As Soon As

As Soon As.jpg

Jeremiah 29:10-11 (Message) This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

“As soon as”…the prequalification or prerequisite factor – the waiting game called life. As a child, such a statement seems terminal when it calls for patience that last more than five minutes. Sometimes even that is a stretch for those with infernal impatience such as myself. At least in the natural when someone says, “as soon as” there is an element of gratification as one can watch and see as they fulfill the ordered list on the way to fulfillment. And then there is faith, hope and God. God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as”… then I will.

These words are the most difficult because it is hard enough to see the Lord’s inner workings or His Mighty Hand come in to play. Hindsight is generally 20/20 with God but what is right in front of us elusive. Faith and hope are the qualities that God is developing in us by teaching us to love, lean and trust Him more. Oh what a difficult task especially when the stakes may seem quite high. As soon as…and not a day more. Faith keeps us waiting until as soon as comes. Hope makes waiting worth every minute. In the meantime…

I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home.” There are days that I feel as though I am living in exile. Those seasons when the conditions and circumstances of my life do not line up with the Word of God. The times when I stepped out in faith and feel like I am still floating rather than walking on water or swimming in the depths of the deep to which He has called me. These are the times when trust is our portion and confidence is our hope. The “what we know” of God and foundation called Christ keep us from falling. God promises that He will show up. He will do just as He promised. There will be the rejoicing of “being brought back home” from this place of invisible exile…if I am just patient and wait on Him.

“I know what I am doing.” Depends on who is driving…I guess. I remember getting in the car with our first new driver. The moment that he started the car, I knew I was in trouble. He was ready to throw it in reverse and speed out of the driveway. I patiently (or at least I thought I was calm) asked him to wait while I reiterated instructions and safety measures that I felt necessary. He rolled his eyes and told me, “I know what I am doing.” I did not believe him. He pulled out, slammed on the brakes, changed gears, and floored it the three houses to the corner and stopped for the stop sign halfway in the road of the intersection. He then graciously turned on the blinker and before I could catch my breath was off again. The only word that I could utter was “stop”! He seemed confused. No, I demanded he stop right there and pull into the neighbor’s driveway. I got out of the car and walked all the way home officially resigning from my position as driver’s education mom. Walking in the house, my husband said calmly, “That was quick, how did it go?” “Terrible.” I responded. He inquired as to the well-being of our son with “Where is he?” I replied, “Probably in the driveway up the street where I left him!” As I walked into our room and shut the door. Like any good dad, my husband retrieved our son and taught him how to drive.

When I got into the car with our son that day, I knew full well that he was a newbie. I was well aware of his inexperience. It was his lack of trust and unwillingness to pay attention that drove me out of the vehicle that day. God keeps telling me day after day, “I know what I am doing.” Some days I sit back and enjoy the ride trusting that He is God. He is a good father. He loves me with all of His Heart and knows what is best for me. And then…there are all those other days when I don’t and try to take the wheel and drive to my own destination.

I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Psalm 139:16 tells me that “like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” If this is true (which I believe that it is), it means that God knows every moment of every single day of my life before I take a single step or breathe within it. He knows all the good times and all the not so good times that will come. He understands that some days I will get this thing called faith right walking in faithful, humble obedience and then days that I come in like a wrecking ball. Like a carefully constructed school lunch, God gives me mercy each morning and on every bad day, a snack of grace at night. I have everything that I need to successfully live out God’s Plan and Purpose despite my fickle heart and rebellious flesh. God prepared it for me when He designed my life. Challenges are opportunities to experience the championship of faith. Pressure gives way to Presence in my life. Every difficult thing interwoven with His Plan for my Destiny and Divine Destination.

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:28 MSG) The come-from-behind promise of God that ensures as His People, as His Precious Children, that we cannot and will not miss an ounce of His Goodness or single provision of His Plan and Purpose is that He works “every detail of our lives” into something good. All that is required is loving Him.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 (Message) “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.

What if while waiting on the Lord, I am not waiting on Him at all but rather He is waiting on me? Is it possible that God has His Act together but I am the one struggling? Sure it is. We take an ounce of knowledge and try to work it into absolute wisdom. God’s Thoughts are higher than my thoughts and so are His Ways, yet somehow in my human finite thinking I take a word or wisp of truth and try to build my whole life on it. I know I am the only one so just bear with me while I work this out. What if we replace the word “when” with the words “as soon as”? It would go something like this:

When As soon as you call on me, when as soon as you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When As soon as you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when as soon as you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.

What if the ball is in my court and rather than “as soon as” being God’s next move rather He is waiting on my next move. Will it be closer to Him? Will I decide to come to Him? Will I decide to pray? Will I begin searching for the Lord wholeheartedly? Will I get serious about this life after God’s Own Heart? Will there be a day when I want Him MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE? The promise to those who make their way to this place is that the Lord will “make sure you won’t be disappointment.” Hope never leads to disappointment. Hope is not reserved for what we can see, do or logically make happen in our life. It is evidenced by faith in the substance that we cannot perceived naturally with our senses or logically with our mind but know to be true because He lives in us. Perhaps, I need to spend my time waiting on the Lord doing something different. It is not God’s Move but mine that He is waiting on today.

Psalm 27:7-9 (Message) Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs: “Be good to me! Answer me!” When my heart whispered, “Seek God,” my whole being replied, “I’m seeking him!” Don’t hide from me now!

“My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8 NLT) I love this verse so much. It has been on my heart a lot lately. You know with five kids, I hear the word “mom” all the time. It catches my attention even when it is not my own brood. My husband and I were riding in the minivan one day filled to overflowing with all the children. I was driving and not really paying attention to the banter in the back. When suddenly, he blurted out in a stern voice, “Don’t you hear them calling you?” Apparently, the peanut gallery had been saying, “Mom…mom…mom” and I didn’t respond to them because basically I had tuned them out. It happens. However, let one of them cry out in fear, hurt or distress and I can hear them across the house, outside, down the street or in the next county. There is a difference in the sound of their cry. I believe that God always listens when we speak to Him. He hears our every word. However, I also believe that our conversations with the Lord become mindless chatter over time. A check off on the to-do list of godliness rather than a personal and intimate conversation with the Lover of our soul and the One our soul loves.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (Message) How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

“As soon as” can mean waiting on the Lord but most of the time I believe that He is waiting on us. Our response to God’s Promises is faith and confidence that this hope we have is valid, authentic and real enough to pursue with passion each day. We put our passion into so many worthless things when the reality of Christ is that God has already blessed us with every good thing that He has. We are made with purpose on the verge of prosperity if only one might make their way into His Presence choosing to live there. His Presence is our promised land. It is not a religious place filled with routine, ritual or tradition. It is not a place of performance or service. It is the place where we come to know and respond by wanting Jesus more than anything else – as soon as will be accomplished. Everything I need, want and desire is fulfilled in the rich and satisfying life that Jesus Christ is offering me. I have more than enough. I am more than enough because Christ lives in me. Nothing is impossible for those who live by faith not fear. As soon as, I learn to live, move, exist and breathe in the midst of His Presence – I believe that the time will pass and so will the season. It will be time to harvest from all those tears, find joy in the midst of mourning and I will be restored, revived and renewed just as He promised. As soon as…

Isaiah 30:18 (Message) But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right—everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.

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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.’

To Be A Champion

Confetti and trophy

Hebrews 12:1-3 (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.

Can I encourage you a little bit today? To all those who are tired, weary, and on the verge of giving up, can I offer a little insight today? Does this race of faith seem just a little too long? Is endurance a longer word than you thought? Is persistence requiring patience you just do not have? Do not give up. Stay right where you are. You can be a champion. If Jesus Christ lives within you and eternity is etched on your heart, there is no fall to far, failure to fatal or loss to bad for you to be the victorious overcomer that the Lord has called you to be. In fact, champions are not winners all the time. Yes, you heard me correctly. It takes losses to be the lessons. It takes weakness to find new strength. It takes humility to overcome the pride that wages war against our flesh. You must breakdown fat to find muscle. You must have a broken heart to be saved.

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. What is slowing you down today? What is tripping you up? What is the obstacle that you named Goliath too big to overcome? Goliath came crashing down with a little stone marked faith planted square between the eyes. What are you hurling at that mountain refusing to move? Are you being tossed to and fro by the wind, waves and storm swirling around you? Endurance is needed for athletes to become champions. Persistence is the pays it forward for them to overcome losses to obtain the big win. Champions overcome failure to grab hold of victory. Failure does not make you a loser. Never trying again is what labels quitters. Jesus is our example. He was not a failure. The Lord never quit, but that didn’t mean in human form it was not a temptation. Jesus is our champion. He gives us the ability to be a champion, too!

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” What makes Jesus our champion? Dying on the Cross did not give Him that honor. If Jesus had died for our sin, and remained in the grave – He would not be a champion. What made Jesus our Champion is the fact that after He died – He did not stay in the grave but came walking out with the keys to death and the grave firmly in His Hand! This is our encouragement today. To fail a test, lose our way, or give in to sin now and again does not take away our potential to be overwhelmingly victorious in life. Grace would not be necessary if this were the case. God would not give us new mercy each day. Renewal, restoration and revival would not be promised if one pitfall was all it took to take away our victory. Those who endure to the end will be saved. They will obtain the crown of righteousness offered by our Champion – Jesus Christ. Somebody needs to hear that today. You are not defined by your past, your today, your failures, your shortcomings, your weakness or even devastating heartbreak – what makes you a champion is when you decide despite all things I am going get back up and do it again.

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.

Champions realize their purpose and capitalize on potential. Perseverance is an act of discipline. It is to push our mind, soul and body past the natural limitations of our flesh and decide that faith is our primary goal. Faith is never a natural thing but always dependent on the supernatural. It is all about what we cannot see, the highly unlikely outcome and even the impossible that is promised to us in God’s Word. It is the thing that makes us send away our Hagar and Ishmaels because God promised us Isaac. It is the determination to put away the things of this world to make room for His Kingdom. All athletes are disciplined in training. They set a goal in their heart long ago that is not dependent on their team but solely defined by a heart that refuses to quit and sees the glory of their goal. We must decide as believers what our true purpose is in Jesus Christ. What has He called you to do? What is your calling? Calling is not what you feel necessarily qualified to do. Purpose defines the potential of our life. It is in the commitment of our natural life to godly purpose in each step of every day that will bring it to life as we discipline our mind, soul and body to keep persevering and never give up on what God is doing in us and Christ died for us to accomplish.

Matthew 26:36-41 (NLT)  Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

I love that the Lord inspired this passage in the Word of God. We need to see the humanness of Christ in order to understand that Jesus is truly a valid example. He saw the future. He knew the agony not only of the physical nature of crucifixion, but the torture of each sin to be laid upon Him in that moment. His Father, God, was going to turn His Face from His Son. Every wretched disease would soon leave a strip down His Back. Jesus was God incarnate but His Flesh was real just like ours. His Body would feel every terrible torture that would be endured to set us free. He asked God, “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken from me.” Jesus knows what it feels like to come to the end of self. He knows the feeling of weakness due to the oppression of flesh. It doesn’t matter how willing our spirit is to follow in His Footsteps, the weakness of our body will always try to stop us.

There are many athletes who must overcome weakness, pain and injury to become a champion. It is not the absence of such things that afford them the title but their mindset that no matter what they will give their all. They are persistent in training and strengthening of their body investing countless hours in training. They give up time with their family, friends, hobbies, and just loafing around to preparation. They endure insult and injury to play the game they love so much. Pain doesn’t stop them – they push through it willing to pay the price when it’s over. Champions see the potential and prize ahead of them and refuse to give up. They may be taken out of the game but a true champion will never leave the game willingly.

2 Corinthians 6-10 (NLT) For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 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.

God has filled each human heart with purpose. It is marked eternity and labeled with the promise “made beautiful for its own time”. Champions pursue purpose. The potential to be the best is the drive and motivation of their heart. Where do you spend your time? What is the prevailing thought you strive for? What is life all about to you? When our passion, pursuit and purpose becomes the Kingdom it will change the pathway of our life. The Light in our heart is His Glory. It shines brightly in our brokenness and weakness as death gives way to life in us. With each step of faith – our purpose becomes more evident which means our opponent sets his sight on overtaking it. Nobody wants to play the loser. They want to play the champion to take away the crown of victory.

The enemy comes like a thief to steal, kill and destroy. His onslaught more pervasive when purpose begins to breakthrough sin, shame, doubt and disbelief. The moment you believe that you will overcome – is the second you gain the enemy’s full attention. He is going to pressure you to give up and attempt to perplex you by filling your mind with lies tempting you to stop the nonsense. A stealth predator it is not uncommon for him to wait until you are alone, feeling somewhat isolated, and vulnerable to try to separate you from others. Champions are hunted. When they get knocked down, they get back up. Endurance, perseverance, persistence and discipline cause flesh to suffer but with each conquest new life is produced in us. These are the qualities that define champions. Though they are pursued they do not stop because they see the prize and desire it more than anything.

John 16:1 (NLT) “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.

John 16:33 (NLT) “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

These are the words of Jesus before He ventured to the Cross. Before He felt the coldness of death and solitude of the grave. These were his parting words before marching straight into hell and taking back the Keys to the Kingdom which was about to hand to you. Jesus knew His Purpose. He was a champion. He won the victory over death and the grave. Super Bowl Sunday is just a little over a week away. We watched the division championships last weekend. I noticed that during the presentation of the trophy – it was not the most valuable player of the game, the quarterback or the coach who received it but in each case an elderly gentleman. The announcer would then acknowledge them as the owner of the team. He was not the one who engaged in the battle on the field, took a single hit, caught a pass or even kicked a field goal. He is the one who paid the price so each one of those players could pursue their passion and achieve their purpose.

Jesus paid it all. He overcame the world so our faith would be worth something. Our purpose is faith that produces such confident hope that we can give up pursuing lesser things and overcome in all things. My life “in Christ” can achieve its purpose. My heart will satisfied when eternity is mine. Until that time, I must remain in Christ who is my champion. I must follow His Example. He never quit. Jesus never gave up. He endured suffering, temptation, isolation and even death for me to have victory over all these things. It is up to me if I will join in. Will I choose life over death? Will I pick blessing over the curse? Will I let the Light of His Love show through my broken heart, dead dreams and failures until His Glory overtakes my life? I cannot give up and be a champion. I may lose a few, but I win it all if I persevere never losing faith but always reaching for hope.

“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.” Just to be clear, Jesus came to be a champion. He would secure victory over sin, death and the grave once and for all. What was the joy awaiting Him when Jesus stepped down from His Throne carefully placing His Crown on the seat to come to this world? He had all of Heaven. The only thing missing was you and me. He came to this earth for just one thing. His Treasure and Special Possession. He came for us. He left everything to have us with Him forever. You and me. Ordinary people who fall, fail and stray just about every day – but Jesus wanted us. He desired us above all things and gave up His Life to have us. Will I do the same? Will you?

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ became a champion for us because He loves us. He was committed to love us even to the death, but that wasn’t long enough so He overcame death to give us a crown of righteousness so we could live as champions with Him forever. Are you fulfilling your purpose? Do you know the true potential of your life? Jesus did and He came up out of the grave to give you the power to complete it. The rest is up to you. When you feel like you have fallen too far, you haven’t the Lord is there to pick you up. When you think you have gone too far, His Spirit will lead you right back. When you wonder if it is worth it, ask Jesus because He sure thought you were. Choose to persist, persevere, pursue and prevail in every situation because in our weakness His Power is perfect. If you don’t give up but endure by faith until the end, you will win every time. Discipline is painful but defeat is agonizing. Celebrate each victory no matter how small. It is one step closer to winning it all. You are a Champion. Jesus lives in you. Don’t give up on victory today. Hold tight to your faith for it is the key. Be confident in Your Hope because God hasn’t given up on you. The best is yet to come if you believe.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)  Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Life is Hard

life-is-hard

Colossians 1:26-27 (NLT) This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

Life is hard. It is not fair. There are days when it seems to be unbearable. Are you struggling today? When coming to Christ, there is an expectation of relief, but is it reality. Are you not exchanging one burden for another? Well friend, that depends on you. I decide whether or not to continue to endure pressure in this life or simply give up. It is called a free will. God gave each us the freedom to choose how to live our life and make choices day by day. I do not have to pick goodness. I can leave behind mercy coming back for it later. I can wander as far and long as the winding wilderness I choose and when I call – the Lord immediately answers. This is hard to comprehend and in most cases arguable by many.

Religion often defines the rules of relationship within the Body of Christ called His Church. Well, every medical textbook and journal can outline how the human body is supposed to work and delineate the diseases and disorders that arise, but in the end it is never completely documented. New things crop up every day. Medicine evolves as quickly as church does. We find “new ways” to worship God when really there is only one way to approach Him.

God’s ways are not our ways and His Thoughts are than our own or so it says in the Book of Isaiah. If life is hard, what difference does Jesus make? If there is no real explanation of how to love Him, ways to serve Him or clear-cut directions to the Kingdom of God then how will anyone ever get there? Oh there is definitely instruction and guidance to step in the Glory of God but it is hard. It requires struggle. There is endless pressure. It all produces endurance. The fiery trials of life reveal genuine faith, but as one may recall only three Hebrew boys were brave enough to defy man’s law and step into the hot furnace that day.

The church is crying out for revival. I am praying it will come. The Glory of God manifesting His Presence in corporate worship that spills outside the four walls of a building and washes through the streets of every city until the overflow covers our nation and overflows its borders around the world. Revival is not about you. It is about the Body of Christ coming together to prepare for His Return. We just have the privilege of participation. It is within us the moment Christ is accepted in our heart to be our Lord and Savior. However, life is still hard just the same. Christ lives in me. I have full assurance of His Glory. The secret of centuries died on the cross and came up out of the grave so that you and I could become new creations. Now is that so hard…yes, it is very difficult.

Acts 14:21-22 (NLT) After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.

Paul and Barnabas gave this reminder to early believers while encouraging them to continue in faith. “We must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” Do you agree? Did you come to the Lord under false pretenses with the wrong expectation? Many do. A watered down Gospel preached by false prophets tell of a grace that is wonderful and free allowing us to do what we want to when we want to and how we want to and all gathering together in the end to meet Him face to face. Who doesn’t love free? There is another end to that spectrum called legalism that prescribes long list of dos and don’ts that mean nothing when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus did it all. He paid it all. I can do nothing to earn the Grace gifted to me by the Living God. So that doesn’t make life any easier either. Life is still hard no matter which end of the spectrum our life falls. But wait, then there is the Truth…

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

“When I am weak, then I am strong.” How many times I have read this verse in the course of my life? Sometimes to understand what a scripture really means one must go back and read the course of events prior to it. In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul discusses the trials and hardships that he has endured since meeting Jesus Christ. He is talking about false prophets and teachers. By mid-chapter, he is pretty worked up as one might say in the South. People boasting about all they do for the Lord have sparked a tirade in God’s man. He talks about serving God candidly. He is not boasting but making a point. “I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) Paul was a high ranking Pharisee who lived in comfort and opulence until he fell in love with Jesus. Once he had given his life to the Lord, he goes on to say now he has a burden for all the churches. He finally concludes that given all that he has done for Christ, he would rather boast about the things that show I am weak. Why? Why would he say such a thing?

For when I am weak, then I am strong. Let me give you a hint that I discovered a couple of years ago, if you can still do it – it’s not weakness. It is when you cannot do it any longer that God takes over. Peter was walking on the water by his faith, when that ran out is when he reached out grasping Jesus’ Hand for help. In Mark 6:47-52, the disciples are on a boat in a terrible storm. They are not praying but in a full panic. When Jesus comes walking on the water, they do not even recognize him. This is right after he fed five thousand with a little boy’s lunch but now it is about them. They are facing a struggle. It’s their very lives that are in danger. It just got personal and they do not even see that it is the Lord. Hmmm… Could it be that it was in this moment that these men came to the end of themselves?

“He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them…” (Mark 6:48) Did you catch that? Jesus intended to go past them. Why? The disciples had the Word of God in them and knew Jesus. They were in serious trouble. They were rowing hard. They were struggling. Why would their friend just walk right by? Because they had the power in them to calm the storm and regain control of their vessel, but they did not believe. They got in the way. Fear. Pride Doubt. There are so many things that deprive us of faith every single day. When we come to the end of our own strength, we do what these men did. They cried out to Jesus. Is life too hard to bear right now? Are you working hard and getting nowhere? Struggling just to keep your head above water? Holding all the broken pieces together hoping your heart will beat again? Are you close to giving up? Are you tired and weary? Have you called on His Name?

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.

In Mark 14, there is an account of a woman who came in with expensive perfume in an alabaster jar. She broke it open and poured it out over the head of Jesus. She broke the beautiful vessel containing her life’s worth. She gave her all to Jesus. What do you hold precious in life? It could people…possessions or even pride. It is required. All is required for His Glory to come out of us. We have been given a light that shines in our heart. The pain and pressure of life makes personal strength wane as the structure of our life begins to shake precariously. Life is hard. It is rough sometimes. It is purposefully that way as God answers our call for revival and begins to move closer as He is called. We cannot remain the same. My strength has to go so that I am weak and submitted before Him. This pressure brings forth purpose. The pain causes brokenness. The hunt causes desperation. When we are knocked down, we extend our hand while calling His Name. It is through suffering that the meaningless things blocking the out powering of God that we desire are removed. Suddenly, His Great Power will pour from our heart into our life. We must give our all. Most people aren’t ready for that because it makes life too hard.

God’s Grace is enough for me. It is when His Power works best in my life. He is doing a new thing that sometimes caught in old ways and old things we miss. (2 Corinthians 3:13-15) Tradition robs us of future glory basking in afterglow instead of the light glorious light that brings new life. We will never see the Glory of God by keeping the Law. (Romans 9:30-32) The Glory of God called revival will only come in the sufficiency of God’s Grace when each person accepts humility and weakness to be strong in the Lord. We all have hidden thorns designed to burst our pride and keep us humbly walking with God. Some of us are just too afraid to expose them and accept His Grace alone to cover them. I don’t want to be the one show stops revival from coming to my church, community and the world. I am weak. I need God’s Strength every single day. Life is hard but His Grace is enough for me.

Luke 5:1-7 (NLT) One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

Peter and the others had a bad day of fishing. As they were cleaning their nets, Jesus asked Peter to take him on the water to speak to the people so he did. Fish weren’t biting anyway. Afterwards, Jesus told him to go deeper and let down his net. He told the Lord listen we worked hard all night and came back empty handed. “But if you say so…” Let’s retrace what just happened. Peter was working his everyday job in everyday life. Jesus came walking by and asked to use his vessel. Peter obliged. Jesus then instructed Peter to go fishing again. Peter had a choice. He chose to obey the Lord at His Word. What happened? Their nets were so full of fish that they began to tear! I wonder how many times we hear the Word, but do not believe it enough to do it. How often does Jesus whisper a thought or idea to implement and we decide it is not worthy of our attention? Been there done that. Life is hard and too often so are our hearts.

2 Corinthians 6:3-6 (NLT) We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.

What is your heart’s desire today? Do you want to be a true minister of God sharing the Gospel, building His Kingdom, and releasing revival? Life is hard. The pressure will not let up especially if this is your purpose. We must live so that no one will find fault in our ministry – there goes pride. I have seen pride kill so many congregations. God begins to move. Pressure builds. People refuse to submit. Passion dies. God’s Presence moves to where He is welcomed and given His Proper Place. We must learn patience. Persistence. Pursuit. Pride must go in the Mighty Name of Jesus. We prove ourselves as God’s People by living in love, preserving purity, gaining understanding, learning to be patient (Lord help me please), being kind to all mankind, allowing the Holy Spirit to shape, mold, change and even break our heart when needed, and by our sincere love. Love has grown cold even in our churches. Lord, teach us to love all people. Desire them above ourselves and minister to them selflessly. Life is hard. I am weak. Jesus be my Strength today. Your Grace is enough for me.

2 Peter 1:10-11 (NLT) So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

To Know God

to-know-god

Acts 17:28 (NLT) For in him we live and move and exist.

It is strange not to go to church on Sunday. We have done it for so long that when there is a lapse – it can throw off the whole week. Staying home, resting, and recuperating is not always a bad thing. If church is just a building visited weekly and not the lifestyle lived it is just a waste of time anyway. I need the Lord to move me today. Not physically, but spiritually. It is in Jesus Christ that we live, move and exist. I have come to the realization that I cannot live without Jesus. I can move but cannot be moved without the Lord. I can exist but in no way thrive without Him right by my side.

I do not doubt or discredit the fact that there is an enemy seeking who he may devour, roaring like a lion, stalking his prey. But I also know that there is an enemy inside of me that wars against the spirit, too. My flesh cannot be ignored so every attack and assault against my faith and stand for Christ is not always an external problem but sometimes rises from within. It is when believers become convinced that they have attained a level of faith and spirituality that they cannot be moved when I believe a fall is coming. We come to know God through brokenness. When our hearts are torn and He is allowed to penetrate us even more. Pride holds up a wall, stubbornness is the mortar for it brick, and insecurities cause us to allow strongholds to rise up rather seeking the refuge of Presence. If I do not allow the Lord to live in me, move me, and be my existence – I will never know Him as I should.

Paul and Silas were traveling from city to city preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Acts 17:2 says “As was Paul’s custom”. I believe that Paul being of a very strong religious background had a method to his ministry. He would visit the synagogue. Teach for three days. There was a pattern in his persistence. Though frequently met with resistance, his commitment to Christ kept him moving right along. On a trip to Athens in Acts 17:16, Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him. He was troubled to find idols and shrines throughout the city. He continued his usual routine going to the synagogue. Paul even spoke daily in the public square. They brought him before the high council. Paul addressed them as follows:

Acts 17:22-23 (NLT) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

The altar had this inscription on it: “To an Unknown God.” Could this be the inscription on our heart today? To know God is to live, move and exist. It is to have life and become life to others. Why then are there so many dead churches and lifeless Christians? Because He remains the Unknown God. Although these people worshipped God and served Him, they did not know Him or make a connection with Him through Jesus Christ so they remained distanced and disconnected from Him. A shrine is a building that is to house the “remains” of a patriarch, saint or deity. It can also be structure devoted to a holy person. There are churches today that are nothing more than shrines with a cross on them. I do not mean any disrespect. Truly, I do not. But if we do not know the living, breathing God and become His Temple – there is no future or hope for us.

I Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT) Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Paul told the council members that “Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples…” This is important to note. Until believers come to the end of self, one cannot move into the Presence of God or be filled with His Spirit to the uttermost. God doesn’t come in and clean house but waits for us to provide the space for His Holy Inhabitation. He will never force His Way into our life but gives us the freedom to choose how we live, if we will move or even exist. God fills the structure of the church quite nicely with well-written doctrine, clearly displayed vision, well-dressed Christian, well-versed pastors, but if He never lives in us, moves us or exists in us- we will go down with every other manmade structure when He comes. No one can evaluate our spirituality or proximity to Christ. The deeper water waded in by faith provides no guarantee just an opportunity to trust and believe beyond human comprehension. The tests get harder. The trials seem longer. The reward is not always readily at hand. So we wait and watch for our God rather than setting for an Unknown God who allows us to come and go as we please. To remain ignorant in God allows our pride to remain intact keeping us from the pain of brokenness and the isolation of pursuit. However, those who decide they want to know the Living God have been given an opportunity to live, move and exist in His Glory forever. We are the Body. We are His Temple. We can know the Unknown God.

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (I Corinthians 3:16-17) So many times, Jesus was rejected by the Jews because He wrecked their religion and did not fit the bill of the Messiah that they wanted although He measured up exactly to what God had prescribed. Could it be that the Lord remains the Unknown God because we desire the comfort, complacency, and conformity of religion? Human pride prefers grace earned by faithful service and religious acts. It is nice to find a doctrine or group of Christians who meet our needs but allow us to remain comfortable. It is okay when religiosity produces uniformity even if it is exclusive.

Should a church try to qualify people? No. Should a church accept people where they are and as who they are? Yes. Do we? No. We don’t even accept God like that most days. We take our beliefs and convictions molding an image of God that is not authentic or relevant. God is not an unknown God. All of creation points to His Existence and Omnipotence. Yet there are many manmade God-boxes that people shove God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit into that defines Him by our doctrine, limits Him in our ignorance, and stifles Him in our structures. We are the Body. We are the church. When we restrict the life-giving, faith-moving, and choose to limit our existence in Christ, we stop the move of God in our buildings. Though we cry out for a “move of God” – our hearts and minds will not allow us to be moved by Him. Revival will not come without the Body of Christ being fully involved and totally existing in Jesus Christ. He is our Revival.

2 Corinthians 6:15-17 (NLT) What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? 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. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.

As we gather in to worship God in the building called church, I wonder if we have taken time beforehand to know Him more? Or are we coming to a place looking for someone who isn’t there? God does live in church buildings and structures. He lives in you and me if we give Him room to. It is up to us as believers to spend every day living, moving and existing in Jesus Christ. Such a life means laying down our own desires and selfish ambition day by day. It’s tough.

There are so many obstacles beginning with flesh, pride, people and religion not to mention the enemy. I do not give the enemy a whole lot of credit because I believe that greater is He who lives in me. I will not blame the enemy for those attacks that make it to my heart but rather claim Romans 8:28 believing that God is doing something good in me. I wonder about people who always claim that enemy is attacking them because of their pursuit of Christ. Why not say, “look what the Lord has done?” Jesus doesn’t need a cheerleader. He doesn’t need me to exaggerate the results. All I need to do is share the love and grace that He has given me. Others will want to know the source. They will get to know Jesus and He will change their hearts and minds. I don’t need to produce a fan club and call it a small group. If I can just shed some light on what Christ has done for me.

I cannot introduce anyone else to someone I don’t know. To know Him is to love Him. To know the Lord is to live, move and exist in Him alone. Where are you today? Working for grace that cannot be earned. Serving for favor that you already have. Following the letter of a law that you cannot uphold. Fighting battles you are not called to fight for victories already won. Hyping up a God who is already the Greatest of All. Maybe if the church would seek to become the Body and Temple of Christ, we would know Him. Maybe just maybe then He would live in us. He would move through us. We would find a new existence in Him and His Spirit would come into our buildings with us.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, 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.

Is It Worth It?

Is It Worth It

Matthew 6:33 (NLT) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

When looking for a new home, the buyer may only see a few places or tour hundreds before they find a place that they are willing to invest and live in. They must see the potential if renovation is needed. Envision their life in the new place even if it empty or occupied by another. There are many factors in the decision. When we found our new home, we knew it. We love it. We are ready to move, but first must undergo the process. Our current residence had to put on the market for sale which meant cleaning up and staging it for potential buyers. Our financial information had to be provided to the bank to be fully examined and deemed worthy of loan approval. Savings had to reflect our ability to pay the necessary closing costs and fees after the sale of our home. Of course, a new house had to be found. Inspections and appraisals done for the bank to approve our purchase. All parties now are packing and preparing for closing so that at the right moment on the appointed day all three families will move to new locations. It is a process. The process is facilitated by value and worth. Not only the monetary steps but the dream or vision that made us want to move in the first place. Is it worth packing our life and moving to a new place? Is it worth giving up this life to save our soul? I think its time to take a practical look at pursing God’s Kingdom. If we do not deem His Kingdom worth the sacrifice and investment, what’s the point?

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else. Live righteously. He will give you everything you need. Seek the Kingdom of God first, but will it be worth it? We must appraise the Kingdom’s value to us and decide if it is worthy of our life investment. In this world filled with many open doors called religion, one must make the choice to enter and engage in a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The world shows us many doors with shining “open” signs and “welcome” mats leading to a hipster coffee shop, padded theater seats, gigantic “jumbotron” screens, elaborate sound systems, and great presentations marked as “the way” as an access point to the Kingdom of God. I wonder sometimes if we get lost in the hype. If we miss the true value and worth of the rich and satisfying life that Christ died for us to have because our economy of life does not change with our movement toward the Living God?

When we moved into our current home over a decade ago, I pledged before God and my husband that I was never moving again. Moving takes work. It is not an easy task. We had five small children at the time. Seven people relocating is exhausting and a bit overwhelming. We have lived a good life in this house even with some of the stress and heartaches along the way. God has filled with this place with love, joy and peace just like He promised. His Holy Spirit has ruled the atmosphere with grace and mercy as we have learned to love the Lord along the way. But now, it’s time to do and the driveway declaration doesn’t mean much knee deep in boxes and packing tape. It is the Lord that pressed our hearts to make this change. I know that He has a plan and purpose in it. My investment is faith that believes it will be worth it. Only by believing in God’s Plan will we invest in it.

Matthew 5:3 (NLT) “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

God blesses those who are poor in spirit. It is in our desperate condition that one seeks to know God more. If we have it all together, all our needs are met, our dreams fulfilled and desires satiated, would we really continue to go after God? Let’s be real. It is in our disease, discomfort, dissatisfaction and displeasure that we seek the life that God has promised. It is when the bank account empty or full cannot pay the full price of freedom that we seek the One who sets the captive free. We must realize our need for Jesus in order to inherit His Kingdom. To decide that it is worthy of inconvenience to step into His Glory forever will change how we live and what we long for. I believe the Lord allows us to become agitated, frustrated and desperate so that we will move our natural life from this world into His Kingdom. Otherwise it would be too late.

Matthew 19:23-25 (NLT) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—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!”  The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

My concept of wealth has changed dramatically over the years. I lived in a single wide mobile home as a very young child. My grandparents lived in a modest home which seemed like Heaven to me so I decided that if I could have a house without wheels, brick walls and wood floors that I would be satisfied. When we bought our first house, I thought that was it. It was wonderful. A lot of late nights and elbow grease went in to preparing that palace as it was a foreclosed property in need of some TLC but we knew it would be worth it so invested our time and energy.

Not long after, the market was booming. We decided to move again. So, we built a house. It was glorious and new. It did not need renovations like the first one. Several years later, we installed a swimming pool. Who would have thought that from modest beginnings there would be a home with a pool? I sure didn’t. However, over time what I discovered is that though wonderfully blessed, everything lost its luster. Don’t get me wrong I am thankful for the things that the Lord has given us, but they are require upkeep and maintenance. They are responsibilities. But if Jesus came to me today and said, “Sell all your possessions and follow me” it would be a struggle. Why? I am rich in the natural. I am blessed with many things. My life is comfortable. Even though people find things to grumble and complain about most of the time it is in vain. We are rich enough to not want to give up what we have to have what is His – that is until we decide it is worth it.

Mark 4:26-29 (NLT) Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

In Genesis 8:22, the Lord tells Noah that as long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night. In other words, there will be consistent sowing and reaping in the seasons of life for all mankind. Our sowing will always dictate the harvest. Sowing in this world will result in earthly harvests subject to the destroying organisms in the natural and deadly forces in the spirit. We must sow in the Kingdom. Also, our life is subject to seasons – a whole lot of them. Here in Genesis 8, natural seasons are described. In our spiritual life, as well as physical life, we will endure other seasons listed in Ecclesiastes 3. Some we encourage and embrace while there are others we might just as well do without. Nevertheless, the Lord is telling us to be alert to the seasons and sow generously throughout.

I wonder today if I am investing my life in the most beneficial way. Am I scattering seeds in the Kingdom sealing them with faith watering them with the spirit so they will grow? Or am I continuing to waste my time by seeking the natural rather than living for the supernatural? There are some days when I am tired of fighting the good fight, the wait on the watchtower seems to long, and the impossible doesn’t seem to budge, that I hear the Holy Spirit whisper – “It’s gonna be worth it. It’s gonna be worth it all.” This is where I am given the opportunity to believe one more day for that which seems elusive and sow more seeds of faith in the Kingdom rather than returning to the world.

Mark 4:30-32 (NLT) Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

Heaven will become a priority when it possesses something you want. If there is no hope, then who needs Heaven? In the most simple form of repentance and obedience to the Lord, He comes rushing in and our life is better. Whether He delivers us, heals us, or sets us free each action and attitude that draws us closer to God through Jesus Christ will impact our life in the natural. For example, when my husband and I returned to Christ many, many years ago, we decided to tithe. It was a choice. Not an easy one at first as there were six of us at that time to care for on one meager salary. God blessed us. We never missed a meal. Always had utilities. Clothes to wear. Gas for our automobiles. Automobiles. We sowed in the natural and God produced favor and financial covering in our life. Tithing is obedience. There are many other things in the Word of God that are labeled the same. We transition from the natural blessings of God to the supernatural when we begin to operate in His Commodity. What is God’s Most Valuable Asset? Well, He calls us His Prized Possession. His Treasure. Could it be that we are the very thing that makes Heaven so rich? The most valuable possession to God is the human soul. You are of infinite worth to God because His Son died for you. I am precious in His Sight because when He sees me – it is through His Son.

It is like a mustard seed…that mustard seed of faith planted in our heart will grow into a life of true discipleship if planted in the Kingdom and not this world. You cannot be who God predestined you to be outside of Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God is where we sow and reap with the greatest reward but seldom immediate gratification. We must endure to the end to be saved. Are you willing to plant seeds of faith along the way? We plant in people. We invest in love. Jesus made a way for us to regain right standing with God. We must come to Him like children. (Mark 10:15-16) It is not an intellectual pursuit but a child’s surrender and subsequent return. For every small investment of the spiritual fruit in our life, it will yield a great return. (Luke 13:20-21) But the Kingdom must be valuable to you. It must be worth everything you have. It must be worth giving up all that you own. It is must be worth giving up your life to save your very soul. (Matthew 16:26)

It must be worthy of finding that which is lost. If I lose a penny in the bottom of my enormous purse, I would not spend much time looking for it. It is only worth a single cent clearly not worth my time or effort. Now if there is a twenty dollar bill lost in my handbag, it would be game on until I discovered its whereabouts. Twenty dollars is worth something to me. The Bible says that Jesus leaves the 99 to find the one. He talks about lost coins and lost sheep to get the point across to us that we are what matters most to the Lord. (Luke 15) In all our rebellious imperfection, God wants us. We are worth it to Him. The truth of the matter is that souls matter to God the most. They are the commodity of the Kingdom. Our soul and every other one every created.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

Is God’s Kingdom your treasure today? I am asking myself the same. I must not only examine my heart but evaluate my life to determine where I am investing myself. Is it for personal profit? I am blessed just knowing Jesus. My feeble attempts to walk with Him produce natural and supernatural blessings in our life. His Faithfulness keeps me following Him. Am I fully invested? I want to know for a fact without a shadow of a doubt that my faith is fully vested in Kingdom business not just earthly exchanges. I can have family, friends and coworkers. Do I love them? Do I love God enough to invest my life in the one and only commodity that is worthy of investing in His Kingdom? I am challenged by this thought today.

When our son was sick, it came to a point where there was only a slight glimmer of hope. Reality challenged my faith to one fateful night when I asked myself, “If God chooses to take him home, will I still love and trust Him?” The answer shook me to my core. “Yes.” How could I say such a horrible thing? It’s not horrible. It just means that somewhere in my complete devastation and undoing, the Lord gave me a tiny seed of faith to keep the process of transformation going. Heaven becomes more important when there is something there we want. The Kingdom of God becomes more inviting when the investment yields a favorable return.

The Pharisees tried to trick Jesus into civil disobedience by asking whether or not they should pay taxes. Jesus responded, “When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” (Mark12:14-18) We have a free will. We are Children of God who live as foreigners in this world. We render to Caesar that which bears his mark. We honor God by living a righteous life filled with faith, hope and love generously given to all mankind. Thus increasing our investment in Heaven, making it totally worth the wait.

Acts 20:24 (NLT) But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

 

Better Life or Eternal Life?

Better Life or Eternal Life

Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

 

On the days when I am fortunate enough to keep my head above water, my heart from wandering, my thoughts from worthless things, and intent on following Jesus completely, I see things from a perspective of faith and hope that calms all fear and provides great peace. It is a challenge. A battle fought daily with mind, body and spirit. If anyone were to tell you differently, it is only a lie. The truth is many have stopped fighting. Giving up on God’s Glory and all that goes with it because they have not experienced it for themselves so it must not be true. Getting wrapped in today with total disregard for tomorrow much less forever, it is human nature to live for today because it is all we have left. Are you discouraged today? Are you a bit confused? Are the outcomes in your life not adding up to the Word you hold on to? Where are His Promises? Where is hope? If the intention of our heart is to know Him, the enemy will give us every opportunity to give up. See he wants our heart, mind, soul and desires to twist them, turn them and pervert them so we will be overtaken. Today, the Lord is reminding us to take a step up. Look at life from His Vantage Point taking on His Perspective. God has a plan with a future and hope. Jesus is definitely coming back and there will be a Day of Judgment. Whether or not we believe is inconsequential.

 

For those who call themselves believers, the return of Jesus Christ is a day that is longed for. For those who follow the Lord, it will be a great relief like coming home after years apart. It will be a time of celebration. We not know when it will happen, or exactly what it will be like yet still we can prepare. The Bible does not tell us when Jesus will come back just simply to be ready. When an evangelist, pastor, preacher, apostle or prophet gives a specific day, I am pretty certain you can rule that day out completely because only He knows the day and hour. What I do know is this? According to this passage in Luke, there will be atmospheric changes precipitating the Return of Jesus. Can we all agree that there is definitely changes in the weather, more frequent earthquakes, and other things that are not normal? Men’s hearts will fail them with fear. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, from 1999 to 2012 the percentage of Americans on antidepressants increased from 6.8% to 13% nearly doubling. A report released in 2011 by the National Center for Health Statistics, the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (ages 12 and older) increased almost 400% between 1988-1994 and 2005-2008. The federal government’s health statistician’s figure that one in every ten Americans are takes an antidepressant. Yes, I would say that the human heart is filled and failing in fear. Heaven and earth are being shaken. The Lord is moving as if pacing back and forth. He sees the condition of the earth and the plight of His People. He is ready to move. But are we?

 

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” I do not share these viewpoints or statistics to beat anyone down or produce more fear than already looming, but to say this…we are about to see God’s Glory. The first three checklist items are already happening. The church is crying out and calling out for revival. There is a generation that is sparking a renewal in the previous one for Jesus. I desire, passion and longing is stirring. It says right here, “then they will see”. I believe that the Glory of God precedes His Arrival. It is coming. Are we ready?

 

Psalm 85:9-13 (NKJV) Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.

 

You haven’t missed it. It doesn’t matter what we have done but what we do now with this knowledge that Jesus is coming back. Do you believe it? Our chosen lifestyle tells more than our lips ever will as it reveals what we believe in our heart. When God waits, it is on us. When He tarries, it is by His Grace for us. He rumbles the world around us upsetting the environment as if saying, “Ready or not, here I come!” He allows are heart to be pressed so that the innermost contents are expressed so we know where we stand and have the opportunity to repent and turn back to Him. The Heavens and earth shake as His Glory begins to pour out. We are crying out for revival because though our brain may not comprehend, His Glory is coming to pour out on all mankind because right after than Jesus comes back. A call to righteousness proceeds His Arrival. It is here. It is now.

 

Matthew 24:5-13 (NKJV) “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

 

When I was a teenager, our church would go through the Book of Revelation at least once a year along with the Book of Hebrews. It’s a good combination don’t you think? Now, they would show us films depicting what it would be like in the “end times”. One of the things it showed was the mark of the beast. How creepy, right? We would all watch slowly shaking our head vowing never to get the mark. One of those movies showed it to be a branding of some sort with the numbers “666”. Not to make fun of anyone, but do you really think the enemy is dumb enough to come right at us? Seriously. Didn’t think much more about it until more recently. First, the AMA now requires that all health information be entered into a world system so that no matter where a human being is in the world that their medical records can be accessed. This new innovation is introduced as public safety. Fair enough. The next step is to inject tiny chips in our hands so that it can be scanned to obtain the information. Coincidence? The banks and financial institutions caught the drift and feel this would be a wonderful way to increase security and stop identity theft, etc. So to begin with a chip is now on credit cards. When you receive your new card, it will have the chip. The long-term goal is to “allow” users to have a microscopic chip implanted for ease of use and security. This is all in the news.

 

We hear wars and rumors of wars. There are famines, violence and even earthquakes all over the world. Just because it does not affect you, doesn’t mean it is not happening. Christians are facing tribulation and persecution. Who do you think ISIS hates? They are at war against Christianity. People are offended just ask someone what they think about Target’s new bathroom rule and be prepared. Betrayal is everywhere even the church. People hate one another. False prophets…there are more than a few touting Jesus is not the only way and grace requires nothing from us so do what feels good. P.S. God still hates sin but loves the sinner. Sin is rampant. Love is cold. We must endure all these things to be saved. We must not be consumed by the things going on in the world around us or become distracted trying to change the world for the better. We are not called to change the world but to be the Light in the Darkness showing others the love and grace given to us by Jesus.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Hebrews 10:35-37 (NKJV) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: for yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

 

The word “therefore” means in consequence of that, as a result, or consequently. The Lord has told us what it would be like and equipped us to make it to the end. It is important that we do not give up or cast away our confidence in the midst of the circumstances of life and daily pressure around us. We must not be overcome by the challenges of life but keep our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. You don’t have to go it alone but so many times we do. Religion tells us to do things for the Lord. He only wants a relationship with us. He wants to welcome us home to be with Him forever. The enemy wages war to keep us from that day. We have a great reward. We must endure. We need faith and confident hope to do that. It says, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” I believe with all my heart that revival is coming as His Righteousness proceeds His Return and a final outpouring of His Spirit and dispensation of His Glory like never before. Do not be discouraged today but look up and life up your head. He is coming closer than ever before. Jesus loves you. He wants you. His Grace is for you.

 

John 17:20-24 (NKJV)

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

 

Jesus prayed for us. He knew these would be tough times. He desires to be one with us just like He is one with the Father. It is very easy for the stress and worries of this life to overtake us. Matthew 6:25-30 tells of overwhelming worry and fear driven by survival. We do not have to survive but can thrive in a life surrendered to Jesus as He completes and gives us a rich and satisfying life. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The Lord offers to carry our burden as we “yoke” our life to Him walking His Way, and allowing His Will to take over. The need for control is a fear response. In fact, worry, fear, and anxiety are all born of doubt and disbelief which disqualify faith. We must daily turn every single one over to the Lord in order to walk with Him. Freedom is given to those who by faith put their trust in Jesus. How about you? Is it time to unload? Are there some things weighing you down that you have chosen to carry rather than trusting the Lord with them? They will keep you from His Glory if you do not let them go!

 

Matthew 19:27-30 (NKJV) Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

 

“See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” I can only imagine in the days leading to the Cross that the disciples were perplexed. What do you want from the Lord today? Is it a temporary fix? What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? (Mark 8:36-38) Are we really seeking Jesus for eternal life or a better life? Don’t answer that…just yet. If our mindset is not forever, we are bound to today. Hope is for the future and found in Jesus Christ. If we can see it, we can have it. If we can touch it, we can do it. I think about the rich young man who came to Jesus. He was really confident in what He was doing by following the letter of the Law and “doing” all the right things. But then Jesus took it up a notch requiring him to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor and follow Him. What did the young man do? He turned away because he had a pretty good life here on earth with many possessions. He could not give up now for forever. What’s holding you back? What is keeping you from entering the Presence of God? What is keeping you from His Glory? It is always a “me” thing because His Offer always stands, “Whosoever will let him come.” (Mark 8:34) As we deny ourselves – our comfort, convenience, complacency and control – God’s Glory will resonate in our life and we will see the greatest revival of all time. It will be the one that proceeds Christ’s Return.

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

Do not lose heart today. Friend, Jesus is closer than you think or feel. He is pressing in and drawing near to your broken heart and ravaged soul that has been severely taken advantage of by the loveless and brutal world. Circumstances and conditions may not change in the earth, but the Lord will make peace in your heart. He will cause that measure of faith that you were born with to begin to grow and seek to connect with the eternity in your heart. This is not the life you were created to live. You have purpose. Your life has real meaning that is not found in what you do here but who you are in Christ. The Lord promises to renew our inward man day by day. He is ready to release a far exceeding and eternal weight of glory in our life. If we will just set aside the weight that holds us back, release the worries and cares that keep us bondage and step into His Glory. The Lord loves you today. He desires you. He calls you His Beloved. If you will just wait a little longer, go a little farther and press in a little deeper – there will be a happily ever after. The King is most definitely among us. His Glory surrounds us. We are victorious. Revival is rising in His Name. Will you take part in it? Or will you allow it to pass you by caught up in these temporary things? It’s up to you. I say lift your head up and look – Jesus is closer than every before.

 

Psalm 119:33-38 (NKJV) Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way. Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You.

My Whole Heart

My Whole Heart

Psalm 119:57-60 (NLT)

Lord, you are mine! I promise to obey your words! With all my heart I want your blessings. Be merciful as you promised. I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws. I will hurry, without delay, to obey your commands.
Wholeheartedly. It’s Valentine’s Day so naturally I am reminded of the love that fills my life. The Lord seem to continually pour more love all around me. This year has been landmark. Moving from one season to the next is always challenging even when surrounded by the Grace, Goodness and Favor of God. Last year, I posted a picture from our daughter’s wedding that contained what I now understand are only the beginnings of the workings of the Lord in our life. I reposted it today because not only do I see survival but now I see a thriving family. It’s funny how the same picture changes with our perspective. No longer do I see people who just made it but in each one the changes, growth and development as Jesus begins to yield harvests from our labor and toil. How His Light is shining through the dark days that are just a distant memory now. There is life after death…death after self…when your whole life change in an instant. Idols are burned by the all-consuming fire of God’s Love and Intervention in our greatest moment of need.

 

Wholeheartedly. I cannot explain transformation and change when it is a matter of the heart. At times it is earth shattering, mind blowing and seems to be the very thing that breaks us, but then taking all the broken pieces to the Lord, He takes each one making a masterpiece that didn’t even seem possible with the wreckage left behind. He makes all things beautiful in His Timing. This is all based on the Eternity in our heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Today I am surrounded by so much love and affection. The Lord has granted me my heart’s desire of a loving family and healthy children. Yet in my heart there is a call to give just a little bit more. From this place of beauty is a longing to break off one more piece of my heart and give it to Jesus. It is the least that I can do.

 

Is there more of me to give? My life’s goal is to surrender all of me to Jesus. Every single day. Every possible way to live in full and complete submission to my Lord and Savior. It is not in the words that I speak. Or the many things I try to do for Jesus. Or even in my best intentions. It is ultimately achieve by giving Jesus all of my heart. All of it. Today I come to Him on Valentine’s Day and say, “I give you my whole heart today.”

 

Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (NLT)

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.”

 

The Lord is my only god today. I have not been able to say that every other day. I do not serve gods or idols as graven images but there have been times when there were things that took His Place. There have been personal agendas and goals that have detoured my pursuit of His Presence. There have been rabbit trails and squirrel distractions that have taken me off course chasing my own ambitions rather continuing to chase the Lover of my Soul. Today as I gather the pieces of my heart, remind my soul, gather my thoughts mustering up my strength. I bring it all to Jesus again and say, “I commit my life to you!” Maybe you are very committed and devoted to Jesus today. You know His Word. Seek His Face. Serve in ministry. Giving your life away physically, spiritually, emotionally and even resourcefully. There is always more to give the Lord beginning with our whole heart. The heart is fickle. It wavers at time. God will take it. Just like that, He scoops up our giving and makes it into something wonderful and complete.

 

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NLT)

“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.”

 

The Word of God is the mirror which we check our appearance before the Lord. My husband and I have been married a long time now. There are certain things that I know he tends to favor in my appearance. I think that every wife should try to be pleasing in her husband’s eyes. It may sound old-fashioned. Who cares? After more than a decade almost two, my husband loves me more today than he did yesterday. It gets better every day. When we come to Christ, do we come disheveled with sin? Are we like a race horse that has been run hard and put away wet? See we are given a mirror to check our appearance before the Lord? In it is carefully detailed all the attributes that He desires most. It always begins with our heart. The Lord judges no book by its cover but delves into the very contents of our being. When was the last time that you opened God’s Word with the intention of discovering what it was that He desired of you rather than seeking what you desired of Him? Wholeheartedly. Wholehearted pursuit of Jesus begins in His Word.

 

Deuteronomy 26:16-19 (NLT)

“Today the Lord your God has commanded you to obey all these decrees and regulations. So be careful to obey them wholeheartedly. You have declared today that the Lord is your God. And you have promised to walk in his ways, and to obey his decrees, commands, and regulations, and to do everything he tells you. The Lord has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. And if you do, he will set you high above all the other nations he has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the Lord your God, just as he promised.”

 

A wholehearted life is a careful life. I must care about what Jesus desires of me more than I care about my own natural pursuits and desires. When faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation of our life, home and introduced in all of our surroundings, it is then that we begin to experience those things associated with our new life in Christ. Words like success, flourish, thrive and receivership begins to operate in our life. We sometimes get so lost in our cause for Christ that we do not see all that the Lord is doing around us. Wholeheartedly removes that which keeps us from seeing, praising and honoring the Lord for all that He is doing in us and through us. When we decide to give Jesus our whole heart, He fixes it, fills it and completes making it worthy of His Hand. The Lord will never leave you in your present condition if you give your life to Him. Every part surrendered to His Love, Grace and Compassion must be perfected.

 

Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NLT)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

 

Yes, the Lord has a plan for your life. Yes, it is good containing a future and hope. Yes, He will answer you when you pray. Yes, Jesus can be found by us. BUT there is one condition that we often overlook. He can only do so much with a part of our heart. The total summation of His Glory and Favor fully executed and experienced in our life is when we come to Him WHOLEHEARTEDLY. If you want more, you must give more. There is a catch. There is a condition. Not to His Love which is truly unconditional, but to have what freedom and liberty offers requires a heart free to love. It cannot be attached to sin and darkness but surrendered to the Light of His Love for fulfillment, completion and full satisfaction. Jesus is a gentleman so His Spirit is, too. He only comes when invited and only enters when welcomed.

 

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT)

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

 

Wholehearted agreement is promoted among like-minded people. When we find other believers who love Jesus wholeheartedly, it empowers and equips us to grow deeper in His Love. We should not forsake fellowship with other believers. One must be careful the company they keep. If your friends and fellow Christians do not pursue Jesus above all things it is unlikely that the fire of passion will burn strongly in our personal pursuit. The cord of three strings is not easily broken. We must engage with others who are likeminded so when we need encouragement or a helping hand up it is there. Not every church believes in wholehearted faith and trust in the Lord or they would desire selfless giving, radical obedience, and strict adherence to God’s Word, Will and Way. We must find iron to sharpen our iron and link up with those who do. Church is not a social club. It is a battalion on a mission. There is a Kingdom at hand. We must secure our borders. Hedge in our people. I do not mean this to be bravado but a rallying of the troops. After all, we are called to be good soldiers of Christ.

 

Matthew 6:21 (NLT)

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

 

Wholeheartedly. Where is your treasure today? What does your heart desire? The two are linked forever. This world offers things that will rot away. Everyone is appointed once to die. It is our soul that lasts forever. The soul resides in our heart until it is freed on that day. My heart belongs to Jesus. Yet still I feel that there is more to give until I can honestly say that I have given Him my whole heart. In my own ignorance and lack of understanding, all I can do is offer my heart and all its broken pieces to the Lord. Asking Him to do with it what He will. Examine me from the inside out and remove every idol, falsehood and sin that may be hidden there. Jesus, make me more like YOU today. I want to wholeheartedly love you so aligned that our hearts beat as one. Here’s my heart, Lord. Speak what is true. For I am found in You!

 

Psalm 62:7-8 (NLT)

My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

 

Psalm 86:11-13 (NLT)

Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever, for your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death.

Overtaken

Overtaken

I Samuel 30:7-8 (NKJV)

Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, “Please bring the ephod here to me.” And Abiathar brought the ephod to David. So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.

The pursuits of life are marked with various meaning and purpose. The desires of our heart promote that which is pursued in life. It is by faith that a person is motivated to pursue that which is not evident in their life. The greater the desire the more someone will go after that which motivates the heart and mind. Often one’s challenges or difficulties will form and shape from our youth and grow into a passion to overcome as a person grows and matures into adulthood. My biological mother struggled her whole life as a person. She loved us but could not overcome the addictions in her life to properly care for her children. The Lord sent me a mother to bridge the gap who loves me as her own, but I have struggled most of life to be completely opposite. Her struggles in nurturing pushed me to over compensate with my own children. I had to be the perfect mom. Knowing from the beginning that it would be impossible, I could not stop trying to do everything right. The things we do and how we live has deeper meaning then what we realize most of the time. It is very important that as Christians, believers and followers of Christ that we evaluate our motivations and intentions at all times. It was only after many years of trying not to be like my mother that I realized I was supposed to be imitating God and striving to be like Jesus that I stopped my fruitless pursuit to be overtaken by His Love.

I was thinking about my life this morning. My pursuits in life have dramatically changed in the course of just six months. I am excited. I am focused. I am a bit fearful. When we step out to follow the Lord by faith, I think there is always a twinge of anticipation mixed with anxiousness. To go deeper than we have gone before in trust and live in confident hope must always challenge our mind, will and emotions or is it really of God? It must defy human logic and go beyond what I can see and understand to be that which the Lord has for me which is always exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to His Power at work in us. (Ephesians 3:20) What is your passion today? What are you pursuing? As in all things, there is a process to godly pursuits. I think it will challenge you as it has challenged my heart today to examine each one.

David and his men returned to find their city, Ziklag, attacked, raided, and burned to the ground. Their families had been taken captive. David’s wives Ahinoam and Abigail were among the captives. David and his men wept until they could weep no more. His own men turned on him threatening to stone him in their grief. But David “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (I Samuel 30:1-6) It is a natural human response to look for someone to blame when things go terribly wrong in life. In fact, pursuit is driven by passion. Passion can be driven by any emotion possible in the human mind and heart. In this case, grief drove them to look for someone to take out their anger and pain upon. When an emotion becomes too great to contain it, we look for someone else to alleviate the pressure and dump the load. The men chose David. But David chose the Lord.

David told the priest to bring the ephod, his mantle of worship. David would take his cause before the Lord to see what He had to say on the matter. Just two simple questions, nothing more or less. David inquired of the Lord – 1) Do I pursue this? and 2) Will I overtake it? If only we took the time in all our pursuits to go before the Lord transparent and honest with an open heart to ask Him is this worth pursing and will I win? The Lord answered David, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”

I Peter 3:10-12 (NKJV)

For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

David took six hundred men to pursue the Amalekites who raided their village and took their families. Part way through their journey, two hundred men were just too weak to continue and were left behind as the continued their pursuit. The men came upon an Egyptian slave left behind in the desert to die who confirmed that he was with the group who destroyed their city. David feed him and gave him water caring for the man until he regained his strength. The slave promised to take David to them if he would not kill him or return him to his master. David agreed. They found the Amalekites and recovered everything that was taken from them. “And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them.” God delivered as promised.

When the men were grieving they wanted to kill David for the violation of their home and family. Now they came across someone who was with the people who committed the heinous crime against them, David showed the man compassion. This is so important in our pursuits in life. I believe that when the Lord puts people in our path no matter how driven to succeed that they are treated with love and compassion. They easily could have mistreated this man, tortured him, used him and abused him just like everyone else and gotten the information needed to find the others. David’s heart would not do such a thing but responded to his need instead. He fed him. He satisfied his thirst. He earned his trust and took him with him. How many times even in godly pursuits do we lose sight of what our overall mission is in the first place? To follow the Lord. Walk in His Ways. Love others as He loves us. How we pursue is just as important as what we pursue. Are we after vindication or vengeance?

Psalm 26:1-3 (NKJV)

Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord; I shall not slip. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth.

Psalm 43:1-4 (NKJV)

Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.

Romans 12:19 (NKJV)

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

As we read the Psalms, the heart of David is revealed. He cries out to the Lord for vindication. This is important and evidenced in his response to the violation of I Samuel 30. His immediate reaction was for vindication while the others wanted vengeance. This is so important and not just a play on words but points directly to the motivation of our heart. Every worthwhile pursuit in life should be born of faith and trust in God’s Worth resulting in His Glory. Just as God promised, they did “without fail recover all.” We want perfect outcomes so therefore we must perfect our pursuits beginning with the people who are along the way. They met the Egyptian and David cared for him. They were reunited with the 200 men who were just too weary to continue and fight. The Word of God tells us that the “wicked and worthless men” among the 400 told David not to give them back what belonged to them just their families. They even went so far as to tell David to “make them depart” from us. But David again arising from a heart after God’s Heart told them, “My brethren, you shall not do so with what the Lord has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us.  For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.” (I Samuel 30:21-25)

Vindication is to assert, maintain or defend a right or cause against opposition. To justify which means to show to be just or right. To regain possession. However when our pursuit becomes tinged with bitterness, it can quickly turn into vengeance. Vengeance is to inflict injury, harm, humiliation or the like on a person by another who has been harmed by that person. Bitterness is always the root of vengeance. God has reserved vengeance for himself. We cannot be vengeful because we have been justified by faith which is given by God’s Grace. (Romans 3:21-26) Therefore we must afford the same grace to others in the midst of pursuit. The Lord has clearly identified the enemy. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) The Lord has promised us many things. We pursue those promises. Success or failure depends on the motive of our heart. We can seek imperfect justice or have complete vindication. It is up to those in pursuit.

Hebrews 12:14-16 (NKJV)

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.

As Children of the Living God, we are promised victory after victory and to live from Glory to Glory. This is achieved by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus the author and finisher of faith. But sometimes let’s face it, the people that oppose us, offend us, battle us and seem to be the bane of human existence take on the appearance of the adversary. Jesus died for them too. We are to love even our enemies. These are not my words but a reminder from the Lord today. We must not forsake people in our passionate pursuit for Him. In fact, to do so changes our mission complete and impacts the outcome greatly. When you think of “that” person, the one who is constantly causing problems, getting in your business, trying to mess up your plans, and overall just drives you crazy – that is the Egyptian in the desert, or the 200 hundred too weak to make it, and they are the ones that test the purity of our pursuit. The ones who once opposed us or offended us or even abandoned the cause. The Lord is testing the motives of our heart because to pursue Him fully and completely above all other things is demonstrated in our response to these people. To have all that God promised requires all of our heart.

Pursue peace with all people. Live a holy life. Today in the midst of my pursuit, I am challenged to inspect my heart for any bitterness linked to my past keeping me from my future. It must be dealt with swiftly and completely if my goal is to “without fail recover all.” I have clear direction. I have been promised much. I cannot fully pursue this unless it is wholeheartedly so I must take back any part of my heart yielded to offense, bitterness and anger in the Name of Jesus Christ. I will not be overtaken by such things, if I want to be overtaken by His Love.

Psalm 51:10-13 (NKJV)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.

 

Hunting the Kingdom

Hunting the Kingdom

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT)

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

Have you ever been looking for something and decided the closet or drawer was a mess? Or maybe you find something you were looking for before or something that sparks your interest so you become distracted? I set off after one thing and end up with another. Distractions. When I am rummaging through a closet looking for something, my daughter will say, “What are you hunting?” Oh how this chafes me. She learned this from her very Southern grandmother. You do not hunt for things – you look for them. I guess when I became insistent on finding that which is lost or simply misplaced, I really am hunting for it. Perhaps the term implies a little more than looking but pursuing. Just a thought!

It is possible to miss the mark, veer off course and become distracted. In fact, I think the enemy uses our life against us and our best intentions work in his favor. Our hearts come to Jesus broken and in need of repair. As the Lord begins to right our life, we forget the Source of our Power and take back control. Okay, maybe I am the only one. I want God’s Best in my life. I want all to be all that He promised to make me and that I would become. I want His Kingdom. Today, I am reminded what I am after. It’s not the first time I woke up in this place feeling a little lost and overwhelmed. I feel that I might have misplaced Him among the details of my life. I am hunting the Kingdom today.

Years ago when our youngest child started school, I was offered a job beginning the same day. I thought why not. It was working for the school system so I would be off when the children were off but would not be wandering aimlessly the rest of the time. At that point, we were doing okay so money was not a motive just killing time until the kids got home from school. Somehow over the course of a couple of years, I had assumed way more responsibility than I had intended. Promoted to supervising three departments with a multitude of tasks and responsibilities, work slowly began to take over my life. Don’t get me wrong. I was still a wife, mom and Christian just one who worked a lot. When I was at home, I began checking emails and taking care of problems to alleviate the pressure of each day. Suddenly, I was grabbing dinner at the local takeout chicken place every other night and barely keeping up at home because I was working later and later. Antacid became a daily routine as stress eroded my stomach. On top of everything else, my son who was away at college was sick. In and out of the doctors, then the hospital for tests. Finally, I traveled down to see what was going on and take over. A divine appointment no less. It was October. School had started and my tasks piling up. As our son went into surgery for a “tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy”, I will admit that in my head I was already back at work figuring out how to get everything taken care of after missing a few days. All that changed when just a few short hours later, my heart was smashed to the floor and my head sent into a tailspin with the words, “I am so sorry. He has cancer.”

Now one might think that would change everything in a second, but I am not the average bear. For two weeks following his diagnosis, he went back with family to withdraw from school and get ready to begin treatment. I was back at home trying to make “cancer” fit in our life, routine and schedule. Let me help you out – it doesn’t. We were creating a schedule of care but suddenly that job I that was so important was slipping out of my hands. The schedule so well-maintained in chaos. I couldn’t do it. The most important thing at that moment was our son. What I learned over the next four years has changed my life forever. I didn’t begin the job to become a workhorse but slowly over time the enemy slipped the bridle of success over my head and it became my driving force like a noose around my neck. It took one event to change my life forever and put me back on course. Today, I have yet again become distracted with life. No, it’s not work. God gave me a new job where my family comes first. There is not a lot of stress. Nevertheless, I have become a bit distracted.

“Who do you say that I am” changed Peter’s life forever? It did not make him perfect in a moment or even a few days. He would stumble and get up several times. However, in the end, the Lord’s Word is true and on that “rock” He built His Church. He told Peter that in the realization of who Jesus was that he was given the Keys to the Kingdom. This is true for you and me, too. The days when fighting a war with full frontal assaults, we are good at wielding His Power. But what about the subtle skirmishes in life when the enemy uses the “little” things to lead us off into the wrong direction? Those are the most dangerous of all because before we know it – we find ourselves far off-course. This morning my objective is to make sure that I am on track with God’s Word. I want His Kingdom. No more or less. I want it all.

Matthew 18:18 (NLT)

 “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

 

We have literally been handed the Keys to Heaven. We can unlock every door and barrier in our life because of faith in Christ alone. We need nothing else except a desire for the Kingdom to permit Heaven to come to earth. What is stopping us? Desire. We don’t want Jesus as much as the acceptance, affirmation and approval of others. Guilty as charged but not anymore. We want things of the earth more than the blessings of Heaven. We want it all right now so we refuse to wait on the Lord to make good on every detail (Romans 8:28) and perfect all that concerns us (Psalm 138:8). Jesus is not our Source of life but the emergency roadside assistance kit hidden in the trunk of our car who is used when we get broke down and cannot get going on our own. We have all the Power of God who created the entire universe and everything in it. He has the Power and Authority to overstep hell, death and the grave to bring us back out and put us into forever, but we treasure too many other things. Again, guilty as charged but not anymore.

Matthew 5:3-10 (NLT)

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

 

When I began reading the Beatitudes this morning, I wondered what the definition was of the word “Beatitude”. Maybe you already knew, but the word simply means “blessing”. I am realizing that I have drifted slightly off course, I want the Kingdom of God to manifest in my life every single day. I want His Blessings above anything I can create in this life. As I read them, I began to translate them into what it required of me and here is what I came up with. I need Jesus. (v.3) I must live in repentance because I need Him. (v.4) I must follow the Lord. (v.5) (This means giving up my way.) I cannot get enough of Jesus in my tiny life so therefore must yield more and more of me every single day. (v.6) I must walk in forgiveness or risk rebellion that locks up Heaven. (v.7) Maintain a pure and blameless heart. (v.8) (Which leads me back to verse 4 again and again.) My mission on any given day is peace. Peace at heart. Peace of mind. Peace with others. (v.8) (This can be the toughest one of all.) I must do what is painfully right. (v.10) Why? Why do all of this? I want the Kingdom of God. I want to be blessed. To be blessed is not to have it all but to have all of Him.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NLT)

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

 

I must not forsake small beginnings. A tiny mustard seed of faith has great potential in my life. To have faith means nothing until I put it all in the ground. It is when I commit my faith to Christ that it grows, develops and matures into something greater. The Kingdom of God manifests in my life through the tiny sacrifices of faith along the way. I must not be distracted but put my faith in Jesus all day every day to live in His Presence and have the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 13:33 (NLT)

Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

The amount of my life given to God is not as significant as what His Kingdom will do when allowed to permeate my existence. I just give Jesus what I can that day and He does the rest. The key is I have to give Him something. Some days it seems easier than others to give Him my all. Other days it is struggle to part with much as my humanity has death grip and will to live beyond my own resolve. What is important I that I keep giving the Lord what I can to permeate my life with His Presence. Every day something. Anything. He will work with it all.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT)

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

How badly do you want God’s Kingdom? This is not an open conversation but a quiet inspection of each heart by its own person. Do you really want what God has for you or just enough to get by? It matters in the harvest, friend. I have heard people say they want the Kingdom but then live for the world. I have seen people led off believing it really doesn’t matter how they live who are painfully deceived. It is all about what you want in life. You will make time to have that which is desired. I have been the one with every excuse in the book. Until I tried it all and failed, then I realized that I really did want the Kingdom of God above all else. Maybe it was in the realization that my child might have gone there before me, suddenly it became a little more beautiful. If God had stopped working in my heart there, I would have left Him when He healed my son. But through the process of healing our child, the Lord has given me glimpses of the Kingdom that I can no longer live without. Things that make me painfully aware when I have strayed off course. It gives me a strong drive and desire to get back to it.

Heaven is filled with Jesus. He is my treasure. He is my reward. There is nothing that I want more than Jesus. I may not always live like it or do the right things, but He is my great desire. What am I willing to do to have Him? Will I sell everything? Will I give away my life heartbeat by heartbeat and breath by breath to know Him more? I am heartbroken that I missed it and got off course again. His New Mercy met me this morning and reaffirmed that I have hope and the Lord is far from done with me yet. Thank you Jesus for your mercy that comes with each morning even when it finds me far from Home. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

 

When I walked outside with the dogs this morning, I was greeted by cool morning air. Fall is here. With this new season, hunting season began. All the hunters have been inspecting their favorite hunting spots, planting seed to bait their prey, and preparing for the hunt. Their rifles and bows have sights on them to see the animals afar off and hit their target. Those same sights can be moved askew by carrying the weapon or just from use. The firing of the weapon can move its sight. Without proper sighting, you can keep aiming but you are not going to hit anything. Weird how the Lord works in my mind since we are not a hunting family.

I must keep my eyes on Jesus Christ. He is the Author and Finisher of my faith which means not only did He give me faith but now the Lord will show me how to use it to have the Kingdom of Heaven in my everyday life. Jesus wants to be as close to me as possible, what am I doing to make room for Him today? Are there doors in my life locked that will require keys of faith and confident hope to open? Will I step in? Do I want what God wants for me? Christianity is a frustrating endeavor if we do not want the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t look like this world. It certainly doesn’t act like it. It is humility, love and submission to God’s Power at work in us to produce His Kingdom around us. Seeds must die and give their all to produce something far greater than they once were and the same goes for us! I want God’s Kingdom. He has righted my sight today. I am hunting the Kingdom of God full force with all my mind, soul and body! What are you after today?

Matthew 6:20-21 (NLT)

Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.