Just to Know

To Know

Psalm 46:10-11 (NIV) He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of praying people at the end of our church service. I am always moved by such an honor when connecting and agreeing with other believers standing before the Lord. As the pastor began to exhort and dismiss the congregation, I was acutely aware of the woman standing next to me. She had not come forward yet I felt strongly that I was to share this verse in Psalm 46 with her. So just as any “obedient” believer would do – I returned to my seat to gather my belongings without saying a word. The Holy Spirit began tugging at my heart. I could not leave without telling her. Of course, as only God can do, she knew exactly what the Lord was saying to her and her husband’s face confirmed her affirmation. I had to laugh when it popped up in my Bible application as the verse of the day. Was this a word for my life, too? Maybe yours?

Performance is human nature. Sin gave us full responsibility for the life that it wrecked. Rather than full reliance with God – our lack of compliance called for a penalty. With Jesus Christ repaying the debt of sin, we are gifted with our freedom once again. Freedom to choose the path of life to take. Course of life to engage in. Righteousness to live in right relationship with God again. Free to live in the peace of His Presence or continue to try to outperform His Grace. There is no obligation in freedom. Yet somehow humanity has decided that the gift of eternal life is not free. Grace is not enough. Righteousness – some kind of lost leader that draws us in only to discover that it is not exactly what originally promised. When the Lord calls you – He equips you – when religion tells us otherwise. By grace – we are saved through faith – not of ourselves but through Jesus Christ. It is a gift that cannot be repaid. Set free to choose who to serve and how much passion to invest. The Lord invites us into the quietness of living at peace with Him. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Your God. A Good God. A Loving and Graceful God. A Kind God overflowing with goodness for you. A God of Refuge. A Mighty Fortress that protects you in the storm and keeps the wind and rain from moving or displacing you. I Am. No, really, I AM!

Psalm 46:1-7 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Do you dwell in the Peace of God today? I try to. Yet there are days when distractions and delays challenge my human nature. When God is ever-present and still ever-elusive to me, the stillness produced by confidence turns to insecurity. Sink or swim? Neither be still. To be completely still and unmoved by my situation, circumstances or current conditions to KNOW and believe that God is with me. It is an exercise of extreme discipline to persevere past our emotions and natural inclinations. To stand rather than try to build a new exit. To stay the course rather than reroute. To be still and know that God is going to do exactly as He promised if we would only persist in knowing and trusting Him more.

God is constant. He is our refuge. He is our strength. He is an EVER-PRESENT help in danger. THEREFORE – I will not fear. Fear is produced by doubt and insecurity. This is the downfall of most believers in claiming their calling and stepping out by faith. Fear consumes the faith that is growing from a heart given to God but not fully committed to becoming convinced.

Matthew 14:28-30 (NIV) “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Peter was a risk taker. Whenever Jesus said, “Follow me.” Peter followed. I believe that there was an immediate connection between the two that kept Peter pursuing the Living God. Peter was not the perfect disciple. The Bible tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Faith is a whole lot of fear and trembling. If we do not face our fear and confront it with faith, then it will hinder us for the rest of our life. How better to face our fears than to walk by faith? To walk by faith and not by sight. Fear is a natural emotion conducive to survival of humanity. Healthy fear, for example, if I do not look both ways before crossing a road that I may get hit by a car. Healthy habit of self-preservation. Common sense. This behavior came from parents or guardians who instilled it. Coming to Christ, we can now live a fearless life yet nevertheless should still look both ways before crossing the street. Faith is the same. It is not about leaping off mountains or running blindly across busy highways during rush hour. Faith is fear of God as in awe and respect. To put our perspective in the perception that God has of our life from beginning to end and live according to His Word by faith. It is way more disciplined and specialized then some religious folks make it. Taste and see that He is good. Test me. Try me at my Word. See God is all about opportunities. The prime opportunity for every believer is to trust Him. Trusting God is not a dangerous venture but the sublime moment when peace replaces the need to perform and we become followers of Christ rather than trying to build our own road to nowhere.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place through the Blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the House of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings… (Hebrews 10:19-22) We can live in perfect peace when our heart and mind agree with full assurance that faith has great potential. The belief that the hope given to us by Jesus Christ will never lead us to disappointment makes us followers. Peter got it all wrong a lot. He kept messing up. He proclaimed Christ to His Face and then denied Him on His Way to the Cross. However, Jesus still met him on the beach that day. Jesus called Peter a rock. Not just some rolling stone, but the foundation of His Church. You are part of the same Body as a living stone in His Temple. You have a place of importance. You are not insignificant to the ministry or in the effort to share the gospel. You must only be at peace with the Living God.

Peace with God is a complete confidence – mind, body, spirit and soul that He will do exactly what He promises in His Word – in you, for you and through you. The belief that His Grace is sufficient. The understanding that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us and to walk through the gate each and every day. Your ability to change your life does not impress God. To develop certain disciplines and holy habits is not what He is after. You can do nothing for the Lord because He did it all for you. Complete and absolute stillness comes when peace prevails in our life. When we decide that He is perfect in all of His Ways, trust becomes our refuge. We will not be moved from His Presence when peace is found there. To be still and KNOW that He is God – it changes everything beginning with me.

Isaiah 26:2-4 (NIV) Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

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Blessed Obedience

Blessed Obedience

Psalm 128:1-2 (NIV) Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.

Let’s talk about obedience. In a world filled with rules and regulations, each day is equally consumed by choices. Will I obey? Or will I decide not to. It is a question of reward versus risk. I must decide if getting to the destination faster outweighs the fine of the speeding ticket because I chose to ignore the law. There are many conscious choices made in a day that are defiant. However, the carefully constructed gray area of life makes it a comfortable resting place. But it doesn’t make it compromise nevertheless. We live in a country with governed by certain laws enforced by policing bodies. Our forefathers thoughtfully detailed such things based on the Word of God – like it or not. However over the years our inability to remain obedient and man’s interpretation of such things has caused it to become convoluted. The legal system offers reduced sentences and probation rather than the full penalty prescribed. Partial obedience. The penalty is not stringent enough to stop repeat offense. Compromise has overtaken this world. It is just as Jesus said that it would be. Nevertheless as it seeps through the walls of the church, the reality of grace become watered down and unpalatable as people miss the blessings of God by choosing not to obey the Lord.

Freedom from the penalty of sin allows us to experience the blessings of obedience. God’s Perfect Will and His Perfect Plan considered our imperfection and provided an equal measure of grace. His Grace is sufficient for me to live in the blessings of God each day. Grace without obedience is meaningless because grace will not allow you to continue in darkness and sin. To truly encounter and experience God’s Grace requires genuine repentance that turns from sin to obedience. The Lord will not allow His Children who call Him by Name and desire His Presence to remain impoverished. Prosperity begins in our soul. It is the seed called faith watered by grace that grows into our salvation which produces certain fruits by His Spirit. Are you blessed today? Or does it seem like the Favor that once covered your life is fading? God desires to bless you. He longs to release His Favor in our life. If only we would choose to obey…

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

God decided to bless us before He created us. It is written in His Plans for us. He called it a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The way that it is discovered is by pursuing the Lord wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:13) The Lord goes to great lengths to describe His Blessings in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Read them. God’s Blessing for our life contains provision, prosperity, peace, passion, purpose, protection, promotion and more. It is God’s Will for us to lack no good thing. Sin kept us from the blessings of God so Jesus came to pay our debt in full so that we can now walk in His Blessings despite our inability to be perfectly obedient. There is no reason by the Grace of God that we cannot live a blessed and prosperous life.

In Deuteronomy 30, it says, “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” We choose each day whether we walk in the Light of His Love or bask in the darkness of death. Salvation is freedom. We choose to take advantage of God’s Grace or step over it to pursue lesser things. Could it be that we approach godly obedience as we do the speed limit? Though it says that it is 45 mph, we are convinced by public opinion that as long as we do not exceed 55 mph that the officer will ignore our offense. Maybe? However, may I remind you (and me) that even though we are not penalized that the law is still being broken. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

Romans 1:5-6 (NIV) Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

We received grace to call all (mankind) to obedience that comes from faith in the Name of Jesus Christ. Grace was not meant to be an excuse to sin. Let me say it again…grace was not meant to be an excuse or pardon to sin. I have certain people who I love that hate to say, “I’m sorry.” Their philosophy is that if I didn’t intentionally do it, then an apology or pardon is not necessary. For example, if I step on your foot but I didn’t mean to then why do I still have to say that I am sorry. Just because God has given us unlimited grace through Jesus Christ doesn’t mean that He excuses our sin. He is paying the penalty of our sin but it does not change the fact that sin is sin and God hates it. It required a price that I could not pay so God paid it for me.

If I go to the movies and the person in front of me pays my way, how would they feel if I walked away and decided to get ice cream instead. The price was paid. I chose not to follow through by walking to the theater, taking a seat, and watching the movie. Grace paid your way to walk in the Blessings of God but obedience is the avenue taken to get there. Grace allows us to experience the blessings of obedience that sin once kept us from. You can walk in the prosperity of God just as if you never sinned thanks to the Blood of Jesus Christ. You will not experience the same kind of blessing in choosing partial obedience which is disobedience just the same.

I Samuel 15:22-23 (NIV) But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

True story. Saul was made King of Israel to lead the Children of God. It was going pretty well for him and he was successful. God decided to punish the Amalekites for “what they did to Israel”. God told Saul specifically to “go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them.” The Lord went on to tell him to completely wipe them out including all men, women, children and livestock. So Saul “obeyed” the Lord and attacked them. But we read in I Samuel 15:7-9 that he was not completely obedient. He spared King Agag. He kept everything that was “good” and everything “despised and weak” were destroyed. Ugh! Compromise.

Well, the Word of the Lord came to Saul so he paid another visit to Saul. When the prophet questioned King Saul about all the livestock, he quickly reasoned that they would be sacrificed to the Lord. Oh what a tangled web we weave… When pressed, Saul finally admits that he gave into the pressure of his men to keep spare King Agag and keep the livestock out of fear. (vs.24). God stripped Saul of his position in that moment. As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.” Sadly, Saul lived before the dispensation of God’s Grace.

Hebrews 5:7-10 (NIV) During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

If God required obedience even unto death by His Own Son, why wouldn’t He also require it of me as His Child, too? It wouldn’t make sense that God would require of one child and not the other. God is a consistent and constant being. He does not lie or change His Mind. He is not like a man. He is God and He is perfect. We cry out for the blessings of God. He has already given them to us according to His Word, yet refuse to obey Him completely. Yet, still cry out for more. It just doesn’t make any sense. In both Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the Lord makes it clear that His Blessing is found in obedience. Just because you decide that the “law” doesn’t apply to you doesn’t change the consequences if caught in violation. Perhaps, if we paid for grace with our life then we would understand its cost.

Jesus did not come to do away with the Law of God but fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17-18) The Law was not just the penalty for disobedience but filled with blessings of obedience that we could not have because sin kept us bound from it. The only additional commandment given by the Lord is that we love one another as He has loved us. If we obey the Word of God, grace allows us to experience its blessing. The only change is in the reward. By choosing daily obedience, we will live in the fulfillment of the law and all of its blessings.

2 John 5-6 (NIV) And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

This is love. To walk in obedience to His Commands that you heard from the beginning. His Command is that you walk in love. We will follow the one we fear. Fear physically or respect mentally. Both are considered to be definitions of fear. Just as King Saul feared his men, we fear people and their opinions. However, once our life is established in truth pursed with a commitment to obey the Lord in all things – His Blessing will prosper our life in many ways beginning with our soul. I don’t understand the philosophy of free grace that allows sin to continue in our life as accepted. God hates sin but loves the sinner. Jesus takes our excuse away. If we obey, the blessings of God become our abundance making it worthwhile. Apart from God’s Grace, no matter how hard we tried – humanity could not satisfy the debt of sin on our life.

If obedience is an obligation, it will become a task. However obedience offered in love becomes our passion. Passion is driven by desire and need rather than desperation. The more we fall in love with Jesus the less sin will be appealing and disobedience a distraction. Once fully consumed by God’s Love and Grace – we are partnered with Christ in a covenant like marriage. If we honor that commitment – our latter days will be better than our past. We will thrive in life rather than barely survive. God’s Prosperity will work through our soul as His Spirit begins to produce spiritual fruit that ends famine and lack in our life physically, emotionally and spiritually. We become complete in Christ and content in obedience because the reward always outweighs the risk.

Micah 6:8 (NIV) He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Like A Child

Like A Child

Matthew 18:2-5 (NLT) He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

Naturally, since today is Father’s Day, my mind is on the Father. Of course, my earthly dad comes to mind. I am thankful to have one who loves Jesus. But this morning, for these moments before life gets busy all over again, I have the opportunity to sit in the Presence of My Heavenly Father and bask in His Love. He is a Good Father. I know we sing that the Lord is good. We tell others that He is, too. But do we really know and understand the Goodness and Greatness of Grace and the privilege that we have to know God personally and intimately.

When I was very young my parents divorced and I lived with my mom. On the weekends, I would go to my grandparent’s house. It was my favorite place on earth. In the back of their home was a whitewashed garage, on one side was my granddad’s ice cream truck. Yes, after he “retired, my grandpa drove up and down the beach selling ice cream. I was a lucky kid. On the other side, there was a makeshift apartment made to help their only son through a rough spot. My dad wasn’t always there when we visited. I would sneak back to the little room that he stayed in and sit in the middle of his bed smelling his pillow. I just wanted to be with my dad. I wanted to feel his presence. The sad story of divorce has a happy ending as my dad found a wonderful bonus mom for me. They have been together the majority of my life.

This story is shared to talk about presence. Presence is all that there is to connect with our Heavenly Father for now as we live this life in preparation to be with Him forever. Faith binds us to hope so we know what we are after. Prayer is how we communicate with God. His Spirit helps us to see through the darkness and walk in the Light of His Love. But the thing that we desire above all things is to be with our Father and to live in His Presence. As a human child, I longed to spend time with my natural father. How much more as a Child of God do I long to be with Him! If you enter this place called Presence just one time, you will only want to find it more and more.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” What does this mean? Should we shirk the responsibilities of life and live in a church building somewhere? Do we give up our jobs to carry a cross around the world and back? Do we stop caring for ourselves waiting for others to do it for us? No. Children represent total trust and dependency. We are to love, trust, and honor God as our Father.

Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

God set forth certain principles for children. They are to obey their parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your mother and father which is the first commandment with a promise. So that it may go well with you. Obedience, honor and respect for our parents is a commandment by God. I know as a parent that I am not always worthy of such things in my imperfection nevertheless the Lord still requires it of my children. In exchange for obedience regardless of my behavior, my children are blessed with a promise.

Obedience is essential for maintaining parental relationships. However, there are many rebellious people in the world. Parents don’t always set forth good examples. We have countless kids in our church whose parents drop them off at the door. These children have outgrown their parents spiritually but the Lord still requires them to respect them. Colossians 3:20 goes one step further saying, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Like a child, obedience is essential in establishing a place in God’s Presence as His Child.

Rebellion causes dissension in any relationship. Two parties cannot walk together going their own way. Jesus invites us to accept His Yoke of salvation. His Invitation is simple. Are you weary? Burdened? I will give you rest. My Yoke is easy. Partnering our life with Christ allows us access into the Presence of God. We must remain in the Lord to walk into the innermost chamber of God’s Presence. This cannot be accomplished our way. There is only One Way. His Name is Jesus. Any other attempt would be an act of rebellion because it is contrary to God’s Way? The road is narrow. Repentance is turning our life back to the Lord. It is maybe better explained turning our life “over” to the Lord. This is the act of obedience that brings back to a child-like state of total dependency and trust in the Lord.

I Peter 2:2-3 (NIV) Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Hebrews 5:12-14 (NIV) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

In Proverbs 23:24 it says that “the father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.” Challenged to enter the Kingdom as children does not exempt us from spiritual maturity. Immaturity does not honor our father. It means that he failed at his task to train us up the way that we should go naturally and spiritually. Some may even use it as an excuse, well God knows my heart. Bless your little heart, He does! He knows the plan and purpose put there because He wrote every single word. The Lord knows your potential because He already provided everything you need to fulfill it. He also gave you His Spirit so there would be an answer to every question, calm in the storm, certainty in the selection and motivation to move in the right direction. You are fully equipped lacking no good thing. He is a good father remember, He gave His All just for you.

Honoring our father’s instruction, teaching and guidance increases our knowledge. Once applied to our life, it becomes wisdom. It feeds and nourishes our soul. It is in such a process that we grow. Let’s face it. Our parents always become a whole lot smarter as we mature. So it is with our Heavenly Father as He is able to work all the details of our life into the Goodness that is promised. (Romans 8:28) This cannot happen outside of respect, obedience, dependency and trust like a child.

Matthew 7:8-11 (NIV) For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 

When I was a little girl, I pursued my father’s presence. He was not with me at that time. I did not really know how to reach him as a little kid. But now I know exactly where he is and how to get in touch with him. I also have learned to pursue my Heavenly Father’s Presence. In fact, in coming to know God more has improved my relationship with my natural dad. Why? My expectation is met in God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His Spirit fills every void and lack in my life. This enables my earthly relationships to be filled with love, grace and mercy because I am complete in Christ. No longer needing or wanting anything less than God’s Best allows me to give love and acceptance effortlessly to others. I depend on God for everything I need.

When my children come home, they do not have to knock on the door but enter boldly. Most of the time, they go look in the fridge even when they are not hungry. They have a relationship with us. They know that they are always welcome. They know we love to see them. They call us when they need us. They call us just to talk. We are bound together by love. This is exactly the relationship that God desires. He wants to be our Father. (Jeremiah 3:19) He longs for His Children. It is time to give up our wandering, prodigal ways and answer the call. Even when that call requires change, discomfort or challenges us, we must pursue Him at all costs. Why? He is a Good Father. He loves us. His Kingdom holds treasures of inheritance for His Children and He invites us to come boldly like a child.

I John 3:1-2 (NIV) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.