Bad Seed

Bad Seed

Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT) Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Is there such a thing as bad seed? At the end of Creation, God looked over all that He had made and He saw that it was “very good”. God declared it complete and not just okay but “very good.” Our seed is good. The ground is good. From the foundation of the earth, it was good. Sowing and reaping is a principle set form later in Genesis by God. Sin entered the world. Now mankind was at odds with the Lord God, and so now the ground would be cursed. The Lord told Adam that “all your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you though you will eat of its grains.” So the land now would bear good and bad in each harvest.

Sin grew more rampant and then God sent a flood to destroy the earth and everyone in it. There was one righteous man, Noah. Noah faithfully constructed the ark and entered it. God shut the door and wiped the earth clean. Noah and his family endured the destruction of the earth by flood and immediately departing the ark set up an altar consecrating the new beginning and rebuilding to God. The Lord said, “As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” (Genesis 8:22) With this brief history lesson complete on seedtime and harvest, I ask the question again, “Is there such a thing as bad seed?” I don’t think so.

When sin entered the earth, God did not curse the seed. He cursed the ground. The potential of seed remained intact. So if there is no such thing as bad seed, why are there weeds in life? Bad choices. Bad investments. Bad returns. Bad consequences. The Bible is clear that one will reap as one sows. This is not a punishment of God but a principle of life. If I plant corn in my backyard, but expect cucumbers to grow – I would be foolish. The Lord has given us seed to sow. He always gives those who plant the means to grow something in their life. It is up to us to follow the leading of God in our sowing and planting. It is our freedom to choose the seed that will be planted in our life. So if the seed is not the problem, what is? It is the ground. The soil of sowing. The condition of the field.

In this parable of Jesus, the farmer was doing what farmers do – he was planting crops. However, when the sprouts came up – there were weeds among the wheat. Panic ensued. Surely the enemy has come and sown weeds in the wheat. Has the enemy sown weeds in your wheat today? The seed that you have placed in the fertile ground will produce exactly what God has promised you. The weeds will be of no avail if you do not panic and pull up all your seed – good and bad. As you inspect the productivity of your life today, there will be good things and not-so-good things. I want to charge you today that the problem is not in your seed. It will always produce according to the promise of God for your life.

Isaiah 28:24-26 (NLT) Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds—black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat—each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.

Lord give us understanding. Teach us that you have given us good seed. Show us where to plant it. There are many seeds in our life including natural, physical, mental and spiritual. Seeds are the productivity of life. There must be an investment to yield a return. We must be careful not to eat our seed. To be generous sowers that is the charge in the New Testament. Fear is a prime hindrance when it comes to the giving of our life to God’s Potential. Fear of loss, failure, rejection and the unknown are all excuses that keep us from trusting God.

The immediate reaction of the workers was to pull all the weeds before they overtook the crops. The farmer responds with wisdom instead instructing them to leave the weeds to grow with the crops instead. Have you ever given a large offering? Maybe you invested an uncomfortable sum of money in a venture? What is the immediate reaction of most people? Regret. Remorse. The enemy wants to rob us in our sowing by convincing us it is foolish. We must know before we sow. God will instruct us in every area that we seek His Wisdom even in our giving. God isn’t looking at what you toss in the offering plate. He is not evaluating your generosity to the poor. He is not judging you by the balance in your checking account. He doesn’t even care that you spent a couple hundred dollars on new shoes and a matching purse. The Lord looks past our appearance and examines our heart. The fertile soil that yields the best harvest comes from a broken and humble heart. The seed in our hand will be blessed according to the condition of our heart not the field it is otherwise sown.

For example, you may have a dead end job with an overbearing boss. Yet, each day before you leave for work, you pray for your employer and coworkers. You arrive early to work thanking God for the opportunity. You work as unto the Lord and not man giving your all even though you are completely overlooked and taken for granted. You give the Lord the first fruits. You tithe off your meager earnings. The job is not your provider but you have decided that God is your Source. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. You will harvest a blessing – pressed down, shaken together and running over. It may not be that your boss has a heart change or the job becomes enjoyable or rewarding. The Lord of the Harvest will bless your faithfulness. He promises a harvest from your tears. (Psalm 126) God’s Eyes are always intent on our heart. We must become faithful farmers who gain wisdom and understanding from the Lord who do not move from field to field based on emotions or reactionary to the natural conditions of life. We must be people who respond to God’s Promises.

Isaiah 32:16-20 (NLT) Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest. Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down, the Lord will greatly bless his people. Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.

Jesus Christ established righteousness for God’s People. In Him, I am in right standing with God the Father. The productivity of the Kingdom is established in my covenant with God as I live at peace with Him. Quiet confidence offers the opportunity to live by faith and not by sight. When I choose God as my refuge and consecrate my life to Him, the field called my life is blessed again. The seed that is planted will always harvest the promise of God instilled in them from the beginning. God has given us seeds of peace and prosperity that will produce His Promises in our life when sown with the measure of faith given to us as well. To put good seed in the ground and let the process be completed takes a whole lot of faith and patience to see come to pass especially when the enemy tries to fill us with regret. Our seed is wrapped in righteousness and cannot help by grow and prosper. No weapon (or weed) formed against us will prosper.

Haggai 2:18-19 (NLT) “Think about this eighteenth day of December, the day when the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid. Think carefully. I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”

We are God’s Temple. His Spirit lives in us. The promise given to the people in Haggai when the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid holds true for every believer you has chosen Jesus to be Savior and Lord of their life. You have become a living stone part of the Body of Christ. The Lord is giving you this promise today. Your seed is good. It is okay to sow it generously because you do not serve a sparing God. Before a single seed is sown in your life, the Lord is assuring you today that it is good seed and the foundation of your life is blessed.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NLT)  Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

God has given you good seed. He has called the foundation of your life blessed. You have all the resources to sow goodness and produce promises. You must now find the faith to do so. To trust the Lord of the Harvest. He will instruct you. He will guide you. His Spirit inside of you is the cultivator of life. An abundant life is a product of righteousness as God’s Word accomplishes exactly what it set out to do in you and for you. Do not regret seeds sown in barren fields? They are still subject to God’s Instruction and Purpose. He will always bless the giver who gives from a humble and broken heart. He is supplies seed to the sower not to the withholder. You cannot judge the harvest by the seed. It must be planted. The giver with a heart for God does so cheerfully with godly wisdom and spiritual discernment. Don’t give under pressure. Give in to His Presence. He will prosper you from the inside out. God is good. His Seed is Good. His Word is Truth. He is Lord of the Harvest.

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

 

 

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Finding My Purpose

Finding My Purpse

Jeremiah 32:38-40 (NLT) They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.

What is my purpose? Why do I exist? What am I supposed to be doing? Why was I made? How can I be used by God? I have a purpose. God designed humanity to have one heart and one purpose. To be His People and that He would be our God. Sin shattered our relationship with God. He was not satisfied with judgement and predestined to give us mercy that would lead us to His Grace. In a way that only an omnipotent and omniscient Creator could, the Lord intentionally takes all those broken pieces determined to make a masterpiece once again. He desires us to become the Body of Christ. There very thing for which His Son died put rebuilt from a new foundation. Salvation provides an everlasting covenant. He will never stop doing good for us. He desires a heart of worship and will give those who seek Him that very thing.

Sometimes it is difficult to see ourselves individually within a corporate people. To know and understand the importance of our purpose in the expansive and comprehensive plan of the Living God. I have a purpose. He created me fearfully considering each step that would lead me to righteousness. He did so wonderfully giving me value and worth that only He can bring forth. I am a marvelous work though still in process. In pursuit of purpose, it is of the utmost importance to know God’s Primary Plan. Above all other things – the Lord desires to have a relationship with you and me. To live in love for the rest of our lives until one day it is only eternity that we see.

Isn’t it funny how when you think you have it all together, the next minute reveals that is not the case? I am finding my purpose in this place called life all over again. I know that I am called. I know that I am anointed simply because Christ lives in me. I have no idea what is next. In a state of transition in more ways than one, I have my feet planted in Christ my firm foundation of faith yet my head is in the clouds. My children are reaching adulthood. Our full nest down to just one. In the busyness of raising our children, it is often easy to forget that this too shall pass and one day there will no longer be the weight of responsibility that governs us now. The mounds of laundry are gone and with it our children venture off into life. This is God’s Plan. It is a good one. My job is to raise tiny disciples into fisher of people then set them off to fulfill the Lord’s Plans for them, but I don’t have to like it. What transition are you in today? New job. Unexpected life change. The ending of an old season often gives way to new faith and new trust on the faithfulness of God. We become comfortable and complacent in the current condition. God is faithful in pursuing us with unfailing love and kindness. He is always working good in us and through us even when we do not want to change.

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT) And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

The finality of God is sometimes the hardest obstacle to overcome. We all like options. When God shows us a glimpse of His Plan and Purpose, it is human nature to run off and complete the picture like Harold with the purple crayon. He only gives us a peek but we make it our plan or maybe I am the only one with the propensity to run ahead and work it out myself before God makes His Way clear. What if I don’t like God’s Plan? What if I am not happy with His Purpose? What if it is not as I expected or conducive to my plans?

The power of purpose in my life is not based on my abilities but God’s Faithfulness. These verses do not portray a power hungry being who needs to assert dictatorship over us. The Lord already has all the power. God is Sovereign and confident in it. When we someone can make our heart sure that God’s Purpose is good and way better than we could think, ask or imagine – faith grows from that place that connects with God’s Faithfulness giving Him permission to give us His Best.

Isaiah 44:6-8 (NLT) This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. Who is like me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power. Let him do as I have done since ancient times when I established a people and explained its future. Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

The Lord says to us today, “I am the First and the Last there is no other God.” This is vitally important to understanding the power of purpose in our life. The Plan of God is comprehensive taking in every detail of our life and turning it for our good. (Romans 8:28) Only an Alpha and Omega God could transverse time to take into account everything and work it all together for our good. He gives us the grace needed for His Power to overtake us and produce purpose while prospering our heart to spill over into our life.

Do not tremble. Do not be afraid. God did not give us the spirit of fear, anxiety, worry, stress or any other byproduct of doubt. The Lord has given us a measure of faith. Faith is cultivated in the goodness given to us called power, love and self-discipline. Use them well. The fear of the Lord is an awesome respect that is demonstrated in devotion and a covenant of love like marriage. Such fear becomes trust and total dependence as we learn to lean on the Lord and live in His Love.

Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? The knowledge of God’s Pervasive Presence and Persistent Pursuit of me – a sinner saved by grace – is my complete undoing. I have lived more than 50 years and I am still discovering the depths of God’s Grace, Love and Faithfulness to me. The hopes and dreams that I put in the grave because of my own weaknesses are not dead to God just deferred until their appointed time. The vault marked faults and failures do not hold His Riches or Glory designated for my life, I do when I hold my heart hostage with guilt, shame or regret. The faithfulness of God has followed me through life ushering me toward the things that He already prepared for me before I drew my first breath. It will be complete when I breathe my last. I must rely on His Faithfulness to produce the fruitfulness of purpose in me and not pluck unripe fruit from the vine. It is only when I abide in Christ that the growth I desire is produced. I must abide in His Love even though I have no idea what’s next, where I am going, how I will get there or when I will arrive. God knows and that’s gotta be enough for me.

I have a purpose. It belongs to me. No one can fulfill it. Only I can do it. Prosperity is a heart condition. God has promised to give me a new heart in place of the stony one within. As my soul prospers so will my life in the purpose already designated for me by the Living God. I must only trust Him to find my purpose.

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me!

More Grace

More Grace

I Timothy 1:14-15 (NIV) The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

I wasn’t going to do this. I had already decided that my quiet time would be my own today. Not to be shared in the transparency of my need for God’s Grace today. I have over committed…again. My perfectionism is overriding peace within me. I have to-do list with to-do list. Heart racing to meet the expectation of many especially myself – I am begging the Lord Jesus for more grace today. I need grace. Grace wrecks perfectionism. It destroys arrogance in the moment that I realize I can’t do it all. Only one person that gets caught up in tasks who doesn’t always realize my mistake until at the edge of breakdown.

God gives grace to us in abundance. In this passage, it says that He gives grace in abundance along with faith and love as though secondary. Many that’s the problem, we try to have faith and love outside of God’s Grace. We have faith that can move mountains but cannot even step over a tiny offense. There is love for others but no love for our self. I am the world’s worst sinner who needs every bit of God’s Grace to make through one day let alone to eternity one day. Yet as many others just like me – sometimes I get the order wrong. I live by faith. Try to love. Work to produce godly fruit only attainable in my utter weakness as a part of grace. A seed placed in the ground does not do anything other than become what it is purposed and called to be. The potential of a seed is on the inside and must work its way out. The death of one form to give way to new glory. The acceptance of God’s Grace completely gives way to the life of faith and living in the Love of Jesus. Lord, I need more grace today.

Romans11:5-6 (NIV) So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

I am chosen by God’s Grace. There is nothing I can do to earn it. I will never deserve it. I cannot work to make myself worth. I am not able to transform my life. Grace is given as a gift. It can only be accepted by a fully engaged love relationship or covenant with Jesus Christ. We are vulnerable. Faith gives us the capacity to believe that a perfect God could love imperfect people. Grace is no longer grace if religion takes over with all its dos and don’ts. Yet the enemy willingly offers excuses to the logic of such by inferring that God’s Grace is limited when the Truth is that God’s Grace is enough.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

His Grace is enough for me. It is sufficient for you. His Power is made perfect in weakness. Our pride hates the idea of surrender and submission to the Lord but grace demands it. We must use our faith in its primary state to stand on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Not because we can do anything but because He did it all. When we are weak, we seek grace. The good news for us today is that it is always available and brings power to our life.

In Ephesians 4, it tells us the God’s Grace is apportioned for us. The word “apportioned” means that the Lord has already designated all the grace that I need for this life. He has distributed proportionally to me. It belongs to me. I must do nothing more than relinquish my weakness and claim His Strength which is administered by grace. His Grace is enough because it is already assigned to me. When Christ said, “It is finished” on the Cross that included the proper portion of grace needed to save me and initiate the faith needed to achieve my purpose, overcome life’s problems, receive full provision and live in prosperity. I have all the grace I need – I must only ask for it.

Romans 5:20-21 (NIV) The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Law had a purpose. It showed humanity that it was flawed. The sin obvious in each trespass and the penalty far more than anyone could bar. Jesus Christ came with a sin solution. Grace. Where sin abounded, grace abounded more. The power of Grace is not defined by one’s capacity to ever overcome sin. It is defined as the only thing that can break sin’s debt off our life. It doesn’t matter how well we clean up or if we change every bad habit to make better choices. Religious behavior will never take the place of righteousness which can only be achieved by God’s Grace through faith in Jesus Christ. What does that mean? It doesn’t matter how hard I work – my efforts cannot produce perfection. It doesn’t matter how well I do – sin will always be an issue. It doesn’t matter how strong of a Christian I become – His Grace will only work by concession. I must give up my need to be perfect and desire to be good in order to fully accept the kind of grace that grows strong faith producing complete confidence in the Love of God. It is my acceptance of every weakness, fault, failure, mistake and shortcoming and giving it over to the Lord that His Strength and Power become my own.

Galatians 2:21 (NIV) I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

When my need to do something overshadows my need to allow Christ to complete His Work in me – I have set aside the Grace of God to maintain my pride and position. Righteousness is the place I want to be living in the Presence of God forever. It means I must set aside self on a daily if not momentary basis to fully embrace what Christ is doing inside of me. The revelation of weakness must come for the sufficiency of Christ to be received. I cannot be the person who has it all together and still be becoming the masterpiece of God’s Design. It is in the messy surrender and submission of my life piece by piece that the fullness of grace is obtained. Christ didn’t die for nothing. He died for me. His Grace is enough.

Jesus, I recognize that You are the only good and perfect gift in me. You have given your life to free me from the bondage of performance and perfection. I receive it in my weakness today.  Forgive me for trying to take the throne and ask you for more grace! I want it all! I need it today! We have nothing if first we do not accept Your Grace!

James 4:6 (NIV) But He gives us more grace…

John 1:16-17 (NIV) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 

Ignore the Roar

Ignore the Roar

I Peter 5:6-9 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

There is an adversary prowling the earth seeking someone to devour. The word “devour” means to consume destructively, recklessly or wantonly. It is to engulf or swallow up. To absorb or engross wholly. The enemy of our soul seeks someone to devour. How does one resist the devourer? Those who remain subject to God and His Word that humble themselves under His Mighty Hand will be lifted up…at the proper time. Does it seem like you never have enough time? Or do you live from paycheck to paycheck? What are you lacking? We are people who are predestined to live in abundance. Jesus Christ came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The Lord promises to do exceedingly abundantly more we ask or think…according to His Power at work in us.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. We have a good Shepherd who carefully watches the flock called the righteous. I am called righteous in right standing with God based on the salvation of Jesus Christ who opened a gate for me. To enter the Presence of God and live in peaceful surrender to the Living God. Humility is essential to the righteous remaining in the shelter and refuge of God. The roar of the lion is loud. When I was a teenager, I went to Africa on a missionary venture. Lying in bed at night, an occasional roar of a lion could be heard in the darkness. At first it was a bit frightening, however; I was safe in a compound with whitewashed walls and members of the Maasai tribe patrolled the perimeter to keep those inside safe. The lions roar was just a reminder of the dangers lurking outside the walls of the camp. Lord, help us to see that the roar of the lion that produces fear, anxiety and stress is but a veiled threat to those who live in the sanctuary of trust and peace that you provide.

Malachi 3:10-12 (ESV) Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

“And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.” (Matthew 13) The Lord gives seed to the sower. You are a sower. You plant in your life every day. You decide the productivity of your life based on the quality and quantity of your investment. The potential in us is based on the Kingdom as we have been given eternity in our heart. A promise that EVERYTHING will be made beautiful in its own time. A gift of faith that is the beginning of great fruitfulness in our life. There is a thief who wants to steal, kill and destroy the hope that is given to us in the productivity of our seed. Jesus came to grow it in us and for us.

The seed of God’s Word must be pressed deep into a soft and fertile heart to grow into anything of worth in our life. Malachi 3 talks about the tithe. The tithe of our life is our time, talent and treasure. All should be considered in our giving to God. Our covenant relationship with the Father gives us the opportunity to reap Kingdom benefits and blessings in all three areas according to our level of faith and trust in Him. To partner with the Lord requires an investment. We must give to receive these things. Our position in life must be Presence. Our posture must be humility. It is under the Mighty Hand of God that we find the prosperity longed for. This is an act of submission and surrender to the Lord that gives our time, talent and treasure to Him – we must decide that God deserves our first fruits of each not what is remaining.

The promise of partnership with God is that He will rebuke the devourer. To rebuke means express sharp, stern disapproval. It also means to reprove or reprimand. The original meaning of rebuke means to beat back or hack down. The Lord will call off the devourer by His Word. We have God’s Word that He will deal with the devourer if we choose to trust Him more. When we move our life and all its resources from doubt and fear to live in full dependence on the Lord and trusting Him – the enemy can roar but he cannot move within the borders of faith and trust. He can only hurl lies and threats over the fence but they are quickly rebuked by God’s Word now active in our heart and mind. When Jesus was in the wilderness, the enemy came to him. Jesus did not argue with the devil or complain about the situation. His answer to every temptation was simple. He told the enemy what God said. The Word is Jesus and He lives in us now. His Word is the potential for our life. Do you know what God says about you? Do you know what the blessings and benefits of the Kingdom are for you? Do you believe it? When we decide to trust the Lord fully with our time, talent and treasure enough to give Him the most choice portion, the devourer must move back as he is beaten down by God’s Word. Jesus makes intercession for us with the Father and defends us by the Word.

Proverbs 21:20-21 (ESV) Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it. Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.

Remember the widow who cried to Elisha, her husband was dead. (2 Kings 4) He was a man of God and servant of the Lord. The woman feared the creditor was coming to take her sons. Elisha asked her, “Tell me; what have you in the house?” Her response, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Oil represents anointing. Christ lives in us. The Anointed One has chosen to inhabit our heart. With faith, nothing is impossible. Faith cannot stay in our heart but must be sown in trust. What if you already have what is needed to prosper and live in the abundance of God but it is just hidden in your “house”? You have the Word of God and the faith that moves mountains but cower in fear over simple provisions of life. You have the Peace of God that passes understanding but remain in fear, worry and anxiety over the roar of the lion. The woman changed her situation when she became a vessel. Her abundance of oil in the small flask did not run out until she stopped providing a place for it to flow.

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness and honor. Ignore the roar! Give no credence to the lion today. Jesus has rebuked the devourer. Do not let him in. He cannot touch anything resting inside the Shelter and Refuge of God’s Presence. When we plant all our expectation in Jesus Christ by faith it will be fruitful in its proper time. The Lord has promised that there is a season for EVERYTHING. He tells us that EVERYTHING will be made beautiful in its time. No seed planted today bears fruit tomorrow. There is a process and most certainly a wait time. But in the meantime, the Lord promises to the rebuke the devourer in all things given to Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

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.

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.”