Level Paths

Level Paths

Isaiah 26:7-8 (NIV) The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

There is a popular Christian saying that “God is greater than our highs and lows.” Originating from Romans 8:39 – it is a reminder that neither height nor depth or anything in all creation can ever separate us from the Love of God. The certainty of our faith and confident hope in Christ is the fact that His Unconditional Love and Unfathomable Grace belongs to us. No matter how chaotic our conditions or crazy the circumstances of life become making it possible to keep our eyes on Him and our feet traveling in His Direction. The acquisition and full possession God’s Love personally and intimately allows us to walk on level paths. It says so in Isaiah 26 that “the path of the righteous is level.” He makes “the way of the righteous smooth.” The journey of life is full of bumps, barricades and road blocks. We can overcome them all in the Name of Jesus. But how?

Glad you asked. When we walk in the way of the Word, waiting on the Lord, and make His Name and Glory our deepest desire – a union is formed between us. In Matthew 11, Jesus offers to yoke with us or become partners. Intimacy with the Lord requires many of the same things that a personal relationship in the natural would. We must learn to pay attention, invest energy, and give up our way in order to move closer to Him and become one with Christ. Christ lives in us. His Spirit is evidence of the consummation and desire of the Lord to be one with us. However, just as two people can live in the same home or be married for decades, sometimes intimacy is not achieved. Any relationship that is ignored will die over time.

With this in mind, are you walking with Jesus today? Are you aware of His Presence in you and around you right now? He goes before us, stands right there with us, lives in us and hedges us in from behind. I am just like you and cannot fully comprehend the omnipresence of God but by faith I accept it and choose to engage in a relationship because I have confident hope. The Lord has made the Way for us. He has ordered our steps and leveled our path. How do I find it?

Psalm 119:103-105 (NIV) How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

As a teenager, I was challenged by a Sunday school teacher to learn and memorize scripture verses. She gifted me with a little packet of cards. Psalm 119:105 was one of the first verses. Why do we need God’s Word? I have heard many people express difficulty in reading, understanding and continuing in the Word of God. I get it because I used to feel the exact same way. However, the Word of God is absolutely essential to walking on level paths through life. You must know the Word to know Jesus Christ. He is the Word. The Word of God is our instruction book and map to the promises and blessings that the Lord has hidden in this life for our natural and spiritual success. It points us in the right direction. It helps us to decide at the crossroads of life and valleys of indecision. The Word of God is our weapon against the lie of the enemy which is the only thing that he has in his arsenal to use against us. The Bible tells us that people perish for a lack of knowledge. It points out that in the end times – the Word will help people identify false teaching. It is absolutely the lamp and compass for our life.

Psalm 119:103 describes the Word as “sweet” to the taste. It’s funny that sometimes it seems like a bitter pill going down but as we begin to feast on His Word, chew it up, and fully digest it something remarkable happens. The Holy Spirit takes the Truth and begins to feed and nourish our soul with it. He uses it to combat all our rebellious thoughts and contrary nature. As we grow stronger in the Word, it develops and matures us from the inside out. When I eat a green bean, I do not immediately feel full. I do not experience the process going on inside of me as my body takes all the nutrients out of the vegetable. It begins a digestion process with in me. I also don’t immediately feel the effects of white chocolate macadamia cookies when I eat them – I just know I really like them until I cannot button my jeans. The Word of God is not always a quick fix. It is an ongoing investment in intimacy with Christ as we get to know Him more and more. We eat (or at least are supposed to) three meals a day. Some of us may do a little snacking, too. This keeps our body strong and healthy. The Word must be partaken just the same to build a strong and healthy soul that will prosper.

Psalm 18:32-36 (NIV) It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

David killed a lion and a bear before facing the giant that day. God ordered his steps to train him for one of the biggest challenges of his life. He spent countless hours tending sheep. During that time, it is clear that he spent time with the Lord. David is called a man after God’s Own Heart. His Love for us unquestionable in the giving of His Son, Jesus. His Commitment undeniable as evidenced by His Spirit entrusted us. God gave us the Word to make our paths level, but that doesn’t mean to smooth out all the bumps in the roadway of life. It is not about making this life and the world a better place. He has given us His Word and provided the way for level paths by faith and confidence. God is greater than the highs and lows because He carries us high above them.

The Lord has provided a wide path, a spacious place, an open heaven in our midst. Walking in it doesn’t always mean there will not be challenges, struggles or battles otherwise there would be no need to train us or give us a shield. We wouldn’t need His Help if perfection possible. He causes me to stand on the heights but that means I am going to travel up some mountains out of some pretty low valleys. BUT…it says He keeps my way secure…whatever that way is…God has already been there to make a way where there was no way, provide everything I need to get through it and most assuredly will give me victory in due time.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NIV)Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Make level paths for your feet. Our active participation and dedication to intimacy with Jesus Christ is to pursue Him in the Word. By doing so, we level the way before us because our life is no longer defined by words, opinions or lies. It is bound by Truth. Truth will produce more faith and confidence in the Lord. Confidence that will keep on keeping on even when the mountain seems high or the valley too low. His Love will carry you above your situation to see things as He sees them and give you hope that keeps you in the good fight of faith. Be encouraged today. God loves you. No height or depth or anything in all creation will ever separate you from His Love whether naturally occurring or self-imposed. His Grace is ALWAYS enough. The Lord will never ever let you down. You have to believe that to receive it otherwise your life will be wasted reacting to the change of scenery rather than responding to His Promises and flourishing in faith. You have His Word. You have His Spirit. Christ is in you. Make level your path today. Fill your insufficient faith with the Word and watch it grow into all the good things He promised.

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

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Together in Common

Together in Common

Acts 2:44 (NIV) All the believers were together and had everything in common.

Last night was Halloween, we live in a neighborhood that is quite popular with families and trick-or-treaters. Since our children are mostly grown, no one was dressing up instead choosing to decorate pumpkins and pass our candy to the army of little superheroes, monsters and the like. The first text message came from my oldest just before lunch to let me know that she had invited a friend over to be the candy police. No problem. As the day went on a text message here and a call there turned into a pop-up party at our house. I was cooking dinner as everyone began to arrive and hungry children filled my kitchen. By the time the parents had gathered, my supplies had run out so we ordered a pizza. The girls greeted the treat seekers while older siblings accompanied the younger ones around the neighborhood. There was food, laughter, and fellowship and as I fell into my bed thoroughly exhausted from the day – I couldn’t help but smile. This is community. This is what God wanted and He was happy. Even on a day heavily debated by many Christians – good had overcome evil.

This is not to debate the participation of Christians in the fall season festivities. God looks at our heart and judges us accordingly with His Love and Immeasurable Grace. The gathering of believers in our home was not about celebrating the darkness or any sort of evil. In fact, it was about coming together as a community. That’s right a community. God loves community. He loves fellowship. A community may be the social group in which we operate, the local of our residence, and a shared government. It can also be an occupational group. The “ecclesiastical” definition of community is a group who shares common interest. Our common bond is Jesus Christ. He brings us together and reconciles us to Himself so that we can identify with each other.

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The group who gathered in our home last night all attend church together. Sitting on the front porch, the mamas helped me with a tutu for homecoming week sprung on me by my teen who was out in the neighborhood with the others. Everyone talking, laughing and commenting on the princesses and ninjas on our doorstep. As the night progress and people cleared the streets, we moved inside out of the cold. Our home is not an open floor plan so I often hesitate to invite people over because it doesn’t seem to flow. By the end of the night, there were about a dozen people with an oversized dog all together and it seemed to work out just fine. Laughter filled the air. Everyone enjoying one another – I just cannot help but think the Lord is showing me the value and worth of putting aside our insecurities about where we live, what we have to offer and our opinions on certain subjects long enough to do community. To be a community. To share life in Christ together. Maybe this would end dumb arguments and stupid separation caused by misunderstandings and isolation – we would know each other’s heart and the love to be found there. Did you notice that in the coming together of believers that “the Lord added to their number daily who were being saved”? I wonder if the community called church has lost its ability to come together and have fun. Have we lost the concept of the “more the merrier”? What if we decided to come together and be one? Imagine the possibilities?

In verse 47, there are two key words – together and common. Together means in one gathering, a company, mass, place or body, union and in relationship. Relationship pleases God. It is the whole reason He sent His Son, Jesus to die for us so that our relationship with Him could return to right standing. The Love of God invested in us pays a dividend when it is released from us. It is the harvest that blesses the Kingdom and our Father. The word in “common” has meaning too. The division of believers is a difference never set forth by God. The common bond is Jesus Christ. We are to reconcile our life to Him which incorporates and infuses a love that binds and never restricts. Common means belonging equally to, shared a like by, joint, united, widespread and frequent occurrence. Together in common is the community facilitated by the Love of God through Jesus Christ that should be the practice of the modern day church according to the Word of God it will produce the salvation in many and result in an expansion of the church.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Let us consider…think carefully about as to make a decision, contemplate and reflect. The church of Jesus Christ wants to build the Kingdom. I think we lose our focus on how to do that by trying to perfect the people rather than concentrating on loving each other. Community in Christ is all about Jesus. Jesus. That’s all. As we come together to encourage each other and build each other up – His Spirit moves in us. Conviction and conversion by His Spirit is way more effective than our personal opinion or religion. I am not entirely convinced any of us have it all right but Jesus is my righteousness. Yoked to Him, I can give myself to relationship and community freely because He is my expectation.

Before you post on social media, think about this. Is it kind, necessary and true? Does it bring together or tear apart? Before you hit send on that text, is it kind, necessary and true? Am I sharing the love and grace of Jesus or getting my point across? Before you hesitate to join together with others (not only believers) but the sharing of your life with others, remember Jesus is all you need to be a good host or hostess. He has provided all you need to meet together, fellowship and enjoy the company of others. Use every opportunity to have a pop-up party – I am a type A personality kind of planner. I begin the process months in advance. To have an impromptu gathering is outside of my comfort zone, but it is exactly the kind of ministry I am called to. I wonder if we consider our attitude and actions in each invitation or interaction with the community according to Christ what might happen in the church of the Living God.

Finally, I am to be a Light in this world. Like a city on a hill drawing others to Christ, those drawn to the Light will do so in love and their message will be heard by soft hearts safely in a relationship. We must learn to consider our community and incorporate it in our life. We should spur others to love not offense. Just because you interpret God’s Word one way does not mean others will do the same and it doesn’t mean that you are always right. The only thing that you can’t go wrong with is unconditional love and overflowing grace – the qualities of Jesus Christ – the example for the church. Religions dictates our life. Relationship decides to love with our life. Each person lives by a standard. Ultimately, Christ is our standard. We make the choice each day. We are called to build a Kingdom. We are mandated to encourage one another. The Body of Christ is broken and maybe if we consider community first – it will come together as one.

Romans 12:3-5 (NIV)  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

 

Tight Spot

Tight spot

Psalm 18:1-2 (NIV) I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Ever find yourself in a tight spot, me too. It seems like sometimes our freedom in Christ is compromised – hedged in by conditions, limited by situations, and overwhelmed by problems – where are the wide open spaces that God promised His People in Psalm 18:19 or the spacious place. In Psalm 16:6 – it is called the pleasant place. Life is not always pleasant even after accepting Jesus Christ. He promises us victory in the outcome but not necessarily triumph in every moment. Life can be hard. It can bring the unexpected. Life is not fair. It can be brutal as a believer to live for Christ every day, to be the light, and remain salty nevertheless that is our call.

Who the Son sets free is free indeed? But with that comes the wisdom that though are things are now permissible – not all things are beneficial. We have a new set of standards for our choices in life. How will I respond to problems? What is my reaction to pressure? The Lord is my strength. He will help me. Right? Well, why do I feel weak and powerless? I am hemmed in and it seems as though the evidence of my life is contradictory to strength and power. These two qualities have changed since receiving Christ, now my strength must fail in order for His Power called Grace to prevail in my life. I am no longer confident in me, my abilities, my surroundings or even the people around me. The Lord is calling me to the rock so He can be my Rock. He is calling me into his fortress so He can become my Fortress. He is allowing me to wander into dangerous territory so that He can be my Deliverer. Otherwise, I would continue to settle for less and do things in my own power. Where is the glory in that?

Exodus 33:21-23 (NIV) Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

Moses was uncertain of God’s Command to “lead these people” as I am sure many men and women in ministry struggle with from time to time. Leading people is tough. People are problematic, prideful and stubborn. Just managing my own brood is challenging enough, I cannot imagine trying to lead an entire congregation in the same vision and mission. Ugh! He goes before the Lord to discuss the matter. I wonder what would happen if we became conversational with God. If we entered His Presence to hash things out and discuss the issues that bring us concern. What if we just decided to have an intimate conversation with Him even on the good days when trouble is not pounding on our door and chaos calm for the moment? The Lord tells Moses – paraphrased – “No worries. I will go with you! I will do what you are asking. I am pleased with you and know you by name.” So Moses presses further – “Now show me your glory.” There is something about God’s Glory – His Manifest Presence that may not change our environment but changes our heart washing away doubt and fear and filling us with confident hope. Are you confident in the Lord today? Or do you feel restricted, limited or hindered by the circumstances surrounding your life? I wonder today if the Lord is pressing you into the “cleft of the rock and covering you with His Hand”? Could it be that He is about to show you His Glory?

I Kings 19:11-13 (NIV) The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah had just killed all the prophets of Baal arousing the anger of Jezebel. Now one would assume that the prophet would be basking in victory but instead he is hiding in a cave. Her threat had penetrated his human heart and now he was in a cave second guessing his destiny. He told the Lord, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty” in this statement we find that the man of God feels far from God as He addresses the Lord formally. He recounts his good works and then the pity party begins…”I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me.”

Fear and doubt are powerful motivators and sneaky attackers. They come in when we are tired, drained or running low in faith. They pounce on us like helpless prey and devour the little bit of confidence remaining after tests and trials have taken their toll. I never really understood this until our son went into remission. For almost a year, I was broken, empty and on the verge of depression. The victory was great. God is good. His Word did not fail us. Our son is alive and well. However, I am still human and given over to emotionalism from time to time. I couldn’t see the Light of His Glory in that moment as my humanness overtook me. I had exhausted my faith and needed renewal. God passed by me in His Goodness and swept His Glory over me. I was instantly refreshed and renewed. It is not uncommon for us to give in to human weakness. In fact, it is absolutely necessary for His Grace to empower our life.

Song of Solomon 2:14-16 (NIV) My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. My beloved is mine and I am his…

The tight spots, limitations, hindrances and times of being stuck between a rock and hard place have meaning and purpose. They are an invitation. An opportunity to press into the Presence of God and spend time with Him. He is the One who tells us who we really are, what we are called to do, and how to do it yet we get caught up in busyness, the opinions of others and the rat race chasing some elusive American Dream forgetting that He is the God is Good in the land of the living. We see God futuristically and seek Him so when He desires intimacy and communion with us now – today. He pursues us with unfailing love and goodness. Will we stop long enough to experience His Love today and encounter His Glory?

From the very beginning, it has been God’s Greatest Desire to walk with us, talk with us, and live life with us. He desires us. He loves us. The Lord chases after us with His Love, Mercy, Grace and Goodness every day, all day from beginning to end. Could it be that the challenges you are facing is merely the Lord carefully constructing a cleft to catch you in? A place where He can lavish His Love on you, make a way for you, shower His Goodness on you or even just let you know that He is right there with you. See the Power of God does not limit our life but removes every limitation. We are free indeed.

Psalm 36:5-9 (NIV) Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Are you in a tight spot today? Do you feel limited? Is your confidence waning and faith running low? I wonder your limitation is really an invitation? Could it be that your Beloved is wooing you to come closer and move deeper in His Presence? He makes all things new. He makes way where there is no way. He gives life and love to those who dare to trust Him. The Lord is good. He is always good. He will never let you down but until you trust Him that will remain an opinion of others rather than your personal experience. God allows us to run into dead ends in order to show us a better way. He waits for us to run out of energy and excuses to illuminate the Plan and Purpose found only in His Presence. When His Glory passes by, you will take notice and be changed. He loves you. He is faithful. He is your righteousness and justice all wrapped in one. His love for you is without condition but you must be convinced enough to receive it today. Those who take refuge in the cleft of His Love will live in the shadow of his wings – safe and secure in all situations. They live in abundance beginning with confident hope. They drink from a river so deep that drought cannot reach it. It is a river of delights including joy and peace even in the tough times and tight spots. He is a fountain of life and light in the dark. He is Jesus. He is all you ever need.

Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV) Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Come Together

Come Together

Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT) God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

The church. The Body of Christ. The formation of believers and Christians meeting together. For what? Sundays, Wednesdays, and small groups with scheduled meetings and organized plans. What is the benefit to the world in which we live? A bright and shining light that drives our darkness. A salt so flavorful it is desirable. Paul prayed in Ephesians 1 that the church would know the greatness of power that God has invested in them. To understand the Resurrection Power possible to those who believe. Christ is the ruler, authority, power and leader of the church and in Him it is made full and complete. As we come together in corporate congregational meetings is unity and fulfillment the experience taken from it or just another social circle in which to navigate?

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

The power of the church is in love and unity. There should be encouragement from belonging to Christ. There should be comfort found in His Love. We are His Hands and Feet. We should experience God’s Glory as His Spirit joins us in our gatherings and fellowship together. Leaving the cares, worries and burdens of this world at the feet of Jesus as we come together to share one another’s concerns untied in Christ. We are to agree wholeheartedly. The giving of our heart cannot be done any other way than completely. Do we love one another? Really love each other as delineated in I Corinthians 13? Do we work together putting aside our own schedules and agendas? When the Body of Christ figures out how to come together with one mind and purpose – revival will be the result. But until then…

I Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

What would be the possibilities if rather than always seeking a blessing, believers decided to be a blessing? Sowing seeds of generosity in all things, in all ways and everywhere we go. What might the harvest be? Rather than spouting out religious rhetoric our lives were living demonstrations of the love of God invested in us through Christ Jesus, would witnessing be so hard? If we could trust the church with our families, friends and co-workers, I bet the invitation would flow much easier.

Colossians 3:14-17 (NLT) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

How do I become the church? It’s all about me. That’s right. I must choose to clothe myself in love rather than worrying about my appearance on Sunday, I should maintain a heart covered in love all week long. The kind of love that is described in God’s Word. The kind of love that Jesus demonstrated. I must trust the Lord until His Peace rules in my heart. It means that my conditions and circumstances do not change my conversation and I will bless the Lord at all times. I must remember I am called to live in peace with all believers. If I cannot manage such a life with those I have the most in common (Christ), how will I ever reach a lost and dying world with anything of worth?

Always be thankful. How does it represent our Father when we grumble and complain all the time? If He is our Provider, Healer and more, what is the message of hope in disappointment, discouragement and discontentment? Faith cannot be faked or it is fruitless. Artificial, plastic fruit carefully displayed and occasionally dusted on the dining room table for all to see bears no seeds, fruit or life to those who see it.

Seek wisdom. If you do not choose to partake of the Bread of Life and Living Water, from what resource do you have to give? How can your Spirit man live in starvation? He cannot. The Word of God is Light. It is life. We need it to illuminate the need in us for a Savior and the areas that He is to be Lord in us so that we can manifest His Power and Praise on this planet.

Finally, probably the most important part, “and whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” All this is important striking out in this world as His Disciple, but if it does not begin in the church, we have failed. A dysfunctional church is governed by pride and selfishness. Love does not live there. Without love and grace and generosity, the church is just another religious organization. There are many religions. Only one relationship changes a religion into something more, a living breathing body, and that is Jesus Christ. Have we come together as the Body? Or are we hacking off members and a disfigured representation of what could be? Lord, forgive us for our failure to be fruitful in coming together as one body with one mind, one purpose and one heart.

I Corinthians 12:27 (NLT) All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

In I Corinthians 12, Paul addresses the church in regarding unity. The early church was experiencing growing pains and having some issues no different than the modern church. Paul describes the body of Christ and the need for unity. We are many members who all have a place in the Body of Christ. Too often rather than focusing on who I need to be and what I need to do to effectively and efficiently do my part in the Body, I can become distracted. An effective church is harmonious. An efficient part has fully functioning members. Members are supposed to take care of each other. How is your church doing in maintaining the health of its body? People come and people go…is that okay? I mean if you lost your right arm or left foot would you go on as though nothing happened? Let’s get real for a moment. The pain of others should be our pain. The process of all in the Body should be part of our process. My position does not take from another but should be productive in securing the Body as one. How am I doing? The most important question you can ask yourself today is not what can I do but who am I supposed to be? Our membership in the Body of Christ has purpose and meaning. It cannot function properly without us in place.

Philippians 1:27 (NLT) Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

As a believer, you have the potential to become part of something much larger than your current position. Your realm of influence is ready to expand breaking down every barrier holding you back from reaching your full potential. Fulfillment in Christ is never a solitary position but unity as a whole. You have a plan that includes a future and hope. Your future and hope is membership in a Body. A complete being called the church or the Body of Christ. You have a position to fill that only you can do. The enemy wants us to believe that we do not need anybody but Jesus. Like every other lie he tells the believer that is only half true. The Body of Christ is built of those who make Jesus Christ their everything. To surrender to the Lord is to give yourself to His Body. There is no way around it. You cannot do it alone. Isolation and separation are the tools of the enemy to destroy His Body. Don’t let him use you like that. Seek unity and harmony in your life above all things with all people including the church you attend. People are people. Grace would not be needed if perfection was possible. If you are not part of a local church, I encourage you to find your place. If you are a member of a church but not involved, I encourage you to find your place, too. If you are involved and fighting the good fight of faith, I encourage you to keep doing what you are doing even if you don’t think you can continue – it’s only because breakthrough is almost there. We must come together as believers to be the Light of the World.

Right before our kids moved back from New England, we visited a salt cellar. The store was actually called the Salt Cellar. Traveling down a steep flight of stairs into a dimly lit store, there were tiny jars of salt everywhere. I have never seen such a variety of different flavors of salt. Salt without flavor is useless – it takes all kinds. Today as I think back, I wonder what might happen if we all lined our lives up in one place as the spice of life others need to overcome a dull and useless existence. To offer a place where others could come to taste and see that the Lord is good! Imagine the potential of a unified church that exemplified the Love of God through Jesus Christ effectively. We would call it revival.

Psalm 133

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

 

To Prosper

To Prosper

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

It is God’s Will for you to prosper. He created a plan for you which is to prosper without harm and to give you hope and a future. It is plainly and clearly written and easily discernable in His Word. If you stop with just this one verse in Jeremiah 29, you miss the whole point of the passage. It is God’s Plan for you to prosper but the how of it comes in the next two verses. Prosperity is produced by relationship.

“You will call on me and come and pray to me.” Righteousness is established when one turns from their old way to receive God’s new way. New life comes to us by way of relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, the Word is so bold to say that there is no other way to the Father. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. To prosper body, mind and spirit requires new life given to us by Jesus Christ. As we become a new creation by planting seeds of righteousness in our fertile and broken heart, feed on the Bread of Life and continually bask in Living Water there is an inner transformation performed by the Spirit of God that produces life and life more abundantly. It is all about relationship. Faith turns to trust and the impossible changes to possibility in our life according to the hope we now have.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Relationship is a heart investment that prospers into an overflow from our life. The beginning of any relationship begins with an encounter. The encounter such as repentance creates an experience. The experience impacts of one of two ways. To prosper the experience must produce pursuit. You cannot overtake something you do not decide to pursue. For example, I met my husband through a chance encounter with friends. He caught my attention. I decided that I wanted to know him so I pursued him. We have been married almost two decades and I still pursue him in our relationship. Our relationship has prospered over the years into more than just an encounter. God wants to invest His Kingdom in our life. We must make room for Him and pursue Him with our whole heart. The more of our life given to Christ the more likely abundance will produce an overflow in all of our life.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16; 19-20 (NIV) See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Love is a choice. Pursuit is a choice. Obedience is a choice. These are the choices made by those who desire to prosper in life. God has set it all before us in His Word. The Word became flesh to come and demonstrate God’s Unconditional Love for us and provide the way to prosper in a right relationship with God again. We choose our path. Life and prosperity are options but so are death and destruction. God does not set conditions on us and therefore does not control the consequences of life. It was preset before time began. Sin leads to death. God is life. Jesus gives us eternal life by paying the penalty of sin. God could not exempt His Own Son from the consequence of sin. Jesus bled and died to pay the price. Our choices lead to consequences. Repentance leads to grace and prosperity. New life is created by making a better choice. Choosing to follow Jesus Christ, yoke our life to Him, accept and replicate His Way in our life will make a difference, we will prosper according to His Words and Instructions. You can live under the mandate of grace and never receive the full benefits of His Kingdom. It is all about choices. “Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.” (Deuteronomy 29:9)

Psalm 128:1-2 (NIV) Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) If relationship produces prosperity, our relationship with God will reach our home first. Our union with our spouse and/or children will begin to produce new fruit under God’s Careful Instruction. If our house is out of order, it will be unfruitful or produce bitter fruit. The roles in each home must fall under the guidelines of God’s House in order for the home to prosper. We must serve the Lord and respect His Commands in them. Husbands must love their wives as Christ loves the church. Wives must submit to their husband’s leadership. Children must honor and respect their parents. There must be sound discipline. Love abounds in God’s Household rules and grace abounds even more. When we invite the Lord, His Presence and His Spirit to dwell in our homes and live in our families, we will prosper in these relationships. The world today defines family as anything goes, but the Lord has set parameters for the household. They are not stringent or regulatory but absolutely necessary to prosper according to God’s Word.

Proverbs 16:20 (NIV) Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

If relationship is a product of trust, then prosperity must include trust as well. True repentance is to accept God’s Grace and to turn from sin and darkness to live in love and light. We trust the Lord to do what He promised as we give up the known to pursue the unknowns in God’s Fathomless Grace. The one who gives heed to God’s Instruction and does what they say will be like a tree by streams of living water able to prosper in every season. (Psalm 1:1-3) Some seasons are not favorable, but hard, cold and dry. We live in a loveless world full of sin and darkness. Righteous living is not always welcomed. In fact, the enemy prowls around seeking who he can steal from, kill or destroy. The Light within us is a beacon only riles his anger and draws his attention. We must trust the Lord in those seasons even sowing seeds among our tears knowing that His Joy comes in the morning and we will harvest every seed sown in righteousness no matter how hard the seasons sown in might be.

Proverbs 11:10 (NIV) When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices…

Proverbs 11:25 (NIV) A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

When the righteous prospers it blesses their community. I wonder if the church of the Living God is not prospering because it is not a generous church. Are we reaching our communities with credible love from tangible offers of time, talent and treasure or meager offerings reluctantly given? The more sown into relationship the greater prosperity the church will experience. The overflow is produced by a current. The current that influences overflow is giving. Prosperity is produced by relationship. The greater the relationship the more prosperous it becomes. The righteous are promised prosperity. It is only accessible through relationship. Relationship with God. In our homes, churches and yes, our community. The limit on prosperity is our willingness to engage in relationships. As our soul prospers, so will we. It begins inside of us and increases in overflow in our obedience to release it. It is the seed that creates new harvests. To prosper begins with relationship. Lord, may the promise of prosperity sown in my heart be a blessing that overflows in every area of my life through unity, harmony and sound relationships that bring honor and glory to your Great Name!

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Catch 22

Change

 

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Christians live in a daily process of change. Those who truly believe and turn to Jesus Christ cannot remain the same and in a relationship with Christ. The evidence of Jesus in us is that we become a new person. The old life is passing away giving way to the new lift that has begun. To be yoked to the Lord means accepting His Way. Therefore, in order to become one with Christ, we must be the ones who accept the new way of life and thinking because He cannot and will not change to conform to our way. There is not a believer out there who would openly admit that they do not want all of Christ but few engage and endure the process necessary to be successful in such an endeavor. When change begins to take place, it usually produces inner turmoil, discomfort, inconvenience and things appear to be out of control. Our flesh and inner being is not okay with it and rebels against it. The human tendency is to escape rather than fully engage in the process of revival, restoration and renewal that the Lord is producing in us to secure the conditions of our present environment. There are many reasons that the church is not thriving mostly intrinsic. The Presence and Power of God is available to us but the catch 22 is called change.

Romans 7:22-24 (MSG) It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The paradox of humanity is the war within our bodies. The inner being called our flesh likes to have its own way and preserve its place of control. God’s Spirit moves in and begins mixing things up. The flesh dies a little each day. It must give way to the change God is producing unless we allow it to maintain full control. Mind, will, emotions and even our body chime in against what the Lord is doing in us. The rebels rise up and if our heart does not stand strong against them – our process remains incomplete. Frustration and discouragement set in.

The Lord uses a process called transformation. He does not use conformation but we must be transformed by Christ. This means change. Change so comprehensively complete that it changes who we are, how we think and what we do. There is no compromise in God’s Vocabulary. He is God. God is not human. He is eternal. He is sovereign. He is constant. He does not lie or change His Mind. (Numbers 23:19) God is everlasting. He is the Creator of all things. He does not grow tired or weary. His Understanding is endless. (Isaiah 40:28) His Thoughts and Ways are nothing like a human being. He is perfect in all of His Ways. When He speaks, His Words are on a mission and will not return to Him until that command is complete. (Isaiah 55:8-11) The ordination of our life including His Plans (Jeremiah 29:11) handwritten before our birth (Psalm 139:16) even the calling the Lord has placed on our life cannot be withdrawn or recanted. (Romans 11:29) He said it and He meant it.

Finally, I would be remiss in not mentioning God’s Unconditional Love and Affection for us is eternal. The constancy of God includes His Great Love for us. God is Love. (I John 4:8) He loved us first. (I John 4:19) He loves us most. He will love us always. His Mercy given to us each new day is evidence of this very thing. (Lamentations 3:22-24) He pursues us through life with goodness and unfailing love all the days of our natural life. (Psalm 23:6) His Son, Jesus, bears the same qualities and traits. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) His Example is set and clearly delineated in the Word of God with an invitation to yoke our life with Him. (Matthew 11:28-29) Every detail of our life has the potential to turn out for our good and God’s Glory based on all these foundational truths and promises concerning God’s Unchangeable Character. (Romans 8:28) He does not change like a shifting shadow. The sun casts a shifting shadow moving according to the natural conditions. However, the Son never changes. God has sent good and perfect gifts for His People including the ability to have a new life and become a new creation. Our flesh dies in the process therefore tries to abort it quickly to save itself.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

Romans 7:25 (MSG) The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Change is inevitable to achieve a new life, become a new creation and experience godly fulfillment that leads to full satisfaction and contentment in Jesus Christ. Our flesh creates a paradox. Our body, mind, will and emotions are sinful and contradictory to God’s Way. The problem is that God will not change. He will not compromise for you, me or anyone else. He will settle for nothing less than His Best for us. He refuses to leave us in our current state or condition but must see our purpose and potential fulfilled. This is all because of His Love and Goodness. We are His Passion, Prize and Treasure. He will stop at nothing to bless and prosper our life. Even when we whine, complain and give in to the flesh when our body doesn’t like the change the Holy Spirit is producing in us – God will not relent. He will continue to work in us as long as Christ is in us.

Romans 5:1-2 (MSG)  By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

Faith will always be a catalyst of change. To trust God moves us from glory to glory which is a conduit of change. Change is also a crucible which burns away at the things keeping us from experiencing all of God’s Goodness. It is hard to see the forest for the trees as the saying goes. We forget that our life is a comprehensive plan set into motion that will lead us from victory to victory. We are overcomers in all things because Christ lives in us yet fall subject to light and momentary troubles allowing them to stop the momentum of change. Salvation made us right with God. Repentance is the turning each part of our life over to Him. As we do so, change is inevitable. We must embrace change each day or risk hindering the process of full consummation in a thriving relationship with a jealous God who is reckless and extravagant in His Love for us. He stops at nothing to give you His Absolute Best in full abundance.

Romans 5:3-5 (MSG) There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Every single man and woman of God has days when they question God’s Motives and Intentions. Pressure, pain, and problems make us wonder is God’s Promise really for us. In pregnancy – we wait for the baby to grow, develop and mature into a viable little human. During the birth process, anticipation of fulfillment is close but the real work begins. Right before the baby is born, the woman’s body enters a phase of labor called transition. This is generally marked by the mom’s sudden change in her demeanor. She will say things like “I can’t do this” or “I don’t want to this”. She becomes frenzied and irrational. Usually within minutes, she is holding her precious baby in her arms. If she quit or gave up in that moment, refusing to push her newborn into the world, what would have happened? Maybe you are in transition right now in your spiritual life? Perhaps the Lord is finally birthing that promise that He has grown and developed in you all this time, but it is too hard so you are just want to quit. Impossible is the birthplace of miracles. Does it seem impossible? Does it feel like it’s never going to happen? Are you expecting today?

The Lord is calling out your name today. Like Elijah on the mountaintop, He is asking, “What are you doing here?” The enemy wants you to disengage in this process called change and take the easy way out. It is the moment that he will take fulfillment, contentment and soul satisfaction from you. The moment you give it up to compromise for comfort, convenience or control. Don’t let him do that to you. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Not just forever, but in the land of the living too. You must push, press and endure stopping at nothing to have it. There is no catch 22 for the one who is sold out completely by absolute faith, total trust and confident hope. God will do it. He is able. He is true. The rest, dear one, is up to only you. No more catch 22 or contradictions allowed. Be confident that the Lord who has begun this great and glorious good work in you will complete it!

Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG) I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

Power of Agreement

Power of Agreement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippians 2:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

How many churches have you attended in your lifetime? Can you count the number of places you have attended? I posted something on social media. A friend liked the post. Another friend inquired how the person knew me. We had attended church together many years ago. I have had this happen more than a few times. I do it myself. I have a high school friend who teaches another friend’s children. The Body of Christ is to be just that a living, breathing, working, communicating complete unit. It seems like just when a ministry is growing and strengthening into a fully functioning body something happens and it falls apart. It is time to out the enemy and his assault against unity to become the Body of Christ – a strong source to be reckoned with in the world today.

After years of tearing apart Christians, how ironic that Paul would give the rest of his life after coming to Jesus Christ to rebuild the ruins of wreckage left behind. In an almost pleading fashion, He says, “If there is any consolation (comfort, solace) in Christ…if there is any comfort in His Love…if there is any fellowship in His Spirit…if there is any affection or mercy for one another…fulfill my joy…do it for me if no one else…be like-minded…have the same love…be of one accord…be of one mind.” (paraphrased) The tone reminds me of trying to deal with our teenagers. We teach, instruct, discipline, and finally exasperated in effort plead with them.

It’s funny how families work together. Dysfunction is a key trait in families. Our children fuss, fight, pick and disagree on just about everything UNTIL someone dares mess with a sibling. Suddenly there is complete agreement that that person is about to get hurt as they rally together. The church isn’t much different. Rather than walking in love and commitment together, it only happens in the midst of opposition or tragedy. God desires unity in the Body of Christ. He purposed it for us. Jesus even prayed for us to be one. The Holy Spirit identifies us as one family. How do we overcome the natural sense of family to become one as God’s Family? To stop fussing and fighting all the time and begin to function as Christ intended. It may be harder than you think.

Genesis 11:4-6 (NKJV) And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 

After the flood, Noah and his family replenished the people of the earth. The whole earth had one language and one speech. Unity. They decided to build a tower all the way to heaven. “Let us make a name for ourselves. Lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Self-preservation and pride decided to make a “name” for itself. The Lord came down to see the city and tower. Immediately, He interrupted the building of such idolatry by confusing their language and ability to communicate ending the unity and stopping their downfall. I wonder sometimes if church communities built on the wrong foundation fall apart for the same reason. False prophets who create a community built on foundations other than faith in God’s Word and an introduction to Jesus Christ.

The point of opportunity in this passage and promise rising from another’s misguidance is that when people become one “nothing they propose will be withheld from them”. The power of agreement works naturally and spiritually. Natural agreement produces favorable results in the world. Supernatural agreement builds a Kingdom. It creates a living, breathing body that will become the Bride who Christ is coming for. We have a long way to go!

Acts 2:42-47 (NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The early church set the precedent of fellowship. Thinking of fellowship today, I smell fried chicken and a desert table piled high on a special day at church. In the South, there is homecoming or maybe it’s a “Friends and Family Day” to invite or entice new members. This is not the concept set forth in the New Testament. The church broke bread together and prayed together daily. Every day. Not Sunday’s and Wednesdays. Not small groups. Not via texting. No, every single day. The word “fellowship” or koinonia means sharing, unity, close association, partnership, participation, a society or contributory help. Every member was a valuable asset to the group. They sold all their possessions and goods dividing up the proceeds evenly among everyone and giving to those in need. They lived in one accord. The early followers who were baptized by the Holy Spirit literally devoted their whole life to unity with God and each other.

John 17:20-21 (NKJV)  “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

This was the prayer of Jesus Christ for all of us just before going to the Cross. He desired that those who will believe in Him through the message of the disciples and apostles “that they all may be one” like Jesus and God are one. To abide in love and fellowship together in one accord. One heart. One mind. One body. How are we doing?

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

I wonder if the Lord allows confusion and discord to set in to the church so it doesn’t become built of pride and self-preservation. Is it possible that it is the heart of His People causing the issue and not the enemy to blame? Pride is a human trait overcome by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the spiritual fruit that feeds our soul. As our soul prospers, it overflows those same gifts and characteristics into our natural life. We must live lowly and gently lives. Patient. Bearing one another with love. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit who binds us together in peace. There is one body. There is one Spirit. In 2016, there were estimated to be over 300,000 Christian churches in America. Where is the impact and influence of such mass numbers?

We have been called together in one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in us all. We must work on the Body before we take on the world. What is lacking?

Philippians 2:3-5 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about us united with Christ in full fellowship together according to His Spirit. It is not about building new buildings and erecting new walls – physically, structurally, emotionally, congregationally, or corporately. It is about tearing down every barrier between us and God and everyone else. God doesn’t desire one person over another. Our God doesn’t have favorites. He loves us all. His Love is for us all. His Kingdom has a place for us all. His Body has a function specifically for us and no one else. We cannot fulfill our purpose without the other members of the Body no more than my hand can function apart from my arm if detached from my body. We must learn to live in fellowship. We must figure out how it all works. We must strive to live in harmony and unity with all mankind. It is the Will of God for us and the Way to the Father’s Heart. It is to achieve the Mind of Christ.

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

 

 

 

Freedom of Forgiveness

Freedom of Forgiveness

Micah 7:18-19 (NKJV) Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His Anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

A woman scorned went to one of the places she and her thought-to-be true love had spent a great deal of time. A quiet park by a lake surrounded with trees. In the dark of night with only the moon for light, she was on a mission. The serenade of crickets and frogs soon disrupted by the objects hitting the water with a variety of loud splashes. The concert grew silent as her mumbled words were followed by the crashing and then sinking tokens of love now lost. She drove to their “secret place” and unloaded every gift that he had ever given her. Hundreds of dollars sunk into the mud and sludge at the bottom of the lake. She wiped her tears and moved on that night.

The latest craze is painted rocks. Rocks with pictures and/or messages placed in hidden and obvious places for unsuspecting people to find. A new kind of pay-it-forward inspiration, the rocks are meant to bring spontaneous joy and express human kindness to the one who is lucky enough to find one. A quick smile at a low cost. But I wonder what might happen, if rather than putting useless images on little rocks, we put the sins, hurts, betrayals and turmoil that create unforgiveness on a rock and threw it into the lake. Attaching all the thoughts and emotions that unforgiveness offers to each stone, and them tossing them away and letting each one sink to the bottom of a lake out of sight, out of mind, and void of emotion forever. Would there be freedom? Would it expand the capacity to love in our life? Would it heal our bodies, minds and emotions?

Insecurities build walls with stones of forgiveness every day. God offers a solution. It is called mercy. Kindness counts. However, water poured on a rock has no point of entry. Our hearts become hard and callous when continually hammered by hurt and disappointment. People will always let us down – most unintentionally yet it still happens. We must become acutely aware of those things living in us in the form of hurt that has produced unforgiveness. A lack of forgiveness is a detriment to the Kingdom of God and limits our life from His Blessings. To offer forgiveness in the absence of the expectation of full restoration is not the kind God exhibits or wants. He is looking for a united and harmonious family. God casts our sins into the depths of the sea. He is asking the very same of me.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV) Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The first benefit of God in our life is His Mercy. His Willingness to forgive all of our sin through His Son Jesus Christ. It gives us complete access to Heaven. It is from this standpoint that believers are able to bind and loose things between Heaven and earth. It is from this place of undeserved mercy and copious grace that fills my life with God’s Goodness and Glory in abundant proportions. It is also from this place that I must release the same forgiveness in my life. Forgiveness is a process that is coupled with trusting God. How so?

The more I am able to trust God with the expectations of my life the more willing I will be to release others from this obligation. Unmet expectation is the source of unforgiveness. When another person doesn’t do what we expect them to do, doesn’t act as we expect them to act, doesn’t meet the obligation of relationship that we have put upon them, or fail to meet any other ethical, moral, physical or emotional, and yes, even spiritual obligation – unforgiveness rears its ugly head.

Who forgives all your iniquities…

I believe that forgiveness gives us access to all the benefits of God that come through relationship. Hope meets and exceeds our expectation. It has its own set of standards and timeline for execution that requires absolute and total trust in the Lord…not people. However, to allow unforgiveness to remain is to leave a lock on the door to our blessings and promises in God. The Lord wants to open the doors and windows our life to let Him fill it with all the good things that He has already provided to us.

Daniel 9:9-10 (NKJV) To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness. If He is our portion, the same belongs to us. We have the ability to forgive and offer mercy to others. Am I willing to forgive like the Lord? Psalm 86 says that the Lord is good and ready to forgive. Psalm 99:8 calls God the God-Who-Forgives. It is in His Very Name. Mercy is His Character. To love first. To love confidently. To love completely. God desires mercy. He loves when we love like He does. He moves closer when our heart forgives because it gives Him more room to expand and fulfill our desires apart from limitation. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory. I believe that there is not a living breathing human being that cannot find a person who needs their forgiveness. I need to forgive. Forgiveness leads to full restoration.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NKJV) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus offered a model of prayer in Matthew 6. Included in the prayer are these words, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” They come right after give us our daily bread. I wonder if we somehow miss the point that the Lord included these words in His Prayer Model. Forgiveness and mercy are not supplements but substance in our life. If my life is lacking this may be the primary source, the blockage, the backup and the wall that must come down. Forgiveness is an opening that allows God’s Mercy and Love to make a way for new relationship. Restoration always makes way for relationship. We are building a Kingdom of Souls that are knit together. The bond must be in place. I must be open, willing, and ready to forgive at all times in order to experience God’s Power in all things. Here are some truths about unforgiveness:

Unforgiveness represents smallness of soul. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Unforgiveness restricts our life. It limits the mobility of God’s Power to work in us and through us as we have deemed His Grace insufficient in our life.

Unforgiveness inflicts suffering in our bodies, minds and emotions. It is literally unhealthy.

Unforgiveness creates isolation with a wall of stones placed day by day with unmet expectation.

Unforgiveness does not promote Kingdom living. To sustain an unforgiving heart is a liability as a believer mishandles Kingdom privileges and power. It is a direct misuse of binding and loosing as ordained in Matthew 18:18-19.

Each of us own a heart and soul. God has offered us mercy, grace and forgiveness as healing balm to fill every void, bind together the broken pieces, and meet every expectation so that we can express the Light of His Love. How am I doing? I am asking myself today. I am asking the Lord to examine my heart and reveal any unforgiven debt that I have been holding on to. I desire fulfillment. Full satisfaction. Completeness in Christ. Every good thing that the Father has for me. It begins with forgiveness. Accepting God’s Mercy and Forgiveness. Paying it forward to everyone who I have left unforgiven. New life, new creation, restoration, renewal and yes, even revival begin in such a place. I want to be there to see it come.

Matthew 9:4-6 (NKJV) But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

As the church continues to cry out for revival, I wonder if our heart’s desire must change just a bit. Perhaps if we searched the depths of our heart and continued to pursue full redemption, restoration and renewal from the Lord for ourselves that maybe our heart might change to more like Jesus toward people. People struggle every day accepting the fullness of God’s Mercy and Grace as demonstrated through those representing His Son, Jesus and call themselves Christians. Crusaders of the Cross who have become blood thirsty rather than covered in the Blood of Jesus surrendered to His Spirit. God is love. His Message is Love. His Desire is Love. His Kingdom is Love. Love is impossible outside of forgiveness and full restoration of relationships. We would accept a miracle in our midst faster than to fully live in God’s Love and Forgiveness by placing all our own expectation in Him. Forgiveness begins in me. I must accept that I am fully forgiven and restored in Jesus Christ. Secondly, I must extend the same to all mankind. All of His Wonderful Benefits are produced by this process by His Hand. Forgiveness comes from God those who have fully accepted it will freely give it. So today, maybe its time to grab a handful of smooth stones and begin to write some things on them that need to be forgiven. Take them to a river, lake or even the ocean and throw them as far as possible. It doesn’t stop there. Begin to pray for complete forgiveness and total restoration. Find a way to forgive that person. If possible, let them know. The freedom of forgiveness far outweighs the comfort of isolation.

Mark 11:24-26 (NKJV) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

 

 

 

Special Delivery

Special Delivery

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV) Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

I don’t know about you but I set some pretty high standards for myself on any given day. Without goals, there is no way to reach higher levels of expectation. Comparison can be the worst of all enemy’s because it adds to the pressure of performance. So naturally, with all this focus on me, I fail miserably. The unmet expectation puts a baseball bat in my hand so I begin to beat myself up over and over again in all the ways I fall short. Taking it to the next level, all things I want to do to please the Lord, to be faithful, obedient and steadfast in faith never seem to reach fulfillment. I continue to sin despite every effort to avoid it. I cannot seem to get control of the rebellious thoughts and stinking thinking. Trying to fulfill all responsibilities and religious obligations combined is overwhelming with such weak flesh and a rebellious mind. God’s Grace is enough for me. His Grace emphasizes the freeness of His Love toward us. It is a product of His Mercy.

God gives us new mercy every single day. It comes because we need it. It is available. It is already provided. Mercy is the character of God that religion often misses but relationship fully embraces. God’s Mercy is always available but seldom considered. Maybe if we could understand God’s Characteristic called Mercy, we would understand the significance of it.

Mercy is God’s Covenant of Compassion

Psalm 78:37-39 (NKJV) For their heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant. But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath; for He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again.

God knows you are only human. A breath that passes away and does not come again. He knows the workings of our heart and the weakness of our flesh. Yet, His Compassion for us never fails. When Jesus went to the Cross, He died for every single sin and offense of every single person. Think about it. No fault of failure, past, present or future, is unknown and unforgiven by God through Jesus Christ. Even when our shortcomings and weakness surprise us – His Mercy keeps us from the punishment deserved. God is love. (I John 4:8) Our sin keeps us from God but doesn’t not in any way change the fact that He loves us. His New Mercy delivered each day is evidence of His Love.

Mercy is God’s Consuming Commitment

Romans 5:7-9 (NKJV) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

The Bible tells us that “greater love has no one than this than to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) But what about your innocent child…your only child. I love my friends. Yet I am called to love my enemies the same. I might lay down my life for a friend. But if you are asking me to love anyone enough to give up one of my children, I must draw a line. My kids are nonnegotiable. God’s Mercy is evidence of His Consuming Commitment to a restored relationship with us. It is the precedent of His Grace that provides access to His Love again. It allows us to live apart from the consequences of sin and bask in the Light of His Love. God loves us completely and wholly right now. It doesn’t matter if you are saved, lost, or somewhere in between. His Love for us is uncompromised by our current condition. Freedom in Christ and application of His Grace gives us access to God the Father to enter His Presence and experience His Love in a tangible way. It was and is always available and just one prayer away.

His Offer of Everlasting Communion

Revelation 3:20 (NKJV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 

John 14:1-3 (NKJV) “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

God’s Mercy provides a place in His Presence and Heaven for us. Revelation 3:20 describes the relationship that the Lord desires with us. It is not as a slave or servant but beloved child. God prepared a place for us in Heaven in advance. When sin barred our entrance, God’s Mercy kept justice from consuming us. He sent Jesus, His Only Child, to die for us and provide the grace needed to pay our sin debt. Jesus released His Spirit to commune with us now as a helper and reproducer of God’s Likeness in us. He identifies us as Children of the Living God. When we fail or fall short, it is not a shocker to the Lord. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Even in the foulest and most depraved state of any human being, God’s Love remains intact for them. His Desire to receive them and commune with them is the mercy that meets them each morning. God will stop at nothing for us to discover His Grace and does it with new mercy each day. By grace through faith – we are able to access the place that mercy built for us.

Ephesians 2:4-7 (NKJV) But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

I always love to see “but God”. “But” nullifies everything stated before it. Ephesians 2:1-3 outlines my condition before I received God’s Grace. That’s right, even when sin consumed me, death imminent, in complete disobedience, rebelling against God and His Kingdom, and fulfilling the desires of my flesh – God loved me and gave me new mercy every day. It is His Longsuffering Character called Mercy that leads us to repentance. God is rich in mercy. It is because of His Love that He send Jesus to die for us. His Desire to make us part of His Family alive together in Christ is what caused Him to build a place for us called Heaven. God’s Love and mercy for us was never compromised by sin. He loves and desires us anyway. Mercy is the evidence of this valuable truth that should bring us much encouragement today. His Expectation of us is to accept His Love and Mercy by His Grace to live in a right relationship with Him forever. This should resolve unmet expectation with confident hope that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s Love. I need to be aware of God’s Love and Mercy every day. His Mercy is all the encouragement I need to pick myself up, dust myself off and try again. His Love is a constant commitment to me that I cannot brush off, sin away, or refuse. He will send it anyway! Open the door to your heart today and you will see you have a special delivery. It’s a package marked mercy. It belongs to you. Why not use it today? Those who do will overcome and be more than conquerors empowered by great love.

Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV) Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

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.