More Life

More Life.jpg

John 7:37-39 (ESV) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Are you satisfied today? Truly satisfied with your life, your love and your lot? What do you want? Do you have a specific need or desire unfulfilled? Contentment is not a product of comfort or compromise but evidence of hope. Thankfulness is not always a result but sometimes a resolution. Outwardly our hands reach for the things in life that are often thought to bring security only to find that it does nothing to offer satisfaction. Satisfaction is fulfillment. It is gratification that leads to contentment. The acceptance of something as satisfactory, dependable and true. To be fully compensated. To discharge a debt and live freely from it. The word “satisfaction” is from the Latin word meaning to make enough. Jesus came to give us life and have it abundantly. (ESV) The New Living Translation of the same verse says, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” How do I find satisfaction in the midst of dissatisfaction? Where is abundance when it is not in my hand? The enemy has a purpose clearly defined as well. The thief’s desire is to steal and kill and destroy ever good thing God is doing for His Children. Night and day it is his mission to stop us from having a rich and satisfying life in Jesus Christ.

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 

Dissatisfaction fuels desire in the heart of man. It creates desperation that draws out the inner flesh and rallies our pride to take over and make do. To hunger is a desire. To thirst is desperation. Without food, our body can survive for about three weeks. However, without water, the body will only make it about three days. Desire is one thing, but desperation is another. Jesus said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Life is full of fluff. Distractions that make us desperate for things that really only are desires. Jesus promised those who thirst and drink from Him will be filled with Living Water that will overflow from our heart. A heart full of His Love will not desire anything else – it becomes satisfied.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The Words of Jesus tell us directly from His Mouth that His Purpose is to give us life and that it would be abundant. This defies human logic when the details of our existence do not produce soul satisfaction. I have several buckets around the house used to carry water. If the bucket has a hole in it and I turn on the facet to fill it – it doesn’t matter how long the water runs it will never be satisfied. It can run and run but until I fill find the breach and patch it – it will never be satisfied. My heart has holes in it. Broken places. Open wounds. Insufficiencies. To have life abundantly – they must be satisfied first. I came that they may have life…and have it abundantly.

Satisfaction is a two-step process it seems. I must give Jesus my heart. He then can fill my life with good things that used to run right through me. My heart can be full. Expectation met and exceeded. My soul must be satisfied for my life to prosper. I must be made whole and complete to become the vessel where abundance flows.

Matthew 15:32-38 (ESV) Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 

It’s funny how fellowship with church folks usually involves food. I wonder if this is where we got the idea from. We live in a small, rural community with only about four restaurants to choose from. After church on Sunday, they are full of congregants. All the churches are fully represented. Sitting in their designated groups, wearing Sunday best, smiling and waving yet I wonder if they are satisfied. Are they filled to overflowing from the Word of God they just received? Did the Spirit of the Living God saturate their heart and soul in His Presence? Jesus had been teaching the people for three days. There were no restaurants to serve the people. It was quite a crowd. More than four thousand men, women and children. Tasked to feed the people, the disciples applied human logic and quickly came to the conclusion it would be impossible to feed them all. The disciples were looking for an outward solution to an obvious problem. Jesus asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” What do you have today? What is in your hand right now? Elisha asked the woman with enormous debt the same question, “Tell me; what do you have in your house?” (2 Kings 4) The abundance in our life is limited by perception. Our nature is to hold on to what we have. Fear of lack grips the superficial when God wants to do something supernatural.

Jesus told the crowd to sit down and took what his men had brought – seven loaves and some a few small fish. He gave thanks for it and blessed it. He then gave them back to his disciples who distributed it among the people. They all ate and were satisfied. How is this even possible? “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Now here is the important piece to the puzzle – when everyone was satisfied there was an abundance left over. Our life is filled with the substance of abundance. There are times when desire and desperation are necessary to experience the promise of abundance. Times of extreme hunger and thirst that drives us beyond ourselves to Jesus. In Matthew 14, Jesus fed more than five thousand with the lunch of a little boy. It tells us that Jesus had compassion on the people. Jesus wants to satisfy you today. He wants you to experience life and abundance. It will require being blessed and broken. It always does.

Proverbs 19:20-24 (ESV) Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar. The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm. The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

God has a plan for your life. It contains a future and hope. The purpose of God is never to our detriment. It is always for our good. This is wisdom for your life today that must become fully engrained in our brains to overcome the fear of lack that keeps us holding on to what God gives us rather than using it to prosper in abundance. Releasing seed to soil gives increase, while holding it tightly in our hand does nothing. The potential of every seed is a plant. The purpose of our life is to live and do so abundantly. We need godly advice and instruction to continually sow the seeds of faith and hope in our heart and mind until total trust takes over. It doesn’t matter how many times I get it wrong, fall short, give up, or quit – the purpose of God for my life will stand.

What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar.

The desire of every heart is steadfast love. It doesn’t matter how cold or callus the exterior or hard the human heart becomes it still beats to find love, connect with it, and become one with it. God has placed eternity in our heart for that very purpose. So that our desire cannot and will not ever be satisfied with lesser things. That it will not be content in the things of this world or find fulfillment in compromise. We are Children of the Living God blessed with an inheritance of abundance that the Father desires to give us and will stop at nothing to produce “in” us. The Love of God satisfies our heart, mind, and soul. It is the plug for the bucket of blessing that we think has run dry. The blessing is pouring in. As Jesus binds our broken heart with love and grace, finally our life begins to increase in abundance because there is no longer a breach between God’s Kingdom and His Children.

The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.

There are two kinds of fear. Fear meaning distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil or pain and then there is the kind that is reverential awe, respect and admiration. In our sinful condition, fear of the Lord is that of distress and rightfully so. When Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord, fear becomes respect and admiration or at least it should. Old habits die hard. Our life in Christ makes us new creations. (2 Corinthians 5:17)  It is a transformation process. All of me for all of Him. I decrease while Christ increases in me. (John 3:30) To fear the Lord leads to life. A life of peace in the Presence of God that offers us true satisfaction, contentment and fulfillment through this process called transformation.

The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.

The truth in this small statement weighs heavily on my heart today. There are times when the abundance of God is in our grasp but our unwillingness to bring it back to our “mouth” limits us. We falter in obedience. We stop engaging in the process. We give up on the promise due to a lack of faith or commitment then blame God for not doing His Part. Where is the satisfaction the Lord has promised? It is well within our reach. It is just outside of our grasp. It is right there before us maybe just a step or two in the distance. We bury our “hand” in His Presence but do not reach for God’s Heart. When our heart is sealed with His Love, holding on to hope is no longer pointless but essential. We will not only reach out for the Lord but pull Him tightly to our chest. To breathe in His Love and breathe out prosperity. Christ lives in us. His Life is engrained in our being. But until we allow our hearts to be broken and blessed – healed and restored – satisfaction remains elusive and contentment out of reach. Fulfillment is only possible when we become one with Jesus Christ. To reach for Him but not grab hold of Him leaves us empty handed and brokenhearted. Abundance cannot flow from such a place. Increase is not possible where seeds are not sown. God is calling to us. He holds satisfaction in one hand and is ready to give us a brand new heart. As our soul prospers, so will we. It is never Christ’s intention to leaven anyone hungry or thirsty but that all will be fully satisfied by His Great Love.

Matthew 5:6 (ESV) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

The D-Word

Dare To Be Disciplined

 

Philippians 3:12-16 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.

It’s funny as I type this today, that spellcheck on my computer doesn’t care for the word “Christlike”. It has the red squiggly line under it that means it doesn’t recognize it or suggesting that I select an acceptable alternative for it. Isn’t that life most days? Autocorrect and spellcheck are used for grammatical and typographical errors but omit certain legitimate words according to the usual vocabulary. It is even modified as not to offend others. Sigh. Yes, I have inserted a sigh. I am not a runner. I am not built for endurance. Patience are a challenge for me most days. I am cool under pressure… most of the time. But as time goes by, things don’t change, my plans don’t line up, and fatigue sets in – the thought “there has to be more to life than this” brings me to a choice. The valley of decision. It is a low place with many dark corners. It is filled with echoing voices and shadows of doubt and fear that tell me just quit. Stop. Give up. Quit. What’s the point? Life cannot ever be normal again. There will always be problems. Constant pressure. What are you going to do? My head is filled with circling thoughts of why I should give to all these suggestions made valid by my feelings and emotions. But then I hear it…that still small voice inside of me…probably a lot like the one Elijah heard on the mountain after the earthquake, fire, and storm…”What are you doing here?” The Lord spoke these words to the prophet. So many victories in his corner, so many miracles already in his midst, yet still the voice of doubt and fear drove him into hiding. The voice I hear today is just a bit different. The Lord says, “Press on.”

2 Timothy 4:7-10 (NLT) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. Timothy, please come as soon as you can.  Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia.

Before you pick up the bat of comparison and begin beating yourself soundly in the head for feeling this way today, let’s look at the Super Christian Paul. Paul fought the good fight. He finished the race. He remained faithful. He knew in his heart that his days were numbered and soon he would claim the prize. The crown of righteousness which the Lord would hand to him. He was ready. Paul was also human. Immediately following this confident statement comes the cry of man struggling and feeling isolated. “Timothy, please come as soon as you can.” Everyone had gone on their way. The only one left with Paul was Luke. He was calling for backup. Paul needed some support. It is only natural in this life of following Christ to have days when the pressure is overwhelming, doubt may kick in, discouragement gets the best of us, our emotions out of whack, and even when throwing in the towel seems like a viable option. It doesn’t mean that you do not love God or desire Him with all of your heart. It means, dear friend and follower of Christ, that you are human.

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. 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? 

Jesus understands how pressure feels. He knows what it means to want to give up. He also decided to press on. The Last Supper over and the betrayal of his follower, Judas revealed. Our Savior and Lord is well on His Way to the Cross. The hour had come. The end was near. He needed to talk to His Father one more time before this final journey to the Cross. He already knows the one who claims to love him most and the person who professed dying for him would soon deny ever knowing Him. Yet, Jesus asks him to come and keep watch while He prays. Well, Peter, James and John were exhausted from their journey. Still mulling over His Words, they fall asleep. Even after Jesus said to them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” – still they could not keep their eyes open. In those final moments, Jesus petitions His Father in Heaven, “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” I cannot imagine how the words of the Son must have ravaged the Father’s Heart.

I believe that when in the midst of a trial or plagued by problems that when we pray – the Father’s Heart breaks for us. The Word of God admits that He is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18) What a promise? Especially for those who feel abused, violated, betrayed or isolated. The Lord is with you. He is close to you. He is ready to rescue you. You must press on. You cannot give up. It is now when the breakthrough comes because God can easily access the brokenhearted.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT)  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Our body works against us. Our thoughts rally to stop this foolishness. Our emotions and feelings press us to give up. Why all the pressure? Why am I so perplexed? Why isn’t following Jesus easy? All the workings of our flesh are enticed by temptation working against us from the inside out. The enemy is aiding it in every way possible. Why? “There is a light shining in the darkness for you today. It invites you to live in the Presence of God. To experience His Glory in your life. To radiate the Favor of God. To become a beacon of hope to those who are lost and dying. To have this great treasure means pressing in rather than giving in to the pressures of life. Sin is not the problem for those who have fully experienced God’s Love, Grace and Mercy responding by faith that says, “Jesus, I want you.” It doesn’t mean my life will look radically different the morning after I ask Him into my heart. It is the starting point of the race to the finish line marked faith. It is going to be a long, tedious journey. My flesh and feelings are going to try to trip me up. The enemy will be shooting fiery darts at me all along the way. Those who cheer me on in the beginning may not make it to the end. But there is a prize worth having and I intend to take it.

2 Corinthians 9:22-27 (NLT) When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 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.

It is a privilege to participate in this race of faith. It is a divine opportunity provided to me by Jesus Christ. I would also like to run the Disney Princess Marathon races. If you must know, I would be thankful just to survive a 5K or 3.1 mile race. I must admit that I am not a runner. I am not sure that I could make it one mile running and not dying. In fact, I will tell you the same thing I tell other people – if you see me running you should too, because something is probably chasing me. Now how in the world can a 51-year-old mom who is out of shape make it to a Disney Princess marathon? I guess first I would have to make up my mind that I wanted to do it and set a goal with certain steps to achieve before the next race. Given the popularity of these events, I should probably go ahead and sign up now. It might be a good idea to invest in some good running shoes. The next is probably the hardest part of all – I would then have to discipline myself to train for the marathon. Ugh! The D-word wreaks havoc in us. It is the boundary and barrier for most people when it comes to achieving even the smallest goal or aspiration. What overcomes the thought of discipline – devotion. What is devotion? It is profound dedication and consecration. An earnest attachment to a person or cause. Devotion is the attachment or assignment to any purpose. In the Biblical sense, devotion is an act of worship including worship for a special use.

Are you dedicated to Jesus Christ? Fully devoted heart and soul to knowing Him fully and having His Way in your life? Me, too. Discipline is the choice to take what we know about the Lord and His Word and apply it to our life. Not just in word, but in every attitude and action much like an athlete eyeing a prize. It is not an endeavor casually undertaken but a full-on effort to make every part of our life conform to that of overwhelming victory. After all, Christ is our Champion according to Hebrews. To those who disciplined, dedicated and fully devoted probably the worst word they will ever hear is disqualified. “So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

I do not believe that discipline is the same as punishment. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but that through Him that I would be saved. Thank you, Jesus! However, it is human nature to view discipline as punishment. When I go to the gym after missing days, weeks, months or the past year – my muscles scream for relief as I press through the pain and work through the notion that quitting would be so much easier. No one is punishing me. I want more. I desire to be healthy. I pay for the membership to undergo such “torture”. Devoted to Christ, the pressure inside of us is His Way of making us into the masterpiece that He purposed and designed us to be. It is the molding and shaping of character so that endurance will keep us until His Glory is released in our life. I must press past every pain, insecurity, fear and emotion if I am dedicated to this cause called Christ. Anything worth having requires a higher price, I must decide today if I will pay that price. If I will endure tough times, difficult seasons and painstaking processes to let Christ have His Way in my life which will lead to a rich and satisfying life just as He promised. I must press on to have that which the Lord is calling me to. I must not give up or give in but allow the Lord to strengthen my tired hands to life them in worship and my weak knees to seek Him in prayer. The only thing that must not happen is I cannot and will not quit, give up or give in. I am His Prized Possession. No discipline is enjoyable. Can I get an “amen”? It is worth the peaceful harvest that is coming for those who decide to be devoted to right living and following His Way.

Isaiah 38:16-20 (NLT) Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord.

The Complaint Department

The Complaint Department

Philippians 2:13-16 (NLT) 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…

Like vines and brush across a narrow path, I tried to step over it but tripped instead. The last several weeks have been trying. As potential begins to yield purpose, and breakthrough is just around the corner – opposition always rises up. With come the words hard to swallow, the complaints and grumbling of our flesh with deep offense at the conditions of life or circumstances surrounding us. It is a bitter pill to swallow laced with pride and indignation. Peter gave in to it from time to time and as one of the most vocal disciples it creeps up in the Bible’s text. In John 19:27, Peter in a sharp discussion with the Lord says these words, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Unmet expectation is the faith stealing, joy killer and hope buster that is problematic for many believers. When God does not do it the way one thinks that He should, or perhaps when we think He would or even worse according to our idea of how it should have been done. I have given up everything to follow you Jesus now this… ever feel that way? I do sometimes when I let complaining take over my life.

For God is working in you… I was talking to a gentleman about to undergo radiation therapy for cancer. He knows that our son also had extensive radiation. Talking with him, I did not want to create an unrealistic expectation of the treatment. It is an excellent weapon against cancer. It starts off relatively painless just a bit of a sensation inside. Over time as the therapy progresses, it begins to work its way from the inside of the pinpoint laser delivering it to manifest on the outside. It can cause the surface of the skin to have symptoms that rise up from the inside where the radiation is concentrated. There may be some collateral damage. Most importantly with any type of cancer therapy, because they are all unpleasant, it is important to stay focused on the goal. Remission. A clean PET scan. An extension of our natural life. We must always keep our eyes on the destination because there will be obstacles along the way if the journey is worth the outcome. As God works inside of us, our flesh dies. I used to say at the gym, “Sweat is the tears of fat slowly dying.” If you have given the Lord permission, invited Him to work things out in your life for His Good and Glory, expect your situation to change. Know that He is changing you. It may be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Friend, it is always, always worth it.

“Giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him…” I want to please the Lord with my natural life. Some do and some don’t. Some will actually pass on eternal life because of the fear of letting go of some things here and not being satisfied with the outcome. Why must the Lord change my desire? Because I will always want less than He has for me, settle for substitutions, and in the name of comfort compromise. It is my nature. I must change the way that I think, move, breathe and exist to allow the God inside of me to make His Way out into my life. It all begins inside of me. Big gulp…the hardest part comes next.

“Do EVERYTHING without grumbling or complaining.” Ugh! There it is – spoiler alert – it is a Biblical mandate on my life to stop grumbling and complaining. God knows every detail of my life even when this passage was written centuries before my birth. He knew me and supplied all the grace and power necessary for me to overcome every obstacle thanks to the Christ in me. The pressures of life often give way to complaining. I will be the first to admit – I have been complaining about my job a lot lately. I love my job. It is a good position. However, it has been an exceptionally tough season with a gigantic transition. It is not going to last a short time but is clearly going to be awhile before things come together and are in order. The extreme conditions make complaining seem natural and acceptable…for some. I am not of this world. The Power in me is far greater than any circumstance or situation in my life. Do my words express His Power or give precedence to my problem?

James 3:2 (NLT) For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

James 3:8-12 (NLT) But no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

In our last house, there was a swimming pool. One step in caring for the pool was testing the water to make sure the chemicals were just right and favorable for swimming. When there was a great deal of rain, it would wash pollen and other naturally occurring substances into the pool creating a high phosphate level that required special treatment. It was more expensive than other chemicals but necessary to keep the water clean and clear. The home test kits did not pick up the level of phosphates. It would be discovered by the chemical analyzer at the pool store. The professionals would have to find it and give me the proper treatment. In life, rain is going to fall. Storms will come. The atmosphere of our life is not always favorable. Let’s face it. Bad things happen to good people. It is important that in such conditions – we test the content and quality of our conversation. What are we saying? Who are we saying it to? Are my words filled with life or death? Praise or contempt? Who are they directed at? The Word of God is the litmus test of life for the believer. It guides, instructs and teaches us the knowledge needed to apply to our life and create wisdom. Wisdom is the lifestyle of those who are blessing and prosperous. When I decide that I am dissatisfied with my life, I am telling God that He is not meeting my expectations or doing a good job. No one else. My life belongs to Jesus Christ. If it is not what I think it should be, He is the One responsible to change it. Not my family, my friends, my boss or coworkers – Jesus is the One.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

If the Word of God concerning my life is true and if Jesus truly is set on giving me a rich and satisfying life while doing more than I can even think to ask for, it is all about the waiting. He has given a place of refuge and peace to wait in called the watchtower. I stand guard over my heart in that place by filtering my words through the Word of God and listing His Promises not my problems. It is the place where my vision aligns with His Perspective rather than focusing on the conditions of life as I know it. I see through eyes of faith the confident hope that I have in Him. The kind of hope that never leads to disappointment and is worth waiting for. Impatience in the waiting gives way to grumbling and complaining. Complaining sows seeds of doubt and fear that become bitterness if continually fed with more grumbling. Pride feeds on the harvest of complaining and suddenly it gives way to wandering and disobedience as one decides if it’s going to happen then I must do it myself.

In the Old Testament, the Children of Israel complained about freedom and wanted to go back into slavery. Fear of the unknown will often compel us back to what is known. Don’t go. There was a group of Levites who did not like their position in ministry, so they complained to Moses. Shortly after, the ground opened, swallowing them and all their possessions. Complaining will forfeit our new life in Christ to become absorbed by the world and worldly things that bring temporary satisfaction rather than long-term completion. In Nehemiah, Judah gave way to complaining. The ones who led worship were tired and let others know. Who would lead the worshippers if the praise team quit? Job of all people felt the right to complain. (Job 6) But in Job 10, Job has reached an all-time low and says, “I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely. My bitter soul must complain. Complaining always sows seeds of bitterness. Every time you utter the slightest dissatisfaction in your condition in Christ, it is a seed that must be dealt with.

When our son was undergoing radiation, about two-thirds of the way through his skin began to “break down”. This means that the heat of the radiation burning away the cancer was also destroying his skin. Our middle son is extremely fair. His skin turned a bright red and one morning just started to break open with intense heat rising from the wounds. I will not gross you out with details or descriptions but all I could think of as I attempted to offer comfort and apply the ointment was he has every right to complain. I told him that very thing and he said to me, “Mom, what good would it do if I complained? Would it make cancer go away? Would it make the pain stop? Would it do anything for me? No. So I am not going to complain because it will do no good.” Such profound words from an unsuspecting college student thrust into a life uncertain. I will never forget that moment when my heart broke open and I asked the Lord to forgive my wayward and wandering heart. I needed the coal from His Altar to touch my lips that complained about the hard bed with the plastic cover that was a bit uncomfortable. Lesson learned.

Your life may not be extreme today. Just filled with “ordinary” problems and some “inconvenient” problems, what you do with such opportunities are game changers in life. Complaining does nothing but complicate things. It is unclear our position. Our heart begins to waver uncertain of its commitment. Soon our thoughts give way to discouragement and then disappointment not of God but to whom we give all credit. Take your right hand. Put it firmly over your mouth. Say with me, through your tight clasped fingers, “Holy Spirit, filter my words for life today and remove any foul thing among them. Teach me your vocabulary to replace my doubt-filled vernacular. Give me wisdom to speak your praise when I want to grumble and complain. Let me see the Face of Jesus rather than focusing on the giants today.

“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…”

Micah 6:1-3 (NLT) Listen to what the Lord is saying: “Stand up and state your case against me. Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints. And now, O mountains, listen to the Lord’s complaint! He has a case against his people. He will bring charges against Israel. “O my people, what have I done to you? What have I done to make you tired of me? Answer me!

The Lord invites you to His Complaint Department today. The watchtower is open. It is a waiting room. It is His Presence. The place to leave all unmet expectation so the Lord can complete His Good Work uninterrupted by fear or doubt but pushed on by our faith in His Faithfulness. Our words should always express allegiance to Jesus Christ. Complaining and grumbling gives glory to a weak and inattentive god who doesn’t exist rather than an all-powerful, ever-present and always on-time God who is good and gives His Glory to His Children. What will you do with your words today? Life and power are in the tongue. It is up to you to decide how to use it. In His Presence, there is a new perspective. When His Unfailing Love and Overwhelming Goodness make it into our thick and hard hearts, suddenly there is very little to complain and grumble about because He is enough to change our heart and mind. God you are good! Help me to silence complaining and dismiss it from my life. You are a Good God. You are more than enough!

Psalm 103:1-2 (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.

Just Look Up

Just Look Up

Psalm 121 (NLT) I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.  The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

Not too long ago, there was a viral video of a woman walking in the mall with her eyes fixed intently on her cellphone. As she continued on her way, obviously engrossed in a text conversation, she failed to see the fountain in her path and falls into it. Plunging into the water, she quickly jumps up and looks around to see if anyone noticed and heads on her way. I will admit that I have done the same thing minus the embarrassing fall. The phone flashes a notification so you glance at it drifting into the other lane. You get a text message at work that becomes a full-blown conversation. When I finally upgraded to a “smart” phone, I did a lot of dumb things with it. One of the most freeing came when I found that I got to choose the notifications in my settings. As I turned all of them off to only the most essential, I found that my phone was no longer a distraction. Only important text messages and relevant alerts now divert my attention from the task at hand. I can finally look up from my phone because it no longer has my full attention.

With proverbial hands raised, I ask before you begin to tell me all the reasons why your phone is essential. I know you use it for work. I know it keeps you in constant contact with your children. I get it. I am in the same boat. However, our cellphones can become our focus quite easily and we all know it. How many times are they on restaurant tables or worse both parties at the table paying no attention to each other but the brightly lit device in their hand? Guilty. This is not about cellphones. It can be anything that diverts our attention from what is important to what is the most enthralling. See every detail of my life is under God’s Complete Control when I give my heart and life to Jesus. He becomes my Shepherd. My life is now yoked to Him. He cares for me. Provides for me. Protects me. Leads me. Guides me. It would only seem prudent for me to look up and keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, right? Right…

Every single human being alive today has 24 hours in a day. We are free to choose how to invest those hours in our life. Busyness is our choice. We choose to go fast or slow. We decide what will consume the hours, minutes and seconds of our life. Who will you give it to today? Will it be fully invested in Christ allowing Him to make perfect use of it? Or will you decide to do it yourself…again? I am just as guilty as anyone else of letting other things take advantage of the time that God has given me in a day. However, when I hear myself say, “I am too busy” for this or that – it has become a red flag that I am no longer using my time wisely. God doesn’t create business. The Lord promises rest. Busyness is the product of disbelief, doubt, worry and fear or else that thing you are doing does not make you too busy but completely satisfied. Hold on for a moment…I have to fully digest that.

So back to the woman walking in the mall completely distracted and walking without looking, what would have happened if she was walking down a busy street and walked into traffic? Her slight tumble could have turned into a tragedy. I wonder if sometimes the Lord allows us to stumble a bit to avoid a complete fall. To challenge us to look up and see what He is doing rather than trying to do it all ourselves. Ouch! It is human nature to try to control our life rather than to relinquish it to the Lord. Jesus is still on the Throne. We just stray from it sometimes because of a lack of complete and absolute faith in His Love and/or Faithfulness. God can do it. But until it is our full understanding that the Lord will do ALL He promised in just the right time and wait for Him – well we will run around like chickens with our head cut off trying to reproduce God’s Way in our timing which always results in tired, worn out, frustrated Christians. Have you stumbled? Did you fall? Are you frustrated? Thinking about throwing the towel in? Well, just look up.

Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

The past is not a suitable future for God’s Children. Anything in our past worth having in our future will be placed there by the Lord. We do not have to look back or go back. It is just as dangerous as keeping our eyes down. We must look straight ahead. Fix our eyes on what lies before you. Distractions are the most dangerous strategy because life is paved with good intentions. Nobody who is of sound mind sets out to fall, fail or live a less than satisfied life. No the enemy starts throwing in substitutions and compromises that seem like suitable shortcuts and legitimate routes to God’s Best. When God already told us exactly what to do – keep our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith. Who better to show us the way to all He has for us then the One who gave it to us?

Matthew 6:22-23 (NLT) “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”

I am not going to lie to you. I love the filters on some of the social media applications. They hide the lines marking my age and smooth out my wrinkles. Some will even add some extra touches to my makeup making the girl in the picture much better in appearance then the one in real life… or so I think. The new image is sent out for all to see but what really matters is not in one’s appearance but in the intent and motives of my heart. Is my heart completely in line with the Lord? Does it beat in rhythm to Jesus Christ? My eyes give light to the place where my heart and soul are hidden. I must be extremely careful to filter the light that I allow into my being. Some things may seem good and harmless but eat away at my heart and soul. Faith is my potential. It is pivotal to my purpose. To think that anything is more important that Jesus Christ will erode the foundation laid carefully in my heart and quickly overshadow my soul until nothing can grow and mature into the harvest that I am promised.

Two quick examples would be Abraham and Jacob. When Abraham made it to the mountain fully prepared to sacrifice his only son to the Lord as God required, the Lord told him to “look up”. What did he see? A ram caught in a thicket. God provided for him in that moment. (Genesis 22) It would have been missed and his son forever lost if he had not obeyed the Lord’s Directive. The other is Jacob who after years of serving Laban realized the treachery of his uncle. He had tricked Jacob into marrying Leah requiring another stint of service for his true love, Rachel. He complies and marries both women and the Lord blesses him with many children. The unfair treatment weighs heavy on his heart, but the Lord says “look up” from your pity party. What does he see? The Lord had made him quite wealthy showing him great favor through his years of captive service. (Genesis 31) What if your situation currently is not what you think? What if your head is hanging low like Abraham? Or you are looking at everyone else and your situation like Jacob? What if you just need to look up to see your help is right before you? The Lord never left you. He has provided for you, protected you and now is persuading you to look up and see He is right there!

Hebrews 12:1-2 (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.

Jesus is our champion. He makes us feel like winners. He gives us victory. Opening the door called Triumph to those who are willing to walk through it. I will never “see” these things if I fail to change my perspective in life. The perception of my heart most productive is faith. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of it. He is my champion who gives me the opportunity to live in victory each day. Do I look to win? Or just get by? Am I after God’s Best or willing to settle for a substitute? God has promised me many things. Jesus Christ offers me a rich and satisfying life. What has my attention holds the keys to my future? I want Jesus to be my future. I must look up today from all the things that are demanding my attention. I must control the timeclock of my life and parcel it out as the Lord leads me. This is my life. I choose to spend it wisely on seeking the One who pursues me with Unfailing Love and Overwhelming Goodness. The only thing required of me is to look up and fix my eyes on Jesus. What if the Lord is doing just as He promised? What if everything is coming together but just don’t notice? What if our busyness is robbing us of rest and stealing our joy that His Love and Mercy are providing every day? What if all we need to do is look up? Turn your eyes upon Jesus today. Let the Light of His Glory and Grace fill you with new hope and peace. Let His Love fill you and illuminate His Presence so you will know with confidence that it is well with my soul!

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

The Burger Joint

The Burger Joint

Psalm 34:8-10 (AMP) O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good; how blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who takes refuge in Him. O [reverently] fear the Lord, you His saints (believers, holy ones); for to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions lack [food] and grow hungry, but they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing.

Our girl’s weekend has concluded. It has been a good time. We attended the Beth Moore, Living Proof Ministry Conference and I would highly recommend it to individuals, families, friends and women’s groups. I may or may not have been living under a rock the last ten years, but I have never read one of her books or heard any of her teachings. Her team definitely were game on this weekend. I came hungry and received more than my fill. My hunger and desire for Jesus these days seems insatiable. The turning point is unclear when His Word and His Voice became a vital nutrient and daily requirement for my life but now I cannot seem to make it through a single moment of an ordinary day unless I know that the Lord is right there with me – walking arm-in-arm.

The first night of the conference ended after 9:00 PM and the parking garage was a crush. Glad the victory was won that night, because after hometown football games I have sat in the long line of cards with the bitter taste of defeat and a roaring belly. Sitting in the car packed in like tiny sardines, the most pressing matter in the moment became food. No one had really eaten since breakfast and all were getting hungrier by the minute. The only thing open that late was the usual breakfast clubs and a few burger joints. Votes were cast and due to the early wake-up call everyone decided on the latter. Now, I have not completely purified my diet but in the name of old age and trying to preserve this shell of humanity that covers me, I don’t eat greasy food much anymore, especially not late in the evening right before bed. I prayed a little prayer that the Holy Spirit would but His Hand on my stomach and protect me. Once in the booth, I really didn’t need a menu. We all ordered the same cheesy, greasy, double patty burger loaded with fries and milkshakes, Lord help us – we were now committed.

When the sweet waitress delivered the food, I am sure to other patrons it must have resembled a school of piranha in the Amazon River. My daughter confessed later that she did not even remember consuming the pile of fat and calories. Every person who engaged in the frenzy agreed that the burger was the best they had in a long time. Food was delicious. I had to smile inside. Was the burger really so tasty? The fries cooked to perfection? The milkshake filled with all the creamiest richness? Or was our perception of the food based on our appetite conditioning our desire? Or our hunger that led to desperation? When our appetite was fulfilled and our desperation turned to satisfaction, suddenly the burger was praised. I think you know where this is going so let’s just dive in…

O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good; how blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who takes refuge in Him. I have been a Christian since I was eleven years old when I invited Jesus to come inside my heart and live there forever. I did not fully understand what I was asking or how it would happen, I just knew that He is who I desired based on the recommended by others and the little bitty hunger that rose up in my heart that day. It would take hears for me to develop a true desire for Jesus Christ in my life. However, once we do “taste and see” for ourselves – no one can change our mind. No one will convince our group that the burger on our plate and then in our stomachs the night before last was anything less than perfection. However the Truth is that the burger really was not that great for us. Some experienced a bit of gastric distress but deemed it worth it in the end. Hear me today! To taste and see that the Lord is good requires dining at His Table. In fact, Jesus is always knocking on the door to our heart asking to share a meal with us. (Revelation 3:20) Too often, busyness or cares of life or fear of expectation keep us from allowing Him to come and satisfy our heart with His Richness and Goodness so we pop in another microwave, quick-gratification meal to keep us from experiencing those hunger pangs or feelings of desperation just a little bit longer. The Lord has desires. He is desperate to bless you and me. To make us fortunate, prosperous because we are favored by God. Too many times, we choose something less to meet the current need rather than to experience a rich and satisfied life. (John 10:10)

O [reverently] fear the Lord, you His saints (believers, holy ones); for to those who fear Him there is no want. Fear is a powerful force. There are two kinds of fear. The first and most understood by people is the feeling. Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by perceived danger, evil or possible pain where it is real or imagined. This is not the fear expressed in Psalm 34:9 yet the reality of faith for most people. They fear God’s judgment and punishment because they have not fully comprehended the authenticity of His Unconditional Love and Amazing Grace offered in the Person of His Only Son, Jesus Christ. When Jesus lives in us, and by chance we fall in love with Him. The bond creates a union so that when God sees us – He does not see our sin but the Beautiful Face of His Son and the sacrifice offered to rid us of it. Fear arises from doubt in the sufficiency of God’s Grace and is often shrouded by religion rather than true fear of the Lord arising from confident trust in the relationship offered when we yoke our life with Jesus Christ. The fear that offers us a fully satisfied and completely content life is found in reverence for the Lord. Fear defined as reverential awe. Reverence is the feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe and the outward manifestation of it. It is to have faith and trust the Lord. When He acts upon His Promises as a result of this attitude, it only deepens and widens our capacity to love and trust Him more. Reliance becomes inevitable. Our hunger will grow. Our desire deepen. Our appetite will increase for more of Him. All of this will create people who are desperate for all of Jesus.

The young lions lack [food] and grow hungry, but they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing. Yes, I am convinced that our perception of the hamburger the other night was based on our hunger and need for food rather than the reality that it was that tasty or divine. It just hit the spot. Somebody needs to hear this today. You live from day to day even meal to meal on less than God’s Best driven by natural desire and hunger that force you to compromise and live on less. No experience will do this every time. Young lions lack food and grow hungry. BUT… But God… But they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing. Food is a daily necessity for healthy growth and development. The Lord invites us to His Table today. He is the Bread of Life. Communion is not just for certain Sundays but welcomed in every day of our life with the Lord. It is up to us to make better choices in our consumption. The day after eating the burger and fries guess what I was craving again? You guessed it. I was ready to consume more of it. It is up to me to decide what the best choice including the things I take in to my life naturally, emotionally and spiritually each day. I must choose what I consume based on the desires for each area of my life.

Galatians 5:22-24 (AMP)  But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.

I am so thankful today for the Spirit of the Living God who resides inside me. Not only is He an excellent life coach but the Holy Spirit produces fruit in me that will produce complete satisfaction in my hungry heart. He offers things like love, joy, peace, and yes, even patience to wait for the right thing rather than grabbing the first thing that comes along. He offers me kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness in such abundance that I have no other choice than to share it with others. He also provides self-control so I will make better choices in all areas of life. Why do we limit God to the super-spiritual when He offers to bless, prosper, multiply and increase every are of our natural and spiritual existence? All I must do is choose to bring my choices, appetites, desires and even passions to the Cross and hand them over to Christ for inspection. He does not shame me in those things that are not good for me, but rather always offers me something so much better than I might have settled for. His Word instructs me to choose better. His Spirit leads me to those things. I have the opportunity to live a life defined as rich and satisfying. It is up to me if I will choose it.

Psalm 37:3-5 (AMP) Trust [rely on and have confidence] in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed [securely] on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him also and He will do it.

Our desire for the Lord will turn to delight by tasting and seeing that He is good. To know if a certain food is palatable to us requires tasting or trying it. This is a commitment. I cannot sniff and decide it worthy of consumption but must put it in my mouth, roll it around and swallow it. You will never know or experience the fullness of God available in Christ until your faith tries Him by trusting Him. We must rely on Him some to develop confidence in the Lord. We must “feed on His Faithfulness” to see the remarkable changes produced by such a choice. The Lord wants to give you a rich and satisfied life unaffected by the temporary problems, troubles, trials or even distractions. Once you experience the Goodness of God, you will never be the same. It changes us from the inside until suddenly there is a deep desire that becomes desperation. Now no longer do we want His Hand but all of His Heart. This will lead to the everlasting lifetime of called glory to glory which produces an abundance of love, joy and peace in our life. It raises our standard of living to the God’s Standard again. Right here. Right now. His Love is amazing and overwhelming. The question has been posed – How do you eat an elephant? The answer is simple. One bite at a time. You get to choose when and where you will decide to taste and see that the Lord is good. Why not today? Why not now?

Matthew 5:6 (AMP) “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.”

Principle of Life

Principle of Life

Luke 24:5-7 (NLT)The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

Waking up to the smell of field peas cooking in the crock pot, I remember what today is. I need to get up as there are a few extra things to do before heading out to church. As I hesitate, my husband whispers in the dark as if not to chase it away, “Happy Easter!” I love this day. It has become my favorite of all days. A day to celebrate life and all the opportunities released the day it was clear that Jesus was no longer in the grave. He was alive. He is alive. The Living Christ lives in me. Works through me. Changes me. Challenges me. Pushes me. Presses me. Everyday strengthens me delivering mercy in the morning and more grace throughout the day. I am promised His Power because He is omnipotent. Death could not hold Him. The one thing that is feared the most by all humanity had absolutely no control over our Lord and Savior who is life.

People struggle with the concept of the Risen Christ. The Christ who exists on paper and in theory must be encountered to exist in us, impact our life and change us. It is one thing to say, “I believe in Jesus Christ” yet quite another to make this our principle of life. Ray Dalio, a hugely successful investor and founder of Bridgewater Associates who is one of the world’s largest hedge funds, said, “Principles are what allow you to live a life consistent with those values. Principles connect your values to your actions.” A principle is the fundamental truth from which all others are derived. An applied principle is to take that truth or belief and base all other attitudes and actions upon it. It is our accepted rule of conduct. Do you live like Jesus is alive? Do you truly believe that His Life influences your existence? Will today be the day that you do?

John 1:1-4, 14 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.  

Jesus is the creative power behind every living thing. He is the Word of God which once released must do exactly what He promised it would do. It cannot return void. It is impossible. When God breathed life into Adam – Jesus was that one breath that perpetuated all life. Think about that for a moment. Jesus is life. He is the essence of life from God that enables us and empowers us to live up to the Glorious Standard set for us that people abandoned for sin. His Blood is the life giving power that washes us clean and allows us to apprehend such a life again. The Word of God wrapped himself in flesh to come demonstrate love for all people so that it would be vividly clear that God loves us and desires us above all things. Even with a Living Color Lord, they did not believe Him. Don’t beat yourself up. The men and women who walked with Jesus did not get it either.

The women were coming to the tomb that day to give Jesus a proper burial. They did not expect to find life but finalize His Death. They called Him the Messiah but did not believe it to be so. They expected to find Jesus trapped in a tomb, but that’s not at all what happened that day. Jesus was alive. They ran to tell the others and still no one really believed. The enemy had already begun to perpetuate lies and accusations. The body was stolen. He did not come back from the dead but was hidden by his followers. The enemy always tries to hide the truth with a lie.

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18) Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. In the New King James Version, it is called an abundant life. For God so loved the world that He gave His Son so that whoever believes will have everlasting, eternal and forever life. Often this is projected forward and put into a futuristic setting. Jesus did not come to judge people. He did not come to condemn them, but that through Him that they would live. Live now. Live tomorrow. Life this life. Life forever. It is all about believing. It has nothing to do with one’s ability to change their life, make better choices or even do good things. It is all about what you believe and our ability to live that belief. The principle of life for the believer begins with the empty tomb and continues from that point throughout all eternity. If just for today, as we celebrate Easter and honor the Resurrection of Christ, we could for a moment inspect our life.

John 11:21-27 (NLT) “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Lazarus was dead. Jesus appeared to be delayed and upon His Arrival everyone was in mourning. Martha met the Lord and said, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Then she went on to say, “I know that even now Go will give you whatever you ask.” Martha was conflicted. Her heart and mind at odds. She said that she believed and oh how she wanted to believe but she struggled with disbelief just the same. Jesus told her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” He is saying the exact same thing to us today. The same Jesus that came barreling out of the tomb, visited many people, and ascended into Heaven is alive and well today. He is still the Resurrection and Life. The same person who called Lazarus to come up out of his grave and he did. This is the Jesus who lives in you and me today. We have the power to see dead dreams come to life and the Glory of God to fill our life. But just like Martha, we struggle to truly believe.

Romans 8:10-11 (NLT)  And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

What if it is true? What is Jesus Christ really is alive in us? What if His Spirit is trying to give us new life every single day? What if grace really is enough to release God’s Power, His Resurrection and Life-Giving Power, to every single dead thing? What if it is my unwillingness or inability to believe that is holding the doors and windows of blessing shut? What if it is my stubborn foot standing over the seeds of faith attempting to produce good things and harvests in my life? What if my words are poisoning the good fruit that His Spirit is attempting to grow in me? What if I am aborting the birthing of my promises? What if it is me? Today changes everything!

I challenge you as the Lord challenges me today – if you are headed to church, just got home, running late or not doing anything at all but hunting some eggs with the kids and spending time with your family – look for Him today. Not the dead Savior hanging on a Cross, but the Powerful Lord who came alive with the keys to every locked door in your life, heart and mind. Jesus is alive and well. The Living Savior ready to break every chain, release your burden, heal your body and release every other forgotten benefit that marks the new life that He promised. His Promise still stands. God’s love for you cannot be taken or shaken from you. He loves you! He always loved you! He paid the highest price for you – not to make you a performer but a producer of His Love. Your dead dreams are only sleeping. Your potential is not lost just hidden in the soil of your heart. Once fertile, it will explode with life again. Every blessing and promise for your life is safe and sound. Your inheritance is secure. It is your heart that Jesus is after. Do you believe? It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith makes all things possible…we must only believe. Jesus is the principle of life. He is life. He gives life and power to those who love and trust Him. Apply this principle to your life and you will live in peaceful prosperity both now and forevermore. Living for Jesus Christ should be a satisfying life not filled with disappointment. Hope never leads to such a thing. If my life is less than I expected, then I need to let Christ increase in me. He promised to do more than I can think, imagine or even ask. This is the principle of life to be satisfied. To apply Jesus Christ who is alive and well in all areas of my life. Christ is the One who completes this process in us. He gives new life. We become new creations.

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.

Chasing the Wind

Chasing the Wind

Ecclesiastes 11:4-8 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. 

Saturdays are precious in our family. Five work days and one day of church worship leave only one for my husband and I to do spend time with our children and do some chores around the house. To wake up when we want to and dawdle through the day is quite nice rushing through the week. The alarm this morning did not greet a happy and expectant employee ready to jump up and seize the day. With a sigh, I immediately began to pray and thank the Lord for the opportunity I have in the workplace and the great weekend that we had. Gratitude seems to change my attitude. It is a great help when the dark cloud of drudgery tries to overshadow God’s Goodness, His Grace and His Glory in our life.

This Saturday an industrious spirit took over as Spring Fever was in the air. Our neglected front porch is right outside the windows of the study where I write. As the morning sun beamed brightly through the windows, I decided to wash away the residue of a long winter and pollen that collected as spring arrived. Armed with all my supplies, I tackled the windows inside and out. The front porch of our house was barren. There really was no point upon our arrival and many other areas of our “new” home that needed our attention, but an image filled my head of two porch rockers. Well, you know the old saying, if mama ain’t happy then… well you know the rest. My husband and I headed to our favorite date place or the home improvement store. Loading a hand cart with two black rocking chairs, a couple small palms and a can of black paint along with a couple other “necessary” items – we headed home. After some assembly required, the two rockers were just as I imagined. We sat down to overlook our work for the day. The yard was manicured, the windows washed and porch cleaned – all the details in place. Sitting in the cool breeze, just rocking along, I realized that the newest chapter in our life had finally arrive. Our littlest girls are almost grown. The three older ones all in their twenties and living their lives. Me and my best friend rocking on the porch in the chairs that will be the place to rock our grandchildren, visit with friends, or maybe even share the greatest love story ever told with someone who is hurting. I have named the two chairs – one is satisfaction and the other will be contentment.

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.” If a perfect life were possible, grace would not be necessary. Since people are not perfect, the ability to live such an existence escapes them. To live this live pursuing our dreams and working for our goals outside of satisfaction and contentment is chasing the wind. I believe this is the meaning behind 3 John 1:2. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” Funny that it comes in 3 John and not 1 John. The prosperity of our soul is satisfaction. The confidence in Christ born of faith is called contentment. Both are qualities birthed by trust, yet hard to grasp much less hold on to in a world that lives according to immediate gratification and a constantly changing perception of what will bring these two qualities. If it were power and wealth by the world’s standards, there would not be so many people who end their life in the height of success because of dissatisfaction and disappointment feeding a disease called depression or fueling the fire of anxiety buffered by mood altering drugs and pain killers. So many talented people who no matter how successful could not catch the conditions they desired most – the peaceful stillness found in two rocking chairs on a front porch in the county.

“Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.” Balance is the art of both hard work and peace of mind that is very hard to achieve outside of Jesus Christ. Striving becomes thriving when this balance is achieved. God gave us goals, dreams and desires when He placed eternity in our heart. Without a perspective of heaven or His Kingdom including the blessings and benefits that His Children have there, the joy and peace marked satisfaction and contentment are impossible. The Lord planted a seed in you and I called faith. It is the substance of all that we hope for. Unless this seed is cultivated in every area of our life – it will only bloom where it is planted. A diversified life will only contribute to stress and worry increasing our burdens but Jesus invites us to “yoke our life with Him” and He will partner with us in all our endeavors sharing the heavy load of responsibility that weighs us down in life giving us a precious promise called rest. (Matthew 11) You have the potential of prosperity in you. It will yield the two things you desire most but we must work into the fields and furrows of our heart to be incorporated in every endeavor of life or we are just chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11-12;17 (NLT) Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

The Lord has a plan for our life. Recorded before our birth (Psalm 139), it is a good one with a future and hope. God didn’t design our life for disaster. God promises to hear our prayers. He will be found by those who look for Him wholeheartedly. This is an important detail often missed in a world that cries “what is in it for me.” Life. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) All of us. He didn’t go to the Cross just so you and I could just make it but that in Him find live a prosperous life according to God’s Riches in Glory. To restore the glorious standard of living that sin had taken from us but Jesus came back from the grave to give us. He didn’t force us to take the Keys to the Kingdom but rather offers them to us each day. Our willful disposition fostered by the old Elvis anthem, “I Did It My Way” will find many in the same position that the world renowned “king of rock and roll” did. A man who could have had anything he wanted, denied himself nothing, reaped a huge reward for all his labors and fully accomplished in his industry died in addiction. We must seek soul satisfaction or risk putting all our efforts into a success that will never reach the innermost part of us. Without faith it is impossible to please God – without faith there is no satisfaction and contentment continues to wave in the wind at those who pass it by.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 (NLT)  So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

“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.” (James 1) The realization that every good thing in our life is from the Hand of God can change one’s perspective. The greatest revelation is that of Romans 8:28 in the promise that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them.” To find truth in the words and apply trust to them will change our lives forever. To believe that every good thing in our life is a product of God and not self or random fate is one thing, but to also see the potential of God in every situation and know that He will work it in our favor – now that my friend is life changing and soul altering. Soul satisfaction comes from faith that trusts God and believes in His Goodness even on our worst day.

Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 (NLT) Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. “Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.” And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”

Comparison is a joy killer. It comprises faith because it plants a seed of envy that will bloom into bitterness. God has no favorites. Before declaring the grass is greener in someone else’s yard, perhaps one might ask what fertilizer they use. See God uses every detail of our life for our good. Before comparing our life journey to another, one might decide if it is worth the cost. We are a masterpiece – each one of us an individual work of God with his or her own process of completion. The end result is the same. The process is different. To be jealous of another displays disbelief in God’s Purpose and Plan for us. It destroys satisfaction. It corrupts contentment. A seed demonstrates the growth process in God – one must first die to self. Our present form must be completely undone to incorporate His Goodness in every facet of our life until His Love completely overtakes us and trust allows all good things to grow hidden in our new heart – new life – new creation. To prosper without satisfaction and contentment is not to a blessing. Any form of prosperity does not change our heart but simply magnifies what is already in it. The Lord offers us the Mind of Christ. We must know Him, trust Him and believe Him to have perfect peace that is not challenged by condition or circumstance but leads us to safe harbor every time. The truest blessing of prosperity is a satisfied soul resting in the Peace of God even in a stormy situation.

Ecclesiastes 5:15-20 (NLT) We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

I love our new rocking chairs. I love the front porch. The wind feels good blowing on my face. I love the promise represented called satisfaction and contentment. I know they are a product of age and maturity. There is no need to chase the wind for it will blow where it will. Looking back, I do not see the broken life that I have lived and all the bad things that have happened. I do not look ahead with fear, worry or stress but I sit there rocking and thinking of all the good things that the Lord has done for us. Our youngest daughter sits at our feet with playing with our little dog laughing at her antics. She is the last of our children who is growing up so quickly before us. But I am not afraid my role as mom will soon be over. Sitting next to me is my best friend and soul mate given to me by a gracious God. Our journey has not been easy but it has been worth it. From the beginning, we decided to be yoked with the Lord. He has carried us to this point. As I continue to rock envisioning children running around the yard as the days turn into years, I ask the Lord not for more of anything but to continue this work in my heart. Give me a wealth of satisfaction and rich contentment to fill every nook and cranny of my heart. There is nothing in this world worth more than a prospering soul. It shines a new light on an ordinary life magnifying far greater potential then hard work and motivation could ever afford. To find satisfaction is really what we are after no matter how hard we try to seem confident and uncaring. We want to be loved just as we are in a world that cries to take – maybe God wants us to give. You cannot give to others what you do not possess yourself. It is common sense. You cannot share the fathomless love and endless grace of God with others until it is found within ourselves. You cannot faith it until you make it. Faith is a solid footstep in God’s Direction. Real love and true faith produce satisfaction in life because they are the seeds that God planted in us and faith in Jesus will begin to grow. Once our soul is satisfied, the sky is the limit literally as the windows of Heaven open and His Light reveals all the blessings in our life and sends down all every promise day by day.

I Timothy 6:6 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great worth.

Halfsies

Half Empty Half Full

Matthew 6:21 (NLT) Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Call me an optimist. I have heard it before. I always believe that when it comes to the age old question, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” I will always say, “Half full!” Without hesitation. I have always believed that there is more to life if we just keep a good attitude and work hard. I believe that people are good, but life is hard. I am quick to apologize. I hate broken relationships and strained communication. I was raised by a man who wasn’t afraid to try. If he broke, he always tried to fix it and many times was successful without the need for a repairman. Not everyone is like that – there are pessimists and they cannot understand such thinking. The glass is always half empty and surely has a hole. Living in bondage to stress and fear of failure, they do not try new things and become frustrated in setbacks. They often live in a state of “it is what it is” and that’s just my luck. Trust is hard for them. They seldom can apologize and struggle to forgive. Unmet expectation overshadows their victories in life. Living under a little black cloud, they do not dance with the optimist in the rain. It is all about perspective. Life perception dictates the outcomes in life because it is what fuels our motivation. To live a life that is half empty is draining. But to live a life that is half full without real expectation is to live a life of misdirected zeal and enthusiasm. We are born with a plan and it’s a good one. It comes with a future and hope that cannot be realized by the optimist or pessimist without a true change of heart. Regardless of perception our life is supplied by sowing and reaping or planting and harvesting. Positive people are rewarded with positive results. Negative people may experience success for their efforts but their perception of life robs them of the reward called satisfaction. Whether you fall into one of these personas or the other – your perception may be flawed. No really.

2 Kings 4:3-7 (NLT) And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

As I tiptoe back to this woman’s house, peering in her windows again, I cannot imagine the wonderful hope that flooded her heart and soul as she began pouring the flask of oil into all those jars. Container after container from empty to full and empty to full right before her eyes. It was a miracle that speaks to my heart today. Yes, even the optimist needs some direction when it comes to faith, trust and hope. The Lord has blessed my family and me. I cannot begin to share all the ways that the Lord has provided for us physically, financially and supernaturally. However, lately I have been nudged by the Holy Spirit to leave this place of comfort that produces complacency in life. Most of the time pursuing the deeper things of God are only possible in desperation. Look at this little lady, the threat of losing her children drove her out of her tiny box into a realm of hope overflowing. She was poor then rich not because someone gave her anything or even working two jobs. The woman took what she had, broke it open and it began to flow through her life. She saved that flask for a rainy day or maybe for such a time as this – all along all that she needed to provide increase for her family was bottled within her reach.

Matthew 6:22-23 (NLT) “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

Perception is from the Latin word meaning comprehension, literally or taking in. It is how we perceive things. To perceive means to become aware of, know or identify by means of senses and feelings. Our perception is formed by how we perceive things. Personal recognition, discernment, envisioning and understanding of life and how it works is formed by our five senses, feelings, emotions, education, knowledge, and influences in life. Our parents and guardians begin the process and then the baton is passed to instructors, mentors and even those held in high regard from presidents to pastors. It can be a mixture of many things in our life and defines how we live our life.

Jesus warned us about perception in Matthew 6. In fact, it relates to our treasure and the reality of faith in our life. Wherever your treasure is that is where your heart is pointing to and headed in the direction of based on our perception. Our eye works on the basis of its ability to process light through the lens to display an image on the retina. The retina receives the image through the lens and transforms it into an image into electrical impulses that are carried by the optic nerve to our brain. I wear contact lens to see clearly. If something gets caught between the synthetic contact lens and the lens in my eye, it obstructs my view of things. Over time, my eyesight changes and I need new lens when things are not clear anymore. Jesus is the Light of the world. We must take our perception of life, whether optimistic or pessimistic, to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven rather than the things of this world. In doing so, my perception of life changes from what I see to what I know. Jesus is the Word. Faith is illogical outside of the Word so one must focus on natural elements to survive much less thrive. Jesus said, “Your eye is the lamp that provides light for your body.” To see our life as God planned it and fully utilize the Presence of God in us – our perception must gain understanding and then apply it to our life through the Word. In doing so, life is perceived from a Kingdom perspective rather than a natural one. The greatest influence will become our life perspective.

Matthew 6:24 (NLT) “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

No one can serve two masters. If the desire of my heart (vs. 21) is to connect with God through His Son, Jesus Christ and live in His Presence. My perception of life must change from darkness to light. What does that have to do with serving two masters or even being enslaved to money? The earth is bound by economy that is not the currency of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is bound by love, grace and increase as it is a place of abundance and increase. I will connect my life to one of two sources – the Kingdom of God or the world in which I live. I researched the word “economy” and it is not what I thought it would say at all. Synonyms for the word economy are “thriftiness, thrift, and saving”. Interestingly enough the opposite of economy is “lavishness and extravagance.”

Sin caused us to “fall short of God’s Glorious Standard.” Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life who gives us access to the Father again. Do you believe it? When the Blood of Jesus washed away sin and grace is applied to my life – God’s Glorious Standard of Living becomes possible again. Are you with me so far? I must allow the Spirit of God to change my perception so I live with a Kingdom perspective of life rather than selling out to the world’s economy which keeps us in a state of thrift and, dare I say, lack. What if I told you today that the glass is not relevant? The substance in it is not as important as the substance of faith in you and I? What I do with the contents is the potential of my life? Will I keep trying to protect the glass in its half full state and add my own provisions to it? Or do I insist on constantly emptying it out so God who is my Provider and Resource must continually fill it up to maintain His Standard and radiate His Glory in my life. Let’s keep going.

Matthew 6:25-30 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. 

Jesus gives a directive – “I tell you not to worry about everyday life.” What is the source of stress, anxiety, worry, fear or doubt today? What is keeping you from doing what God has called you to do? Are you married to your job? Do you live from paycheck to paycheck? Are you constantly longing for things you cannot afford? Are you content? Are you satisfied? God is good. He is our Provider. Salvation is consummated by seeking out the Lord and living in His Presence. He put His Spirit in us and we connect with Him by pursuing Him. We pursue Him by following Jesus. The secret to success when striving for God’s Will and His Way that are His Plan for us is in our ability to trust the Lord enough to seek Him wholeheartedly. Perfect love expels fear from our life because no matter how life looks our perception of the light of His Love completes us. Our full expectation once invested by faith into God as our Provider and Christ as our Resource allows us to do things like the woman did. She took a small flask of oil and turned it into enough to cover her debt, save her sons and provide well for her household. Whether our glass is half empty or almost full in the natural doesn’t matter as much as what our faith allows us to do with it.

Matthew 6:30 (NLT) Why do you have so little faith?

Paul said this when instructing the Corinthians in his second letter. You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.” (2 Corinthians 8:9-12) Our decision to accept Jesus Christ is to ask Him to be our Savior and our Lord. When coming to Jesus it is with the best of intentions but soon it is overshadowed by “real life” and “real problems” so we begin to recant the “Jesus is Lord” part of our promise. We live a diversified life. We trust Him with our soul but not our natural life so when our soul prospers but our life does not – our perception is perplexed. Holding tight to our resources, including but not limited to our time, talent and treasures, we never fully connect to His Limitless Resources. We sow but do not reap. We plant yet never see a harvest. If we do, it is not marked by prosperity or abundance – it is just enough.

Paul’s advice for the Corinthians works for us today. We must return to our First Love and give Him our first fruits in all things. We must learn to trust God with all our life not just the portions that are comfortable to give. To live in the Presence of the Father is only possible by faith. We must seek Him to find Him. We must knock to gain entrance. We must believe that He rewards those who seek Him. Once we do, it will be evident as insomnia gives way to rest. Stress is given up for trust. Worry is no longer a problem as peace floods our heart, mind and soul. Fear gives way to perfect love that clears our perception of live to perceive the opportunities and potential of God in all things pertaining to our life. See the glass is just a glass. The contents unimportant. Given to God it will become increased, abundant and fulfilled. Take your eyes off the glass that contains that which is desired. Put your eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith. Faith fills every need and produces Godly Riches and Resources in our life to flow from the Windows of Heaven. Abundance flows from a heart full invested in knowing Jesus Christ. He promised to give us a rich and satisfying life. If the Lord cannot do that, then how can I trust Him for the Kingdom? Do you trust Jesus today? Do you believe that His Promises are true? If not, it is never too late to start. His Grace is sufficient for you. He has already given you a measure of faith to start with. Sow it in just one area of your natural life. Yoke up with Jesus Christ today and let Him show you how to walk through life in constant and confident trust. (Matthew 11:28-30) Let Him give you peace and rest. Strive for it. Fight for it. Do not stop pressing until your stress, worry, care and anxiety give way to peace. God is a good father. You are well supplied. He has already supplied every need you have. To those who keep seeking, knocking and asking – He will be found. He will open the door to His Presence. He will answer doing more than you can think, imagine or ask. Faith is the solution to a changed perception of life. Jesus is the light that changes our perspective.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word. Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

 

Hunger Games

Hunber Games

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.

The Hunger Games trilogy is a futuristic novel set in post-apocalyptic times. The Capitol society is marked by extreme wealth and power over the twelve Districts who are the product of past rebellion live in extreme poverty. As entertainment, each year one boy and girl from each district is chosen by a lottery system to fight to the death in the public arena which is broadcast for all to see. The winning participant and their district will be supplied with food, supplies and riches. The Capitol continued to exhort its power over the Districts this way. I cannot imagine. How horrible to think that a child would be selected as a sacrifice for that which is freely given to us in the earth? This was the inspiration for the writer after reading Greek mythology’s account of Theseus and Minotaur – as punishment for past crimes, Athens were required to sacrifice seven boys and seven girls. Even as a child, she was stunned by the cruelty. Her writings are also influenced by society’s public display and entertainment called reality television. We make sport and competition in the name of entertainment. Yet the reality is that cruelty and poverty are rampant in a world inhabited by a Kingdom of more than enough. Sons and daughters of the Most High King who join the numbers of impoverished ones of the districts rather living in the life their Father has given them.

Though the concept of The Hunger Games is futuristic, it can be compared to the reality of life. The rich get richer and poor get poorer is a frequently used statement. Dependency is created by need. Those in need of something must find a source to provide it if they cannot produce it themselves. The Districts had rebelled against the Capitol and were now being punished with poverty. Kept in a perpetual state of need, it would take a rebellion to obtain their freedom. In the subsequent books of the series, this is exactly what would happen. I am not promoting the trilogy called The Hunger Games. I am only aware of the books and concept of the series. I am challenging the impoverished mindset of God’s People that keeps us captive and stagnates our purpose to set the captive free.

“For God provides seed to the farmer and then bread to eat.” Our family has been committed to tithing for almost twenty years now. For eighteen years, it has been our commitment to pay God the 10% that He requires up front as an act of obedience. Before I lose you, this is about you tithing but a personal testimony of harvest and favor. In all those years, there has not been an unmet financial need in our family. Every bill paid, lights that turn on, transportation and of course, food on our table. The kids all had diapers and clothes. Not a single natural need has not been met. But wait there is more, we have also been able to help others giving to missions, feeding the hungry and other noble efforts. I hope I haven’t lost you yet. Giving the Lord His Requirement and also sowing seed (yes, seed) in offerings has also produced a hidden abundance in our life. During spring cleaning and organizing closets, I always find things that we no longer need, want or use. Some of it, I give away to those in need. The rest of it, I post in online resale sights or set up a garage sale. I cannot think of a time when the Lord has not supplied our needs, or given us more than enough. I do absolutely believe that two Biblical Truths are in full operation. Tithing, as well as, sowing and reaping. God’s Abundance is hidden in our life from the devourer. But it is often the “hunger games” of life that allow us to connect with the Source of Life.

In Luke 15, we visit the home of loving and wealthy father with two sons. He loved both of them exactly the same and cared for them equally. There was no favoritism in him and all that he had was to be their inheritance. As you may already know, one son chose to take his inheritance and leave his father’s home losing everything. Ready to eat slop with the pigs came the realization that even servants in his father’s house were well-cared for so he would go back, beg his father’s forgiveness and serve him. You may also know that the son who remained true to his father and home was overtaken with jealousy for his brother. He had done both of their jobs while his brother was out carousing. When his father welcomed his lost son home, the brother refused to come to the celebration. He was mad. He couldn’t understand the grace of his father. See the estate and wealth did not mean as much to this man as his precious and dear children. This is the Father’s Love that is given to us as His Children.

Luke 15:17-20 (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. 

Our Father is the Source for our life. Nothing can separate us from His Love for us. His Compassion longs for our safe return. Jesus promised to prepare a place for us. (John 14:1-3) I have a home in His Kingdom that is mine. It is an individual inheritance not offered to anyone else. A place in His Presence just for me with my name on it. There is no need for insecurity and doubt because God does not have favorites. There is no competition for a place in God’s Kingdom. It has been given to you when you accepted the Keys to the Kingdom from His Son, Jesus Christ. All that is to be done is follow Him home. Humility accepts God our Father as the Source of Life and lives according to His Standard of life. It takes us out of the rat race, fighting our way up the corporate ladder and no longer subject to the dog-eat-dog world. We are given more than enough according to His Riches in Heaven.

Luke 15:28-32 (NLT) “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

The son who stayed with his father did not feel that his brother was worthy of celebration. His jealousy overtook him so that he did not see the obvious. “You have always stayed with me, and everything I have is yours.” As Christians, it is human nature to fall in the trap of the other brother. To have it all but lose sight of it. Pride robs us of satisfaction with the weapon of comparison. We cannot see the blessings and promises coming to pass in our life and the abundance hidden in our closets blinded by envy. When those who have been used and abused by the world show up on our churches, we tell them of God’s Great Love, His Grace and His Compassion but do we show it or even share it with them? Or like the jealous brother set requirements based on our willingness or unwillingness to welcome them home just as they are. I am a Child of God. My inheritance is secure in my relationship with my Father through Jesus Christ. I do not have to compete with anyone for His Attention, His Supply, His Provision or even His Abundance in my life.

Like 12:16-21 (NLT) Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

It is important to have a rich relationship with God. Who wants to serve a Father who does not have enough to care for all of his children? The richness of our Father should be filtered through us His Children. It is called generosity. We have seed to be put in the ground that is stored in silos of fear and greed that mark the impoverished mindset. Like the widow who kept her “oil” sealed in a bottle for a “rainy day” found that there was more than enough to care for her family for the rest of their life, we have more than enough but it is hidden behind fear of lack and no trust in the Father’s Love and Resources. The prodigal son had to lose it all to realize the resources in his father’s house. His failure humbled him and he returned to his home. The woman lost her husband who she perceived as her source only to find that God had already provided her with more than enough.

A rich relationship with God through Jesus Christ amply supplies our life with favor and resources. Seeds of potential are hidden away tucked in the dreams and desires of our heart. Rather than building bigger barns to house God’s Surplus in our life living in fear that His Grace, Love or Mercy might run out – what if we built bigger windows and doors to let it all come pouring out? A rich relationship with God is marked by trust that He does have a Kingdom with streets paved of pure gold and that He is a Good Father who cares well for His Children.

Matthew 15:32-34 (NLT) Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.” The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?” Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?” They replied, “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.”

Jesus did not just believe in feeding people the Word. He believed in feeding their bellies, too. Unmet need creates desire. When we send the hungry and hurting off with a kind word and hug around the neck when what they really need is food or their utility bill paid, what message are we sending? Are we Children of the King or kids on welfare? I do not have to participate in hunger games. I am a Child of God who has supplied all that I need and desire in abundance. As my soul prospers, so will I. I am ordained for increase, multiplication and reproduction in this life. I have access to the riches in Glory. In fact, obedience stores it up for me according to God’s Kingdom. Generosity is my opportunity to give it my life away. To let go of this world and claim His Kingdom.

Man’s economy is based on supply and demand. Creating desire so it can make something to fill it. It does not want you to be satisfied or content but always leaving you wanting more. Buy a new cellphone and before you can run the battery down there is a newer and shiner version being hawked as the best. We have more than enough. An endless supply flowing from the windows of Heaven, it is accessed by generosity and giving. How? Generosity is good seed. If we give to others expecting nothing in return, it is a seed of faith that says, “I believe my God supplies all my needs according to His Riches.” It will grow into a harvest in our life. Seed left in silos will also die, rot and decay. Its purpose is unfulfilled. It is destine to be nothing. When sowing good seeds of faith not just in word but in our works, it becomes a harvest of abundance in our life. There is an equal and personally identified inheritance for each child of God individually. It cannot be earned. It is our birthright. To tithe protects us from the devourer but it is our offering that demonstrates faith and confidence in God who is more than enough.

I John 3:16-18 (NLT) We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

Love You More

love-you-more

Romans 6:15-18 (NLT) Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

As I began reading God’s Word this morning, two words weighed heavily on my heart. “Free will.” God has given us a free will and truthfully not many people are quite sure what it means and how to use it. Can I get an “AMEN” from those who have fallen and failed along the way? Why is freedom a good thing when I have no idea how to use it properly or what to do with it on a regular basis? It feels like a loaded gun in the hand of a toddler sometimes. Paul sums it up in Romans 7, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” Every Christian wants to please God. Every believer sins. It is our human nature’s desperate attempt to remain alive as it is crucified daily with Christ. How do I move from sinning more to godly living more? You must love Him more.

God’s Grace set us free from the Law. The Law set forth as rules and regulations of righteousness that our sinful nature balked at and quickly rebelled against. It came with measures of sacrifice and offerings to repent and make concession for our inability to remain righteous. We still keep falling short so Jesus came and sacrificed His Life. The reward was our absolute and total freedom from sin. All we have to do is accept it according to His Grace. Jesus did not come to condemn people but to set them free. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. Our suspect mind wants to know what the catch is. The offer is simply too good to be true. Well friend, that’s the God I serve. He is always better than I deserve. Doing more than I think possible. Loving me more than I could ever fathom. I have been set free to discover the capacity of God’s Love.

The choice is made evident in God’s Word. We can choose to be slaves or Children of God. It seems so clear cut, if only it were that easy. We become slaves to that which we choose to obey. What do you respond to more frequently, flesh or spirit? What we respond to most is the driving force of our life – knowingly or unknowingly. We must understand this covenant entered with God when Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord. To see that the Law has been satisfied and love is all that matters. Truly love is the only thing that matters once a soul is set free. No strings attached. No new set of laws, rules or regulations no matter how convincing religion may seem. Our sin was great but His Love much greater. Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus so now what? We must learn to love Him wholeheartedly…to love Him more.

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Jesus used the representation of a gate to illustrate our new life in Him. Those who enter through Him will be saved. Not can be, but will be! “They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.” Whoa! Wait a minute. They will come and go freely. Jesus was clear if He set us free than we are free indeed. What about all the guidelines and restrictions? They are still their but the “penalty” that takes us captive has been paid in full. By His Grace, I am saved through faith not anything else. I just have to believe. Do you believe today? Do you believe that you are free from the penalty of sin in Jesus Christ? We must understand what freedom is. Because Jesus came into the world to set us free, so that we could make a choice – there is no condemnation in our Savior. People condemn, convict and judge. Jesus came with one thing in mind – freedom.

When Jesus left the wilderness at being tempted by the enemy, He went to the synagogue as He was accustomed to doing on the Sabbath. The scroll was handed to Him and He read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” The Spirit of the Lord brings freedom. If we use our freedom to exchange one captivity for another – we remain slaves. If we use our freedom to love, we become God’s Children. The choice belongs to us because in Christ there is freedom. The power of that freedom is love. To accept the unconditional love of the Father as true and valid though we cannot see Him it is completely attained by faith. Just as my husband cannot show me the love in his heart by taking the beating, throbbing mass out of his chest to hand it to me – my beloved does so by daily attempting to show me that he loves me more… More than any other woman, more than any other person, more than any other thing, more than any other pursuit or passion in his life – his whole heart belongs to me. What if that is what our freedom is all about? That is our freedom. When I decide to love Jesus more than anything else, and live like it.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

When Isaac was speaking his blessing over his son, Jacob, he said, “You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” Jacob had tricked his brother stealing his birthright and blessing. Taking advantage of the bond of brotherhood to the point of bondage, he was forced to flee from Esau’s wrath. Isaac gave his son sound wisdom. “When you decide to break free…” Are you ready to experience freedom? The kind of freedom promised in God’s Word. We do not have to force the door open or wrestle against the chains that have us bound. We must simple desire to be truly free. Jesus did the rest. We are free to come and go through the gate. We must only believe in Jesus Christ. He is the Good Shepherd. (John 10:14-16) We choose to follow Him or stray away. Those who choose to walk with Him benefit from His Care and Protection. If we choose our own way, much like Jacob, we also decide when we will break free from the oppressive yoke of sin and shame.”

I Corinthians 1:7-9 (NLT) Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.

God’s Plan for our life is good containing a future and hope that is not defined by my goodness or ability to live a sinless life. It is secure in my decision to live by faith and to trust Him more and more as I pursue Jesus wholeheartedly. It is giving Him my love without coercion but a strong desire and commitment to know the Lover of my soul and love Him more. More than sin. More than this world. More than my rights. More than my pride. More than promotions. More than anything else. When I use my freedom to love Jesus and others – I will enjoy every spiritual blessing and the rich satisfying life that He promised. Love makes avoiding sin reasonable because we are not in bondage to our flesh. Our love for Jesus makes it possible. I am satisfied with my marriage. I am content with my husband’s love. It makes me want to honor him, respect him and love him more. How much more does this apply to Jesus?

What is your struggle today? Is it a person? Is it a recurring temptation that always leads to a bad choice? Is it disappointment? Is it lost hope? Is it pride? We all have daily struggles, temptations and tests to endure. God wants us to know how much He loves us. He has set us free by showing us far greater love so that we would learn to love Him more than all those other things in life. The Holy Spirit woos us with the choice fruit of righteousness so that it feeds our spirit along the way with things like love, joy, and peace that cannot be found in this life but well up in us from the inside. He prospers our soul which was once headed for death with new life day by day, season by season, until we reach the end and step into forever with Jesus. I have to believe that God’s Love is greater for me than that which I currently show love, affection and attention to more. The thing that compromises my love and trust in Jesus is that which is robbing me of my blessing. The Lord withholds no good thing from us. Our inability to accept, live in and thrive in freedom keeps blessings and promises just out of reach. Jesus loves us more. When the first priority of our life is to love Him more – those dreams and desires will become attainable by faith and confident hope in His Great Love.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NLT) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.

For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son. True love gives it’s all. Withholding nothing. All of me for all of you. We cannot be one with the Lord if we do not commit all of our love, faith and hope to Him in exchange for all that He is. His Love seals our heart to His Own Heart. Love is freedom to choose who we love and how it is expressed. I want my husband to know that I love him more. I want my children to know I love them more. I want my friends and church to know I love them, too. But does Jesus know that I love Him more… that is the secret of success as a believer. When I love Jesus more than sin, I will stop doing those things I do not want to do. When I have experienced God’s Love testing all of its parameters it is clear that it never runs out for me. I cannot overstep it, outlast it, or move far away from it. It is pursuing me. Unfailing love that I am incapable of but am offered every day with the new mercy when it arrives. Nothing can separate me from God’s Love other than my decision to reject it. Even in bad choices, God’s Love remains, His Grace sufficient and His Power available to me. I cannot shake off, sin way or kill God’s Love for me. How about my love for Him? Do I love Jesus more today? It is the very thing that empowers our choice called freedom. When we use our freedom to love Him more, we will have the rich and satisfying that the Lord has purposed for us!

Galatians 5:13-14 (NLT) For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”