Abraham Moments

Abraham Moments

Genesis 22:1-2 (ESV) After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Abraham waited 99 years for the birth of his promised son, Isaac. Well advanced past the age of child bearing, it seemed impossible that his wife, Sarah, could conceive yet just as the messenger of the Lord prophesied she would she did. Now years later – some scholars believe that Isaac was in his mid-thirties when Abraham led him to the land of Moriah as God instructed. More than 30 years old means a life of memories, watching his son grow, mature and develop into a man and now God asks his father the one thing that is most precious to him. Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Why would Isaac freely go to the altar realizing full well that his life would be required? There is but one word to describe it and you don’t want to hear it. Obedience.

Obedience smacks our pride in the face as it always requires more than our flesh wants to give. Like a hot poker, striking the most sensitive part of our heart to refine us and make us holy and willing. The purpose is to prosper us but it feels like death to that not so freely given. The sacrifice of God provided by His Son, Jesus, is demonstrated by the Abraham moment. Are you willing to give up that thing most precious by faith trusting in God’s Plan? The realm of hope yielded the promise now the promise is required for more. How quickly people stop praying when the answer comes? How immediately is yesterday’s miracle forgotten and tomorrow’s worries consume us again? Taking that which is good and forgetting that our life in God is always ready to yield more. Are you having an Abraham moment? What is the Lord requiring of you today? God is not looking for a sacrifice. He is only searching for obedience.

But what if He doesn’t provide? What if He doesn’t do what He said? What if… We as believers do not serve a “what if” God but a “when He does” kind of God. He is always faithful. He is always good. He is not like man that He should lie or change His Mind. Why would a perfect God change His Perfect Plan? We must be changed. Our hearts soft and reverent in our pursuit of Him. There may be something good required but it is only God’s Greatness that is in store. In fact, He promises it will be more than we can think to ask for or even imagine. Faith is born in obedience. Faith will always require trust. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Our faith is weak until it is tested. Will you place that thing on the altar of the Lord and wait for Him to act?

I Samuel 15:21-23 (ESV) But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

When a young soldier attends boot camp it is with the intent and purpose to tear down and rebuild the person and develop strong character. The kind of character that relies on obedience to guide each action. This is imperative to the strength of the troop and success in each mission. If there is rebellion or division, the entire group is compromised and in danger from the enemy. It is complete unity and absolute obedience that a strong front is presented. Obedience requires absolute faith and trust in the one who is in charge. To literally put your life and well-being in the words and commands of such an individual. It is no different with the Lord. Completion in Christ requires obedience. Too many times like poor Saul, our power and authority are taken from us because sacrifice is misguided by doing what we want rather than relying on absolute obedience. Tired of waiting? Pressing on wearing you out? Persevering uncomfortable? I encourage you to continue in your well doing and do not grow weary. God desires full obedience because He already made the perfect sacrifice. He wants you to hear His Word and do what He says even if it means lugging to the altar what you value the most. He is really pulling your heartstrings to see if you will meet Him there.

Romans 16:17-20 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Success in the Abraham moments of life changes every outcome for the better. What is sacrifice anyway? It must be something we have to give. Well, every good thing in our life comes from God so it is not our sacrifice. The sacrifice can only be one thing. It is our freedom. Freedom to hold on to that which is good and give it back to Him as required. To sacrifice implies that something I have is of greater worth than anything given to me by the Lord. Think again. It all is from God and it all belongs to Him. My very life once given to Christ in exchange for salvation is not my own any longer. Obedience is my free will to give the Lord what He is asking for. It is the very thing that pleases Him.

The power of obedience is its ability to “the God of Peace” who will “crush Satan under your feet.” When we obey the Lord, the enemy loses all power in our life because there is nothing held in higher regard than our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. It is a full demonstration of allegiance to His Kingdom which backs our stand with armies of angels at the command of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The empowerment of God by faith and trust is when in the midst of great loss or suffering – obedience is chosen over any other act or reasoning. It is the moment that every argument is cast down and our hope fully embraced. When arguments and lofty opinions give way to punishing all disobedience and living in the freedom of total obedience. (2 Corinthians 10:5-6) A mind made up in God will always strive for obedience in God’s Word and His Way because it is our connection to His Kingdom. Which leads me to our primary example…

Hebrews 5:7-10 (ESV) In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

The act of obedience demonstrated by Jesus Christ is our example. He prayed for God to deliver Him from the Cross and when God asked for obedience that is exactly what Jesus gave Him…and for us. There is no temptation or trial that overtakes us because even in death there is victory for the believer. The struggle in this life is to have faith and trust God in all things. We have Abraham moments when the Lord tests us looking for obedience. He loves us. He doesn’t want to harm us but to make sure that our heart is set on Him above all things. Idols in our life are quickly identified when God asks us for it. Pride is exposed when our answer is an excuse. An outright “no” driven by fear reveals hidden doubt keeping us from God’s Promises in the first place. Obedience is not God’s Punishment it is a privilege to come to Him and in return, He can do exactly as He promised. What is God asking of you today? Will you obey? Jesus did. Will you? Will I?

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

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Lay Me Down

Lay Me Down

John 15:12-14 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

The more in love with Jesus I become the more evident the loveless places in my life. When invited the Light of His Love shines into the deepest and darkest parts of the human heart and illuminates all the places where love is not definitive. Pride tries to brush it off in the name of self-preservation but the Spirit continues to press on the sorest part to make the change and trust the Lord. Over the years, I have developed the uncanny ability to shut off the switch of my emotions when it comes to hurt, betrayal and devastation. To become indifferent is a dangerous quality that should never be embraced but carefully extracted. Life’s experience give us certain coping abilities that are unhealthy to the spirit man and contraindicative to growth, development and maturity of the new creation. The command is to love each other as Christ has loved us. He establishes that there is no greater love than for one to lay down our life for a friends. The Lord goes on to evoke that those who master this concept will be called and considered His Friends. Faith makes us a friend of God. Love makes us a friend of Jesus. The key to laying our life down properly is love. We must get it in the right order to have the desired effect!

In Revelation 3, the Lord talks about indifference. He calls those who live in it as “lukewarm” and tells us that He will spit such people out. It goes on to say that Jesus will correct and discipline us to love everyone. It comes with the warning to be diligent in pursuing passionate love and turning away from the tendency of humanity to live in indifference. Indifference makes us disinterested, inattentive, uncaring, and self-centered. Intentional Christians cannot be indifferent but must live passionately in love with Jesus Christ. It all begins with our acceptance of His Love and commitment to learn love like our Savior. But this is not always the case. Some will come to Jesus and attempt to lay down an incomplete life for others to follow which will only lead to despair and disappointment. The beginning and end of our faith is the Love of God for us. Lord, teach us to love like you do!

I John 3:16-18 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

I must lay down my life for my brothers and sisters. The Kingdom of God is reserved for every man, woman and child who asks Jesus to save them. God’s Desire is to save, heal, deliver and restore them all. Am I working with the Lord? Or working against Him? Friends work together. We give up our time, energy, resources and more to help out those who are called family and friends. But what about the rest? Oh I hear you! I give. I help. I share. I am generous. There are many philanthropists who give away their wealth. The Kingdom Economy called wealth is not measured in such things. It is our capacity to love others and from that love give our life away. We cannot get it out of order. Love is not a compulsion it is a commitment.

John 13:36-38 (NIV) Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Peter was probably one of the most enthusiastic, passionate and zealous Christians to ever live. He believed it when he told Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you.” How devastating to discover just hours later that the Lord was right when Peter denied Him the third time and the rooster sounded as promised. Peter already had the revelation of who Jesus was. He knew that Jesus was the Son of the Living God. I know a lot of people but I am still learning to love them. Not everyone is lovable and not everyone understands love. There are many people who have only experienced brokenness and devastation in giving love away so they give their life but withhold their heart.

In I Corinthians 13, it says “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” When Peter saw Jesus walking on the shore after the resurrection, he dove in the water and swam all the way to shore to meet Him. Peter was different now. Indifference was now filled with passionate love for the Lord and a willingness to give his life from that love. We must fall completely head over heels in love with Jesus in order to make the laying down of our life meaningful.

John 10:14-18 (NIV)  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Love cannot be forced. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. To love or not to love. It is a personal choice made each day. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is not distant but constant. His Sheep know Him and respond to His Voice. Why? Because they love him so. He offered His Life as a sacrifice for our sin so that our relationship with God the Father could be reestablished. He did so out of love. To properly lay our life down for others it must always be from the same love that God gave us through His Son, Jesus. It is in that capacity that our power and authority to lay our life down and pick it back up is possible. No one can take your love from you. You must choose to give it. We have the full power and authority of Jesus Christ – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – on the inside of us. Full dominion is ours because Jesus gave it to us. To lay down my life for others and fulfilling the commandment of Christ means receiving His Love. Allowing Him to teach me to love through correction and discipline. Continue to love until He comes for me or I go to Him. Lord, teach me to lay down my life properly. In Jesus Name!

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The Willing

The Willing

Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

How far will you go? What is the promise worth to you? Four years ago, after multiple rounds of chemotherapy to no avail and fighting the insurance company to the end, our son received a bone marrow transplant. After a lengthy battle against cancer of about three years, the nightmare ended and he was finally in remission. Those who endure and survive the process now have a “new” birthday as such a procedure resets the immune system to an infantile state. Looking back, it never occurred to me not to fight the disease or advocate for our son. Giving up was not even a consideration and faith was the only option especially when crossing over to the realm of hope. Going into the transplant, he only had a 2% chance of survival. Without it, 100% change that he would die. Worth it? Absolutely as I look at the young man who has since graduated college and a very bright future. The potential of faith is revealed in obedience. Willingness comes when counting the cost to discover the worth. Our son’s life was priceless. Today, I must also consider the promises yet to be discovered. What does the Lord want to do next? Will I consider it “worth” my time and invest willingness to see it come to pass?

What is the worth of your hope today? When considering hopefulness in our life, it is relative to the perception of its value. The Lord promises that hope placed in Him will never lead us to disappointment yet still it is a struggle to follow Him sometimes. When the process includes endurance, waiting, patience and perseverance that challenge our flesh – heart, mind and body – what is our response? To be willing is to be cheerfully consenting, ready, and inclined. Religion requires obedience but a relationship consists of willingness. Unforced rhythms of giving ourselves willingly to oneness. Are you willing today? As Jesus prayed the night before Calvary, the Lord asked His Disciples to watch and pray. He found them sleeping. It is in that context the Lord reveals that though our spirit may be willing – our flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41) The weakness of our flesh is pride. Pride is the adversary of willingness that may keep us from the renewal, restoration and revival promised in God’s Word. Willingness defined by worth will become the sacrifice that God desires in our life.

Psalm 51:16-17 (ESV) For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

God desires a broken spirit. He longs to find a broken and contrite heart. God doesn’t despise these two things because it is the very thing that produces willingness in us. Obedience can be produced by our own motivation, hard work and discipline. Sacrifice is something that can be offered while self is preserved. When we put our self on the altar of God – it is the broken spirit that is willing. The broken and contrite heart becomes desperate. The Lord is not looking to tear us apart but rather create a beautiful masterpiece of the broken pieces. We must learn to submit our life willingly to Him rather than begrudgingly. To preserve our pride will often exempt us from the place of true sacrifice that honors God in the giving of ourselves – all of us to Him for renewal, restoration and revival. How far will you go to have the life that God has promised? How much of yourself will you give to the process in order to receive the promise? Is it worth it?

2 Kings 5:9-14 (ESV) So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Naaman was a commander of the army of Syria. A decorated soldier held in high esteem with the king. He was a great man who was highly favored. He was a godly man as indicated by the fact God’s Favor was upon him in the battles that he won. Naaman was a mighty man of valor according to the Word of God. Naaman was a leper. A servant girl told his wife that Naaman should go see the prophet in Samaria to seek healing. So Naaman went to the king who sent a letter to the king of Israel on his behalf. When Naaman came to the Elisha’s home, the prophet did not come to meet him but gave him the instructions to wash in the Jordan River seven times and that he would be healed with skin fully restored. Naaman’s pride almost kept him from his healing. The prophet did not greet him and then sent him to bathe in the filthiest river of them all. It would be his servants that encouraged Naaman to do the very thing that he was told to do willingly. Pride can be quite persuasive. It can dim the light of promise in a shadowy darkness of self-revelation of the ugly truth that God isn’t finished with us yet.

For example, if God is in the process of restoring a relationship. He may impress upon our heart to apologize even when the offense is unintended or not our fault. Instead, it is human nature to try to move on without it because it insults our pride. Our unwillingness will keep us stagnant and soon other relationships begin to fall victim to our stubborn stand. We want more of God but are unwilling to create a void through repentance and forbearance to allow God to heal us and the relationship. We must then determine the value and worth of the relationship in comparison with prideful preservation. True obedience to God begins with a willing heart. Are you willing today?

Isaiah 1:18-19 (ESV) “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land…”

Jesus Christ stepped down from His Throne to give up His Life for me. He took on humility when His Absolute Perfection did not have to do it. To be a true example of Jesus is not in just obedience. It begins with willingness. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. God will not force you to do anything. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way to gain access to the Father. We can walk through life in full obedience and live a religious existence. Jesus did not come to aid religion but give us the opportunity to live in a relationship. We enter relationships willingly for if it were by force it would not be love. Sometimes we must evaluate the Gospel and all its words using some form of reasoning. It is not complicated but simple. We add the details because it makes us feel important when we “do” certain things. The bottom line is that God is always looking for those who are willing. Obedience is second to willingness. God can work with the willing. He can do miracles with the impossible. He has a Great Plan for you that only requires your “yes”.

Losing Me

LosingMe

Matthew 10:38-39 (MSG) “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”

“Gotta lose my life to find it, I have to lose my life in You – Jesus!” (Bethel Worship)

Woke up with music on my mind today and this line from a worship set I have been listening to. Gotta lose my life to find it, I have to lose my life in You – Jesus! The joy of surrender. Conflicting terms to the world but celebratory for the Christian who gives their life to Jesus. There is joy in surrender because giving up my life allows me to fully embrace who I was created to be. The enemy wants us to think that such an attitude followed by intentional action becomes a regulated life of rules and constant sacrifice. The truth is that in sacrificing what sin made me, I can fully embrace who I was created and called to be by God through Jesus Christ.

“If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me.” Seems harsh yet I can attest the humble offering of my broken life has never been less than totally rewarding. I am not who I used to be. Some days, I am comfortable in that and then others it is not so gratifying but always beneficial. To compare our natural life to the supernatural existence offered by the Lord is like a fairytale to some – they want the happily ever after but cannot believe it is possible. I have come to a point where my life is worth nothing outside of Christ. I have come to realize that every good thing in me and around me is straight from Heaven. God is a good father. He has given me a good life. He has stuck with me through thick and thin so the least I can do is oblige Him the same. I don’t want to be like the ten lepers who were healed but only returned to give Jesus glory and gratitude. I wonder if that is a sad statistic hidden in God’s Word. How many come to the Lord yet never go the distance? They take hold of the blessing but never enter a relationship with the One True Blessing. The One who gives and gives and gives to His Children. The One who gave His Life for me and you.

John 12:24-26 (MSG) “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.”

To make it practical – there is the illustration of a grain of wheat or a mustard seed of faith. It must be planted in the ground to reach its full potential for in its present form it remains just that – potential. Until a seed changes its form, there is no transformation into purpose. You have a purpose. God created a plan with a future and hope just for you. In order to have the full potential and purpose for our life, it must be surrendered by faith to the Creator. He takes what is in us and makes way for fulfillment. We have to make a choice. Natural life or supernatural living – one is limited and the other limitless. One stretches the span of our birthday to the date on our death certificate. Those who want eternal life choose to give up this life in order to have forever. But God doesn’t impose punishment or suffering on those who choose surrender but fulfillment and full satisfaction beginning now. He brings Heaven to connect with us on earth when it is our decision to receive Him now AND forevermore.

Jesus set forth an example. A clear-cut pathway of service called unconditional love and amazing grace. The two will always require a forfeiture of our rights in every capacity. It means forgiving the unforgivable. Giving even when it hurts. Continually laying down our life to serve the most unworthy of characters knowing we once walked in their shoes. Are you surprised? I didn’t mention all the do’s and don’ts of religious doctrine. I didn’t highlight the “seven deadly” sins. I am convinced that those who truly fall in love with Jesus Christ will avoid sin. They will do their best to not sin as to not hurt their beloved. I do not want to hurt my husband, children, family or friends. I have no ill will toward them. I would not take advantage of them knowingly. I try not to take anyone for granted. So why would I ever wish to knowingly harm the Lover of my Soul who laid down their life just to have me with them forever? I tried to be a good Christian. It didn’t work out so well. When I finally crawled to the Cross empty-handed and begged the Lord to take me – everything changed. It continues to change daily. I throw in the towel and pick it back up again. Not for people – I just can’t leave Him. I can’t ignore Him. I can’t live, breathe or move without Jesus Christ. He is my everything!

Philippians 2:16-18 (MSG) Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

I want to be living proof that Jesus Christ is alive and well. I cannot do that on my own. I am a mess just like everyone else. I can pull it together some days with a good night’s sleep and some Maybelline but the truth is that inside I struggle to keep my heart and mind set on Christ. To continue to live by faith and not by sight. To put others before myself especially those who don’t do the same. To do everything readily and cheerfully is a challenge. To be a breath of fresh air to the squalid and polluted society that is going to hell in a handbasket is tough. Some days it is easier to say, “Have it your way! If that’s what you want, go right ahead!” But the Lord reminds me of my worth and that others are just as valuable – every one of us cost Christ every drop of His Blood and breath of His Life to save us. I am living proof that Christ heals, delivers, saves and redeems whether I act like it or not. The only thing I have to be proud of is Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Can we be real for a minute? Completely honest? I get tired. I feel worn out most of the time. I am burned out, fed up and over religion. I just want Jesus – thank you very much! He says, “Come to me.” When I take the time to rest in Him, I find that all the frustration begins to melt away. He encourages me to keep going. He tells me it will be worth it. He prods me to plant more faith. To give more. To learn from unforced rhythms of grace. Grace is easily offered when our full expectation is in Jesus. Disappoint comes when we set our eyes and expectations on lesser things. Human beings are imperfect. They will ALWAYS find a way to let you down. Transitioning all of our life into the Hands of God for His Workmanship to make it into a masterpiece is never easy. We are taught to live each day to the fullest. Go for broke. You only live once. Our faith cannot be based on the ideology and misconceptions of the desperation of this world but fully invested and completely convinced that God is exactly who He says that He is and will do EXACTLY what He promises.

There came a time in my life about halfway through when there were just too many broken pieces to make anything of worth. A normal life became impossible and a good life unpalatable. I was handed fear, anxiety, worry, doubt and anxiety. I carried that basket for a long time. I was broken. Oh, I was a believer and Christian. I had my heart and mind totally set on Jesus Christ but couldn’t see a future rising up from my devastated life. How could this be the life God promised for me? Was it really going to end like that? I remember the night that I slid all my broken pieces across the table into His Nail-Scarred Hands. I can’t fix me Lord. I am lost in my life and struggling. He took it. All of it. Nothing has been the same sense. It seems like just when I think “I” have it all together again. I am reminded by Jesus – “Hey, are you looking for this?” I find my being in Christ. Losing every part of me including all my self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem taught me where to find life. I had to lose control. Life became inconvenient. I had to struggle my way out of my present form to embrace the changes coming. I had to lose my life to find it. I had to lose my life in Him. His Name is Jesus.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG) Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

The Quest

The Quest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cutting Edge

cutting edge

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

We live in an age of evolving technology. What is new today will quickly be obsolete tomorrow? Advances made each day make supply and demand driven by an every changing market. It’s funny that the very things marketed as new and improved do not seem to stand the test of time any longer. Old appliances lasted forever but the newer more advanced cutting edge technology doesn’t have the longevity of the aged models. It seems like just when we upgrade our cellphone or tablet the next one is released. I believe in many ways church has become the same. Lights, sound and action fill the space of sanctuary and often we miss the root of salvation and position of change. Appealing to our senses and appeasing our pride, living on the cutting edge but never experiencing brokenness before the Living God.

Hebrews 4:12 has been replaying in my head. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” God wants us to see that there is a better way. A simple life of faith that leads to everything He has promised. It is entered by the Son. It is lavishly covered in His Grace. He provides all that is needed to live a godly life with every spiritual blessing. The Lord has given us His Spirit and a Mighty Sword to cut through our stubborn sometimes stony heart to get to the promise hidden inside claimed by faith and resilient in confident hope. Where is our confidence in Christ? Too often it is a continued effort to upgrade that drives us from church to church. As if there is some great secret to this new life that can be claimed by a safe shortcut rather than radical obedience. Oh Abraham, the father of faith for the circumcised and uncircumcised has a message for us. Will we listen? Will we allow the Word of God like a double-edged sword to penetrate our hard hearts?

The promise comes by faith. Are you waiting on a promise? A blessing that you know awaits you but cannot seem to find its way into your life. Our world demands immediate action. It requires “fast” everything. But what about the Lord? His Timeframe is not ours with a thousand days like one day. When the minutes turns to hours becoming days and even years what is our response? Do we continue to wait? Watch? Wonder? Wander? Abram was 99 years old when he entered a covenant with the Living God. The Lord changed his name to Abraham. Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old. For 99 years Abram was a practicing Jew who served the Lord. The promise of a son came after he was circumcised and consecrated his life completely.

We have a new covenant given to us by the Lord. It is our choice the level of relationship that we choose to have with Him. To engage or live on the edge it really is up to us. I am challenged today by the father of faith. The one who lived for the Lord ninety-nine years before entering covenant with him. Abraham and his household were all circumcised according to the Lord’s command. Paul teaches that no longer is circumcision (outward) needed but that God is looking for the circumcised heart. The place where religion meets relationship is not by outward rules and regulations but the inward surrender of our stubborn and selfish heart. To allow Him to cut through the flesh and expose the new creation filled with new life hidden there and to allow the faith deposited in us to reach its full potential.

I looked up the definition of “cutting edge” and found it to mean “the most advanced stage of development of something.” Is this a hint at spiritual maturity? Is becoming a well-developed Christian more about who we are rather than what we do? Yes. Yes it is. I joined the “club” when I was just eleven years old. I got up out of my seat, driven by something inside the pit of my stomach, made my way to an altar and asked Jesus to be my Savior and Lord. It took decades to begin to scratch the surface of what a life in Christ truly means. It means less of me and more of Him. I cannot remain unchanged in any way and have the full potential of Christ in my life.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)  Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

There is an old story about a chicken and pig who lived in the care of a kind farmer. The chicken approached the pig with a marvelous idea. He suggested doing something for the farmer in exchange for his excellent care. The pig liked the idea listening intently to the chicken’s plan. “Let’s make him a good breakfast!” said the chicken knowing it was the farmer’s favorite meal. The chicken offered fresh eggs. The pig knew the farmer would want more, “What else should we bring?” The chicken thought for a moment and said, “Ham? The farmer loves eggs and ham.” The pig replied, “That’s fine. But while you are making a contribution, I’m making a real commitment. Are you the chicken or the pig? Are you a contributor or committed? How much of you is invested in the Kingdom? To Christ?

Sacrifice is defined as surrendering something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable. Sacrifice is a commitment of all while offering only a portion of some. The chicken offered some fresh eggs to please the farmer. The pig would have to sacrifice all to give him fresh ham. The Word of God tells us quite clearly that it is not what we give of our hand but the surrender of our heart that the Lord desires. Psalm 51:16-17 says, “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart you, God will not despise.” If we give up our life to serve Christ but do not surrender our heart – we will end up with nothing.

Isaiah 57:14-15 (NIV) And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Psalm 34:18 tells us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. The scriptures promise that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” In the natural, circumcision is an elective procedure. It is not required but rather many people choose it for their newborn sons. The Jewish culture still recognizes the procedure as a religious rite of passage. I wonder if God is not moving among us because we have withheld our heart. All or in part. Have we surrendered our hearts as a living sacrifice so that His Word can cut through its hard, stubborn and even stony exterior to expose the new life and new creation within us? Those who do will experience a new life in Christ filled with promises and blessings as faith rises from the sacrifice of a circumcised heart. One penetrated by the Spirit and washed in the Word which allows the Light of His Love to shine brightly through its cracks and crevices. Lord, I give you my heart today. Do with it what you will? Have Your Way in me today? I trust that you will not leave me for dead but create new life in me with each cut. I put my expectation in You and give you my permission to fully examine and cut away futile and worthless desires that are hidden within. I give you my heart as a Living Sacrifice today make a masterpiece from its many pieces. Amen and amen.

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 147:3 (NIV) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

The Bondservant

Bondservant

Ephesians 6:4-8 (ESV) Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me… According to Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest, A Bondservant of Jesus, “these words mean the breaking and collapse of my independence brought about by my own hands, and the surrendering of my life to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can do this for me, I must do it myself. God may bring me up to this point three hundred and sixty-five times a year, but He cannot push me through it. It means breaking the hard outer layer of my individual independence from God, and the liberating of myself and my nature into oneness with Him; not following my own ideas, but choosing absolute loyalty to Jesus.”

A bondservant chooses to serve. It is voluntary submission of one’s life to offer service to another. A bondservant decides who the master of their life will be. A decision to call Jesus Christ the Lord of our life is to become His Bondservant. To lay down our life, surrender our will and pick up the Cross to serve Him daily. It is a life of radical obedience that goes where He goes, says what He says, does what He does and has all that He promised. Such a position in life is to do the Will of God from a willing heart rather than under direct duress or some form of force. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. You are free to choose who you will serve. Our choices lead to consequences. Each one a seed that will produce a certain fruit.

The substance of my life is defined by who I serve. For example, I go to work each day. I chose my job and profession. I offer my service to my employer and once a month he deposits an agreed upon salary into my bank account. As long as I “serve” him, he will continue to pay me per a contractual agreement. The man who owns the company I work for is human. He has good days and bad days. There are days I love my job and those when I would rather walk away. My attitude and actions belong to me – I own them. I choose how to use them. I decide whether to continue in my position or choose another one. I have that right. It is my personal freedom.

As believers, Sons and Daughters of God, the new covenant governs our life. Jesus Christ has given us grace saving us from our sins restoring our right standing with our Father in Heaven. There are certain benefits and blessings associated with my relationship with God through the Son. The blessings and benefits exist and I decide whether or not to occupy the role of receivership. Christ now lives in me. He has given me His Spirit who identifies me as a Child of the Living God. My natural roles in life do not define me. Christ is my identity now. I have the opportunity to walk in obedience, aligning my life with God’s Word, and it will impact every other service completed in my life.

The role of bondservant to Christ must fully consume our life. Oswald Chambers continues, “I must be broken from my own understanding of myself. When I reach that point, immediately the reality of the supernatural identification with Jesus Christ takes place. And the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable…the passion of Christianity comes from deliberately signing away my own rights and becoming a bondservant of Jesus Christ.” The Lord does not repay you for your kind service. He does not compensate you for your discomfort or inconvenience. The Blessings of God belong to you. His Lordship is the covering that allows them to reach you. It is not a matter of what you do but who you are.

This resembles the relationship of Joseph and Pharaoh. Joseph was not the ruler of the country but he had all of the authority, power and resources of the one who was. Pharaoh was subject to all the people of Egypt. He was the ultimate authority. He gave His Authority to Joseph but not the added sorrow. Joseph answered to Pharaoh. Pharaoh was subject to the people. In the same way, our life becomes subject only to Jesus Christ. In doing so, “rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.” The role of Christ in our life is important. If He is our Master, we live in subjection only to Him. Other people are released from our expectation as it now rests solely in Christ.

Romans 6:15-18 (ESV) What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Freedom allows us to choose the “master” of our life. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters.” The only condition is that there can be only one Master in our life. What does this mean? We must eliminate all the mini-masters until our life is full submission and complete surrender to Christ. We must become slaves of righteousness. Why slaves? Human beings are driven by impulse and desire born of a deviant nature. To align our life with Christ every thought must become subject to God and His Word to align our life with His Kingdom. It is a voluntary decision to live a life of service to Jesus Christ. To willingly seek to do His Will and do away with everything contradictory to His Word.

I Peter 1:13-16 (ESV) Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

To be bondservants of Christ is to seek holiness. Oneness. Completeness in Christ…alone. In I Samuel 15, the Lord confides in the prophet that obedience is better than sacrifice and listening to God’s Word better than an offering. He goes on to say that disobedience is like witchcraft and presumption like idolatry. Each day is filled with choices often weighed out by knowledge and experience to become our final decision. In order to live a life surrendered to Christ, one must change the way they think and process information. Faith is illogical without the Spirit and the Word. Once we have these two vital components, it is up to us to run everything through them for relevance in our life. Faith becomes the logical choice when Christ is our top priority.

Jesus learned obedience through suffering. (Hebrews 5) We do, too. The suffering of crucified flesh is painful. It is part of us. It desires to live. Full service to Christ demands such a price. We cannot fully serve the Lord with the parts of us still serving self.

I Peter 1:23-25 (ESV) Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Obedience to God’s Word is an intentional effort. It is the rolling of our entire existence from natural to supernatural expectation. To put all our faith, love and trust in Jesus Christ and give Him full authority and power over our life. Obedience is the purification of our souls because it invalidates the lie and holds us to the Truth. There are blessings associated with obedience. (Deuteronomy 28) These remain today as God’s Word does not return to Him void or incomplete. Aligning our lives including every detail will produce the kind of life detailed in this chapter. Not according to anything we do, but because that is what the Lord has already given to those who choose Him as Savior and Lord. The Master fully provides for His Servant. Those who voluntarily give up their freedom to serve Him wholeheartedly. I want to be a bondservant of Christ. To give up all my rights to be righteous. To accept His Promises as the premise for my life. To make way for His Blessings to reach me. Thank you Lord for the freedom I have to choose who I will serve. I choose to serve You, Jesus!

Psalm 34:22 (ESV) The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

Mountain of Sacrifice

Mountain of Sacrifice

Genesis 22:1-2 (NIV) Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

What does God require of you? What is it that God desires of you? Does He require a sacrifice? Yes. Does He desire an offering? Yes. It is important to understand exactly what God requires and desires of us to walk in alignment with His Word, Will and Way. Does such a thing mean that there is not freedom in Christ or an obligation for God’s Love? No, God loves you. He definitely desires you and has expressed His Love and Desire through the sacrifice of His Only Son to live in unity with you. However, communion and partnership with the Lord is no different than a bond of friendship or marriage. If there is not a giving of one’s way there cannot be harmony in a relationship. Giving to form a relationship is called grace. We must give up our way in order to form a new way. To surrender wants, needs and desires to be with someone else is commonplace. So why do we struggle so hard when it comes to doing so for God?

God’s Love for us is established in His Identity. God is love. (I John 4:8) To know God is to understand that the Love given to us is complete and unconditional. Our relationship of righteousness offered in the acceptance of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus allows us to return to such a position and enjoy a relationship with God the Father again. Sin separated us from God. Our chosen defiance of His Word and Way caused us to rebel from it and therefore step out of unity with Him. Repentance in the form of pouring our faults and failures before the Lord and admitting to our insufficiencies may not be all that hard, but when it comes to true repentance even strong Christians are at a loss. Picking and choosing the parts of scripture found appealing or doable but bypassing those things that conflict with our flesh including our deepest desires.

Complete confidence in the Love of God will produce true repentance not just lip service. The confession of our heart is our deep desire to serve the Lord but when it comes time to go to the mountain of sacrifice many compromises are offered in lieu of absolute obedience. Why would God summon Abraham to the mountain? Why would He torture a father in such a manner especially one who waited a lifetime for his promised son? Now Abraham is tested by God and sent to the mountain. “Take you son, your ONLY son, whom you love – Isaac…” Why would the Lord even suggest something so cruel? The Lord wasn’t after Abraham’s son, God desired his servant’s heart.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NIV) You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

The beauty of brokenness is that it draws us closer to the Lord and He is able to come closer to us. It allows us to live in intimacy with Jesus. His Spirit has freedom within the broken heart that is open and exposed for seeds of faith to be planted and given a place to grow in our life. Abraham was not a madman or out of his mind when he gathered up supplies for sacrifice and took his son to journey to the mountain. He knew exactly what he was doing, but more importantly Abraham absolutely and completely trusted God. He was confident that at the end of the day God would do something miraculous. He believed in the One who brought dead things to life. He believed and his faith saved his son.

You do not delight in sacrifice…

Are humans being truly able to sacrifice their all to the Lord? I believe it is our heart’s desire but follow through the issue. True repentance is turning our natural life over for eternal life. It is to turn from sin and embrace righteousness. Grace does not afford perfection but allows us to experience a thriving relationship with the Father through the giving of His Son. His Grace is enough therefore sacrifice is unnecessary. The sacrifice acceptable to the Lord is a broken spirit. A spirit no longer driven by the flesh but by the Holy Spirit. Abraham had one son. It was in the giving of that son that he obtained the many generations of children born of his faith. God does not delight in our sacrifice. He delights in the heart willing to give its all even when giving all is not what we want to do but we use our freedom to do so anyway.

Deuteronomy 30:8-10 (NIV) You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

God has recorded our lifetime before we were born. (Psalm 139) We are fearfully and wonderfully made with great potential. His prerecorded order promises future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The Lord promises to make good from the details of our life and nothing will ever separate us from His Love. (Romans 8) He also promise to partner with us and help us carry our burdens giving us rest. (Matthew 11) He will perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138) What’s the catch? We must search for Him wholeheartedly. To desire the Lord and His Goodness as our heart’s longing. Those who desire the Lord will seek Him and find Him in the Word. Finding Him they will then pursue Him wholeheartedly. God wants us to desire Him more than the things of this world and more than any human being. In exchange for our faithfulness and obedience, God promises success to His People. He promises to make the work of our hands prosperous. Why then does He require things of us as He did Abraham? A sacrifice and offering much greater than a tangible object or animal of some kind. Why does the Lord require our heart and everything in it?

Faith grows in a fertile and broken heart. Doubt hardens our heart keeping us from finding, following and pursuing the Living God. It tells us that His Word is not for us, His Way may not satisfy us and His Will may kill us. All the while, the Lord whispers come to the mountain and give your all. What am I giving? I am giving God my heart piece by piece – day by day – until my sacrifice is complete and satisfaction fills its void.

Small children will grab hold of things sometimes that are not necessarily good for them to have. As a parent, I had two choices to snatch if from them or to offer them something better in exchange. Either way as their parent the thing they were holding would have to be released. They made the choice to willingly release it or forcefully give it up. Throughout their childhood, I tried to instill the knowledge, wisdom and discipline to make good choices. In fact, many days dropping them off at school, my parting words would be I love you and make good choices. Life is all about choices. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. God gives us choices each day. Life or death. Blessing or cursing. Bondage or deliverance. Captivity or freedom. Settling or full satisfaction. Sickness or healing. Poverty or prosperity. We make the choice the realm in which we live – reality or hope. See there is more to life than this but we are given the opportunity to decide which life we live. Faith is the substance of things hope for and evidence of their reality. How we live decides the productivity of our faith. We all have faith. The question is have we provided a place to plant it?

Romans 2:29 (NIV) “Circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”

The spiritual significance of circumcision is to purify spiritually. It is to cut away something. Today I wonder if the sacrifice God is asking of us goes deeper than the things we do or don’t do but is actually a surrender of our heart to the Lord. The mountain of doubt which we seek to overcome keeps us from doing that so when we go to the mountain and give the Lord all we can for that moment or season, He honors it. As our heart breaks open before Him, the Lord pours into us renewal, restoration and revival. A little at a time as we give Him bit by bit and piece by piece. Do not despise small beginnings for the Lord uses them to complete us and fulfill us. To produce purpose begins with a single seed of faith that grows, develops, matures and reproduces in us and through us. The Light of our love must begin as a burning passion for the Lord on the inside before it will ever be bright enough to reach or influence the people around us.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Could it be that the Lord is not calling us to sacrifice anything of worth but everything we have? He desires us. God wants to share His Kingdom with us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. His Son, Jesus. When we struggle on the subject of sacrifice it is not because what God has for us and is promised to us is not desirable but rather the overwhelming nagging doubt that keeps us fixated on the mountain not the Mountain Mover. The Lord wants to give us a new heart in exchange for the stony heart that keeps us bound up in tight places with limited resources and chaotic emotions. He wants us to come give Him that heart of no use and allow His Spirit to work in us.

Lord, I give my heart to you again today. With each new day and each new mountain, I ask you to take my heart as a sacrifice and smash it until it is soft, pliable, moldable, and shapeable. I want to give my all. Will You take this small piece today and we will work on the rest tomorrow? Back to the mountain we go…

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

 

Humble Calling

Humble Calling

Ephesians 5:21 (NIV) Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Submission is a commandment of God given out of reverence for Christ. An act of humility far from human nature and often misunderstood. It is important to not ignore the call of God on our life to submit, but to fully embrace it and learn to live by it. Submit to one another. The world might tell us that it is a weakness. However, according to scripture, it is a powerful alignment with God and His Word. To submit means to give over or yield to the power or authority of another. The Greek word “hypotasso” gives in more in depth meaning to the believer. It means “under God’s arrangement” or to place in alignment with His Plan and Purpose. Our life lived in alignment with the Lord allows Heaven to come to earth. It is the gateway by which Kingdom outcomes are possible over human impossibilities.

“Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” The same connotation of the Greek word is used in I Peter 2:18 that is used in Ephesians 5:21. Submission is not necessarily to those who are worthy but in all situations of authority. If you are subject to a person who is given authority over your life, submission is the choice made to remain subject to and under the power of the person. Notice that the position in I Peter is to the “slave” not the “servant”. A slave is under the authority of the master and must be subject to them. However, we are servants of the Living God by choice. Submission is a choice. It is the humble giving our life to Jesus Christ. To reverence Him in every interaction.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV) Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

It is important to read God’s Word in context. Follow God’s Example as dearly loved children. God’s example to us is Jesus Christ. The Word made flesh to demonstrate a plan incomprehensible and illogical outside of faith. A King who put down His Crown to come to die for His People. To make a way for those who rebelled against it in the first place. To restore right standing and release the Spirit of adoption to us. Jesus submitted to God’s Authority out of love for us. We submit to authority out of love and reverence for Christ. To walk in love, one must submit their life to others. It is the only way. To give up our life as “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Submission is to take our divinely ordered place in a relationship. You cannot force submission it is an offering and sacrifice of our life that can only be made by the individual. Joseph understood the importance of submission. When taking captive by the Midianites, sold to Potiphar, falsely accused, sent to jail, forgotten for years and even in the house of Pharaoh – at any time Joseph could have rebelled against the unjustness of his treatment and difficult circumstances but instead he humbled himself before the Lord. In each position, Joseph served God by serving others. When his brothers came before him, he forgave them. He did not withhold anything from them but wept in joy at seeing them again. The same ones who threw him in a pit to die. Forgiveness is a form of submission. It is also a requirement of God.

Romans 13:1-5 (NIV) Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

The authorities that exist have been established by God. The last election for the President of the United States was downright nasty. I have many friends who are no longer friends on social media because of the ugliness and riotous rants being posted. It doesn’t matter who you voted for. The day after the election the person in power is God’s Elected Authority. Now before you decide to shut me off, leave the page, or sent me an outrageous opinion, I believe that all presidents are divinely appointed. I believe that once in office as a citizen of the United States and a believing Child of the Living God it is my duty to submit and pray for them. My faith, trust and hope is fully invested in the Lord so it really doesn’t matter who God places in authority over me as long as I remain in alignment and full submission to God and the authority who He has chosen for His Purpose. I must remain in submission to remain in alignment with God. I know this is hard to grasp but let me set forth some ideas.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 – God has a predesigned plan for my life that includes a future and hope. If I seek Him wholeheartedly, I will have every single promise and spiritual blessing ordained for my life. My hope and future are not dependent on the authority and power in this life but my willingness to live a submitted life in accordance with God’s Word, Will and Way.

Romans 8:38-39 – Nothing can separate me from the Love of God. I live in service to the Living God. My full expectation is that the Love of God will overpower any injustice or insecurity that I experience. In other words, God is in control of my life including the authorities over me. God changed the heart of Pharaoh to let His People go – I serve the same God.

Romans 8:28 – If I believe that God works all things together for my good because I love Him, it includes every power and authority that governs my life in the natural. Submission to God is to live under His Arrangement. At no point in time do I believe that God every set down His Authority or Sovereignty but rather has ordered every single moment of life for my good and His Glory.

When submitting our life to the Lord, it becomes our service to submit to all authority and power placed over our life rather chosen or prescribed. To end this debate scripturally, “whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.”

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

”Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) I encourage you to read the story of Joseph. His journey is a wonderful example of humility. It is to choose forgiveness over bitterness. We are not to do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Pride tells us otherwise. We have a right to our opinion. However, as Children of God it is His Truth that is the seed of all prosperity in our life. To grow, develop and mature into the masterpiece He calls us to be requires submission like clay in the potter’s hands.

I Peter 5:5-7 (NIV) In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Humble yourselves under God’s Mighty Hand…that He may lift you up in due time. God has promised to make all things beautiful in His Time. We cannot fathom God’s Work from beginning to end so we must trust Him. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Eternity is in our heart. It is our purpose and destination. It is accepted through humility beginning with His Grace. It is lived in humility by loving Jesus and others more than ourselves. Rather than fighting authoritative power it is our humble calling to submit to all authority AND be like Jesus Christ. Submission is reverencing Christ and His Selfless Sacrifice. Am I better than Jesus? Do I have the right to rebel? No, it is my privilege in Christ to submit to mankind in this life in order to live in alignment with eternity. I am given the opportunity every day to live reverently for the Lord by humbly serving and submitting my life to others. This is the life each of us is called to live in Christ. It is to put all my expectation in the Lord and cast all my cares with it. Trusting the Lord will always require submission. There cannot be two masters in our life. We serve the Lord by serving others.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Called To Ministry

Called To Ministry

2 Corinthians 5:10-14 (NLT) Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.

I am called to ministry. You are called to ministry as well. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from – God has ordained you. He has called you to be His Ambassador. I do not take this call lightly nor do I associate it with a certain position. It is human nature to be a hierarchy to certain positions. A company has a president, chief operating officer, managers, supervisors and employees. Different levels of authority to establish order and a form of functioning. However, when it comes to God’s Way of doing things, every single living breathing person who possesses His Spirit is called to be a minister of God through Jesus Christ. Have you accepted God’s Call to Ministry yet?

Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God.

The most powerful form of ministry does not always come from the pulpit of a dynamic church with great worship and a flawless performance. Most often it is from the unsuspecting saint of God who comes to pray one-on-one with the broken, to continue to pray in their prayer closet for the one forgotten in the crowd, to continually sow seeds of faith and encouragement to others and to give wisdom from their time in the Word. I believe it is like the hand of one farmer placing seeds in the ground. The one who takes God’s Word to heart and decides to reproduce it in others. One by one. Day by day. Season to season. The humble at heart who chooses to remain in the background rather than racing for the platform. The one so moved by the Presence of God after He has come time and time again that they are still dissolved to tears just at the thought of His Nearness. Those who are covered in grace and gratitude just because Jesus still saves, heals and delivers people so convinced of His Great Love that they may even seem a little crazy sometimes.

The one God desires to use the most is the one with the sincere heart. The one who is in love with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. The one broken to self and flourishing in the humble knowledge that weakness allows His Power to work. Those who seek the Lord with all their heart and do not lean on their own understanding. “Spectacular ministry” is not a spectator sport. It is lack luster if the total premise is not loving the Lord and loving others. My life is complete when I bring glory to God. How do I do that? By telling, showing and giving to others what the Lord has done for me.

2 Corinthians 5:20 (NLT) So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

As ambassadors of Christ, it is our goal in life as an authorized messenger of God to establish peace between the Lord and other people. The invitation “Come back to God!” must be covered in love and grace in order to be accurate and appealing to others. To minister is a position that gives service, care or aid. It is one who attends to need. It is to contribute as to comfort or happiness. We do not have the power to snatch another person from hell. However, it is our opportunity to offer them a better way. The Way, the Truth and the Life while earnestly reaching for them in an effort to lead and assist them in gaining freedom through Jesus Christ. Still not convinced you are called?

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

Isaiah 61:6-7 (NLT) You will be called priests of the Lord, ministers of our God. You will feed on the treasures of the nations and boast in their riches. Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

If you have accepted Jesus Christ to be your personal Savior and Lord, then you have the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord living inside of you. Jesus released His Spirit to be our Holy Inhabitant and help us on the earth. He lives in our heart producing the fruit of the Spirit in abundance, not just for us, but to facilitate our ministry. He has placed a Light in our hearts to shine brightly like a city on a hill. As salt of the earth with an antiseptic quality of healing, it comes packaged as the flavorful and flamboyant Favor of the Living God. It bubbles up within our bellies until living water comes flowing out. You are prewired, prepackaged and fully prepared to be God’s Ministers.

The Lord also gives a promise to those who decide to be His Minister in this life. It is called double. You will receive a double share of honor and possess a double portion of prosperity accompanied by everlasting joy if you fill the position the Lord has called and equipped you to. Comparison is the confidence wrecking weapon of the enemy that makes people think God cannot and will not use them. God caught Moses attention in a burning bush. Moses was in hiding as he tended sheep belonging to his father-in-law. He was saved from immediate death at his birth. He was rescued and grew up in the house of Pharaoh. He killed a man. He fled into hiding. God had other plans for Moses. He spoke to him in the dark of night. Yet Moses, like so many of us, did not have confidence in His Calling but was convinced by his condition that he was not the right one for this mission. He said to the Lord, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” Who is going to listen to me? I know my faults and failures. How will I ever accurately or effectively minister to another person? God answered Moses just like He is working to squelch all of our doubt and fear – God answered, “I will be with you.”

Before discrediting yourself let God confirm your credibility – Jesus lives in you. His Spirit is inside of you. He has predestined you to be the light of the world and salt of the earth because of the God inside of you. In order to fulfill God’s Call on our life – we must love one another. There is no greater gift than for one to lay down his life for another following the example of Jesus Christ. The Word of God says that who He calls is the one who God also equips. You are called to be God’s Minister and Christ’s Ambassador to the world. You have been given this assignment and empowered to do it. So what’s next?

Romans 12:6-10 (NLT) In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Romans 12:1-2 is the passage about giving our life as a living sacrifice to the Lord. To decide to worship the Lord by choosing not to be like the world or conforming to its standard but being transformed into a “new person” by changing the way you think. A pastor, minister, or preacher is still tasked with being an ambassador to the Lord outside of their paid position. If man repays you for something, it is up to us to find a place of offering. If you receive a paycheck to serve God, then to be a living sacrifice and present an offering to the Lord means serving Him off the timeclock. To be a living sacrifice is to love sacrificially. There are many different gifts that people are given. Romans 12 talks about those gifts and motivations but if you read it – love is the purpose to find an outlet for God’s Love in our life. Love is an emotion to this world. But to God love is a sacrificial commitment which He has empowered us to portray. Just because you are not called to be a pastor, preacher, teacher, elder, or serve in the local church building doesn’t mean God hasn’t called you to ministry. The ministry of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What if the miracle in you is not a mass service with thousands saved but the one who sits in the back all alone. Hiding in their insecurity bound by barriers built by hurt and betrayal – those who come across arrogant but really are just broken people trying to survive and never enter a church? You are the one who shows them kindness, grace and even encouragement. You are the one who listens when no one else can get past the persona to the person. Perhaps what the Lord has brought you through they are now going…what if…is not really what if but will you?

2 Corinthians 6:3-4 (NLT) We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. 

Will you get past what you are going through to let God use you today? Will you stop evaluating who you are not and accept who you are? If you are waiting for the right time, I assure you it is now. The right place is not in a fancy building but the place you are right now. These verses are followed by a telling reality. Paul goes on to talk about all he has endured for ministry including troubles, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, angry mobs of people, exhaustion, sleepless nights, extreme hunger, harsh conditions and some even killed. For what? To share the love of God given through Jesus Christ with the rest of the world. Living in a way that causes no one to stumble because of us. God has called us to be his ministers. Christ calls us his ambassadors. The rest is up to you and me. The Spirit gives life and freedom. To be like Christ means to give our life as a living sacrifice and personal offering to others. Grace is fulfilled when in spite of our weaknesses – we allow the Power of Christ to flow through us. Brokenness is inevitable as the Seeds of His Spirit sprout into the new creation you are called to be as God makes His Masterpiece out of your life…and your ministry.

2 Corinthians 3:5-6 (NLT) It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.