In Our Midst

In Our Midst.jpg

Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

This has been a favorite passage for a long time. When our oldest son was overseas, I imagined him lying in his bed in the middle of a war-torn country surrounded by enemies who wanted to harm him. What was he thinking? Did he feel alone? Was he every fearful? What had he seen? Just out of high school, barely entering adulthood and seeing things no one should ever encounter. I would pray this verse over him. I asked the Lord to let His Presence be so thick that he could feel Him tangibly in the sandy cot where he rested. Isolation and loneliness are terrible feelings. To feel abandoned or unloved maybe even forgotten causes a person to feel small, insignificant and insecure. You are far from that today my friend. The Lord YOUR GOD is in your midst. Whether choosing to identify Him as God or even YOUR God doesn’t change His Love and desire for you. He is still offering new mercy each morning. The Lord pursues us with unfailing love and goodness that belongs to us exclusively. He is mighty to save and willing to do so on a moment’s notice. He rejoices over you with gladness as a shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine to find the one who is lost. He celebrates each return as the father embraces the prodigal son. He longs to quiet you with perfect peace and complete confidence in the hope that is offered. God wants you to know that you are His Child and He loves you. It doesn’t even matter if you reject Him – His Love for you and me is strong and steadfast to the very end. He is singing over you today. Can you hear Him? It is a song of love, adoration, grace, forgiveness, healing and deliverance! He is for you never against you. What might happen if for but a moment one glorious second one might witness the Presence of the Living God in our midst and know His Intentions? It would be life changing.

In Genesis 3, God knew Adam and Eve had made a terrible mistake. He knew that sin had been introduced yet still in the “cool of the day”, the Lord God came to them. He wasn’t setting them up for failure but saving them from eternal damnation. How so? If Adam or Eve had taken from the Tree of Life in their sinful condition, they would never have experienced deliverance and lived a tortured existence forever without any possible salvation. In Exodus 25, God again invites people to dwell in His Midst. God loves you. He loves me. Nothing we can ever do will ever separate us from the Love of God. It is through Jesus Christ that we can dwell in His Presence each day and live in His Midst.

Joel 2:26-28 (ESV) “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”

I remember rocking my children as babies and singing over them. Praying for them. Dreaming about them. I also remember as those helpless infants turned into willful teenagers. Challenging times for most parents trying to mold and shape the world changers and history makers of tomorrow. Yet I didn’t stop loving them, providing for them, caring for them in the midst of rebellion. There were times of discipline and heartache that were endured together but my love for them never changed because they did not meet my expectation. I love my kids. I would do anything for my children. How much more God loves us! Not only does God love us but pours out His Spirit on us. The Holy Spirit identifies us as His Children. He guides us and teaches us about the Lord and His Love for us. He also allows us to experience the Presence of God as He dwells within our midst.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego loved God and served Him. God loved them. It did not exempt them from being thrown into a fiery furnace. When King Nebuchadnezzar looked in, there were for people in the fire. God is with us. He never leaves us. He lives in the midst of us. We must only look for Him and He is there.

Ephesians 1:11-14 (ESV) In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

God loves you. He wants to live in the midst of your life. He pursues you each day and provides opportunities to respond to His Promises. It is up to us to desire the Presence of God enough to enter in. Jesus ripped the veil that separated us from God in the Temple with the purpose that through salvation all mankind would have the privilege of living in the Presence of God every day. To dwell with Him. Walk with Him. Talk with Him. It was God’s Plan all along. We enter in through salvation and repentance. As we turn back to Him – He floods our life with His Glory. We are the children of God who He longs for and desires more than anything. We comprise the Kingdom. He doesn’t want gold, riches, or anything else because the Lord owns it all and lends it to us! Won’t you respond to His Calling today? The gentle nudging and urging to come just a little bit closer. He loves you! The Lord is fighting for you. He is your Provider and Protector. You may never know all the benefits and blessings around you if you do not identify His Presence in your midst today. Once you do, you will absolutely be blown away by His Love, Goodness, Grace and Kindness. He is a Good Father who wants to live with you!

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Always Good

Always Good

Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

God is good, therefore; I am good. This contemplation in my head today consists of every shortcoming I can think up. All my faults. Failures. Inconsistencies. The bat of self-deprecation is often the tool of destruction in a believer’s life. The notion that my inability to do and be all that God’s Word calls me to is my own fault. The innate component of sin given over to the overwhelming overtures of grace should be enough to flood us with His Love and Goodness but it often runs over us like water on a rock. It is hard to understand and believe that a God so good filled with loving kindness could desire me. The Lord loves me. He loves you. He desires us above all things. Each one of us.

Praise is the prophetic voice of victory. There are times when the words we sing are really not what we believe but only hope for. Nevertheless by releasing these words into the atmosphere the Lord begins to change our mind and perspective from us, our abilities or inabilities to the truth that all things are possible for those who dare to believe. Believing does not increase the power of God or move Him but it gives Him permission to access to us. He set us free so the Lord cannot come and take over but we must surrender. To surrender our life, hopes, dreams and its entirety cannot be accomplished outside of trust. Trust waits on God. Trust holds steadfast when the situation is hopeless and conditions unfavorable. It is the moment our heart takes courage not in us but the Lord Almighty. It is a place of vulnerability. It is our weakness given to His Strength. Human nature balks at such a notion and pride persuades us to stand tall. If we believe that God is good and His Goodness is for us – faith will become the foundation of our life. This life. Here in the land of the living.

Genesis 1:26-27 (ESV) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:31 (ESV) And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good.

God created the heavens and the earth along with creatures to fill it and then called it good. With the introduction of humanity and order set forth, it was then that God declared creation “very good”. You and I are created in the image of God after His Likeness. God is good. Sin kept us from becoming like our Father – God. When Jesus declared His Work on the Cross finished, He gave our life and purpose back to us when He took back the keys to death and the grave. It means that there is nothing keeping us from all of God’s Goodness. He is good. We are good. It is Christ in us that achieves. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve grace. His Grace is completely sufficient in establishing goodness in me again.

I know what you are thinking. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I have done or maybe not done. The depths of human depravity in a godless culture is no match for the boundless love of God who continually offers us the promise of becoming a new creation from the broken pieces of our past. So while I may not know you or those things hidden in your heart, God knows it all. There is nothing about you that God is not privy to. In fact, Psalm 139 tells us that our life is prerecorded. God wrote it all down. How can grace be enough if the debt not yet calculated? God knows you inside out and upside down and chose to love you and pursue you. Those who accept Jesus Christ into their heart and love Him just love Him are restored to righteousness with God. You don’t have to do a thing except love Him and accept to be your Savior and Lord. This establishes us as good people in God’s Eyes.

Romans 8:28 (ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Ecclesiastes 3:1&11 (ESV) For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 

We are God’s People and that makes us good people. Our value and worth is not established by who we once were, who we are now or who we might be becoming, but complete in Christ alone. Christ established our worth on the Cross when He gave His Life for us. Those who believe this will begin to see with new eyes the coming together of life’s details in the masterpiece the Lord promises in Ephesians 2. What you see as broken, God calls beautiful. What you decide is flawed, He declares it fixed. What you see as impossible, God has already decided is a miracle. If we could only see ourselves as He sees us, maybe just maybe rather than abandoning promises, cursing seasons, wasting time, and running from Him – we would wait for His Goodness to come to pass and catch up with us. His Unfailing Love endures forever. His Goodness is constantly pursuing us. The person who once was lost now is found and received into a Glorious and Prestigious Kingdom. You have dominion and power over the earth God ordained it and Christ restored it. We must walk in it with confidence.

Regret and shame bar the doors of opportunity opened for the redeemed. Guilt keeps us from full restoration and the blessing of the believer. Performance doesn’t impress the Lord – persistent faith and preserving hope catch His Attention. Religion tells us to do this and don’t do that. Relationship tell us that all things are permissible but not all things beneficial in achieving oneness with our Beloved. Faith is not logical. Unconditional love is confounding. How is it even possible? But it is. God’s Love for us is without question and His Goodness without end. We must only believe to receive. Not only believe that He is good but that He has made us good, too!

I Timothy 4:4-5 (ESV) For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

None Should Perish

None Should Perish

John 3:16-17 (ESV) “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

It is probably the most well-known verse in the entire Bible – John 3:16. For God so love the world that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Sometimes familiarity breeds contentment satisfying our soul with salvation, but missing the life that comes with it. The life God has designed for us is complex and complete. It does not eliminate any details due to indiscretion but takes the imperfect form of humanity and filling its voids with Christ. The new creation promised for those who choose it is not a redesign but recreation and restoration of the original. God is perfect. He does not make mistakes. He created us recording every single moment before our arrival. God has a plan and no matter our involvement or acceptance, it is still continuing in our life. God loves us. Each one of us. His Goal in sending Jesus was not for a designated few but that whoever believes wouldn’t die but live forever with Him. A true and abiding relationship as a father to a child is what God desires of you. A loving and living together that steps over the grave into the Kingdom.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” To stop at John 3:16 would be enough to save us but not necessarily grasp the scope of God’s Massive Project. It was never His Intent to divide the people of this planet but to bring them back together in one Body centered on His Son. Condemnation is not a quality of God for mankind and should not be characteristic of His People. Mercy triumphed over judgment at the sacrifice of Jesus giving up His Life to secure ours forever with Him. How is it our place to crawl into the vacated seat when it comes to each other? It is God’s Plan and Purpose that none should perish. It is pointless. Salvation is a free gift. It did not cost me anything of worth. It is easy to give the grace and mercy given to me away because I didn’t earn it. I should be of the mindset of Christ. He is always thinking about compassion. His mindset is life and never death. He is a builder of the Body not a condemner of people.

The Bible says that His Grace is enough. It is sufficient which means that if the love, grace, mercy or compassion of Christ can be exhausted than it was never an ample supply. This is the basis of forgiving seventy times seven, turning the other cheek, loving our enemy and laying our life down for others. He is giving us an opportunity to participate in the Kingdom economy and reap its heavenly reward which is always relationship. God owns it all. Everything belongs to Christ. The Lord has complete authority and power in every situation. The freedom of others does not always produce the benefits of Heaven. It is our opportunity to be the traders of grace who bring the message of the Gospel to others not just in word and deed but in our dedication and commitment to the mission that none should perish.

Jonah 4:1-4 (ESV) But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

To bring everyone up to date in the story, God sent Jonah to Nineveh. He was to share God’s Message of repentance to the people. Jonah did not like God’s Plan so he tried to run away to Tarshish. On his way a great storm arose, Jonah was cast into the sea to satisfy the wrath of God and that the others on the ship might be saved. Once overboard, Jonah was swallowed by a whale and lived in its belly for three days until vomited on the local beach. He repents and goes to Nineveh. The people of Nineveh repent and cry out to God. The Lord acknowledges their repentance and relents. He did not bring disaster to the city or its people. In other words, God spared them and did not give them what they deserved. Jonah got mad. He was “exceedingly displeased”.

In Jonah 4, we find Jonah in the midst of a fit mixed with a good old-fashioned pity party. Sitting and stewing the sun arose and he was baking in it when the Lord appointed a plant to come up over Jonah to give him shade while he sorted things out. Jonah was glad when the plant covered him and protected him. The next morning, God appointed a worm to kill the plant and when the sun rose once again Jonah was subject to its heat and discomfort. Through the course of the day – he grew faint and decided it would be better to die. Why? He was disappointed that God had spared the people. He allowed his anger to separate him again from the Presence of God.

Jonah 4:9-11 (ESV) But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

God owns it all. Every living breathing creature is a product of Him. You and I are His Most Beloved Creation. How many times do we forget His Mandate that none should perish? How often do we get mad when God saves, heals, delivers and blesses those sorry sinners? Comparison will always be a joy killer. No sinner is too far gone for the Lord’s Arm to reach them. We are the ones who decide the limit of sin or depravity when there is no such thing in the eyes of Jesus. His Grace is always enough. I wonder if the separation, isolation or frustration that we feel is often generated by our own jealously and insecurity in the Lord’s Unfailing Love and Acceptance for me. Working hard for him yet He showers sinners and evil doers with the blessings I thought were reserved for me. Who are they to step in front of me in order to get what He is offering? They must do their time like the rest of us. Serving, giving and striving for the promise. Right? Wrong. When we can do anything for Him or feel pressure to perform for the promise, we have missed the point altogether. I can do nothing for God. He is my fulfillment. He is my purpose. Everything I am and ever hope to be is in Him and offered through Him. I can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:8-10 (ESV) But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” God delights in mercy. He gives it to us each morning. When our eyes open, it is waiting for us and the basis of salvation. God’s Desire to show us mercy so that we can receive His Grace. We must be ever so careful that our heart for people remains soft and merciful. There is no competition for the Love of God. It is for everyone. Jesus came so that none should perish but have eternal life which means there is more than enough grace for everyone. Have you written someone off? Maybe you walked away because they were just too hard to love. I will let you in on a little secret. Limited love is a product of unaccepted grace. To restrict our love, compassion, kindness and forgiveness to others based on their attitudes and actions is the opposite of the kind given to us by Jesus. If we truly receive His Love, it satisfies our soul. It fills us with hopeful expectation that cannot and will not be met by other people therefore we can love freely and unconditionally because they have no impact on God’s Love for me, His Plan, or His Promise. All of this is individually designed for me but His Grace is for all the world. Lord examine my heart, mind, spirit and soul for compassion. Show me where I have allowed condemnation to take the place of mercy. Soften my heart Lord even if that means breaking it so that I will not miss my purpose in passive judgment. Lord, you are not slow to fulfill your promise to us. You are waiting that none should perish. Be that me or those around me subject to my influence. Lord, let me always choose mercy over judgment and live a triumphant life.

Micah 6:8 (ESV) He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Oh For Grace

Oh For Grace 2

John 1:16 (ESV) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

I have been parenting for over 28 years now. With five children, I have experienced a variety of personalities. Each kid and relationship just a little bit different from the other. When our daughters came home from Bible study last night, our young adult chatted for a few minutes heading back to her room which is normal for her. Our youngest daughter has a friend visiting. One of them is a handful – two of them are more than anyone can handle. I should have noticed that they were not loud and boisterous upon arrival. It did not catch my attention that she was cleaning her room unprovoked when I went to check on them. In fact, I really should have been more observant because I know the potential of quiet teenagers. Well…

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to a lengthy apology from my little suspect. She and her friend had made a poor choice and ended up with a consequence. Discussing the matter with my husband, it was decided to apply grace to the situation. When she wakes up – we will discuss the details of the decision the girls made. There will be some things they will be required to do but overall I cannot help but smile just a little inside. I am blessed that my girls love me. They cannot stand when anything comes between us. Hence the text at almost 2:00 a.m. Our relationship is important to them. It is evident that rather than hiding the truth – they come to me. Oh Lord, teach us to value and appreciate our relationship with You! To come to you as little children seeking the Father’s Love no matter how bad we mess up or constantly make bad choices. You are full of grace. You give us grace upon grace!

Matthew 18:2-4 (ESV) And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Unless you turn and become like children”… Reading this passage today – many may have the excuse of poor parents or even none to speak of. I have imperfect parents. I live in a dysfunctional family. If we are “perfectly” honest, there is no such thing as perfect and fully functional relationships when people are involved. Putting our expectation in a being that cannot ever be without fault or failure only sets one up to be let down. Whether our parents were great or not so great, there is still a call from Christ for us to come as children all over again. To relinquish responsibility for our life and humbly relish His Magnificent Grace. God does not punish us. I need you to hear what I am saying today – it is vitally important in understanding what to expect when you turn back to the Father. He doesn’t take anything from us or allow bad things to happen to us on account of sin. To do so would diminish the value of grace and deem it insufficient which it is not. God offers divine discipline. He teaches us better ways that lead to positive outcomes and fulfillment of potential already in us.

Romans 3:22-25 (ESV) For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

The application of grace in our life is complete in Christ. He has given us the gift of grace. It is received by faith. We do not deserve it and certainly could never earn it. We can only accept it and live in it. God’s righteousness and steadfast love is demonstrated in divine forbearance. Forgiveness. How many times do we transgress yet God still blots it away like a father or mother when their little child presents a skinned knee? Taking a clean white cloth and soaking it in water, carefully and gingerly removing the particles of dirt and grass to reveal the bleeding wound. Then gently oh so gently applying the ointment to aid in healing then covering it with a bandage to protect it from further injury. Oh Children of God if only we could learn to live in His Grace and administer grace as the Father.

We are all in this together. Sin is a factor in everyone’s life. We can only overcome death and the grave, which is the future of sin, by humbly accepting God’s Grace. Jesus is our Savior. There was no way to save ourselves as each is born destined to die until Jesus came to pay the penalty price. Now we live in the overtures of abounding grace given to those who will simply come to Him and receive it. He gives us an abundance of grace and His Spirit produces good fruit for us to share with others…gracefully. Notice that as I shared the misfortune of our teen’s poor choice, I did not go into detail and share all the sordid details. We must learn to covers our brothers and sisters in Christ as the Lord has covered us. One sin would have required every ounce of the Blood of Christ right down to His Last Breath. We all took His Life to find our own. No one is exempt.

Psalm 103:10-13 (ESV) He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

His Grace is sufficient. It is always enough. The Lord is ready to cover us in grace upon grace. It is not based on my faithfulness but rather His Faithfulness. It doesn’t come from any good in me but rather His Goodness towards me. Grace changes us into Children of the Living God. It’s funny how kids can fight one minute and be best buds the next. Maybe it’s because they have an inner longing for grace and therefore can administer it more freely. Experience teaches us differently. Unmet expectations create voids that can only be filled by God yet we seek out imperfect humans to meet that need. The Lord reminds us today that He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin but chooses to administer His Grace. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. He decided to forgive you so it is His Constant and Ongoing Response when we come before Him. His Steadfast Love vast and unfathomable. He removes our transgressions as far as the east is from the west tossing them into the sea of forgetfulness. This does not allow room for regret or shame because He is rewriting our story and marking it innocent. He does so as a father shows compassion to his children. I am reminded today of the Father’s Love. His Grace that is abounding to me.

Lord, teach me to respond to Your Grace each day with true repentance. May I start each day turning back to You as my child has demonstrated today. You are a Good Father! Let me not forget that new mercy is mine each morning. You always have good things in store for me. Not because I am good but because You are Good and Your Grace is always enough!

Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV) Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Lamentations 3:22-26 (ESV) The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Keep the Wheel Turning

Keep Spinning

Jeremiah 18:2-4 (ESV) “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

The image was vivid and clear. A bicycle wheel spinning when a stake appears in the spokes. The movement is halted and what once was an image of symmetry in motion halts abruptly. What is stopping us from turning? Repentance is turning our heart, mind and life over to Jesus Christ. The vision I see makes me wonder what in me is not turning properly. Is there something I have allowed to enter what once was fluid and now is stagnant? Christian living is a perpetual and constant turning of our life over to the Lord. Salvation is only the starting point of redemption. We must redeem our life piece by piece reconciling our way and will to the Father for recreation through His Son – Jesus Christ. There will never be a point in our natural existence when repentance will be complete. Our purpose and destiny in life is achieved by faith in the process of God that is repentance.

Arise, and go down to the potter’s house…

The instruction is clear. It is not open to interpretation. It is an invitation to leave one’s current position to enter new destiny and possibilities only available in the Presence of God. Who will go? It is a choice. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. You have to decide that new life is the desired pathway for your life. Arise. Get up. Move. Go down to the potter’s house. It doesn’t say go “up” to the potter’s house, but rather go down. Humility is essential in engagement with God. You cannot come boldly before Him in pride which is self-confidence and reliance but must enter confident in the work of His Son and its availability to us. Will you arise? Will you go down to the potter’s house today?

There I will let you hear my words…

The act of true repentance positions us to hear God’s Word and understand what exactly He is saying. We must arise and go down to His House – entering His Presence. God is speaking. He is always whispering to us in a still small voice. The distractions of life do not silence His Word. They keep us from hearing Him. It is the act of sacrificing our time and surrendering our priorities to wait for Him to speak and give us understanding that allows the transformation process to begin. We must have a desire to hear the voice of God and do what He says. Keeping His Commands are essential. It begins with the simple summons, “Come.”

So I went down to the potter’s house…

Repentance will always lead to obedience. Obedience is the key to opening the potential and purpose hidden within us. Faith holds the key that opens the door to all that heaven has hidden for God’s People. We cannot experience God’s Blessings or Promises apart from His Instruction. You cannot have God’s Will – your way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Him. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Word that is written is breathed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Word. We cannot and will not ever reach maximum potential in Jesus Christ apart from the Spirit and Truth connecting in us. Will you meet Him where He is today?

There he was working at his wheel…

This may very well be my favorite part of this passage, God is faithful. He is always faithful to His Word. He does exactly as He promised to do apart from our departures and wanderings. When returning to Him, the Lord is still there working everything out for our good. (Romans 8:28) I am so thankful that God is not a man. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. Nothing can separate me from His Love – not even me. When I repent, turn back, humbly enter His Presence, God is exactly the same as when I left Him last time. My faithfulness is not primary in my relationship with the Lord. His Faithfulness is everything. It means that I can be exactly who He promised and fulfill my potential in Him no matter how many times I wander off or succumb to weakness. His Grace is always enough. His Grace is sufficient.

The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand…

God is not shocked or dismayed when I fall short. He knows exactly what I am going to do before I do it. He keeps me safely tucked away in His Hand. He knows me inside and out yet still chooses to love me unconditionally, recklessly and completely. He waits for me to respond to His Promises. Lovingly and securely I am in His Hand. No one and nothing can take me from Him. Isn’t it a relief to know that God knows us, yet loves us just the same. He doesn’t throw away “spoiled” clay but holds us in His Hand until…

He reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

No vessel is ever too broken for the Lord. Jesus knows exactly who He invested His Great Love in still choosing to give us His All. Our undoing gives God the opportunity to “rework” us into another vessel. One fit for His Use, His Service, and His Glory. God has already promised that He has a plan for our life containing a future and hope. It is by faith that our confidence gives way to trusting the process of brokenness. To allow God to begin to reshape us through renewal, restoration and revival from the inside out. It begins with repentance. Repentance allows the potter’s wheel to keep spinning. It is the very thing that ends stalling in our process and gives way to our potential. Is there a stake in your spoke today? The Lord will carefully take it if you will surrender it to Him. God is ready to reveal your divine purpose and release your full potential today. Will you arise and come to the potter’s house with me? He is ready to make us a masterpiece.

Isaiah 64:8 (ESV) But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

God is ALWAYS Good

God is Always Good

Psalm 145:6-10 (NLT) Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness. The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you.

God is always good. He is a good God with great plans, purpose and promises for each one of His Created Ones. Every person who was born comes with a measure of faith and eternity tucked in their heart. This is the content called purpose to pursue and find the place of our origin and find our true identity in God through Jesus Christ. Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe that He is good to you? Have you ever whispered God why is this happening to me? Or maybe asked God why He is doing this to you or allowing bad things to happen? The psalmist writes, “Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness.” My grandmother was pivotal in me finding Christ and giving my life to Him. Sadly the greatest growth in my life did not come until after her passing. So I wonder, in my musings and meditation, if when we get to Heaven the Lord shows us the fruit of our life? The things that we did not see come to pass or know had reached their full potential. Are these the crowns to lay at His Marvelous Feet? There are things in my life that do not seem as though they have turned out for good yet. How about you? If everyone will share the story of God’s Wonderful Goodness they must somehow be made aware of it, right?

Psalm 23:6 (NLT) Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

God is always good. His Goodness and Unfailing Love constantly pursue us. All the days of my life, God is with me. He is in my past. He is here today. He has already gone ahead to my future. I cannot truly understand that omnipresence of God with a logical mind. I can only grasp for it by faith. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. If true, it means that God is always good. Because of Jesus, the Unfailing love and Goodness that follows me can one day overtake me when I choose to repent and turn into it. God’s Goodness is not compromised by my rebellion simply just beyond my reach.

Psalm 31:18-20 (NLT) How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues.

To receive God’s Goodness is simply to step into His Presence. It is established in His Word that He is good. It is also presented that He pursues us with love and goodness. We must only step into His Presence to receive it. When I bake a cake, I begin to mix eggs and sugar together. It becomes a creamy substance and then I fold in flour, salt, and baking powder with a little flavoring. I must mix it all together and incorporate all the ingredients then bake it so it becomes a lovely dessert. If I don’t include all the ingredients, it will not be what I expect. If I try to eat the eggs raw, it will be disgusting and far from satisfying. God is trying to incorporate His Love, Kindness and all of His Goodness in our life. We must fully incorporate God in our life beginning with Christ in us and folding all the details of life by faith to trust that He is making good of all the ingredients.

Romans 8:28 (NLT)  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

God is always good. He is taking all the ingredients of our life and making a beautiful masterpiece of it. He takes all the details of our life and wraps them in unfailing love and stirs them with His Goodness until it becomes something of worth. Something good. Do you believe God is good today? Do you believe Him enough to trust Him with everything?

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

God’s Goodness is for the land of the living. It is for your everyday life. It may not come to pass today but in the proper time – God’s Word will come to pass. It cannot and will not return to Him void. Our investment is confidence. Using the faith that He has given us to turn it into trusting His Process and waiting on His Timing simply because you know that He is always good!

Hebrews 4:4-5 (NLT) For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—

Once you experience God’s Unfailing Love and His Overwhelming Goodness – there is not turning back. Once you have a homemade pound cake, the others just don’t compare. To make a homemade pound cake is expensive and time consuming. You can buy one already made or try a shortcut recipe but you cannot expect the same satisfaction. Jesus promised a rich and satisfying life. A reward for those who endure to the end. Repentance is turning from our way and stepping into God’s Way through His Son, Jesus. It is from that place that His Goodness catches us. Those who experience such a moment with the Living God are hooked. His Goodness will overtake them. They will never be the same or satisfied with anything less. God is always good!

Psalm 34:8 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Death to Life

Death to Life

Romans 6:1-3 (Message) So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!

Today is Baptism Sunday at our church. There are people who have decided to participate in the symbolic act of baptism, but I wonder if they know the true potential of such a public confession. It is the gateway by which one may enter a “new land” and “new life”. An existence of true repentance marked by a turning over of every dead thing in our life to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Oh how I wish they knew how powerful the water can be for those who step in it with such an expectation. Salvation is the beginning of a transformation process that takes a lifetime to complete. It is the moment of realization that sin is killing us and without a Savior there is no chance of life. The next doctrinal step might be a public profession of our faith in Jesus Christ and then baptism. I love the opportunity presented by Paul in this passage and the way the Message explains it to us. It is a form of house cleaning where we lay down our old life, ways, faults, failures and disappointments in order to move into a new one without all the shackles and chains of our past holding us back. A handful of people have signed up to participate in the baptism service today, but I wonder how many more might if they realized the potential of leaving it all behind and moving into the new life Christ promised us.

Romans 6:3-5 (Message) That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.

I grew up in the Baptist church. My little sister has a very soft and sweet heart. I cannot count the number of times she responded to an altar call to repent and start again with Jesus. I know you may be thinking it silly, but I think it is essential. Since when did the altar become a place of shame, where people are chided for coming again and again? I think she was baptized at just about every summer camp. My sister is a mighty woman of God who leads home Bible studies and small groups. She impacts many lives with grace and generosity. She understands the life and power of Jesus Christ because she kept coming until she found what she was looking for. Oh what might happen if the church and its people were open to true repentance and transparency before the Lord again? Not afraid to come forward for prayer and divine healing? Unashamed that they want a new life when this one is not working out for them?

John 7:38-39 (Message) On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)

When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus…

Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes…” Are you overflowing with Living Water today? Or are you feeling the thirst that comes from seasons of drought – an inner dryness that nothing in this life can seem to satisfy? The Spirit inside of us produces good fruit to nourish and satisfy our soul. There are times when the Spirit of God within us is limited because of the lack of fertile soil – He cannot sow in a hard heart. The Holy Spirit lives in us to change our life from death to life sowing good seeds in fertile soil. Faith produces seeds of potential that must be cultivated to become the promise within each one. It is up to us to provide a place for them to grow, develop and mature into the abundance that the Lord has promised us. Without water, seeds die in the ground. Without the Spirit, the believer cannot move from death to life.

To be lowered in the water is like being buried with Christ, to make an exchange of all the dead things in our life so that they either be washed away or revived again. Sin is washed away along with regret and remorse. Faith is revived in the water and new life begins in that moment for those who believe. We must be buried in Christ with fruitful expectation that His Spirit will take over and produce new life in us all over again. This is not just for the new believer but every other saint of God who has become weary in well doing or overcome by fear, doubt, anxiety or disappointment. The water is for everyone.

Romans 7:3-6 (Message) So, my friends, this is something like what has taken place with you. When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for God. For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths. But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.

When we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.

It is often easier to get caught up in the rules and regulations of our religion rather than live a life true repentance and ongoing surrender to Jesus Christ. I have nothing of worth to give God other than my whole heart. My heart and life are not worthy of His Glory but what God desires therefore enough. We are married to Jesus in the careful exchange of sin and the acceptance of His Grace. When our life is fully reconciled to Christ – all the benefits and blessings associated with our relationship are evident. When we come up out of the water – it is like the resurrection of Jesus and new life begins all over again. There is no Christian who has it all together. There is no preacher, teacher, elder, deacon, or leader that does not fall short of the Glory of God and His Standard of living. No one can live apart from sin and the only hope we have is the resurrection power and life of Jesus Christ to keep us constantly turning in repentance to receive what He died for us to have.

We no longer live under “oppressive regulations and fine print”. We are free to live a new life of freedom in God. Do you live in the perpetual freedom that God offers those who believe? Do you have living water flowing through you today? Have you been baptized? There is no limitation on the water. You can come to the river as often as you like. Repentance is turning. Cycles are circular motions without real results. It may look like revival but it is not. It is repetition. Seasons are the terms and conditions of God’s Productivity. It is the prospering soul that receives all the blessings. A season produces something. It has purpose. It gives provision. In the end, there is an abundant harvest. It is how real revival begins and perpetuates itself. It begins when we surrender every dead thing to new life.

John 5:5-11 (Message) One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?” The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.” Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. That day happened to be the Sabbath. The Jews stopped the healed man and said, “It’s the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll around. It’s against the rules.” But he told them, “The man who made me well told me to. He said, ‘Take your bedroll and start walking.’”

There was a man who had been handicapped for more than three decades. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” The man began to make excuses. Jesus told him, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking. The man did exactly what Jesus said. He didn’t even make it into the water, but received his healing from Jesus right then and there. Immediately the Pharisees began to condemn the man for breaking the rules. It was the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll on Sunday. How many people carry burdens into church and lug them right out afraid to break the rules? Or how many preachers, teachers, elders, deacons, and the like live with heavy chains because they are afraid to come to the altar and be judged by their peers? How many times do we accept death where Jesus promised life just because of our pride? Too often. Jesus gives us the opportunity to exchange every dead thing for new life. He promises to make good of every detail of our life if we would only trust Him. Nothing can every separate us from the Love of God offered in His Son, Jesus Christ. Are you allowing something to separate you?

Seek out new life today. If that comes in the form of baptism when you can lay all these burdens into the likeness of His Death and be raised to new life then jump in with both feet all over again. Jesus didn’t give up His Life so that you would like a dead existence filled with doubt, discouragement, depression, disease or defeat. He came up out of the grave and so can you. You can leave death behind and embrace new life. You can do it as often as you need it. Jesus came to give us life more abundantly. Don’t stop until you receive it no matter what the cost. If that means running to the altar, do it! If that means jumping in the waters of baptism, go! Whatever it takes – let Jesus breathe new life in you again!

John 11:25-26 (Message) You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

In the Trenches

In the Trenches

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

Woke up to the sound of rain today. Not gentle droplets on the window sill but a pounding torrential downpour with rolling thunder. Turning over pulling the covers a little bit higher, I don’t want to get out of bed but rather soak in some extra sleep and surrender to laziness. Struggling to pull myself out of bed, all the inconvenience of going outside and loss of comfort keeps me cozy and in place. Blame it on the rain! I can do this. I will do this. I must do this. It’s Sunday! It’s the Lord’s Day!

Rain is a life giver. As it soaks the fresh cut grass, it is a brilliant green. All the spring pollen is washed away, and it smells new outside. Our lab thinks it is just for her. A gift from Heaven as she frolics, runs and rolls in it. She is a waterdog. Made for such a time as this, I stand wrapped in a jacket hoping it will end before our departure. Yet her enthusiasm makes me smile – she loves the rain. Maybe the rain is just for her…

There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. The power of the life giving Spirit has freed us. I will rejoice. Sometimes caught in the trenches of service for the Lord, it is easy to forget what this thing called ministry is all about. We are ambassadors of Christ called to ministry in our once ordinary life given to extraordinary potential with Jesus. Those who are called are equipped with the Spirit of God and ability to make it rain especially in the life of those currently living in seasons of drought, despair and darkness.

I Kings 18:41-45 (NLT) Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”

This chapter of I Kings chronicles the “contest on Mount Carmel”, the place where God poured out His Glory, Elijah overcame and killed the prophets of Baal and there was a revival amount the people. “And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, ‘The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!’” THEN, Elijah went to pray for rain. The chapter begins by setting the scene. It was the third year of drought. The promise spoken to Elijah from the Lord – I will soon send rain! The problem in the midst of it all – disbelief. The people had given their heart and mind to serve a dead god – Baal. Yet the Living God pursued them nevertheless. The only thing standing between them and relief from the drought was repentance and revival. Life in the trenches is where we find Elijah. He did not pray for rain with expectancy until the people were revived in heart and soul.

Luke 15:4-7 (NLT) “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

Death was introduced to mankind by one man, Adam. Grace was delivered to all mankind through one man – Jesus Christ. Elijah was one man. He was sent to end drought. The contest on Mount Carmel had to be accomplished so the heart of the people would be ready for rain. More importantly, they had to align themselves with God to receive it. Elijah released God’s Glorious Grace when he overcame the prophets of Baal that day. It was not in their death but the new life and hope created when the people recognized God coming back to Him in humility.

I wonder if we forget that sometimes. When a church service doesn’t produce an altar full or maybe the response to the message seems to be nil. Do we lose sight off the greater good that is the power of grace in one person? “There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and turns to God.” We can all pretend to be righteous or maybe a tad bit religious but when our heart repents and our soul is revived – God sends an outpouring of His Glory like never before. We can pick apart our church and all the people in it. We will miss the point altogether and live limited lives. Elijah dug trenches around the sacrifice filling them with water. It would be impossible for God to light a fire, right? No miracles happen in the impossible. If you have been praying for an abundance of rain, but seem to be living in drought – God is ready to pour out rain on your life today. Examine your heart and align your mind with His Word again. If you have been working a dry and barren land that seems impossible to bear fruit, keep digging those trenches for the rain is coming when the soil becomes broken and fertile. The rain is coming – will you be there to experience His Outpouring? God’s Word will not fail. He will do exactly as He promised. We must humble ourselves and pray with repentant hearts ready for revival. This is life in the trenches and you are in good company!

2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (NLT) At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

Finding Purpose

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Proverbs 20:7 (ESV) The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

A throne is God’s purpose for you; a cross is God’s path for you; faith is God’s plan for you. (Alan Redpath)

Did you know that you were created on purpose? It doesn’t matter the details of conception or conditions of birth – no baby arrives void of purpose. Your situation may not have been ideal. Your childhood a terrible tragedy. Teenage years a journey of guilt and shame. Adulthood filled with broken relationships and dead dreams yet still deep inside your heart is purpose. God placed eternity in our heart. He gave us a measure of faith to insure our success. He sent His Son – Jesus to take our life back paying the penalty of all sins so a full dispensation of grace might be available. Our life handed back to us labeled “free” and now it is up to us to decide how to use it. The purpose of God within us is far greater than just making it to Heaven. It is the opportunity to bring Heaven to earth.

The woman at the well had no idea that a divine appointment awaited her. She arrived around noon at the peak of the sun. She was shunned by other women and used by many men. Her current master not her husband just one willing to take the broken pieces of a shattered life and capitalize on it. She had no idea that the broken path she followed was leading her straight to redemption. She didn’t think this was a new day of new opportunity – I believe like many women just like her – she was just trying to get by. When she met Jesus, he asked for some water to satisfy a thirst. It would become an invitation for this dry and devastated life to be renewed.

John 4:13-16 (ESV) Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

The purpose in our heart is deep water. We must search for understanding to draw it out. This woman began her conversation in the natural and then encountered the supernatural. She forgot who everyone said she was and ran back to tell them about the Messiah. “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” I wonder today if the well of our hearts get so filled with worthless conversation and other garbage keeping the living water within us from making its way out of us. The opinions, insults and offenses stuck in our heart. The woman found her purpose. His Name – Jesus Christ. The guilt, shame and regret of our past is no match for the unfailing love and unfathomable grace given to us in just one encounter with the Lord. Purpose is a deep water that will only be found by those who are willing to dig a little deeper than the superficial overtures of life to reach the abundance found in new life.

Proverbs 16:4 (ESV) The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

For you will certainly carry out God’s Purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John. (C.S. Lewis)

Purpose is God-given. It resides in us. God placed eternity in each heart. He also provided us all with a measure of faith to successfully secure us in the Kingdom. He even sacrificed His Son to give us the freedom to choose between good and evil again with new mercy each day and more than enough grace for those days we miss the mark. God has us covered completely. Jesus gives us overwhelming victory as a byproduct of His Love for us. We can overcome in every situation. Why are so many Christians and so-called believers struggling then? Are you serving Jesus like Judas or John? Everyone would be quick to say, “John” but on closer evaluation of a wayward heart may be an indication that Judas is hiding in the darkest part.

Job 42:1-6 (ESV) “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

The story of Job is all about pride. Job’s life was prosperous. He was known as a religious man. He lived a righteous life. Yet, in all his goodness, the messengers came one by one as his kingdom fell. His family and finances were devastated. Disease soon infected his body. His own wife told him to give up on God. Yet in all his misery, Job did not give up on the Lord. His friends didn’t understand. They tried to offer comfort but only inflamed his heart and mind. In his complete and utter misery as his flesh was dying, Job came to the Lord and this was his cry. Job still believed. In the midst of all the tragedy, God still lived on the throne of his heart. Job knew that God is sovereign. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.” Such a profound statement. We hear a lot about the Lord and even adopt a certain language laced with hints of faith and believing. Yet it never reaches their heart or penetrates their thoughts forming a new belief which becomes a new life. As the Truth of God’s Identity and Character began to seep into the brokenness of his heart, something changed. Job was ready for a turnaround. Job repented.

Our purpose in the Lord will never be more than a promise if repentance is not a lifestyle. The Kingdom is not a place to ask forgiveness rather than permission. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Hearing the Word of God it is easy to make a list of excuses why it’s not for us. But one encounter with the fullness of God in His Son – Jesus changes everything. The Lord dealt with Job’s accusers disguised as friends. He did not just restore Job but gave him double for his trouble. The renewal of faith in God will fill the gaps left by every tragedy in life. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. God already gave us everything we need including the promises so greatly desired. It must be our purpose to discover God’s Purpose and invest our life in Him.

“Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.” These are the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. What if God’s Purpose is for you to give your life away for others? It is. What if you must lose your life to truly find it? You do. What if the eternity in our heart will not escape without brokenness? It won’t. God has placed a purpose in you far greater than your human life can produce or sustain. It will require every bit of faith to achieve. Your heart will be devastated to be redesigned – molded and shaped into the Masterpiece promised by the Lord in Ephesians 2. My heart was forever changed during our son’s battle with cancer. Normal will never be normal again. Once you know the truth, you cannot believe the lie anymore. For years, I prayed for the Lord to increase my faith and He did. It was not in some glorious service when Heaven opened and poured out His Glory. It was in a hospital room when I finally gave up all of me. Pride must die in His Presence for purpose to be properly birthed. It is painful. It can be messy. It is always worth it.

Psalm 138:8 (ESV) The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

The Lord will fulfill His Purpose for you and me regardless of our participation. God will do exactly as He planned and promised to do because of His Steadfast Love for us. His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursue us even when we think we are pursuing Him. The Truth about us is that God created us with a plan containing a future and hope far greater than the life created by randomness. Every step has the potential to be purposeful when committed to the Lord. He is leading us to something far greater and exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or imagine. Do you trust Him today? Do you believe in God’s Steadfast Love? If you do, you will go with Him. Following Him to the ends of the earth just to continue in His Unconditional Love. He will never leave us or forsake us. The Lord invites us to invest our freedom in His Purpose and to prosper in this life. It is up to us whether or not repentance turns us from a worthless life to a radical resurrection of a power-infused supernatural existence filled with God’s Favor.

Is there more to life than this? Yes, there is. His Name is Jesus. He is our Purpose.

Proverbs 19:21 (ESV) Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

New Heart

New Heaert

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (ESV) I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

The image a vivid reality in my mind. Praying to the Lord to take all of me is a common cry in the church today but do we really understand what we are saying. God begins a good work in us. Holy Inhabitation makes it possible as the Holy Spirit takes over those areas of our life invested in the Kingdom. The fashion of holy consecration is brokenness. It is an act of humility. Sacrifice that demands all of us to produce good fruit and abundant life in all areas. The Lord has promised to give us a new heart and new spirit. The Word of God says, “I will put within you.” When our religion becomes a true relationship with Jesus Christ – our heart cannot be withheld and flesh cannot survive the burning passion and desire to seek Him, know Him and be with Him.

The Heart of Stone

Back to the revelation in my prayer time, I saw a sharp pointed knife cutting through dull gray exterior resembling a rock. As it began to cut with excellent precision – I wondered if it could get through the concrete exterior. What would be inside? As it continued the downward trend, a beautiful beating heart emerged. It took my breath away as in that moment I drew in a cleansing breath. God is this what you want to do in me, my family, my church and my community. Are you trying to take our stony, hard hearts and give them new life? Absolutely.

It’s funny that humanity thinks it can evoke heavenly change in an earthly body. The embodiment of religion is to produce positive change on the exterior, but without the inward change of a circumcised heart – it won’t work. We can build churches but not become the Church. We can resemble broken and handicap bodies but not become the Body of Christ. The prosperity of our hands will not move the Heart of God. He must complete the good work that He has begun in us through His Son, Jesus. (Philippians 1:6) Have you given your heart to Jesus?

Deuteronomy 10:12-16 (ESV) “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.

Before moving ahead to obedience, our heart must truly repent before the Lord. Jesus must be the Way, the Truth and Life for us. In that moment, everything changes but unless one engages in the relationship with Christ – it is merely another social venue chosen in which to exist. The miracle of salvation is made complete in the covenant formed as a relationship with Jesus. Without a relationship, it is nothing more than religion. Religious people do not necessarily have eternal life. Without a heart change produced solely by the Lord and His Spirit, we may look different, sound good, and live better but eternal life comes from an intimate and ongoing relationship with the Father through His Son.

Grace is always enough. This is not a call to live a perfect life. Never make mistakes. Always make good choices. Stop sinning completely. Though these are our goals, the battle against our flesh is quite evident and the struggle is real. (Romans 7) What does God require of you? To fear the Lord your God. To walk in all His Ways. To love him. To serve Him with all your heart and soul. To keep His Commandments and Statutes.

Here’s a plot twist for you! Every bit of this is summed up in love. Romans 13 tells us that we are to own no one anything but love. The Message translation puts it like this – “Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.” To love Jesus with all of our heart and soul makes sin unpalatable if it separates us from His Love. When our union with Christ is complete, He becomes our priority over selfishness because He is better than life. You cannot engage in a relationship with Christ without a circumcised heart. It is the sign of covenant. In the Old Testament – an outward sign of a promise. In the New Testament – it is an inward sign of a new heart, mind, soul and body devoted to Jesus Christ.

New Heart

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

This verse has been heavy on my heart. The Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any two-edged sword to the division of soul and spirit…Is the Sword of the Spirit for me? Yes. To use on others. To wield against the enemy and every perceived threat. Yes. But first, before all of that, it is for me to allow God to circumcise me and give me a new heart and new soul to serve Him. What if we have been going about this all wrong? What if our first action as a believer is to allow God to use this two-edged sword on our own stony and stubborn hearts…first. Always first. When tempted to lash out can we let His Word cut away the lack of love in us. What if the sword is useless in our defense unless it produces change in us first? Jesus is the Word. He is the Way, Truth and Life. No one gets to the Father but through Him. If God’s Word does not work in me, I cannot become the new creation filled with new life that He promised. I must consecrate my life beginning with my heart and soul before I can make an impact in my home, church and community. Otherwise it is just good works not godly deeds.

Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

A stubborn hard heart cannot give the kind of love that it has received from the Lord. God is love. His Love for us comes without condition and immeasurable grace. A heart of stone cannot receive such love and it is like pouring water on a rock. Only a heart broken before the Lord can receive all that He has for us. I wonder today if I might be so bold as to say the heart of the church must be circumcised again. To cut away the callous disregard for “sinners” just like us. To see people where they are instead of expecting them to “act” like us. To see ourselves transparently through the eyes of grace and humbly expect our misfortune apart from Jesus Christ. We have all failed the Lord. We are all sinners just the same. There is none righteous no not one.

Lord, I ask you to take the two-edged sword of your Word and penetrate our stony, stubborn and selfish hearts today. This word is for no one other than me for I am the least of these. Father, renew a right spirit in me. Let Your Presence be my dwelling place as I crawl back to You with my heart in my hands asking you to give me a brand new one! In Jesus Name!

Ezekiel 11:18-20 (ESV) And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.