Call to Rest

Call to Rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Before Revival…

Before Revival

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home Improvement

Home Improvement

I Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT) Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

A favorite date night is a nice casual dinner together followed by a long, leisurely trip to the local home improvement store. Mindlessly wandering around dreaming of home renovation. Our list of projects for this house is exhaustive and grows with each visit. Our last home was built for us. Signing the agreement, all the facades, fixtures and details chosen. We just waited for the building to be complete. It was brand new. Definitely a blessing! Our new home of almost a year is the same floorplan. The similarities end at that point. The front porch is different. It is large and inviting. A place for people to gather sitting in the new rocking chairs. I envision watching our grandchildren one day run up the walk to climb in our laps and rock with us. With two previous owners, it appears that some things were neglected while others stopped and started projects along the way. This place needs some love and attention.

This week’s big purchases included an American flag, solar lights for the walkway, some spotlights and stain for our new front door along with a handle set. My purse was filled with paint chips to decide a new exterior color scheme and options to redo the master bathroom cabinets for future projects. I know that I do not want a washer and dryer made by the same company who specializes in cellphones, no offense. And finally, I am pretty sure that wood tile planks will suit us more than new wood laminate thanks to the growing lab puppy with massive paws and a propensity to sling more water than she swallows. I hope that there are always projects left because I love spending time with my best friend dreaming and doing new things together.

While some may call it remodeling, I believe it to be rebuilding. As I consider my life right now, at this point in time, looking back – God has done some amazing and miraculous things in my life. I have seen miracles. I have experienced His Favor more times than I can recount. His Hand of Provision and Protection always shadowing over us. God is good. He is good all the time. Even on those days thought to be the worst of times, He somehow makes the Light of His Love overshadow the power of darkness of this world. It also my experience that we are victorious overcomers. There have been days when it came down to the final seconds but somehow God in His Sovereignty always pulls out the win. Knowing all of these things about my Lord and Savior and Father God, there is still massive renovation going on in my life. My heart and mind are in a constant state of demo as God rebuilds me. In my complete undoing, the Lord is faithfully making me into a masterpiece. It is painful. It is a process. It is according to His Plan. It will be beautiful in God’s Timing just like He said.

Life is lived in seasons. One building on the next. There are things in our life that must be removed so the Lord can continue to build a firm foundation of faith so our hope in Him is confident until the end. The renewing of our mind including every thought is essential. (Romans 12:2) It is easy sometimes to see what God is doing around us or engage in His Service with our hands and neglect what the Lord is attempting to do in our heart. To be completely honest, six years ago my heart was shattered to the point that I cannot put the pieces back together. God is good. He is faithful to His Word. The outcome yet another victory thanks to Jesus. However, what about me? The soul living inside the body of a human. How do I submit these pieces to His Renewal, Restoration and Rebuilding? Does the process ever end? Will the next phase in this process be too much for me? I am asking all these questions today as God rebuilds me.

I Peter 2:4-5 (NLT) You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 

I am a living stone that is being reconstructed into the spiritual temple of the Living God. He lives in me. Jesus lives in you if you have invited Him to do so and welcomed Him in. When we moved into this house, it needed some work. The process of painting is the fastest and most gratifying. Call me crazy but I love the smell of a freshly painted room. Our daughter’s rooms have fresh paint and new décor along with their bathroom. Each a vivid representation of their unique personalities. The guest room and bathroom completed as well. Making a place for our adult children to come and visit of extreme importance as well. I am contemplating the next redo our bathroom and replacing all the door knobs and fixtures in the house. I am making this house our home. God is making me His Home.

Day by day and surface by surface scrubbing away my past thoughts, ideas and notions about life, changing my expectation, building a foundation of faith and somehow working confident hope through every part of my being. He doesn’t cut corners. God only does His Best. Not based on my faithfulness, but completely structured on His Faithfulness according to His Plan with a future and hope far exceeding my expectation. I just have to surrender to His Will to let Him work out His Plans for me. I do this by surrender. I give up myself in surrender to allow God to have it all. This is a sacrifice. I am free to choose whether I allow Him to finish the work that He has begun or decide my own path. One leads to eternity the other not even close.

How do I know this is what He is doing? Well, in John 2:19-21, Jesus had just cleared the Temple of all the vendors and money changers. In the South, we might say that our Lord “lost it” on them. The Jewish leaders benefiting from those selling sacrifices asked Jesus who gave Him the authority to do such a thing. Jesus told them that if they “destroyed the Temple, in three days He would raise it back up.” They were appalled reminding Jesus that it took 46 years to build that building. Jesus was not talking about a building but His Body. Fast forward to the His Trial when false witnesses would account the events of that day. The high priest inquired a response of Jesus. He remained silent. He asked the Lord, “Are you the Messiah?” Jesus told him, “You have said it.” On the Cross, the people mocked his declaration. Even the two thieves on either side as the Pharisees and other religious leaders stood beneath Jesus hurling insults at Him as He died for them. (Matthew 27:39-44) But then it happened…

Matthew 27:50-52 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.

HGTV lovers and DIY enthusiasts might call it “demo” day. The day that the manmade temple was destroyed. The Presence of God now released in the form of His Spirit began destroying all barriers between mankind and the God who loves them. He ripped the veil from top to bottom opening a door that no one can shut. Death and the grave were robbed on that day. The power of sin stripped in one complete sacrifice. Three days later, Jesus would be raised and the New Temple revealed. The manmade temple in ruins allowed rebuilding to begin on God’s New Temple. He would now live in His People. The Spirit of the Living God chose you and me to dwell in to live in and become one with. He chose us knowing every fault and failure including every act of sin and rebellion. He paid it all that day and still once released began His Passionate Pursuit of us.

Haggai 1:3-8 (NLT) Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT) So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Just Turnaround

Just Turnaround

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

In a Bible Study, the speaker said, “Cancer is a cell unwilling to change.” I tucked it in the back of my mind for a bit. The recent news of cancer scares, chemotherapy appointments, “pink nightmares” and another diagnosis have me contemplating cancer and change. Our son has scans next month that will determine if the cells in his body remain in check. I believe the bone marrow transplant and Hand of God upon him are doing their job but my heart grieves for all who have awakened in this nightmare, living the bad dream or trying to make sense in the aftermath. The last couple of weeks have been overwhelming. It seems that ever since our son’s journey ended, I have been struggling to decide what a “normal” life looks like or if there is such a thing. Something happened during that time. Something inside me changed forever and now I am learning to live in it. To survive the ordeal of a horrific and traumatic illness threatening the life of one of my children, I had to fully step into Christ. My whole being – body, mind, spirit and every single piece of my crushed heart had to be surrendered to find my next breath.

The perspective of my life has changed. My goals and aspirations are much different. Just like you, I see my future one way and when life takes a turn it causes stress and worry to fill my mind. As the pressures of life began to weigh me down, I started to complain and resist in an outward display. Challenged to find a solution or quit my job, I went to the Lord. You know what He told me? I had to change. God doesn’t see our life and all the problems. He sees my potential. The purpose for which He created me and the plan designed specifically for my life. It is not dependent on the variables around me but it all works together for my good. If I can keep my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith and remain yoked to Him – life and power belong to me. His Grace is always enough. I have to change…no one else and nothing else but me.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

A quick and simple lessen about cancer from a novice perspective. Cancer is just another cell in the body. The problem is it doesn’t come pre-programmed with the life sustaining power to change. It is rogue. Rogue means no longer obedient, belonging or accepted and hence uncontrollable. It becomes a renegade. If you think about it, cancer never wins. For death is to kill its own source of life. It is suicidal in its mission. For if medicine doesn’t stop it or the Hand of God does not immediately heal it – it kills itself by ending the life of its human source. Cancer is basically a disease of uncontrolled cell division. Cells come with regulators that are overridden in a cancer cell. It does not have the safe limits built in that tell it how to grow and develop normally in the human body. Cancer cells make their own rules and growth factors. They are stuck in the “on” position. They ignore the innate signals from the body designed for healthy growth and development. How many times do I allow my flesh to override the Spirit? The Lord is working in me to make me a new creation and produce new life yet in my impatience and unwillingness to change cause a delay in my development. What if the lack of progress towards fulfillment of my purpose is me?

Repentance is turning back to God. It is not a mandate for change. I can do nothing to make my life better. Repentance leads to salvation which is an act of submission. It is to surrender every “cell” of my body and fiber of my being to the redemptive, restoring, renewing and renovating Power of Christ. To allow Him to improve my standard of living to God’s Glorious and Life-Giving Standard. I can do nothing apart from Christ. But in Christ, I have everything I need to grow, develop and mature my purpose. The only parts of my life that will not be renewed, restored and revived are those unwilling to change. The process of transformation is change. Not a change I can produce, but the One the Lord will if I give every part of my life to Him.

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

At one point in our son’s fight against cancer, the doctors discussed his participation in a clinical trial for immunotherapy. Essentially they take some cells from a patient with active cancer and teach the immune system to fight back. We didn’t enter the trial but instead he was approved for a bone marrow transplant which took some of his cells after chemo-blasting as much cancer out of his system as possible and storing them for later use. He entered the hospital and for weeks they killed every cell they could without killing him and then reintroduced the clean cells to take over. They did and our son is alive today despite only having a 2% chance of survival. He is a living, breathing miracle. Though he celebrates victory day by day, there are still challenges in his post-cancer life. A review of systems provides a lengthy list of side effects from the disease and treatment alike. He requires medications and monitoring of certain health conditions. He is still dependent on his medical team which leads me to this point – you will always need Jesus. In fact, the more you grow, the more you will come to know that He is Your Life Source.

Sin will take over in the absence of Christ. Rogue behaviors will surface from our past. Flesh will rise up to overtake us in weakness. Our mind will play tricks on us as the enemy tries to convince us that God is not good, or He has forgotten a single promise. The enemy wants you to believe that the Grace of God is not enough. The truth is friend it is more than enough to make it through each day triumphantly even in the midst of trial or tragedy. We must only be willing to repent (turnaround)to face the Lord and allow Him to live, move and breathe in us. There is no condemnation in Christ. Someone needs to hear that today and understand. God sees sin as cancer. He has the cure. Just turn around and let His Unfailing Love and Goodness overtake you – this is when death becomes life, potential results in purpose, and you will experience Him from glory to glory.

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

Jesus didn’t come to save the world. He came to save us. You. Me. Everyone. To think that He came to save the world would be like Christ draining the ocean to keep our feet planted on the ground. No. Faith is not needed in such a case. It is when water is all around us and still our heart beckons us to come. Jesus says, “My grace is all you need…today.” No matter what you are facing or how good the day may seem – we all need His Grace and Mercy to continue the transformation process that all believers are undergoing. We much know that His Power works its absolute in our weakness. Why else would the prideful be warned of a fall? It is in that moment when Christ is enough that our life is immediately changed for the better and life released in the midst of such a declaration. This is the Gospel of our life. To let Christ have His Way in every area. It is not a choice attributable to anything that I can say or do but in the choice to let Him have His Way and fill every space and void in my life. Sometimes it is releasing my expectation to fully embrace His Promises which are always more than I can think or ask. Is it possible to take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles – yes it is. The power to change lives within us. Christ is enough. I just have to believe it to receive it. To believe it means that each and every day – I must repent (turnaround) and embrace the Christ in me and the life He is producing.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

I made a startling realization this week. Okay, I am not going to lie I come to this every time. When I am stressed, anxious, worried, and overwhelmed – I begin to release the pressure by taking it out on those around me. I find myself complaining and grumbling. I become exhausted and given to tears. Time and time again…I hear the Lord whisper – “Hey, My Grace is still enough for you.” I turnaround and find Him right there where He always was with a Handful of Goodness and Heart full of love that the Lord is ready to lavish on me. I only have to turnaround from doing things my way and holding to my expectations to receive it. Jesus always gives me joy and peace that is indescribable without fail. I want to be a new creation. I want the new life I am promised. I am all too human just the same. When I find my life overwhelming, it is then that I realize I am the one who got turned around. I am the one doing it my way according to my will. The overwhelming feeling inside me is desperation mixed with unmet expectation that reminds me – Christ is all I need and He lives in me.

Stop evaluating your life according to those around you. Your Purpose and Plan are designed specifically and exclusively for you. This is not a competition. God has no favorites. Everyone has the potential and promise to be a Child of the Living God by accepting Jesus Christ. Everyone. You have the opportunity to put your old life of shame, regret, lack and discontentment behind and fully embrace the new life Christ died for you to have including full freedom and soul prosperity that somehow makes its way into our life as increase. What if all you have to do is stop doing it your way and let Christ have His Way? Could it be you are trying too hard rather than depending fully on Jesus? The Lord stands right behind you. He is ready, willing and able to change your life beginning with you. Will you just turnaround?

Psalm 23 (NLT) The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Just Breathe

Just Breathe

Job 33:4 (NLT) For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Here is a thoughtful nugget for today – breathe in, breathe out. Congratulations! You just successfully accomplished something in life. You perpetuated it by simply inspiring and expiring a single breath. Now do it again! Two triumphs in one day…now keep doing it throughout the rest of today. Completely overwhelmed by work, church and life, I sat working on surprises for Mother’s Day for church. After working the second late night, swinging by the grocery store to restock, taking care of our little puppy, nursing our adult fur baby whose tummy is not well, cooking dinner and settling in to prepare for Sunday. I could feel the pressure closing in on me. Tired. Exhausted. Brain not fully functioning. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes as my heart pounded in my chest. Another rough day. There have been more than a few lately. More challenges than usual – but that’s just life right? Having gone through much worse and surviving, I still feel might heart yearning to thrive again. The Lord rushed in to comfort me during my unspoken prayer. His Words clear, calm and focused to me – just breathe.

Too often in the name of busyness – it is human nature to breathe shallowing. To keep running from this task to that one using all of our body, mind and spirit to create a better life and meet human expectation. Burn out comes. The wall is hit hard forcing all the breath from our body. Our humanity a heavy weight that burdens us rather than becoming the blessing we are promised. It is certainly not of God. He doesn’t tell us to “do” it all. In fact, He doesn’t need us to do a thing. I exist for God’s Pleasure. He gives me purpose that promotes prosperity by His Grace not because I deserve it. Just like our children do not earn the house they live in, the food they eat, the money I give them or the clothing that overflows from drawers, closets and the laundry hamper – I give it all to them simply because I love them and want to care for them. But I am not the Lord, and I do grow weak and weary. Thankfully, He does not.

Acts 17:22-28 (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.’”

The Unknown God. Do you know the Lord? I have been married to my husband for almost two decades. He is my best friend. I know him better than any other person in this life. To know him comes from spending almost every single day with him consecutively for more than 18 years. It has meant giving up my way to follow him on many occasions. It requires forgiveness time and time again. It is to put him above other people. To love him. Seek him out. Serve him with love. Day by day getting to know him more. Have I applied the same desire and drive in getting to know the Lord? His Word is the Way, Truth and Life. See if you really know the “unknown” God who Paul speaks of – you can breathe easy.

God doesn’t need us to do anything. He desires us. He wants us. He sent His Son to die for our sins so that there is an opportunity to live in a relationship with Him. That’s it. All the other religious rules and regulations are not of God. Grace has them covered. What will allow the greatest success in our Christian walk and “living for the Lord” is not in our personal ability or dedication to righteousness but one’s ability to slip into the Robe of Righteousness and return home as the prodigal son or daughter. The Father/Child relationship is what the Lord desires. Our family depends on one another. Though from time to time there is rivalry amongst them, let someone come against them or there be a proposed threat – the circle the wagons quickly prepared to fight. There are many days that I forget this truth. The part about God not needing me to do any particular thing or that my success or failure as His Child is not hinged on my performance. God loves me for me. He formed me in my mother’s womb writing a perfect plan and purpose for my life including enough grace to get me through it. He is always for me. He gives me new mercy each morning and is just waiting to for me to breathe Him in deeply. To allow His Presence and His Spirit to work in me and through me giving me peace and inexpressible joy as I do the unthinkable, unimaginable, and absolutely infinitely more than I ever considered possible. There is more to life than this. It is found in Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. I just need to remember to keep breathing. It is in Him I live, move and exist. This is all part of inspiration and expiration the breath called life.

Daniel 10:16-18 (NLT) Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.

The breath that keeps me breathing is the same air breathed into Adam. It has continued to bear fruit called life from generation to generation. Just as God’s Word will not return void, neither will His First Breath that brought humanity to life. The perpetuation of life will continue until Jesus comes. It is an awesome thought to think that the very mouth that formed the words that created all that we know is continuing its purpose in me today. If I am breathing – I am alive. I have human breath that is given to accomplish natural respiration. However, I have been given the spirit of Jesus Christ when He released His Last Breath on the Cross and saying, “It is finished.” Do you remember what happened next? The veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. Nothing could ever separate me from God again. His Spirit (His Breath) did not stop there but resurrection power brought the dead back to life. His Breath cannot help but produce life in and around us.

Daniel was filled with anguish, overwhelmed by sorrow, and very weak. He was so weary in fact that he said, “How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my Lord?” He had seen a vision that drained his faith and overtook his hope so quickly that Daniel was drowning in sorrow unable to catch his breath. “My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Whether you are overcome by physical, emotional or spiritual exhaustion, weakness, weariness or just plain empty – the Lord has what you need today. His Voice is reminding you just breathe in and let it out. Breathe me in – let fear out. Breathe me in – let broken pieces fall where they will. Breathe me in – let worry go. Breathe me in – fall on me in your weakness. Breathe me in – become one with me, yoke your life to me, become one with me. The Lord is offering you His Whole Life – every fiber of who He is and what He is able to do in a single breath. Will you just breathe today? Will your declaration be as Daniel’s when he said, “I felt my strength returning.”

Psalm 33:4-9 (NLT) For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.

So…

Psalm 104:30 (NLT) When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.

And finally…

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Embracing Change

embracing-change

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Living in Florida, the winter season is very mild here. There may be rainy days, but at least I do not own a snow shovel or ice scraper. Amen! Hallelujah! When I woke up this morning to twenty degree weather, I could feel it coming through the window before I got up. Mounds of blankets and covers along with the steady hum of the heater running, I snuggled in a bit more. The clock was not so accommodating. If I was going to have time with my Lord this morning before church, it was clear I must get out of my cocoon and prepare for the change in the atmosphere. Donning a hoodie and wrapped in a blanket, I was ready to face the cold with our fur baby in her tiny cute sweater. I still wasn’t ready for the blast of frigid air that met me at the door. Baby, it’s cold outside.

Rummaging through the closet, it is clear that I must put on some extra layers today. But what to wear is yet another challenge as the change of conditions make it necessary. I have apparel for warm weather and even days of pouring rain but this freezing thing is new so I must adjust. I have pulled out some options to be revisited before I get dressed. It’s funny that on days like today rather than getting out there and embracing this new season as experience, my girls and I just want to hunker down and hibernate. Willing to forgo shopping or an outing into “town”, they were just fine piddling around the house and staying warm inside. Oh the comforts of home that breed complacency within us in more ways than one!

What is complacency you ask? It is the feeling of quiet pleasure or security along with satisfaction with an existing condition or situation that often makes one unaware of some potential danger or defect. I am comfortable in the warm weather of the South. This sudden change in the environmental conditions around me are unfamiliar, uncomfortable and unwelcome. God does not change. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. If there is to any change or transformation in my life – I must be the one. Change is inevitable in the progression of our relationship with the Lord…if we allow it to move us, mold us and make us new.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

The Lord is constantly promoting change in our life. His Deepest Longing and Greatest Desire is that we are changed into His Glorious Image. This morning when contemplating what to wear to headed to church. I have selected some options not only for the occasion but for the conditions. There is one thing to be clothed in to meet with the Lord. Do you know what that is? Righteousness. The only thing that God looks for when He sees us is Jesus Christ. When I am “in” Christ, I am His Child. Sin is no more. Grace properly applied and love exuding all around me as Light to a dark and dying world. It is all about righteousness. God is absolutely right. He is perfect in every way. When my life doesn’t line up with His Word, it would be foolish to pray for my way because the Lord will never march us back to captivity but always provides opportunities for freedom.

Genesis 31:1-3 (NLT) But Jacob soon learned that Laban’s sons were grumbling about him. “Jacob has robbed our father of everything!” they said. “He has gained all his wealth at our father’s expense.” And Jacob began to notice a change in Laban’s attitude toward him. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there, and I will be with you.”

To recap the story of Jacob, he came in this world wrestling with his twin brother, Esau. He finally tricked him out of his birthright. With the help of his mother to avoid his brother’s wrath, Jacob went to live with his family member, Laban. Laban had two daughters, Rachel and Leah. Jacob fell in love with Rachel immediately and after working to obtain her hand was tricked into marrying Leah. He worked even more and would be given Rachel in marriage as well. The Lord blessed Jacob with many children and he prospered caring for Laban’s flocks. However, Jacob began to notice a change in Laban’s attitude toward him. It was then that the Lord revealed His Plan to His Child. “Return to the land…I will be with you.” The conditions of Jacob’s life which once were comfortable became uncomfortable and it was time for him to move.

It would be ridiculous for me to get mad that the temperature has dropped outside. It is not unusual for extreme cold in winter seasons. However, it is not normal for where I live. With this in mind, consider the conditions of your life today. Has there been a change in people’s attitudes? Have uncomfortable situations presented themselves? Do you feel sudden dissatisfaction? Are you discontent? Is there strife or division around you? Conflict? God does not change. We must. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. There I must not be. If the conditions surrounding my life change, could it be a new season is upon me? Is it time for a move? Is God promoting change? His Spirit seeking more freedom? Yes. Yes. Yes.

Genesis 32:22-28 (NLT) During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions. This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob. Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

At this point, Jacob has made a covenant with Laban. He could go back if he wanted to. Jacob has sent gifts to his brother to make way for his future. His wives and children were already there including his servants and possessions. It was Jacob and the Lord. In Exodus 14, the Children of Israel have been freed from slavery but now faced with the Red Sea they are unsure if they desire this change. The people and Moses cry out to God. God replies, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” I wonder if this was not the same point in time for Jacob. While the promise of his future and hope was before him, the comfort and control of the past summoned his return. We do not like to be uncomfortable. We do not yearn for inconvenience. Like Jacob, we wrestle with change. God does not change. Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever. If a new life is to be had, new person discovered and new thing to come about, it will never because anyone else moved but me.

Philippians 3:20-21 (NLT) But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

There are some people who will wake up this morning realizing how unfavorable the conditions, turn over pulling the covers up and skip church. Barring unsafe conditions, these are the ones who just do not want to weather the cold but certainly go make it if they tried. We are citizens of Heaven. The future hope held on to is much more than our needs, wants and desires for our natural life but securing our residency in God’s Kingdom. This will always require change on our part. Change is inevitable to those who desire success according to God’s Plan which is perfect. He perfects all that concerns us. Promising to make good all the details of our life, no circumstance is wasted. No hardship unnoticed. However to avoid change is to skip the transformation process of God that moves us from death to life. God desires to give us a new heart. He wants to give you His Spirit to produce the kind of fruit that will satisfy our soul. He will take out that stony, stubborn heart that keeps you from fully accepting the robe of righteousness that awaits you so that you will be responsive to the change that the Lord is precipitating in your life. (Ezekiel 36:26)

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

Have the conditions of your life changed? Do you feel like it is time to move? Is the atmosphere of your life forcing a choice that you are not comfortable making? God is with you today. He is in you. He is more than likely the One who is promoting change in your life. Change means to make the form, content, nature or future course of something different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone. God will not force you to change but offers us the opportunity to do so in the form of freedom. You are free to remain comfortable and complacent without hope. Hope is for the future. Hope requires change.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (NLT) God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

Hope is the anchor for our souls. Hope is for the future. It requires faith that believes without seeing. Faith will allow God to move us and change us even when uncomfortable and inconvenient. God does not lie. He doesn’t change His Mind. We must change. Change is indeed inevitable, yet why are we surprised when it comes. Struggling and striving with God for our way only hinders the process of prosperity in us. We must submit and surrender to win the race of faith and secure the hope to endure to the end.

I want to encourage you today to embrace the change. Look for the ways that the Lord is pressing you toward freedom, take the leap of faith that carries you from death to life transforming the natural into supernatural that touches here and now. God has a plan for you that contains a future and hope that is not in any way impacted by us. It can only be accepted. You can do nothing to limit God’s Love and Devotion to you. Nothing can separate you from His Amazing Love. It is unconditional. That in itself will take me a lifetime of searching and transition to Heaven to fully understand. Friend, God is offering you an opportunity to be changed and transformed. For your life to look like His Word and according to His Plan… the rest is up to you!

I Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

Wasteland

wasteland

Isaiah 43:18-21 (NLT) “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

The New Year is finally here. On this last day of 2016, what is your outlook for the coming year? Have you written down carefully thought out goals and aspirations of dramatic change? Have you prayed and sought the Lord on what His Desire for you might be? Are you merely just trying to get through today after a long hard holiday? Maybe you really are only trying to pick out an outfit and clean yourself up for a fancy soiree or one last family gathering, plastering on that smile to hide your pain, and make people think you are happy and whole when deep down inside there is broken despair? When the ball drops at midnight in the midst of Times Square where will you be? What will you be doing? What are your thoughts or whispered prayers?

Full of anticipation yet the lingering fear that next year will be the same as the one that is left. I feel this way every year. I hunger and thirst for the Glory of God. Like many there are days when the valley seems so deep and dark and life a barren wasteland despite the Goodness and Favor of God all around me. I have so much to be thankful for that this need for more sometimes makes me feel so unthankful. Yet today as I read Isaiah, I am reminded that is in the wasteland that God creates waterfalls. The thought that there must be more to life than this is not necessarily born of our flesh. No, I believe that God allows us to experience wastelands, barrenness, and dryness for the purpose of desire, hunger and thirst. The more I read the Word of God the more evident it is that my life has way more potential than realized today. To enter His Presence only makes it clear that I have only scratched the surface of the vast depths of His Love and Goodness. His Voice a whisper that beckons me closer to hear what He is saying in His Close Proximity. God wants to refresh us. His Greatest Desire is to restore us. However, personal satisfaction and human fulfillment can often stop our progress in faith and eliminate our need to trust the Lord so we enter wastelands. Are you in a wasteland today? On the verge of giving up? Do you have hope for 2017 or expect the same hard life as every year before? God wants to turn your wasteland into a waterfall. Are you hungry and thirsty in the depths of your soul? God wants to refresh, restore and renew you like never before.

Psalm 105:39-41 (NLT) The Lord spread a cloud above them as a covering and gave them a great fire to light the darkness.  They asked for meat, and he sent them quail; he satisfied their hunger with manna—bread from heaven. He split open a rock, and water gushed out to form a river through the dry wasteland.

Psalm 105 details the Way of God with His People. The movement and progression of tests and trials that lead to trust and faith. Salvation comes about only one way. It cannot be reconstructed by a man or his hands. It can only be accessed with our heart. So often, we take what we need from the vast depths of His Love and Goodness thanking Him for the immediate help but then wandering off to make our own way, maintain control and hope for the best. Yet the Plan of God is too perfect just like its Maker and He will not relent allowing us to settle for less than His Best. God is always working all around us for our good. He goes before us. Stands with us. Falls in behind us. This is obviously too much for human comprehension but one’s inability to understand the Truth does not render it void. So the Lord presents us with opportunities to trust Him more and depend on Him. If only in 2017, each one who claims to be a Christian and professes belief would decide to stop looking at the barrenness and brokenness of current conditions and circumstances to see what God is doing up ahead. Sometimes it is important to shake off the reality of human perspective to gain godly perception. Our life has purpose not in our natural ability but supernatural potential hidden in disbelief behind a barrier of sin. Pride builds tall walls to protect what is left of our almost broken heart. The knock on the door is not the enemy trying to take what is left, it is the Lord who wants to come in and commune with you. He wants to plant seeds of righteousness. He longs to fill you with hope. What is keep 2017 from becoming the year that hope is restored, life renewed, and dreams fulfilled? You. Me. Our pride. Doubt. Disbelief. Disappointment. Today we have an opportunity to pack what is worthwhile and take out the trash readying to move forward and take the land as the Lord promised.

Job 39:-8 (NLT) “Who gives the wild donkey its freedom? Who untied its ropes?  I have placed it in the wilderness; its home is the wasteland. It hates the noise of the city and has no driver to shout at it. The mountains are its pastureland, where it searches for every blade of grass.

I have been called stubborn by just about everyone who knows me. I prefer the word “driven”. I decided as a young person that there were some things that must change in my life and set off on my way. Not consulting anyone but relying solely on experience, I fell flat on my face. When I did commit my heart to Jesus Christ, I really don’t think anyone believed me. So I couldn’t rely on what others thought of me but only the Lord to cultivate good fruit and be my encouragement. Over time, it didn’t matter what people thought but spiritual pride and religiosity took over.

In 2011, my entire world fell apart and my heart was broken irreparably. I should have died in that moment. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think beyond the next sixty seconds. After a desperate consultation with the Lord in my complete devastation, I was asked to trust Him. Not just with my life, but with my precious son. I said, “Yes.” I had no idea the journey ahead that would span three long hard years and even now two years into remission haunt me from time to time. Yet, I can say with transparency and complete honesty while I would have never chosen to go through or for our son to be put to such a test, I would not trade the faith obtained in that moment. I cannot humanly explain the course of events any more than the medical team involved. All I know is that I trusted and believed. God delivered.

With this in mind, consider the trial and test you are in right now today. When the clock strikes twelve, it will not dissolve or go away. You can resolve to trust the Lord. You can decide that this year your faith is going to reach a handbreadth farther than your fear. Your doubt will be overshadowed by the Light of His Love by basking in His Word, finding a promise, and letting it shine in the darkness. Freedom is found only in Jesus Christ. Who the Son sets free is the one who is free indeed. I can claim freedom but not necessarily live in it bound by sin, shame or a number of other foolish emotions or temporary things. God is attempting to move us from slavery to Sonship. We can only achieve a new destination by leaving our present position. The Lord wants to take you higher than ever before. Are you willing to go through a wasteland to get there? Friend, you are already in the wasteland looking for a waterfall. Faith splits rocks. It moves mountains. But first – it must move you!

Isaiah 35:1-10 (NLT) Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived. And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it. Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

Life is hard. The past was difficult, today has troubles of its own, and next year will present further complications. Welcome to a world infiltrated by sin. This place called home will end one day and be completely destroyed. The only thing capable of lasting is the human soul. A diversified life yields no real gain. To live in the gray zone never truly committed to Christ but not really living for the world is called lukewarm mediocrity. The Lord would rather you be hot or cold. I am not trying to paint a dim picture or cause you to relinquish the last bit of hope you hold on to at all. Just gain a clear perspective of what is and what is to come.

It is time to decide if our dedication is sincere. True repentance or turning can only be accomplished once the course is set. Otherwise it creates an endless merry-go-round spinning but going nowhere. Before you set goals for the future, one must truly evaluate where it is you are today. Examining our heart reveals the truth of our commitment to Christ. Are you willing to look past your pride to see the real you? I can fast and pray in the New Year but I stay the same nothing will change or come to pass. It is in the complete surrender of all that I am to all He is that creates a catalyst for change. I cannot achieve deeper levels in God if I am not willing to move from my present position of comfort, convenience or complacency. Rather than leaving the valley, I must go through it. It’s called endurance. Rather than crying for rescue, maybe a little refreshment is all that I need. Hunger and thirst only come in the absence of sustenance. Perhaps, I have been relying on others or even myself to provide when God has Goodness stored up for me that He is desperate to deliver.

Is your wasteland really a wasteland today? I leave you with this thought to mull over while you cook the meal, or prepare for guests or get gullied up for the grand event. Think about it. A wasteland is a barren place or one that is uncultivated. It may be a devastated area. We all have some places like that. It is considered to be something that is spiritually or intellectually barren. To be barren means unproductive or unfruitful. These are not qualities characteristic of believers because the Holy Spirit works day and night to produce good fruit in us. The wasteland you are in is the gateway to your future. You must go through it to get there. The promise was on the other side of the Egyptians, Red Sea, wilderness and Jordan. Not everyone made it. Many died in their wandering looking for God’s Promise their way. When Jesus came, many died in their own expectation because how could the Messiah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords not be of noble birth or die at such a young age. They died in disbelief when the Promise was an arm’s length in front of them. Perception can cause us to lose sight of godly perspective. Hope is not seen in the reality of this life. It is perceived by us through faith that sees past the valley and through the wasteland. It requires trust. Is your wasteland really a wasteland today? I encourage you. I implore you today. Before you make a long list of resolutions, get this revelation. Trust God in 2017. Trust Him with your life. Your whole life. If we can do this one thing, wastelands will soon become waterfalls overflowing in the Glory of God and filled with His Goodness.

Isaiah 40:3-5 (NLT) Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!”

Hope for the Future

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Jeremiah 29:10-13 (NLT) This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 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.

Most of us have heard the age old expression to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Could this be the same thing as being stuck in a rut? I don’t know. I often feel as though I have stepped out of the boat by faith and Jesus is just out of reach – so now what? Welcome to the realm of hope. The uncomfortable place where faith is expended but hope not yet realized. It is the place offered as deep cries out to deep. It can also be the very place the enemy meets us when he knows fear may be stirring and doubt beginning to rise like waves just before the storm. The place where mockers cry out foolishness from the shoreline. Christians call out from the boat, “Are you sure it was God?” and Jesus waits with His Nail-Scarred Hand extended. He said, “Come.” And you responded. Now what?

Welcome to hope. The so-called “anchor of our soul”. The place where faith takes it first step and leaves us in an abyss of swirling thoughts and the vortex of our mind attempts to suck us in and pull us from every single promise engrained in our thoughts. Why? Why do we struggle? Why is life so hard? There really must be an adversary who wants my soul. Who desires every good thing God has given me in this lifetime. He wants my faith. It is the only thing that can save me. He wants to rob me of hope and a future more glorious than can be imagined. Joy so wonderfully secure that it is inexpressible. Do you have plans for the future? Maybe a birthday coming up or an anniversary. Perhaps, you are awaiting a birth be it a person or a promise. Are you taking a special trip? A promotion coming down the pipes. Whatever it is that lies beyond today and this moment are not promised. Only today. This moment. This breath. What will you do with it?

Jeremiah 29:10 hints at a lifetime. Mankind did not have a prescribed lifetime until sin entered him. God offered death as a release from the effects of sin in our life. He limited our years to 120 in Genesis 6:3. The psalmist eludes to a further shortened existence of just 70 years in Psalm 90:10. God’s Grace would not allow His People to suffer as a demonstration of His Unfailing Love and Compassion for us. Jeremiah 29:10 says “You will be in Babylon for seventy years.” Could it just be a coincidence? Or is our future truly vested in forever? We want the future and hope that is mentioned in these verses but so often design it by our choice and preference when it is all by predestination and God’s Master Plan and Design. If our future and hope is hidden in Jesus Christ, one might be wise to decide what am I doing to invest in this future and hope rather than in the one scheduled to end a few decades or less.

“But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 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. I am captivated by the future today. What is to come? This week between Christmas and the New Year evokes this response more and more each year I am alive. Since becoming a Christian, this has stirred excitement in me to move into the new thing God offers with each year of life. Our life comes with a plan. It contains a future and hope. Every step of this life has the potential to lead us there. However, our thinking must grow and expand from thoughts about daily life, current conditions and all the circumstances surrounding our existence beyond this life to forever…now. God planned good for us forever. He plans a future in Jesus Christ. We have hope that can only be realized after our departure.

In Matthew 24:36, the Lord tells us that we do not know the day or hour of His Return and that only the Father knows. In Romans 8:28, God promises to take every detail of our life and use it for our good…for those who love Him. What you desire, you pursue? We pursue many things in life based on our wants, needs and desires. Investing our time, talent and treasure in passions and pursuits to improve our standard of living naturally. Will we allot the same amount of energy and dedication to a future and hope that is never experienced by the five senses and only confirmed by His Spirit in us. Will we take a single step of faith when the rest of the process is unclear? Will I waste my time with no guarantee other than one that is promised in ancient text and whispered by an unseen Spirit? I must if what I am after is eternal life and forever with the Lord. I have no idea when He is returning or the day I will meet Him face-to-face, but what I do know today is that I must invest more of me into the process of finding Him in order to have faith that is secure and hope that is confident.

Romans 8:22-24 (NLT) For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it.

I believe that the church does people an injustice when they do not teach the meaning of hope. I have hope because I have Jesus Christ. But the hope that I have does not exempt me from trials, heartaches, disappointments, and seeming disaster sometimes. Heavenly hope in Jesus Christ does not lead to disappointment, but how many times do we invest our belief in something other than the Word of God, His Truth and His Way? We diversify our faith. Giving some to God, some to man, some to money, and some to self just to name a few. All the while, wondering why we are stretched in so many directions.

We are given hope when we are saved. Hope that will never be fully realized in this lifetime. I remember the first time I heard “realm of hope”. It was sitting in an infusion room when the doctor was trying to tell me that the third relapse of cancer in our son may be his last. As I asked her a flurry of questions, the physician who was always so optimistic and encouraging could not make any promises. When she said those three words, “realm of hope”, something in me leapt with exhilaration. Would this be the place where God took over?

Later in our conversation, she used my other favorite word. She said, “Impossible.” In every trial of life I have endured so far, when someone uses the word “impossible” or “forever”, I have seen the Hand of God intervene. He is the God of our future and no one can dictate the outcome of His Children’s future no matter what. When man says our situation is impossible, it means our faith must be fully shifted to the God who makes all things possible. In our utter devastation and weakness, it is human nature to call out to the One who is higher. He answers our call in that moment of pure desperation. This is the moment when His Power becomes enough for us because it is all we have to hold on to. Life drives us to this point by design. God desires us to live forever with Him. He wants to give us a future. The Lord is making all things possible for those who believe enough to pursue hope wholeheartedly.

Ephesians 4:4-6 (NLT) For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

“You have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” In my fifty years of life, I have seen the Hand of God come close to the earth and do great and mighty things. I have also wandered in darkness so deep that I thought I might not return. I have joined many churches and left most of them, too. I have seen ministers step up and sit down. I tried religion for many years struggling with all the “do’s and don’ts” of doctrine and regulations of religiosity. I have been built up by pride and shattered in brokenness. I have come to this revelation today. All of these things are trivial and do not matter if I do not have hope. One glorious hope for the future. It is the commonality of Christianity that is lost in hidden rivalries and mass marketing but remains the same day after day. My future is in Jesus Christ not my ability to work or invest appropriately. Nothing I do, say or become outside of a Child of God really matters. We must focus our attention on one hope in order to experience the revival the Body of Christ is calling out for. It is time to liquefy our lives as an offering to God.

There is one body and one spirit. We are the Body of Christ. We are not functioning as one body currently. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. We do not act like it. Our hope demands unity in order to fulfill our future. My future, my forever is in Jesus Christ. I have made it about so many other things. “You have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” Me, too. How do we get there from where we are now? If we all are headed there, why can’t we get it together?

Ephesians 2:6-7 (NLT) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.  So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

The Ephesians were “members” of the Church of Ephesus. Do you remember them? In Revelation 2 they are applauded for all their “hard work” and “dedication”. They were known for their patient endurance. The picture of “Christianity”. They were victorious in many ways and touted for not being quitters.  The model church, right? Wrong. What does the Lord say to them? “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” The incredible wealth of Jesus Christ is His Grace and Kindness toward us. His Great Love for us is our hope. He is our future and forever. Have we taken back our heart? Are we pursuing God with some of us and the world with the rest of us? If our heart is not invested in our pursuit of Christ, are we not just lusting after His Hand?

Jeremiah 29:12-13 (NLT) In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

What am I currently pursuing in this life? What are my passions? What do I desire? Where is my treasure? My future and hope are in Jesus Christ. I must align my life with Him in order to have that which I hope for. It is time to repent. It is time to return to the Lord wholeheartedly. It is time to pray more than ever before. It is time to examine what is precious to me right now in this moment and determine if it is my Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ. Do I love Him like I used to? Do I love Him more than ever before? Have I lost my first love? My one true love. Are there things in my life that have taken God’s Place? Have I chosen to hold more tightly to this life than my future? Am I gaining the world but losing my soul? Is there anything worth more than your soul today? Jesus certainly doesn’t think so. He died to give us one future, one hope and life everlasting. Do I want it? I do. How about you?

Matthew 26:25-26 – “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

What Is Revival?

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Psalm 85: 4-7 (NLT) Now restore us again, O God of our salvation. Put aside your anger against us once more. Will you be angry with us always? Will you prolong your wrath to all generations? 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.

Driving home from church last night, my husband and I began talking about the coming New Year. In the midst of our conversation, it turned to revival. The cry of the church seems to be revival. Everyone is preaching it. People are praying for it. The united cry of the church is for God to send revival to us now. But my husband asked a question that cranked the motor of my brain, when he simply inquired…”what is revival?” It is obviously noted in history as Great Movements of God in churches and communities with many names associated with it. However, if we as a church corporately have finally joined our voices in one accord, it would seem that it is important to know what we are asking for so that it will be recognized when it comes. So I ask you today the same question for careful consideration, what is revival?

Going straight to the Word for an accurate description as the only credible source, I find only this passage and one other in the Old Testament that refers to the revival of God’s People. This leads me to believe that revival is a manmade term. It is not actually an “event” to be planned and executed but an experience that carries over somehow. God of our salvation. The cry for revival is an invitation for God to restore us. It is a personal plea for the God of the Universe to come down and touch me. Me, first which will ignite passion to overflow into my family and church. As the Light of His Love spreads among us, it builds momentum. The momentum of the church is unity. Unity is selfless harmony that burns away flesh and pride to expose our heart and mind to more of God’s Spirit than ever before. Let us not be confused. To experience true revival requires true repentance and complete forfeiture of self to be fully consumed by the Lord for His Service and Use in a collective community called the Body of Christ.

Put aside your anger from us once more? Have I drifted? Has the church strayed? Yes and yes. God has put the spark of desire in us for revival BECAUSE He wants grace to cover our fickle heart and wandering mind to be one with Him again. Revival is to desire the Presence of the Living God to come down in our midst. To save, heal and deliver everyone who dares to come near. However, if I think that revival will come to change other but not to do the same for me, I am merely delusional. Revival begins in me and overflows from me. I cannot offer what I have not experienced. I cannot introduce anyone to someone I have not encountered and become acquainted with myself. My message is less than convincing until it radically changes my life.

Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in You? I have attended many churches over the course of my lifetime. I have met many believers, professing Christians, pastors, teachers and leaders. I have served many positions in the church enough to see the business in the building. However, I have rarely experienced such great moves of God that I can recount them to you now. I have experienced the Lord personally but corporately I have not seen the Glory of God called revival in our midst. Why? We cry out for something but not make any attempt to find it within ourselves. People need Jesus. But if I do realize my own desperation and depth of longing for my Savior, Messiah and Lord – I will never be able to meet the need of another by offering them something I do not know. So many starts and stops, makes it apparent that we are missing something along the way.

The woman at the well had a personal experience with Jesus Christ so radical that she had to run back and tell everyone. (John 4) Come and see this man that told me everything… She forgot her guilt and shame including all those things that had isolated her and kept her from the company of others. She didn’t have time for pride, guilt and regret to hold her bondage any longer. No, they had to come and see. There was no other alternative than to come to the well with her to taste and see. When was the last time, your experience with Jesus Christ moved you to push, pull and drag people to church? How many times do you miss meeting together with other believers because there is something, anything more important to do? The want, need and desire for revival from the Lord must begin in each one of us to become the next great move of God. Going into the New Year doing the same thing but expecting different results is deemed insanity. You know the routine. The New Year comes and the church calls for a corporate fast. Everyone becomes focused on new menus, renewed prayers, shaking off the old, and embracing the new. Then by February, it is the same old thing all over again. If I truly want revival, I must decide that in the coming year that I will let God restore, renew and revive me first. I must submit my life including my mind, will and emotions to Jesus Christ to change me from the inside out. Revival did not come this year or the year before despite my cries and pleas. I do not believe that it is because of God’s Timing but the condition of God’s People that has kept it elusive for this long.

Ezra 9:7-9 (NKJV Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day. And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage. For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.

“And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant of escape, to give us a peg in His Holy Place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” Pride has driven the church back into bondage. Preaching for profit has cluttered our storehouses with lesser things. The modern day church is big business. Don’t get mad at me. I am not judging preachers who live in million dollar mansions. Things are not the problem. Purpose and drive are what is missing. Passion for Jesus turned into passion for other things. Pride of life that has caused us to deviate from building God’s Kingdom to prosper in this world. God is showing us grace. He is positioning our heart for a radical change from idolatry and worldly pursuits to a passion and drive for Jesus Christ that forces a choice to make a decision that is really not that difficult in the Presence of One’s Savior.

Revival is the remnant’s escape. Revival is the doorway that leads from self to selflessness. It is the moment that all I want is Jesus Christ. It is when He truly becomes all that I need to live, breathe and thrive in this lifetime. It is such a radical connection with the Lord that it creates an opening between heaven and earth that when two or more are gathered in the same spirit – His Glory overtakes them all. This is revival. We are not ready. Yet from our bondage and captivity – the church cries out for Him. “To give us a peg in His Holy Place” – I need to study this some more. Many years ago, someone spoke a word over me that God was driving me into the ground like a peg or stake. This passage made it come to my mind again. What if the next great move of God is not random or released on a whim? What if revival is not what we thought it might be but something more overpowering and overwhelming than we have every experienced? What if it changes my lifelong pursuits? What if it takes up too much of my time? What if it means being at church more than I care to? What if? What if revival is not about others but God releasing me first?

Psalm 85:8-9 (NLT) 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.

Do I really want revival? Do I want God to restore and revive me which will always roost me from my comfort and convenience right into fiery refinement? Do I want His Glory to fill my life completely? Revival is for the remnant for a reason. Small pockets of people throughout the history of time who dared be pegs driven into His Presence. Refusing to move until He comes near to them. Those who, like Jacob, will wrestle with God until the new man (or woman) and new life emerges. It took a lot for me to forsake myself. I am not the same person with the same beliefs that I had five years ago. The price paid for such revelation is one I would not have paid knowingly or willingly. Everyone talks a good talk. However, when it is our life to be laid on the line everything changes…trust me. When it is time to totally trust the Lord for survival or even your next breath, this is the moment of truth and when only a remnant remains.

The Lord used my husband in a mighty way last night. I am blessed to be partnered with a godly man. I cannot shake the question now. “What is revival?” From now until the New Year comes, I am going to continue to ask this question of God and dig into His Word until I find that one thing I am not doing or surrendering that will allow His Glory to fill me and overflow from my life into my home into my church and into my community. I cannot participate in a move of God until I am moved by God. To cry out for revival is noble, but God knows our heart. He knows who is not serious enough to give their all. No one knows your heart but you. We can all put on our game face when need be, but who is willing to be driven in the ground like a peg to seek and stay in His Presence until His Glory comes. To be uncomfortable. To be inconvenienced. To wait, tarry and stay right here until He comes.

According to man’s interpretation, the dictionary defines revival as restoration to life, consciousness, vigor or strength. It is to restore to use, acceptability and currency (or worth). It is an awakening of interest in and care for matters of religion. God is ready to breathe life back into the Body of Christ which is gasping for air. He longs to restore the joy of salvation so that our hearts and minds will be one with the Lord and passion will produce a persistent pursuit of God and His Ways. Revival will not be the result around us until it is the change in us. If at the end of 2017, I am the same as I am right now, again I have failed. If there is no change in the atmosphere around me as God moves closer and His Glory fills the space around me, He did not fail – I did. There is a reason that revival only comes to the remnant. It is not a manmade feeling or controlled spiritual encounter, revival is to allow God to completely overtake us body, mind and spirit and then letting Him flow out of us to change the surrounding environment. Revival is not an elevated position but a prone posture as pride and self are sacrificed to make room for more of Jesus. It is not fashionable but definitely favorable.

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.

Many have seen the movie or at least heard the clip of Jack Nicholson yelling to the crowded courtroom, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.” Maybe just maybe this is what the Lord is whispering to us today. When His Unfailing Love and truth meet together righteousness and peace kiss and truth springs up from the careful consummation. Intimacy with the Father through the Son is at the complete forsaking of self. We must give up our way, wants, whims and wanderings to find our way into His Presence. A total commitment of mind, soul and body is required for God’s Fulfillment to begin restoration, renewal and revival to take place. All that we hold precious and dear in this life is at stake to be burned up with God’s Passion for us and ignite our heart with the Light of His Unfailing Love to be the torch for others. This is when the windows of Heaven will open allowing His Blessings to finally reach us not the meager provision experienced now but an outpouring like never before. Our land will yield a bountiful harvest of souls set free if believers and Christians would just do their part now. Righteousness is the herald before Him. Jesus is coming back. We are not ready. Revival must come. It must begin in me. What is revival? I am not completely sure right now. I intend to find out. I don’t want to waste another year doing the same things hoping for something new and different to emerge. Lord, take this time to start a fire in me.

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.

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.