It’s A Stretch

It

Psalm 77:1-3 (ESV) I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

If I were to wake up with a headache, I would immediately get out of bed and walk to the kitchen. In the last cabinet on the left bottom shelf, there is a bottle of ibuprofen that has proven to give immediate relief in the past. As I reach for the container, popping off the lid, I take two little tablets with some water. After about fifteen to thirty minutes, the headache usually dissipates. Problem solved. Health restored. Simple, right? True story – my child (who goes unnamed) tells me that they have a headache. I give them directions as to where the pain reliever is located and tell them exactly how many pills are appropriate. A little while later the same child complains of headache. I ask, “Did you take some medicine?” The answer is “no”. Different child is feeling some pain from dental work. Same instructions given. Child continues to gripe about their mouth. Same question is asked, “Did you take some medicine?” “No…” I further inquire, “Why not?” Answer from ailing child, “I don’t like to take medicine.” Now it is me ready to hit the medicine cabinet…

My first kid wanted me to do if for them. They were waiting for me to go get the medication and a glass of water. I was supposed to bring it to them. Without asking, the assumption was that I would know and do it in response to their complaint. The second kid has a fear of swallowing pills. Rather than overcoming fear to receive the relief desired – this child would continue to tough out the discomfort instead. I am not a pill pusher. In fact, I am a borderline hippy when it comes to medication. The point of these illustrations is only to share some insight about the Lord today.

In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.

It is human nature to pursue God with our problems. To ask for relief, pray about problems and give Him a complete and detailed list of our desires. In the beginning, coming to the Lord like a child, leaving full of hopeful expectation. But as the relationship grows, it can also become stale and stagnant. We stop reaching for God’s Heart only seeking His Hand. When His Hand does produce what we want and how we want it – we stop reaching. In the day of my trouble…I seek the Lord. Same. In the night my hand is stretched out without wearying. Same. My soul refuses to be comforted. Concerning and still same. There are times when it is our nature to live in our consequence, dwell in our problems and make our situation the excuse of incapacitating faith that will not bend to relieve us or soften to sustain us, but will only be complete in our believing. Nothing is impossible for God. (Luke 1:37) If we believed this simple verse completely and if it was the conviction of our life – we would be fully restored and renewed sparking a revival of epic proportions.

Luke 5:12-13 (ESV) While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.

Faith in Jesus Christ will always produce a miracle. Oh I hear the naysayers, I have been praying for years. My body is not whole. My bank account broke. My loved one not saved. I have no peace. The list goes on and on. Faith will produce nothing until it is invested in Jesus Christ. You can love the Lord with all your heart, mind and body but if you do not trust Him enough to believe – it will do nothing to produce His Promises in your life. Obedience is essential. The man had leprosy. A common ailment in Biblical times. It made him a beggar and outcast. He fell on his face before Jesus and full of faith said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” When was the last time, you fell on your face before Jesus and spoke similar words? Jesus didn’t hesitate for a moment, but immediately stretched out His Hand and healed him. Right there on the spot. Why? The Lord is ready to heal us. Renew us. Restore us. He is waiting on you. Jesus is waiting on me.

Matthew 12:10-14 (ESV) And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

The organized body called church has been infiltrated by preference rather than permeated by His Presence. Oh God is with us. Where two are gathered in His Name…He is right there. He is right here with all the power to save, heal, and deliver promised to those who believe. He can and will do exactly what His Word says that He will do. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. So if the Lord is ready, willing and able according to His Word to do miracles, solve problems and heal bodies there is only one other explanation. We do not believe.

The man with the withered hand is an awesome illustration of church. He came to church with a problem. The religious folk had doctrine to follow. But then Jesus filled with the Presence of God showed up, and messed up the carefully planned service on the designated day. He gave the man one simple instruction – “Stretch out your hand…” He did. He was healed in that moment. I wonder if we are not experiencing the miraculous because no one is reaching out to Jesus. The fruit of our faith is believing. Believing is trusting. It means reaching when no else is reaching. Stretching our hand out when everyone is staring at us. It means doing what He asks in that moment to receive what He has for us! We want God to bring it to us where we are when the Lord is trying to deliver us from our current situation. We desire the healing but not the healer. The giving more than the giver. We want to be saved but do not have a desire for our Savior.

Matthew 11:25-30 (ESV)  At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

A relationship will fall apart of one person stops reaching. The moment that there is not stretching to come together and continue in a relationship it is the beginning of the end. Jesus Christ offers openly to become our life partner. To shoulder the weight and carry the burdens of our life, but to give it all to Jesus means giving up the right to complain. It means reaching when others just stand there. It means stretching even in our discomfort to access the divine. The yoking of our life with Christ is a covenant relationship of continual exchange. He asks us to come to him. Take my yoke and learn from me. You will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy. My burden is light. We must simply come.

Psalm 143:5-6 (ESV) I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.  I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

To be completely honest, I don’t mind bringing my kids some meds and a glass of water. I love to take care of them. If I were to wait on them hand and foot, they would never understand what is required of them in life. Sometimes you have to reach for things even when it’s a stretch. I can give them what they need but it is up to them to heed my instructions and take what is given. God is a good father. Jesus is a faithful Savior and Lord. The Holy Spirit is constantly cultivating God’s Fruit within us by faith. The trouble is that if we stop reaching – we will never take hold of what faith has in store for us. We drag our baggage into church and lug it right back out because we identify with the weight of it. To release it all to Jesus is an act of total trust. What if He doesn’t do anything? Oh, my friend, what if He does?

Psalm 84:11 (ESV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

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Forecast for Rain

Forecast for Rain

Isaiah 55:8-10 (NKJV) “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

The forecast is for rain. My plan to head the beach is nixed. A little rain is one thing but the weather app is forecasting thunderstorms. No thank you! My husband who had planned some yardwork today is watching the sky closely. The ground is still soaked from last night’s showers. The air is hot and humid with the front that is moving in. What an inconvenience after working all week, the messiness of natural interrupting my plans. Rain is important. It is vital to production in the earth. The grass would not be green without water. The replenishment of the earth that keeps us all well-hydrated yet in its abundance is loathed and often disregarded as a problem. I wonder what would happen if we decided to welcome the rain. To thank God for its arrival, productivity and potential. What if we didn’t identify it as an interruption but part of God’s Magnificent and Perfect Plan? To declare, “Lord, we receive your rain today!”

The separation of natural and supernatural revelation is not appropriate. The God of Heaven is indeed God of the earth. He set this place in order and pre-recorded a plan including the wind, rain and storms of life. From a full force hurricane to a light sprinkling – God is the one who sends us the rain. Each droplet holds purpose and potential to water our seed and grow its promise every single time. The grass is drenched and mowing unlikely today. The hydrangeas in the flowerbed love it when the soil is wet. They are flourishing in the showers that seem to pop up every day. Right outside the dining room window – where just on the other side are rows of succulents that are bending toward the sun. They do not care for rain and rely on my careful watering every once and a while. They would surely die outside in the torrential downpours that we have been experiencing so they live in tiny pots.

What does your life resemble today? Is thick, green, leafy and covered with blooms growing and producing in abundance under the open heavens of God’s Outpouring? Or like the little succulents in small restricted containers dependent on mankind to stay alive growing only slightly in the same amount of time? It is all about position and perspective – I guess. God’s Word cannot and will not return to Him void. It will do exactly as He intended it to do. It must accomplish its purpose before coming back to Him.

Job 36:26-28 (NKJV) “Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His years be discovered. For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man.”

Am I the only one who thinks it’s crazy that Job could describe the process of rain production by God without modern technology? He knew that God draws up drops of water stores it in the clouds to be moved released again. Think about it. God supplied the water – springs, rivers, streams and then eventually rain. Rain was not an afterthought. It had a time and place. The imagery of God’s Word is demonstrated to us every time it rains. God’s Word is released and it must achieve its work. Replenish. Renew. Restore. Rejuvenate. It is then taken back up to the heavens and poured out again and again. God’s Word is likened to the rain. It is described as water. The washing of the Word is what replenishes, renews, restores and rejuvenates us.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it was devastating. Through the long process and journey to a miracle, it was God’s Word that kept me standing from beginning to end. Entering the realm of hope when modern medicine could not save him and insurance would not even try – it was the most devastating and divine moment of my life. The storm destroyed me in many ways and God restored me in more ways than the pieces of my broken heart and life resembled. I am not thankful for what cancer did to our child, but I am absolutely thankful for what the storm did for me. Only those who have endured a hurricane or tsunami within can understand these words that I am sharing.

Matthew 5:43-47 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

We are quick to blame the enemy when the seasonal rain does not seem favorable. Too much, too little, not the right time or too inconvenient. What if the rain has nothing to do with our life externally but internally? Jesus was talking about forgiveness and loving the unlovable when He interjects this tiny tidbit…”for He makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and unjust.” What if God is allowing the sprinkles to wash over you or downpour to move you to release the potential inside of you? The Lord has already told us not to worry or get stressed about provision going as far to remind us that we have every spiritual blessing already. Where is it? What if it is locked inside of you as seed that needs some good rain to get the process underway? Prosperity is always precipitated by an abundance of rain.

Genesis 9:12-17 (NKJV)  And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

When it was time to start chemotherapy and radiation for our son, while driving to the hospital (about two hours away) it was raining. Not a downpour, but rather a light shower with the sun still shining, though a bit hard to see through my tears. With worship music playing softly, I saw a rainbow. A few tears turned into immediate sobbing, God was reminding me that He was here. He was telling me that cancer had no power over the healer. We would win the battle just remember who I am and that I am with you. He was showing me His Love all over again. Now that would be cool enough, right? But in the course of the next two hours of travel, I saw more rainbows along the interstate than I have experienced in my lifetime. I stopped counting every time I turned around there was another one. God is faithful to His Word. He keeps His Promises. His rainbow just another reminder that though the storms of life may come even big ones that His Love is unfailing and goodness for sure.

Psalm 84:5-11 (NKJV) Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of  Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Yesterday it felt like there was a little black raincloud over my head. You know just one of those days. I have not a single thing to worry or stress about yet I was doing it anyway. I have no reason to be ruled by chaos because I have perfect peace yet I was a bit frazzled. My blessings are too many to count – believe me I tried to enumerate them to silence the complaining in my head. Just a day covered in a bit of melancholy, everyone has them. I was in a funk. We all face storms in life. There will always be rain coming. It falls on the just and unjust because God loves and desires us all. He wants to renew, restore, and revive us. He wants us to thrive in His Courts rather than being locked in self-imposed cells offered by wayward thoughts and inner rebellion. There is a place to thrive for those who are merely surviving. When rain comes, it is human nature to run for shelter. This should be our spiritual inclination as well. His Ways are higher than our ways along with His Thoughts. His Word and His Way is better than anything we can think, ask or imagine. We want what God has for us whether we realize it or not. There must be rain. We must learn to welcome the rain while hiding in the shelter of His Presence.

Psalm 147:5-8 (NKJV) Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, Who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.

No More Resolutions

No More Resolutions

2 Peter 1:4-5 (NLT) And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. 

Renew. Restore. Revive. Radical. Reckless. To respond. The “R”’s of my rambling for 2018. Tonight at sundown or a little after, our family will begin our annual fast for the New Year. For eleven days, through fasting and prayer, as a body of believers (yes, just the four of us), we will seek the Face of God for many areas of our life. To focus our family and life in one direction. The Way. To turn away from the worthless things that so easily captivate our attention and rob us of time. As I began to write in my journal today, I found these words forming from the ink of the pen. I am asking the Lord to renew me from the inside out. To restore me after a month of minor illness and inconvenience. To revive my passion and desire to pursue Him wholeheartedly leaving behind the distractions from 2017. To make my love for others radical in recognition of His Love for me. To be reckless in my pursuit of Christ making faith seem the only option. To respond to all of God’s Promises. To believe that God is doing exactly what He said and to let His Spirit fortify my fickle heart. I can make a list of habits to change, budgets to follow, and schedules to keep but if Christ is not the priority in all of them – what’s the point?

No more resolutions. The power to change is the Christ in me. It is not something I do but what He does in me. I am giving up on resolutions and instead this year I choose to respond to God’s Promises instead. Why? Because of His Glory and Excellence, He has given (me) great and precious promises. These promises enable (me) to share in His Divine Nature. A resolution is a firm decision on my part to do or not to do something any longer. It is the action of solving a problem, dispute or contentious matter. It is me. A resolution is self-resolve to fix something that appears to be broken or dysfunctional. Well…I have come to the conclusion after fifty-one years of life – I can’t fix it. I cannot make “me” a better person. I am going to fail. I will mess up. I will fall short. I will give up, give in and give out depending on the situation. The only good thing in me is Jesus Christ. The Power of Christ is manifested in my weakness. So this year, I no longer resolve to make me a better person but let Christ transform me into a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Titus 3:4-7 (NLT) But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

Jesus Christ revealed God’s Kindness and Love for us. When He saved us, it was finished. The process of redemption complete. The renewal process made available to all mankind. He washed our sin away. Gave us a new birth and new life through His Spirit. Generously His Spirit is on us identifying us as God’s Precious Children. It is said that you do not pick your parents which is absolutely true. In this case specifically, God chose you. He chose me. God, the Father, decided that He loved us and wanted us. His Reckless Love would stop at nothing to have us. I wonder what would happen if for just a moment, a single solitary second, we could completely wrap our head around the Truth that the entire process of salvation and redemption is a direct result of the Love of God. He had no other intention but to pour out unfailing love and unfathomable goodness on His Beloved. Would we respond differently? Absolutely. Religion would be crushed beneath the heaviness of unconditional love in the church and “whosoever come” would be plastered over the doors and altars while those who want to be loved would come pouring in.

Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Grace is the reason that God loves me and is for me. It is the essence of relationship that if we could just wrap our heads tightly around it – faith would not be so hard and confident hope the common sense of our life. We can go into the world and try to share the love of Jesus Christ but until we understand that His Love, Grace and Kindness are for us and there is nothing further that we can do but receive it – our message is in vain. Perfect love casts out all fear. Fearless faith comes from a heart that comes to know God’s Unfailing Love and accepts it as a way of life. This will enable us to “respond” to God’s Promises rather than trying to earn them or deserve them which cannot be done.

Proverbs 3:3-4 (ESV) Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

This year it is my deepest desire to live in God’s Steadfast Love and Faithfulness to the fullest. I must bind His Promises around my neck and continually inscribe them on my heart. My love is imperfect. It tends to be conditional. It has flaws and faults that the Lord continually works on. I will never love like Jesus unless I love through Jesus. The Christ in me must be given wide open space. The Spirit in me must be the ruler of my heart, mind, soul and body at all times. The Favor of God and Good Success that I believe God has promised us is not in my ability to do everything right this year, but to continually seek the Lord wholeheartedly. I must decrease so that He can increase.

I wonder what would happen in our natural life if we lived as though supernatural promises were inevitable. What if we decided that God is good, His Love unfailing, His Grace enough, and His Faithfulness forever? Would it change the potential of our life? Would it change us? We must invest our mind, soul, body and spirit into obtaining the promises of God which begins by believing that they actually exist and are obtainable rather than living a diversified life with one foot in the world and the other in the Kingdom. It is impossible to establish dual residency with God. He is not a wishy washy – halfhearted God. You love Him or you hate Him. There is no coexistence in the Kingdom. You embrace Christ or idols. See we live in a world of moving lines and shifting sand – it makes a completely constant God who is always good and always loving and always kind very hard to believe so we must not lean on our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

2 Peter 1:5-7 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

Responding to the Promises of God. This is my resolve for this New Year. This is the year that I will allow God to be God and simply cling to Him. I must supplement faith with qualities and characteristics produced by God’s Spirit inside of me. I must embrace and acknowledge the Holy Spirit as He is my teacher, guide, counselor and even comforter in the process of becoming a new creation. Transformation is not comfortable. It is inconvenient. It is uncontrollable. It takes time that I don’t think I have. Yet, in the end, it will all be worth it. Forever is the past, present and future wrapped neatly into a package called life. God knows the beginning from the end. It is His Unfailing Love and Faithfulness that has brought you this far and will carry you through. You have done nothing to facilitate the process other than present your worthless life to Jesus Christ. Rather than making any more resolutions. This year I am changing my resolve. I want all that God has for me. I must submit my life to Christ all over again. All of it. Holding nothing back, making the decision that this life is not about me – nevertheless Christ is for me. His Promises are real. His Love is true. His Word lasts forever. He is faithful. To this I will respond…

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

A Time to Reflect

A Time to Reflect

Philippians 4:8 (NLT)  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

This morning writing the date in my journal, I still cannot believe it is the last day of 2017. Where did this year go? It flew by in an instant. I love the New Year…every year. It is always a new beginning. A fresh start when gym memberships flourish, new habits are formed, and so many good intentions are set forth. Looking back over the past year, how many were successful? What about the unexpected things that happened? Did you lose someone close to you? The seasons of life go by and without time to reflect one becomes another until our life is nothing but a course of events.

The last couple of weeks have been challenging as our family has been hit by a nasty virus that I have labeled the “plague”. Sickness and exhaustion have kept us homebound. It has been a quiet time. The usual hustle and bustle stilled to a snail’s pace. My husband actually went to Target with us yesterday desperate to get out of the house. Ironically, it is in this sickness when activity grinds to a stop and best intentions turn into a long winter’s nap that I have time to reflect.

The highlights of the past year far outweigh my disappointments. God is good. He is always good. His Faithfulness is evident in my life. We have many things to look forward to in the coming year. However, human nature often discards those good things to focus on what didn’t happen. Reflection will often lead to regret if not redirected. Perception is driven by perspective. I must align my perspective with God’s Promises and by faith accept them as the inevitable. Faith believes all that confident hope offers as a definitive in our life or at least, it should. Fear tells us to give up on faith when it doesn’t produce what we want in our timeline. God has placed eternity in our hearts and we are eternal beings. The Grace of God offered through His Son, Jesus Christ, gives us access to the Kingdom and every blessing God has for us. His Promises become the premise of our life.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. God will do exactly what He has promised to do in you and through you. He will prosper you as your soul prospers right where you are. The effort that releases such things in our life is faith. We must fix our heart and mind on faith for 2018 to experience the life God promised for us. It is important to reflect on the past year but to leave regret in 2017. God’s Grace is always enough. It is completely sufficient and will make a way where there is no way. It opens doors that no one can shut. All you have to do is believe. There is no need to carry regret, disappointment or sadness into the coming year. It is not the lifestyle of the believer. Repentance offers things like refinement, renewal, restoration and revival which are all good and life-giving qualities. The enemy can take nothing from you or the Hand of God in safekeeping for you. God is all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere. He is protecting your promises and potential until the time comes for fulfillment.

I Corinthians 13:11-13 (NLT) When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. I am reminded in my reflection that I cannot see things with the clarity of God. At least not yet, there are things that exist in my life that create uncertainty. Not because God is not completely confident in His Way, but because like everyone else I struggle with believing sometimes. When God speaks to my heart, I grab hold of His Words a paint an elaborate portrait in vivid detail of what it will look like creating a master plan of my own. When He has only given me of a glimpse of the greatness of the work that He is doing in my life. When it does work out the way that I planned, I am often humbled at the feet of my Lord in the realization that He didn’t let me down. I let myself down. If I can do it, it’s not God. This year, I want to be mature in childlike faith. When God speaks listening, but not assuming.

Three things will last forever – if the thought, attitude or action is not representative of faith, hope and especially love then I must let it go. Rebellious thoughts that come disguised as good intentions, motivation or even hard work that are really just pride trying to get a leg up – they must also be subject to God’s Word and His Three Essentials – faith, hope and love. It sounds simplistic. It is. We have so complicated the gospel of Jesus Christ that no one seems to be finding their way to Him. I don’t want to be that person. My hope for 2018 is for my life to reflect Jesus Christ to all mankind. I must fight my flesh to make this a reality.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In 2018, it is my goal to make every effort to respond to God’s Promises and NOT REACT to everything and everyone else. This is going to require a disciplined life. It is a character change from humanity to Godly Identity. To live in the spiritual and supernatural realm yet function in the natural. I can do it. But it will mean a great deal of self-control which is a fruit of God’s Spirit in me and not human nature. I must strive to allow God to build my character to acquire every promise set forth for my life. I must grow, mature and develop in order to be more productive and useful for Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

In 2018, I will live in freedom. Free from fear, worry, anxiety and doubt that will restrict and inhibit the freedom given to me by Christ. I ask the Lord to help my unbelief. My relationship with Jesus Christ is defined by freedom. To live, love and laugh. To pursue the dreams and aspirations that He has given me. To live a limitless life unrestricted so the Lord can change our ordinary existence to extraordinary abundance as I am changed into His Image. God has not given me the spirit of fear so I must strive daily not to accept it in my life. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. It is in this freedom that God can complete the good work that He began in us.

Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 (NLT) And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

In 2018, I will enjoy the gift of life that God has given me. Are you happy? Are you content? Are you at peace? What is missing? There is an attitude of gratitude that can overcome many of these problems. God’s Goodness is for us in the land of the living. Too often – we get so busy living that we lose sight of the goodness evident in our everyday existence. I have a good life. Thankfulness for this gift that I have been given and His Goodness all around me will change my life. As my soul prospers, so will everything else. To a life aligned with the Lord is to acknowledge the good things that He has already done for us. Thankfulness overcomes discontentment. It will change our sadness into joy turning our face from the clock marked “waiting” to all the answered prayers around us. Every good thing in my life came straight from God.

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake.

Looking ahead to 2018, I carry the hopeful expectation of God’s Word that has not yet come to pass in my life. I will leave behind regrets and disappointments because they are all just lies of the enemy. Worthless weight better left in the past. Lord, I will enter the New Year full of expectation. As I reflect on 2017, all I can say is “Thank You!” You are awesome as usual. Moving ahead, I will continue to trust your Plan for my life because “a day is like a thousand years to (You) and a thousand years is like a day.” You are not in a hurry because time is not an issue for you because you have made a time for everything already. Moving into the next year, I realize that there are things from this year that will bloom, blossom and reproduce there that would have been aborted if risen up too soon. Thank you Lord that Your Promises are my reality. Keep me close in 2018 – it will be another good year – of this I am quite sure! Let my life and everything in it be a true reflection of Your Love and Faithfulness and the fact that You are always good!

Proverbs 27:19 (NIV) As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.

On the Fringe

On the Fringe

Mark 6:56 (ESV) And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Well, I thought I had dodged it, but I was wrong. The mommy immunity let me down and sickness entered my body. After taking my husband and daughter to Urgent Care, on Christmas Eve eve, my throat was a little itchy and voice a bit nasally. I prayed that the Lord would keep me from befalling the virus that had spread through our home, workplace and church even assisting him with an immunity booster. However, by Christmas Eve, the itchiness was now soreness and I began feeling a bit fatigued. Waking up on Christmas Morning, it was clear it got me. Who has time to be sick on Christmas? Spending the day in bed was not my plan, but nevertheless that is exactly where it landed me.

The virus generally runs its course in seven to ten days. It has a timeline. As long as my body does what God designed it to do, my immune system will kick in and kick out the nasty invader. In the meantime, I must endure sniffles, sneezing, headache, sore throat and endless coughing. There is symptomatic relief which I will rely on. The Lord is my healer. He works in me mercifully to get rid of illness, but what I have discovered in illness and infirmity is far more telling than a common cold or occasional virus. When our health suffers or body aches, the contents of our heart is revealed.

Paul asked three times for the thorn in his flesh to be removed, God’s response to his inquiry – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” The weakness in our body gives way to strength of heart. When we are weak and powerless, believers turn to the Lord in desperation. Job was blessed. He was a wealthy man with a flourishing family and successful business. When it was all taken from him, he still served the Lord. When his body afflicted, his heart turned in desperation to the Lord. Pride was eradicated and he was blessed double for his trouble. It would be easy to feel sorry for myself today. I am sick. I am tired. I don’t want to go to work. I just want to pull the covers over my head and sleep the sickness away. God’s Grace is enough for me today. His Grace is power when I am weak. He perfects me with power when I do not succumb to weakness but give it all to Him.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 (ESV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

The human heart has secrets. Darkness finds recesses to hide from the Light of God’s Love overtaking us. It is only when tested that our heart speaks such things. The human heart gives up its secrets in human weakness. Powering through is the human equivalent to perseverance and even persistence. But what do you do on the days when human strength and ability cannot deliver you? When pride hurts because the flesh is weak and cannot fulfill that which is desires to. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12) Faith is assurance of things hoped for and conviction of the unseen. Faith is challenged by doubt every day. The enemy of our soul offers us counterfeits, compromises and substitutions for God’s Very Best. In our weakness, it is easier to give in to such tactics rather than giving our weakness to the Lord. To make excuses as to why we are the way we are or for the condition of our suffering rather than seeking to live on the fringe.

What if the power to overcome every sickness, disease and illness is in the Presence of God? What is Jesus is the Way, the Truth and Life that leads to complete recovery, restoration and renewal? Unfortunately most of the time, it is only the desperate that discover the true potential of Jesus Christ!

Matthew 9:20-21 (ESV) And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 

Twelve years is a long time to deal with an infirmity. The kind of illness this woman had impacted her not only physically, but financially and socially. She was a shut-in who only made trips to every physician. Living in the day and age that she did, there is no telling what she was subjected to in “modern” medicine of that time. When she heard about Jesus, she had to try just a touch of the fringe of his garment was supposed to bring healing to those who dared reach out. She made her way through the crowd despite her anemia. She was weak and weary but she had to know. Was it possible that power flowed from Him? She couldn’t resist the hope rising within her so she did it. She came up behind Jesus and touched just the hem of His Garment.

Matthew 9:22 (ESV) Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

To be desperate is to feel a sense of hopelessness that sometimes is so bad it becomes impossible to deal with. Are you desperate today? Sickness can make you feel that way especially when “modern” medicine can offer no solution to a physical problem. Brokenness can make us desperate trying to hold all the pieces of a shattered heart and devastated expectation in hope of finding a healer one day. There are many forms of weakness that may come our way each day. I wonder what would happen if rather than giving in to desperation, God’s People came into His Presence. All forms of desperation are marked by human weakness. The birthplace of God’s Power is in our inability to change our circumstance, solve our situation or heal our infirmity. In in places marked “impossible” or “never” that miracles are born of the dead dreams of human weakness. God wants to do the miraculous in us and through us. It is His Will for us to prosper in every season of life overcoming cycles of unbelief and doubt as the enemy tries to take what already belongs to us. Christ completed His Work on the Cross. New life as a new creation belongs to us. It is up to us to allow the Lord to complete His Work in us to have it all.

Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV) 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 iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

I must remind myself of God’s Benefits when my flesh is weak and acting up. There will be seasons of drought and famine which only increases my hunger and thirst for more of Him. There is be days of infirmity and weakness which allows God’s Power to manifest in my life. There will be days of faith that relies strictly on the unseen reality of hope and it is more than enough to get by on. I must remind my soul of the benefits and blessings associated with my salvation especially when my flesh cries out. Jesus took the stripes that would become my healing. He bore a crown of thorns that would allow me to take captive every rebellious thought so I could have the Mind of Christ. He redeemed my life from death so there is always life for me. He has crowned me steadfast love and pursues me with His Goodness every day. He provides new mercies each morning. I have enough grace to last me from here to eternity. The people who received their healing lived on the fringe. They sought the Presence of the Lord no matter what the cost. The Lord is passing by today. He is offering all these wonderful benefits. Will you live on the fringe? Wait until He comes? Reach for His Robe of Righteousness? The Lord wants to revive, restore and renew you! Do not let Him pass you by.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

WWJD?

WWJD

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

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

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

Do not be conformed to this world…   

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

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

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

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call to Rest

Call to Rest

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Rest is important in the life of a believer. To take a step out of the busyness of life to physically and mentally rest and be rejuvenated. The enemy uses overloaded schedules, rigid routines, and mounting pressures to perform as a means of distraction until people become so overwhelmed by the persistent pull of responsibility that faith in God forgets He is in control of our life. A couple of months ago, I felt the gentle whisper of a loving Savior confirmed by the voice of my husband the call to rest. Life has been hectic. Chaotic. Crazy. It is time to get away. The beach is our favorite place to unwind and getaway. Today we leave for a respite.

Of course, this morning the dog woke me up in the wee hours of the morning. My brain then refused to go back to sleep so I packed and repacked the car in my head. I woke up grumpy. Worried a little about work and other things circling my thoughts. I need to rest. Not just rest my body and mind but my soul. So do you… It is important to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ more than serving Him physically. We must connect our heart and mind with Him. Just like a natural marriage requires such attention to continue to thrive, it is important to spend time with the Lord away from the cares, worries and burdens of life. I plan to do just that…

Love, joy and peace are the Fruit of God’s Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) They are not naturally occurring in a world that demands all our time. They call it a rat race for a reason with hurrying and scurrying all around. The Kingdom of God is not based the pursuit of such things. All that we need, want and desire are fulfilled when we come to Him. He gives us rest. Rest is from the word “anapauo” – ana meaning “up” and pauo meaning cessation from toil and refreshment.

Prosperity begins in the soul. To prosper in our soul impacts our natural life. Prosperity in our natural life that does not reach our soul can do nothing to bring satisfaction. Jesus is the Bread of Life. (John 6:35) Those who live in Christ find full satisfaction not in what they have but who He is. Only those who taste and see His Goodness will understand the value of such peace. Just like any food in life, you have to try it to see if you like it.

Matthew 6:25-32 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”

What are you worried about today? What burdens your heart and mind? Robs you of sleep. Steals your attention. Keeps you weary. Tells you to give up. What causes fear to overtake your confidence? What is keeping your faith small? It is important to examine our heart and mind to answer these difficult questions. It will identify the areas of our life not entrusted to the Lord giving us the opportunity to surrender each burden and care to Him. Worry, anxiety, stress and fear evaporate when faith grows in us. Total trust in God’s Goodness and Greatness in our life. Confident hope that the grace of Jesus Christ is enough to release of His Power and Authority in every situation. These are the qualities that allow us to release every burden to the Lord and yoke our life to Christ.

God knows exactly what you need. I used to tell the young girls in our youth group that women are natural gathers. Born with little baskets on each arm designed to nurture and care for future families. The enemy wants to fill them with unnecessary things. It is important to empty our baskets on a regular basis and continue to carry only those things given to us by Christ. We can discern such things in His Word and communicating with the Lord in prayer. Living in His Presence gives us the peace and confidence to say, “No” to lesser and unnecessary things because our faith is in God alone because man cannot fill our expectation.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Perfect peace. There is nothing like it. It comes when our life is yoked to Christ. Partnered with Him, the waves of the storm cannot remove us from the anchor called hope. Together – we are unstoppable because He overcame the world and handed us victory – Jesus is our champion. He has given us every spiritual blessing, provides all that we need, and promises to do more than we can think, ask or imagine. We have it all but settle for less when working for things already given. Trusting the Lord means resting in Him. It means releasing cares, worries, burdens, anxieties, fears and insecurities to take on the yoke called righteousness that by faith makes all things possible in Jesus Christ. To live in Christ is the place of perfect peace.

Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT) The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

The Lord calls us to rest and leads us as well. He is a good shepherd who cares for his sheep. He will leave the 99 just to find the one who is missing. Distractions lead us off course. The lie of the enemy is that God is not enough and His Grace insufficient. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s examine our own heart and mind today. Find all the burdens, cares, concerns and worries. Take captive fear and doubt that are adversaries of faith. Go to Jesus and give them “up” and to be refreshed, restored and renewed. His Love for you will never let you down. We must trust and believe that God is good. Good to us. He is for us. He fights our battles and wins our wars. To step into partnership and presence allows us to let go of the lead and follow the Lord to love, joy and perfect peace. This is the place called rest. Well, I am off to the beach. I am stepping out of life to find solace with my family and seek the Face of Jesus at the sea. My prayer for you today is rest. May God apprehend your heart all over again and fill it with His Love, Joy and Peace. Amen and amen.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Home Improvement

Home Improvement

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

A favorite date night is a nice casual dinner together followed by a long, leisurely trip to the local home improvement store. Mindlessly wandering around dreaming of home renovation. Our list of projects for this house is exhaustive and grows with each visit. Our last home was built for us. Signing the agreement, all the facades, fixtures and details chosen. We just waited for the building to be complete. It was brand new. Definitely a blessing! Our new home of almost a year is the same floorplan. The similarities end at that point. The front porch is different. It is large and inviting. A place for people to gather sitting in the new rocking chairs. I envision watching our grandchildren one day run up the walk to climb in our laps and rock with us. With two previous owners, it appears that some things were neglected while others stopped and started projects along the way. This place needs some love and attention.

This week’s big purchases included an American flag, solar lights for the walkway, some spotlights and stain for our new front door along with a handle set. My purse was filled with paint chips to decide a new exterior color scheme and options to redo the master bathroom cabinets for future projects. I know that I do not want a washer and dryer made by the same company who specializes in cellphones, no offense. And finally, I am pretty sure that wood tile planks will suit us more than new wood laminate thanks to the growing lab puppy with massive paws and a propensity to sling more water than she swallows. I hope that there are always projects left because I love spending time with my best friend dreaming and doing new things together.

While some may call it remodeling, I believe it to be rebuilding. As I consider my life right now, at this point in time, looking back – God has done some amazing and miraculous things in my life. I have seen miracles. I have experienced His Favor more times than I can recount. His Hand of Provision and Protection always shadowing over us. God is good. He is good all the time. Even on those days thought to be the worst of times, He somehow makes the Light of His Love overshadow the power of darkness of this world. It also my experience that we are victorious overcomers. There have been days when it came down to the final seconds but somehow God in His Sovereignty always pulls out the win. Knowing all of these things about my Lord and Savior and Father God, there is still massive renovation going on in my life. My heart and mind are in a constant state of demo as God rebuilds me. In my complete undoing, the Lord is faithfully making me into a masterpiece. It is painful. It is a process. It is according to His Plan. It will be beautiful in God’s Timing just like He said.

Life is lived in seasons. One building on the next. There are things in our life that must be removed so the Lord can continue to build a firm foundation of faith so our hope in Him is confident until the end. The renewing of our mind including every thought is essential. (Romans 12:2) It is easy sometimes to see what God is doing around us or engage in His Service with our hands and neglect what the Lord is attempting to do in our heart. To be completely honest, six years ago my heart was shattered to the point that I cannot put the pieces back together. God is good. He is faithful to His Word. The outcome yet another victory thanks to Jesus. However, what about me? The soul living inside the body of a human. How do I submit these pieces to His Renewal, Restoration and Rebuilding? Does the process ever end? Will the next phase in this process be too much for me? I am asking all these questions today as God rebuilds me.

I Peter 2:4-5 (NLT) You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 

I am a living stone that is being reconstructed into the spiritual temple of the Living God. He lives in me. Jesus lives in you if you have invited Him to do so and welcomed Him in. When we moved into this house, it needed some work. The process of painting is the fastest and most gratifying. Call me crazy but I love the smell of a freshly painted room. Our daughter’s rooms have fresh paint and new décor along with their bathroom. Each a vivid representation of their unique personalities. The guest room and bathroom completed as well. Making a place for our adult children to come and visit of extreme importance as well. I am contemplating the next redo our bathroom and replacing all the door knobs and fixtures in the house. I am making this house our home. God is making me His Home.

Day by day and surface by surface scrubbing away my past thoughts, ideas and notions about life, changing my expectation, building a foundation of faith and somehow working confident hope through every part of my being. He doesn’t cut corners. God only does His Best. Not based on my faithfulness, but completely structured on His Faithfulness according to His Plan with a future and hope far exceeding my expectation. I just have to surrender to His Will to let Him work out His Plans for me. I do this by surrender. I give up myself in surrender to allow God to have it all. This is a sacrifice. I am free to choose whether I allow Him to finish the work that He has begun or decide my own path. One leads to eternity the other not even close.

How do I know this is what He is doing? Well, in John 2:19-21, Jesus had just cleared the Temple of all the vendors and money changers. In the South, we might say that our Lord “lost it” on them. The Jewish leaders benefiting from those selling sacrifices asked Jesus who gave Him the authority to do such a thing. Jesus told them that if they “destroyed the Temple, in three days He would raise it back up.” They were appalled reminding Jesus that it took 46 years to build that building. Jesus was not talking about a building but His Body. Fast forward to the His Trial when false witnesses would account the events of that day. The high priest inquired a response of Jesus. He remained silent. He asked the Lord, “Are you the Messiah?” Jesus told him, “You have said it.” On the Cross, the people mocked his declaration. Even the two thieves on either side as the Pharisees and other religious leaders stood beneath Jesus hurling insults at Him as He died for them. (Matthew 27:39-44) But then it happened…

Matthew 27:50-52 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.

HGTV lovers and DIY enthusiasts might call it “demo” day. The day that the manmade temple was destroyed. The Presence of God now released in the form of His Spirit began destroying all barriers between mankind and the God who loves them. He ripped the veil from top to bottom opening a door that no one can shut. Death and the grave were robbed on that day. The power of sin stripped in one complete sacrifice. Three days later, Jesus would be raised and the New Temple revealed. The manmade temple in ruins allowed rebuilding to begin on God’s New Temple. He would now live in His People. The Spirit of the Living God chose you and me to dwell in to live in and become one with. He chose us knowing every fault and failure including every act of sin and rebellion. He paid it all that day and still once released began His Passionate Pursuit of us.

Haggai 1:3-8 (NLT) Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT) So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Just Turnaround

Just Turnaround

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

In a Bible Study, the speaker said, “Cancer is a cell unwilling to change.” I tucked it in the back of my mind for a bit. The recent news of cancer scares, chemotherapy appointments, “pink nightmares” and another diagnosis have me contemplating cancer and change. Our son has scans next month that will determine if the cells in his body remain in check. I believe the bone marrow transplant and Hand of God upon him are doing their job but my heart grieves for all who have awakened in this nightmare, living the bad dream or trying to make sense in the aftermath. The last couple of weeks have been overwhelming. It seems that ever since our son’s journey ended, I have been struggling to decide what a “normal” life looks like or if there is such a thing. Something happened during that time. Something inside me changed forever and now I am learning to live in it. To survive the ordeal of a horrific and traumatic illness threatening the life of one of my children, I had to fully step into Christ. My whole being – body, mind, spirit and every single piece of my crushed heart had to be surrendered to find my next breath.

The perspective of my life has changed. My goals and aspirations are much different. Just like you, I see my future one way and when life takes a turn it causes stress and worry to fill my mind. As the pressures of life began to weigh me down, I started to complain and resist in an outward display. Challenged to find a solution or quit my job, I went to the Lord. You know what He told me? I had to change. God doesn’t see our life and all the problems. He sees my potential. The purpose for which He created me and the plan designed specifically for my life. It is not dependent on the variables around me but it all works together for my good. If I can keep my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith and remain yoked to Him – life and power belong to me. His Grace is always enough. I have to change…no one else and nothing else but me.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

A quick and simple lessen about cancer from a novice perspective. Cancer is just another cell in the body. The problem is it doesn’t come pre-programmed with the life sustaining power to change. It is rogue. Rogue means no longer obedient, belonging or accepted and hence uncontrollable. It becomes a renegade. If you think about it, cancer never wins. For death is to kill its own source of life. It is suicidal in its mission. For if medicine doesn’t stop it or the Hand of God does not immediately heal it – it kills itself by ending the life of its human source. Cancer is basically a disease of uncontrolled cell division. Cells come with regulators that are overridden in a cancer cell. It does not have the safe limits built in that tell it how to grow and develop normally in the human body. Cancer cells make their own rules and growth factors. They are stuck in the “on” position. They ignore the innate signals from the body designed for healthy growth and development. How many times do I allow my flesh to override the Spirit? The Lord is working in me to make me a new creation and produce new life yet in my impatience and unwillingness to change cause a delay in my development. What if the lack of progress towards fulfillment of my purpose is me?

Repentance is turning back to God. It is not a mandate for change. I can do nothing to make my life better. Repentance leads to salvation which is an act of submission. It is to surrender every “cell” of my body and fiber of my being to the redemptive, restoring, renewing and renovating Power of Christ. To allow Him to improve my standard of living to God’s Glorious and Life-Giving Standard. I can do nothing apart from Christ. But in Christ, I have everything I need to grow, develop and mature my purpose. The only parts of my life that will not be renewed, restored and revived are those unwilling to change. The process of transformation is change. Not a change I can produce, but the One the Lord will if I give every part of my life to Him.

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 

At one point in our son’s fight against cancer, the doctors discussed his participation in a clinical trial for immunotherapy. Essentially they take some cells from a patient with active cancer and teach the immune system to fight back. We didn’t enter the trial but instead he was approved for a bone marrow transplant which took some of his cells after chemo-blasting as much cancer out of his system as possible and storing them for later use. He entered the hospital and for weeks they killed every cell they could without killing him and then reintroduced the clean cells to take over. They did and our son is alive today despite only having a 2% chance of survival. He is a living, breathing miracle. Though he celebrates victory day by day, there are still challenges in his post-cancer life. A review of systems provides a lengthy list of side effects from the disease and treatment alike. He requires medications and monitoring of certain health conditions. He is still dependent on his medical team which leads me to this point – you will always need Jesus. In fact, the more you grow, the more you will come to know that He is Your Life Source.

Sin will take over in the absence of Christ. Rogue behaviors will surface from our past. Flesh will rise up to overtake us in weakness. Our mind will play tricks on us as the enemy tries to convince us that God is not good, or He has forgotten a single promise. The enemy wants you to believe that the Grace of God is not enough. The truth is friend it is more than enough to make it through each day triumphantly even in the midst of trial or tragedy. We must only be willing to repent (turnaround)to face the Lord and allow Him to live, move and breathe in us. There is no condemnation in Christ. Someone needs to hear that today and understand. God sees sin as cancer. He has the cure. Just turn around and let His Unfailing Love and Goodness overtake you – this is when death becomes life, potential results in purpose, and you will experience Him from glory to glory.

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

Jesus didn’t come to save the world. He came to save us. You. Me. Everyone. To think that He came to save the world would be like Christ draining the ocean to keep our feet planted on the ground. No. Faith is not needed in such a case. It is when water is all around us and still our heart beckons us to come. Jesus says, “My grace is all you need…today.” No matter what you are facing or how good the day may seem – we all need His Grace and Mercy to continue the transformation process that all believers are undergoing. We much know that His Power works its absolute in our weakness. Why else would the prideful be warned of a fall? It is in that moment when Christ is enough that our life is immediately changed for the better and life released in the midst of such a declaration. This is the Gospel of our life. To let Christ have His Way in every area. It is not a choice attributable to anything that I can say or do but in the choice to let Him have His Way and fill every space and void in my life. Sometimes it is releasing my expectation to fully embrace His Promises which are always more than I can think or ask. Is it possible to take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles – yes it is. The power to change lives within us. Christ is enough. I just have to believe it to receive it. To believe it means that each and every day – I must repent (turnaround) and embrace the Christ in me and the life He is producing.

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

I made a startling realization this week. Okay, I am not going to lie I come to this every time. When I am stressed, anxious, worried, and overwhelmed – I begin to release the pressure by taking it out on those around me. I find myself complaining and grumbling. I become exhausted and given to tears. Time and time again…I hear the Lord whisper – “Hey, My Grace is still enough for you.” I turnaround and find Him right there where He always was with a Handful of Goodness and Heart full of love that the Lord is ready to lavish on me. I only have to turnaround from doing things my way and holding to my expectations to receive it. Jesus always gives me joy and peace that is indescribable without fail. I want to be a new creation. I want the new life I am promised. I am all too human just the same. When I find my life overwhelming, it is then that I realize I am the one who got turned around. I am the one doing it my way according to my will. The overwhelming feeling inside me is desperation mixed with unmet expectation that reminds me – Christ is all I need and He lives in me.

Stop evaluating your life according to those around you. Your Purpose and Plan are designed specifically and exclusively for you. This is not a competition. God has no favorites. Everyone has the potential and promise to be a Child of the Living God by accepting Jesus Christ. Everyone. You have the opportunity to put your old life of shame, regret, lack and discontentment behind and fully embrace the new life Christ died for you to have including full freedom and soul prosperity that somehow makes its way into our life as increase. What if all you have to do is stop doing it your way and let Christ have His Way? Could it be you are trying too hard rather than depending fully on Jesus? The Lord stands right behind you. He is ready, willing and able to change your life beginning with you. Will you just turnaround?

Psalm 23 (NLT) The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Just Breathe

Just Breathe

Job 33:4 (NLT) For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Here is a thoughtful nugget for today – breathe in, breathe out. Congratulations! You just successfully accomplished something in life. You perpetuated it by simply inspiring and expiring a single breath. Now do it again! Two triumphs in one day…now keep doing it throughout the rest of today. Completely overwhelmed by work, church and life, I sat working on surprises for Mother’s Day for church. After working the second late night, swinging by the grocery store to restock, taking care of our little puppy, nursing our adult fur baby whose tummy is not well, cooking dinner and settling in to prepare for Sunday. I could feel the pressure closing in on me. Tired. Exhausted. Brain not fully functioning. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes as my heart pounded in my chest. Another rough day. There have been more than a few lately. More challenges than usual – but that’s just life right? Having gone through much worse and surviving, I still feel might heart yearning to thrive again. The Lord rushed in to comfort me during my unspoken prayer. His Words clear, calm and focused to me – just breathe.

Too often in the name of busyness – it is human nature to breathe shallowing. To keep running from this task to that one using all of our body, mind and spirit to create a better life and meet human expectation. Burn out comes. The wall is hit hard forcing all the breath from our body. Our humanity a heavy weight that burdens us rather than becoming the blessing we are promised. It is certainly not of God. He doesn’t tell us to “do” it all. In fact, He doesn’t need us to do a thing. I exist for God’s Pleasure. He gives me purpose that promotes prosperity by His Grace not because I deserve it. Just like our children do not earn the house they live in, the food they eat, the money I give them or the clothing that overflows from drawers, closets and the laundry hamper – I give it all to them simply because I love them and want to care for them. But I am not the Lord, and I do grow weak and weary. Thankfully, He does not.

Acts 17:22-28 (NLT) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.  “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

The Unknown God. Do you know the Lord? I have been married to my husband for almost two decades. He is my best friend. I know him better than any other person in this life. To know him comes from spending almost every single day with him consecutively for more than 18 years. It has meant giving up my way to follow him on many occasions. It requires forgiveness time and time again. It is to put him above other people. To love him. Seek him out. Serve him with love. Day by day getting to know him more. Have I applied the same desire and drive in getting to know the Lord? His Word is the Way, Truth and Life. See if you really know the “unknown” God who Paul speaks of – you can breathe easy.

God doesn’t need us to do anything. He desires us. He wants us. He sent His Son to die for our sins so that there is an opportunity to live in a relationship with Him. That’s it. All the other religious rules and regulations are not of God. Grace has them covered. What will allow the greatest success in our Christian walk and “living for the Lord” is not in our personal ability or dedication to righteousness but one’s ability to slip into the Robe of Righteousness and return home as the prodigal son or daughter. The Father/Child relationship is what the Lord desires. Our family depends on one another. Though from time to time there is rivalry amongst them, let someone come against them or there be a proposed threat – the circle the wagons quickly prepared to fight. There are many days that I forget this truth. The part about God not needing me to do any particular thing or that my success or failure as His Child is not hinged on my performance. God loves me for me. He formed me in my mother’s womb writing a perfect plan and purpose for my life including enough grace to get me through it. He is always for me. He gives me new mercy each morning and is just waiting to for me to breathe Him in deeply. To allow His Presence and His Spirit to work in me and through me giving me peace and inexpressible joy as I do the unthinkable, unimaginable, and absolutely infinitely more than I ever considered possible. There is more to life than this. It is found in Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. I just need to remember to keep breathing. It is in Him I live, move and exist. This is all part of inspiration and expiration the breath called life.

Daniel 10:16-18 (NLT) Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.

The breath that keeps me breathing is the same air breathed into Adam. It has continued to bear fruit called life from generation to generation. Just as God’s Word will not return void, neither will His First Breath that brought humanity to life. The perpetuation of life will continue until Jesus comes. It is an awesome thought to think that the very mouth that formed the words that created all that we know is continuing its purpose in me today. If I am breathing – I am alive. I have human breath that is given to accomplish natural respiration. However, I have been given the spirit of Jesus Christ when He released His Last Breath on the Cross and saying, “It is finished.” Do you remember what happened next? The veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. Nothing could ever separate me from God again. His Spirit (His Breath) did not stop there but resurrection power brought the dead back to life. His Breath cannot help but produce life in and around us.

Daniel was filled with anguish, overwhelmed by sorrow, and very weak. He was so weary in fact that he said, “How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my Lord?” He had seen a vision that drained his faith and overtook his hope so quickly that Daniel was drowning in sorrow unable to catch his breath. “My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Whether you are overcome by physical, emotional or spiritual exhaustion, weakness, weariness or just plain empty – the Lord has what you need today. His Voice is reminding you just breathe in and let it out. Breathe me in – let fear out. Breathe me in – let broken pieces fall where they will. Breathe me in – let worry go. Breathe me in – fall on me in your weakness. Breathe me in – become one with me, yoke your life to me, become one with me. The Lord is offering you His Whole Life – every fiber of who He is and what He is able to do in a single breath. Will you just breathe today? Will your declaration be as Daniel’s when he said, “I felt my strength returning.”

Psalm 33:4-9 (NLT) For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.

So…

Psalm 104:30 (NLT) When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.

And finally…

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!