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.

 

 

 

Take Out the Trash

take-out-theh-trash

Philippians 3:7-8 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.

In the wee hours of the morning, I received the news that a good friend had suddenly lost her father. He had been sick for a while and then his health dramatically improved. He was able to spend quality time with his family even traveling. Everyone was relieved and rejoiced in his recovery. He was a good man. A godly influence to everyone who knew him. I had only known him a short time but the legacy of his love and leadership ripples out through generations. Suddenly, everything changed. In that instant his wife became a widow and his children fatherless. Grandchildren and even great grandchildren will only have memories to sustain the impact of this gentleman. The family went to bed planning Christmas celebrations and woke up planning a home going celebration instead. It’s funny how life works sometimes.

Driving to work, I passed one of his grandchildren headed to his grandmother’s house as the family gathered. My heart sank for this young man and his family. I began to think about our family and friends. The community of believers that I belong to. My coworkers. Everyone in my sphere of influence who continues on the daily grind each day. I wonder if we understand how close our time is or that this day is the only thing that is certain. Do we (do I) live like that? Or have I become so consumed with worthless and temporary things that I sometimes forget, take for granted or think I have only today to love and live for Christ?

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 

Could it be that as divine creations carefully created with eternity in us that sometimes our focus is on forever rather than today? Not eternal forever, but that thought that we live forever takes over and somehow living for this day even this moment escapes us because our mind grabs hold of tomorrows that may never come. The breath that just left your body can never be reclaimed or recounted. There are a certain number of breaths in our body and the Lord knows exactly how many so He plans our life accordingly providing the opportunity to accept Him, know Him and live for Him if that is our choice. Falling in love with Jesus is a choice. It is a privilege. It is our purpose. However, alongside the Lover of our soul is one who hates us equally. The “God” in us makes him livid and relentless in stripping us of faith. The greatest distraction is time and our thoughtless idea that it is unlimited.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT) For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

I woke up this morning with painting on my mind. Yes, painting. Painting my daughter’s room to be exact. Then I remembered that I needed to decorate for Christmas and buy a tree. Oh, that’s right I have only purchased a few gifts. Wait a minute! I haven’t been grocery shopping more than quick stops since before Thanksgiving so I probably should do some meal planning and make the dreaded trip. Hold up…there is something I am forgetting. Oh that’s right! My December baby is about to have a birthday. So I did what any ordinary person would do and pulled the covers over my head and stayed in bed another thirty minutes or so. Ugh! Worthless things. Things that don’t really matter. Things that steal the moments from my life rather than adding quality as Christ would have it. Do I need to do some of these things? Sure I do. Do I want to do some of them? Of course. Do any of them matter as much as knowing and loving Christ. Of course, not. We grab hold of worthless things and garbage thoughts all the time forgetting that God created times and seasons with our breath, steps and heartbeats in careful consideration. There is no need to run ourselves ragged with planning, preparation and execution of certain seasons, schedules and such. Nothing matters more than asking the Lord to guide us in our time management. To help govern our to-do list. How to spend the next few moments? Where to take the next couple of breaths? What matters today Lord – because tomorrow is not certain? You know the plans that You have made for me and the life You designed so that I could have them. They are my future. They are filled with hope. I must find you to fulfill them. You are never buried in worthless things. Help me to rid my life of all such garbage and take hold of you today.

Psalm 119:1-5 (NLT) Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us    to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!

Are you full of joy this holiday season? Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. My heart can get filled up with a whole lot of junk sometimes. My mind becomes filled with worthless ideas and thoughts that don’t do anything but distract me. As I sit and study and even pray this morning, random thoughts keep popping in my head about things I need to do and remember. I learned a long time ago that when I hide away with Jesus to keep my journal and a notepad close by. I journal my thoughts, considerations, and personal time with Jesus. When those others things come to mind, I write them on the list so that my mind is free of them until this time is over. I am most joyful when I am in the Presence of God. When He washes away my sin and takes my burdens, instead filling me with His Peace and Joy. Such an investment of time, changes the course of my day. It creates the right kind of expectation. Time is a precious commodity wasted too many times on lesser things.

Psalm 119:9-11 (NLT) How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. I have tried hard to find you—don’t let me wander from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

I have never met a white-haired believer that does not have a story of their mess turned into their message. In disbelief, it is hard to think that they ever did not serve the Lord. What we see is the transformation of time standing before us but if we did not witness the change for ourselves – we seldom believe it. When my grandmother passed away, so many people came to offer condolences and kind words sharing what a sweet, kind and loving Christian woman that she was and how she impacted their life. Ever since that day, I knew in my heart that I wanted to be that kind of believer who loved like Jesus and was a Light in life. Just like Brother John, who passed away yesterday, the legacy of his life is waves of love and admiration for time well-spent getting to know Jesus, falling in Love with Him, and pursuing Him wholeheartedly. This will always emanate to those around us when we give up precious time once spent on worthless things to hide His Word in our heart and know Him more and more.

Psalm 119:29-30 (NLT) Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions. I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations.

Life is too short to waste it on worthless things. We must stop lying to ourselves that tomorrow will be here before we know it. We must stop procrastinating and putting off today the things that make us uncomfortable or inconvenienced. When the Lord says speak…we must speak. When He tells us to forgive…we must forgive. When He speaks reconciliation, we must move. When He calls to us…we must come. When he tells us to go…we must go where it is He tells us. We must stop wasting precious moments of our life on the lie that tomorrow is coming just hold on. What if the joy promised for the morning is to meet Him face to face? Will I be ready or wasted away on worthlessness?

Psalm 119:37-40 (NLT) Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Reassure me of your promise, made to those who fear you. Help me abandon my shameful ways; for your regulations are good. I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness.

What are you wasting your life on today? Any regrets? What about “what ifs”? Where are you? Is it where you want to be? Are you thriving or merely surviving? Life becomes very short when faced with the end of it. Suddenly, all those “important” things are not so important any more. I know that when the enemy put a death sentence called “cancer” on our son’s life that my priorities changed in an instant. Nothing was as important to me as staying by his side watching and waiting for the Lord to fulfill His Promise that he would live and not die to declare the works of the Lord. When I tried to get back to the life I remembered, the one that afforded me comfort and control- I found it was gone. Such a season in my life was over, everything changed and would continue to be different. Not in a bad way, many times with disaster comes discernment as the Light of His Love reveals the depths of our heart. Sometimes we like what we see, but often it is quite appalling all the garbage allowed to remain there.

Lord, I ask you today to turn our eyes from worthless things. It’s time to take out the trash that fills us with lesser things when you created us with so much more in mind.  All those things that stop the Fruit of Your Spirit from growing and overflowing in my life. All the junk that keeps me from Your Goodness called fulfillment that is Your Promise to us. Lord, help me to declutter my mind and sensitize my heart to what really matters to You. Lord, fix my thoughts and keep me focused on today rather than getting caught up in tomorrow, next month or next year. Today has a purpose. You have a plan. Each step is ordered remind me to take steps rather than running ahead. Thank you Lord that our life has meaning. Thank you Lord, You are already there.

Philippians 4:8-9 (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. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Water Me

Rushing Water

John 7:37-38 (NIV) On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

The single most important thing that a human being needs to live is water. A body requires a minimum of two quarts of water per day. Hikers and survivalist recommend that it is the most necessary item if lost in the woods. The safest form of water is rushing water. If every caught off guard, the suggest listening for the sound of a stream or river to secure this life source. Watch the animals – they know where to find water in their natural habitat. A muddy area has water available as well one must dig a little deeper to find it beneath the surface of the earth. A stagnant pond requires dramatic purification by fire if possible. Ponds or lakes that have no movement lack any natural filtration. Water is critical to our survival physically and spiritually. The same applies to our spiritual life. We need water – living water every single day. To survive, one must be consciously aware not to become dehydrated or allow their spirit to become stagnant. Jesus offers to those who are thirsty to come and drink. Can the Lord really give us something to sustain us in life? Rivers of living water will flow from within them. How is the living water in you today?

To effectively thrive in this life, I cannot live on stagnant water or an unmoving current. I must be sure that the water within me is living, moving and breathing with me. If not, I will become stuck in a rut, weak, and desperate for something. We must learn to be conduits of living water rather than earthen vessels. It is one thing to carry water from another source and pour it out as it were our own. But the Lord has promised that we will have living water surging within us. Where is the Living Water that He promised? How do I make it consistent in my life? So glad you asked.

John 4:7-14 (NIV) When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The Samaritan woman was came to draw water. She did so every day about this time of day. It was her habit. Her routine was to come after the other woman had left to collect the water needed for her family and chores each day. She was accustomed to this life. Jesus was waiting at the well for her that day with the divine purpose of breaking new ground and releasing living water from within her. She was stuck in a rut, driven by routine, beaten down by life, and destined to hopelessness. When Jesus asked for water to drink, she quickly came up with an excuse as to why she had nothing to offer the Lord. Jesus immediately offered her the gift of life to her dead and dying soul to dry to even soak in what He was offering or Who it was who was willing to give.

The Samaritan woman quickly fell back on religion like most of us do when faced with such a question. We get uncomfortable when pressed about our relationship with Jesus. It doesn’t have to be that way. When a messenger of another faith comes to the door, like maybe a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness, does it make you uncomfortable? Most people immediately blurt out that they “go to church”. But who will say, “I know Jesus Christ. He lives in me.” Are you solid in your connection to Christ to offer them an honest answer in love and wish them a good day? Or is our immediate inclination not to answer the door at all or if we do quickly shut it in their faces? Confident hope operates in love not fear. We fear the questions that we do not know the answer to. It doesn’t have to be that way. Jesus is offering to release rushing and living water deep within those who are willing to come thirsty and ready to drink.

John 4:15-18 (NIV) The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty again. Soul satisfaction comes from living water rising up within us and nothing we can find around us. Fresh water or a good meal is enjoyed in that moment but how many times do we head back to the kitchen a few hours after. The kind of water that the Lord offers us will keep us in every season. It is not dependent on our condition or circumstances. This woman had five husbands all long gone. The man who kept her now was not her husband. How empty this poor woman must have felt? She was an empty shell left like a crumpled cup thrown to the side. But Jesus saw her differently, he pointed out her brokenness to meet her deepest need. She needed fulfillment. She needed to see herself as God saw her not all those men had made her feel. Sometimes our past limits the potential of our future, while Jesus tries to pour into us – we refuse to accept based on guilt, shame, regret and unforgiveness. He did not point this woman’s faults out to hurt her even more but to establish her need. Like the Great Physician that He is, the Lord pointed out the driest part of her in order that Living Water might reach her there – restore, revive and renew her in that place.

John 4:21-24 (NIV) “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

When the disciples returned, the woman went back to share with the others what she had discovered…leaving her water jar behind. The water jar was her livelihood. It was vital to the natural survival. We carry water jars around with us pouring out the contents on our life. Jesus said, “Come to me those who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) So let’s think about the water pot logically. It probably carried as much water as a five-gallon bucket like one might buy paint in. If a gallon of water weighs about 8.5 pounds it would make that jar filled with water to be about 43 pounds give or take. This is not considering the weight of the jar itself in Biblical times – it would have been made with clay. Every day she would lug it back and forth to get water for her family. I am sure it was exhausting when considering all her other household responsibilities. When she met Jesus, she left it behind.

What is that thing keeping living water from rushing through you today? We all must consider our stream and remove ever obstacle that keeps us from becoming completely satisfied in Jesus Christ. True worshippers are to do so in Spirit and in Truth. We must become fully operational in our service to Jesus with these two vital components in life. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as Living Water. The Truth is God’s Word – His Word is Truth. Jesus is the Word of God. We must know the Word to know Jesus. The “washing of the Word” is constantly filtering through the lower philosophies adopted by mankind that lead to compromise and substitutions. It sheds light on every lie that darkness has laid before us as a trap. Living water should be rushing through us freely and unrestricted allowing us to let go and live in the victorious freedom that Christ offers us.

Isaiah 58:11-12 (NIV) The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun- scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Before the great flood of the days of Noah, it had never rained before. The earth was watered from the inside out. Springs underground kept the plants and trees hydrated while feeding the thirst of every living creature. Sin pushed the water outside of us. No longer is could our soul be satisfied from within due to our dying state. We are born dying thus our need for hunger and thirst in order to realize our need and satisfy this state to keep us physically alive. But when Jesus came to die for us, He made the Way for Living Water to flow within us. To restore, revive, and renew us from the inside out again. Our soul can now find satisfaction again which will create a reservoir that allows us to give something of worth to others. We are called to rebuild ancient ruins, to raise up age-old foundations, to be the Repairer of Broken Walls, restorers of streets and dwellings all leading others to the Love of God that has satisfied our soul. Are you satisfied today? Truly satisfied, no matter the circumstances or conditions of your life, is it well with your soul? Or maybe I should ask is the well of your soul open and overflowing in Living Water?

Isaiah 55:1-3 (NIV) “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.

Our journey as believers and followers of Christ goes through many seasons and changes along the way. It is not always straight highways and flattened pathways. There are times when it is a struggle and quite draining. We neglect our time in His Presence in the name of Christian duty and church service. The responsibilities of life steal precious moments that we need to know Him more and one day we find that we have a dry and thirsty soul. What happened to the Living Water that once washed over me and ran through me with such intensity? How could I expect God to keep washing and restoring such a broken vessel such as myself? The enemy will tell you that there is nothing good in you to give and I must object wholeheartedly. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. If Jesus lives in your heart, and you love the Lord with your life, there is always something to pour from and give to others even when you feel empty inside. Caught up in responsibility and doing, the Lord invites us to the fountain again. He calls and invites us to come to the altar and allow Him to pour His Love on us. He wants nothing more than to satisfy our thirsty soul.

Isaiah 43:18-21 (NIV) “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.”

Is your life like a dry desert wasteland today? Have you found your way into the wilderness again? Sometimes it is not a bad choice that leads you there but rather the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you have a dry and thirsty soul and the Savior is waiting to refill you. Considering our physical conditions sometimes causes us to ignore our spiritual condition, so we slowly starve ourselves and become dehydrated as the Living Water in us no longer flows through us. Maybe unresolved or hidden sin has blocked its flow and now you are filled with stagnancy that needs a good flush. I find that tears of repentance bathed in His Blood covered by His Love will do the trick quite nicely. Jesus loves us. He doesn’t want us to want for a single thing. If your life is lacking and may just not be living anymore. We must come to the fountain continually. Listen for God’s Voice which is like rushing water. (Ezekiel 43, Revelation 1 & 14) He speaks to us through Living Water as His Spirit lives in us and breathes in those who give Him their heart. The substance of God in us is not lacking but waits to fill us to overflowing time and time again. Are you thirsty? Jesus says, “Come to me!”

Revelation 19:5-7 (NIV) Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small!” Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

Bird’s Eye View

Birds Eye View

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

At the closing table signing papers for our new house, the previous owners told us about the hummingbirds. They had left a hook on the front porch for a feeder in the place that theirs had been and told us that if we replaced it the hummingbirds would come. I have never had a bird feeder in my yard before or hung nectar for hummingbirds. Funny that of all the things they could have shared about life in this house it would be about the little fluttering creatures. On a supply run, I decided to buy a feeder and some red nectar and give it a go. Sure enough not one but three hummingbirds drained it quickly. The feeder is hung outside the windows to the study so in the early morning sunlight or late as the sun finally sets, they are there flittering around it. In the flowerbed just outside is a two-prong hook, it is also for bird feeders. I think I will try my hand at some feeders for the other winged friends in our yard. Don’t laugh at me for my enthusiasm. This is a different life for me. God has brought me to a place that I have never been before and a lifestyle I didn’t even know would be appealing – His Ways are higher than my ways.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Adjusting to my taste of country living has made me reevaluate some things in my life. God has a plan for us. Sometimes it seems unclear and elusive. In fact, most of the times that is the case. What if we looked at life from a bird’s eye view? What if rather than focusing on what we see right in front of us, we were able to fly over our current condition to see the bigger picture from the heights of the heavens? Birds have that unique ability. They can fly. If danger approaches, they can fly away quickly. If the storm rolls in, they can rise above it or use the wind to lift them higher. The birds clearly have the advantage it seems. Looking through God’s Word, I find several examples given to us by a fine feathered friends to remind us that we serve a God who has ways and thoughts higher than our own. We cannot see all that the Lord is doing so like these creatures who depend on the Lord for everything – we must learn to do the same.

Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

If I forget to refill the nectar in the feeder, the hummingbirds will still be just fine. The Lord provides the nectar they need in flowers. They do not need me. I enjoy caring for them and watching them come near. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet the Father feeds them.” Did you know that no matter how hard you work, toil and labor that God is our provider? He gives us the ability to go to work and earn income but it is not according to the hours we put in or one’s ascent up the corporate ladder that determines our prosperity. No, it is God’s Blessing and Favor that gives us the good things that we enjoy. If I stress and worry my life away, I have wasted precious time. It does not impact God’s Faithfulness in the slightest. God supplies our needs. Birds do not worry, stress or fret over food – they trust the Lord.

Before moving on, I would like to point out that birds also understand sacrifice. They were called by God as a sufficient sacrifice in the Book of Leviticus. In Genesis 8, birds were part of the covenant sacrifice bringing together God and Abram (who would become Abraham). Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” (Genesis 15:4-9) We must sacrifice our life for Jesus Christ. We must give up our way to follow His Way… the only way. You cannot head in two directions at the same time. One way must be conceded. I am crucified with Christ now I live.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV) He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Birds know that their provision rests is found in the Presence of God. By faith, they continually look for what they need with complete confidence that the Lord will supply. I am quite certain that our winged friends are not plagued by emotions and feelings that distract and detour them along the way. We must stop relying on what we feel and experience becoming completely dependent on the Lord and taking Him at His Word.

Matthew 10:28-30 (NIV) Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

God is our protector. We have no reason to fear. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground outside the Father’s care, how much more important are you to the Lord? He knows the number of hairs on our head and dares the enemy to touch just one of them. I rebuke fear from your life in the Name of Jesus. In order to maintain one’s courage, we must believe that God is our protector and continually seek His Refuge.

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.” (Psalm 84:2-4) The sparrow and her friend, the swallow, choose to make their nest in the Presence of God. They have decided that He is everything they need and desire so they live right there with the Lord. Too many times we live double lives – one way in church and another in life. Wondering why we do not live up to God’s Glorious Standard by settling for substitutions and compromises. We must learn to wait on the Lord living in His Presence while “He perfects that which concerns you (us).” Psalm 138:8.

I Kings 17:3-6 (NIV) “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”

Ravens represent those who choose to obey the Lord. When God wanted his prophet to be fed, He instructed the ravens to do so and they did. What do I do when God instructs me to do something? Is obedience my immediate reaction or an afterthought? Do I miss opportunities to take God at His Word? Am I even listening at all?

Matthew 3:16-17 (NIV) As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

The dove represents the Holy Spirit. The Mind of Christ given to us by the Father to help us in our weakness and to give us understanding of God’s Ways. The Spirit of God descended “like a dove” on Jesus after He was baptized. We are given the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord. He is our partner in life who guides and instructs. The dove made an appearance in Genesis 8 when Noah released the dove over and over again to find the place God had sent them. To know it was time to open the arc and make their home in that place. We should use the Holy Spirit as our guide as well. He is in us. He is active. The Spirit of the Living God is essential in explaining God’s Word to us, revealing His Secrets and giving us complete understanding that can be turned to wisdom.

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV) Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Everyone loves the eagle. He reveals God’s Renewal and Restoration to us. His Promise to renew our strength when we grow weary and restore our hope when all seems lost. It says that those who hope in the Lord will “soar on wings like eagles.” Are you able to rise above your circumstances today? Have the burdens of life weighted you down? In Job 39, we find the ostrich which is a flightless bird. She is referred to as a bird who God “did not endow with wisdom or give her a share of good sense.” I don’t want to be like an ostrich who buries her head in the sand when trouble comes. I want to be like an eagle who soars above this finite view of life to see things as God sees them. I want to know His Ways that are higher than my ways. I want confidence in the Lord’s Provision and Protection living in His Presence all the days of my life. It requires a new perspective and not one that is based on the ground. I must take a bird’s eye view of life to live as they do.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NIV) Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Old Planks

Old Planks

Psalm 92:12-15 (NIV)

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

 

Our church has been blessed with a new building to hold services. It was in very poor condition when purchased and in need of renovation. The saints of God pulled together on a mission to create a place of worship, to welcome the lost, to provide healing to the sick, shelter for the broken, and a sanctuary for His Glory. Endless nights of toil and sweat have produced tears among the exhausted workers, but the diamond in the rough is now shining as it is brought back to life. The image of a tree has become the logo for the new establishment. Like a tree. We all want to be like a tree lush and full by the stream of Living Water. Who doesn’t want to thrive like the olive tree in the House of God? There is a process to our purpose. It has been brought into the light.

 

The wall behind the platform where the Word of God will be preached and worship fully expressed is covered in old planks. Cut from pallets nailed together that once bore loads too much to carry now delivered. Running my hand across them, they are weathered and worn. Sometimes I feel that way, but look where they are. Day and night in the Presence of God living in His House forever. One day, this church will be forgotten burned as the world spins to the end. However, in this moment, on this day, they are an inspiration to the weary Christian. To the believer who is broken, they shout it is well. To the one whose hope is waning and their faith is running thin – they yell hang! You are almost there. If those planks could speak to us today, they might say, “Yes, there is pain in the process! But look at us now!”

 

The righteous will grow and flourish planted in the House of God. They will bear fruit even in old age. They will stay fresh and green proclaiming the Glory of God. I want to remain in right standing with the Lord, My God always. However, in the process of purpose, it becomes unclear this hope we have in Jesus. Those times of heated refinement when it is too hot to breathe in the inescapable blaze of testing and trials, where is our God? Why has He forsaken us? When will He return? God is with us. He is in us. He is reshaping us and making us who and what we need to be to live in His Presence forever and prosper in His Kingdom just as He planned. We not miss this life or what we gained here. The glory of past achievements will not be as wonderful as we thought compared to His Goodness and Glory released in fulfillment. When we see who we are in the Light of Who He is rather than what we have become.

 

I Corinthians 15:37-39 (NIV)

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.

 

We have the best intentions. The Lord has a plan. His Plan is handwritten from beginning to end before a person takes in their first breath. He places Eternity in our heart so we will seek Him and find His Plan when our best intentions fail leaving us dissatisfied and unfulfilled. You will never find contentment or complete satisfaction outside of Jesus Christ. When we sow our life, it is like planting a tiny seed. We call that seed faith and as it grows, it will require a great deal of patience for it may seem quite slow. From the beginning, a person will develop a set of expectations. They decide who they think they are to become in Christ and what they will do for Him. Some of this is revelation knowledge but then some of it is human, too. Nevertheless as we take God’s Word – His Seed – planting it ever so deep into our soul. We wait with some expectation for it to become something far greater. God’s Word is seed to us containing all the potential for our life. (Matthew 13) The Parable of the Sower tells the fate of some seeds, but then there are the ones that take root and grow. Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:14) He is the seed in us. When God spoke to Abraham about his “seed”, He was not talking about Isaac but about Jesus. Jesus would be his seed. (Galatians 3:16) Christ in us makes us Abraham’s seed with faith that makes all things possible to those who believe God at His Word and are willing to endure the process of productivity require to grow, develop, mature and prosper in life.

 

Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

 

Right from the start salvation yields large dividends in our life as the Lord nurtures and grows that tiny seed into some faith in us. We see some things turn around and perhaps begin to make better choices. New growth buds and sprouts in our life. Things are going pretty good. Our lives are better than we deserve and we become content and complacent in this new thing called comfort. Rooted and grounded in God’s Love by faith we are beginning to notice that thing called purpose getting stronger and bolder within us. It is such a refreshing place in life tapped into that Living Water. You don’t want anything to change but it must. You do not want to leave but you will. You don’t know what is coming but it does.

 

John 15:1-3 (NIV)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”

 

Why must we be pruned? Is refinement really a must? Absolutely. God loves us too much to lower His Standards for our personal and temporary comfort. He desires us to be completely blessed not partially appeased. He cuts off everything in our life that does not bear fruit to make room for more. It’s hard to think about it when all you can feel is the pain of the cut. God’s Word is a two-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12) Stay in the Word. You will feel the stick of piercing as with exact provision the Lord prepares us for prosperity body, mind and spirit.

 

Like the tree must be cut down and sent to the mill to be processed into planks that will be nailed into pallets to carry some loads, the Lord prepares and process His People always in love but not always absent in pain. He circumcises our heart. (Deuteronomy 10:16) This is when our religion is cut down to reveal a relationship with Christ. No longer can we do anything other than submit to the Master’s Plan. Though evidence of His Great Love, it becomes a time of testing. We will live and not die if the Truth remains in us. If our life is connected to the Resurrection and Life – Jesus Christ. (John 11:25)

 

Galatians 5:22Somet-25 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Pruning allows a tree to bear fruit. In a spiritual sense, those things cut from us allow the Spirit to prosper in us. We must endure the process of God in order for the Fruit of God’s Spirit to grow freely and abundantly. Fruit doesn’t stay on the vine or it will die never fulfilling its purpose. It must be cut to be consumed. Think about it. If we never released our fruit, we would be rotting and stinking trees. Living in Florida, we once had a house built in the midst of an orange grove. Each house had one tree in the front and six in the back neatly in rows. Those trees had been there for years and produced way more fruit than we could eat. Who could we share it with? All our neighbors had the same problem? When the fruit over ripened, it would fall to the ground and begin to rot. The sweet orange blossom sent turned into the sour pungency that attracted the biting fruit flies who ate it and tried to bite us. God desires our life to be a blessing to more than just us. He allows our fruit to be sampled by others and consumed by the needy. We feel the pull and yet sometimes fail to respond. God will cut us down in order to revive us again.

 

Romans 12:1-5 (NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 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.

 

There are many steps climbing the mountain by faith. Glory to glory requires many levels of pain. Victory to victory is not without costly encounters. We come to the Lord by faith that must be tested and tried to be found true – not by God but by you. We must know what we believe and live as one. To become a living sacrifice requires giving our all. The seed gave way to the tree which gave up its life to become wood made into a pallet but that’s not the end. Sometimes we lose sight that there is far greater purpose in life than what it seems to be right now. The younger the Christian the more passionate the cause; however, the shorter the distance until they are on their weak knees. Each test made us stronger yet broken inside. Each trial burned away the insufficiencies to reveal faith that seems so small. Our significance is not in what life looks like around us but who we have become inside of us. Those pallets were ripped from their labor. They became yoked to Christ. Did you know that there were cedar plank walls in the Temple? (I Kings 6:9) Each strip of wood with all its marks and dings made it to the place we all long for. To live in the Presence of God forevermore.

 

God is transforming us friends. Not like we would do it, but according to a blessing far greater than we could even think to ask for. He sees more in us than we sees in ourselves and loves us too much to leave us like we are. Jesus in us is the seed that grows into prosperity. I must decrease so that He can increase in my life. (John 3:30) It’s funny but I have seen this process in some of the laborers preparing the House of God for service. After weeks of working their regular jobs and devoting the rest of their time preparing the House of God, they feel like worn out wood fit for burning. However, what I see are people on purpose. Those who God loves too much to leave behind. Martha’s who are being turned into Mary’s. Joseph’s who are about to emerge. God didn’t cut down the tree without purpose. He didn’t rip it apart because it was not producing some fruit. The process of refinement leads to refreshing and renewal. It leads to revival. Why? Because in our weakness, we become strong. Grace is sufficient when “I” cannot do it anymore. (2 Corinthians 12:9) There is a promise for those who are broken. It gives God the opportunity to move in closer, deeper and greater than before. (Psalm 34:18)

 

Psalm 27:4 (NIV)

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

 

One thing. What is the one thing you desire from the Lord? I used to want many things. I had a long list of demands for things that I thought would make me complete lacking no good thing. I quickly made it through that list and did not find what I was looking for before and even after I was saved. It was when I was complete broken and my heart shattered that I realized I had the one thing in me. The one thing that I needed to be saved, fulfilled and whole. The one thing I need to have a brand new life. The one thing I needed to be complete lacking no good thing. Running my hands over the rough edges of the planks, they are beautiful. Carrying constructed together with all their variations of size, color and texture make a beautiful masterpiece when alone they were fit to be burned. I believe that is exactly what God is doing in us. Bringing us together to create a Kingdom that is beautifully one just as He planned. Have you found your place friend? Yeah, me either. At least I have come to recognize and embrace the process which leads to peace and to dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life. This is where I desire to be so I will surrender and sacrifice my life to get there.

 

Psalm 23:5-6 (NIV)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The Moment that Changed Everything

The Moment that Changed Everything

John 19:30 (NIV)

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 

Can you hear it? Do you feel the earth moving beneath you? It makes my heart beat wildly and the hair rise on the back of my neck. It’s Good Friday. That means that it’s almost here. Just a little while longer. I haven’t always felt this way about Easter. When I was a little girl, my grandmother insisted on sewing my sister and me matching dresses with cute little bonnets. The trouble was that my sister and I are seven years a part in age, so while she looked adorable at four or five, I looked ridiculous at that age. I remember brightly colored baskets filled with plastic eggs, a big chocolate bunny and other little trinkets. I can smell the ham roasting and taste the rainbow deviled egg that was made from the eggs once colored. I had no idea as a child what I know now as an adult. Easter is the greatest day in history. It was the day everything changed for me. My past, present and future all wrapped up in a single moment of time. It began on Good Friday on an old rugged cross. My Savior, my Lord, and my God hanging there on the brink of death. Bearing every sin, shame, burden and sickness, Jesus fulfilled every single line of the law for me since I had fallen short. He made sure that every weakness was sufficiently covered by His Grace. He took stripes to ensure that sickness and disease would not live in my body. The Lord allowed a crown of thorns to be pressed deep into His Precious Brow not bloody and swollen from all the beatings that He endured for me so that I could one day have the Mind of Christ to overcome the lie of the enemy. All of this for me. One might think it was over but oh no friend it was just the beginning.

 

This would be the beginning of the end. These final moments on the Cross. The disciples watching and waiting anticipating the death of their dreams and end of all hope. How could this be? This is not what they expected? The hero doesn’t die but lives to overcome the enemy. Where is He going? He promised never to leave us or forsake us but He is definitely on His Way Out. I wonder if Mary pondered this in her heart along with the promised that God had given her. Did she realize that her Son was born to die? All things thoughts on this day as the Savior of the world died.

 

This morning as I contemplate Easter, I do not for a moment discount the magnitude of this moment when Jesus died. Jesus declared it was finished. “Telelestai” is a comprehensive, comfortable and confident word. In the Greek, this is considered to be a “perfect passive indicative” which is very important. This is definitive. What exactly had been done? Jesus had fulfilled the requirement of God’s Law. He fulfilled every New Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah. Jesus ended the power of sin in that moment because it was not ineffective. The Blood of Jesus poured out in sacrifice covered every possible transgression that might keep us from peace with God. Jesus finished the Work of His Father to perfection. In that moment, the suffering of mankind found an end. No longer were we victims of the fall of humanity, but now overcomes through the Blood of Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus bowed His Head and gave up His Spirit. Two things of importance here. Most people who were crucified kept their head up to continue to breathe from such a position. At the time of death, their heads would fall after their soul left their body. But Jesus bowed His Head in submission to God first, and then He released His Spirit. His Life was not taken from Him but freely surrendered to God in absolute obedience and submission to His Father’s Supreme Power and Authority. A sacrifice is to surrender something. It cannot be taken but must be freely given. All of this in one moment and one verse that would change history forever.

 

Matthew 27:50-54 (NIV)

 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

 

The moment that Jesus surrendered His Life, He released or gave up His Spirit. This was not the sound of His Final breath escaping along with His Soul. No He cried out in a loud definitive voice, “It is finished.” Work complete. Game over. In that second, He released His Spirit the earth quickly responded. The veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Mankind could now access God the Father all by himself. The earth responded to the Spirit as it began to quake with purpose and fulfillment. Tombs opened and many holy people who had died were raised to life. Why? They could now access Heaven through Christ – their long wait had ended. Before leaving, they went about the city. Salvation was released in that moment as the first soul saved is captured in these verses, “When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’” This was the moment everything changed. Resurrection Power released by His Spirit encircling the earth. Wow…what a moment! In Acts 2:1-4, the Spirit finds His Home as He begins filling people empowering their faith to do the impossible.

 

John 11:25-26 (NIV)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 

I remember my favorite Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Strock, sharing the story of Passover around the time of Easter. I was fascinated by the story of blood on a doorpost that would cause the death angel to “pass over” that home. I had no idea of the significance. As I shared before, although we went to church on Easter, my memories are more about the holiday than the Hope found that day. That was then and this is now. As a child, I naturally anticipated Christmas more than Easter. Now, I am more excited about Easter than any other day of the year. Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and Life. Anyone who believes in Him will live and death becomes a crossover point to everlasting life. The same power that God exerted to bring Jesus back from the grave now is available to us. We can live with a holy inhabitation of the Holy Spirit that brings every dead thing back to life. He is the One who cultivates every seed sown in faith to become fruit worthy of God. Do you believe? When we believe, God’s Power fills us and the Potential in our life becomes limitless. If only we could believe…

 

I Peter 1:3-9 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

I have living hope today through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hope that breathes new life into everything I put my hands to as a Spirit-filled and surrendered servant of the Most High God – His Favor is in me so that when I set out to do something it is supernaturally accomplished by faith because I have the Resurrection of Christ in me. Genuine faith is of greater worth than any commodity traded on the earth. His Love produces in us something far greater that is intangible and cannot be taken by the enemy. With this idea in mind, I challenge you to see today that His Power in us is not going to change the condition of the world. It is not designed to end circumstances, change consequences or eliminate situations. His Power is here to save us. It is here to change us. It is bringing dead things to live but the world will continue to die and fade away. Things will steal be corrupted and eaten by moth. Resurrection Power is for the human soul. It is the procurement of every promise hidden in God’s Plan for us. It is produced to complete us from the inside out. The end result of faith does nothing for our natural condition but does everything for our soul condition. As our soul prospers… so will we.

 

Ephesians 1:18-23 (NIV)

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

 

Jesus is now King Jesus. He reigns supreme with all power and authority. God gave this to Him. Jesus chose to give His Power to us. He decided to invest His Spirit in us when it was released in the atmosphere and breathed into humanity once again. We have a glorious inheritance of completion and total fulfillment possible when we surrender our life to Jesus Christ. God never intended to stop at the time of salvation though many will give their hearts to Jesus on Sunday few will every move past the moment to experience full growth and development in Jesus Christ. He offers us His Fullness but too many times, we settle for something less. Something familiar. Something comfortable. Something in an ugly shade of gray rather basking in the Light of His Love. The same power that raised Christ from the dead and exalted Him to the Right Hand of God is living and breathing in those who choose to believe. Why don’t we do what Jesus did? Why not surrender our life in submission to God? Why not release His Word, His Spirit and His Power on the earth? Why not here? Why not now? Do you believe? Lord, help my unbelief so that I can experience more of Your Power in my life today.

 

Philippians 3:10-14 (NIV)

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

 

Yesterday, I received the wonderful, miraculous news that our son is still in remission. It has been almost two years since his bone marrow transplant. The transplant was part of a clinical trial to save his life after it was clear that cancer had the upper hand. I had the Word of God that said, “He would live and not die.” At first I carried that Word over my head like a banner that was the first time. But there would be a second, third and fourth time followed by an fifth. By the time we had been denied the final time exhausting all earthly avenues to allow him to undergo the experimental clinical trial, all I had left was God’s Promise. I bowed my head at my desk in the empty building. I did not cry and I am not sure why. I simply told God what His Promise to me was and laid it all at His Son’s Feet. I felt a burden lift. I cannot explain in when all earthy options were exhausted and we were completely denied. I still had this Word that I was clinging too although my banner now resembled the strip of paper in a fortune cookie. I clung to it. My God is not dead. My Jesus is alive. He will do as He promised. Well, as most of you probably know by now, the approval for his procedure was waiting in the fax machine the very next day. No one knows who did it or where it came from. No one cared they literally ran with it. This is not the miracle though.

 

The clinical trials all come with information that is required reading by the participant. As I read each one, I was not at all encouraged. There was a 2% survival rate among patients participating in the trial. Most died before they completed treatment and even more in the first ninety days. Of the 2% who did survive, no one made it more than two years. We have entered the twentieth month. The doctors have given him a clean bill of health. Other than some inconveniences post treatment that are considered minor, they marvel at his resilience. He has recently been able to visit another young man who is battling the same cancer. He is giving away encouragement and hope. He is a full-time engineering student at a major university who filled with the Resurrection Power of Christ never gave up faith that God would restore his life. God did it for Him. He wants to do it for you! Our son’s story is far from over. Cancer is not the climax. The wonderworking power of God inside of Him is still working its way out.

 

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, are your pressing for the goal to win the prize for which God has called you today? Why not? Do you have dead dreams? Do you have a broken heart? Is their sickness in your body? Are you a captive fear? Whatever insufficiency is in your life today – His Grace is enough! Jesus is declaring “IT IS FINISHED” for you today. Will you believe? Will you take Him at His Word? Pass by the Cross, leave your sin and shame but move from the death to life. Claim His Resurrection Power. Let Jesus breathe His Spirit and new life in you this weekend as we celebrate an empty tomb and Risen Lord. Don’t leave this moment unchanged. Everything in your life can change in a single moment. The moment you believe. It is finished. It is over. The battle is won. You are saved, healed, delivered, and complete in the Name of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection Power. To know Jesus to know His Power to share it with others – this is my goal. This is my race the one called faith. This will be my moment that changes everything because I choose to believe.

 

I Corinthians 15:54-58 (NIV)

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Oh My Soul

Oh My Soul

Psalm 103:1 (NKJV) Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name!

Home sick today. I woke up searching God’s Word to remind my body and soul for His Promises on healing and restoration for my ailing self. Nothing traumatic just a good old fashioned virus or cold that has interrupted my week completely. As I began to read through these verses, the word “soul” kept coming up. Lack of sleep makes attentiveness a struggle, so I follow the squirrel sprinting through my mind scurrying around my thoughts. What is my soul? Why is it truly important? God is after my heart right? If I give my heart to Jesus, my soul must follow suit…or does it? This will either be a product of divine revelation OR the heavy doses of cold medicine that I have consumed in the last twenty-four hours.

According to the good old fashioned dictionary, the word soul represents the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body. It is the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part. As a whole unit, humans are comprised of body, mind and spirit (or soul). These three conflicting counterparts must come together in each individual and the strongest will win. A person will depend on one of these three things for survival. Some will put all their energy and effort into physical fitness. Working out, eating healthy and doing everything they know how to do to keep their body at optimum performance level in an effort to avoid an untimely death. For some, it will work. They will live long healthy lives…until they die and their soul has no place in Heaven. Likewise, some will rely on philosophy and intellect to live a good life. Do all the right things, treat people well, giving to those in need and become a life conservationist and philanthropist gaining notoriety for the selflessness in life. Never a bad word will be spoken on this person who managed their way through life never offending any one and living in complete humility. Yet on that fateful day when they cross over into the everlasting, there will be no place for them there. Their mind will cease to exist along with will power and self-control. The only thing left when our body and mind fail is our soul. The silent partner in the midst of a crowded person. Longing for release, but often overlooked as people try to navigate life to the best of their own personal ability rather than relying on the Power of God.

Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name! If we are waiting for our soul to create an uprising and take over our body engaging our mind for salvation sake, it will never happen. Our soul is that piece of eternity hidden in the human heart waiting for release. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, it releases the possibility of forever and our soul gets new life. Answering the higher calling on our life and making Jesus our Lord begins to revive and strengthen our soul because it has new purpose and a new destiny. The rest is up to us. What will we do with our new heart, new life and new soul that is awakening in us? To bless the Lord the way that we are supposed to means to encapsulate our life into one with our soul in control rather than the way we feel or what we think. Physical and emotion feelings give way to spiritual confidence born in our soul as we learn to trust Him more. As faith becomes our foundation, our being is no longer driven by the five senses of our flesh, but rather the confidence now found in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Psalm 103:2-5 (NKJV)

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.

We must remind our soul of the benefits found in Jesus. There are days when our flesh cause a problem and our minds reel out of control. We must still bless the Lord even on those days of discomfort, discombobulation, disappointment and discouragement. This is the very moment that the strength of our soul and its power become evident in our life. When we can smile through opposition and adversity or when we do not succumb to the temporary issue present but remember all the many benefits found in the Lord. We must remind our soul so that it begins to influence the other facets of our being and call them into full subjection to the Power of God and Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ.

Some of the many benefits include the Lord saves us from our sin and all the nasty consequences. He heals our diseases – physically and emotionally. The Lord redeems us giving worth to every situation, circumstance and outcome in our life if we will simply wait on Him. God is always good. Because of Jesus, we can access His Favor in every area of our life as He continually crowns us for righteousness sake with loving kindness and tender mercies day by day. He protects us in the course of every day. Who else promises to satisfy us with only good things? God will only give us His Best. It is compromise when we choose to accept anything less. It is in our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus that we are renewed each day. In our weakness, we gain His Total Strength and Sufficiency. When the world demands us to be strong, no tears, warriors of work yet weary in worry, the Lord says rest in me. Let me take over. These are just some of the many, many benefits found in the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ invested in those who choose to commit their life to loving Him wholeheartedly with all our soul and strength.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden. The fight for our soul can leave us just that empty and needing more. Our bodies work hard in life. We labor physically. Our mind reels with all the choices in a single day. Our soul cries out for the Living God but we cannot hear it because the body and mind are demanding our full attention. Our heart trembles inside us on the verge of breaking at the loads of life borne by our humanness. The Lord invites to come and find rest. Yet when we arrive, it is not to surrender our needs, wants and desires but rather to make demands on behalf of our flesh. We pray for what we think will silence our screaming symptoms and quiet our clamoring thoughts. The Lord does not work like that. He responds to those who come ready to surrender all of these things and accept satisfaction for our soul.

We become “unequally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14) with the world completely unintentionally. Caught up in the rat race, emotionalism, drama and agenda – it is easy to forget that we are free. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Free to live at ease, find rest, have peace no matter how big the storm, high the mountain or the depth of the valley – the Lord is in control so we bless His Name. It in such a state that our soul will prosper.

Luke 12:13-21 (NKJV)

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Our soul will never be satisfied by natural things, physical demands or mental prowess. The only thing that can satisfy our soul is Jesus Christ. The moment that accountability of our soul is required of us if we do not have a connection to Jesus Christ, it determines ultimate success in life. Just knowing Jesus makes our life better, it is in a thriving and committed relationship that we establish the familial connection allowing us to step from here to Eternity. The truth of the matter is that if we just do what God’s Word says our life outcomes immediately improve. The rich man was prospering naturally and assumed that it meant his soul was prospering, too. But what happened? “This night your soul will be required of you…” His fate sealed in the statement – “will be require of you.” Though there was fruit in his vineyard, his heart and soul were void and empty of spiritual productivity and fruit.

It doesn’t matter how well life may be going or how terrible the times may seem, unless our soul is prospering – the end is very near. We cannot depend on any in this life to carry over into forever except our soul. If we do not invest time, energy and whatever is required to learn to trust and depend on Jesus and love Him more – we are in imminent danger of death. We can read the Word of God daily but like any bag of seeds, it will not grow unless it finds fertile soil. The Spirit leads us but we still must agree in our mind and make our body follow His Guidance. We must focus on our soul. We must remind our soul who is in control. The Power and Authority of Jesus Christ belong to us not to make this life better but to make forever possible.

Hebrews 4:11-13 (NKJV)

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

As my body fights off this cold or nasty virus that I picked up, my soul must also be fed with the Word of God. I know that the Lord is healing my body. Not because I am still not congested, coughing and overall fatigued but simply because His Word says that He heals all my diseases. I believe that so my soul demands my body to fall in line with the Word of God for my life. I know this from experience and wisdom gained from reading the word and then applying it to my life. So this morning when I woke up still sick, I went back to the word to remind my soul that I am a Child of God and sickness cannot live, grow or survive in my body. We must be diligent in our pursuit of rest in Christ evident in our dependency on the Lord.

A co-worker came to work sick and I received this gift from them. We carry certain things with us. We release it into the atmosphere around us. Just as we can pick up ailments from those who are around us, they can also impact our attitudes and actions. We must secure our soul in God’s Word and His Promises every single day so that we are not tempted to “pick up” thoughts, ideas and influences contrary to God’s Will, Way and Word. We make a conscious effort to keep our soul securely grounded by faith in the Word of God and our feet planted in His Path.

The Word of God leads us to His Benefits and His Goodness. (Deuteronomy 10:12-13) It is a chosen pathway never a forced position. His Word converts our soul from natural assumption to spiritual confidence. (Psalm 19:6-8) Psalm 19 also says that His Word causes our heart to rejoice and enlightens our eyes… it doesn’t say everything changes or gets better just that our soul is made well.

Proverbs 19:8 (NKJV)

He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good.

Do you love your soul today? God does. He loves every part of you, but your soul is the part that finds its way back to Him. Today I must remind my soul that the Lord is healing me – body, mind and spirit. He is beginning with my soul as I remind myself through His Word all the many benefits that I am offered that have absolutely nothing to do with my natural condition or outward circumstances. I am at rest in Jesus as He prospers my soul today. Reminding me that today is temporary but my soul will live forever with Him. Once again, I make my way to the Cross and surrender all my worries, cares and burdens at His Feet. I am picking up His Peace. I know that His Goodness, Loving Kindness and Mercy are making their way into my life and filling every void that once was there. God is so good to me. Yes, I am not have the best day physically. But my heart is overjoyed at the attentiveness of God as He prospers my soul…once again.

3 John 1:2 (NKJV)

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 

Clean Sheets

Clean Sheets

Psalm 62:5-8 (NIV)

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

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

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

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NIV)

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

 

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

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

Nehemiah 5:13 (NIV)

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

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

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

Hebrews 12:26-29 (NIV)

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

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

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

Psalm 16:5-8(NIV)

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

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

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT)

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

Judah’s Call

Judahs Call

Zephaniah 2:7 (NLT)

The remnant of the tribe of Judah will pasture there. They will rest at night in the abandoned houses in Ashkelon. For the Lord their God will visit his people in kindness and restore their prosperity again.

 

Prosperity is the cry of the nations today. Longing for the Hand of God to somehow save us from ourselves – we cry out for the things of this world. People don’t understand God – where He is – how He works – the way that He moves among us. So in frustration the relationship between God and His People is strained. The problem is not with God but the idea that His Prosperity is an outward maneuver rather than an inward change. We have everything we need. Every component of prosperity is available to us to meet our needs, wants and desires. Even those things too wonderful to fully comprehend already belong to us. Looking at your life, your bills and potential poverty – maybe you are wondering how this could possibly be true. Our lives are predestined by God. (Romans 8:29) He wrote every detail of our life in advance. (Psalm 139:16) His Purpose and Plan for us contains a future and hope that is good. (Jeremiah 29:11) Nothing can separate us from His Love. (Romans 8:38-39) Sin has been dealt with and grace applied when Jesus died on the Christ with the words, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) In that moment, He released His Spirit who opened tore the veil between mankind and God. He stormed into hell and the grave demanded its keys from the enemy now fallen. The graves of the godly were opened. (Matthew 27:50-52) He then took those keys and gave them back to men and women to unlock every treasure hidden for us by God. (Matthew 16:19) We are His Bride and one well-cared for. So why are God’s People struggling through life? Good question.

We have everything we need to prosper in life. We just don’t know how to use the tools that we are given. If the church ever took hold of the true concept of prosperity, not a single one would struggle to keep its doors open or ministry alive. We will come back to this little verse in Zephaniah in a moment but there is some ground to cover first.

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT)

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

If this is our declaration, why are we living powerless lives? We all must answer the question, “But who do YOU say I am?” There are many varying answers. To call Jesus our Savior and Lord requires a change of heart and relocation of life. Many will call Jesus Lord but never really mean it. They want a Savior but remain in their sin. Nobody is perfect, but very few ever truly try out this thing called faith never really building a foundation for confident hope. Living like we want every other day of the week and just one day a week doing our religious duty hoping we will find enough grace for another six days. We live on other man’s manna. The man or woman of God pouring into the lives of others do so from a Source that is not found in one message on any given Sunday or the occasional Wednesday. Those who truly remain connected to the Source maintain a tight and trusting personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ every single day of the week to have enough to overflow and outpour to others. This group is dwindling. I am beginning to think by Divine Design. As the world around us groans in the soon and coming King’s proximity, it quakes like the rocks just before splitting to release the bodies of the saints when Jesus died on the Cross. He is coming back. You don’t have to believe it. You don’t have to like it. It is going to happen. It will all come down to one questions, “But who do you say that I am?” All the demons in hell and satan himself KNOW who Jesus is but have chosen not to serve Him and rebel against His Kingdom. What is your choice? I must focus on mine.

3 John 2-4 (TLB)

Dear friend, I am praying that all is well with you and that your body is as healthy as I know your soul is. Some of the brothers traveling by have made me very happy by telling me that your life stays clean and true and that you are living by the standards of the Gospel. I could have no greater joy than to hear such things about my children.

 

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers…” In order to truly prosper in life – our soul must prosper first. This is not a one-time work but a lifelong process. You will be challenged every moment of every day to abandon ship. The world doesn’t understand faith and offers little hope. In fact, many get mad when others try to offer them a God who loves them unconditionally and a Savior who wants to save them from their sins. They have been deceived so long that such an offering only represents all the times they offered trust to be ruthlessly and carelessly cast down. If our soul is dying, what is the point of believing anything will change? Nothing in our life will change until the fruit of our soul begins to grow in the midst of faith and confident hope. Sin is the weed that chokes out new growth. It keeps us from unlocking those things we long for. Human effort is wasted for righteousness sake if our heart remains shrouded in darkness with no evidence of the Light of His Love. Like the woman in the commercial trying to explain social media to her elderly friend, “This isn’t how it works.” So today if we want a change…if we want a new life… it begins like this…

Psalm 51:12-15 (TLB)

Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to other sinners, and they—guilty like me—will repent and return to you. Don’t sentence me to death. O my God, you alone can rescue me. Then I will sing of your forgiveness, for my lips will be unsealed—oh, how I will praise you.

 

Repentance always leads to restoration. To repent is not a one and done but ongoing turning of our life over to Jesus Christ. It gives the Holy Spirit room to move through our heart and mind changing our attitudes and actions into full alignment with the Lord. Restore to me the joy of your salvation comes when we are willing to obey. Obedience to God’s Word means knowing what it says and trying to do it – no matter how things look or what the circumstances of our life may be at that time. We choose to have faith in God and trust that His Word is true enough to live His Way. This will unseal our lips as the change of heart and mind overflow us with joy and peace.

Psalm 119:90-96 (TLB)

Your faithfulness extends to every generation, like the earth you created; it endures by your decree, for everything serves your plans. I would have despaired and perished unless your laws had been my deepest delight. I will never lay aside your laws, for you have used them to restore my joy and health. I am yours! Save me! For I have tried to live according to your desires. Though the wicked hide along the way to kill me, I will quietly keep my mind upon your promises. Nothing is perfect except your words.

Do you believe that God is faithful? Do you believe that everything serves His Plan for your life? See this is essential in turning our life over to the Lord. We must believe that He has good intentions and cares for us loving us completely to surrender the only commodity worth anything to us – our life. God’s Word is our hope. It fulfills our heart’s desire but outside of faith and confident hope that leads to obedience our soul continues to slowly die. It is natural to be jaded by the world and the way it loves. But we must not rely on what we see, but what we know about the Lord. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). But that is not enough, hope becomes a reality when we do what it says. (James 2:26) We cannot have a healthy and prospering soul without God’s Word and His Spirit active in our life. These two can only move in areas of our life surrendered to the Lord. Now let’s get back to the abandoned shack in Zephaniah 2:7…

Zephaniah 2:7 (NLT)

The remnant of the tribe of Judah will pasture there. They will rest at night in the abandoned houses in Ashkelon. For the Lord their God will visit his people in kindness and restore their prosperity again.

We are God’s Remnant. The Lord talks about a “remnant” again in Romans 9. There will be a remnant or small group that will live by faith and total trust in the Lord. Many of God’s Chosen People, Children of Israel or the Jewish community will miss salvation entirely because they continue to try to fulfill God’s Law themselves, but there will be a remnant along with the Gentiles (that’s me) who will decide to trust the Lord based on His Word and total dependence on Jesus Christ fully accepting His Work on the Cross. They will not be ashamed of the Blood but covered in it.

Now back in Zephaniah the remnant left behind in the abandoned houses of the enemy were from the tribe of Judah which means “praise”. I love to praise the Lord. It changes my perspective every time. When I am overwhelmed by the details or circumstances of my life rather than begging God to change my situation or release me, I have found that praise changes my heart and mind more quickly to accept God’s Plan over my immediate comfort. The people were living in the abandoned houses of others. They were the praisers. “For the Lord their God will visit the people in kindness and restore their ‘prosperity’ again.”

Zephaniah 3:16-20 (NLT)

On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, “Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” “I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more. And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you. I will save the weak and helpless ones; I will bring together those who were chased away. I will give glory and fame to my former exiles, wherever they have been mocked and shamed. On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

This is the year of restoration. Today September 13, 2015. Today marks end of Shemitah or the sabbatical year in the Jewish culture. This is a very important day for all believers. God commands that in the seventh year all debts are to be forgiven. Many are predicting a financial shaking of epic proportions. Many are preaching that God’s Favor will come to His People financially. I am excited to see what exactly the Lord is doing in this new season. However, I feel that deep within my spirit that God is whispering…”As your soul prospers…” In Zephaniah 3:16-20, the Lord begins to outline restoration for His People. Note the very last thing is “restore your fortunes.” Today we should focus on praise for that is the people that the Lord will prosper. Those who in the midst of this crazy world and shaky finances will sit in their little house, driving that old car, and praise the Lord with total abandon. He is coming. He is going to do everything He promised to do in our life according to His Word as our soul prospers so will we. The Kingdom of God holds our treasure. Our heart must be connected to the Kingdom in order to have all that it contains. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith and confident hope bound in love for the God who restores us and His Son who saved us from our sin. This connection is the Source of Life we must hold on to. God will do the rest…as our soul prospers! Today join Judah’s call to praise the Lord not for what He may or may not but for Who He is and all of His Promises. Praise Him right where you are no matter what the atmosphere currently looks like taking on the faith perspective ushered in by confident hope. Trust the Lord. He is doing better for you than you deserve. His Ultimate Goal is that you will be with Him forever. This is totally dependent on the prospering soul.

Matthew 6:21 (NLT)

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

 

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ou

Something New

Something New

2 Corinthians 5:17 (TLB)

When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!

 

A normal life is a rut. It is a huge whole that swallows up our dreams and aspirations. It sucks in those ideas and innovative goals that keep us progressively moving through life with purpose. I thought when our son was finally in remission that life would be back to normal. I even began to think that living with cancer might be the new normal. Who wouldn’t? Our son was diagnosed, treated and went into remission but relapsed three more times beginning the fourth when he received a bone marrow transplant. I was a wife, mother, employee, primary caregiver and full-time healthcare advocate fighting for treatment both in the world and on my knees. Secretly in the recesses of my mind, I believed that when it was all over our life would be the same. But it’s not. We are forever changed. Not because cancer did anything to us, but in the process of brokenness – a new life was born.

It has taken months for me to embrace this change. There are days I begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Then some days, I long for yesterday when life was simple and chaotic with a houseful of kids and blaring noise that now seems so silent. With just two children at home our normal has changed, we have changed. This is life as God designed it and planned it. He wants to move us from Glory to Glory. It is a process of death and life over and over again. As those parts of our life not yet secured by faith and hope are challenged to reach higher, deeper and farther for His Plan and Purpose. It can be a painful process. You have everything to lose but oh so much more to gain. I am challenged today to do something new. I want the Lord to comes inside of me and make me a brand new person all over again. This was not my idea but a necessity to continue the process of grace that I live in and achieve the prize of the high calling of God for my life.

John 3:5-7 (TLB)

Jesus replied, “What I am telling you so earnestly is this: Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.  Men can only reproduce human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven; so don’t be surprised at my statement that you must be born again!

 

Jesus said, “You must be born again!” Water birth is our natural birth that propels us into existence. Spiritual birth propels us into the Kingdom of God. Men can only reproduce human life. The Holy Spirit is the One who gives new life from Heaven. It doesn’t matter what religion, doctrine or lifestyle one chooses, it does not change the fact that we must worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth to get it. These two are partners in the rebirth and renewal process promised by Jesus to His Followers. We live in a seeker sensitive environment in every level of life including the church packaging and selling what man wants rather than what God promises those who call on Jesus and choose to follow Him. I cannot have God’s Way my way nor can I be born of the Kingdom locked in my flesh. There must be a death and burial of sin to make room for more and more of the Spirit in my life.

To do the same thing over and over expecting a different result is classified as insanity. We do it all the time because we cannot let go of what we want long enough to let God give us something better. We call out to the Lord asking for more but holding on the past and clenching our comfort zone. If we want more, we have to let go. To be more, we must do something new.

Romans 6:2-7 (TLB)

Of course not! Should we keep on sinning when we don’t have to? For sin’s power over us was broken when we became Christians and were baptized to become a part of Jesus Christ; through his death the power of your sinful nature was shattered. Your old sin-loving nature was buried with him by baptism when he died; and when God the Father, with glorious power, brought him back to life again, you were given his wonderful new life to enjoy. For you have become a part of him, and so you died with him, so to speak, when he died; and now you share his new life and shall rise as he did. Your old evil desires were nailed to the cross with him; that part of you that loves to sin was crushed and fatally wounded, so that your sin-loving body is no longer under sin’s control, no longer needs to be a slave to sin; for when you are deadened to sin you are freed from all its allure and its power over you.

Sin is the very thing that kills spiritual renewal and rebirth. It is what will keep you in bondage unable to live a new life. It is doing the same thing but expecting different results. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” Got it! You cannot follow Jesus into the Presence of God dragging your sin along with you. These are the things that we know are wrong but do nothing about. You have to want to let it go to release it. Remember, God is always first and foremost looking at our heart. He would rather you keep doing what you are doing wrong in public than to pretend you are not sneaking off in the darkness. The fight against our flesh is real and continuous. The older I get, the more I realize just how infiltrating the sin condition we all have. We cannot willfully keep doing what we know is wrong and expect God’s Will and Way to prevail in that area of our life. There must be a change. We must do something new.

Faith opens every closed door in God’s Kingdom. It is the Kingdom Keys that the Lord gives to Peter upon His Confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Son of God and Messiah. Jesus told Peter that day that man didn’t tell him that but his heart did. When our heart falls in love with Jesus, things will begin to change. You will want to do something different to know Him more and live in His Presence. David was a man after God’s Own Heart. He was not perfect. His heart was intent of pleasing God even when his flesh failed. This is the point of grace. Not to live any way that we want and expect God to bless it. Are you doing something new today? Or living in the past expecting God to change your future?

We should enjoy life. If you are unhappy, discontent, or dissatisfied with the way you are living don’t look for the world to fix it, ask the Jesus to come inside and fix you first. I promise when God changes our heart the world won’t change your mind anymore. Though still a fight to the finish, each step of faith that becomes confident hope will keep you anchored to the Kingdom so you don’t run to the world. Baptism is the burial of our old life to receive a new life. Have you been baptized? Oh friend, it symbolizes every new thing that you want, need and desire from the Lord as you lay down this life to pick up a supernatural existence in God. If you take your heart with you when you step into the water, allow it to die with Christ in the likeness of His Death, the Living Breathing Spirit, and the very essence of God will come to fill your body, mind and spirit and you will experience a new life. I do not regret a single day of following Jesus Christ.

This month is very special. Forty six years ago, the love of my life was born. Sixteen years ago, God united us as husband and wife. I gave up my old life to follow Jesus at that same time. The three of us (God, my husband and I) have enjoyed a successful union. Our lives have changed completely for the better in all ways possible. Now we are about to celebrate our son’s new life. When someone receives a bone marrow transplant, they are given a new birthday on the day that they receive the blood cells. A bone marrow transplant follows weeks of extensive chemotherapy that essentially kills every single blood cell in your body. When the new cells are introduced, it is like receiving new life and rebirth. What if as believers, we strived to remove every single sinful cell in our body and allow the Lord to make it new in Him. What if we tried really hard not to do any of the things that the Bible says not to? How about if we let the Love of God dominate our life? Putting others before ourselves. What would happen? Something new for sure.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (TLB)

But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I’m going to do! For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to go home, and create rivers for them in the desert!

 

God is doing something new in your life today. The Holy Spirit is always trying to give you a better life. He is just waiting for us to make some room. The Lord is speaking to our hearts today. “Forget all that…” Forget the past, the problems and the pain. Forget the fear, failure and every single fault. Focus on Jesus who is the Author, Finisher, Initiator and Champion of Faith. Follow Him to the Cross and give Him every sin that is holding you back so it can be nailed to the Cross. This is not a once in a lifetime event – it’s called repentance. The complexity of human nature means that we will always find more ways to surrender. Once it is removed, if you have not already been baptized – get into the water. If you have, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you anew. His Mercy is new each morning because we need it. Don’t be ashamed to use it. Expect something new. Expect things to change. Be willing to do something new and be willing to change. Working in cooperation with God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit step into that new life, new thing, new existence that belongs to you simply because you have been born again. Don’t let the enemy or the world hinder you from having all that God promised through fear and doubt. God said it. Believe it and settle it in your soul today. The Promises of God for your life are incomparable to anything that He has done before so don’t compromise. He is doing a brand new thing. We see it through hope and achieve it by faith. Be unstoppable today as you do something new in the Power of His Name.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT)

 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”