What’s the Point?

What the Point

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

What’s the point? You know you have asked yourself the question at least once along the way of life. What’s the point of trying? Giving? Forgiving? Starting over? Disappointments are a dime a dozen. Faith seems futile in the absence of logic. Hope elusive in the chaotic degradation of the world. Yet still there are those who strive each day to plant just a tiny seed of faith and stretch to see a glimmer of hope. Romans 5 begins THEREFORE SINCE WE HAVE BEEN JUSTIFIED BY FAITH (all caps all mine). Our predisposed position in life due to the justification offered by faith and believing gives way to peace with God through Jesus Christ. This is the point of access. Suddenly the faithless and hopeless generation born of sin has been pardoned and set free to become a new creation and accept a brand new life. No matter who you are or where you came to Christ from – this statement is about you. Therefore, since (you) have been justified by faith, (you) have peace with God through (your) Lord Jesus Christ. The first step of purpose is the point of salvation. The moment in time when our old identity was exchanged for a new one – Child of the Living God and Member of His Kingdom.

You will never know the point of a God-seeking, faith-driven, hope-full life until you see yourself and your existence from God’s Perspective. God created us and has already plotted our life according to His Plan. It is a series of carefully orchestrated steps that go through valleys, around the bend and over the mountain with seasons set forth to produce an abundance in each one. When our focus is based on what we can see rather than on what we know about God’s Plan – it is easy to say, “What’s the point?” Throwing up our hands and walking away serves our pride and preference but perseverance always leads us to purpose and promise.

The Plan

Jeremiah 29:10-14 (ESV) “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope.” Oh, how many times have these words been recited and never fully realized. To keep this in context, the promise required a journey. To bring you “back” from exile. It had a time frame. When seventy years are completed. God has a plan. It requires a journey. It has an appointed time. You also have a requirement. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Sometimes reading part of the verse only gives us the promise and by not reading the rest – the process is missed. There is always a process in God. God is transforming us from the inside out. Jesus Christ is inside of us. New life is birthed from the inside.

Psalm 139 tells us that our days are prerecorded. Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 informs us of our predestination to become Children of God. To be adopted to Himself through His Son – Jesus according to His Purpose and His Will. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. He is the Beginning and the End. Our Savior is the Author and Finisher of faith that puts us and keeps us in right standing with God our Father. Everything is going according to His Plan even when our plans fall apart. God’s Sovereignty is our security. It means He does not lie or change His Mind because He is perfect in ALL of His Ways. God’s Spirit seals us as sons and daughters of God cultivating good fruit to feed our starving soul until we hunger and thirst no more. Friends – God has a plan. There is a point to all that you are going through today.

The Path

Psalm 37:23-27 (ESV) The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing. Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.

Let’s plunge into the deep for a moment and think about this – what if God really does order our steps ahead of time? In other words, what if you have not strayed from the Lord? What if your mistakes were on purpose? What if the whole point of everything you have been through was to lead you to Jesus? Once Jesus Christ came to reside in you – His Power and Authority vested in Him by God the Father became your power and authority, too. THEREFORE…nothing can ever separate you from the Love of God, no weapon formed you will prosper, greater is He that is in you, and you have hope that can NEVER lead to disappointment which means by faith you always win, live victoriously and overcome.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He was with you then, is in you now and will be with you forever. The Plan gave you the Person of Christ to navigate the path to His Promise which is our purpose in God. If this is true, you do not ever have to experience a lack of anything again because you are full of Him. It says that the righteous are not forsaken and they do not have to beg. In order to live the life promised all that is required is to turn away from evil and do good – in one word – repentance. It’s not about turning you around – it’s about turning our life over to Jesus Christ. It doesn’t mean you will change position in life but you will be positioned in the Kingdom.

The Process

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 (ESV)  From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

The process of redemption is achieved through reconciliation. Repentance turns us back to Jesus Christ. However, if there is no reconciliation the relationship falls apart. Our calling is to become a new creation in Christ Jesus. To stop looking at our existence through human eyes and take on a spiritual perspective. Christ does the work. We only give Him something to work with and through. To reconcile means restore friendly relations, to coexist in harmony, become compatible, and make consistent with one another. The process is in full operation – it is our choice to participate. Those who do not participate do not get the prize or promise. It is in our complete reconciliation of our life to Christ that purpose is fulfilled and destiny released in the life of God’s People. Simple obedience offers radical change that blesses those willing to engage in it.

The Purpose

but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame…

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

What’s the point? Perfect, complete and lacking in nothing. God has already provided it all. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The purpose of the plan, path and process is to achieve His Purpose. We would have settled for less so long ago. Our lack of discipline gives way to substitutions when times get tough. Doubt and insecurity makes us question God’s Goodness due to our inability to do good all the time. Disbelief leads to questions and scrutiny of the Truth set forth by God’s Word. Delays and detours all have a place in God’s Perfect Plan. You cannot miss God! He is always with us – will never forsake us and pursues us with unfailing love and overflowing goodness. God has ordered our steps. Every single one is part of the course toward something good. God uses every detail of our life for good. His Glory is ready to fill every empty vessel poured out and ready for His Love. Your life is not pointless. God is always on point.

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

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Rags to Riches

Rags to Riches

Colossians 3:14-16 (NLT) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

I am one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of my life is changed. Filled with disappointment, bitterness, and completely devastated by bad choices I was lost in my own regret and shame. All that changed when I met a man. A man who knew all about my life and yet still chose to give me a brand new one. He took all those details and continues to make good on His Promise to change this mess into a message. Like an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor yet private and intimate, I cannot begin to tell you how love made the difference in my life. His Love that clothes me allows me to love freely and forgivingly. His Grace that has kept me this far has produced a need to give it away just to have more. His Goodness has benefited my life in more ways than I could ever count or confer to another without forgetting some of the miraculous and wonderful gifts I have been given. His Name – Jesus.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” One of the greatest gifts given to us by the Lord is His Peace. The kind of peace that passes understanding. Derived from unconditional love and uncompromised acceptance of all imperfections by a perfectly sovereign God provided by his perfectly sinless Son, how is it possible to accept such an extravagant gift without somehow reciprocating it? It would be wonderful if there was something of any worth that I could give Him, but there really is nothing other than to accept His Gift of Love, Grace and Mercy and apply it to my broken life. Oh how our pride hates the thought of something that is unearned and undeserved. Our need for supremacy and control puts rules, regulations and mandates on the freeness of God’s Grace in order to fulfill its obligation. Such in intrusion sows seeds of insecurity and doubt that will begin to uproot faith and choke out the hope rising from within.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love…” In Isaiah 61:10, it says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” The Lord gave us salvation and wrapped a white robe around us to cover us. It is this robe that gives us confidence that our relationship is secure again. Nothing can now come between us and the Love of God. Sin is covered sufficiently by the Blood of Jesus. Game over. However, if we do not clothe ourselves in His Love daily – it is easy to put back on the filthy rags of a beggar. Imagine. Why do such a thing? Would you do that now? Would you choose clothes out of the hamper rather than grabbing a fresh clean garment from the drawer?

Today, before you leave for church, you will choose an outfit, check your appearance in the mirror, and make sure everything is just right before heading off to worship the Lord. The people in the congregation will appreciate your diligence but when you arrive will the Lord see the robe of righteousness that He has given you. The love that identifies you as His Own. Will God recognize you as His Own? It is easy to get caught up in life and social standards but today if only for today – can we get so wrapped up in Jesus that no one recognizes us?

Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Studying the Word this morning, my intent was to focus on thankfulness. I am determined to carry over the thanksgiving season all the way through the Christmas holiday. Thankfulness produces contentment in our life. Taking our eyes off what we do not have to appreciate and acknowledge the things given to us by the Hand of God. Every good thing in our life is a product of God with us – Immanuel. It doesn’t matter if we acknowledge the Lord or not – He blesses us according to His Will. The rain falls on the just and unjust because God ordained it not man ordering it. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve the Grace of God in my life. What I can do is to let the Prince of Peace rule my heart.

You must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow done into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. The instructions are simple. Why do we make it so hard? Faith is not impractical. It may seem a bit illogical until the Word of God becomes a daily consumption and His Spirit uses it cultivate your faith into a practical lifestyle. God’s Word is the fertilizer of faith in our life. The roots of faith connect us with God’s Heart and His Desires. As we build our lives on Christ who is the foundation of our faith, there is a wonderful transformation from dissatisfaction and discontentment to full satisfaction and completion. It is not based on feelings, emotions or worldly standards but thankfulness. How can I be thankful when my needs are not met, my emotions are all over the map, and my expectations seem wasted on an unseen God with invisible hands?

We walk by faith and not by sight. Faith is followed by simply doing what the Word of God says even when the outcome is not clear. A farmer plants a field with great expectation but no guarantee. Doing his best to prepare the field, sowing good seed, watering and caring for what looks to be barren, while beneath the soil – the seed is growing, changing, developing and maturing. What if the very thing you prayed for is just below the surface of your life, but unwillingness to wait causes you to leave the field? The seed will still produce in your absence.

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Disqualification is ineligibility when breaking the terms of an agreement. The enemy will continually offer compromises in order to attempt to disqualify you. Empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that appeal to human reasoning but are not divine wisdom. It is written that God’s People will perish from ignorance or a lack of knowledge. God’s Word is absolutely essential to tearing down the strongholds of the mind those things that appeal to our flesh but wreak havoc on our heart. The fullness of God lives in Christ. Christ lives in us. His Authority and Power belong to us as a product of grace and grace alone. We are overcomers in all things. We have been handed the victory. Disqualification is only possible apart from Christ. His Grace fills the void of broken rules and agreements so now we are right with God the Father again. We must make the decision to capture every thought that is in rebellion to God, His Plan and Purpose for our life in order to remain qualified for the calling. Otherwise, we will choose less than God’s Best and wander off to wildernesses in search of substitutions, shortcuts and subtle settlings.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

You are one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of your life is subject to change. Though you may be experiencing disappointment, bitterness, and complete devastation by bad choices or unfortunate situations, the Fullness of Christ in you is looking to make its way out into the open. Has shame shattered your confidence in Christ or maybe regret is reasoning that you are not worthy of God’s Investment of His Son and Spirit so you simply live in your suffering?  God has written an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor just for you, it begins only by accepting the fullness of His Grace and then following Him. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, fail or flail, God is doing the good work inside you and His Grace is always enough.

Devote yourself today. The word “devote” means to give all or a large part of one’s time and/or resources to an activity or person. I wonder what would happen if we devoted more of our time and resources to discovering the Fullness of God given to us in Christ. If we strived to clothe ourselves in the righteousness that is grace given rather than continually donning the old filthy rags of our past indiscretions or present insecurities. Devote our life to God, Jesus and His Spirit by pursuing intimacy that is not dependent on anyone else. To live with an alert mind that is fixed on the Kingdom, heavenly outpourings and miraculous outcomes. God has placed potential in us that will lead to daily fulfillment and abundance. We must be consciously aware that this moment does not dictate our future, but should be lived with forever in mind. Least but not last, a thankful heart. This is for me today.

My identity in Christ is enough to live in complete fulfillment with hopeful expectation. I must build my confidence by increasing faith. I must devote my life to Jesus Christ in all things. (Ephesians 5:10) I must be confident of the Kingdom to which I belong and its sustainability for my life today. (Hebrews 12:28) On those days when I got lost in emotional overtures or overwhelming feelings, I must still manage to sacrifice thankfulness because He never changes and is bigger than my feelings. (Psalm 50:14; I John 3:20) God knows exactly what He is doing in me, through me and for me. I must maintain my belief that He is good and will never let me down. I must remind my soul by worshiping God for who He is and not what He does.

With this in mind today, let us devote ourselves to the Lord once again. I find that I do this on a daily basis these days. About five years ago, I came to the place of understanding that I have no control over my life and what happens in it. God has complete control now. He always did but when I gave up my need to control it and came to the realization I can do nothing apart from Christ – everything changed. I am changing. The more I change the more I find that is needed to be given to His Transformation process. Giving up control is hard, but the realization I have no control is life changing. It is the moment when His Grace becomes enough…all sufficient.  I am nothing apart from Christ. I can do nothing of worth outside of the God living in me. Everything I am ever will be or have is from the Hand of God who is loving, gracious and good even when I’m not. Thank you for taking my filthy rags and giving me the riches of Heaven. Lord, let me live like it today and every day.

Ephesians 5:20 (NLT) And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

WWJD?

WWJD

Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Remember the Christian trend several years ago, “What would Jesus do?” The question posed everywhere from colorful silicone bracelets to bumper stickers. I wonder what happened to all the paraphernalia. You don’t see it much anymore. I wonder if anyone still seeks the answer or was it just another fad. The Word of God tells us to imitate Him. To strive to make the same choices and live by the same moral code. Society has made church a culture. Churches have turned to conformity rather than embracing real transformation. There is more to life than just repentance. God did not create us to just get by but to prosper, live in abundance and thrive. His People should be influential with the kind of character that is attractive not reactive. I wonder if the simple question posed decades ago might just be a relevant one today. What would Jesus do?

Jesus would not be religious. He would not live a pious existence of judgement. He would extend His Love just as broad and wide as when he stretched out His Arms to die on the Cross to save us. He would continue to rejoice from every lost one who is found yet still seek to live in love from that day on. He would forgive seventy times seven and once more if needed. The example of Jesus Christ is not defined by doctrine. Religion is not his idea. Relationship is the pursuit of our Lord and Savior. A love as strong as death…jealousy as demanding as the grave…so passionate it is as consuming as a flame. When you love like that it transforms you. It makes your desires and passions one with the object of your attention and affection. You seek to please your true loves. Those who matter most you would stop at nothing to live in love with them.

Do not be conformed to this world…   

How do I know the difference between conformation and transformation? Why is it so important? Religion seeks to conform you. It sets a standard of rules and regulations in place to create order to its body. This is not a bad thing and in fact necessary to create agreement and harmony within a congregation. But it is not enough to complete the transformation process. In fact, it can even hinder or limit the complete work the Lord is attempting in our life.

Religion often leads to conformation. To conform is to act in accordance to or in harmony with or compliance. The doctrine is the prevailing standard, attitude, practice of the group. This is an outward change in actions or appearance. Conformation as a Christian can be fatal. To change outwardly but not be transformed inwardly can create the idea of true repentance without ever truly experiencing such a marvelous encounter with the Living God. Society set the precedence as it is human nature to want to fit in with the group. Unquestioning a soul wanders into church and if able to blend in effectively may never know there is more to life in Christ than a religion and never enter a real relationship with their Savior.

Relationship will transform you. A relationship with Jesus Christ is consummated by His Spirit living in a holy inhabitation of our life. The Lord seeks intimacy with you and me apart from any other human being. It is personal. It requires a willingness to invest all of who we are and accept all of who He is. Redemption provides the provision of power to instill godliness in us. It is the means of transformation. Transformation changes our thoughts which leads to formulating. It changes our purpose which proceeds our actions. It changes our actions which are character determining habits. Salvation is the acceptance of new life. The transformation process is not something that can be faked or replicated. It is a change of heart that is undeniable. As our soul prospers so does our life.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…

Willingness is the key to relationship. A true love relationship is willingness of two parties to become one together. This is in all loving relationships such as marriage, family and friends. In Christ, it is extended to all people even our enemies. When a believer tries to live the commands of the Bible in their own power and strength it is impossible. Our conflicting nature is contrary to the Word, Will and Way of God because is the death of flesh. Jesus gave us His Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit needed to feed our soul, mind and body and nurture our relationship with the Father. He even gives us self-control. This is the power to be transformed. It is not what I do but what Christ does in me. It may not be evident on the outside because it is working its way out of me. I can change bad habits and make better choices. This is conformation. The transformation comes when all my attitudes and actions are based on my love for Jesus Christ and nothing else.

Titus 3:4-6 (NKJV) But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The kindness and love of God demonstrated in the giving of His Son. I can never be righteous apart from Jesus Christ. God’s Mercy and Grace are the power of salvation. The power of transformation is acceptance and willingness to be changed from the inside out by His Love and Kindness. I wonder what impact it would have on the modern day church if we took off the masks of conformation and revealed the work in progress. What if rather than acting like Jesus somebody tried to live like Him? Jesus broke all the rules of religion to have a real relationship with you and me. We prove what is good, acceptable and the Perfect Will of God not in our pious attitudes and rightness but our ability to demonstrate His Love, Grace and Kindness in every situation. To live a higher standard of humility and love that demonstrates the Character of God no matter how we are mistreated or conditions one might be facing. Jesus poured out His Spirit abundantly in us so that His People will be genuinely regenerated and renewed by Him. To effect a change that no one can do on their own. Driven by passion and love that asks in every situation, “What would Jesus do?” because you love Him too much not to do it.

Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ… 

To be practical in this application, one might ask so what do I do to facilitate this process. Well, the good news is that Jesus already did it. You must be confident that Christ is doing a good work enough to invest yourself in the process. Study. Pray. Praise. Worship. Everyday. Jesus is the Word and this is how you work on the relationship. Willingness to change is absolutely essential. When you feel the urge or nudge to reach out, give or give grace to another – simply do it. These are the baby steps to allowing Christ to work in us and through us. Allowing what He is doing in us to leak out on others. You must make the commitment to stay in this relationship no matter what. Never back down. Never give up. Never walk away. But if you do, remember His Grace is more than enough to successfully continue the journey. You are greatly and dearly loved and desired by Jesus. He will not stop even if you do.

Philippians 1:21 (NKJV) For me to live is Christ…

Proof of Purchase

proof-of-purchase

I John 4:12-13 (NLT) No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 

The besties and I set out on the “Black Friday” adventure on Thursday afternoon. With no real plan or intent other than just to hangout and have some fun, we gathered at command central (one friend’s house) to plan our outing. Pouring over sales papers, finding great deals, and enticing offers – off we went to fight the crowds, laugh and start off the festivities of Christmas together. Now before anyone pulls out the old soapbox to declare consumerism is communism of Christmas, let me assure you my friends and I love Jesus. We are considerate of those who had to work on Thanksgiving as well. If the stores had been closed, I would have been just as happy at home with family and friends. I believe in contentment. If your choice was to stay home, I pray it was with the heartfelt intent to enjoy one another and share the love. There is a point to my story and it has nothing to do with politics or opinions, but rather proof of purchase. It is my conviction that human beings compare and find conflict quite easily. We divide and demand our own way readily. Just ask the person who zoomed up behind the car pulling out at one store, and honked profusely when I pulled into the spot that I had waited patiently for. They waved letting me know that I was number one or at least that’s how I took it. This is about proving who I am in Jesus Christ.

Driving home on Friday after Thanksgiving, there was a man on the street corner yelling at the passing cars about God’s Judgment. He was hollering at people that Jesus is the reason for the season and I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly except the Jesus I know whispers in a still small voice and speaks to my heart. He doesn’t berate me when I fail Him. I let Him down enough to know that the Lord should have left me a long time ago, but He loves me and will never leave me or forsake me. Is the gentleman who gave up his time to “preach” on a street corner really getting God’s Point across or is he only reinforcing what the world already thinks about Christians? It doesn’t have to be the guy on the corner it could be those of us congregating in the lobby of any church. When the person walks in who is not walking the right way in the world or at least according to our self-righteous opinion? Do they feel welcome? How about the one who has not been there for a long time? Do they feel love and warmth? See I think that as believers – we need to reconsider our approach to this thing called Christianity. As followers of Christ – we must be like our Savior and Lord rather than redefining the guidelines with new doctrine. Let’s just do it His Way for a change.

One of the stores was offering small appliances at a major discount. Waffle irons like the fancy hotel kind that make my kids giggle with glee and crockpots were less than ten dollars. I was sold at that sign. I love kitchen goods and gadgets. Once at the register, they rang up more than double the cost. When I asked the cashier, if the price was correct. She said, “Yes, there is a rebate on these items.” Ahh…rebates. Rebates are a commitment that many shoppers are not willing to make. They are safety nets for the stores because many consumers never get around to turning them in. With a bit of hesitation, I went ahead and bought the items I couldn’t resist. There were more purchases that required the same process to claim the discount. I have spent some time gather the information, filling out the form, sorting through receipts and providing proof of purchase barcodes. Each one sits before me in a carefully marked envelope with proper postage. I will mail these in today and wait for the refund for each item. Waiting is not my favorite but always seems to be a requirement.

I have asked Jesus Christ to be my Savior. Many people will agree that they are saved simply because they asked Jesus to save them. This is the only requirement. It is the process of redemption that we declare Jesus to be Lord of our life and live like it. Many will make this process more comfortable by bending the rules which is compromise or making this a legalistic venture requiring staunch adherence to ridiculous rules and regulations never outlined by Christ at all in His Commandments. He only gave us two – to love the Lord God with our body, mind and spirit and to love everyone else the same. Well, now you know why everyone makes Christianity about something else. Love is my proof of purchase. We struggle to love selflessly. Many honest people will admit that it is tough to love themselves some days. How do we know that redemption is at work in us? After all, I cannot see God, yet I know He lives in me. But how? God’s Existence in my life is exemplified by my ability to love other people.

I John 4:15-16 (NLT)  All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

About halfway through our shopping adventure, our group decided that food was absolutely necessary to carry on and came across an old burger mainstay that remained open to serve the tired and weary shoppers. Sitting around the table after inhaling our food, I looked at the faces of three ladies I love and admire very much. They are people who I cannot live without in my life. One face represented the younger me. One represents the transformation process I have gone through. One is the person I am becoming. Each one is necessary in my life not just because I love them with all of my heart but they reflect God’s Hand at work in me. I believe that God positions people in our life everyday meant to draw something more from us. Those we love and respect teach us, sharpen us and encourage us. There are those that challenge us causing our iron to be sharpened. There are those that break us and reveal the contents of our heart exposing anything not worthy of His Spirit that inhabits us. God loves all people. All people have a purpose. Redemption is achieved by our ability to love each other. Say what?

To demonstrate our commitment to Christ, is one’s ability to love and be loved. We cannot earn or achieve salvation any way other than to surrender our life to Jesus Christ – body, mind and spirit that encompasses the whole person. With this in mind, the two commandments are to surrender our entire life to our love for Him AND to give that love to everyone else as well. I have accepted God’s Unfailing and Unconditional Love as my own and now I am mandated to give that same love and grace to others. This is how the world knows I belong to Him. This is the characteristic that tells others I belong to Christ. Can I do it?

Philippians 2:12-16 (NLT) Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 

In order to receive the refund, I had to follow the instructions on the rebate form. We must continue in the Word of God daily and do what it says not what we want it to say or decide what bits and pieces relate to us. It is all about us. When eating and digesting God’s Word each day – it will feed and nourish our soul, it will strengthen our mind, and it will cause us to lose taste for the lesser things in life. To taste and see that the Lord is good quickly will make us see that the Bread of Life is all that is needed to live a healthy and prosperous life.

To redeem my rebate, I also had to provide everything that was required in the instructions. I couldn’t just give what I wanted to give. I had to follow the redemption requirements. I am speaking this softly and in love, if you try to preach the Gospel and share the Good News without copious amounts of unfailing and unconditional love – you are not preaching at all. The point of the entire Bible is that God is love. If your message is not working, lives are not changing, people are not listening – it is time to evaluate the content of our heart to be sure our message is purely that of God’s Love.

I had to consider the cost. When I purchased the products, I had to pay the full price up front. To mail off the rebate information required postage. Are you willing to pay it forward today? To love when you feel unloved. To give when you are not receiving. To exchange hatefulness and ugliness for love and peace. See the world is not bent on giving but getting. Love has grown cold. Sin is rampant. You are not like that anymore but a Child of God. You live in light that others hide from because they have not experienced the Light of His Love but that of condemnation and mostly by church people. We have work to do to save the face of organized worship that long has invited sinners to slap that them with doctrine and beat them with rules. God is love. Christians should express the same thing to others that the Lord has given them even if it means paying it forward. Self-preservation is not part of the saving process, friend. You cannot give your life away and keep things tucked away and hidden safely inside. Faith is based on unseen things not what is right before you. We must be willing to lay our life down in the Name of Love holding nothing back and considering the cost before attempting to build relationships with others (all others) on anything less.

Finally, my favorite part (not so much), waiting on the return or reward. Ugh! Are you willing to wait for love to find you? Will you love until He comes? Will you provide proof of purchase and wit on your reward?

Matthew 10:16-22 (NLT) “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.”

Believers are sent out as sheep in a world full of wolves. Early disciples were beaten within an inch of their life and when released continued to share the message of God’s Love. Most Christians cannot endure a good tongue lashing from another without giving up on loving that person altogether. Everyone who endures to the end will be saved. The world will hate you because you follow Jesus. It is not our job to change the world’s mind. The ruler of the world hates God and therefore hates His Children. Stop trying to change the world and devote your time, energy and prayer life to loving others completely. Unconditional love is mandated as the only thing that true believers are obligated to. God is God over it all. He has everything under control. What if we spent as much time trying to win souls with love as we did with arguments? God didn’t sent you to win a debate but to be His Disciple. He is Sovereign. It doesn’t matter what people think. What matters is have they experienced God’s Love and had a one-on-one encounter with His Son, Jesus? I cannot make proper introductions when He is a stranger to me or casual acquaintance. I cannot be a Child of God or disciple of Christ unless I am learning, striving and devoted to loving others all others. It is part of the redemption process that cannot be overlooked and avoided. It will require me giving my all to love. (Period)

Psalm 103:1-4 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

Lord do not let me forget the benefits of your love today. I am saved by Your Grace alone and nothing I do. Let me remember each day that I am redeemed and crowned with love and tender mercy. It is from this position that I rule and reign over the enemy each day. To live in Your Love and share it with the world is my process. I am only effective when I give my life away like You did for me. Lord, teach me to love like you do so I will endure to the end and be saved.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Empty Altars

Empty Altars

Psalm 84:1-4 (NLT) How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises. 

Sitting at my desk, just outside the window, there is a flurry of activity. Positioned in the tree overhead are bird feeders. Little birds and squirrels look for the seeds that make the way to the ground below. Chirping wildly at the treasure found, they catch my attention throughout the day. They are provided for plentifully from those feeders high and out of sight so they build nests in the camellia trees and bushes. Without a care in life, they make their home within the shelter and sustenance of the homeowner.

As I prayed for my church yesterday, a thought came to me. Why are the altars of the church empty? Where did this idea come from? It has to be because it is the same people each week. Maybe if we invited more people the altar be full. Could it be that everyone in our church is saved? Is salvation why we come? I was perplexed as nothing I came up with settled my spirit. The altar is empty because I refuse to come. Whoa Nelly! When did this become about me, Lord? When I cry out for revival, but refuse to come. When I ask the Lord for help, healing or the like, yet will not change positions. When I desire change but rebuke discomfort or inconvenience. When did this become about me, the moment I cried out for more.

The image and idea of God’s Altar has changed over the years. It used to be an institution of the church but now it is not so clearly defined. Removed as not to offend or seem old-fashioned, I long to see the old benches come from their hiding place maybe then we would answer the call to worship again. The modern day church is choosy about their delivery of the Gospel. Careful not to offend by removing the cross, blatantly refusing to discuss the Blood of Christ as it is much too messy for our Sunday best.

What about the Name of Jesus? Is He mentioned in your place of worship? We are conditioned by the world even as Christians to limit our use of His Name, to pray secretly in closets, and be ashamed of the cross called to bear. Bound to our seats as not to show weakness, the Lord is pressing me today to leave it behind and head to the altar again. It’s not just for salvation. It is not just a place of rededication but restoration and complete redemption day by day.

People keep us from the altar. After all, don’t you wonder when someone comes, why they kneel there? Come on, we all do. The person thought to be strong, a teacher, a leader, or faithful member who serves each week, what happens when they kneel under the suspicion of glaring eyes meant to be praying but really only prying. I am guilty. There are times I just want to come forward and kneel in the Presence of God not feeling a need for anything only desiring to move in closer step in deeper and linger in His Presence. Why won’t I? I struggle every single day to be the person that God has created and called me to be. Do you? If so, the altar is our dwelling place. It is the very place that I belong. Lord, let me do my part to fill your altars again.

Psalm 26:6-7 (NLT) I wash my hands to declare my innocence. I come to your altar, O Lord, singing a song of thanksgiving and telling of all your wonders.

The Altar of God represents our innocence never condemnation. It is the place, as believers, that we declare His Grace is enough. As I come to the Lord in humble obedience and surrender my life to Him publicly, it is a public declaration of faith. It is the kind of proclamation that needs no words. My ability to be yielded to the Lord encourages others to do the same but truly it is for me first in my own life. I need to wash my hands. I need His Grace to wash over me and flood my soul. No matter how committed I am or hard I try – sin still finds its way into my life. Even if its been a good week or a great one, the Altar is where I can publicly thank the Lord for all that He has done privately in my life. It is an expression of faith that promotes inward change. Lord, fill the altar again.

What keeps us from this place? Pride. No other reason to not accept the invitation to come other than living a double life. You should still come. The Lord honors our willingness to kneel before Him to confess that we have blown it again. Let him without sin cast the first stone. It doesn’t matter what another living, breathing soul thinks about me. If I do not achieve right standing with God through His Son, Jesus, I lose my soul forever. Is pride really worth it? Apparently to some, pointing at myself.

Hebrews 13:15-16 (NLT) Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

The old form of the altar was a place of continual sacrifice focused solely on sin and retribution. Jesus Christ is the ultimate sacrifice for sin so now the altar changes a bit. It is a still a place of continual giving but now since the sacrifice is satisfied it becomes our offering to the Lord. We do not come to the altar to give God a sacrifice but to surrender our life as an offering. To avoid the altar completely is to say that there is nothing for which to praise the Lord. It means that I may have allegiance to other things especially that thing which keeps us stuck to our seat.

Psalm 118:26-27 (NLT) Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.

According to Psalm 51, the sacrifice that God desires is a broken spirit and repentant heart. Is this the life that I live? A repentant heart needs Jesus all of the time not just on Sunday and Wednesday. Jesus scolded Martha gently as she ignored His Presence to remain invested in her service, doing and work. Those things that would bring her glory rather than pointing to Jesus. She just got caught up in things. She had a to-do list laying on top of the Word pressing her heart.

Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords to the altar. We need to come to the altar again… and again. In the Book of Ezra, it talks about the rebuilding of the altar of God. It had been prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah (in chapter 25) that the Temple of God would be destroyed and God’s People would be exiled. Nebuchadnezzar would do just that. (2 Chronicles 36:17-21) It would sit in ruin for 70 years. Why was it destroyed? People refused to turn to back to the Lord. Warned over and over again, they decided to live in sin and betrayal against God. But there is a glimmer of hope arising in Ezra 3, even though the people were afraid they decided to rebuild the altar. When the altar was complete, the people turned to the Lord and began worshipping again. Immediately following the rebuilding of the altar, the people would go on to build the Temple of God again.

A commitment to rebuild the altars in our churches and one’s commitment to fill it all by their self if necessary will be the catalyst for revival and the very element that builds the Kingdom of God one final time before He comes.

Acts 17:22-31 (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. He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

We do not serve an unknown god but the only True, Living God. He sent His Son Jesus so that we could get to know Him intimately and personally. If we (or I) could just wrap my head around and commit my life to the fact that EVERYTHING concerning me is under the complete authority and power of the Living God because of Jesus Christ, I would never hesitate from falling before Him again. Before Jesus, people didn’t know God. But after Jesus the message is clear and concise and sent forth by His Spirit who gives us all understanding in exchange for ignorance.

The Word of God says plainly here in verse 25 that Jesus satisfies every need. Do you have a need today? Why won’t you come before the Lord? Anything that is not completely satisfying in our life can be surrendered to the Lord for fulfillment, if you are think it worthy of a journey into His Presence. Everything I need for a rich and satisfying life is found in total surrender at the Altar of My God. Jesus invites us to come and He will give us rest. (Matthew 11:27-29) Do have a burden? He will lift it from your shoulders so you don’t carry the weight alone…if you will come to the altar. Everything if only we believed enough to come.

In Matthew 14:27-30, Jesus is walking on the water in the midst of a violent storm. Peter says Lord let me come to you in verse 29 but by verse 30, he is going under fast. Faith in God is facilitated by our actions. If you don’t pursue the Lord with passion, our faith grows tired and weary surely we will sink. However, we find later after Peter failed the Lord multiple times and watched as He was beaten, tortured and crucified, back to his “normal” life. When he sees, Jesus walking on the beach. Peter didn’t ask to come or even want a miracle. He wanted Jesus and swam all the way to the Lord. Our desperation for the Lord and dedication to Him must be expressed in our actions. We cannot hide behind religiosity anymore thinking we have to portray the image of perfect people, pious Christians and professional servants but rather just desire Him more and more each day. What will it take to draw you back to the altar today?

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

I need Jesus all of the time. There is no time that I can remember since meeting Him that there wasn’t a longing deep within to find Him again and again. In Jeremiah 29:11, it talks about this plan that includes a future and hope. However, few people read beyond these words to the requirement. In verse 13, it says that we must seek the Lord wholeheartedly. With our entire being, all of our emotions, the long list of needs, wants and desires that motivate us, and in this simple act of surrender to the Will of God and submission to the Word of God our rebuilt altars will begin to expand the Kingdom of God. It begins with me. It begins with you!

Let us come boldly. It is the thought of confidence before the throne of the Gracious God that began this press for the altar. To step out of our comfort zones and cast off convenience to be where the Lord is that motivates me. I want to see a great revival rise up in our midst. I desire all the fruits God’s Spirit is trying to produce in me and through me. I want it all. I have to surrender it all to have it. I don’t know how I will respond to this new word etched on my very human heart today. I know what I want to do. I long to make my life a living sacrifice. I will do whatever it takes to fill the altar with those who worship in Spirit and Truth longing for more of Jesus. It may mean a journey or two or twelve or too many to count to kneel at His Altar, to shed real tears, to turn over more personal real estate to the Lord for His careful consideration and constant cultivation. What is keeping you from falling facedown before the Lord in front of people? I am challenged today to remove ever barrier between myself and the Altar of the Living God! Will you join me there?

Psalm 43:3-4 (NLT) Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!  

 

To Be Willing

To Be Willing

Isaiah 1:18-20 (NKJV)

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword”; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

 

Faith is illogical to the human mind. To be completely honest, I have heard the conversations in my head when I take a step of faith and venture beyond the now, seen or even slightly reasonable. The human mind and will always grapples with the Reality of God because if He is real, it will mean the end of self. The authenticity and relevance of God in our life is not based on what we believe but who He is. Whether one chooses to believe in the Lord, put trust in Him or even chase after Him does not change who He is or what He will do in our life. Our actions do not in any way influence His Goodness, Grace or Judgment toward us. Grace is the application of the Blood of Jesus Christ to our life enabling us to enter in to a relationship with God willingly. We must be willing.

 

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Salvation is none negotiable. It is available only one way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – no one can come to the Father except through the Blood of Jesus. Note: the Blood of Jesus. He died for you. You cannot ignore the sacrifice made for us and still experience the fulfillment of God in your life. There are many who do not talk about the Cross or bother with the Blood who will be sadly mistaken when they meet Him face-to-face. We must be ready to fully accept the grounds of redemption offered by the nail-scarred Hands of our Savior. But how?

 

The great thing about God is that He never leaves us hanging. He always has a Word that is relevant and true for us. “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.” There only two choices for believers today. One is either willing and obedient or rebellious. Take out a giant pink eraser to eliminate the gray area and middle-of-the-road because it is a lie of the enemy that somehow implies that the Lord will accept sin of any kind. God hates sin. He hates all sin. If He calls it sin in His Word, He abhors it. There is no such thing as permissible sin. Grace did not provide any clause to God’s Word that indicates that He is okay with those things in our life that are directly in contempt or conflict with His Law. Sin never became acceptable to God. My heart longs today to shake the cages of congregations who remain in bondage to sin and darkness because the pulpit they sit in front cares more about their bank account and popularity then the people the Lord has given them to serve. It is not a popular message but He is a perfect God. Jealous for our love and affection. He desires us in His Presence and has already provided an inheritance of provision, blessing and abundance for those who are willing to choose obedience. Are you willing today?

 

Matthew 26:40-41 (NKJV)

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

In the hours proceeding the Cross, Jesus asked His Disciples to watch and pray. They fell asleep. He kept coming back to find them sleeping. It is important to read what Jesus tells Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?” Here it is: “Watch and pray, lest YOU enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.” Jesus wasn’t asking them to watch and pray for His Own Wellbeing. The Lord was ready and willing to fulfill God’s Plan. He was intent on the Cross. In these final hours, He was concerned for us. He was concerned for Peter.

 

The spirit is willing. We have been given the Holy Spirit as our constant companion. He is always willing. However, we are made of flesh that is usually unwilling to be inconvenienced, uncomfortable or sacrificial in any way. Concerned with the here and now, our humanness does not want to venture beyond that because the price is self. We must be willing to become uncomfortable. We must be willing to be inconvenienced. We must be willing.

 

James 3:16-18 (NKJV)

For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

 

Salvation is available through repentance. Repentance turns from sin to accept God’s Grace. There is a 180 degree turn to be made from our way to God’s Way. We must be willing because God does not use His Spirit to physically drag people to Him. We must be willing to go. Willingness is to cheerfully consenting and ready. It means to make a personal choice. Willingness produces eager compliance to the Word, Will and Way of God. When we repent and turn to Jesus, it is only step one. It is entrance to the process of redemption. To say, “Yes!” to Jesus is to say, “No!” to sin because you are willing to do whatever it takes to know Him more.

 

To be willing is to submit my will and fully accept God’s Will for us. Our will is our personal “I am”. It is our disposition and drive in life. It produces our passion. To be willing to surrender our own will or “I am” and accept God’s Will and His “I AM” moves us from the possible to impossible realm of His Presence.

 

Luke 13:34-35 (NKJV)

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”

 

Need I remind you today that you are His Beloved? His Love for each of us proven in His Death and Beautiful Resurrection when He handed us the Keys to His Kingdom. We must be willing to walk in and remain there. Jesus wants to gather us all together. Yet we continue to divide and conquer imploding from within under the heaviness of unwillingness to come to Jesus even after we are saved.

 

John 5:39-40 (NKJV)

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

Willingness is the key to obedience. Obedience allows us to live in partnership with Jesus, filled with His Spirit, as one of God’s Beloved and Precious Children. A lack of willingness and obedience does not change His Position. God loves us no matter what. Jesus longs for us to draw near and come closer. His Spirit waits within us to find a way out. In 2 Corinthians 8, the church of Macedonia is applauded for its abundance in affliction, liberality in deep poverty, and the fact that they were “freely willing” beyond their natural ability. Times were tough. They were tested. They remained willing. How about you? Are you being tried today or even tested? Or maybe you like your comfort zone and are unwilling to leave it to take up your cross and follow Christ? Well, there is a message in His Word for those today that are unwilling.

 

And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” (2 Corinthians 8: 10-12)  It is time to become willing again. The first act of willingness is salvation. It is not the end of willingness but just the beginning as we turn our life over to the Lord. The moment we become unwilling to do the Will of God – we become disobedient. The Lord is encouraging us today to leave our comfort zone. To move out of complacency to a place of willing obedience again. When we give our free will to Jesus look what is promised…”it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.”

 

Willingness avails God’s Hand to us. The contents always there but unwillingness blinds us to it. For example, the Children of Israel left Egypt in a rush. They were slaves there yet when asked for offerings to build the Tabernacle, the gifts came pouring out of their tents. Exiles hoarding opulence and wealth. (Exodus 35:29) How is that possible? They had an abundance because in Exodus 36:6-7 Moses gives a commandment for them to stop giving because they had given too much. Is it possible that we have all we need to live and prosper in the Abundance of God but because we are unwilling it remains hidden in our life? Yep.

 

Philippians 4:8-9 (NKJV)

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord. We must stop rationalizing sin. We can no longer live the lie that grace allows us to live in sin and darkness reaping God’s Rewards. It is just not true. God blesses our obedience not by producing it on demand. Everything we need for life and godliness has already been provided for in our life, we find it through willing obedience to the Lord born of our love for Him. The more I obey God the more I discover His Goodness and Grace hidden in my life. Thankfully none of this is dependent on my ability to perform but I must only submit my will to God’s Will letting my “I am” die and become taken over by the Great I AM.

 

We must think about our faith daily. It is the submission of our mind, will and emotions fully accepting by faith and confident hope in the life that He has prepared for us, the purpose for which we are created and the divine potential locked within a hard heart and tossed about in our wavering. When I decide to become rooted and grounded in His Love, I do so by turning from all sin and darkness to pursue the Lord completely, fully and most of all willingly. We must think about our belief in God immersing ourselves in His Truth, relying on His Spirit and daily crucifying the ugliness of flesh that controls our strong will. It is only then we will be truly free to enjoy the benefits of His Kingdom forever.

 

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.

Hunger or Harvest

Hunger or Harvest

Matthew 7:16-20 (NKJV)

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Every good tree bears good fruit. Could it be so simple? Are we really like a tree planted by a stream? (Psalm 1:3) If so why do we experience times of poverty, lack, famine or drought? Or is all this just poetry in motion? The next few verses in Matthew are quite somber. This is the part that cuts to the bone and breaks the human heart. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven.” It goes on to tell the devastating news of people who thought they were serving Jesus and in a close relationship with the Lord until the fateful day when He says, “I never knew you.” No matter what we “do” for God or “say” about Him, it is the fruit of our life that determines the relevance of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

If the Lord knows me by my fruit, it might be a good idea to determine what my life is producing in order to justify my cause. If my cause is Christ, the fruit of my life should be the fruit of His Spirit. His Spirit in me produces love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” When my life is in unison with Jesus surrendered to His Spirit, I will begin to produce this kind of fruit in my life. It is not dependent on my natural circumstances but my deep and abiding connection to the Lord. You will know them by their fruits. I must be known by my fruits in order for the message of the Good News of Jesus to be made known. I don’t want to hear the words “I never knew you.”

Genesis 1:28 (NKJV)

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

 

Fruitfulness has been our assignment from the start. God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. He also told that to have dominion over the earth. This didn’t last long as mankind gave up prosperity and power to the enemy for a single piece of fruit. Sound familiar? Esau gave up his birthright for a single meal to satisfy natural hunger rather than seeking fulfillment. (Hebrews 12:14-17) The Lord wants us to reclaim prosperity and power so that we will again produce good fruit with our life.

Psalm 92:12-13 (NKJV)

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.

To be planted in the House of the Lord requires living life from God’s Perspective. Rather than depending on natural feelings, environmental conditions, social situations and atmospheric changes – it is to place our total and absolute trust in God’s Faithfulness. Allowing His Power to change our life from the inside out and focusing on absolute obedience and allowing radical transformation that takes us out of our comfort zone and beyond our own strength. It sounds good in theory. The walk of faith is not validated by anything naturally. It is born of hope that is supernatural and cannot be humanly obtained. The righteous shall flourish in the House of the Lord. This is not a church, building or place of worship externally. Righteousness is the personal choice to give our life – mind, soul and body to Christ and to live in God’s Presence. This is where we begin to bear fruit in life.

John 12:24-26 (NKJV)

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

When the doctors decided that a bone marrow transplant was the next step in saving our son’s life, I had no idea what all that entailed so we had a conference with the doctors and full consultation. After more than two years with these professionals, we had a very good relationship but for some reason when they entered the room – it was on a whole new level. I was handed various case studies to support their medical opinion. As I glanced over the statistical data, the gravity of our conversation gave insight to their demeanor. It became clear that even with this “miracle” treatment that he only had about a 2% chance of survival. To live every fast growing cell must die, and his body depend on the return of precious cells to facilitate the growth process. When I asked the doctor, what choice did we have? There was none. Without it, there was 100% chance that he wasn’t going to make it. I am not a mathematician but even with my limited understanding I realized that the odds were clearly stacked against him.

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. Harvest begins with the death of a seed. Salvation begins with the death of self. We took our chances and celebrate with our son over a year of remission. If he had not undergone this procedure, it very well may have been a funeral. This is the reality of life without Jesus. We will die. You know the rest. With the Lord, we are promised forever. It begins by deciding what we live for. Today or forever? Hunger or harvest?

Malachi 3:10-12 (NKJV)

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” says the Lord of hosts; and all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts.

I had a single friend who was experiencing money woes. I encouraged her as a fellow believer to begin tithing. She insisted that she could not “afford” to tithe. She lived paycheck to paycheck as a single mother. I encouraged her to give up eating fast food or her morning beverage. Just give it a try, start somewhere. She took it to heart and began setting a portion of her income aside and giving it to the Lord. Almost immediately, she began to experience God’s Favor and little blessings here and there. However, when she did not see radical change in her minimal giving – she stopped.

We reap what we sow. It is Biblical. What we are willing to give up with a willing heart in full obedience to God will yield the like back in our life. You get what you give essentially. Why is that we give the Lord a little but expect Him to give us abundance in return? “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse” means the Lord is asking for complete obedience to “open the Windows of Heave and pour for you such a blessing that there will never be enough room to receive it.” The second half is the best part. He will “rebuke the devourer for (our) sakes.” Radical obedience completely aligns our body, soul and spirit with God allowing us to live in His Presence. In doing so, now the outpouring in our life is fully protected. We will be so blessed that others take not of it. We will lived in a peaceful and prosperous environment. This is the power of prosperity and power offered to us by the Lord in exchange for our commitment to love and trust Him with our natural life. It is this kind of life that will yield a harvest of satisfaction and contentment untouchable by the enemy.

2 Peter 1:2-8 (NKJV)

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

It is our knowledge of God and of Jesus that allows us to obtain the power which gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness. This knowledge becomes wisdom when applied to our life. When we read something in God’s Word or He speaks softly to our soul and we respond with obedience, a tiny seed of faith is pushed deep in fertile soil. It will become the exceedingly great precious promise that we have heard it could be when we faithfully tend our seeds of faith and cultivate more each day. To be a partaker of the divine nature by leaving this world behind desiring supernatural harvest and impossible results rather than settling for natural reproduction and consequences. Faith becomes virtue. Virtue gains knowledge. Knowledge is wisdom when demonstrated by self-control. Self-control will be perseverance as we learn to endure. Endurance leads to god-likeness which leads to full redemption. Godliness is demonstrated in brotherly kindness. Kindness makes us love others as we have been instructed. Wrapped with a bow – this is obedience and faithfulness to God which begins with the tiny seed called faith. It is by producing these fruits that bear resemblance to the fruit of His Spirit which will cause us to abound in prosperity and productivity which is called fruitfulness.

Isaiah 37:31 (NKJV)

And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward.

John 3:30 (NKJV) He must increase, but I must decrease.

Am I living for harvest or hunger today? As I examine the fruit of my life is it born of faith or fear? What am I saying? What am I doing? Do I live in confidence or crisis? Fruit exemplifies spiritual success. It also satisfies our life so we are content in every situation. If I am discontent with a certain area of my life and it is not producing as it should, I must decide if I am investing in that part of life or allowing it to be barren. For example, if I am experiencing financial woes I should look at my giving to God’s Kingdom. Just a personal testimony, our family has never gone without since we made the commitment to tithe first. Giving God our first fruit rather than what was left has rebuked the devourer time and time again. Any area of our life that is not producing a harvest has one of two conditions attached. Either it is not God’s Will for us or we are not planting seeds of faith in that area. As we plant seeds of faith in a fertile heart, trusting the Lord to do what He promised without regard for our current circumstances, the Windows of Heaven will begin to crack open and His Blessings will fall like rain in that area in response to our faith. Faith cannot be planted anywhere else other than our heart. This means that every time we trust, believe and approach the Lord it must be based solely on our love for Him. You cannot take advantage of the Lord but He will give you all He promised in response to faith sown in love.

My connection to Christ is demonstrated by faith and obedience for righteousness sake. I love the Lord so I try to do what He says. He loves me and gives me all that He has. The more of my life invested in His Love and pursuing a deeper connection to Him will produce more and more fruit in my life. When I want what I want when I want it, I am trying to meet my need in response to a natural feeling. When I seek the Lord for who He is – the harvest I will find. He must increase and I must decrease.

Colossians 1:9-14 (NKJV)

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

If a farmer did not look beyond today, there would never be another harvest. He wouldn’t continue to plant crops. With barns filled and storehouses overflowing, those who live for today are in danger tomorrow. The farmer does not look at a freshly planted field looking for fruit the very next day, but his experience tells him to tend that field and in the right season in proper time it will be read to harvest. (James 5:7-8) Oh if we as believers in Christ would forgo satiating our hunger and thirst for immediate gratification to plant our faith in forever. To decide that we want a harvest worthy of heaven rather to make us comfortable today. Looking past the next morning into the Light of His Love expecting His Fruit to grow in our life rather than the kind that feeds our body but the kind that fills our soul. I can do everything the Word of God says and have a good life. But it is my connection to Christ, being rooted and grounded in His Love, established in faith and abounding in thanksgiving that allows me the power and prosperity offered from the very beginning. This is how our good life becomes a godly life. It is the fruit that He desires. We must walk worthy of our Lord, fully pleasing Him, AND being fruitful in every good work. This is the way of redemption. This is the way of radical transformation. This is the life of those who harvest becoming fruitful in His Love. This is the life He has called us to live in His Prosperity and Power.

Psalm 65:9-13 (NKJV)

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the River of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so You have prepared it. You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows; You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth. You crown the year with Your Goodness, and Your Paths drip with abundance. They drop on the pastures of the wilderness, and the little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered with grain; they shout for joy, they also sing.

Clean Sheets

Clean Sheets

Psalm 62:5-8 (NIV)

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

There is nothing better in the world than clean sheets. Freshly laundered and smelling divine. Clean and soft from the fabric softener. Smooth and tightly molded around your comfortable and familiar bed. The smell reinforces the sense of home and its gentle wooing as you drift off to sleep. It is the thing I long for when traveling, to come home to my bed and fresh linens. Every Friday morning, we strip the sheets from our bed and toss them in the machine. Filling each compartment with cleaning agents, it begins to fill with water, as I close the lid it locks and begins to twist and spin as it washes the fabric. It is a violent process occurring under the lid. However, soon it is over and the wet mound is thrust into the dryer where for the next half an hour it is tumbled in high heat. Soon the alert is given that the sheets are dry and ready to be put back on the bed. Shaking them out, the aroma of the process endured rises from the pile. It smells fresh and welcoming. The fitted sheet is spread across the bed molded to the mattress. The flat sheet is then lifted into the air and spread across the top. Once it settles, stretching and adjusting as it is folded to fit the top as a steady hand begins to smooth out all the wrinkles until it is pristine and perfect. The process of preparing is full of twists and turns, but in the moment they are done a place of comfort, rest and peace is provided such are the processes of God in Christ Jesus to us.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God! My hope comes from Him. All this is not seen immediately in life but through the process set forth by His Plans for us – it is accomplished. Hope requires faith which is found when the shaking, moving, trembling and unknown are claimed to be real, valid and worth having. God is my rock. He is my salvation. He is the fortress of my life. Therefore, I will not be shaken. Note: It does not say that the world will not be shaken or that life will not happen but simply states that you (and I) will not be shaken. When my life depends on God – there is a process of growing, maturing, refining, and developing the small beginning of faith into a confident hope not reliant on a perfect life but a perfected soul. To trust in the Lord at all times requires the process by which the fruit of His Spirit grow so that we produce that we have been called to do and accomplish. The shaking tests the foundation of our faith, the concreteness of our confidence, and the placement of our soul. It was after violently shaking the mountain he was standing on that Elijah heard the Lord. God has promised that He will do it again. Thank you Lord for considering my heart, my mind, my spirit and loving my soul enough to continue shaking the world around us until our heart, mind and body fall into place and worship the God who loves us and died for us now and forevermore.

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NIV)

“To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

 

The seeker sensitive environment called the church of today prides itself on comfort and acceptance of God’s Grace to the fullest. Focused on God’s Unfailing Love and Neverending Grace, it does not talk about the significant price paid for our soul or the cost of carrying our cross. It loves the world and everyone it and with that all things are permissible. Approaching God as a friend forgetting His True Identity creates a relationship of comfort and compromise that is yielding nothing more than warm fuzzies and fellowships. I do not mean to be hard but to go to church, pray and serve God in a state of constant comfort means that there is a lack of repentance, revelation and redemption. As we journey deeper, edging closer and turning more of our life over to the Lord there is a general discomfort in our sullen sinful state. It cries out for more repentance and acceptance of the holiness that we are called to waving goodbye to this world, forsaking this life, forgetting the past to press on to the mark of our high calling in Christ.

To live for Christ shakes up our natural life. The world hates Him and us, too. To be accepted all the time means something is lacking in us. It is a sign that there is no growth, moving of the ground that signifies new life rising. Complacency tickles our comfort zone as the slightest bit of compromise becomes our pitfall. I know for I have fallen. As the Lord shakes the earth, it begins to fall apart. In the shaking of His People, His Promise is revealed as the things of this earth fall away and His Glory in us is revealed. It is not just hard coming through the valleys of life, sometimes it is equally as difficult to come down off the mountain. Triumph and victory always come with a price. In the battles of life, Jesus promises a win. There is still an assault. There is still opposition. We will have to make a stand even when all hell breaks loose against us. Everything will shake, but we will not be shaken or moved. The Lord’s Covenant of Peace remains firmly established in us. He has great compassion for you.

Nehemiah 5:13 (NIV)

I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!” At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

The church in Nehemiah’s time had a problem. There was a famine. Fellow Jews who were mortgaging their fields, vineyards and homes just to eat. Their children enslaved. They were powerless to save them. They called out to the Lord and Nehemiah. Nehemiah 5:6-12 tells of its members who were lending money to them at huge interest rates further victimizing the poor among them. Nehemiah told them it was not right and to stop charging their “brothers” interest. Not only that, they were to return the land taken from them along with the interest. The people repented saying that they would give it back taking an oath and making a promise.

“In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise…so may such a person be shaken out and emptied.” Everyone said, “Amen!” Of course they did, they were in church. No one would object in such a state, but when they left and began rethinking the commitment as the enemy whispered in their ear, I wonder how many really did what they committed to do? In this image of shaking the folds from his garment, I see the Hand of the Lord shaking us gently. He spreads the contents of our life before Him as we submit it to Him. He begins lovingly but firmly smoothing every wrinkle and blemish until we are spotless and clean – washed by His Word, covered by the Blood, truly repentant as He begins to mold and shape us into who He created us to be. This process is continuous in our life. We are shaken and moved like sheets stripped from a bed. Sometimes gently they come off or other times must be tugged, pulled or yanked from a corner that just seems to be hanging on. Washed in water, dried by the fiery heat of refinement and prepared for service through the trials and tests of life until we are ready. We feel ready until by faith our life seems completely up in the air. As everything begins to fall into place, God’s Hands begin working faithfully as promised to remove the bumps and folds that keep our ways from being straight and hearts remaining true. Yes, we are shaken as our sins removed. The heat of our trials work its way through, but in the end as it all falls into place, we find the purpose and meaning of the violence of its process.

Hebrews 12:26-29 (NIV)

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:25-27) I believe these days are coming. In many ways, they are already here. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. Wars and rumors of war. The persecution of Christians is a worldwide event. Many will turn away from faith, hating and betraying each other. Our world is in a sad state socially. Environmentally and naturally it shakes and trembles at the close proximity of Christ. Are you shaken? Is your faith questionable as you read the news? Do you have confident hope? Those who endure to the end will be saved. Does the fact that as believers not yield a clue that there will be tough times and shaky situations as well as cataclysmic circumstances as our faith is tested, hope confirmed and salvation secured for the Day of Redemption? Of course it does. How you hold up under the shaking? Are you being shaped and molded by His Love? Do you feel the pressure today? Good!

The earth shook and the foundation tested to make the doors to the prison of Paul and Silas open and for the chains of bondage to fall off. (Acts 16:25-27) When the Spirit of God broke loose, the whole building shook at the sudden arrival of His Presence. (Acts 4:31) Don’t kid yourself any longer, if the church got serious about Jesus again and invited Him to enter each service it would most certainly shake things up. People would be saved. The bound set free. The broken restored. The sick healed. The blind would see. The deaf would hear. The dead would find new life again. See all these things come of God’s Great Shaking in life. It cannot be avoided if the Lord is who we are after. If Jesus is the One we seek, our lives will begin to tremble with change as the possibilities of faith are revealed. They will come to pass when the shaking around us doesn’t move us but changes our heart and mind until it is settled on Jesus Christ alone.

Psalm 16:5-8(NIV)

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

The only way to survive the process that yields faith and confident hope is to find the fullness of our security in the Lord. We must transition our life from this earth to His Kingdom. We are in this world but not of it. With the revelation of faith, we know that no matter how things look, feel or what the circumstances are that we are more than conquerors through the Love of Christ. We know that no matter what the weapon is that it cannot prosper against us. We know that by faith we are saved. This does not mean that we will not be violently shaken from time to time but what it does mean that as things fall into place, the inheritance claimed by faith and confident hope will be to our complete satisfaction. We claim these promises by faith alone. Confident hope is our commitment to the process of change as the Lord moves us from His Glory to Glory and victory to victory in life. It’s not always comfortable and most of the time unclear but we can be certain that greater is He who is in us than He that is in this world. If Jesus is my portion, He is my cup, He is my inheritance than my position is always secure and independent of the condition of this world. The boundary lines created by holiness, obedience and trust will always fall in pleasant places if I choose to believe with total trust in the Lord and all of His Ways. Seeking His Counsel, living by His Truth as He instructs me, so that I keep my eyes firmly fixed on the hope that is before me. With Jesus at my right hand, I may feel the sensation of shaking but I will not be moved. Do you feel shaken? Pressed? Is it like everything is up in the air? Just hang on. God has it all under control. In the end, He will give you peace, comfort and rest as His Process is completed in you and His Glory will shine through your new life.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT)

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Still Processing – A Devotion

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Philippians 3:12-14 (AMP)

 Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp)and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.

 

Life is a process. It begins the moment you are born and continues until you breathe your last breath. Every single second that you are alive contains purpose designed by God for your fulfillment so that when you stand before the Lord that you will be ready for redemption. This is God’s Perfect Plan for your life to discover the underserved privilege and divine favor that belongs to you as a Child of the Living God. It is the sum total of our existence that somehow humanity reduces to the dates on a tombstone rather than the parameters of eternal life. I am just as guilty as the rest looking at momentary struggles and temporary trials as more than just a test for authenticity of faith and evidence of confident hope in my life. Wrapping my life up in the world rather than releasing it from bondage and allowing the Spirit of the Lord to overtake it, change it and use it for His Glory. The treasure of my heart is nothing more than a cardboard box of childish trinkets like a found rubber band, gum wrapper or trading card rather than containing the Glory of God that has been prepared for. Until we begin to understand the true process of life, we will never discover God’s Purpose and Plan for our life but rather remain transfixed on creating a better life now rather than focusing on forever. I don’t want to be mistaken when I face Jesus one day realizing I missed the goal and failed to receive the price of righteousness that He has prepared for me.

 

In the process of life, the human race has used their intelligence to build a thick façade of comfort and control that few will ever give up. Computers are now a part of each home. When the processor within the computer is working to complete a task, it will produce a spinning circle. This little icon tells the user that it is “thinking”. During that time, I often grow impatient and begin to click the mouse endlessly or poke this key or that key which cues an even longer wait time as the computer attempts to respond to the additional requests of the user as well. I have learned that if I wait for the processor to finish its work and use self-control not to begin hammering the keyboard then it will complete faster and finish the task. The process that God has created for your life is from beginning to end. He wrote it all down before you were born. (Psalm 139:16) The Lord is determined to see you through even when we become impatient and act as impetuous children who decide to exit the process constantly moving in and of darkness and light undecided if God loves us or if we love Him at all. God wants you to have a perfect life despite our great imperfection. Are you willing to forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead? Those who decide to press on toward the goal to win the prices to which God is calling us upward through Jesus Christ will begin a lifelong process of transformation that will result in the perfection of your body, mind and spirit. It will never end so I think you should know this before you begin to follow Him.

 

Matthew 3:11-13 (AMP)
I indeed baptize you
 in (with) water because of repentance [that is, because of your changing your minds for the better, heartily amending your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins]. But He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out and clean His threshing floor and gather and store His wheat in His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be put out.

 

The beginning of our process in the Lord is called repentance. Many have lost sight of what true repentance is and watered down grace. Repentance is changing our mind for the better, heartily amending our ways with abhorrence of past sin causing us to leave it behind and live in the Righteousness of God through Jesus Christ. As John the Baptist was baptizing new converts in the Jordan River, he warned the people of the process by which we are saved and the great necessity to begin. Jesus Christ came to take away any excuse that mankind had from living in a deep and abiding relationship with God through His Son. No excuses. You are either in or you’re out. It is not about padding a comfort zone for people on earth, but keeping them from being burned up in fire. It is not about increasing your finances, but the contents of the human heart to be filled with the Love of God. We keep missing the point of His Sacrifice and abort the process of redemption that is being activated in our life by the Spirit. We want a better life now rather than eternal life forever but that is not the purpose of Jesus Christ when He came to the earth. He came to set us free from death forever. Those who endure to the end will be saved and experience the prize of the process called redemption. It all depends what you are after…

 

Luke 18:6-14 (AMP)

Then the Lord said, Listen to what the unjust judge says! And will not [our just] God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He defer them and delay help on their behalf? I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [persistence in] faith on the earth? He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men: Two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men—extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers—or even like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain. But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am! I tell you, this man went down to his home justified (forgiven and made upright and in right standing with God), rather than the other man; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

 

We must come to know and recognize the difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a fine line that few will discern as we use the written Law of God and all its rules and regulations to do the right thing and live the right way but never becoming righteous living in such a fashion not to mention failing miserably whether you even know it or not. See religion gives us false gratification that we can somehow earn the Grace of God rather than accepting it as the free gift that it really is given to us by our Savior – Jesus Christ. In doing so, we reject the Lordship of Christ which is detrimental to human pride and fleshly desires. When Jesus Christ comes He will not look at our long list of accomplishments or credentials but looks much deeper in the human heart hoping to discover persistence in faith called endurance that kept us committed to loving the Lord and serving Him even in the most desperate situations of our life. When faced with our last ounce of energy, what did we do with it? Those who have remained true to the process of salvation and redemption will invest it wisely into faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior AND Lord of their life. God created us in His Likeness. Human begins are complex and intelligent creatures sometimes too smart for our own good! God is looking into each person examining their heart closely for true repentance and a deep longing for redemption that keeps us in the race until the end. What if your process never led you from the pit to the palace – would you still want Jesus Christ?

 

Romans 8:2-4 (NLT)

 And because you belong to him, the powerof the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The Law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

 

Sin no longer controls our life as we are now free to follow Jesus and walk in the Spirit of God living in us. The choice is most definitely ours whether or not we submit to the transformation process that redeems us from death to live in the Light of His Amazing Love. But make no mistake – life is a constant process and not a moment should be taken for granted as each one holds the promise that He is working it out for our benefit. (Romans 8:28) The Life-Giving Spirit frees us from sin to enter the process of repentance and redemption which are both lifelong. It is a constant process of change that includes every single step of our natural life.  It is a systematic series of actions directed to the certain end of Eternity for all God’s People. The process is a continuous action in a definite manner all according to His Plan for your life. Each step leading to positive change and/or development in our life never one left out or without potential. The process you are in is a forward movement so do not give in, stop or give up. It is a method that is producing God’s Plan and Purpose for our life which always leads to perfection. Your process will cause you to be perfected and lacking no good thing as you receive an abundance of life everlasting.

 

John 13:1-5 (NLT)

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas,son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

 

Jesus Christ knew the next step in his procession to the Cross. He knew that it was his hour of glory to leave this earth and return to the Father. He knew the steps that lie ahead to do so successfully each brutal one. In that moment, He chose to serve His Disciples one last time. What would you do if you knew what was coming and you couldn’t prevent it? What would you do if you knew the process of securing more faith and trust in the Lord would cause you to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death with a loved one? What if you knew to love God more than this world you would lose everything you once cherished here on earth? What if you had become poor to recognize the true value of His Great Love and Care for us? Would you still seek the Lord? Would you still follow Jesus? Would you still call on the Name of the Lord to be saved? We are in the process of giving our life away first to Jesus Christ and then the rest of the world. He came to this world to love us not condemn us. It is our responsibility to enter the process of redemption and wait until He comes serving Him humbly with our whole heart now and forevermore.

 

I Corinthians 1:7-9 (NLT)

Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

You have everything that you need to enter God’s Process of Salvation successfully completing it on the Day of Redemption. He has given us His Spirit to empower us to be strong and remain faithful until the end as validity for our confident hope. Are you eager for Jesus to return? You should be. He will keep you strong to the end if you choose to depend on the Lord and remain free of all blame. Sin has to be left behind and your primary purpose in life must be to know the Lord more and more each day! He is faithful even when we are not. He is perfect when we fall way short. He is merciful even when we don’t deserve it. His Grace is enough for all you believe. Faith brings us into the underserved privilege of God which does not necessarily put a check in the mailbox or a money tree in the backyard. It is in the place that people discover the vast relief called the Glory of God filling us with peace, joy and satisfaction. We are overcome by the Love of God and therefore are successfully in developing endurance. (Romans 5:2-5) The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (I Corinthians 10:13)

 

Mark 13:12-13 (NLT)

 “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

 

Have you abandoned the Process of Repentance, Redemption, Salvation or Transformation in your life today? One tell-tale sign is the fact that it is almost impossible to discern the believer from nonbeliever any more. The church of today is not making an impact on the society in which we live. If it were, then people would hate us. Not because we are rude but simply because we have chosen to take our life and follow Jesus. If you are not facing any opposition in life, it is time to examine your existence in comparison to Christ. Endurance is born of opposition and resistance forcing us to press on. Life is a process and immediately on the day that you die – it will be apparent who or what your life was all about. Only those choose to follow Jesus Christ implicitly creating a perfect partnership making Him Savior and Lord will be safe when the end has come. Where will you be? Will you be complete lacking no good thing? Or will you still be processing?

 

Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

My Prince Will Come – A Devotion

My Prince Will ComeIsaiah 61:10-11 (NLT)

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit
or a bride with her jewels.The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.

 

Raising three beautiful daughters, it is clear that women are born with marriage on their mind. With childhoods saturated with fairy tales of exquisite princesses waiting for their perfect prince, it is no wonder they are fascinated with weddings. They pretend to be brides as soon as they can recognize a veil, grabbing a handful of wildflowers, trying to coax unsuspecting boys to put down their bats and balls to play along. It just seems to be an intricate part of the intuitive nature. Our oldest daughter is closer than ever before to the highly anticipated day, although not even engaged her Pinterest is filled with pictures of gowns, rings and venue ideas. It is the next step in her life so naturally she waits expectantly preparing for that day. But even though her youngest sibling is almost a decade younger, she still creates digital scrapbooks of her perfect day. My husband logged into the family computer one day and instantly images of dresses, engagement rings, bouquets, and wedding cakes popped up on the screen. He called for me loudly and quite insistently. “What is this all about?” he demanded gruffly. I tenderly explained the heart of little girl who would one day become a radiant bride. Her heart is born to love and share with her husband so she waits in eager anticipation of his arrival. There was no need for alarm, it was just her imagination leading to her future. He was not satisfied as all of us girls he jealously considers his with no real intention of sharing. But as a man, he does not understand the heart of a woman who knows the day will come when she must leave her parents and cleave to her beloved bridegroom. She is living in eager anticipation of the most coveted event of any girl’s life – her wedding day.

I am overjoyed with joy in the Lord my God! Can you say that today or has your Bridegroom become out of sight and out of mind? The Lord has prepared you for salvation and redemption. It will be the wedding of all time. Could it be that women fill churches because our heart expects to be married one day, dreams about and anticipates its arrival? So staying true to our nature, we wait on our Prince to come who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I am not sure. I do know that my Redeemer lives. One day, he will claim me as His Bride. Although the church is comprised of many people, your Bridegroom desires a personal and committed relationship with you. He longs to shower His Love and Affection on you in this life as a courtship leading up to the day you are joined together forever for eternity. It sounds like a fairy tale, but it is not too good to be true. The Lord has paid a great dowry to have you. He is betrothed to you now with a guarantee of what is to come. If only every member of the Body of Christ could live as expect bridegrooms and brides preparing for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, then everyone could have the joy of the Lord is this life on their way to Eternity.

Jeremiah 2:32 (NLT)

Does a young woman forget her jewelry? Does a bride hide her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me.

 

People have forgotten that Jesus is coming back. No longer do men and women of God live in anticipation of His Arrival. They have grown weary in their waiting and chosen other lovers to pass the time. Chasing after the world, living in darkness, and building idols to satisfy their wants and desires, they are out doing other things. But Jesus Christ is coming back. His Word tells the story of the bridesmaids who were not ready when the Bridegroom returns. They are out trying to find more oil and are met with a door tightly slammed shut. For a long time, the door has been left wide open with the invitation “whosever will let them come.” But the door will not remain open forever. When He comes back, it will be too late to reclaim your lost love. It is time to return to our first love and give Him our best love. Time and attention will be required as intimacy is developed so that when He does come it will be with rejoicing. I want Jesus to know and recognize me as His Beloved. He will not have time for inattentive wayward people who have become unfaithful lovers. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” (Revelation 2:4) Do not make the mistake that grace will open the door of salvation once Jesus arrives. It is a limited time offer and just as a coupon can only be redeemed before the expiration date, time is running out. It is time to repent of our rebellion and return to our first love before Jesus comes.

Hosea 3:1-2 (NLT)

Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though shecommits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silverand five bushels of barley and a measure of wine.”

 

We did not sell our soul satan, we gave it away for free. We took hold of sin and ran with it. Jesus Christ paid the price of redemption to take our life back. Hosea was a righteous man. The Lord asked a lot of this man of God, when told to go redeem his wife from her chosen life of prostitution and to bring her back into his home. Truthfully, if I had been betrayed and abandoned in such a manner I do not know if I could remain faithful to the Lord’s Instruction. The story of Hosea and Gomer represents the Unfailing Love of God for His Most Unfaithful People. It is not so far from the truth today. Seldom do we concentrate on loving God as He loves us instead loving the world, darkness and sin more than the One who loves us most. One would think Gomer would have been thankful to have been redeemed from prostitution but sadly we see she quickly returns to it. There are a lot of people who call on the Name of Jesus to be saved but never give their heart, body, soul and spirit to their Beloved. They seek His Name and nothing more. Yet Jesus Christ still paid the price to save our soul and redeem us from death and the grave to experience victory. What will you do with His Love today? Will you rebel and walk away choosing the simple pleasures of this world over His Right Hand that holds pleasures evermore? “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:10)

 

Job 19:25-27 (NLT)

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!”

 

Friend, I promise you today that there is more to life than this. You are living in a period of preparation as you begin to get ready for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. It doesn’t matter if you have ever been married or not. Your finances are no indication of the extravagance that day because you cannot even afford the price of admission. Jesus gave it to you when He shed His Precious Blood for your broken heart and sin-filled soul. Now you have the greatest opportunity of all time to experience a love affair that will never compare to the love shared by people. Your Redeemer Lives! He is coming back to make you His Bride! Are you ready? It’s not too late. It is time to look beyond your funeral living each day as if it were your last and prepare for forever beginning by giving your heart, mind, body and soul to Jesus Christ. Hold nothing back promise to love Him with every fiber of your beings and spend every day preparing for His Arrival, God is waiting to redeem you. (Deuteronomy 30:6) Will you live as the Redeemed?

Revelation 19:6-8 (NLT)

Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God,the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.”

Any bride will tell you that planning a wedding no matter how big or small can be quite stressful and by the end of the process most are of the opinion “if only I could elope and just get married.” Talking with co-workers about weddings, the only man in the group shared that he had made his wife’s dress, arranged all the flowers, prepared all the menus, and decorated the venue, all she had to do was show up. When he left, he was deemed the perfect groom by one woman and the perfect catch by another. Well, Jesus is that guy! He prepared your wedding attire, the feast that will follow the ceremony and a wonderful place for you to live forever without a worry or care! He is the Perfect Prince who is named, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Be excited you are about to take His Name and live with Him forever. That’s what you are looking forward to, right? If not, it is time to look beyond the light and momentary problems of today to the forever your bridegroom has planned. Not a single detail has been missed. His Plan is perfect. His Way made straight! There is no burden attached to it. All you have to do is be ready when He calls and come!

Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

 

Your Prince is coming! Live in constant expectation by faith because He who has called you is faithful. Trust in His Ability to provide all you need until He comes because He already has. You can bet your life on it – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking a chance on His Amazing Love. No other lover will satisfy you like Jesus can. Don’t be caught searching for it. Choose to live in His Love today until forever comes. ”May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) Live a life in constant expectation of His Return. You are safe in His Presence if the door finally shuts. Just as Ruth found Boaz a worthy redeemer, so will you find Jesus. When it came time to be redeemed, her true redeemer declined. He wanted the wealth but not the responsibility. (Ruth 4:3-6) But when Jesus died for your sins, He paid for your life in full and took all the responsibility for your life. Live as the Redeemed of God today. Rejoice that He loves you most! Every day can be filled with joy and satisfaction knowing that you  are the Bride of Christ!

Ephesians 4:30-32 (NLT)

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

 

Your Bridegroom has not left you unattended until He Returns. He has guaranteed His Promise to be faithful by giving you His Spirit. The Spirit prepares the bride for her Bridegroom. He takes care of her and provides for her. The Spirit instructs and guides us through life until the day of our Wedding. Do not sorrow God’s Spirit with the way you live. Evil behavior must be removed before He comes so there will be no shame in His Arrival. Guilt is washed away as we run our life through the Blood of Jesus Christ and allow His Grace to cover the multitude of sins that we once were harboring as we strive to be a Bride worthy of His Calling. Commitment tells us not to quit. Devotion allows us to press on even when His Coming seems delayed. His Spirit is our constant reminder that He will come and be our Beloved. “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17) Your Bridegroom is coming! Will you be ready when He comes?

Revelation 19:11-16 (NLT)

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thighwas written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

 

One day my Prince will come…until then I will strive to be ready for it may be soon!