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.

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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.

Barriers

Barrier

Psalm 119:45 (NLT) I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.

There is a young lady in my life who I love dearly. She is a beautiful girl with a sweet heart. Like many people her age, she is struggling to make the right choices and apply her faith to life. She didn’t come to church so I reached out on social media. One of the qualities that I love about her is brutal honesty. She doesn’t hide behind a churchy façade of perfection but admits that her struggle is real. I told her I loved her and missed her this morning. She replied, “I was too ashamed to come.” My heart broke in that moment. I told her that God had her and that His Grace was always enough for her, not to mention that I love her no matter what! I hate that the very thing she needed most was restricted by her distrust. She stayed home rather than facing the hypocrites, mockers and stone throwers. “Whosoever come” limited by the line drawn by Christians of boundaries and barriers that keep the seeking from actually making through the door.

I will walk in freedom.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Gospel is only good news when covered by grace. Outside of God’s Grace given to us through Jesus Christ there is nothing good in us. The new creation is a result of God’s Word coming to live in us. His Name is Jesus. He is the Truth. The Truth always sets you free and never limits you. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. This is the inherent struggle of humanity with the Lord. How do we conceive and birth change in our life without rules, regulations and better choices? Jesus. How often do we try to change our attitude and actions only to fail miserable but then hide behind the things we can do and be by ourselves? Disciples of Christ remain faithful to His Teachings. His Primary Purpose and Motivation in all things is unconditional love and overwhelming grace. These are the qualities that establish our freedom and erase the line of religion drawn in the dust and dirt our flesh is made of.

John 8:36-37 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

Everyone who sins is a slave of sin. I absolutely believe that I am a slave to sin. I cannot help but find a way to fall into it at least once if not a hundred times a day. If you think there is no sin in your life, then you are sadly mistaken. All fall short of God’s Standard for living. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. My way of life is not for anyone else other than me. God recorded every day of my life in advance. (Psalm 139) He predestined me with a purpose only found living as one with Jesus Christ. Within that plan and purpose, the Lord has given me a future and hope (Jeremiah 29) with a provision of love and grace sufficient to empower me in every weakness. He works every detail of my life for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8) I have to believe this includes my mistakes, shortcomings and failures.

John 8 begins with the story of a woman who was caught in adultery. I cannot help but wonder where the other person engaged with her was hiding. If she was caught in the act, there had to be another party. Yet, he is absent. If we are all slaves to sin engaged in the same act, why do we not include ourselves when crucifying Christians or calling out their issues. Pride tells us that there is a hierarchy of transgresses not found in the Word. If we can pretend better than others, we win. This is absolutely not true. God’s Love and His Grace are offered to us one way. His Son – the Only Way – to access the Father. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – He is our freedom.

Twice in this account, Jesus stoops to write something in the dirt. Many scholars conclude the Lord may have been listing the sins of her accusers. I wonder if maybe Jesus was erasing the barrier of religion to form a relationship. Perhaps our Savior and Lord was actually wiping away the line between sin and salvation while her accusers left one by one. Guilt and shame form regret that removes us from the Presence of God. His Love and Amazing Grace will lead us to “spacious places” (Psalm 18) but unresolved sin and judgment lead us to deeper darkness than before we knew Christ. He is the Light of the World. What is done in secret will be made public? His Light drives out darkness. It leads us to freedom. True freedom. Free to love Him without shame, remorse, or regret and openly enjoy His Pleasures evermore.

Revelation 3:7-8 (NLT) “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open: “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.”

What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open… Do you believe this passage today? Do you believe that Christ has set you free? What is limiting your life today? Jesus is the Gate. Those who come in through Him will be saved. “They will come and go freely and find good pastures.” The enemy will try to shut the gateway of freedom to our life by putting us back in our sin or at least reminding us of it so guilt and shame tries to shut the door and throw away the key. (John 10) Jesus reminds us today that His “purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” He does not mention our past, present or future shortcomings and promises that His Grace will always be enough for us. Jesus knows how we feel, what we do and yet still loves us unconditionally. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.

Galatians 5:7-8 (NLT) You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.

The religious folks had trouble accepting the matchless and magnificent grace of Jesus Christ. They could not comprehend or accept equality with common sinners. The established order of Jewish culture demanded personal retribution. Pride required a level of accountability. We must be very careful not to become trapped in their culture. The “Saul” in us must become “Paul” through our new life in Jesus Christ or it is a waste of time and energy. God has called us to freedom even providing the Way. It is up to us if we will take it, pursue it and live in Him. Legalism will never produce the kind of change that love will. Faith is in us but must be continually fed and watered the Word of God and cared for by His Spirit to grow and flourish into something reliable in our life. Bad choices do not hinder us. Unwillingness to admit our sin and meet Jesus at the Cross daily does.

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

Have you drawn a line in the sand? Is there a list of unpardonable sins that keep you from love and forgiveness? The limit in your life is self-imposed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. Freedom to engage in a new life and find an inheritance as a Child of the Living God. Sin made us all slaves. Your only way to freedom is sonship. Turning to the Lord means that the veil of human expectation and accountability is irrevocably broken. Expectation placed in people is misplaced. If we set our heart, mind, body, souls and spirit on the Living God our life will be complete. Satisfaction will be found. Abundance of heart will fill our hands with outpouring of generosities beginning with love and grace for all mankind. It removes the barriers and obstacles of faith marked doubt and disbelief so faith can come alive in our life. Remove the restrictions today. Forgive freely. Turn from rules and regulations to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our freedom allows us to grant others the same becoming a beacon in the darkness for those who desperately need the Light. I am a sinner. I am saved by the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. This is my story. It is the Truth that allows me to come to the Cross to be set free. To live free. To experience abundance to overflowing for others in need. Lord Jesus – please do not ever let me be the barrier blocking another from coming to the Cross. Forgive me if I have. Remind me if I do. Remove me from their path! In Your Precious Name, AMEN!

Psalm 119:96 (NLT) Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit.

True Humility

True humility

Proverbs 22:4 (NLT) True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.

Biting into a piece of leftover steak, the pain was searing and sharp taking my breath away. Trying not to cry out in pain, I sat for a minute to get my wits about me. Though not so intense, it was still radiating through my jaw. When I could produce a lucid thought, it came to me that my princess tooth in need of a crown had probably cracked. I have a molar that is in need of attention. It is all the way in the back with several fillings. The dentist advised me that I should get a crown as it was beginning to breakdown from years of use. I have a phobia about going to the dentist. I have been working to overcome it for most of my life. However, last night I would have run to the chair for some relief.

Like most people, I opted to seek the advice of the Internet for some immediate pain relief. After a few moments, I confirmed that it more than likely was a crack that exposed the nerve. With throbbing pain, I stopped my investigation took several anti-inflammatories before I got the brilliant idea to put some pain-relieving gel on it. Digging through my mom bag, I found a tube. I put it all over the tooth. Big mistake! Huge error! Once the medicine penetrated the tooth to the nerve, it set my entire jaw on fire. It was probably the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. I laid my hands on my face and prayed. Pleaded with the Lord to take the pain away with tears streaming down my face. As it began to subside, I continued to read the different medical and dental sites. I need to go to the dentist. I need to pay the large co-pay. I need a crown. Ugh!

Our lesson for Wednesday night Bible study was about pride. Our need for humility in our pursuit of the Lord. Nothing will bring us to our knees like pain – physical, mental, emotion and even spiritual. The brokenness that gets to the heart of the matter will never build our pride but tear all self-confidence to make room for confident hope. Humility is evidence of a realization of who God is and His Sovereignty that allows His Spirit to produce change in us. Humility is painful because one must crucify flesh in order to give it room in our life. For years, I have prided myself on how I deal with illness and pain. I have given birth without medication. Powered through illness. However, last night, I could not even breathe with the intensity of the pain when the crack in my tooth hit the nerve and then when I tried to self-medicate. Lord, thank you for the object lesson but OUCH!

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

True humility requires true repentance. The riches of God are accessed by salvation. Sin drug us down from a glorious standard of living that Christ came to fully restore. True repentance is not a one-time instance but daily occurrence. Reconciling our natural life to the supernatural existence God has for His Children. It can only be obtained by allowing the Lord to work in us and complete the work that He began. We must change because God does not change. We must be humble because God is Sovereign and no one will ever bring Him down from His Throne. He is All-Knowing, All-Powerful, and everywhere at the same time. God is the Great I Am. To be one with the Lord means that I must decrease and allow Christ to increase filling every void in my brokenness. The Truth that tears down any religious posture is that one sin nailed Jesus to the Cross and His Blood covers all sin. Grace is enough. It is always sufficiency to bring us into right-standing with God. It requires one thing – true repentance.

James 4:5-10 (NLT) Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

True humility requires true surrender. I must lay down my life in order to assume a robe of righteousness. In order to have the Grace of God, I must give my life away to Him. His Power is manifested in my weakness. When I cannot do it anymore so I give it over to Him. I have put off getting the dental work needed for my ailing tooth for a variety of reasons. I am afraid. I do not want to pay the price. I have tried to ignore it. After the episode last night, I need to make a choice. Will I overcome my fear? Will I pay the price? Will I give it the attention needed? I believe that as we cry out to the Lord for more of Him. To see His Glory. To have more of His Grace. We ask Him to increase our faith. But when the trial, trouble, or trauma comes that exposes areas of pride and weakness – it is met with confusion and a lack of understanding. God must expose everything in us that is contrary to His Word, Will and Way so that we can humble our life and surrender that area to Him for His Careful and Complete Intervention. To posture our life prostrate before the Lord as a living sacrifice allows Him to work through us and align our life with His Goodness for His Glory which will life us to a place of honor in His Presence.

Psalm 91:14-16 (NLT) The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

True humility requires true love. Do you love God? Do you love Jesus Christ? Do you love others? Do you love yourself? There is no greater love than to lay down our life for another. Perfect love casts out all fear. Love is the most powerful force. God is love. Everything He does comes from the orifice of love because it is His Identity. He promises to rescue those who love Him. He will protect those who trust Him. Trust is characteristic of love. True love is given all away. When they call – those who love and trust Him – He will always answer them in the midst of their trouble. He promises to honor them and give them long life.

Daniel cried out to the Lord and the Lord sent an angel to him. “Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” (Daniel 10:12) Daniel loved God even in his captivity. He petitioned the Lord for understanding and he humbled himself before God. God confided that his request had been heard in heaven and an answer given. Our life must be reconciled to God because God will not change His Mind or His Way. Daniel aligned his life with God’s Word despite his situation. He humbled himself before the Lord and He answered Daniel directly. Could pride be hindering the answer to our prayers? Could our unwillingness to give our life up to secure a place in His Kingdom be our problem? Has conviction struck a nerve in you requiring immediate action? Will fear stop you? Pride hinder you? Is the cost of self too high? Will you accept God’s Grace as the power of change for your life? Will you love Him wholeheartedly?

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Human pride complicates the simplicity of salvation with radical religion. It puts rules and regulations on the Grace of God that are not His Requirements at all. In the movie, The Lorax, a man bottled air and sold it to unsuspecting people. How often free grace is offered with a price rather than generously spread around the church with love. What if salvation really is for the asking? What if grace is sufficient for all sin? What if God’s Mercy gives us second chances every single day? What if He really will complete the good work in us without our assistance? What if His Spirit can change our character and make us fruitful from the inside out? What if our body and life will prosper with our soul? Have I overcomplicated the process to foster my pride? The Lord has told us what is good. It is simple. What does He require of you? To do what is right. To love mercy. To walk humbly with Him. Pride will fight to preserve its right to do what it wants. To serve self first. To go its own way. It is up to us to give up our right to be right and claim righteousness over rightness. It is our goal to live in love with God and all mankind. It is our privilege to walk humbly WITH the Lord until we meet Him face-to-face.

Psalm 25:8-10 (NLT) The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

Finding Favor

Finding Favor

Luke 1:30 (NIV) But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

What believer does not want favor with God? Be careful what you wish for, ask for and pray for in life. One must always consider the cost of the request though seldom do. Imagine marry who was a teenager dreaming of her impending nuptials. She was a virgin soon to be bride. The angel of the Lord came to this young girl with wonderful news. She would have a baby. Not just any child – but the One who would be the Savior of the world. The promised Messiah would be her very own. This glorious declaration would come at a tremendous price. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.”

Why fear the Favor of God? Extraordinary wrecks ordinary. Supernatural destroys natural. Miracles are marked “impossible”. Healing requires brokenness. I could go on but I think you get the idea. To experience the fullness of God’s Favor means releasing our own expectation to allow His Fulfillment to take its place. God’s Ways are much higher than human simplicity. His Thoughts too complex for man’s understanding. To even consider the potential of a new life in Christ – one must battle fear of change and uncertainty of newness every single day. Many will find the price too high as pride battles to maintain control fueled by doubt and disbelief. How many times do we settle for the fruitlessness of our own hands giving in to the fear that God who He says and grace is not enough? You have found favor with God. What will you do with it?

Luke 1:37 (NIV) “For no word from God will ever fail.”

Mary’s Response was this “I am the Lord’s servant…may your word to me be fulfilled.” She accepted God’s Word. The final words of the angel to Mary prior to this were simply “for no word from God will ever fail.” Do you believe the infallible truth of God’s Word? Is it really possible? You will never know unless you believe. To have faith without doubt requires an effort. It is a thousand “yeses” to as many unknowns. God has a plan. He has created us with a future and hope. The potential of our life is packed in from the moment of creation. It is one’s inability or unwillingness to believe a God who surpasses understanding that limits our life.

Proverbs 3:1-4 (NIV) My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

Finding the Favor of God is essential to spiritual success and it facilitates death of our flesh at the same time. To have God’s Approval requires acceptance of His Son – Jesus Christ. This is not an arranged marriage such as the covenant entered into between Joseph and Mary as was customary in that time. It is a personal decision to give up this life and accept a new existence in oneness with Christ. To allow His Spirit to come into our broken and devastated heart to begin to remove, rebuild, restore and renew our life into that which He predestined it to be. There are many details to take into consideration so much so that only an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God could ever undertake much less accomplish in bringing it all into one plan for our good and His Glory. It takes time that most do not feel they have. It requires effort that most are unwilling to give. But for those who decide to take God at His Word waiting until He comes, there life will be filled with favor. Not just godly favor, but earthly favor as well.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

There is a soulful worship chorus that goes “I lean not on my own understanding…my life is in the hands of the Maker of Heaven…” then it says, “I give it all to You, God…Trusting that You’ll make something beautiful of me.” This must be our daily declaration in the pursuit of God’s Favor. The key to prosperity, success and abundance in all of God’s Promises is accessed by trust. When our doubts and disbelief are overcome by faith, confident hope and total trust – our heart begins to change. True repentance and great turnarounds in life begin with the decision to change directions. Godly wisdom begins with the Word. When we take God at His Word by faith and believe enough to allow His Spirit to change our attitudes and actions to alignment with the Lord everything ordained and commissioned for our life can make it to us. God’s Promises are never in question – the question is do we believe enough to allow change to put us on track to receive them.

Favor with God is always a risky pursuit. It takes our flesh and thoughts destroying all that is contrary to God’s Word. Faith defies human reasoning. It is illogical. However, without faith it is impossible to please God and walk side-by-side with Him. Lord, help our unbelief today that keeps us from saying, “Yes!” each time you whisper, “Come.”

God’s Grace produces favor in our life. Favor is not a fix-all. Noah had favor and still had to go through the flood. Joseph had favor that put him in a pit and prison before he made it to the palace. David had God’s Favor yet still committed murder. Peter had favor with God and still struggled with faith. Paul tried to kill Christianity yet found salvation and joy spending the rest of his life in and out of prison. Mary had God’s Favor at the cost of her reputation given a child who she would watch persecuted, tortured and die. I wonder today if the process of finding God’s Favor is the very reason most people never discover its true potential. Counting the cost – the price found too high or wait too long. The process that produces God’s Favor is giving all of our life to Him. To not be influenced by conditions or circumstances but trust that does not come from human perception. To say when bad times come or the unexpected happens – “I trust you, God”. Reconciling my life to God’s Plan is really quite simple. It is a step-by-step process of building a relationship of total trust through true repentance. It is not enough to be sorry for our sin, but to turn from those lesser things to fully embrace the life given to us through Christ. When we love Jesus more than sin, we will leave it easily to embrace Him fully. As we follow Christ, He leads to greater expectation than people or things but rather satisfies our soul with all the good things He promised. Favor will not reach our hands until it fully takes over our heart!

3 John 1:2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Psalm 90:17 (NIV) May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.

When I Fail

When I Fail

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

I entered the role of motherhood just shy of my 24th birthday. Sitting in the empty hospital room, it was the first time I was alone and awake with my tiny son. He was perfect. Though small, he was chubby with a head of thick dark hair. As he lay sleeping, sunlight peeked through the room, beams falling on him and in that moment he looked so angelic. Overcome with emotions, tears began to fall from my face unto his little feet. My imperfection abundantly clear to me in that moment in the fact that I would make mistakes and could not promise him a “perfect” life. I was overwhelmed at the thought of failure. I would fail him. I knew it. I couldn’t stop it or control it. My weaknesses would cause me to mess up time and time again. I felt insecure in that fact that God had entrusted me with him because I wasn’t good enough for the job that lay before me.

Well, my son is now 27 years old. He is engaged and about to become a bonus dad to a precocious six-year-old. How time flies by when you are having fun? An update…I did fail. I failed in parenting time and time again. In fact, I apologized to my son a few years ago. He was the guinea pig. I learned to parent using him to mold and shape my skills for the four that would come later. I believe in discipline and this boy got his fair share. When I told him that I was sorry, he hugged me close and replied, “That’s okay, mama. I know everything I did and you probably didn’t spank me enough.” Plot twist – the perfect baby given to me wasn’t perfect either yet I still felt ultimately responsible. But now I felt my heart at ease for my boy gave me the grace needed to live free from guilt as a mom.

I am a failure. I was born a failure. I will always be a complete and utter failure. From the moment, I arrived due to my innate nature to sin – I fell short of God’s Glorious Standard. This type of failure is fatal. It can only be overcome by God’s Grace in all of its sufficiency. Have you accepted God’s Grace? Have you invited Jesus to save you? To be your Savior and Lord? If the answer is “yes”, then despite the fact you are a failure – you cannot fail God ever again.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Our success in life as a believer becomes completely dependent on faith in Christ alone. Your prosperity is from Christ in you. The complete takeover of His Spirit filling our life with good fruit that produces good things in us and allows us to take full advantage of God’s Promises. We are made right with God in this one simple gesture. If our rightness ever becomes based on anything that we do, it has become convoluted with religion rather than fully reliant on a relationship with Jesus. A believer is defined as one who believes. What do you believe today? It is important as it is the validity of faith.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight.

You cannot fall farther than you already did with a single sin. Someone needs to hear this today because somewhere along the way you gave up on God’s Glorious Standard when the enemy told you that you failed God. You cannot fail God. Failing God would mean He needed us for something. It would compromise the Sovereignty of a God who is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. If this were the case, it would make God’s Grace given through Jesus Christ insufficient. Sin was our failure. It is our daily struggle. But it doesn’t make us a failure. Though we fall, it is not fatal unless choosing to stay there. His Grace is enough for me…and you…and every other person ever created.

Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Have you imposed a penalty that God has already removed? Yet (already done) God in His Grace (not my ability) freely (without a condition or cost) makes us right in His Sight. He did it through the offering of His Son, Jesus Christ. He freed (past tense) us from the penalty of sin. What you called “lost” has only been “left” behind and can be reclaimed when you stop trying to pay for something already covered completely! The enemy of our soul cannot lay claim to us anymore. Sin had a penalty of death. God’s Grace paid it in full and released us from punishment for our sin. To think that we must somehow pay God back is to cheapen the priceless gift that was given.

Romans 8:1 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

There is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus. Oh how I wish someone would believe today with me. Condemnation produces a punishment or penalty. God paid our penalty in full. To impose a penalty or decide that God is punishing us is to live a lie. Self-imposed penalty is a product of pride. Sin’s penalty is paid in full and no longer condemning. When I fail, I fail myself by living beneath God’s Glorious Standard returned to me with redemption. It is to refuse resurrection power and live in the discarded death shroud of guilt, shame and remorse. It restricts and limits us in insecurity and fear that the Blood has lost its power and grace is not enough due to our inability.

According to Romans 5, God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. The grace given when accepting Christ is enough to cover all of our sin. Not just the ones already committed, but every sin past, present and future. It is only the weight of relinquished that applies weight and heaviness to our life. It is easily removed by repentance. To say, “I’m sorry, Lord” with true repentance and remorse. Our relationship with God is secure in Jesus Christ. Every promise is valid. Our purpose remains intact even when I fall or fail. It is what I believe that changes everything. Do you believe in the sufficiency of God’s Grace to remove the penalty and punishment of sin? Do you believe that you are given life abundantly? Or do you live in condemnation? There is no condemnation in Christ therefore even when I fail – my relationship with God through His Son means nothing is lost. “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

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

I failed God. He forgave me and wiped out the penalty of sin that I once carried. The power at work in me is a direct result of His Son, Jesus Christ who died for me and then put His Life Spirit in me. I cannot take credit for anything good that has come of it. To think that I can fail God now that I am saved and filled with His Son renders grace incapable of full satisfaction. In other words, it is me saying, “God – Your Grace is not enough!” Who would ever dare? We do. By accepting the bat of guilt, shame, remorse and insecurity that the enemy has us when we fall short and beating the life out of ourselves with compromise and substitutions for the Gloriousness of His Grace. Pride tells us that we have to do something. Humility accepts that it is in our constant and utter weakness that His Power is fully executed.

Grace is enough. I don’t care what anyone else tells you. His Grace is enough to cover every single sin ever committed and therefore you can never fail God again. When we fall, it is an opportunity to reach up and take our Savior’s Hand again. He continually pursues us with unconditional love and goodness. Each morning mercy is given to us regardless of acceptance or not. His grace is all I need. His power works best in my failure and weaknesses. For it is then that the Glory of God reaches me and is reflected in my life.

Romans 6:1-4 (NLT) Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

There is obviously a difference in willful sin and wandering. Who am I to judge? The wonderful grace that God has given us cannot work in a hard and inflexible heart. To love sin is to reject the Lord. Those who hate sin will still fall into it. It is inevitable. Paul talks about the struggle with sin in Romans 7. Despite our best intentions not to sin, we still do it daily. We are united with Christ and His Spirit lives in us showing us a better and more glorious lifestyle. The sufficiency of God’s Grace is that in my weakness – His Power changes me from the inside out. He prospers my soul in my willingness not ability. When I fail, I must not let pride give me the responsibility but hand it right back to the Lord. We have a right relationship even when I sin based on grace alone. God doesn’t turn his back on me but sees His Son and pulls me closer. We can live a new life. A free existence in choosing what is beneficial to our life in Christ for it is where success and full satisfaction are found. It is a choice. To accept God’s Grace or refuse it.

2 Corinthians 3:9 (NLT) If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

Grace made us right with God from the beginning. One sin was our failure. There is no further falling in the life of a believer. Sin put you at rock bottom. When I fail, it is a personal setback not a supernatural event. God already knew I would fall short of His Glorious Standard and Jesus paid the price already. Do you feel like you failed God? Do you think He is punishing you for something you have done? Are you punishing yourself by believing you cannot have what God promised because you failed? The enemy will give you ever burden that you are willing to accept. We can easily fill are heart and mind with all the reasons why we are not worthy of God’s Grace and they would all be valid except for the simple fact that His Grace is always sufficient. In every setback, fault, failure and wandering, when we thought we were lost – God will show you where you left off. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is lost. He promises to make good of every detail of our life. We just have to hand Him all the broken pieces. You will fall. You will fail. Your still have a future and hope because His Grace is always enough!

Lord, I ask you to touch the heart of your people today with a new revelation of your amazing grace. We do not deserve it and certainly couldn’t earn it even though many times we try to. Please God take captive every rebellious thought that I must do something more to receive it other than accept it. Lord help my unbelief until I have full confidence that your grace is sufficient for me. It is always enough…even when I fail! Amen and Amen!

Acts 20:32 (NLT) “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.”

The Cleansing and Call

The Cleansing and Call

Isaiah 6:6-8 (NLT) Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Everyone reading these words today are called by God. There is an express purpose which will lead to absolute fulfillment for those who answer this beckoning of God within them. The purpose you have is cultivated by faith. Faith that believes in its unseen reality and fruitfulness. What is your calling? You may think you know what it is based on the terms and conditions of natural life. However, there is a whispering of the Lord to each human heart to come closer. It is the urgency within us reminding us that there has to be more to life than this. God’s Call requires a cleansing. Righteousness is only attained and maintained by the Grace of God flowing through us. The Blood of Jesus Christ makes our offering of affection for the Living God acceptable gaining us access to His Presence. Many will hear the call of God but refuse to allow His Spirit to remove every barrier and purpose between themselves and full satisfaction. To choose something less than God’s Plan for our life in no way lessens it’s worth or potential but simply is our decision to settle for something less.

Psalm 24:3-6 (NLT) Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.

Before Isaiah could answer God’s Call, he had to first enter His Presence. It was in this place of worship that the prophet encountered the Living God. The moment that one is in the Presence of the Lord there is absolutely no way to maintain our pride or prejudice. God is perfect. His Presence presses us to release sin in order to move a little closer to His Perfection. It is in this atmosphere of melting flesh that our spirit rises to answer the call. It is through the cleansing process that God prepares us.

Only those whose hands and hearts are pure… Jesus had only twelve close companions. Yet even in the close knit community of a handful of chosen men, one still managed to betray the Lord. Human nature is depraved and innately in opposition and rebellion against God and His Spirit who lives inside believers. The Presence of God offers a glimpse inside as full transparency reveals just how sinfully corrupt people really are and creates a desire to change. So often normal life and church culture are varying positions with certain acceptable behaviors, attitudes and actions based on one’s environment not their inner evolution of death to life. To integrate our personality into one being completed in Jesus Christ requires a right relationship that is constantly maintained and the focal point of life and aspiration.

There are daily requirements not set by God as a religious routine but the necessary steps to maintain a right relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ, His Son. Studying the Word of God. Meditating on it. Doing what it tells us. Prayer. Fasting. Cultivating the Fruit of His Spirit. Using our faith to move mountains. Telling others about Him. However, none of these will ever produce fulfillment apart from true and constant repentance. Removing the barrier of sin, shame and regret are essential to come boldly before His Throne.

I Peter 2:9-10 (NLT) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29) There is no expiration date on the promises and purpose of God for your life. The only limit on your potential is placed there by you. Dead dream are buried in doubt, but faith can bring them back to life again. Isaiah was changed in the Presence of God and answered the call on his life. If you read a little further in Chapter 6 you find that the message of the messenger was not a bright and cheerful exhortation but a stern warning from God of the consequence of sin and rebellion. Thank you God for grace today!

One encounter with the Living God will change you. It allows you to experience the freedom associated with your identity. How often we forget that we are sons and daughters of the most high God living far beneath the standard that He has given us. If only we believed…referring back to the disciples it is also noted that though they walked and talked with the Messiah daily some still did not believe. It is a conscious decision to answer God’s Call. It requires clean hands and a pure heart. These are not available by any other means but through Christ and His Resurrection Power inside of us. We must remove every barrier and release what is held in our hands to receive the consciousness of our calling and carry it out.

Psalm 51:9-13 (NLT) Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.

One must never forget the importance and relevance of daily repentance. To continually examine our heart and ask the Lord for His Cleansing Power all over again. It keeps us close to Him. It revitalizes His Spirit and keeps the fire of passion burning within us. A loyal spirit can be challenging when the adversary continually feeds our flesh lies and substitutions. It would be easy to settle for a good life. The moment of salvation begins a process of fruitful production in every life as a form of sowing and reaping in a fertile heart. However, there are times when we allow sloppiness and busyness to keep us from the Presence of God. God is perfect. His Plan is perfect. I am not. It requires a constant process of purification to find full satisfaction.

When our daughter was very young, I noticed some developmental milestones were off. Not significantly, but enough for me to know something was wrong. Her pediatrician decided she may have some form of cerebral palsy. For ten months, they poked, prodded, scanned and tested her. There was nothing to suggest any form of disease, illness or infirmity. We were given a referral to a Neurological Specialist at a teaching hospital. The doctor came in and immediately noted that she looked “pretty good to me”. I would not define this as a stellar moment in my walk with the Lord because I lost it. I reprimanded him harshly for his flippant remark. All those months of watching her struggle in therapy, and the continual noting of muscular spasticity and pain that no one was aware of had taken its toll. He quickly examined her and left the room with hands full of all the medical records I had brought to him. Upon his return, he apologized. He told us that he saw horrible cases each day so she looked great in comparison. Then he said, “But if it was my little girl, I would not be satisfied either.”

Today as I consider the call of God on my life and the process by which it is obtained, I have reflected on that visit. We would be willing to forego the process just to accept the mediocre improvement gained by simply coming to Christ. But God is a good father. He will not allow us to settle for less than His Best. He will pursue us relentlessly with His Unfailing Love and Goodness hoping to captivate us by it one day. He will stop at nothing to lead us to a life of full satisfaction and complete fulfillment. He gave us a purpose, provided a plan, fills our life with everything needed to achieve it and then waits for us to come. I wouldn’t settle for the life my daughter was living if there was a better way. How much more God our Father feels about you and me!

Lord, create in me a clean heart today yet again. Renew a right and loyal spirit in me that pursues You. Remove every sin that I have ignored, entertained or may not be aware of. Thank you for the Blood of Jesus that covers me. I ask you Lord to show me your better way today and give me the willingness to go after it. In all things and all ways Lord – send me! I answer Your Call with a resounding, “Yes!”

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

Stop, Drop and Roll

Stop Drop and Roll

James 3:2 (NLT) Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

I remember as a young child in school learning the technique of “stop, drop and roll” to extinguish a fire. Taught as part of health and safety, a nice fireman dressed in his gear instructed our second grade class on fire awareness. Part of his lesson was what to do if our clothing caught on fire – we were to stop, drop and roll. Consisting of three components as the name suggests, the first step is to stop. Stopping means to cease all movement which may fan the flames or even hamper those coming to one’s aid. Dropping to the ground, lying down and covering the face to avoid further injury. Finally, rolling on the ground in an effort to extinguish the fire by depriving it of oxygen. Even wrapping up in a rug if nearby to further put out any flames. I wonder if we might use the same techniques when putting out the fires started with harsh words and misunderstandings. Is it possible that stop, drop and roll might work in such conditions?

James 3:3-6 (NLT) We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.  

Recently, I have watched a beautiful friendship completely destroyed by careless words and misunderstanding. Burned to the ground as it spread through two families. I am praying for restoration, repair and rebuilding yet I cannot believe the absolute devastation. How many times to careless conversations, pointless debates or one-sided tirades destroy the beautiful harmony and unity that God has ordained for His People? Churches have literally split, divided and died from gossip, slander and malice among close friends now misaligned by the lie of the enemy who is the Father of Lies. Is it too late for grace? Oh man, I hope not. The Grace of God is always enough but like any other building the institution of relationship takes time to reconstruct. Trust is probably the hardest structure to build and maintain so once it is compromised it takes a committed effort by all to restore. How can something so small do so much damage? Why can’t we control our tongues? Why is our need to be right or defended so strong that pride keeps us from humbling our tongue and limiting our words to what is kind, necessary and true? Lord, help us today to examine our hearts, thoroughly inspect our thoughts, and completely control our tongue to bring glory to Your Great Name.

James 3:7-12 (NLT) People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

The complexity of human nature and the war against our flesh makes the products of our lips sometimes uncertain. Romans 7 talks about the war between flesh and spirit that wages war within us. We want to do what is right and try to but still do what is wrong on a regular basis. The need for constant grace is clearly definitive in the simple truth that humans are imperfect and our weakness is sin. We can change our habits. We can modify our routine. We can educate our opinion. Yet in the final stages of release our words are on a mission – to give life or pronounce death. (Proverbs 18:21) To be imitators of God and follow the example of Jesus – there will be times to be silent. To stop talking, drop to our knees in humility and roll out the flames set by the harsh words, judgment or gossip of another. Jesus was completely innocent yet in the midst of His Accusers – our Savior and Lord set forth an example that we are to learn from – He said nothing. (Matthew 27:11-14; Acts 8:32) This fulfilled the prophecy about our Lord and did not further fuel arguments. It would not hinder His Walk to the Cross. In order to fulfill God’s Destiny for our life and walk in His Ways, sometimes that means walking away from a fight right to preserve the relationship or to say, “I’m sorry” even when the offense was against you. The point is to continue to follow Jesus and not be detoured by dysfunction by the lie of the enemy. We need each other despite what the liar has said.

Psalm 34:12-14 (NLT) Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?  Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

Perhaps these verses might be labeled the “stop, drop and roll” instructions when it comes to our words. Do you want to live a long and prosperous life? I dare say no one reading this will say, “No” or “I’ll pass” but rather every day it is our goal to live in the promises and prosperity set forth in God’s Word according to the blessings prescribed for us. The scripture is clear. STOP your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Pretty straight forward but not always easy. It is important to think about what we say and how we say it. Being right doesn’t always result in righteousness. It is up to us to condition our heart and soften it with God’s Word. This will change how we think and respond to other people. We must be quick to forgive and stop the progression of bitterness within us that turns into malicious conversation. DROP – Turn away from evil and do good. Repentance is essential in transforming our communication with others. Sometimes we can do nothing more than make things right with the Lord and pray for a severed relationship until the other party softens and accepts you again. Humility brings agreement to a growing, prospering and thriving relationship. As harmony is established and unity maintained the Lord blesses both parties and creates a living flow between them. Is it really worth limiting our godly potential to allow separation to build walls that block His Prosperity in our heart and life? I don’t think so. Finally, ROLL – grace teaches us how to let things roll off of us like water off a duck’s back. We must learn to overlook the careless conversation and decide to love them anyway. We must be the one to extinguish the passionate flames of fear and insecurity that feed our pride. We give power to the words of others in our life and the same words meant to harm us can free us when grace is applied and forgiveness given or received. I want the power of God to be a daily experience all around me. I want love as strong as death to overtake me and filter into every relationship established in my life. To search for peace and maintain it means giving up my way to Christ and others daily. It doesn’t really matter if they hurt my feelings or break my heart. I am called to love them. I am ordained to live in harmony with all my brothers and sisters not just the ones of my choosing.

James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

I am grieved literally sad in my spirit over the friendship recently destroyed by the enemy. I believe in the Resurrection Power of God that gives new life. As I pray for this friendship, maybe there is a family member or friend that you know of where there is distance in what was a close bond. The enemy hates relationships. He hates when people love each other. Daily satan sows seeds of offense and hurt hoping someone will take hold of them. It is up to you and me plant seeds of peace and reap the harvest of righteousness. It will take effort. You cannot sit idly by when it comes to the words used or conversation allowed. We must take the burden of repentance and give grace even when it is not deserved. There is seldom a disagreement where both parties did not hold their ground. Reconciliation takes both sides coming together as one. Our common ground is Jesus Christ. His Grace is enough for me today and you, too. We can live in love with others because His Love completes us. People are not perfect, but they are not the problem either. In fact, they are the key to a prospering, productive and long life. Praying for the full restoration of my broken friendship today. Can I join with you in doing the same? Let’s pray for protection over our relationships today and that the Spirit of God will tame our tongue.

Proverbs 17:27-28 (NLT) A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

Before Revival…

Before Revival

Isaiah 6:2-8 (NKJV) And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of Hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, Here am I! Send me.”

The outcry of the modern day church is for revival. I wonder if we really know what it is that we are asking the Lord to do. I believe it might change the minds of many people and their desire to corporately unite for such a cause. It is a common misconception that when the Glory of God comes that He will heal, deliver and prosper those in His Midst instantly and yes, I experienced His Spirit in such a way. It did not spark revival but was an isolated encounter with the Living God. I am beginning to see and believe that this is not what the Lord intends to do in the great revival that is coming. I believe that it will be an outpouring of His Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in us. Therefore, revival starts in us.

In the midst of a corporate church fast one of the very things being prayed for is revival. Reading Isaiah 6, there is a clear representation of what happens in the midst of a moving God. So this morning, let’s talk about it. Decipher it. Tear it apart and chew it up. I believe that such an interest will cause those who truly want revival to rend their heart before the Lord in preparation and those who don’t to kindly step aside. I pray that you will be one who digs in deeper, holds on tighter and chooses faith over fear today.

So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone!

Psalm 51:16-17 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; you do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise.

The Presence of God will never ever leave us the same. The very first thing Isaiah was aware of in the midst of God Almighty was his current sinful condition. The moment of clarity which leads to repentance when completely undone and broken before the Lord. Need I point out that currently, most altars remain empty unless pumped by a pastor or pimped by prosperity? New life comes by way of repentance. The Presence of the Lord causes us to see in His Image our complete imperfection and need for Him. Our spirit and heart broken before God becomes desperate in that moment that He is encountered in such a way. There will be no revival without Presence. In His Presence, you will not be left undone.

Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of Hosts.

Psalm 146:7-9 (NKJV) The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow; but the way of the wicked He turns upside down.

What if the “eyes of the blind” opened first is our own eyes. The reality of our need for the Jesus every moment of every day. New mercy arrives each morning according to God’s Love. He sends it to confirm that His Covenant of Compassion remains, His Consuming Commitment to us has not ended, and that He stills desires above all things everlasting communion with His Beloved. How many times do we ignore His Pursuit for comfort, convenience and control? Have we become complacent with a touch when He wants to envelope us with His Grace and Goodness all of the time. To move one step closer to God will reveal more of the things deep within our heart and mind that are contrary to His Way. It is in that moment of transparency, we become naked and afraid. There are two responses to such a time as this. Tear down walls or carefully rebuild them. Paul experienced such a time when immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.” (Acts 9:18)

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”

Revival will come by living in the Presence of God. To live in the Presence of God requires daily heart-rending true repentance. I have good news! God always responds to such an offering. To give up the bits and pieces that are unworthy of Him to fill the gap with new mercy, amazing grace and to let the Light of His Love illuminate every dark place in our life. Even those heavily guarded by offense, hurt, pain, betrayal, bitterness, fear, anxiety and insecurity. Religion allows us to maintain the façade. A moment in His Presence shakes the foundation of our faith so that every false thing will come down.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes to the Church of Corinth a second time. His first letter (I Corinthians) was not received well at all. So he felt led to further clarify his intentions to the people. It is in this letter that he writes:

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 

The church started off strong but somehow left their relationship with Jesus Christ to embrace religious ways again. So Paul wrote to them a strong letter of disciple that chafed their pride. In this letter, he points out that godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation and lists the benefits such as discipline, diligence and removal of self just to name a few. He is stressing the importance of returning to their First Love the way their first found Him. I believe that this is God’s Request of us today. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. It is in the church as well. What do we do about it? Ushering in the Presence of God must lead to true repentance beginning with the church!

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, Here am I! Send me.”

I Samuel 15:22-23 (NKJV) So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

Romans1:5-6(NKJV) Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ…

To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed (give careful attention to) is better than the fat of rams. Rebellion is the same as witchcraft. Stubbornness is like idolatry. Harsh words and penetrating subjects all pierce like a two-edged sword through us as God’s Word clearly defines that He longs for those who are obedient to faith. Our words and actions must align. He sees right through our motivations and intentions to our exposed heart. God knows exactly why we do what we do and how we do it and who we do it for. Do we? Do I?

I have prayed for revival many years now. With each passing year, the concept takes on a new form. I believe revival will not begin in our churches and communities until it arrives in us. To become the willing clay in the potter’s hands. To force the sin out in the open, not of others, but hidden within ourselves. To respond to the Presence of the Lord. To leave comfort, convenience and control behind and enter into the covenant of compassion, consuming commitment, and everlasting communion that God is offering us day by day with His New Mercy. God loves me. He loves you. He loves every person who He created. His Love is unconditional and nonnegotiable. He is looking to consummate His Love in us. To reveal His Purpose and Plan for us. To strengthen and encourage us even in our complete and utter undoing that draws us to His Grace and Power. The outcry of revival must be accompanied by the undoing of self.

Psalm 80:14-19 (NKJV) Return, we beseech You, O God of Hosts; look down from heaven and see, and visit this vine and the vineyard which Your right and has planted, and the branch that You made strong for Yourself.  It is burned with fire, it is cut down; they perish at the rebuke of Your Countenance. Let Your Hand be upon the man of Your Right Hand, upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. Then we will not turn back from You; revive us, and we will call upon Your Name. Restore us, O Lord God of Hosts; cause Your Face to shine, and we shall be saved!

God is awesome! To continually seek to revive and renew us day by day. Revival has a purpose. It is to claim the forever life given to those who seek to be saved and endure to the end. The word endurance implies the struggle set forth as God strips away the old man to recreate the Masterpiece hidden inside of us. It will be our complete undoing and redoing by the Hand of God. It begins with our heart. Revival starts in the human heart.

Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again.

We praise Thee, O God!
For Thy Spirit of light,
Who hath shown us our Savior,
And scattered our night.

All glory and praise
To the Lamb that was slain,
Who hath borne all our sins,
And hath cleansed every stain.

All glory and praise
To the God of all grace,
Who hast brought us, and sought us,
And guided our ways.

Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.