Greatest Temptation of All

Greatest Temptation of All

I Corinthians 10:13 (NLT) The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

What is temptation? According to the dictionary, it means anything that entices or allures one to do something regarded as unwise, wrong or immoral. The Latin origin, temptare, means to test. Everyone is tempted in life according to wisdom, knowledge, morals and ethics. Each year around tax time many are tested when it comes to proper income reporting to the government. In church, there is the temptation to withhold the tithe from the Lord. In life, there are corners to cut, gray areas to live in, and little white lies to tell. There is no one who can honestly say that they are not tested on a daily basis with opportunities to live beneath their own values and beliefs.

What about you? What tempts you in the natural each day? Is it to give less than your obligation to your employer? Is it to tear down the person who tweaks your insecurities? Is it to give more time to work than God or your family? Do you struggle with addiction? What is it that tempts you the most on any given day? For some it is obvious and others may not really think too much about it, but the truth is that every person is tempted every day. Temptation comes in our choices. The Son has set us free. As Children of God, we are free indeed. Will I choose God’s Best or settle for the rest? Will I press on or punk out? Am I determined to prosper and succeed according to God’s Promises or is just enough fine with me? Do I love comfort more than confidence? All of these questions are valid in determining our goals and setting our standard for life. The enemy of our soul wants nothing more than for us to settle for something less than what God has for us. To limit the victory of the Cross in our own life by allowing disbelief and doubt to dissuade us from faith and destiny clearly given to us when Jesus said, “It is finished” and released His Spirit to live in us. I have Resurrection Life and Power hidden inside my broken and fragile heart waiting to burst out of me – heal and restore me and wrap its arms around a dark and dying world to revive it as well. What temptation is breaking the back of believers? We are all challenged but one overriding temptation each day – it is the temptation to give up.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Truth be told, most of focus on the celebration of victory filled with emotional adrenaline rather than what it takes to live in it. Victory is not by chance. Champions do not win one game. It is easy to become caught up in the “huge crowd of witnesses” what they think, what they say and what they do. It is only natural to continually try to “strip off the weight that slows us down especially sin that so easily trips us up.” Often our relationship is forsaken for religion in the need to “do” all the right things but never becomes righteous in Christ alone. We look to Jesus. He is our Champion. Then things get a little difficult to understand, initiates and perfects faith. We cannot see faith or even touch it. It is our daily struggle to believe whether willing to admit it or not. Our life would be nothing but love, joy and peace if Christ completely took it over.

Endurance is the critical key to salvation. Don’t take my word for it. Jesus said it – the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13) Sin will be rampant. Love will grow cold. Life is unfair. Those who endure in their faith beyond what they see, feel and touch will be saved. Now where in that is the happy, happy, joy, joy feeling that makes the hair stand up on our neck and goosebumps cover our body? Where is the adrenaline rush in that? While waiting for our son to go into full remission, I thought about what my reaction would be to the news. Would I run, jump, dance or dissolve in a ball of raw emotion? I often fantasized during our fight for insurance coverage what it might be like when they called and said that he was finally approved. It wasn’t at all like I thought it might be. There was no finish line tape to run through, or freshly painted line on the road to cross. We did not dissolve in a cheering crowd or met with a ticket tape parade. To me it felt like I crawled across the finish line of faith and collapsed on the other side – empty and broken.

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Jesus was clear. His Purpose when He came and died for us was to give us a rich and satisfying life. How are you doing with that so far? Is your life rich? Is it fulfilling? Are you content? Are you satisfied? Me either. The only way that the enemy can steal your blessing that God preordained and Christ precipitates in us and through us is to convince us to quit. If he can entice us to give up before the finish line, he can stop our victory. Otherwise, he is powerless in our life. The one thing that keeps Christians going is faith in God. Complete confidence in the fact that God is not only able but willing to do exactly what He said. To be completely convinced that when Jesus said, “It is finished!” that it was done. New life begun. New creation in process. It is not a lack of promise in our life, purpose or potential but a lack of faith in God that keeps lacking.

When tempted to quit, it should be a red flag in our heart and mind that something is coming. God is doing something more than we even could think of or ask for. The unimaginable is on the horizon of hope and the enemy is working overtime to stop you from enduring long enough to obtain it. Do you want to quit? Are you thinking about giving up? Dig in? Press on? Your promise is closer than you think.

What is endurance? I looked it up, of course, I am a word junkie. To endure means to hold out against, sustain without impairment or yielding, undergo, to bear without resistance or with patience. To continue to tolerate. To bear. We must learn to endure. It is the secret to overcoming the temptation to quit or give up. Endurance is waiting on God until the very end. It means never letting go or letting up until fulfillment comes. To hold on to hope and all of God’s Promises until He does exactly what He said that He will do. To stay in the field until the harvest comes. To believe when it is impossible because that is when faith makes all things possible. God is faithful. He is always true to His Word. His Word will never return to Him void. It will always bear the fruit it promised. The purpose of endurance is maturity. Full development in our faith that gives us the rich and satisfying life promised to us by God.

James 1:12 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

God isn’t looking for perfect people. He does not expect you to live a sinless life. One sin is enough sin to put Jesus on the Cross for you. His Grace is enough. God’s Grace is the only thing that can make you righteous so give up on religion and fully embrace your relationship to the person of Jesus Christ. Endurance offers us the opportunity to bring God’s Kingdom to the earth. To live from glory to glory like He promised. It is not anything in my natural ability other than my unwillingness to give up on God or stop following Christ but simply to endure. Endurance leads to salvation. Simply saying, “Where you go, I go Jesus”. Endurance never stops following Jesus. It is in the place of His Presence that our life is made complete. Nothing I can do in my natural ability will produce the fruit that the Holy Spirit is holding as seed for me. I must live through each season, tending the field of my heart, planting seeds of faith and waiting for them to grow without giving up or quitting. Endurance produces an exit door from ordinary to extraordinary, natural to supernatural and mediocre to the miraculous. There is no escape door that will offer the same. We must reach the end. Finish the race. Cross over into His Glorious Goodness by His Amazing Grace.

James 1:17-18 (NLT) Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift from God. I do not argue this point at all only the perspective for a moment. What if there is an abundance that we are missing by simply settling for God’s Provision in our life. There are many “good” things in my life that I am thankful for, but what about the “perfect” gifts. What if there is more and I am missing it on those days I choose to tap out, give in to the temptation to whine and complain or worse yet give up altogether. If we were honest, every one of us would admit to days like that. Grace is such a wonderful gift. It is the opportunity granted by God to let Him pick us up, dust us off, and put us right back on track again. The beauty of grace is none is wasted and we will never miss what God has for us if we live in it. You are God’s Prized Possession. You! Yes, YOU! He wants nothing more than to flood your life and person with good and perfect gifts each and every day.

Galatians 6:8-9 (NLT) Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

What if there is more to life than this? What if God really is willing and able to do EXACTLY what His Word says about Him? What if I just have to endure? What if? We all can think about what if in the form of doubt and regret but what if I look ahead instead? What if God’s Blessing in my life is real? What if He really is that good? What if the Lord really does want to bless me? Is life so great now that I am willing to forfeit the potential of prosperity? To settle for the known rather than investing my life in the glorious standard of living that only faith and trust in God offers. I can satisfy my sinful nature and preserve my pride. I am free in Jesus Christ to live the life of my own choosing. However, if I want the rich and satisfying life that Jesus has promised – I must endure. I cannot and will not give up. I want the harvest of blessing from each seed of faith planted in my past. I have been sowing in the Lord a long, long time. I know there are harvests coming even though I am tired, weary and struggling to hold tight to the promise. God is Good! He is Faithful! He has never let me down. He does not intend to start now. I know this full well. I must act on my belief investing faith that chooses to endure to the end. I want all that God has for me. Everything Jesus died for me to have. I will trust Him. The greatest temptation in the life of a believer is giving up. The greatest blessing comes for those who endure to the end. Salvation. A Crown marked Life. Not just any life but a rich and satisfied one.

2 Corinthians 1:5-7 (NLT) For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

Don’t Stop Believing

Don't Stop Believing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Soul Prosperity

Soul Prosperity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disappear

disappear

Genesis 5:21-24 (NLT) When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

I am completely enthralled and intrigued by the life of Enoch. So little is said about him in the Word of God yet it says…walking in close fellowship with God, then one day he disappeared because God took him.” End of story. Disappearing in the Lord surrounded by His Glory so close that He just sweeps you away. It says that Enoch “disappeared”. How does one achieve such close fellowship with God that their entire life is summed up in walking so close with God that one day he just disappears? I want that life. Such unity with God through Jesus Christ, that my life no longer as important as the Presence of God that overtakes me. To live by faith to the point that no one really knows where I ended and Christ took over. To be one with Jesus Christ that is my goal and aspiration.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Enoch’s life earned him a place in God’s Hall of Faith – Hebrews 11. Enoch’s faith was the thing that united him to God the Father. A bond so tight that when it came time to leave this earth – he would be the only man spared a natural death. His Partnership with God so involved and consuming that there was no definite mark where Enoch’s life on earth ended and forever began. How is that even possible? It was by faith. Enoch lived by faith. He pleased God. It is impossible to please God without faith. Trust is evidence of faith.

Jude 14-15 (NLT) Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

How could Enoch have the kind of faith that leads to salvation before Jesus Christ? Well, Jesus Christ was in Enoch. Enoch is the seventh generation of Adam but the genealogy of Adam ends in Jesus Christ. Enoch was a man of God. He was a prophet. His example is noted in Jude’s letter that was intended to share the Good News yet again and encourage the recipients. However, Jude changed the content because “some ungodly people (had) wormed their way into your churches, saying God’s Marvelous Grace allows us to live immoral lives.” Such was the time when Enoch lived and prophesied. So it is even today within the four walls of the church…

I Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT) He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Oh Enoch, I hear you. I see your example. I am convicted to my core. I must decrease, Christ must increase. (John 3:30) I must become so wrapped up in the robe of righteousness that I disappear and Jesus is the Shining Light that resonates. I must live in partnership with Jesus Christ. I must be yoked to Him at all times. My relationship with Christ must dissolve into oneness. I must disappear to have the life that I am after.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. (Period) We must believe that faith is our potential in life and make our purpose to attain it at all cost. We have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living and must strive to achieve it again. God decided in advance and made a plan called grace for us to achieve it. Grace is not accomplished by my power but my weakness. It is total surrender of my entire life to live in Jesus Christ. In Him, literally not figuratively. To establish my whole personality and lifestyle including every goal and dream in the Person of Jesus Christ. The trouble is that my flesh wars against such measures. (Romans 7:21-25) I must fight the battle each day to avoid sin and be overtaken by God’s Mercy and Grace. This requires discipline. It will mean going against the flow and defying society’s norm. I know that the struggle is real but so is the Love of God manifested in Jesus Christ.

He is offering a partnership that raises my standard of living even if not evident in this life and its conditions. The purpose of our life is to become so united in faith with Jesus and others that our life measures up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Do you have faith? Do you trust the Lord? Can you find the places in your life where Christ is and is not?

It is time to erase the gray area and middle of the roads until the only thing evident in us and around us is Jesus Christ. This will produce the Fruit of God’s Spirit in us as an offering to the world. This offering is the first fruits of trust birthed in us. Without faith it is impossible to please God. We must desire such unity with Jesus Christ and completely consummated partnership so there is no longer evidence of where I end and Christ begins. We must become one.

Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

We have made something so simple quite complicated with our rules, religion and doctrine. The world has created grace to be a doormat to which all are invited. My life is not dependent on what other people think of me. It doesn’t matter if I attend church, tithe, and serve in ministry every single day for the rest of my life. If I do not have faith and walk in close fellowship with the Lord my life is still compromised. My relationship and proximity to Jesus Christ is up to me. I have eternity in my heart so I have the potential to become a Child of God. I am set to inherit every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way that I can live, walk, breathe and be united with my Father God. There is no other way. Grace is sufficient in my weakness when I surrender my life to the Lord choosing to walk in close fellowship. This is the place where new life begins. This is the place where I disappear and Christ takes over. I cannot maintain my pride, my rights or my natural inclinations but fully surrender my way, submit to the Word in order to have God’s Standard of Living. The Kingdom door is open for those who will trust Him. Do you have faith in God today? Do you trust Him? Nothing can separate us from His Love but sin will always get in the way of our fellowship and communion with Him.

I want to know Christ today. I want to be found in Him. The only way to do this is by giving Him my all. My everything. I cannot walk in close fellowship any other way but to disappear in His Presence and His Person until all they see is Jesus. Lord, examine my life. Reveal any hidden sin, compromised faith or delayed trust in me. Have your way Jesus. I don’t want my way but to walk in close fellowship with you until I completely disappear and all they see is YOU!

Philippians 1:11 (NLT) May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ[a]—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

Issues

issues

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Life is full of issues. It is complicated, chaotic and just plain messy. The word “issue” comes from the “exire” or “to go”. To use the word to describe a problem is actually a form of slang not its original intent. We all have issues. Things that we deem problematic but also embrace as acceptable weakness. These issues are the foundation of our attitude and actions in life. They also can be crutches if not carefully discarded to the Power of Jesus Christ. These excuses line the path of many failures as human weakness claims victory over amazing grace that releases the Power of God through Jesus Christ. The true definition of an issue is the act of sending out or putting forth. Promulgation to make known by open declaration. It is the act of distribution. It is up to the individual if their life will be defined by their “issues” according to term developed by the world (and ruler of darkness) or if I will allow the Power of God to work in me and flow from me in this life.

It is all about faith. Faith is the game changer in life. It is the moment when I choose to remove my residency from this world including all natural conditions and circumstances to become part of the Kingdom of God inheriting every blessing and benefit that is there waiting for me. My issues can become the very thing that God uses to promulgate His Message of salvation, deliverance and healing to the dying planet. However, my issues must be changed into something worth sharing with others. In a state of disbelief, they are debilitating and messy. But subject to the Power of God – they are able to offer deliverance as a message. What can I do to obtain such a transformation in my mind, soul and body? Faith. It is all about faith.

Hebrews 11:1-2 (NLT) Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for. Faith in the Name of Jesus Christ is evidenced by it. But do I really believe in the Name of Jesus? Is there evidence in my life that I know there are unseen factors working for me and against me in my pursuit of the Kingdom? Do I live in alignment with such thinking? Faith is the reality. It is the credibility of one’s salvation and must not ever be taken lightly. It is not the lottery. It is not random. It is the intentional mindset that there is more to life than this and it exists purely in my connection to Jesus Christ which facilitates full adoption as Child of the Living God.

Ever since our son achieved victory over cancer by faith in Jesus Christ, many people have asked us to pray for them. This is a profound privilege which allows us to agree with them and kick the enemy where it counts time and time again. But my faith must connect with your faith to make it happen. It is the power of agreement. However, if you do not have faith in the Living God and Power of Jesus Christ – my faith will not be enough for you to overcome. Your miracle is in you. Your healing is in you. By grace you have been saved through faith, it must believe in the supernatural inheritance that is received as God’s Precious Child and Jesus Christ’s Beloved. Faith is granular in nature. It is difficult to achieve. We must overcome our issues and make them promulgated notices of Gods’ Power and Authority over our life.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

Do you believe in the blessings and benefits of faith? Do you believe that God will do all the things promised in His Word? Do you know what the Word says are such things for your life? Faith points to the Word of God as the Will of God for you. Faith adds links that keeps hope the anchor for our life. It is absolutely necessary to have all the Promises of God and His Power issued in our life. Grace allows us to experience all these things despite the times our weakness overtakes us. F

Let all that I am praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart. I will praise His Holy Name. “Let all” it is a process of turning over every aspect of our life that allows faith to take over fear. Belief to drown every doubt. To let confidence move aside cowardice. It is to take on the name Child of God and live like one. This is the evidence of faith that believes beyond what we see so we walk by faith and not by sight. It is a journey. Not a single encounter but multiple experiences that build on our first encounter. Salvation is only the beginning of God’s Process of Transformation. He is bringing dead things to life. God has a purpose locked in you that releases God’s Full Potential day by day simply when I choose to believe.

Mark 5:25-34 (NLT) A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

The woman with the “issue” of blood is a powerful story of deliverance. She is the perfect testimony of getting over our issues to allow the Power of God to take over our life. She had been bleeding for more than 12 years. Her body was anemic and weak. She had seen many doctors. She had exhausted her resources looking for a cure. The woman had gotten no better and it is unimaginable the many things she had been subject to in the name of medicine. She hear the name of Jesus. She believed. She went into the crowd. She touched the hem of his garment which I believe means she probably had to crawl through every one to get to the Lord. His Power healed her instantly. She withdrew. He called her. She could not remain a nameless face any longer and came to kneel before Jesus.

The woman got over her issues. Can I? Let’s talk about some of her issues:

Matthew 19:26 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

The woman could find no earthly cure to her infirmity. She had exhausted all options for medical treatment. She had spent all her time and money pursuing an answer to her problem. Now she entered the realm of hope called impossible. Faith is only needed when man can offer no solution. It is no wonder there are impossible opportunities in our life. To reach the end of human possibility is to enter the realm of hope where all things become possible if we believe. This is a crossroads in life each one of us come to. It is the choice to believe beyond this world or remain subject to our situation and circumstances. What is your issue today? Is it impossible? If not, you are on the verge of a breakthrough. You are at a pivotal point in your journey to eternity. Will you press in or give up?

 

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The woman was weak from her issue. She was more than likely severely anemic which altered her appearance and ability to function. The decision to go to Jesus that day was not taken lightly. She would have to face all the people who shunned her because of her “issue”. It would challenger her body as she had no physical strength. She was completely overpowered by weakness. She did not let that stop her. It was time to press through. She heard the Name of Jesus and believed. Her belief in Jesus Christ was enough to empower her to get to Him that day. What about you? When faced with weakness where do you go? What do you do?

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Her faith made her press in to touch the hem of His Garment. Unlike others before her, she did not Jesus to do it her way. She literally crawled on the dirty street through the feet of those who trampled her because she believed that the Lord had something for her that day. He did. What about you? Do you truly believe that if you can simply touch the edge of His Presence that the Lord has something in store for you? If you do, you will seek Him wholeheartedly. You will humble yourself before the Lord because pride will not keep you from the blessings and benefits waiting for you as a Child of God. I believe the altars of our churches would be full again if someone was willing to give up their issues to fully accept the Power of God in their life.

John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Jesus is the way. The woman did not wait for Jesus to meet her expectations but her full effort into making Jesus her Expectation. She believed she would be healed by just touching Him. She didn’t need or want anything else. Too many times our issues dictate our response to Jesus Christ. Rather than the issue of His Power in our life becoming our priority. We want God to heal us our way. We want Him to deliver us to our destination not His. We have all these issues in the natural that must be put away to have the supernatural. God’s Power works in grace because we need it. Every day I have new mercy because of my many faults and failures that become my issues. Today can be different if I choose to have faith in Jesus Christ and place all my expectations in Him. This means that He becomes My Way, My Truth and My Life completely.

“If a person suffers for a while from a complaint and seeks no medical advice, but in the end goes to the doctor, he invariably says, “You should have come to me sooner.” But it is the glory of Christ that He can heal those who come late to Him.” (Biblegateway.com) Reading this today, I could barely keep from just dissolving in tears. This is Jesus. He gives us the opportunity to accept His Grace and have His Power the very moment that we ask Him to be our Savior and Lord. Even in our struggle to live for Jesus, believe in Him, trust Him and know Him – He never berates us but meets us right then and there when we reach out and touch Him with faith.

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Quickly the Physician saw the patient, and trembling with self-consciousness but too glad and grateful to falter, she confessed to her touch of His robe. “She told him all the truth.” She experienced that open confession is good for the soul. What a glow of gratitude her countenance must have had, as she publicly stated that her burden for twelve years had rolled away!” (Biblegateway.com) You are the Light. Light is not meant to be hidden but project and illuminate darkness. It is human nature to be ashamed of our weakness. Pride tells us to hide our issues. Faults are kept on tight wraps and failures glossed over in an attempt to earn some form of faith that is not reality. Faith is to fully accept God’s Grace and Power through Jesus Christ when we believe. If I don’t believe, I have nothing in the end. I will not overcome. I will not be victorious. When I am, it is my due diligence to share it with others. This is the Light. Faith becomes brighter when fueled by belief. With each issue given to God and resolved in His Power is an opening in our heart that allows His Light to shine in the world. We must stop trying to cover up our weaknesses and insufficiencies made complete in Christ and become the Light of the World that He indicated.

Do not be fooled. Everyone has issues that are in need of the Savior. Some are just better at hiding them than others. If you want the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ to surge through your life making all things new it comes with a level of transparency that says, “Look what the Lord has done.” We must be willing to share the Gospel of His Love with others by relating such experiences. These are the life changing testimonies that will foster belief in other people. Their ability to identify with you and see the hope that has changed everything. Are you willing to be the Light today? Or are you allowing issues to dim Power of God within you today? This nameless woman earned a place as a Biblical legend. All she wanted was the healing power of Jesus to set her free. Her faith was small but has yielded a much larger return when she was willing to come to Christ overcoming all her personal issues so that His Power could become the issue in her life.

Revelation 12:10-11 (NLT) Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.

Sink or Swim

sink-or-swim

Matthew 14:28-31 (NLT) Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Greg Louganis climbed the high dive in the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul Korea with his eye on the prize. He had worked all his life to prepare for this one moment. As he took the jump that would make history catapulting into a reverse somersault dive something went terribly wrong. He did not clear the 3-meter springboard but instead hit his head during the rotation. I can still feel the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. People watching around the world gasped with a huge intake of breath waiting to see if the young man was injured. He did sustain a laceration to his head requiring stitches. It is a mark which is still there today. The greatest triumph of all time would soon occur but it was all up to him. In the moments following his failed execution, Greg Louganis had to decide if he would try it again. Less than 30 minutes after the accident, he climbed back up on the board and executed the best-scored dive of the day leading to a gold medal that would gain Louganis the title of best diver of all time. It provided a new definition of human strength and resilience. The agony of defeat loomed over the young diver’s head. He had to decide whether the defining moment would end his career in fear or become history-making courage that overcomes fear by faith. It’s moments like this that separate the greats from the fakes in life.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

The story of the famed diver would not have been historical if Greg Louganis had given up. In fact, if he had not hit his head on the board just before securing the gold medal, he would be like every other diver in the history of the sport. His name on a list somewhere or heralded poolside for his achievements but never heard around the world. He was considered a champion in a sport often not recognized in the big arenas. The moment, he triumphed over fear to do it one more time – everything changed for him. Now the world will forever recognize him as the athlete who triumphed over fear and failure to claim victory.

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away.” Peter was doing it for an eternal prize. The storm threatened the disciples. So afraid that they even believed the figure coming toward them on the water to be a ghost rather than the Lord. Peter had purpose in his heart that he was not aware of so he called out to Jesus from the boat. ““Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” Jesus told the man to come. Peter was in training. His purpose and calling was not to survive the storm or become the first man next to Jesus to walk on water. The Lord was preparing him. Jesus saw the purpose God had instilled in him and knew it would take failure to discover faith. To be the man called him to be. Peter would have to sink not once but many times to get through the thick layers of flesh to the heart of the man. It is there that eternity and purpose would produce his victory.

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” Every step of our natural life leads us to the purpose that God has for us. From the moment our first breath is drawn until the last one is taken, the Lord provides opportunity after opportunity to take hold of the confident hope that anchors our soul. It’s called faith. Faith produces confidence in God. It is not a one-time endeavor but a series of faith failures that produce the certainty needed to make hope secure. It is in such moments of doubt that gives us insight to the areas of disbelief in our life. If we do not see each step as destiny and consider the purpose within them, our life gospel to others might be compromised. The agony of defeat looms over us. Yet Christ died so that I might overcome disbelief, doubt, fear and failure to claim victory in my life and become a history-maker.

What about you? On the verge of giving up? God called you to this place so why are you failing? The Lord told you to come so why are you sinking? The weight of the heart that takes us under is doubt. It is disbelief. It is the very thing that hinders faith. It is the Goliath people face every day that seems too big to overcome. David didn’t meet Goliath first. He established a relationship with God during all those lonely nights in the fields caring for sheep. He overcame a lion and a bear before facing the giant that day. Each step ordained by God to prepare the King of Israel. You have a purpose far greater than the potential of natural strength. It is found in the eternity in our heart that collides with passion and persistence in our relentless pursuit of God. It cannot be denied and our flesh remains dissatisfied until it is firmly established in the natural as it is in the supernatural. How do we get there from here?

Matthew 16:13-19 (NLT) When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

When Jesus began preaching, Simon Peter was the first disciple to answer the call – “Follow me.” One might discern immediately that he was a leader with an impetuous nature. He simply walked away from his business and family to follow this man called Jesus. (Matthew 4) Peter immediately responded to the call. Many of us do. We find our way into a church building or maybe born there and hear the gospel to which our heart responds. The Love of God so profound it sparks a desire to know Him and be known by Him. However, it is not in our initial calling that purpose is found. Jesus Christ our Savior says, “Whosoever will, let him come.” It is a just as you are message for those who are lost in the darkness of this world and dying in sin. He instantly applies grace. Many people, despite the religious banter, will live in this position of servant of God for the rest of their life. Struggling with sin and trying to keep their head above water. Salvation is all about grace. It is having just enough faith to believe that He is our Savior. The victory is secured for our life and purpose fulfilled when a person exchanges fear for faith and decides that He is Lord.

Jesus called Peter from his former life to embark on a new journey. He immediately got up and followed the Lord. When Jesus asked him, “But who do you say I am?” He was asking Peter despite the opinion of everyone else, who do YOU say that I am? “You are the Son of the Living God.” It was in this moment that God’s Purpose in this man was revealed through the Word, Jesus Christ. It was way bigger than his finite brain could perceive or his weak and wavering heart could accomplish in his current state. This revelation came after Peter sank. The fact that Peter had already failed once and fallen did not change God’s Call on his life.

Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. How important was Peter’s purpose? How significant this revelation? Peter would be a credible witness to thousands of people who at the sound of his voice would give their heart and life to Jesus Christ. They would be filled with His Spirit and triumph over sin. He was to be the first great preacher after Jesus leaves. He would establish the church and begin to knit together the body of believers that would become the Kingdom of God. However, if Peter did not overcome his fear to find faith – his preaching would most certainly be disqualified. To fall is human. To get up is faith. To stay down is ultimate failure.

Matthew 26:34-35 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

The test on the water followed by the true revelation of who Jesus is was only the beginning of his training. Peter would go through many trials to discover the true meaning of faith. Faith is essential. The Book of Hebrews is very informative when it comes to revelations of faith especially chapter 11. It begins with the definition of faith. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” How many times do we try to apply faith to the natural when it is intended for the supernatural? If you can see it, perceive it, do it, or attain it outside of Jesus Christ, it does not require faith. Faith is the deposit in us that connects heaven to earth and establishes Kingdom principles in our life. It is essential in our ability to overcome the powers, rulers and principalities of darkness set on robbing us of purpose, killing our faith, and stealing our destiny. We must have faith.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Men and women line the “Halls of Faith” in Chapter 11. People who could not give up on what they hoped for and overcame by their ability to believe by faith in an unseen God and His Word. Our ability to discover faith is perceived when against all odds – we overcome. Faith is not discovered in success but in failure. All the times, we mess up and God still loves us. All the dead ends that give way to destiny. Faith is a necessity far greater than human strength of ability. It takes us out of our comfort zone. It makes us face every fear and overcome it. It challenges us to climb higher mountains and to go through the deepest valley until we reach such confidence in God that no matter what happens in the natural – the supernatural is the very thing that dictates our next step.

Matthew 15:15-16 (NLT) Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.” “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked.

Peter had some things to overcome to become the rock that was ready to form the first church. The first was religion. Peter was a religious man. Raised a Jew, the new covenant that was coming challenged everything he knew about God. He couldn’t just eat anything or do anything because he was a Jew. The new covenant would do away with Jew and Gentile to produce only Children of God. There would be no more illegitimate children such as Ishmael. Abraham asked if the blessing could go to Ishmael because his faith too small to see Isaac. Ishmael was compromised faith that sought God’s Will man’s way. God’s Plan has always been for His Children to be legitimate so Jesus came to offer His Blood for all. Faith in Jesus Christ does away with religious doctrine but there are many religious spirits in the modern church today. Guidelines, rules, restrictions and mandates not set forth in the New Covenant but outlined to appease man’s need for control and inability to fully accept grace. Grace is all that matters. The full acceptance of God’s Grace that makes us fall in love with Jesus and desire His Presence.

Matthew 16:22-24 (NLT) But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” I have to chuckle when I read this verse again. Peter told Jesus to prove who He was and how to do it. Jesus has told us to “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.Are you willing to spend the next 30 days praying this prayer without adding your own list to it? Faith in God is faith in His Word, His Way and His Will. Like Peter, we ask God to move in us and then tell Him exactly how to do it.

Peter requested of Jesus, “tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” I’m still laughing because this is the desired mode of transportation for all people. Remember Moses calling out to God on behalf of the Children of Israel, the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian army bearing down from the rear. What did God say? “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground.” Maybe that is what the Lord is telling you today. Stop crying out to me and get moving. Peter wanted to get out of the boat but he didn’t want to get wet. He wanted to be dry and comfortable. The slaves of Egypt did not want to pay the price of freedom to become Servants of God. What if the thing keeping you in dissatisfaction, disappointment and disbelief is your inability to get your feet wet? Change is marked by the removal of comfort and confidence to embark on a new journey. If you desire change to move from failure to victory – you are going to be uncomfortable. It will be a challenge because human nature does not like change. It doesn’t care for the uncomfortable. It would rather remain in the known than take a chance on the unknown. Where are you today? Is it time to get moving?

Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT) Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

Peter was challenged by grace. Forgiveness is huge in this journey of faith. It is removing expectation from all humans and focusing it on Jesus Christ. It means no matter how many people knock you down, talk about you, offend you, hurt you, betray you, or do the most heinous thing to you – you must forgive them simply because Christ has forgiven us. This eliminates the cause of rightness to replace it with righteousness. If your faith is landlocked, the cement shoes might be unforgiveness. Is it really worth it?

John 13:6-9 (NLT) When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”

Peter had a pride problem. Pride is the backbone of every religious spirit haunting the church today. The idea that there is something we can do or be outside of the Word of God hawked as the Word but only manmade rules and regulations. We must shatter every bone of pride and selfishness in us to fully accept God’s Grace and answer His Call.

Luke 18:24-29 (NLT) When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God…”

Peter desired a natural return on a spiritual investment. If our motive for entering His Presence is His Hand, faith is not necessary for such endeavors. Faith makes the impossible possible. I can have earthly wealth simply by applying sowing and reaping principles to my life. If my desire is full satisfaction and completion in Jesus Christ, I must give up my desire for this world and the things of this world to be filled with more of Him. My desire must be for Christ alone. He must be that which I pursue in each step. When an earthly element restricts my ability to step out on faith, it is evidence of doubt and disbelief that God is able to supply my needs so that I will be complete lacking no good thing. It reveals dependency and trust in this world and not the God of the Universe.

Matthew 26:36-40 (NLT) Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?

Peter was weak. It is in our weakness that His Power is made perfect. The moment that I realize I cannot be who God called me to be apart from Christ. Grace is for the weak not the strong. Peter was weak soon after his nap. He would do what he said he would never do. He would betray Jesus not once but three times to save his own skin. In one account, it says that on the third time his eyes met the Lord’s as he sat before his accusers being interrogated and tortured. I am pretty certain at that moment, Peter felt like a failure who was completely unworthy of God’s Grace and Salvation.

John 21:3-7 (NLT) Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 

Peter had fallen. Peter had failed. Peter was certain his future was now dead and gone. Peter went back to the only thing that he knew how to do a broken man. When he heard the Lord call to him from the shore, he knew His Voice. He knew that it was time to sink or swim. He wasn’t going to fall again. He would not miss this moment. Live or die – nothing would separate him from the Presence of His Savior again. So he didn’t ask the Lord, is it you? No now Peter knew the Voice of God. He didn’t ask him to help him walk on the water. Peter didn’t care if he got wet so he jumped in over his head. He put all his energy and effort in swimming to shore. Forget the boat? Forget the huge net full of fish? Peter finally understood that everything he wanted, needed, desired and hoped for was in Jesus Christ and nothing no inconvenience or discomfort would keep him from reaching him. Like Greg Louganis, he was going to win. He would triumph over fear. Peter decided that he would not miss this moment. He made it to shore. He found Jesus. Peter’s faith was established.

What about you? Where are you today? On the boat or in the storm. In the water, but holding on to the dock. You know what is in your heart and hands weighting you down. What is keeping you from letting go to pursue the Lord wholeheartedly? He knows exactly what it is and is doing His Part to reveal it to you, but if you are not willing to let go of all the things Peter did to acquire faith – you will not ever experience the soul satisfaction of those who finally do. The inexpressible joy of faith in action. The triumphant victory for those who overcome ever fear and failure holding tightly to faith without wavering secured by the anchor called hope. Are you sinking or swimming today? It is really up to you. The champions are those who face their fears and overcome failures. Jesus is our Champion and in Him our victory secure. You cannot experience His Power outside of weakness that relies on His Grace. Humbly bowing our life and its contents to Him fully and completely. In fact, we only find faith and trust in Jesus at the end of self. Are you willing to go there? Will you be a history maker? A risk taker? Faith will never be comfortable, fashionable or logical on the earth. But when it comes to Eternity and fulling one’s purpose, our calling in Christ – it will be worth it every time. Come on in! The water is fine!

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Seeking a New Position

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Exodus 14:15-18 (NLT) Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will charge in after the Israelites. My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!”

I am seeking a new position in 2017. While maintaining my current earthly roles of daughter, sister, wife and mother including friend and co-worker, I am determined to achieve a higher position in my walk with the Lord. It is attainable. The door has already been opened and I am qualified for the position. It is mine for the asking. If I seek it wholeheartedly, it belongs to me. I have grown bored with yesterday. I no longer desire the past. I am set on the future and to press to the mark of the High Calling. I was made for more than what I am currently maintaining in my power and under my control. Now is the time to move into the new thing that God has prepared for me, secured on my behalf and calls from the deep for me to come to!

Where is my motivation? What is this inspiration? It came to me listening to the song, “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music. I have heard this powerful song of deliverance and freedom countless times and yet the epiphany so overwhelming it left me shouting in the car on the way to work. Stuck with me throughout the day, and played in mind until morning. I am a Child of God. Of course, I already knew that. But sometimes it is a position that believers struggle to fully achieve and maintain as a way of life. It is not easy to comprehend a God that loves unconditionally and is ALWAYS good especially when things don’t seem to be working in our favor or completely falling apart.

“You split the sea so I could walk right through it…My fears are drowned in perfect love…You rescued me and I could stand and sing…I am a Child of God…” You (God) split the sea (created an opportunity) so I could walk right through it (faith) my fears are drowned in perfect love (confident hope) you rescued me (He did it, not me) so I could stand and sing…I am a Child of God!

There are three positions evident in the journey of the Israelites from bondage to total freedom. Slave, servant and Child of God. They were chosen by God from the beginning. You and I were created and chosen by God as well. He gave us a purpose that includes a future and hope achieved by faith. Faith means totally and wholeheartedly seeking an unseen God based on His Promise and not the evidence portrayed in our current life and conditions. The Israelites had nothing to go on but the word of Moses given to him by God.  They were slaves to the Egyptians. This was not an acquired position which was sought after but rather rebellion to God landed them there. Sound familiar?

Romans 6:4-7 (NLT) For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

I am no longer a slave to sin. The Blood of Jesus Christ has washed away my sins as far as the east is from the west. Though I try my best to avoid sin, it happens every day nevertheless. If my desire is to become a servant of God, I must be willing to move from my position as slave to sin. When the Israelites were given the opportunity to be free again, they jumped at the offer. However, when things became inconvenient and uncomfortable – they decided they wanted to return to Egypt and the life of bondage they knew. We come to Jesus at His Offer of freedom but when it compromises our convenience and comfort many will just return to their old life rather than taking a chance on change. There are people today with great potential and hidden talents that will not leave their current employment for the very same reason. There are job posts every day for promotion. If you see the advertisement and desire the new job, yet do nothing to obtain it – whose fault is it if you do not get the new position. Jesus Christ has given us an opportunity called salvation. To live in complete freedom in this life moving into forever with Him one day as a part of His Kingdom. If you desire this position, you MAY have it but you MUST do something to make the move.

Hebrews 3:5-9 (NLT) Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts
as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years.

When God parted the Red Sea, the people had to make a choice. If you consider what that must have looked like in the natural, I am quite sure it took every ounce of courage they could muster to walk into the middle of two towering walls of water in faith that God would not let them go and destroy them all or they could remain behind and be led right back into slavery. The people chose to step out in faith and move from slave to servant.

What is the difference between slave and servant? Slavery is a forced position maintained by power and control. Servanthood is service offered with freedom of choice. Some slaves released by their owners in Biblical times would choose to become a servant if their master was fair, honest and good to them. We are no longer slaves to sin but will we move to become a Servant of God? Will we change positions? Will I choose bondage again or freedom of service? It is completely up to me.

In Exodus, the Lord told Moses to divide the sea so that the Israelites “can walk” not will walk or be forced to move but “can”. It was totally up to them to seek a new position. Once they made it through, now they were servants of God. What did they do? Rebelled. Over and over again. What is rebellion? Any time I do it my way and not God’s Way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. To have all of His Promises and achieve every bit of personal potential deposited in me by God means doing it His Way…not my own. Good servants do what their masters ask. Grace is the credential allowing me to move from death to live and slave to servant. Faith is the ability to progress. Total trust takes time. Your current placement does not fully reflect God’s Potential in your life. You were not created to be just a servant of God but redeemed to be a Child of God. If you desire such an adoption but if you choose to remain like a hired hand it is completely up to you!

Luke 15:17-24 (NLT) “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’” So the party began.

This is probably the scenario that is most accurate for most of us. We come to the Lord. Fail miserably. Decide that grace is not given but must be earned. Return to the Father seeking the position of “hired servant” because it most closely resembles the way of the world and what we are accustomed to and never realize our full potential as sons and daughters of the Living God. You are a Child of God. It doesn’t change because you took the wrong path, made a bad choice, or rebelled in any way. You still have the same potential that you were born with. It is up to you and me to seek new levels and positions in God by faith not facts.

The son just wanted to have a comfortable life. His father loved him completely and filled with compassion intended to give his son his entire estate. Your Father’s Unconditional Love and Limitless Compassion accompanied by Overflowing Grace is always ready to hand you “back” the Keys to His Kingdom. Are you willing to seek the position? Will you return home in humility to be elevated to new levels of His Grace? Faith is a requirement. Faith will never be comfortable. It is not convenient. It pushes us to the edge of ourselves and the very end of self in order for us to solely rely on His Grace as sufficient for us. When we do, it creates change and movement in our life to fully assume the potential invested in us by God who is ready for us to become His Masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

How many miraculous opportunities do we brush off because of fear and a lack of confidence in our Father’s Love for us? How many times have we taken other way when He offers to be the Way? Why do we continue to gather crumbs under His Table rather than sit at the feast in the presence of the enemy? What is keep you from fully assuming your position as Child of the One, True, Living God? Is it fear? Is it doubt? Is it comfort? Is it control? Is it pride? Is it selfishness? Whatever it is it is keeping you from enjoying all the benefits and blessings of God’s Kingdom because whether you have assumed such a position it is the one predestined for our life.

John 1:12 (NLT) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 

The New Year is fast approaching. You have the freedom to move into a new position and higher level and deeper place in the Presence of God. He is ready to promote you. The potential inside of you is untouchable by sin, shame or any other rebellious thing you can do. It is His Promise for your life released by faith and maintained by confident hope. The only limit on your future is put there by you. The only cell that you are locked in is held tight by your hands. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. What is your choice today? Will it be another year of slavery? Being led to and fro by fleshly desires and opinionated people who exhibit invisible control over you. Will you move into servanthood? Trusting that God is always good enough to begin serving Him with your life. It is the next step to total freedom. It is the one that allows us to experience some of His Many Benefits to test promises revealing their truth and validity. Are you ready to take the biggest leap of all and become His Child? I want to live like the Child of God that I am in the coming year.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground.

Why are you still crying out to God for what is already preordained and designed for your life? This is my revelation as I seek a new position in 2017. Why am I asking for that which is given? I must muster enough faith to do it. Trust to attempt it. Confident hope to receive it. See God has already done His Part. Jesus said, “It is finished” on the Cross completely His Role as well. The rest is up to me. God is ready for me to seek a new position in life and move into it. He has given me the opportunity so the rest is up to me. Can I? Will I? So I may? These all hand the baton to me to finish the race and win the prize. Can I do it? Yes, I can. Will I do it? Now that is an entirely different question yet to be answered. It is time for me to get moving. I am seeking a new position in 2017. How about you?

Acts 17:27-28 (NLT)  “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Smell Me

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2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NLT) But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

The term for my wanderings this lazy Saturday morning would be referred to as “piddling” or even “tinkering” here in the South. Only one sleeping beauty in the quiet house unless you count the tiny princess running around my feet. As I begin a load of wash, making my way to the garage to close the door left open by my husband on his way to the woods. The old cabinet which is my next refinishing project catches my attention. Grabbing a sandpaper block, I begin to scratch the surface to see how many layers of poly are on it. I begin to inspect it. I bought it from a woman down an old dirt road who lived in a tiny mobile home. Her mother had passed and all her belongings were set up outside under tarped makeshift coverings. I couldn’t really inspect the cabinet in the darkness as the rain began falling so loading it up it was acquired sight unseen. As the gritty edge cut into the top layer, the distinct smell of years of cigarette smoke caught my attention. Sliding open the cabinet, I could smell it there, too. Memories came flooding back to me of my mother’s parents. Grandparents I hardly knew and spent little time with yet in that moment I was carried back to their tiny apartment. My mom’s house smelled just like it as she aged and the generational curse took over her life, too. It’s funny how certain smells trigger memories.

When I was in grade school, I tried everything in my power to eliminate that smoky smell from my belongings. I hate cigarette smoke. It just smells so nasty. I remember being mortified that people could smell it on my clothing. When I went to my paternal grandparent’s house, they would quickly whisk our things down to the basement washing them all and packing them away. Back then the dangers of nicotine were not known like now, it was socially acceptable and just about everyone did it. When I became an adult, I vowed that I would never smell like that again. I promised that my children would not be exposed to it. I had developed an aversion to it. So much so that I am very sensitive to how things smell. I use scented soap. Dumping copious amounts of laundry detergent and fabric softener in the washer and smelly sheets in the dryer to make sure our clothing is pleasant and aromatic long after they cleaned. Bathing and deodorant which seem only natural but to some may not be is a household requirement. Militant efforts to maintain an inviting fragrance to all who visit.

I believe that when I came to Christ sin had a distinct odor in my life. Jesus washed me in His Blood and rinsed me in His Word wrapping me in righteousness and covering me in grace – it is only then that the fragrance of my life is acceptable to God. Please note I do nothing more than submit to the process of complete restoration, Jesus did it all. Yet over time, it is human nature to maybe become a little stale. Perhaps, it is in those moments when sin is allowed to remain in the hidden places like a rotting potato lost in the pantry. No, seriously there is no worse smell I assure you. Or maybe the sweaty smell of exertion when I tried to do what Christ already has done for me because I cannot accept free grace as enough for me. Like boy funk from sweaty gym clothes, discarded socks and every other perspired soaked thing they can find piled high in their room because a whole 20 feet to the hamper is just too dang far for their teenage legs to carry them. My life is to be a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. Lord, smell me. How do I smell to You? Is the aroma of my attitude and actions pleasing to You? Or do I offend you with the odor of sin and perspiration of human perfection? Hmmm…

Philippians 3:8-9 (NLT) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Have you ever smelled body odor and checked your own armpits? Discreetly, of course. I have done it I will admit. I keep perfumed spray and lotion in my bag just in case. I have deodorant in my car and desk at work. Are you judging me right now? I hope not. We should all consider the aroma of our life and decide if we are emitting the fragrance of Christ. When I discover it is me with stinking thinking or smelling choices, I immediately do something about it as not to offend or run off anyone else. What about you? Have you smelled yourself lately? We must examine our heart and mind every day. We must wash ourselves in the Blood of Jesus that is repentance, and know Him more by washing ourselves in the Word. My life has purpose. It is to please God. How can I please the Lord if He cannot stand the smell of me?

Have you ever flipped open the garbage in the morning to discover the delicious dinner last night has turned into a gross, disgusting and offensive odor that assaults you? The meal discarded in the trash can sits and ripens into rottenness by the very next day. What we eat becomes waste that is not pleasant smelling if you catch my drift. We all have to take out the garbage inside and out to maintain a sweet smelling life. When allowed to sit and fester – the odor permeates other areas of our life until no one smells our goodness just our grossness. Everything else is worthless when compared to knowing Christ. We must be willing to discard those things that stink up our life as the worthless garbage to become one with the Lord. It is in that moment the fragrance of our life is pleasing to the Father again.

The message of God is desirable when the aroma denotes something tasty. No one wants to eat something that is terrible. How many times have my kids said to me, “taste this its awful” or “smell this I think its rotten”. Now why in the world would I want to smell something bad much less eat it. God’s Love is sweeter than anything that I have every tasted. He is Good and fills my life with good things. If my life does not reek of God’s Love and Goodness, why would anyone want to taste and see that the Lord is good? You with me so far.

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

My plan for today is simple. I am going to work on my little project. First, I am going to take some wood soap and clean the cabinet inside and out. There are a few imperfections that I will quickly fix and adjust before I set to sanding it thoroughly. I have decided to stain the top and apply a coat of polyurethane. I want this old piece to come to life again. It has history. It bears the smells and scars of its past. With some time, attention and loving care, it will go from a piece of junk one step from the garbage to become my masterpiece.

We are God’s Little Projects filled with imperfections left by sin, our past, problems and more. Jesus finished His Work concerning us on the Cross. He bought us with for a tremendous price though God could stand the sight of us or the smell of us. Jesus washes us in His Blood and rinses us in His Word wraps us in righteousness covering us in His Amazing Grace – it is only then that the fragrance of our life becomes acceptable to God. I want to live in the Presence of God so I must go through the process of repentance and restoration day by day. He makes our life beautiful again as we become His Masterpiece again. The fragrance of our life is made new and attractive to the Lord and all who come into contact with us. Do you need to ask the Lord, “Smell me?” Today. Is there an unpleasant odor wafting from your life? Do people find you offensive and obnoxious when it comes to your life or do they find it pleasing and desirable? Do they want to know the Lord who has filled you with good things? Do they want what you have? Praise and worshipping God should emit a fragrance from our life that is inviting so others will want to know Him and love Him, too. How do you smell today? Can you smell me? Lord, may our lives become sweet smelling offerings and a perfume in Your Presence today!

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

A New Thing

a-new-thing

Titus 3:4-7 (NLT) But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

The past few weeks I have discovered chalk paint. To be completely honest, it has become somewhat of an obsession taking over my life. I love to make old things new again. My first project was an old antique dresser. It was a minimal investment to insure if I ruined it that I would not fret. Staining the top to bring out the original wood grain and textured, the old chest could be seen. I proceeded to coat and cover the rest of the piece with linen white chalk paint and it became my masterpiece. So now every old piece of furniture that I am considering getting rid of undergoes a fresh transformation thanks to the newly discovered painting product and the fact I discovered a wide selection of colors at the local Wal-Mart. I love taking something someone is ready to throw out and giving it new life. Making it into something new and useful. God did that for me, you know. Took a little girl lost, gave her a new life, new purpose, a beautiful family and wonderful future. It didn’t always look like it but as I trust the Lord with a little bit here and a little more there – faith is growing into something more beautiful than anything I could think or ask for.

No, this is not a tutorial on chalk painting or the merits of it. But one more thing about the paint that I find quite impressive and then I will move on. It covers everything. One coat makes such a difference. If you distress it by rubbing off edges or added some texture, it looks even better. The Blood of Jesus covers it all. My past is hidden behind the pristine righteousness left behind once our sins our covered in His Bright Red Blood. I wonder if we could see ourselves as God sees us after grace is applied, if we would understand that our future is way better than our past. Would we give up the old things taking the place of the new things that the Lord is ready to do in us, through us and around us? Would we trust Him in the application of transformation just a little more and know that in that moment His Grace is enough to catapult us into a prosperous future? What if we took a chance on a new thing rather than clinging to old things that are comfortable? The unknown Plan of God is way better than our present reality – we just need a little faith in the product of our salvation and confidence in the Promises of God.

Isaiah 48:6-8 (NLT) You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled, but you refuse to admit it. Now I will tell you new things, secrets you have not yet heard. They are brand new, not things from the past. So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’ “Yes, I will tell you of things that are entirely new, things you never heard of before. For I know so well what traitors you are. You have been rebels from birth.

It took me months to muster the courage to paint a piece of furniture. I was afraid that I would mess it up. Yet secretly I kept looking at the work of others thinking I could do it. I had no confidence in myself. I had no knowledge and therefore doubted my ability to do so. Here is the thing. I wonder how many things that the Lord whispers to us to encourage us and empower us to do something new that are suppressed based on our old life, old ways and old person. What is He whispering in your ear today? What is that new thing that sounds impossible? Overwhelming? The Lord inspires us to do new things because we are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) He sees us as a new person even if we don’t. He sees the purpose in us not the conditions around us. He makes all things new beginning with you. It takes time for us to be transformed into the new creation but the most important thing is that no matter how long it takes – we are transformed. (Galatians 6:15) Also of great importance to note is that God knows people are rebels from birth so He provided grace and new mercy each day. No excuses. Today is the day of new things…

Isaiah 43:18-21 (NLT) “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

I used to think that all the “new things” the Lord wanted to do in my life was new like the world perceives it. Out with the old in with the new. God is the Creator of all things. He created you with a plan and purpose that sin tried to kill and the enemy tried to steal. But God. He provided everything we needed from the beginning right down to documenting every minute of our journey and recording it in time, that lead to our success and not failure. So what does that mean? Your life is just as it should be. When we discover the Love of God and accept Jesus Christ as Savior – the sin that once killed every good thing in our life and darkness that prohibited our growth potential is gone. The decision to make Jesus our Lord and follow Him causes the new things He promised to come to pass. He takes our life, this life exactly where we live and prospers us here. He turns wastelands to waterfalls. He makes a pathway through our wilderness. Our commitment to Christ is what brings forth the new thing. Our willingness to follow leads us to prosperity.

Romans 4:16-17 (NLT) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

Faith is all that is needed to have a new life. Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Do you believe in that God, too? Abraham believed enough to sacrifice his only son that he waited almost 100 years to meet. What are you willing to sacrifice? Your time? Your comfort? Your trust? Your feelings? Your rights? Your past? Your anything? The Lord has been whispering to you a new thing. He is always leading us to new life. Are you listening? Are you trusting? Do you believe that He can actually do something with all those broken pieces not fit for anything? Why not hand it over? Why not just give God a chance? Faith trusts God when we cannot see what is coming or a way out. It is the thing that says keep going when the impossible rises up. New things come to those who trust the Lord enough to stop looking back and take one step…just one step forward. Is that you? Are you ready for something new? Go for it. He is waiting on you!

Mark 8:34-36 (NLT) Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?

Proof of Purchase

proof-of-purchase

I John 4:12-13 (NLT) No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 

The besties and I set out on the “Black Friday” adventure on Thursday afternoon. With no real plan or intent other than just to hangout and have some fun, we gathered at command central (one friend’s house) to plan our outing. Pouring over sales papers, finding great deals, and enticing offers – off we went to fight the crowds, laugh and start off the festivities of Christmas together. Now before anyone pulls out the old soapbox to declare consumerism is communism of Christmas, let me assure you my friends and I love Jesus. We are considerate of those who had to work on Thanksgiving as well. If the stores had been closed, I would have been just as happy at home with family and friends. I believe in contentment. If your choice was to stay home, I pray it was with the heartfelt intent to enjoy one another and share the love. There is a point to my story and it has nothing to do with politics or opinions, but rather proof of purchase. It is my conviction that human beings compare and find conflict quite easily. We divide and demand our own way readily. Just ask the person who zoomed up behind the car pulling out at one store, and honked profusely when I pulled into the spot that I had waited patiently for. They waved letting me know that I was number one or at least that’s how I took it. This is about proving who I am in Jesus Christ.

Driving home on Friday after Thanksgiving, there was a man on the street corner yelling at the passing cars about God’s Judgment. He was hollering at people that Jesus is the reason for the season and I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly except the Jesus I know whispers in a still small voice and speaks to my heart. He doesn’t berate me when I fail Him. I let Him down enough to know that the Lord should have left me a long time ago, but He loves me and will never leave me or forsake me. Is the gentleman who gave up his time to “preach” on a street corner really getting God’s Point across or is he only reinforcing what the world already thinks about Christians? It doesn’t have to be the guy on the corner it could be those of us congregating in the lobby of any church. When the person walks in who is not walking the right way in the world or at least according to our self-righteous opinion? Do they feel welcome? How about the one who has not been there for a long time? Do they feel love and warmth? See I think that as believers – we need to reconsider our approach to this thing called Christianity. As followers of Christ – we must be like our Savior and Lord rather than redefining the guidelines with new doctrine. Let’s just do it His Way for a change.

One of the stores was offering small appliances at a major discount. Waffle irons like the fancy hotel kind that make my kids giggle with glee and crockpots were less than ten dollars. I was sold at that sign. I love kitchen goods and gadgets. Once at the register, they rang up more than double the cost. When I asked the cashier, if the price was correct. She said, “Yes, there is a rebate on these items.” Ahh…rebates. Rebates are a commitment that many shoppers are not willing to make. They are safety nets for the stores because many consumers never get around to turning them in. With a bit of hesitation, I went ahead and bought the items I couldn’t resist. There were more purchases that required the same process to claim the discount. I have spent some time gather the information, filling out the form, sorting through receipts and providing proof of purchase barcodes. Each one sits before me in a carefully marked envelope with proper postage. I will mail these in today and wait for the refund for each item. Waiting is not my favorite but always seems to be a requirement.

I have asked Jesus Christ to be my Savior. Many people will agree that they are saved simply because they asked Jesus to save them. This is the only requirement. It is the process of redemption that we declare Jesus to be Lord of our life and live like it. Many will make this process more comfortable by bending the rules which is compromise or making this a legalistic venture requiring staunch adherence to ridiculous rules and regulations never outlined by Christ at all in His Commandments. He only gave us two – to love the Lord God with our body, mind and spirit and to love everyone else the same. Well, now you know why everyone makes Christianity about something else. Love is my proof of purchase. We struggle to love selflessly. Many honest people will admit that it is tough to love themselves some days. How do we know that redemption is at work in us? After all, I cannot see God, yet I know He lives in me. But how? God’s Existence in my life is exemplified by my ability to love other people.

I John 4:15-16 (NLT)  All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

About halfway through our shopping adventure, our group decided that food was absolutely necessary to carry on and came across an old burger mainstay that remained open to serve the tired and weary shoppers. Sitting around the table after inhaling our food, I looked at the faces of three ladies I love and admire very much. They are people who I cannot live without in my life. One face represented the younger me. One represents the transformation process I have gone through. One is the person I am becoming. Each one is necessary in my life not just because I love them with all of my heart but they reflect God’s Hand at work in me. I believe that God positions people in our life everyday meant to draw something more from us. Those we love and respect teach us, sharpen us and encourage us. There are those that challenge us causing our iron to be sharpened. There are those that break us and reveal the contents of our heart exposing anything not worthy of His Spirit that inhabits us. God loves all people. All people have a purpose. Redemption is achieved by our ability to love each other. Say what?

To demonstrate our commitment to Christ, is one’s ability to love and be loved. We cannot earn or achieve salvation any way other than to surrender our life to Jesus Christ – body, mind and spirit that encompasses the whole person. With this in mind, the two commandments are to surrender our entire life to our love for Him AND to give that love to everyone else as well. I have accepted God’s Unfailing and Unconditional Love as my own and now I am mandated to give that same love and grace to others. This is how the world knows I belong to Him. This is the characteristic that tells others I belong to Christ. Can I do it?

Philippians 2:12-16 (NLT) Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 

In order to receive the refund, I had to follow the instructions on the rebate form. We must continue in the Word of God daily and do what it says not what we want it to say or decide what bits and pieces relate to us. It is all about us. When eating and digesting God’s Word each day – it will feed and nourish our soul, it will strengthen our mind, and it will cause us to lose taste for the lesser things in life. To taste and see that the Lord is good quickly will make us see that the Bread of Life is all that is needed to live a healthy and prosperous life.

To redeem my rebate, I also had to provide everything that was required in the instructions. I couldn’t just give what I wanted to give. I had to follow the redemption requirements. I am speaking this softly and in love, if you try to preach the Gospel and share the Good News without copious amounts of unfailing and unconditional love – you are not preaching at all. The point of the entire Bible is that God is love. If your message is not working, lives are not changing, people are not listening – it is time to evaluate the content of our heart to be sure our message is purely that of God’s Love.

I had to consider the cost. When I purchased the products, I had to pay the full price up front. To mail off the rebate information required postage. Are you willing to pay it forward today? To love when you feel unloved. To give when you are not receiving. To exchange hatefulness and ugliness for love and peace. See the world is not bent on giving but getting. Love has grown cold. Sin is rampant. You are not like that anymore but a Child of God. You live in light that others hide from because they have not experienced the Light of His Love but that of condemnation and mostly by church people. We have work to do to save the face of organized worship that long has invited sinners to slap that them with doctrine and beat them with rules. God is love. Christians should express the same thing to others that the Lord has given them even if it means paying it forward. Self-preservation is not part of the saving process, friend. You cannot give your life away and keep things tucked away and hidden safely inside. Faith is based on unseen things not what is right before you. We must be willing to lay our life down in the Name of Love holding nothing back and considering the cost before attempting to build relationships with others (all others) on anything less.

Finally, my favorite part (not so much), waiting on the return or reward. Ugh! Are you willing to wait for love to find you? Will you love until He comes? Will you provide proof of purchase and wit on your reward?

Matthew 10:16-22 (NLT) “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.”

Believers are sent out as sheep in a world full of wolves. Early disciples were beaten within an inch of their life and when released continued to share the message of God’s Love. Most Christians cannot endure a good tongue lashing from another without giving up on loving that person altogether. Everyone who endures to the end will be saved. The world will hate you because you follow Jesus. It is not our job to change the world’s mind. The ruler of the world hates God and therefore hates His Children. Stop trying to change the world and devote your time, energy and prayer life to loving others completely. Unconditional love is mandated as the only thing that true believers are obligated to. God is God over it all. He has everything under control. What if we spent as much time trying to win souls with love as we did with arguments? God didn’t sent you to win a debate but to be His Disciple. He is Sovereign. It doesn’t matter what people think. What matters is have they experienced God’s Love and had a one-on-one encounter with His Son, Jesus? I cannot make proper introductions when He is a stranger to me or casual acquaintance. I cannot be a Child of God or disciple of Christ unless I am learning, striving and devoted to loving others all others. It is part of the redemption process that cannot be overlooked and avoided. It will require me giving my all to love. (Period)

Psalm 103:1-4 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

Lord do not let me forget the benefits of your love today. I am saved by Your Grace alone and nothing I do. Let me remember each day that I am redeemed and crowned with love and tender mercy. It is from this position that I rule and reign over the enemy each day. To live in Your Love and share it with the world is my process. I am only effective when I give my life away like You did for me. Lord, teach me to love like you do so I will endure to the end and be saved.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”