giant. His response to the report he received was not like most people. David had faith in God more than man even a giant man. What about you?

David didn’t realize that what seemed like a mundane task would be a defining moment in his life. His brothers mocked him. Saul tried to change him into a soldier. In the end, David stayed true to himself. His confidence not in his stature, strength or prowess but simply in God who He loved with all his heart. “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the Name of the Lord Almighty.” By faith, David killed the giant that day with a slingshot and smooth stone. He did not build the giant with fear or add mass to the mountain of doubt, but simply came against his adversary with total and complete faith in God. His victory that day was with purpose that would flow into today. The battle belongs to the Lord. He will give it all into your hands. If you believe this enough to receive it, nothing will ever be marked impossible in your life again.

Zechariah 4:6-7 (NIV) So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”

By comparison, you may feel like a grasshopper but there is a giant slayer in all of us. Confidence in God begins by believing His Word and trusting His Spirit. Faith is confidence. It cannot be changed or redefined according to our willingness or ability. Faith is confidence in the unseen reality of the Promises of God for His People beginning with salvation moving forward to prosperity. Miracles must be marked impossible. Healing comes through illness and infirmity. Deliverance is packaged in bondage. Freedom is for the captive. Faith grows when our trust in God becomes greater than the “giants” and “mountains” in our life. Not by might, not by power but by my Spirit – the Spirit of the Living God lives in us. He is the giant killer and mountain leveler in us who gives us overwhelming victory and glorious triumph when we walk by faith and not by sight. Is there a giant before you today? Is the mountain too big? Faith and confidence in the Living God who lives in you will knock both of these down in your life if you choose to believe. Don’t let the give the giant the strength of your confidence. Do not let doubt in your heart become words of discouragement adding to the substance of the mountain. Instead, grab hold of the Word of God for your life. Speak it over your life, dead dreams and far off future. Seek to do His Will. Plan on His Promises being the reality of your life. Stop believing every bad report and spreading it around. Stand your ground. You have overcoming power and overwhelming victory locked inside you. Let it out.

I John 4:4 (NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Keep Climbing

Keep Climbing

Romans 5:1-4 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

I wish I could blame the dog for waking me up so early on Saturday, but that is not the case. Turning over this morning, I am completely certain that every bone in my body made some kind of unnatural sound. Once I transitioned my position, everything hurt. I decided to use my three-day weekend to paint. Not just a room but probably half of our house. Though I conquered most of it in one day, there is still some tasks left to complete. Full of excitement and expectation in the beginning, I am fighting the dread of climbing the ladder again today. As I try to jot down notes in my journal, I can hardly hold the pen much less scribble anything legible. Hours of holding the paintbrush cutting in trim has left my hands sore. My husband warned me not to overdo it and once again my stubbornness did it anyway. Turning on the light, I feel a bit of satisfaction seeping in my tired body. I can see an end in sight, but honestly I am not sure how to get there.

As believers, there are seasons of great success and then those marked “perseverance.” Though my body is aching and muscles screaming, I know that it will be worth it. When our new furniture arrives on Tuesday, everything will come together so I press on. I guess the easy part is seeing. I know that these things will happen. I have a receipt from the store to prove these items belong to me. The delivery service has called twice to confirm the date. I have been preparing because I know and have confidence. What might happen if as believers with an inheritance of hope if we truly had confidence that God’s Goodness is for us and His Promises were true. To believe that if we just pressed a little longer and held on a little tighter that what is written will be received.

Therefore is a definitive term. It means “for that reason” or “consequently”. Since we have been justified by faith. Justified by the Blood of Jesus and the grace dispensation associated with it, I now can receive from the Father again. All I need is faith. It means that when I suffer, endure and choose to persevere. I will have exactly what God promised. Suffering is pain, distress or hardship. Everyone goes through some form of suffering usually on any given day but only those who live by faith have hope.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

It is much easier to be confident of things that are natural. The tangible items that can be seen, heard, or touched. The hope I have is certain, but faith is wavering. My participation in the process of redemption is singular. It is faith. The sum total of my responsibility is to trust the Lord enough to keep pressing and pushing for the higher calling and greater things that become the rich, satisfying and abundant life that I have been promised. Just as my painting project will produce something new and appealing, how much more does the Lord want to do in us and for us? I can quit now and leave everything half-finished and each day it would mock me. However, I want to see the results and gain the satisfaction so I will pick up the paintbrush with tired hands again and climb the ladder with my sore legs. Did you stop halfway in pursuing the thing God has for you? Did you give up on a dream? Did you decide the mountain of doubt you are facing will get the best of you? Well, God gives second chances. In fact, it is my experience that every time I say, “I will” He does!

If the past was so wonderful, you would not have left it behind. The past is comfortable. It is convenient. It gives us an illusion of control because we know the consequences and outcome of our actions. We give up easily and run back thinking it is better than pushing through the pain and pressing through the pressure. How many times have you started the climb only to slide back down in complacency? There is a prize at the end of perseverance called hope. It is worth having. It makes every care, worry and concern given over to confidence yield its potential as God works every detail of our life for good. He will perfect that which concerns us when we give it all to Him. He promises to give rest to those who come to Him and partner with Him for life. It begins with a decision. It requires holding tight to our confidence when our body says to quit.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)  Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 

The Lord is faithful. Our confidence in His Faithfulness will increase our ability to endure and persevere when things get uncomfortable or even seem impossible. Our confident hope is not in our ability but the Sovereignty of God that makes Him perfect. He never lies or changes His Mind about us even if we fail miserably or get lost or settle for lesser things. The Lord meets us with new mercy each day. He says, “Let’s try this again.” Hope is worth having. It requires character-building challenges along the way. It will present pressure that requires perseverance. Hope comes with a guarantee that life will not give you. Hope never leads to disappointment.

Draw near to the Lord today. He will draw near to you. He has done everything possible to prepare you for His Purpose and Promises now you must engage in the process which always requires perseverance. There are no shortcuts that will produce the Glory of God in our life. We are called to endure. Those who do will be saved and our hope of an abundant met to the fullest extent.

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NIV)  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

“Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

 

Still Standing

Still Standing

Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV) Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

There are some things in life that just take time. The inescapable lapse of immediate gratification to absolute fulfillment have a prescribed wait time that is insurmountable. The compromise of convenience, comfort and control are conflicted in the long periods of divine intervention as God grows, develops and matures His Promise, melts a hard heart, finds a lost soul, heals a sick body, pressing our patience and producing it from within us to change outcomes around us. It takes time. Say, that with me today, it’s just going to take some time.

There are some things in my life – situations and unfavorable conditions – that I am waiting on the Lord to do His Work. Promises yet to be fulfilled. Dreams not yet a reality. Relationships in need of mending. Processes yet undone. What do you do when you have sought the Lord, prayed, and believed – and nothing has happened? You wait. You trust. You stand. The word “withstand” or antihistemi (Strong’s #436) means anti – “against” and histemi – “to cause to stand”. It suggests vigorously opposing, bravely resisting, standing face-to-face against an adversary, and standing your ground. Compare it to the commonly used word “antihistamine” which puts a block on histamines. A histamine attacks cells in the body causing the cells to swell and leak fluids. This can cause itching, runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes. An antihistamine blocks the histamines relieving the symptoms. Antihistemi tells me that with the authority and spiritual weapons granted to me I can withstand evil forces in the moment of distress. Withstanding is important in facing opposition but then comes the final exhortation in this passage…”and having done all, to stand.

Habakkuk 2:1-4 (NKJV) I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected. Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.  “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.

I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart KNOWING that the vision is for an appointed time. Faith and confident hope become trust in the waiting room of God. The place of presence where you see the Lord, feel Him, and know that He is with you yet nothing seems to be changing and often seems to be getting worse. Tiptoeing to impossible which is the birthplace of miracles where only God can receive the glory for what is not achievable by man. We want God to pour out His Glory on us but are we willing to stand and keep standing until our appointment time arrives.

Having been in the place of waiting for impossibilities to produce promises and living in the realm of hope, one might think I would become immune to long waits, difficult circumstances, hurtful situations and unfortunate disappointments but in my humanity I must be reminded to return to the watch…and climb up higher to the rampart. To look with my spiritual eyes for the hope of His Promise to work all things together for my good (Romans 8:28) and perfect that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) Up and down the ladder – the constant wavering between waiting and wondering. Thank you Lord for Your Grace that covers me when fear, doubt and anxiousness overtake me. I know God’s Word is true. I know His Promises are real and valid for me. It is my privilege to wait for Him. However, like you, I am still human – so I must remind myself when I have done all – to stand – for the just will live by faith. Faith doesn’t see the outcome from its present position but decides it is still worth having so waits for it to come.

James 2:19-20 (NKJV) But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Faith is demonstrated by our attitude and actions in life not influenced by the world but defined by our relationship with Christ. It is total trust and reliance on His Word no matter what happens in our life knowing the outcome is dependent on His Promises. We respond therefore to His Commandments with obedience to remain in alignment with the process outlined by the precedence set forth by God not society norm. To believe in Jesus Christ is not enough. To be a Christian demonstrating religious perfection is still not good enough. Our flesh responds to the good fight of faith and engages in battle against the adversary. It is when pride must lay down in humility to the sovereignty of God and wait that our reality of faith is revealed in us. It is genuine faith in God that includes the “work” called standing that exhibits confident hope. When I can do absolutely nothing to change my situation, and choose to wait on the Lord right where I am in the midst of what I am going through completely and solely dependent on His Word and Promise that faith gives way its potential and the impossible becomes my reality.

Hebrews 10:35-39 (NKJV) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

To live by faith will require wait times. It is inevitable because endurance is a quality to found in our Christ-like character. Jesus said that those who endure to the end will be saved. Endurance is not an offensive or defensive move – it is to stand no matter what your position is. To remain confident in your hope and to live by faith even during long waits and delays that weary our heart and try our emotions. The life of waiting is part of standing for the Lord. Not grumbling, complaining and striking out against others but with the same love, peace and joy found when we see His Word come to pass. The life of consistency is desired of the Lord as it resonates true and genuine faith in Him.  He loves when we believe His is Good when things go bad. He loves when we wait patiently knowing He is faithful. Our response in the waiting is the greatest test of where we stand in our faith. Are you still standing?

Isaiah 35:3-4 (NKJV) Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will  come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”

Where’s Your Faith?

Where's Your Faith

Matthew 21:21-22 (NLT) Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

Do you have faith today? The answer is “yes”! Everyone is born with a measure of faith and the capacity to trust. It is seed invested in us during creation for the sole purpose of discovering God’s Love and reproducing it in us until it pours out around us. However, with His Love, Grace and Mercy come the power to choose. Faith is a commodity given to us without a command. We are instructed, encouraged and exhorted to have faith in God – however, at the end of the day it is up to us where we put it, what we do with it and how we sow it.

You can pray for anything, and it if you have faith, you will receive it. Yesterday, I was tagged in a tweet that said, “Faith without works is DEAD (useless, unprofitable, worthless). Immediately without hesitation – the words came to me, “Faith is life.” What you give your faith to is what comes into existence in your life. Faith without works is dead just if it is sown into anything it produces life. Faith in and of itself is a powerful force. It always produces something in us and through us. Good or bad. Faith given to ordinary things produces ordinary results. Faith sown in the natural WILL produce natural results. Faith is seed. Faith is life. The Word of God is clear what is sown in our life will reap a harvest. What are you giving life to?

Mark 11:22-23 (NLT) Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.

“Faith is the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” This is the Bible’s definition of what faith is and its potential. The world defines faith as “confidence or trust in a person or thing”, “belief that is not based on proof”, and “belief in anything” at all. It is natural to put our faith and trust in the known and not the unknown to invest in the seen rather than unseen. Jesus tells his disciples explicitly to “have faith in God.” These simple words can harvest unconditional love, grace, salvation, transformation, healing, provision, prosperity, restoration, renewal, and revival in our life.

If you are not experiencing such things, it is time to examine our field. Where are we putting out faith? It is the place where our time, talent and treasure go. It is the place where we turn to in disappointment, discouragement or despair. It is the foundation that holds when everything is shaking, and our refuge in the storm. I believe valuable seeds of faith are often squandered in barren places. When we retrieve those seeds – replanting them in good soil of a fertile heart in love with God and choose to leave them there to be harvested in His Time – our life will become beautiful just like He said it would.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The real children of Abraham are those who put their faith and trust in God. (Galatians 3:7) There is one Lord, one faith and one baptism. (Ephesians 4:5) Life is found by putting our faith in Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) It is in Him the potential of our life is discovered. He gives fertility and vitality to our faith so it grows, develops and matures our potential into purpose which prospers into His Promises. The Lord makes it happen because He who called us is faithful. (1 Thessalonians 5:24) This doesn’t mean giving up on dreams and goals in this life even natural ones. It means investing our faith in the Lord to do all that He promised first in salvation and then in prosperity. As our soul prospers in love, our faith in God and confidence in our relationship grows into boldness so we can approach Him trusting and believing that what we pray for is in alignment with His Plan for us which always leads to fulfillment in all things.

Luke 7:44-50 (NLT) Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.  “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man that he goes around forgiving sins?” And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Do you believe that God loves you unconditionally? Do you have faith that the Grace of Jesus Christ offered in His Sacrifice is enough? Is it enough to desire a better life and seek transformation? Sin humbles us. It shows us that our way is not the best way. Love for Jesus means having confidence that He first loved us. The woman who went to Jesus did so in front of her abusers and accusers. She set down her shame and regret to pick up the sacrifice of full surrender. She poured her life’s worth at the feet of Jesus – not knowing if He would accept it but giving her all just the same. Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” The religious people mocked his words. But to the woman – His Words gave her life. Those who believe in the Love of God given to them through Jesus Christ and continually seek to love and serve Him will feel the freedom of guilt, shame and regret give way to freedom. Freedom to live in partnership with Jesus and yoked to Him. Suddenly the opinions of others aren’t as powerful because we have taken our faith from them and sown them in new life. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. (Romans 3:22)

Mark 10:51-52 (NLT) “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.  

Faith is life to our soul, body, mind and spirit. Miracles happen in the midst of unwavering faith. Diversified faith cannot produce the blessings or promises of God because they are perfect. Uncompromised by sin or human imperfection. By His Stripes, we are healed…but only when we believe God’s Promise over the doctor’s report. When we seek healing with the fervency that we seek doctors and medicine for relief. The man went to Jesus and said, “I want to see.” He came to the Lord. This is not a ploy to abandon physicians, medicine or medical attention but rather to pursue the miraculous healing of God through faith just the same. I believe God is my healer. He does so medically, miraculously and mercifully. All are miracles of faith when we put our trust in the Great Physician first. Life is found in the sowing of faith. Doctors are limited to natural life. God offers supernatural promises. Jesus sealed those promises for us including things like healing. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. (Romans 4:20-21)  

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Faith pleases God. It is impossible to please God without faith in His Son Jesus Christ. I wonder today what would happen if we decided to gather up all the faith planted in lesser things and sow them into our relationship with Jesus Christ. To partner with the Lord by faith in every aspect of our human and natural life. To try obedience. Test out prayer. To begin to seek the Lord first and then work it out. Faith without works is dead. Faith in works is death. Faith in God’s Word brings His Promises including our purpose to life.

Where have you left your faith today? Is it in people? Is it in things? Is it dying in hard ground? Are you disappointed with how your life is turning out? Hope never leads to disappointment. Faith in God through Jesus Christ gives life to dead dreams and distant visions are brought into clear view. I encourage you today. Find your faith. Plant it in a fertile heart. Spend some time in the Presence of Your Savior, Healer, Deliverer and Friend. God is a good father. He will never let you down if only you believe. Life and love are accessed and increased in our life through faith in Christ alone. The author and finisher of faith will tell you a beautiful love story and then you will live it in Jesus Name.

Romans 5:5 (NLT) 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.

 

New Gate

New Gate

Psalm 84:10-11 (NLT) A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Have you ever heard the expression “like a cow looking at a new gate”? You know the look of bewilderment, perplexity, uncertainty or even just a dazed and confused expression. The same look when you get by asking our kids to clean their room for the umpteenth time like it is a new rule in your house. I wonder if that is how the Lord feels when the gateway of opportunity swings wide yet our faith cannot seem to muster the first step because the next one is not clearly visible. Who will dare to enter the open gate? Who will seize the day? Who will walk in the new thing set before them with the same bold confidence of the past things that God has done? His Faithfulness is not in question. The Lord offers us new opportunities to love, trust, obey and be blessed by Him.

I wonder what “new thing” God is doing in your life today. Is it similar to mine? Is it the same gate I have passed through before, am coming to now or will navigate in the future? Each day is a new opportunity in the life of every believer. His Mercy meets us and His Unfailing Love and Goodness continues its pursuit of the believer. His Potential, Purpose and Promises are all lined up ready to go. Can you see them? Do you feel them? Can you reach out and grab hold of them? Yeah, me either. Dreams and visions fill my head. Thoughts form and circle that there must be more than this but how do we live behind the mediocre and mundane to explore miracles. How do I stop being ordinary to embrace extraordinary? Do I really want to settle for less than God’s Best or select substitutions to cut corners and make time speed by? The answer is “no”… I want all that God has for me. I desire that which Jesus died for me to have coming back to life on the third day to hand it to me. Finally, His Spirit lives in me. The driving force and motivator of more faith and the one who builds confident hope within. There is more to life than this and it is inside the new gate.

Genesis 28:16-18 (NLT) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it.

What a fine mess? Family drama and dysfunction at its best. None of us would know what that is all about now would we… Jacob is fleeing the wrath of Esau. He stole his birthright out from under him and take the blessing of the first son as well. In fear his mother arranged for him to give live with his uncle, Laban. So Jacob left his home. As he laid down his head that night, I wondered if he felt a twinge of regret mixed with loneliness. Was the blessing that didn’t belong to him worth it? Did he feel sadness that he was now separated from his family? While he was sleeping, Jacob had a dream. He saw the heavens open and a stairway connecting heaven and earth. Angels were traveling up and down the stairs. At the top of the threshold was the Lord who told Jacob, “I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”

What happens when the access point of opportunity to inherit the blessings of God do not look like what we thought they should or do not come the way we decided they would? What happens when things get worse before they get better? What happens when our expectation is not immediately met but predestined to take time, endurance and patience? What about those times? God opens new opportunities to us each day. His Promise to work every detail for our good means that in every situation a miracle can happen and His Word still will come to pass even when the gate marked “change” is not what we wanted or has left us broken in the field.

John 10:1-4 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.”

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can get to the Father but by Him. (John 14:6) There are no shortcuts when it comes to our relationship with God the Father. No one is righteous – not a single person. It is only through Jesus Christ, we are made right with God the Father. Who the Son sets free is free to choose the gates entered and bypassed in life. Righteousness does not always mean that people will walk in the blessings and favor of God. It is a personal choice to pursue the Lord and walk in His Ways. By faith, new gates are crossed over and new life achieved.

Psalm 24:3-8 (NLT) Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle.

It is from this place of underserved and unearned grace that God’s Glory is on the verge of pouring over from Heaven into our life. We have the opportunity to walk in the Favor of God but our willingness is up to each of us. Who can climb the mountain of the Lord? Submitting one’s life and surrendering to God’s Way begins in His Word. The Word of God is who Jesus is. It is how we know Him and identify with Him in our life. True repentance begins the climb to a higher standard of living yet a lowering of our heart to humble ourselves before the Lord. All relationships take effort. It is work to maintain a good one. Maybe it’s not the gate you find perplexing but the mountain on the other side.

Jacob was all about acquisition, but what was coming was acquiescence. God is all about establishing a strong, solid relationship with His Beloved. (That’s us!) He desires us more than anything yet too often we desire everything else but God. Pouring our life out for our families, jobs, causes, and hobbies – there is nothing left for the Lord and very little energy or interest in what lies beyond the new gate. Can I just get some rest? Take a nap? Steal away a few hours for some “me-time”? Jacob saw heaven open before him and ministering angels going back and forth from heaven to earth. Things didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but when presented with the new gate – Jacob entered in. “Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.” (Genesis 28:20-22) When adversity came Esau rebelled, but Jacob chose obedience.

Isaiah 26:1-4 (NLT) In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation. Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!  Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

No matter what lies in the past, peace is always our future in the Lord. Our city (His Kingdom) is strong! We are surrounded by God’s Salvation and filled with His Spirit including resurrection life and power accessed by faith in God. The righteous ALWAYS have access to the Kingdom. It is never restricted or limited. We are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ that leads to true repentance. Turning from our old life, and pursuing new life. Opportunities are presented to us each day. His Word is filled with instructions to claim promise after promise and experience blessing after blessing. There is no limitation in the Lord. In fact, He meets and exceeds all expectation. We must only trust Him to boldly and confidently pass through the passages of life with our eyes on the Gate and willingness to enter in. Trust the Lord always and He presents those who do with perfect peace. The same God who gave Jacob peace and promise in a dark pasture on a lonely night is ready to do the exact same thing for you and me.

Psalm 118:19-21 (NLT) Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the Lord. These gates lead to the presence of the Lord, and the godly enter there. I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory!

New challenges. New trials. New opportunities. In all of life’s changes, God is with you. He gives us victory through His Son, Jesus Christ. No matter what lies in the next season just a step over the threshold of a brand new day – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is with you in your past, with you in the present and with you in the future. The Lord feels the same about you whether yesterday you lived in victory or experienced the agony of defeat. All sin is covered. All mistakes potential messages. Every test may be your testimony. You overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. His Name is Jesus. He is the Gate. You can enter in knowing He loves you. He will care for you. He will make you victorious no matter how impossible it seems so enter His Gates with thanksgiving and praise!

Psalm 100:3-5 (NLT) Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

 

 

Hearts and Hands

Hearts and Hands

Luke 10:38-42 (Message) As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

Balance. Life in balance. God designed and ordered our life with particular steps to fulfillment. Each one has a purpose for our heart and hands. I struggle between the personalities of Martha and Mary. I tend to be more of the Type A personality of the hardworking sister. Driven by labor, responsibilities and working. I find great satisfaction in a clean house and well-ordered life. The concept of control even in the smallest of tasks gives me security. I am learning to live like Mary. The worshipper who did not worry so much about her duties but focused on Christ. In the brief visit of Jesus to their home, Mary understood the importance of sitting at His Feet. Martha was overloaded with worry and stress to please the Lord and make His Visit pleasurable. Both ladies were noble in their efforts. Their actions demonstrating their fondness and admiration of Christ, but then the joy killer called comparison set in.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” (Theodore Roosevelt) How do we admire the beauty and worth of another without questioning ourselves? Comparison with myself and the person who God created me to be as mirrored in His Word will bring improvement as I grow, develop and mature in Christ. However, when I compare myself to others it breeds only discontentment and a lack of fulfillment. I am conforming to a standard other than that purposed for me. Psalm 139 reminds me daily to praise the Lord for who I am because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I have a purpose all my own. Promises aligned perfectly to fulfill that purpose and not that of another. My perception of life must be through the Father’s Eyes in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Otherwise, I have set the standard too low…less I digress.

Comparisons can make you feel superior and other times inferior. Neither serves a useful purpose in the life of a believer. We are called to build a Kingdom. No two members will be the same. Each has a place, purpose, plan and promise which is in direct correlation with that of another. The enemy uses comparison to tear down the Body of Christ especially women. The media projects images of who we should be and what to believe. It creates a stirring that there is something to prove or improve in all of us. This may or may not be true but the kind of change society promotes is temporary but we are everlasting beings created by a Sovereign and Forever God who far outweighs today or tomorrow living in the vastness of eternity. His Son reserved a place for us there that has our name on it. Will He recognize us when we arrive?

The woman at the well in her conversation with Christ was told that true worshippers will do so in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) I believe that Martha and Mary demonstrate the two distinct personalities that the Lord carefully molds into this kind of worshipper. The one who does so in spirit and in truth. Mary was the spiritual worshipper. The one who couldn’t get enough of Jesus. She would sit at his feet, ignoring her household task, to “hanging on every word.” Martha, on the other hand, she was the worshipper in truth. She was busy preparing a meal for her guest, overseeing the task at hand, she was getting ready because she knew His Visit would be brief and she wanted to honor Him. At this point in time, Mary chose the essential. But wait there is more…

John 11:20-26 (Message) Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house. Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”  “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

Lazarus had died. The sisters were mourning their great loss when Jesus arrived. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet Him while Mary remained in the house. Martha decided to engage the Lord and went to Him. I am sure she had some questions. Where were you? Why didn’t you come sooner? We needed you, Lord. Engaging faith is demonstrated in Martha who took her matter straight to Jesus while Mary stayed in her mourning. See Martha was not the one driven by emotionalism. She was a woman of action. Jesus shared with Martha in that moment just as He had taught Mary at His Feet. Her brother would experience resurrection power and new life right before her eyes that day.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (Message) Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.

The truth in Deuteronomy is applicable today. Our heart is the place of God’s Perspective. He looks deep inside our heart to determine the changes necessary in fulfilling our purpose. We must do the same. Our attitude and actions must relate to and live in relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Word of God. Mary may have been lazy. Martha may have been lax. Their purpose was not defined by personality but rather by the Person of Christ. The Lord did not leave them the same in each encounter. To Martha – He gave her permission to rest. To quietly spend time in His Presence. To the worker, Jesus says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it…” (Matthew 11:28-30 – MSG) To the others, He says, “Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!” (Isaiah 35:3-5) To both the Lord says, Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.” (Ephesians 6:6-7 – MSG)

Romans 12:4-6 (Message) In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

I wonder news for you today! It doesn’t really mattered if you came wired like Martha or Mary. You are you because God decided you were an important part of the Body of Christ. We must learn to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Knowing the Word of God and doing as He says. It creates unity in the Body and harmony in the Kingdom. God finds great pleasure in harmony. It releases new anointing and opens the windows of Heaven. We need Marthas. We need Marys. We need every other personality the Lord saw fit to create for His Kingdom. The key is aligning our lives to Christ and with each other as one. “Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.” What a wonderful truth! You are the Light of the world – a city on a hill – you will shine in your time! Be the heart of Jesus today. Be His Hands. Be one with each other. It’s His Purpose for our life.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Heart’s Desire

Hearts Desire

Psalm 37:4 (NIV) Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

God will give you the desires of your heart. He absolutely positively will. I am a believer. I want to encourage you today to believe in a Good God who is filled with overflowing love and abundant grace for you. He will stop at nothing for His Very Best to be yours as well. Do you have a dream? Do you a desire deep within your heart? I think everyone does but some give up and move on as time shows no evidence of that thing God first placed within us. Time takes too long. Life gets too hard. Too much water under the bridge to change the current now. The enemy of your soul wants you to believe that God has given up on you. He wants you to think that time has run out. The dream is dead. He wants you to stop hoping, trusting and believing because he is a thief. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how far you’ve wandered, or how much you have given away – God’s Plan, His Purpose and Potential within you is just as real, true and alive as when He first whispered in your ear.

In 2015, I was a very tired and broken believer. We had just come through the difficult season of sickness as our son finally entered remission. Worn torn and weary – victory was sweet but I was completely drained. Years of traveling back and forth with our son took precious moments from me, first days of school missed, graduation year passed by, engagement and wedding preparations done long distance made my heart’s desire to make up for lost time with my family. The New Year brought the hope of time together once again. However, the Lord had other plans calling the newly married couple to New England to serve Him. How could we make up for lost time now? Our daughter now 21 hours away. I was devastated. I was lost. I was broken. I couldn’t fathom how this was possible. Why this? Why now? Sometimes when life’s hits keep on coming, there will be a “straw that breaks the camel’s back” and this was it for me.

After months of depression and devastation, I finally had to sit down and come to terms with my Father. I knew this was His Plan. I knew that He had a purpose in it. I just couldn’t see how my very human heart would ever heal from all the hurts of the previous years. I put all my hurts before the Lord and wrapped them in a tiny package called trust and tied a nice bow marked faith around it and sent it to the Father. I couldn’t carry the burden anymore. God knows the desires of our heart. He knows the innermost longings within its deep folds. Faith and trust becomes belief when things don’t turn out like we planned and our promises seem forgotten. God doesn’t forget He is just working all those details out for our good and His Glory. We must remind our heart and soul of who He is and decide to stop focusing on what we have been through.

Our kids called us in the spring with the wonderful news that they would move to Tampa. Just four hours away, we were elated and overjoyed. God had answered our prayers. I rejoiced. Then came the news shortly after that God in all His Goodness would be sending them home with a souvenir – our grandson who will make his appearance early next year. Blown away. All of His Goodness poured out to us. Well, our excitement would dampen within a short time when the move would be postponed until after she had the baby. Plans crumbled quickly. Devastation kicked in. More missed moments. God, I just don’t understand. So back to the prayer room with my packing tape to send up another package to the Lord. See when I can’t understand what is happening, when the events in my life and the desires of my heart do not coincide, I have learned that I have to send them back to the Heavenlies. My daughter and I both did the very same thing independently. Focusing on other things, we trusted God together. Sometimes in life, we must do just that. Take that thing that overwhelms us and send it right back to God. Here you deal with this – if truly successfully life will go on and joy will be ours in the midst of trial, trouble or tragedies.

Today. Today is a day of celebration. Today is the day that they will pack the moving truck and head back home. Yes, home. Not to a city four hours away but to our town. God had a plan. He has a purpose. We waited Him out and He came through with our heart’s desire. I was willing to settle for them returning to the state, but God was sending them much closer. In a few days, they will return. God is good. God is always good. He will never let us down. I didn’t always see it that way but now I do. I am sharing this with you because I know you have heart desires yet unfulfilled. Things that seem forgotten by God so you are about to give up on yourself. I am challenging you today do wait a little longer. Believe a little harder. Trust a little bit farther.

Psalm 37:3 (NIV) Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Trust the Lord and do good. I believe a huge part of trust is our ability to continue to do good while we wait. Waiting and complaining are not trusting the Lord. Endurance is not God dragging you to the finish line but rather waiting, trusting, and hoping until He comes. Persistence requires patience. God is pursuing you with His Unfailing Love and Goodness every single day. His Mercy meets us in the morning encouraging us to accept the sufficiency of His Grace. We are blessed and highly favored by God every day. However, it is human nature to focus on what God has not done yet rather than celebrating all of His Goodness for today.

Psalm 37:5-6 (NIV) Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

Commit your way to the Lord. Trust Him. He will do this. God will do exactly as He promised. Those deep desires that He placed in you rely on our ability to believe by faith that He is good. Always good. Constantly good. God does not lie or change His Mind. He will never let us down. We must teach our heart to trust Him. It is not preprogrammed in us to trust but rather to question everything. We must sow seeds of faith each morning and wait for them to grow, develop and mature into God’s Fruitfulness in our life. It doesn’t always happen overnight. It may take years. The Lord sees our life through the lens of eternity not limited by our lifetime.

Psalm 37:7-9 (NIV) Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

Be still before the Lord. Stillness before the Lord is produced by confidence. The more confidence in our heart the more willing we will be to wait and be still before Him. Confidence comes through faith and trust fulfilled. Sometimes we must remind ourselves of everything the Lord has done to remember we can trust Him in the waiting and be still. It is possible to wait on the Lord impatiently just ask Abraham. He had a son called Ishmael born of waiting without trusting. It didn’t stop the Lord from sending the promise named Isaac. We must not fret at the seeming good fortune of others during our times of waiting. It produces bitterness that will stop our growth potential until removed. God gave you promises with your name on them. There is an inheritance just for you. It doesn’t belong to anyone else and cannot be claimed by them. Hope is the steadfast place of waiting on those things which have not come to pass. The steadfast anchor of our soul that keeps us steady during the storms and waves of life.

Psalm 20:1-5 (NIV) May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests.

The impossibilities in life are the birthplace of miracles and divine intervention. The Holy Spirit sows seeds of love, joy and peace in those times of trusting and believing. He grows up the fruit called forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All the good fruit that gives way to hopeful possibilities in our life. God has a plan. (Jeremiah 29:11) Are you following Him wholeheartedly today? (Jeremiah 29:13) God looks at our heart not our activities. He is looking for just a little bit of faith, a small amount of trust, a bit of believing and a handful of hope. He will give you the desires of your heart. Not according to our small and finite perspective, but His Perspective which is called exceedingly abundantly. (Ephesians 3:20)

The beauty of fulfillment that constantly overwhelms me is that God doesn’t have to do all the wonderful things He does for us. I find that as I learn to trust Him more and become more willing to wait that He does crazy things I don’t even ask for sometimes. He gives me the desires of my heart even those unspoken in the midst of prayer. Things I don’t deserve and could never earn. Just like that, they become the reality of my life. God is good. He will never let you down. He is always working for you. He never gives up on the promise or limits potential. He is working, pressing, and pushing you to fulfillment. Our response is simply to trust Him while we wait. To be still and know that He is God and that means His Unfailing Love and Goodness is for us. Be encouraged today. I am praying for you and with you today even if I don’t know you – God does. He knows the dreams you buried as dead. He knows the potential promises given up on. Jesus is the Resurrection and Life calling to all the “Martha”s to believe in this life – don’t wait for the everlasting. God will do it in the land of the living. Do you believe in the Living God? He believes in you. He loves you. He will bless you! He is giving you the desires of your heart. To God be the glory great things He has done!

Romans 15:13 (NIV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen and amen!