The Pursuit

Pursuit

Proverbs 21:21 (NLT) Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.

The pursuit of righteousness is highly theologized and exhaustively debated to the extent that its simplicity is overlooked. The pursuit of the human heart is full satisfaction. We long to live completely content in our existence. Though God has provided a well-documented road map to success, our inability to submit to His Way makes it virtually impossible to navigate. How does one pursue righteousness? What is righteousness anyway? Righteousness is our position, as sons and daughters, in right standing with our Father, God. He is the creator of every individual. He prescribed a plan filled with His Goodness and Grace to give us an amazing and abundant life despite our radical rebellion and countless faults and tremendous failures. The Lord pursues us every single day.

Psalm 23:6 (NLT) 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.

Is it really true that God’s Goodness and Unfailing Love pursues us? Isn’t it the other way around? Isn’t it our job to pursue God? It is important to know the close proximity of God and His Deepest Desire to understand that our pursuit of Him is a fruitless endeavor. Why? We cannot catch the one who is pursuing us. He has the unfair advantage of knowing us from start to finish. He knows our birthday and the count of our final breath. No friend, the reason that we cannot catch the God is because He is set on capturing us. The pursuit of God in righteousness is called surrender.

“Our pursuit of God is successful just because He is forever seeking to manifest Himself to us. The revelation of God to any man is not God coming from a distance upon a time to pay a brief and momentous visit to the man’s soul. Thus to think of it is to misunderstand it all. The approach of God to the soul or of the soul to God is not to be thought of in spatial terms at all. There is no idea of physical distance involved in the concept. It is not a matter of miles but of experience.” (A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God)

To take a step back from our relentless running the course of religion to find that the very thing we are chasing was pursuing us the entire time is completely humbling. It is an overwhelming and life changing experience to encounter God in absolute and utter brokenness when there is no possibility to the problem you are facing only to see that He was with you all the time. We are not comfortable with debt or obligation. Grace is difficult to comprehend and even harder to accept from such a position. The Grace of God is of immeasurable worth. The value of it makes our heart and mind uncomfortable so religiosity seems to satisfy our need to earn it or deserve it. The only way to obtain righteousness is through Jesus Christ. To humbly surrender and submit our life to Him for careful renovation. How does one pursue that very thing that is pursuing us?

To pursue means to follow in order to overtake. To follow close or go with. To strive to gain. To seek to attain or accomplish. To put into practice. If the plan has been set forth and payment made our pursuit for God must be to put into practice that which produces purpose in our life. The purpose of God leads to fullness, satisfaction, abundance and that which exceeds common thinking. Our thoughts and course of action must turn from gaining God’s Love to falling into God’s Love. His Presence wants to overtake us and turn the impossibility of possessing a love that we cannot afford or ever achieve into the abundance of our life from which all things overflow.

“To have found God and still pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too easily satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.” (A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God)

Maybe the passion of a burning heart for God is not kindled by our pursuit of God but rather the knowledge that He is constantly pursuing us. Each moment of every day contains purpose for us if we decide to let God work in us rather than always try to “work” for Him. His Love, Kindness, Goodness, Patience and endless copious amounts of Grace make my life fruitful and complete. I cannot lead another to a place I have never been. I cannot describe the content of something I have never possessed. I cannot share an experience that I have never had. God’s Love for me is the constant consistency in my life which becomes the kind of confidence that produces courage. The idea that I cannot ever lose God’s Love is profound yet often forgotten our attempts to acquire that which has already been given of infinite worth. I can do nothing to please God outside of absolute faith in His Love for me.

“To have found God and still pursue him…” I have been a Christian since 1977. At just eleven years old, I came to the very real revelation that I was a sinner who needed a Savior and asked Jesus to be just that. At over fifty years of age, I am finally able to look back and see God’s Pursuit of my heart and soul. All the times I thought God was visibly absent but see His Presence with complete clarity. God has been with me even when I thought I had wandered too far to ever come back. Every time I did finally turnaround, the Lord met me face-to-face. God’s Perfect Plan comes complete with enough grace for all those times I tried to love and serve Him failing miserably. For all my wanderings the work on the Cross was enough for me to find my way back home. My Father with arms open wide. He was waiting for me to turnaround. To repent and ask Him, invite Him and usher Him in. The idea of pursuing God is noble but doesn’t mean a thing. He has been pursuing us the whole time. To pursue His Purpose with passion comes in understanding that this is what pleases God and produces a deep abiding relationship with Him. To know that nothing can separate us from His Love so we learn to live in it. To gain an appetite for His Love, Grace and Goodness insatiable by ordinary living so we pursue the extraordinary. God loves you. He has always loved you. He will always love you whether you choose to engage in a lifelong relationship or find Him just in the nick of time. He is that Good! He is our God! Pursue His Love and living in His Presence – it is then that God will be your passion!

Psalm 143:8 (NLT) Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.

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What to Wear

What to Wear

Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV) Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

In the wee hours of morning, all is quiet in our house. I love this time alone with the Lord. It prepares me for the day ahead. In just a short time, the house will erupt in chaos as everyone gets ready for the day. My husband will don his work attire a pair of khakis and a polo with the company logo on it. It’s cold so it will be accompanied by a pullover again representing his employer. Then the girls will begin the daily routine with their rants of having nothing to wear or if I am lucky closet shopping and sharing their wardrobe. It’s early we will just have to wait and see. I used to work in a capacity that professional attire was required but now I work in a business casual environment which is such a blessing. Clothing consumes much of our time in careful consideration and our budget with overflowing closets of “nothing to wear”.

As I sit in the silence just before dawn, I realize that there is something much more important to consider in my preparation. The Lord is direct. The scripture quite clear. Put on then… I am God’s Chosen One. He calls me holy and beloved. I am to put on then compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. I am to don forgiveness and be wrapped up in love today. I wonder what would happen if we considered the “clothing” of our heart more than our appearance. To be the part rather than looking the part.

Matthew 6:30-33 (ESV) But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Seeking the Kingdom first is often overshadowed and forgotten in our pursuit of worldly things. Things that God the Father who is always good has already granted those who He calls “beloved”. The lie of the enemy encourages us to fight our way up the corporate ladder or tells us that the one with the most toys win. But my heart tells me that the fullness of satisfaction is found in the eternity the Lord has placed there as I feed my soul it will prosper into contentment and peace that are in the Presence of God as He becomes my refuge. If I could only gather all the moments wasted on worry, cares, anxiousness and fear that never came to fruition? How much time would I have? God has promised success and prosperity to those who are properly clothed.

Isaiah 61:10-11 (ESV) I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for  he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

The Lord has covered us in robes of righteousness. He has replaced filthy rags for the riches of His Kingdom. I have Peace with God. I have an inheritance as a Child of God. I have a purpose and plan that belongs to me. No one else can fulfill it and therefore I am not in competition with anyone else nor is there a need for comparison. My confidence is in Jesus Christ. Faith becomes confident hope when one can identify with their true identity and stop listening to the opinions of the world. Men and women have stereotypical guidelines and now there is a gender neutral option but God tells us in Psalm 139 of our intricate design. He reminds us that his created ones are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and “wonderful are His Works.” That’s you by design. Now to only find fulfillment of this perfect plan and purpose. It is discovered by the grace that is more than enough to bring about fulfillment and full satisfaction in the life of every person who chooses to believe. But that’s not all…

Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

The Lord equips us with armor. We are prepared for the enemy that comes against us. We have the weapons of warfare already inside of us. The Belt of Truth is the foundational knowledge of God and what He says about you and what He has ordained for you. To know the Truth eliminates the power of every lie. The breastplate of righteousness protects our heart. There is no insecurity or insignificance in a heart covered and protected by righteousness because our trust is not in ourselves but Christ in us. He is always enough to overcome and produce victory in our life beginning in our heart and mind. The Gospel of Peace cobbled in confidence that what the Word says about us is true and there is no conflict with people just love, joy, peace and harmony. We walk through life sharing a gospel of peace that is not divide or separate but bring the Body of Christ together as one. The shield of faith protects us in each trial, test and temptation faced in every day. The enemy is constantly hurling lies, insults and offenses at us but faith eliminates them all. The Helmet of Salvation protects our mind from focusing on temporary things and keeping our thoughts set on the future and forever. Finally, we have the Sword of God’s Spirit – the Word of God! Did you put on your armor this morning? Do you have your sword? These are way more important than the latest fashion or grabbing your name brand purse or briefcase? Our daily success is found in spiritual satisfaction nothing in this life will do!

Psalm 30:11-12 (ESV) You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Those who are clothed in righteousness taking full advantage of holy armor will find inexpressible joy in living. Jesus Christ is our joy. He has clothed me in gladness. I will sing His Praise and not be silent. No one else could give me peace of mind, body and soul like He did. There is nothing more influential and appealing than a confident Christian who can love without regret. Those who are so wrapped up in Jesus Christ that they do not get caught up in the worthless rags of this life. We have been made right with the Living God. He lives in us. He wants to radiate from us. He has turned my mourning into dancing.

Luke 12:35-37 (ESV) “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.”

Friend, are you dressed for success today? Have you taken off the filthy rags of yesterday wrapping yourself in the robe of righteousness that Jesus is offering you today? It came packaged in the new mercy that was deposited on your doorstep. His Grace is enough to overcome every shortcoming, fault, failure and weakness in us. In fact, His Power works best in our weaknesses. To rely on the armor of God to defend us rather than fighting for our own life will always lead to victory after victory and glory to glory. Miraculous things happen when we can make it through impossible days singing His Praise and giving Him glory. We are well-suited to do so. He has given us every spiritual blessing. We find it in the Refuge of His Present. Our prayer closet is overflowing with the perfect attire. We are Children of the Living God. A well-clothed heart impresses God more than a put-together appearance. God loves this hot mess. I see it on t-shirts and signs but truly it is my inward condition. God unravels us to sew our life together into a beautiful masterpiece. Piece by piece – He works every detail for our good and His Glory. He will do this for you. Now that you know what to wear – it’s time to put it on!

Isaiah 61:1-3 (ESV) The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

The Quest

The Quest

I John 5:1-3 (ESV) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Obedience is to live a life of submissive compliance to God, His Son – Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Though many strive to live in such a state, it is a struggle with our flesh, pride and natural inclination. To overcome disobedience requires one act of obedience. It is the message of our life in submissive compliance with God’s Word, Will and Way that shines the brightest light. We must live a life of faith in action that relies on confident hope rather our own self-assurance.

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, oh what a foretaste of glory divine, heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His Blood. Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blessed. Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His Goodness, lost in His Love.” For many years, I sang this hymn without really knowing or experiencing the true meaning. To live a life of blessed assurance is a magnification of faith and trust in God’s Word. To live in complete confidence that His Goodness belongs to me as a product of His Love and nothing else. Grace really is enough to restore me as a Child of God and reconciliation with Christ affords me a happy and blessed life. Nevertheless I must daily fight against my mind, will and emotions that want to control my thoughts and guide my choices in this life and most of all preserve my flesh.

When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest in that moment God will endow us with power. (Ezra Taft Benson)

Romans 6:15-18 (ESV) But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Slavery to sin can be exchanged for servanthood of righteousness. Sin leads to death. I do not mean to sullen you this morning but the sin in our life always leaves a mark. A wound in need of healing. Sin decays our thoughts. It influences our actions. It is the unchecked heart that is the most rebellious. The Grace of God and His Goodness are not imparted to just anyone. They are given to the one who believes by faith. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ that gives us this precious gift that must be opened to be fully enjoyed. I cannot serve the world and serve the Lord. It is impossible as they are in direct conflict with one another. It is through remorseful repentance that radical obedience becomes our quest. To know the Love of God and seek to maintain a right relationship because of our love for Him. Sin becomes less appealing when pictured as a nail driven into the Hand of the Lover of our Soul.

Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience. (Steven Furtick)

2 Corinthians 10:5-6 (ESV)  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

The cry of the modern day church is revival. Revival starts at home. In our prayer closets and quiet times alone with the Lord. Those times when we lay our life down and pick up the cross when no one is watching and it is just us with Jesus. It really doesn’t matter how well I clean up or successful I am in changing bad habits and old ways – if I do not fully embrace faithful obedience to God out of my absolute love for Jesus Christ – I have nothing.

Our example of the greatest obedience is Jesus Christ. He submitted His Life in order to set us free and give us the opportunity to become sons and daughters of God once again. He prayed and cried out to His Father. It did not deliver Him from the obedience to the Cross but gave Him the outcome that He was after. He went to the Cross desiring us. When there was no other way, Jesus became the Way. Now our obedience is to the Way, not the law or rules and regulations of church doctrine or religion. Too often we look for a way out of our trials and temptations rather than seeing the example of Jesus who gave us the power to overcome by way of the Cross. Obedience to God doesn’t always lead to easy street but it will be the road less traveled that leads to a glorious destination with hope that never leads to disappointment. Lord, lead me to complete obedience.

God’s Promises are all on condition of humble obedience. (Ellen G. White)

Hebrews 11:8 (ESV) By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

Abraham lived a life of faith. Faith that stretched the span of 99 years until the Promise of God finally arrived. He is the example of living in righteousness before the blessing and radical obedience to the Living God. I wonder how more quickly we would respond to the Lord, His Word, His Will and His Way if we could see what was behind the curtain marked “obedience”. What if one step of faith gave us the ability to see our life from God’s Perspective? Abraham obeyed God. He wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes. He tried to find shortcuts, but in the end – the Promise of Isaac arrived just as He planned. God will never send a blessing that compromises our belief. He makes miracles out of impossible or others would take credit for the sign or wonder calling it coincidental. The blessing and promises of God are found in His Presence. We enter such a place by humble obedience. To accept God’s Grace is an act of humility magnified by faithful obedience when God’s Children begin to take Him at His Word rather than waiting for a sign to follow suit. How many times does God give you a dream that is dismissed by your condition? How often does the vision come yet is not written down or seriously considered in our own sad state? God is a miracle worker and you are His Miracle.

Obedience to God is the most infallible evidence of sincere and supreme love to Him. (Nathanael Emmons)

When we love the Lord, obedience ceases to be a burden. Obedience becomes delight. (Joseph B. Wirthlin)

Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Samuel told Saul, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” A single act of disobedience took the royal power from Saul. In I Samuel 15 – it goes on to liken disobedience to rebellion and presumption as rejection of God’s Word. How many times do we act in such a rebellious way? The Holy Spirit nudges us from the place of comfort, convenience or control and we decline His Offer for more. Every leading of God is to His Goodness. Every act precipitated upon His Grace which is always enough to infuse us with His Power. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We cannot get to God except through Him. Through Him is a loving and active relationship based on trust. When our heart truly falls in love with Jesus Christ, our feet will follow and hands will get to work. Obedience is the product of faith in action. Faith in love with the Lord and eager to live in His Presence. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Those who desire Him and His Kingdom arrive through simple acts of humble obedience carried out day by day. For those who take one step many more will follow – obedience unlocks the door to an open heaven. It is my quest. Full and faithful obedience that takes me from complacency to confident hope that is found only in a right relationship with My Father. He calls us “beloved”. God is working in us. His Spirit leads us to obedience which will always produce His Blessing as our faith grows and hope becomes confident. One moment will change a lifetime when it is a step of faith toward humble and heartfelt obedience to the Lover of our soul – this is my quest.

This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long! (Blessed Assurance)

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Hungry?

hungry

John 6:34-35 (ESV) Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.”

I am not absolutely certain what happens during a church service but immediately following my family is always hungry. As soon as the offering is taken and service dismissed, the debate begins as to where to eat. “I’m starving! Can we go to “insert restaurant”? It is clear by the appearance of my people that there is no imminent threat of demise yet one would not be so certain by their wails of distress. If I dare insinuate that there is food at home or I have prepared a meal, our girls will turn their noses up and state their preference. Now in everyone’s defense, the fellowship aspect is what they are really after. To congregate together which I strongly support and encourage. The truth of the matter is not their state of being but rather their preference.

Jesus told them, “I am the bread of life.” He went on to explain that “whoever comes to me shall not hunger.” He took it one step further in that “whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” To hunger means a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food coupled with a desire to eat. It is a strong desire for something that produces a craving for it. Desire compels us to find satisfaction. It becomes a drive. Are you hungry today? Do you thirst? What is the object of your attention or even dare I say affection? There are few reading this who are on the verge of starvation but all will admit that there is something they crave and desire in life.

“But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” Full satisfaction is found when Jesus Christ becomes our source of life. Food and water are essential to natural survival but righteousness is where eternal life is to be found. We must believe that Jesus can satisfy our hunger, need and yes even wants to come to him hungry and thirsty with complete expectation. Righteousness sounds so ominous and foreboding. It sounds like a lot of hard work and habit changes. Like a manual filled with rules and regulations throwing down heavy doctrine on top of us. More baggage to lug through life. This is not the case at all – right standing with God releases the heavy yoke and burdens. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. There is life and liberty in the Spirit of God living in us that can only be experienced by those who hunger and thirst for Him.

Romans 3:21-26 (ESV) But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” (The Message)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” You cannot hunger or thirst for something you have not experienced. I have never eaten lamb that I am consciously aware of. Therefore, I am not going to hunger for it. I may have a desire to try it. But hunger or desire is established by an encounter or experience with something or someone. I may meet an individual who peaks my interest and I would like to spend time with them. You cannot hunger and thirst for righteousness without knowledge and understanding of what it is and how you achieve it. Otherwise, it is an experiment. I can look up recipes and buy all the ingredients to make lamb for dinner. Then I will give it a go and see how it turns out, but until I taste it for myself – there will not be a hunger or desire for it.

Righteousness is established in Jesus Christ through faith in the Grace of God alone. End of story. It’s finished. I can add things to it, or try to make it more palatable through preference but it does not change or alter God’s Plan and Promise. The sum total of my faith is the sufficiency of God’s Gift of Grace that establishes a right relationship with Him in my life. I can do nothing to earn or deserve the Grace of God. It cost the Father everything to give His Children the Kingdom. Therefore to hunger and thirst for the Lord requires relinquishment of our pride.

Psalm 34:9-10 (ESV) Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Lions are the only wild cats that live in groups. These groups are called prides. I guess it is fitting that the “king of the jungle” would have an established kingdom. Isn’t it a bit ironic that the “young lions suffer and hunger”. There can only be up to three male lions in a pride. The younger males who reach adulthood are driven away to establish their own pride. “Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” What are you seeking today? Do survive in the world? Or to be part of a Kingdom? Kingdom culture is full satisfaction. Let me say it again, “Those who seek the Lord lack NO GOOD THING.” If you are not living in full satisfaction and even abundance then there is more to this righteousness thing to be discovered. We must taste and see that the Lord is good to create a hunger and thirst for more of Him. I must also mention that righteousness comes at the sacrifice of pride.

Luke 15:17-20 (ESV) “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

There is a common misconception that God puts certain expectations on us. An expectation would be considered a condition which is not possible in unconditional love. As our drives and desires detour us, it is easy for the enemy to convince us that God will not accept us like before based on our sin or unwillingness to follow Him. This is simply not true. Every single day every single Christian believer struggles with and engages in sin. I don’t how they look, what they say or how they live. Sin is a common problem. Some are just a little more honest about it. On the same note, every single day every single person strives to contend against their flesh some with success and others in total weakness. Again, the Grace of God is enough. It is sufficient. God knew you when He formed you and provided enough grace, love and mercy to overcome judgment in our life. The only thing for us to do is live in it.

The prodigal son took his inheritance. We have an inheritance in the Lord. Sometimes we see it and other times take it for granted. Impatience wants everything right now. We do not want our control, comfort or convenience compromised so “we make it happen”. When filled with dissatisfaction, disappointment and discouragement – what happens? We turn to the Lord. Exhausted and worn out – hunger and thirst for the love, joy and peace of God send us running for home (or the altar and/or prayer closet). “When he came to himself” – it was the truth that see him free and brought him full satisfaction. He only wanted his base needs met. The young man was hungry and just wanted a nice meal. What he gained was his father’s “kingdom”? So it is with you friend, when our desperation turns to desire for the Father and His Kingdom – grace shows us that the Father was waiting with open arms and an open heart to receive us.

Revelation 3:20 (ESV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Our family friends are hunters. Our fellowship with them has introduced a whole new world of “fine dining”. I have experienced many foods in their company that I had never tried. Truth is – I have enjoyed them all. I believe that the Lord offers us “bread of life” and “living water” on a continual and daily basis. He stands at the door ready to come in and create a “meal” for us called communion. It is in fellowship and intimacy with the Lord that we experience fullness. Satisfaction. Contentment. As our soul prospers, so does our natural life with the Fruit of His Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Some may say that’s not what I want – I am praying for a partner, spouse, children, new job, new house, and more money.

The desire within us creates the drive that moves us. We do not hunger and thirst for righteousness because we have not experienced the fullness of a prospering soul, made up mind, and perfect peace. We want our preference and not His Perfection. Perfect love casts out all fear. Imagine never having a worry, care, anxious thought or sleepless night?

Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who wasted away, pierced by lack of the fruits of the field. (Lamentations 4:9) We are overcomers in Jesus Christ who live in the promise of victory. Every detail of our life ordained for good for those who love Him. He promises to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can think, ask or even imagine. Yet many will die of starvation choosing fruitless fields and barren brooks rather than living in the abundance of God’s Kingdom and His Spirit’s Fruitfulness. Taste and see that the Lord is good! An invitation to experience an exquisite meal prepared to perfection by a Gracious Father free to those who will open the door to Him. If Wolfgang Puck, Racheal Ray, Emeril Lagasse, or Jamie Oliver came to your door with the intention of cooking you a wonderful meal, you might open it as they are famous chefs. Their cooking touted by the world and faces plastered on everything from television to cookware. If familiar with them, you would throw open the door and show them in. However, Jesus knocks and there is a hesitation. What if we do not like the life that He has prepared for us? What if we do not prefer His Will over our own? What if I don’t want what He has for me? A lack of belief will always foster lack in our life. To live a life of full satisfaction requires a hunger and thirst for righteousness that means believing that it is palatable for life. My hunger and thirst is individual, but when I hunger and thirst for the bread of life and living water – my life becomes a meal to be shared.

Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV) Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

Rags to Riches

Rags to Riches

Colossians 3:14-16 (NLT) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

I am one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of my life is changed. Filled with disappointment, bitterness, and completely devastated by bad choices I was lost in my own regret and shame. All that changed when I met a man. A man who knew all about my life and yet still chose to give me a brand new one. He took all those details and continues to make good on His Promise to change this mess into a message. Like an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor yet private and intimate, I cannot begin to tell you how love made the difference in my life. His Love that clothes me allows me to love freely and forgivingly. His Grace that has kept me this far has produced a need to give it away just to have more. His Goodness has benefited my life in more ways than I could ever count or confer to another without forgetting some of the miraculous and wonderful gifts I have been given. His Name – Jesus.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” One of the greatest gifts given to us by the Lord is His Peace. The kind of peace that passes understanding. Derived from unconditional love and uncompromised acceptance of all imperfections by a perfectly sovereign God provided by his perfectly sinless Son, how is it possible to accept such an extravagant gift without somehow reciprocating it? It would be wonderful if there was something of any worth that I could give Him, but there really is nothing other than to accept His Gift of Love, Grace and Mercy and apply it to my broken life. Oh how our pride hates the thought of something that is unearned and undeserved. Our need for supremacy and control puts rules, regulations and mandates on the freeness of God’s Grace in order to fulfill its obligation. Such in intrusion sows seeds of insecurity and doubt that will begin to uproot faith and choke out the hope rising from within.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love…” In Isaiah 61:10, it says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” The Lord gave us salvation and wrapped a white robe around us to cover us. It is this robe that gives us confidence that our relationship is secure again. Nothing can now come between us and the Love of God. Sin is covered sufficiently by the Blood of Jesus. Game over. However, if we do not clothe ourselves in His Love daily – it is easy to put back on the filthy rags of a beggar. Imagine. Why do such a thing? Would you do that now? Would you choose clothes out of the hamper rather than grabbing a fresh clean garment from the drawer?

Today, before you leave for church, you will choose an outfit, check your appearance in the mirror, and make sure everything is just right before heading off to worship the Lord. The people in the congregation will appreciate your diligence but when you arrive will the Lord see the robe of righteousness that He has given you. The love that identifies you as His Own. Will God recognize you as His Own? It is easy to get caught up in life and social standards but today if only for today – can we get so wrapped up in Jesus that no one recognizes us?

Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Studying the Word this morning, my intent was to focus on thankfulness. I am determined to carry over the thanksgiving season all the way through the Christmas holiday. Thankfulness produces contentment in our life. Taking our eyes off what we do not have to appreciate and acknowledge the things given to us by the Hand of God. Every good thing in our life is a product of God with us – Immanuel. It doesn’t matter if we acknowledge the Lord or not – He blesses us according to His Will. The rain falls on the just and unjust because God ordained it not man ordering it. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve the Grace of God in my life. What I can do is to let the Prince of Peace rule my heart.

You must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow done into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. The instructions are simple. Why do we make it so hard? Faith is not impractical. It may seem a bit illogical until the Word of God becomes a daily consumption and His Spirit uses it cultivate your faith into a practical lifestyle. God’s Word is the fertilizer of faith in our life. The roots of faith connect us with God’s Heart and His Desires. As we build our lives on Christ who is the foundation of our faith, there is a wonderful transformation from dissatisfaction and discontentment to full satisfaction and completion. It is not based on feelings, emotions or worldly standards but thankfulness. How can I be thankful when my needs are not met, my emotions are all over the map, and my expectations seem wasted on an unseen God with invisible hands?

We walk by faith and not by sight. Faith is followed by simply doing what the Word of God says even when the outcome is not clear. A farmer plants a field with great expectation but no guarantee. Doing his best to prepare the field, sowing good seed, watering and caring for what looks to be barren, while beneath the soil – the seed is growing, changing, developing and maturing. What if the very thing you prayed for is just below the surface of your life, but unwillingness to wait causes you to leave the field? The seed will still produce in your absence.

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Disqualification is ineligibility when breaking the terms of an agreement. The enemy will continually offer compromises in order to attempt to disqualify you. Empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that appeal to human reasoning but are not divine wisdom. It is written that God’s People will perish from ignorance or a lack of knowledge. God’s Word is absolutely essential to tearing down the strongholds of the mind those things that appeal to our flesh but wreak havoc on our heart. The fullness of God lives in Christ. Christ lives in us. His Authority and Power belong to us as a product of grace and grace alone. We are overcomers in all things. We have been handed the victory. Disqualification is only possible apart from Christ. His Grace fills the void of broken rules and agreements so now we are right with God the Father again. We must make the decision to capture every thought that is in rebellion to God, His Plan and Purpose for our life in order to remain qualified for the calling. Otherwise, we will choose less than God’s Best and wander off to wildernesses in search of substitutions, shortcuts and subtle settlings.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

You are one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of your life is subject to change. Though you may be experiencing disappointment, bitterness, and complete devastation by bad choices or unfortunate situations, the Fullness of Christ in you is looking to make its way out into the open. Has shame shattered your confidence in Christ or maybe regret is reasoning that you are not worthy of God’s Investment of His Son and Spirit so you simply live in your suffering?  God has written an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor just for you, it begins only by accepting the fullness of His Grace and then following Him. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, fail or flail, God is doing the good work inside you and His Grace is always enough.

Devote yourself today. The word “devote” means to give all or a large part of one’s time and/or resources to an activity or person. I wonder what would happen if we devoted more of our time and resources to discovering the Fullness of God given to us in Christ. If we strived to clothe ourselves in the righteousness that is grace given rather than continually donning the old filthy rags of our past indiscretions or present insecurities. Devote our life to God, Jesus and His Spirit by pursuing intimacy that is not dependent on anyone else. To live with an alert mind that is fixed on the Kingdom, heavenly outpourings and miraculous outcomes. God has placed potential in us that will lead to daily fulfillment and abundance. We must be consciously aware that this moment does not dictate our future, but should be lived with forever in mind. Least but not last, a thankful heart. This is for me today.

My identity in Christ is enough to live in complete fulfillment with hopeful expectation. I must build my confidence by increasing faith. I must devote my life to Jesus Christ in all things. (Ephesians 5:10) I must be confident of the Kingdom to which I belong and its sustainability for my life today. (Hebrews 12:28) On those days when I got lost in emotional overtures or overwhelming feelings, I must still manage to sacrifice thankfulness because He never changes and is bigger than my feelings. (Psalm 50:14; I John 3:20) God knows exactly what He is doing in me, through me and for me. I must maintain my belief that He is good and will never let me down. I must remind my soul by worshiping God for who He is and not what He does.

With this in mind today, let us devote ourselves to the Lord once again. I find that I do this on a daily basis these days. About five years ago, I came to the place of understanding that I have no control over my life and what happens in it. God has complete control now. He always did but when I gave up my need to control it and came to the realization I can do nothing apart from Christ – everything changed. I am changing. The more I change the more I find that is needed to be given to His Transformation process. Giving up control is hard, but the realization I have no control is life changing. It is the moment when His Grace becomes enough…all sufficient.  I am nothing apart from Christ. I can do nothing of worth outside of the God living in me. Everything I am ever will be or have is from the Hand of God who is loving, gracious and good even when I’m not. Thank you for taking my filthy rags and giving me the riches of Heaven. Lord, let me live like it today and every day.

Ephesians 5:20 (NLT) And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

When I Fail

When I Fail

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

I entered the role of motherhood just shy of my 24th birthday. Sitting in the empty hospital room, it was the first time I was alone and awake with my tiny son. He was perfect. Though small, he was chubby with a head of thick dark hair. As he lay sleeping, sunlight peeked through the room, beams falling on him and in that moment he looked so angelic. Overcome with emotions, tears began to fall from my face unto his little feet. My imperfection abundantly clear to me in that moment in the fact that I would make mistakes and could not promise him a “perfect” life. I was overwhelmed at the thought of failure. I would fail him. I knew it. I couldn’t stop it or control it. My weaknesses would cause me to mess up time and time again. I felt insecure in that fact that God had entrusted me with him because I wasn’t good enough for the job that lay before me.

Well, my son is now 27 years old. He is engaged and about to become a bonus dad to a precocious six-year-old. How time flies by when you are having fun? An update…I did fail. I failed in parenting time and time again. In fact, I apologized to my son a few years ago. He was the guinea pig. I learned to parent using him to mold and shape my skills for the four that would come later. I believe in discipline and this boy got his fair share. When I told him that I was sorry, he hugged me close and replied, “That’s okay, mama. I know everything I did and you probably didn’t spank me enough.” Plot twist – the perfect baby given to me wasn’t perfect either yet I still felt ultimately responsible. But now I felt my heart at ease for my boy gave me the grace needed to live free from guilt as a mom.

I am a failure. I was born a failure. I will always be a complete and utter failure. From the moment, I arrived due to my innate nature to sin – I fell short of God’s Glorious Standard. This type of failure is fatal. It can only be overcome by God’s Grace in all of its sufficiency. Have you accepted God’s Grace? Have you invited Jesus to save you? To be your Savior and Lord? If the answer is “yes”, then despite the fact you are a failure – you cannot fail God ever again.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Our success in life as a believer becomes completely dependent on faith in Christ alone. Your prosperity is from Christ in you. The complete takeover of His Spirit filling our life with good fruit that produces good things in us and allows us to take full advantage of God’s Promises. We are made right with God in this one simple gesture. If our rightness ever becomes based on anything that we do, it has become convoluted with religion rather than fully reliant on a relationship with Jesus. A believer is defined as one who believes. What do you believe today? It is important as it is the validity of faith.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight.

You cannot fall farther than you already did with a single sin. Someone needs to hear this today because somewhere along the way you gave up on God’s Glorious Standard when the enemy told you that you failed God. You cannot fail God. Failing God would mean He needed us for something. It would compromise the Sovereignty of a God who is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. If this were the case, it would make God’s Grace given through Jesus Christ insufficient. Sin was our failure. It is our daily struggle. But it doesn’t make us a failure. Though we fall, it is not fatal unless choosing to stay there. His Grace is enough for me…and you…and every other person ever created.

Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Have you imposed a penalty that God has already removed? Yet (already done) God in His Grace (not my ability) freely (without a condition or cost) makes us right in His Sight. He did it through the offering of His Son, Jesus Christ. He freed (past tense) us from the penalty of sin. What you called “lost” has only been “left” behind and can be reclaimed when you stop trying to pay for something already covered completely! The enemy of our soul cannot lay claim to us anymore. Sin had a penalty of death. God’s Grace paid it in full and released us from punishment for our sin. To think that we must somehow pay God back is to cheapen the priceless gift that was given.

Romans 8:1 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

There is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus. Oh how I wish someone would believe today with me. Condemnation produces a punishment or penalty. God paid our penalty in full. To impose a penalty or decide that God is punishing us is to live a lie. Self-imposed penalty is a product of pride. Sin’s penalty is paid in full and no longer condemning. When I fail, I fail myself by living beneath God’s Glorious Standard returned to me with redemption. It is to refuse resurrection power and live in the discarded death shroud of guilt, shame and remorse. It restricts and limits us in insecurity and fear that the Blood has lost its power and grace is not enough due to our inability.

According to Romans 5, God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. The grace given when accepting Christ is enough to cover all of our sin. Not just the ones already committed, but every sin past, present and future. It is only the weight of relinquished that applies weight and heaviness to our life. It is easily removed by repentance. To say, “I’m sorry, Lord” with true repentance and remorse. Our relationship with God is secure in Jesus Christ. Every promise is valid. Our purpose remains intact even when I fall or fail. It is what I believe that changes everything. Do you believe in the sufficiency of God’s Grace to remove the penalty and punishment of sin? Do you believe that you are given life abundantly? Or do you live in condemnation? There is no condemnation in Christ therefore even when I fail – my relationship with God through His Son means nothing is lost. “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

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.

I failed God. He forgave me and wiped out the penalty of sin that I once carried. The power at work in me is a direct result of His Son, Jesus Christ who died for me and then put His Life Spirit in me. I cannot take credit for anything good that has come of it. To think that I can fail God now that I am saved and filled with His Son renders grace incapable of full satisfaction. In other words, it is me saying, “God – Your Grace is not enough!” Who would ever dare? We do. By accepting the bat of guilt, shame, remorse and insecurity that the enemy has us when we fall short and beating the life out of ourselves with compromise and substitutions for the Gloriousness of His Grace. Pride tells us that we have to do something. Humility accepts that it is in our constant and utter weakness that His Power is fully executed.

Grace is enough. I don’t care what anyone else tells you. His Grace is enough to cover every single sin ever committed and therefore you can never fail God again. When we fall, it is an opportunity to reach up and take our Savior’s Hand again. He continually pursues us with unconditional love and goodness. Each morning mercy is given to us regardless of acceptance or not. His grace is all I need. His power works best in my failure and weaknesses. For it is then that the Glory of God reaches me and is reflected in my life.

Romans 6:1-4 (NLT) Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

There is obviously a difference in willful sin and wandering. Who am I to judge? The wonderful grace that God has given us cannot work in a hard and inflexible heart. To love sin is to reject the Lord. Those who hate sin will still fall into it. It is inevitable. Paul talks about the struggle with sin in Romans 7. Despite our best intentions not to sin, we still do it daily. We are united with Christ and His Spirit lives in us showing us a better and more glorious lifestyle. The sufficiency of God’s Grace is that in my weakness – His Power changes me from the inside out. He prospers my soul in my willingness not ability. When I fail, I must not let pride give me the responsibility but hand it right back to the Lord. We have a right relationship even when I sin based on grace alone. God doesn’t turn his back on me but sees His Son and pulls me closer. We can live a new life. A free existence in choosing what is beneficial to our life in Christ for it is where success and full satisfaction are found. It is a choice. To accept God’s Grace or refuse it.

2 Corinthians 3:9 (NLT) If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

Grace made us right with God from the beginning. One sin was our failure. There is no further falling in the life of a believer. Sin put you at rock bottom. When I fail, it is a personal setback not a supernatural event. God already knew I would fall short of His Glorious Standard and Jesus paid the price already. Do you feel like you failed God? Do you think He is punishing you for something you have done? Are you punishing yourself by believing you cannot have what God promised because you failed? The enemy will give you ever burden that you are willing to accept. We can easily fill are heart and mind with all the reasons why we are not worthy of God’s Grace and they would all be valid except for the simple fact that His Grace is always sufficient. In every setback, fault, failure and wandering, when we thought we were lost – God will show you where you left off. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is lost. He promises to make good of every detail of our life. We just have to hand Him all the broken pieces. You will fall. You will fail. Your still have a future and hope because His Grace is always enough!

Lord, I ask you to touch the heart of your people today with a new revelation of your amazing grace. We do not deserve it and certainly couldn’t earn it even though many times we try to. Please God take captive every rebellious thought that I must do something more to receive it other than accept it. Lord help my unbelief until I have full confidence that your grace is sufficient for me. It is always enough…even when I fail! Amen and Amen!

Acts 20:32 (NLT) “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.”

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber

James 2:20-22 (NIV) You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

Have you ever climbed a mountain? Moving through the brush excited and full of expectation. At the base of the mountain full of energy and exuberance – beginning the ascent to the top while taking in the natural beauty all around. Body, mind and spirit fully engaged. As the steps continue it gets a little steeper, naturally so, you are moving higher therefore it will require climbing to reach the highest peak. Maybe at this point, your body aches but your mind is determined to reach your destination. Minutes turn to hours and yes, you’re still steadily moving up but at this point losing sight of the surrounding beauty our mind gives way to focus on breathing and continuing to put one foot in front of the other. You are tired. You begin to contemplate giving up. This was a stupid idea. A complete waste of time. You have better things to do. Maybe I should just turn around and go back. I am not getting anywhere. This journey will never end. Pushing through the trees, they finally give way to the peak of the mountain and the limitless is right before your eyes. Breathing in deeply you cannot fully contemplate the vast beauty surrounding you. You didn’t give up. You pressed in. You made it to the top and now you can see from a new perspective.

Have you ever climbed a spiritual mountain? The feelings and emotions are really the same. You start out full of excitement and expectation at the promise of God set before you. You believe it is for you. Beginning the daunting task of walking it out seems so easy until the first obstacle rises up. This may be harder than first considered. Pressing on – more obstacles and even some opposition and now your own body works against you. The place of decision and crossroads of thought to consider rather to give up or continue to preserve. Relief sounds wonderful. Rest is appealing. An escape from the challenge seems like the most viable option. What will you do? Will you continue the climb or run back down the mountain to live a comfortable, complacent, and convenient life?

You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

The last couple of days, I have studied the mountain looking closely at its structure and evaluated it by design. We can all draw a triangle and fill it with what comprises our latest challenge and become the mountain in our life. But as discovered yesterday, the mountain is not what it seems. The mountain is nothing more than doubt ready to be overcome by faith. You have to climb the mountain to overtake it. A daily commitment to overcome doubt is the only way to have the Promise of God for those who live in His Righteousness. But how do I get there from here?

Faith and our actions must work together. Faith is made complete by the two becoming one. How is that possible? Faith in the Promise of God must become our motivation. Doubt is the obstacle. The mountain in our life may be comprised of a number of challenges, difficulties and even impossibilities. We overcome them all by believing God over our situation, circumstances, trials and trouble. God’s Word refutes the enemies lie and is the truth concerning us. Those who believe the Word of God claiming each promise personally must engage in overcoming doubt including fear, stress, anxiety and worry which keep the mountain in place. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.” (Matthew 21:21 – Jesus)

Romans 4:16-17 (NIV)  Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

The God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. This is the God we serve. He is a miracle working God who can take an ordinary life and make it extraordinary. He has a plan and purpose that will lead you directly to fulfillment but you have to work His Plan not make up your own variation. There is an amusement park about an hour and a half from our home. It is not as far away as Orlando or the Magic Kingdom. Living on a tight budget with a large family, it would be a weekend getaway. Even though many great memories were made there, it did not compare to the wonder and excitement when we took the kids to Walt Disney World. I remember our youngest watching the parade and whispering, “A real princess, mommy” in breathless awe of the fairytale unfolding before her eyes. Compromise is evidence of doubt complicating our life and deteriorating faith.

Abraham had nothing to lose. When the messengers came to deliver the news that his promise was about to arrive, he continued in his expectation just as he did the day before. For years, he and Sarah struggled with heartbreaking infertility. Abraham did not sit idly by. He did do try to compromise. He did try to do it himself. Advanced in age, it was now impossible humanly and then God showed up. The promise of God comes by faith. The ultimate promise is eternal life. It is only achieved by faith. Faith is evident in our everyday life…or at least should be to be effective.

Romans 4:18-20 (NIV) Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God…”

Here are some important truths to remember to overcome doubt today:

The promise comes by faith. If you can do it, see it, or make it happen – it is your plan – not God’s Perfect Plan. If you decide to change course, and stop pushing, pressing and planting seeds of faith in the mountain called doubt it will stay right where it is.

Against all hope – you must believe. Believing God at His Word and deciding it belongs to you is the beginning of fruitful expectation. A broken heart is a fertile heart. Humility softens our heart and it receives seeds of faith more readily. Sometimes it takes the impossible for us to finally give God all the pieces of our broken heart and allow Him to make the beautiful masterpiece that He promised in Ephesians 2:10.

Without weakening in faith – you must continue to believe. Faith is not logical because it is not based on anything we can see. Thomas encountered Jesus after the resurrection. He had followed Jesus throughout His Ministry. He was there when Jesus performed miracles. He was witness to signs and wonders. He heard the Word right from the Living Word. He saw Jesus crucified. He was at the empty tomb. Minutes before the Risen Lord walked through the walls and filled the room with His Presence. What more would anyone need to believe? Thomas had to see and touch the Lord to finally believe. What will it take for you to finally believe that Jesus is Who He said He is and will do exactly what He has promised to do? “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29 – Jesus)

Do not waver in unbelief. When did you stop trying to overtake doubt and give in to it? We all find ourselves at the crossroads of decision – continue in faith or abandon the effort. How do I know when I waver in unbelief? Fear, anxiety, stress, worry, and retreat are all characteristic of doubt. Doubt cannot coexist with belief. It is the polar opposite. If you believe, you will continue. If you believe, you will wait. If you believe, you will not go back. If you believe, you will accept no substitution. If you believe, you will obtain God’s Promise in the land of the living and forevermore.

Genesis 22:9-14 (NIV) When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Abraham finally had a son. Years and years resulting a single precious boy that would make him the “father of many nations” per the promise of God to him. Now Abraham did not see the real meaning of his promise for his eyes were on the natural. God instructed Abraham to take his “promise” to the mountain. I just want to stop here and interject – would any parent reading this do anything to intentionally harm their own child. I didn’t think so. Me either. Well, God instructed his servant to take his son to the mountain and offer Isaac as a sacrifice. How important is your promise to you? Does it have a face? Is it a person? Can you see, hear or touch it? It may be required of you. It is all too easy to decide what is best for us or to lay hold to the identity of what we need, want or desire and lose sight of the Source. The Source of Hope beyond today, tomorrow and stepping into eternity. Abraham went to the mountain but now the face of it had changed. He offered his son, his only son, Isaac to the Lord. The Lord provided the sacrifice so now we can live with the promise. Abraham called that place, “The Lord Will Provide” and to this very day it is said, “on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” What will be provided? Faith.

Your mountain must be overtaken. We overtake doubt with the Truth of His Love and faith in His Word. Jesus overcame the enemy in the wilderness and even on the mountain simply repeating the Word of God. We must remind ourselves that God love us. He is Good to us. He fights for us. He desires us. He has a promise for us. It is all received by faith that does not doubt. The mountain cannot be cast into the sea unless we believe. Faith and confident hope begin to break down pride, fear, anxiety, worry and stress. As faith grows, it breaks up any foundation of doubt so when the time is right the mountain will be cast in the sea. What is on the other side of the mountain? Well, why don’t you just go and see!

James 2:23-24 (NIV) And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

Humble Prayers

Humble Prayers

2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (NLT) At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16) It is not the earnestness of our prayers that move the heart of God. There I said it. I believe in the power of prayer. I have seen mighty miracles as a result of God’s People uniting to pray purposefully. I have seen God answer prayers over and over again. I understand that the Word of God instructs us to “keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.” (Matthew 7:7) It goes on to tell us to keep seeking and knocking. I have read it and I am encouraged by it. But it is still not God’s Motivation.

God is motivated by righteous people. No one is righteous – not even one. (Romans 3:10) The only pathway to righteousness is because of faith in God who forgives sinners. (Romans 4:5) Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is our gateway to God. (John 14:6) Righteousness is right standing with God. The only way that this is fully accomplished is by His Grace. His Grace that is enough for me to enter the heavenly realm and speak to the Father with bold confidence. However, sometimes religion gives us the false thought that there is more to righteousness than a relationship through repentance. It tells us that there is some act or action that makes us worthy of God’s Full and Constant Attention. The only way a person becomes righteous is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways.

Righteousness always requires repentance. Always. I was reading the story of Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33. The account of a boy who became king at the tender age of 12. Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do more evil than the surrounding pagan nations. He even set up idols in the temple constructed by Solomon dedicated to God. The Lord spoke to Manasseh and the people warning them but the ignored Him. Manasseh was taken prisoner. He was led away by a ring placed in his nose by the Assyrians bound in heavy chains. While in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before God. When he prayed the Lord listened and was moved by his request. This man had thumbed his nose at the Lord completely. He had gone so far as to practice sorcery, divination, and witchcraft consulting with psychics and mediums. Yet when Manasseh truly repented and accepted God’s Mercy in all humility it moved the Lord. He was brought back to Jerusalem and given his kingdom. He realized that God was God alone and tore down all the shrines built to honor other gods. His deeds recorded in The Book of the Kings of Israel even though every sinful deed and record of unfaithfulness is equally chronicled in The Book of the Seers right down to the location of every shrine and Asherah pole constructed with every idol placed there. God honors humble prayers.

And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.”  Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.  (Daniel 10:11-12)  Daniel prayed humble prayers. The Lord sent an angel to him to tell Daniel that he was precious to God and a command had been released in the Heavenlies to honor his humble request. I wonder today if the prayers of the righteous go unanswered because the key component of humility has been left out.

The word humble or “kana” means to bring low and into subjection. It is not exalting one’s power but fully accepting God’s Grace as enough. It is the meekness that accepts God’s Will and remains faithful to His Way even when things are not going as planned or expected. If my people will humble themselves and pray…to give up our way and fully accept His Way is to have a humble heart. Humility before the Lord also known as meekness is to be overly submissive to Him. It means to comply with all the Lord requires which is to repent and seek His Face. The answer to every prayer is found in the person of Jesus Christ who gives us access to the Father.

If you are frustrated today by unanswered prayers, consider spending some time with the Father. Examine your heart. Consider your thoughts. Filter your mind. Sometimes we lose sight of what truly is the most important aspect of our Christian life to fight battles that we are not called to fight and to wage war against people rather than standing against the enemy. We must become one people with one purpose – one heart and one mind – full of God’s Love, living in His Favor and fruitful in every way to advance His Kingdom. These are the people who know who they are in Christ and stand confidently in times of trouble. Together. I must submit and surrender my life including every prayer to God not because I am right but through the righteousness offered by the Cross. It really doesn’t matter if I am right – when I am called to be the Light!

I want to partner with you today. I ask the Lord to grant you the desires of your heart in accordance with His Perfect Will. I find it encouraging that despite all of his faults and failures, the Lord still saw fit to rescue Manasseh and restore his kingdom out of His Love, Grace and Mercy. Because of Jesus Christ, even though I have a list of faults and failures just like him that the grace and goodness God has given me is more than enough to establish His Power for His Glory in my life. He is a good God. He is an even greater Father. His Love for us is based solely on His Perception of us not our perception of ourselves – surely someone should clap. As I pray today, I lay down everything that somehow managed to take precedence above the Father. I will not be led away by the enemy’s lies today or held in bondage by unconfessed sin. I don’t want to live in exile from the Lord but am taking the time to pray humble prayers. Thank you Lord for reminding me today that you alone are my righteousness!

Romans 3:22 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Peace with God

Peace with God

Job 22:21-22 (NIV) “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.

These are the words of Eliphaz to his friend, Job during the worst time of his life. Job’s children were gone. His wealth gone. Everything God had blessed him with in his lifetime taken from him within a single day. Even his own physical health compromised, I am quite certain that he was not looking for a sermon but sympathy from his friends. The story of Job is one, though hard to read and difficult to comprehend, is absolutely necessary to understand true submission to God. “Submit to God and be at peace with Him.” This may imply that Eliphaz had decided that Job must have sinned against God to invite such tragedy into his life. From a human aspect – it would be the natural assumption. However, his words I believe are led by the Holy Spirit and not his own intellect. Submission to the Lord in all things will give us peace. The Holy Spirit produces peace in our life as a fruit. As our soul prospers so does our life, but I do not believe that God will allow us to prosper in this life if it compromises eternal life. “

“In this way prosperity will come to you.” Everyone has a natural desire to prosper. To see increase and live in abundance. It is a common thread of commerce. However, peace does not come from financial security but confident faith that there is more to life than this. A place of eternity rest offered through Jesus Christ. The Lord has given us His Spirit to produce the kinds of fruit that satisfies our soul and causes our heart and mind to prosper in God’s Word which is His Plan for us. “Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.” I have studied the Word of God every day for the last eight years. Each morning getting up early to read, study and meditate on it. I want to extract every single truth, promise and blessing hidden within the pages of text. I do not say this to boast but rather to share that even though I have spent countless hours poring over the Word of God, I find new things every single day. It is life to my heart, mind, thoughts and soul. It is never old but always fresh and new.

Romans 10:2-4 (NIV) For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Our zealousness and enthusiasm serving God must be based on His Word. Faith comes by hearing and found in God’s Word. We desire righteousness but do not fully understand what it entails. Pride wants to earn it. Somehow find a way to deserve the Grace of God. It is impossible. Yet still religiosity can interrupt our relationship when pride tells us – “I can do it.” The only way of reconciliation with God is through His Son, Jesus. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can make it to God except through Him. The Word made flesh to live among us is none other than Jesus. I must submit to God’s Righteousness fully accepting His Grace in my weakness. His Power is complete in my life when I do. The story of Job depicts man’s struggle with pride. Doing everything right cannot erase our sin or promote a relationship with God. It is our thriving relationship with Jesus that gives us total access to God the Father and His Power in this life.

Divine discipline as recorded in Hebrews 12 is not in the form of punishment. It is God’s Love at work in us to remove barriers of pride, fear, and insecurity that keep us from reconciling our life to God through His Son, Jesus. It is always born of love, mercy and grace. God cannot punish those who believe as it would be contrary to His Word. God doesn’t take back His Promises but daily pursues us in order to bless us. It is His Desire to give us the desires of our heart. Misalignment spiritually creates conflict in our life. (James 4:1-6) Our friendship with God makes us enemies of the world. I want more of God’s Grace. To have it means moving my life from this world to Kingdom living by constantly pursuing a relationship with God by way of accepting His Grace more and more which means I must decrease and He must increase in me. Pride is crucified in this place and submission fully embraced as a way of life.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

To be reconciled with God is live at peace with Him. Submission to God comes in the form of acceptance of His Grace as enough for my life. His Power is manifested in my weakness and inability to accomplish anything of worth outside of my relationship with Jesus Christ. I must become a new creation. Pride must be executed so that the fulfillment of His Purpose can be accomplished in me. I must learn to submit. Humbling myself before the Lord and other people. God has a plan containing a future and hope that oversteps death into eternity. By faith, I can achieve it. I must understand my place as a participant in this process. I must humble myself before the Lord which means also extending it to other people.

“Submit to God and be at peace with Him” is not a threat or form of punishment. It is an invitation. Like a wedding invitation all in white tied with a scarlet bow, bidding us to come and participate in the greatest love story ever written. To be His Bride. To await His Coming with real enthusiasm not overrated zeal. His Word gives us the opportunity to know Him. His Spirit is the intimate consummation of His Betrothal. We have a promise, not only of a fantastic future, but blessings for the land of the living. Pride will never exalt us to the level of confirmation that humility born of absolute trust in the Living God allows. It is the destruction of the platform of pride that spiritual elevation takes to the new levels and life intended by God. I must live in Christ to find them. He must increase and I must decrease. I must live at peace with God in Christ Jesus to reach my full potential. Sometimes it is the moment when all we have is the Lord, that we find He is all we ever need.

Colossians 1:19-20 (NIV)  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Beauty of Submission

The Beauty of Submission

I Peter 3:1-4 (NKJV) Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

There is beauty in submission for the heart intent on surrender. It is a beauty far surpassing the outward appearance that leaves an indelible mark on the heart it touches. The heart must be soft, pliant, open, and humble to receive such instruction and not become hard and unyielding as pride senses a takeover. Submission is the utmost form of trust in any relationship. It denotes total surrender to the Lord for fulfillment of expectation releasing all other human counterparts. In the beginning it may be a bitter pill choked down rather than savored. Those who force it down will find it to be a seed of blossoming blessing that will lead to success in all relationships as we live and love from a gentle and quiet spirit confident in God’s Love, Grace and Goodness.

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands…

I will be the first to admit that I did not receive the “gift” of submission as one probably should. Preparing for a women’s conference at church with a fellow board member, I had spent the better part of a half-hour ranting about my husband and a disagreement the night before. She allowed me to vent thereby setting the groundwork for a message that would change my marriage forever. When I finally ran out of words, the room was silent. She crossed over to me with what I knew would be solid and profound advice. Holding my hands in hers and looking me right in the eye, she said, “You must learn to submit to your husband. You must be submissive.” If it were possible for my head to spin and steam come shooting out of both ears, it would have happened in that moment. I was so angry that not a single word could be formed and my mouth was hanging open. Had she not heard the injustice? Had she not listened to my hurt? Did she not understand that it was all his fault? I thought she was on my side. She was. She was the godly influence who would plant a seed of truth in my open and exposed heart that would grow, develop and mature into a beautiful marriage of mutual responsiveness and respect.

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

I am woman hear me roar…not so fast tiger. Inner beauty within our heart is the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that God finds very precious. I am an extrovert and my husband an introvert. Our personalities are very different as are our life experiences. Coming together in marriage is to leave all other relationships and establish a primary connection with our spouse. To become one together. Just as two people traveling in different directions do not end up at the same destination, one of the two must submit. It is our gift and calling as wives to do just that. To become a reverent partner to the man who God has joined us with is to honor and revere God with total trust and dependency. I trust my husband. I love him. He is just as human as I am and we both make a lot of mistakes. The Grace of God is the glue that keeps our marriage strong as I have learned to submit to God’s Authority and my husband but boy oh boy was it a fight.

Ephesians 5:22-24 (NKJV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

To submit means to be humble and compliant. It is a perceived vulnerability yet must be pursued for complete faith. Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. As wives, women are called to respect, regard and deeply care for her spouse. To reverence or be in awe of as translated from the Greek word “phobeo”. All believers are called to live in mutual submission. (Ephesians 5:21) As a wife I am called, according to God’s Word in Ephesians 5, to serve, honor and edify my husband. Does such a statement rub you the wrong way? Are you irritated at the thought of it? Good, so was I. My life as a wife is to be lived as unto the Lord. I do these things for my husband out of reverence for God and His Word. This should end the argument but it usually causing a warring in our heart and mind. What about me? Who’s going to take care of me?

The husband is called to lay down his life and sacrifice his interests for his wife. He is tasked to support her growth and development spiritually. He is to cherish, warmly care for and attend to her needs, wants and desires. He is to love her as Christ loves the church. He holds the most responsibility in this thing called marriage. God holds husbands accountable for their wives. We must only trust the Lord. This is important unless marriage is deemed impotent because it is out of order or misaligned.

Submission to each other following the guidelines set forth by God creates mutual responsiveness. Just as the Body of Christ is formed by leaving the things of this world and clinging to God through Christ and His Way – marriage is the same process. To become one body in marriage or in the Body of Christ requires leaving and cleaving. Cleaving is to adhere firmly and closely with all loyalty unwaveringly to something. Genesis 2:24 sets forth the marriage principle that “a man shall leave his father and mother to be joined with his wife and they become one flesh.” I wonder what the success rate of marriage might be if both partners embraced these roles fully and completely as designed by God made possible through Jesus Christ. Would revival break out in the Body if it became one?

I Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV)  Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;[a] not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

Smith Wigglesworth was a great man of faith. One of the forerunners in faith for the modern day church. His wife, Polly, was a mighty woman of God in her own right. When his plumbing business became very successful, Smith began to work long hours. He missed services and his heart grew cold toward the Lord. Polly faithfully continued serving the Lord. One night she was later than usual returning from church and her husband rebuked her saying, “I am the master of this house and I am not going to put up with you coming home at such a late hour.” Polly told her angry husband, “You may be my husband, but my master is Christ.” Smith put her out the back door in anger forgetting to lock the front door. She came around to the front entering the house in laughter. Soon her gentle spirit and sweet response had both parties dissolved in fits of laughter.

It is human nature to be caught up in our rightness and miss the point of righteousness. We are Kingdom builders which is all about relationships. Building relationships requires submission. Successful marriages are marked by wives who embrace the role of submission and empower their husbands to take the leadership role and fulfill the assignment of accountability for our life. Grace is the gold of submission. We serve in all positions of life as unto the Lord including our marriage partnerships. Each member of the Body of Christ has a role that must submit to the headship of Jesus. Without submission – all things will remain broken. Those who embrace and strive to live a submissive life will inherit a blessing far greater than pride could ever yield. Be submissive. Take on your role given by Christ, whatever that is, fully embracing the calling clearly defined by His Word. You will prosper as your soul prospers.

Ephesians 4:4-6 (NKJV) There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.