Without Further Delay

砂時計とお金

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

A young woman who was quite intoxicated made the fatal decision to livestream from her car while driving. In the video, she loses control of the vehicle which flips multiple times. You can hear the screams and moaning of her passenger. She continues to livestream from the accident as her fourteen year old sister succumbs to her injuries. The newscaster sharing the details of this tragic and terrible story says, “What has the world come to? Is it going to get any better? It only seems to be getting worse.” Senseless death and the memorialization of horrible events such as this happen every day. Children committing suicide on the air. People mocking a drowning man rather than saving him. What once was hidden is now broadcast on blast. The modern day anchor-now-prophet declaring to the world on national television – things are only getting worse. He wasn’t talking about the economy or the healthcare system. He was talking about human beings. The love of many has grown cold while the lukewarm hearts become stone cold. Sin is rampant. I remember my grandparents telling me how sad the state of affairs of the world had become and that surely Jesus was coming soon. Now as I await the birth of our first grandchild, I realize they were right. Jesus is coming back. As the details of God’s Word become the chilling reality in which we live – there is no reason to fear. Instead, it is a call to action.

Some will stop reading right here. Isn’t there enough bad news in the world today without the added stress or pressure of the end of the world? For those who know the Lord, the end is only the beginning. God is not slack concerning His Promise. Jesus will return to triumphantly claim His Bride. It all sounds like some fairy tale. However, faith tells us that is not fiction but the fact to live by. One day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack. He is not in any way delayed. His Longsuffering and His Heart cannot accept that any of His Beloved would choose to die rather than accept eternal life. The new life that comes to those who are a new creation. It all sounds wonderful and almost too good to be true. As God waits, it is time to take notice. He is not delayed. You are not deferred. He is waiting for us to respond to Him so He can receive us.

Romans 6:15-17 (NKJV) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

We are no longer slaves bound by debt or obligation. The Son has set us free and given us His Grace. The Blood of Jesus Christ paid the price of sin fully so now freedom takes over our life. We choose who we serve making us servants. I can choose the master of my life each day. Who do I choose to portion my life to? Who do I give the best of my time? What is the ethical and moral outline of my life? The process of salvation is grace giving way to faith that produces obedience to the Lord. Salvation is only the beginning. If salvation does not make our life better and more productive, we are not fully utilizing the promised provision, every spiritual blessing and exceeding abundance that God has ordered for His Children.

All things become possible to the one who believes. If the process of God is not producing these things in our life, it is up to us to find the disconnect. Why? Because by grace, we are saved through faith. Faith is the productivity of our life. If we believe, all things become possible because God does not lie or change His Mind. If He releases His Word, it cannot return to Him without first accomplishing all that it set out to do. This is all from the Word of God to the believer but we must accept it as the Truth of our life for it to change us from the inside out.

The girl who foolishly caused her sister’s life to end is greatly desired by God. Acting out in her personal freedom, she will now likely give up the rest of her life to captivity in prison for a single moment. Yet, it did not diminish God’s Love for her in any way, shape or form. The crack addict wasting away in a building is His Beloved. The madman who killed a warehouse full of people or human smuggler who allowed eight human beings to suffocate and die in a tractor trailer – all these people Christ died for. The goal is that none would die and all would come to know Jesus and receive His Precious Gift. We are not in this for ourselves but to build a Kingdom based on the Grace of God filled by faith in God rising up from the obedience of God’s People in expectation of the return of their Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ.

Luke 12:35-37 (NKJV) “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.

In Ephesians 6:14, it says, “Stand therefore, having girded your wait with truth.” The Truth of our life is found in the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God. To know the Lord it is important to know His Word. Not just to know it but to “gird” our life in it. What does that mean? To gird means to surround, enclose or hem in. It is to prepare for action. To provide, equip, or invest as with power or strength. “Let your waist be girded.” Are you girded and fortified by God’s Word today? Could it be that your provision, promise or prosperity is delayed simply by ignorance that produces disobedience?

The wise servant keeps his light burning waiting for the Master’s Return. Jesus is the Light of the World. He has put His Light (His Love) in us to spark passion for all mankind and lead as many as will come into the Kingdom. Is our light burning bright? The Light of His Love is a powerful force that will draw even the most callous heart to be broken. It is not a haughty position but humbling of our life to represent God’s Love. Faithful obedience is demonstrated in unfailing love. To love God with all our heart and others more than ourselves. There is no greater love than to lay down our life for another. To forsake convenience, comfort and even control so that another might get a glimpse of God’s Love for them. When was the last time you gave up your personal comfort to be a blessing to someone else? To consciously serve another over serving yourself? God’s Love is exhibited through His People. It is not a live and let live but a daily giving up our very lives to pursue others as the Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one.

It is not enough to serve the Lord but we must also sup with Him. To live in communion with Jesus Christ building a strong relationship not just a religious connection. Many know the Name of Jesus, some even believe in its power but few yield their life to faith in His Power that gives way to obedience. We rely on His Grace to save us but not change us. There is power in our weakness when we give His Grace an opportunity to work in us and through us. When we allow His Spirit to produce the good fruit that is promised, it becomes prosperity in our life that is easily shared with others. To know and experience God’s Love through a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ causes us to become a new creation, a living love story, and true testimony of God’s Power.

Psalm 119:60 (NKJV) I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments.

The watered down gospel of today does not offer the supernatural power given to us by Christ. It invites people to experience Jesus Christ but does not fully expose the power workable through His Grace. Our life was not meant to be like it is now. God’s Design for you is a masterpiece. Consider the Word of God the paint by numbers that gets us there. All throughout the Bible, we cry out to the Lord to make haste in His Coming. What if He is waiting on you? What if the grace being provided is for you to finally believe? This passage hidden away in Psalm 119 demonstrates a change of heart that invites the Lord to have His Way in our life. “I made haste.” Has the Lord been speaking to you about something? Has your heart been heavy? Is there something you want to see changed in your life but keep procrastinating? The word “haste” means swiftness of motion or speed. It is urgent need of quick action. “I made haste and did not delay to keep your commandments.” The Lord is inviting us into a union and partnership with Him today. An opportunity to have every provision, promise, and prosper in all we do beginning with obedience.

I love to find new recipes on Pinterest. Changing up the family mealtime and trying new things. When I find a recipe with many favorable comments from those who also tired it and liked it – I make it for our family. I must follow the recipe line by line. There are instructions on how to prepare the food, set the oven and steps to be followed in order to have the desired result, I follow the recipe. No one forces me to try it. I want to. Did you know that is exactly what obedience to God is like? Growing tired of the same old thing, I try something new. The Lord has promised that you will be a new creation. I do not feel imprisoned or any way hindered during the process no matter how long it takes or painstaking it becomes because I want the end result. The enemy wants you to believe that obedience to God is the absence of freedom. Nothing is further from the Truth. It is the opportunity to yoke our life with Christ and claim every promise for our life. It is not burdensome as some might think but leads to victory after victory. We must make haste to know the Word of God and follow the steps to prosperity as a way of claiming all that Christ died for us to have and to become which is exceedingly abundantly more than I could ever think, ask or imagine.

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 (NKJV) For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.

In 2 Corinthians 9. Paul is speaking to the cheerful givers. Salvation is a Gift from God to be sown in our life. God gives seed to the sower. Those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly. Those who take the seed of faith and sow it obediently will produce enough in their life to become givers. It goes on to say, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” The Grace that God has given us is the beginning of many great things that He has for us. While this passage refers to tangible giving, our life has nothing to offer anyone else outside of grace that claims faith and uses it for obedience. Obedience prospers our life increasing our offering. People don’t need more stuff but rather the tangible substance of faith that finds love that is passionate, reckless, all-consuming and unconditional. I cannot give that kind of love away unless I have a commodity of it in my life. God increases me as I come to know Christ and He becomes the reality of my hope. My life is to glorify God for obedience that confesses not only that I know who Christ is but I believe in who He is and what He came to do. God supplies us in surplus so that we can give from the abundance and increase of our life. If you are not a receiver of God’s Love, you cannot be a giver of it. If you have not accepted God’s Grace fully, you cannot share it with others. If you do not believe the Word of God, you will have nothing to encourage others. We must believe in God who rewards those who diligently seek Him with wholehearted and hasty obedience in order to stay in His Service.

Matthew 25:6-13 (NKJV) “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

In Ezekiel 12, the Word of the Lord came to the prophet to tell the Children of Israel that they were making a mistake. They believed that the postponement of God’s Judgment was actually an annulment. Despite the cries of men like Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah, the people decided that God had changed His Mind and granted some kind of reprieve. The Lord spoke to them. “For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God.’” We must not ignore the signs of the times. Jesus will come back. Will you be ready? Will I? The answer is within each human heart.

God is not delayed. He is waiting on us. Jesus wants us to be with Him. He wants us to know Him so that He can say that He knows us. The Lord has not left us but lives in us. He wants to consummate the relationship fully as salvation plants seeds of faith and obedience creates a bond stronger than death and greater than the grave. Jesus wants us. He desires us. He is waiting for us. He will not wait forever. There is a day that will come when He will return. It will be a day of great victory for His Servants and huge regret for those who missed the opportunity. It is my privilege to serve Christ not my responsibility. To know Him is to love Him and it is from this place faithful obedience is born…not because I have to but because I want to. I want Him. I desire the Lord above all things so I pursue Him wholeheartedly by faith and obedience His Grace empowers me. One day there will be no further delays. I intend to be ready. What about you?

I have been married for almost two decades. My husband likes things neat and tidy. When I get home each day, I will clean up the house and put away the things our girls leave strewn about the house. I do it just about every day if I beat him home. He doesn’t require me to do it. I know that he likes things in order. This daily act of obedience is not because he makes me do it but because I love him and know he likes things that way. I do it out of love not responsibility. Our life with Christ is like a marriage. When our obedience flows from love, it is not a burden or challenge but an opportunity to strengthen our relationship and please our beloved.

Philippians 2:5-10 (NKJV) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What’s Love Got to Do with It

Love

John 13:34-35 (ESV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Just as I have loved you…you also are to love one another. Oh Jesus, if it were only that easy. “People are people so why should it be…You and I should get along so awfully.” (Depeche Mode) A little 1984 flashback for you today. Why can’t we be friends? Another song from the past and the list goes on. Why can’t people accept one another in love? Church I am talking to us just as much as anyone else. “Bless their heart” gives an open door for backdoor banter and faulty fodder. Jesus tells us to love one another but not just to love from our capacity but as He does in abundance without prejudice. Withholding nothing to give it away. Isn’t that what it means to give up this life to have forever? Serving in the local church and avoiding sinful habits outlined clearly in doctrine is one thing. However, love is the only thing that Jesus requires. For if we learn to love the Lord completely, it becomes the overflow of our life to love others. All others. More than ourselves. Jesus – teach us today to love one another enough that ALL people will know that we are your disciples.

Every human being ever created is seeking love and acceptance. I am convinced that each heart is born with a receptor sending out a signal for love. Unconditional love. True love. Eternal love. Gracious love. Never ending love. Where do we find such love? God is love. (I John 4:8) He loves with His All. (John 3:16) Jesus laid down His Life for us which is deemed as the greatest love of all. (John 15:13) The First Fruit of God’s Spirit in us is love. (Galatians 5:22) The only commandment given to us by Jesus was to love one another. (John 13:34) There is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God again thanks to His Son, Jesus Christ. Nothing at all. (Romans 8:31-39)

Romans 8:37-39 (ESV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Our ability to become more than conquerors is our full acceptance of God’s Love as trustworthy and true. We test the limits of His Love constantly. Our flesh rebels against the slightest possibility that there is a God who loves me beyond my capacity to love and live for Him. A selfless Father who doesn’t look at sin and has no regrets but loves us completely. This is the vast reservoir from which a believer loves others more than themselves and extends the same courteous grace to their enemies. (Matthew 5:43-44) Why? We were once enemies with God. (Romans 5:10) Sin put us in that position as adversaries to the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is taken by force. (Matthew 11:12) The enemy assaults the Kingdom by trying to convince the Body that Christ cannot truly love them beyond what they do or how they live. It is such insecurity that keeps our love limited and with carefully constructed borders. Never letting anyone in or allowing our love to pour out beyond comfort and control. What if they hurt me? Do you serve a Living God who heals you? What if they don’t love me? So what, there is a God who loves you and wraps you in His Arms. What if they betray me or use me? God supplies all our needs doing more than we can think, ask or imagine to satisfy the desire of our heart. Why do we put such a great expectation in others to fill our needs and voids with a God like that? Are you a lover? Do you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and body today? Is it evident in the love you are giving to others?

Matthew 22:36-39 (ESV) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

I used to work for the school system in technical education. My position was supervising Student Services which meant dealing with student complaints. There was a young man who made some poor choices in education and ended up on academic probation. His financial aid could not be disbursed due to his performance. His mother decided to pay the school a visit due to the unfair treatment of her son. She was a force to be reckoned with. By this time in my career, I was pretty good at reasoning with mama bears offended at the treatment until this lady showed up. She yelled. She screamed. She cussed out my entire staff. As if not enough, the administration of the school were all away at a conference and it was up to me to satisfy this woman AND the federal government. After what seemed like all afternoon, we finally came to agreement. My team was battered and bruised by her abrasive words, accusations and outright ugliness. As we parted ways, she said, “God bless you!” I smiled as she handed me a business card to contact her if her little precious began acting up again. Her profession? Reverend So-So…

What does love have to do with it? Everything. A church absent of unconditional love that flows to every person who walks through the door is just another religion and not worth anyone’s time. Jesus came to prepare a Body of Believers who love unconditionally and selflessly following His Example all the way to the Cross. To lay down their life for other people on a regular and ongoing basis not because they have to but because they want to honor His Gracious Gift of love to them. Step outside into the church parking lot as people are racing to beat the church next door to the buffet. It becomes clear that the rain of God’s Word did not find fertile soil but is more like water being poured on a rock. Our love for God must flow beyond all barriers including our family, friends and co-workers but outside our comfort zone to strangers and enemies, too. What is love?

I Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

This is love. These are the qualities of true love demonstrated by Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit inside of us produces this kind of love which gives seed to every other fruit in the garden of our heart. This kind of love. Love in this world has grown cold. Dysfunction defines most relationships which opens a gateway to God’s Grace. Grace is required to love other people without condition. People are sinful. Sin is just part of the package. Selfishness is a human quality that can only be overcome by the death and eradication of pride. In the verses preceding this definition of love, the Word of God dares to enter the sacred corridors of the church. The “Gifts”, prophetic powers, and even mountain-moving faith are rendered useless in the absence of love. If we do not have love…there is nothing gained from the Gospel.

To gain proper perspective, we move on to the verses after the definition of love. All these “gifts” given to us will one day pass away. They are to edify the Body of Christ and build us into a sound structure of love to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ that extends to every other living, breathing soul without condition. Spiritual maturity comes when love is blind. It moves like faith believing without seeing. Spiritual maturity is to love others not for what they can or cannot do for you or if they treat you with the respect you deserve but rather in godly character that understands our love is not from us but from the One who loves us most, who loved us first and who loves us forever. Loving others is not something I do but the Christ in me does from the inside out. The Love of God restores the trampled and broken hearts of humans transforming them into overflowing springs to refresh others and show them the Light of His Amazing Love. Love is revival. There will be no revival in the midst of God’s People until first His Love is manifested there.

I Corinthians 13:13 (ESV) So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I know what it feels like to have a broken heart. To feel unloved and unwanted by others. To be the outsider in a crowded room. But you know what else I have discovered, the vast parameters of God’s Love. When I find myself wallowing in self-pity or about to lose my temper and tell someone how I really feel, it is time to stop and consider my position in God’s Love. See there is no end to it. It has no boundaries. His Love is limitless. I can get caught up in religion sometimes and lose sight of the relationship I have with my Beloved. I allow human expectation to overshadow what the Lord is doing in my life because I am seeking acceptance and affirmation from the wrong place. When this happens, I tend to lose sight of those around me who need the Love of God lived before them. Those who need my immediate attention as conduit of God’s Love, Grace and Acceptance just as I am. People are not a problem – they are the Kingdom. Every single one of them have potential to become sons and daughters of God. Jesus died for them too. He gave just as much for the one who forsakes Him as He did giving up His Life and Kingship for you and me. I forget that sometimes when selfishness and pride overtake my very human heart. The hardness becomes a callous that must be quickly and severely dealt with. Faith, hope and love are the only eternal things in life – the Lord has pointed to love as the greatest of them all.

2 John 5-6 (ESV)  And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 

How’s Your Love Life?

How's Your Love Life

Matthew 27:50-51 (ESV) And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.

Everyone loves a love story. A feel good tale of the boy that comes for the girl against harrowing odds. He catches her right before she gets on the plane. Throws pebbles at her window before singing her a love song. The Hallmark-made-for-television-movie love where boy meets girl, they fall in love, overcome obstacles, and end up together when all seems lost. Love is awesome. Relationships matter. Stumbled upon often yet so hard to maintain. Love begins with desire that is fueled by passion. How do we keep love alive? I shared some words about intimacy last night in a church service. I have an intimate relationship with my husband, my children and even a few close friends. But do I have an intimate relationship with Jesus? The sum of my life will amount to nothing at all unless I discover this love stronger than death.

What is intimacy? The world defines it in a variety of ways. It pursues it by different means. Intimacy is the state of being intimate. It is a close, familiar, and affectionate, loving, and personal relationship with another person. It also means a close association with, detailed knowledge and deep understanding of a certain subject. Finally intimacy is expression of love and affection that is exhibited in an abiding union. It is synonymous with terms such as closeness, familiarity, warmth and affection. It is to allow people to establish a place in our life much closer than the usual and customary. Christ desires intimacy with us. It is the first thing Jesus established once He died on the Cross. He paid our debt and claimed His Prize. His Beloved. It says it right there in black and white. Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded His Spirit – the Holy Spirit. What happened next is often overlooked but should be cherished forever! “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

The veil in the Temple was a barrier prescribed by God to keep us from carelessly wandering into His Presence covered in sin. Sin is immediately consumed in His Presence and men literally died from their irreverence and ignorance. So the Lord placed a curtain around His Presence so that only those fully prepared and ordained would come and go – He didn’t want us to die in our sin but live in His Grace forever. The curtain was no joke. Its dimensions were significant. It was about 60 feet high, 30 feet wide and 4 inches thick. When the ultimate offering was made and His Sacrifice accepted by God – this massive material woven together into a single piece which was seamless was torn from top to bottom. No man could have done such an act and so quickly – clearly it was a message from the Lord and open invitation to enter His Presence and live in His Midst.

Hebrews 6:17-20 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

We can make God into a lot of different personalities according to our experience or lack thereof. He is often defined by the human beings around us rather than getting to know Him in an intimate and personal relationship. I have a lot of friends who I love dearly but none of them will replace my relationship with my husband. He is my partner. He is my soul mate. I live in constant and abiding covenant with him as one. I am also the Bride of Christ. My relationship with Jesus trumps even the relationship that I have with my spouse. In fact, there is a strong possibility that I would be another failed marriage statistic outside of the Grace and Goodness of God that is the center of our life. In Christ, we live, move and breathe or at least could if we so desired. There is a difference between receiving Christ and embracing Him. I may meet ten new people today. Not all of them will be given immediate access to the innermost workings of my life or details of it. It takes time and trust to decide who is allowed in our inner circle. Jesus Christ immediately imparts His Spirit to us when we believe. Now whether or not we accept and embrace His Spirit partnering and becoming one with Him is really up to us.

Jesus gives us hope. It finds security in our life of love and commitment to Jesus Christ. Outside of Him, the concepts called love, faith and hope really do not make any sense. God is love. The very essence of His Being is love. He created us from His Love, for His Love and to be the focus of His Love. Have you entered into His Love today? Have you embraced the privilege called Presence? ”God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable…” The Lord has made it a point to express His Unfailing Love to us. He opened the door to His Presence and invites us to come in and commune with Him. Become one with Him. To let His Love become so passionate and fulfilling that it radiates from us like a beacon in the dark. The whole point of the Cross was God’s Desire to love us up close rather than from afar. To make our life better by making us better from the inside out. Have you ever watched someone fall in love, grow in love, and mature in love? There is nothing more precious than to watch to elderly lovebirds who still hold hands after 50 years. My grandparents were together 70 years before he passed away. I cannot imagine being alive that long much less in love that long. Jesus wants to live a love story with you and me that lasts forever. He was willing to die for it. He longs to give it new life and new possibilities. Will you be the one who ventures past the veil today? I intend to be.

Song of Solomon 8:5-7 (ESV) Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.

How’s your love life? Is it passionate or fizzling out quickly? Do you know what true love is? Have you ever experienced love at first sight? Do you dream of falling in love all over again? My husband and I went on a date last weekend. We do not do it nearly enough. Caught up in life and family it is not our habit to carve out precious minutes just the two of us. We planned our date midweek. After spending most of our Saturday doing chores, it would have been easy to just order takeout and stay home but we didn’t. He even opened the car door for me. Put away our phones and just spent some time together. We do not do it enough. However, it is moments like these that keep love alive. To stop life long enough to enter intimate moments of togetherness. It is the kind of love that fuels passionate marriages, families and friendships. God loves relationships. He is the one who instituted it. Jesus came and did away with all the other commandments leaving us with just two mandates – love God and love each other. We cannot do one without the other.

Jesus demonstrate love as strong as death and jealousy as fierce as the grave. He placed the Light of His Love inside of us to be a catalyst in our relationship with Him so that all other relationships in life can find security on its foundation. We can love and be loved without expecting anything from anyone because Christ is our fulfillment. Such a love cannot be drowned out by noise, taken by a lie, overcome by trial and troubles, it is secure by the hope found in an intimate relationship with Jesus. Will you accept His Invitation today? He will never force His Love on us but offers it day in and day out. He is a gentle suitor and always the perfect gentleman. All we says is “yes” and make a time and place for Him in each day. Love comes with a price. Jesus gave up His Life to love us. It would seem a little time and energy wouldn’t be too much on our part. Set Him as a seal on your heart today. A seal on your lie that will become a love stronger than death. He is jealous for you. Why not be jealous for Him? Desire His Attention. Long for His Embrace. Listen for His Voice. Come when He calls. Jesus wants to live a love story with each of us today. When the Temple veil was torn from top to bottom immediately following His Death it was a declaration of His Love and His Commitment in pursuing us and having our love and devotion. The happily-ever-after is up to you and me.

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It Matters

It Matters

Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

I used to work with someone who professed vehemently to be a Christian. In theory, the confession was absolutely true. This person would tell others that God was in control… which He is. Serving in church attending all the services and sharing the experience. Feeding the soul with the Word and good teachers – conversationally this person was living the life. However, at work this person was not a faithful employee. Arriving late, leaving early, not coming at all, and when in the office doing others things. Poor performance and inconsistent contribution forced the company to eliminate the position due to the tremendous weight on the company. The employer was extra patient and completely understanding until it took a terrible toll on his business. Seeds sown for life now have left nasty weeds for others to uproot and plant good seed in its place. It matters. Life matters. What I say as a believer is not nearly as important as how I live? To live for Jesus Christ is to put my feelings, emotions and bad habits in check to represent the One I serve appropriately and faithfully. It begins in real life doing ordinary things as though I was serving my extraordinary God.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ.” This is the very reason why it is important that our life line up with our conversation. The Lord has given us the opportunity to live a new life as a new creation. I must set my sights on the “realities” of heaven. Let’s pause right there for a moment. Reality is important. It is resemblance of what is real. It is take the tiny seed called faith and plant it in every area of our existence until the life I live is based on heavenly concepts rather than worldly conformity. It would be easier if given a full heart transplant when coming to Christ but the truth of the matter is that the Lord did not come to you, call you and confirm you so that He could change you into someone else. You were born with the potential of God in you and eternity in your heart along with a measure of faith so that when the time came to pull it all together – you had everything needed. Coming to Christ, just activated God’s Plan and set the wheels in motion. He loves you. He made you. He have given you vast potential and called you to greater purpose. So how you live each day matters when it comes to God’s Process at work within you!

The reality of heaven is realized when Jesus Christ lives in us. To acknowledge Jesus is to recognize that our life is no longer bound by sin and grave. There is now more to live than this for those who desire and choose to live it. It is a conscious choice made every day to give up my way and follow Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 (NLT) In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Christ is all that matters…and He lives in all of us. Rather than dissecting and scrutinizing each other, what we believe and how we serve…what if…just for today…just for this moment, one considered the fact that the Lord has called us to one mind, one body, one heart and one purpose. This would mean that how I live my life directly impacts other people whether I know it or not. The things that I do each day reach someone. As the Light of the world by calling, others look to us for answers for practical life. My sights are set on heaven. I want to be with the Lord one day. How am I treating His Body? We are the Body of Christ. Jesus died for everyone not just one but all. This means that even those who do not believe – I am accountable to treat with respect. Why? Because my interaction with the Body should always represent the Christ in me and not the me He lives in. Let me take this home for a moment. When someone comes into our church, not my church but the one that each of us call home, how are they received? Is there condemnation as their appearance relays their choices? Are we judgmental? Are we fake? Do we ignore them? How do we receive them? Is it like the Father welcoming the prodigal son? See that is how Jesus would do it – He would run to them, wrap His Arms around them, genuinely receive them, welcome them, and love them in that moment not when they cleaned up nicely and fit our religious routine and could speak fluent Christianese. We are the Body of Christ. Even that homeless man speaking to unseen facing and caring on quiet a debate. Jesus loves him. He died for him. He desires Him. God has no favorites. It matters how we live our life when it comes to other people.

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 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.

Can I be transparent today? It is hard to live out the Gospel when it comes to people sometimes. Seventy times seven is a lot when you are the one who has to forgive and forget. We cannot forgive without forgetting and be like the Lord. He puts our sin in a sea of forgetfulness and justifies us just as if we never sinned. Can you say the same? I can’t and still be truthful. People can be downright difficult. BUT…since God chose (me) to be the holy (person) who He loves… I must clothe (myself) with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Ugh! As if that is not enough, I must make allowances for faults and forgive ANYONE who offends me. In the South, it might be called even those who hurt my feelings. I must forgive like Christ forgave me. He did away with a lot of junk and mess that’s for sure. Above all. Clothe yourselves with love. Walk around in it every day. It must be the filter through which every emotion, attitude and action goes through before it reaches another. I must be a lover. I must love all people. This will most definitely influence the choices I make and how I live because it matters. I am not representing myself any longer but the Christ who lives in me. “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. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16-17)

Colossians 3:22-24 (NLT) Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

It matters how we live and represent the Lord not only in the midst of our congregation but especially in our everyday life. The daily interactions with others as our character is revealed. Each day is the opportunity to be the Light for someone else but it requires strict attention not to others, how they live, what they do or even what they say. People have no influence over my purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are my purpose in the Lord. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. This must be the reality of my life.

Work willingly at whatever you do as though you are working for the Lord rather than people. Think about the tasks on your to do list. The places you will go today. The things that you are planning to do. There is no better representation of Jesus Christ then to do it all wholeheartedly as if working for Him and to love everyone in the process. Your pay grade doesn’t matter. The people you work with do not control your destiny. You will be rewarded abundantly for every seed sown in love and faithfulness. The Word of God tells us that as long as the earth remains – there will be seedtime and harvest. Those who live in drought and famine must carefully evaluate the seeds being planted in their field called life. Grumbling and complaining just grows into bitterness. Unforgiveness creates a wall that love cannot find its way around. Discontentment lead to discouragement but hope never will take you there. God has something far better for us hidden in Heaven and He promises His Goodness is for us in the land of the living. I do not pursue the Hand of God but rather His Heart so I must live according to what is found there – love, grace and mercy that gives way to faithfulness and obedience in all things. A diversified life is at risk. To fully invest my life in the Kingdom and have its reward requires a wholehearted effort to live, move, breathe and exist in Christ while I live this life. It matters. It all matters. Do not let the enemy convince you otherwise.

I Corinthians 15:58 (NLT) 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.

The greatest ministry in life is not found in a position at the local church. It is not given the title of pastor, preacher, teacher or apostle. The greatest ministry is the life of worship lived by men and women who commit each day to work enthusiastically for the Lord in all things. To erase the line drawn between life and ministry. To decide that Heaven came exist on the earth and work diligently to make it so. It all begins by believing in the reality of Jesus Christ. He has flooded the earth with gracious, overwhelming, overflowing and unconditional love that is in us. We must decide to make it the reality of our life and decide each day matters to the Kingdom. Jesus set us free to live the life of our choosing but He clearly shows us the life that He desires for us and the promises that come with it. I want that life. To live a life that matters.

Ephesians 6:7-8 (NLT)  Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

The Power of Relationship

The Power of Relationship

Ruth 1:16-17 (NIV) But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 

My sister stopped in last night for a quick visit. She lives in Missouri. We live in Florida. Seven years apart seems like forever as children but now as women – we finally connect. Early this year, we spent a great deal of time together when our mom had open heart surgery. In those days, years melted into moments and the reality of relationship decades in the works gently unfolded. The Lord was working in my heart on His Next Great Set Up for my life. How could my sister who lives miles away know the details? With busy lives, there is little time for conversation yet she gave insightful words only possible through a Living God who lives in us. It’s funny how the Lord starts at the beginning and works things to the end when we live unaware and incognizant lives so “independently” only to discover that He has been working it all the time.

Our family would be considered a blended family. A small version of the “Brady bunch” with a man and his two children meets a woman and her two children and from there the rest is history. Messy and difficult – yet by the Power of God seamlessly sewn together into something of value and worth. There is power in relationship. Jesus came to restore our relationship with God the Father. He did so by grace because apart from it – our flesh and sinful nature would not ever allow such a union. In an age of hook-ups, break-ups and make-ups with quick marriages and even quicker divorces resulting in broken lives and if we are blessed blended families, I wonder if people are truly experiencing the power of relationships.

Walking through the quiet house knowing that my sister is sleeping in our guest room, I am thankful. Thankful that in spite of us, God had an amazing plan. The story of Ruth and Naomi replayed in my mind. Naomi and her husband took their sons to Moab to escape the famine. Her husband died in Moab. His sons married two Moabite women, but both of her boys died within ten years. Naomi and the two women were now helpless in their culture. They had no one to care for them and Naomi felt there no other choice but each to return home to the care of their family. She blessed both women to return to their families. They were reluctant. Naomi finally convinced Orpah to leave and she kissed her mother-in-law and departed. But Ruth would not go. Ruth was committed to the relationship. She would go where Naomi went even if it meant dying there.

John 15:12-14 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

The command of Jesus Christ for my life is this – Love each other as I have loved you. He wants me to develop long-lasting and committed relationships with all people to form the Body of Christ. Build the Kingdom Of God. I wonder what might happen if the church and all of its people really followed the commandment of Christ for us all. It is not in the religion or even proper doctrine. No, it is in the messy and complicated thing called love. Not just any love but love that follows through in a relationship. To lay down our life for our friends. This is the power of relationship. Love is the power that fuels relationship. Love and all that it is defined clearly in I Corinthians 13 is the only thing that is required of us. However, it is easier to give all else but keep our self. It is difficult to love anyone else if our love for Christ is incomplete. If His Grace is not sufficient for me, I will never be able to love another because of unmet expectation. It is not until I find completion in a linear connection to the Lord that is vertically kept that I will ever be able to give my life to a friend let alone all of them.

Romans 13:8 (NIV) Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

As children, my sister and I lived in constant competition for love that already belonged to us. My father was absent for many years of my life and when he resurfaced it was with another child. What I didn’t realize was that some of the difficulties between my sister and I were because of my unmet expectations. I couldn’t love her the way I should because of the hurt in a young girl’s heart. However, as Christ healed my heart over many, many years and mended my relationship with my dad by His Grace, I have found that this person who is my sister is a treasure. A blessing hidden in my life by God who the Lord has placed on a very similar path. It took years to bring us together and form the union of sisterhood that is evident now. I wonder how many of us are willing to admit that maybe the lack of longstanding and fulfilling relationships in our life is not because other people left us but rather our inability to let other people into our hearts and lives. Hearts hardened by betrayal. Emotions devastated by unmet expectation. Empty soul spots reserved for another that truly belong to Jesus. Once filled with the Love of God, we will love others as Christ loves us. However, until we experience the Grace of God to fill our hurts and heal our hearts – there is the danger of living and striving for a love that already belongs to us and cannot be earned only discovered.

Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another. The only obligation in life that God identifies is our purpose to love. Love is a commitment. It is not a shallow emotion. To love is to lay down our life including our mind, will and emotions for another person. God does not limit the sphere of relational influence to just our family and acquaintances. No the truest test of love is to love even our enemies.

Matthew 5:4348 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

What would happen if the Body of Christ truly became a New Testament church? A body of believers who truly loved each other according to God’s Word and not personal expectation. Religion is easy. It’s a list of do’s and don’ts that make us feel better about our ability to earn a little bit of grace. It is the opportunity to maintain our own pride and peace of mind by retaining a piece of self. It is toxic. Religion excludes. The Spirit of Jesus Christ tore the veil in the Temple from top to bottom. His desire was clear. He wanted a relationship with us. He desired a place in our hearts. A love so deep and overflowing that it would pour out on others. We must rediscover the power of relationship to fulfill our commitment to Jesus Christ. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Go where we go. Make a way for us. The list goes on and on. When I decide to love others or at least to try to as Christ loves me beginning with absolute and abundant grace, I am about to experience the most powerful breakthrough possible as Child of the Living God. Such bonds of love produce agreement that make miracles possible.

Jesus said, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” To release the life-giving and full empowering Spirit of God in the form of revival will start with relationship. One relationship at a time. I believe that our greatest miracle may just be hidden in our most impossible and difficult relationships. We must rediscover the power of relationships to see the Glory of God fall all around us again. He promised He would be in the midst of just two people who agree.

Come on church! We can do so much better than that when we decide His Grace is enough for me to let go and love. Forgive or forge the way with love glorious love. It is all about love. Thank you Jesus for the important reminder that it is all about love. Look around. Who do you find it most difficult to love? Find that person. Pray for the restoration of the relationship or creation if there has never been one. Tell them, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God”. In the beginning – it may just be you telling you under your breath. The person the enemy fights the hardest to keep you from loving is usually the one who is the key to your miracle. The secret of revival is the power of relationship. Lord fill us with your love today. Give us more of Your Grace to forgive and forgive some more. Let your new mercy fall on  us like rain that washes away hurt and insult to allow new hope to spring up in the cracks and crevices of broken hearts. Lord, bind us together in the Light of Your Love for Your Glory. Amen and amen.

John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Passion Fruit

First Fruit

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

When taking on large projects or tasks, I usually comprise a “to do” list to keep me focused. I write down everything that needs to be done and then decide on a game plan. I will be the first to admit as a young adult – I was a procrastinator. Chronically late, I lacked conscious respect for other’s time. I would stay up late and wake up later. I live a completely disheveled and disorganized life. I will even admit that there would be days or even a week that I did not make my bed. This chaotic existence was not the fault of my parents who built a structured home and attempted to teach us discipline. When set free into adulthood, I was able to choose how to live my life. What changed? Children. When my first child was born, I discovered this little thing called responsibility in a whole new way. This little perfect person was depending on me for everything. I was to mold him, shape him, and care for him as he was now my responsibility. Suddenly – I wanted to be a better person and the perfect mom. Love produced a change in me.

Purpose is a wonderful thing because it sparks passion in us that burns away things that used to hinder us. It ignites a change inside of us that requires careful attention to build momentum and see the results. As my family grew so did I, old habits gave way to new and improved drive to be organized and skillful in the things “good moms” do. But despite my best intentions, looking back, I realize that even though I tried really hard to be the best mom ever and never make mistakes with my children. I blew it on several occasions. There were days that I took the responsibility of parenting too seriously and needed a little more grace and love. My desire to be perfect overshadowed my purpose which was to love my children with all that I had and give them the life I thought they deserved.

For the Lord is the Spirit and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is – there is freedom. Freedom to live a life of full satisfaction apart from perfection but marked by passionate purpose. The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His Glorious Image. I am struck by these words today. I am in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is my beloved as I am His. As in any partnership, I must learn to find ways to remain faithful to Him even when my flesh doesn’t necessarily agree. The first fruit of God’s Spirit – who is now recognized as Jesus is love. Love produces passion. Passion fuels purpose. How do I take the natural love I have and use my freedom in Christ to expand it and fan it into burning desire? I must live by the Spirit.

I am tiptoeing here. So please bear with me…I am challenged today! I want to live in the Glory of God. I don’t think the church or people who call ourselves Christians really know what that is or how to achieve it on a regular basis. We are to live in the Presence of God. Well, if Christ lives in me doesn’t that mean God is present all of the time? Yes! Am I present all of the time? No! Let me explain – there are times when my husband and I are sitting in the same room and one of us will begin to speak to the other. While lost in thought or completely engrossed in what we are watching or reading, the other may not hear what he or she is saying. Suddenly shaken from our stupor – we will respond to the other with apologies because our attention was elsewhere. God’s Spirit lives in us. His Name is Jesus. He has granted us freedom. Freedom is the opportunity to choose our life and how we live it. To become aware of the Glory of God in us and His Goodness all around us would be the most advantageous use of the gift of freedom – but sometimes we have our heart and mind set on other things.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Jesus lives in me. His Spirit has set me free. This freedom is made strong as it is nourished by the Fruit it provides us. The first fruit of the Spirit is love. I cannot love anyone else until I fully conceive the Love of God for me and living in me. See God’s Love IS His Glory. When I love like Jesus loves and inspired by the selfless and unconditional Love of God – I reflect His Glory. God gave us freedom to choose a relationship with Him as His Child. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us that allows us to have a rich and satisfying life beginning with love and ending with self-control. Religion gets this all out of order. We attempt self-control outside of love which leads us nowhere. The passion of our love for Jesus Christ will inevitably produce self-control as the final fruit not the first fruit.

Galatians 5:24-26 (NLT) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Those who belong to Jesus must nail their passions and desires associated with their sinful nature to the Cross. Do not think about the seven deadliest sins and most horrible offenses you can think of, but consider this – if our passion promotes anything other than sincere and persistent love for people – we missed the first step of full satisfaction in the Glory of God. Love produces joy. Joy gives us peace. Peace affords us patience and so on. “Since” we are living by the Spirit as God’s Spirit is manifested as Christin us…we must follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Love is the first step of freedom yet the hardest to overcome. Love puts others before our own wants, needs and desires. It is not a me-first position and therefore considered the greatest vulnerability. But if Christ truly lives in me – I am free to do so because greater is He who lives in me. The greatness of God’s Grace is His Love. His Glory is His Presence that is possible by His Love. Everything begins with and ends with love.

Luke 12:49 (NLT) I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! (Jesus)

Have we misplaced our passion? Have we focused heavily on producing fruit from our self and not of the Spirit? I can pretend to have all of God’s Fruit in my life but my life is not surrounded by His Glory and defined by His Love it is just another pointless pursuit. Jesus came to set the world on fire. His Love could not be denied for His Sacrifice complete. He empowered us with His Grace which is totally sufficient to overcome every obstacle and live in His Glory now and forever more. However, this would require giving up our way first.

When I think about the Glory of God, I hear the churches outcry for revival. Revival is new life that will take the place of our old ways. Like the relationship now possible with God through Jesus Christ removed the “veil” that once separated us from God’s Presence. It did not open the curtain so we could step behind it. It tore it right down the middle. When Christians live according to the rules and regulations of the Law, it is not freedom but a foray back into judgment. In Christ there is no condemnation. Christ is alive in me so I am no longer condemned so think about this…

If you come upon a burning building, it would probably be your immediate instinct to call 911. You may decide to be a good Samaritan and get out of the car to offer assistance. If you hear cries from within the inferno, you may try to find a way to get inside and save those who are trapped. Only a few people might risk their life to go inside despite the danger to pull people from inside. However, if the house is your home everything changes. Your love will overcome all fear and insecurity to get your loved ones to safety pulling them out of harm’s way. What if Jesus meant to set the world on fire so we would develop a passion from His Love? What if it is a test of our first fruit to see how willing I am to use my freedom to love people enough to reach them right where they are rather than standing outside calling them out?

Jude 20-25 (NLT) But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

The potential of my life is the Glory of God because Christ lives in me. I have a new love that has given me a whole new purpose. I am a new creation. The law is no longer relevant to me as it has been made complete in Jesus Christ. His Grace is truly sufficient for me. As long as I choose to live free from the Law, I am able to pursue with passion the First Fruit of the Spirit which is love and believe that as every other fruit is born of its seed that I will someday learn self-control. If sin separates me from Jesus, my love for Him will keep me from sin. Apart from God’s Love there is no glory. His Glory is His Love. His Love must be perfected in my life. It does not require me to be a perfect person just perfected by His Love. Passion must be examined and evaluated in our life to determine its origin. It is easy to become religious in our pursuit because habits come and go every day. Love does not. Love is the most difficult to obtain and arduous to keep because it is the constant consummation of self. We must invest all that we are into the Christ living in us so He takes over. Jesus would not think twice about going into whatever hell we wander into and pulling us to freedom if we cry out to Him. My response to others must be the same. Lord, I ask you to examine my heart, my mind, every motive, attitude and action for love. Love is the first fruit produced by Your Spirit, and I want to know I am living a life guided by Your Spirit. Help me to love like You do. Teach me to love like You. Complete me in love as You do. I ask you to grow the first fruit of love in me so I can share it with everyone else and be a true reflection of Your Glory! Fan the flame of love in me until it burns like an all-consuming fire with passion for You, Lord! For without passion – love quickly grows cold!

John 14:26 (NLT) But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

I Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT) This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

To Be Genuine

To Be Genuine

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT) Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

What is genuine faith? To be genuine is to possess the claimed or attributed character or quality. It is not a counterfeit but real and authentic. Something genuine is free from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy defined by sincerity. The word “faith” is tossed around loosely in the “Christianese” language, but I cannot help but wonder if it bears the mark of authenticity. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says to “examine yourselves” and to “test yourselves” which tells me that you cannot test or evaluate my level of faith. It is not up to anyone else to decide if I have it or not. The contents of my heart and how it impacts my existence in my sole (or soul) responsibility. To allow others to dictate what faith is or how I achieve total trust in the Lord is pointless. It is up to me to examine and test my faith for relevance and substance. I wonder what might happen in believers took responsibility for their own heart rather than trying to judge everyone else and compare others to our own successes and failures as Christians. Those who endure to the end are saved according to Jesus. What is this thing called endurance?

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Endurance is important in this life. We must not stop loving, believing, trusting and following Christ. To keep the course is difficult because there are peaks and valleys along the way. These require us to dig a little deeper, grab hold a little tighter, and remain on our knees a little longer. When things are out of our control and beyond our comfort zone, we must remain consistent. Endurance produces discipline. It works heart muscles that have never been challenged before as the Light of His Love within us pushes its way out of us. Endurance is the ability or strength to last despite pain, stress or adverse conditions in life. When your life does not resemble God’s Word, but you continue to walk humbly with God knowing He is faithful even though you are challenged to be the same.

Hebrews 12 mentions a “huge crowd of witnesses” who are not our main concern. Too many times, they become our primary focus rather than the race of faith which is a marathon. Though friends and teammates may be on the same course, we run for the prize, our prize, and the high calling of Christ. It doesn’t matter what the voice of the witnesses say or do not say. It doesn’t matter what their personal evaluation, estimation or examination of our life reveals. The one who seeks to endure is in verse 2. They are after one thing – Jesus. With eyes fixed and focused, each step is examined for purpose, each breath exhaled in praise, and the next step embraced with potential. Jesus is our Champion. He is the reason faith is essential in the first place. Sometimes it is important to refocus and reprioritize our life to make sure that faith is our goal and Jesus the prime example.

James 1:27 (NLT) Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” (James 1:21) Pure and genuine religion is not what it has been made out to be by mankind. Pure and genuine religion as God intended is a love story. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ so deeply committed and passionate that one cannot help but give their life to Him. We give our life to many things in the name of love, but have we given our heart to Jesus Christ? Jesus is more than an opportunity. He is not just an option other than death. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come before God outside of Christ. We must have communion with the Lord. We must consummate our relationship with the Holy Spirit. The filth and evil in our lives is everything contrary to love. Anything that might separate us from our partner, Jesus Christ. However, outside the boundaries of love, obedience is meaningless acts of self service. Designed to make us feel better and avoid true repentance that leaves no room for anything good or worthwhile coming from me outside of Christ. It is a hard pill to swallow marked humility. His Grace must become enough for me in order for faith to take over my life. This is only possible when all I am is not enough to be where He is. When weakness prevails, even if I don’t fall, but simply stumble into His Arms. Jesus is always ready, willing and able to carry me on.

God’s Love is unconditional. Do you believe that today? Jesus did not come to judge the world or even condemn it. Sin already did. God sent His Son Jesus because before we were created, He loved us and desired us despite our rebellious and impetuous nature. It didn’t matter that our heart was fickle and gravitated toward depravity. Jesus already decided to die for us to make a way for our return. Why do we set conditions and limitations on others? Why do we expect them to be religious? Why do they have to dress a certain way or act a certain way to be accepted by us? Could it be our faith has some hidden fallacies that need to be exposed? Perhaps, our own inability to believe makes it necessary to set other criteria for acceptance?

Mark 10:20-22 (NLT) “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus gives us genuine love. Love without boundaries. Love without conditions. This man had no problem following the rules but when it came to following Jesus – he couldn’t give up this life. He had many possessions. Jesus said, “Come, follow me.” The man’s face fall and he went away sad. This is the true test of faith. When Jesus asks us to step out of this life to pursue eternity to seek Him wholeheartedly. Holding nothing back. This man was not surrounded by people, it doesn’t say that his family or friends were close by, just Jesus. We will all come to a place in our life that the line is drawn in the sand. The point of no return. The moment when we must choose commitment or comfort. To pursue purpose or settle for mediocrity. Faith follows Jesus, Anything else will hang its head and go home.

Romans 12:9-18 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

What if this was the true measure of faith and following Jesus? To love one another as Christ loves us. Laying our life down for each other so that we all make it to the end. Would it be your religion? Would you give it the hierarchy of church doctrine with all its rules and regulations to live this life every single day? To really love people. To hate what is wrong and hold tight to what is good. To take delight in blessing others. To work hard. Really hard and not be lazy – giving your absolute best in all areas of life as doing it for the Lord. What about patience? Who needs them? We do. What about helping everyone in need without judging the person, their situation or what got them there in the first place. Blessing our enemies. Forgiving seventy times seven and turning the other cheek. What if we decided rather than building a church and filling it, each person decided to be the church and take their rightful place in the Body of Christ? Is it even possible for people to live in harmony when families can’t even seem to get it together? What if all God really wanted and required of us is in Micah 6:8 – “to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.Genuine faith is born of genuine love. Genuine love does not consider self but others first beginning with Jesus Christ and filtering His Love to everyone else. Until I am ready to give my life up to follow Jesus and love others this way – I fail the test of genuine faith every time. Religiosity melts in the midst of a true relationship with Jesus Christ. Fully committed to pursuing Him wholeheartedly and no one else resolves all doubt and disbelief because faith has completed us and we lack no good thing.

I Timothy 1:5 (NLT) The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 

The purpose of my life begins and ends in Jesus Christ. My faith must be genuine. There will be situations in life when I am challenged to examine my heart and mind to determine if the faith I claim to have is real and authentic. I welcome such an opportunity. There has not been a single time that I have not had to call on the Grace of God for His Help because I lack sufficient faith and need His Power to cover my weakness. The Law of God is not intended for those who have decided to follow Jesus yet we use it as a weapon all the time. While it should be directed at the enemy – it is often leveled at family. We are all Children of God loved and desired by our Father just the same. Jesus died for us…all. There are no boundaries to His Love. The only obstacle I face is my ability to believe and live by faith. Lord, help my unbelief today! Teach me to love like you do! Make my faith genuine so it will bring you praise, glory and honor for the whole world to see!

I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT) So be truly glad.There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

Winning Friends

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Romans 5:10-11 (NLT) For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

I am a friend of God. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. He has restored my right relationship with the Father by His Sacrifice. Now what? No, seriously. This is the crossroads of faith where many will fall in the crosshairs of religion rather than becoming fully committed to a new and right relationship with the Lord. My friendship with God ignites a tiny spark in me that should become a burning light of His Love for all the world to see, but I am I getting it right? Am I introducing others to my friend, Jesus and His Father, God? My daughter came back home for a wedding recently. In the last year, our family relocated to the rural county just outside of the city limits which had been our home for more than a decade. We have made new friends in our new church here. During our conversations, my daughter has heard me mention these people so on her last visit, she made a point that she wanted to meet them based on my many accounts and shared experiences. She wants to know them because I love them which has created an interest in her. Today I am wondering do I portray and relay the same when it comes to Jesus. Does my conversation, attitude and actions make them desire to connect with the Lord as well?

Dale Carnegie wrote the best-selling book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” in 1936. It has sold more than 30 million copies world-wide and is #19 on the Time Magazine list of most influential books of all time. As I skimmed through the outline of topics to compare my ability to win friends and influence people, I was a bit surprised at the simplicity. However, I was also immediately convicted that I am not always the best friend. He offers a list of fundamental ways to handle people that goes as follows: 1) Don’t criticize, condemn or complain. 2) Give honest and sincere appreciation. And 3) Arouse in the other person an eager want. Imagine what our congregations might be like if we just focused on item #1 for a while. I could have stopped here with enough to chew on for a while, but I say, “Go big or go home” right?

He also details six ways to make people like you. Who doesn’t want people to like them? I want people to like me. I don’t want to be the one others avoid. I am in this world and definitely not of it. But I also called to be a Light in the darkness that is attractive illuminating the way to Jesus Christ. My life is to be a beacon for others to experience an introduction to Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. So here is what Mr. Carnegie believed would make people like us: 1) Become genuinely interested in other people. 2) Smile. 3) Remember a person’s name for it is the sweetest world they hear. 4) Be a good listener and encourage others to share about themselves. 5) Talk in terms of other people’s interest. And 6) Make the other person feel important and do so sincerely. Jesus died for “that” person. They are important to God. No matter how they are living, what they look like, the choices they are making, or the bad things they are doing. His Grace is just as sufficient for them and equally intended to be the Power in their life. We must learn to build friendships if our desire is to build the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is built on our relationship with Jesus Christ and our ability to effectively relay His Love to others.

James 2:22-24 (NLT) You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

During our son’s long battle with cancer, I spent a great deal of time studying about Abraham. He was counted as a friend of God. Abraham believed God. We point back to the mountain when he was ready to sacrifice his son, Isaac to the Lord. He trusted God completely even if it meant driving a knife right through the heart of his promise. I was looking for that kind of faith at that time. The kind of faith that loves God no matter what or how significant the heartbreak may be. Abraham was considered a friend of God. Why? God called him friend because he was considered righteous or in right standing with God but if we read just a verse further it says – he was not only made right by his words or confession of faith but that his actions reflected his faith in God. So what about Rahab the prostitute? Do you ever think about her faith? She made into the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. Did her actions make her right with God? It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” It doesn’t say, Rahab the “former” prostitute. She was living in sin yet God found her faithful in her friendliness to the spies who came into her city.

Religion has killed our social skills when it comes to building relationships with people in the church. We look for works and judge them by their appearance when God is always searching their heart. How will I know a person’s heart outside of a sincere relationship? How can I introduce them to the Love of God found in friendship with Him if my life and love bear no resemblance of the Love that changed my life? My friendship with the Living God is based on faith expressed in love. (Period) It is by grace that I am saved and nothing I can do will ever change that. Until I allow the Love and Grace of God to penetrate my heart beyond works, and get back to the business of building relationships and friendships with others so that I can share my Jesus with them, revival will not come. The spark of revival comes from a real and right relationship with God that can effectively express it to others. God’s Love is not critical it is not condemning – it is come as you are.

John 15:13-14 (NLT) There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

There is no greater love than to lay our life down for another. Jesus died for us. We don’t have to die for others. We must simply allow the Love of God to work out faith within us that will overcome insecurity so that we can freely give our life to others. Social media has silenced conversation. Nobody communicates anymore other than via text message. Friends keep in touch via the internet hardly ever meeting, embracing and conversing with one another. We work with people day in and day out yet never really get to know them or care for them. I can preach the Word of God at people and it will bounce off them like seeds being thrown on a rock. Or I can invest time and energy getting to know them to reach them where they are and plant seeds in a soft pliable heart. A wise person wins friends. (Proverbs 11:30) We need friends so iron can sharpen iron. (Proverbs 27:17) The heartfelt counsel of a friend is like perfume and incense to the Lord. (Proverbs 27:9) We must closely examine our heart. Am I a friend to others? Am I a good friend? Am I a godly friend? Am I willing to lay down my life for others? Jesus said that if I am His Friend, this is exactly what I will do.

I John 2:7-8 (NLT) Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.

I think I will order Mr. Carnegie’s book. I think it will be a benefit. God has promised that being a godly friend can produce His Favor in my life. In fact, when Job prayed for his three friends, the Lord released a double portion. What if God is not holding up revival but I am because I choose religion over relationship when I should be all about relationships always? It is not my job to change people. Truth is I couldn’t change myself. God did it. His Love is amazing. His Faithfulness unmatched. His Goodness is too much to ever be reciprocated. His Grace more than enough for me. His Favor is better than life. I cannot begin to tell you about the Love and Affection God has shone me or the inexpressible joy it has produced in me. Or maybe I can… over coffee, or what the heck, let’s get some ice cream or a fancy dessert, or maybe on a good day we can go for a walk in the park and talk awhile? We must create opportunities to be light. This light burning in us comes with arms, legs and mouths that can be an extension of God’s Love to others. He came into this world to empower me with plenty of love and grace to be the Light that reaches the world. My friendship with God facilitates an opportunity to connect and share His Love with others. If your message is not inviting, and people are not responding, maybe it is time to make a few adjustments. Ask the Lord to filter your words, motives and intent. Purify your heart. Ask Him to give you grace and love above your capability and outside your comfort zone to reach others with sincerity. The Holy Spirit is our helper. Love is a fruit of God’s Spirit. Learn the definition of love in I Corinthians and live it with all people all the time. You will be a Light. You are God’s Friend. By faith, He will teach you to win friends and influence people with His Love.

I John 4:11-12 (NLT) Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 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.

Dangerous Habits

dangerous-habits

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. (Aristotle) Successful people are those with successful habits. (Brian Tracy) We often look to those who have achieved success that is coveted to decipher their lifestyle and habits to glean the tips and tricks needed to have the same effect in our life. What are their habits? The things they repeatedly do. Here are some examples that I discovered: Get up early (Robert Iger – Disney CEO), Have a plan (Benjamin Franklin), Stay active (Anna Wintour – Vogue Editor), Prioritize what’s important – Steve Jobs, Make time for hobbies (Warren Buffet), Practice stillness (Oprah Winfrey), Take time to reflect (Bill Gates), Give back (Richard Branson – Billionaire), and Keep up momentum (Jay Z – Rapper/Music Producer. These people are considered highly successful individuals whose wisdom is coveted by those who wish to achieve the same things in life. There is truth in their statements that can be applied to our life and effect positive change.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine. (John C. Maxwell) There is a myth that habits are formed in just 21 days of repeating the same behavior. This is now proven to be a myth. There is a new belief that there are actually three phases to habit formation. The first is the Honeymoon Phase – This is characterized by the feeling that this change will be a piece of cake. The “this is easy” feeling much like in marriage. The first week or two of elation ends when two people begin to actually do life together. The next phase is termed appropriately the Fight Thru Phase. It is when inspiration turns into brutal reality. A person must find the means and motivation to “fight thru” positive habit completion. The final phase is called the Second Nature when balance is achieved and the habit finds its place in our routine becoming engraved in our brain. All of this is not a bad thing, but I have decided that though good habits make for success in life that they can be dangerous to one’s spiritual success.

A habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. As I prepared a cup of hot tea this morning, I forgot to put the microwave cover back in its place. I stopped and put it back. It caught my attention. When I was a young person, I was messy. My children all but one have followed suit. Yet now, I make my bed every morning. Put things away after I use them in the proper place. I get up early each morning. I used to love to sleep until noon. There are mornings as I make the commute to work in thought or prayer that I lose track of the journey. Segments of time that I am no longer conscious of the road, lights or other drivers. These are all things that I no longer think about but just do. Some may call these good habits, I tend to agree as they suit me just fine. The part that concerns me is the word “involuntary”. Involuntary means independent of one’s will. It is not by choice. Unintentional. Unconscious. What if my pursuit of Jesus Christ has become a habit and I am no longer aware of it? What if the things I do for the Lord are no longer faith based but just something I do lacking passion and desire? Am I a creature of habit or becoming a new creation? I must examine my heart to be certain that my life is marked by intentional Christianity and not involuntary actions. If you make positive changes, you will most certainly reap what you sow. However, I am not after earthly reform but holy transformation.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

It is comfortable to order our life according to certain behaviors and schedules that offer a level of control. Is the control over my life self-control produced by my ability to change or the Holy Spirit within me? We pattern our lives in accordance with the goals perceived as good and beneficial. At some point, most successful people will achieve some form of balance. This is not all bad, but it can cause our relationship with the Lord to become stagnant. If I judge my life according to the world’s standard, it may appear to be a good life with a fair amount of success. I have had my share of failures. Success is not defined by those who don’t fail but those who do not give up. When I experienced a failure in life, it quickly became a lesson for survival. I am not called and created to survive in this life but to thrive well beyond the 70 or so years that I am given.

With this in mind, if I become comfortable with my life serving God I am susceptible to complacency. Religiosity gives a false send of security to the believer based on good behavior and time well spent serving God that produces certain blessings. I am blessed. Is it enough for me? No, I have a deep desire and burning passion to be transformed. What if transformation doesn’t look like success to the world? It doesn’t my friend. Success in the Kingdom is selflessness that gives way to complete unity with Jesus Christ. I cannot gauge my spiritual success by a worldly standard. I must not become a habitual Christian but strive to be an intentional one.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it.” (Charles R. Swindoll) While this is applied in both the natural and spiritual realm equally, I believe that this powerful statement holds the secret to our success as a believer. If we could focus 10% on life and become 90% fixed on responding appropriately by using God’s Word, His Wisdom and Christ’s Example to transform our heart and soul – we would be a successful, healthy and functioning Body of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 3:16-20 (NLT) But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Has my spiritual life become a habit? Am I serving God involuntarily? Am I lukewarm? Am I intentional anymore? Am I willing to be honest with myself? Our life in the Lord is like an onion as each season peels back another layer producing a new aroma and often many tears. What if I get used to the smell and do not give way to those tears anymore. Becoming comfortable with the process of transformation thereby giving way to complacency. How will I know? Will it be too late when my lack of newness becomes evident in the Presence of my Savior? My attitude and actions can be changed by my ability to change certain habits in my life. But if I don’t allow the Lord to expose every weakness and every insufficiency to effectively apply more of His Grace until I am a new creation – my life will be a complete failure. The Lord is offering to strip us of indifference before it’s too late. He wants to heat things up so our life is palatable again. I must be willing. It must be my choice. I must be intentional. It is my conscious decision to be successfully transformed no matter what it takes.

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be…is what you do.” (Bill Phillips, Author and Entrepreneur) Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We are free to choose the life we life. The Lord will not force us into a relationship with Him or this would be void of love but enslavement. He is offering us the opportunity of unity which means I must leave “me” behind and become one with Him. All of me for all of Him. I am free to choose the type of relationship that I have with God. Each day holds 24 hours of opportunity. I am the master of my time. How I spend it? How I waste it? What I do with it? What I get out of it? My mind, body and soul can be invested as I choose to do so. However, if my heartfelt desire is Jesus Christ. It is not a habitual change that will create success in my pursuit but rather intentional surrender and submission of my life to the process of transformation called faith. I must give up my rights to claim righteousness. I must admit I am weak to secure His Strength. Hope must be the anchor for my soul not schedule or routine. I must go where Jesus goes. Do exactly what He says. Come when He calls to me. Not because I have to but simply because He is my greatest desire.

Lord, forgive me today for the lukewarm places in my life. I repent for every action that has become habit and routine lacking passion and burning desire for You, Jesus.  I want to move deeper into Your Presence. I desire You above all things. Show me the areas of indifference in my life so I may surrender them all to You, Lord. Show me the involuntary actions of compromised complacency. I rebuke religious habits and give these also to You! My greatest accomplishment will be acceptance into Your Kingdom forever. Lord, make my life so. I ask you to makeover my heart and renew a right spirit within me, Jesus. All I want is You, Lord and my full intention is to have more of You!

Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

You Don’t Have To

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

Engaged in worship on my daily commute, a song called “Thank You” came up in the playlist. It is a song asking for nothing but simply thanking Jesus for always coming. “How do I say thank you, Lord for the way that You love and the way that you come…” It goes on in the chorus to say, “You don’t have to come but You always do.” The bridge explains further…”You didn’t have to come, but you wanted to.” Jesus Christ came as a sacrifice for my life. He didn’t have to. He chose to. Let those words sink into your heart today. Jesus didn’t have to come. He still doesn’t have to. He chose to be made an example for us. He decided to sacrifice His Life for me. The Son of God in an act of submission gave up Heaven and all His Glory to come save us. People who didn’t want Him, yet He came to give up everything just to give every human being the opportunity to have eternal life. He chose to surrender His Life for me on a long shot.

Sometimes our unmet expectation misplaced in this world or misguided by half-truth or boldfaced lies gives us a sense of entitlement created a divided and unthankful heart. We forget who we are in the midst of insecurity when fear overtakes our still small faith. Jesus is our example. He demonstrated the best way to use our freedom and obtain a Kingdom far greater than anything we can see now. He gives a place to put our faith. Wraps us in a robe of thick righteousness allowing the Father to only see the Son in whom He is well-pleased. Placing an anchor called hope in our heart to keep us from wavering. All of this simply because He wanted to. Can you just thank Jesus for a minute that He desired you? I am so thankful that the Lord wanted me enough to come to me! Die for me! Get back up for me! Secure my place in Heaven forever! Now what is it that God desires of me…

John 6:29 (NLT) Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

The only “work” God wants from you and me is to believe. How is this possible? It is not the way of the world though difficult to wrap our head around imperative that we do. The “work” of God in us is a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) The Word of God is clear that no one comes to the Father except through Him. It is human nature to try to earn our way but it is clearly evident there is nothing that I can do to earn my freedom. “Who the Son sets free is free indeed…” This one truth will change your perception of religion forever. Jesus died to hand us the Keys to the Kingdom. In our hand, pocket or lost in the junk drawer, they open nothing. Everything remains closed in our life but for those who choose to engage in the “work” God desires may lose their life on earth but gain forever in that moment.

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

Jesus set three very important examples of us as believers and Children of God here on earth. They are hinted at in John 14:6. I am the way, the truth and the life. There are three responses respectively to these three qualities. If He is the way – we must surrender. If He is truth – we must submit. If Jesus is life – I must sacrifice my life to have eternal life. These are not the ideal characteristics people seek God for. They want His Gifts, His Goodness, and His Glory. Desiring His Kingdom come to earth but not His Kingdom more than the things of this world. When it came down to the wire, and this message was finally brought into the light. People had a problem with it. John 6:67-69 us that many deserted Christ. He asked the twelve, “What about you?” (Paraphrased) Simon Peter spoke from the newfound faith in his heart and replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe and we know you are the Holy One of God.” Our faith must produce a belief in our heart that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life so that our mind, soul and body believes in Him enough to surrender, submit and sacrifice our life and gain eternity. We are free to choose. Have I chosen well?

Matthew 10:37-39 (NLT) “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

Have you surrendered to the new way of life offered in Jesus Christ? It is not as you might think or has been engrained in us by religion. There is nothing to gain from religion other than a new set of rules. Relationship is the key to successfully surrendering our life to Jesus Christ. The moment that He becomes the One who our heart loves and desires more than anything – sin is no longer our desire. Anything that may come between us and our one true love is unacceptable. Just like in marriage, there are things I no longer do because my husband does not appreciate them. Just as Christ surrendered His Way to become the Way for us, love demands surrender. The commitment of love is a giving of our way to be one with another. Since Jesus is “the” Way, it seems to be one with Him that I must surrender my way.

Matthew 8:8-10 (NLT) But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!

Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh to share the message of His Great Love for us. (John 1) Do you believe God at His Word? Do you trust that every single written word is inspired by God and useful in everyday life? Will you submit to His Word? Submission recognizes authority and is the response to it. The Roman officer commanded an army. He understood the importance of submission even though many responded to him the very same way. When Jesus spoke the Word that his servant would be healed, as a man of authority, he responded to the authority of Jesus Christ over sickness and disease. What is that thing too big to overcome? If I am willing to submit to God’s Word in every facet of life, it is possible to have the power and authority of the Lord in my life. Do you believe God’s Word is the Truth? If so, our response should be submission. Not only to the things that appeal to us, but every single written word like any good soldier reacts to his commanding officer. Jesus Christ is the Truth. To believe in the Truth and “work” out one’s salvation requires belief that operates on the Word of God alone in the Person of Jesus Christ, His Son.

I John 3:16 (NLT) We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Jesus gave up His Life for us. Jesus had the perfect life but came to sacrifice His Perfection for our imperfection so that we have the freedom to choose a new life. That’s right a new life rather than the stagnant existence that produced dissatisfaction drawing us to the Cross. We come to Christ is search of a better life. He offers us the freedom to have one. We must choose the life that is desired. He will never force us to live in His Love, become His Light, or give up our life. Love is not forced it is sacrificed. I choose to respond to His Love with my life. Am I willing to lay down my life, hopes, dreams and desires at the feet of Jesus Christ and become the new creation obtaining new life? I have that choice. I don’t have to. I must want to…just like Jesus wanted to. God did not send His Son to judge us but to save us. Jesus didn’t come to condemn us but that all might be set free. His Spirit lives in us with a handful of keys that will open many Kingdom doors for those who choose to surrender, submit and sacrifice this life for a new life in Christ. We have the right to choose.

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

You are free in Jesus Christ today. You can use your life any way that you see fit. You can come to Jesus and allow Him to give you the rich and satisfying life promised or continue to forge your way through the world. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. In this right to choose, we can follow the example of Christ which is always surrender, submission and sacrifice or any other way that one might life. The invitation is simple and clear – “Come.” (Revelation 22:17) God just wants you to come. Jesus died so you could come. The Spirit calls out to you to come. Will you come? Well, that is up to you. But the one thing I know that inspires me is that Jesus didn’t have to come but He did. He still doesn’t have to come when I call but He does every single time. He doesn’t just come and say, “What a fine mess you got us in again!” No, the Lord brings the very thing I needed and gives it to me in abundance. He gives me perfect peace. He provides inexpressible joy. He gives me deep satisfaction. All these things well up inside me even when not a single detail changes. All this in spite of my fickle, disbelieving heart that I struggle to keep in check. Just because He loves me. Jesus really loves me. Do I really love Him? Enough to surrender, then to submit and ultimately to sacrifice – giving this life away for the new life found in Christ alone. I want to…I really do!

Revelation 22:17 (NLT) 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.