Shortchanged – Dealing with Disappointment

Shortchanged

Romans 5:3-5 (Message) There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Romans 5:5 (NLT) And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Disappointment – To fail to fulfill the expectations or wishes of. To defeat the fulfillment of hopes or plans. To thwart, oppose successfully or prevent from accomplishing a purpose. To frustrate.

Disappointment is a dangerous word. It ends the pathway to fulfillment in thought and theory. It is a stumbling block caused by disarmament of God’s People. It is the lie of the enemy that he can stock God’s Ability or someway hinder the Lord accomplishing more than we can think, ask or image. It is the persuasion that God’s Word might in somehow or someway return to Him without accomplishing what it set out to do. It is the thought or whim that the Christ living in me is not enough to overcome every obstacle in the way of destiny and myself. Disappointment is the cultivation of doubt. To feel that in some way grace may not be enough which eludes to the idea that the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ was not sufficient in providing a rich and satisfying life. It is a pitfall. We must learn to deal with disappointment and do away with it in our life.

Disappointment and discouragement are weapons in the enemy’s arsenal against every believer. If he can successfully introduce doubt to the heart and mind of a believer, it subtly begin to eat away at our faith sowing seeds of bitterness along the way that will captivate our thoughts binding our minds in the lie that God does not love us. He is not good. He does not care. Fulfillment is not possible. All of these things begin to work within the person to prevent fulfillment of purpose. How does one deal with disappointment? Overcome doubt? Move past the delay? Find joy in the deferment? This hope will not lead to disappointment. Are you holding hope by a thread today? Wondering if God really is working all things together for your good or making you a prime example like Job? Friend, I am right there with you.

There’s more to come… Our life is prepackaged with a future and hope handwritten by God and set into motion not according to our faithfulness but His Faithfulness. His Grace is enough. God is good. His Love for us is always working in our favor. No matter how long the wait…fulfillment will always exceed our expectation. There is more to come. I must wait for it.

God forgive me but I am sick and tired of being patient. Would you be so honest to say the same? Tired of waiting, watching and wondering when the Lord will do as He promised. Impatience has been my biggest challenge in life. I was born with a stubborn nature and strong will. Patience is the pathway. God is always found in the waiting.

Proverbs 13:12 (NLT) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.

Joseph understood disappointment. When his face hit the hard ground at the bottom of the pit, his dream could have died from the fall. But instead as he was sold into slavery and destined to a life of serving others under a heavy yoke of oppression. Joseph held on to hope. The dream that God had given him playing over and over in his mind. In the house of Potiphar, Joseph faithfully served his new master. The Lord was with Joseph. God blessed Potiphar’s house for Joseph’s sake. Joseph was promoted to the highest position. (Genesis 39) Then his master’s wife decided to seduce young Joseph, but his character and integrity would not give in to her powerful persuasion. The woman scorned reared her fangs and claws. Her attack successfully landed Joseph in prison falsely accused and wrongly convicted. But the Lord was with Joseph, even in jail, and soon he was promoted again. The Lord was with Joseph and caused everything he did to succeed.

While incarcerated, Joseph interpreted the dreams of two men working closely with Pharaoh. His only request was “please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place.Yet another painstaking betrayal by people as the men left that day and completely forgot their new friend. (Genesis 40) Two full years later, Pharaoh had a couple of disturbing dreams that no one could make sense of. It was then that the cupbearer remembered Joseph. You know the rest of the story…Joseph successfully explained the meaning of the dreams and soon Pharaoh would put him in the highest position in the land. Not only did God save and prosper Joseph, but Joseph was able to save his family in the midst of famine. His dream became a tree of life just as the Lord has promised.

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

In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

All praise to God. Oh, the power of persistent praise in the life of a believer. I have learned through many deferments, detours and delays that praise is a valuable partner. People can say some really dumb things as they struggle to offer encouragement from an empty well. They want to lend a hand but don’t want to fall in with you. Offering prayers of encouragement, maybe a little advice, a quick hug or pat on the back – they are gone as fast as the cupbearer and baker that day the invite from Pharaoh opened the prison door. They forgot Joseph…or did they? His time had not yet come. I know this may come as a jagged little pill if you are in the midst of a long waiting period, but purpose born too soon is an abortion. God makes everything for a season and it will be beautiful in that season. In the meantime, He builds our character to receive it.

We live with great expectation or at least we should. We have a priceless inheritance. The Lord is an awesome caretaker who provides our needs according to His Glorious Riches. (Philippians 4:19) He doesn’t stop there but blessed us “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are untied with Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) It all comes together with the promise that the Lord will make us “complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:19) And finally, “God, who is able, through His Mighty Power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Do you believe the Power of the Living God is at work in your life today? Even with the smallest measure of faith, and hope hanging by a thread that decides to praise God one time, serve Him one more day, believe Him for one more second and let it be the anchor for our soul will cause disappointment to dissolve as His Spirit is free to move through us uprooting bitterness, drowning disbelief and filling us with His Love and empowering us by grace even in our weakness. God isn’t finished working out the masterpiece of our life. (Ephesians 2:10) We must remain His Steadfast Canvas in the midst of being stretched, stressed and pressured to give in. It will be worth it.

Romans 4:16-22 (NLT)  So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 

Faith makes the impossible possible. Miracles require the impossible. God’s Glory shines brightest in the impossibilities of life. However, these can be some of our darkest days. Trials and testing produce God’s Glory in our life. Those times when trusting God is the only option. When our hands are too small to hold all the pieces of our broken heart that is when we give all its pieces to the Lord. When I cannot possibly make it without Him, I learn to trust Him more. God has promised that He will never lead us to disappointment which means I must follow Him to fulfillment. Nothing is impossible for those who believe. I believe. I trust. I have faith. I have confident hope. Even on those days when my heart is sick and mind plays tricks on me, the Holy Spirit accompanies me through the challenges of my humanity to the place of His Presence. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. Not only waiting for his son to come, but all the way up the mountain of sacrifice when nothing seemed to be going right. Even when there was no reason to hope, Abraham kept hoping. Our does not, cannot and will not ever lead to disappointment.

Feeling shortchanged by God today? I fully understand. Wondering if the promise will ever arrive? God’s Word says it will so I must believe it. Go with what I know not how I feel. Remind myself how many times impossibilities became realities in my walk with God. The enemy wants us to accept disappointment so we become defeated in life. Choose faith and confident hope today. Take control of every thought rebellious to God’s Word, His Will and His Way. Speak God’s Word in and over your life and every situation. Pray without ceasing. Ask for God’s Help and He will gladly give it. Tell the giant what God says, not God what the giant is saying. On those days when life is overwhelming, put off fixing the problem for another day and rest in His Presence. Our hope in Jesus Christ never leads to disappointment. We are not shortchanged have a priceless inheritance. God will never stop short of His Best for us. Until then, we must wait. Hold our hope. Keep the faith. God is faithful. He is good. He will never let the righteous fall. He knows the desires of our heart. He is working it all out for our good and His Glory.

Mark 10:27 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

Armed To Overcome

Armed to Overcome

John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. Why is shocking when trials come our way? Why does our heart fall apart so quickly when sorrow is inevitable? Jesus did not tell us that life would be all hunky dory. No, the Lord was straightforward and honest. Life is tough. It will be full of struggles. There will be problems and perplexities that plague our natural life from now until we see Him face-to-face. He didn’t say it wouldn’t be a fight…Jesus just told us that we win! “But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Wandering into the dark bathroom this morning, I flipped on the light struggling to focus. The first thing I could see as my eyes adjusted was a fat spider motionless on the floor. Clearly alive but not moving, I watched her as I navigated the room deciding how to proceed in my conquest. However, as I moved closer she did not move. I realized I was not battling one spider but a mama spider filled with babies. Ugh! She would not make it out of the bathroom alive but any attempt to disturb her would cause her to release hundreds of spider babies. Again, ugh! Armed with bug spray, paper towels and a shoe, I went after the giant. True to form, she immediately launched her counterattack in her final throes of death. I have fought this battle before. Quickly spraying enough bug spray to kill every bug in the county around the perimeter as her young began to run in all directions – my engagement a success and all the spiders died. I used to be afraid of spiders. I know some people who are deathly afraid of them. Growing up in a mobile home, critters found their way in more readily. I have been a bug killer a long time. I also know that if this spider is all I face today – it is a good day!

Some seasons are like that in life – we kill the giant but a thousand other little things rise up. The enemy doesn’t always use the big things in life to defeat us but engages us from all sides. He tries to overwhelm us and weaken our defense, so he can overtake us with fear, anxiety, and doubt. I am in a season just like that. Every time I overcome one thing – it seems like five more things pop up. I feel like rather than walking boldly and triumphantly through life – I am tiptoeing through a mine field hoping not to set another thing off. With each burden and mounting stress, the enemy pulls and tugs at us trying to lure us off course. Not today devil – I am putting on my armor – I have already won the fight!

Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLT) A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

A final word…

This means that what comes next is important. A final impartation that is relevant and important. We should pay careful attention to anything prefaced in such a way. If you hear nothing else, listen to this “a final word.” Parting thoughts that summarize the entire conversation. Throughout the Old Testament, time and time again, there is insight from great men of God on their deathbed. It is when the fathers and patriarchs would give their blessing to the firstborn and siblings. Our final word…

Be strong IN the Lord and IN His Mighty Power.

My strength comes from the Lord. (PERIOD) I do not have the ability to overcome the world any more than Jesus already did. He won the final victory. The championship belongs to Him and there is no rematch. We are the prize. His People. He fought and won for us. We do not have to fight to win but fight to remain confident in His Power that won. The team that wins the Super Bowl doesn’t go to the locker room before the award ceremony wondering if they really won or if the trophy will come back to their hometown. No, they go back and celebrate until it is time to claim the prize. Jesus won it all for us. He overcome sin, death and the grave to give us a rich, satisfying life. We aren’t going to Disney World. We are headed to Heaven. This world is the stopover. The win is secure. The battle over. The enemy’s tactic is to convince us otherwise.

His Power is given to me by His Grace. When I give up my life in humble submission and human weakness to accept His Grace – I have access to His Power. Wonderworking power begins by accepting God’s Grace as more than enough to overcome every pitfall and problem in my life so that when life gets hard – I don’t. To be strong in the Lord and in His Might Power is our objective. It is the armor of God that helps us as we go.

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

Let’s clarify our objective before preparing for it. Our objective is not to defend Jesus Christ. It is not to fight for our faith in government or amongst other religions. Everyone is free to believe whatever it is they choose to believe. It is our God-given right. The Son has set us free. Jesus died for every single human being ever created. The Power of His Blood is not diminished by a lack of belief or acceptance. His Trip to the Cross would have occurred regardless of people’s response. He was on a mission. To set us all free from sin. He did it all on His Own. He is fully accomplished outside of us. This is the procurement of freedom. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed is not just for Christians. Freedom was given to everyone but not everyone chooses freedom from sin. Think about it.

We must use God’s Armor to be able to stand firm against the enemy. The enemy who strategizes against us is the devil. No person just satan. Our flesh wars within us to have control as well. However, the enemy is the one who wants to stop God’s Plan and Purpose for your life which is to overcome and live in victory every single day. Why? Winning glorifies God. Success means you believe. It magnifies Jesus and His Power which is the end to the foolishness the devil is causing. Satan knows he loses so his objective is always collateral damage. He doesn’t want to go down alone but take as many of us with him as he can. Why? We are the prize that Jesus was after. We are the thing worth His Whole Life. He stepped down from His Throne in Heaven to be disrespected, humiliated, beaten, tortured and crucified because Jesus wanted us.

Ephesians 6:13-17 (NLT) Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

When God laid it on David’s heart to kill the giant, Saul tried to give the young man his armor. But it did not fit David, he was not used to the weight of it. It was made for Saul not David. David did not win the battle – he took a stand and killed a giant with a small, smooth stone. Some might argue that little rock was inscribed with the word “faith”. Maybe so…who knows? What I do know is that David believed in his young heart that God would fight and win for him. He didn’t hesitate for a second but walked right up to the looming threat that had an entire army hunkered down cowering in fear.

What are you wearing today? In a few minutes, I must decide what I will don for the day. I am going to work in an office. Climate-controlled and not physically challenging – it will not require anything special just some pants and a shirt with sandals. This is the apparel I will put on my physical body, but what about my spirit? I will step into the armor of God. I will need to be strong in the Lord and take a stand against the enemy. Every day there are challenges and today will be no exception. I must be more concerned with my spirit’s clothing each day than my physical appearance if my objective is to remain standing in faith and confident hope at the end of the day.

Here is a rundown of what my outfit of armor looks like according to God’s Word. First, I must put on truth. The truth is what God says about me. Who I am in Christ. The new person I am becoming in the Master’s Hand. The accuser will challenge my identity as a Child of the Living God offering me a quick fix and limited lifestyle over God’s Standard of Living which is glorious. Truth allows me to see myself through the Eyes of God not man. His Word is a reflection of who I am and what I can do IN Christ today.

The Body Armor that guards my heart is that I am in right standing with God. Nothing can or will ever separate me from God’s Love because His Grace is enough for me. The Blood of Jesus Christ paid my sin debt in full – past, present and future. My relationship with Christ wraps me so tightly in a robe of righteousness that the enemy reach me if I put myself in His Presence and choose to remain there. I am fully covered. My life is no longer my own. Christ lives in me and covers me fully.

Peace is my platform. It is the shoes that I walk in given to me by Jesus. Like a child following in the sand, placing each foot in the imprint of his father, I must walk humbly with my God which means loving others and creating harmony among God’s People. I must walk peacefully today.

The shield of faith is keeps the lie of the enemy from ever reaching me. His fiery darts of mistruth fall to the ground when I hold tightly to the shield of faith and keep it before me. God loves me. He is good. He is faithful. His Faithfulness allows me to have faith because I am not the one who is expected to get it right. God has given me faith. My job is to believe it enough to place it ever before me shielding my heart and mind from the lie of the enemy.

The helmet of salvation is absolute confidence in hope. Hope never disappoints. I must believe this wholeheartedly and seek the Lord as though I do. Our mind is the biggest battlefield because if we can overcome worry, doubt and fear with the prevailing peace of mind that Jesus offers us – the enemy cannot get in our head anymore and the Spirit of God can get busy transforming our thoughts into more confidence in God’s Love and Power for us.

The Sword of the Spirit is God’s Word. I believe that the tongue is also called a two-edged sword. My words hold power. I must speak the Word of God and not what my mind tells me to. I must be careful to sow seeds of faith, righteousness and peace in my life. To be thoughtful in my engagement and interactions with others. Always expressing God’s Love with confidence rather than complaining, grumbling and bemoaning. Such communication is not confidence in God but death to it completely. Say what God says about you and other people. Don’t call out the giant but call on the Living God. Speak the Word over your life, family and workplace. Let the Lord touch your tongue with the coal from his altar today and choose carefully the words that cut through your life.

To be fully outfitted in the Armor of God is enough to stand but if you want to win – there is one final step…

Ephesians 6:18 (NLT) Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Pray. Have you prayed today? How will you get instruction or be encouraged if you do not communicate with the Lord? We walk by faith and not by sight. We need insight into the Kingdom of God that is only found in His Presence. Prayer is intimacy with God that cannot be overlooked. It is like a briefing for soldiers. It tells us our objective. Encourages us. Links our heart with God’s. Builds our faith in God as our relationship solidifies. Prayer is the communication that allows us to know Him more. We must pray at all times. His Spirit lives in us. When we release God’s Word and agree with His Plan for our life things begin to happen in us that resonate through our life. Persistent prayers is to remain alert and ready to stand. We are called to resist the enemy. We war in our prayer room. It is the place where our God adorns us with His Armor and reminds us that we win. Jesus Christ overcame the world so I don’t have to. I must only overcome my fear and build my faith and confidence in Him. I do this through trust. Not blind trust, but the kind that comes from constant communication with the One who is faithful. God is good. His Love is real. He is faithful. Jesus won every battle for us giving us the strength to stand. All I must do is choose wisely what I wear. To live in Christ and not the world.

Exodus 14:13-14 (NLT) But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Joshua 1:9 (NLT) This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Challenge Accepted

Challenge Accepted

I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

The last few weeks have been challenging. But then again, when is life not full of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, good and bad. Life is challenging. Each new day comes with its own set of circumstances, long list of responsibilities, and uncertain conditions. The unexpected really shouldn’t be so surprising. It happens all the time. Constantly recurring change. Will I conform or be transformed? Will I commit or quit?

But as for you, O man (or woman) of God, flee these things.

I am not a quitter by nature although sometimes I say that I am quitting. But when push comes to shove, I hold fast. Words like persistent, tenacious, stubborn and obstinate have been used to describe me. Character is developed when the qualities possessed are shaped by wisdom and not pride. The letter to Timothy written by Paul addresses natural tendencies relevant in our walk with Jesus Christ. He is speaking to him one on one about false teaching. He describes the character of them as “puffed up with conceit” who understand nothing. People who are “an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” As believers, the pursuit of godliness is encompassed in just one commandment defined by love. However, pride and vain glory had somehow begun to seep through the walls of the early church. Gospel for personal gain. There was no contentment but rather pursued God for His Hand not His Heart. Paul tells Timothy…but as for you, O man of God…flee from these things.

Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”

Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

It is challenge to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness. It is especially difficult to maintain them when tough times come along. However, Jesus did not ascend to Heaven with a “peace out” see you on the other side. Or good luck – hope you make it. No, He gave us His Spirit as a helper who would produce all these qualities even though most of them are contradictory to human nature. (Galatians 5:22-23) The first thing I must do is “think about these things”. To change my mind, I must change the way that I think. I change the way that I think by the pursuit of higher learning to obtain understanding applying it to my life so it becomes wisdom. We decide who or what influences us. I must choose to believe what is true. The Word of God is the Truth concerning my life. To pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness outside of the Word of God and Jesus Christ would be pointless.

Fight the good fight of the faith.

What is the good fight of faith? According to the Message translation of Hebrews 11:1, faith is “the fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.” The Amplified Bible describes faith as “the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. We are instructed to walk by faith and not by sight. I don’t know about you, but it is really hard to see past my circumstances sometimes to the Promise of God to work it all out for my good and His Glory. Without faith it is impossible to please God. It is the substance that firmly fixes us in confident hope. It is the recollection that keeps us pressing on when we are pooped out. Why must I fight for my faith? The enemy wants us to give up on faith. He doesn’t want us to trust and rely on God. He is looking to make us collateral damage on his way out. How? He lies to us. Plain and simple. Faith holds firmly to the truth that God loves us, Jesus died to save us, and His Grace is enough for me to live in this world but not be of it. I want to believe God’s Word and that He perfects all that concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) Lord, help me to remember what is worth fighting for so I have the wisdom to pick and choose my battles.

Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Paul challenged Timothy to remember God’s Call on his life and walk in it. The course of life will prove challenging. The only way to overcome is to take hold of Jesus Christ all the way to the finish line. The finish line of faith is found when we meet Him face-to-face. I must settle in stride with Jesus and forget my preconceived notions about life and love. I must be passionate about God’s Heart and not focused so much on His Hand. I have been called to eternal life which is way longer than my natural life – it is worthy of investing in at the price of an ordinary life. It is up to me to lay aside the things that weigh me down like worry, stress, anxiety and fear to take hold of things like “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” and every other spiritual blessing God has already given me that just needs to grow in my life. I have everything I need for such a pursuit. The only thing left is that I must be willing to do it. Laying pride aside to surrender it all…again and again if necessary to the founder and perfecter of faith – Jesus Christ. I have only one thing left to say, “Challenge accepted.”

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Don’t Stop Believing

Don't Stop Believing

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Cue the music, I love 80’s music. Although I tend to gravitate toward mostly Christian music nowadays, my kids hate when an oldie but goodie comes on because I cannot help but crank it up and sing along. “Don’t Stop Believing” is a classic. It’s funny how our mind works. Certain thoughts will filter through the folders of memory and pull out random thoughts and ideas. Lately the Holy Spirit has really been pressing me to evaluate my faith and belief system. Oh, I assure you that I am sold out to Jesus Christ just some spring cleaning meditation and self-examination. I do not want to become comfortable or complacent in my pursuit of Jesus and His Kingdom. But what I am beginning to see and now believe is that like the woman who had but a small jar of oil hidden on a shelf who did not tap into it until she was completely desperate (2 Kings 4), there are things in my life intended for prosperity and blessing that remain hidden. The Lord wants me to be like the woman with the alabaster box who broke the seal pouring her perfume over the head of Jesus. (Matthew 26) Why is it that we wait to believe until death knocks on the door when we should be beating down the door of God’s Kingdom? See the difference. I do, at least I am beginning to.

Keep asking and you will receive. Keep seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened. Everyone who asks receives. Everyone who seeks finds. Everyone who knocks the door is opened. God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:11) His Grace is enough – it is sufficient in its ability to turn my weakness into His Power. God’s Gifts and His Call can never be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29) What does that have to do with me? Well in Genesis 1 – the Lord blessed us. He instructed us to be fruitful, increase, fill the earth, and subdue it. Purpose, prosperity, generosity and power. It all belongs to us directly from God. But sin came hindered us from fulfilling His Mandate for us. (Romans 3:23) No longer able to live according to God’s Glorious Standard. Jesus came to remove the burden of sin and death so that once again the Kingdom of God and His Call could be fulfilled in our life. It is a free gift. (Romans 6:23) Now we have eternal life, the life that in our heart is our desire. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) When we connect with the Kingdom of God and live according to God’s Standard including His Glory and Grace – we become complete lacking no good thing. (James 1:4) This is all part of the reconciliation process as our life begins to come into alignment with the Word, Will and Way of God, the Father. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) Why am I not asking for every spiritual blessing I have been promised? Why am I not seeking the secrets and hidden things of the Kingdom every day? Why do I not beat down the doors to God’s Presence every single day until the door opens so I may come boldly before His Throne with every need, worry, care, burden and desire? Why? Have I stopped believing? Have I established a limit to the Love of God?

I Corinthians 15:9-10 (NLT) For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

The last rollercoaster I ever rode was at Six Flags over Georgia. I looked up the name so I could share it with you and laughed out loud. It was called Goliath. I have never been so terrified in all my life but gave in to the ridiculing of my children to ride it with them. When I got off the ride, I was mad. I remember walking away, shaking my head and declaring that I would never ever ride another thrill ride again. I haven’t. It was on that ride that our son blacked out. Having a major concussion in middle school, and after speaking to his doctor – it was concluded that because of post-concussion syndrome – he probably should not ride rollercoasters anymore. He was very disappointed but felt so bad agreed. Well, now I cannot help but wonder if it was his brain or the hidden tumor growing in his body next to it. I had no idea the giant that would soon be awakened in our life. After our son’s bone marrow transplant, he was declared in remission after three long years of battling. When I came home, life was far from normal. Within a month, my birth mother passed away unexpectedly and my oldest daughter married. Four months later, she and her husband were called to ministry 21 hours away. All those days to be made up from being apart while I cared for her brother, would have to wait for another day. I walked along that year deciding that I love God but I could not do this “faith” fight anymore. I took the sword that slayed those giants and gently hid it on a shelf. Believing came at a high price. I just couldn’t do it anymore. We can love the Lord and even trust Him but not believe for the Kingdom. We can accept His Daily Provision like manna but not press for the Promised Land of Favor that He has for us. The enemy uses fear and doubt to apprehend us and shut us in a cell with a lockless door. We wait for forever to come. We long for eternity. God has goodness for us in the land of the living. We must ask. We must seek. We must keep knocking. Why don’t we?

When Saul became Paul, he was called to minister to the family and friends of countless people were slaughtered at his hand or by his command. Yet somehow Paul discovered the sufficiency of God’s Grace was enough to stand before them and share of God’s Love, Grace and Favor. He overcame doubt and disbelief to live what He believed. My life must be lived to the Glory of God but what Glory is there to a lamp that is hidden under a basket out of sight. There are things God has called me to do, say and be that are well out of my comfort zone and will require a daily commitment to ask, seek and knock. The only reason that I have the Favor of God is because of the Blood of Jesus. (I Peter 1:17-19) The Power of the Blood is for the remission of sins and restoration of the Glorious Standard of Living that is the Kingdom of God. Salvation is a multifaceted gift that takes a lifetime to unfold as God completes the good work that He began before you were born and insists on completing in spite of you.

Romans 14:16-17 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.

God supplies everything we need every day. Is that enough for you? Are you okay with just enough? Why, when we serve a God of more than enough? The earth is all about daily provision or what we eat and drink. The Kingdom of God is not a matter of provision but a place of prosperity. We must learn to ask for, seek after and knock on the door of God’s Presence for Kingdom Favor rather than just getting by. You have not because you ask not. (James 4:2-3) We do not ask because we do not believe. We must believe with wholehearted confidence that God has a plan that contains a future and hope for our good. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) We must believe that He works every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) We must believe and be confident that God’s Goodness is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) To believe is to ask, to believe is to seek, and to believe is to knock – every day.

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT) Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit[f] on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say I am?” Here me today – it doesn’t matter who God is to anyone else or the reality of Jesus for every other person in the world. Who do you say that He is? The life changing moment that you believe Jesus is the Son of God, who died for your sins, rose on the third day, and handed you the Keys to His Kingdom enough to do something with it – is the day heaven and earth become united in your life. The connection is made by faith. Faith shows the reality of what we hope for…your faith is shown not by what you say but what you do with your life. It is the evidence of things not seen soon to be a reality in your life and for the Kingdom. Why did you stop believing? Abraham took his faith all the way to the mountain with a knife poised and ready to plunge right through the beating heart of his 100-year-promise. God called Abraham – His Friend. Why? He believed. He believed in a God who can raise the dead back to life. What about you? If you believe that the moment you die, you will be brought to life in eternity, why can’t you believe God for simply things like favor? Increase? Prosperity? Power and influence? Such simple things offered by an awesome God left on the shelf like the bottle of oil, God has ordained and anointed you for His Glory. Is your life glorious? Maybe if like the woman with the alabaster box – we choose to ask, seek and beat open every door between us and Jesus to pour our life in His Lap, maybe we will discover the pressed down, shaken together and overflowing life that the Lord has promised His People. We must believe again. Believe that God is good. Believe that He is for us. Believe that He is with us. Believe that He desires us. Believe that the Lord will do exactly as He said. Don’t stop believing today! Crank it up and play it loud. Let your life be one of asking, seeking, knocking and believing and watch what the Lord will do!

James 2:21-24 (NLT)  Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

 

Soul Prosperity

Soul Prosperity

3 John 1:2 (AMP) Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually].

What is prosperity? According to the Random House Dictionary, prosperity is a successful, flourishing or thriving condition especially in financial respects and good fortune. Do you believe that the Lord prospers His People? In 3 John, the author writes to “beloved and esteemed” Gaius. This man is not identified further. The next verse gives way to a new way of thinking. I pray that “in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health” just as your “soul prospers.” As a believer, it is God’s Will for you to prosper both physically and spiritually. However, like every other benefit available to us through Jesus Christ, the Cross and Resurrection, it is completely up to me if I will live in the blessings of God bestowed on me before I ever breathed a single breath. You are blessed. You were made to prosper. However, the enemy has done his best to make people believe otherwise. I hope to change your mindset and motivate you to seek out the Lord’s Will for your life including the prosperity hidden beneath layers of lies that the enemy has used to overshadow the true potential of your new life in Jesus Christ.

Genesis 1:27-28 (AMP) So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them [granting them certain authority] and said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate it [putting it under your power]; and rule over (dominate) the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

When God created man and woman, He blessed them. Do not go any further, stop right there. I did when our pastor shared this verse and the wheels of my mind began to get in gear with my spirit man. I am blessed. God released a blessing on people that cannot be revoked. Once God blesses, it stands. He does not lie or change His Mind. When He decided to bless us, the release was instantaneous. So where is it now? God SAID to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate (putting it under your power or subdue) it.” God’s has now issued a directive to His People. Rule over and dominate all living creatures and every living thing that moves upon the earth. Oh, but what about the fall of mankind? Well, that’s true. But can I introduce you to my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. In Him, “we live and move and exist”. (Acts 17:28) Everything is brought into existence through Jesus. (John 1) Thanks to Jesus – our sin is removed and live restored to us. So the blessing on our life still stands as long as we live.

God was clear in His Directive to His People. Be fruitful. We know that the Fruit of the Spirit is the very thing that feeds and nourishes our soul changing us from death to life. (Galatians 5:22-23) To be fruitful is not only physical but a spiritual accomplishment as well. He told us to increase. Prosper. To live a limited life does not represent an unlimited Lord. Fill the earth. I believe that as true believers our life should overflow in goodness and grace in all things to all people. A life of generosity is a life of fearless abundance for those who are not afraid that our God has a small supply but exceedingly more than we can think or ask. Finally, to subdue the earth. We have authority and power locked away in these weak vessels of human bodies that is ready to take over every sickness, oppression and bondage that has people held captive. Greater is He who lives in us. We have the Keys to the Kingdom. Rather than shaking them all the time, it is about time God’s People started using them to unlock the captive and lock up the enemy.

Psalm 103:1-5 (AMP) Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is [deep] within me, bless His holy name. Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of His benefits; who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle.

“Do not forget any of His Benefits…” Have we forgotten the blessings and benefits of God? Or did we ever have a clear understanding of who they are for and how to receive them? Hosea warned that people die from a lack of knowledge. It’s true. God has blessed me. He has blessed you. I have the same benefits available to me in Christ that every other person born is given. It is up to me if I take advantage of these benefits. My husband’s company offers health insurance including dental and vision. It is a benefit offered to all associates. Some consider the cost to high and opt out completely. Others, pay for the insurance but do not understand all it comes with and do not take full advantage of the benefits. Then there are others who have read the policy and procedures who utilize as many of the provisions as possible to get their monies worth. Where do you fall in this picture? Do you know the benefits offered in Christ? Do you take full advantage of them? Do you read the Word of God? Study it. Use it. Apply it. If not, you are missing out on blessings and benefits that are carefully detailed in God’s Word and waiting fulfillment in your life.

In Deuteronomy 28, the blessings of obedience are outlined in great detail including the “abundant prosperity” those who obey God. Before you exempt yourself because of sin, is the grace of God given to us in Jesus Christ enough to cover your debt? Is the Blood of Jesus still strong enough for the remission of sin? If it is (and it is), all these blessings are still in good standing. Jeremiah 29, tells us that God has a plan for our life that includes prosperity. The only thing I have to do is seek the Lord wholeheartedly. What’s the catch? You have to believe enough to use your faith to trust the Lord at His Word. How do I trust God? Simply do what His Word says while seeking His Presence wholeheartedly.

In Jesus Christ, I have been given every spiritual blessing from the Heavenly realm. (Ephesians 1:3-6) Digging deeper in God’s Word, there is a recurrent theme. Obedience. Knowing God’s Word, and doing what it says will prosper my life spiritually and physically. I have the potential for success in all things. However, it is not obtained religiously as some people and churches might want you to think. Prosperity gospel is nothing more than multi-level marketing in the church. As my soul prospers, God will prosper my life. No man has a say on the level of blessing in my life. God has granted me all blessings in Heaven and Earth according to His Word and I find it in obedience. What is obedience? I cannot possibly do everything right. Of course, not but it is in pursuing righteousness in love that it all belongs to us. What is that?

Proverbs 16:20 (AMP) He who pays attention to the word [of God] will find good, and blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) is he who trusts [confidently] in the Lord.

When asked “which is the greatest commandment in the Law”, Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first commandment. He didn’t stop there but went on to say, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. Love. It is all about love. To seek God’s Presence and live in His Love prospers our life. As our soul gets it right, suddenly the windows of Heaven open and His Blessings begin to pour out all around us. It take energy, effort and commitment. Loving God and obeying Him is contradictory to human nature. Sin separates us from the Presence of God and limits our life. (Proverbs 28:13) Everything we do has the potential to prosper in God’s Love. (Psalm 1:1-3) His Way is always prosperous. (Psalm 10:5) Obedience to God equals prosperity every time. (Psalm 128) Prosperity is all about love and faithfulness (Proverbs 3:1-6) because it is an inheritance. I cannot earn God’s Love. He just freely gives it to me. I must choose to be faithful to my first love. Righteousness lived out in love with Jesus will prosper our life as our soul prospers. (Proverbs 21:21) Perfect love expels fear from our life so the sky becomes the limit. Dream it. Believe it. Do it. There are no limits for those who live in love with Jesus Christ.

Luke 9:24-26 (AMP)For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake, he is the one who will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God]. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed [here and now] of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and the glory of the [heavenly] Father and of the holy angels.

To prosper in our natural life is the ordination of God beginning in Genesis. He did not change His Mind when people decided to find their own way but rather provided THE WAY (Jesus) to come back to Him in righteousness again. The choice to follow Jesus Christ is a personal one. Some will do so religiously and find great frustration. Those who decision to enter a real relationship with Jesus changes the outcomes of life. Seeking the Lord wholeheartedly means there will be things I choose to do and not do in His Name. My primary motivation and soul prosperity is in loving Jesus wholeheartedly and seeking Him that way. In doing so, I have many benefits available to me that He is ready to release in my life. It is up to me if I will have them or not according to my willingness to accept them. When my life means nothing outside of Christ, the things of this world fall down my priority list. As the Lord and His Spirit begin to make my heart fruitful, I find that things like love, joy and peace are the precious commodities of my life. As my soul prospers, my life naturally does as well because now I have a better perspective on how to use my resources for God’s Kingdom and His Glory. I can be generous in all things because things are not as important as My King. If the tangible blessings of God will in any way remove you from His Presence, you are not ready to naturally prosper. When your whole heart is invested in loving Jesus, then and only then will our natural life resemble our spiritual condition.

Friend, God’s Blessings belong to you. From Genesis 1, God has called us to live in a successful, flourishing or thriving condition especially in financial respects and good fortune. His Favor belongs to you as His Child. You have every right to the benefits of your salvation. All of this secured God’s Love for us and released by our love for God and our ability to transcend that love to others. In love with Jesus, our soul prospers and then so will the rest of our life. God will not put it in your hand until He has your whole heart. Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.

Jeremiah 29:13 (AMP) Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Wholeheartedly

wholeheartedly

Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT) If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

How do I give all the pieces of my heart to Jesus? Wholehearted is to be done, enacted, given with total sincerity, enthusiasm and commitment. It means that I am fully and completely committed to that which my heart is given. What is that exactly? I instructed in God’s Word in Deuteronomy and confirmed by Jesus that “I must love the Lord (my) God with all (my) heart, all (my) soul, and all (my) mind.” This is called the first and greatest commandment. In Jeremiah, it is the established way of attaining God’s Plan for our life with the future and hope that comes with it. I wonder sometimes if in our plight to perfect a way easily followed that this is overlooked in the modern day church. Righteousness becomes rightness. My righteousness is found in Christ alone but there is some sense of natural security that is assumed by doing what is right. This misconception is nothing more than a lie of the enemy meant to deceive God’s People. Our sole pursuit in life must be to love God wholeheartedly for that is how to find Him.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NLT) “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”

Our pursuit of God and His Righteousness begins with the Word of God. Jesus is the Word made into flesh to dwell among us. To know, understand and begin to comprehend God’s Love demonstrated in Jesus Christ is to study, meditate and pray the Word of God in our life. God speaks to His People through His Word. It is a foreign language that must be learned and committed to memory. It must be incorporated in everyday life. We must study to show ourselves approved. Ready to share the Gospel in season and out of season. The Word brings wisdom that is more valuable than precious gems or the purest gold. Jesus is the Bread of Life that feeds and nourishes our spirit so the Holy Spirit can cultivate His Fruit in us. We must commit wholeheartedly to the words of God and Jesus Christ. The Word of God is life. It takes all the pieces of our heart no matter how broken, binding them altogether with the promise that everything is going according to His Plan.

Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT) “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

God has not and will not ever force anyone to serve Him. He does not need servants to attend Him or workers to do His Business. God desires our love. The Spirit of the Lord set us free allowing us to choose who we will serve rather than keeping us captive to sin. He offers us a plan with a future and hope to live and not die. It is a personal choice. We must choose carefully. Amaziah I is noted in 2 Chronicles 25 as one who did what is right in the Lord’s eyes, but did not do it wholeheartedly. Hezekiah is later noted in 2 Chronicles 31 as one who also pleased the Lord but he did it wholeheartedly. The Lord is looking for those who do not just seek to please Him for His Goodness but desire His Glory wholeheartedly. God fills our life with good things because He loves us. The rains falls on the wicked and the righteous because God is good. When I do what is right in His Sight, I will experience more and more of His Blessings because they are already provided for me. It is simply a matter of positioning myself in the right place at the right time doing the right thing as His Word and His Way indicates. But that is not enough for me…not anymore.

To do what God desires will benefit our life. It will expose hidden blessings just because we are honoring Him with our attitude and actions. I want more than that. I want the full and complete standard of Jesus Christ that creates unity of faith and knowledge. (Ephesians 4:13) I don’t want anything left out of the Glorious Standard of Living that sin was kept from me. I can have it now because Christ lives in me. But if I do not have a relationship with Jesus, I cannot be a Child of God. Doing what He wants just makes me a slave to God rather than sin. (Romans 6:16-18) When I decide that I love God wholeheartedly is when I begin to experience the truest freedom that is to become a Child of God.

Jeremiah 32:39-41 (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. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.

God desires a relationship with you today. One that you have not every experienced before and that your flesh rallies against daily. To give up this life in pursuit of forever seems like a risky investment. What if I am wrong? What if there is not a God? What if God is not as good? What if Jesus is not real? I cannot convince you of the existence of God or the vastness of goodness or fathomless depths of His Love. You will have to experience them for yourselves. What I do know is this? No one can convince me otherwise. If I die, I will not be disappointed. My hope in Jesus Christ is secure. But for argument’s sake, what if I am wrong and there is nothing after this life? Well, I can honestly say that loving God and serving Him has only benefited and blessed my life in inexplicable and inconceivable ways. If God were only a myth, it would still have been worth giving my life to Him. I want more. I want to love God with ALL of my heart, ALL of my soul and ALL of my mind. Daily I must make it my passionate pursuit to love Him with more of me. God desires an everlasting covenant. He wants to be one with us. We avail ourselves when we seek the Lord wholeheartedly.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Lord, if I have withheld pieces of my heart, my soul or my mind from you – I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these areas so I can give more of me to You, God! We have been given an opportunity to enter into the greatest love story ever written. To experience a love so great that the boundaries will never be seen. To experience the Glory of God so overwhelming that it melts us in His Presence. What if for a moment – we stopping working so hard and try worshipping the Lord more? Taking time to enter His Presence, sit at His Feet, listen to His Words and hear His Heart. God desires a relationship with us. He wants you. He longs for me to be with Him forever. What if I am trying to impress God with my actions and all He really wants is my heart? My time. My talent. My treasure mean nothing outside of His Power at work in me. Nothing I can ever accomplish on the earth in my power will ever outshine the work of Jesus on the Cross. God simply wants to raise my standard of living so that I can live in His Glorious Standard as any good parent would do. His Love is completely overwhelming but so very simplistic. For God so loved me that He gave His Only Son that I might be saved. There is nothing I can do, say or be to cap that kind of love. All I can give is all that I am for all that He is.

What if God only desired our true love? What if He really is not impressed by what we do for Him but how we love Him? I believe that if we came back to our first love as it tells us in Revelation that becoming the church that the Lord called and created us to be would not be quite so complicated. As believers if we would choose to love God wholeheartedly, there would be a shift in the dynamics of the organization and institution so that it would become the living, breathing and healthy Body of Christ again. No longer would there be politics or personal agendas leaking into the walls of the church but the Power of God called His Glory would emanate from it pouring out into our communities, our country and around the world. The same message would be spoken. It would be all about love. Agreement wholeheartedly would produce a sound message that the world would hear clearly. God is love. God is in love with you! My life is worth nothing until the Love of God overtakes every part it so that I can effectively communicate God’s Love to a lost and dying people in a cold, dark world. Lord, I give you my heart, my soul and my mind. Make it whole according to Your Word, Your Will and Your Way today so that I can give it back to You!

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (NLT)  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

Ezekiel 36:26(NLT) And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

A Calibrated Life

a-calibrated-llife

Proverbs 16:11 (NLT) The Lord demands accurate scales and balances; He sets the standard for fairness.

Life is not fair, get used to it. (Bill Gates) The daily administration of justice and judgment in the world is conducted from shifting standards rather than a consistent one. Such is human natures that seeps into the Halls of Justice along the way. A strong moral code and steadfast ethics is dependent on one’s opinion, religion or political bias. In order to successfully navigate this life as a believer, it is important to set the standard for our life accurately. To makes sure the foundation of faith on which our life is built is level with the Word of God, His Way and His Will. If you have a scale at home, it is important to calibrate it from time to time. One must determine the accuracy of the scale to gauge its validity. Common use or even subtle movement can cause it become off balance. It will not give an accurate reading. Therefore, one cannot access proper progress because it is inaccurate or unbalanced. Our life as a believer changes caliber when righteousness is accepted. It sets a new standard of living not common to man. A life lived according to the flesh and sin now must become aligned with faith and trust in God to accept a higher standard of living. If one is not careful, it is easy to become unbalanced because of failure to check our life for accuracy.

The caliber of our life is defined by the Word of God – both written and spoken. To properly calibrate something is to measure the degree of capacity, competence or ability. It means to check the degree of merit or excellence determined by quality. What is the quality of life you are living? Fairness cannot be determined by our present condition or circumstances as a Christian. We no longer live for today but forever. The measure of our life must be according to God’s Standards to have the kind of life that He has promised. To assess one’s life according to the world, its standards, beliefs, morals, ethics, politics or even religion gives us a shifting foundation and fluctuating mark that lacks true accuracy which gives no validity to our faith in God. We must set our standard of living according to God’s Word. (Period) Be prepared. From a worldly standard – life will never seem fair.

Romans 3:23 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s Glorious Standard.

Sin took justice from us and replaced it with judgment. Jesus came to the world not to bring us judgment but to provide the grace and mercy needed to obtain justice again. The highest standard of living is God’s Glorious Standard which is obtained through Jesus Christ. He is righteous and therefore, can administer righteousness to us. We must consistently calibrate our life according to His Example. To compare our life to other people is to lower our standard of living and creates unbalanced and inaccurate scales by which life is measured. For example, if the only time that I engage in the Word of God is in church or a small group whoever is leading the experience is the one who is calibrating my life. How so? I am using their interpretation of godly knowledge to adjust my life – if I truly desire a life measured by justice rather than judgment – I must make a commitment to God’s Standard of Living and no one else’s. Good teaching is beneficial but the weight and bulk of my life must be faith in Christ alone that creates an alignment and connection directly with the Lord and His Spirit as my source and guide for life. Access to God is in Christ alone. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I cannot get to the Father unless I go through Jesus to obtain righteousness. Jesus is the Word. (John 1)

Proverbs 20:8-12 (NLT) When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence, distinguishing the bad from the good. Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart; I am pure and free from sin”? False weights and unequal measures — the Lord detests double standards of every kind. Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right. Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the Lord.

Our bathroom scale is ancient. I loathe the thing which is probably why I have not replaced it yet. When I visit the doctor, I am weighed on his scale. I usually will come home and immediately weigh on our scale to determine its accuracy. It is inevitable that I will like the measurement of one more than the other. Now if I come back from the doctor, and see that my scale is reading a lower weight, it would be easy to say oh the doctor’s is off. I like this one better or even vice versa. However which one is really right – neither. How do I know that either one is accurate unless before and after each use they are balanced and calibrated which they are not. Our life is based on subjective measurement. The human mind is conditioned with a variance in it. A variance gives us a gray area of operation for the plus and minus factors in life. Nobody’s perfect. Well, no one except the Lord.

A variance is defined by a difference or discrepancy. It is a disagreement. Derived from the Latin word “variare” which means to change. There can be no discrepancy in my life to achieve God’s Standard of Living and receive His Glory. His Goodness falls like rain on the just and unjust, but His Glory is achieved in righteousness which is right standing accomplished with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no other way. He outlines the measurements and specifications in God’s Word which cannot be a variable in our life. God does not change. He doesn’t cast shifting shadows in our life. Any inconsistency must be brought into alignment with God’s Word, His Will and His Way to have His Best. We are free to choose our standard of living but not the calibrations of God’s Highest Standard of Living which comes from a life of faithful integrity in Jesus Christ. God detests double standards and only recognizes one – the measure of His Son. The purpose of the Body of Christ, the Church and every living, breathing temple of God in progress is to measure up to the full and complete standard of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

Psalm 119:137-138 (NLT) O Lord, you are righteous, and your regulations are fair. Your laws are perfect and completely trustworthy.

To improve one’s standard of living means change. It is all part of transformation. Many will choose mentors to mold and shape their life. People comparison is a joy killer due to the flawed and subjective nature of humanity. Even if I do every single thing they do to become who I long to be, it is impossible to ensure that I will have the same success. Sin flawed our condition and disabled perfection in our life. The slightest deviation will lead to a different destination. However, if I choose to believe that all God’s Regulations are fair. To believe that His Laws are perfect and completely trustworthy – I will receive the Promises of God. Through adoption, I have an inheritance to be claimed but if requires a commitment to a higher standard of living that is not common to mankind because it is not based on elevation but humility. I must give this life away to obtain forever. Hold up – doesn’t grace allow me to live how I want, when I want, and do what I choose to do without recourse. No, not really. Sin will never produce God’s Glorious Standard of Living. To repent means to turn and change directions. To step from darkness and into the Light of His Love. His Word is a mirror that points out our flaws and weaknesses to be covered in His Blood and Amazing Grace. The Light will always drive away darkness. “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Proverbs 2:6-10 (NLT) For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.

Do you feel that life is unfair today? Does it seem like other people are getting blessed while you being passed over? Is comparison killing your joy? The Lord is offering you wisdom. Knowledge and understanding that come from His Mouth to our heart. We must make room for His Word to manifest in our heart by rooting out all the lies that the enemy has planted in us through society and culture. It really doesn’t matter if I am right when God returns just as long as I am righteous. I cannot obtain righteousness on my own due to the handicap of sin that I was born with. God’s Gift of Grace allows me to pursue God again and receive all that He promised. I must calibrate my life according to the destination I am seeking. If I want the things of this world, I will pursue them in my flesh according to my plan and marked by my way. I will have successes and failures according to my ability and strength. Freedom allows me to do so unhindered yet unaided by God. If I desire righteousness, it is only obtained by obedience born of willingness called faith and trust in the Lord. I choose to walk His Way according to His Word and Will for my life. His Kingdom come and His Will be done before giving in to my whims and notions of how life should be. I must find what is “right, just and fair” according to God’s Standard of Living to live a glorious life as He promised. God is mighty. He made the world and everything in it. He handed it over to the Power and Authority of Jesus Christ. God loves justice. He established all principles of fairness. (Psalm 99:4)

John 13:14-17 (NLT) And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

When I was a kid, I remember a preacher or maybe it was a Sunday School teacher instruct us to do everything written in red in our Bible. Many Bibles mark the words of Jesus in red. As Jesus knelt down to wash the feet of His Disciples, He set the standard of living for this life. Micah 6:8 puts it simply, “…This is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” So obvious yet such an obstacle ridden stumbling block for one’s flesh. We must die to self to live in righteousness. It is not subjection living but objectively using God’s Standard set forth by the Word to balance the scales in our life. Any other standard deviates from it. We must apply to every aspect of living to achieve success in righteousness, to build a firm foundation of faith, to become confident in our hope and to decide that He is trustworthy enough to invest our entire life. Duplicity leads to failure. Commitment is the act of willing obedience that yields the highest results. How will you determine outcomes in life? With God all those impossibilities are suddenly possible, but in His Way and according to His Timing! The Lord offers peaceful confidence and inexpressible joy to those who choose to trust Him even when life seems unfair because their life is not according to this world but His Kingdom. This means for those who believe the best is always coming our way because we choose to walk in His Ways. Lord, teach me something new in your Word today. Write in on my heart. Remove every hindrance that keeps me from achieving the next step of faith leading to Your Glory. Thank you Lord for amazing grace and unfailing love that helps me if I stumble. I choose Your Word as the scale for my life against it I will weigh everything else. I want your Standard of Living – Your Glorious Standard above all things in Jesus Mighty and Precious Name!

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT) Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us[a] and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

A Covenant Life

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Hebrews 12:14-15 (NLT) Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

Nothing creates division or conflict faster than politics and religion. I avoid both subjects completely when working and socializing due to the usual outcome. Conflict is not the lifestyle of the godly. Our thoughts, ideas, morals and ethics may not be the same as our brothers and sisters in Christ or the world, it is not important that I am right as that I am Light. Living at peace with God promotes unity and is pleased by harmony among all mankind. We have only one enemy. He comes in many shapes and sizes even using people to do his dirty work. However, righteousness offers freedom that ends arguments and overcomes conflict. I have always told my kids that it takes two to tango. Ending an argument is as easy as walking away and choosing not to engage in it. It is important to pick and choose battles. Conflict must end in covenant for the godly to experience fullness of life. Why is living with others so much work? It is a prerequisite to living a holy life. We must look after each other or risk receiving grace. If I am not gracious and forgiving to others, the same is withheld from me. Bitterness has a price. It robs us of God’s Glory shining bright in us. We must learn to overcome pride and pursue peace at all cost.

Genesis 26:12-15 (NLT) When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. So the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.

To set the scene, there is a famine in Gerar, the land of the Philistines like the time of Abraham. (26:1) The Lord tells Isaac not to go to Egypt but remain in the land as a foreigner reminding him of the covenant between God and his father, Abraham. So Isaac stayed. When the men noticed Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, and her beauty fearfully he lied telling them she was his sister. However, King Abimelech called out Isaac on his ruse instructing all the men to stay away from his wife or risk the wrath of God. (26:7-11) So there is already bad blood between Isaac and his neighbors.

The bitterness only grew worse when Isaac planted in famine and harvested abundantly. The Philistines reacted to his sudden wealth and unexplainable prosperity by filling up his wells with dirt. (26:15) The king decided to kick Isaac and his family out of his country. (26:16) So Isaac moved on and reopened the wells his father, Abraham had dug. In addition, he opened a new well discovering fresh water. The shepherds of Gerar claimed it to be their water so Isaac named the well – Esek which means argument. (26:20) So his men went and dug yet another well, but again there was a dispute over it so he named it – Sitnah which means hostility. (26:21) Abandoning that well, he dug another one. There was no dispute over this well so Isaac named it Rehoboth which means open space. He said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.” (26:22)

Genesis 26:23-25 (NLT) From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, where the Lord appeared to him on the night of his arrival. “I am the God of your father, Abraham,” he said. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.” Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug another well.

Overcoming conflict, arguments, and hostility maintained the Blessing of Abraham on Isaac’s life. When conflict arose, Isaac simply moved on. Not once, but over and over again. The Lord spoke to Isaac reminding him that there was no reason to fear. God was with him as he remained in right standing with God by overcoming conflict in his life. Isaac had every right to fight for the wells his men dug and defend his righto the water flowing from them. He didn’t. He walked away from conflict choosing covenant over conflict will produce prosperity in our life every time. It is by faith in believing that God our Father will meet and exceed our expectation that allows us to stop fighting for our rights and walk away from conflict to maintain our covenant with Jesus Christ.

Genesis 26:26-29 (NLT) One day King Abimelech came from Gerar with his adviser, Ahuzzath, and also Phicol, his army commander. “Why have you come here?” Isaac asked. “You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land.” They replied, “We can plainly see that the Lord is with you. So we want to enter into a sworn treaty with you. Let’s make a covenant. Swear that you will not harm us, just as we have never troubled you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace. And now look how the Lord has blessed you!”

Isaac’s commitment to covenant rather than embracing conflict allowed him to have great influence over King Abimelech and the people of Philistine. The same ones who threw his family out of their country came seeking a covenant with him. By choosing to embrace our covenant more than pride offers us influence in this life that bickering and bitterness never allow. “That very day Isaac’s servants came and told him about a new well they had dug. “We’ve found water!” they exclaimed. So Isaac named the well Shibah (which means “oath”). And to this day the town that grew up there is called Beersheba (which means “well of the oath”).” (26:32-33)

Galatians 3:26-29 (NLT) For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

Jesus Christ brought us the new covenant. The old covenant made complete by His Sacrifice for sin. We have but one new law to live by. Love. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35) How does Christ define love? “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) What is love? “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7) Love is not lust. Love is not emotional. Love is messy. Love is hard. Love is a commitment. Is the life that I live demonstrative of true, real and authentic love as defined in God’s Word? Does the world know me by my talk, walk or religion? Or are they fascinated by my love and commitment to others? Conflict has no place in covenant. If we are in covenant with Christ, it means the end to all conflict. Pride must be crucified in covenant. Covenant is the end of self to choose a new union. Those who believe have entered a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. This covenant should be evident in every attitude and action in life. The life of the godly is full of light and joy, but the light of the wicked will be snuffed out. Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.” (Proverbs 13:9-10)

2 Timothy 2:1-6 (NLT) I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

Conflict usually stems from pride. Pride is a faith stealer and joy killer. It tells us that our expectation will not be met if fully reliant on Jesus Christ. It gives us an inner need to be right. God didn’t tell us to change the world. He called us to be Light that shines in the darkness that draws people to the Love of God fully expressed in our life. Conflict leads to dysfunction, division and death. It is not enough to forgive and forget. We must remain in covenant with all mankind to be firmly established as God’s People. This begins at home and also includes friendships, work, and church. Disputes do not honor God. They place our faith in someone or something else to satisfy, bless or prosper our life. Complete unity with Jesus Christ makes Him the Mediator of the new covenant in life. It means when I am wronged, hurt, abused, betrayed, lied about, disregarded, ignored or put out that He is all I need to forgive every offense, hurt and devastation because He is enough. He is more than enough. When I reconcile my life to Jesus Christ the result is peace with God and mankind. All people. The good, the bad, the ugly. I am free to love without expectation because I am fully loved.

Ephesians 4:1-4 (NLT) Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

My husband and I have been married a long, long time. The early years were tough. Marriage is work. It is the commitment to love one another until death. Those years included some knockdown drag out fights, loud arguments, and many disagreements – but our covenant of marriage meant that after the dust settled and tempers cooled coming back together and working it out. You cannot ignore these issues or they become roots of bitterness that rise up and overtime will suffocate love. We chose to honor our covenant more than our feelings or need to be right. There were times when forgiveness was not based on agreement but commitment. Our marriage to Christ partners us with Him and secures our membership in His Body. To live a life worthy of such, we must live a life worthy of our calling. It doesn’t matter how much we do, how loud we preach, how right we are, how committed we seem, or how devout our church life – if we do not learn to love each other choosing covenant relationships over conflicted emotions – our light will go out. A marriage cannot survive when threatened by pride. Each must give up their way to pursue one way. The same is the truth of the Body of Christ. If the members of a church meet in agreement, forgive one another, and establish healthy godly relationships – how can we every become disciples of Christ who love completely, fearlessly, selflessly and sacrificially as Christ first loved us? Thank you Jesus for new mercy that allows me do-overs when I mess up or miss it. Lord, teach me to love like you do. Show me the way. Examine my heart and remove all pride and bitterness by covering it in Your Blood and washing it with Your Word today. Thank you Jesus for this new covenant. Lord, I want to live a covenant life. Teach me to always choose covenant over conflict so Your Spirit may move freely through my life. Show me the way! I want to experience Your Glory and be the Light called Love that attracts others (all others) to You!

Psalm 133:1-3 (NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

Intentional Planting

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

The seeds planted in our life today yield the harvest of tomorrow. Intentional planting of the proper seeds will give us the things desired in the future. In the natural, people prepare for the future. Carefully considering investments, retirement accounts and even creating a will to divide their assets once departed. No matter how carefully I plot out the rest of my life, there is always uncertainty. Even those who plan and prepare for the future seldom are completely satisfied with the results. Seeds planted in this life for daily provision that provide a sense of control will never satisfy the longing in our heart for eternity. We can strive for a comfortable life with careful planting and planning for the future. However, human beings were created to thrive. If there is no planting in us for our spiritual future, the things of this world will fall far short of meeting our expectation.

I know that my heart’s desire is to be a living sacrifice. What about you? However, to do so requires a transformation. This can only be achieved by depositing all that I am into all of who Jesus Christ is. I must be found in Christ to enter heaven. Jesus is my righteousness. Religion does not produce rightness with God, but is through the Grace given to me by Son that gives me the privilege of peace with the Father. The fine line between sacrifice and offering are confusing. In a world full of compromise, it is hard to comprehend God who does not accept such a thing. It is by transitioning one’s life from this world into the Kingdom that residency is established in Eternity.

John 15:1-5 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

What if the problem is not our action but attitude? What if the lack of abundance in our life is a disconnection from the Source of life? We cannot produce good fruit or godly character apart from Jesus Christ. In fact, apart from Him there is nothing we can do to change the sowing and reaping productivity in our life because it is directly connected to the world. When I place all of my life in Christ sacrificially which is ALL OF ME versus an offering of my life in service and partial commitment – complete alignment produces abundance. I must be intentional.

I was visiting my parents when I noticed a stick sitting by the back door. It was a limb barren of leaves and slumped over leaning. I inquired as to its purpose. He encouraged me to take it home and plant it. I couldn’t help but laugh kind of like Sarah laughed when God promised her a son at 99 years old. He continued to press me to take it home so I finally relented. If you know my father, you know the source of my pushiness. When I got home, I couldn’t just throw it away as was my original intent but decided to test my dad’s word. The more I considered putting the dead limb in the ground rather than carelessly sticking it somewhere, I decided to choose the proper place for it in the event it did actually grow into the crepe myrtle it came from. There was a place by the deck in our backyard that could use some privacy and shade. I watched and watered it without real hope anything would happen just doing what my father said. Well, low and behold the little twig became the mighty tree that dad promised it would. It grew so big in fact you can see it over the privacy fence from the road next to the house. The roots so deep and vast that when I wanted to replant it at our new house, it was impossible. I wonder how many blessings we miss out on because we refuse to believe and take our Father at His Word. In Christ is new life, a life marked by abundance. Abundance is released when our life is in alignment with the Word. When the Word begins to work in our life, it is clear that God is the One doing it.

Ezekiel 36:25-30 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God. I will cleanse you of your filthy behavior. I will give you good crops of grain, and I will send no more famines on the land. I will give you great harvests from your fruit trees and fields, and never again will the surrounding nations be able to scoff at your land for its famines.

God’s Grace given to us by Jesus Christ erased the bloodlines of Jew and Gentile. Every promise given to Israel is now available to all God’s Children. As I studied changes in human behavior and its direct connection to sowing and reaping, I came across Ezekiel 36:29-30 which promises good crops and great harvests when He becomes our God. It is to choose the Light of His Love over the darkness of this world that facilitates such a change. But when I read the reference, I immediately realized that one of my favorite promises was just a few scriptures above.

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender responsive heart.” I cannot produce the fertile ground for God’s Word- His Seed – to grow in me. He has to give me the heart, mind and spirit to produce an abundance in my life. I must give Him my heart. All of it. I must give Him my mind including every wayward thought. My spirit of pride and selfishness must give way to His Spirit in order to produce the kind of life that satisfies our soul and secures our future. We must sow seeds of righteousness. I don’t know if the church will ever fully understand that this has nothing to do with religion but everything to do with one’s relationship with Jesus Christ.

Hosea 10:12 (NLT) I said, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.”

Plant good seeds of righteousness and you will harvest a crop of love. Rightness is the law of God. No one is righteous. Our righteousness is in Christ alone. His Love produces seeds of love in us worthy of planting in others. Religion is about being right. Religion can change a person’s behavior and perhaps improve an attitude, but it cannot and will not ever produce the seeds of righteousness that only Christ can give. His Spirit cultivates the crop worth sharing in us including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Intentional planting requires directing our efforts in life to spiritual cultivation and not natural acquisition.

Jesus did not come to make this world a better place but to draw a line in the sand. He did not come to make peace but war against sin and darkness. He came to provide the way for all humanity to come back home and live with the Father forever. It is all about a Kingdom not this world in which we live. If you are after God’s Hand, you don’t need to waste your time for every good and perfect gift already in your life is from Him. If you desire His Kingdom, it is found in His Heart. Jesus Christ is the fullness of God’s Heart and the place where our life must be planted to be transformed from a lifeless limb into a tree of life. Doing God’s Word will produce good things in our life. Every act of obedience will yield the connected promise. Is that enough for you? It will change your life today and even make tomorrow a little easier. However, it will not afford you the peace with God necessary to secure faith, hope and love forever. Do you want a good life? Do you want a God life? It’s completely up to you – who the Son sets free is free indeed – to choose the abundance of their life. You will reap what you sow. You will harvest where you plant.

Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your  life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

When my dad told me to plant the dead stick in my yard, I did not believe that anything would grow out of it. I planted the twig because I trusted my father. Knowing him, I decided in my heart to be obedient and see what happened. God has given us His Word. It is filled with opportunities to take something from it and apply it by faith. Not just throw it on the ground, but intentionally plant it in our life. Trust is essential in our relationship with the Lord. We must trust His Word. We must believe His Word. We must follow His Way. Salvation is choosing the Light of His Love over the darkness in this world. Jesus did not come to condemn anyone but that everyone might know Him and be saved. This is very different from making Him our Lord. The Lordship of Christ is established through obedience. To do what the Word of God tells us to do makes Jesus the Master of our life. This allows me to tap in to the resources of His Household – the Kingdom. I benefit from every bit of the abundance because of our union.

The truth is that by faith in Jesus Christ and acceptance of His Grace – I am a Child of God. No longer a slave to sin or just a hired servant – I am His Child. Do I act like a Child of God? I have shared this many times. Three of our children have entered adulthood and live their own life. Two still live at home. The ones who remain in our house have access to everything. We care for them completely. They do not worry or fret about their next meal, clothing or having shelter. All that we have benefits them right down to money. When they grow up and leave the house, they must care for themselves. Provide the things that are needed. While they live under this roof, there is no need to do anything but maintain our relationship. When our children buck the house rules or demand certain rights – I gently but firmly (okay maybe a bit sarcastically) remind them that if such is coveted it must be accompanied by a lease or mortgage but in our home this is the requirement. We want heaven on earth. We desire the abundance of the Kingdom. We must abide by the house rules to have them.

Set your sights on the reality of heaven. If Heaven is real, it is worth living for. Think about the things of Heaven…not the things of the earth. Jesus gives us a new heart and new spirit for the asking. We decide how to respond. Wholeheartedly, half-heartedly or not at all. The life worth having is hidden in Jesus Christ. I must be in Him to find it and yield the harvest that is found only in the grace that empowers me through weakness. I must exchange being right for being righteous. I must live as though Christ is all that matters. (Colossians 3:11) Before I can share anything of worth with the world, God must produce an abundance of His Love, Joy and Peace along with all the other fruits of His Spirit to share with others.

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

Through Jesus Christ, I am a new creation. Before I anything worthwhile can be produced in my life, I must plant all that I am in the Person of Jesus Christ completely. All that I am for all that He is. This means that I must not conform to this world but be transformed. Transformation is only possible if I commit to the process. It is a sacrifice not an offering. Christ becomes my example. (Ephesians 4:21) Behaviors have to change. I must not continue to react to the conditions, circumstances or situations that I face but to Christ who lives in me. It doesn’t matter how thinks look. Dead things must give way to the resurrection power inside of me. Without faith, I will never trust the reality of heaven enough to put my whole life in the pursuit of it. There are certain behavioral patterns that I must work diligently to change in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Pride fortifies our right to be right. Acceptance of God’s Grace no longer allows it. Now I live to sow seeds of peace with God and every other person I come in contact with. I must check my attitude. Evaluate my actions. Not by religious practices but relational values such are listed in Ephesians 4, Colossians 3 and 2 Timothy 2. I don’t need to fix others, I need the Lord to continue to transform me. Intentional planting of our life in Christ, growing deep roots in His Love, trusting Him in all things and producing even the smallest seed of faith will create an abundance in our life that satisfies our soul, strengthens our heart, enlightens our mind, and nourishes His Spirit. The best is yet to come for those who choose to respond to God’s Love by sowing seeds of righteousness.

James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

 

Fertile Soil

fertile-soil

Matthew 13:3-9 (NLT) He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

As I have shared previously, our family relocated to the rural county just outside the city limits last year. My husband has been diligently cleaning up the property. He discovered an irrigation buried under the sod that he has been restoring. One day while clearing out the flowerbed with him, I discovered that the soil here is much different than that of our old yard. The old house was built on red clay. It is very hard to grow things on. Just digging it up is a chore. With each new addition, bags of top soil must be used to help fortify and feed the new plant. It is very particular about what will grow in its thickness. However, here the soil is dark brown and very rich. It is good soil. There are many bushes thriving already. I had to dig up the rose bushes that had died without proper care. There were some other plants that had taken over the root system and choked it out underground. I tried to pull them out by the roots but with time I can see that they are still down there as they produced to take over again. In preparation of spring, I am deciding what plants to add to our garden outside. Hydrangeas are my favorite. I couldn’t grow them in the other house because it was usually very dry and full sun all day long. But there is a perfect place to root some in the corner. I have been researching all the wonderful varieties of color and choices of new plants to sow in the flowerbed that will greet our visitors and frame our home.

The secret to success is that there is fertile ground. All those other attempts to plant in hard, packed clay only yielded disappointment but now I have hope because the soil is rich and ready for seeds. Jesus shared a parable with his followers about the importance of the ground in which seeds are sown. Our life is a constant cycle of sowing and reaping. The seeds sown in our life react and respond to the soil encountered. When sowing into the earth, one must consider the physical elements. When sowing into the Kingdom, only one surface is considered. The condition of our heart indicates the growth of potential in us. Before I sow a single seed of worth into the Kingdom of God, I must have a fertile heart that is ready to receive from God’s Word, be cultivated by His Spirit, and produce the abundance to share with others. How is your heart today?

There are four heart conditions that indicate our readiness to receive from the Lord. Jesus touched on it in this parable of the farmer sowing seed. There is a heart with no foundation. Seed falls on it but is quickly plucked out by the enemy. The lack of foundation is because there is no hope. Next is the hard heart, it hears the word but doesn’t believe it. It cannot comprehend unconditional love or amazing grace because it has no faith. The Word (or seed) falls on this heart but cannot take root because doubt and disbelief have built a hard wall around it. The surface is fortified with pride packed by experience that causes it to harden. Of course, then there is the racing and busy heart that tries to meet any and all expectation. Trying to please God, mankind and the demands of this life, it becomes overcrowded. Such crowding overpowers the seed God is sowing in us and it can never grow without proper attention. “Jack of all trades, master of none.” They try it all in hopes something anything will satisfy their soul, but the lack of commitment leaves them empty like before. Oh but then there is the fertile heart. Broken by life, and yielded to the Savior – each Word precious, tucked deep in its folds, cared for by His Spirit, given time to grow, releases every promise and fulfills godly potential. This is the desirable soil. This is what we are after. It is the heart ready to receive all God has for them. Built on the firm foundation which is Christ alone, full of faith that is unwavering, giving up Martha to live like Mary, it is a fertile soil ready to receive the impossible and watch it become possible in all things. God prepare my heart today for your Word.

Hosea 10:12 (NLT) I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’

Is my heart fertile? I know the condition of the foundation and soil that my earthly home is built on and it is good. What about the foundation of my faith and condition of my heart? My heart is the platform for the Kingdom. God wants to plant seeds in me that by faith will grow into godly potential and produce all of His Promises. My life is not complete yet. Each day is not filled to capacity with the blessings and favor of God which come through true repentance and radical obedience. Not to rules or regulations set forth by religion but the complete and confident surrender of my heart by faith to Jesus Christ in all things. I must make my heart ready through true heart rending repentance to receive all that God has in store for me. What about you? Are you completely satisfied? Lacking nothing, do you awake each morning with total contentment? Are you thankful in all things? Do you praise God more than complain? All questions that test the condition of our heart.

John 12:23-25 (NLT) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man[a] to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.”

When Jesus died on the Cross, he gave us the opportunity to harvest righteousness again. He reached out handing us a seed called faith that if planted properly would produce a life of peace with God. The one thing and only thing that will complete us is peace with God through right standing given to us as a Gift from Jesus Christ. That’s it. Nothing I do, say or sacrifice matters if this one seed is not first planted to save my soul and break my heart. Just as I had to move to find good rich soil, we must change our residency from this world to the Kingdom of God. It begins in our heart. John14:6 is clear. No one makes it to God except through His Son, Jesus.

Leviticus 26:3-5 (NLT) “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.

The promises of the Old Testament were not nullified by sin or ended by the arrival of grace. Each precious truth is completely possible now by faith. Leviticus 26 begins with these words, “Do not make idols or set up carved images, or sacred pillars, or sculptured stones in your land so you may worship them. I am the Lord your God.” Who is your god? Or maybe should ask what is god to you? Our heart is wrapped around something or someone. It is intent on a desire that only the person can know. To discover the truth, the real truth, is to break apart our heart and investigate the contents. Who is willing to do that? Yep, didn’t think anyone really wanted heartache or heartbreak. Me, either.

We all allow other gods, idols, carved images, sacred pillars, and sculpted stones in the real estate of our heart and mind from time to time. It is human nature to be driven by our five senses rather than the Holy Spirit. Our sinful, prideful condition demands our constant attention tilling the soil of our heart, examining our thoughts, evaluating our time, and discovering the truth. However, those who are willing to put their “hand to the plow” and stop “looking back” will be fit for Kingdom productivity. (Luke 9:57-62) What is that thing that keeps pulling you back? Is there something in your past you just can’t stop looking at? Are you constantly starting and stopping? If so, spiritual growth is impossible. Perhaps if you could see the advantages to such planting in our heart and life and choose to commit your hand to the plow and live obedient in a right relationship with the Lord you would see its worth.

God promises some things in Leviticus in response to our faithfulness. He promises us seasonal rains that will produce in all seasons of life. You will never be without God’s provision and prosperity if you allow Him to continually soften and mold your heart for more planting. God offers a life of peace in this life. He also empowers us through grace to overcome in all battles for our promise waged daily within us and in the spiritual realms. He grants us His Favor. Favor is better than finance any day. But probably the most wonderful thing that the Lord gives those willing to allow their heart to be broken is Presence. He will live with us. When God steps in everything changes. First of all me. Then those around me. Revival comes through His Presence. When I die, I awake with Jesus. This is not just for forever – it begins today. When I die to self, He lives in me and every seed promised in my heart begins to grow. Read it Leviticus 26.

Isaiah 28:23-26 (NLT) Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention. 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.

You cannot grow what you do not know. God gives the farmer understanding when he decides the crop he decides to grow. The Fruit of God’s Spirit is clearly stated in Galatians 5:22-23. It is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” How is that going to bring me contentment or satisfaction? I hear you. The farmer who grows cumin plants seeds to grow into the spice. It becomes a crop that he harvests for himself and to sell for profit. It becomes a source of satisfaction for his own life and benefits others. To say, well I don’t want cumin, I want tacos. Well cumin is the spice used to season beef or chicken to become tasty tacos. God is growing the essentials in you that become the harvest for your future in all things. His Seeds yield perfect promises and the power to overcome. To be victorious in all things but if we do not allow Him to grow the right seeds in us it will never yield the desires of our heart. For example, let’s just start with self-control. It is listed last probably because it is our greatest struggle and highest goal. If the Holy Spirit grows seeds of self-control in me it will benefit every relationship that I have. Anything I season with self-control keeps me engaged in the effort until it produces all that is promised. God is seasoning us for success from the inside out. His Word is wisdom. His Spirit the cultivator of our life. We have everything we need for spiritual success – if our hearts would surrender and break so it will grow.

Isaiah 32:10-16 (NLT) Tremble, you women of ease; throw off your complacency. Strip off your pretty clothes, and put on burlap to show your grief. Beat your breasts in sorrow for your bountiful farms and your fruitful grapevines. For your land will be overgrown with thorns and briers. Your joyful homes and happy towns will be gone. The palace and the city will be deserted, and busy towns will be empty. Wild donkeys will frolic and flocks will graze in the empty forts and watchtower until at last the Spirit is poured out on us from heaven. Then the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.

“Until at last the Spirit is poured out on us from Heaven…” God poured out His Spirit. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to all mankind. If the Spirit of God is not working within us, it is not because it is not being poured out each day. New mercy comes ready to forgive and restore our right standing with the Lord so His Seed can make its way inside of our heart and release His Potential in our life. The rock in our chest must be broken into a soft and fertile heart. Dissatisfaction produces disappointment that leads to desperation. When our way doesn’t work anymore, we turn our heart and mind back to God who promises the impossible with inexpressible joy, peace of mind and confident hope. When His Spirit makes its way in us, His Fruit surrounds us even in the darkest, driest, and most barren places. He gives us new life. He refreshes us. Revives us and restores us right then, right there even when nothing else changes but we choose to. True repentance makes the way for all spiritual growth.

Psalm 51:7-12 (NLT) Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

If you are not satisfied with your life, love or relationship with the Lord, it is time to examine your heart as I am mine. To determine if it is fertile, soft and ready for good seed. We must remove every growth deterrent from our life to facilitate the growth process again, A lack of growth is evidence of certain death. True repentance means turning. We must allow change to enter and release complete control to the Lord for the abundance He promises. I cannot produce anything of worth or that will last in my life outside of my connection to Christ. He must be the center of it all. He must become the foundation of my life. I must strive to secure more faith in each endeavor. I must be committed to the Lord in all things. I must live humbly repentant before my God. To grow is to know… I want to know Him more.

Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.