Just Turnaround

Just Turnaround

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embracing Change

embracing-change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wasteland

wasteland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Is Revival?

what-is-revival

Psalm 85: 4-7 (NLT) Now restore us again, O God of our salvation. Put aside your anger against us once more. Will you be angry with us always? Will you prolong your wrath to all generations? Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 85:8-9 (NLT) I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give Me Your Heart

give-me-your-heart

Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NLT) And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

Some mornings as I dive into this time with the Lord, it is in a quest for knowledge or a thought that came to me during my commute that is creates urgency to dig a little deeper and uncover another nugget of truth to be cultivated. Other times it is a battle of my spirit to apprehend my flesh washing it in His Word while I act like a stubborn child who loves the mud. Thoughts that do not correspond with the Christ who live in me are challenged during this time as the strongholds I try to build with my hands are torn down by His Spirit in my life. Parting from reality and stepping into hope, I find this place in His Presence to always be refreshing and renewing. Time well spent in the course of the day and never missed or decidedly wasted at the end of my day.

This morning was a little different. When the alarm went off, I had this profound need to surrender my heart to the Lord again. Just hand it over to Him in exchange for the new heart that He promises me day by day. Coming through a challenging season and stepping into the new thing God is doing – I am overwhelmed with the need for His Heart. The kind of heart that He promised in Ezekiel. I want a new heart. I want a revived spirit today. My heart is given to stubbornness. It is apt to become hard without me even trying to do so. God, I want a tender responsive heart today.

If the church was completely honest, every single person sitting on a pew or even comfortable padded chair in the climate controlled comfort zone of religion, it would probably feel the same way. Frustrated that others do not see the Light so clearly hidden in the recesses of my very human heart. Concerned for a lost and dying world that doesn’t seem to hear the message of the Gospel being shared. Tired of serving without results. Hurt by those around us who are imperfect. Desperate due to misplaced hope expecting something that has not happened or that seems impossible. You are the ones who can relate. I don’t want life as usual. I want supernatural life that cuts through darkness, breaks every chain, heals every hurt and renews me day by day to engage with others and share the Love that is greater than life given to me absolutely free and with more than enough grace to discover.

I need a new heart. Not just today, but every day. Pride would like to convince me that my confidence in Christ has something to do with me. The Spirit of God within me often cannot get past the resolve of resignation that I somehow or some way can contribute anything at all to a perfect gospel, flawless message or selfless service already accomplished by Christ on the Cross. I cannot. Less of me and more of Him is the only way that I live a worthwhile life from the mess that I made it. My heart will never bow to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords until it turns on itself. Pride has no place in a human heart that longs to be all God created us to be. Grace is the only sufficiency in my life. It completes me. Otherwise, I am only half the woman God created me to be. Lord, humble my heart today so your Spirit can take over.

I John 4:7-8 (NLT) Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Our dining room table has seen better days. How it survived all five children and countless meals is a miracle in and of itself! Over time, our daughters discovered nail polish. They also found nail polish remover. On multiple occasions, I expressed my concern about using it on the table. Explaining in careful detail that it would remove the finish if it happen to find its way on to it. I was “assured” by my girls that would not happen as they were being extremely “careful”. And then I would hear the word, “Oops!” The dark expresso finish has some boo boos compliments of the girls and their beauty quest. I have been refinishing and repurposing furniture lately to reuse in our new house. He has hinted that it would be nice if I did the same thing to our kitchen table. For years, he has asked for a new one but I cannot part with it.

The table is special and unique. Many years ago, one of girls struggled with a deficiency in her fine motor skills. She could not write her name or other words smaller than about six to eight inch letters. After consulting many doctors and neurologists, she was given a weighted pencil to achieve the task. The wood on my table is pine and softer than an oak finish. The weight of the pencil made an impression in the table and her name is found inscribed there. I do not want to remove her little masterpieces from it so I cannot bear to redo it.

God wants to use our heart. He wants to write the names of people who are on His Heart and trust us to love them more than ourselves. More than our comfort. More than our convenience. More than our hang-ups and insecurities. But we hold tightly to the pieces of a broken and hard heart wondering why there is no movement in our personal ministry (called life) and why others are not benefiting from the Light of His Love that we try to project. The ministry of Christ was not apart from Jesus but who Jesus was. God is love. His Son was made in His Father’s Image just as we are. I cannot be effective for Christ or even serve Him efficiently if I withhold any of my heart from Him.

Matthew 9:16-17 (NLT) “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved. The call for revival is a cry for a new outpouring of His Spirit. His Spirit cannot inhabit a hard heart. If He does remain there, He cannot move without risk of destroying the person. God does change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. His Spirit is from Him so therefore has the same characteristics. Yet believers want the Spirit to move in them, through them and around them, one must be full aware that this will only come at sacrifice of self. God’s Spirit will not change to meet your space or condition. The move of God’s Spirit through you will not be limited to the space allowed. If God poured out His Spirit on the church, due to its current heart condition it just might implode or collapse at the weight of it.

Why? On the way home from work last night, I stopped to spend some time with a lovely young woman from our church. She is quiet and shy. The Lord has placed her on my heart to love and get to know. Yesterday was a long day at work, I had to work late and tried to think of every reason in the book to cancel but couldn’t. My heart told me to go. Afterwards, it was late and the family was hungry. I had a meal prepared to cook for them but knew that by the time I got home no one would want to wait so I swung into a fast food restaurant. Too tired to think, I ordered four of the usual and recanted the drink order that I have asked for a hundred times before. Arriving home, everyone gathered around the table immediately gratified by food that isn’t all that good or good for us. We want it fast. We want it now. We want it our way. We want what we want when and how we want it without waiting more than five minutes to get it. We want convenience, comfort and control. This is not how life in Christ works as He lives, moves and breathes in us. We must give up all those things that this life offers to acquire a new heart, new spirit and new life. It all begins with our heart.

I John 4:15-19 (NLT) All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

Today all I want is a new heart. I want the kind of heart that loves like Jesus. The kind that is willing to be broken over and over again if grace and salvation comes out of it. God is good, yes! He has been so good to me! But first and foremost, God is love. To be like my Father requires a selfless, patient, unconditional, unfailing and unending love that this world cannot identify with but longs for. This is the kind of love that sparks revival. This is the heart ready to be filled with His Spirit. Lord, I ask you today for the new responsive heart promised in Ezekiel. The kind of vessel that is willing to be inconvenience, uncomfortable and broken over and over again for Your Glory! Give me your heart God, the one like yours prepared for me. Amen!

Psalm 51:10-12 (NLT) Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

So You Want Revival?

So You Want Revival

John 11:25-27 (NIV)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

There is a small cry building momentum rising from churches across America and around the world calling out for revival. People want God to manifest His Presence. They desire a move of God beyond the natural confines of buildings and productions. Is this a need to see God for validation or is it a burning desire for Him to come closer? It makes a difference. Our church is crying out for revival. We want God to come in our midst. Our deepest desire is to be an institution completely given to the lost, dying and afflicted people all around us. Our vision becomes our mission to see all – saved, healed, developed and fulfilled. Knowing our purpose, one must come up with a plan. This morning as I once again petition the Lord send His Revival, the thought occurs to me, “Do we know what we are asking for?”

God is not like us. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts much higher than human consciousness or basic perception. As begin to dig deeper into this ancient cry now beginning to resonant again, it must be fundamental. The origin of the root word “revive” is to return to consciousness or restore to health. It comes from the Latin word “revivere” which is re – again and vivere – live. The dictionary defines “revive” to activate, set into motion, or take up again. To renew. To restore life. To quicken or renew our mind. When you add “al” to the end of the word, it means to set it into motion or make it a reality. There is nothing new about revival. It comes from something ancient and authentic that is inside of us.

 

Lazarus had died. They called for Jesus to come while he was sick, but the Lord did not make it in time so their brother had passed away. He had been dead and buried for three long days. When Jesus arrived, He found His Friends mourning and in the midst of grief. He presented a different option. He offered resurrection and life. Whoever lives believing in Jesus will never die but live again. After His Statement, Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe?” What a respectful cover she gave, thinking fast on her feet, she offered all that she had in that moment, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Why didn’t Martha say something like, “Yes, I believe”? Because Martha’s faith was limited to the here and now. She was the sister consumed by activity and responsibility. The one who worked her way to approval and affirmation. She was the busy one who had no time to wait around but rather chose to make things happen. All she knew and believed was that if Jesus had been there her brother would not have died. She did not realize that before her stood the Resurrection and Life that would change her situation. The One who would end her mourning. Jesus would be her Revival that day.

Every moment that I spend with Jesus thinking I am getting to know Him is lost in the revelation that I am only beginning to discover His Love, Grace, Faithfulness and Goodness to me. Revival is not something we do. It is not like a fire beginning with a spark that we can add fuel to. Revival is Jesus. Plain and simple. Revival comes when we allow our faith to grow beyond this life to experience everlasting life – now. Initially, people come to the Lord desiring a better life now. Seeking release from the bondage of sin, its consequences, life’s hardships including sickness and disease. All of these things are now. Following Jesus will absolutely change our life now. But if we limit our pursuit to just this life, we are selling ourselves short.

James 1:4-6 (NIV)

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

We must allow faith to finish its work so that (God’s People) will be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Are you lacking anything today? I have a good life. Things are going well right now. However, I am lacking some things. If you have a single pain, ailment or sickness in your body – you are not complete. If your mind has an inkling of fear, stress, worry or anxiety, you are lacking. If you do not believe in any way shape or form that God is doing exactly what He promised in your life or you possess a dead dream – God is not finished with you yet. Faith and confident hope are the basis of revival. We must take the tiny seed of faith and take the time to build confident hope that connects us to Jesus until we become so rooted and grounded in His Love we are fully mature. How do I know that the church has not arrived? Simple.

Mark 16:16-18 (NIV)

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

This passage states that “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” and “these signs will accompany those who believe.” Accompany means to “go along with.” The New King James Version uses the word “follow”. Stop and think about that for a moment. I have ever since I studied this passage yesterday. Signs will follow those who believe. If signs, wonders and miracles are not following me or accompanying me – it is directly connected to my faith and ability to believe. If I truly believe, they will follow and accompany me which means that it is not something that I do but the Resurrection and Life who is Jesus Christ emanating from inside me.

Isaiah 57:14-15 (NIV)

And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Isaiah 61:1-4 (NIV)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.

In the book of Isaiah, there are many passages that point to Jesus and His Work on the earth. He came to rebuild the way for mankind to return to their Creator. He became the Way. Note that in Isaiah 61 it says that “the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me.” On me versus in me. The Spirit of God is in us because in the New Testament – Jesus, the Sinless Son of God, sacrifices His Life for our life. The word “revive” becomes “resurrection” in the New Testament because now that same Spirit of the Sovereign Lord moves from on me to in me. (John 20:22) People can now be baptized with the fire that was promised that will send a spark of revival into their soul. Revival is resurrection life. Resurrection life will always be direct gift from Jesus Christ. We can do nothing to facilitate revival other than believe. To believe motivates us to follow the Lord which will be evidenced by the “signs that follow us.” I want to see people saved. I want them to be healed, oh how I desire it so. I want to see them fully developed and mature so the enemy can stop misleading and distracting all God’s People. I want to see others fulfilled. Martha’s belief only carried her as far as this life, Jesus wanted it to lead her to forever. Resurrection and life stood before her. She could see the Lord. However, now revival, resurrection and life live in us. Greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world. As I decrease, Christ increases. If I continue to pursue Jesus and only Jesus – revival will come from the inside out.

Romans 6:4-8 (NIV)

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Something must die to live again. Revival cannot happen until something dies in us. Repentance is the beginning of resurrection life. (Isaiah 1:27-28) As we consistently and completely turn from sin and darkness into the Light of His Love. People repent in varying degrees. How do I know? If you do not live, look and talk the same way in the world as you do in church – then your repentance is limited. I know, I know. I am only human, too but I want to be like Jesus. If it makes me look over my shoulder, than I am going the wrong way. Revival requires repentance. We must die to our flesh and live by His Spirit in and out of church. I am the church. To live a double life doesn’t fool anyone. The psalmist in Psalm 85 ask the Lord to be revived. He says, I will listen to what God says.” God’s response – revival includes faithfulness born of love. It is given as part of our salvation. It is cultivated by those who desire to remain faithful and righteous before God in all things. It is a life of reverence considering God’s Word, Will and Way in all things not just things pertaining to religion or the church. It requires a life of sowing and reaping in the Spirit. It is revolutionized by obedience. God desires us to live complete lacking nothing. It must become our desire and mission in life to fulfill God’s Desire. We must die to our selfish, sinful nature and all of its wiles and take up our cross to follow Jesus. No matter how many times we may stumble, fall or lose our way – those who continue to pursue, press in, and persevere will see God’s Glory in their natural life.

Philippians 3:10-11 (NIV)

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Our desire to know Christ, really know the Lord, must become the drive and motivation of our natural life to experience the supernatural manifestation called revival. Just the revelation that revival is not something new, but rather those dead to sin coming alive in Jesus is exciting. Suddenly, I don’t have to do anything but believe which as we all know and will admit is tough sometimes. I can do nothing to promote revival or be resurrected except die to sin allowing Christ to live with in me and make His Way out into the world around me. Count me in. If this is revival, I want it. I am completely incompetent of laying hands on the sick so they will recover. However, Jesus makes me competent as a minister of the New Covenant to do exactly that. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6) The Spirit gives me life that allows me to resuscitate others with the Love and Grace that I have been given. The more I accept Him, acknowledge Him and allow Jesus to give me a new life allows me to let it flow from me to others.  I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:16-17) I must stop allowing the world and its opinion to dissuade me from the Truth. There will be naysayers until corporate revival breaks out because a group of believers embarked on the same mission together. (Acts 4:32-35) Those same people that picked on you, persecuted you and rejected you will be first in line and you will receive them according to the Grace you have been given.

My belief in Jesus Christ must begin to believe in His Resurrection and Life of today not just forever. David said in Psalm 27, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Are you confident in the Lord today? Are you willing to bet your life on the new life and new creation that He promised? It is this kind of belief that brings Heaven to earth sparking a revival that will spread among believers and followers of Christ. I am afraid that we may have forgotten or become overwhelmed like Martha. In Matthew 24, Jesus warns us that “the love of most will grow cold.” He is not talking about the world. The world does not know love outside of Jesus. He is talking about the church. He concludes that those who endure to the end will be saved. He is definitely talking about His Followers. Revelation 3:16 warns that the “lukewarm” will be spit or vomited from his mouth. Church – He is talking to us directly. Are we listening? We cry out for revival? His Response is the same – “Come to me!” He is the Resurrection and Life. We must put all of our hope and trust in the Lord and His Word, Will and Way to see revival come. (Psalm 119:49-56) So do you still want revival? I do more than ever – even so come, Lord Jesus come!

I Peter 1:3-5 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

Time to Get Away

Time to Get Away

John 7:37-38 (NLT)

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

 

There is a giant yellow sticky note posted to my computer screen that says, “VACATION” with a heart. It is a reminder that our family needs a time of rest and refreshing. A few days ago while having my quiet time with the Lord, He literally dropped it in my spirit that our family needs a time of rest, refreshment and rejuvenation. It has been a very long three almost four years. There have been many challenges. There have been many twists and turns along the way. There have been things that produced change that is good and difficult all at the same time. We are a worn-torn bunch who are a little rough around the edges. We have not been on a family vacation in a very, very long time. I put the note there so I will remember when I am here at the computer to make this a priority. To plan, save and prepare to make this happen. Surely if the Lord put it in my heart, than He will provide everything we need to enjoy it.

We are comprised of mind, soul and body. All three components can become tired. All three require our attention. The Lord did not save us, deliver us and set us free to become overburdened workhorses in this world. I think many times Christians try to work so hard to please the Lord and earn their blessings that they do not allow His Grace to sufficiently cover them and living water to constantly refresh them. I know what the Lord has done for me. I know all of my failures and shortcomings. I want to show Him how much I love Him by doing. But when I do not maintain balance in my mind, soul and body – I step out of the Will of God for my life and back into the Law which says that I will never be able to do enough, be enough or live right enough to earn my keep. It is an exhausting endeavor to try to earn the Favor of God. You will never be able to do it because God is THAT Good! The Lord wants us to live in His Presence allowing Him to constantly refresh and revive us again. It means times of designated periods of rest and restoration in our life.

We have living water within us that circulates through our life. It is the very thing that satisfies our mind, soul and body – if we accept His Grace and allow it. To have faith and trust in the Lord means that we work smarter not harder. We learn to depend on God’s Unfailing Love, Grace and Mercy rather than our own ability to manage our life, work things out and do everything. Otherwise the water running through our life becomes stagnant and unproductive.

Exodus 31:16-17 (NLT)

The people of Israel must keep the Sabbath day by observing it from generation to generation. This is a covenant obligation for all time. It is a permanent sign of my covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed.

 

Are you overworked today? No really are you constantly tired, exhausted or burning out? In whatever work capacity you live, there is the potential of giving too much of yourself and not allowing for time to rest and rejuvenate. God ordained times of rest each week and called it the Sabbath. The people were required by Jewish law to rest one day a week. Do you have a time of rest set aside for your life? No really – is there time when you allow your mind, soul and body to completely shut down and reboot. My family blessed me with a Fitbit for my birthday last month. My little accountability partner must be recharged every so many days. Since it keeps track of my activity even counting each step, I will not move from my chair while it is charging. It cannot count those steps until it is recharged and I will lose credit for them in my daily goals. It seems silly I know and I am working through the condemnation. As I look at the little light flashing while it is plugged in, it reminds me that my attitude and activity count for the Lord but more so my ability to be still in His Presence knowing that everything is in His Control.

Psalm 84:5-7 (NLT)

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

 

During the difficult times as our son battled cancer, a vacation was not even an option. I barely made it back and forth from his treatments for birthdays, holidays and special events. I couldn’t plan for such a break because each day was so uncertain. Though we walked through the Valley of Weeping – the Lord definitely sent refreshing springs along the way. Maybe you are in the midst of a season like we were in. It is hard to find a moment to yourself in the midst of the battle. At the climax of his confinement during his bone marrow transplant, I felt the walls closing in. He was so sick. The nights were so long. The bells, whistles and alarms so overwhelming. The isolation seemed to be more than I could take. I missed my other children. I just wanted to hug my husband. I could feel the Lord pushing me outside. So I walked outside for the first time in several days, when the sunshine hit my face I could feel a rush of energy through me. The gentle breeze blowing in the midst of all the people rushing around seemed to rejuvenate me. I took a 15-minute vacation in the sun praising God that there would be life outside of cancer and these awful days. I was a new woman, new mom and new believer in that brief time in the Presence of God basking in His Creation. What about you? Have you had a staycation lately? That is when you cannot go anywhere but still unhook to rest! We all need rest. A vacation is not always possible, but it does not mean that we are not to learn to find time to bask in the Presence of God. There is joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord. Our inability to rest and stop moving proves that we have trust issues when it comes to Jesus.

Acts 3:19-21 (NLT)

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets.

Refreshment will come from the Presence of the Lord. He will again send you Jesus. The Lord has promised that His Burden is Light. He promises to give us rest. We rest in our ability to trust the Lord enough to stop doing and relax every once in a while. My husband and I have determined a “staycation” won’t work for us because we always end up painting or fixing something during our “break”. We have to walk away from everything due to our inability to detach from doing and rest. We have hope every day that we are alive on the earth and Jesus lives in us. We can rest assured that everything is taken care of. The absence of rest requires a return to His Presence even repentance. Refusing to rest is an indication that Jesus is less than enough to satisfy our life so rather than enjoying the Favor of God that we have been given – we choose to try to do better for ourselves. Ouch! The Lord is stepping all over my toes today. I need to stop doing, detach and rest. Lord, help me to slow down and see the importance of totally relying on you mind, soul and body. Trusting that you have everything under control even the most minor details of life.

Proverbs 16:15 (NLT) When the king smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain.

 

In the absence of human ability, we experience God’s Favor at its best. When we decide to trust the Lord for everything, we begin to feel His Smile over our life. Today our oldest daughter is coming for her first visit since moving to New Hampshire (21 hours from home). Every time I think of spending a few days with her – I well up. I love her. I want to be with her. I want to share life with her. After today, I have cleared my schedule for her visit. I have taken the rest of the week off at work. We have many things that we are doing while she is here before she must return to her new life. I cherish this time with her because she is my child and I love her. Imagine how the Lord feels when we take a break to enjoy life and rest in His Presence. He loves us way more than we love each other. I am in the middle of three major projects at work that require my attention but they will have to wait. My baby is coming home. This life began before we got here and will continue after we are gone. The only thing that lasts forever is faith, hope and love. As we learn to trust and lean on God’s Love enough to rest when needed, we will experience His Favor like sunshine breaking through the clouds!

The Lord has called our family to take a break. It’s time to get away! To trust Him that life will go on without us and enter a place of rest called a vacation. What is the Lord saying to you today about your ceaseless activity? For some it will be simply take five minutes to spend with me, others will be called to a “staycation” with a few days at home and some like us will be called out completely to shutdown, unwind and reboot! Whatever way the Lord is calling you into His Presence and a season of rest – it is just as important to obey Him in this as any other thing that He has called you to do! May the refreshing and abundant spring of His Spirit well up in you and water your life with His Presence!

Job 29:19-20 (NLT)

For I am like a tree whose roots reach the water, whose branches are refreshed with the dew. New honors are constantly bestowed on me, and my strength is continually renewed.

Revive Me Again – A Devotion

Revive Me Again

Isaiah 57:15 (NLT)
The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.”

 

Early in the morning trying to be as quiet as possible I crawl out of bed getting ready to start the day within minutes our dog is right at my feet knowing it is time for his first meal of the day. With great enthusiasm, he runs back and forth from me to his food bowl with great anticipation. I thought I heard a yip but surely it was not him. He hasn’t done that in years. But as I come around the corner into the kitchen, I realize it is him. I wonder what happened to the old man. Oh I know exactly what happened to him! Her name is Izzy Azalea. Our newest edition an energetic and vivacious little three and one-half pound of pure energy.

We weren’t even looking when introduced to Miss Izzy. Our oldest daughter recently married has been begging and pleading with her husband for a fur baby. He has been in strong opposition. So she sent me Izzy’s picture to muster our support which I showed to my unsuspecting husband who said, “If you want her, get her.” Within a few hours, Izzy Azalea came to live with us. She needed a family and we just happened to have one. But to be completely honest, we had a bit of an ulterior motive. See our dog, Chico who is about to turn eleven is advancing in his years. Not the spry little guy he once was, his fur is almost completely white and a hint of cataracts can be seen in his big brown eyes. Our youngest daughter is extremely attached to him. So we have been talking about adding to the pack to ease the loss that will one day come. However, the day that we anticipated seems to be fading away with the new puppy’s arrival. Chico is revived. He is more active. He is showing signs of revival that make our heart glad.

I restore the crushed spirit and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. Who couldn’t use a shot of energy and enthusiasm in the midst of the ordinary? Who doesn’t want to be revived each day? God knows that His People need new mercy each day and provides it. He knows that His Grace must be sufficient for all our insufficiencies. His Unfailing Love and Goodness is pursuing us because the Lord knows what each day will demand of us. It is okay to come to just feeling crushed, afraid and broken. I believe that the Lord wants to revive me again just like he has our old dog with the arrival of his newfound companion, Izzy.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT)

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

 

It is God’s Will for our spirits to be renewed every day. Even in the midst of opposition, present troubles and overwhelming circumstances, the Lord is diligent in His Response to us as His Spirit works to generate those things in us that revive us such as joy and peace. This is why we must never give up. Our bodies are born dying. Once we are saved, our inner man (the flesh guy) begins to die as well. It is our spirit that experiences new life. The unseen part of us connected with the Lord preparing for forever. How can we experience revival in us day by day when so much of us is dying in His Midst?

John 4:23-24 (NLT)
But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

 

I like to meet up with the woman at the well when I need to be reminded of that which revives and refreshes me day by day. She was at the well at an unusual time because of her choices in life. Now though she felt isolated and alone, it was by divine appointment as Jesus wanted an encounter with the woman. She would never be the same again. The Lord wants an encounter with you. He has ordered your steps to arrive at the place. He has positioned you in time to arrive at just the right moment. He has allowed your heart to be broken so that now it can be renewed. You thirst and hunger for something more because you have worn out your reserve. Considering giving up is the very place that His Glory meets us and overtakes our life. We are out of the way.

We are to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. What does that mean? Worshipping the Lord is not what we have made it. It is not on a weekly schedule but a daily means of survival. A production with music, lights and cameras is not necessary. God is after only you. Worship is the act of one heart in a single person dying to make a connection with God. It is in that moment that our heart breaks as our spirit dies and we abandon all pride and self-sufficiency to say, “I give it all to you! I surrender! I want you Lord more than this life or anything in it.” That is worship and when we choose to do so by entertaining His Spirit and ingesting His Word something changes and we are renewed moment by moment and day by day.

Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT)

Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

 

You have a choice in who and what influences your life. Public opinion may be popular but it is not always true. In fact, most of the time it is completely contrary to the mindset of God. We have been given the mind of Christ. (I Corinthians 2:16) His Spirit lives inside of us who is greater than he that is in this world. The Holy Spirit will renew our thoughts and attitudes which will directly impact our actions. His Spirit is essential to putting on our new nature and living a righteous and holy life. Which is not a boring existence? It is a promise to be renewed, revived and restored day by day. The Spirit of God sets us free from sin to live in the prosperity and favor of God known as His Glory. The Holy Spirit produces in us those things which cannot be made by our human nature. The Fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, patience, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) It is this that we grow, mature and prosper both inside and out. We must stir up the Holy Spirit. Acknowledge Him. Talk to Him. Allow Him to assist us in our walk with Christ. That is what He is there for.

Psalm 119:47-50 (NLT)

How I delight in your commands! How I love them! I honor and love your commands. I meditate on your decrees. Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope. Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.

The Word of God is alive. When He sends forth His Word, it cannot return to Him void meaning that it must accomplish what it was sent forth to do. We must know the Word of God to be revived. To discover what the Word says about us and our life is total and complete empowerment arming our spirit to overcome our flesh. Do you delight in the Word of God? Do you love it? When was the last time you sat down to read it, or tuned in to listen to it, or prayed it or spoke it? Have you spent any time studying it and how it applies to your life? What about doing it? This is not a message of condemnation but rather the plea much like “Sam I am” who asked simply, “Do you like green eggs and ham?” All Sam wanted was for his friend to try them. How can you claim a promise that you didn’t even know was made? How can you hope for the unknown? God has given us His Spirit and Truth to revive us, renew us and produce His Glory in our life every single day that we live on this side of Eternity. What are you doing to unite the two in your life?

Psalm 119:149 (NLT)

In your faithful love, O Lord, hear my cry; let me be revived by following your regulations.

 

As I am writing, Izzy is tucked under a blanket sleeping on my lap. She is in time out. As much as the two dogs are becoming companions, sometimes she just doesn’t know how to give it a rest so she must be removed to get herself together. As much as her entrance into his life has revived Chico, sometimes he is not too enamored with it like at 5:30 AM when he wants to go back to bed and she wants to play. Change is not always comfortable so with that thought in mind I will whisper this part. Sometimes a change is required to be revived. I know. I know I am not a fan of change either but as uncomfortable as it may be the Spirit and God’s Truth may reveal some things that are literally sucking the life right out of us. We must allow the Lord to remove or make the necessary change in order to continue to be renewed. “Let me be revived by following your regulations.” You cannot have God’s Way by doing things your way. It would be closely knit to the definition of insanity which is to do the same thing over and over expecting different results. His Blood is enough. His Grace is sufficient. I must step into right standing with God and choose to remain there in order to experience the constant revival, renewal and restoration possible in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 51:10-12 (NLT)

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you.

 

Repentance is the precursor to renewal, restoration and revival. This is good news for us! We can ask the Lord with each new day scooping up that fresh new mercy (Lamentations 3:22-23) to create in us a clean heart. We can ask Him to renew a loyal spirit without expecting punishment for the days that we stray. He will never take His Spirit from those who live in repentance acknowledging their need and desire for Christ. He will take His Word and wrap it around our heart while filling us with His Spirit until He overflows in us. We can live happily saved and willing to serve. I want to be revived today. I want to experience the joy of my salvation all over again. It is not time to throw in the towel for I have only begun to run the race of faith! All I need is a little revival in my heart and mind. Lord, revive me again.

Romans 15:13 (NLT)

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

Waiting for Spring – A Devotion

Waiting for Spring

Isaiah 61:10-11 (NLT)

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring with plants springing up everywhere.

 

I am waiting for spring to come. I am watching and hoping that soon things will change around me. It has been a long winter. This morning in the wee hours of the day I was outside with our little dogs. As they attended their business, I walked around our pool. My husband keeps it clean and crystal clear throughout the winter. The air is a bit warmer today. The forecast is showing signs of early spring. But as I strain my eyes to look at the grassy area it is not lush and green. It bears the distinctive mark of late winter frost and the freezing temperatures of the week before. The dew sits on its blades as if not sure what to do with the place that it has fallen. It will be four years since we dug the pool in late summer. We were sure that it would be the highlight of our household. The boys could come enjoy it as much as the three girls who were all still living at home. But shortly after finishing the pool – our son got sick. Marking more than three years of back and forth to Gainesville for five rounds of treatment, I cannot say I wonder where the time has gone for I know all too well. At a time when I thought we were entering the best days of our life with a luxury that I never thought we would have, it turned out to be the beginning of a long, arduous fight. Our son has been cancer-free for more than six months now. I am truly thankful for the healing power of God that has been demonstrated in our son’s life. To God be the glory.

I need spring to come now. I need winter to end. I need some things to come back to life. I want the time back stolen from us. As I look around the yard at the grass that will soon spring forth with new life, I am aware of a quickening in my own spirit for the same. I want to be filled with the overwhelming joy in the Lord that I once had. He dressed me in His Salvation and for that I will forever be grateful. I have His Righteousness each day no matter how bad I may mess up thanks to an abundance of grace and new mercy that arrives each day. I am ready for this to spring forth from my life once again.

Isaiah 32:16-20 (NLT)

Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest. Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down, the Lord will greatly bless his people. Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.

 

As I read this passage today, I realize that justice rules in the wilderness. What does that mean to us as believers? When we have no idea what God is up to, it is still safe to put our trust in Him. His Righteousness is a fertile field. Simply by faith in God I am sowing what I will one day reap. The winter in our life seems to have been exceptionally long. A lot of things have seemingly died away. I feel as though I have missed so many things that cannot be redeemed. But thankfully, I am not the Redeemer of my life because I give up way too quick. God sees new life when something dies. People mourn their loss, but the Lord rejoices in the future of such things. His Righteousness is the enforcer of our peace. It brings quietness and confidence to my soul that no matter how harsh the winter may be or how dead some areas of my life become that new life is not a possibility but rather quite probable in my life because of the hope that I have in Him. Even if the forest is destroyed, the city torn up, our life turned completely upside down and shaken violently, the Lord will greatly bless His People. “Wherever they plant seed” bountiful crops will spring up. I am promised prosperity no matter how wretchedly long the winter season seems and no matter how dead everything around me seems to be. I have blessed assurance because Jesus is mine that dead things are bringing forth new life.

Hosea 10:12 (NLT)

“I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness and you will harvest a crop of love.
Plow up the hard ground of your hearts for now is the time to seek the Lord that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’”

Plant seeds of righteousness. You will harvest His Love. I need the favor of God to work in my life. I have His Favor because He loves me. Plain and simple. I can do nothing to produce it other than continue to sow His Love in my life which is mine for righteousness sake. Sowing and reaping in the Spirit is a heart condition that spills over into our life. As our soul prospers, so do we. (3 John 1:2) When I look at the pool in our backyard, I do not miss the time that I would have spent in it. But I long all the times my children enjoyed it without me, but I was exactly where I should have been, would have been and could not change it as our son needed me. Planting may take something from us that we are not willing to give up but do anyway. It is a sacrifice. It takes from the now by faith in hope for the future. (Psalm 126:5-6) In our sacrifice, God blesses us with righteousness. We reap what we sow. Those things sown in faith will yield hope every time. When we trust the Lord through winter, His Favor is evident in spring. We just have to make it to spring. We have everything that we need to harvest an abundance if we do not give up. God didn’t call us to live a get-by kind of life, but a more than enough life. If you are just getting by, spring is just around the corner.

Isaiah 58:10-12 (NLT)

Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.

 

Spring is going to come because God ordered the seasons. It has been preordained by Him to arrive right on time. You and I determine its yield. In the planting, we must be faithful no matter how hard it is. No matter how long it may seem. Whether we want to give up some things or not. Nothing is wasted that we give to the Lord in our sowing. As believers, we just have to do what we do and pursue Jesus day by day. His Righteousness works our seed invested in the ground to die so that our life will be transformed in each harvest. My pastor said yesterday that “every dead thing in our life today fuels our future.” Stop calling the dead back to life. The past is not your future but the things of your past may be useful to promote new life. In fact, it was the message at church that our next season is “spring.” God is producing everything that I need to prosper in my life according to my faith. If I want the impossible, it is by adding more faith that I receive it. My hope cannot be in the tangible and seeable details of life but in the promise that I will be complete lacking no good thing. This season is ending and not a moment too soon. I am ready for flip-flops and pool parties again.

Isaiah 35:1-4 (NLT)

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”

 

Spring is coming! It has to! God ordered it to be so. It will happen soon. I feel it in my spirit as the Lord encourages my heart today. Strengthen those tired hands – you can make one more pass sowing seeds of righteousness today while you wait for the blossoming to begin by faith. I encourage you to keep walking on those weak knees (as I am telling myself to). We are almost there. The season will change without our help but what we harvest in that new day is completely up to us. I put faith in the ground. I keep my eyes fixed on hope. Planting straight rows of right standing with the Lord even when I must soften the ground with tears. The Lord will cause my righteousness to shine like the noonday sun. I will harvest what I have sown. God never lets our faith rot in the ground. He is my hope. He is my salvation no matter how dead things seem to be in my life. Spring is coming. I can feel it in the air, but more importantly now I can feel it in my heart again. Thank you Lord for this new season. Teach me embrace the changes associated with spring. Give me confidence that comes when faith matures in the ground called hope. You are my everything who better to change everything and call it new life.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT)

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

Here Comes the Sun – A Devotion

Here Comes the Sun

Psalm 84:10-12 (NLT)
A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.

 

Arriving in “sunny” south Florida for a conference, it was disappointing to encounter more overcast cold weather. Hopeful that when we arrived, the sun would be shining providing a little warmth in the midst of unusually cold weather for our state. Granted that during these events there is seldom enough time to enjoy the lush resorts where they take place, it is still quite nice to get a quick walk in here and there to bask in the tropical breeze and soak in the unprecedented light. People travel from all over the world to encounter the sunshine and beaches of Florida. However, the superstar of the South had been hiding behind clouds and cold winds for the last couple of days. Why is it so depressing when the sun doesn’t shine? Most of the time, people are so wrapped up in busy schedules and daunting routines, what does it matter that the sun does not shine outside when it would not be seen anyway other than through a filtered window or a shadow somewhere? Sitting in the conference room listening to the speaker who was now thirty minutes over his allotted time, his words just seemed to drone on and on. The palm trees behind him caught my attention swaying in the wind and I saw it. The light of the sun was out which meant behind me the sun was shining somewhere over the water. Longing to be set free, I hurried to my hotel room to see the sun before it set for the day. Throwing open the curtains and then the doors, I could feel the sunshine overtake me. There over the water shining and reflecting glorious light hung the sun as it slowly began its evening decent. Breathtaking and beautiful I closed my eyes and willed my mind, soul and body to soak it up before it was gone for the night. It made me smile. I felt refreshed and revitalized in that moment. All because I saw the sun. My friend and coworker stopped by so we could go to dinner, I pulled her out on the balcony as well. After some goading, she stopped to watch the sunset with me. At first, she didn’t see the point until she felt the warmth of the light and the tickling of her senses, too. The sun rises and sets every single day taken for granted in its effort. But when it doesn’t shine, we look for it. I knew that the Lord was speaking to me in that sunset so I decided to look for Him.

Did you know that sunlight promotes the production of vitamin D in our body? We need sunlight for healthy bones among many other benefits that come from this necessity in our physical being. Sunlight also is a natural antidepressant that promotes the production of serotonin in the brain. Long periods of darkness or ever overcast weather is proven to cause depression in many people, so it is scientifically proven that human beings need sunlight physically and mentally. So what about spiritually? God is our sun and shield who gives us grace and glory. We need to live in the Light of His Love to be spiritually healthy as well. Those who live by His Grace in His Glory will be filled with inexpressible joy and indescribable peace that comes from an unseen source. When we stand in the sunlight, we do not try to produce Vitamin D. It just naturally occurs benefiting our body. Serotonin automatically is made in our brain without a second thought. I believe that if we as believers spent more time in the Light that we would begin to experience a change in our life internally that would change the external outcomes in our life. We must look for the Light.

Psalm 37:3-7 (NLT)

Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

When I stayed with our son during his recent bone marrow transplant, it entailed almost two months in the hospital with him. I literally slept on a foldout bed in the same room with him. Each morning I would open the blinds in his room to allow light to filter in. He could not go outside for the length of his stay. But on many occasions, when missing the rest of our family or feeling isolated would begin to weigh me down, I would walk outside for a few minutes and soak in the sunshine literally. I didn’t “do” anything except find a bench and sit there for a bit. When I went back inside, I could feel the heat radiating from my skin. I instantly felt better. During that time, I could not engage in my daily routine. My schedule came to a standstill with my primary focus caring for our son which most of the time (thanks to great medicine) meant watching him sleep. In the quiet of those moments, I would seek the Lord’s Presence and sit with Him. How many times a day do you sit in the Presence of the Lord? Do you ever just bask in His Glory? Do you just absorb His Grace and the magnitude of His Love? If we looked at God for who He is I think we would see that He is more powerful than the rays of the sun? He is more majestic than a sunrise or sunset. His Love radiates a warmth that is felt in our innermost being touching our heart and healing our lives. But we miss it in the busyness of life. I will preface this statement with the obvious, I don’t ever want my son to undergo a hospital stay again. But during his previous stay, I have never felt closer to the Lord. In my isolation from the world and all its distractions, I was able to simply bask in His Glory and Grace.

Trust in the Lord. Do Good. Take delight in the Lord. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him. Be still. Wait patiently. Don’t worry. Can you imagine a life based solely on these qualities? I would love to live this life every day. I believe this is the life that the Lord has designed for me in its basic simplicity. Just as I do not have to make Vitamin D or serotonin as it occurs naturally in my body, the Lord invites me to bask in the Son and He will do the same process in my soul. He will produce the joy and peace that I need by His Glory and Grace. We try so hard to make a good life and build comforts through security. The Lord promises that if we will just learn to live in His Presence that He will gives us safety and prosperity. He will give us the desires of our heart. He will help us. He will make our innocence radiate. Our justice is served in Jesus Christ. We do not have to worry, fret or stress over life or the details of it. People are not our problem. We just need to get in the Presence of God and be still for a minute to encounter His Glory and Grace.

Psalm 19:1-6 (NLT)

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.

 

The heavens radiate the Glory of God. The natural sun is a reflection of the Son that is our soon and coming King. The absence of sunshine in our life is like trying to live outside of the Glory of God. A believer cannot maintain their righteousness outside of His Grace. We need His Glory in our life to supernaturally produce the fruits that His Spirit cultivates in us. (Galatians 5:22-23) During seasons of darkness, we must learn to pursue the Light. It is found in the resources of His Word and His Spirit but sometimes on those days when we just can break through the oppression of life – we need to just get in His Presence and sit there. He will come and break through the clouds of darkness and despair flooding your heart and mind with the Light of His Love. But you have to make the commitment to wait until He comes. He doesn’t just shine through our bondage, pain or trouble. But according to the Word of God, He promises to break ever yoke that binds us. He is smashing strongholds to get His Glory and Grace through to you. Be patient. Do not abandon your position of faith because the Son will soon break through the clouds of doubt and fear overshadowing your life if you remain committed to your stand. He will give you the hope that you desperately need to go forward even when the natural sun does not come out from hiding to help you. If you will just make it a point to seek out the Light of His Love found only in His Presence – you will have His Glory and Grace with all of its benefits. If the sun is shining, go sit in it. God has equipped your body to be rejuvenated and empowered by His Light. He made the sun. He gave it the power to connect with the human body and do its work. All the heavens proclaim the Glory of God including the sun. It is a reflection of His Son.

Revelation 22:1-5 (NLT)

Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

There is coming a day when the sun will no longer shine. Its services no longer needed. The Light of His Love will shine brightly enough that we will never see another long night. Darkness will be gone forever along with every curse. We will live in His Glory forever. Understanding the natural effects of the sun will never be enough to prepare us for the Light that we will encounter in Heaven. We must learn to live in the Light of His Love every day to be prepared for what God has for us when Jesus comes back. Every day is the right time to bask in His Glory and Grace. We don’t have to wait until we are running on reserves but each day we can meet Him in the morning when His New Mercy arrives and ask for a fill up. His Spirit is with us always. In the midnight hour, we can call on His Light to illuminate us. In the dark times of life, He will be our Light and lead us out. Look for the Son today. Step into His Presence. Let the Lord revive, restore and renew you from the inside out. If you get a chance, catch the sunset tonight. Stop long enough to revel in the Glory of our God! It will be worth it, I promise. It is the moment that you realize, everything is going to be alright! Here comes the Son! Bask in His Glory today!

Job 37:21-24 (NLT)

We cannot look at the sun, for it shines brightly in the sky when the wind clears away the clouds. So also, golden splendor comes from the mountain of God. He is clothed in dazzling splendor. We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty; but even though he is just and righteous, he does not destroy us. No wonder people everywhere fear him. All who are wise show him reverence.