Trust Fund

Trust Fund

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (AMP) Now it is God who establishes and confirms us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and who has anointed us [empowering us with the gifts of the Spirit]; it is He who has also put His seal on us [that is, He has appropriated us and certified us as His] and has given us the [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as a pledge [like a security deposit to guarantee the fulfillment of His promise of eternal life].

I was not born into an affluent family. In fact, the first home I remember was a mobile home that traveled with us. My parents hardworking both coming from middle class families so the idea of a trust fund equated to a jar for loose change left somewhere in the house. Yet today I have an abundant trust fund waiting for me. It came as part of the package provided to me by God and accessible through Jesus Christ. I have a rich and satisfying life available to me and sealed by the Holy Spirit. So where is it?

The truth is that those who decide to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are now members of a ridiculously rich and lavishly opulent Kingdom. It has everything need, wanted and desired by God’s People beginning with fellowship with God the Father through Christ the Son. There is a trust fund of precious promises, bountiful blessings and certain benefits that belong to us. Again, where are they now? Why do believers live desperate, disappointed and devastated lives as paupers – body, mind and spirit when the Word of God clearly establishes otherwise? A trust fund is comprised of a variety of assets to provide benefits to individuals or organizations. Established by a grantor, a trust fund provides security to the benefactor. There are guidelines for distribution that if met it is automatically released to the person or group intended.

Galatians 5:18-21 (AMP)  But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If guided and led by the Holy Spirit invested in us by Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation. The Law is now satisfied and therefore we can live in its abundance. Sin will always separate us from God, but His Grace is sufficient meaning once applied it is more than enough. Eternal life belongs to those who are completely broken in sin but covered in the Blood of Jesus. Salvation is only the beginning of the process of true repentance which is the act of reconciling our life to the Lord. It is not a forced act but a display of willingness. How so? Freedom! Who the Son sets free is free indeed. You can remain subject to the susceptibility of sin or choose a better way.

Religion is still reliant on the Law to find a better way. Our relationship makes us reliant on the Love of God and His Kind Forbearance and Mercy to get us through this life. You will never be able to completely fulfill the Law with attitudes and actions completely like Christ. Our sinful nature will always have some level of influence. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. There is eternal life freely given by God through Christ and accepted by mankind. But then there is a Kingdom that holds an inheritance for those who are the Sons and Daughters of God. It is completely yours tucked away as a “trust fund” for those who desire to be part of the Kingdom now AND forevermore.

There are certain things that hinder us from the blessings and benefits of our inheritance such as immorality. Can I just put this out there? Just because a church allows unwed couples to serve in ministry positions does not release the blessings of servitude to them. It is still considered immorality and though our entrance in Heaven is secure in Christ, the blessings of the Kingdom are not released until our life lines up with the Kingdom. So what good is to other people when sin is tolerated and the Kingdom limited in their life? Truth will always promote trust that will open the windows of Heaven in our life and rain down blessings. That’s just one thing on the list of many things that the church entertains these days which limits the potential receivership of others. Sin separated us from God and Jesus paid the price for our sin. The actions of the Savior remove all condemnation and give us complete access to the Father. It is making Jesus our Lord that releases our trust fund in the Kingdom.

Galatians 5:22-23 (AMP) But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The fruit of my life that feeds my soul is from His Spirit. It includes love, joy and peace. It also provides patience or the ability to wait on the Lord. It fills us with kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness that will eliminate certain behaviors that once limited us including hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envy and others like these that divide the organization called church or the Body of Christ which is ordained to be blessed beginning with unity.

Ephesians 2:18-22 (AMP) For it is through Him that we both have a [direct] way of approach in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord]. In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

What if our trust fund in the Lord is not just individual but corporate? What if the blessings and benefits that are prayed for and desired are actually linked to others in the Body of Christ? We are no longer strangers and aliens. We must trust the Lord in all areas of our life to receive that which is ordained as an inheritance. The economy of the earth is driven by supply and demand. There must be a relationship of commerce to keep the country running. Ephesians 2:14 tells us that Jesus is our peace and our bond of unity. Maybe the Kingdom is not being released in our personal life because we lack proper relationships in our new life. The Kingdom’s economy is souls. Souls bound together in perfect unity with Christ so that it can also attach to others freely without human expectation but hopeful revelation. We must expand our sphere of influence so that God can use those who are the executors to grant what God has freely given. Our life is not independent of others but intertwined. Each person has a deposit to make in our life and we have something for them, too. Not of ourselves but through Jesus Christ.

We desire God’s Hand and Outpouring but until we know and understand His Heart there will be no such thing. Revival of the family is in its offspring. Generations will die if not reproduced. God’s Heart and His Kingdom flourishes in “things” with streets of gold and mansions all around. God’s owns the cattle on a thousand hills but what He desires most is you. Me. Us. Together. God’s Kingdom is a family of believers who when they find perfect unity in Christ will experience an outpouring like never before. God loves you. He loves me. He has already ordained blessings and benefits for us that far exceed our expectation and will satisfy us completely. It cannot just be obtained individually but entrusted corporately as well.

In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. We must work on our relationship with Jesus Christ not as Savior but as Lord to release all that is given to us through our covenant. We must strive to develop strong bonds and eliminate division in the Body of Christ which is to be God’s Dwelling Place. It will provide the proper place for His Glory to dwell. God has so many wonderful things in store for us. Dissatisfaction, discouragement and disappointment are all evidence that there is more to come. We must put them off for determination, discipline and dedication to establishing His Kingdom here on earth so that His Spirit has plenty of room to move and fill our lives with what we desire the most – Jesus!

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

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Power of Praise

Power of Praise

Psalm 108:1-5 (NIV) My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Our grandson is just four months old. He is beginning to engage with us. When he does something new and exciting, everyone smiles and praises him. When he simply sits in his seat looking around in wonder, you guessed it – we do the same thing. He is constantly being praised and affirmed even though his behavior is simple milestones in human growth and development. His mama tells him all the time that he is a good boy and he is a “cool dude”. She is constantly positively affirming her little boy. He smiles at her words. He looks to those around him for their reaction to his new endeavors. It is important to speak life over our children. To affirm them when they are good and redirect not so good behaviors. Punishment is not the goal of parenting but rather discipline. Building strong character in our youth begins with affirmation and praise at an early age. Praising tiny humans raises up confident adults.

There is power in praise. It elevates our spirit and strengthens our resolve eliminating insecurity and lack of confidence. However, it is not human nature to praise. It is all too common to be critical, to tear down, and this is usually from a place of comparison. People are created in the image of the Living God. He is the standard set that sin has stolen from us. It is our mission in life to discover the eternity hidden inside of our heart and take the measure of faith entrusted to us to pursue it as our destiny. As sons and daughters of the King, there is no need for strife or division because we are all joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

My heart, O God, is steadfast…

My heart is steadfast, loyal, faithful, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, steady, true, constant, solid and trusting. Are these the words that describe your heart connection to the Father? Do you remain steadfast in love, joy, peace, and all the other fruits of His Spirit? Praising God comes not from our current circumstances or conditions. These generally will produce complaints. Praise for the Living God must come from a confident heart. A heart that fully knows and understands that its connection to God is through His Son – Jesus therefore our boast is in nothing this world has to offer but fully consummated within a steadfast heart. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Our heart must remain constant in this truth to offer praise in every situation. Praise builds the stairway that faith will tread upon. Though one might think our praise elevates the Lord – it really is our pathway to His Presence.

I will sing and make music with all my soul…

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Praise makes us prosper. We must make our praise project from the depth of our soul. To prosper is to make successful. The prayer to prosper and become successful is not answered unless it comes from our soul. There are many who have created shortcuts to God’s Favor that simply are not true. God honors every seed planted by faith in good ground when our soul is healthy and our heart is fertile. What is a fertile heart? A heart that is broken and remade by the Hand of God into the wonderful masterpiece that He has promised before our birth. What is a healthy soul? A soul that hungers and thirsts for righteousness. A soul that is satisfied with the Bread of Life and Living Water. A soul that pursues God’s Presence. A soul that is hopelessly and completely devoted to Jesus Christ. Our soul is eternal. It must be trained and guided to look past today and all the cares and worries of life to become confident in Jesus Christ alone.

For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Psalm 23:5-6 (NIV) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Praise propels us past our problems to the promises of God for our life. It is the opportunity to remind ourselves what the Lord has promised and what He will do for us. We really have nothing to offer the Lord except our praise and adoration. There is no possible way to earn or deserve the goodness and love that He pursues us with each day. Our pride would like to somehow find a way to repay the Lord to keep itself alive, but the truth is that there is no possible way to out give God so we praise Him for His Faithfulness and Generosity to us. Praise is a valuable tool when the giant seems too big or obstacle too large. It elevates our perspective from the ground to the Heavenlies. It reveals angels unaware who are positioned for our deliverance. It excites the Spirit of God within us so that as He expands our momentary trials and troubles don’t seem that big any longer. Praise keeps us company while we wait on the Lord for proper timing brings about completion.

Acts 16:25-26 (NIV)  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Praise changes the atmosphere from hopeless to hopeful. Paul and Silas were in prison. They were arrested and severely beaten after delivering a slave girl from a demonic presence. Surely God should have protected them. Why such savage treatment? Where was God? Chained to the wall like animals, they were surely discouraged and afraid. Things were looking rather hopeless for the men of God. They were in danger. In the midnight hour… Before moving on – I think it pertinent to point out that praise is not always our first thought. Midnight is the time when one day turns into another. The Word of God says that mourning lasts for a night but joy comes in the morning. I wonder if they were crying and complaining but heard the bell toll twelve and decided to make a change. It says that they were praying and singing hymns to God with an audience of prisoners when suddenly… Do you need a suddenly today? Are you discouraged? Fearful? Anxious? On the verge of hopelessness – it is important to evaluate our vocabulary. Praise has the power to change the atmosphere. The breath of God in us released causes a change around us. Not only did the doors fly open and chains fall off of Paul and Silas but every prisoner was set free. The jailer was saved and took the men home to wash their wounds and feed them good food. The next morning the magistrates came to free them. This all happened because they choose to praise in the prison. Whatever has you captive is subject to your praise. Jesus lives in you!

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 134:1-3 (NIV) Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.

God affirms His Children. He has great affection for you. He has no intention of punishing you but rather good discipline gives footsteps direction and makes destiny divine. He put eternity in our heart for a reason. There is power and purpose awaiting those who pursue His Love with all their heart, soul, body and mind. It is important to position ourselves in His Presence to live in His Promises. Praise is our constant reminder to exalt the Lord giving Him proper placement in our life. No allegiance is a sign of rebellion. Praise communicates our allegiance to Jesus Christ and puts the enemy on notice that we have relinquished our life to Him as Savior and Lord. Praise does not exalt Christ in the sense of moving Him but rather praise moves us. We must be intentional in our praise. Praise is a powerhouse for those who choose to use it.

Psalm 86:11-12 (NIV) Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

Yes Lord Yes

Yes Lord Yes

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

There are seasons in life when it is time for a little introspection. It is important to evaluate our heart carefully to determine the proximity of Presence in our life. Relationship can easily turn into religion if our worship becomes habitual not a result of intimacy. I am here today. In this place of quiet with the Lord, the only One can truly hold me accountable by His Spirit in faith and confident hope. The words of the psalmist inspired by the Holy Spirit hold true today for all of us if our internal desire is the eternal hope of Christ. Though righteousness is found in Christ alone, it is up to us to give the Lord permission to examine us, evaluate our progress, eliminate that which is unproductive and exact growth and development in all the proper places. All we can do is say, “Yes!”

Create in me a clean heart, O God

Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV) And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

A change of heart is in its absolute breaking. God must have all the pieces of our heart in order to create a masterpiece. An artist cannot do anything with a canvas if there is no brush or paint. It is easy to withhold bits and pieces of our heart in order to preserve pride. It is difficult to surrender those parts that are painful. Depths of emptiness too vast to risk devastation. Darkness that is so recessed light has not reached it yet. All this space within us ready for holy inhabitation must be fully exposed and exchanged for the new heart, new spirit, and new mind waiting in the Presence of God offered by His Son, Jesus. Lord give me a new heart today. Remove the stony one of flesh and make it soft as promised.

Renew a right spirit within me.

2 Timothy 1: 6-7 (ESV)  For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

The Helper, Holy Spirit, who the Father gave us through the Son lives in us. He teaches us all things and brings into our remembrance that which God has ordained, decreed and spoken to us. (John 14:26) The Spirit offers us internal insight and eternal understanding not given to the world but received through Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12) Finally, the Spirit is God’s Guarantee of every spiritual blessing in our life. The Spirit identifies us as God’s Children. This is the Gift of God when we come to Him through Jesus Christ. It is a non-negotiable part of our covenant with God as the Spirit is full consummation of our relationship to Him. Have you opened this gift in your life?

God has not given us the spirit of fear. Too often it is readily taken when offered by the father of lies as the truth that governs our life. Oh to have back all the time wasted worrying about things that never happened and carrying burdens that never came to fruition but still robbed me of peace and rest in the Lord. God has given us the spirit of power, love and self-discipline. Have you taken hold of that today? Sometimes we must exchange something we have to fully obtain what God is trying to give us. The same is true in renewal of a right spirit within me. I must examine my motives and emotions for power and love which always requires self-discipline to overcome the traps of doubt marked worry, anxiety and fear. God didn’t give us these so we must reject them.

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

There is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God. (Romans 8:28) Do you believe that today? I mean really believe it. Sometimes even saints of God forget that the Love of God for us is constant and concrete in the Cross. There is absolutely nothing you can do to ever make the Lord stop loving you or pursuing you with unfailing love and goodness. His Mercy is new every morning according to His Faithfulness not our ability to be faithful. There are no fatal errors for those who love God. Hard times create soft hearts. It is those moments of extreme weakness (physical, emotion and/or spiritual) that the truest nature of God is discovered. His Grace. When I am weak, I am strong. The enemy tries to make us think that when our walk turns to wandering or our thoughts to wandering that we somehow become lost. The Lord never leaves us or forsakes us but waits like the father for the prodigal son. I wonder what would happen if Children of God fully understood and embraced the importance and power of God’s Grace. It would be a life changer and history maker for the Body of Christ as the fullness of His Power permeated people and steeples everywhere.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 16:11 (ESV) You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I’ll say yes, Lord, yes to your will and to your way. I’ll say yes, Lord, yes… I will trust you and obey. When your Spirit speaks to me with my whole heart I’ll agree and my answer will be yes, Lord, yes! (Shirley Caesar)

As I sit here today in the quiet of early morning, I am offering my heart to the Lord once again. I say yes, Lord, yes to Your Will and to Your Way. Sometimes that is not an easy proclamation in our journey with Jesus. We walk by faith not by sight. Trust is the issue of greatest importance. He will make known the path of life to me and offers me a choice which is a product of the freedom afforded me by His Son. In His Presence, there is fullness of joy but I must leave myself at the doorway and enter through Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The only way to the Father is through the Son. I must give Him my heart today. I must present Him my willful and overbearing spirit with all its pride to make room for His Spirit. I must move in closer with each “yes” until I am close enough to experience His Pleasures marked as promises forevermore. I find joy in doing His Will which always starts with love. His Spirit is producing the kind of fruit in me that is worth sharing. The cost is my pruning so that more fruit will grow. The sacrifice is my hard heart and unwilling spirit. Today – I say I will say, “Yes, Lord, yes!”

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (ESV) From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

Total Access

Total Access

Hebrews 4:15-16 (MSG) Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

My key ring has many keys on it. My car key is obvious with the controls to the lock and alarm system. I use it to open the doors and turn the ignition. There is a key to the front door of our house and one to the new office building. I am pretty sure that there is also one to the old office. I think another is to my mother-in-law’s house and there may even be one to my parent’s home as well. There are a number of silver and gold keys that I have no idea what they go to but I am afraid to take off the key chain just in case I figure out what they might go to. Our pastor has tried to give me a key to the church. I know where a key is hidden for a friend’s place. Keys represent access. They are a responsibility. The keys in my purse represent places that I am allowed to enter. When I left my last job, I returned a heavy ring of keys to all the buildings on campus. I no longer have access as an employee. The keys in our hand may change with transitions in life but there is another set of keys that are eternally in our hand for our use.

Matthew 16:19 (MSG) “And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

Peter made a simple declaration. “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus asked the disciples to tell Him who they thought He was. Who am I to you? Not the others, or the crowd, or the religious leaders. It was a personal question that would lead to a revelation so powerful that it changed everything for Peter. He stepped into his destiny by simply stating who Jesus was to him that day. He would be the rock on which the new church was built. Do you believe today that Jesus is the Christ, Messiah, Son of the Living God who gave up His Life for your sins so you have decided to love Him, trust Him and believe in Him? Is He your Savior? Are you striving to make King Jesus the Lord of your life? Well according to the Word of God, you and I now have “complete and free access to God’s Kingdom.” But that’s not all…we have been given “keys to open any and every door without barriers between heaven and earth or vice versa. A yes on earth is a yes in heaven and a no on earth is a no in heaven. Power and authority belong to us on the key ring pressed into our hand with the simple statement – You are Jesus. You are the Christ. Messiah. Son of the Living God. You belong to me Jesus.

There are two forms of the word “access”. Access comes in the form of a noun and verb. Access is the ability, right or permission to approach, enter, speak with or use. We are given access to God the Father, His Presence, His Spirit, His Kingdom, His Power, His Resources, His Wisdom, His Favor and His Glory just to name a few benefits. God is totally accessible to us through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Access as a verb means TO make contact with or gain access to; to be able to reach, approach or enter. There are many believes today who have access but do not take the opportunity TO access God and all that goes with knowing the Father and becoming His Child.

My children are beginning to exit the nest. Three are adults who are out adulting. One is a senior in high school who is beginning to see the scenery outside the protection and provision of her parents so she is stretching her wings preparing to fly. We have but one baby left who has a few more years before her time will come. No matter how old they get – my kids will always have access to my home. They can raid my refrigerator. Use what they need. Stay as long as they want to. They are my children. I love them. I always have and always will. God loves us even more than we love our own kids. He calls us His Children and provides us access. We must be willing TO access His Presence.

Ephesians 2:16-18 (MSG) Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.

We have “equal access” to the Father. God doesn’t have favorites. There are just some who are willing to access and others who are not bold enough to do so. I love how this translation describes the Cross as a place of embrace. It was where the Father grabs the prodigal child covers us in His Robe called Righteousness and puts the ring on our finger showing all that I am His Child. It is also where we gain equal access. Christ came to hand us the keys to the Kingdom. To offer every blessing and benefit hidden in the Presence of God for His Children.

Have you ever been to a shopping club before? The kind of establishment where you must have a membership to take advantage of low prices and great bargains. If you are a guest, you can look but cannot buy anything. You can see what is available but cannot take advantage of it until you become a member. There are a few days a year when they open their store to the public who can come make purchases without a membership in order to attract new members. But if you are a card carrying member, you are free to make your selections, purchase them and take them home. It is all according to your level of access. There are some people who approach the Presence of God as outsiders. Just want to take a look around but not make the commitment to become a member and have what they desire. There are others who come to church every once in a while, slide some spare change in the offering plate, try to be a good person, volunteer and experience blessings here and there but still do not come into the full abundance offered. But then there are those bold folks who dare to believe they have equal access and step into His Presence boldly and confidently. They have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and believe. Through Christ, they come boldly and receive bountifully more than can be thought, asked or imagined. (Ephesians 3:20) I want that kind of access. Full membership in the Kingdom of God is living by faith and in Christ. As demonstrated by Peter, it is not doing all the right things, making all the best choices or never messing up – it is in the personal relationship with Jesus. That’s really all that is needed to have all God has promised.

Romans 5:1-2 (MSG) By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

By faith in Jesus Christ, we have open access to God’s Grace and Glory. We can stand tall and shout His Praise with confidence. Faith is the access point into all God has for us. Our potential, purpose and prosperity is all right there in the Presence of God waiting for us to come boldly and receive it. There is nothing for me to do open that door – Jesus holds it open for me. Jesus made the way for me to live in the Kingdom with our Father, God. He did it all. All I must do is enter in to gain access to everything I need, want and desire by the Father’s Design. My inheritance is in that place. In Revelation 3, it tells me that Jesus is “opening doors no one can lock and locking doors no one can open.” It goes on to offer encouragement for those who have been struggling and striving. “I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough.” When the doors in our life seem too heavy or are hopelessly locked, it is easy to become discouraged. Doubt that access to God is open to us. But the Lord reminds us here that He opens and locks the doors in our life. He also acknowledges our human capacity and understands our weaknesses. Therefore, He does it. He is doing it. He is working out all the details of our life for our good and His Glory. He will open the right door when it is ready. During those long seasons of waiting before a locked door, remember that we always have open access to His Presence. In fact, I am beginning to think that the waiting is an intermission to get just a little closer, do a little deeper and embrace the Lord in such a way.

Ephesians 3:11-13 (MSG) All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!

Ephesians 3:11-12 (ESV)  This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Boldness is without hesitation or fearfulness. It is daring courage. To be forward and forthcoming. Bold people live beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action. They do what most people only imagine. Boldness is the product of confidence. Confidence in Christ produces boldness that changes our right to access into the act of accessing the Kingdom and all God planned and prepared for us as His Children. We can come boldly because of Christ, but most be confident in the person of Christ to gain access. God’s Whole Purpose in sending His Son is to become accessible to us. He desired us. He wants to be close to us. He wants to live where He is all of the time. He misses us when we stray. Welcomes us when we return. God’s Word tells us who He is, who we are, and builds our confidence with knowledge. The Holy Spirit takes these tidbits of truth and weaves them into wisdom. Wisdom becomes confident in the hope we have in Jesus and becomes bold. So when the enemy offers a lie, it can be recognized and refused. When the details of our life do not add up, we do not need to be discouraged but encouraged to come boldly before God and say, “What’s up?” God planned the pathway called access and has given us the boldness to enter in. The Holy Spirit ripped the veil in the temple from top to bottom opening a doorway no one can shut. His Grace is enough to give us fearless, confident and bold access to the Father expecting and believing every detail of His Word to be the reality of faith in my life.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

When was the last time you took advantage of your total access with God? Have you been in His Presence lately? Have you entered the doors that He has opened? Oh wow…that’s a tricky question. See God offers us opportunities every day. He has given us the Keys to His Kingdom. Faith is required to access all that belongs to us in Jesus Christ. It means when the Lord opens the door – we must walk through it. Walking by faith and not by sight having bold confidence in God’s Word, Will and Way enough to come boldly. It is my experience that the doors God opens are not always the ones I expected and seldom lead to where I thought we were going…it is always way better than I can think, ask or imagine. But in the transition on the threshold – I find that sometimes I hesitate. Not today…today I will come boldly.

Ephesians 3:12 (NLT) Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

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.

Find Him

find-him

Luke 2:9-12 (NLT) Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Our church is celebrating Christmas today with a special service. This breaks the normal routine of just one service on Sunday but today there will be two. It’s a good thing as life gets really busy celebrating the season with parties, gatherings, shopping, gifting, stressing and such. I believe the night that Jesus was born was busyness as usual – pun intended. The census was big busin ess to Bethlehem. Every hotel, motel and Holiday Inn was filled to overflowing. I would think that every dining hall, restaurant and Olive Garden had a two-hour wait or more. As Mary and Joseph entered the town, they did not notice the crush or rush of the season but rather the pain and pressure that was pushing God’s Promise into this world. This busy world. This distracting time. This life that never makes time for rest or revelation just constant rushing and reacting. God was about change things significantly but no one had the time to stop.

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them. Many Christmas pageants will reenact this moment today if their program has not already taken place. The radiance of the Lord’s Glory that surrounded this moment may somehow be missed in the revelry. The shepherds who encountered God in such a glorious way were at first terrified. But the angel of the Lord would not allow such fear, doubt and discouragement to overtake them and said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.” All people even you who is weighted down by heavy burdens or drowning in unmet expectation. You who are fighting unseen enemies in prevailing darkness trying desperately to act normal groping to find your way out. Those who are draped in artificial trees, lights and splendor of Christmas colors but inside only see black and white images of deep depression. Yes, you who are exhausted and overwhelmed in the rush and crush of “Christmas”. God is speaking to each of us today in whatever state this season has brought to the surface to say, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to you of all people.” Do you have joy this Christmas? You will always find joy in Jesus.

The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born…you will recognize him and you will find him. In the midst of the statements is hidden the Truth that can make this last week joyful. The kind of joy that doesn’t stop after the gifts are open, everyone fed and you can finally put your feet up and rest. This is the kind of joy that prevails over happiness and haphazard life to keep us in constant peace filled with inexpressible joy all year round. We must find our Savior, Messiah and Lord.

Luke 1:46-50 (NLT) Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.”

Poor Mary! Can you imagine? She was a single mom in a staunch religious culture that frowned heavily and punished young ladies in such a position. She had done nothing other than say, I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” She said, “Yes!” This commitment to God would not be recognized by others though she tried to share her side. Even her fiancé, Joseph, doubted her until the Lord came to him, too. Our response to the Lord doesn’t always make everything calm and peaceful. No most of the time all hell breaks loose around you as the enemy wants God’s Promise inside of you.

I have been pregnant five times. I have had relatively easy ones, praise the Lord. However, with all three in the midst of transition, when arrival is imminent – I lose it. Generally erupting in an internal conversation that sometimes makes its way out. What were you thinking? I just want to quit. Lord, no more. I once told a midwife that I was done and leaving. I didn’t want to do it anymore. She simply smiled and said, “Okay.” Ugh! Birthing God’s Promise physically and spiritually is no different. There is pressure and there is pain but our persistence pushes past all that as God has His Way. What is your response today to the Savior? Jesus cannot and will not leave you in the same condition that He found you. Ever. If you seek the Savior – then you will experience deliverance from sin, shame and guilt. You cannot have the Promise and the past. Choosing the promise will always become a pregnancy that leads to pressure and pain at times.

Luke 4:17-21 (NLT) The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Jesus is the Messiah. He is the anointed one. When He began to speak and told the people, “the scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day” – it was a line drawn in the sand and every demon in hell even satan screeched loudly at the transgression. They would not be defeated. Jesus had a mission. God sent Him on purpose. He came to save the world. He also came to empower each of God’s Children to achieve and execute His Power after Jesus was gone back to Heaven. He intended to march into hell retrieve the keys to open the life and release the promise of every man and woman bound, hindered and headed for death and the grave by sin. His Grace would be released to all mankind along with all the love, joy and peace Heaven has to offer. Are you living under the powerful anointing of Jesus Christ in your life today?

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Are you living free and clear in Jesus Christ today? I believe that this is often missed in our Christian life. We come to the Savior. Live in repentance. Strive to stay close to Him. Love Him. Choosing grace and grabbing hold of mercy. We see the wretchedness of our weakness. Know that we are powerless against sin. BUT where is freedom? Where is the power that He promised us? Is it still locked inside of us?

Jesus said, “It is finished.” The Bible says that after He spoke these final words that He released His Spirit to inhabit the hearts of His People. He gave us His Power which we accept with His Grace. However, many people never experience God’s Power because they don’t have enough faith to be confident in His Grace. His Saving is sufficient but many worry that their sin is too great, their weakness too obvious, and their rebellion too real. His Grace is enough for you today. It is enough for me. Even on those days that I fail, give up, give in and request do-over after do-over – God is with me, in me, and pushing His Promise out of me. To find Him – we must not only look for a Savior but our Messiah full of awesome power, too.

Greater things. Jesus said that anyone who believes in Him will do the same “works” (miracles, signs and wonders) that He had done. But the Messiah doesn’t stop there. He goes on to promise that we will do even greater works when He completed His Work and went back to the Father. Well…Jesus did it. Are we doing it? Do we believe? Those who do will experience the Glory of God as the shepherds did in the field. They will feel the tug on their heart of the wise men who had to honor Jesus. We must seek not only a Savior but the Messiah, too.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. 

Jesus is not only our Savior and Messiah. He must be our Lord. You know I find that when I set out to do a certain task around the house, maybe I am just looking for something, that I can get distracted and forget what I was after in the first place. Distractions are a way of life. Have you ever walked into that room and thought why am I here? Your life will always hold distractions and detours set by the enemy to get your mind off of the real thing you are after. People are not the problem but become problematic. Children become teenagers. Work gets chaotic. Change is constantly evolving. The enemy is desperate to steal and kill God’s Promise for our life. Our promise is to build a kingdom. You are part of the Body of Christ. All our human body parts represent a certain function necessary for perfect health and wholeness. You are important to the development and fulfillment of the Body. You – yes you, all by your lonely. You are important. You are significant. Is Jesus your Lord today?

I know the plans that I have for you. God knows exactly what He created you to do and what will satisfy your soul. Jesus saved you for this purpose and has empowered you to fulfill it. Our faith takes these two qualities of Christ to serve Him as Lord. To make Jesus Lord of our life is not about church doctrine, Christian guidelines, or any other manmade rule. To make Jesus Lord is to love Him wholeheartedly. I struggle with sin every day. I am able to overcome some of them simply because I love others too much to do them and even more when I started loving Jesus too much to do the rest. Religion cannot make Jesus Lord of our life. It is our relationship with Him that changes everything. To fall so in love with Jesus that you do not want to sin or allow anything to come between the two of you. I don’t want anything I do to drive a wedge in our relationship.

Jeremiah 29:11 is widely known and accepted. Everyone loves the fact that God has a plan for our life. We celebrate even more that they contain a future and hope. Yes, Lord. Seldom do we dig deeper. We want the promise but not the process. What does it say next? This is pivotal to fulfillment and our part in the process. When you pray, I will listen. Busyness is probably the #1 joy killer in every Christian. We go so long not communicating with the Lord that the absence or void becomes filled with other things. We must clear our schedule and make time for our relationship and pursuit of Jesus every day. If you look for me, wholeheartedly, you will find me. Are you looking for Jesus today? Are you searching desperately for the Savior, longing for the Messiah, and wholeheartedly pursuing the Lord? We need the full person of Jesus Christ in our life every single day. It seems so ironic that a season created to celebrate His Birth is the time of year when the suicide hotline rings off the hook, families fall apart, and people become completely overwhelmed in doing, running and rushing to meet unreasonable expectations. We must seek Jesus wholeheartedly and save Christmas once and for all.

Luke 2:15-20 (NLT) When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

I laugh as I wonder if the shepherds were as surprised to find Jesus as I am when God’s Word holds true. Time and time again, the Lord has done exactly as promised and yet I am still amazed that God would do such wonderful things for me. When I make the choice to seek Him wholeheartedly, it always turns out just as He said it would. Sometimes the road to fulfillment is short and others are long journeys filled with high highs and low lows, but the Lord is with me through it all. He really does prepare feasts for me in the presence of the enemy. He does everything His Word says. He is doing it. What am I doing? If the Promise God gave you has not come to pass, it is important to make sure that you haven’t given up in the process and that you are still seeking Him wholeheartedly not halfheartedly. The Lord knows the difference and so do you. Jesus said, “It is finished.” This is a word just for you. He came to save you. Heal you. Deliver you. Anoint you. Empower you. Fulfill you. Complete you. In all this, Jesus came to free you. You are free to live your life as you choose. This is His Gift to you this Christmas.

In Luke 17, there were ten lepers who called to Jesus from a distance. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus sent them to the synagogue to show themselves to the priests and as they went they were healed. But only one of them came back seeking Jesus – no one else returned to give thanks or glory to the God who healed them. Hmmm. We come to Jesus in our time of need and press in to His Presence to meet our need and relieve our burden. He gives us salvation. He sets us free. What we do next determines fulfillment in our life? He will heal people who never pursue Him. He will set free some who will never return. Jesus is our Savior, Messiah and Lord. His Character and Qualities are not driven by my behavior or my response. Remember – who the Son sets free is free indeed. My choice is to use my freedom to seek Jesus wholeheartedly until I find Him. What is yours? Wise men (and women) still seek Him. Is your life lackluster is your love drained and joy fading in the midst of all the busyness and distractions of this holiday season? It’s not too late. Make this week count. If you seek Him wholeheartedly, you will find Him and Christmas will be joyful all over again.

I Peter 1:8-9 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Be Victorious

Be Victorious

I John 5:3-5 (NIV) In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Come in close. I need to whisper this as not to get everyone riled up. Closer. There are just 64 days until football season kicks off. Hallelujah! This will be the first game of the regular college season and our family gets pumped for it every year. We love our home team. It’s a fun rivalry with other state teams. A little healthy competition is fun, right? We live in a competitive world. There are many things vying for our time, attention and energy. To have a favorite hobby or pastime is good, right? It is! God did not put us here to hate life. We are not designed or predestined to leave in agony nor defeat. When God put people on the planet, His Purpose was for them to have dominion and power. To walk in His Authority and oversee all. What happened? Somehow we lost it.

I love college football. It really is the only sport I watch or follow very closely at all. The other day our son came over to watch some soccer. I am not a soccer fan but he is a huge one. During the game, naturally I was cheering for his team. It was in the final minutes. He was complaining about the score and declaring it a loss. There were a couple minutes left just enough time for a come from behind victory which is exactly what happened. There is no worse feeling then leaving the stadium in defeat only to hear your team comeback and win on the radio driving away. What if you had stayed? What if you had waiting until the end? You would be celebrating with them. Do we give up too soon? Is that the problem? How many times have we been on the verge of breakthrough about to cross the finish line of faith and claim victory when we just gave up?

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Key words to look at in these statements include “everyone” which includes you, “faith” is needed to establish victory in our life overcoming the world and finally, you must “believe” that Jesus is the Son of God and overcomes the world. We must believe that victory belongs to us enough to have faith and believe that we will always overcome.

Matthew 16:17-19 (NIV) Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

There is a team from a neighboring city who are constant rivals. Due to the close proximity of campuses, there is a mix of fans in both cities. You can tell who their team is by the mascots and emblems on cars, clothes, and displayed proudly in many ways. There are special chants for each team. We have hand gestures that go along with it. A lot of time, energy and money is invested in supporting these college teams. I have to be very careful not to get too wrapped up in the hype because it creates emotional tension in me. Close your ears honey, but football is just a game. After the stadium is empty, the lights go off, the concessions close and the last car leaves – the win is forgotten moving on to the next engagement. In the grand scope of life, football is a hobby just entertainment.

 

The knowledge of who Jesus is coupled with the understanding that He is not only Savior but our Lord gives way to a life of victory after victory as we overcome the world. Not by might or by power but by God’s Spirit invested in us because we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and made Him our Lord. Jesus told Peter in that moment that He would be the foundation of His Church, the gates of Hell could overtake it. He was handing Peter the Keys to His Kingdom. He empowered Peter to bind and loose things. We have the same power living in us. Why are we not victorious? Do we know Jesus as Savior? Most reading this would probably say, “Yes.” Okay well, have you made Jesus Lord of your life? What if we invested the time, energy and resources in following Jesus that we do our favorite sport, hobby or even television show? The world offers many distractions and detours to steal our time, talent and treasure wasting it on lesser things that are meaningless. Jesus is simply inviting us to win. Not once in a while or by a fluke but to walk in victory.

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is love. He is full of compassion and unfailing love for you and I no matter how we perform in life. His Love is unconditional. He cuts no one from His Team but offers endless abounding grace to us all through His Son, Jesus. The first key word “everyone” is important because God intends to make every single person who He created victorious. Our life and choices do not exempt us from victory. We are not the reason it is given. It is simply God’s Love being shared with us. He is all-powerful. No one can overcome Him or His Love for us. We must believe that there is nothing and no one who can separate us from the Love of God that is Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Bible says that Jesus overcame the world. (John 16:33) We belong to Jesus. When we make Him the Lord of our life living a life of respect for His Authority and Power – He gives it to us. You cannot have His Power until you accept it. By grace are we saved through faith and not of ourselves, you cannot earn God’s Love or deserve it so stop trying and learn to accept it and live it. Things will begin to change. You will find little wins popping up unexpectedly as He begins to release His Power as we begin to surrender our life to His Love.

Hebrews 11:1 and 6 (NLT)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Faith is our life investment. It is when we decide to operate in the Love of God for our life so we put our faith and hope in what we cannot see. We put our faith in the Promises of God offered through the Sacrifice of Jesus and sealed in our heart by His Spirit. No one likes to lose. Athletes do not pour their blood, sweat and tears into training and playing without the thought of victory. We will invest our life in the things we deem most important to our happiness and fulfillment. Too often we choose comfort and compromise over confidence and commitment in Christ and wonder why we live dissatisfied and defeated lives. We must evaluate the things that we give our life especially our time to. Are they worthy of our faith and trust?

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.” (I Corinthians 9:25-27) I am not an athlete, but a few years back my husband and I began working out together at the local gym. I am a cardio girl. I generally work out on one of the machines like elliptical or treadmill. Again, I am not a trainer or instructor but I do know this in my careful observation. You cannot possibly be giving your all to your workout or fitness routine, if you are talking on your cellphone the whole time. The breath given in your conversation could add to that workout. Your focus is divided and void of concentration. I am a “leave it all on the field” kind of person who is fiercely competitive in all things good and bad. Maybe this is why we are not living victoriously lives. We are not invested in God but everything else all at one time. Could it be that we are not giving it our all but rather living double lives? Doing halfhearted things? Looking at too many things but not focused on one? Could it be that faith is a tiny seed so we must choose where to put it?

I must have faith that in Jesus Christ that I overcome in all things. I must live my life committed to this cause willing to endure to the end even if it is in the final seconds. I must give my all to Jesus every day. If I do, I will be victorious. It begins with Jesus and ends with Jesus everything else is meaningless according to Paul. I am beginning to agree as seeds of faith are beginning to manifest in victory. How about you? Are you due for a win?

I John 4:4 (NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Do you believe that the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world? We must believe that God is Greater than any other adversary or opponent in our life vying for out time and attention. We must believe with our whole heart in order to walk from victory to victory. How do I know when I am success? His Glory fills my life. After all isn’t that what comes in worldly victory? The victor is glorified. My Victor is Jesus Christ and when I win He gets the glory! Because I live in Him and He lives in me that means I get to experience His Glory, too.

God will always be our source of victory. (Deuteronomy 20:4) He always has been and always will be. There is victory in His Name alone. His Victory was given to us when Jesus paid the price for all sin to extend God’s Grace becoming our Savior. Salvation frees us from our indebtedness so that we can live a life of victory. Victory is established in Jesus Christ. To share in His Glory – we must make Jesus Lord of our life. No one will invest their life in something or someone they do not believe in…would you?

Legendary football coach, Bobby Bowden, said, “Faith is the most important thing in the world to me. It’s the greatest strength I’ve had. It’s helped me through the hard times. You’re not going to win every one of your football games. I’ve always said I’m not going to make football my god. A lot of coaches put so much into coaching football games that they have nothing left.” Good advice. We invest our life in something. Why not faith? We need God’s Strength just to get through each day let alone win once in a while. Jesus overcame the world. Greater is He who lives in me. Through His Love, I have the potential to overcome the world and walk victorious through life based simply on the fact Jesus lives and He lives in me. What are you giving your life to? Those precious minutes that comprise each day. Is there anything left for Jesus? It is easy to make our passions and pursuits into tiny gods that demand our full attention. It is a choice to make Jesus our Lord and live in victory.

Philippians 3:14 (NIV) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Come Boldly

come boldly

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

 

The New Living Translation of this verse says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.” Come boldly. Boldness is born of confidence. It is to have full assurance of our entitlement that creates an inner drive to claim that which belongs to us. It is a sense of ownership. Such confidence knows no shame as it works toward acquisition. Oh that the church would become bold again. Oh that the men and women of God that fills each sanctuary big or small would come to the Lord with boldness to receive the inheritance that He has designated just for them. Each personal pursuit need not seek after another for in the Lord’s Portion there is always more than enough. He does more than we can even think to ask for, yet we do not ask. Greater is He that is in us then he who is in the world – yet the church cowers in a corner a victim to politics, people and personal agendas. Lord, why are your people so weak and shallow? Why don’t we have more than enough and live in abundance as You desire? Have we lost confidence in You? Did we have it to begin with? Faith is weak and flesh overpowering.

 

The Lord is my portion. He is my lot in life. He makes me secure. (Psalm 15:5-6) He supplies all my needs. (Philippians 4:19) God pushes us to completion for He does not understand compromise. (James 1:4-5) God desires to give us eternal pleasure not fleeting happiness or fuzzy feelings. (Psalm 16:11) He has given everything and every season a proper place in my life that will produce the eternity in my heart as a reality for me. (Ecclesiastes 3) The Lord has given me everything I need by His Divine power to life a godly life and see Heaven come to the earth. (2Peter 1:3) So why is my life less than perfect? Why all the pain? What is my problem? Am I ashamed? Perhaps, it is not a matter of heaven touching earth. Heaven is pressing its windows and doors waiting for release. Could it be that I do not have enough confidence or faith to come boldly before the Lord? Does sin separate me from satisfaction leaving me struggling in substitutions? Does my faith allow the Lord to release all these wonderful things in my life or has fear rejected them? Lord, I want to come boldly. Please show me the way.

 

Lamentations 3:22-26 (NIV)

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

 

I have had an epiphany. It came in the midst of the greatest trial of my life. Praying for my son in his hospital room with more than ten infusion pumps beeping as the contents rushed through his veins. Medication, nutrition, and poison all at once into his frail body. As I continued to ask the Lord to save our boy, I felt it as though a cold, hard rock dropped in my heart falling to my stomach. He will die… one day. We all are dying slowing as we live our life. It is God’s Mercy so that we do not have continue to live in dilapidated and deteriorating conditions as our flesh is wasting away. We have blessed release. I do not believe a person who sees Jesus and steps into Eternity to be with Him every thinks twice about coming back. All of this life fades in comparison to His Beauty in that moment for all time. Heaven touches earth but does not change the earth but prepares us for His Kingdom. The Presence of God comes to people not places. This life is preparing us for the moment that we meet Him face-to-face. I want to know that Jesus knows me and invites me into forever with Him.

 

During our son’s illness, my life was completely reprioritized in about 30 seconds. Everything fell off me in that moment and all I knew was that I would fight for his life. Period. End of story. I would find out just what it meant to stand on the Word of God and wait on Him to make it come to pass. But in the meantime, I would learn so much more about God’s Plan for us as people. Your trial may not be the illness of your child. It may be a battle against your flesh. Struggle with depression, anxiety or fear. It could be that you just don’t know what to believe. These are the laments or complaints of life. There is a book called Lamentations. It is there that we find this verse.

 

When we have a need that becomes desperate, we turn to the Lord. When it is just too much for us, we ask the Lord for help. This is not the standard operating procedure that yields God’s Abundance in our life. The Lord is our portion. He makes our part the whole. We are part of the Body of Christ. It is Jesus that connects us to the whole. Do we feel as though it is possible to be completely connected to Christ? If so, we would come boldly. Each morning the Lord supplies us with His Mercy. Why? His Unfailing Love and Compassion for us know that we may slip and fall or even fail miserably so He provides for us ahead of time what we need to keep going. Our relationship does not make Jesus part of our life, but when He becomes our portion than we become part of the whole Body of Christ and Kingdom of Heaven. It is a working connection that completes us not because we have anything to give but He gives us everything.

 

Matthew 15:22-28 (NIV)

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

 

Is Jesus copping an attitude… no, not really. The Lord was making a valid point. The woman was a Gentile. She was not a Jew. So his point that day was valid in the natural, but not Jesus’ point of view in the supernatural. He was speaking to us even way back then. The woman came to Jesus and called Him, “O Lord, Son of David.” She recognized that He was the Messiah. She identified with Jesus who He was and what He came to do. Jesus did not acknowledge her, not a word. So the disciples responded to his apparent disregard for her and tried to send her away. Now as a mom who has experienced an agonizing and life-threatening situation with our son, I totally get her next move. I have had to do it, too.

 

“Lord, help me!” See what just happened, her knowledge of who Jesus was became faith the moment it became personal. She called him, “Lord”. She accepted Jesus as her Savior and Lord the moment that she came boldly before Him. She didn’t care what He did next as long as He did something because she believed in Jesus. She trusted him. She would eat the very crumbs beneath His Table if need be, she came boldly for her portion. What did Jesus do? How did He respond to such boldness and confidence? “Dear woman, your faith is great. Your request is granted.” Her daughter was instantly healed.

 

Could Jesus have done it the instance she arrived? Of course. His Unconditional Love would not let her settle for just a healing but rendered salvation the moment she believed. What are you willing to settle for? We settle all the time. Tolerating sin. Accepting substitutions. Considering compromise. Why? We do not have faith. Knowing who Jesus is. Understanding what He can do. It is not enough. When we finally decide that He can AND will do it for us, Jesus becomes our more than our Savior – He becomes our Lord. Now we ignore sin, push past substitutions and will not entertain compromise. We are Children of the King. We don’t settle for crumbs but go straight for the table with confident boldness that our God will do what He says. Or do we…

 

Psalm 138:3 (NIV) When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.

 

Studying the story of the Canaanite woman, a commentary referred to this passage. “You greatly ‘embolden’ me.” The word “embolden” means to make bolder, more earnest, hearten and encourage. Why would the Lord make the woman continue to beg? That is not what occurred in this story at all. He moved her from the crumbs to the table. He moved her from possible to impossible. He moved her from complacently to complete satisfaction. When Jesus stops becoming a novel idea and the Lord of our life every outcome changes as He works every detail of our life for good according to His Will. See she could have continued to forage and fight for the scraps with the dogs, but when Jesus went from being Lord to becoming her Lord everything changed in her life beginning with the thorn in her flesh that brought weakness to be filled by His Grace.

 

We do not cry out when things go well, but in great distress. We do not petition God in the good times but run to Him when things go badly. In our lack, we seek for Him to meet our need but all along God desires to complete us until we are lacking no good thing. He is attempting to produce an abundance of the fruit of His Spirit so it will overflow from us in to life around us especially other people. If we could only get past our doubt that He is our Lord, we could sit at the feast He prepared before our enemies. Our cups would run over with the blessings of God. Yes, friend, there would be a great revival.

 

The Lord allows us to wait to draw us closer to Him thereby releasing our inheritance and more of our portion that is mandated by God included in His Plan and Purpose for us. It belongs to us. It is waiting on us. Our petition becomes more earnest the more desperate that we become. While we seek Him for a singular segment, Christ desires to give us double portions. When we become confident in who Christ is, make Him our Lord and live for Him only, we will have a completely satisfied life that allows us to seek out others rather than seeking Him for ourselves. Revival comes when His Spirit overflows from us and the four walls of building and captivates a community. How can we boldly share a Savior and Lord who we have not accepted fully for ourselves?

 

Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

 

The Spirit of the Lord is upon us. Jesus gave us His Spirit. We revel in the first three versus of this chapter, but we must move on to the rest. We are to be rebuilders. We must become restorers. We are to renew those lives devastated by generations of sin and coated in shame. How do we do that if we cannot accept it for ourselves first? Our lives should be marked by shameless pursuits of Christ. Coming to His Throne boldly with every facet of our earthly existence that does not line up with His Word while we devote our life to faithful obedience because He is our Lord. It has become personal. It evokes passion. Do you believe? Do you have faith in Jesus as Lord of your life and everything in it? This is how we accept His Portion. He give those who choose to live by faith, hope and love in every season good or bad, feast or famine continually pressing and pushing for the life He promised, the blessings that He gives and fulfillment He offers. No, I don’t deserve it. Jesus gave it to me. I only need to accept Him. When I fully believe that He is my Savior and Lord all these things are added to my life. I can live shamelessly. I do not know disgrace but rejoice in inheritance. I will inherit the double portion when I believe in Christ alone and everlasting joy is mine just knowing Him more. I must come boldly. Obedience is a sign of confidence. We must be bold. Jesus is calling. He is inviting us closer. He is creating an atmosphere for His People to experience revival again. It begins when we decide to come boldly.

 

Matthew 7:7 (NIV)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

 

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.

An Honorable Life

An Honorable Life

I Peter 2:15-17 (NLT)

It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.

When I read this verse this morning, it struck a chord inside of my heart. It is God’s Will for us to live an honorable life. It is His Will for us to live a life that should silence ignorant people. I think every believer wonders what God’s Will is for their life. It is elusive as it does not come in the form of clear cut instructions without wavering opinions. How can I truly know what His Will is for me and if I am doing it or not? If you are truly pursing Christ with your life, this has to come up from time to time. We are born with potential, promise and purpose filling us to capacity. The trick is learning to facilitate its growth, development and maturity until it makes a difference in our life. I blame those dang Sea Monkeys from my youth for making us think that life processes take 24 hours or less to produce tiny kingdoms of incredible creatures. It was a lie. They were actually brine shrimp. From that moment on, every process in our life was hastened. When it was learned that cows would produce milk faster if injected with bovine growth hormone to mature more quickly, dairies jumped on board. Great idea! Profits are up! Woo hoo! Oh and little girls now develop more quickly for some reason, too. That is another story for another day. We now have drive-thru windows for everything possible. No need to stop or slow down. Social media makes it possible to share life without ever seeing each other. Texting allows us to communicate without ever talking. I could go on but I think you get the point. God calls us to live honorable lives. The Word of God says that it is His Will. I need to get on it.

Honor is to hold in honor or high respect. To treat with honor. To confer honor and distinction upon. To worship .To be courteous. I really like this one… to accept as valid and conform to the request. To live an honorable life is to live honoring Jesus Christ. The one who we honor with our life because He gave it to us. There is only One who we worship and that is Him. We must evaluate our integrity in this area to know if we are doing God’s Will. If we give our life to honor the Lord and do His Will, it will not happen in a minute or overnight. He is quite clear in His Instruction that it is only those who endure to the end who are saved. Raise your hand if you want that to be you. Well, you better hang on tight because it will be a fight to live the honorable life.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

 

God has planted eternity in the human heart. He planted it which means it is a seed not grown or fully developed yet. What do you think that bit of eternity might be? It is our faith. Our potential, promise and purpose begins with the tiniest seed of faith that grows into confident hope and spiritual maturity that strengthens our relationship with Jesus and binds us in the Kingdom. God makes everything beautiful in its own time. Not our time, but the time prescribed for each thing. It was already established in verses 1-8 that everything has a season and time. Those who tap into this truth and believe it will successfully live honorable lives because timing is everything. No really it is. We are living according to a plan. God recorded every moment of our life in the process of creation. This is important because in doing so He provided everything we needed when we need it to do what He is preparing us to do. By doing the Will of God and following the Way of the Lord, we experience the provision and blessing that He prescribed for our life. He does not withhold any good thing from us but when we go our own way it is our own fault that we missed out on it. Somebody will tap into this and when they do, their life is going to change. Lord, let that person be me. Nothing new exists on the earth. Even our mistakes are provided for by the Blood of Jesus and our failure today is covered in the mercy that arrived this morning well-proportioned for my need. All we must do is work the plan by honoring God with our life.

Luke 6:45 (NLT)

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

The condition of our heart is the beginning of true honor. Our relationship with the Lord matters. Some only ask Jesus to be their Savior, so they call on Him for rescue purposes and special needs but do not make Him Lord. They have no honor. Others call Him Lord as a means to an end, so they can rob the Kingdom of God through selfish obedience. The Word of God is taught but not adhered to in their life. They live for God to increase themselves. It works. God blesses our obedience. He increases those who do what the Word says even when their heart is not right. It is those who decide to call on Jesus and “make Him” the Lord of their life in their heart for the express purpose of finding Him that truly honor the Lord. Those who love Him. The ones who recognize that this world has nothing for them and their live will be counted as garbage if His Name is not honored with their very existence. I honor my husband in love by being faithful to only him. I have taken his name to tell the world that my heart and life on earth belongs to him. It is up to me to honor him with my life. I do not have a marriage of convenience. He is not my sugar daddy (or savior). He is does not require me to do things in order to share his resources (so he does not lord over me). I have submitted my life to my husband because I love him. I have surrendered my life to Christ for the very same reason. Honoring Christ for any other reason than love may increase our natural life but it does nothing to produce a relationship.

Romans 12:9-18(NLT)

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Riddle me this, in a bacon-and-egg breakfast, what’s the difference between the chicken and the pig? Well that’s easy, the cow was involved but the pig was committed. Romans 12 begins by encouraging believers to be living sacrifices. We decide whether we are involved or committed by the amount of our life that we give back to the Lord. Will we give some or will we give our all? What if we carefully considered God’s Will in every single choice we make in a single day? You know the proverbially question on millions of silicone bracelets given out all over the world asking, “What would Jesus do?” Well, see it seemed silly but really if true surrender of our life as a living sacrifice to the Lord is what we are after and if our goal is marriage to Christ rather than just a friendship or dating, it is time to step up our game from casual involvement to total commitment.

God requires us to love Him with all of our soul, mind and body. Jesus takes it one step further and asks that we love others the same way. To honor Christ with our life is to love others… all others even the unlovable and downright nasty. It is to be committed to building a Kingdom that cannot be seen with our eyes but experienced (for now) in our hearts.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Peace comes from living an honorable life. As we learn to do God’s Will and bring honor in our daily lives, it creates unity between our life and the Kingdom of God. Living to please God in our attitude and actions eliminates the need for other people’s approval and affirmation so we can love them without expectation of reciprocation. Their opinion no longer matters when we know who we are in Christ. Just ask Jabez. (I Chronicles 4:9-10) We cannot honor the Lord without honoring His Name in our everyday life with other people. We must walk in humility and love no matter what we encounter. Work as unto the Lord in all endeavors. This is the commitment that produces an honorable life making us a useful utensil in the Lord’s Hands. (2 Timothy 2:20-21) The one the Lord is using is always in His Hands. Be committed today to live an honorable life. Examine your heart as I do mine for anything that might not be conducive to the Kingdom of God. Look around at your life and determine if there are areas that need reprioritizing and surrendering the Lordship of Christ. Make Him your Savior. Call Him your Lord. Commit to live an honorable life!

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NLT)

In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

Lifelong Obligation

Live Obligated

I John 4:7-8 (NLT)

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

 

Love one another. It is considered to be the greatest commandment. One might think it would be the easiest commodity to procure. Cultivated in our heart for the world around us, it should be a natural and overwhelming response to the love of God and grace that is received. However, as the Word of God indicated so long ago we live in the day when love has grown cold and sin is rampant. Sin seeks to destroy love and thrives on selfishness. It disconnects us from the Source of Love to be driven by personal fleshly desires that cry out for self-satisfaction and personal interests. The spring of hopeful love called the church is slowly drying up. It no longer overflows with the love and generosity that is its potential. It has become a cold, dry wasteland of souls with a few lukewarm believers keeping it going. I am equally to blame.

Anyone who loves is a child of God. The parameters of our love define the length of our endurance. Those who endure in love will make it to the end and receive the prize of faith for love leads the way to such a finish line. Love is a commitment. It is an investment in other people’s lives that are different, messy and often very broken. Like an invisible spider web across our path in blindness stepping in it and then fighting to get out of it, many times wondering what have I gotten myself into? I wonder if God ever asks that question. I think Jesus must silently think about it, too. The commandment that is first and foremost is the most uncomfortable and challenging of all – love one another. Not as we decide to love but as Christ loved us. Lord, help me. I may be in a bit of trouble here.

John 13:34-38 (NLT)

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.”  Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.

I have written of the tiny army of crumb snatchers that follow us around for fruit snacks after each service. We created these little gummy monsters and love them all. Our sweet God-Grandbaby, Alyssa, went through a phase where she was less than thrilled about my husband for some unknown reason so one day I stuck a snack in my purse to try to entice her to talk to him. It worked and after each service she now sits and talks with him. Well, it wasn’t long before some of the other little ones caught on. Now I almost have to bring enough for a kindergarten class as each sweet angelic face comes to see if we have hidden snacks away for them. The ripple effect has produced a large flock of followers. This is reminiscent of how love grows. In the beginning, it is small but has the potential to grow bigger over time. The world is looking for love. Jesus has given us love to meet the needs of others the very same way. They don’t need a condemning God or overbearing Lord they have that already as the flesh is a ceaseless taskmaster and the enemy a slave driver of the human heart. But until we learn to walk in the Love of Jesus – we cannot go where He is.

Ooh! I hear you over there bristling in your seat. That is simply not true you are thinking. Jesus saved me. I am going to Heaven. True. Everyone will go to Heaven one day… but not everyone will stay. Our life must resemble the acceptance of Jesus as Savior and Lord not just pay lip service to our King. Religion doesn’t get you in because there is nothing God needs us to do. There is only one obligation in our life that is to love. When Peter told Jesus on His Way to the Cross, I will follow you even to the death. Jesus set him straight in that moment which has resonated through time to do the same for me. Die for me? Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny me three times? Ouch! Let me say it again, ouch! How many times a day do we say, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You may call me” but ignore His Call to love before we leave our house each morning. How many times do we ask Him to “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the Presence of My Savior…” only to ignore and abuse those we encounter in each day. We are saying all the right things to God. We are asking for noble and honorable things of our Lord. Are we doing what He said we should do to accomplish such feats? He has called us to love others. Have we denied Jesus multiple times in our inability to show love and grace to others?

Romans 13:8-9 (NLT)

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

God’s Love for us became evident in the Sacrifice of His Son, Jesus to die for our sins. Life became possible again when He arose three days later opening the door to forever again and handing us the Keys to the Kingdom. We do not owe this world anything. We do not owe God anything. Sin is sin. One sin no greater than another no matter what we may want to think. If you break one, you have broken them all. Think about it. You don’t have to break every law in the book to end up in jail. Just one felony can take years from your life. Pride wants us to compare our sin to others. It wants to somehow make us more worthy of God’s Love than another. Not true. I love my children equally but some choose to have a closer relationship with me than others. This does not change how much I love them at all. God loves you and He loves me along with every other person who we come in contact with in this life. We are obligated to love one another. This is the greatest commandment and a summation of all commandments that tell us to love others as much as we do ourselves. Owe no one anything but love. Think about it this way. By acknowledging God’s Love and asking Jesus to be our Savior – we were freed from the penalty of sin to step into our role as Children of God. We decide how close our relationship is to Him each day by either walking in His Love or going our own way. To follow Jesus Christ is to make Him our Lord and He always leads us with love to love. It is all about love. Just as the time and energy I put into a natural relationship is reflected in intimacy so is our relationship with the Lord. When we say we want to go deeper, we are accepting the challenge to love. Love overcomes a multitude of sin. It humbles us to accept others because we know to whom much is given (salvation) must is required (to love) as it is our only obligation.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

 

Our ability to love and accept others right where they are no matter how they may act is a direct correlation of the faith that we have and hope we hold on to. Wait a minute. What? Our service in life is to love others first and foremost. It is the greatest commandment. The driving force of every choice we make concerning another person should be our obligation to love them. I feel like Peter today crying in the early awakenings of dawn at the revelation that sometimes my actions and attitudes toward others has completely denied my commitment to Jesus Christ. I do not always treat others as He has instructed me to out of love. Comparison demands a choice. It is a love killer. Offense is a barrier that keeps love from seeping through. Bitterness is a root that chokes out potential and restricts the overflow of love that can come through forgiveness as we have been forgiven. I want to live as close to Jesus Christ as possible. The one thing I desire is to live in the Presence of God. I want to be filled to overflowing with His Spirit day by day. I must love others to be in a true abiding relationship with Jesus. I will never go beyond the borders of my faith to trust Him but remain landlocked on the shore when my heart refuses to break for other people. Only then can I truly walk on waters and follow Jesus all the way home.

I John 4:11-18 (NLT)

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

Lord…Let me express Your Love to the world and everyone in it all day every day for the rest of my life! May I live obligated to Your Love!