Hobby, Habit or Holiness

hobby habit or holiness

Luke 14:26-30 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.

In January, my husband and a group of men arranged to go duck hunting. They planned the excursion for months. Purchased mounds of hunting gear and ammunition. Planning included requesting leave from jobs, making hotel reservations and mapping out travel. Everyone paid their portion of the hunting lease and provided for meals and expenses. When the calendar finally fell on the travel date, the weather conditions took a dramatic turn for the absolute worst. It was below freezing. The lakes and ponds frozen over. Each morning they would trudge out to the field, break through the ice, set the decoys and lay in the blinds in the frigid conditions. They didn’t get a single one. They paid a high price yet got a miserable return other than the lease owner offering them a free return visit at the beginning of hunting season. This hunting hobby is new to our family.

We all have hobbies in life. It may be a variety of different things. Activities or interests pursued for pleasure and relaxation but no as a main occupation. I recently began repurposing old furniture. Reconditioning them is therapeutic to me. I was purchasing some pieces from a new acquaintance who encouraged me to sell the pieces rather than giving them away. I don’t really want to do that because I do this to escape the world and get lost in something creative. It is a hobby. Since most pieces are this side of tossing in the garbage, my investment is limited other than time spent cleaning, repairing, sanding and painting. It brings me peace. The great thing about a hobby is that I can choose how much of my time, talent and treasure that I invest in it. If I walk away for a few weeks, a month or so – it has not impact on me, my family or future other than a few choice words from my husband about the clutter in the garage. It is good to have hobbies in life.

What about habits? Those things that are not necessarily for pleasure or relaxation but driven by routine and schedule. Most adults have certain habits instilled by the values imbedded by the example of their parents or mentors. Some habits are formed by a desire to change certain behaviors, trends, circumstances or conditions. Habits can be good or bad. It is just what we do, who we are, and the choices we make. A habit is an acquired behavioral pattern regularly followed until it becomes involuntary. The word “involuntary” means independent of our will and not by our own choice. There are habits worth giving up for better health, emotional wellness, and spiritual awakening.

Church can become a habit. Religion is the routine of the church for organizational purposes. Habits and routines are comfortable. They give way to complacency in life and love. We must evaluate our habits as often as our heart to see our motivation. Do I do the things I do because I have always done them this way? Is there a better way? Is this a Christ-like endeavor or just something I do to fit in to my social group? Church is known for cliques and many times it is the birthplace of complacency as our pursuit of God is tempered by the other sheep in our fold. Is church a weekly habit? Is it an occasional hobby? If our relationship to Jesus Christ can be defined as either it is up to us to count the cost of becoming a disciple. Hobbies and habits do not produce holiness. It is not the way of those who desire God’s Kingdom and His Riches in Glory. It is just another way the enemy is keeping our churches and communities from experiencing revival.

2 Corinthians 6:16 (NLT) For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

When Jesus died, He released the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord made it clear that the new dwelling place of His Spirit was in His People. Those who opened their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ and desired Him as Savior and Lord would house His Spirit. The church moved from the outside world to inside God’s People. Empowering them with new purpose and new power. When Jesus told the people that He would destroy the temple that it took 46years to build and rebuild it in three days, (John 2:15-21) He was referring to His Death which destroyed religion and His Resurrection that move His Church from buildings to bodies. As believers – we are the church. Not just any church of any denomination, we are the Temple of the Living God. Holy inhabitation is the cornerstone of holiness. Holiness is not a hobby or habit. It is who we are in God through Jesus Christ. We must become holy because God is holy. (Leviticus 19:2) His Presence in us forces an evaluation of our contribution to the Kingdom. Are we mere contributors or fully committed to the Cause called Christ in us?

Proverbs 20:25 (NLT) Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.

Have I made a rash (acting too hastily without due consideration)? We all are prone to say, “Yes” to many things without proper consideration or careful contemplation. Why? Who doesn’t want the affirmation and acceptance of others? Our “yes” is often based on meeting the expectation of others rather than fully consideration what it requires or what the desired outcome may be. We must count the cost of discipleship and decide if it is the life desired. Why is this important? At the end of my life, I will meet Jesus face-to-face. If I invested in the Kingdom as a hobby, I do not believe that He will say, “Well done, though good and faithful servant!” A hobby is something I do for me. Me alone. It is for my relaxation and my personal pleasure. Is that what I signed up for when I came to Jesus Christ? Is that what He was really offering? I don’t think so.

Is my commitment to Jesus Christ a habit? Has it become just another routine and scheduled event added to the long list of responsibilities in my life? Is it my religion or a true relationship? The truest test of religion verses relationship is passion. Am I passionate about loving, knowing, serving and following Jesus for the rest of my life? Or do I just go with the flow of the local church? Is my spiritual temperature set by the thermostat of my church or is it a flame being fanned and fueled by an All-Consuming Fire and burning desire to become His Disciple? To go where He goes, do what He does, and experience His Kingdom (as promised) on the earth as it is in Heaven. Hmm… makes me think. How about you?

Luke 14:26-27 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

Holiness is not a religious preference. It is not an organized denomination. Holiness is God’s Mandate on the life of the believer. To be wholly consumed and filled with His Spirit. To passionately pursue the Calling and Purpose found only in Christ as He calls us a new creation. To bring Heaven to earth in our own life while connecting the Body and its intricate membership and parts coming together with one heart – one mind – and one purpose. To make Him greater and greater while I disappear in His Presence. Sounds good until one begins to count the cost. We decide if we will carry “our own cross”. Jesus died to set us free to choose the life we live. To “take up our cross” is become responsible for our membership as one part of the Body of Christ. I cannot live, breathe, move or exist as an effective part of the Body unless fully connected to and directed by Jesus Christ. He must be my motivation. He must be the One Thing that I am after. I hear you. Family comes first. It does right after Jesus Christ. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to discipline my body, mind and spirit that in all things Jesus is first which means if anyone else makes a contrary decision that it does not influence or impact my partnership with Jesus.

Love and grace are the foundation of this wonderful relationship. I cannot have my way and live successfully in any relationship. My relationships (all of them) must have Christ as a foundation. Even my relationships to my perceived enemies, even those who are considered a threat or constant thorn in our flesh have purpose in our life. God put them there for a reason. We do not systematically cut off difficult relations or those who don’t understand our faith and marriage to Jesus. We must learn to put all our expectation in Jesus Christ and trust Him with every other relationship that we have engaged in. We must always take up our cross and follow Jesus.

What do I give my life to? Is it possible to graph the timeline of my life? Of course, it is but do I really want to. How much of my day is focused on this cross I have chosen to carry versus all the other endeavors in my life? Ignorance is not bliss but the death of the good seeds ready to be planted and harvested in our life. The secret to a successful partnership with Jesus is found in His Word. Simply because Jesus is the Word. To decide not to know releases us from responsibility is not ignorance it is foolishness when all of creation displays the Glory of God. If I refuse to follow Christ – the Word of God tells me that I “am not worthy to of being called mine.” Holiness requires shirking off the filthy rags and donning a robe of righteousness. It means picking up the full armor of God to step into a victorious life. It means to put away pride and live in humility. It means giving up my way. If I cling to this life, I will lose it. If I give my life to Jesus fully, I will find my true purpose and live in fulfillment forever. (Matthew 10:37-39) It is a daily choice. (Luke 9:23)

Luke 14:28-33 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

Our life is comprised of three things of worth: time, talent and treasure. These are the things that we have to invest in something or someone. It is totally up to me how I invest my life. Time is the most precious commodity because it is irreplaceable. Talent is only as valuable as the realization of that potential in our life. Treasure is every tangible thing we own whether we think it’s worth anything or not. To become a disciple of Jesus Christ and live a holy life is not what so many have made it out to be. It is to live our life fully consumed by Jesus Christ. To step out of self and into Christ completely. It means investing my time, talent and treasure into His Kingdom. It is to combine our resources with the Lord completely. Giving Him all our time. All of our talent. All of our treasure. Then stepping back and letting Him use it for His Glory. The problem is that we give our hobbies and habits too much time and there is not enough to pay the price of discipleship. Divided interest and diversified investments may create natural security by not putting all our eggs in one lifetime basket but if my heart and soul are set on Eternity – I must take all my life and invest it in Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NLT) For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

When Jesus handed us the Keys to the Kingdom, the first key is marked “freedom”. I am now free to choose how I live my life. I choose my master. Asking Jesus to be our Savior is not enough, we must make Him our Lord to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God. I choose death or life each day. I choose blessing or otherwise. I decide if today will be to the Glory of God or pursue selfish interest. I get to choose. When I do, it determines my destiny. I cannot choose one course and expect to become part of the Kingdom. There is no middle of the road or gray compromise. Is my relationship to Jesus Christ a hobby? Do I do it for my own benefit and blessing but nothing more investing what is left of my time and energy? Is my relationship a habit? Do I take Him for granted? Rather than pursuing Him do I just pencil Him in? Is He part of the schedule or a routine measure? Do I every even think about Him or just do what I do and have done traditionally? Is my life ordinary? Is it just mediocre? Where is His Glory? It is not for the hobbyist or habitual Christian. It is for the intentional believer whose one desire is to be one with Christ. To put everything second. To give God the surplus of our life trusting Him with all of it. To follow Him relentlessly and passionately from beginning to end, no matter how deep the valley or high the mountain – no matter who comes with us. Does your love affair with Jesus have passion? Do you think about Him most of the time? See we have made this thing called discipleship a production but its not. It is the process by which our life, entire existence, is reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. It is how we achieve a state of holiness. It is not a hobby. It is not a habit. It is a relationship with the One who thought we were to die for. He gave up everything for me. I must reconcile my life to Jesus Christ to live a holy life. I must use my freedom to bring every part of my life into agreement with His Word, His Way and His Will. It is personal. Am I willing to give everything to Jesus? Lord, examine my heart and evaluate my life. Reconcile everything to you, Lord.

Acts 17:28 (NLT) “For in Him we live and move and exist.”

Life Without Limitation

Life without Limitation

Ephesians 3:20-21 (AMP) Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

When the New Year rolled around this year, it was not met with the same enthusiasm that it usually is for me. I love the calendar roll of fresh pages with new days filled with opportunity and potential. There would be no resolutions. I didn’t join the gym. This is not the norm for me. It immediately caused a gut check. We did not do the Daniel Fast. Oh my goodness, I can hear the huge intake of breath of those who engage it religiously since it became a “thing” in the church. The one thing I did do was put Ephesians 3:20 on the “wallpaper” of my phone so every time I pick it up – it illuminates before me. It must be the Holy Spirit who picked the verse because I have no idea why or how it became the verse for 2017 – but it is.

I will try to say this as gently as possible and it is a truth that many church folks have a really difficult time understanding or even agreeing with but when our relationship becomes traditional, routine driven, and a habit it is in danger of becoming religious versus relational. My relationship with Jesus Christ is not regulated or ruled by the things that I do or do not do but completely and 100% reliant on His Grace and my ability to accept His Love and Mercy each day. Nothing I do is worthy of all that He has done for me. However, what I have finally decided in this third month of the year is that my life has been limited. There are some areas of my existence that I have not fully committed and entrusted to Jesus Christ. Oh please, don’t judge me or decide that I have some big secret. We all have hidden areas and secret places of limitation in our heart and mind when it comes to the love and power of Jesus Christ for our life. Otherwise, every church including every member would be experiencing resurrection power, miracles, signs and wonders in every facet of their life. There is always more of Him for the part of me that is willing to bow down and give Jesus His Rightful Place.

Bear with me today, as I believe this Word is for me. I hope that as I share it transparently it will illuminate an area of limitation in your life so that the Love of God will bust through it and an outpouring of His Power will manifest in your new life in Christ. I think sometimes we expect our life in Christ to be like a bottle of carbonated soda. Sometimes it is, we get shaken up real good and explode for the moment but then the next day life is flat and tasteless. God has given us living water to flow through us. Have you ever shaken up a water bottle? Yep, nothing. It doesn’t get all worked up and shoot out of the bottle everywhere. It also doesn’t make a mess either. Water is consistently pure. It is always the same. You can only adjust the temperature but other than that it is committed to consistency. Maybe that is what this year is doing in me, removing some of the emotion and enthusiastic zeal to be replaced by a supernatural and miraculous life of confident hope that leads to consistent superabundance in my life. Lord, be it unto me.

To elaborate:

Ephesians 3:14-19 (AMP) For this reason [grasping the greatness of this plan by which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ] I bow my knees [in reverence] before the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ], from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name [God—the first and ultimate Father]. May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

My daughters and I were discussing an upcoming youth challenge posed by their youth pastor. They will be instructed regarding sharing their testimony and then given the opportunity to do so at the local Wal-Mart. My girls do not know a life outside of church or belief in Jesus Christ. They were born in church, taken to church, drug to church and now go to church their whole life. One of them confided that she doesn’t remember a time of not knowing Jesus – praise God. My heart as a mother is full. However, when it comes to sharing her life with others. What will she tell them? She has little to no experience to compare her new life to her old life to. She has been saved and baptized. It is all that she knows. Jesus Christ is a reality not a revelation to her. Our youngest daughter concurred that she knows she asked Jesus to be her Savior and Lord on my birthday when she was very young. She knows what it means to be saved. She understands the Holy Spirit but giving such a message to someone who has experienced something completely different seems to be impossible to them. All three of our girls have been challenged when engaging with others who have lived a different life with very different experiences.

Let’s flip the script for a moment, I have experienced life from a different perspective. I know what lost looks like. I have traveled the wilderness. I have made countless mistakes that were once regrets until redeemed by the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ was fully accepted. I have had the opportunity to share my experience with many people and it is easy. I have experienced Jesus Christ and His Power in my life so I know it is real and valid. The more that we experience the Love of God fully consummated in our life by faith and confident hope that produces supernatural and extraordinary details the easier it is to share this Gospel and be a light to the world. This is and always will be part of our purpose and calling in this world to share a real God and relevant Jesus to the lost and dying in darkness.

I must experience God at every level and Christ completely through me to be a relevant and accurate witness. To be the kind of Christian who is ready in season and out of season to share the Message of God’s Great Love. My relationship with Jesus Christ must be real. It cannot be a routine that I follow or rules that I adhere to. It must be a transparent open book that all can read and understand. It is a love story. It is a miraculous account of a limited life that became filled with unlimited power. My life must live it out to make it a best-seller sought after by others on display for all to see.

For this reason [grasping the greatness of this plan by which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ] I bow my knees [in reverence] before the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ],” The purpose for my existence and the reason I am alive is to be a Child of God. To come back to the Father by Way of Jesus Christ and take my place in God’s Family once again. His Grace is more than sufficient for me. How many times though have I ignored the Grace of God thinking that the Lord was calling me to be the strong one? Do be the good person? To be a God-Like Christian rather than a godly woman transmitting God’s Love, Grace and Mercy as it filters through me. See I can pretend like I have it all together, like there are no cares in my world. I can attempt to make it look like I make no mistakes and live a holier-than-thou life. The reality is I am a broken person who Jesus sparked a love affair with and the more I love and trust Him – the more I find that the Light of His Love is revealed through the cracked parts of my life rather than in any religious act I have participated in. God doesn’t need me but I must have Him. For this reason…grasping the greatness of His Plan. (Ephesians 3:14)

It is simple. Really simple. Jeremiah 29:1-13 is the description of this plan, however; the one that makes the difference is this – “The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) The beginning of an unlimited life starts with three basic steps – “Repentance. Restoration. Revival.” How did I get that from this verse? I must repent and live in love with Jesus. My love for Him alone will produce the right results. Restoration is the family reunion that causes the Love that Jesus gives me, to be reciprocated in life with others who I do not judge but choose to embrace for mercy’s sake. Finally, revival for those who choose to walk with God is to become His Children and establish our birthright again. We have a new life. It is in us and flows from us. Everywhere we walk in step with the Father has the potential of resurrection life. I am only limited by unwillingness to humble my life and follow the Lord.

Where do you walk? Following Jesus is to allow the Greater that is in you to have priority over the less that tends to drive us. Our daughters don’t know a life outside of Jesus Christ because Christ has been in their life always. What if we made it a point to include Jesus in every facet of our life? If every step had purpose and every work of the hand committed to the Lord, I am not talking about selfless martyrdom but to say, “Jesus come with me to work. Lord, have your way in my commute.” Holy Spirit fill the walls of our home. God put your hand on our bank account.” It is in Him we live, move, breathe and exist according to the Word of God. (Acts 17:28) Or do we? Have you ever said, “It is what it is”? What about calling those things into existence that are in Heaven for now? How about “it’s just who I am”? Where is the new creation? The limitations on my life are self-imposed. I have resurrection life and power inside of me applicable to every single step that I take in this life all the way to eternity. I must learn to walk like Enoch who disappeared in the Presence of the Lord.

From whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name [God—the first and ultimate Father]. Having earthly fathers who may or may not have participated in our life creates a false perception of fatherhood when it comes to our Heavenly Father. We place human expectations on a flawless Father based on the unmet expectations of flawed fathers. I have a great dad. He is a good father yet he still makes mistakes and is imperfect. I trust him yet I trust God more. I love and honor my earthly father but I relentlessly pursue right-standing with God my Father. It is absolutely imperative that we come to know, understand, believe and ultimately choose to trust the perfection of God our Father. He is awesomely wonderful. His Love is absolutely without condition. He is wonderful! He is awesome! God is everything our natural father’s wanted to be and even strive to become – God is all that and more. To access Him by Way of Jesus Christ and live in His Presence is absolute proof of belief. Faith must be evidenced by trust. Do you trust God today? Do you really trust Him? If you do, then your life will become supernatural. You will not experience fear, worry, care, anxiety or doubt when it comes to any and all lifetime situations. His Power will be manifested in you. If you do fear, worry, feel anxious or doubt, hang on…there is more.

“May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]…” Grace is defined as God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. God is ready to grant you the riches of His Glory. It is not to His Glory that His Children eat from the scraps beneath the table but sit and share meals with Him. To commune with Him. Stop it. Don’t think about communion with a tiny juice cup and sliver of a horrible tasting wafer. No, God wants to prepare a table in the presence of your enemies and demonstrate the extravagance of His Great Love. We are too busy fighting defeated foes than celebrating His Victory. God wants to live your life with you. He wants His Power to manifest His Presence in EVERY SINGLE AREA, EVERY SINGLE DAY WITHOUT A SINGLE EXCEPTION. All caps. Yes, I am shouting at you. Every area of our life should be according to His Riches in Glory. From the inside out, as our soul prospers our health, finances, influence and favor will, too. Where we sow the Word in our life, we will reap every blessing, promise and benefit it contains. The problem is not in God’s Capacity to love and care for us but in our ability to comprehend His Love. It is unlimited. Unlimited means not limited, unrestricted, and unconfined. It is boundless, infinite and vast. God’s love is unlimited and without qualification, exception and unconditional. God loves you period. The only way to perceive the boundaries (or lack there of) of God’s Love is to attempt to find them. The more I engage in grounding and rooting my faith in the Love of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ the less I will worry about the problems, situations, conditions and inconveniences of this life highly anticipating what God will do as He works good out of every detail. (Romans 8:28) God is perfecting all that concerns His Children. (Psalm 138:8) When I yoke my life to Christ and He goes where I go and I go where He goes, it will always challenge me to go deeper in God’s Presence and push the boundaries of His Love.

And [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].” God’s Love increases the capacity of my life. If I choose to engage in this love affair with Jesus “practically” through personal experience suddenly the God of my ancestors becomes My Lord, My God. We have not because we ask not. We do not believe that God’s Love is for us. The miracles of old are relevant. God’s Word is not logical outside of faith. But with faith all things impossible are now probable. The God of after life must be the God of our natural life, too. The Goodness of God is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) His Unfailing Love, His Mercy when I mess up and Goodness pursues me when? All the days of my life… (Psalm 23:6) All these words found in the Word are empowered by faith in the Word wrapped in flesh – Jesus Christ. They leap to life off the pages when faith is applied. Confident hope releases resurrection power now rather than reserving it for later. Rather than the mentality of “Jesus if you had been here” – we live because Jesus is here with us and in us. I am challenged to release all limitation in my life today by applying God’s Word by faith and believing God at His Word for EVERY area of my life not just those defined by desperation or hinting of death. To make God’s Word the reality that I experience every single day in every single way. This will be the fuel that sets the Light of my life from a small candle flickering in the wind to an all-consuming fire that drives darkness away. I am called to be the Light of the World. It’s time to light this baby up.

The Fullness of God. What does it look like? Is your life extraordinary? Have you experienced moves and waves of God unexplainable naturally but supernaturally defined? If not, you will. If you decide that God’s Love is definitely for you. If you desire it enough to pursue it, yoking your life to Jesus Christ. You will find His Plan, His Purpose and yes, even His Prosperity in every single element of your life. He is a Good Father. Do not sell your birthright for a single meal like Esau. Esau had a vast inheritance. He gave it all up to satisfy a hunger that was temporary. Hear me today as God is speaking to me, I believe He is saying it to you, “Stop settling.” Just because you don’t deserve the current blessings and benefits of God already proven in your life. Just because it is hard to believe God would do more and more when you realize you cannot stop doing what you do – choose to believe anyway. God is ready to do more than you can think or ask, dream or desire – all you must do is choose to accept His Love. (Period.) When I married my husband, there were things that immediately changed. I desired no one else. I pursued no one else. I wanted only to be His Wife forever. Over the years, there are things that we both have changed and grown in to maintain our relationship, He has never forced me to but I choose to because I love him. I want to be his wife. I want a strong marriage that lasts until death do us part. It is by choice. Love is a choice. To choose Jesus as our Savior and make Him Lord is a love choice. It is not by force. With this in mind, Jesus is not going to force you to live in His Presence or take everything He offers you as a part of your partnership. You have to want it, accept it, apply it and desire it, too. We have hidden potential, purpose and promise that only God can bring to pass. My life is unlimited unless I impose limits marked by disbelief, doubt and other desires.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

So back to my verse for 2017, I believe for me that the Lord is pressing me to start believing practically for the superabundance in all areas of my life not just the impossible ones. I know that God is a healer. I know that He gives us the desires of our heart. I have experienced God in so many ways that my life is far more blessed than I ever thought possible. I cannot stop here and have the fullness of God intended for my life. I must continue to press the boundaries of my belief and label each step with purpose as I walk through life until I disappear and all people see is the Christ in me. The life of Enoch is the life for me. When God’s Glory surrounds us completely and all people see when they see us is Light. Light of Love too amazing to not engage in. To complete to not step into. To real to ever forget. Life without limitation. This is the life for me.

Acts 17:26-28 (AMP) And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands and territories. This was so that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grasp for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being], as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

No More Rivals

No More Rivals

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

My life has purpose. The potential of my being and existence is fully encompassed in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Sovereign Lord. Why do I struggle to maintain His Preeminence in my life? There is no rival to the Lord. He has no equal. Yet in our everyday life – the struggle to trust and believe are real and valid battles in the heart and mind of every believer. Every step of faith is met with another challenging opportunity to take another. Following Jesus Christ in this life requires a depth perception of the Kingdom beyond that which our physical being and personal mindset can comprehend. We cry out for the Spirit of the Lord to fall upon us, restore and renew us and spark revival around us. What is stopping this from happening? Could it be the rivals in our life?

A rival is anything that competes for the same object or goal. It is the competition. A person or perception that disputes another’s superiority or preeminence. Who is like the Lord? Well, theoretically no one. There is nobody greater than Jesus Christ. His Power and Authority is unchallenged yet in our own life, one must decide if this is the case. A free will gives us the opportunity to believe anything and live the way that we choose. This does not in any way compromise God’s Power and Authority manifested in Jesus Christ, it only determines our outcomes and position in life. To ask the Lord to pour out His Spirit on us and desire His Will and His Way requires removal of the rivals in our life. To make Jesus Christ our champion, and put our complete faith and trust in His Ability as Sovereign Lord.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord can only occupy a surrendered and submitted life. To ask the Lord to fill us with His Spirit requires laying aside something in order for holy inhabitation to be complete. I want the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord to live in me. To occupy all areas of my life beginning with my soul, moving through my entire physical and emotional being until He resonates from my life. The process began decades ago. Today, I am still a fragile work in process. However, with each new day comes the challenging opportunity to end yet one more rivalry with the Power of God in my life. It is up to me. To cry out for His Spirit is to put to death anything that comes against my faith in God and willingness to trust the Lord more and more. I must kill those giants. Overcome the enemy. He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.

Submission is power. Grace is made perfect in my weakness. The world doesn’t operate on that belief system. In fact, to surrender is defeat according to the world. But I am only a temporary resident here, just making my way through life to eternity. Forever is a long time in comparison to a life that is only about 70 years or so on average. We must evaluate our existence for the rivalries and inconsistencies. Those areas of debilitation that the enemy has somehow convinced us hold some power over us or limit us in any way. The Love of God for us is complete. We lack no good thing in His Presence living for His Glory. He wants to take that from you. Steal your power and authority by tricking God’s People into believing that there is a limit to the Lord’s Power and Authority in our life or even a boundary to His Love. Nothing could be further from the Truth.

Luke 4:1-3 (NLT) Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. Then the devil said to him… 

The enemy is not short of arguments when it comes to God’s Word or His Power in our life. He constantly offers shortcuts and compromises us. He tests our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and Work in our life especially when God’s People are committed to living for the Lord. John the Baptist foretold His Coming. Jesus has now been baptized receiving the fullness of God’s Spirit and God said, “You are my dearly loved Son, you bring me great joy!” Can I just be real for a moment, I see a giant target being painted on the back of Jesus right about now! The enemy identified the Lord as his rival to contend with in that moment, and believed himself successful celebrating for about a minute before he realized the horrible mistake that he had made but I am getting ahead of myself.

Jesus immediately full of the Spirit went straight to the wilderness. Welcome to your new life in Christ! Purpose must be pressed to release full potential. Jesus responded to each temptation with the Word of God. Finally the enemy had finished tempting the Lord, he left him…until the next opportunity came. The enemy is not a true rival of Jesus Christ unless we allow him to compete for the Truth that occupies our life. The more real estate given to Christ in our life the more challenging it will be as the enemy attempts to take us out. Our potential is not just for our self, but as God’s Glory overtakes us the Light of His Love shines brightly for others to see. Immediately following Jesus’ trip to the wilderness where He overcame temptation, He entered the Temple and was handed the scroll of Isaiah to read. He read the words from Isaiah 61…God’s Power becomes our own by overcoming all rivals in our life. To submit and surrender to the Lord’s Power allows His Spirit…His Sovereign Spirit to manifest in our life. He becomes our purpose and gives us the power to overcome.

Isaiah 48:15-18 (NLT) Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.” And now the Sovereign Lord and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.”

“Sovereign Lord” is used approximately 290 times in the Old Testament depending on the translation you are using. It only occurs 3 times in the New Testament. Why? In the Old Testament, God put His Spirit into different people. When Jesus came in the New Testament, God put His Spirit fully into Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to His People. Matthew 27:50-52 tells us that At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.” Could this be the first documented revival? When the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was released along with resurrection power? It was the moment that God’s Power and Authority became completely available to me and you. The choice is mine if I will submit my life to the Sovereign Lord and accept His Power in my life.

God’s Power and Authority given to Jesus Christ lives in me. The only reason that I am not living in it is because I have allowed rivals to take the place of my Champion. I must overcome every hindrance in the race of faith by keeping my eyes on Jesus, my champion who initiates and perfects my faith. (Hebrews 2) How is this possible when there are so many things vying for my attention? How do I keep my eyes (and faith) on someone who I cannot see when there are so many people in the way? How does a football team win the Super Bowl? Or a baseball team the World Series? How does a fighter become Heavyweight Champion of the World? One game, one series or one bout at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Jesus Christ has given you His Spirit. The Greatness of God’s Son and all of His Sovereign Power lives and breathes in every believer. As we begin to overtake and oust the rivals in our life, Christ becomes the dominant factor in all areas of life. Do not despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) We begin with small increments of faith to build a larger foundation. (Luke 16:9-10) It begins by believing that Jesus is our champion. Our confidence is not in our ability to be faithful or righteous but that He is enough. His Grace sufficient to release His Power no matter how weak or weary that we may become. It all begins by believing. (John 1:49-51) Nathanael believed simply because Jesus told him that he saw him under the fig tree. Jesus told Nathanael that his simple act of believing would produce greater things. What did the man believe? The Word of God. He believed Jesus at His Word.

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

Do you believe? Do you believe wholeheartedly that the Lord is Sovereign and without rival? Is there anyone or anything equal to the Power of God at work in your life today? Before you answer, consider this. Your life should be prospering as your soul does in every way. Isaiah 61 clearly outlines the Power of God at work in us and through us. If my life is not being lived in God’s Power including prosperity, miracles, signs, wonders and exceptional favor, I must eliminate yet another rival. Some of the things that tempt us NOT to trust God are things like the enemy (John 10:1-3; 10:10), His lies tempt us every day. The Word of God is the only thing that will silence the lie of the enemy in our life. We must know the Word of God intimately, personally, and completely to live a successful Christian life. Jesus is the Word of God. We cannot know our Savior and Lord without it. Our flesh wants control of our life or it will die. It makes desperate attempts to challenge God’s Love, Authority and Power in our life as it does not want to submit or surrender to its own crucifixion. (Romans 7) Finally, our feelings. Our relationship with Jesus Christ must become a marriage that decides to hang on and fight for the partnership no matter how we feel on any given day or in any situation. (I Peter 5:7-9) The enemy, like Goliath, is constantly roaring his taunts and accusations at us. God is greater than our feelings. (I John 3:20) We must eliminate all rivals in our life and let Jesus be our Champion. His Sovereign Spirit will take over turning the natural into supernatural and ordinary to extraordinary.

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.

Do you desire Jesus to be your Champion today? To do so requires the elimination of all rivals in our life. We live busy lives in a world that offers many distractions. Comfort is appealing and complacency creates such a place. However, I want to live the life promised in Isaiah 61. My purpose in life is that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord be manifested in my life and overflow to the world around me. I must be disciplined. I cannot allow the things of this world to rival the championship of Jesus in my life. I have a free will. I have the right to choose the amount of my life that is sacrificed, surrendered and submitted to the Almighty. It is all up to me. I choose to run with purpose in every step. How about you? Will you say with me today, “No more rivals, Jesus! All I want is You! You are my Champion!”

Isaiah 30:15 (NLT) This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.

My Personal Account

My Personal Account

James 1:2-3 (AMP) Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].

My husband and I have been on a “business conference” in the Bahamas for almost a week. A luxury resort on hundreds of acres of beautiful beach, lush palms, and opulent settings. There is a suite in one of the buildings called the “Bridge Suite.” It was built for the late Michael Jackson and is offered at a mere “$25,000” per night to those who would like to enjoy its amenities. Walking through the marina on the way to a wonderful dinner with new friends, yachts lined the waterway all lit up in palatial splendor. Some larger than our homes, one couldn’t help but stop to look at the pristine decks fancifully lit floating effortlessly atop the calm waters. Many of these impressive vessels can be chartered for about $1,000,000 a week complete with captain and crew. What a bargain! It is rumored that one of them is currently being chartered by basketball great, Shaquille O’Neal. There is a great deal of wealth here. Earthly wealth evident in costly meals, amenities and casino tables lined with men and women tossing chips worth more than some people earn in a week – gone in a moment without regard.

Strolling through the casino on the way to our room, several associates from the company lined one table. Stopping to talk with them, I noticed that the table had five men with piles of chips and a row of dice. The gentlemen were clearly part of the casino staff and were preparing to open the table. Carefully counting the chips on the table representing the money that would be won and lost this evening. Someone offered me a place at the table and handful of chips to get started but I quickly declined. I have no idea how to play the game and no real interest in gambling. It’s just not my thing. The routine of the staff as they prepared to open the table to the eager “investors” made me consider some things in my own life.

James 1:2 in the New King James Version says, “Count it all joy…” rather than “consider it”. Counting the cost of our life. Counting it all joy. Many people would lose money last night in the casino. It is their goal to keep people at the table until they do. Those who counted the cost ahead of time brought only what they were willing to give up or able to lose gambling. Others may not have been so wise and lost more than they could afford. Our life really is about reconciliation in all of the choices that we make. Knowledge becomes wisdom or at least one would hope so. As I heard the story of the “Bridge Suite”, walked by all the yachts in the dock and even watched people throw away money at the casino – I considered the cost of my life. Jesus Christ considered my life and well being to be priceless as He thought I was to die for. Do I reconcile my life to such a standard? When I count the cost of my life, how important is it? Do I invest my life in worthwhile things or worldly fancies? Do I use common sense and godly wisdom when it comes to how I portion my life? Or do I throw away precious moments and divine opportunities on things that don’t really matter? Oh don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that Christians have to live poor existences barely scraping to get by, but rather we do so anyway because we fail to recognize God’s Full Potential and Purpose in our life.

Luke 14:28-30 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

Have you counted the cost for this new life that is offered in Jesus Christ? Sin kept us from God’s Glorious Standard of Living. Is our lack of faith going to continue to hinder us in our salvation? God didn’t call us to be impoverished but to live in abundance. Wise investors count the cost before beginning a building. They have a plan and work that plan until completion. Coming to Christ may be random, but living in the prosperity of God which is His Ultimate Purpose and Plan for us is a radical choice. There is a huge property here that was built by the Chinese government that now sits vacant. They flew in more than 8,000 workers to build an extravagant property to entice the rich and famous to their resort. However, the low paid workers were not qualified and now the cost to bring the property up to code was more than they were willing to pay and so they abandoned the project. It sits vacant to this day. Coming to Jesus Christ is only the beginning, but if we do not count the cost and invest in a firm foundation called faith our life will not be ready to support the new creation that is coming out of us. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without spiritual investment – one can only yield the natural not the supernatural or sustain it. What do I have to do to successfully count the cost?

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

If you have come to know Jesus Christ, there is a new person inside of you straining and striving to get out. There is a new life waiting for you. It is all a gift of God labeled His Plan. It is a future and hope not just for forever, but to be evident in your today. God brought us back to Himself through Jesus to change our life for the better now and today. The process is called reconciliation. It is outlined in Romans 5:10-11. As we begin to take every aspect of our life and compare it to God’s Promise for our life, there will be inconsistencies. As we continue to reconcile those inconsistencies and make them balance out – change begins to happen as God’s Abundance begins to reach us called fulfillment. Without full reconciliation to Jesus Christ, our friendship with God is not complete. Reconciliation will always be defined by our relationship to Jesus Christ.

Matthew 16:25-27 (NLT) If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.

What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? The profit of reconciliation to Jesus Christ is new life, rebirth and resurrection. But there is more to it than just that, when our life is defined by our relationship to Jesus Christ – we will thrive in the natural. Once the value of our soul becomes firmly established in Jesus Christ, the overflow of our life is in proper order. God begins to pour into us because by faith and trust it flows right back out of us. Light is produced that shines in generosity to others in every possible way. Our life secure in the Lord there is no need to focus so heavily on our life now. Trusting God will produce every spiritual blessing and we become complete lacking nothing. Soul satisfaction is the beginning of all prosperity in life.

James 1:4 (AMP) And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.

To be quite practical, I will probably never own a yacht. Not because it is not possible, but because there is no desire to do so. I would like to tour one just to see how it all fits together and how things work on a ship of that magnitude. I do have other dreams and desires that may seem impossible to some people. They are hidden in my heart. I know that one day it is quite likely that they will happen in my life. Not because of any other reason than the fact that my first desire is to reconcile my life to Jesus Christ. Faith is the most important thing in my life. When I begin to feel the burden of struggle, weight of problems and become a bit testy from the trials of life – I remind myself of the great potential hidden within me. If I engage in the process counting the cost of my choices and commitment to Christ and when I choose to participate in the process of reconciliation of ALL my life to Christ, it is then and only then that the potential of my life called purpose and prosperity become more than a possibility. They are the probability in that moment. I must make a faith my foundation, trust my motivation and hope my destination to have the new life that the Lord promises those who find their existence in Him. This is my personal account. To prosper as my soul prospers…

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

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

Psalm 32:8-11 (NLT) The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost (The Road Not Taken)

Regret is to romance the past as if it were a long lost love. Many people live in regret in the midst of consequences that seem unchangeable. How can I go back? You can’t. What’s the point of trying? All these circumstances have created a barrier around my life now? Regret is a sense of loss, disappointment or dissatisfaction that can literally suck life even new life right out of you. It is to put a hand to the plow paving your future but using your other hand to point back. God promised to make all things new. If our heart is still set on the past, the forgotten, the lost or left behind, it becomes quite difficult to reach forward. We must stop looking in the rear view mirror and begin to look ahead. God’s Purpose for your life is alive and well if you are, in fact, still breathing. Nothing is lost. Yet, nothing ventured is nothing gained. I cannot make the same choices tomorrow and expect different results. It would be foolish to travel the same roads but expect different destinations. My potential as God’s Masterpiece is limitless. His Promises are limitless. I must simply choose the right path. Yet, it is too often the road not taken.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth…

The words of poet Robert Frost are true in so many ways. Standing at the crossroads of life, one must choose the path of life. It is a strain to see too far down it as it surely gives ways to twists, turns and curves making it impossible to see the end from the beginning. Our ways are not like His Ways. His Thoughts so much higher than our own that I am convinced it is humanly impossible to see much further than the next step down the right path because surely we would not take it. Our purpose, potential and promises hidden in His Way lead us to a rich and satisfying life. However, trust issues keep us bound at the crossroad in the crosshairs of the enemy who is waiting to steal, kill and destroy that dream God is about to make our reality. A life rich in love, joy and peace full of wisdom and grace that always leads to hope and never disappointment. He must lure you another way in order to have his way. Yet there is a still small voice saying, “Follow me.”

Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT) “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 (MSG) “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.”

The road not taken. What does that road look like to you? Is it a time when you think you should’ve have done one thing but did the other? Maybe you decided not to go to college, and now feel as though your earning potential is locked because you do not have the key labeled education? Or perhaps, you settled for something or even someone who you think was less than God’s Best now filled with regret tinged in bitterness – you have lost all drive and motivation – lost in the monotony of life things seem a little hopeless and lifeless – now what? You are at a crossroads. Every detail of your life leading up to this moment can be used for your good and His Glory depending on the road that you choose next. The pathway of trust leads to new life. Revival, renewal and restoration from a Resurrecting God through His Son doesn’t change our circumstances and conditions but cures them. He is the One who brings out all the potential hidden in our past and uses it to show the watching world that He really is God who makes all things new and brings dead things to life.

Are you committed to the road not taken? It requires only one thing. Trust. Absolute and total confidence in Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth and the Life. It means that we make Jesus, not only Savior, but Lord of our life including every decision from this moment forward. It means leaving the past behind us, keeping our eyes fixed on the future and not turning around again. Are you romancing regret or revival today?

Psalm 18:32-36 (NLT) God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

The prophet Joel warned, “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision.” Where are you today? Salvation is more than asking Jesus to be our Savior. It must be solidified by faith, In other words, we must believe. It cannot be assumed that He will come sweep us away just because I bowed my head and recited a quick prayer in some fancy prayer meeting. Heading down to a river, or into a baptismal did not seal the deal, but opened the gate to my future. Trust is the act that God is waiting for. The first step in my future is called trust. It is moving in that new direction that doesn’t make sense is not logical and most often completely contradictory to human nature but simply an act of obedience as we learn to trust God at His Word. I believe the “thousands” in Joel is not an example of those who are lost but rather those who call on the Name of Jesus but cannot truly grab hold of Him in belief. Those who want to have faith but refuse to trust the Lord.

The Lord has made a way that is exclusive for His Children. (Isaiah 35:8-10) Do you trust Him enough to follow it home? We pray for the Lord to show us His Way crying out for His Glory. The church requests His Spirit to come and revival to fill us yet do not do our part in securing its way. Trusting the Lord does not clear our path but provides an unseen way. Remember the Children of Israel, stuck between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea. They expected death that day either at the hand of the enemy or by force of nature. But God had hidden a road under the Red Sea that was exposed by trust. Even as the wall of waters made the way for their escape, I am sure some were skeptical. Those who chose to trust the Lord that day made it safely to the other side. It was not logical or conventional and so it is with Jesus.

God uses our journey in life to prepare us for victory. He doesn’t want us to simply walk through this life meekly but instead is read to prosper us in every way. The Lord has already imparted to us every spiritual blessing possible so where is it? Maybe it is on the road called trust that has not been taken. Perhaps if we put one foot out – we will begin to see that God made a way. I just wasn’t walking in it. Those who choose to trust the Lord and follow Him are promised the following: God will arm us with His Strength. He makes our way perfect. He makes us surefooted or confident. He enables us to stand fearlessly. The Lord trains us for the battles. He makes my arm capable of holding the shield labeled faith. He supports me. God helps me. The path of trust is surety and it becomes wider as we walk in it so it is not a slippery slope any longer. Psalm 23 promises me that He is a Good Shepherd who goes with me every step of the way when I choose to follow Jesus making Him the Way and the Truth for my life.

Jeremiah 6:16-17 (NLT) This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ I posted watchmen over you who said, ‘Listen for the sound of the alarm.’ But you replied, ‘No! We won’t pay attention!’”

I am attending a conference in the beautiful Bahamas with my husband this week. The property is absolutely massive. The scheduled meetings are not in the main tower of rooms where we are staying. It would be easy to get lost. However, when we start in the direction of the next event there are signs directing our large group to guide us. From stepping off the elevator, clear directions with people holding signs with our group name and freestanding banners mark the way. It is impossible to get lost unless, of course, one decided not to follow the route. Trying to find a shortcut to avoid the crowd of people or shorten the distance, they might choose another way. I have that choice, but I do not allow myself to give into it because clearly these people can get me there just fine. What about the Lord? What if my frustration is caused by my unwillingness to choose His Way? What if my lack of trust is keeping my life from fulfillment and prosperity? What if it is me? What if I am not taking the right road or choosing His Path? What if my regrets hold my full attention and letting go is not an option? Could it be me? It usually is friend. My experience is that when my life doesn’t line up to God’s Word, it is time to evaluate my position in life. It is easy to become detoured which leads to delay. Delayed obedience is always a deterrent that stops us heaven’s overflow. God is pouring out His Spirit. He has already given us every spiritual blessing. My purpose is part of His Plan that leads to a future called hope but am I seeking Him wholeheartedly? Trusting Him with my life? Could it be the road I have not taken marked trust that leads to faith and confident hope? I intend to find out and make the right decision. I want to arrive successfully at the right destination. I want to endure this life which is salvation to my soul. Show me the right path today, Lord.

Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT) Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

Early Check In

early-check-in

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

The date circled on the calendar months ago has finally arrived. For the past week, I have been picking out clothes, preparing to pack, organizing the house, making a menu, listing instructions and informing our kids of our expectations while away on a trip. Not just any trip, but a trip to the Bahamas provided by my husband’s company. The resort is picturesque. Amenities ample and prime. It is a place many only dream of that the Lord has blessed us with. I have anticipated the trip and tomorrow it’s off to the airport. This morning, I went online to check-in and get our boarding passes. Our flight leaves around 7:00 AM. After providing all the information required by Homeland Security, a layout of the aircraft is provided with our seats clearly marked. After agreeing to all terms and conditions, a final notice marked “Check-in Successfully Complete” flashes on the screen with a “Enjoy Your Trip!” As I put away all the necessary documents and sealed them in the bright-colored pouch from the travel agency, I couldn’t help but wonder – Lord, wouldn’t it be awesome if I could do the same spiritually? Log in to Heaven.com or WeRSaved.com and make sure there is a place for me ahead of time. To be sure that I am doing the right things, living the right life, and making good choices so that I won’t be turned away at the gate…the pearly gates that is. I know if I made it to the gate for my flight tomorrow and they wouldn’t let me board that I would be very sad and disappointed. I don’t even want contemplate how I might feel if it was standing before Jesus and He said, “I’m sorry but I don’t know you.”

When the details of this glorious trip were sent to my husband who forwarded them to me, I immediately put the dates on the calendar at work and in my phone. Planning. Now that I knew it was coming, it would be good, and I wanted to go – I made plans around the trip. It became a priority of sorts. The destination of my faith is a placed called confident hope. It must be something that I desire and decide to participate in. It must become a priority in my life. Faith is established in my relationship with Jesus Christ. He must be my priority. Prepare. I have spent several months planning and preparing for this trip in advance. I have children who need to be cared for. Details to be decided. Faith requires preparation as it develops characteristics contrary to man. Our flesh chooses immediate gratification over endurance. It would rather give up then persevere. It prefers the easy way rather than the Highway of Holiness which is a narrow road with a small entrance described as harder to get through than the chances of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. What if the destination called Heaven, His Kingdom, Eternity and Forever were as highly anticipated, planned and prepared as an exotic vacation of sorts. What would happen if we invested an equal amount of time planning for our future as we do to have fun?

Ephesians 1:18-20 (NLT) 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. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 

Flying is a love/hate relationship. I love the fact that from start to finish it will only be four hours. However, for those four hours, I must trust the craftsmanship of the airplane, the mechanics who maintain it, and the pilot who will fly it, so trust is an issue. As I enter flights, just before walking in the doorway I lay hands on the airplane and pray. It is quick and brief and most people don’t even notice although one stewardess in Atlanta did whisper, “Amen!” with a wink and smile. Trust is an issue of faith. We must trust the Lord with our life. I believe that to try to do so blindly is ignorance on our part that leads to death and destruction. I cannot trust God outside of faith. Faith is found in the Word whose Name is Jesus. Jesus is the Word. To try to know Him, let alone trust the Lord, outside of the Word of God is impossible. You are setting yourself up to fail. The Word cuts flesh from bone exposing the innermost parts of what we have been taught and our new life in Christ. I cannot know the blessings, benefits, promises, purposes and process by which it is achieved in my life if I do not strive to know the Word of God including Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life. I have studied the packet provided by the agency in detail. I have confirmed our flight. I have retrieved our passports. I have visited the website of our destination and I am almost packed. Do I give this much attention to the Lord and my destination in Him each day? Each week? Consistently? Confident hope is born of constant trust that develops and matures our faith.

Hebrews 3:12-14 (NLT) Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

I am excited about the time of rest for the next week. Time with my husband apart from hectic schedules, rigorous routines and the busyness of life. Rest is also a blessing of the Lord given to those who find their place in Him. Jesus promises rest to those who yoke their life to Him. (Matthew 11) Those who seek Him wholeheartedly will find Him and the future and hope that He holds for us. (Jeremiah 29:13) What if we planned and prepared each day for the place called Heaven and Eternity with God? What if His People anticipated it for the Glorious Destination that it is? Far more wonderful than a week in some tropical paradise from which you are dumped right back in the rat race called life. To be with Jesus Forever apart from fear, worry, anxiety, stress, sickness, pain and brokenness, to live forever in the Light of His Love basking in His Glory. It will be so much better than any of His Creation. We must believe it enough to anticipate it.

Faith given the opportunity to become confident hope is our boarding pass. To trust Jesus with the details and simply live in wholehearted pursuit of Him. To follow His Way because we want to be where He is. He must become our desired destination. The only way to become confident in the Lord is to try trusting Him at His Word. I am trusting the travel agent who planned and prepared this trip for us. Just a person doing her job who doesn’t know us at all. She is just doing what the company instructed her to do. Yet, I am trusting her with the details of the next week. Hmmm, so what about Jesus? He died to offer me a place in His Kingdom forever. His Love, Grace and Mercy to transport me from sin to salvation. His Blood to cover me so that when God sees me I will be white. My boarding pass is ready. I just need to check-in. If I go over the details of my walk with Christ, it is easy to see the areas that need my attention. To locate the places where other things have maybe become the priority and need to be reorganized. Jesus should be at the top of every list. There should be no other books unless I read the Bible every day. There should be no other conversations until I converse with Jesus first in prayer. The most important place I go before heading out the door is His Presence. Who lives like that you are asking? I do if I want to be where Jesus is forever. If I want confident hope, I must engage in trusting the Lord and building the foundation called faith. Faith will always produce confident hope so I do not have to wonder what will happen after I take my last breath. I will already know and have inexpressible joy!

I Peter 1:8-9 (NLT) 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. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Life in a Pressure Cooker

life-in-a-pressure-cooker

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

The pressure cooker was invented by a Frenchman, by the name of Denis Papin, who was a scientist rather than a renowned chef. His goal was more of a science experiment in physics more than a culinary innovation. The first pressure cooker was called the “Digester”. A solid metal pot with an airtight lid and steam-release value on top to adjust accordingly. The early models of his invention resulted in many explosions that ultimately led to the development of the piston-and-cylinder. The Digester was also the forerunner to the autoclave used to clean medical utensils before and after each use for hygienic purposes. I have never used a pressure cooker, but have had food cooked in one. The high pressure cooking brings out the moisture in food making even the toughest meat tender. It cooks much faster than normal as the boiling point is raised from 212 to 250 degrees. However, by design, it can be a bit intimidating with the bubbling value that shoots out steam under pressure. Though I cannot relate to cooking with pressure, I certainly will “amen” that I live under constant pressure.

“Pressed by every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.” The pressures of life though unseen can feel unbearable at times. Pressure is force upon the surface of an object. Life is fueled by expectation influenced by society, culture and even religion. Certain expectations that create external pressure to perform up to the level of the expectancy of others, self and yes, God. We have the Light of God’s Love within us and it is trying to make its way out. All the while the enemy tries to snuff it out with half-truths, lies and deceptions meant to make us give in, give out and buckle under the pressures of life. But what if the pressure you are feeling is not from external force but internal resistance trying to extract our purpose and fill our life with God’s Goodness to His Glory. The Light in us resisting the darkness around us and we are caught in the middle. What if the pressure is not to crush us but promote us to the position God intended for us? We are filled with a Great Treasure not meant to be hidden under a basket but positioned on a hill high above the city for all to see. Our life is not supposed to be ordinary but extraordinary thanks to the God in us. Natural gives way to supernatural by allowing God to move through us … the process that is used most by God is pressure. Pressure to change. Pressed to release. To be pressed down, shaken together so the Lord can run over in every area of life. Are you feeling the pressure today?

Job 23:8-14 (NLT) I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed. “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food. But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.

One of the most challenging things about God and a pressure cooker is that you cannot see what’s going on inside of them. The pressure cooker is sealed for the entire time. Who can see or really know what God is up to inside of us? During times of testing, it is only natural to feel like God has abandoned us when nothing could be farther from the Truth. He prepared you for this moment when pressure surrounds us. He has been positioning you for such a time as this. When taking a test in school, does the teacher give you the answers during the exam? No, the answers were provided before the day of the test. God prepares us along the way with His Word. He teaches us discipline. He gives us discernment so that when the time comes to be tested – we will pass. If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. (Proverbs 21:10) Job expresses this very feeling in Job 23:8-9 but comes to a very important conclusion by faith – “But he knows where I am going, and when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.”

What is the purpose of the test? God is working to develop faith in us to be used to overcome and prosper. To be successful in all we do demands obedience to His Word, Will and Way. This is not about a religion or church guidelines. No, this about purpose and destiny inscribed on your heart and brought about by Christ living and breathing inside of you. Too often, we do what people say and don’t listen for God’s Voice or study His Word or follow His Way. Instead we rely on people to take us somewhere they have never been and do for us only what God can do. God applies pressure so that we will not settle for where we are, who we are or what we have. He wants His Goodness and Glory to overflow in us and around us.

In Psalm 23, David writes “even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Like Job, David understood the Presence of God all around him. He knew that “rod” of discipline and “staff” of direction were absolutely necessary to make it through the shadows and valleys of life. Everyone has tests and trials in life. Everyone experiences pressure. It is our response to these things that dictate our destiny. David knew if he remained faithful and followed the Lord through these hard times and did not succumb to pressure that he would experience tremendous and overwhelming blessing despite his hardship. How about you? What do you do when pressure bears down on you? Is your strength in the Lord strong enough to endure? To seek relief from the pressure is to start the whole process over again. If I release the pressure cooker value before my meal is done and ready to eat, I must begin the process over again. God’s Way is perfect. His Plan is fulfillment. To comprise and give in to pressure will result in costly do overs and lengthy delays in reaching our destination.

Job decided it was better to remain faithful and true to God’s Word, Will and Way. He made the choice that when his world fell apart around him to continue to honor and serve God despite the horrors he faced. He did not give into the pressure of life. When others would have cursed God and died, Job made the right choice yielding to the Lord and walking in His Ways despite his pain, heartache and complete devastation. How are you responding to the pressures of life today? Jesus tells us in His Word that we must endure to be saved. Pressure produces endurance in the heart secured by faith and confident hope. Is that you today?

“But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does so he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.” I love Job’s declaration in the midst of devastation. Job surrenders to the Lord. God’s Way is perfect. Say that with me: “God’s Way is perfect.” Even though it may seem perfect – He is always working to perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) If He is working everything for our good like His Word says, we must trust the Lord to complete this work that He began in us. I cannot work God’s Plan – He will work it out in me. I must simply surrender and submit to the Lord every area of my life. To endure the pressure to make it to the gold inside of me. To know that God is love. God is good. God is faithful. God is steadfast. His Love unfailing. His Grace neverending. All this means nothing, if I do not believe. Belief is demonstrated in trust. Do you trust the Lord today? If you do, you will not be tempted to turn the knob of rebellion and give up midway again. You cannot seek to relieve the pressure but endure it so that what God has placed in you, your potential will be refined and released as purpose.

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT) “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

Would the Lord really tear us to pieces? The Lord works best in our brokenness. His Grace is perfected in our weakness when His Power can completely overtake us. When a colt is introduced to a bridle and bit, the first urge is to resist. It shakes its head and tries to go its own way trying to wrestle the reins from the trainer. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. The Lord will not make you follow Him. He will not force blessings and prosperity in your life. Simple obedience provides basic provision. Radical obedience produces an abundance of prosperity. Not because of what you do, but because of where you are going. The deeper in love I am with Jesus the greater my desire for His Presence. The more I seek Him, the more I find Him. Where He is – there is my greatest treasure. The only thing that gets me closer to the Lord is faith and trust. I must learn to not give in to the pressures of life and rather rejoice that the Lord is up to something wonderful and if I don’t give it – it will come to pass in my life. Trusting the Lord keeps us steady under pressure. In the meantime, let us press to know Him more.

Psalm 119:143 (NLT) As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.

As I have shared before, transition is the final phase of childbirth. It is also the hardest. You want to give up. You don’t think you can do it anymore. The pressure seems unbearable. The promise is so close. The very thing God is birthing in you is in transition. It is closer than you think. You cannot give in now. Get your hand off the release value, you are going to see this thing through. Maybe the pressure around you is not intended to break you down, but bust through the darkness to let your Light shine. Perhaps, it is your purpose about to break down every wall between you and prosperity. God uses pressure to promote us but only those who endure will know the sweet taste of victory. Are you feeling the pressure? Dive into God’s Word find your promise. Let Him strengthen those weary hands and weak knees today. Those who do will learn to rejoice under pressure because they know God’s Promise waits on the other side. Release is coming. Everything is going according to plan! God’s Plan. The Holy Spirit is cooking up something wonderful in you so taste and see that the Lord is good!

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

 

Are You Being Sifted?

sifted

Luke 22:31-34 (NLT) “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

My grandmother baked the finest Tollhouse cookies ever created. They literally melted in your mouth. She made them completely from scratch. I tried to replicate her recipe once but mine just weren’t the same. My children prefer those that come in the bright yellow package, marked Tollhouse, yet you break and bake. Of course, they do. They are ready in minutes. You can back them on a whim. There is no recipe to follow or ingredients to gather. One of the secrets to the success of my grandmother’s recipe was the sifting process. She would take the flour and pour it through her old sifter. It was made of tin, weathered by age. It had a little handle on the side with a tiny wooden knob just right for little helpers. I would run the flour through and show grandma. She would say, “Do it again.” I continued to sift the flour, baking soda and salt together over and over again until it finally met her approval. I was not a patient child. I am barely achieving patience in my fifty years of life. Each time she would send me back to sift again, I would head off with a heavy sigh. Mumbling under my breath, not sure what the point was, the flour looked just fine to me. She would take the fruits of my labor and mix it with the carefully creamed butter, sugar and egg dumping in some chocolate chips and pecans. After a good ten minutes or so, she would give me a slightly cooled yet still ooey gooey cookie with some cold milk. Heaven in my mouth, I assure you.

Jesus had already prophesied over Peter that he would be the rock on which the church would be built. His potential was clearly labeled from the start. Yet throughout Peter’s time with the Messiah, it is clear that his faith was struggling a bit and his ability to believe beyond what he could see challenged by all the distractions of life. The night before Jesus would be hoisted up on the Cross, he gathered his disciples together. At the last supper, he told Peter, “Simon, Simon, satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.” Is the enemy sifting you today? Are you feeling the pressure? Is life more specifically your “faith” life a struggle? Do you feel like giving up? Are you confused in your calling? Jesus told Peter, “I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith would not fail.” Sifting is part of the process that the Lord uses to refine our faith while the enemy intends to steal, kill and destroy our potential and purpose in Jesus Christ. It is up to us whether or not we give in to the struggle or learn to strive.

To sift means to separate, examine or question closely. Faith is compared to the size of a mustard seed. No wonder it requires such a rigorous process to be defined and determined. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Therefore, it is imperative in the life of every Christ that sifting occurs. However, our response to such an intrusive is clearly evidence of progress in our life that allows us to see what needs to be disciplined to finish the race and claim our prize. The word “sift” comes from the Old English word “siftan” which means to pass through a sieve. I wonder if this can be compared to the difficult of reaching the Kingdom when Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) Our family has always traveled with four girls including myself. Luggage space was at a premium as the girls wanted to dump their entire closet in the back of the SUV. Many times, they had to rethink, reorganize and repack their clothes, shoes, straighteners and makeup into one bag. They would have to empty the contents considering what they really needed and wanted to take. Sifting in life causes us to empty the contents of our heart and life, examining it closely for one thing – faith. Nothing else is worth taking because nothing else will gain us access into forever. All the other “things” in life are left this side of Heaven.

Job 1:1 (NLT) There was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless – a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.

The very thing that you are going through is the opportunity to sift through the contents of your life and reprioritize. Good people still must go through some things in life because our goal is godliness. Job was a good man. He was blameless in the sight of the Lord living in complete integrity. He feared the Lord and obeyed the Word staying far from evil. Yet, still he lost everything. What makes it even more difficult to understand or comprehend is that it was actually God who recommended his servant to satan that day…

Job 1:6-12 (NLT)  One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

Have you counted the cost for the faith you desire? How you considered your contribution to a new life in Christ? It requires our all. We must be willing to give up this life to save our soul, it sounds good and even looks pretty good on paper until it is required of us in the natural. This is the turning point for many Christians called to the Lord. They cannot leave this world behind so they turn back to this life. God had a plan. He knew exactly what He was doing in Job, through Job and for Job in the process of testing. The only thing Job had to do was to trust the Lord.

I used to talk a good faith talk. I desired to have a faith walk. Continually crying out to the Lord to grow, develop and mature my faith, but never really understanding what might be required of me to do so. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, the Lord asked simply if I trusted Him and I quickly agreed having no idea that a three month treatment plan would turn into a three year battle that would leave me with little left but a mustard seed of faith. It took me a good solid year to decide if I had it in me to continue to seek more faith and trust God more. I was wore torn and battle weary. There was no more of me to give to the good fight of faith. I was empty, depleted and needed Jesus more than ever just to make it through each day. What will it take for your life to come down to faith? How many layers of security must be removed? How many trials and tests to find the relevancy and validity of this tiny seed called faith that we must live by? It really is up to each one of us. Our purpose and calling are never withdrawn. God does not change His Mind about the Plan that He has made for us. We decide if it is the life that we want, need and desire above all things.

Job 41:31-34 (NLT) “Leviathan makes the water boil with its commotion. It stirs the depths like a pot of ointment. The water glistens in its wake, making the sea look white. Nothing on earth is its equal, no other creature so fearless. Of all the creatures, it is the proudest. It is the king of beasts.”

Leviathan is the enemy’s partner. He lurks under our skin and in the recesses of our mind. He is the one who questions every decision or notion to follow Christ. He challenges us with lies and half-truths designed to distract, detour and delay with his prime goal being destruction. Commotion and chaos are not of God. When our life doesn’t make sense according to the Word of God or we begin questioning His Call or even considering giving up the good fight of faith, Leviathan is lurking beneath the surface stirring things up. We are not fighting flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6) We are fighting against evil around us and pride within us. The world produces a craving and desire for physical pleasure, wanting everything we see and pride that is in our achievements and possessions. (I John 2:16) Peter thought that he was ready to die for Jesus but the truth was that he had not yet died to self. The moment one decides to give their all to Jesus – our flesh immediately fights back. The real struggle begins because to give everything to Him requires total crucifixion of our flesh. My old self must be crucified with Christ and only that birthed of His Spirit, our new life, must be allowed to live. (Galatians 2:20) To live for Jesus is to trust in the Son of God who loves me more than myself. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith must be refined and tested until all of the impurity marked by self is removed and Christ is allowed to rule and reign in me so that every day and every choice is subject to the Cross, His Divine Plan and Perfect Will. Satan is the author of confusion and the father of all lies. He will make quitting seem like the right thing to do, giving up like surrender when it is not, and the enemy hates what God is doing in us and through us and will stop at nothing to sideline us to steal our victory.

Job 42:10-12 (NLT) When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring. So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.

The Lord had a plan including a future and hope for Job. I read recently that the Book of Job is really an account of one man and his fight against pride. Pride is the exaltation of self above God put quite simply. Pride is in control when we stop trusting God and decide to do it. The times when God’s Way seems too hard or challenging so instead partial obedience seems to be a better route. We are conflicted. In such a state, we cannot serve both masters. Partial obedience is actually disobedience. The enemy stirs the water of our life with commotion fills us with confusion and suddenly the vortex of stress and pressure quickly overtakes us. Ready to give up or give in – suddenly the price to follow Christ becomes more than anyone is willing to pay. We have exactly what we need to give our all to Jesus because we are all that He desires. The question is really “Am I willing to?” Am I willing to give up my way completely? Am I willing to give up this life for forever? Am I really willing to trust the Lord? Friend, the enemy is out to sift you like wheat today. He knows every doubt and insecurity in you. He is well aware of your weakness and hears every complaint you have against God. He is absolutely hell bent on using it all against you. You are in the Hand of God and he cannot come near you unless God allows it. God promises to take every detail of our life and make something good out of it for His Glory. Our part in that is simple – trust. Do we trust Him enough to stop struggling and begin striving for the prize again? Or maybe for the first time ever? There is a hidden blessing far greater than worldly wealth waiting for those who do. It is called faith and confident hope.

Zechariah 13:7-8 (NLT) “Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die,” says the Lord. “But one-third will be left in the land. I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Why sift flour? Sifted flour is lighter. It blends with other ingredients to form a consistent batter without all the lumps and bumps. It rises better when baking as well. Removing all impurity, it refines the flour to do its job and fulfill its purpose. The enemy uses sifting as a means to destroy God’s People. But the Lord uses it to rid our life of everything hindering us from fulfillment and full satisfaction in life. The struggle is real. We must contend with difficulty. There is a real adversary to our new life in Christ. It will take violence to advance into the Kingdom. When we decide to surrender to the sifting process, and allow God to fully examine our heart and life removing every impurity, casting down every thought contrary to His Word, Will and Way so that we can run without the extra weight of sin or even ignorance – it is then that our struggle becomes striving. Striving is to exert our self vigorously in that which is desired. If that is faith, then giving up on the good fight is not an option. It means rather than fighting for compromise, we try harder to be disciplined and committed to Jesus Christ. It is to make strenuous efforts toward the goal and not focusing on our weakness, problems or feelings anymore. It is to define our purpose in God as valuable and worth the price of self. In Zechariah 8 – God talks about a “remnant”. I believe that this verse in Zechariah 13 sums up the process by which His Remnant is revealed. They are tested. They are tried and most of them give up or fall away in the effort. Those that choose to submit to this process called sifting or refinement and pass the test by faith and trust will be the remnant of God. I do not want my faith to fail me. I desire nothing more than to live in confident hope. I want God’s Will, His Word and His Way to be my every moment. I want to be that person. I want Him to be MY God!

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

 

My Time

New Year's at midnight - old vintage clock and fireworks

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, the morning after his oncologist came by to make introductions and schedule his initial appointments for evaluation and treatment plans. He has two oncologists who are amazing and definitely sent to us by God. After explaining the beginning processes and possible avenues of treatment, they asked our 19-year-old son if he had any questions. He quietly looked up clearly processing all the information and said, “I do not smoke. I do not drink. I do not go places where these things happen. Why me?” Completely plausible question considering our son never really was a social kid and has always stuck pretty close to home. He was honest in his estimation of his life including the fact I was a complete fanatic about our kids not being exposed to secondhand smoke. Why? How is it even possible that he could have nasopharyngeal cancer? Good question. No, that is exactly what the doctor said to him completely validating his estimation that it was inconceivable. He went on to explain that our son’s case was indeed rare and they were at the moment scratching their heads as to where it came from and how they would fight it. But…his final words were quite impressive. His doctor walked around the foot of the bed to his side, placing his hand gently yet firmly on his shoulder, looking him directly in the eye and spoke something quite profound and unforgettable to him which applies to all of us. He changed positions in that moment from doctor to philosopher of sorts. “Everyone goes through something in life that defines who they are. This is your one thing. You can overcome this and life a better life because of it.”

Is this your “thing”? Are you going through something that has you asking the Lord, “Why me?” God’s Grace and Character can handle your question even when it becomes a harsh interrogation. He welcomes it, in fact. It is in the moments of time when everything we know and believe about the Lord is challenged that fallacies of faith are discovered and filled with His Grace to grow a little more faith each time. When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. You learn to believe God’s Word a little more. Walk out on the water just a little bit further. One day the thing will come that causes you to cross over from being caught up in little things and you will be consumed by one thing. Jesus will be all you need. He will become your greatest desire. It will be in that moment that satisfaction and completion produce fulfillment. Is your time coming? Is it already here?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

There is a time for every activity under heaven. The list is long and comprehensive but covers the whole gambit in Ecclesiastes 3. It does not change when Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord. The potential of each moment is infused with the Power of God so that every detail can result in our good according to Romans 8:28. The Christ in us makes us triumphant overcomes in all things but does not exempt us from the process of endurance that solidifies our faith. We all must endure something that allows our faith to grow larger than our fear, confidence in God greater than any human insecurity, and our perception of life greater than tomorrow but firmly secured by hope called forever. The realm of hope is the place where the impossibilities of life become possible by faith.

God makes everything beautiful when? He makes everything beautiful in its own time. This implies process which will require patience and endurance. These qualities of discipline must be part of our life to keep us on track yet they are not very pleasant physically or spiritually. I do not like to wait. I do not have a vast supply of patience. My entire being rebels against endurance. But God says, “Hold on, I am doing something here. Maybe not around you, but in you!” He has placed eternity in my heart that has become desire to know Him more. As I call out to the Lord, He answers but not always the way that I would like Him to. Growth is a process. It cannot be hurried to accommodate my feelings but rather I must learn to wait for its proper time. For such a time as this…

Esther 4:13-14 (NLT) Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

Esther was not pursued by the King Xerxes but rather part of a roundup of sorts. After he had deposed Queen Vashti, his attendants suggested that they search the empire for the most beautiful virgins. They would be brought to the palace (whether they wanted to come or not) and be subjected to months of preparation for a night in the king’s bed. This is not exactly what I would call a fairytale but rather enslavement. Esther was one of those young women. I cannot imagine her fear at being taken from her family and prepared to be presented against her will to the king. She endured the process and would become his queen. However, God knew exactly where Esther needed to be for such a time as this… She is not the only one. David had his “for just such a time as this moment” when he faced a giant with only a sling and handful of stones. He didn’t go with an army or even in armor. He faced the giant by faith overcoming fear. Daniel spent the night in the company of lions. Alone. Surely he would become a feast, but that’s not what happened. Daniel had been groomed and prepared for just such a time as this. What about Abraham? Walking to the mountain alone, completely by faith as he hoisted his son on the altar. He would honor God even if it meant driving a knife through his son, his only son to honor his God. He left his servants behind. Just Abraham and God went up that mountain with a sacrifice, but came down with a son. Even Jesus had a moment when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” We are made for the moment, for that thing that moves us past ourselves into a faithful relationship with our God. When given the choice to press in and endure of give up and move on – we give our all to Jesus like He gave His All for us.

Matthew 24:12-14 (NLT) Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

Sin is rampant. Love is growing colder by the hour. The world is a dark and perverse place. We have a Light within us that must find its way out. Eternity planted in our heart is only potential unless it becomes our purpose in life. We are given the opportunity to have eternity by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. Faith turns our potential into purpose. Jesus was clear that He came to give us a rich and satisfying life that the enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy daily. We must endure to the end to be saved. Our footsteps are ordered by the Lord to take us the valley to face the giant or lead us to the den filled with hungry lions or even to the mountain of sacrifice where the price may be more than our willingness to pay – it is that moment when there is nothing left of me to give and all I have is the Christ within me to offer. Jesus is enough. His Grace is always sufficient but if I never reach one of these places in life then my faith may not be strong enough or real enough to take me Eternity. It must be tested. I must know that it is true.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NLT) We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Peter the disciple of Jesus Christ was quite firm in his stance that he would die for the Lord. When the time of testing came – Peter denied Jesus three times in one night. However, when Jesus rose again and came to meet the group of disciples on the beach that day – Peter dove in the water and swam to Him. Something had changed. Peter became the Rock Jesus told him that he would be. However, what about Judas? He left the group and killed himself. I believe that if he would have come back to Jesus after the resurrection that the same grace I have been given would have been bestowed on him, too. Judas didn’t believe it. He felt despair so deep he could not go on. I know you are being pressed too far. I understand what it means to be perplexed when our life doesn’t look like what God promised. It feels like the enemy is hot on our heels…he is. We get knocked down. We feel the pain of suffering, the hurt of betrayal and devastation of trauma – but we are never crushed, driven to despair, abandoned by God, or even destroyed. No – all these things are the obstacles that must be removed so our faith can grow. It is all part of God’s Plan – “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

I Corinthians 9:26-27 (NLT) 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.

Be encouraged today! You have purpose in every step. Now is the time to begin to discipline your body like an athlete, take control of your thoughts making them subject to God’s Word, and it is up to you if you will choose His Way. If you have asked, “Why me?” You are very close to a breakthrough a moment when the Light of His Love breaks through the dark and your faith has a chance to grow a little or even a lot. Do not give up. Do not give in. Press. Push. Do whatever it takes to take the next step, reach out a little further, and make it through just one more day. God is with you. He did not abandon you but is trying to take all that potential and burst forth with purpose today. A successful life is a purposeful life. A purposeful life is a fulfilled life. A fulfilled life is a satisfied life. It is impossible to have this kind of life apart from our faith. We must live, breath, move and exist in Christ to have all that He has promised expressed in each moment. You were made for just such a time as this – it doesn’t matter how it looks or what anyone thinks – it will be defined by what we know and believe which is relayed in our faith and trust in God through Jesus Christ. Beat the giant and you will win every other battle. Shut the mouth of lions and you will never fear their roar again. Go to the mountain and come back full of faith. There are a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on! You can do it. You were made for this moment! This your time! This is my time to be blessed, prosperous and fulfilled by the rich and satisfying life that Jesus purposed for me!

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

Time to Push

time-to-push

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

Over the years, as a woman, I have heard more than my fair share of birthing stories. Testimonies of life on the battlefield of childbirth shared as the glory days of each mother. Why not? Most of us bear the scars and weak bladders proving it was a fight for life to get that little person here. God made woman to bear children with bodies equipped to nurture their babies and hearts read to nurture and care for them. It is engrained in our purpose. This does not make having a baby any easier. In fact, included in all the joy and anticipation of preparing for the new arrival, somewhere around the eight-month mark with a belly too big to get around the revelation comes – what is in me must come out of me. I will not deny the pure beauty and wonder of seeing our child for the first time and falling in love all over again but the moments proceeding their arrival is not so glorious. Labor is hard. It takes every ounce of energy. It is surrendering our bodies to the process that God designed in us and is written in our DNA. However, when it is time to push, there is a sudden shift during the transition phase. With every fiber of our being and all that is within us, it is time to see our promise come to pass and hear the wail of a new being. What is God trying to get you to push out today?

We come pregnant with certain promises. In God’s Time, He makes all things beautiful and it is time to push them out into the atmosphere. That’s right, we have to push. To press and to push are too different forces. One is to obtain and one is to release or move away. There is a term to promises in our life set by the Lord for completion. If it were to arrive too soon, it would be a spiritual abortion. If left to its own devices inside of us, it will become a dead dream. But when God puts pressure on us to push, those who respond will see His Glory fill their life. His Glory and His Goodness begin to bring to life all the things He has promised and release His Blessings along the way. His Power in us must find its way into the atmosphere around us. It is time to push.

Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.  After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

When a mother is given the news that a baby is on the way, most moms will begin to make certain lifestyle changes to give her little one the best possible chance. She changes her diet, stops partaking in things that may be harmful and even may begin an exercise plan. Reading all the latest literature and seeking the advice of others, she engages on a journey to receive her tiny promise. She gives up her body. She disciplines her life according to the promise within her.

I have a promise. Truly many promises are wrapped up in my purpose according to my Champion who is Jesus Christ. He handed me victory in all things and the power to overtake every obstacle between me and His Glory. How do I get there from here? I have to push my purpose from the inside out of me. This is a process. I engage in it by preparing for the arrival of my purpose. I must “strip off every weight that slows me down especially the sin” that keeps derailing, detouring and delaying the completion of my promise. Jesus has initiated and even perfected my faith, but I have to use it to change the way I think, the things I do, my attitude and my actions. To push purpose from within me, I must prepare the way. The process is repentance. It clears the way for His Glory to be expressed and fill my world with the Light of His Love for all to see.

Psalm 44:4-8 (NLT) You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel. Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes. I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us. O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name. 

Women endure many insults to her body during pregnancy. The growing child zaps her iron from her blood and calcium from bones and teeth as it develops. Many endure months of morning sickness, and continuous illness. There is swelling in her ankles and feet. She is exhausted in daily tasks and her body performs 24/7 in the background making a new person. Even though God made women to reproduce, it doesn’t mean that process of pregnancy any less difficult. Yet I have delivered five babies and I have friends who have even more than me. Why do we do it? Why do we push even when we know the toll it will take on our body? Because it is worth it.

The worth of our purpose does not go unnoticed by the enemy. He has but one purpose. He wants to steal, kill and destroy the purpose of God ready to come out of you before it makes its way out. The enemy wants to destroy our confidence in the Lord with doubt. He wants to force us out of process with discouragement. He wants to create delays that will make us want to give up. With our fifth child in the ninth month, I was exhausted, swollen and done with the whole business of baby making. I remember sitting on the table looking down at my elephant-sized ankles thinking enough was enough. When the doctor came in, he chuckled and asked, “how are you doing, mama? All I could say was “get this baby out.” It is important that when the pressure to give up or give in comes that we push it away and push back the enemy. How do we do that? Simple – praise.

When I choose to praise God in my process, it releases His Power all around me and protects me in my process. When it was time to deliver our children, my husband was by my side and the midwife close by. I was surrounded. God has given us His Spirit inside of us. His Power is in us. Praise release it to the surrounding atmosphere. It announces the promise is coming and prepares for purpose to break loose. Sometimes praise is difficult when the pain too much, the pressure to hard, and the process too long. Praise pushes back the enemy so to discard our complaints and grumbling and replace it with praise is God’s Power being released from us to prepare the way before us.

Psalm 18:30-32 (NLT) God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.

God’s way is perfect. Do you believe that today? Do you trust God’s Process for your life? Careful before you answer because a life of true believing is characterized by godly obedience. Those who truly believe in God’s Process, His Promise and His Purpose will walk in his ways. To the faithful – God shows He is faithful. My faithfulness to God tells God that I believe more than a single word uttered from my mouth. If I believe that every promise that the Lord has made me is true, then I would be ravenous for His Word and gorge on it daily. Why? Because if everything that God promised really is true, it would produce a much better life than I have now. Faith is just a word, believing it makes it a verb. When the promise of God becomes my purpose, I will discipline my life to have it. I must decide that I believe that His Purpose is what I want and push through to receive it.

Philippians 4:13 (NLT) For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.

If there was not a process to the process of purpose, why would we need Christ to give us strength? We want God to do it. The Lord gave us the Keys to His Kingdom, and Jesus lives in us for a reason. We are supposed to do something. We must exert energy and force in pushing out the promise and purpose of God within us. Faith makes the impossible totally possible. However, we spend a whole lot of time shaking the Keys to the Kingdom while the enemy laughs. It is when I take those same keys and use them that he begins to tremble and retreat. The Lion of Judah is quiet and still confident in His Power. His next roar will be the shout of His Return. The enemy, however; is roaming around roaring on his leash hoping to instill fear, doubt, worry and despair so that rather than pushing through you will run and hide. Not today, devil. I am pushing out purpose today.

“If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.” (Proverbs 24:10) Weakness is not failure but the very moment I am completely moved out of the way so His Power can become my strength. I cannot obtain spiritual things with earthly force. Heaven comes to earth when I say, “You are perfect in all of your ways, Jesus. Have your way in my life” and mean it. Five times in labor, I have said, “I can’t do this”, “I don’t want to do this” and “I am not going to do this.” Each time it was within minutes of delivering my precious child. The pressure to give in and give up is always the closest to breakthrough. If you are considering such things, tell yourself that transition has arrive and breakthrough is almost here. Praise Him in that moment for the victory that is close and promise that is just outside your reach. It’s coming!

Ephesians 3:16-20 (NLT)  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

The Holy Spirit is our partner in the process. He leads us, guides us, teaches us, instructs us, comforts us and even empowers us. Purpose has a process. The pressure is overwhelming as my flesh gives way to supernatural possibilities in my life. I need the Spirit to help me. That is His Purpose. Our purpose and God’s Promises that are obtained by faith are much bigger than me. I cannot comprehend fully what the Lord has in store for me. It is too big for my ordinary life and therefore takes an extraordinary process to prepare my environment for His Glory. God is able in His Mighty Power to accomplish “infinitely” more than we might ask or think. The productivity of our process is much larger than we think or know with this in mind the pressure may be indicative of the promotion and prosperity God has in store for us rather that when we think is going on or the end result. Faith is for those things that I cannot do. Faith is outside the boundaries of comfort and control strive for in by humanity. Faith is for the unfathomable and impossibilities of life. God is pushing us past all fear, doubt and insecurity because what He has for us is greater than anything we have chosen for ourselves. I must push to know the extent of God’s Love and Power invested in me so that I can push forth the purpose which He has placed inside me and empowered by His Son, Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:10-12 (NLT) Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.

Whether pregnant with a promise, purpose or even a tiny person, you will need endurance and patience to endure the process. It is not a coincidence that God also uses these two things to perfect our faith. To strengthen it. What are you waiting on today? What is the promise that seems so long overdue? What is the purpose hidden in your heavy heart today? God’s Way is perfect. He created you with that longing in your heart and is perfecting all that concerns you. (Psalm 138:8) He works out EVERY detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Whatever your place in His Process, it is important that our response to pressure is to push. Push away every weight that keeps us being fully engaged. Push back the enemy. Push away the urge to give up knowing breakthrough is coming. Our promise is on the way. Pressing in to the Presence of God and pushing aside every obstacle. Protect your promise today. Do not douse with venom called complaining and grumbling but immerse it in praise and worship for the Father who gave it to you and the Savior who died for you to have it. It will be worth it but only if we push through the process and receive that which is greater than we can think, imagine or even ask for. We are birthing God’s Promise. Laboring for His Purpose. There is a glorious prize when victory is achieved in the life of a believer. It is time to push!

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NLT) Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.