Blinded By the Light

Blinded By The Light

I John 2:9-11 (NLT) If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.

If faith shows the reality of what is hoped for and it is the evidence or substance of things that remain unseen, then how does one every overcome spiritual blindness? I wonder if rather than simply reciting God’s Word people began to really think about it what might happen. I believe that our inability to integrate our spiritual and natural life puts people at a huge disadvantage. Living a “church” life and a normal life are mutually exclusive rather than completely inclusive. If faith is evidence of what we hope for and that which is hoped for remains unseen – how do we overcome spiritual blindness? Lost in thought today about the things that I continue to hope for including the things I know the Lord has promised to do in the “land of the living” with nothing in sight. I cannot see how His Plan and Purpose are coming together so I must decide each day if I will trust and continue to believe that God is good and in complete control of the details of my life.

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.’

How ironic that Saul now Paul would be the one to so eloquently describe the Lord. The one who tortured and murdered countless Christians. He was a Jew and Child of God but did not recognize the Messiah. It was on the road to Damascus when a bright light surrounded him, overtaking him and even blinding him that he realized his mistake. (Acts 22:6-16) The Law of God demanded a life for a life. If God was who Saul thought he was, then he would have surely died that day in the Presence of the Living God. He did not die but was taken captive by unfailing love and overwhelming grace. Everything changed that day because Saul experienced the Love of God firsthand. However, he could not see God but rather was blinded for three days. Three dark days of being led by others. His whole life the only images portrayed in his mind. I can only imagine how he must have felt knowing the countless innocent people whose lives ended at his order. Everything Saul knew about God changed that day. Everything. The Word of God did not change but the Way of God turned Saul into Paul and the one of the greatest ministries of all time was birthed in the foreboding darkness of blindness.

What if the Lord is leading us into darkness to recognize the Light of His Love today? What if nothing makes sense to turn us back to the Word of God and seek the Way? What if life is pressing you to release the promise and purpose hidden inside of you? See I believe that when Jesus began healing blinded eyes it was not a natural change but a change of heart that He was after. The words of the prophet Isaiah read by Jesus that day rang true, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor…” Stopping here for just a moment, if the Spirit of the Lord lives inside of us, the purpose is anointing. You have been entrusted with the Good News that has a specific purpose which is to release captives, cause the blind to see, and the oppressed to be set free. The Favor of the Lord is for everyone. It is a product of God’s Love and Grace. Now that we are pumped up let’s get practical…

What if the healing does not come? What if the blinded eye does not see? What if the captive is not set free from their addiction or situation? What if the one who is oppressed remains in such conditions? What then? Is the Gospel invalid? Is it not true? Has God relinquished His Power? Has the enemy one? Am I the one who is overcome? Is God limited by my sin? Powerless in my rebellion? No, no, and no. What if all of this is with divine purpose? What if all of these situations are not physical possibilities but experiences designed for a change of heart? Here is what I am beginning to believe – the healing is in the heart change not the condition. Signs, wonders and miracles are awesome. I have experienced them firsthand. However, once the moment is over it becomes a memory memorialized in my testimony. What about the Living God? The One who lives in me. The one in who I am supposed to “live and move and exist” as His Offspring. Is He still good and still God in the waiting?

God miraculously healed our youngest daughter of severe and debilitating asthma. Not over the course of time or with medical intervention. He did it instantly. Here today gone tomorrow. Doctors scratching their heads wondering how in the world she required six medications and nebulization ever couple of hours to needing nothing at all the next. Crazy, huh? God did it just that way. Fast forward, our son is diagnosed with cancer. God gave me His Word that our son would live and not die so naturally I expected an immediate healing miraculously or medically. He relapsed four times. His bone marrow transplanted was denied by insurance. We had to fight for six long months. Ultimately – they said no. The next day – someone said, “Yes!” Nobody knows who did it or why or even how but we went with it and our son is alive today. However, his body continues to battle terrible side effects of five rounds of chemotherapy, maximum dose radiation, and the transplant. Where is God? Isn’t healing supposed to take care of all that? When will life be normal again? In this moment, I know that God is good. His Love is real. He is always faithful. Knowing is the sight that carries through the darkest days of life. The Light of God’s Love is His Favor that surrounds us in every situation even when the outcome doesn’t seem favorable to us. Faith must become our logic by which we see everyday life until the Saul in us sees life like Paul.

2 Peter 1:8-11 (NLT) The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In the passage right before this one (2 Peter 1:5) the Word of God tells us to “make every effort to respond to God’s Promises”. It goes on to talk about supplementing our faith with moral excellence and moral excellence with knowledge and knowledge with self-control and self-control with patient endurance and finally endurance with godliness so that in all things we demonstrate brotherly affection for everyone. “The more you grow like this…the more productive and useful you will be…” Failure to do so may result in shortsightedness or spiritual blindness. I believe with all of my heart that unwillingness to respond to God’s Promises with faith but maybe routine or service instead has created spiritual blindness in the Body of Christ. Faith is evidence that we have hope that cannot be seen. However, like Saul, the idea of rightness overtakes God’s Concept of righteousness which is obtained fully in the Person of Jesus Christ. This is the blindness that I believe Jesus came to heal. The blindness of a heart overtaken by fear and insecurity that is barely holding on to hope.

In John 5, Jesus encounters the man sitting by the pool of Bethesda. The porches were covered with sick people.  Blind, lame and paralyzed all around him. One of the men had been sick for 38 years. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” His response, “I can’t sir, for I have no one to put me in the water…” Hmmm. Do you want to get well? I guess it depends on your idea of wellness. Jesus ignored his excuse and told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat and walk!” The man was given a choice in that moment. Faith got up, picked up the mat and walked off that day. What about you? When Jesus passes by do you see Him, hear Him, feel Him or know Him? This man had a choice in that moment of infirmity and doubt to respond to the Word of God or remain in his current condition. The opportunity did not come when the water was stirring, people were moving, or church was hopping but in the Presence of the Lord. Could it be that our idea of salvation, healing and deliverance has caused us to turn a blind eye to the Light of His Love right before us?

John 9:2-5 (NLT) “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

God’s Light and His Love shine brightest through broken hearts and people. When we decide to give our heart to Jesus and let Him keep it – the Light of His Love will shine forth from it. Sin is rampant. Love is cold. This world is a dark place. The Light of the World lives in us. When we stop looking for why, the shame, regret and accusations are silenced and God’s Grace abounds in us and for others. What if the revival God is announcing is not about signs, miracles and wonders that produce it but hearts and minds set on finding the Light of His Love in every situation and giving it to every person. We are so set on perfect lives and certain expectations that cause us to turn a blind eye to God’s Will which is always to produce His Glory in our life while working things together for our good.

2 Corinthians 4:4-5 (NLT) Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in everything we think God hasn’t done and lose sight of all that He has done. Just the fact that I have a place in His Kingdom is enough to rejoice every day. It is not my job to have a perfect life or preferential outcomes in every situation. God did not promise a life free of problems or pressure. He promised to save, heal, deliver, provide, and prosper my life and asks only one thing of me – to love. To share this unconditional and unfailing love for Him with others. What if the miracle of revival is not birthed from God moving the water but moving our hearts? What if the Presence of God is before us but we keep looking for someone else to carry us in? What if the greatest revival of all time is waiting for us to love God wholeheartedly and people the same? Even Saul tried wholeheartedly to serve God and failed epically, that is until the Light of God’s Love surrounded him and overtook him in that moment when he became Paul. The rest of Paul’s natural life was spent for the most part in prison. He didn’t write like someone in captivity, blind or oppressed. His heart was finally free and filled with Jesus Christ. His faith no longer based on sight but full focused on faith. Lord, let that be me today.

Philippians 3:6-9 (NLT) I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Dynamis

Dynamis

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

The tweet read “If you want to experience dynamic results, you’ve got to have a dynamic attitude.” It immediately brought the word “dynamis” to mind. Dynamis is the Greek root word of dynamic and also dynamite. According to Strong’s Definitions, it means force both literally and figuratively. Miraculous power including ability and abundance. Digging a bit deeper, in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, it is inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature or which a person exerts or puts forth. This power is mentioned 77 times in the King James Version of the Bible, It is also referred to 11 times as mighty work, 7 times both as strength and miracles, 4 times as might, and 3 times as virtue. To summarize the “dynamis” that is referenced in the Word of God – it is strength, power and ability. Inherent power that resides in a person which can be exerted, power to perform miracles, moral power and excellence of soul, power and influence belonging to wealth, power and resource multiplicatively, and power given to armies for victory. Now all of this is referred to as the contents of those who belong to God’s Kingdom because He has given us His Power. Where is the power? Where is the prosperity? What has happened to the potential of God’s People to live in His Glory? Where is it? It is in you. It is in me.

Acts 1:8 (NLT) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The last words of Jesus before He ascended to Heaven. The final remarks of our Savior and Lord would not be void of one last promise. Jesus is full of promises and everyone is associated with power. Power that you and I are incapable of but that He full bestows in our life. He promised the people that the Holy Spirit would come and they would receive power. This word “power” is from the same dynamis explained above. You will be my witnesses. When Jesus came to earth as a man, He was God’s Word wrapped in flesh and bones. God sent His Spirit down descending “like a dove” so people could visually see what God was doing literally in their life through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. God wasn’t giving up on His People by giving them His Grace but rather empowering them to build His Kingdom despite their sin and depraved state. In Joel 2, the Lord tells the people what He will do to release His Power. Through repentance comes His Spirit, I will pour out my spirit on all people. Fast forward to the New Testament, to Acts 2 as Peter introduces His Arrival. When Jesus died on the cross, He released the Spirit that God had placed in him that day He was baptized. Immediately the Temple veil was torn from top to bottom so that no man could take credit or sew it up again. I believe the Holy Spirit did it when He left Jesus’s human body and then immediately after that it went to the grave and started pulling dead bodies out. Resurrection power released into the world and just waiting to be poured into the people which happened on the Day of Pentecost. One of the most noted transferences in the Bible has created the most controversy in the church.

Jesus said, “You will receive my power.” I do not believe that Jesus ever lied or changes His Mind about us. When He told the people, you will receive My Power – He intended to do just that. To say that the Power of God was just for the past, exempts those in the future of all God’s Promises even the one of salvation. The Holy Spirit is the identifier that gives us entrance into eternity. (2 Corinthians 1:22) The Holy Spirit is our guarantee. (2 Corinthians 5:5) The Holy Spirit is the One who reproduces spiritual life in us (John 3:6) and nourishes our soul while replenishing our reserve to give good fruit to others. (Galatians 5:22-23) The Holy Spirit leads us to truth making God’s Word come to life in our life. (John 14:17) Finally, in the same account in the Book of Luke, Jesus tells the people on His Departure that the Holy Spirit would come and fill them with “the power of heaven.” The Holy Spirits presence in the life of a true believer is non-negotiable. He is the Power that Christ gave us. HE is Christ in us. If this is true, and the Power of Heaven is in us, why is it not evident in our life today?

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

The United States Armed Forces uses an explosive called C-4. It looks a lot like molding clay given to young children for their first introduction to art. My son was attending a C-4 handling during his military training. He sent me a picture and expressed his absolute elation at the exercise. My heart fell to my stomach. My child was absolutely giddy over any form of explosive display. From the youngest memorable age, he loved fireworks and pyrotechnics. I wasn’t sure that even as an adult that he and his buddies were ready to handle one of the most dangerous explosive substances on the planet. We all survived, praise the Lord.

They say that “dynamite comes in small packages.” A single stick of dynamite is estimated to be slightly over an inch in diameter and 8 inches long. The potential for destruction is not evident in its composition. It must be detonated to fulfill its purpose and explode to make an impact. As a believer – this statement applies to me and you. We have potential and power in us that is not evident in the life we live. Dynamite is filled with a highly absorbent material such as clay with some nitroglycerin added. Clay. I am not making it up. Just like our body is made of clay, God has given us the Power of His Spirit to be absorbed and ignited in our life. All areas of our life. We talk a good talk – now it’s time to walk the walk. Dynamite has the power to change the atmosphere, tear down barriers and fill breaches – so do we. However, we have a greater content. We have the Power of Heaven in us.

Just like a seed, planted in the ground must die to self so must I in order to have this power. I must allow God’s Spirit to be absorbed in every fiber of my being and facet of my life to allow His Power to be my strength. Why limit the Lord to the four walls of church? His Spirit is to be incorporated in my daily life. I must identify with the Spirit of God within me. I must believe. Believe in His Power. Believe in His Wisdom. Believe in the Christ in me. Believe He is more than enough. Believe there is abundance to feed my soul. Believe that there is prosperity to seed my life to plant His Word in others. Jesus told the disciples who failed to cast out a demon that it was simply because they did not believe. They said they did. They acted like they did. But when it came time to release His Power, they could not. Religion is often built around what we cannot do. Relationship with Jesus Christ makes all things possible for those who believe.

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”

The Holy Spirit in you and I is our greatest potential. We have been given every spiritual blessing necessary to do “even greater works” than Christ did because He is with the Father and has placed it in us. Faith is the measure of resource or the seed placed in us with great promise. The Holy Spirit cultivates the seed of faith and multiplies it in us. As our faith grows it becomes confident hope that allows us to live our life as Children of God rather than slaves to our circumstances. Christ must increase and I must decrease. This is not about following some rules and regulations set forth by a religion, Jesus tore them up and put His Spirit in us to lead us, guide us and teach us. The only way to test the doctrine under which we serve is to know the Word and the Holy Spirit to discern truth from lies. I am not bashing religion just religiosity. It is the Christ in us and our connection to Him that is our source of love, power and hope in this life and forever. To release God’s Potential in our life is not restrictive but radical. Once the wick burns down to the cap penetrating its seal, dynamite explodes into purpose. I believe that is what is happening in us. The Lord is working in us to release our full potential. It may be uncomfortable. Change is not always welcomed. However, if I want to see revival in my life, church, community and the world – the Christ in must find His Way out of me otherwise it will remain unrealized potential. I must believe that the God in me is worth pursuing even to the end of myself. I will be challenged. I will be pressed. Get knocked down and even fall down in the process. God’s Purpose will be worth it when His Glory floods my life and I am able to effectively radiate His Love for all to see. I have God’s Power in me. I have His Word. I have His Spirit. I have all the components for a dynamis life. It is up to me to detonate it. Faith makes it happen. To believe is to receive all the power promised to me. Lord, I believe.

2 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.  In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. 

 

 

Hobby, Habit or Holiness

hobby habit or holiness

Luke 14:26-30 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.

In January, my husband and a group of men arranged to go duck hunting. They planned the excursion for months. Purchased mounds of hunting gear and ammunition. Planning included requesting leave from jobs, making hotel reservations and mapping out travel. Everyone paid their portion of the hunting lease and provided for meals and expenses. When the calendar finally fell on the travel date, the weather conditions took a dramatic turn for the absolute worst. It was below freezing. The lakes and ponds frozen over. Each morning they would trudge out to the field, break through the ice, set the decoys and lay in the blinds in the frigid conditions. They didn’t get a single one. They paid a high price yet got a miserable return other than the lease owner offering them a free return visit at the beginning of hunting season. This hunting hobby is new to our family.

We all have hobbies in life. It may be a variety of different things. Activities or interests pursued for pleasure and relaxation but no as a main occupation. I recently began repurposing old furniture. Reconditioning them is therapeutic to me. I was purchasing some pieces from a new acquaintance who encouraged me to sell the pieces rather than giving them away. I don’t really want to do that because I do this to escape the world and get lost in something creative. It is a hobby. Since most pieces are this side of tossing in the garbage, my investment is limited other than time spent cleaning, repairing, sanding and painting. It brings me peace. The great thing about a hobby is that I can choose how much of my time, talent and treasure that I invest in it. If I walk away for a few weeks, a month or so – it has not impact on me, my family or future other than a few choice words from my husband about the clutter in the garage. It is good to have hobbies in life.

What about habits? Those things that are not necessarily for pleasure or relaxation but driven by routine and schedule. Most adults have certain habits instilled by the values imbedded by the example of their parents or mentors. Some habits are formed by a desire to change certain behaviors, trends, circumstances or conditions. Habits can be good or bad. It is just what we do, who we are, and the choices we make. A habit is an acquired behavioral pattern regularly followed until it becomes involuntary. The word “involuntary” means independent of our will and not by our own choice. There are habits worth giving up for better health, emotional wellness, and spiritual awakening.

Church can become a habit. Religion is the routine of the church for organizational purposes. Habits and routines are comfortable. They give way to complacency in life and love. We must evaluate our habits as often as our heart to see our motivation. Do I do the things I do because I have always done them this way? Is there a better way? Is this a Christ-like endeavor or just something I do to fit in to my social group? Church is known for cliques and many times it is the birthplace of complacency as our pursuit of God is tempered by the other sheep in our fold. Is church a weekly habit? Is it an occasional hobby? If our relationship to Jesus Christ can be defined as either it is up to us to count the cost of becoming a disciple. Hobbies and habits do not produce holiness. It is not the way of those who desire God’s Kingdom and His Riches in Glory. It is just another way the enemy is keeping our churches and communities from experiencing revival.

2 Corinthians 6:16 (NLT) For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

When Jesus died, He released the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord made it clear that the new dwelling place of His Spirit was in His People. Those who opened their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ and desired Him as Savior and Lord would house His Spirit. The church moved from the outside world to inside God’s People. Empowering them with new purpose and new power. When Jesus told the people that He would destroy the temple that it took 46years to build and rebuild it in three days, (John 2:15-21) He was referring to His Death which destroyed religion and His Resurrection that move His Church from buildings to bodies. As believers – we are the church. Not just any church of any denomination, we are the Temple of the Living God. Holy inhabitation is the cornerstone of holiness. Holiness is not a hobby or habit. It is who we are in God through Jesus Christ. We must become holy because God is holy. (Leviticus 19:2) His Presence in us forces an evaluation of our contribution to the Kingdom. Are we mere contributors or fully committed to the Cause called Christ in us?

Proverbs 20:25 (NLT) Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.

Have I made a rash (acting too hastily without due consideration)? We all are prone to say, “Yes” to many things without proper consideration or careful contemplation. Why? Who doesn’t want the affirmation and acceptance of others? Our “yes” is often based on meeting the expectation of others rather than fully consideration what it requires or what the desired outcome may be. We must count the cost of discipleship and decide if it is the life desired. Why is this important? At the end of my life, I will meet Jesus face-to-face. If I invested in the Kingdom as a hobby, I do not believe that He will say, “Well done, though good and faithful servant!” A hobby is something I do for me. Me alone. It is for my relaxation and my personal pleasure. Is that what I signed up for when I came to Jesus Christ? Is that what He was really offering? I don’t think so.

Is my commitment to Jesus Christ a habit? Has it become just another routine and scheduled event added to the long list of responsibilities in my life? Is it my religion or a true relationship? The truest test of religion verses relationship is passion. Am I passionate about loving, knowing, serving and following Jesus for the rest of my life? Or do I just go with the flow of the local church? Is my spiritual temperature set by the thermostat of my church or is it a flame being fanned and fueled by an All-Consuming Fire and burning desire to become His Disciple? To go where He goes, do what He does, and experience His Kingdom (as promised) on the earth as it is in Heaven. Hmm… makes me think. How about you?

Luke 14:26-27 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

Holiness is not a religious preference. It is not an organized denomination. Holiness is God’s Mandate on the life of the believer. To be wholly consumed and filled with His Spirit. To passionately pursue the Calling and Purpose found only in Christ as He calls us a new creation. To bring Heaven to earth in our own life while connecting the Body and its intricate membership and parts coming together with one heart – one mind – and one purpose. To make Him greater and greater while I disappear in His Presence. Sounds good until one begins to count the cost. We decide if we will carry “our own cross”. Jesus died to set us free to choose the life we live. To “take up our cross” is become responsible for our membership as one part of the Body of Christ. I cannot live, breathe, move or exist as an effective part of the Body unless fully connected to and directed by Jesus Christ. He must be my motivation. He must be the One Thing that I am after. I hear you. Family comes first. It does right after Jesus Christ. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to discipline my body, mind and spirit that in all things Jesus is first which means if anyone else makes a contrary decision that it does not influence or impact my partnership with Jesus.

Love and grace are the foundation of this wonderful relationship. I cannot have my way and live successfully in any relationship. My relationships (all of them) must have Christ as a foundation. Even my relationships to my perceived enemies, even those who are considered a threat or constant thorn in our flesh have purpose in our life. God put them there for a reason. We do not systematically cut off difficult relations or those who don’t understand our faith and marriage to Jesus. We must learn to put all our expectation in Jesus Christ and trust Him with every other relationship that we have engaged in. We must always take up our cross and follow Jesus.

What do I give my life to? Is it possible to graph the timeline of my life? Of course, it is but do I really want to. How much of my day is focused on this cross I have chosen to carry versus all the other endeavors in my life? Ignorance is not bliss but the death of the good seeds ready to be planted and harvested in our life. The secret to a successful partnership with Jesus is found in His Word. Simply because Jesus is the Word. To decide not to know releases us from responsibility is not ignorance it is foolishness when all of creation displays the Glory of God. If I refuse to follow Christ – the Word of God tells me that I “am not worthy to of being called mine.” Holiness requires shirking off the filthy rags and donning a robe of righteousness. It means picking up the full armor of God to step into a victorious life. It means to put away pride and live in humility. It means giving up my way. If I cling to this life, I will lose it. If I give my life to Jesus fully, I will find my true purpose and live in fulfillment forever. (Matthew 10:37-39) It is a daily choice. (Luke 9:23)

Luke 14:28-33 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

Our life is comprised of three things of worth: time, talent and treasure. These are the things that we have to invest in something or someone. It is totally up to me how I invest my life. Time is the most precious commodity because it is irreplaceable. Talent is only as valuable as the realization of that potential in our life. Treasure is every tangible thing we own whether we think it’s worth anything or not. To become a disciple of Jesus Christ and live a holy life is not what so many have made it out to be. It is to live our life fully consumed by Jesus Christ. To step out of self and into Christ completely. It means investing my time, talent and treasure into His Kingdom. It is to combine our resources with the Lord completely. Giving Him all our time. All of our talent. All of our treasure. Then stepping back and letting Him use it for His Glory. The problem is that we give our hobbies and habits too much time and there is not enough to pay the price of discipleship. Divided interest and diversified investments may create natural security by not putting all our eggs in one lifetime basket but if my heart and soul are set on Eternity – I must take all my life and invest it in Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NLT) For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

When Jesus handed us the Keys to the Kingdom, the first key is marked “freedom”. I am now free to choose how I live my life. I choose my master. Asking Jesus to be our Savior is not enough, we must make Him our Lord to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God. I choose death or life each day. I choose blessing or otherwise. I decide if today will be to the Glory of God or pursue selfish interest. I get to choose. When I do, it determines my destiny. I cannot choose one course and expect to become part of the Kingdom. There is no middle of the road or gray compromise. Is my relationship to Jesus Christ a hobby? Do I do it for my own benefit and blessing but nothing more investing what is left of my time and energy? Is my relationship a habit? Do I take Him for granted? Rather than pursuing Him do I just pencil Him in? Is He part of the schedule or a routine measure? Do I every even think about Him or just do what I do and have done traditionally? Is my life ordinary? Is it just mediocre? Where is His Glory? It is not for the hobbyist or habitual Christian. It is for the intentional believer whose one desire is to be one with Christ. To put everything second. To give God the surplus of our life trusting Him with all of it. To follow Him relentlessly and passionately from beginning to end, no matter how deep the valley or high the mountain – no matter who comes with us. Does your love affair with Jesus have passion? Do you think about Him most of the time? See we have made this thing called discipleship a production but its not. It is the process by which our life, entire existence, is reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. It is how we achieve a state of holiness. It is not a hobby. It is not a habit. It is a relationship with the One who thought we were to die for. He gave up everything for me. I must reconcile my life to Jesus Christ to live a holy life. I must use my freedom to bring every part of my life into agreement with His Word, His Way and His Will. It is personal. Am I willing to give everything to Jesus? Lord, examine my heart and evaluate my life. Reconcile everything to you, Lord.

Acts 17:28 (NLT) “For in Him we live and move and exist.”

No More Rivals

No More Rivals

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

My life has purpose. The potential of my being and existence is fully encompassed in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Sovereign Lord. Why do I struggle to maintain His Preeminence in my life? There is no rival to the Lord. He has no equal. Yet in our everyday life – the struggle to trust and believe are real and valid battles in the heart and mind of every believer. Every step of faith is met with another challenging opportunity to take another. Following Jesus Christ in this life requires a depth perception of the Kingdom beyond that which our physical being and personal mindset can comprehend. We cry out for the Spirit of the Lord to fall upon us, restore and renew us and spark revival around us. What is stopping this from happening? Could it be the rivals in our life?

A rival is anything that competes for the same object or goal. It is the competition. A person or perception that disputes another’s superiority or preeminence. Who is like the Lord? Well, theoretically no one. There is nobody greater than Jesus Christ. His Power and Authority is unchallenged yet in our own life, one must decide if this is the case. A free will gives us the opportunity to believe anything and live the way that we choose. This does not in any way compromise God’s Power and Authority manifested in Jesus Christ, it only determines our outcomes and position in life. To ask the Lord to pour out His Spirit on us and desire His Will and His Way requires removal of the rivals in our life. To make Jesus Christ our champion, and put our complete faith and trust in His Ability as Sovereign Lord.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord can only occupy a surrendered and submitted life. To ask the Lord to fill us with His Spirit requires laying aside something in order for holy inhabitation to be complete. I want the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord to live in me. To occupy all areas of my life beginning with my soul, moving through my entire physical and emotional being until He resonates from my life. The process began decades ago. Today, I am still a fragile work in process. However, with each new day comes the challenging opportunity to end yet one more rivalry with the Power of God in my life. It is up to me. To cry out for His Spirit is to put to death anything that comes against my faith in God and willingness to trust the Lord more and more. I must kill those giants. Overcome the enemy. He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.

Submission is power. Grace is made perfect in my weakness. The world doesn’t operate on that belief system. In fact, to surrender is defeat according to the world. But I am only a temporary resident here, just making my way through life to eternity. Forever is a long time in comparison to a life that is only about 70 years or so on average. We must evaluate our existence for the rivalries and inconsistencies. Those areas of debilitation that the enemy has somehow convinced us hold some power over us or limit us in any way. The Love of God for us is complete. We lack no good thing in His Presence living for His Glory. He wants to take that from you. Steal your power and authority by tricking God’s People into believing that there is a limit to the Lord’s Power and Authority in our life or even a boundary to His Love. Nothing could be further from the Truth.

Luke 4:1-3 (NLT) Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. Then the devil said to him… 

The enemy is not short of arguments when it comes to God’s Word or His Power in our life. He constantly offers shortcuts and compromises us. He tests our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and Work in our life especially when God’s People are committed to living for the Lord. John the Baptist foretold His Coming. Jesus has now been baptized receiving the fullness of God’s Spirit and God said, “You are my dearly loved Son, you bring me great joy!” Can I just be real for a moment, I see a giant target being painted on the back of Jesus right about now! The enemy identified the Lord as his rival to contend with in that moment, and believed himself successful celebrating for about a minute before he realized the horrible mistake that he had made but I am getting ahead of myself.

Jesus immediately full of the Spirit went straight to the wilderness. Welcome to your new life in Christ! Purpose must be pressed to release full potential. Jesus responded to each temptation with the Word of God. Finally the enemy had finished tempting the Lord, he left him…until the next opportunity came. The enemy is not a true rival of Jesus Christ unless we allow him to compete for the Truth that occupies our life. The more real estate given to Christ in our life the more challenging it will be as the enemy attempts to take us out. Our potential is not just for our self, but as God’s Glory overtakes us the Light of His Love shines brightly for others to see. Immediately following Jesus’ trip to the wilderness where He overcame temptation, He entered the Temple and was handed the scroll of Isaiah to read. He read the words from Isaiah 61…God’s Power becomes our own by overcoming all rivals in our life. To submit and surrender to the Lord’s Power allows His Spirit…His Sovereign Spirit to manifest in our life. He becomes our purpose and gives us the power to overcome.

Isaiah 48:15-18 (NLT) Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.” And now the Sovereign Lord and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.”

“Sovereign Lord” is used approximately 290 times in the Old Testament depending on the translation you are using. It only occurs 3 times in the New Testament. Why? In the Old Testament, God put His Spirit into different people. When Jesus came in the New Testament, God put His Spirit fully into Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to His People. Matthew 27:50-52 tells us that 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.” Could this be the first documented revival? When the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was released along with resurrection power? It was the moment that God’s Power and Authority became completely available to me and you. The choice is mine if I will submit my life to the Sovereign Lord and accept His Power in my life.

God’s Power and Authority given to Jesus Christ lives in me. The only reason that I am not living in it is because I have allowed rivals to take the place of my Champion. I must overcome every hindrance in the race of faith by keeping my eyes on Jesus, my champion who initiates and perfects my faith. (Hebrews 2) How is this possible when there are so many things vying for my attention? How do I keep my eyes (and faith) on someone who I cannot see when there are so many people in the way? How does a football team win the Super Bowl? Or a baseball team the World Series? How does a fighter become Heavyweight Champion of the World? One game, one series or one bout at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Jesus Christ has given you His Spirit. The Greatness of God’s Son and all of His Sovereign Power lives and breathes in every believer. As we begin to overtake and oust the rivals in our life, Christ becomes the dominant factor in all areas of life. Do not despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) We begin with small increments of faith to build a larger foundation. (Luke 16:9-10) It begins by believing that Jesus is our champion. Our confidence is not in our ability to be faithful or righteous but that He is enough. His Grace sufficient to release His Power no matter how weak or weary that we may become. It all begins by believing. (John 1:49-51) Nathanael believed simply because Jesus told him that he saw him under the fig tree. Jesus told Nathanael that his simple act of believing would produce greater things. What did the man believe? The Word of God. He believed Jesus at His Word.

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

Do you believe? Do you believe wholeheartedly that the Lord is Sovereign and without rival? Is there anyone or anything equal to the Power of God at work in your life today? Before you answer, consider this. Your life should be prospering as your soul does in every way. Isaiah 61 clearly outlines the Power of God at work in us and through us. If my life is not being lived in God’s Power including prosperity, miracles, signs, wonders and exceptional favor, I must eliminate yet another rival. Some of the things that tempt us NOT to trust God are things like the enemy (John 10:1-3; 10:10), His lies tempt us every day. The Word of God is the only thing that will silence the lie of the enemy in our life. We must know the Word of God intimately, personally, and completely to live a successful Christian life. Jesus is the Word of God. We cannot know our Savior and Lord without it. Our flesh wants control of our life or it will die. It makes desperate attempts to challenge God’s Love, Authority and Power in our life as it does not want to submit or surrender to its own crucifixion. (Romans 7) Finally, our feelings. Our relationship with Jesus Christ must become a marriage that decides to hang on and fight for the partnership no matter how we feel on any given day or in any situation. (I Peter 5:7-9) The enemy, like Goliath, is constantly roaring his taunts and accusations at us. God is greater than our feelings. (I John 3:20) We must eliminate all rivals in our life and let Jesus be our Champion. His Sovereign Spirit will take over turning the natural into supernatural and ordinary to extraordinary.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Do you desire Jesus to be your Champion today? To do so requires the elimination of all rivals in our life. We live busy lives in a world that offers many distractions. Comfort is appealing and complacency creates such a place. However, I want to live the life promised in Isaiah 61. My purpose in life is that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord be manifested in my life and overflow to the world around me. I must be disciplined. I cannot allow the things of this world to rival the championship of Jesus in my life. I have a free will. I have the right to choose the amount of my life that is sacrificed, surrendered and submitted to the Almighty. It is all up to me. I choose to run with purpose in every step. How about you? Will you say with me today, “No more rivals, Jesus! All I want is You! You are my Champion!”

Isaiah 30:15 (NLT) This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.

Plumb Line

small-beginnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watchtower or Worm Plant

watchtower-or-worm-plant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Can We Agree?

can-we-agree

Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT) “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

As a mom, there have been many days that I found a referee shirt and whistle would have been more suitable attire. With two boys and three girls, not to mention five very different personalities, it seemed like they just could not get along. Yelling did not work, screaming, begging and pleading didn’t seem to get me anywhere. Putting them in the yard to settle disputes on their own only led to the need for a water hose to separate them. But let someone come against any one of them and watch out, the claws come out and teeth are bared. Abusing one another as siblings is perfectly acceptable, however; no one else may have the pleasure. I love to see my kids when my kids agree. When they can work, play or just be together laughing and enjoying one another’s company. I can only imagine how Father God feels when His Children do the same.

Five individuals were enough for this human heart to contend with. With three grown and on their own, the holidays are wonderful because we are blessed with opportunities to be together. Yet in the midst of such elation, squabbles break out, jealousy rises up and friendly competition has been known to cause a war. I cannot fathom the patience of God with us as His Children. Always pointing fingers, tattling, getting mad, getting offended and disrupting the “family” of God with our petty differences and hurt feelings. I remember a Jim Carrey movie, when he played God for a day. He was answering prayer emails and thinking that he was doing a pretty good job until they started pouring in by the hundreds, thousands and even millions. Why can’t believers agree? We are given such a wonderful promise of power when we do, yet it seems as though Christians just cannot get it together most of the time.

“If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” Just two. Agree concerning “anything”. God will do it. It almost sounds like the desperate plea of an exhausted parent for just a moment of peace and harmony. The Lord promises His Presence when two or three gather as His Followers, yet in the midst of them there is usually division and drama. Why is that? How do we overcome it? If we learn to agree, we will see the Glory of God in our midst. I believe that if people, churches, congregations, and Christians learned to agree – revival would come and new life created.

What does it mean to agree? Let’s go to the earthly source. According to the dictionary, to agree means to have the same views and beliefs. It is to give our consent or assent which means to yield or concede. (Oh, I can already see trouble ahead.) To live in one accord without contention. (Aw man, I told you it would be problematic.) To come to one opinion. (I could insert so many analogies about opinions lest I digress.) To have one mind, agreement or settlement. One. Just one. To be consistent. (Stop it already.) To conform. As I read this definition, there are no I’s only we’s in the meaning of agreement. The identity changes in agreement as two or three or more become one. The Power of God will return when His People, His Children choose to agree.

I John 5:6-10 (NLT) And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. So we have these three witnesses—the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree. Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.

According to Jewish law, when two witness agree – their testimony becomes fact. (John 8:17) This confirms what the Lord tells us in Matthew 18. God never contradicts Himself. His Word does not change. God does not have an opinion. Unfortunately, people do and often believe them as the truth that governs their life. Isn’t it just like God to outdo the law time and time again? The Law says only two witness are needed. But in God, there are three: Father, Son and Spirit. If we believe the “testimony” of God to be true, why don’t we strive to maintain the truth about God in our life rather than allowing our pride to disrupt things all the time.

I remember telling my children, it takes two to tango. If you don’t react, there is no argument. Imagine offense, hurt, angry or hurtful words to be like those lightweight balls in a kid’s ball pit. If one is coming at you, it is human nature to catch it or deflect it. But what if it hits you and you never raise your hand to claim it? It will just fall to the ground and roll away. Without a reaction, the one attempting to cause harm or damage will stop because their efforts are fruitless. Isn’t that what Jesus did? His Heart so for the people that He ignored their insults and injury to make His Way to the Cross – to die for such things. We must follow the example of Christ. To unite with the Lord and live in the Triune God – we must give up our way, opinion and right to be insulted in order to agree wholeheartedly with one another. Forgiveness gives up such things to allow love to flow again.

God’s Word is an absolute for my life. (Luke 1:37) Matthew 19:26 reminds me that all things are possible with God. In John 15:5, I am instructed that Jesus is the vine and my attachment to Him allows me to connect with God. John 14:6 already established that no one can gain access to the Father except through Christ. Mark 9:23 says that all things become possible when I believe. Jesus has guaranteed a better covenant with God if I choose to partner with Him or agree. (Hebrews 7:22) Finally, the Lord has given us His Spirit as a guarantee of every single promise. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:14) I am now a Child of God. Not of my doing, but of this complete work. To live as a Child of God means that I must give up my way to follow His Way. Jesus promotes relationship, connection and agreement in the Body of Christ. Am I doing the same?

Luke 9:59-60 (NLT) He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”

Luke 22:19-21 (NLT) He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me.

It is human nature and the desire of our flesh to have our own way. To maintain pride is to kill unity because agreement always requires humility. Each person must ask themselves if they agree with the Word of God, His Will and His Way. It is personal choice to join in building the Kingdom or be one of those tearing it apart. There is no middle ground even if people try to paint it a modern and fashionable gray. There is unity or division. The church has built many fences that must come down until our Kingdom is united again. Jesus’ invitation is simple – “Come and follow me.” This is the gateway to endless possibility in our life. Nothing is impossible any longer. But many will say that they agree, but choose their way.

There are many Judas’ in the church today. They give in to the lie of the enemy that serving God is more important than sacrificing self to forgive and form relationships with people. God is about building a Kingdom. Becoming one body – the Body of Christ. Will we disagree? Of course, just like my kids do time and time again. But let someone come against them, and watch out. We must develop the same conviction and commitment. It must not be okay for one to be lost. Agreement is the cellular level of faith. Faith is formed by our agreement with God. Those who learn to be agreeable will find that their faith begins to do something active in their life rather than just empty words touted as truth.

Philippians 3:14-16 (NLT) I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

Agreement is a sign of spiritual maturity. If you are in contention with people most of the time, it is time to reevaluate relationships. Relationships are Kingdom builders. Agreement fortifies its walls and allows His Glory to reach us. Arguments are Kingdom destroyers and keep us from the Blessings and Promises of God for His Children. In Matthew 18, the verses before todays’ scripture speak of permission. Freedom allows to choose the course of our life. If we permit things on earth like judgement, division and strife – it impacts the Kingdom because we are God’s Kingdom. If we strive for agreement and unity – it releases the Power of the Kingdom here on earth through us. The verses right after it talk about forgiveness. Infinite and endless forgiveness no matter how many times people hurt, offend or abuse us. Why? Because that is exactly how Jesus Christ loves and forgives us. His Power is released in our weakness. When humility takes the place of pride to follow Jesus and connect with His Kingdom simply by believing God and His Word are true. Do you believe all things are possible? If so, you will hear these words today and take them to heart. Can we agree? We must agree. It begins with me. Together, we are His Kingdom.

Hebrews 11:13-16 (NLT) All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Good Deeds

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Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT) “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

The New Year is less than a week away. I love the New Year. It is a new start. A great place to make certain changes in our habits and routines to improve our life naturally, physically and spiritually. I am pumped. I am ready. Many wonder things have come together in 2016 that have aligned us with our next great adventure with God. All of us, yes even you. I have many family and friends who might say that 2016 was the worse year of their lives. They want to leave it in the past forever never looking back but pressing forward. I completely understand and couldn’t agree more. However, we must not invalidate the Presence of God in our tough times and hardships because He is the reason it is over and we made it through. During that time, seeds were planted for our provision next year. Roots were established for storms brewing ahead. God never leaves us the same as before because He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called. (Romans 8:28) With this in mind, it is important that in the midst of taking down decorations, returning or exchanging gifts, and throwing out leftovers that His People take the time to evaluate last year and seek His Voice for the coming year just around the corner.

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Was my salt salty? Was my light bright? Did I get my feet wet stepping out of the boat? Did I cast my net on the other side of the boat? Did the fruit in my life sustain me throughout? Are doors yet unopened? Did our good deeds shine for all to see? Did revival come? All of the questions could and should be asked while preparing for the coming year. If our mission in life is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly – one must put some effort into evaluating our purpose and progress in the process. Honestly. Earnestly. Intently. All these things are so important in our spirit growth. Good deeds are evidence of faith in action and spiritual progression in our life.

James 2:14-17 (NLT) What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

“Faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” Can I ask you a question? If your church attendance is not important to you, why would it be to those you invite? To those lost or wandering family members who you pray for and encourage to come, yet see you choose other priorities than attending the House of God on a regular basis? What about those who come and serve all the time? Never miss a service, but are gossipers and backbiters. Those who tell of a loving God but then cut down every sinner who walks through the door hitting them with a long list of rules and regulations which they cannot abide by. What about living high on the hog while others are scraping through everyone else’s scraps? We give to faceless names during the holiday season, but how do they survive the rest of the year? We are too worried about why they fell on hard times and judging their expenditures rather than sharing the Love of God in the form of perpetual generosity. We are to be the salt of the earth. Salt that loses its flavor is useless. We are to bright lights on the hills and rooftops of each city. Where are our lights shining? I am asking myself these questions right now because I want revival in my family, home, joy and especially in ministry this year. I cannot do the same things and expect change. God has set me up with all that I need, every spiritual blessing, perfectly positioned and ready to see His Glory and experience His Favor in 2017. I guess the question is – what will I do about it? Good deeds produced by our life of faith allow us to evaluate our spiritual progress to set our purpose for the next season of life. How’d you do? I am asking myself the same question.

Romans 7:4 (NLT) So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.

I am united with Jesus Christ. His Spirit lives and breathes on the inside of me. He is producing purpose and potential in me to see the dead come to life. Yes, resurrection power. Now I can say that nothing is impossible when I believe, but do I really believe it. If I do believe, I will begin jumping out of the boat to get to Jesus rather than waiting for Him to come to the shore to pick me up. God has perpetuated thoughts and ideas in the form of what if. He says, “Come on, I’ve got you.” But looking at the winds of change and waves of uncertainty, it is easy to say that you are waiting on God but really you are just too scared to move. I can produce a harvest of good deeds for God when I walk by faith and not by sight.

Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world, but who am I listening. What voice do I follow? When the Good Shepherd calls me, am I willing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death to sit at the table prepared for me in front of the enemy? Or am I awaiting a formal invitation with transportation provided to sit at a lavish banquet served by waiters in a climate controlled environment without a single inconvenience? For example, if God called you to ministry, are you willing to work for free? Will you quit your great job with good benefits to answer his call for more hours, less pay and no benefits? If He tells you to move, will you do it? If He tells you to stay right where you are, will you wait? The Voice of God is speaking but too many times we only listen and respond when the Lord tells us what we want to hear. Am I listening? Am I doing? Am I following?

Titus 2:12-14 (NLT) And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

This is not a Word for everyone, only those who want to be history makers and world shakers for God and who love Jesus desiring Him wholeheartedly. I don’t want live a comfortable and complacent life that leads to complications when I meet Jesus face-to-face. The words “well done good and faithful servant” mean everything. It is the difference between life and death. It defines a life wasted over one that gave glory to His Great Name taking full advantage of amazing grace.

I fully believe that if the Church (Body of Christ) truly is committed to revival – it is absolutely vital that every single one of us desire, seek and do everything in our power to walk closer to the Lord than ever before. Do that thing you have never done? Pray that prayer you have been too afraid to pray? To be the change you are expecting in the atmosphere around you rather than waiting for someone else to do it. Forgive the unforgivable. Read the Word. Study the Word. Live the Word. Devote every attitude and action to God the Father relying on the Power given to us by His Son, Jesus Christ. Love like we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Otherwise, let’s abandon this notion of revival. It is insanity to expect different results doing the same thing over and over again.

2 Corinthians 9:8-10 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Generosity is a characteristic of grace that must be evident in the life of true believers. You cannot accept God’s Grace in totality without the inner need and drive to give it back. His Grace changes us from the inside out when allowed to have His Way in us. We can expect seed to sow if we are not sowers. We cannot be planters without the preparation for harvest. If I am unwilling to dedicate my time, talent and treasure to loving and caring for others with genuine love, compassion and commitment just as Christ cares for me, I am not a candidate for revival power. I have to give my life away to receive His Power and His Provision for such an outpouring.

Lord, examine my heart today. Change my mind where I am unwilling. Clear away every barrier and boundary that is keeping me from experiencing Your Glory and fullness of Your Favor in my life. Teach me to give selflessly. Forgive always. Live a genuine life. Be a light. Keep savory. Lord, I want to see revival in 2017. To see men and women radically changed by Your Power. To experience a surge in the Kingdom only attributable to Mighty Move of God and nothing else. We need You – Jesus in epic proportions. Work in me, Lord. Produce good fruit and deeds in my life that will nourish Your Body and build Your Kingdom. I am ready, Lord.

How about you?

Psalm112 (NLT) Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

whats-love-got-to-do-with-it

I John 4:19 (NIV) We love because he first loved us.

What has love got to do with it? Tina Turner made millions of dollars asking this question in her famous song. Her life story was one of great pain and sorrow even abuse. Love tainted by the world and its lack of love convolutes the possibility of true love for many who will settle for a lack of it in their life. Love is not emotional. I do believe in love at first sight. I do not believe that any love affair is without its challenges. I know for a fact that even if you marry the person God created for you that there is definitely challenges in coming together as one. Love is professed on so many levels about many things in our life. We love people or at least think so. Love things. Love hobbies. Love sports. Love interests. Love social media. Love shows. We attach the word so flippantly without consideration of its context that many believe that people really do love in life.

I have a friend who a couple of days ago professed her undying love for her partner. She reveled in the love she has found with this person never thinking it possible with someone. I smiled as she relished in it and reveled it even saying she never imagined being this happy. Well, yesterday she confessed that her “true love” had hurt her feelings causing an explosion of sorts. Why do we put godly expectation on human beings? We do it all the time. We expect people to be like god. Fill every void in our life. Meet our needs and expectations. So much so, that when they don’t it is our tendency to lower our expectation, draw back or walk away. The good news is that they eventually talked it out, worked through it and are moving past it… together… in love.

When Jesus warned people about the last days, He clearly indicated that love would grow cold. His Word has come to past with staggering divorce rates and cheap love plastered on everything from people to things. Not to sound like a modern day prophet or old-fashioned preacher, but love has grown cold. We love because He first loved us. We have lost the foundational truth in our life that God is love. He is the Source of Love. He is the Prosperity of Love. He is the Power in love. He is the Provider of Love. We are loving from an unlovable source that cannot produce the kind of passionate love needed to secure our souls to Jesus. Without the Love of God, it is weak and tainted by our sinful condition, prideful nature and propensity for self. God is love. I need to love God to love anyone else including myself.

I John 4:10-16 (NIV) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 

Our eagerness to show God our worthiness of His Love often separates us from His Love. He does not without it from us but our humanness draws away from it. We want God’s Love. Need it. Are desperate to have it? Human awareness produces insecurity and suddenly people decide that God’s Love is not for them unless they earn it. The Pricelessness of God’s Love is that there is no possible way to earn it or achieve outside of the Lord. The enemy tries to convince us that unfailing and unconditional love is impossible. But it’s not, it is exactly how God loves us. We must become invested in the truth about God’s Love to produce anything of worth from our broken hearts and devastated lives. God’s Love fills the void left by all the impersonators of it.

God is love. It is imperative as believes that “we know and rely on the love God has for us.” Doubt and disbelief come when I do not believe that God’s Love for me is complete. The moment I think there is an end to it, my faith evaporates and hope dies with it.

I John 4:18 (NIV) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

I can remember the first blow up my husband and I had after getting married. It was a doozy. Yelling, screaming, crying, doors slamming and the works. I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t need any man and I could do it on my own. I didn’t deserve such treatment. My feelings were hurt and expectation met. Whoa! What does that mean? We know people will let us down and begin to expect it. When something minor happens – the issue is forced into a confrontation because of fear of loss and abandonment. Looking back at most confrontations in our relationships, they are avoidable. The problem is that we expect people to love like God and God to love like people rather than loving each other from the Love God has invested in us. Fear causes us to test and try love every single day even setting others up to fail with unrealistic expectations of perfection and performance. God says simply – I loved you first.

Revelation 2:2-5 (NIV) I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

God knows every single thing done in His Great Name. He sees our works. He knows our perseverance. The Lord sees our desire to live apart from wickedness and how we test the spirits of others around us. He knows that hardships have been endured as faith is maintained. He sees every one of you who have not given up despite harrowing odds. BUT it means nothing if our love for Him is not as it was at first.

What does this mean? Love is easy… at first. Love is fun… at first. Love is true… at first. Love is childlike… at first. Love is forever… at first. Life happens and the one who was boasted about becomes a fading memory in the midst of unmet expectation. Marriage can fall into this rut just as quickly as our relationship with the Lord. When the newness wears off, it is easily taken for granted. When the other does not read our mind and do what we want, we begin to grumble and complain seeking satisfaction elsewhere. The book of Hosea is all about Gomer and her other lovers representing God’s Great Love and Desire for Israel. God loved us first. He loves us best. He loves us forever with the same intensity and passion as He did when He first made the decision to love us at all. Can we say the same?

2 Timothy 3:2-4 (NIV) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

This is the love of the world in which we live. It is cold and uncaring. People have become lovers of themselves. Consumed with self that causes them to turn on others even God. This is the world of the lost and the world of Christians. We have lost our first love. Apart from the Lord, we can do nothing and that includes love. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us the Fruit of the Spirit produced in us by the holy inhabitation of Christ in us. The very first fruit is love. Every other fruit produced in our life is a seed from the Love that God has planted in us. Without that seed, the rest of the fruit in our life is spoiled. No good. Worthless. Romans 5:5 tells us that God poured His Love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us. The identifier that marks us as Children of God begins cultivating love. No other fruit can be produced in our life unless it comes from the Love God has sown in us first. First love. True love. Everything of God that is good in our life must come from our first love.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV) If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

God details all the qualities of His Love for us and the kind of love that He produces in us in 1 Corinthians 13. Many marriage ceremonies include this vital chapter in identifying true love for us. But the beginning of the chapter is a warning to those who think they love God, “I may boast, but if I do not have love…I gain nothing.” Hear me today, we must learn to love God again. Like we did at first, before discovering the Gifts of His Spirit or even the productivity of faith. Sowing and reaping is an earthly concept sent to mankind from the heavenly realm. If we do not allow the Spirit to produce love in us and do everything from the vantage point of His Love…we have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

What is love?Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8) If this was how Christian believers loved, our churches would be full. Revival would come. The Body of Christ would be united and healthy again. The Kingdom of God would advance. We have lost our first love. Buildings are empty. Revival is not hear. The Body of Christ is unhealthy and dysfunctional. The Kingdom is not advancing. Our love for God is not producing because it is not from the first fruit of His Spirit. We want the prosperity of God’s Love but would rather perform to get it than persevere to have it. What does love have to do with it? Everything. Or we have nothing at all.

I Corinthians 13:13 (NIV) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Love is messy. Love is sacrificial. Love doesn’t always feel good. Love requires us to give up our way. Love requires waiting. Love requires forgiveness. Lord, look at all these other nice things that are good I have done for you. God asks us today, “Where is the love?” Love is not reserved for others but begins with God. Maybe our love has grown tired and cold in the waiting. Could it be that brokenness let it all leak out? See our love for God must be the driving force and motivation of every next breath and next step in life. However, there are times when people think God could not possibly love them because of their actions, or that God forgot about them in His Silence, or that maybe God is not for their good because of their current condition or circumstance. Some decide to have faith and hope in God but reserve their heart just in case they are wrong. Every area of my life investing in doing God’s Word and obedience will yield a blessing in my life. Seed in the ground produces a harvest. It will do nothing for my soul condition and salvation unless I choose to stay true to my first love.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NIV) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.

Our experiences form our expectation. Life is hard. Love is cold. People don’t really love each other but often live lives of codependency. When you came to Jesus, it was with the expectation of unfailing and unconditional love which His Grace readily provided. The moment a person stands up after such an experience – the enemy of your soul wages war against this new love. From that moment forward, passion must burn away doubt and knowledge of God’s Love and how He loves must be the wisdom one lives by. God doesn’t love you like the world does. He loves us perfectly. He loves us completely. He knows every fault, failure and weakness in our life and STILL His Grace is enough for me. With this in mind, it is up to each one of us to examine our heart. Am I passionate about my love affair with Jesus? Do I love Him like I did at first? Am I doing from my own abilities or from what the Holy Spirit is doing in me?

Place me as a seal over your heart. We must seal our heart with God’s Love all over again. Going back to the beginning even if we were young and naïve. God’s Love did not change just our expectation. If we leave our expectation in God’s Love and Grace for us, we will continue to do greater things like Jesus promised. It is when our love grows cold and our pursuit of Him stops that situations and sin overtake our progress, devour our seed, and stifle His Spirit.

I must choose to love God every day. I must decide in my heart that He will be my first love and priority in all things. I must infuse the love that I have been so graciously given into every action and attitude. I cannot concern myself with others and how they love allowing it to dictate my choice to love like Jesus. My love for the Lord must be passionate. It must be my desire.

Lukewarm love is spit out but when God sees that our love for Him consumes us – He pours out Himself even more. Lord, rekindle my love for you today. Not with the simple “you know that I love you” but with the pure intent so everyone will know that I love you, Lord – beginning with YOU!

Proverbs 3:2-4 (NIV) Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and

Are You Hungry?

are-you-hungry

Psalm 107:8-9 (NIV) Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

It never fails. Our family can agree that everyone is hungry and sometimes even exaggerate a bit to use the word “starving” but follow-up with the question – “where would you like to eat?” Nobody can decide. Once someone does voice an opinion then no one can agree. I may ask them, “What would you like to eat?” Oh course, no one knows. I offer suggests that are batting down like a goalie deflecting a hockey puck. Finally after debating over and over, our car pulls into one of the usual hangouts with a disgruntled person who had the same thing just the other day, one who truly still does not care, a victorious one who is truly glad to eat here and my husband who “for the love of God” just wants out of the vehicle. Sound familiar? It is the sound of those who have choices, options and more than enough. Too many choices it sounds like to me.

Now let’s flip the script for a minute, bear with me. I am definitely going somewhere with this little rant. If I am in the kitchen cooking dinner, inevitably one of the kids will come in to investigate further. They will inquire as to the menu which I will happily relay to them. Nothing irks a mama worse than planning meals for a week, working all day, coming home to prepare the meal of the day and have someone sigh in utter disgust at all her hard work. Just a hint people…this is not Burger King and you cannot have it your way. There are times when one might attempt to stage a protest with “I’m not hungry” or “I’m not eating”. This is a personal choice and I am not going to force feed my children especially with them half-grown into adults. However, no you may not make something else. Yes, you will join in the fellowship around the dinner table even if you do not choose to partake of the evening meal. Why? Because I am the mom that’s why.

Unless you are alone and deciding what you will eat for your next meal, one of these two scenarios will likely be faced when dinnertime comes around. Hunger and thirst are natural driving forces in life that can also have spiritual applications. God desires to satisfy us body, mind and spirit. The satisfaction of our soul is a top priority to the Lord. However, Christians have developed a sense of entitlement that somehow has decided that there is a choice. Well, this is partially true. But unless fully explored, it is easy to become deceived. Eve became deceived. Hunger was in the Garden of Eden hence there was fruit growing from the tree. Water flowed through the center of it indicating a thirst. When introduced with a choice, man immediately fell into the trap of doubt and disbelief. Wow, that didn’t take long.

 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) The Lord was clear in His Direction. Offering mankind every other option but one. The one that would kill them. Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:1-6) Before one judges Even too quickly or too harshly, be reminded that our inability to completely trust the Lord in all things causes us to make bad choices each and every day. Humans have a tendency to desire the one thing that is withheld. It becomes the very thing they have an appetite for ignoring all other good things that the Lord has provided for them. It is the very reason many will choose the crumbs under His Table rather than feasting and fellowshipping with the King.

God wants to satisfy your hunger and thirst with good things. This is a true statement that demands a choice. Just one decision that changes everything. Will you choose Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life? Or will you pick something else? Each day there are many offerings in our life because God has given us total and complete freedom. Everything God does is complete. His Plan for you is complete. His Provision for the plan is complete. His Prosperity is predestined for our life. Everything God has in store for us is good, satisfying and fulfilling. So why do we still hunger and thirst each day for other things? Why are Christians dissatisfied with their life? Why do we hunger? Why do we lack?

Matthew 5:6 (NIV) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Revival is an appetite for righteousness. It is a hunger and thirst for Jesus Christ that cannot be satisfied by lesser things. It must become the driving force of the church to see the Glory of God manifest itself. Let’s go back to the dilemma of hunger. When presented with choices, no one can decide what they really want. When in a group of people, the decision is more difficult as public opinion weighs in. Each person, family, church and community puts a little different spin on what righteousness really is. My righteousness comes directly and completely from Jesus Christ alone. I believe that McDonald’s has the best French fries of any fast food restaurant in the world. Now, you may agree or disagree. If I go to another fast food chain and order fries, but expect them to be just like McDonald’s I will be disappointed. I may not be hungry anymore but I will not be satisfied because my desire is not met. Welcome to most churches in the world today. Buildings full of people who cannot agree on the choice of righteousness. Congregations at an impasse because though they desire revival no one knows, understands or believes that it will come so they settle for lesser things. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Free to choose who and what they will worship in life. We didn’t earn the right choose, but Jesus gives us the right to choose how we live our life with the opportunity to be righteous again. To be satisfied. To live in complete contentment. To see His Glory fall all around us again. To experience in expressible joy, supernatural miracles, and purposeful prosperity every single day. This is His Gift to us. But…

Romans 3:22-24 (NIV) This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 

Just as many cannot agree on true satisfaction is and where to receive it, many struggle with the fact that it is God’s Way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life as stated in His Word. No one comes to the Father but through the Blood of Jesus Christ. Here is the problem. People demand choices. They want to decide how to live their life. Isn’t that freedom after all? It is. You are free to choose. The Way to God is clearly defined. This is a stumbling block for many and the barricade that holds back the Glory of God and revival from hitting our altars, pews, churches, homes, workplaces and communities. We want to choose how, when and where God will visit us. However, Christ lives in us. We choose to honor Him with our life or choose another way.

The enemy challenges what we know and believe about God every single day. The only way to achieve righteousness is faith in Jesus Christ. It is the only way. He takes the little bit of word that we know and tiny bit of knowledge it has grown challenging our right to choose each day. Pride chimes in with a voice of its own creating dissatisfaction and discontentment in God when He has provided every spiritual blessing for this life. If my life is not all God has promised me, it is not because God is not doing His Part. He chose to love me first. He sent His Son to make a way for my return. He has given me every spiritual blessing to lead to complete and total fulfillment. Every lesser thing in my life and substitution allowed to exist is according to my free will. I choose to accept less than God’s Best when I choose some other way that is not God’s Way.

Nehemiah 9:13-19 (NIV) “You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. You made known to them your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses. In their hunger you gave them bread from heaven and in their thirst you brought them water from the rock; you told them to go in and take possession of the land you had sworn with uplifted hand to give them. But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.”

The Lord will never take away our right to choose who we serve. He will not restrict our freedom and contradict our word. Faith is the choice to believe in the hope that He has given us. We cannot live in the realm of hope and live life in reality. The reality of faith is hope. Hope cannot be seen. It requires trust. Trust that is not set on what we see or know in the natural but every promise given supernaturally by God. We must have an appetite for righteousness. We must hunger and thirst for right standing with God. This is only found in Christ alone. No matter how religious a person is, or how right they think they are. It doesn’t matter if you have great influence in your community or church – if you choose any other way than Jesus Christ. Revival will come when the Body of Christ agrees on righteousness. When we come together collectively to hunger and thirst for one thing, giving up our way and completely embracing God’s Way of righteousness fully accepting the Grace given to us by Jesus Christ.

Psalm 34:8-10 (NIV) Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Many people do not make wise food choices. Opting for fast food, convenience, and satisfying hungers that have nothing to do with their physical need for food. Many suffer from obesity and even some eating disorders. Hunger and thirst in the natural sense often will tell its own emotional story. With the New Year only a couple of weeks away, many will make the commitment to make better health choices in the coming year. Gym memberships will increase. Salad bars will be ravished. The church will embark on its on spiritual diet called fasting. It has become a “fad” over the last several years to fast for an allotted amount of time in January. Self-depravation and starvation will lead to a whole lot of moaning and complaining but not enough praying. To make a difference means to make better choices. What are those things in our life that must change to see the Glory of God reach us?

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. Those who fear Him lack nothing. They are fulfilled. Satisfied. Content and complete in Jesus Christ. It is this confidence that makes are faith strong. Grace becomes our strength in human weakness. Human weakness is perceived as the giving up our way to someone else. This would solve a lot of food wars on Friday nights, and even more fights over family dinner. Until the church unites in its appetite for righteousness, hungering and thirsting for one thing, the same thing, that is Jesus – friends there will be no revival. We will continue to eat different things, dine in different places and see God differently from place to place. Disunity causes dysfunction. To cry out for revival and not hunger and thirst together is like everyone calling out for the “food” they want and not the “fulfillment” God desires to release among us.

Can we all agree to hunger and thirst together for the same thing? It strengthens our cry for revival as everyone becomes in one accord. God loves unity. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. To follow Jesus means that we all end up in the same place. One step in either direction other than in wild pursuit of Him offers something different for each one us. We must agree on an appetite of righteousness and the Glory of God will join us. You don’t have to go to the same church or be a member of the same congregation to be after the same thing. We are part of a Kingdom and its gateway is righteousness.

Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV) As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 63:1-3 (NIV) You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.