Tis the Season

Tis the Season

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…

There is a time for everything. Every season and every activity under the heavens has a predestined time. God made the Heavens and earth not random but completely ordered. In each season, there is blessing by design. Even those difficult times, there is good that will come for those who choose to believe that God is good and seek out the fruit of the season. I recently spent a long weekend with our daughter and her husband. They live in New England and soon will be moving back home. I am obviously elated. They are coming back with a precious souvenir – our first grandchild. Though a quick trip, we accomplished packing her entire townhouse, attending her first baby shower and last doctor’s appointment before moving. It is a new season. However, while I was away a young man who is our distant relative lost his life suddenly in a tragic motorcycle accident while a precious elderly gentleman in our church went home to be with Jesus as well. So many seasons all converging into one time and place.

Life seems to work out that way sometimes. Each season is multifaceted. There is laughter and tears all at the same time. Sometime we become so caught up in the changes that the significance of each season is missed. It is fall. Glorious fall. Living in Florida, the seasonal change is not as obvious as it is New England. Leaves do not always change into radiant color. Instead, hurricane season is upon us. Our hope is that the trees remain standing. Pumpkin spice latte is back at the local coffee shop. Pumpkins are everywhere. Maybe this year it is time to slow down a little and usher in the new season rather than letting it sneak up on me and pass me by. We usually buy a pumpkin but fall has not been fully embraced in a long time. Busyness takes over most of the time. Or maybe just trying to get by and do life. There is a time for everything and every season. Perhaps, the Lord is reminding me today to be conscious of the seasons for as they go by like fallen leaves they cannot be redeemed or put back on the tree.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 (NIV) He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 

My daughter and I were going apple picking at some point in my visit. However, with all the preparations for their move, it just didn’t happen. After church, we visited the local market to grab some sandwiches and fresh fruit. We ordered our food at the deli and wandered around all the fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers in the market. There was a table of apples. All the varieties indigenous to the New England area, but they didn’t look like the ones in the grocery store down south. They were not the usual waxed and shiny kind processed and packed for distribution. These apples came straight from the tree. They had bumps and bruises on them. They were not perfect but fresh. Oh Lord, I pray that you keep me fresh in every season.

It is human natures especially of the religious kind to appear unaffected by the seasons of life. To put forth the air of perfection not possible even for those in Christ. Our appearance is not what matters but our heart. The place within us that must be broken to give way to the right kind of fruit. The seasons hold all kinds of change because without change our life will never produce anything of worth. The Word of God that is His Seed must find a fertile place to become the promise. We must accept His Way to have His Will. His Grace is power but cannot make His Power perfect in us until we get out of the way.

The seed of potential in our life called faith must be given a time and place to grow. Who cultivates faith outside of the impossible? No one really. When life is good, it is our nature to forget the One who gave us all this goodness in the first place. With age comes maturity or at least one might hope, the ability to wait when life is hard to see the good on the other side. The apples in the market are not pretty. They are not all shined up and made to look inviting. Yet, the aroma they give off makes the mouth-water and draws ones attention to them. My life must do the same thing to give glory to the one who promises no matter what to make all things beautiful in its time. A few years back when the kids felt God tug on their hearts to pursue the ministry opportunity in New Hampshire – my heart was broken. I couldn’t fathom life apart from them. Each visit I would cry for days after their departure. I love my kids. I want to do life with them. I finally had to relinquish my heartache to the Lord and trust that He would soothe my heart or fulfill the desire one day.

Could it be possible that in our attempt to escape difficult seasons that fruit is abandoned? I am quite sure this is the case. Once born, the death process begins day by day. Why plant if you have no intention of harvesting? There are seasons in life that are unavoidable yet God is in each one with the promise that there is good to be found there. There are tiny details marked impossible that He will work into His Promise by faith. Perhaps, rather than enduring the seasons, we might embrace the change. I intend to make fall come to life this year. Pumpkins will be on the porch. An “It’s Fall Y’all” sign will be purchased. I will buy at least one pumpkin-flavored drink or maybe a muffin. Colorful leaves will find a place in our home. I am determined to learn to embrace each season of life and find its worth beginning with this one.

Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV) Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

It is a new season. Life is full of change. With each new season comes more mercy and abounding grace for those who seek the One who created each season knowing the gifts, promises and blessings hidden within it. There is something in this season for you – Child of God. Look for it. Desire it. Walk through it by faith and not by sight. Stop and smell the pumpkins. You were made by God to prosper in every season of life – good or bad. Keep your eyes on Jesus and it is possible. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts not like ours so in those dark times when you feel like you are groping for just a little more faith – He will be the Light that makes the way clear. He will carry you through the seasons when you are too weak to stand. Rejoice because with every difficult season there is still good fruit to be had. Your Father will never let you down! Tis the season. Whatever it is. Pay attention. Rejoice in it. The Lord is with you! It will not fail to produce the kind of fruit that will satisfy and prosper your soul!

“It’s a new season. It’s a new day. A fresh anointing is flowing my way. It’s a season of power and prosperity. It’s a new season coming to me.” (New Season – Israel Houghton)

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Driven By Drought

Driven by Drought

Psalm 63:1-3 (NLT) O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!

Living in Florida, the summer months are marked with harsh humidity. Days when the air is heavy and wet yet there is not a cloud in the sky. Even in the morning before the sun rises, the heat blasts you when there should be only morning dew falling. Rain would be a relief from the atmospheric pressure of the region. A good summer storm would release the heaviness in the air. When the temperature rises, so does our need for water. I am terrible when it comes to drinking enough water to keep hydrated in the summer. It almost sounds ridiculous but I don’t like the taste of something that is tasteless. I must make conscious effort and commit to drinking a certain amount each day. You can feel the rain in the air. But the conditions are miserable until it comes.

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

Despite the humidity in the atmosphere, the high temperatures cause drought-like conditions. Lakes and marshes dry up. Mud becomes hard and cracked. Plants die. Wild fires break out. The earth needs water to maintain its balance. What about seasons of drought for our soul? Those times when we need God to drench us and saturate us again? Dead dreams fall to the wayside. Doubt overshadows faith. Where is the Lord? Has He forgotten us? Has He changed His Mind about His Promise? Why do I feel so dry and empty? Lord, I am thirsty today. This season seems overwhelming. The heat of refinement too high. Does anyone feel that way today? Are you dry and parched and weary like a “land where there is no water”?

I Kings 17:1-7 (NLT) Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.” So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land.

“There will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word.” Not exactly the encouraging and uplifting word one might hope for from the man of God. Nevertheless, it was God’s Word for Ahab. God instructed Elijah to go to Kerith Brook and there He would provide water and sustenance for him. Elijah obeyed God. God, of course, was faithful. “But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land.” Obedience does not exempt us from natural consequences and certain circumstances in life. There was a drought in the land. God was leading Elijah on his way. He provided for him in the drought, but then the water dried up and it was time to move on.

God ordains the seasons of our life. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) For the next several verses, the Lord gives through the author several scenarios of the ordered seasons of life. I think it is important to remember that God works through seedtime and harvest. (Genesis 8:22) The seeds sown in each season produce the harvest that is coming. Obedience is the prime indicator of sowing and reaping. It is logical. Miracles are supernatural and extraordinary. Sowing and reaping are naturally occurring processes. What a man sows, he will reap. You will always harvest what you plant. (Galatians 6:7) So in the dry seasons of life, it is important to carefully consider what is planted. Seasons of drought do not last forever. God provides seed to every sower even in drought. Elijah obeyed God. His obedience provided for him. What would you do if the Lord told you to go in the backyard because the ravens are bringing you groceries? Would you go? There was no inner struggle for Elijah. God said, “Go.” He went.

But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land.

Now what? Has your “brook dried up”? Are you living in a dry season of drought? Is your provision limited? Could it be that the Lord is causing inconvenience and discomfort because He is trying to move you? It is those dry seasons that our search for the Lord intensifies. The times when our life is not the abundant place that God promised so we inquire a little more. Pray. Seek. Pursue. Our thirst makes it essential to our existence to move beyond this place to be satisfied.

I Kings 17:13-14 (NLT) But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

The Lord told the prophet to go to Zarephath. He had already instructed a widow to provide for him there. Elijah found the woman as she was gathering sticks for a fire to prepare her last meal. She and her son would surely die due to the drought. The woman was hopeless. This is when Elijah instructed her according to the Word of the Lord in I Kings 17:13-14. It is important that during seasons of drought to continue to serve the Lord. Don’t stop following His Word because it will be your salvation. The woman did just as Elijah instructed “and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.”

Proverbs 16:15 (NLT) When the king smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain.

While Elijah needed natural provision, the widow needed spiritual provision. A seed planted within her for days to come. Through a simple act of obedience in the harshest of conditions and most dire circumstances, she saw the Hand of God open before her. For a “bite of bread”, the Lord provided abundantly so that “there was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers.” Has the Lord asked something of you today? Are you hesitant to give it due to natural conditions? What is keeping you from obeying God and experiencing the abundance of His Favor? When God smiles there is life. His Favor refreshes like spring rain in the midst of the driest drought.

I Kings 17:17-18 (NLT)  Some time later the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died. Then she said to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”

The most dangerous condition in drought to overcome is doubt. When a body goes without water for an extended period of time, it will begin to shutdown physically and mentally. Hallucinations are not uncommon. When our soul thirsts, our mind begins to play tricks on us as the accuser moves in to sow seeds of doubt, discouragement, and disbelief. When her son died, it didn’t matter God provided for her naturally – the widow was devastated. She blamed God for her loss. Life was standing right before her but she was consumed by death. God didn’t send Elijah to her just to perform a modern day miracle. He sent His Man to her to bring life.

Sometimes the seasons of life take our eyes off the promise of resurrection life, new life and new creations. God knows exactly what it will take to produce abundance in our life and orders our steps right to that place. Every drought will produce thirst. Thirst is a primary driving force in life. Without hydration the body dies, with infiltration by the Holy Spirit – our soul dies. Elijah took her son from her arms and carried him into the Presence of God. God restored the boy’s life. His mother said, Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”

Where is drought driving you today? Do you feel dry? Empty. Are you thirsty? Dissatisfied. Do you need new life, new hope and new faith? The rain is coming. This season has a promise that is buried deep in the Presence of God and will grow when it is ready. In the meantime, God has made this promise to us.

2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (NLT) At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

God knows the desires of your heart. Do not be misled into thinking that He is no longer interested. God desires one thing – you. All of you. Every part of your being so that He can prosper you from the soul into every facet of your natural life. When the dry seasons come, it is an invitation to come in closer. If my people will humble themselves and pray and seek my face…I will hear from Heaven and will forgive them their sins and restore their land. I purposely omitted the part about turning from their wicked ways. Yes, to turn from sin is imperative in achieving a closer walk with God. But if we humble ourselves, pray and truly are intent on seeking His Face – our love for Him will overshadow a desire for anything else. I don’t need to change my bad habits or sinful tendencies myself. I have the Holy Spirit to help me in my weakness and to command my flesh. If I humble myself to His Holy Inhabitation it is the consummation of my union with Christ and my love for Him will begin to change who I am as the Holy Spirit produces His Fruit in me. God has given us grace and forgiven our sins. There is nothing you or I can do to be separated from the Love of God. His Unfailing Love and Goodness are constantly pursuing us and this season of drought may be with the intent and purpose of driving us into the new thing that He promised. God works all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28)

Psalm 65:9-10 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops.

Drought prepares our heart for rain. God has plenty of water. He is ready to replenish, restore and renew your life today. The rain is coming. Can you feel it in the air? We must be ready. When God pours out His Spirit like rain upon us, its purpose is to reach the seeds hidden in our heart. This is why it is so important that we are constantly sowing the right seed in our life. The Word of God is called seed. When we continually sow God’s Word in our heart, it will produce exactly what it promises when the rain comes. The farmer who waits for perfect weather never plants, the one who watches the clouds never sees the harvest. (Ecclesiastes 11:4) Do not let the conditions of life interrupt your continual planting of God’s Word in your heart. Natural conditions do not influence supernatural outcomes. Extraordinary is hidden in the ordinary lives of real people. It is the purpose and potential that God has placed in you. It is made perfect in His Timing. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Broken and humble hearts are the plowed ground that will become fertile soil.

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

My dear dry and thirsty friend, the rain is coming. It is already ordained when it will fall. Elijah told Ahab that no rain would fall for three years. It was exactly as he prophesied. We walk by faith and not by sight so many times there is no telling when God will send that which is needed to water our soul and prosper our life. For those who delight in the Lord and His Word, there is provision in the drought that waters our soul, keeps faith alive, and hope intact. We have the promise to be like trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they will prosper in all they do. What if the drought is meant to drive us to that place? The place called the Presence of God. A place of trust so deep and abiding it becomes the living water running like a river through us. A place of faith that is not influenced by natural conditions but confident in hope. I want to know that place. I want to live there even if it takes a drought to drive me from comfort, convenience and complacency to find it. Lord, thank you for the dry seasons in life that make me ready for the rain.

Psalm 143:6 (NLT) I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Not Moment to Spare

not-a-spare-moment

Matthew 6:26-27 (NLT)  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Stop. Just stop. Stop moving. Stop talking. Stop thinking. Stop worrying. Just stop for a moment. Now take a deep breath and one more. With the first breath, the natural process of oxygenation put life giving air back into the cells of your body and in that second you became a little bit healthier whether you felt it or not. The second breath, hopefully, allowed God’s Spirit along with His Peace to permeate your weary, stressed out, overloaded, maxed out self to feel the Presence of God all around you. If not, maybe by the time you read this, it will happen as it should.

This season is already a rush hour but the general consensus of people I know who live and work around me is go…go…go and then some. I cannot begin to delineate all the unexpected things going on around me as if everyone I know is being pelted with worry, fear, sorrow and more including our family. After going through a rough season, things seemed to be getting back to normal. After Thanksgiving, it was like every irritating minion of hell was meddling all around. Every time something was planned…something came up. Each time a list has been made… it has been torn up. Nothing was getting done. Everything was in an upheaval. Can I get an “amen”? AMEN!

By the end of the week, my heart was heavy. I was exhausted. I was agitated. As if holiday stress was not enough…life stressors were mounting, too causing a domino effect. Sometimes it is not the big things in life that cause us to fall apart but all the little things that bury us! Many believers reserve their faith in the Lord for the big things and hold tightly to all the small and seemingly insignificant details of life. You are valuable to God. He created you to be a priceless masterpiece and his personal treasure. You are not the person you see in the mirror but the One who He dearly loves and desires above all else. So quickly we forget…

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? No they cannot but instead rob us of special moments prepared for us by God. Consumed by control and steered by stinking thinking, quickly we forget who we are in Jesus Christ. We are the Sons and Daughters of God. Every need is met. Every promise given. Every blessing prepared. Every moment lined up to perfection. God has a plan consisting of moments in time that lead to a future and hope. It is beautiful by design and perfectly timed.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 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. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

I am usually a very calm person. Over the years and with age, my panic button has been pushed further and further from my hand. I have endured many things, trials, troubles, heartaches and brokenness. I have seen the Hand of God revive, renew and restore things in my life over and over again. It takes a lot to break me to the point of tears and giving up. Last week, it was a perfect storm. By Friday, I was done. Finished. Our little dog was poisoned on Monday night which turned into three different vet visits including hauling her to work. I had a carefully planned holiday list that was now coming apart. We did not have a tree. Christmas shopping had not yet begun. People I loved I would not be able to see due to holiday schedules beyond our control. This piled on a whole lot of life already in progress when my husband reminded me that he was going out of town broke me. I could not see Christmas coming together, the dog on the mend, the presents bought, wrapped or delivered. I could not think beyond right then enough to prepare yet another list to discard. You know the kind of week that I am talking about because many of you have experienced the same. Well…

God makes everything beautiful in His Time. Each day I poured out my heart to the Lord. Christmas is a struggle emotionally for me. Why God? Why are you allowing all these other things to pile up? Finally unable to carry the load, I just pushed it across the table until it all fell into His Lap. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Meeting everyone’s expectations is hard. I don’t know how He is able to do more than we can think or ask other than He really is Perfect in all of His Ways. Worry and stress cannot add a moment to our life. I believe wholeheartedly that faith and trust can redeem time and add moments to our life filled with supernatural qualities that far exceed anything you or I could do with a spare moment. So here’s what happened…

The vet cleared our little dog of permanent damage and sent her home to rest and recover with a plan to keep her nourished for the weekend. She began to perk up bit by bit. By Saturday, she was beginning to eat a little bit here and there all on her own. Looks like she is going to make it. At a Christmas party, some of my loved ones surprised me with a quick trip to town to celebrate Christmas. Game on devil God is doing His Thing. At the party, suddenly hopelessly broken relationships showed some signs of mending. After the first night of solid sleep and good rest, Saturday seemed a bit brighter. By the end of the day and four hours of shopping with my sweet husband who hates the mall, Christmas shopping is almost done. A quick trip to the local hardware store, a tree was chosen in about five whole minutes which is a family record. It is decorated and I am almost positive one of the most perfect trees our family has ever gotten. The first Christmas celebration was a success and by the end of the night the first batch of decorated cookies produced and consumed. In a single 24 hour period, everything I was worried about is already done. But how? God redeems our time according to His Plan when we trust Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is often read at funerals but maybe it should be read long before. It reminds us that in accordance with Psalm 139 every moment of our life is prerecorded by God before our birth. It points back to Jeremiah 29 that tells me God has a plan with a future and hope for me. I must only seek Him wholeheartedly to find it. I can look ahead to Romans 8 that promises every detail of my life will be worked out for my good and His Glory if I will just hang on and take my stand in this moment for the next one that is coming. Timing is everything to God because He is perfect and never compromises. If only we knew this ahead of time, we could see that God does everything in His Timing without a moment to spare and it is always beautiful.

What do people really get for all their hard work? Depends on who or what they are working for in a broad sense. If you are working for something you already have isn’t it a waste of time. Shouldn’t we strive for what we do not have instead? God promises to provide for us and supply our every need. He knows the desires of each heart and longs to fulfill it according to His Will. We all have a purpose and plan for our life that is better than one can comprehend so the Lord works to fulfill it by created faith experiences and God encounters. However, human nature doesn’t seek God in the good times but only under duress. What if we concluded as Solomon did to be happy and enjoy our life. Happiness is a choice. Joy is a product of God in us. Everything I have and am able to do is a Gift of God. I only carry out steps and live moments already given to me by my Father. Why am I worrying? There is purpose for my life. I have a future and hope. God has already ordered my steps and handwritten every moment. What do I worry and stress?

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT)  And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

This too shall pass…wise words spoken for a long time. It will. One way or the other this moment will be spent and this season will transition to the next. What will you do while you wait? Will you worry about a life already provided for? Will you stress over a season of joy? Emmanuel has come and God is with us. The enemy can do nothing more than knock on your door and beat on the windows, God will not let Him in.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.

You know last week I felt really dumb for being so worried over our pet. I berated myself for feeling worried, anxious and stressed over her well-being. I even apologized as I prayed to the Lord for her healing when other people are going through so much. Yet in that moment, the anxiety real and heartache truly felt. I believe that the Lord loves us so much that He cares about every moment of our life. The ones used for His Glory. The ones when we barely get by. The ones when we fail miserably. The ones when we give up completely. Every useful and spare moment of our day – God is there as He works our life together for the good things that He has in store for us.

Faith doesn’t allow us to see what we hope for. Trust is the opportunity to believe that it is there. Faith is a choice. Trust is a decision. Do I believe that every moment of my life is handwritten and provided for by the Lord according to His Riches in Glory? Do I trust that His Grace is enough power and strength to keep me going, catapult me over my circumstances and move me from season to season? Hope is not anything that can be seen but filled with infinite impossibilities ready to be manifested in my life. People who tithe testify of bank accounts and registers that just don’t make sense. Those who trust the Lord can exchange every spare moment for something perfectly supernatural. Will that be you today?

Your worry, stress, sorrow and regret will not add a single moment to your life but rob us of precious moments that the Lord has in store for us. Isn’t it time to shove all those burdens over to Him in exchange for His Peace that puts a guard over the door to our heart and window of our soul so when the enemy comes making a racket our response will be – It is well with my soul because God’s Timing is perfect for me!

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) 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.

Matthew 6:26-27 (NLT)  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Stop. Just stop. Stop moving. Stop talking. Stop thinking. Stop worrying. Just stop for a moment. Now take a deep breath and one more. With the first breath, the natural process of oxygenation put life giving air back into the cells of your body and in that second you became a little bit healthier whether you felt it or not. The second breath, hopefully, allowed God’s Spirit along with His Peace to permeate your weary, stressed out, overloaded, maxed out self to feel the Presence of God all around you. If not, maybe by the time you read this, it will happen as it should.

This season is already a rush hour but the general consensus of people I know who live and work around me is go…go…go and then some. I cannot begin to delineate all the unexpected things going on around me as if everyone I know is being pelted with worry, fear, sorrow and more including our family. After going through a rough season, things seemed to be getting back to normal. After Thanksgiving, it was like every irritating minion of hell was meddling all around. Every time something was planned…something came up. Each time a list has been made… it has been torn up. Nothing was getting done. Everything was in an upheaval. Can I get an “amen”? AMEN!

By the end of the week, my heart was heavy. I was exhausted. I was agitated. As if holiday stress was not enough…life stressors were mounting, too causing a domino effect. Sometimes it is not the big things in life that cause us to fall apart but all the little things that bury us! Many believers reserve their faith in the Lord for the big things and hold tightly to all the small and seemingly insignificant details of life. You are valuable to God. He created you to be a priceless masterpiece and his personal treasure. You are not the person you see in the mirror but the One who He dearly loves and desires above all else. So quickly we forget…

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? No they cannot but instead rob us of special moments prepared for us by God. Consumed by control and steered by stinking thinking, quickly we forget who we are in Jesus Christ. We are the Sons and Daughters of God. Every need is met. Every promise given. Every blessing prepared. Every moment lined up to perfection. God has a plan consisting of moments in time that lead to a future and hope. It is beautiful by design and perfectly timed.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 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. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

I am usually a very calm person. Over the years and with age, my panic button has been pushed further and further from my hand. I have endured many things, trials, troubles, heartaches and brokenness. I have seen the Hand of God revive, renew and restore things in my life over and over again. It takes a lot to break me to the point of tears and giving up. Last week, it was a perfect storm. By Friday, I was done. Finished. Our little dog was poisoned on Monday night which turned into three different vet visits including hauling her to work. I had a carefully planned holiday list that was now coming apart. We did not have a tree. Christmas shopping had not yet begun. People I loved I would not be able to see due to holiday schedules beyond our control. This piled on a whole lot of life already in progress when my husband reminded me that he was going out of town broke me. I could not see Christmas coming together, the dog on the mend, the presents bought, wrapped or delivered. I could not think beyond right then enough to prepare yet another list to discard. You know the kind of week that I am talking about because many of you have experienced the same. Well…

God makes everything beautiful in His Time. Each day I poured out my heart to the Lord. Christmas is a struggle emotionally for me. Why God? Why are you allowing all these other things to pile up? Finally unable to carry the load, I just pushed it across the table until it all fell into His Lap. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Meeting everyone’s expectations is hard. I don’t know how He is able to do more than we can think or ask other than He really is Perfect in all of His Ways. Worry and stress cannot add a moment to our life. I believe wholeheartedly that faith and trust can redeem time and add moments to our life filled with supernatural qualities that far exceed anything you or I could do with a spare moment. So here’s what happened…

The vet cleared our little dog of permanent damage and sent her home to rest and recover with a plan to keep her nourished for the weekend. She began to perk up bit by bit. By Saturday, she was beginning to eat a little bit here and there all on her own. Looks like she is going to make it. At a Christmas party, some of my loved ones surprised me with a quick trip to town to celebrate Christmas. Game on devil God is doing His Thing. At the party, suddenly hopelessly broken relationships showed some signs of mending. After the first night of solid sleep and good rest, Saturday seemed a bit brighter. By the end of the day and four hours of shopping with my sweet husband who hates the mall, Christmas shopping is almost done. A quick trip to the local hardware store, a tree was chosen in about five whole minutes which is a family record. It is decorated and I am almost positive one of the most perfect trees our family has ever gotten. The first Christmas celebration was a success and by the end of the night the first batch of decorated cookies produced and consumed. In a single 24 hour period, everything I was worried about is already done. But how? God redeems our time according to His Plan when we trust Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is often read at funerals but maybe it should be read long before. It reminds us that in accordance with Psalm 139 every moment of our life is prerecorded by God before our birth. It points back to Jeremiah 29 that tells me God has a plan with a future and hope for me. I must only seek Him wholeheartedly to find it. I can look ahead to Romans 8 that promises every detail of my life will be worked out for my good and His Glory if I will just hang on and take my stand in this moment for the next one that is coming. Timing is everything to God because He is perfect and never compromises. If only we knew this ahead of time, we could see that God does everything in His Timing without a moment to spare and it is always beautiful.

What do people really get for all their hard work? Depends on who or what they are working for in a broad sense. If you are working for something you already have isn’t it a waste of time. Shouldn’t we strive for what we do not have instead? God promises to provide for us and supply our every need. He knows the desires of each heart and longs to fulfill it according to His Will. We all have a purpose and plan for our life that is better than one can comprehend so the Lord works to fulfill it by created faith experiences and God encounters. However, human nature doesn’t seek God in the good times but only under duress. What if we concluded as Solomon did to be happy and enjoy our life. Happiness is a choice. Joy is a product of God in us. Everything I have and am able to do is a Gift of God. I only carry out steps and live moments already given to me by my Father. Why am I worrying? There is purpose for my life. I have a future and hope. God has already ordered my steps and handwritten every moment. What do I worry and stress?

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT)  And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

This too shall pass…wise words spoken for a long time. It will. One way or the other this moment will be spent and this season will transition to the next. What will you do while you wait? Will you worry about a life already provided for? Will you stress over a season of joy? Emmanuel has come and God is with us. The enemy can do nothing more than knock on your door and beat on the windows, God will not let Him in.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.

You know last week I felt really dumb for being so worried over our pet. I berated myself for feeling worried, anxious and stressed over her well-being. I even apologized as I prayed to the Lord for her healing when other people are going through so much. Yet in that moment, the anxiety real and heartache truly felt. I believe that the Lord loves us so much that He cares about every moment of our life. The ones used for His Glory. The ones when we barely get by. The ones when we fail miserably. The ones when we give up completely. Every useful and spare moment of our day – God is there as He works our life together for the good things that He has in store for us.

Faith doesn’t allow us to see what we hope for. Trust is the opportunity to believe that it is there. Faith is a choice. Trust is a decision. Do I believe that every moment of my life is handwritten and provided for by the Lord according to His Riches in Glory? Do I trust that His Grace is enough power and strength to keep me going, catapult me over my circumstances and move me from season to season? Hope is not anything that can be seen but filled with infinite impossibilities ready to be manifested in my life. People who tithe testify of bank accounts and registers that just don’t make sense. Those who trust the Lord can exchange every spare moment for something perfectly supernatural. Will that be you today?

Your worry, stress, sorrow and regret will not add a single moment to your life but rob us of precious moments that the Lord has in store for us. Isn’t it time to shove all those burdens over to Him in exchange for His Peace that puts a guard over the door to our heart and window of our soul so when the enemy comes making a racket our response will be – It is well with my soul because God’s Timing is perfect for me!

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) 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.

Death of Me

death-of-me

Matthew 17:20 (NIV) He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Our youngest came to me the other night and asked to use the computer in my office. “Of course, you can.” I replied then inquiring what she would be doing. She then said three of the most dreaded words in the vocabulary of all school age mothers – I working on my “science fair project”. Cue in the horror movie music played during the climax just before the villain attacks. I asked no more – I have learned over the years. She disappeared into the office to begin the daunting task of finding a topic to test even though it really holds no real significance but teaches kids (and unsuspecting parents) about problem solving. Our oldest son is 26 years old. The one thing I will not miss about grade school is science fair projects. Can I get an “amen”?

The basic steps of a science fair project include a question, research plan, finding information and constructing a hypothesis. Using these steps, the student tests the hypothesis by doing an experiment, analyzing data, drawing a conclusion, and communicating the results. This is called the scientific method. Experiments determine cause and effect. Cause and effect relationships explain why things happen and allow us to reliably predict what will happen if you do something. In each experiment, there are variables. The independent variable is the one that is changed by the one who is conducting the study. The dependent variables are those things that react and produce a response in the testing. And then there is the constant variable which is the controlled variable. These are the factors that remain the same regardless of the other variables though they may respond differently. Now that you know how to do a science project with its many steps and variables let’s talk about constant.

The word “constant” is important in the life of a believer. God is constant. His Word is constant. His Way is constant. His Character is constant. His Love is constant. What is constant? It means something does not change or vary. It is to continue without pause or let up and is consistent. It is continual and persistent. Constancy means faithful, unswerving in love and devotion. Steadfast. Firm in mind and purpose. Certain. Confident. A constant is something that does not or cannot change of vary. In science, an experiment without a constant will not yield accurate data. A life of faith without a constant God will never yield fruit. Since God is not in question for He does not lie or change His Mind but remains constant. Who is the variable? You got it. It’s me. My love. My faith. My commitment. My ability to trust and yield. If my life does not yield fruit or promise, I am the variable in question.

Mark 4:30-32 (NIV) Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

As God created each human being, He took a little scoop, dipping it in faith, and poured a measure carefully into our heart. It is there for our use and absolute disposal. There are many variables that impact its growth and prosperity but nothing can limit its potential. It belongs to you. It was given to us by our Father to put to good use. Seeds left in packets will never grow roots, come up out of the ground, and produce leaves or fruit. Most will die in dormancy in those packets never having fulfillment of purpose. Seeds need good soil to grow. They must have sunshine and rain. There are many variables to natural and spiritual growth that are often taken for granted in life but essential to it.

A person can eat whatever they want for the first sixty years of their life without any ill effects. One day the same human being will begin to experience some chest pain and shortness of breath. A doctor will diagnose them with coronary artery disease or heart blockages due to a high fat and sodium diet that has impacted their heart. Would they have made better choices given this information sooner? You think you would but probably not. The American Heart Association spends millions and millions of dollars each year to inform people from an early age of the importance of a good nutrition and regular exercise. Most people ignore such information until they are faced with adverse conditions or heart disease.

The Kingdom of God is inside of each person ready to grow into a wonderful relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son. The Word of God promises that all of creation will have the opportunity to experience His Love and make the connection. What are we doing to cultivate the Kingdom in our life? It begins and ends with the mustard seed of faith in each human heart. Unless that seed, grows, takes root, and flourishes – it will die with us one day. The potential in the seed of faith is not limited by the person. A person can stop the potential of a seed by not letting it grow.

Matthew 13:19-23 (NIV) When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Reading the Parable of the Sower today, I feel alone in this place. Like God is the constant and I am the only variable. Sometimes I believe that God isolates us so that it forces us to look at our own heart compared to His Word, His Will and His Way rather than comparing our life to everyone else’s. My life with God is my own journey. The faith that I have been given to cultivate in my life is exclusive to me. No one else can grow my faith though people are often used to test it. Can I get an amen?

The Word of God is the potential of our faith revealed to us. If you can find it in the Bible, it is applicable to your life. God has no favorites. We are all His Favorites. God hates sin. All sin. Since we all need new mercy each day and live only by His Grace through faith, it is important to note that the potential in my seed of faith is the same as yours. The impossible is possible if I can believe. Your impossible is possible if you believe, too. With this in mind, we are all in this together.

God’s Word for our life is constant. When we believe His Word enough to invest our faith in it, it will yield fruit in our life. We will flourish by faith and have branches where others can roost. So let’s talk about the different variables of getting God’s Word and His Kingdom to grow in our life. First there is the seed that falls on hard hearts. It cannot grow because there is no brokenness. A stony heart has no knowledge of God’s Love so His Word is rejected as fiction, folly or false. Evil comes and exchanges truth for a lie. Then there is the Word heard and received with joy but a lack of proper rooting and grounding in the Love of God through Jesus Christ will not allow it to grow. Faith in anything or anyone other than the Lord will not grow anything good in us or through us. Other people hear the Word of God but then become distracted by the natural circumstances, adverse conditions or current situation. Worry produces doubt that chokes out the growing promise making its way from our heart to our head into reality. But the seed that falls on good soil has limitless potential in our life. We must get God’s Word into our heart and cultivate it by faith until it grows.

John 12:23-25 (NIV) Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

I Corinthians 15:36-38 (NIV) How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.

When my husband and I were first married, we began looking to buy a home. Our income was limited. Welcoming a new daughter in the first year, I became a stay-at-home mom. Our agent told us of a foreclosed house that was a good deal and just needed some work. Driving into the driveway, I noticed that although the house was disheveled yet there were flowers lining the flowerbeds in the front yard. On closer inspection, I discovered that they were artificial flowers planted in the ground. I was a bit disappointed. How many times do we put on a happy face when our heart is broken? Or maybe settle for something less because we are tired of waiting on God’s Best? Seeds will produce in time. But it takes time for seeds to produce. They may go through many seasons before fruit will be found on them. One thing that must happen is death to its current form. Are we willing to give up the comfort and control of life as we know it to have the promise of God’s Word achieved by faith? Faith is not in the boat but walking on the water in the midst of a storm. Faith can be misplaced. Even though His Disciples were with the Lord day and night, they still struggled with faithful development. We must be willing to die to self to have the potential of faith produced by God’s Word and His Spirit in our life. We must rely on the constancy of God for fulfillment allowing our flesh to die day by day. Walking by faith and not by sight grows potential and promise in our life. It is the death of me.

I Peter 1:22-23 (NIV) Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” (I Corinthians 3:6) The constant and absolute potential of my life is God’s Word and His Promises coming to pass in my life by faith. It will be the death of me to give way to the new life hidden inside me. I must learn to lay down my life in order to grow. Here is the secret. I can plant God’s Word in my heart. Many other variables can add to the developmental process but the foundational truth I must live by is that God always makes us grow. Too many times we attribute faith and spiritual growth to what we do when we are just a variable in the process. God is our constant. It is His Word that changes us from broken to beautiful. It is the investment that He made in our hearts during creation that is the game changer. Jesus died to set me free from the bondage of sin so that I can die to self with purpose and become a part of His Kingdom. I have Kingdom potential inside my heart that the Lord desperately is trying to release. It is personal. It is individual. It cannot add anything to the Kingdom until first God grows it in me. I must become the nonperishable seed through living and enduring in and through the Word of God, His Spirit and by faith in the process of cultivation that I am steady undergoing when I choose to seek Him wholeheartedly.

I used to think science projects would be the death of me. When you have three kids in four years, it is inevitable to become overwhelmed. When that just was not excitement, two more were added to the mix. There were days that I thought I would spend my entire life in the parent pickup line. Homework was never ending. I was always taking care of someone or doing something. Now we only have two little birds in our nest, one will graduate from high school next year and the other will be moving up to high school. The season of life that I thought would never end is slowly drawing to a close. It is easy to get lost in the role playing of life. People where so many different hats with a variety of responsibility – it is no wonder that the seeds of promise get lost in busy, overwhelmed, overwrought, and overloaded hearts filled with worry, stress and anxiety. Today the Lord is whispering to us – to let Him cultivate our life so we can thrive again. I must give my heart to the Lord along with everything and everyone in it for His Careful Inspection. He has given me promises and filled me with potential that alone I will never discover. They are impossible without Jesus Christ. By surrendering my life again, I can have all the possibilities of a Constant God with Unfailing Love. Every season of our life has fruitful potential. It is in Christ alone we find it.

Psalm 126:3-6 (NIV) The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

Seasonal Change

seasonal-change

Psalm 1:1-3 (NKJV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

The cool crisp air is whispering a seasonal change is taking place. Walking in the backyard, it feels wonderful. A hint of pumpkin spice is wafts by if only in my imagination. The old fire pit in need of renovation seems a bit more urgent. The drying woodpile leftover from hurricane season is almost ready to burn. I am ready for a seasonal change. I welcome the shift in the atmosphere naturally and spiritually that is coming. Surveying our newly acquired property, I notice a tree that looks dead and lifeless. My first inclination is to get some assistance in cutting it down. However, as I continue to evaluate its condition it comes to mind that I have not seen it in all seasons yet. Perhaps it is not dead just observing its own seasonal change. If it doesn’t change at all in the coming seasons, it is more than likely dead and should be cut down. Patience. I need patience when it comes to seasons in life. Seasonal change even when welcomed will always bring change. Sounds redundant but seldom considered when we cry out the Lord for something new and different. Our heart cries change when our flesh says, “Let’s just stay the same.”

I love Psalm 1:1-3. I want to be like a tree planted by the rivers of water than brings forth its fruit in its season. Or do I? It all sounds wonderful on paper. That is until I must undergo the required process. When the pressure to change, suddenly pushes me out of my comfort zone making it impossible to be satisfied and yet still stay the same. We are to be “planted”. We prefer to live in the temporary. We can see it, feel it, and react to it naturally feeling some control over that which we have none. The Bible tells us to walk by faith and not by sight which I have come to realize involves a whole lot more standing than moving around. We must wait on the Lord. We must be aware of each season. Those who do will bring forth its fruit. What does that mean? You will fulfill your purpose and find full satisfaction in a prospering life. I want that kind of life. I am ready for a seasonal change.

Proverbs 21:21 (NIV) Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

Psalm 1:1 talks about three kinds of people. I never really took notice of the differentiation noted here until now. There are those who “walk in step with the wicked”. I believe these are the people who know God on Sunday but live without regard to sin every other waking moment of the day. They bless your heart at church and cuss you out in any other setting. Blatantly disregarding the way of God yet call themselves Christians just because they know His Name. I cannot live like this and expect God to prosper my life.

The second person is the one who lives a comfortable and complacent life in Christ. They look, act and speak like true believers but entertain sin in their life. The Word of God says, “stand in that way that sinners take.” They act innocent but in their heart are just as guilty as the rest. Grace is sufficient for them but rarely taken advantage of. They want the benefits and blessings of life in Christ today not forever.

Finally there are the most dangerous Christians of all. The ones who “sit in the company of mockers.” This is the day and age of false prophets and skewed religion. There are a whole lot of people that truly believe that in that day they will say, “Lord, Lord” and Jesus will know them when He will not. They have been preached a Gospel other than Good News and have taken hold of it as the Truth. I have always feared that this would be me. How do I make sure that the foundation of my life is Jesus Christ? How do I know that I am rooted, grounded and planted in His Love alone?

Jeremiah 8:6-7 (NIV) I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle. Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord.

When I read this verse today, I was overcome. I know that I am not always sensitive to the seasons that the Lord leads me to and through. Many, many times I am the “horse charging into battle.” I don’t want my way. I want His Way. Ecclesiastes speaks of God’s Promise that He will make everything beautiful in its time. He carefully details all the many seasons in Ecclesiastes 3. I don’t like all those seasons especially the ones that require pain and parting. The ones that produce discomfort or distance. I love spring and fall but I am not a fan of summer and winter. Why? Spring and fall are comfortable, but summer and winter are extreme.

I must learn to observe the seasons properly. The Lord says that people do not know the requirements of the Lord. I do not believe this was just a Word for His People then but a glaring declaration for us now. We must return to the basic requirements of God to facilitate the change called revival. For Heaven to come to earth requires repentance on the part of God’s People. The windows have closed because sin always separates us from the Lord. When we openly engage in it unashamedly a window slams closed. When we entertain it on any level, God must look away. When church is about religion and not a relationship with Jesus Christ, it is not open to the Holy Spirit. It’s time to repent. It’s time to return to the Lord. It is time to be like a tree. To live like the stork, dove, swift and thrush carried on the wind of change. Sensitive to the change in the atmosphere and obedient to migrate when it’s time. If you want this life, it is yours. If you want the Kingdom of God, it is time for a change.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (NIV) See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

Every day comes with a choice. Will I choose life and prosperity or death and destruction? You may be thinking that sounds brutal. It may very well be to you. God is Sovereign and does not change. It is His Character and the one thing that makes Him different from anyone else. He is perfect in all of His Ways. It doesn’t matter what I think or my opinion. This is the God who created me and prepared a plan for my life. It comes with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) It is absolutely mine when I am perfect. No, that’s not what it says. It says I can have it when I seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:13) Do you know what the Word says about your life? There are way more promises than requirements for me. I am promised prosperity and success in life completely. What must I do to attain life and prosperity? Love the Lord God. Walk in obedience to Him. Keep His Commandments. When I try and fail, His Grace is enough for me.

Here is the catch. Not only does the Lord give us a choice every waking, breathing day but He gives us new mercy to overcome every fault, failure and weakness that I may face. If I simply choose to commit my life to serving the Lord wholeheartedly, He gives me everything that I need to be successful even when I fall flat on my face. His Word also says that He works every detail of my life for good. God wants to bless you today. He loves you with His Whole Heart. He is pulling for you not looking for a reason to punish you. If you think anything different, you may not know Him. To know the Lord is to love Him.

Colossians 2:6-9 (NIV) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

I know that seasonal change is coming thanks to the cool breeze in the morning air. I know that supernatural seasonal change is coming by the stirring within me. Like leaves caught up in the air and circling all around – change is coming. When I felt the chill this morning, I immediately thought I should probably gather some of my warmer clothing out of the guest room and maybe put away the summer clothing. I believe that I must also prepare for the spiritual change that I am sensing. Repentance will always be first and foremost in change. To clean out my heart and examine my life for things not useful in the coming season.

A tree constantly remains in the same place. When the cold comes, it does not change locations but remains in the same place. It may shed its dying leaves and the bark may peel away, but the roots stay firmly in place and grab hold of the ground. We are to be like a tree. Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ alone. We are strengthened by our faith in Him that must stand through the seasons rather than running for cover. We must know His Word – Jesus is the Word. He is our foundation. By doing so, we will not be carried away by the winds of change but learn to prosper in every season no matter what natural conditions it brings – we will thrive. Christ is our fullness. He is all we need to prosper in every season. With every change, our faith grows stronger, roots go deeper and confidence becomes bolder. Change is a requirement. It should always be welcomed as we seek Him wholeheartedly.

Proverbs 16:20 (NIV) Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

I hear the song, “It’s a new season, it’s a new day, a fresh anointing is flowing my way, it’s a season of power and prosperity, it’s a new season coming for me.” (Israel Houghton) Lord, prepare me for this new season. Examine my heart and remove anything that is not of you. Out with the old and in with the new. Equip me with the strength and stamina to stand and see it through. I want to be where You are and nowhere else. I want to experience Your Presence like never before. I want to encounter Your Love all over again. Open the Windows of Heaven in my life as I prepare to stand in the wind of your change. I invite you to have Your Way in my life. Make me like a tree today, Jesus.

Isaiah 63:1-4 (NIV) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

New Beginnings

New Beginnings

Revelation 21:5-7 (NIV) He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

It is time for a new beginning. The Lord has presented a new opportunity and I have accepted. Now as I stand on the verge of starting, I look over the edge of the water to perceive the depth of that which I am called. Suddenly, my feet are frozen to the shore. I asked to go deeper than I have ever gone before but when Jesus said, “Come!” I wonder is it too late to change my mind? As believers cry out for more, it is hard to comprehend the change that such a request may bring because all we know for sure is that we want more of Him. So when He answers, it can be startling. His Ways are not like our ways. His Thoughts so much higher and wide range than our simple need for immediate gratification. The Lord is full of grace giving me a year to ponder this calling. It did not come as a surprise. However, the vision projected in my mind calls into question my ability to fulfill that which I am called to. Yet, I must go.

I will not share this calling specifically because I want you to consider the thing that the Lord has challenged you with today. Comparison is a faith killer as it shifts our expectation from the Lord and dependency on His Strength to considering our ability against that of our brothers and sisters in Christ. The power to succeed is the Jesus Christ within us. It is never a “me” thing or a “you” thing but will I allow His Grace to be enough for me. It was…until I looked down. Now I keep approaching the edge berating myself for having such little faith. Trust me it’s a tough crowd surrounding me right now as the enemy taunts me with my weaknesses, past, failures and faults. He threatens me with every heartbreak and humiliation that I have experienced on such ventures. Yet, I stay right here trying to muster up the courage to begin. This is not my first rodeo. I have felt the hard, cold ground against my seat many times. Lord, help me step out on the water. I want the new beginning. I want to make you proud. The finish line seems far but you are oh so close.

Daniel 2:19-22 (NIV) During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.

Our pastor shared a story yesterday that is significant in our ventures after God in this lifetime. He shared a modern parable about a father who had four sons. He sent each one out to the same pear tree to observe its condition during each season. Obviously each son had a different perception of the tree according to the seasonal cycle it was in. He called them all together to remind them that life is full of seasons. One cannot judge the outcome by the season but must allow time to finish its work throughout each season. God instituted seedtime and harvest after the Great Flood and the rainbow signifies God’s Promise to never destroy the earth again and continue this cycle of reproduction. Your current condition or circumstances do not necessarily dictate the outcome and productivity of your life. If it is fall or winter your “tree” may appear barren as it waits for “spring” which will make way into summer bearing first fruits.

What challenges face you today? Has the Lord moved you into a new season planting seeds of change in your heart? What are you doing to cultivate the new beginning of growth in your life? God changes times and seasons because He will not leave you in your current state. Your Father is good and wants to bless your life with a hearty inheritance. We often do not want to be uncomfortable and reject change. Just because the Lord gave you a vision long ago, or some mystery as a child that has not yet come to pass doesn’t mean that He didn’t mean it, you missed it or it is forgotten. It is most likely a timing issue as the Lord grows, develops and matures you equipping you for the harvest that is to come from your life as you live to the glory of God that brings fulfillment.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV) He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

This life is temporary and it would be foolish to live for numbered days when just on the other side is eternity. By calling on the Name of Jesus Christ and turning to follow Him, you and I are headed for forever which makes this life the foundation of our future. We must walk in a way to enter the door that leads to the everlasting. It is not a life of perfection. In fact, I will be plagued with imperfection until I meet Jesus face to face. This does not need to be a source of discouragement but an open invitation to accept His Amazing Grace (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) that is enough for me and to lay my burden of weakness at His Feet to be yoked with Jesus who makes our load light. (Matthew 11:28-29)

If I am awaiting an empowerment that makes me feel completely equipped to venture out on my own, it will not happen. I am challenged because my faith needs to be strengthened. I must endure to the end. God makes everything beautiful in its time. So this thing I am beginning is a mess. The closer I get the less enabled I feel to take on this task. Yet I feel this softening in my heart, and gentle whisper in my ear reminding me that God is with me. I will not fail if I will just take the first step of faith – the rest will rise to meet me.

I John 1:1-3 (NIV) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Seeking the Lord’s Encouragement today – I will share with you the things that He has shared with me. First and foremost in any endeavor in our life, it is all about Jesus. We are proclaiming the Word of Life who is Jesus. The Word came to us wrapped in flesh to demonstrate the Way back to God. Now we must follow His Example. As we strive to walk by faith and not by sight, it will always require just a little more trust and dependence on Christ. If what the Lord has shown you or challenged you to undertake does not completely overwhelm you, it may not be God at all. The Call of God on my life requires all of Christ in me to accomplish. If it doesn’t take my breath away, make my heart beat wildly and force me to fight doubt and fear every step of the way, it means I can do it in my natural ability. God does not get the Glory when I can overcome on my own. It is when “greater is He who is in me” is required that success can only be attributed to the Lord and His Power.

2 John 5-6 (NIV) And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

The command of Jesus Christ to us is that we “walk in love”. No matter what we do, if it is not done in love it is meaningless and worthless according to I Corinthians 13. Everything that the Lord leads us to will require more love than the last thing. Love must grow to meet all the requirements outlined in I Corinthians 13:4. It must be patient, kind, not envious or jealous. Love is not arrogant or proud. It honors others. It is not self-seeking. Love doesn’t lose its temper and get angry. It is forgiving keeping no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the Truth. It protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. Love is a commitment so it cannot fail. I can walk in obedience for the rest of my life and still miss it if my love does not bear the character defined in this passage. Whatever God leads me to must be walked through in love.

I John 2:14 (NIV) I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

It doesn’t matter how many obstacles you see between here and what the Lord is calling you to, you have overcome them all already. You may not have taken a single step of faith yet victory is already declared because Jesus lives inside of you. You have already overcome every hardship along the way. Faith allows you to open those closed doors and swing wide the locked windows that keep His Blessing from being poured out in your life. Jesus has already supplied all your needs not man’s way but according to His Riches in Glory. (Philippians 4:19) In a single word, that means abundance. You have access to abundance today. Not only that, His Divine Power has given us everything we need for a godly life that includes doing exactly what He has called us to do – whatever that looks like – no matter how big it is or small we feel. (2 Peter 1:4)

I John 2:24-25 (NIV) As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:2-3) I cannot impress this on you strongly enough. Write down your vision, revelation, or dream whatever it is that you know is from the Lord. This is vital to go back to when the enemy is pummeling you with lies. You must return to the Truth. God always attaches His Word to His Vision for your life. You must remind yourself sometimes to encourage yourself when threatened by isolation and despair – two of the enemy’s greatest tactics to make us give up. If everyone else thinks you are crazy, the Lord will confirm His Vision for your life in the very thing you wrote down and documented.

Jesus instructs us that He is the Vine and we are the branches. Apart from Him, I can do nothing. But when I strive to remain connected to Him than all things become possible even those things labeled impossible. God’s Word is essential to continue be rooted and grounded in His Love. His Spirit inside of me keeps us in relationship as He helps me, guides me, instructs me and facilitates close communication with the Lord each day. I need both of these valuable assets for my life to become a living sacrifice and live a life of worship.

I John 3:7-8 (NIV) Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

It is easy to look for excuses. The enemy seems like as good as any other. Except for the fact that nothing he does is new. It is all the same old taunts and tactics. Therefore, before you decide that what you are called to cannot be done because of the attacks and advances on your life and dream, know this. Jesus has already overcome them all. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. Success and failure is not hinged on our ability or the enemy’s power but completely on our ability to have faith in God’s Word, Will and Way. To stick it out when all hell is breaking lose around us knowing what God has called us to and His Unstoppable Power at work in us and through us.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NIV) The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.

“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”(Isaiah 42:8-9) Congratulations! God is doing new things in your life. It really doesn’t matter if you charge boldly to meet the new challenge or hesitantly tiptoe in. What matters is that you put away former things to fully embrace the new thing the Lord is doing in you and through you today! He is looking closely at your heart for a seed of faith and watching for the first sign of obedience. God is a Good Father intent on blessing every effort of His Children. He does not have unrealistic expectations but offers His Strength and Power to us through His Grace. Everything we do should be for His Glory!

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19) The success or failure of yesterday does not impact today. God is doing a new thing in your life today. Every detail of our life is worked out for our good according to Romans 8:28 so nothing is wasted not even experience. With this in mind, what is that God has laid on your heart for His Glory today? Does it seem to big? Is it overwhelming? Good than it is most definitely of Your Father’s doing. He sees Your Potential. He knows the Plan. He is well aware of what you capable of doing or producing in with what you have. Trust the Lord. Step out of the boat. The water is just right for miracles, signs and wonders. No one can carry you or even push you into the water. You must go willingly, freely and obediently into its flow. He will carry you to the end for it is better than beginning. Patience is required. Perseverance will be worth it. Persistence will pay off when we step out into the new thing that the Lord offers us today.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV) May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Changing Seasons

Changing Seasons

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Our life is fulfilled in seasons. Each season preparing and welcoming the next. Though one might think that life is random determined by fate, comprised on consequences, driven by circumstances ultimately ending when we die, nothing could be more from the truth. There is a time for everything. Every single detail of our life has meaning and purpose. Obviously, there are some seasons that we welcome and others we hope never come. Sowing and reaping in the natural is dependent on the seasons. Sowing and reaping spiritually in the cultivation of our soul requires seasons as well. In order to grow, develop and mature bearing the Fruit of His Spirit, believers must learn to change with the seasons of life or they will die in the past. A seed left unplanted will never grow. A field without water will die in the drought. Overrun by weeds, new life is choked out. When the harvest comes with no one is there to take it – it will be consumed by those who did not plant or water or die back to the ground. This is both naturally and spiritually true.

When the seasons begin to change, we must be ready to change with them. When the season is pleasant for example a birth, everyone celebrates. However, when it changes to death, it becomes mourning. Both must occur, yet only one is welcomed. Catching up with a friend, we talked about the seasons in our life changing this year. It is difficult sometimes to walk out of one season and into another without looking back. If the season before was too challenging, fear keeps our eyes on that which almost overtook us in attempt to protect our future. That’s silly. No really it is. When winter turns to summer and we head to the beach, I pack things relevant to summer like sunscreen, umbrellas, towels and a cooler of drinks. I do not bring a heavy wool coat and space heater just in case with steaming hot cocoa. Our transition in spiritual seasons of life should be no different. The Lord has given us a promise that there is a place for every season that we go through. There is a time for everything. A season for every activity under the heavens. He goes so far as to detail many of them in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8. No one will argue these seasons for many of us have lived through most of them already. The key is never to stay in the season you are in, but learn how to change with them just as nature does.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (NIV)

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

 

Farmers who plant use the Farmer’s Almanac to guide them through seasons. Children of God have the Word of God to lead us through the spiritual seasons of life. Do we use it? I know that when something breaks or goes awry in our house, that my husband “googles”, “you-tubes” and searches every forum available for the best solution to our problem. How do you make it through the season that you are in? Do you search the Word of God? Do you pray? Do you seek the Lord wholeheartedly?

The Authority of Life is God. He created you with a purpose and plan that is in full effect. It contains a future and hope found in Him. (Jeremiah 29:11) When we seek Him wholeheartedly, His Plan is implemented in our life. (Jeremiah 29:13) Nothing is a surprise to the Lord for every day of our life was written before a single one began. (Psalm 139:16) He promises to take every detail of our life and work it for our good. (Romans 8:28) The Lord can do that because of His Grace given to us through Calvary. It is enough to carry us through the seasons of life even those that leave us weak and broken. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Jesus wants to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can even think to ask for just because He loves us so. (Ephesians 3:18-20) He promises to perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) The Lord is doing a new thing, but we must forget the former things in order to focus on it and embrace it. (Isaiah 43:18-19) He creates streams in wastelands so even that barren valley of darkness you just came out of has great potential in God.

The Lord says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” Sadly those fixated on yesterday will not see the vision for tomorrow, today will be wasted worrying that the past will catch up with us. New life results in those who love God living from Glory to Glory and Victory to Victory. You cannot repeat yesterday’s race. It is over. You must engage in today’s opportunity to see its results. Jesus said it himself, those who endure to the end will be saved. Finally, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17) As your soul prospers so will you. Your soul cannot live outside of Jesus Christ. He has a plan. He died to give you access. What one does with it is up to the individual.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-14 (NIV)

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

The cancer our son endured and beat is very aggressive and rare. When I hear of a child diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer, I immediately try to make contact with the family to be sure that the cancer has been screened for the Epstein Barre virus which is the cause of mononucleosis the origin of this monster. The treatment plan changes dramatically when it is determined as the culprit. it is labeled as rare though sadly gaining in popularity. The young man who has it lives in our area and is being treated by the doctors that made this journey with our son. Except this time around, they know their opponent and what it is capable of. The chances of survival for him are now greater because of the journey of our son. I am thankful for that because again the enemy both cancer and the devil who cast it into humanity gets kicked in the face. His mother and I spoke at length yesterday. We will talk again. I will walk as closely through this battle as she needs, wants and expects. Why? I have already walked it. I have resources that she can use and not have to look for. I know my way around the hospital she is in. I have felt the emotions she has now and will have as time goes by. Who better to escort her on this journey than the one who walked it before?

If all those verses previously noted about God’s Authority and Power in our life are true, who better to do life with ? If He really has a Plan and Purpose for our good and blessing, shouldn’t He be the One we follow? We can find satisfaction in all the “toils” of life. Toil is hard and continuous work. It means exhausting labor. Some seasons are just that hard and laborious. The Lord has ordered our life into steps. Each one is its own season. Who better to escort me on my way? We must learn to keep our eyes on the plow. (Luke 9:62) If we look back, we will move to one side. But if we keep our eyes facing front fixed on Jesus Christ, we will endure to the end and be saved. Isn’t that what life and all of its seasons is all about? To claim the prize of Eternity. It is hidden in our hearts. It is our drive for success. It shapes the desire of our dreams. It is the longing for satisfaction left unfulfilled by this world.

Hebrews 12:1-6 (NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

 

I feel the need to clarify when talking about our son’s battle with cancer, God did not give our son a deadly disease. But God has used this experience to change some things in our heart and mind, it is the harvest of the season. My priorities radically changed immediately when my heart was broken and the contents strewn out. I was forced to take only what I could carry in its remains. I chose Jesus. Live or die. He was our son’s only hope. He was the only way that I would survive the horrible ordeal. I knew that nothing good would come of this horrible experience if we didn’t have Jesus and allow Him to maintain control. So we did. We won. Our son is alive and living his life just as he did before cancer came and now that it is gone. However, we are different people now with different priorities. I am learning to walk in this new season not looking back over my shoulder waiting for yesterday to assault us again. This is just as important as the lesson I learned the day I heard the awful words, “I am sorry, it is cancer.”

If the enemy cannot take you out in the valley, he will try to keep you there. It is time to move on. It may be very difficult but God has not given us the spirit of fear so rebuke it and move on. The man who wanted Jesus to heal his son said to the Lord, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “If you can?” Then Jesus corrected him saying, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” The man immediately changed his mind and said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” To believe means to have confidence in the truth, the existence, and the reliability of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in this life. Not just in the everlasting but here and now. Faith gives us access to eternity. Like a boarding pass, you have to have it at the gate. You board the plane without it. Do you believe? Trials and tests in life allow us to see the limits of our faith and trust in the Lord and presses us to know Him more. Triumph reinforces our confidence in God’s Goodness and Grace so we are renewed and restored before the next test comes. All of this works together to prepare us to life forever with Jesus. We need to see life from Eternity’s Perspective to see meaning and purpose in each season good or bad and by faith become convinced that there is beauty in them all.

Psalm 139:1-5 (NIV)

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Out with the Old

Out with the Old

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

 

What a difference a day makes. When the new day arrives, the old seems so small…most of the time. It’s when we get stuck in a series of days or season that never ends that we forget the “new things” God is doing because we are just trying to get through this time…this hurt…this season. It is fall…no I am not jumping around but fall is a relevant time in the series of seasons. The window is open and the leaves are falling like rain. Fall is when we harvest. Leading into winter when the barren land dies to rejuvenate when spring comes around and rolls into summer. The problem is that we don’t see seasons of life as they link together to form productivity and cultivate certain things in our life but too often focus on the things of each one that are difficult. Each leave falling represents a place for a new one to grow from a bud, to a blossom into fruit. But rather than focusing on this chain of events, we become focused on planting in the spring, enduring the heat of the summer, raking the leaves in fall and shoveling snow through the winter. Right now with pumpkin latte, pumpkin bread and just about every other pumpkin thing mankind can market, we are focused on winter. Excited about the change in seasons, boots, sweaters, bonfires and Christmas… until it gets here and then we want beaches, flip flops, vacation and sunshine because we are overwhelmed by the holiday stress, being stuck in the house and mounds of laundry produced by layers of clothing. The key to living a full life in Christ is becoming focused on the new thing that He is doing in us rather than the circumstances and consequences of change around us.

To create something new, something must die. To become a new creation, it means that we must die to our old life stepping into that “new thing” that the Lord is doing. This is not as easy as one might think considering people like to be comfortable. We want change but do not embrace it. We must never give up on what the Lord has promised us or the process by which He changes us. To become committed to enduring such change, we must be aware of the season we are in and the fruit it is producing. I am just as guilty as everyone else who asks for more and cries out in the overflow. His Ways are not like ours. They are so much higher as God sees things from His Perspective which is not daily but forever. I remember when my babies were small and still nursing. There were certain times like when driving the car or maneuvering through the grocery store when they might have to wait a few extra minutes to be fed. Now I knew how long it had been since their last feeding and how long it would take me to finish each task, but to my children a mere 15 minutes was forever and they would wail as if starving to death. And so it is with the Lord who knows exactly down to the minute how long this process will take. We scream and cry for release but He is focused on completion. He knows just how long it will take and gives us the grace to make it through even though we might think it is killing us. It is. It is burning up our flesh to make room for our faith. It is increasing our endurance which will produce strength of character. God uses every season of life to produce something in those who choose to surrender each season to Him and embrace the change that He is evoking in our life.

Yesterday they surgically removed the port from our son. What a glorious day! It is finished. The Lord true to His Word has healed and delivered our precious son from cancer. Physically – he looks amazing. You couldn’t wipe the smile off of his face. He is embracing the life of a college student once again. He is alive, well and prospering after four years of pain, suffering and physical attacks. It is a new season for all of us as we turn from the past and look to the future. The doctor asked if we would like to keep the port, I said, “No, I think we got our money’s worth!” with a laugh. Our son said, “No, I don’t need it anymore!” Out with the old. But then the doctor said, “You know 95% of our patients want to keep it.” What? Why? Who wants to remember all the pain and suffering? A lot of people live in the past every single day and it impacts their future negatively. I was very close to doing the very same thing.

2 Timothy 1:5-7 (NLT)

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

 

My usual routine in returning from Gainesville is to collapse on the couch. It is exhausting for some reason to spend the day at the hospital and then travel two hours home even though you essentially do nothing more than sit around waiting most of the time. However, my kids had a youth night at church that I promised if I made it home in time that I would take them. God always has jokes. I arrived home just in time to switch cars and head to the church. It was worship night. It seemed appropriate to worship God especially on this night. We made it. Praise God we made it to the finish line. It was not a triumphant arrival but a quiet approach. There were no crowds cheering just a family who endured and overcame somehow managing to survive a horrible ordeal even prospering in it. The enemy tried to take our son but instead God gave us another one in our son-in-law. We have not suffered in the midst of this other than in our hearts and minds when all around us the Lord has provided everything we need and then some. We even made new friends along the way. God is so good!

Anyway, in the midst of the amazing Presence of God last night, the praise team began to sing the song, “I Won’t Go Back” by William Mcdowell. The chorus goes like this: So we say… I won’t go back, can’t go back, to the way it used to be… before your presence came and changed me… say I won’t… I won’t go back… I can’t go back, to the way it used to be… before your presence came and changed me!” That’s when it hit me. In this season, I have been changed for the better. The enemy wants me to focus on the hardship endured rather than the change that has been produced in us. He wants me to live in those moments and times of devastation like the one when we thought our son was clear only to find out less than 24 hours that he had relapsed worse than ever before. The doctors were scared. Fear hit me so hard I fell to my knees. See I had let my guard down and dared to rejoice in his healing and the enemy caught me unaware. I literally fell to my knees when the doctor told me which I had never done before. I couldn’t breathe as if fear had thrown a blanket over me and was slowly suffocating me. That must have been the moment that I decided not to thrive but survive. I realized in worship that I have been a slave to the spirit of fear for a very long time. Out with the old. Fear wants to remind us the difficult of the past to prepare for the future. The Lord is doing a new thing in each new season. Fear is not welcome there. We must get rid of the fear that wants to linger from our past to fully embrace the Love of God that changes moment by moment, day by day and season by season.

2 Corinthians 5:13-17 (NLT)

If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Before you discredit this word as not for you because you or your child or your family has not gone through a life or death situation, this applies to every man and woman who is born again. If you have lived to the age of accountability, I am quite certain you have experienced seasons of life and indeed have a past of some sort. Whether or not you inflicted the pain in your life or it was at the hands of another, doesn’t really matter? The Lord wants to heal your mind, soul and body today. He wants to cut away the old scar tissue that binds your heart from receiving more of His Love to create a soft, pliable heart that is ready to be filled to overflowing. You cannot compare your life to others. You cannot decide that God’s Love is not for you based on how you live or what you are doing. God requires one thing from us. All of us just as we are. We cannot do a single thing to make our relationship with God right again, Jesus did it all. We can only accept the precious gift we have been given. It is a brand new life. It is not something that happens overnight but through season. If we will learn to release the past and fear associated with it to fully embrace the changes that God is making in us and through us, we will become the new creation that He promised we could be… in Christ alone. We make the decision to leave the past behind. God will not rip anything from our hands but simply offers us something better. Our trials and hardship can have meaning and purpose when we keep our hearts and minds focused on Jesus holding tight to the hope we have in Him, remembering His Promises and living by faith alone. Fear has no place in you today. His Perfect Love is driving it out. So out with the old and welcome your new life in Him again and again with each new season!

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT)

But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Raising My Standards

Raising My Standards

Ephesians 2:4-7(NLT)

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

 

There are peaks, valleys, and plateaus in life. Times when we are pressing up the hard side of the mountain with the sun in our eyes desperate for relief from oppression that seems overbearing. There are those seasons of life in the darkest depths of the valley as our hope is exhausted pursing the sun. I am currently on a plateau. I know I will not be here long experience warns me not to make camp or try to build a home here, but it is a great place to reflect as well as look ahead to what is before me. When life becomes overwhelming, God leads us to this quiet place of reflection to remind us who we are and what we were made for or at least that is what I am asking. I am beginning to believe that this is how God designed it to be a training course for forever. With each challenge and new season demanding more trust than the one before, it is clear that He definitely has a plan that is beyond my comprehension and my scope of knowledge. In this moment as I stand here, the valley behind me so dark and looming surrounded by mountains so high and foreboding I am held by the quiet calm of peace and a refreshing breeze of hope brushes softly across my face. I am not afraid of the days ahead or sullen by days gone by. I am here with the Lord. As He allows me to catch my breath, His Spirit is renewing me day by day. Why such careful attention? I am so undeserving of the love that God continually pours out in my life? I am the least of these. The sin washed away in the sea of forgetfulness surely should have dammed it shut but it didn’t because each morning I am met with new mercy. In fact, the more I seek Him I always find Him.

God wants us to be an example to future ages of the incredible wealth of His Grace and Kindness. I am just that as He has covered my life in it. The only thing that God requires is that we become united with Jesus Christ. It is crazy to me that the one thing He requires only blesses us more and more. He did not ask me to become a martyr though some people will. He did not lead me to my own personal cross to die for my sin but lead me to His Son’s Cross. I think I have always valued my salvation but I did not understand its worth until now. God raised us from the dead along with His Son, Jesus and seated us with Him in the Heavenly Realms. This is our future and destiny both now and forever. Too often we focus on forever having no idea where we are now. What if ever realized that this place of dominion, power and authority does not just apply to our forever but right now? Would it change our life? Yes, it would.

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT)

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

 

Everyone has sinned. Everyone. Even Christians and believers, cannot perpetuate a sinless life. It is all about the Grace of Jesus Christ. This means that we are all on a level playing field when it comes to God. When God’s Favor is evident in my life, I often joke that I am God’s Favorite. I am not really. Actually, we all are. The only thing that stands between us and the Glorious Life established for us (Jeremiah 29:11-13) is sin. God intervened knowing our inability to overcome sin and made the Way. His Name is Jesus. Jesus makes it possible to reclaim God’s Glorious Standard for our life. The word “standard” means an approved model; a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment; and an average or normal requirement. God has made an approved model for our life that contains a future and hope. He has provided everything we need to live a contented and satisfied life with inexpressible joy. The more I read the Word of God the more clear it becomes that disobedience has made my life much harder than it has to be as I accept less than God’s Best on a continual basis. The principle that guides my life is grace. It is sufficient for me. His Mercy is new each morning for all those struggles with sin along the way. It is all coming together by faith so that God can create a new average and normal according to His Riches in Glory rather than according to my own fear of lack.

Isaiah 43:1-3 (NLT)

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”

 

The Lord promises to go with us through every situation in life for two reasons – You are valuable to Him and He meant to save you. This is not an afterthought or second thought but predetermined by the Lord for your whole life. He is just waiting for some of your life to be committed to Him. When we go through deep waters, who do we cry out to? When we go through difficulties? That’s right, we pray. When we are oppressed, we draw closer to God than any other time. What does He do? Just what His Word says that He will do, the Lord saves us, heals us, delivers us and blesses us. Why? Because in trials we choose to be humble and obedient. It is when we plateau that we stop pressing, pushing and pulling our way deeper into the Presence of God. God says, “No don’t stop now…keep pursuing me!” Why? Why is God so interested in the likes of me and you? Because friend we cost Him everything!

The last four years have definitely taken a toll on our family. We are still unwinding from the battle fought alongside our son. It is evident in each member. When our security in life was shaken to its core, it required a change. I had to decide if I would trust God or not. I didn’t have time to think about it or weigh my options, actually there was no other option. What I found in the midst of deep waters, rivers of difficulty, and fiery oppression is that God is my God. Let me say that again, God is MY God. He is not just my son’s God who loves him, healed him and delivered him. But He is MY God who had a plan and purpose for me in the midst of it all. There are things that I know now and see differently not because the ordeal was so horrible but because in the middle of the greatest pain and fear that I have ever felt in my heart that God never left me. He was right there with me. He comforted me with an inexplicable peace that I carry with me even today. I have an inexpressible joy not born of outcomes but found in the Love of my God who is raising my standard of living from the inside out. I can’t do anything to change my life but follow Jesus. Just walking with Him…but that requires obedience. I might lose some people here.

Psalm 119:108-110 (NLT)

Lord, accept my offering of praise and teach me your regulations. My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your instructions. The wicked have set their traps for me, but I will not turn from your commandments.

 

What if the only thing standing between you and your breakthrough is you? Well, that is probably the case. What if the blessing you want is on the other side of something you have or do that you are not willing to change? We expect God to force it upon is right where we are but God cannot stand dishonesty. (Proverbs 20:23) He detests double standards. The Lord demands accurate scales and balances. (Proverbs 16:11) He sets the standard of fairness. It is called His Word. He gives us a partner to help us maintain His Word in our life called the Holy Spirit. But if we are not committed to living our life in alignment with His Word than we fall into the traps of sin set before us and fall short of God’s Glorious Standard reestablished by His Grace. The image of scales and balances imply something be traded…something of worth. What does God treasure the most? Well, it certainly is not money because the streets of Heaven are paved in gold. It’s you! He is asking you to balance your life with Jesus Christ. Living by His Example, following in His Footsteps and answering His Call – when we do it is an automatic that our standard of life will change. Sometimes we don’t even notice in our fight to choose and maintain the balance in our life of grace, love and mercy. When we obey God – we are blessed. When we do not – our standard of life falls short. It is not God’s unwillingness or inability but it is our unwillingness and inability to trust Him enough to do what He says and have what He promised.

Ephesians 4:13-15 (NLT)

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

I want my life to measure up to the full and complete standard of Christ. I say that without an ounce of reservation knowing full well that it may produce hardship, warfare and hell to break loose in my life but I have found Someone who is better than life. As I stand here turning my back on the past and pressing into the future, I have no idea what the Lord has for me next. As this chapter closes and another one opens, how will it unfold? As this season ends and another one comes, what will it produce in my life? People say that time heals all wounds. That’s not true. There are people who only grow bitter with time. Some will never know peace, joy and love in their life again because of the things that they have gone through. If you want God’s Standard of Life, it is found in Jesus Christ. There are a whole lot of places saying something else even the modern day church. As long as you have love you have God is not true, God has always loved you! He never stopped loving people. People stopped loving God so He sent His Son, Jesus to bridge the gap. We still try to go through deep waters to get to the other side rather than obey the Lord, trust Him and follow Him. I can be who I was and get what I deserve in life. Or I can assume a posture of faith and be saved by His Grace. In this place of total surrender and commitment to God, even when things are tough and we feel all alone, our life gets better somehow. Over and over, time after time, I find that it just gets better and better.

Ephesians 1:5-10 (NLT)

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.