Rags to Riches

Rags to Riches

Colossians 3:14-16 (NLT) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

I am one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of my life is changed. Filled with disappointment, bitterness, and completely devastated by bad choices I was lost in my own regret and shame. All that changed when I met a man. A man who knew all about my life and yet still chose to give me a brand new one. He took all those details and continues to make good on His Promise to change this mess into a message. Like an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor yet private and intimate, I cannot begin to tell you how love made the difference in my life. His Love that clothes me allows me to love freely and forgivingly. His Grace that has kept me this far has produced a need to give it away just to have more. His Goodness has benefited my life in more ways than I could ever count or confer to another without forgetting some of the miraculous and wonderful gifts I have been given. His Name – Jesus.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” One of the greatest gifts given to us by the Lord is His Peace. The kind of peace that passes understanding. Derived from unconditional love and uncompromised acceptance of all imperfections by a perfectly sovereign God provided by his perfectly sinless Son, how is it possible to accept such an extravagant gift without somehow reciprocating it? It would be wonderful if there was something of any worth that I could give Him, but there really is nothing other than to accept His Gift of Love, Grace and Mercy and apply it to my broken life. Oh how our pride hates the thought of something that is unearned and undeserved. Our need for supremacy and control puts rules, regulations and mandates on the freeness of God’s Grace in order to fulfill its obligation. Such in intrusion sows seeds of insecurity and doubt that will begin to uproot faith and choke out the hope rising from within.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love…” In Isaiah 61:10, it says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” The Lord gave us salvation and wrapped a white robe around us to cover us. It is this robe that gives us confidence that our relationship is secure again. Nothing can now come between us and the Love of God. Sin is covered sufficiently by the Blood of Jesus. Game over. However, if we do not clothe ourselves in His Love daily – it is easy to put back on the filthy rags of a beggar. Imagine. Why do such a thing? Would you do that now? Would you choose clothes out of the hamper rather than grabbing a fresh clean garment from the drawer?

Today, before you leave for church, you will choose an outfit, check your appearance in the mirror, and make sure everything is just right before heading off to worship the Lord. The people in the congregation will appreciate your diligence but when you arrive will the Lord see the robe of righteousness that He has given you. The love that identifies you as His Own. Will God recognize you as His Own? It is easy to get caught up in life and social standards but today if only for today – can we get so wrapped up in Jesus that no one recognizes us?

Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Studying the Word this morning, my intent was to focus on thankfulness. I am determined to carry over the thanksgiving season all the way through the Christmas holiday. Thankfulness produces contentment in our life. Taking our eyes off what we do not have to appreciate and acknowledge the things given to us by the Hand of God. Every good thing in our life is a product of God with us – Immanuel. It doesn’t matter if we acknowledge the Lord or not – He blesses us according to His Will. The rain falls on the just and unjust because God ordained it not man ordering it. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve the Grace of God in my life. What I can do is to let the Prince of Peace rule my heart.

You must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow done into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. The instructions are simple. Why do we make it so hard? Faith is not impractical. It may seem a bit illogical until the Word of God becomes a daily consumption and His Spirit uses it cultivate your faith into a practical lifestyle. God’s Word is the fertilizer of faith in our life. The roots of faith connect us with God’s Heart and His Desires. As we build our lives on Christ who is the foundation of our faith, there is a wonderful transformation from dissatisfaction and discontentment to full satisfaction and completion. It is not based on feelings, emotions or worldly standards but thankfulness. How can I be thankful when my needs are not met, my emotions are all over the map, and my expectations seem wasted on an unseen God with invisible hands?

We walk by faith and not by sight. Faith is followed by simply doing what the Word of God says even when the outcome is not clear. A farmer plants a field with great expectation but no guarantee. Doing his best to prepare the field, sowing good seed, watering and caring for what looks to be barren, while beneath the soil – the seed is growing, changing, developing and maturing. What if the very thing you prayed for is just below the surface of your life, but unwillingness to wait causes you to leave the field? The seed will still produce in your absence.

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Disqualification is ineligibility when breaking the terms of an agreement. The enemy will continually offer compromises in order to attempt to disqualify you. Empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that appeal to human reasoning but are not divine wisdom. It is written that God’s People will perish from ignorance or a lack of knowledge. God’s Word is absolutely essential to tearing down the strongholds of the mind those things that appeal to our flesh but wreak havoc on our heart. The fullness of God lives in Christ. Christ lives in us. His Authority and Power belong to us as a product of grace and grace alone. We are overcomers in all things. We have been handed the victory. Disqualification is only possible apart from Christ. His Grace fills the void of broken rules and agreements so now we are right with God the Father again. We must make the decision to capture every thought that is in rebellion to God, His Plan and Purpose for our life in order to remain qualified for the calling. Otherwise, we will choose less than God’s Best and wander off to wildernesses in search of substitutions, shortcuts and subtle settlings.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

You are one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of your life is subject to change. Though you may be experiencing disappointment, bitterness, and complete devastation by bad choices or unfortunate situations, the Fullness of Christ in you is looking to make its way out into the open. Has shame shattered your confidence in Christ or maybe regret is reasoning that you are not worthy of God’s Investment of His Son and Spirit so you simply live in your suffering?  God has written an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor just for you, it begins only by accepting the fullness of His Grace and then following Him. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, fail or flail, God is doing the good work inside you and His Grace is always enough.

Devote yourself today. The word “devote” means to give all or a large part of one’s time and/or resources to an activity or person. I wonder what would happen if we devoted more of our time and resources to discovering the Fullness of God given to us in Christ. If we strived to clothe ourselves in the righteousness that is grace given rather than continually donning the old filthy rags of our past indiscretions or present insecurities. Devote our life to God, Jesus and His Spirit by pursuing intimacy that is not dependent on anyone else. To live with an alert mind that is fixed on the Kingdom, heavenly outpourings and miraculous outcomes. God has placed potential in us that will lead to daily fulfillment and abundance. We must be consciously aware that this moment does not dictate our future, but should be lived with forever in mind. Least but not last, a thankful heart. This is for me today.

My identity in Christ is enough to live in complete fulfillment with hopeful expectation. I must build my confidence by increasing faith. I must devote my life to Jesus Christ in all things. (Ephesians 5:10) I must be confident of the Kingdom to which I belong and its sustainability for my life today. (Hebrews 12:28) On those days when I got lost in emotional overtures or overwhelming feelings, I must still manage to sacrifice thankfulness because He never changes and is bigger than my feelings. (Psalm 50:14; I John 3:20) God knows exactly what He is doing in me, through me and for me. I must maintain my belief that He is good and will never let me down. I must remind my soul by worshiping God for who He is and not what He does.

With this in mind today, let us devote ourselves to the Lord once again. I find that I do this on a daily basis these days. About five years ago, I came to the place of understanding that I have no control over my life and what happens in it. God has complete control now. He always did but when I gave up my need to control it and came to the realization I can do nothing apart from Christ – everything changed. I am changing. The more I change the more I find that is needed to be given to His Transformation process. Giving up control is hard, but the realization I have no control is life changing. It is the moment when His Grace becomes enough…all sufficient.  I am nothing apart from Christ. I can do nothing of worth outside of the God living in me. Everything I am ever will be or have is from the Hand of God who is loving, gracious and good even when I’m not. Thank you for taking my filthy rags and giving me the riches of Heaven. Lord, let me live like it today and every day.

Ephesians 5:20 (NLT) And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Advertisements

Do You See What I See

Do You See What I See

Psalm 145:15-16 (NIV) The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Tis the season of immediate gratification. It is easy to get caught up in the madness. Our eyes are filled with visions of new things and wants disguised as needs. I am guilty as charged. Much of my times spent perusing the plethora of advertising preparing to forge out on Thanksgiving evening among the throngs in search of deals and bargains. I will admit the Black Friday tradition is as much about fellowship as much as anything else. However, I wonder if the pursuit of such things keep us from the very thing desired most among people in life. Contentment. Satisfaction. Completion. Fulfillment.

It is hard to pass up really good deals. Like a woman’s version of hunting, it becomes sport. However, there is a dangerous flip side to the giving and receiving of the holiday season. I wonder if maybe before we start shopping, baking, partying, and “celebrating” our Savior’s birth – we should take a moment to focus on what is real worth. To take our eyes off the stuff or stuffing long enough to find the secret of the season. His Name is Jesus Christ. He came not only to save us but to give us a rich and satisfying life. During the month of December, believers will celebrate His Birth. The real invitation of Christmas is to freedom, a future, and forever. What better time for the enemy to try to steal that which Christ has given us.

Immediate gratification comes with a price. Yes. To overstep the boundaries of sowing and reaping the promises of God for our life. In order to abandon such a snare and not fall for such folly, I have decided that we must fix our focus on Jesus before being overtaken by the holiday rush. I must admit that as I have been delving into this stronghold I face of holiday anxiety mixed with a bit of depression, I wonder if the problem is not external but internal instead. Is it my inability or unwillingness to put aside my own insecurities in order to look to the mountain? To see things from God’s Perspective rather than getting sucked into Christmas’ past. The eyes of all who look to the Lord will be provided for. Those who keep their eyes on Jesus will experience full satisfaction. Don’t let the season of celebration be a setback.

Psalm 123:1-2 (NIV) I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.

Human expectation is a dangerous snare. When I place my expectation in people rather than placing them fully in Christ, I am given to let down. I have chosen a less than perfect source to draw from when the Maker of heaven and earth is my Father. Unmet expectation is a pitfall of faith allowing doubt to trip us up. It is a snare and trap of the enemy to remove our eyes from the unseen and put them on what we can see. The flipside to the human expectation placed in others is to accept responsibility for the expectation of others. It is not our job to bring full satisfaction to another human being. The only good thing to be offered is the Christ in us. To give love, joy and peace to others requires Spirit productivity within us. We must put our expectation and that of others fully in the Sovereign God. Jesus must remain on the throne of our life even as remember his humble birth.

Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV) I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Are you with me? Overwhelmed as the month of November becomes December. On our foray into the night for Black Friday, my favorite purchase of the evening was a simple nativity made of wood. It has all the essential characters. I immediately put it up on the mantle. It is not ornate and no color except the golden star above the Savior. I am drawn to it. It sits right next to the television. I will admit I don’t watch much T.V. anymore. However, during this season, it is all about creating the perfect Christmas. The perfect Christmas has already come and gone. Its depiction right next to a larger than life Samsung with millions of dollars in advertising telling me what I need and creating new wants. God’s ways are higher than our ways. I wonder if He placed that little reminder right in front of me to keep my eyes on the One who created me and gave me the greatest gift of all time.

Psalm 119:37 (NIV) Turn my eyes from worthless things, preserve my life according to your word.

This is my prayer for the month of December. I want to be present. I want to stay fully engaged in celebrating the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. I want to keep my eyes on what matters including love, joy and peace. Not the worthless things that cause so much stress and anxiety. The Lord has given me a gift worth sharing. It doesn’t matter if I throw the greatest Christmas party every thrown or have mounds of gifts underneath the tree. Who knows? My desire to meet every single want of my husband and children might be a hindrance more than a blessing as they look for lesser things rather than pursuing the Presence of God as Provider and Satisfier.

Matthew 6:21-23 (NIV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

As believers begin to prepare for one of the busiest seasons in the church, it would be beneficial to clean the lens of our heart. The eye is the lamp of the body. It perceives things according to light. If we fix our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith – this may be the best Christmas yet. It doesn’t revolve around a perfect presentations, plentiful parties or a plethora of presents. To fill our eyes with the Light of His Love that reveals and removes any darkness in our heart – no matter how small and insignificant. To put our full expectation in the Lord and not the “things” around us. To walk by faith means to see things through the unseen reality of faith which is only logical through God’s Word…the same word that came wrapped as a baby lying in a manger.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. I have so much to be thankful for. God has been better to me than I could ever deserve. He has given me a loving husband who is an excellent partner and wonderful father. He has filled our house with children and even delivered them from death. When the enemy came to steal, kill and destroy us – He was our Protector, Provider and Healer. Looking around our house, we are more than provided for but abundantly blessed. The future even has promise in the birth of our first grandchild early next year. God has been faithful. His Son has given us confident hope. My treasure is in Heaven. His Blessings poured out to me on earth.

I must keep my eyes on Jesus this holiday season. To overcome years even decades of depression and anxiety during this time of year would be a declaration of faith in God and appropriate proclamation of the birth of His Son. His only son who brought hope to all mankind in his arrival. If you suffer from holiday stress, anxiety and depression, I invite you to join me. Put a tiny manger in full view. In a place, where you will see it and it will remind you that you have hope. Hope that is realistic that will produce love, joy and peace in abundance as you learn to trust Him more. God is a good father. He will never let you down those who put their faith, trust and confidence in Him. Release those heavy weights and burdens that do not belong to you and take on the yoke of partnership with Christ.

Lord, I ask you today to remove the scales from my eyes. Let the Light of Your Love permeate the darkness that threatens my heart this time of year. May those who share the same symptoms have a Saul-like experience (Acts 9:17-19) with me. Fill us anew with Your Spirit, Lord. Renew us with love, joy and peace in our salvation all over again. Let us see you in this season of rushing and create stillness in us to celebrate the greatest gift ever given – it’s You, Jesus, all you!

I John 3:1 (NIV) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Give Thanks

Give Thanks

Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)  So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Thanksgiving is this week. No really, it is in just four days. How did it get here so fast? I feel the panting of the racehorse of stress and anxiety beneath me. Panting hard getting ready for the pistol shot and the gate to fall. The holidays are here…Lord help us. We also have other excitement in our family. Our son is now engaged. There is a wedding upcoming. Our daughter is expecting our first grandchild at the beginning of the New Year. Office parties some to plan others to attend. Church related activities. List making, shopping, and gift giving. I can feel the pull and stretch already.

The stores have all the fall seasonal merchandise on clearance. Rifling through a pile of placemats – I find one that says, “Give Thanks”. I pause for a moment. Looking at all the plates, platters and wall signs also marked down – it is written on many of the items. All of them hidden away on a clearance aisle. While they have been replaced with Christmas trees, ornaments, gift wrap and the like. A celebration is coming. The newborn King has arrived. Salvation is introduced to the world. Grace ready to overflow to all mankind. Hope restored for a lost world and people shrouded in darkness. We have much to be thankful for and so little of it is in this store. Hidden deep in our heart where His Spirit lives there is quiet voice reminding me – “Give Thanks. Don’t forget to be thankful. You have it all right here in Me.”

Overflowing thankfulness is not a human quality but a spiritual gift born of a made up mind and hopeful heart. To be thankful in every situation is our goal but not always the outcome. “So then” as an introduction to this passage points to a result. This has happened so then this is the result. Paul indicates that the church has shown great discipline and firm faith in Christ so then…the result is to continue to live life rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith and overflowing with thankfulness. I wonder if our hearts focus solely on living the life prescribed by the Word and continually attempting to sow seeds of faith for prosperity in all things, but we struggle with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a result of satisfaction and contentment. To be overflowing with thanksgiving means to live in a constant state so that it continually multiplies and cannot be contained. The result of living in Christ and firm steadfast faith should be thanksgiving. Are you thankful today?

Colossians 4:2 reminds us to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful for the return of Christ and to be thankful. I wonder if our prayer life is stagnant and witnessing weak because we have forgotten to give thanks. Discipline is not only a spiritual trait but can be from natural habits. Religion sets forth a standard doctrine. People who comply with the demands of the doctrine exhibit discipline but it doesn’t mean they have a relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship is formed of a different kind of discipline that changes our character and identity. Two become one making it a whole different creation. Christ promised to make us new creations. This is not possible until our attitude and actions are changed by His Word, Way and Will for us. We don’t make that change but submit to His Discipline as a disciple of Christ. Without a heart experience, an encounter with Jesus is a chance meeting. It is our heart, desires and passions that He is after to make our life fulfilled and complete. Apart from the Lord this is not possible and therefore overflowing thanksgiving the same.

Colossians 3:15 (NIV) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

“And be thankful.” This mandate comes after a long list of characteristics of God’s chosen people. We are holy and dearly loved to be clothed in compassion, kindness, tenderness, gentleness and patience. To bear burdens together and to be forgiving. With all these attitudes and actions – we are to do them in love. Live in peace with Christ and others. Then the statement comes almost like an add-on “And be thankful.” It’s almost as if it says, “You must do all these things and like it.” The giving of our life to Christ does not come with challenges and struggles along the way. We must wrestle our flesh for control of our mind, will and emotions in order to surrender our heart and mind to the Lord. We can do all of the conditions listed above but without thankfulness – is it really a heart change or merely a change in habits?

In Ezra 3, the builders had laid the foundation of the Temple. The reconstruction process was finally showing some results. They stopped to have a praise break. “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; His Love toward Israel endures forever.’” It goes on to say that many people did not share the same enthusiasm and joy. There were older priests, Levites, and family leaders who had seen the former temple that wept with sorrow. Change is hard. It is difficult to endure. As the Lord prepares His Church for eternity, it requires transformation which is more than just a habitual change or altering of appearance. He is molding and shaping a Body of People to fit together in unison and harmonious perfection. The foundation of our life is faith in Jesus Christ. Though all engaged in a personal process, it is with one purpose. Where are you today in the restoration and renewal process of Christ? Is it hard to be thankful because life is just too hard? Are you the one who is celebrating all the good things going on around you? Are you the one who weeps in sorrow when the praise team starts singing longing for the faith, love and hope that you are still trying to find?

Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV) Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Therefore…the world is certainly shaken. Love is cold. Sin rampant. It is a polluted place and perverted culture all around us. As “temporary residents” this is not our home or forever. Sometimes in the midst of our natural life our supernatural destination grows cloudy and dim. We forget that the details of our life are promised good outcomes. (Romans 8:28) We forget that Jesus will never leave us or that His Spirit is alive and well given as our helper. Burdened and pressured by the temptations and trials of life the unseen reality of our faith becomes elusive. Not only that tradition seldom gives easily to transformation, God is doing something new in the churches around the world. New vitality is rising up from ashes, as the Lord shakes Heaven and earth once more. Since we are part of the Kingdom of God and His Chosen People, we have confident hope that no matter what happens, our future is secure. For this reason alone, the Word of God says, “Let us be thankful.”

Give thanks. I don’t know the trials you are going through or the temptation you are facing, but for a few moments, just thank God for His Love, His Son, His Spirit, His Salvation, His Kingdom, and continue to thank Him for every single thing that is good in your life. We all have something to be grateful for especially if America is our home. The enemy wants to put out our passion and desire for the Lord by making us overly busy, consumed with lesser things, bound up in lies, falling into temptation, caught up in religion, hanging on to tradition, and so many complications. It is up to us to enter His Gates with Thanksgiving and His Courts not one day but every day if our intent is to be one with Christ. I must make the personal choice to begin each day with a grateful heart even when dissatisfied, discouraged or overwhelmed. It may begin as a habit but will lead to personal transformation. Peace with God removes all doubt and fear becomes love dispels them. God is good. He is good to us. He will do exactly what He promised that He would do. Trust produces thankfulness before the thing for which we asked, prayed and believed ever happens. It is the foundation of faith like mortar in its bricks. Don’t get caught in the holidays but being changed by His Holiness. The Lord longs to live in partnership with you. He desires to carry those burdens and teach you to live apart from them. (Matthew 11) He is the Gift that keeps on giving. Give thanks today for the greatest gift of all.

Psalm 100 (NIV) Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Proper Portion

portion control 2

Psalm 16:5 (NIV) Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.

Over the years, I have tried many dieting methods to control the fluctuation of unwanted pounds and inches. Radical dieting may offer dramatic effects but in the end the weight sneaks back on when giving in to temptation. I have found portion control to be the most effective way to lose the weight and keep it off although it requires a little thing called self-control. Eating is a social past time. It is an emotional fix. It can be a whole lot of things in our life. Some use it to fill voids or satisfy impulsive drives even addictions. Currently on vacation, I will be the first to admit that I am not making the best food choices. The fried fish sandwich and crispy fries last night were awesome. The ice cream on the couch watching football was pretty good, too. Once back to the reality of life, I must muster the self-control and mindset to resume healthy eating and making better choices.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup…

Today, as I read Psalm 16, I am reminded that I have the power to control the portions of my life. The Lord is good! His new mercy is provided each morning to fill the voids left by self and even poor choices from the day before. His Love is unconditional. His Love is never ending. It is perfectly reflective of the kind of love described in I Corinthians 13. I have a cup called my life. It is filled with many things both productive and unproductive. I have been given His Spirit to grow and nurture the Fruit of God’s Spirit that will satisfy my soul and fulfill my purpose. I make the choice each day of what fills my cup to overflowing. Will the Lord be my portion today? Will I allow His Love to be the very thing I desire above all things? Will I seek His Face before people? Will I pursue His Way avoiding all other distractions and detours? What do I desire today?

Psalm 73:25-26 (NIV) Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

My flesh and my heart WILL fail. It is historic. Each new day though I try to do the right thing, make good choices, and do exactly what the Lord tells me to do. I manage to make mistakes and fall short of His Glorious Standard of life every single day. I don’t always do what I am called to do. I don’t always love as I am called to love. I do not forgive as quickly as instructed. I do not always reflect the love and grace that I am given. Yet each new morning, as surely as the sun rises in the east, the Father offers me new mercy and the Son gives me more grace.

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. This promise is not dependent on me but solely characteristic of the Lord. When my pride tells me “what’s the point”, my soul reminds me that this is the promise. For every boundary removed and broken ground in this hard heart, there is a portion to be poured out for me. My inheritance is secure even when I live in insecurity or fear. God is the One who secures the inheritance of my life or I would have given it away long ago for lesser things. If you are struggling today in any area of your life, let me be the first to remind you that God holds your future securely in His Hand. No one can take it from you. Nothing you can do can remove you from Him. His Love is for you not against you. He must be the portion you choose to have it.

Psalm 119:57-58 (NIV) You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words. I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.

Life is all about balance. I believe that completely. When it comes to the Lord, I believe He is the one thing that must be sought after with all our heart, mind, body and soul. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. If you are a believer, and you suffer from dissatisfaction or a lack of contentment, it is up to you to find the area of your life not surrendered. If I eat ten chocolate chip cookies before dinner, I will not eat the things that are good for me like meat, vegetables or fruit because I am full of junk food. What is filling the place where the Lord can be your portion today? It is human nature to fill its own void with natural things. God has a supernatural satisfaction for us. He will be our portion. We must provide a place to be filled. His Word is the answer to our problems, but no one reads it anymore. His Presence is a place of refuge, but no one has time to seek Him. His Grace is our power in weakness, but not one is willing to give in. Without a desire for God – there is no hunger and thirst. If we do not hunger and thirst for the Lord, we will not make Him our portion. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” speaks volumes. Are you hungry for the Bread of Life or living just fine on the crumbs beneath His Table? Are you thirsty for living water or getting by on the runoff of religion? God sent His Son to satisfy our soul with righteousness and a relationship that will complete us and lead us to forever.

Lamentations 3:22-25 (NIV) Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Are you satisfied today? Are you filling certain voids with lesser things? The Lord is not offering a life of just enough but more than enough to those who choose Him as their portion. It is not a matter of “if” He will but faith that He will that causes us to stop settling for lesser things. He is our proper portion. It is our inheritance that no one can take from His Children for it is based on our heritage not our history. As I consider my heart and the contents thereof I am challenged to offer more of it to the Lord for His Ample Fulfillment. It begins by saying, “The Lord is my potion; therefore I will wait for Him.” The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy trying to take what belongs to us with subtle lies, substitutions and settlements that no Child of God must take. They often buffer our pride with feelings of comfort, convenience and control that faith does not allow. They rob us of our complete and full satisfaction offered by the Lord because our flesh fails and the human heart is fickle. Let the Lord fill you up today. Let Him by your portion for just a single day. He is ready to respond to the outpoured heart with confidence found only in perfect love. Wait for the Lord with that thing you desire most…He will come. My doing does not fulfill my purpose, it is found in my complete undoing before the Lord. Lord, empty every lesser thing from my life today to make more room for You!

Psalm 142:5 (NIV) I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

Pathway to Purpose

Pathway to Purpose

Ephesians 1:7-10 (NIV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

There is more to our purpose in Jesus Christ than just to be saved. The fulfillment of Christ is to make us complete lacking nothing. It is a process of sowing seeds of His Word in us, allowing His Spirit to cultivate them, and God will grow them into full satisfaction. Can I ask you a question today? Are you satisfied? Before you answer, think of your needs, wants and desires. If there is a single one, then the answer is “no” I am not satisfied with my life. Settling is not a characteristic of satisfaction and complaining is not born of contentment. Just enough is not good enough when it comes to God’s Standard of Living which is defined by more than enough. Beginning with our soul, the Fruit born of the Spirit is the first fruit of fulfillment. When there is enough love, joy, and peace in our life to be characteristic of our nature overflowing in all conditions and circumstances, it is then that we are finally on track to fulfillment. Until then, fulfillment is only a figment of our imagination. God is able to exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or even imagine. How do I find my way to fulfillment? What will it take to achieve purpose in my life?

Romans 11:22-24 (NIV) Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

The desirability of salvation is without question. Of course, we desire for Jesus to be our Savior. It is a win for us without any investment. I can do nothing to save myself. The kindness of God in the Gift of His Son is ours for the asking. There is another component to Christ called Lordship. To make Jesus the Lord of my life is cause for my flesh to offer up resistance. Why? My flesh must die for Christ to assume His Place as Lord of my life. This is a huge chunk of meat right out of the Word of God that many struggle to understand as they strive to achieve purpose beyond just being saved. It’s not easy.

Consider therefore the kindness (salvation) and sternness (sovereignty) of God. Do you ever think that there has to be more to life than this? Not eternity or forever, but right here, right now. I do. I believe that there are three qualities that must become part of our character in order to achieve God’s Purpose in our life. To reach fulfillment there must be perseverance, persistence and patience. Not exactly the fuzzy, feel-good fodder peddled in the modern day church. If your purpose in life is to endure to the end and enter the Kingdom than it is important to know and understand God’s Word and His Way in order to fulfill His Will which is that none should die but find eternal life.

Perseverance

Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

Perseverance is continued steady belief and efforts, withstanding discouragement or difficulty with persistence. It will take effort on our part to continually sow God’s Word in our heart and protect it and nurture it while it grows into fulfillment, purpose and full productivity in our life. We must become acutely aware of sin in our life because it is the very thing that trips us along the way, entangling us in lies, and binding us in things that will keep us from the finish line if allowed to remain. God is Sovereign. Grace didn’t change His Character but is a product of His Steadfast and Unconditional Love which does not change either. God has provided all of the grace needed to step out of sin and live on purpose that leads to completion in Christ. It is up to us to decide to put effort into the process or settle for something less or accept a substitution. The race of faith is a clearly marked pathway which requires perseverance.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) The testing of our faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that we will be complete, mature and fulfilled lacking nothing. We want the end result therefore we cannot forgo the process of completion. When facing trials, it is important to stop focusing on the temporary and keep our eyes fixed on the promise. The Word of God for our life does not change. Your situation will throughout your entire life as God molds you, moves you and motivates you to fulfillment.

Persistence

Romans 2:6-7 (NIV) God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

Persistence is to continue steadfastly and firmly in purpose with a course of action especially in spite of opposition and discouragement. You still keep pressing and pushing on the boundaries and barriers between you and God’s Purpose which leads to fulfillment. Believing in God’s Word for your life in the process of persistence. You must know what God says about you, who He tells you that you are, what He has commissioned you to do, and what He is doing in you. You must be full of faith and confidence in the Word of God and the person of Jesus Christ. You must rely on His Spirit to take God’s Word which is the logic of faith and make it the wisdom of your life.

Bless her heart! I love the persistent widow in Luke 18. She knew what belonged to her and would not be stopped until she received it. She came to him time and time again, “Grant me justice against my adversary!” Over and over again until she finally wore the poor man down. He didn’t fear God and was not moved by any other motivation than to stop this woman from bothering him day after day. In fact, it eludes to the fact that he thought she might be a little crazy. God grants us justice against our adversary. Jesus is our champion who gives us the victory. If we believed that God would be our justice, and Jesus really was our champion, we would be more persistent for the prize rather than settling for sloppy seconds or immediate gratification of settlement. If we believed, we would persist. Lord, help me to stop settling for anything less and teach me to persist in all areas of my life!

Patience

Colossians 1:8-12 (NIV) For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

“You must be patient.” I loved my grandmother. She was a godly woman who led me to the Lord. If she said these words to me once, she spoke them a thousand times. I was born impatient. Perhaps, if honest, we all are not born with a propensity to wait graciously for anything. We want it quick and in a hurry. Some say, “Don’t pray for patience” while others encourage it. Can I let you in on a little secret? The Holy Spirit is already working on producing the fruit of longsuffering in us. It doesn’t matter if you pray for it or not, it is already a work in process inside of you. Great endurance and patience are absolutely essential to fulfillment. God makes everything beautiful in His Time… not ours. The Gospel is a story of great patience demonstrated by Jesus Christ. In I Timothy 1, Paul attributes his salvation to the immense patience of Jesus Christ as he calls himself the worst sinner. We all could make the same confession. We must endure to the end to be saved according to Jesus – that is going to take some time. In fact, it is going to take your whole life. Diligence will require tremendous patience as God works every detail of our life to fulfillment and completion. (Romans 8:28) (Hebrews 6:11-12)

“A person’s wisdom yields patience.” (Proverbs 19:11) The Word of God is seed for our life. It must be planted. It must be given time to take root and grow. No farmer gets an immediate harvest from a seed the very next day. He must wait. He must be patient. God’s Word is harvested into wisdom when applied to our life. It increases our ability and willingness to wait on the Lord once we have tasted His Goodness and experienced His Glory.

2 Corinthians 8:10-12 (NIV) And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

Perseverance, persistence, and patience do not produce new things in our life. They produce the Promise, Purpose and Prosperity of God already given to us according to His Plan including our future and hope in Him. Let that sink in for a moment. If it already exists, we cannot produce it. Therefore, these three qualities are not a requirement but a privilege. It is up to us if we are willing to engage in the Plan of God called purpose or if we are good with the life currently lived. Why settle for less than full satisfaction? Because it is easy, fast and affordable – I guess. God is not going to force anyone into the process but offers us potential to encourage us to try. God already has given us an inheritance now we must take the initiative to be His Sons and Daughters. We are free to choose the life to live. Will I live with eager willingness that leads to fulfillment? Or am I okay for today? The choice is mine. I choose my level of commitment. I decide if I will persevere, persist and be patient until the end. It’s my life. I choose to live on purpose today. How about you?

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NIV) Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Fake Plants

Artificial Plants

John 15:5 (NKJV) “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 

I am a natural born plant killer. When I walk through a garden center or nursery, all the little plants shake in fear that they will be fatefully selected. My thumb is a dark and ominous shade of black. Thank the Lord that I am much better at raising children and pets than the unsuspecting houseplant. About the only safe plant I own would be the one that is planted in our yard where my husband can take care of it. I am not a fan of artificial plants with all the vivid and perfect greenery. I have one little tree in the corner of the house given to me by my mother. It really is beginning to look sad after years of being dusted and vacuumed. Little hands tugging at the fronds. Now a huge puppy who likes to nibble running by. It cannot experience new life and regrowth because it is plastic created in a factory made to look good but produce nothing.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” An illustration of new life, growth, maturity and productivity available by engraftment. The cutting away of our flesh sounds painful and brutal. Engrafting allows us to grow from a new source. In horticulture, it means to insert one tree or plant into another for the purpose of multiplication. The Kingdom of God operates on the principle of sowing and reaping. We sow our life into Jesus Christ. He produces the Kingdom through us. Planting is the pathway of productivity ordained by God. Whatever you plant, you will harvest. You cannot harvest what you do not plant.

“He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  

The Fruit of the Spirit are clearly identified in Galatians 5:22-23 as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” But many times, this is not the natural expectation of new or young believers. They come to Christ desiring the things naturally occurring rather than supernaturally produced. It’s only natural. However, to truly flourish and prosper is to live IN Christ. Give up our way of doing things to live disciplined lives hence He produces self-control in us that allows us to truly repent and turn from our old way of life to fully embrace His Gift of new life.

John 15:1-4 (NKJV) “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

Walking through the local Ace, looking for my next victim. Just kidding, I was actually trying to find a crepe myrtle tree for the yard so botanist and horticulturists can put their mind at ease. It was hot and humid outside but then a steady midst of cool water made me look up. All around the covered area a PVC irrigation system periodically watered all the potted plants. The plants will survive in this environment until they are rescued and put in the ground. Once in the ground, the fertile soil will begin to give the plant or tree the nutrients it needs to begin to sprout new growth. The roots will anchor it down so wind and rain will not be a threat. It will be watered from the ground to the sky and all around as natural and man cooperate to produce an environment conducive to growth and prosperity. What was once limited to a contained environment will hopefully begin to grow, develop and mature. God is inviting us to enter the prosperity process of growth but it requires being moved out of the limitations of our natural life and planting ourselves in His Presence. I access such a place through His Son, Jesus Christ. He washed us in the Word. The Word made flesh is Jesus. Now we have true growth potential but we must endure the growth process to actually prosper.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Reading some commentary on this passage, I came across a new term. It shook me to my core rattling my roots if you will. Pseudo-believer or false believer. Yikes! How is this even possible? Do I truly believe? Am I growing in Christ or producing a bunch of leaves without fruit? Here is the danger of religion versus relationship exposed as a warning to those who follow Christ. If I do what the Word of God tells me to do, my life will become productive. I will experience increase because I am sowing good seed…God seed. It will do what is sent forth to do in spite of me. God is good. He wants to bless us. Obedience produces blessing and prosperity in our life. Any part of my life partnered with God’s Word will begin to experience a radical change and dramatic shift not because I did anything but when I plant and water with the Word – God gives increase. However, it is possible to walk with Christ but not live in Christ. Prime example – Judas. He was one of the twelve. He heard every word spoken by Jesus, experienced every sign, wonder and miracle with the others and even walked in the Presence of the Living God but did not believe. If I do what the Word says but do not fall in love with Jesus Christ, I can experience a pseudo-relationship called religion. If I fall in love with Jesus Christ and do my best to follow His Teachings and allow His Spirit to produce His Fruit in my life – I am redeemed. I will live in Christ. I will become a true believer worshipping in Spirit and Truth. I will not be separated from Him in the end.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I John 5:2-4 (NKJV) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

The word “yoke” is the device that joins two or more work animals so that they work together. Jesus invites us to take His Yoke upon us and partner with Him in this life. I must give up my way to go His Way. The promise is that His Yoke is easy and His Burden is light. This does not mean that life is easy and becoming a new creation is not without its struggles, sorrows and suffering because the death of our flesh and old way of thinking is often painful. But when we love God, live in Christ, and strive to keep His Commandments – His Spirit cultivates growth in our relationship. We do things every day out of responsibility. Some relationships such as that with our co-workers is born of responsibility. There are things we do to maintain that relationship because it is our job, duty or responsibility. However, when we yoke our life to Jesus and decide to live in love with Him first, all other responsibilities become His Responsibilities. He takes the lead. It is His Yoke. His Burden. We can have peace that the process is prosperous without worrying, stressing, or fretting about it. We do not have to fear the outcome but simply wait on it. God gets no glory in our death but His Glory shines in our success.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV) For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Are you rooted and grounded in His Love today? Does Christ dwell in your heart? Do you abide in Him today? Fake faith and artificial growth produce nothing but disappointment. It may bring some momentary happiness and temporary blessings but just a fake plant fades with time so will our satisfaction. Sometimes it is easier to take up the responsibilities of religion and do the right thing rather than allowing Jesus to be completely and totally responsible for our life. I cannot become the new creation that He promised and have the rich and satisfying life marked by abundance if I do not surrender my life to Jesus. My heart must bear the Fruit of His Spirit first to live in love with Him. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us. Jesus lives in us. We must focus first on cultivating our relationship with the Lord in order to experience the prosperity and success promised as our soul prospers. Without a prospering soul, our flesh will never be satisfied with the productivity of our life. Jesus is the One who satisfies our soul.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV) Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Will To Win

Will to win

Romans 8:37 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Romans 8:37 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Overwhelming victory. More than conquerors. Through Jesus Christ, this is the promised outcome in our life. We live from grace to grace, glory to glory and win to win. Do you feel victorious? Are you overcoming? Are you winning today? Zig Ziglar points out that “you were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” The will to win is instilled in us from the beginning. No one has a desire to lose or fail in life but always to win. Romans 8:37 promises us “overwhelming victory” through Jesus Christ. If winning is elusive and victory just an illusion to you today, it is not because winning potential is not in you but rather it has not been tapped into yet. You were born to win. God put a plan in place from the beginning (Psalm 139:16) before you drew your first breath to give you a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) If you have not crossed over the goal line of victory, it doesn’t mean it’s not your destiny. Winners must plan to win, prepare for the win and expect to win. Do you have the will to win today? Do you believe that Christ has made you more than a conqueror?

“Before you can win, you have to believe you are worthy.” (Mike Ditka)

I Corinthians 15:57 (NLT) But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am worthy of winning because Jesus Christ lives in me. My Savior and Lord has given me victory. It is a done deal. So much so that I can thank God for it every day even on those days that I cannot see the goal line. I win. I am well-equipped for victory through Christ. The victorious Christian achieves victory through Christ. Any part of my life that is not successful need only be redirected through Jesus Christ in thought and process to experience the overwhelming victory that is promised, not because I am worthy, but Christ who lives in me is worthy. He is not glorified in my failure but when faith succeeds and I believe. Here are some of the things that are established in my life through Christ:

Through Christ – I have grace and more grace. Grace and truth lead me to victory. They are the coaches that establish my place in God’s Word. Grace overcomes every weakness so that His Power is made manifest in my life. (John 1:16-18)

Through Christ – I achieve righteousness or right standing with God again. No longer held captive by sin and bound in its bondage. I am free to win. Ready to overcome. I am destined for victory. My righteousness is not my own but established through Jesus Christ giving me bold access to the Father. (Romans 3:21-24)

Through Christ – I am at peace with God. Faith produces confidence to try again and again according to the hope that belongs to me now. I can even be successful in suffering because it produces something good. God makes good of every detail of my life. (Romans 8:28) He leads us from victory to victory. “Sometimes losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.” (Donald Trump) On the days of simply enduring and making it through, I am still one step closer to having all God promised through the love and grace of Jesus. (Romans 5:1-5)

Through Christ – My life is reconciled to God day by day, moment by moment until His Plan becomes the reality of my life. As my soul prospers in a real relationship with the Lord, my standard of living is raised to His Glorious Standard. Where is God’s Glory in our failure? Where is the Light when we lose? To live a life reconciled to God is to allow His Glory to fill our life. We become satisfied in the abundant life that Jesus Christ produces in us, through us and gives to us each day. (Romans 5:10-11)

Through Christ – I have eternal life. The investment of my life in just this life is futile. It is my Kingdom investment that yields the greatest treasure and triumph in my life. (Romans 5:21)

Through Christ – I can bear much fruit. God Fruit. The kind of fruit that His Spirit produces which lead to supernatural abundance in our life. (Galatians 5:22-23) Apart from Christ, I can do nothing of worth or lasting glory. (John15:5) The fruit of my life that feeds my soul with satisfaction is the kind that gives me love, joy, peace and more. It is the fruit that strengthens me to achieve victory in Jesus Christ. (Romans 7:24)

Through Christ – I find the substance of my faith. To believe in God’s Plan, first we must know His Plan. He sent His Son, who is the Word wrapped in flesh, to show us firsthand just how much God loves us and desires us. (John 1:14) Not to be a step-child but to live in fulfillment as His Child. (Galatians 3:26) Faith is illogical apart from the Word. To live a victorious life in Jesus Christ, I must know His Plan and Process. (Romans 10:17)

Through Christ – I exist. Christ changes a hopeless, fruitless life into an abundant existence. Every part of my life filtered through Christ, even the most impossible, is absolutely possible simply because I believe enough to invest fully. (I Corinthians 8:6)

Through Christ – There is comfort for those times that winning seems elusive. His Spirit accompanies us while we wait on the Lord. He gives us strength and courage as the days drag on. He encourages us to hold on to hope for one more day. (2 Corinthians 1:5) Jesus is our confidence in the midst of confusion as God lines up our life according to His Plan which is always to win. (2 Corinthians 3:4)

Through Christ – I am fully equipped and empowered to win. I have God’s Glory. There is no glory in losing but winning. “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.” (Vince Lombardi) said it but truly God means it. In Christ, there is only victory and glory. (Hebrews 13:20-21) He handed us the keys to the Kingdom now what? We have everything we need including all the resources of Heaven and every possible spiritual blessing – why aren’t we winning? Where is the victorious Christian? Why aren’t we shouting down the walls of the church to tell the world – we win?

Through Christ – I have been given the opportunity to be a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7) To win is to accept God’s Mercy with confidence and allow Him to rebirth and renew us from the inside out. We must set our heart on victory and become more than a conqueror…through Christ.

I John 5:3-5 (NLT) Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

“If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory.” Confident hope is represented by faith fully invested. A diversified life may lead to the occasional win, but a life committed to overwhelming victory and constant conquest in all things must have faith. Faith that through Christ – I have been given such a life. To become fully satisfied in pursuing prosperity according to God’s Kingdom will increase your life. It begins in our soul. Once all in, satisfaction and contentment become the foundation of inexpressible joy and limitless expectancy through Christ. “I will not win immediately but definitely.” (Unknown Author)

Matthew 19:21-27 (NLT)  Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”

I love Peter. He may be my favorite disciple. He was always the first to volunteer. His impulsive nature put him in many situations that others would never experience. He made a lot of mistakes. Yet the Lord still chose to use him. In the story that Jesus shared, He said, “I tell you the truth, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Maybe you are thinking – not a problem I am far from rich. Pause for a moment and take in a deep breath. As long as life is within you, you have the potential to prosper. You have a priceless commodity others have lost – time. Time to be renewed and transformed so that your entire life is through Christ. You have the opportunity to win. However, too many times, we are not willing to give up compromise or “ties” if you will for the win.

We do not want to seem like a worldly failure to begin to prosper in the Lord so we settle for the things of this world. God’s Plan is to prosper Your Life. Jesus Christ has given us overwhelming victory. Are we willing? That is the question, willing to change the way we think in order to find faith, to live what we believe to win, and to who God created us to be not who the world tells us to be in order to live a fully satisfied life? See my friend, Peter said what everyone else was thinking, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Peter still did not know, understand or perceive the potential before Him in Jesus Christ. He was still looking for Heaven on earth when the Messiah was right in front of Him. We must release the temporary to secure the eternal today. To live boldly by faith that is fully motivated and invested in the Kingdom of God.

You have overwhelming victory today through Jesus Christ. Faith sees our life through Christ and His Word not conditions, circumstances or details. Our drive to know Him facilitates spiritual blessing and prosperity that takes chances in life that we would have never had the confidence or boldness to take as God unfolds opportunities to triumph. When the door to the impossible is opened, no one can every shut it again. Jesus opens that door to us. Will we walk in victory? Well that is up to you and me – if we have the will to win. Lord, help our unbelief. You have destined us to win through Jesus Christ. Let us walk by faith and not by sight as more than conquerors in all things today. Help us to follow where you are leading from victory to victory by making your Spirit new in us again. Revive us. Restore us. Renew us. In Jesus Name – make all things possible because we choose to believe.

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

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.