Time to Rest

Time to Rest 2

Hebrews 4:1-3 (NLT) God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. 

It is time for some rest. The last month has been a whirlwind of activity. God knows what we need and when we need it. At the beginning of spring, I booked a condo at the beach for Memorial Day weekend. A celebration for our daughter’s high school graduation and getaway for the family. This morning I have been packing and gathering things together to head out later today. As I come into this quiet place, it is with a thankful heart. I was uncertain whether or not to spare the expense and forego the trip due to home renovations and the inevitable expenditures with graduation, etc. My husband and I agreed if we didn’t do it now it wouldn’t happen. We are workers. Rest is a struggle for us. We do not stop until we hit the proverbial wall. Yesterday, sitting in my office I encountered the barrier – mind, soul and body shutdown. I need to rest.

God’s Promise of entering rest still stands – earthly and eternally. We should pay attention to our need for rest. God’s Work in us and through us is complete in Christ. Our toil is in vain. God never intended for His People to toil in vain and struggle until reaching forever. When He created the world, even God rested from His Work. It is good to rest. Pride tells us there is no rest for the weary. That is true if you do not believe. You will work hard for the rest of your life in vain if you do not come to the understanding that God’s rest is for you today.

For only those who believe can enter His Rest.

Faith and trust produce rest in the Lord. To know and understand that God’s Plan is constantly enacted in us and through us so that our doing is simple obedience – nothing more or less. There is not a single activity under the sun that is not orchestrated and ordained by God for our life. Ecclesiastes 3 details all the many activities. Psalm 139 reminds us that our life is prerecorded by the Lord with each day in vivid detail. To think that rest is not for us is to declare that we know what’s best for our life. This is dangerous my friend.

Mark 6:30-32 (NLT) The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone.

The disciples were led by Jesus to a quiet place to rest. They had been on a ministry tour. They were tired. They hadn’t eaten. Pouring out physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – Jesus took them to a quiet place where they could be alone. Now reading on – we find out that the people followed them and a miracle was coming. However, I would like to pause for a moment to remind you… and me…

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

The thought that there is no rest for the weary is the lie of the enemy to drain us. He wants to tire us out to the point of exhaustion. To be overwrought in emotionalism and overwhelmed by our situation and circumstances. It is all part of his ploy to take us out of the constant comfort and care of Christ to cast us into chaos. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I WILL give you rest.” Sometimes the problem is that in our doing, we have taken the full load of our life and become unyoked from Christ. We live in partnership and reconciled to Jesus Christ but if at some point we no longer abide in His Love – we stop producing the fruit that nourishes our soul and keeps us peacefully resting in the Lord. His Yoke is easy. His Burden is light. When we become too tired, weary in well doing and overcome by exhaustion – it is usually because we have assumed full responsibility for our life rather than keeping it entrusted to Him. Guilty as charged…

Hebrews 4:9-11 (NLT)  So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest.

For the next handful of days, I am going on a getaway with my family. The forecast calls for rain, but I don’t care. I am going to find respite and rest as I have been carefully instructed by my heavenly Father. To become restored will always require responding to the Voice of Jesus when He calls us. For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. I believe in hard work. I believe in doing your best. I believe that everything we do should be done to glorify God and honor His Son, Jesus. Resting is included in such activities. To never cease from our labors of life is an indication of a void in our trust that His Grace is always sufficient and enough. We can do nothing to earn or deserve the Love God has for us. He is a Good Father who blesses our life. Simple obedience includes coming to the Lord with our weariness and accepting His Rest. Thank you Jesus for rest. I will enter it today…all over again.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

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It’s A Good Friday

It's A Good Friday

Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

After a long and stressful day at work full of deadlines, I was driving home so thankful that it was finally the weekend. I thought about the day filled with too much to do and not enough time to do it thanking the Lord that I made it when it occurred to me that it was only Thursday. I still had to get through Friday. Ugh! Have you ever done that before? What a letdown! As I could feel exhaustion overtake me and complaints begin to rise up in my throat, I remembered it was Good Friday. Why do they call it “Good”? Jesus was about to face the most horrible day of his natural life. He cried out to the Father to take the awful cup of suffering from Him. If there was any other way but to endure the Cross, it had to happen quickly. Well, as Christians we know that Jesus went to the Cross and died for our sins. He would rest in the tomb for three long days. Can you imagine what His Disciples and Followers must have been thinking? None of this met their expectation. When the women arrived to attend the body of the “dead” teacher, master, and Messiah, the angels would meet them and said, “Remember what He said…” It is in the days preceding the victorious emergence of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord that probably the best lesson for His People is taught. What do you do in the waiting? What happens when nothing turns out as planned? What happens when our expectancy wavers on the brink of devastation? How can we call such days “good”?

I am not comparing my busy and exhausting week to the suffering of Jesus Christ simply using it as an illustration. When we think the journey is almost over, only to discover a few forgotten steps. When it looks like the walls are coming down, but the Lord says, “Keep walking.” On the edge of breakthrough, when you cannot fathom moving another inch, pressing any harder, or enduring another minute. But you do… That my friend is the Grace of God working in you! Jesus set an example for us. He was focused. His heart set on you and me – those He calls, “Beloved”. He couldn’t go back, yet in the flesh – how could he continue? But He did…

Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

What has eternity blossomed in your heart today? What is your most hopeful aspiration? Do you have a dream, goal or vision? Of course, you do! You are a Child of the Living God who is creative in His Ways. He didn’t call you to a mundane or mediocre life. Just as Jesus exemplifies sometimes we must fix our focus on the “joy” that is just on the other side of that which is so difficult. We must keep our heart and mind on guard in perfect peace that God will do exactly as He promised. After all, isn’t Jesus a prime example of the faithfulness of our Father?

Hebrews 12:3 (AMP) Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

On this Good Friday, we must consider and meditation on Jesus. He endured betrayal, hostility, abandonment and abuse all in a single day and still decided that we were worth dying a brutal and tragic death for. To consider and compare our discomfort and inconveniences to the suffering of Christ should help us gain perspective. He went to the grave and walked in to hell to take back your life from the hand of the enemy. Three long days later, Jesus emerged from the grave victorious in His Efforts. He didn’t only give you the gift of eternal life but every promise that once was withheld due to rejection and rebellion against God are now available in righteousness. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He came that we might have a rich and satisfying life. He came to give us His Abundance from the coffers of the Kingdom. Surely if Christ could do all that – we can make it another day striving to live apart from sin, walk with Jesus and endure a hard day or rough season. We must set our heart, mind and soul on the joy set before us and secured by our Savior. It is indeed a good Friday!

Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP) “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me[following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

It’s going to be a busy weekend for Christians. It is the biggest weekend with high attendance for churches. There will be many festivities. Shopping for just the right outfit. Running all around. Can we stop for just a moment and fix our eyes on Jesus! When you think about complaining, remember that you have victory in every situation today! If you do not quit or give up but just believe – breakthrough is coming! We serve a risen Lord. Even His Disciples struggled with doubt and disbelief. Can you imagine what was running through their heads waiting for the stone to roll away? What happened? This is not what they expected. Jesus says, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest!” He doesn’t give us the kind of rest the world does. A quick respite from running to and fro. God gives us peace of mind and heart that even on our worst day it is a good day thanks to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Luke 21:25-28 (AMP)  “There will be signs (attesting miracles) in the sun and moon and stars; and on the earth [there will be] distress and anguish among nations, in perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea and the waves, people fainting from fear and expectation of the [dreadful] things coming on the world; for the [very] powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with [transcendent, overwhelming] power [subduing the nations] and with great glory. Now when these things begin to occur, stand tall and lift up your heads [in joy], because [suffering ends as] your redemption is drawing near.”

Slow Down

Slow-Down

Psalm 62:5-8 (ESV) For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

During the morning commute yesterday, I came upon a car going much slower than my vehicle was traveling. At first, I became agitated. Quite the contradiction from the praise music playing, it shook me from prayerful meditation to using every ounce of self-control not to honk the horn. The longer I followed the car the more worked up I became. Due to oversleeping and pure exhaustion, I was running late. Still fighting a cold and freezing in the unusually cold temperatures for the South, I just wanted them to get out of my way. How do we flip the script so quickly? Moments before, I was settled in for a long commute enjoying time with the Lord and then sudden inconvenience changes my attitude and demeanor. Guilty as charged. About that time, I passed a speed limit sign. The person in front of me was going the designated speed limit. I was frustrated because they were obeying the law while I was trying to speed past them. The Holy Spirit convicted me on the spot. There is a reason the law has mandated speed limits along with every other statute regarding the operation of a motor vehicle. I should know better as not too long ago I paid a hefty fine and attending four hours of traffic school for my bad choice. Yet, thinking about everything “I” had to do, where “I” needed to be, and “my” schedule – this person was actually keeping me from a possible bad choice.

There are many lessons that could be shared from my personal experience in that moment but this is what is relevant for me today. God is inviting me to rest. Slow down. When I woke up this morning, these words are on replay. Slow down. Trust me. Come to me. I will give you rest. I am your refuge. Disobedience is more a knee jerk reaction to impulse rather than the deepest longing of the human heart. Those who know Jesus and love Him want to do what is right yet our flesh is constantly challenging the idea of rest, trust, and refuge in the Lord because so much of it involves waiting.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Trusting the Lord produces rest in our heart and mind. Peace that passes all understanding is found in the Presence of God when He becomes our refuge. I am encouraged today by the psalmist’s thoughts – “pour out your heart before God.” What is your heart full of today? The contents are important as it is the context of our thoughts and motivates our actions. What is your primary motivation? Are you worried, stressed or anxious? Overloaded? Overwhelmed? Desperate? The Lord invites us to literally pour out our life before Him. He will help us. He will give us rest. However, we must be able to trust Him for relief.

Trusting the Lord means believing what the Word of God tells us about Him. Jesus is the Word who came down and was wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Profound Love for us. Here are some truths about the Lord today. God will become our refuge when we believe…

Psalm 36:7 God’s love for me is steadfast.

Psalm 18:30 God’s Way is perfect.

Psalm 31:19 God is always good and His Goodness is for me.

Psalm 34:8 God desires me and I must desire Him.

Psalm 46:1 God is my “very present” help.

Psalm 61:3 God is more powerful than the enemy.

Psalm 91:1 I must choose to live or dwell in God’s Presence.

Psalm 142:1 God wants to release the supernatural in my natural life.

Psalm 144:1 God is always in control.

These are just some of the qualities true of God as demonstrated in His Word. The Word is our compass. It keeps us moving in the right direction. It lights the way. Those who believe God at His Word and choose to trust Him through obedience will find peace that passes understanding and rest in the midst of chaos.

Hebrews 4:11-12 (ESV) Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 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.

The state traffic laws are not mandated to inconvenience me. They are put into place because it is determined the safest speed of travel given the conditions of the roadway and surrounding area. I decide whether or not I will obey the law. If I do not travel at the posted speed, I am breaking the law. If I get caught, there will be a consequence. A penalty to pay. The Word of God is God’s Way and Will for our life. Though unbound by the law, it is still the best course of action for our life. It leads to provision, protection and every other promise that God was inscribed in it. If I desire that life, I must follow the instructions that have been given. The law does not hurt me – it is put into place to help me.

We must slow down and carefully consider the contents of our heart and mind each day. It will dictate whether or not I react to the circumstances and conditions of my life creating consequences or I will begin to prosper in the promises of God set forth for me by the Living God. God’s Refuge, His Rest, is the quiet place of faith, trust and careful consideration of the course of life. It is a personal decision to sync my heart each day and align my life with God’s Plan. When I get overwhelmed – it is generally because my pride has begun to takeover and I begin to believe that I must “do” something, “be” somewhere or nothing will get down. Self-importance and pride cannot survive in the refuge of God. Those with diversified trust cannot sustain a restful state. “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that the Power of Christ may REST upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Be steadfast. Be immovable. Be abounding in the work of the Lord. Let your labor not be in vain. God did not call us to life of rushing. He did not anoint us to be “busy”. In fact, He has already promised to complete the work that He has begun in us. We have victory. We are overcomers in Christ. It is finished. Or is it? When our flesh fights for control – it seems to be full of good intentions but does not produce a life of godliness. Godliness is established in us by God alone. There is nothing I can do other than submit to the Holy Spirit’s work and continue to abide in Christ. God is doing exactly as He promised in His Word. We can trust Him. We can rely on Him. We can rest in Him every single day. It is a choice. Is it your choice? I must make it mine.

Hebrews 6:17-20 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Several years ago, my husband and I enjoyed a lovely cruise through the Caribbean. On the last night of our trip, the water was very rough. The large ship was being tossed about and warnings were posted to be very careful. Coming back from dinner, it was difficult to walk down the hallway without bumping into the corridor walls. Once inside our cabin, I collapsed in the big comfy bed and was drifting off to sleep. I was jostled not by the swaying ship but my husband. He was getting very nauseous and woke me in disbelief that I could actually sleep through it. I think of that night when I read this verse. The Peace of God that allows us to rest in Him is trust. Trust is the chain that connects the anchor marked “hope” to the vessel. I am a vessel. I must carefully inspect the contents to determine my connection with faith and hope. To trust the Lord is to live at rest in His Refuge. There are areas of my life still under renovation. The Promise of God still stands as He is patient, loving and kind waiting for me to figure out my salvation and work it through my life. Consider this – forever is not the future but encompasses every detail of our life – past, present and future. It all works together in the redemption plan. There is no falling backward or rushing forward just becoming. Today – I will slow down. Today – I will choose rest. Today – Lord I ask you to be my refuge.

Psalm 62:1-2 (ESV) For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Returning to Rest


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Psalm 116:5-7 (ESV) Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

The creeping crud got me. The virus I had hoped to escape has overtaken me. It’s only a cold nothing terminal but mighty inconvenient. Coughing and hacking through the night and now sleep deprived crawling into my quiet place, the verse for the day is – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Oh to find rest! Lord, I need some rest. However, as I begin to read more passages about rest it becomes clear that the Lord provides a place of rest for us. It is a consecrated and holy establishment of deep contentment born of absolute faith that allows us to sit and wait quietly as the wind and waves crash all around us, the storm rages within us or when bad news comes with each knock.

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV) Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

As a fresh dose of medicine begins to clear the fog in my head, I realize that rest is not a feeling but rather a place where one can live. Our soul has a refuge in which it can rest. Freedom allows us the opportunity to choose busyness or peace. All the rushing about adds not a moment to our life but wastes precious time better spent in the peace of God resting on His Promises and waiting for His Word. God is gracious. He is always right. God is merciful. He doesn’t make salvation or redemption complicated. In fact, it is so simple that many find it hard to accept. Since I can do nothing to earn His Love or deserve His Grace, God does not set us up for failure but simply says, “Come to me.” Where’s the catch? What’s the trick? How do I find rest for my weary soul? Is His Yoke really easy? Is His Burden really light?

It is in our absolute weakness that His Power is manifested in our life. The moment of revelation that despite good intentions and the best of my efforts, I can do absolutely nothing to earn the favor of God that restores a right relationship that I am able to fully embrace the Power of His Love.

Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 (ESV) What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

Rest is established in the heart. It is the desire for Christ that fulfills the emptiness left void even in earthly success or prosperity. The longing for something more than this life has to offer can only be fulfilled by the Creator of every living thing. So often, it is human nature to divide the cultures of Christianity and normal life. To truly find fulfillment and satisfaction is the integration of our natural life with the supernatural existence offered to us by God. To become one with the culture of Christ. To follow His Example and learn to live in His Presence. Any other way of life is led by vanity or pride. A key characteristic of those whose heart is at rest with Christ is that no matter what the situation or circumstance of life God will keep them in perfect peace including no more sleepless nights.

Isaiah 32:17-18 (ESV) And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

What a beautiful promise in Isaiah! God has promised His People will abide in peaceful, secure and quiet resting places all because of righteousness. Has your soul forgotten that through Christ you were made right with God? Have you assumed responsibility in your life rather than trusting God with every detail? When our faith and trust is in God through Jesus Christ – righteousness is established. As we learn to live a life of believing God – peace permeates us. His Rest becomes our refuge. It doesn’t mean everything changes but our heart changes. In that moment that the expectation of our life is fully invested in Christ that the desired return is received – love, joy, peace and completion. Are you stressed out? Worried? Weary? Anxious? Overwrought with responsibility? Weighed down by heavy burdens? Are you discouraged? Ready to quit?

“Return, O my soul, to your rest.” God created the heavens and the earth. He has a handwritten plan for each of us that includes a future and hope. He inscribed it before our birth and His Word will not return to Him void concerning us. His Son, Jesus, came to the earth and died for every sin that you and I would ever commit before our existence. It is finished. Righteousness provides a refuge marked “REST” for those who will enter in. Sometimes I must remind my soul to return to the place called rest. Each time I am met by the Presence of God and wrapped in the embrace of a loving Savior who takes my burdens and gives me perfect peace. Lord, let me find rest in You today! Perfect peace in the Love of my Savior! Keep my heart and mind fixed on You and my feet steadfast in the refuge called Rest!

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

What’s Your Superpower?

whats-your-superpower.jpg

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

What is your superpower? Is it physical strength? Natural ability? Are you super organized? Totally driven? Highly motivated? Are you massively intelligent? Do you have good common sense? What are your strengths? Or is it easier sometimes to list our weaknesses? Those tiny mishaps or monumental failures that keep us from focusing on the power invested in us by Jesus Christ. We have been given the power to do everything.

This time of year gives way to exhaustion. Already busy lives with loaded schedules become unbearable with the added burden and stress. It is easy to transition a load once partnered with Christ to our own insufficient strength and accept the unnecessary added weight of human expectation until it is too much to carry. Coming home later than usual last night, the already full day seemed to drag on and on. A doctor’s appointment with my daughter, a full day of work, a trip to the grocery store, a house to clean, dinner to cook and a second meal for a friend recovering from surgery had me at the end of myself. When I pulled in the driveway, every single light was on and several chores only half done had me on edge. I was gently pushed over standing in the rain trying to extract everything the mailperson had crammed in my mailbox. I prayed a quick prayer that I know He heard but my heart couldn’t hold on to – walking in the house I unloaded. Not the car full of groceries, but my emotional overload. On the ones, I love most I dumped a day of baggage. I felt like a failure as soon as the burden was emptied.

It is important that rather than trying to be super human that believers learn to continually channel their entire life through Christ. Giving only to the Lord what “I can’t” too often forgetting to give Him all “I can”, too. What is your super power? The thing you continue to do rather than submitting it fully to Christ. Pride tries to hold on to those things that bring the affirmation, acceptance and approval of people rather than resting humbly and completely in the Power of Christ who is in us. I must do all things THROUGH CHRIST who gives me His Strength.

John 1:16-18 (NLT) From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

The Blessing of God to us in the Gift of His Son, Jesus is an invitation to live in His Abundance. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. It was no secret. He put the enemy on notice in John 10:10 ripping the mask off the thief to expose the lie. In stating His Purpose, the Lord also warns us that the enemy has come to steal, kill and even destroy us if possible. God’s Unfailing Love driven by amazing grace and His Faithfulness are secure in His Son. Therefore, no weapon formed against us can prosper even the lies set forth by the enemy to discourage, distract and dissuade us along the way. The only way that a believer cannot prosper is in unbelief. Lord, help the areas of my life where unbelief have handed me burdens, stress, worry, anxiety and fear that I willingly picked up. Today, I release it to you through Your Son, Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT) You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Religious folks hate this verse unknowingly. Relationship driven believers understand that the sufficiency of God’s Grace is underlined by the freedom given to us in Christ. “You can never fall too hard, too fast, so far that you can’t get back what you’ve lost. Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much that you can’t change who you are.” (Who You Are – Unspoken) There is no limit or mandate on God’s Grace. If you want it – you’ve got it. We decide to cultivate our relationship with God through Christ and do what is beneficial in bringing us into full unity not by what we do but by fulling embracing who we are. I promise sin becomes avoidable when it is a product of love and respect rather than rules and regulations. Religious stipulations do not garner a loving and abiding presence in our life just another set of standards we can’t live by. A relationship gives us a safe haven of love and grace so our imperfection does not factor in it and our heart’s desire is to make it grow.

Not everything is beneficial. Surrendering your life to Jesus Christ does not add burden but relieves us of the weight and heavy laden lifestyle of human expectation once carried. Dying every day our fruitless and barren life longed for purpose and life. Now that we have life through Christ – His Power is manifested in our weakness and willingness to channel everything through Him so He can show us what is beneficial and what is not.

Colossians 1:19-21 (NLT) For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

To reconcile means to restore a friendly relationship. Christ did more than that for us. He gave us His Spirit. The Spirit of Adoption that has stored a right relationship with God. We are His Children. In Christ, every promise, purpose and plan God has for us is fully restored. Now His Goodness takes every detail of our life past, present and future to make something good out of it according to His Word. Reconciling also means to cause to coexist in harmony to bring back to compatibility. The Grace of God given to us through Christ allows us to live life with God. To gain access to the Presence of God through the Blood of Jesus. We now come boldly before His Throne and ask whatever we would like and He will answer us. Our life is again in partnership with the Lord and His Kingdom. Reconciliation with God through Christ allows us to live consistent to God’s Standard unhindered by the much lower standards of this life. God in all His Fullness dwells in us and will align our life to His in our willingness to surrender all of our life to Him.

2 Corinthians 3:4 (NLT) We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.

Our greatest super power of self is confidence. To become so confident in God and His Son, Jesus so we become willing to take Him at His Word. Trust is not easily constructed or maintained. It is the very thing the enemy attacks as often as possible. To uproot seeds of faith, choke out any growth and sow seeds of doubt and disbelief in its place. We must believe God at His Word. To do so means knowing, understanding and constantly calling to our recollection – His Word for our life including every single promise as the reality and future that we live for. Through Christ, we have grace that is enough to allow His Power to fully manifest in our life. The Holy Spirit is our advocate and helper who continually works to cultivate good fruit that nourishes our soul and grows our confidence in the Lord.

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

Are you overloaded today? Is stress, pressure and anxiety putting a damper on this holiday season? Are you ready for it just to be over? I have good news for you today. It is not too late to salvage the season and turn things around. The weight and burdens weighing you down, stealing your joy, robbing you of peace and casting you into a pit of darkness despite the bright lights and festivities – is not of God? He gave you His Son, Jesus. Through Christ, we have overwhelming victory. Not just over sin and death, but His Power and Authority belong to us.

We can hand Him our burdens and those things weighing heavy on our heart – ALL OF THEM in exchange for His Rest. The Peace of God that Jesus gives us passes all understanding. The things that used to keep you all spun up, overwrought and sleepless are given to the Master in exchange for love, peace, joy and full satisfaction. When you lay your head down, you will sleep knowing full well that the Lord is in complete control of your chaos making it a beautiful masterpiece out of all the broken pieces. Find your super power today. Run every area of your life through Christ. There is not a single detail that He is not mindful of or ready to take off your hands! You don’t have to do it all! The things that are beneficial will be accomplished through the Strength of Christ in you when you decide to do it all through Him!

I Corinthians 4:20 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.

 

Adrenaline for the Soul

Adrenaline for the Soul

Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG) Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Strip down, start running and never quit! I needed the encouragement this morning. A bit of adrenaline for the soul…if you will. Already ready for the holidays to end, I wonder if this year I can shirk the weight that has kept me from enjoying celebrating Christmas for most of my life. The heaviness that longs to overtake me, pull me back into the past, stop the excitement of tinsel, lights, and treats, steals joy in giving and overall leaves me totally broken and spent. I challenge the lie of the enemy who hangs lies and untruth attempting to attack. Like a lion laying in weight, latching claws into unsuspecting prey and waiting until exhaustion overtakes it and the lion can go for the kill. The enemy works very much the same. If he can just get you to give in or give up – he can take from you what you are willing to surrender. I will not submit.

Strip down…what is burdening you today? Is something weighing heavy on your heart? Examining our heart and mind today for truth is essential in releasing every weight and burden not of the Lord. Some important things to remember especially during the holiday rush will help us overcome the lie of the enemy. First, it is not your personal calling to meet everyone’s expectations. The long list of gift giving should not become a burdensome load like Santa’s sack. The menus and planning should be more about fellowship and less about perfection. Stay present. Remember our dear friend, Martha. She was lost in the preparation and missed the celebration of the Presence of Christ. She became bitter and offended by her sister’s lack of consideration as labored and Mary sat at the feet of Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Are you tired? Worn out? You are called to a life of endurance and perseverance for much greater promises than a perfect tree, abounding gifts, and superb celebration. Unrealistic expectations are the enemy’s offering to keep us tired and worn out trying to make everyone happy and losing our joy in the process. Come to me. Do not let busyness keep you from the feet of Jesus this holiday season. It is His Birthday and Arrival that is to be celebrated not loathed by overwhelming burdens. Walk with me. Work with me. Watch me. What an awesome reminder! We must live in the unforced rhythms of grace. Grace is enough to overcome the fact I cannot meet the worldly demands placed upon me but I am enough in Christ. Lord, teach me to live freely and lightly during the most strenuous season of the year.

I Corinthians 9:24-25 (MSG) You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.

Start running. Maybe you have been running for a very long time, yet still victory seems elusive. You are still bogged down by fear, worry, stress and anxiety. God did not give you these feelings or emotions – He gave you faith. Faith to fearlessly overcome every burden once thought to be your responsibility but now set free in Christ. Don’t just start running! Everyone runs. You must run to win. It will require discipline, obedience, perseverance and endurance. This means it will be a struggle sometime to continually shed the extra weight along the way. You must be focused. The perspective of your life should be from your higher calling not the constant demands of this world and other people…even your family. The enemy uses guilt and regret to keep people locked into the vicious cycle of unmet expectation. Christ is our fulfillment. To continually pour into a bucket with a whole in it, is fruitless. Without repairing the hole, you are wasting resources. Stop trying to make everyone happy. Without Christ there is no fulfillment, contentment or satisfaction. To show others the love, joy and peace of Jesus Christ that gives way to contentment – we must possess it ourselves.

Galatians 5:7-10 (MSG) You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment.

From the cradle to the cross, Jesus endured everything humanly possible and overcame it all. He hands us His Victory when we choose to follow Him. Are you living victoriously? Are you running the race of faith superbly? Obedience to God including releasing unnecessary burden, unmet expectations, and unrealistic demands. This does not make you a quitter. It makes you a good runner. It makes overcoming and overwhelming victory possible. The one who cut in on you wants you to believe that these burdens, cares and worries belong to you and that if you don’t own up to them – you will let God and others down. The Truth is true repentance and radical obedience turns us from lesser things to attain greater faith, confident hope and full satisfaction.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (MSG) For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over    the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going
with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.

The gift given to us in the person of Jesus Christ has far more potential than any other gift given or received. He has called so many wonderful and powerful things but the one to remember in the midst of the holiday rush is Prince of Peace or Prince of Wholeness. You are complete in Jesus Christ. The need for human acceptance and affirmation creates a drive to meet human expectation. You cannot bring fulfillment to another human being other than to offer them the fullness of Jesus Christ. If you light is dim due to busyness and untended flames of His Spirit, then you really have given them nothing. If you salt loses its flavor or is wasted on preparing fancy meals, then you have not given them a taste of His Splendor. If your words have turned from blessing to cursing due to discontentment, discord, dissatisfaction or just plain exhaustion – they hold no life or hope. We must place limits and boundaries to keep us aligned with Christ during what could prove to be the best Christmas yet – the year heavy burdens of worry and stress are released and blessed peace is accepted.

The Greatest Gift every given was our Savior and Lord, it is easy to let the demands of the holidays take our eyes off of Him and pick up responsibilities that He never gave us. This year make your list simple. Strip down, start running and never quit! The Lord offers to carry those burdens. He will take everything you decide to release. He is faithful. Run the race of faith with complete confidence that victory belongs to you. Above all things, never quit. His Grace is sufficient for those times we fall short, fall down, or just feel like failures. His Unfailing Love and Goodness are always pursuing us. We just have to stop long enough to let Him overtake us, fill us and right our way! Thank you God for your Son Jesus who is the Gift who keeps on giving! Let the Lord refuel you today. Spend some time with the Lord. Let Him help you go through your to-do lists. The Holy Spirit will be your helper this holiday season. Celebrate Jesus! The greatest gift ever given. You cannot top perfection. He is the Perfect Gift.

Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

 

Call to Rest

Call to Rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early Check In

early-check-in

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The date circled on the calendar months ago has finally arrived. For the past week, I have been picking out clothes, preparing to pack, organizing the house, making a menu, listing instructions and informing our kids of our expectations while away on a trip. Not just any trip, but a trip to the Bahamas provided by my husband’s company. The resort is picturesque. Amenities ample and prime. It is a place many only dream of that the Lord has blessed us with. I have anticipated the trip and tomorrow it’s off to the airport. This morning, I went online to check-in and get our boarding passes. Our flight leaves around 7:00 AM. After providing all the information required by Homeland Security, a layout of the aircraft is provided with our seats clearly marked. After agreeing to all terms and conditions, a final notice marked “Check-in Successfully Complete” flashes on the screen with a “Enjoy Your Trip!” As I put away all the necessary documents and sealed them in the bright-colored pouch from the travel agency, I couldn’t help but wonder – Lord, wouldn’t it be awesome if I could do the same spiritually? Log in to Heaven.com or WeRSaved.com and make sure there is a place for me ahead of time. To be sure that I am doing the right things, living the right life, and making good choices so that I won’t be turned away at the gate…the pearly gates that is. I know if I made it to the gate for my flight tomorrow and they wouldn’t let me board that I would be very sad and disappointed. I don’t even want contemplate how I might feel if it was standing before Jesus and He said, “I’m sorry but I don’t know you.”

When the details of this glorious trip were sent to my husband who forwarded them to me, I immediately put the dates on the calendar at work and in my phone. Planning. Now that I knew it was coming, it would be good, and I wanted to go – I made plans around the trip. It became a priority of sorts. The destination of my faith is a placed called confident hope. It must be something that I desire and decide to participate in. It must become a priority in my life. Faith is established in my relationship with Jesus Christ. He must be my priority. Prepare. I have spent several months planning and preparing for this trip in advance. I have children who need to be cared for. Details to be decided. Faith requires preparation as it develops characteristics contrary to man. Our flesh chooses immediate gratification over endurance. It would rather give up then persevere. It prefers the easy way rather than the Highway of Holiness which is a narrow road with a small entrance described as harder to get through than the chances of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. What if the destination called Heaven, His Kingdom, Eternity and Forever were as highly anticipated, planned and prepared as an exotic vacation of sorts. What would happen if we invested an equal amount of time planning for our future as we do to have fun?

Ephesians 1:18-20 (NLT) I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 

Flying is a love/hate relationship. I love the fact that from start to finish it will only be four hours. However, for those four hours, I must trust the craftsmanship of the airplane, the mechanics who maintain it, and the pilot who will fly it, so trust is an issue. As I enter flights, just before walking in the doorway I lay hands on the airplane and pray. It is quick and brief and most people don’t even notice although one stewardess in Atlanta did whisper, “Amen!” with a wink and smile. Trust is an issue of faith. We must trust the Lord with our life. I believe that to try to do so blindly is ignorance on our part that leads to death and destruction. I cannot trust God outside of faith. Faith is found in the Word whose Name is Jesus. Jesus is the Word. To try to know Him, let alone trust the Lord, outside of the Word of God is impossible. You are setting yourself up to fail. The Word cuts flesh from bone exposing the innermost parts of what we have been taught and our new life in Christ. I cannot know the blessings, benefits, promises, purposes and process by which it is achieved in my life if I do not strive to know the Word of God including Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life. I have studied the packet provided by the agency in detail. I have confirmed our flight. I have retrieved our passports. I have visited the website of our destination and I am almost packed. Do I give this much attention to the Lord and my destination in Him each day? Each week? Consistently? Confident hope is born of constant trust that develops and matures our faith.

Hebrews 3:12-14 (NLT) Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

I am excited about the time of rest for the next week. Time with my husband apart from hectic schedules, rigorous routines and the busyness of life. Rest is also a blessing of the Lord given to those who find their place in Him. Jesus promises rest to those who yoke their life to Him. (Matthew 11) Those who seek Him wholeheartedly will find Him and the future and hope that He holds for us. (Jeremiah 29:13) What if we planned and prepared each day for the place called Heaven and Eternity with God? What if His People anticipated it for the Glorious Destination that it is? Far more wonderful than a week in some tropical paradise from which you are dumped right back in the rat race called life. To be with Jesus Forever apart from fear, worry, anxiety, stress, sickness, pain and brokenness, to live forever in the Light of His Love basking in His Glory. It will be so much better than any of His Creation. We must believe it enough to anticipate it.

Faith given the opportunity to become confident hope is our boarding pass. To trust Jesus with the details and simply live in wholehearted pursuit of Him. To follow His Way because we want to be where He is. He must become our desired destination. The only way to become confident in the Lord is to try trusting Him at His Word. I am trusting the travel agent who planned and prepared this trip for us. Just a person doing her job who doesn’t know us at all. She is just doing what the company instructed her to do. Yet, I am trusting her with the details of the next week. Hmmm, so what about Jesus? He died to offer me a place in His Kingdom forever. His Love, Grace and Mercy to transport me from sin to salvation. His Blood to cover me so that when God sees me I will be white. My boarding pass is ready. I just need to check-in. If I go over the details of my walk with Christ, it is easy to see the areas that need my attention. To locate the places where other things have maybe become the priority and need to be reorganized. Jesus should be at the top of every list. There should be no other books unless I read the Bible every day. There should be no other conversations until I converse with Jesus first in prayer. The most important place I go before heading out the door is His Presence. Who lives like that you are asking? I do if I want to be where Jesus is forever. If I want confident hope, I must engage in trusting the Lord and building the foundation called faith. Faith will always produce confident hope so I do not have to wonder what will happen after I take my last breath. I will already know and have inexpressible joy!

I Peter 1:8-9 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

The Perfect Holiday

the-perfect-holiday

John 15:1-4 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

Is Thanksgiving really next week? How in the world did it sneak up on me this year? Not really sure with all family, church, work and life how it happened but it did. Normally, I would panic that certain preparations have not been made. By now, the list and menu should be fully outlined and detailed on a Pinterest board. Have I mellowed with age? What’s wrong with me? I cannot understand why I am not all worked up right now. Life happens. It changes us. Molds us and shapes us into creatures of habit. For a long time, I had a houseful of kids and a list of personal expectations that kept me on the run. But now, in this new stage of life, my nest is emptying and I cannot find my list or my glasses and sometimes my keys.

Remain in me and I will remain in you. Have you made room for more of Him lately? Before you answer that, I know what it means to be busy, stressed and overwrought not just during the holiday season but all the time. I used to live that way. Constantly moving, never stopping and working harder than I was supposed to by calling or design. The whole idea of resting in the Lord was lost somewhere in my Martha mindset. Mary called from within as the Lord whispered, “Come talk to me.” But rather than responding to His Invitation and opening my heart to His Gentle knocking, I said, “Hang on.” We all do it.  Expectation is a powerful driver. When I was a kid, my parents divorced and there were two of everything for a long time. Two Thanksgiving meals to eat. Two Christmas’s. Two lifestyles. Two families. When my family finally settled, blended to become one, my husband and I decided that holidays would be spent at home. There would be no rushing about…though our traditions changed – my heart did not. I wanted to make the “perfect” holidays for the kids. The kind of memories that I wanted to have. Though my intentions were good, His Plan is always better.

God made a plan for our life. (Jeremiah 29:11) It comes with a future and hope. Sin blocked us from having all the benefits and blessing of God’s Plan which is His Glory for our life. You were created as a marvelous masterpiece by God. (Psalm 139; Ephesians 2) However, the original was tainted and flawed in need of a good cleaning. Jesus came to forgive our sins and died on the Cross so that we could reclaim our predestined life. Don’t get caught up in these details but continue to the place where we are changed. Knowing all of these things does nothing until we apply knowledge and it becomes wisdom. Peter shared the secret of a success in obtaining a new life – “each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) This is the beginning and ending point of spiritual success. The renewal process of God the best restorer because He is the Creator is all in Jesus Christ. I can do nothing to add to His Plan or take away from it. No matter how close I choose to live to the Lord or how far I wander – God’s Heart and Hand for me is never moved. He does not change. He is constant. I am the one who must change. I must move. I must be renewed.

Let’s take a moment or two to talk about true repentance. Repentance is not just saying that you are sorry. If my husband and I disagree or maybe I hurt his feelings, I will say that I am sorry. However, if I continue to do the same thing over and over again with no real intent to change, what is my apology worth? Nothing at all. Repentance is an admittance of wrong and acceptance of change. It is to “turn” to God. Which is a new direction? An unwillingness to turn from sin is only an apology. In order to repent, one must be apologetic and change directions, attitudes, actions and intentions.

Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT) Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

“Since.” For our purposes today, let’s decide that since represents the moment that I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ. When I heard the Gospel and responded with my life. I now know the Truth. Truth changes everything. Once you know the truth it is like light that chases away darkness. The lie now is overshadowed by the truth. Choosing to ignore the truth is called denial and leads to disobedience when the truth is disregarded. Jesus Christ is Truth. He is also the Way and Life – no one can get to God except through Him. (John 14:6) This is the truth that now guides my life and hopefully yours. Jesus is the Son of God. I need Him. He is the Way. I must turn from my way and follow His Way.

Now what…”throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life.” Ew. That means the “c” word. It means change. Change is uncomfortable. We want it but do like how it feels or what it requires. To have something new means letting go of what formerly occupied the space. Let’s be real for a moment. My desire to make “perfect” holiday experiences for my children stemmed from dissatisfaction of my own childhood. Feeling pulled in two directions. Always being tugged between two families whether it was intended or not. Anything we do stemming from dissatisfaction is not of God but man. My sinful nature desires its way. Every day. All day. My former life has baggage that occupies the space of new things that the Lord has designed and prepared for me. I must actively seek the new life that I am promised making room for it.

How? God has given us His Spirit to help us. He will renew our thoughts and attitudes. God is not mad at us for our feelings of dissatisfaction, discontentment, devastation or desperation. These are the things that drove us to Him in the first place. However, as a new creation, these dry, dead and rotting things are replaced with fresh fruit prepared by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As His Fruit nourishes all my new life – I will begin to prosper as He prunes away the dead fruits and rotting flesh of sin-infested life.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

The hope given to us in Jesus Christ will not lead to disappointment. Do you believe that today? Do you trust the Lord to make good of the details of your life as promised in Romans 8:28? We confuse God’s Renewal Process sometimes with the world’s way of doing things. Some simply throw out the “garbage” and get something new. Others choose to recycle taking what was old and making it useful some other way. God made us perfectly. Our Creation is flawless. Sin was the problem. Once we turn from sin, the product of our life remains. Our purpose was not changed or influenced by sin simply hidden under it. Through the lifelong process of “working out” our salvation – it is how I come to terms with every single misplaced expectation in my life.

We have purpose. God defined and delineated our purpose as He recorded moment by moment of our existence. (Psalm 139) If salvation to me is a moment when I say sorry to God, but do not turn from some things or turnover some things to Christ there is no exchange. Cutting away the sin that separated me from the Lord, I know must cling to Him. Becoming grafted to Him, I strive to remain close to Jesus. Allowing Him to change me from the inside out. Faith is about the unseen never the seen so my life may look the same. The change in me precipitates the change around me. The conditions of my life may not significantly change but the change in me will create a different outcome. As we cling to Jesus, His Spirit works in us to change our character.

Character change releases our new life and the person who God created us to be from the beginning. Right standing with God realigns us with His Will and Way through His Word so we can have every benefit and blessing ever promised for us. Repentance is a change of position that will impact our character. Our character is molded and shaped by His Spirit when problems come that knock off sharp edges and make us soft and pliable in the Hand of God for His Plan and Purpose. Trials cause discomfort that produces a desire for change. Endurance strengthens our character allowing us to endure the process of change and accept His Work within us. Continued endurance gives way to confident hope that will release our expectation from this life and place them in forever.

Colossians 3:10-11 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

I have a new nature. I must put it on day by day. It really is simpler than I realized. For a long time, I felt like I had so much to do. Countless changes to make. See what it says…put on your new nature. Then what? Renewal is knowing God and becoming like Him. All that matters to God is that Christ lives in me. Every expectation outside of Jesus Christ is in vain. Every good thing in my life comes from God – I did nothing to produce it. Every blessing I have is from the Hand of God. Every good thing being produced in my heart and mind is fruit of His Spirit. Every single day of my life is planned to perfection by the One who goes before me to make a way. All I have to do is remain in Christ. He renews me. He softens my heart to accept His Word. He changes my mind to live by Truth. He satisfies my soul. It is from there, my life will prosper as my soul does.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Thanksgiving is next week. That’s just crazy. The only thing on my menu as of right now is pumpkin cheesecake. Tried some and liked it so I am going to make it. However, honestly it is just another day. I am given the opportunity to be thankful every day. When I choose thankfulness every day, it produces contentment that solidifies character in my life allowing God to renew me. I am thankful for my life, growing family, and the new things He is doing all around me. I am thankful for the present troubles that are small yet seem so significant because God is working out His Plan for me. I want God’s Glory in my life. It always outweighs the problems. It will last forever.

Yesterday, I heard the news that a young man who I prayed for had received a good report from the doctor. He is still in remission. I literally broke down in tears of thankfulness and awe at the Goodness of God. Our son endured three years and multiple relapses including countless rounds of chemotherapy – in the end to God be the glory – He is in remission, too. Sin is the cancer in our life that too often is held tightly in fear of dissatisfaction, discontentment, desperation, and more. God wants to take that which is killing us and fill our life with His Goodness and Glory today. I think it is in that moment of realization that the renewal of God is not religious or radical but complete reconciliation of our past and present to prepare for a perfect future that we find out it is refreshing and worth having all the small inconveniences that build character along the way. I am thankful today. I am content. Thanksgiving is next week, but the celebration has already begun.

Do not give up? Do you feel like it is just not worth it anymore? I promise it is when we allow God to be God and do His Thing. You cannot create a perfect life but He can and will perfect those who are willing to turn it all over to Him. It is refreshing. It is renewing. It is revival of our heart and soul the joy of the Lord and His Peace flood our life. His Spirit is a happy homemaker who will do it all if given the go ahead. The Lord promises in Psalm 138:8 to perfect all that concerns us. Will you allow Him to do so today? Don’t panic. Don’t freak out. Don’t get all worked up and stressed out. Just trust the Lord to do what He promises. He will work it all out. The Lord is producing glory for us that far surpasses and completely outweighs any burden that is released. Why not give it a try? I am going to get a menu together. Grab some food. Put together a good meal. No need to worry or rush. I no longer expect a perfect life. I cannot do it I tried. Stop worrying about everything next Thursday may or may not be and begin to count your blessing right now. His Goodness is right behind you accompanied by His Unfailing Love. New mercy is waiting on your doorstep why not open the door to your prayer closet and let it in. God is good all the time. His Love is forever. You have all you need to live a glorious life so live it. Make new memories. Do new things. Stop worrying and start celebrating. You are a new creation. He makes all things new including you!

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.

When I Am Weak

When I Am Weak

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I am weary. Actually, I am exhausted. I feel like when I sleep each night that I am regaining just enough strength and energy to last through the next day. The empty light of my body is burning brightly. Going through the motions of life, I feel like I am living from to-do list to to-do list without enough time in a day to catch up. We moved out on Monday, closed on Tuesday, moved in the same day, unloaded and unpacked for two days until it was done. Wednesday was back to work along with five days of church/revival. Late nights and long days have taken a toll on my body and mind but not my spirit. Physically and mentally, I am worn slap out as they say in the South. Poke me with a fork…no please don’t…I am done.

Internet is out this morning with an error flashing on the modem. Add it to the list. My body needs rest. My mind needs quiet time. As I sit in my daily conversation with the Lord today, I cry out to Him from this place of sheer exhaustion. I need rest, Lord. As I read Matthew 11:28-30 again today, I try to tear it apart into bite size pieces that will nourish and replenish my weary soul. Come to me. Here I am, Lord! Yet in this place with you, Jesus, I am still tired, weary and exhausted. I need your rest. Where do I find it?

“I will give you rest.” It sounds so simple. We interrupt the elongated to-do list, overbearing schedule, ridiculous routine, and overwhelming responsibilities carried in life for this message from the Lord. Jesus wants to give us rest today. It is up to us if we will take this Gift from God just like every other blessing and promise that He offers. I am learning day by day that the inheritance of God with all of its favor and prosperity come to us as a Gift. A humble offering from the Hand of God offered to His People. It is up to us whether or not it is accepted and applied to our life. Many of the burdens carried by God’s People are not given by the Lord but self-assumed by an inability to trust and depend on Jesus.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” There are some key words in this verse that are often overlooked by overachievers. Those people who think that they serve a performance driven task master rather than a perfect Savior. I am not pointing at you because I am do busy self-identifying. The key words are “take”, “learn” and “will”. We must take His Yoke upon us. We must learn from the Lord. Those who do will find rest for their souls. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV) Therefore since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have on who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

“Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well.” (John 4:6) Jesus was tired. He was weary. He was thirsty. Jesus knows our weakness and limitations firsthand. He understands the weakness in our flesh that leads to weariness. The Lord ministers to the woman at the well despite his physical weakness and hunger. When the disciples arrive, they are concerned about their Master’s state. Jesus tells them, “My food is to do the Will of Him who sent me and to finish His Work.” (John 4:34) What feeds our soul? Serving the Lord in all humility with total and complete dedication. Is it enough to overcome human limitation and shortcomings? Absolutely.

In Deuteronomy 25:17-19 comes a warning for those who serve God. The enemy attacks us when we are weary and weak. We need Jesus more than ever during that time. The Amalekites seized the opportunity to attack and overtake those who lagged behind in weariness. The enemy watches and waits for the moment that we fall behind due to fatigue or exhaustion. He just has to catch us off guard or sleeping. We cannot allow such things to hinder us. When we are tired, it is not the time to sleep in but get up and press into the Word of God, His Presence, and pray until our burdens are once again yoked to Christ. Do not forsake your fellowship with other believers. Just as you push to make it to work even when you are tired and sick or sick and tired, it is important to gather with those who urge you, stir you and motivate you to a closer walk with Christ.

Matthew 26:40-41 (NIV) Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he said to Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Continuing to read this passage, it tell us that the disciples continued to sleep even as the Lord pleaded with them to watch and pray. In verse 43, it says, “When he came back, he again found the sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.” We have weak flesh. We need a willing spirit to overcome the insufficiencies of our flesh. Even in our willingness, it is hard to overcome our humanness some days but God offers a wonderful solution for us. It is called His Grace. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Nobody likes to admit weakness. But the Lord promises that those who rely on His Grace will find that it is enough for those times. In fact, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) Could it be that we are allowed to reach our limit so that God can effectively apply more grace to our life?

In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, Paul talks about becoming weak to win the weak and becoming all things to all people. It is time for the church to stop acting like they have it all together and live perfect lives. People need to see that our struggle is real. We get tired. We get weak. We have help. Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh who came to live among us. We need the Word of God every day. The High Priest who overcame our weaknesses has given us His Spirit. (Romans 8:26-27) We must rely on the Holy Spirit in our life to help us in our weak moments. If the world does not see a human church overcoming weakness by God’s Word and His Spirit – they will never know true worship because neither do we.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV) Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I encourage you to declare these words over your life if you are tired, weary and need rest. There is rest for the weary when they look for in the Presence of God. We can come boldly before the Lord today and He will give us more of His Wonderful Grace. Weakness is part of the process by which we discover the Power and Potential of God in us. Let Him be your strength today. It is not a sign of weakness but readiness to be filled with new life, new faith and new hope from the Lord. It is a readied state of receivership for those who know where to go to find rest and restoration. Let the Lord feed and nourish your soul today by doing the Father’s Will in spite of how you feel physically or even emotionally. As our soul prospers so do we.

Psalm34:8-10 (NIV) Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.