Deep Penetrating

Deep Penetration

Psalm 51:6-8 (ESV) Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Thursday is cleaning day. I have taken to doing the bathrooms first thing in the morning. I purchased a new completely chemically hazardous bleaching spray to tackle some spots in the grout of the tub. Equipped like hazmat or more like in my hoodie, I saturated the places of concern and left them to soak. When I returned, the foam had disappeared yet the stains remained. Looking at the label again, I was quite disappointed. Truly, I am not sure why. I sprayed some more and this time put some elbow grease into it with a brush and abrasive sponge finally some progress. The Holy Spirit stopped me in that place of victory. How often do we desire victory yet choose to not engage or put any effort into obtaining it?

The word “purge” is not light hearted. It means to get rid of whatever is impure or undesirable. To cleanse and purify radically. It means to clear or empty. To have the promise of God for our life requires deeper penetration. Face value faith and superficial discipline will not make room for the seeds of prosperity to grow in a fertile heart. Hard hearts yield no fruit. There is no room for roots to dig in and anchor a hope so beautiful yet difficult to see and ever harder to believe. We must take the Word of God and use it. In order to use the spray, I had to buy it. Salvation is the moment believers “buy” into God’s Plan. Repentance is turning the tip of the nozzle from closed to open. Using our hand to pump out the contents is discipline and using our other hand to scrub allowing the Word to penetrate our heart and cleanse our mind. A new life emerges from such a process. Do you want to be a new creation?

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.

You have been given absolute and complete freedom in Jesus Christ. You have been given the opportunity to choose who you follow and how you live. Those who desire the Will of God must choose the Way of God. This is not a forfeiture of freedom but choosing to live in love and in line with God, His Word, His Son, and His Spirit. The craziest part is it all works together to create this masterpiece from a mess. God is an awesome Father who gave up everything because He could not bear to live without us. Yet, in all His Giving, humanity still struggles to give anything back. It’s funny. We bought this house a couple years ago. It was not brand new construction but had two previous owners. The first were foreclosed upon and the second began renovations but sold before complete. I have been working to restore the bathrooms for a couple of years now. I am slowing seeing them come back to life but each week I must spray, scrub, wipe, and repeat. It is a process. I am seeing results. How much time are you worth investing? How much energy is God’s Best worth to you? Are you willing to take up a new “hobby” and grow the garden of your heart today? God never gives us offering us His Absolute best. Jesus is set on giving you a rich and satisfying life lacking in nothing and prospering in everything. The rest, my sweet friend, is up to you.

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!

Will you allow the maker of your heart to search it today? Inspect it? Point out the things keeping you from His Promise? Will you invest time and energy in pursuing the lover of your soul rather than all those worthless things? We must allow the Word of God and His Spirit to penetrate us deeply. Spirit and truth are the way of redemption, restoration, revival and renewal. It can be a painful and exhausting battle to win over your mind, will and emotions to fully invest your heart, body and soul into the Kingdom. Well, you made it through your birth into this world just fine even though it was a difficult passage. Now the process of being birthed into the Kingdom is presented to you! Do you want it? Can you see it? Will you allow the Lord to penetrate your hard heart and break it into a million pieces? Or perhaps, are you willing to hand Him all the broken pieces and finally trust Him to make them into the best life ever? You decide.

Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV) “…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

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Basic

basic

John 3:16-18 (ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Basic. It is an urban slang term for someone who is unwilling to express individuality. If you are basic, then you are considered to be an ultra-conformist, not unique or someone who seeks status within your group association but no more. Just the implication of the word in modern culture may be what sparked your interest in this writing. However, the original meaning of the word “basic” is forming an essential foundation or starting point. Have we missed the starting point that changes everything? The beginning that builds a Kingdom beyond this world? The fundamental concept that God set forth before time in order to save a people bent on rebellion and compromise? Yes. We have. Religion has somehow compartmentalized a union of people that were meant to work together as a streamlined body edging to eternity together taking as many with them as might go. It’s all about a relationship. God who loved His Son yet would accept His Life as blood payment for the sins of all. God gave His Son for you and me. It doesn’t matter if you accept Him or not – He did it anyway. The basic truth behind Christianity is that Christ died for us all again. The Love of God for us clearly demonstrated yet the point missed completely most of the time. God did not send His Son to condemn us because our sin already did the job. He sent His Son to provide the grace needed to set us free again. Free to love. Free to learn. Free to lead. Every single person is a candidate for God’s Love and Salvation. Every single one…

Romans 3:21-25 (ESV) But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

We are all basic by definition. There is no distinction. Everyone has sinned. Everyone fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. Everyone worthy of His Love through Christ alone. Everyone. If only it was possible to grab hold of the basic concept and truth that everyone is the same and there is no distinction, perhaps our individuality could begin to be revealed because competition and comparison ends in such a revelation. My purpose and plan set forth by God is for me. I am a Child of the Living God. No one can take my place. God does not have favorites. We are all favored by the Lord God. It is the gift of His Grace that makes us righteous again. It is independent of an organized religion but the basic truth behind our relationship with Jesus Christ apart from anyone else that can bind us to everyone else without expectation. It is received by faith.

I John 4:16-19 (ESV) So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. 

I know a lot of Christians. People who call themselves believers. I am a Christian. I do believe. My employer has never called himself a Christian or even a believer. Probably just not terms that he would use. In fact, if you catch him on a good day you may hear some language you haven’t heard in a long time – like maybe a sailor if you know what I mean. BUT – there is no kinder more generous person that you will ever meet. His ability to love and give to others is truly Christ-like. He recognizes the blessing of God in his life and chooses to give his life away. We don’t really talk about religion so I am not sure if he attends church EVERY Sunday or serves on any church committee. I don’t know if he prays every single day or adheres to the long list of do’s and don’ts prescribed by religious people. No clue. But I know this…he gives every single day. He gives his time, talent and treasure to all walks of mankind in an effort to love others. I wonder if we have set our eyes on the wrong set of rules, doctrines or mandates and somehow bound our ability to be basic again. To live and love like Jesus who did not come to judge others but that through Him they would saved and set free. Definitely food for thought today at least for me…

The basic concept is that Christ loves me so I love other people. All other people. If the Lord decided in advance that everyone was worthy of His Love, how can I pick and choose the way I give my life away? I must give it all away. This is the example of Christ the fundamental basis of the Kingdom of God and binding force of the Body of Christ. Lord, make me aware of every opportunity to love and give today. Keep me from judgment because it is not the example that you have set for me. Teach me to be a generous person in all ways every day. In Jesus Name.

I John 3:16 (ESV) By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

In Our Midst

In Our Midst.jpg

Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

This has been a favorite passage for a long time. When our oldest son was overseas, I imagined him lying in his bed in the middle of a war-torn country surrounded by enemies who wanted to harm him. What was he thinking? Did he feel alone? Was he every fearful? What had he seen? Just out of high school, barely entering adulthood and seeing things no one should ever encounter. I would pray this verse over him. I asked the Lord to let His Presence be so thick that he could feel Him tangibly in the sandy cot where he rested. Isolation and loneliness are terrible feelings. To feel abandoned or unloved maybe even forgotten causes a person to feel small, insignificant and insecure. You are far from that today my friend. The Lord YOUR GOD is in your midst. Whether choosing to identify Him as God or even YOUR God doesn’t change His Love and desire for you. He is still offering new mercy each morning. The Lord pursues us with unfailing love and goodness that belongs to us exclusively. He is mighty to save and willing to do so on a moment’s notice. He rejoices over you with gladness as a shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine to find the one who is lost. He celebrates each return as the father embraces the prodigal son. He longs to quiet you with perfect peace and complete confidence in the hope that is offered. God wants you to know that you are His Child and He loves you. It doesn’t even matter if you reject Him – His Love for you and me is strong and steadfast to the very end. He is singing over you today. Can you hear Him? It is a song of love, adoration, grace, forgiveness, healing and deliverance! He is for you never against you. What might happen if for but a moment one glorious second one might witness the Presence of the Living God in our midst and know His Intentions? It would be life changing.

In Genesis 3, God knew Adam and Eve had made a terrible mistake. He knew that sin had been introduced yet still in the “cool of the day”, the Lord God came to them. He wasn’t setting them up for failure but saving them from eternal damnation. How so? If Adam or Eve had taken from the Tree of Life in their sinful condition, they would never have experienced deliverance and lived a tortured existence forever without any possible salvation. In Exodus 25, God again invites people to dwell in His Midst. God loves you. He loves me. Nothing we can ever do will ever separate us from the Love of God. It is through Jesus Christ that we can dwell in His Presence each day and live in His Midst.

Joel 2:26-28 (ESV) “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”

I remember rocking my children as babies and singing over them. Praying for them. Dreaming about them. I also remember as those helpless infants turned into willful teenagers. Challenging times for most parents trying to mold and shape the world changers and history makers of tomorrow. Yet I didn’t stop loving them, providing for them, caring for them in the midst of rebellion. There were times of discipline and heartache that were endured together but my love for them never changed because they did not meet my expectation. I love my kids. I would do anything for my children. How much more God loves us! Not only does God love us but pours out His Spirit on us. The Holy Spirit identifies us as His Children. He guides us and teaches us about the Lord and His Love for us. He also allows us to experience the Presence of God as He dwells within our midst.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego loved God and served Him. God loved them. It did not exempt them from being thrown into a fiery furnace. When King Nebuchadnezzar looked in, there were for people in the fire. God is with us. He never leaves us. He lives in the midst of us. We must only look for Him and He is there.

Ephesians 1:11-14 (ESV) In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

God loves you. He wants to live in the midst of your life. He pursues you each day and provides opportunities to respond to His Promises. It is up to us to desire the Presence of God enough to enter in. Jesus ripped the veil that separated us from God in the Temple with the purpose that through salvation all mankind would have the privilege of living in the Presence of God every day. To dwell with Him. Walk with Him. Talk with Him. It was God’s Plan all along. We enter in through salvation and repentance. As we turn back to Him – He floods our life with His Glory. We are the children of God who He longs for and desires more than anything. We comprise the Kingdom. He doesn’t want gold, riches, or anything else because the Lord owns it all and lends it to us! Won’t you respond to His Calling today? The gentle nudging and urging to come just a little bit closer. He loves you! The Lord is fighting for you. He is your Provider and Protector. You may never know all the benefits and blessings around you if you do not identify His Presence in your midst today. Once you do, you will absolutely be blown away by His Love, Goodness, Grace and Kindness. He is a Good Father who wants to live with you!

Sincere Love

Sincere Love

Romans 12:9 (NIV) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Have you ever heard the phrase “I love them but I don’t like them” or maybe “love the sinner but hate the sin.” “But” represents a contradiction. Our love for the Lord must be sincere. We must hate what is evil. Cling to what is good. It is a dissecting of sorts that begins in our own heart. I am challenged today to take the fruit of my heart hopefully born of His Spirit called “love” and cut it open to see if its contents are good and fit for consumption. Love is the driving force of God in His Pursuit of us. It is the very thing that held Jesus on the Cross until He gave His Very Last Breath. It is the force that rolled the stone away to reveal a risen Savior and forever Lord. Christ lives in me. His Spirit at work feeding my soul and nourishing my spirit to create a new person from the depraved wretch that I am. His Word is alive. It cuts through every lie and insignificant detail to reveal the hidden truth and potential hidden in layers of sin and darkness.

I have been “saved” since I was eleven years old. Through my teenage years into adulthood, I toyed with Christianity before finally turning over a messed up existence for a new way of life in my early thirties. Complete surrender is the only way to begin the full transformation process. It is a lengthy battle of the heart and mind. Jesus at the center of it all means there is a whole lot of “me” to get out of the way. It seems so simple when we come to Jesus. Why not? We have nothing to give but our faults and failures in exchange for a new life and forever in His Kingdom. Yet the striving and settlement of the terms of this covenant seem to continually cut away at my heart and mind as I discover it is an act of endurance that keeps us steadfast in Christ. It is not a footrace to the finish but a good fight for our faith. Could it be so simple and yet we make it complex? Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil. Cling to what is good.

I have been married for almost twenty years. I chose to give my heart to a man. He is just like me – imperfect and yet perfect for me. I love him. I am committed to loving him for the rest of my natural life. It is from this commitment or covenant that sincere love is born. It is not fancy or pretty. Sometimes it can be very raw and broken yet in all the beauty and ugliness mixed together – God has made good of every detail of our life. It just gets better and better all the time. In our marriage to Christ, it can be very much the same. Over time, I may take Him for granted. Not show Him true affection or affirm Him. There are even days that I don’t trust Jesus. Oh, I say that I do but my actions speak louder than words. Our marriage to Christ is a choice to love. In the good times and bad, when things are wonderful or wretched, and even when love is cold and insincere – this is a relationship to be worked through just like anyone else. It is my commitment to Christ that is the relationship worth having because from it comes remarkable relationships with ordinary people.

The word sincere means free of deceit, hypocrisy or falseness. It is earnest, authentic, genuine and real. It is pure, unadulterated and unmixed. This is the kind of love that the Spirit of God produces in us. It is the brand of love that is designated to bind God’s Kingdom together. Once tainted always tainted unless carried through His Blood. If we do not repent from our lack of love and return to our first love, it is impossible to love others the same way we love Jesus. He has to transform our perception and expectation of love and purify us again. Our passion for the Lord will burn away the impurities of human love and cut through the most callous heart to circumcise it consecrating it to the Lord again.

Revelation 2:2-5 (NIV) I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.

This warning from Jesus is not for the lost or those who are seeking. This message is to the modern day Christian and believers who are giving their very life to the work of the Lord. It is for preachers, teachers, elders, and every other servant in the House of God serving the Body of Christ. Are you going through the motions today? Doing what has become a habit? Has service become the social circle you move in? It’s crazy that think that doing good things can sometimes take the place of doing God’s Thing for you. It happens. Church is made up of imperfect people. It has a hierarchy all its own. Carefully constructed doctrine meant for godly order becomes the rules and regulations of judgment and a kangaroo court of Pharisees born from it. I wonder if God is saying, “Stop…just stop for a minute.” The merry-go-round that hints at revival yet passes by it never stopping is not because you aren’t “doing” all the right things but you have forgotten for Who you are doing it? Have you forgotten to love Jesus today? Every attitude, action and reaction should be born of our true love for Him.

A couple things come to mind in closing today. First, you cannot fake agape love. It is born of something supernatural by giving our heart, mind, body, spirit and soul to Jesus Christ. When I had each one of my children, there was an instant connection and overpowering love the moment that they were born. At each birth, I instantly and completely loved them. They are my children. This is exactly how Christ loves us. The moment of creation was powerful in that His Love completely surrounded us in that moment and it never stopped but has perpetuated through life. When our daughter had our grandson, I was by her side to witness his arrival. I loved him with the same ferocity and completeness that I did his mother when she arrived. The heart of Jesus explodes the moment a new Christian is born and all Heaven celebrates. Our new life and the continual rebirths of others should reciprocate love that connects the Kingdom similar to the kind of love when a new baby arrives. After all – we are all members of the same body.

Second thought before I go, after all these years of marriage I have learned playing the part of wife, life partner, best friend and soul mate is not enough. I can do all the right things. I can serve my husband completely. I can “do” everything that is expected of me and he can still feel unloved and unwanted. There are times when he doesn’t want me to do anything but sit with him, talk to him and be with him. Life is busy. Humans are subject to emotions and feeling. We all have bad days. If I feel like I am not connecting with my husband, I must determine what is lacking. Generally, it is that I have become consumed in the tasks of marriage and not given time or attention to my true love. Jesus is no different. He doesn’t need us to do His Work – He has legions of angels who tend to be way more obedient then humans. He wants us. He desires us. Yes, there is work for the Kingdom that is our purpose and destiny in life. Yes, we are to work together and build the Kingdom and connect the Body of Christ. Yes, yes, yes to every excuse you can think of as to why you haven’t been at His Feet listening, seeking and finding His Face. All He wants and has ever wanted is you. He loves you wholeheartedly and completely just as you were the day you came to Him asking for salvation and surrendering your life. He loves that you. The same you that is searching for Him today will be met with the same profound grace and perfect love that you found back then.

Sincere love. God desires our sincere love. Jesus deserves our sincere love. Allow His Spirit to renew love in you today. Let His Love be made more perfect as you seek to know Him more. I cannot love another from a well that is dry and without loving the One who first loved me – I have nothing to offer the dry and thirsty world.

I Timothy 1:5 (NIV) The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Always Good

Always Good

Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

God is good, therefore; I am good. This contemplation in my head today consists of every shortcoming I can think up. All my faults. Failures. Inconsistencies. The bat of self-deprecation is often the tool of destruction in a believer’s life. The notion that my inability to do and be all that God’s Word calls me to is my own fault. The innate component of sin given over to the overwhelming overtures of grace should be enough to flood us with His Love and Goodness but it often runs over us like water on a rock. It is hard to understand and believe that a God so good filled with loving kindness could desire me. The Lord loves me. He loves you. He desires us above all things. Each one of us.

Praise is the prophetic voice of victory. There are times when the words we sing are really not what we believe but only hope for. Nevertheless by releasing these words into the atmosphere the Lord begins to change our mind and perspective from us, our abilities or inabilities to the truth that all things are possible for those who dare to believe. Believing does not increase the power of God or move Him but it gives Him permission to access to us. He set us free so the Lord cannot come and take over but we must surrender. To surrender our life, hopes, dreams and its entirety cannot be accomplished outside of trust. Trust waits on God. Trust holds steadfast when the situation is hopeless and conditions unfavorable. It is the moment our heart takes courage not in us but the Lord Almighty. It is a place of vulnerability. It is our weakness given to His Strength. Human nature balks at such a notion and pride persuades us to stand tall. If we believe that God is good and His Goodness is for us – faith will become the foundation of our life. This life. Here in the land of the living.

Genesis 1:26-27 (ESV) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:31 (ESV) And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good.

God created the heavens and the earth along with creatures to fill it and then called it good. With the introduction of humanity and order set forth, it was then that God declared creation “very good”. You and I are created in the image of God after His Likeness. God is good. Sin kept us from becoming like our Father – God. When Jesus declared His Work on the Cross finished, He gave our life and purpose back to us when He took back the keys to death and the grave. It means that there is nothing keeping us from all of God’s Goodness. He is good. We are good. It is Christ in us that achieves. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve grace. His Grace is completely sufficient in establishing goodness in me again.

I know what you are thinking. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I have done or maybe not done. The depths of human depravity in a godless culture is no match for the boundless love of God who continually offers us the promise of becoming a new creation from the broken pieces of our past. So while I may not know you or those things hidden in your heart, God knows it all. There is nothing about you that God is not privy to. In fact, Psalm 139 tells us that our life is prerecorded. God wrote it all down. How can grace be enough if the debt not yet calculated? God knows you inside out and upside down and chose to love you and pursue you. Those who accept Jesus Christ into their heart and love Him just love Him are restored to righteousness with God. You don’t have to do a thing except love Him and accept to be your Savior and Lord. This establishes us as good people in God’s Eyes.

Romans 8:28 (ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Ecclesiastes 3:1&11 (ESV) For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 

We are God’s People and that makes us good people. Our value and worth is not established by who we once were, who we are now or who we might be becoming, but complete in Christ alone. Christ established our worth on the Cross when He gave His Life for us. Those who believe this will begin to see with new eyes the coming together of life’s details in the masterpiece the Lord promises in Ephesians 2. What you see as broken, God calls beautiful. What you decide is flawed, He declares it fixed. What you see as impossible, God has already decided is a miracle. If we could only see ourselves as He sees us, maybe just maybe rather than abandoning promises, cursing seasons, wasting time, and running from Him – we would wait for His Goodness to come to pass and catch up with us. His Unfailing Love endures forever. His Goodness is constantly pursuing us. The person who once was lost now is found and received into a Glorious and Prestigious Kingdom. You have dominion and power over the earth God ordained it and Christ restored it. We must walk in it with confidence.

Regret and shame bar the doors of opportunity opened for the redeemed. Guilt keeps us from full restoration and the blessing of the believer. Performance doesn’t impress the Lord – persistent faith and preserving hope catch His Attention. Religion tells us to do this and don’t do that. Relationship tell us that all things are permissible but not all things beneficial in achieving oneness with our Beloved. Faith is not logical. Unconditional love is confounding. How is it even possible? But it is. God’s Love for us is without question and His Goodness without end. We must only believe to receive. Not only believe that He is good but that He has made us good, too!

I Timothy 4:4-5 (ESV) For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

None Should Perish

None Should Perish

John 3:16-17 (ESV) “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

It is probably the most well-known verse in the entire Bible – John 3:16. For God so love the world that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Sometimes familiarity breeds contentment satisfying our soul with salvation, but missing the life that comes with it. The life God has designed for us is complex and complete. It does not eliminate any details due to indiscretion but takes the imperfect form of humanity and filling its voids with Christ. The new creation promised for those who choose it is not a redesign but recreation and restoration of the original. God is perfect. He does not make mistakes. He created us recording every single moment before our arrival. God has a plan and no matter our involvement or acceptance, it is still continuing in our life. God loves us. Each one of us. His Goal in sending Jesus was not for a designated few but that whoever believes wouldn’t die but live forever with Him. A true and abiding relationship as a father to a child is what God desires of you. A loving and living together that steps over the grave into the Kingdom.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” To stop at John 3:16 would be enough to save us but not necessarily grasp the scope of God’s Massive Project. It was never His Intent to divide the people of this planet but to bring them back together in one Body centered on His Son. Condemnation is not a quality of God for mankind and should not be characteristic of His People. Mercy triumphed over judgment at the sacrifice of Jesus giving up His Life to secure ours forever with Him. How is it our place to crawl into the vacated seat when it comes to each other? It is God’s Plan and Purpose that none should perish. It is pointless. Salvation is a free gift. It did not cost me anything of worth. It is easy to give the grace and mercy given to me away because I didn’t earn it. I should be of the mindset of Christ. He is always thinking about compassion. His mindset is life and never death. He is a builder of the Body not a condemner of people.

The Bible says that His Grace is enough. It is sufficient which means that if the love, grace, mercy or compassion of Christ can be exhausted than it was never an ample supply. This is the basis of forgiving seventy times seven, turning the other cheek, loving our enemy and laying our life down for others. He is giving us an opportunity to participate in the Kingdom economy and reap its heavenly reward which is always relationship. God owns it all. Everything belongs to Christ. The Lord has complete authority and power in every situation. The freedom of others does not always produce the benefits of Heaven. It is our opportunity to be the traders of grace who bring the message of the Gospel to others not just in word and deed but in our dedication and commitment to the mission that none should perish.

Jonah 4:1-4 (ESV) But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

To bring everyone up to date in the story, God sent Jonah to Nineveh. He was to share God’s Message of repentance to the people. Jonah did not like God’s Plan so he tried to run away to Tarshish. On his way a great storm arose, Jonah was cast into the sea to satisfy the wrath of God and that the others on the ship might be saved. Once overboard, Jonah was swallowed by a whale and lived in its belly for three days until vomited on the local beach. He repents and goes to Nineveh. The people of Nineveh repent and cry out to God. The Lord acknowledges their repentance and relents. He did not bring disaster to the city or its people. In other words, God spared them and did not give them what they deserved. Jonah got mad. He was “exceedingly displeased”.

In Jonah 4, we find Jonah in the midst of a fit mixed with a good old-fashioned pity party. Sitting and stewing the sun arose and he was baking in it when the Lord appointed a plant to come up over Jonah to give him shade while he sorted things out. Jonah was glad when the plant covered him and protected him. The next morning, God appointed a worm to kill the plant and when the sun rose once again Jonah was subject to its heat and discomfort. Through the course of the day – he grew faint and decided it would be better to die. Why? He was disappointed that God had spared the people. He allowed his anger to separate him again from the Presence of God.

Jonah 4:9-11 (ESV) But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

God owns it all. Every living breathing creature is a product of Him. You and I are His Most Beloved Creation. How many times do we forget His Mandate that none should perish? How often do we get mad when God saves, heals, delivers and blesses those sorry sinners? Comparison will always be a joy killer. No sinner is too far gone for the Lord’s Arm to reach them. We are the ones who decide the limit of sin or depravity when there is no such thing in the eyes of Jesus. His Grace is always enough. I wonder if the separation, isolation or frustration that we feel is often generated by our own jealously and insecurity in the Lord’s Unfailing Love and Acceptance for me. Working hard for him yet He showers sinners and evil doers with the blessings I thought were reserved for me. Who are they to step in front of me in order to get what He is offering? They must do their time like the rest of us. Serving, giving and striving for the promise. Right? Wrong. When we can do anything for Him or feel pressure to perform for the promise, we have missed the point altogether. I can do nothing for God. He is my fulfillment. He is my purpose. Everything I am and ever hope to be is in Him and offered through Him. I can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:8-10 (ESV) But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” God delights in mercy. He gives it to us each morning. When our eyes open, it is waiting for us and the basis of salvation. God’s Desire to show us mercy so that we can receive His Grace. We must be ever so careful that our heart for people remains soft and merciful. There is no competition for the Love of God. It is for everyone. Jesus came so that none should perish but have eternal life which means there is more than enough grace for everyone. Have you written someone off? Maybe you walked away because they were just too hard to love. I will let you in on a little secret. Limited love is a product of unaccepted grace. To restrict our love, compassion, kindness and forgiveness to others based on their attitudes and actions is the opposite of the kind given to us by Jesus. If we truly receive His Love, it satisfies our soul. It fills us with hopeful expectation that cannot and will not be met by other people therefore we can love freely and unconditionally because they have no impact on God’s Love for me, His Plan, or His Promise. All of this is individually designed for me but His Grace is for all the world. Lord examine my heart, mind, spirit and soul for compassion. Show me where I have allowed condemnation to take the place of mercy. Soften my heart Lord even if that means breaking it so that I will not miss my purpose in passive judgment. Lord, you are not slow to fulfill your promise to us. You are waiting that none should perish. Be that me or those around me subject to my influence. Lord, let me always choose mercy over judgment and live a triumphant life.

Micah 6:8 (ESV) He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Live Free

Live Free

Galatians 5:1 (ESV) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

My father is a Vietnam War veteran. He served multiple tours of duty when I was very young. I remember my mother putting me in pretty little dresses and fixing my hair in little pony tails while she got all fancied up to go meet him at the airport for furlough. I also remember the rainy morning before sun rise when my son after a swift hug and smile hopped on a bus full of soldiers to spend a year in the Middle East. A child missing her daddy and then a mother whose heart was stretched halfway around the world – a price paid for freedom. I was watching television with my dad many years ago when the news covered protestors burning the American Flag all the while calling those who defend us horrible names. He told me not to worry about it. He was defending their freedom, too. It was thanks to the men and women who sacrifice that afford them the right to state their opinion. I was appalled to think of all those who do not come home or come home changed that must endure the attacks of those whose rights they were upholding.

We hold these truths self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Today is Independence Day. The word “liberty” is important. Liberty is freedom from arbitrary government or control. It is freedom from external rule. It means independence. Liberty is freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction or hampering conditions. It is the right to do, think, or speak according to personal choice. It means freedom from captivity, confinement or physical restraint. We are set free through the Blood of Jesus Christ. For freedom Christ has set us free but we must be careful not to fall back into bondage. To pursue life, liberty and happiness are set forth in the Declaration of Independence which is our right as Americans. To pursue life, liberty and happiness as set forth by the Word of God is truly our freedom to prosper as Children of God and residents of His Kingdom.

James 1:22-25 (ESV) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

In John 8, it tells us that “so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Let’s talk for a minute about freedom in Christ. Some may say that it is not freedom at all but more stringent and restrictive. We are instructed to be doers of the Word. There is no penalty imposed or restriction placed on us by God if we choose to use our freedom to pursue other things. Born into the slavery of sin, it is Christ who frees us. My grandson is only five months old. When he doesn’t get his way, he pitches a fit. His mom and dad didn’t teach him to be impatient. Neither one demonstrated what exactly to do when one does not get their way or get it fast enough. No, the little man came prewired and predisposed to sin. As a baby, it is kind of funny when he insists on his way because he such a little human. However, when he is fifteen doing the same thing it won’t be quite as enamoring nor if he carries such behavior into adulthood. We are born slaves to sin and self. Jesus Christ sets us free. We must secure our freedom by doing what the Word says. This is not to complete the work of the Cross – it is finished. The keys to death and the grave belong to us along with the keys to the kingdom. We choose the doors opened and pathways chosen in our life because Christ has set us free and we are free.

To live a life of liberty and true freedom means we have the right to choose how to live our life. God created the world and everything in it then He placed mankind here. He proclaimed it to be good and that was that. People were here a very short time and gave up freedom for a lie. They chose something other than what God instructed. Immediately, they were removed from the garden. Separated from God by choice. This incurred a debt. The debt had to be paid for freedom to be secured. Jesus came and paid our sin debt in full giving us back our freedom to choose. One may decide to use that freedom to build a life of complete unity with Christ, a fully restored relationship with Father God and to attain the Kingdom OR something else. In no way does our choice nullify the price paid for our freedom to choose or evoke God’s Punishment in any way otherwise declaring His Grace insufficient and not enough.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (ESV) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

We have been set completely free by Jesus Christ. According to God, there is no longer such a thing as impossibility in our life. Every door is open to us. Freedom withholds nothing from us. Liberty allows us to anything. The bottom line is choice. How do we choose to use our freedom? God created you with a plan, gave you a purpose, marked out a pathway, and filled your life with promises. In fact, every spiritual promise is already released to you in Christ. You are free to live in complete freedom and enjoy the benefits of the Kingdom. Or you can decide that this world is what you want and use your freedom to invest in this life rather than eternity. You cannot get mad at God or call Him a liar because you did not choose wisely. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are the variable in our success or failure to achieve a rich and satisfying life. Fulfillment is already prescribed for us – we must only choose it.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” (I Corinthians 2:12) God has given us His Spirit. Where His Spirit is there is liberty. Freedom to know and understand the terms of our covenant and all the benefits of relationship. Faith will open every door in God’s Kingdom. Grace gives us power to overcome our weaknesses. We have the power of life and death in our tongue. The keys to death and the grave as well. There is nothing withheld from those who love God and pursue Him. We are set free to do just that. We must choose wisely when it comes to liberty. To use our freedom to continue to open the doors of purpose, promise and prosperity. God will not force His Unfailing Love and Goodness on us but rather gives us the freedom to choose the life so desired. Live free. Live well.

John 8:31-32 (ESV) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

It’s A Celebration

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Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It’s a month of celebrations in our house. My husband and I will celebrate just shy of two decades of marriage. It is also his birthday at the end of the month. Not to mention, our oldest son’s favorite holiday – the Fourth of July. Oh, we love to celebrate birthdays gathering our family to have a meal and enjoy one another. To celebrate our marriage that has endured longer than statistically estimated to be possible. I am so thankful for my family. As believers, we are given the opportunity to rejoice always. To live a life of constant and perpetual celebration. Where every day, time and season are worth recognizing simply because God is with us and Christ lives in us.

Rejoice in the Lord always…again I say, rejoice.

Human beings are wrought with feelings and emotions based on a physical existence. Our body and mind are subject to the sensory perception of the brain according to the conditions and circumstances. The things experienced and daily encounters are met with human logic to form our reaction or response to each one. One such response is “life is not fair.” When my children would argue that something was not fair, I was quite to remind them that they were not born with tickets in their hands. The rollercoasters in life are free. Our ability to endure them and overcome fear will decide the outcome of our experience. Yet in all of life’s ups and downs there is an opportunity offered to those who believe. The ones who have asked Jesus to save them and decide to make Him their Lord. We have been given the right to celebrate and rejoice in every situation.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.

I looked up the word “reasonableness”. It means to agreeable to reason. Not exceeding the limit prescribed by reason and not excessive. Moderate. Human reason is the mental powers concerned with forming conclusions, judgements, or inferences. It is the basis and cause of our belief which defines our actions. In other words, what is your reasoning? If its cause is faith, its effect must be rejoicing. God isn’t about faking it until you make it but faithing it as you go. You cannot fake faith. You cannot pretend to trust and have the same results. Faith is only logical according to the Word of God. We must believe the Word of God and do what it says to have a logical expectation of the hopeful outcome promised by God. It’s not about hype…but all about hope.

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

The Lord is at hand. He is with you. He is for you. Nothing can separate you from His Love. No weapon formed against you will prosper. He works every detail of our life for good. Nothing is impossible for God. If His Word says it, He meant it for you! THEREFORE, do not be anxious for anything. Easier said than done, right? It all sounds good on paper but when the rubber hits the road – now that’s another story. How can I live a worry-free, stress-less, and never anxious life? Is it even possible? We must be conscious of our connection with God in each day, moment and breath. It is the only way to overcome the lie of the enemy that produces fear and doubt. We must complete the connection with Christ in us by faith and live according to the prospering of our soul. The soul seeks joy and peace. The rest of searches for happiness and immediate gratification. Earthly happiness and immediate gratification can be taken from you. The treasure of the heart is untouchable.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Peace with God are the terms and conditions of our Covenant in Christ. To be at peace with God is to be one with His Kingdom. It is a prospering soul that flourishes in the fruit of His Spirit which allows peace to permeate our life. Peace that passes ALL understanding. It means when all hell breaks loose or the world around us falls apart – we are still standing held tightly by the Lord. We must learn to guard our heart and minds in Christ by choosing to rejoice in the Lord each and every day. To celebrate His Presence.

Leviticus 23:39-41 (ESV) “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. You shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month.

On the fifteenth day of the seventh month…

It is July. Now before any Biblical scholars or historians point it out, I realize that the Jewish calendar is different than our calendar, but don’t you find it just a little funny that this is in today’s devotion. I’m just saying – God’s got jokes. Anyway…God instituted many feasts and celebrations for His People. Many of these are outlined in the Book of Leviticus. This particular feast was called the Feast of Booths. It was designated to celebrate God delivering them from Egypt. A reminder to remember the Goodness of God and His Love for His People. It was a time set aside to rejoice before the Lord God for seven days. A week of complete rejoicing and nothing else. Hmmm…

God decreed this time of rejoicing as statutorily required. It was the Law. To rejoice means to express great joy and happiness. It is a celebration. The Lord didn’t make excuses for certain conditions. For example, it doesn’t tell them to refrain if struck by drought or famine. It doesn’t give leeway for times of busyness or just a good case of the feels. No, it says, “You shall celebrate it in the seventh month of the year.” Every year. No exceptions. No excuses.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV) Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Do I rejoice in the Lord every day? It is a question only I can answer and hold myself accountable for. Each person knows their heart. God loves me. He sent His Son, Jesus to save me. He desires me. His Thoughts for me immeasurable. His Attention to me – inexplicable. His Grace is constantly flowing to me. Every fault and failure with the promise of success and prosperity because He is Good and His Faithfulness endures forever. This is the reflection of a rejoicing heart. I must remind myself of these things. I must make the conscious choice, “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” This must be my personal daily declaration to live seven days of rejoicing not just in July but every day, all year, and for the rest of my life. This is where I find peace with God complete. Not in my own faithfulness or ability to produce happiness but His Faithfulness and commitment to fill me with inexpressible joy!

I Thessalonians 5:16-19 (ESV)  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

God’s Will for my life in Christ Jesus is that I will rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances. He has given me faith to invest in this endeavor. Lord, let it grow and prosper in me. May each day be a celebration of Your Love, Faithfulness and Goodness! Amen and amen!

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

No Longer Orphans

No Longer Orphans

John 14:18 (ESV) “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

On this Father’s Day, many will celebrate the men in their life who have filled the prestigious role of dad. Dad comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The natural father given the title by sheer contribution would be the likely candidate for celebration. However, there are guardians, grandfathers and step-fathers that have become the bonus dad for many. Men who stepped up to fill the void or simply added to the enrichment of children who were not their biological children but their kids just the same. Some may even honor the spiritual fathers and mentors who have guided each one with love and divine discipline along the way. Dads will be honored on earth and in heaven today. Today is all about dad!

I am quite certain the song, “Good Father” will resonate in our churches in honor of God our Father. Sons and daughters of God will sing it out among those who remain orphans. Those who have not met the Father in person or allowed Him to manifest in their heart and mind will not understand the grace and goodness of unconditional love from our Father in Heaven who came to us in His Son. We can relate to the story of the prodigal son because most of us identify with his person. It is difficult to understand the heart of the father who loves without consequence or condition but welcome his son home with open arms and full reconciliation. Oh that we could know the Father’s Love today as it is not as one may perceive it.

John 14:8-11 (ESV) Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Philip thought his request reasonable in his misconception of Christ. He wanted to identify with the Son but needed to “see” the Father to bring it all together. Faith does not come by sight but by hearing. The Word stood right in front of him, but because Jesus did not meet Philip’s earthly expectation – he questioned the identity of Christ. The prodigal was in a pig pen eating with swine when the thought of being a servant in his father’s house seemed like a logical solution to his impending starvation. I will return home and ask my father to allow me to be his slave. He was looking for a consequence. He was convinced there would be a condition. Philip didn’t see the Father in the Son so he doubted. It didn’t matter how much love Jesus demonstrated or how many miracles that He performed. Philip did not believe. The prodigal did not believe that he was worthy of his father’s love so he sought his compassion instead. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to release the Spirit of Adoption for us. The Holy Spirit in us identifies us as sons and daughters of God. He is a good father. We are no longer orphans. The question is – do you believe?

John 14:12-14 (ESV) “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

The Spirit of Adoption gives us the right of receivership. Jesus Christ gave us His Spirit when we first believed. This is the Way Maker that restores a right relationship between God the Father and His Precious Children. Done. Complete. Powerful. Life. See there is nothing in heaven or the earth withheld from us as His Children but we do not live in freedom as His Children when locked in our identity as orphans. The prodigal spirit is that of an orphan.

Romans 8:14-17 (ESV)  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

You have received the Spirit of God. You do not have the spirit of slavery or fear for these are products of sin. You now have been saved from these terrible reminders of your past. The Spirit of Adoption given to us by Christ FULLY RESTORES our relationship with God the Father. Complete. Lacking nothing. You are a Child of the Living God with full access and benefits. We must learn to identify with the Spirit within that bears witness to our true identity. The One that reminds us in the midst of the storm or struggle that we are Children of God. The One who whispers the truth when the enemy is pummeling us with lies. The One who is always ready to receive us because He pursues us each day with unfailing love and goodness. His Goodness is for the land of the living. You are no longer left to feed on the crumbs under the table but have been given a seat AT the table. God will not force you to be His Child or live as part of His Kingdom. He simply has given us access. The rest, my dear friend, is up to you and me.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Your natural father is only a man. Any other father figure, like the one who partnered in your existence, is a human given to faults and failures just like everyone else. As we celebrate dad today, it is important to understand that although the one who is called father in your life may have disappointed you – there is one father who never disappoints. He will meet and exceed the expectation of His Children. Children exercise the rights of relationship. There is no prerequisite for a father’s love. As Children of God, our acceptance or denial of God’s Love does not change the fact that He is love and has chosen to adopt us as His Children. He has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ withholding nothing from us that was given to His Son – Jesus. It is easy to judge God by our human parental experience, but so errant and remiss. God is not an earthly father but our Father in Heaven. Nothing can separate us from His Love. He is constantly pursuing us and waiting for us to return to Him without reservation. He is ready to respond to our acceptance of His Spirit of Adoption today and every day!

You are not an orphan. You are not alone. God has not left you to fend for yourself. He is a Good Father.  He loves you and has wonderful promises hidden away just for you. It is discovered by accepting Him as our Father. The Perfect Father. We access Him through His Son – Jesus Christ. He gives us His Spirit which seals our adoption as sons and daughters of the living God. Every day is Father’s Day for those who believe. We celebrate adoption today because we are no longer orphans.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (ESV) And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Death to Life

Death to Life

Romans 6:1-3 (Message) So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!

Today is Baptism Sunday at our church. There are people who have decided to participate in the symbolic act of baptism, but I wonder if they know the true potential of such a public confession. It is the gateway by which one may enter a “new land” and “new life”. An existence of true repentance marked by a turning over of every dead thing in our life to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Oh how I wish they knew how powerful the water can be for those who step in it with such an expectation. Salvation is the beginning of a transformation process that takes a lifetime to complete. It is the moment of realization that sin is killing us and without a Savior there is no chance of life. The next doctrinal step might be a public profession of our faith in Jesus Christ and then baptism. I love the opportunity presented by Paul in this passage and the way the Message explains it to us. It is a form of house cleaning where we lay down our old life, ways, faults, failures and disappointments in order to move into a new one without all the shackles and chains of our past holding us back. A handful of people have signed up to participate in the baptism service today, but I wonder how many more might if they realized the potential of leaving it all behind and moving into the new life Christ promised us.

Romans 6:3-5 (Message) That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.

I grew up in the Baptist church. My little sister has a very soft and sweet heart. I cannot count the number of times she responded to an altar call to repent and start again with Jesus. I know you may be thinking it silly, but I think it is essential. Since when did the altar become a place of shame, where people are chided for coming again and again? I think she was baptized at just about every summer camp. My sister is a mighty woman of God who leads home Bible studies and small groups. She impacts many lives with grace and generosity. She understands the life and power of Jesus Christ because she kept coming until she found what she was looking for. Oh what might happen if the church and its people were open to true repentance and transparency before the Lord again? Not afraid to come forward for prayer and divine healing? Unashamed that they want a new life when this one is not working out for them?

John 7:38-39 (Message) On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)

When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus…

Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes…” Are you overflowing with Living Water today? Or are you feeling the thirst that comes from seasons of drought – an inner dryness that nothing in this life can seem to satisfy? The Spirit inside of us produces good fruit to nourish and satisfy our soul. There are times when the Spirit of God within us is limited because of the lack of fertile soil – He cannot sow in a hard heart. The Holy Spirit lives in us to change our life from death to life sowing good seeds in fertile soil. Faith produces seeds of potential that must be cultivated to become the promise within each one. It is up to us to provide a place for them to grow, develop and mature into the abundance that the Lord has promised us. Without water, seeds die in the ground. Without the Spirit, the believer cannot move from death to life.

To be lowered in the water is like being buried with Christ, to make an exchange of all the dead things in our life so that they either be washed away or revived again. Sin is washed away along with regret and remorse. Faith is revived in the water and new life begins in that moment for those who believe. We must be buried in Christ with fruitful expectation that His Spirit will take over and produce new life in us all over again. This is not just for the new believer but every other saint of God who has become weary in well doing or overcome by fear, doubt, anxiety or disappointment. The water is for everyone.

Romans 7:3-6 (Message) So, my friends, this is something like what has taken place with you. When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for God. For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths. But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.

When we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.

It is often easier to get caught up in the rules and regulations of our religion rather than live a life true repentance and ongoing surrender to Jesus Christ. I have nothing of worth to give God other than my whole heart. My heart and life are not worthy of His Glory but what God desires therefore enough. We are married to Jesus in the careful exchange of sin and the acceptance of His Grace. When our life is fully reconciled to Christ – all the benefits and blessings associated with our relationship are evident. When we come up out of the water – it is like the resurrection of Jesus and new life begins all over again. There is no Christian who has it all together. There is no preacher, teacher, elder, deacon, or leader that does not fall short of the Glory of God and His Standard of living. No one can live apart from sin and the only hope we have is the resurrection power and life of Jesus Christ to keep us constantly turning in repentance to receive what He died for us to have.

We no longer live under “oppressive regulations and fine print”. We are free to live a new life of freedom in God. Do you live in the perpetual freedom that God offers those who believe? Do you have living water flowing through you today? Have you been baptized? There is no limitation on the water. You can come to the river as often as you like. Repentance is turning. Cycles are circular motions without real results. It may look like revival but it is not. It is repetition. Seasons are the terms and conditions of God’s Productivity. It is the prospering soul that receives all the blessings. A season produces something. It has purpose. It gives provision. In the end, there is an abundant harvest. It is how real revival begins and perpetuates itself. It begins when we surrender every dead thing to new life.

John 5:5-11 (Message) One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?” The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.” Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. That day happened to be the Sabbath. The Jews stopped the healed man and said, “It’s the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll around. It’s against the rules.” But he told them, “The man who made me well told me to. He said, ‘Take your bedroll and start walking.’”

There was a man who had been handicapped for more than three decades. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” The man began to make excuses. Jesus told him, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking. The man did exactly what Jesus said. He didn’t even make it into the water, but received his healing from Jesus right then and there. Immediately the Pharisees began to condemn the man for breaking the rules. It was the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll on Sunday. How many people carry burdens into church and lug them right out afraid to break the rules? Or how many preachers, teachers, elders, deacons, and the like live with heavy chains because they are afraid to come to the altar and be judged by their peers? How many times do we accept death where Jesus promised life just because of our pride? Too often. Jesus gives us the opportunity to exchange every dead thing for new life. He promises to make good of every detail of our life if we would only trust Him. Nothing can every separate us from the Love of God offered in His Son, Jesus Christ. Are you allowing something to separate you?

Seek out new life today. If that comes in the form of baptism when you can lay all these burdens into the likeness of His Death and be raised to new life then jump in with both feet all over again. Jesus didn’t give up His Life so that you would like a dead existence filled with doubt, discouragement, depression, disease or defeat. He came up out of the grave and so can you. You can leave death behind and embrace new life. You can do it as often as you need it. Jesus came to give us life more abundantly. Don’t stop until you receive it no matter what the cost. If that means running to the altar, do it! If that means jumping in the waters of baptism, go! Whatever it takes – let Jesus breathe new life in you again!

John 11:25-26 (Message) You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”