Freedom of Forgiveness

Freedom of Forgiveness

Micah 7:18-19 (NKJV) Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His Anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

A woman scorned went to one of the places she and her thought-to-be true love had spent a great deal of time. A quiet park by a lake surrounded with trees. In the dark of night with only the moon for light, she was on a mission. The serenade of crickets and frogs soon disrupted by the objects hitting the water with a variety of loud splashes. The concert grew silent as her mumbled words were followed by the crashing and then sinking tokens of love now lost. She drove to their “secret place” and unloaded every gift that he had ever given her. Hundreds of dollars sunk into the mud and sludge at the bottom of the lake. She wiped her tears and moved on that night.

The latest craze is painted rocks. Rocks with pictures and/or messages placed in hidden and obvious places for unsuspecting people to find. A new kind of pay-it-forward inspiration, the rocks are meant to bring spontaneous joy and express human kindness to the one who is lucky enough to find one. A quick smile at a low cost. But I wonder what might happen, if rather than putting useless images on little rocks, we put the sins, hurts, betrayals and turmoil that create unforgiveness on a rock and threw it into the lake. Attaching all the thoughts and emotions that unforgiveness offers to each stone, and them tossing them away and letting each one sink to the bottom of a lake out of sight, out of mind, and void of emotion forever. Would there be freedom? Would it expand the capacity to love in our life? Would it heal our bodies, minds and emotions?

Insecurities build walls with stones of forgiveness every day. God offers a solution. It is called mercy. Kindness counts. However, water poured on a rock has no point of entry. Our hearts become hard and callous when continually hammered by hurt and disappointment. People will always let us down – most unintentionally yet it still happens. We must become acutely aware of those things living in us in the form of hurt that has produced unforgiveness. A lack of forgiveness is a detriment to the Kingdom of God and limits our life from His Blessings. To offer forgiveness in the absence of the expectation of full restoration is not the kind God exhibits or wants. He is looking for a united and harmonious family. God casts our sins into the depths of the sea. He is asking the very same of me.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV) Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The first benefit of God in our life is His Mercy. His Willingness to forgive all of our sin through His Son Jesus Christ. It gives us complete access to Heaven. It is from this standpoint that believers are able to bind and loose things between Heaven and earth. It is from this place of undeserved mercy and copious grace that fills my life with God’s Goodness and Glory in abundant proportions. It is also from this place that I must release the same forgiveness in my life. Forgiveness is a process that is coupled with trusting God. How so?

The more I am able to trust God with the expectations of my life the more willing I will be to release others from this obligation. Unmet expectation is the source of unforgiveness. When another person doesn’t do what we expect them to do, doesn’t act as we expect them to act, doesn’t meet the obligation of relationship that we have put upon them, or fail to meet any other ethical, moral, physical or emotional, and yes, even spiritual obligation – unforgiveness rears its ugly head.

Who forgives all your iniquities…

I believe that forgiveness gives us access to all the benefits of God that come through relationship. Hope meets and exceeds our expectation. It has its own set of standards and timeline for execution that requires absolute and total trust in the Lord…not people. However, to allow unforgiveness to remain is to leave a lock on the door to our blessings and promises in God. The Lord wants to open the doors and windows our life to let Him fill it with all the good things that He has already provided to us.

Daniel 9:9-10 (NKJV) To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness. If He is our portion, the same belongs to us. We have the ability to forgive and offer mercy to others. Am I willing to forgive like the Lord? Psalm 86 says that the Lord is good and ready to forgive. Psalm 99:8 calls God the God-Who-Forgives. It is in His Very Name. Mercy is His Character. To love first. To love confidently. To love completely. God desires mercy. He loves when we love like He does. He moves closer when our heart forgives because it gives Him more room to expand and fulfill our desires apart from limitation. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory. I believe that there is not a living breathing human being that cannot find a person who needs their forgiveness. I need to forgive. Forgiveness leads to full restoration.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NKJV) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus offered a model of prayer in Matthew 6. Included in the prayer are these words, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” They come right after give us our daily bread. I wonder if we somehow miss the point that the Lord included these words in His Prayer Model. Forgiveness and mercy are not supplements but substance in our life. If my life is lacking this may be the primary source, the blockage, the backup and the wall that must come down. Forgiveness is an opening that allows God’s Mercy and Love to make a way for new relationship. Restoration always makes way for relationship. We are building a Kingdom of Souls that are knit together. The bond must be in place. I must be open, willing, and ready to forgive at all times in order to experience God’s Power in all things. Here are some truths about unforgiveness:

Unforgiveness represents smallness of soul. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Unforgiveness restricts our life. It limits the mobility of God’s Power to work in us and through us as we have deemed His Grace insufficient in our life.

Unforgiveness inflicts suffering in our bodies, minds and emotions. It is literally unhealthy.

Unforgiveness creates isolation with a wall of stones placed day by day with unmet expectation.

Unforgiveness does not promote Kingdom living. To sustain an unforgiving heart is a liability as a believer mishandles Kingdom privileges and power. It is a direct misuse of binding and loosing as ordained in Matthew 18:18-19.

Each of us own a heart and soul. God has offered us mercy, grace and forgiveness as healing balm to fill every void, bind together the broken pieces, and meet every expectation so that we can express the Light of His Love. How am I doing? I am asking myself today. I am asking the Lord to examine my heart and reveal any unforgiven debt that I have been holding on to. I desire fulfillment. Full satisfaction. Completeness in Christ. Every good thing that the Father has for me. It begins with forgiveness. Accepting God’s Mercy and Forgiveness. Paying it forward to everyone who I have left unforgiven. New life, new creation, restoration, renewal and yes, even revival begin in such a place. I want to be there to see it come.

Matthew 9:4-6 (NKJV) But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

As the church continues to cry out for revival, I wonder if our heart’s desire must change just a bit. Perhaps if we searched the depths of our heart and continued to pursue full redemption, restoration and renewal from the Lord for ourselves that maybe our heart might change to more like Jesus toward people. People struggle every day accepting the fullness of God’s Mercy and Grace as demonstrated through those representing His Son, Jesus and call themselves Christians. Crusaders of the Cross who have become blood thirsty rather than covered in the Blood of Jesus surrendered to His Spirit. God is love. His Message is Love. His Desire is Love. His Kingdom is Love. Love is impossible outside of forgiveness and full restoration of relationships. We would accept a miracle in our midst faster than to fully live in God’s Love and Forgiveness by placing all our own expectation in Him. Forgiveness begins in me. I must accept that I am fully forgiven and restored in Jesus Christ. Secondly, I must extend the same to all mankind. All of His Wonderful Benefits are produced by this process by His Hand. Forgiveness comes from God those who have fully accepted it will freely give it. So today, maybe its time to grab a handful of smooth stones and begin to write some things on them that need to be forgiven. Take them to a river, lake or even the ocean and throw them as far as possible. It doesn’t stop there. Begin to pray for complete forgiveness and total restoration. Find a way to forgive that person. If possible, let them know. The freedom of forgiveness far outweighs the comfort of isolation.

Mark 11:24-26 (NKJV) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

 

 

 

Plumb Line

small-beginnings

Zechariah 4:10 (NLT) Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Today is the first day of February. How are those goals and aspirations for the New Year going? Are you still eating right? Going to the gym? Saving money? Continuing your quest to read the Bible through this year? In evaluating your progress, how’s it going? Did all those good intentions become healthy habits? My daughter recently posted on social media that February would be a New Year’s do-over. All those things she wanted to start but didn’t would again be attempted. When our big plans do not immediately manifest as part of the big picture, it is human nature to be discouraged. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12) It is hard sometimes to embrace the process that makes our purpose possible. When the wait seems to long, obstacles too big and journey feels pointless – most people will give up, move on or just forget that spark started in their heart. Dreams are layered in distractions. Visions clouded by reality. Though people despise small beginnings, the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.

The Lord rejoices to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand. I had to look up a plumb line because I wasn’t really sure the use of the tool. A plumb line is a string or rope with a weight on the end of it used to see if something is perfectly vertical. The plumb line is a test to see if something is straight or to find the depth of water. The plumb line in hand makes God happy. It signifies the beginning of progress in a believer. There was nothing more than a foundation but the plan was in place.

Let’s talk about Zerubbabel for a moment. Zerubbabel was the head of the tribe of Judah – God’s Praise team. Judah means praise. Zerubbabel had purpose and potential in his birthright as he was in the lineage of David and Jesus Christ. The Lord called Judah from Babylon to return to Jerusalem. He placed it in Zerubbabel’s heart to rebuild the temple. He laid successfully laid the foundation before met with opposition. It would be 16 long years before construction could resume. In those years of delay, the people became distracted and began rebuilding their homes. The Hand of God upon them – these were not ordinary dwelling places but opulent abodes just as the Lord had promised. In the second year of Darius, something happened.

According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, “But in the second year of Darius, light dawned upon the darkness of the colony from Babylon. In that year –it was the most memorable event in Zerubbabel’s life –the spirit of prophecy suddenly blazed up with a most brilliant light among the returned captives. Their words fell like sparks upon tinder. In a moment Zerubbabel roused from his apathy, threw his whole strength into the work.” Apathy is an absence or suppression of passion, emotion or excitement. It is a lack of interest in or concern for the that others find moving or exciting. Have we become apathetic? The thought of revival was great but the process to arduous and long. Revival is not a church event but a life event. Our heart once on fire for the Promises of God settled on provision alone. We need the spark of passion that consumes apathy to fall on us again. The Spirit of Prophecy. The Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit. Lord, we need passion for our purpose today.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 

God has predesigned us with purpose. He put eternity in our heart from the very beginning. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) The plan of God comes with a future and hope always for our good. Faith believes in God’s Promise and desires His Plan. Trust becomes the plumb line in our hand. It is the test of a vertical life in alignment with God and His Purpose. God rejoices when we pick it up and waits for us to become wholehearted in our effort to find Him. Why is alignment so important? Why must our life line up with God’s Plan in order to achieve His Purpose? Simple. His Power accomplishes His Purpose. His Power achieves His Plan. His Power is waiting to come to His People to restore and revive us again. Not just a church service, or great move of God in the four walls of a temple, but for His Glory and Power to fill the earth again.

Joel 2:12-13 (NLT) That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

God is ready to pour out His Spirit on His People again. The only requirement is true repentance. Oh, we put on a good show. We do good things. We attempt the right attitude and actions. However, until we nail our personal passion to the Cross and allow passion for His House, His Kingdom and His Purpose to consume us again. It can only happen when the plumb line is set. Our desire must be for the Lord and our hearts fully exposed to His Love, Grace and His Spirit again. My heart is the tinder for God’s Spark to become a flame. Do you remember when you first fell in love with Jesus? You were passionate and committed about surrendering your life to Him. What happened? Have you left your first love? There is always enough grace and mercy to come back. You can never wander or fall too far that the Lord will not pick you up and restore you.

Joel 2:23-26 (NLT) Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring. The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil. The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you. Once again you will have all the food you want, and you will praise the Lord your God, who does these miracles for you. Never again will my people be disgraced.

Restoration is preparation. When the tribe of Judah returned from exile, they were homeless. There was not a local grocery store to buy food or Motel 6 to house them. What if God laid the foundation as a place to return to when they were ready for fulfillment? The small beginning may have been a marker for you to return to after the Lord restored you. Restoration provides the resource from which our purpose is supplied. Zerubbabel laid the foundation for the temple. It would not be rebuilt for 16 years. When he did begin to build, he was ready for the battles that would come in completing it. Do not become discouraged during the waiting period instituted by the Lord because He is preparing you. Embrace it. Engage in it. Become excited about it. Not because you see it coming to pass before your eyes but by faith that God is working every detail out for your good and His Glory even when it seems like nothing is happening at all.

Joel 2:28-29 (NLT) “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.”

Get ready! It’s coming. God is absolutely ready to pour out His Spirit again. Are you ready? Have you become distracted? Are you discouraged? Is your hope deferred and heart sick today? In Acts 2, the ministry that began with just twelve men and Jesus Christ increased to over 3,000 people in an instant. The Spirit was poured on them striking a fiery flame in the tender hearts of the people. I believe that many of those people were the ones that spent three years following Jesus Christ. Listening to His Teaching and witnessing His Miracles – the three years of ministry yielded that much fruit in one minute. God is ready to set our hearts on fire if we have set our plumb line in our hand. Do we want a vertical life? Do we want God’s Purpose? If our heart and desire is set on Him through true repentance and rejoicing in the period called restoration, this is when revival comes. When new life begins and completion complete.

His Spirit is the essence of eternal life. We are born of human passion. The Holy Spirit rebirths us with spiritual passion. (John 1:12-13) The Spirit of God ends human apathy and gives way to praise. He ignites our heart with a passionate faith that is unwilling to give up or give in when the process is too long, pain too deep or plan not coming together as we see fit. Faith is the hand that reaches out when our body fails us. Hope is the mindset that there is more to life than this if I can just hold on for one more minute. Grace is the power needed when our weakness is evident. God has supplied everything to fulfill our purpose. If only we would believe it enough to build the foundation of faith and keep the plumb line of willing obedience in our hands at all times.

2 Timothy 1:5-7 (NLT) I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

I had this dream many years ago to become a writer. I shared it with the single’s minister of our church and various people along the way. However, when I wandered from the Lord – I decided that the dream was dead. After returning to the Lord, my husband and I were taking a meal to a pastor and his wife who had just welcomed a new baby. Sitting in his living room, he began to prophecy over my life speaking those dead dreams to life. He had no way to know any of the things he voiced other than he felt the Holy Spirit was telling him these things. My husband did not even know about these small beginnings of desire in me. I left that visit in shock and awe. No plausible explanation except that the Lord had used this man to speak life to the dead dream inside me. No, I didn’t go home and write a book. Five years later, I began to write this daily blog never making the connection. This year, I am writing my first book to God be the Glory. To put time in to perspective for you, more than 30 years of waiting, wandering, and preparing.

God put eternity in your heart. He gave you a purpose. You know what your dream looks like. You know the description of your calling. You know in vivid detail the vision that you see. But life is not without distractions. The enemy is eager to offer discouragement. Time is daunting when waiting on an unseen God. I remind you today – yes you – as the Lord has reminded me. You have a spiritual gift. God gave it to you when He called you His Own Child, Special Possession and Masterpiece. Now it is time for you and I to fan the flames of His Spirit to revive the passion is us to achieve the purpose planned for us long ago. God didn’t give you the spirit of fear so refuse to accept it. Instead allow your faith to make a vertical connection with the Lord so that when His Spirit is poured out it will run down that string like oil directly into your heart. God is faithful. He promises those who make the connection – power, love and self-discipline to achieve every good thing and every God thing He has predestined you and I to do to satisfy and prosper our soul then overflow into our life. The best is yet to come. Do not despise small beginnings. Embrace them along with the plumb line in your hand. The Lord is coming. He is ready to pour out His Spirit again. Are you ready?

2 Corinthians 8:10-12 (NLT)  Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have.

Watchtower or Worm Plant

watchtower-or-worm-plant

Psalm 85:6-9 (NLT) Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory.

Revive us again, Lord. The cry of the modern day church is loud and clear. We wait for the Glory of God to fill our churches spreading out across the land. We desire the next great move of God to sweep through our country but do we really know what that will look like? God revives us individually through our personal relationship with Jesus Christ day by day. His New Mercy meets us each morning to prepare us for a new day with another set of choices and footsteps of opportunity to respond to His Gentle Summoning and Still Small Voice. I believe that the outcry of the Body of Christ is within earshot of God but He knows in His Omniscient Wisdom that His People have no idea what exactly they are asking for. It is important to understand what it is exactly when the Lord His Spirit and an outpouring as Joel hints at is made manifest on the earth. This is not a personal plea for our individual life. Revival is a wide spread epidemic of repentance that draws all people to the Lord.

Psalm 85:10-13 (NLT) Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven. Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest. Righteousness goes as a herald before him, preparing the way for his steps.

What a beautiful thought! Unfailing love and truth meeting together consummating to provide righteousness and peace to all mankind. As men and women grasp this new place in God – it begins to live and breathe inside of them producing a Gospel of Love to reach the farthest place in this big world. Right? The Lord pours down His Blessings. To us right…to those who are righteous. To those who “have” repented, right? The abundance of heaven is for God’s Children. The ones who live right. Do right? Speak truth. Those who are generous in all things. The do-gooders right? It belongs to us. We are waiting for You, Lord to come and fill “the temple” of our church with your great love and prosperity. It’s all about me…I mean us. The rain falls on the just and unjust. God is ready to bring revive and bring to life every seed of potential called eternity in every human heart. This is revival. It is the justice of God for all mankind. Not judgment against those who don’t get it…yet.

Jonah 4:5-7 (NLT) Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away.

Poor Jonah! We have heard of his plight. God tells the prophet to go to Nineveh and tell the people that the Lord is about to destroy them. Apparently Nineveh was not a good place but filled with prevailing evil that had drawn the attention of God. Jonah did not want to go to this wretched place to warn the unsavory and violent people of God’s Wrath. So he thought he chose a ship headed in the opposite direction that turned into whale food. The whale deposited Jonah on the beach and Jonah obeyed God. Upon his arrival, he shouted to all the people that in 40 days God would destroy them according to their sin and betrayal of him.

Well, Jonah did not expect them to respond as they did. They didn’t throw him out of the city. They listened and believed. All the people including the king repented and returned to the Lord. When God witnessed their change of heart, He relented and did not carry out the destruction. Revival broke out in Nineveh that day. One might think that Jonah would rejoice and in turn seek justice from God for these people, but instead he climbed a nearby hill overlooking the city and waited for God to destroy them anyway. When God did not destroy the city for its overwhelming city but honored their return to Him and rending of their hearts – Jonah was mad. In his anger and distress, God arranged for a temporary shelter in the form of a “leafy plant” to spread its leaves over his pouting prophet and shade him from the sun. He also arranged for a worm. The worm ate the stem of the plant. The plant represents God’s Grace for Jonah as the Lord reasoned with Him. The worm is the bitterness that comes when a person chooses judgment over mercy for others. Poor Jonah! He was waiting for judgment but God provided justice. When a person repents, He offers righteousness. Jonah thought he was right, but God honors righteousness.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

Habakkuk was crying out for revival. This man was waiting and watching for the Lord to come and shower righteousness on the people. He said to the Lord, “I will wait to see what the Lord says and how He will answer my complaint.” Expectation makes all the difference in the world. While Jonah expected judgment, Habakkuk desired justice for the people. There is a difference. Judgment is the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion or conclusion based on current circumstance or evidence presented. Justice is to be just, righteousness, equitableness, and moral rightness. There is a profound difference in these two words.

John 3:17-21 (NLT) God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.  And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

There is no judgment or condemnation in Jesus Christ. His Spirit who is the very essence of revival is not being poured out in judgment but to offer justice. To pay the debt of sin owed by every single person and offer the grace that is enough to overcome every test, trial and temptation ever faced. To cry out for revival is to swing wide the doors once housing religion to allow the Light of His Love to illuminate the way from every reprobate, perverse, violent and felonious person to enter our sanctuaries and discover our Great God. It is a cry for every sinner to meet our Savior. Is it what we really want? As Children of God, it is important to look around our waiting room and prayer room to discover what it is made of. To inspect our heart and examine the contents thoroughly. Revival is not here yet for a reason.

Luke 15:25-32 (NLT) “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

What if that thing desired, but delayed is not because of the Lord but by me? Could it be that the Great Outpouring of His Spirit called revival is to protect me from myself? The prodigal son had returned home safely. The brother who remained at home working side by side with his father was angry. Like Jonah, he expected his father to punish his brother for his abandonment and rebellion, but instead the father celebrated his return. He would not attend the banquet held in his honor. Justice declared the son a son and safely home. Judgment cried for punishment for wrong doing. Mercy always triumphs over judgement because Jesus came to give us all grace. A son is a son to God and a daughter a daughter through true repentance. Can we accept that in our church setting?

Rightness has no place in the church. Righteousness is the relationship offered only through repentance and acceptance of God’s Grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. Religion is to add order to the body to incorporate a higher standard than already set forth by God. Why do we attempt to crucify sinners? We hug them and welcome them into our churches. It makes us feel good to help someone who is struggling. We want them to come to the empty altar – God knows we don’t need it anymore – yes I am being sarcastic. Why are the altars empty? Because we don’t believe they are needed in our rightness. We talk about the sin of other people ignoring the most vile sin of all – self-righteousness. I am a sinner. I need the Savior. Every single day of my life from here to Eternity I need His Grace and Mercy to cover me. The moment I think another person deserves less than God’s Full Justice or my full attention in sharing His Love – my own life is in jeopardy.

“For your brother was dead and has come back to life!” This is what revival looks like to God. It is for restoration of life. It took only one sin to require every ounce of Jesus’ blood. There is no hierarchy of sin and nothing anyone can do to earn salvation. When we are ready to receive every single person with mercy – the Lord will spark revival in our midst. When saints of God cut down the worm plants and choose watchtowers waiting for God to revive all mankind again – change will come. The only righteousness possible is through the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ who doesn’t offer judgment but justice to all mankind.

Isaiah 30:16 (NLT) So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

Where are you waiting today? If you are waiting on God to judge the world, the shelter you sit in may just be God’s Grace protecting you while He changes your heart and mind. God desires mercy. So much so in fact that He gives it to us brand new in each day. Our hearts must become soft and pliable filled with compassion overflowing in grace. If the first thing you notice about someone is their sin or appearance, you may be in danger of judgment. Judgment causes us to fall under judgment again. It is one of the biggest things holding back revival. God is after hearts today beginning with each one of us. We must wrap our head and heart around true repentance and righteousness to offer it to another. If the altar is a foreign place, maybe its time for a return trip. Consider your conversation. What do you say about the lost? Wandering? Those who live beneath your expectation. Your opinion is judgment. The truth is that God has no grandchildren and Jesus no stepbrothers or stepsisters. God’s Grace poured out to you the “good” kid is equal for all God’s Children. The Lord is waiting for us to change our opinion of others so He can send them straight to us. His Grace is all we need. His Love is the binding force that allows His Spirit to flow through us. It doesn’t matter how much you or little you do when it comes to His Love. It is there for the asking. Lord, change our hearts and minds to always walk in righteousness not rightness. Lord help us to love justice and never again walk in judgment. Increase the fruit of your spirit especially mercy until our love for others is equal to ourselves. Mercy always triumphs over judgment. God delights in those who show mercy.

Proverbs 8:19-21 (NLT) My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver! I walk in righteousness, in paths of justice. Those who love me inherit wealth. I will fill their treasuries.

 

 

Smell Me

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2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NLT) But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

The term for my wanderings this lazy Saturday morning would be referred to as “piddling” or even “tinkering” here in the South. Only one sleeping beauty in the quiet house unless you count the tiny princess running around my feet. As I begin a load of wash, making my way to the garage to close the door left open by my husband on his way to the woods. The old cabinet which is my next refinishing project catches my attention. Grabbing a sandpaper block, I begin to scratch the surface to see how many layers of poly are on it. I begin to inspect it. I bought it from a woman down an old dirt road who lived in a tiny mobile home. Her mother had passed and all her belongings were set up outside under tarped makeshift coverings. I couldn’t really inspect the cabinet in the darkness as the rain began falling so loading it up it was acquired sight unseen. As the gritty edge cut into the top layer, the distinct smell of years of cigarette smoke caught my attention. Sliding open the cabinet, I could smell it there, too. Memories came flooding back to me of my mother’s parents. Grandparents I hardly knew and spent little time with yet in that moment I was carried back to their tiny apartment. My mom’s house smelled just like it as she aged and the generational curse took over her life, too. It’s funny how certain smells trigger memories.

When I was in grade school, I tried everything in my power to eliminate that smoky smell from my belongings. I hate cigarette smoke. It just smells so nasty. I remember being mortified that people could smell it on my clothing. When I went to my paternal grandparent’s house, they would quickly whisk our things down to the basement washing them all and packing them away. Back then the dangers of nicotine were not known like now, it was socially acceptable and just about everyone did it. When I became an adult, I vowed that I would never smell like that again. I promised that my children would not be exposed to it. I had developed an aversion to it. So much so that I am very sensitive to how things smell. I use scented soap. Dumping copious amounts of laundry detergent and fabric softener in the washer and smelly sheets in the dryer to make sure our clothing is pleasant and aromatic long after they cleaned. Bathing and deodorant which seem only natural but to some may not be is a household requirement. Militant efforts to maintain an inviting fragrance to all who visit.

I believe that when I came to Christ sin had a distinct odor in my life. Jesus washed me in His Blood and rinsed me in His Word wrapping me in righteousness and covering me in grace – it is only then that the fragrance of my life is acceptable to God. Please note I do nothing more than submit to the process of complete restoration, Jesus did it all. Yet over time, it is human nature to maybe become a little stale. Perhaps, it is in those moments when sin is allowed to remain in the hidden places like a rotting potato lost in the pantry. No, seriously there is no worse smell I assure you. Or maybe the sweaty smell of exertion when I tried to do what Christ already has done for me because I cannot accept free grace as enough for me. Like boy funk from sweaty gym clothes, discarded socks and every other perspired soaked thing they can find piled high in their room because a whole 20 feet to the hamper is just too dang far for their teenage legs to carry them. My life is to be a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. Lord, smell me. How do I smell to You? Is the aroma of my attitude and actions pleasing to You? Or do I offend you with the odor of sin and perspiration of human perfection? Hmmm…

Philippians 3:8-9 (NLT) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Have you ever smelled body odor and checked your own armpits? Discreetly, of course. I have done it I will admit. I keep perfumed spray and lotion in my bag just in case. I have deodorant in my car and desk at work. Are you judging me right now? I hope not. We should all consider the aroma of our life and decide if we are emitting the fragrance of Christ. When I discover it is me with stinking thinking or smelling choices, I immediately do something about it as not to offend or run off anyone else. What about you? Have you smelled yourself lately? We must examine our heart and mind every day. We must wash ourselves in the Blood of Jesus that is repentance, and know Him more by washing ourselves in the Word. My life has purpose. It is to please God. How can I please the Lord if He cannot stand the smell of me?

Have you ever flipped open the garbage in the morning to discover the delicious dinner last night has turned into a gross, disgusting and offensive odor that assaults you? The meal discarded in the trash can sits and ripens into rottenness by the very next day. What we eat becomes waste that is not pleasant smelling if you catch my drift. We all have to take out the garbage inside and out to maintain a sweet smelling life. When allowed to sit and fester – the odor permeates other areas of our life until no one smells our goodness just our grossness. Everything else is worthless when compared to knowing Christ. We must be willing to discard those things that stink up our life as the worthless garbage to become one with the Lord. It is in that moment the fragrance of our life is pleasing to the Father again.

The message of God is desirable when the aroma denotes something tasty. No one wants to eat something that is terrible. How many times have my kids said to me, “taste this its awful” or “smell this I think its rotten”. Now why in the world would I want to smell something bad much less eat it. God’s Love is sweeter than anything that I have every tasted. He is Good and fills my life with good things. If my life does not reek of God’s Love and Goodness, why would anyone want to taste and see that the Lord is good? You with me so far.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT) Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

My plan for today is simple. I am going to work on my little project. First, I am going to take some wood soap and clean the cabinet inside and out. There are a few imperfections that I will quickly fix and adjust before I set to sanding it thoroughly. I have decided to stain the top and apply a coat of polyurethane. I want this old piece to come to life again. It has history. It bears the smells and scars of its past. With some time, attention and loving care, it will go from a piece of junk one step from the garbage to become my masterpiece.

We are God’s Little Projects filled with imperfections left by sin, our past, problems and more. Jesus finished His Work concerning us on the Cross. He bought us with for a tremendous price though God could stand the sight of us or the smell of us. Jesus washes us in His Blood and rinses us in His Word wraps us in righteousness covering us in His Amazing Grace – it is only then that the fragrance of our life becomes acceptable to God. I want to live in the Presence of God so I must go through the process of repentance and restoration day by day. He makes our life beautiful again as we become His Masterpiece again. The fragrance of our life is made new and attractive to the Lord and all who come into contact with us. Do you need to ask the Lord, “Smell me?” Today. Is there an unpleasant odor wafting from your life? Do people find you offensive and obnoxious when it comes to your life or do they find it pleasing and desirable? Do they want to know the Lord who has filled you with good things? Do they want what you have? Praise and worshipping God should emit a fragrance from our life that is inviting so others will want to know Him and love Him, too. How do you smell today? Can you smell me? Lord, may our lives become sweet smelling offerings and a perfume in Your Presence today!

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

The Purest Gift

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Romans 3:21-24 (Message) But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

I usually do not study or write using the Message translation of the Bible. It must have been the last one I used because when I looked up the word “restore” today, this scripture in Romans 3 was included. I love the part where it tells us that we have “Jesus-setting-things-right” for us. I know that I am incapable of living the glorious life that God wills for me. I get distracted, disappointed, discouraged and even disgusted which causes me to wander or even sometimes stomp off mad in my own direction. Pride is the ominous beast within me always vying for control, pointing a finger at others ignoring the four aimed straight at me. Out of sheer generosity, God has given me a pure gift that as hard as I try to mess it up – somehow it just keeps rising up around me. The Lord restores us. Day after day, He lovingly and gently nudges those who love Him and serve Him back into His Will in spite of our hard hearts and willful attitudes. It is a pure gift.

Romans 8:29-30 (Message) God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

In the midst of the holiday season and the Christmas crush, people come together. Though driving up to the party, everyone may be rush tempers flare and frustration builds. But once the door opens and everyone comes together, it seems differences melt at least for the moment. Tis the season that brings families, friends, and even enemies together to celebrate. Forced into the proximity of acquaintances and strangers, a sense of community begins to rise up. People who have not been together since last year around this time find themselves catching up over apple cider or standing by the bonfire wondering what happened over the past year. The promise to communicate more and see each other fell through as the New Year came and life marches on.

God knew what He was doing from the beginning. He has always been intent on building a Kingdom. A family. A community. No wonder the enemy tries on every level and at every turn to destroy relationship rather godly, familial or even just friendly. He walks around like a roaring lion with a giant ax ready to cut and severe every bond of love and soul tie formed between God and His Created Ones. It is working. People are drifting farther and farther apart. Relationships are conducted on social media or via text. Face-to-face encounters are fewer and fewer so lies circulate in the midst of misinterpretation and insecurity. But God…

The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. Jesus died to give us new life. A place in the Kingdom of God as part of His Body and community called Heaven. It is no wonder that the Greater is He in us continually is striving to connect with those who are around us even when our flesh is not privy to His Plan. I have watched the Lord melt division this holiday season. Strife that no one could seem to overcome has dissolved this Christmas. No lengthy discussions. No overthought words. Just Jesus. He is the only explanation as relationships are restored and friendships renewed. What about you? Gods will is for His Kingdom to be restored and His People to be renewed. If you are sitting on the sidelines in the midst of anger, hurt, or frustration today – Jesus has a gift for you. You don’t have to try. You don’t have to do a thing. Just bring all your disappointment to Him and let the Lord give you hope again. The first step of restoration is not one a forward movement. It is only to turn around and see that His Unfailing Love and Goodness has been pursuing you every day you thought you were alone, misunderstood and yes, even rejected. He was whispering, “Wait! Where are you going? I am doing a new thing. Hang on! Don’t run off! Just wait on me! It will be worth it.”

Many live by the words “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!” This is not the position of Jesus who is our example. It is not a notion that leads to anything good. Yes, we must be wise and discerning in our relationships but one must also allow Christ to oversee all of them. When we put Jesus, His Love, Grace and Mercy in the midst of ourselves – something beautiful and pure rises up in our midst. When the Lord becomes the Protector, Provider and Portion of our heart – there is a place for people in it too. He is more than enough for me. I cannot experience thriving relationships that can be renewed, restored and replenished day by day until I am rooted and grounded in His Amazing Love and Overflowing Grace.

Colossians 2:6-7 (Message) My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

For months, there has been a rift among some young ladies that I know. Friendships – close friendships – torn to shreds by the enemy. Lies and gossip spread about one another rising from insecurity planting bitterness and strife that spread beyond them causing mass destruction in a body of believers. No one knows the root, but many experienced the devastating effects of it. Yet this Christmas in the midst of holiday gatherings celebrating the birth of Jesus together something no less than miraculous has taken place. New life has risen up among them. Restoration is bringing them together without any intervention. The pure gift of the Father was His Son. The gift of the Son is amazing grace. The grace that is given is more than enough to restore and renew every broken relationship in our life.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (Message) Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

The power of God’s Kingdom is relationship. Our relationship with God is fully and completely dependent on Jesus Christ. What if someone else’s relationship with Jesus is completely dependent on us? How is that possible? What if my inability to facilitate a relationship or build community with someone else creates a stumbling block that keeps them from Jesus? What if my stubbornness and lack of grace for them makes them think Jesus is as fickle as I am? What if my unwillingness to be in the same room with them keeps them in the dark rather than exposing them to Light? God’s Kingdom is a body of believers. Believers who form a community not a commune. All should be welcome. Heartbreak is most often inflicted person on person. Someone hurts us. Offends us. Betrays us. They don’t even have to actually do any of these things, but if I think they did the seed is planted.

What kinds of seeds are growing in the garden of our heart today? Will they produce fruit that nourish, replenish, renew and restore the Body as Christ intended? Or will I allow bitterness, division and pride to destroy the pure gift given to me by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ? I have struggled this Christmas because my family will not all be together. I want all my children together in one place at the same time to open gifts and stay in our pajamas all day. Most of my kids are adults. Some will be here. Others will not. I must have the same longing for the other relationships in my life. They must take a place of importance. Be a subject in my prayers. The only new commandment is to love one another. To love them more than ourselves. To love them as He loves the Body and everyone in it. It is His Will that all would be saved and not a single one lost…not even the one who is a thorn in our flesh today.

Are there relationships in your life in need of restoration? Are there some that need to be renewed – labeled “too difficult” so pushed far away? Is Jesus laying problematic people on your heart? Do you find the same ones showing up in random places? Jesus wants to give His People the pure gift of restoration and renewal so we can fulfill His Commandment together. Jesus wants to renew our grace for each other and restore our love for one another. I must be willing to let Him do it in me and around me. Relationships are the most important thing to the Lord and the most difficult to maintain. His Grace is enough today. I speak life to every dead relationship in your life today in Jesus Name. Lord, teach me to use the love and grace that you have given me to maintain healthy and thriving relationships with people all year round. Show us how to form strong, impenetrable bonds that the enemy cannot break. The purest gift given is love and grace. The best gift to give someone is the one they desire most. Jesus wants us to love each other. After all, it is His Birthday right…

I John 4:7-10 (Message) My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

Take Out the Trash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Water Me

Rushing Water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bird’s Eye View

Birds Eye View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cloudy Days

Cloudy Dadys

I Kings 18:41-45 (NKJV) Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’” Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel. 

As I begin to share my heart today, I do so realizing to some this is going to sound crazy and farfetched. Perhaps, I look too intently to see My God in all things. The Word of God tells us that is how He planned it to be that all of creation would be evidence of His Glory. Everything created through His Son, Jesus for all mankind to see and know Him. It seems as of late that I have become quite sensitive to rain. The gathering of storm clouds on hot summer afternoons is nothing new. In fact, it is an annual occurrence for as many years as I can remember. Yet for some unknown reason when the clouds rise up a sense of awe and worship begins to collective in heart and soul. A need to cry out to the Lord, sing His Praise and invite His Presence closer. It can be in the car or even looking out the window at work. It doesn’t stop there. As the rain begins to fall so do the tears, not in sadness or depression as some feel in gloomy weather, but simply because I am overwhelmed by God’s Love in a tangible way. The rain makes me feel like He is falling all around me and saturating my life with His Presence and all those things that He gives in such a place. This is the natural workings around me.

I could stop right here and turn this thing around with a feel good story of some sort or relate the Lord to some personal experience or tangible object like this blog often does but not today. God is taking us deeper. He is stretching us farther. Out of ordinary circumstances and mediocre lives – see His Glory is coming. No, wait it is already here all around us. Today – Jesus wants to show us His Glory. I got a call this week from a friend from church. We do not speak on a daily basis. I knew when her name came up on the caller ID that something was up. We chatted for a few and then she said, “You are gonna think I am crazy…” I love it when fellow believers preface a conversation with those words because my faith makes me feel that way so many times. When the Lord does something or says something in or around me that is just too incredible for mere human beings to comprehend or accept. I promised that I would not so she told me her story.

I prayed for her daughter in church while she faithfully served in the nursery. We have a live feed so the serving saints of God can be a part of the service. As I lingered with her child, she felt her heart pressed to join us. As she opened the door to the sanctuary, she was met with a rushing wind and felt something heavy sweep over her. She look up and “saw” a cloud circling the top of the building. Quickly looking around to see if anyone could see what she could, it was clear she was the only one. She met us at the altar. I guess at some point I reached for her hand and she shared that she felt God’s Power rush through her. She knew what she was experiencing was of the Lord but could not comprehend if it what she saw was as real as what she felt. The Presence of God is real. It is real and thick in the atmosphere. It just so happened at that moment a group of people invited Heaven to come to earth. The same group of believers have been pressing God and praying for His Revival. Desiring the latter day rain, it is coming in the Cloud called Presence. Are we ready?

Elijah was a man of faith. His faith was real. It is was tangible. He believed God at His Word. So much so that Elijah based his attitude and actions on it not reliant on natural conditions or physical circumstances. When it was time for the drought to end and rain to come, Elijah saw it in the spirit. Prayed for it as a person. Instructed others to prepare for its arrival. Jesus is coming back. He is coming in the clouds. Are we surrounded by the very clouds that precipitate His Arrival? Can we see the rain coming? Can we hear His Approach? Are we prepared for the latter rain and outpouring that will come just before He gets here? If not, we definitely should be.

Revelation 1:4-8 (NKJV) Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

This is not about religion or the way of worship that you choose to practice in a building built by man and filled by people each week. It is not about the doctrine you have determined to be your way or the religious commitment to your church. This is about Jesus. The One who took on the form of a human being, lived a perfectly sinless life to be my example, who walked a way that I am to follow, loved unconditionally and died brutally for me. It is about the stone that rolled away just three days later revealing a stunning victory. It depicts a Savior not weak or wavering, but resolute in purpose who obtained my freedom and gave it back to me. That is what it is about. He is coming back. He is coming for me. Am I ready? Is my head in the clouds? My heart must be there, too.

The psalmist tell us that the Lord clouds surround the Lord. (Psalm 97:1-6) We know this to be true in watching the plight of the Israelites whose fear and faithlessness would not allow them to walk straight into their promise but would require years of wandering to find their way to God. All who left Egypt died in the wilderness but the ones born in freedom were the ones who claimed victory inhabiting the Promise of God. Exodus 40 says that the cloud accompanied God’s People throughout “all their journeys”. Before us, the cloud lights the path for the righteous. Behind us, it blocks the enemy’s advances in a covering of darkness.

This isn’t Old Testament fodder. Daniel saw the Lord in a cloud too. (Daniel 7:13-14) Ezekiel said, “Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” (Ezekiel 1:28) Is it possible that my friend saw the Glory of the Lord in our place of worship? Can it be that the Lord came in close enough for human eyes to see Him there? Have we seen so many clouds for so long that we lose sight of them? Not me. Not anymore.

The Lord is moving in closer. It sounds cliché as a Christian to say that Jesus is coming back. We have been threatening it for years. But what I am discovering is that as I see the Glory of the Lord drawing nearing as His Presence becomes more frequently tangible around me in the spirit that Jesus IS coming back! For now, we must open our eyes and see He is coming in closer than before. Am I a crazy Christian? You be the judge. Have I lost touch with reality? Yes, I believe that I have. I want the IMPOSSIBLE to be possible which only happens in the Presence of God. I want revival. Not just a service, but the kind of encounter with the Lord that sets captives totally free, delivering people from addiction, miraculously healing the sick and even raising the dead. I believe it can happen. I see a cloud. Though maybe not the overpowering reality that is coming, it is a revelation that shakes my awareness and causes me to examine my life.

Exodus 14:15-16 (NKJV) And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

The Egyptians agreed to let God’s People go…for the moment. The Israelites leave captivity being led by a cloud during the day and pillar of fire at night. Now God did not lead them straight to the Promised Land but because the Philistines (or opposition) laid between the people and their promise they would take a detour. Fear will lengthen our journey until faith arrives. Well, lo and behold the Red Sea is before them and the Egyptians who came to their senses are pursing them. The people who are faint in heart are complaining to Moses. He answers them with a powerful message of faithful encouragement to stand and God will deliver them.

But in reality Moses was crying out to the Lord because he wasn’t sure how to get out of this one. They were stuck between a rock and a hard place. The Lord tells Moses “why do you cry to Me?” Tell them to go forward. To step out in faith. Put your money where your mouth is Moses. The most power part of this story comes next – “Lift up your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.” I wonder if Moses had a meltdown right there. I mean he was not Charlton Heston in real life. There would not be fifty takes until he got it right. If the sea did not split wide open, they were goners. I would lie if I said that I don’t freak out over faith sometimes when God tells me one thing but everything in the natural makes it seem impossible. Well, we all know that the sea did open up to allow the Children of God through and become a watery grave for their enemies. Praise God!

Is the Lord asking you and me the same thing today? Why are you crying out to me? The same power that brought Jesus back from the dead now lives in me. It lives in you as a born again believer. It is like a cloud filled with rain about to burst. Moses was aware of God’s Presence in the clouds. He acknowledged Him and God kept bringing Him closer and closer to the cloud until He was in the cloud and moving deeper in God’s Presence. The rest of his life would be in the wilderness following the cloud. We have been given an opportunity to step into the cloud and live in His Presence experiencing His Glory. How do we get there from here?

Joel 2:1-3 (NKJV) Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; Nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations. A fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; surely nothing shall escape them.

We usually skip down in Joel 2 to the part about the Lord pouring out His Spirit again in the last days. The clouds are stirring. The Glory of God and His Presence is circling the earth ready to do just that pour out His Spirit on us again. He has chosen His Army. Look in the mirror, friend it is you. He is in those clouds. They are filled with latter day rain. It is the day of the Lord. The remnant army has assembled with the faithful few willing to forsake religion and tradition striking out after God. With militant and committed obedience they are the Lord’s Army not an organized religion but those in radical relationships with Jesus Christ who will follow them without counting the cost but desperate to be with Him.

With this great uprising comes a need for heart ripping repentance dissecting who we think God is and deciding who we know Him to be. Revival requires a wholehearted passionate pursuit of Jesus with disregard for the world. It is fasting, weeping, mourning, repenting and repeating over and over again. It is time for us to put our money where our mouth is. The same power that brought Jesus back to life lives in us. Are we exercising its power? Are we executing godly authority on the earth? Refusing to live with conditions like poverty, sickness and disappointment – we look to the clouds and see Him coming. God is about to restore His People. It is coming in the latter day rain. His Abundance is attainable in His Presence. It is there for the asking. It is reachable. Are you reaching?

Joel 2:28-29 (NKJV) “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

The Lord wants to pour out His Spirit on all mankind. It is sprinkling in our midst. I see the droplets surfacing in many churches and in the midst of believers going after the Lord. The tiny cloud is getting bigger and bigger. Thunder and lightning announce His Approach. The earth is literally quaking under the pressure of His Perfection. This is not an exclusive call but a widespread offering. God’s Love is for you. His Grace is enough to overcome everything you think the Lord is holding against you. Religion does not dictate rules and regulations that is called doctrine to create order in their purpose and program. What about our relationship to God through Jesus Christ? This is the only way to answer the call. When we repent, Jesus offers us His Spirit. His Father wants to adopt us and saturate us in His Love. He wants to take us where He is. The rain is coming but it is the clouds that announce its arrival. The King is coming in those clouds.

Proverbs 16:15 (NKJV) In the light of the king’s face is life, And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.

Everything that I need is found in the Presence of God. His Favor is all I really need to live a prosperous life soul, mind and body. I didn’t wake up and believe it. I had to wander through a whole lot of wildernesses, live through several droughts, and fall into more pits then I care to recall. I have discovered that in the Presence of God there is an overwhelming love and grace like I have never known before.

So you think all this is kind of crazy, to see a swirling cloud in a closed up building or to feel electric power shoot through you in prayer. I know I used to feel the exact same way…crazy Christians. Until I was broken beyond repair, had sinned beyond saving, and wandered too far to come home. When I repented turning to find Him, Jesus was right there. He is with you. He is in every cloud you see. His Favor is each tiny droplet of rain covered in enough grace to get to the heart of things. Do not be afraid. Jesus is not coming to get you. He is coming for you.

When it rains, there is usually thunder and lightning that comes with it. People are afraid of the water in the rain but the storm-like conditions surrounding it. God is in control. This world is not out of control just spiraling toward destruction. Our Savior is coming to take us home. He is in those clouds that seem so foreboding. We have nothing to fear. We just need enough faith to see the cloud coming.

Matthew 26:64 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Empty Altars

Empty Altars

Psalm 84:1-4 (NLT) How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises. 

Sitting at my desk, just outside the window, there is a flurry of activity. Positioned in the tree overhead are bird feeders. Little birds and squirrels look for the seeds that make the way to the ground below. Chirping wildly at the treasure found, they catch my attention throughout the day. They are provided for plentifully from those feeders high and out of sight so they build nests in the camellia trees and bushes. Without a care in life, they make their home within the shelter and sustenance of the homeowner.

As I prayed for my church yesterday, a thought came to me. Why are the altars of the church empty? Where did this idea come from? It has to be because it is the same people each week. Maybe if we invited more people the altar be full. Could it be that everyone in our church is saved? Is salvation why we come? I was perplexed as nothing I came up with settled my spirit. The altar is empty because I refuse to come. Whoa Nelly! When did this become about me, Lord? When I cry out for revival, but refuse to come. When I ask the Lord for help, healing or the like, yet will not change positions. When I desire change but rebuke discomfort or inconvenience. When did this become about me, the moment I cried out for more.

The image and idea of God’s Altar has changed over the years. It used to be an institution of the church but now it is not so clearly defined. Removed as not to offend or seem old-fashioned, I long to see the old benches come from their hiding place maybe then we would answer the call to worship again. The modern day church is choosy about their delivery of the Gospel. Careful not to offend by removing the cross, blatantly refusing to discuss the Blood of Christ as it is much too messy for our Sunday best.

What about the Name of Jesus? Is He mentioned in your place of worship? We are conditioned by the world even as Christians to limit our use of His Name, to pray secretly in closets, and be ashamed of the cross called to bear. Bound to our seats as not to show weakness, the Lord is pressing me today to leave it behind and head to the altar again. It’s not just for salvation. It is not just a place of rededication but restoration and complete redemption day by day.

People keep us from the altar. After all, don’t you wonder when someone comes, why they kneel there? Come on, we all do. The person thought to be strong, a teacher, a leader, or faithful member who serves each week, what happens when they kneel under the suspicion of glaring eyes meant to be praying but really only prying. I am guilty. There are times I just want to come forward and kneel in the Presence of God not feeling a need for anything only desiring to move in closer step in deeper and linger in His Presence. Why won’t I? I struggle every single day to be the person that God has created and called me to be. Do you? If so, the altar is our dwelling place. It is the very place that I belong. Lord, let me do my part to fill your altars again.

Psalm 26:6-7 (NLT) I wash my hands to declare my innocence. I come to your altar, O Lord, singing a song of thanksgiving and telling of all your wonders.

The Altar of God represents our innocence never condemnation. It is the place, as believers, that we declare His Grace is enough. As I come to the Lord in humble obedience and surrender my life to Him publicly, it is a public declaration of faith. It is the kind of proclamation that needs no words. My ability to be yielded to the Lord encourages others to do the same but truly it is for me first in my own life. I need to wash my hands. I need His Grace to wash over me and flood my soul. No matter how committed I am or hard I try – sin still finds its way into my life. Even if its been a good week or a great one, the Altar is where I can publicly thank the Lord for all that He has done privately in my life. It is an expression of faith that promotes inward change. Lord, fill the altar again.

What keeps us from this place? Pride. No other reason to not accept the invitation to come other than living a double life. You should still come. The Lord honors our willingness to kneel before Him to confess that we have blown it again. Let him without sin cast the first stone. It doesn’t matter what another living, breathing soul thinks about me. If I do not achieve right standing with God through His Son, Jesus, I lose my soul forever. Is pride really worth it? Apparently to some, pointing at myself.

Hebrews 13:15-16 (NLT) Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

The old form of the altar was a place of continual sacrifice focused solely on sin and retribution. Jesus Christ is the ultimate sacrifice for sin so now the altar changes a bit. It is a still a place of continual giving but now since the sacrifice is satisfied it becomes our offering to the Lord. We do not come to the altar to give God a sacrifice but to surrender our life as an offering. To avoid the altar completely is to say that there is nothing for which to praise the Lord. It means that I may have allegiance to other things especially that thing which keeps us stuck to our seat.

Psalm 118:26-27 (NLT) Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.

According to Psalm 51, the sacrifice that God desires is a broken spirit and repentant heart. Is this the life that I live? A repentant heart needs Jesus all of the time not just on Sunday and Wednesday. Jesus scolded Martha gently as she ignored His Presence to remain invested in her service, doing and work. Those things that would bring her glory rather than pointing to Jesus. She just got caught up in things. She had a to-do list laying on top of the Word pressing her heart.

Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords to the altar. We need to come to the altar again… and again. In the Book of Ezra, it talks about the rebuilding of the altar of God. It had been prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah (in chapter 25) that the Temple of God would be destroyed and God’s People would be exiled. Nebuchadnezzar would do just that. (2 Chronicles 36:17-21) It would sit in ruin for 70 years. Why was it destroyed? People refused to turn to back to the Lord. Warned over and over again, they decided to live in sin and betrayal against God. But there is a glimmer of hope arising in Ezra 3, even though the people were afraid they decided to rebuild the altar. When the altar was complete, the people turned to the Lord and began worshipping again. Immediately following the rebuilding of the altar, the people would go on to build the Temple of God again.

A commitment to rebuild the altars in our churches and one’s commitment to fill it all by their self if necessary will be the catalyst for revival and the very element that builds the Kingdom of God one final time before He comes.

Acts 17:22-31 (NLT) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

We do not serve an unknown god but the only True, Living God. He sent His Son Jesus so that we could get to know Him intimately and personally. If we (or I) could just wrap my head around and commit my life to the fact that EVERYTHING concerning me is under the complete authority and power of the Living God because of Jesus Christ, I would never hesitate from falling before Him again. Before Jesus, people didn’t know God. But after Jesus the message is clear and concise and sent forth by His Spirit who gives us all understanding in exchange for ignorance.

The Word of God says plainly here in verse 25 that Jesus satisfies every need. Do you have a need today? Why won’t you come before the Lord? Anything that is not completely satisfying in our life can be surrendered to the Lord for fulfillment, if you are think it worthy of a journey into His Presence. Everything I need for a rich and satisfying life is found in total surrender at the Altar of My God. Jesus invites us to come and He will give us rest. (Matthew 11:27-29) Do have a burden? He will lift it from your shoulders so you don’t carry the weight alone…if you will come to the altar. Everything if only we believed enough to come.

In Matthew 14:27-30, Jesus is walking on the water in the midst of a violent storm. Peter says Lord let me come to you in verse 29 but by verse 30, he is going under fast. Faith in God is facilitated by our actions. If you don’t pursue the Lord with passion, our faith grows tired and weary surely we will sink. However, we find later after Peter failed the Lord multiple times and watched as He was beaten, tortured and crucified, back to his “normal” life. When he sees, Jesus walking on the beach. Peter didn’t ask to come or even want a miracle. He wanted Jesus and swam all the way to the Lord. Our desperation for the Lord and dedication to Him must be expressed in our actions. We cannot hide behind religiosity anymore thinking we have to portray the image of perfect people, pious Christians and professional servants but rather just desire Him more and more each day. What will it take to draw you back to the altar today?

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

I need Jesus all of the time. There is no time that I can remember since meeting Him that there wasn’t a longing deep within to find Him again and again. In Jeremiah 29:11, it talks about this plan that includes a future and hope. However, few people read beyond these words to the requirement. In verse 13, it says that we must seek the Lord wholeheartedly. With our entire being, all of our emotions, the long list of needs, wants and desires that motivate us, and in this simple act of surrender to the Will of God and submission to the Word of God our rebuilt altars will begin to expand the Kingdom of God. It begins with me. It begins with you!

Let us come boldly. It is the thought of confidence before the throne of the Gracious God that began this press for the altar. To step out of our comfort zones and cast off convenience to be where the Lord is that motivates me. I want to see a great revival rise up in our midst. I desire all the fruits God’s Spirit is trying to produce in me and through me. I want it all. I have to surrender it all to have it. I don’t know how I will respond to this new word etched on my very human heart today. I know what I want to do. I long to make my life a living sacrifice. I will do whatever it takes to fill the altar with those who worship in Spirit and Truth longing for more of Jesus. It may mean a journey or two or twelve or too many to count to kneel at His Altar, to shed real tears, to turn over more personal real estate to the Lord for His careful consideration and constant cultivation. What is keeping you from falling facedown before the Lord in front of people? I am challenged today to remove ever barrier between myself and the Altar of the Living God! Will you join me there?

Psalm 43:3-4 (NLT) Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!