Don’t Stop Believing

Don't Stop Believing

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

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

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 God’s Gifts and His Call can never be withdrawn.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Wanderer

California, USA

Matthew 18:12-14 (NLT) If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”

All who wander are not lost. The thought popped in my head this morning and I couldn’t shake it off. What is it Lord? Am I wandering? Have I strayed? Why are these words commonly quoted impressed in my heart today? I looked up the word “wander” to see if it held a clue as to what this thought might mean. To wander is to ramble without a definite purpose or objective. To roam or to stray. To go aimlessly, indirection or casually with no real destination. To stray from a place, path or companion. To deviate in conduct or belief. Wow, this word “wander” covers a lot of proverbial and literal ground.

We all wander according to definition. Have you asked yourself recently what is God’s Plan and Purpose for my life? Do you deviate from God’s Word from time to time to pursue your own desire or direction? Do you struggle to avoid sin and do all that His Word says? Have you ever asked “why me”? Felt isolated, alone or afraid? All these are signs of wandering, but friend, you are not lost. Do you love Jesus today? He loves you. If only I could remember on the days that I set the bar far above His Measure of Grace and decide that there are certain acts of service that must accommodate repentance that the Love of Jesus Christ for me is more than enough to secure my faith and become my confident hope.

The Kingdom of God is compared to a man with a large flock of sheep. Can you imagine? There were days when all five kids were younger and moving in different directions that it was a challenge to keep them all together, I cannot comprehend having any more. Yet the Lord carefully reminds us that no matter how many enter the Kingdom and are saved, you are of the utmost important to Him today. He is not looking for you to do anything other than find Him. He doesn’t even wait for you to look as Jesus pursues us passionately with His Goodness and Unfailing Love. (Psalm 23:6) It doesn’t matter where our feet lead us – God has been there before preparing the way of return for us. Fighting our battles and overcoming the enemy. He even blesses us in our wandering in order to lead us back home. When “one” is found and returns – ALL of Heaven rejoices. Whether you are that one today, or maybe the Lord is laying someone on your heart – His Message is clear. Jesus loves the wander and all who wander are not lost.

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NLT) Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

When I was young and coming up in church, I remember a preacher telling his congregation that God has a perfect plan for our life. If you deviate from His Plan, essentially his message was you missed it until you repented and rededicated your life to Christ. I lived by that mindset for many years. Each mistake laid heavily on my back or a scarlet letter around my neck, until I decided what was the point of my salvation? I could not be perfect. I still made mistakes. No matter how many times I apologized to the Lord and tried to live for him – the wilderness overtook me time and time again. Do you ever feel like no matter how hard you try that you never measure up to God’s Standard? Well according to His Word, “everyone has sinned, we all fall short of God’s Glorious Standard.” It means that from the moment I took my first breath – I was born dying. My flesh was marked with the DNA of sin from Adam and I needed Jesus to save me.

If we could stop right there and live in that place that I am a sinner. I need Jesus. End of story, what a different place church would be. No longer ruled by religious regulations set forth to identify the lost and saved – we would all confess our wandering and rejoice when one comes home. Our purpose would be found in introducing others to the Savior who died for our weakness, brokenness and imperfection and welcome them home even joining the Lord in beating the bushes to share His Love with them, too. His Grace might be enough for even me.

People become more valuable in the realization of His Grace. The moment it is understood that nothing I do can ever make me worthy of His Love and Perfection. Yet He looks for me and treasures me like the woman who lost a coin. (Luke 15:8-10) Though she had nine days of wages, that one lost was of the utmost importance. She lit a lamp and swept her floor. She would not be deterred until she found it. What do you value in life? God turned the world upside down to insure you would be found.

Psalm 139:7-12 (NLT) I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

If you have never read Psalm 139, I encourage you to do it today. This Psalm was life changing for me and continues to be as I pursue the Lord with all my heart. It breaks the chains of religion because it is all about God’s Relationship with us. It puts our life in perspective from beginning to end allowing us to see our life from His Perspective. His Word crushes the idea that God is surprise by any sin or rebellion in our life. It reminds us that His Love for us is predestined. It started when He formed us in our mother’s womb and carried us through every place our feet have wandered. My life even the secret life I live when no one is around is an open book to the Lord…

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

If this is the case, how can my sin, shortcomings or wanderings ever surprise an Omniscient God? He was there from the beginning and recorded every single day of my life in His Book. Every moment of my life laid out before a single day had passed. He knows. God is fully aware of our weaknesses and therefore has provided enough grace for His Power to take over our life. No matter how far you have fallen, the Lord is there to pick us up. Even when we have wandered so far away that we cannot find our way back, His Spirit is there to lead us. I am beginning to believe that wandering is a necessity in this journey called life. To find our way back to Him and decide that His Grace is more than enough. Faith has but one purpose – to find confident hope. Hope has a name. It’s Jesus. Those who know Him will know His Voice, He is calling to us today. No matter how good I may think I am doing, I still need new mercy today. No matter how wretched I have become – His Grace is still sufficient for me. Why? Because He knows me…

Psalm 33:10-11 (NLT) The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes. But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.

Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT) The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Do you believe with all your heart today that the Word of God is true? If so, do you also believe that the Lord’s Plans stand firm forever and He directs the steps of the godly? Your life is going exactly as planned and God is directing every step. It doesn’t say anything about what is going on around us or in us. It just says that God’s Plan stands firm and His Intention can never be shaken. But I am wandering, fallen, broken, on the verge of quitting…what does that have to do with God’s Plan? Will it change? No, God does not lie or change His Mind. If only those who call themselves Christians could live transparent lives, so that others could see there is struggles and pressure in everyone’s life. The only thing that matters is whether or not Jesus is in our life. Why? Our life is preset, prerecorded, and predestined. God knows exactly what has to take place to find our way home.

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

The day after our son was diagnosed with cancer, I was asked the question – “How can you love a God who would give your son cancer?” This person is not a believer. God didn’t give my child a dreadful disease. Sin is the source of every disease in life. It is in our bloodline. Not mine, but everyone’s. My response, “I cannot make you understand or believe that God will heal him, you are just going to have to see it for yourself.” At that moment, I didn’t know how the Lord would do it but in my heart I had peace that He would. God’s Word etched in my heart. His Word spoken to me in my desperation. It had to be enough. It was a long and horrible fight. I am not glad that our kid ever had to endure such a thing. However, the faith produced in brokenness has changed my life forever. Entering the realm of hope, experiencing the peace of totally trusting the Lord, and finally understanding that His Power works best in my weakness has not allowed me to go back to the way things were before. I am different. There is a new normal. What is your story today? Are you in the middle of the book? Worried about how it will end?

We “know” that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose. If God called you and you have responded, He is working every detail of your life for His Good and Glory. Every single moment is recorded in His Book. Our sin is now as far as the east is from the west covered in the Blood of His Son, Jesus. If we are in Christ, though we wander we are not lost. His Unfailing Love and Goodness is in hot pursuit of us. Faith has but one purpose – to achieve confident hope. If we have something we do not need to wait for it. Our life is in transition from death to life. In this transition, Children of God must learn to walk by faith and not by sight. To live by what we believe and not what is seen. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Ephesians 3:17-20 (NLT) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

God uses our wanderings to allow us to experience the vastness of His Love and Grace. This is how I can experience just how wide, how long, how high and how deep His Love is for me. If I make it to the end of my life with faith in His Love, I will be saved. Are you wandering today? Maybe life just didn’t turn out the way that you expected? Friend, it is exactly how God expected. His Grace is more than enough to produce His Glory in your life – right here, right now. It doesn’t matter what brought you to this place. His Love is ready to overtake you. Allow His Grace to reach you today! Give yourself a break! You may have tripped, stumbled or even fallen but in no way did you reach the boundary of God’s Love and Grace. It is always enough!

For those who are locked in an embrace with Jesus Christ, maybe this is the Spirit of God sending you out to find one who is wandering and bring them back to the fold. You know the one. The one who is broken and lost who needs Light to find their way back. The one who was hurt, offended or abused that needs a loving arm to carry them home. We are one. The Body of Christ is a unit. We need each other. Our purpose is to build a Kingdom together. We are all wanderers but none of us lost. If only we could find the time in our busyness to see that it is the Love of Jesus Christ that is fullness and completion in my life. Nothing else really matters. No moment is wasted. All who wander are not lost – maybe they are just waiting on you.

John 10:9-11 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.

Find Him

find-him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have You Asked?

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John 14:12-14 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”

My girls are known for strategically asking and making requests from us. They know what is more than likely a yes and then the odds of no for certain things. When it comes to the things that they want, they will be quick to tell you ask dad. He is much easier then mom who is often referred to as the “hammer”. I am commonly referred to as the “hammer” because I am able to say, “No”. My husband has such a soft heart for these kids. Despite the burly guy with the full beard, behind the façade of strength and toughness, there is a giant soft, squishy teddy bear. There are times when they will come straight to me and ask for what they want but when the stakes are high, they try to bypass me making it dad first. He is more likely to say, “Yes!”

Our Father in Heaven wants to bless us. He wants His Goodness to overflow as abundance in our daily life. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the one who allows us access to the Father’s Love and all its benefits. God has always loved us. He is constantly trying to make His Way closer to us bringing heaven to earth to connect with His Children. Do you believe that today? What we believe about God as a Father is often formed by our experience with our natural caregivers. Those who have experienced disappointment in natural parental relationships will extend these traits and characteristics to the Lord. There is a reason why we need the Holy Spirit to renew our thoughts day by day. We need Him to change our mind so that we will approach the Throne of God with confidence and boldness as He has invited us to through Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

I am overcome almost daily by a Savior and Lord who knows my weaknesses yet invites me to continually come boldly into His Presence asking for those I want, need and desire with full confidence that He will open His Hand and grant these pleasures evermore. (Psalm 16:11) The Holy Spirit points us in the right direction so we can walk in the Goodness of God. But sometimes we shrink back from God’s Hand fearful of the consequences of our failure and inability to live the perfect life. Afraid of disappointment – we avoid the Father and His Presence altogether.

Our youngest daughter is not limited by doors or partitions. When she was very young, she learned that she could unlock the door to almost any room in our house with a butter knife. So if someone locked her out, she would go to the kitchen and grab a “key”. She assumed she was welcome and the locked door did not apply to her. One morning while getting ready for church, my husband locked our bedroom door and our bathroom door to avoid interruption during while getting ready. He was just getting out of the shower when the door flew open. I caught it mid swing to close it quickly as our daughter shrieked. Thankfully my husband’s dignity was preserved and our youngest was only startled by my abruptness. As I comforted her in the other room, she asked me why I didn’t tell her that dad was in the shower. I informed her that we had closed and locked not one but two doors which she had opened uninvited and unannounced to which she replied, “I didn’t know you were trying to keep me out.” She is a persistent one. She doesn’t like being separated from us. She doesn’t believe a locked door applies to her even today.

What if we as God’s Precious Children began to believe the same way? What if we decided that God really is a Good Father? What if we believed that He really does want good things for us? Would we ask more? Would we see more? Would we begin to knock? Ephesians 3:12 reminds us today that “because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s Presence.”

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

I wonder how many things in life that we have settled for out of fear of asking God to intervene. Maybe afraid that He will not come? Perhaps we do not believe that His Power is available to us? Persistent prayer has given way to comfortable compromise. What if that which we are asking for takes a little too long? Do we stop waiting and move on? Yes, I am sliding my hand up. It is hard to wait on the Lord sometimes…okay a lot of the time. Our circumstances, conditions and crises are real. We feel the pain and frustration in each trial yet must walk by faith not by sight. This is our plight. It is the true test of our faith. Are we willing to hang on to the promise even the pain until Jesus comes? Keep asking. You will receive. Keep seeking and you will find. Keep knocking and the door will open. It sounds so simple. It is caught up in just two verses. It can take a lifetime to understand the true meaning of pursing God and His Promises.

Matthew 17:19-20 (NLT) Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

Earning the prestigious title of “hammer” in this group of comedians did not come because my children are not blessed or spoiled to say the least. It came because I do not just give them anything on a whim. To whom much is given much is required. I am not just going to hand disobedient and unfaithful children anything, it would be like handing a loaded gun to a toddler. I must teach my kids how to live and responsibility along the way. I must teach them how to live in receiving just as giving.

There are two reasons that we do not ask the Lord for certain things. The first is disbelief. We doubt God will do what we ask Him to do for us. The disciples could not cast out a demon. They were perplexed. Jesus told them the problem, “You do not have faith.” Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Why? Because it is by faith in Jesus Christ alone that we are saved. Without faith, we cannot access the Father. We ask. We knock. We seek. But until we ask by faith. Knock by faith. Seek God by faith. We will continue to be frustrated.

There are also times we do not ask the Lord or even seek Him because we become distracted. We want natural relief when God wants to give us supernatural release. Trials and temptations are a part of our life. They are unavoidable. The Lord knows the plans that He has for you. He has made them good with a future and hope. We are ready to settle for lesser things when the journey takes a turn for the worse. In the depth of the darkness or bottom of the valley, we abandon our promise and run from the pain. We must know what we believe and keep our eyes on Jesus to obtain those things we want, need or desire in life.

Psalm 2:7-8 (NLT) The king proclaims the Lord’s decree: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession.”

In Mark 6 is the story of Herodias, the daughter of King Herod Antipas. She danced for her father at his birthday party and he vowed, “I will give you whatever you ask, up to half my kingdom.” Her mother hated John the Baptist who had been imprisoned by the king at her request. When she inquired of her mother what to ask for, she told her to request the head of John the Baptist on a platter. The girl petitioned the king for her mother’s request and it was granted that very day. I wonder if we do not know what to ask for sometimes. We limit our scope of vision to the present. Whatever it is that will give us relief rather than release? We cry out to God in the natural and overlook what He is doing supernaturally in our life.

As if the voices and opinions of others is not enough, the enemy questions God’s Word and His Faithfulness. This is the voice that caused sin to be introduced into the world in the first place. The enemy questioned the woman about the scripture. She fell for it. Will you? Will I? Temptation comes in the form of a question. If we can answer the question with truth, we will make an informed choice. However, since most people to not read, study or know the Word of God, they fall for it all. We can have everything the Word of God says we can have and obtain it exactly as the Lord instructs through His Word and His Spirit. By faith, it is received. We must decide who and what we believe or prayers will remain unanswered.

Matthew 18:18-20 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven. I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

To see Heaven come to earth and miracles to happen again requires agreement in the Church. We must decide to have faith in God together that overcomes ever relationship obstacle that has been built. If we can learn to agree, God’s Kingdom will come and touch the earth again. The Lord will live in the midst of our disagreement. He must wait for us to decide to come together and agree. Though we confess with our mouth that despite all our differences that we are united in purpose – we are not. Agreement will permeate relationships and solve those differences in order for the Lord to live among His Followers. My faith in God will impact my relationships. The more I know Him the more I trust Him. The more I trust Him the greater my expectation is in Him removing it from people.

The woman at the well came to satisfy her thirst in the natural and was offered the supernatural. She did not immediately understand exactly what Jesus was offering her because she was caught up in the natural. (John 4:9-14) Jesus broke her hard heart and living water came pouring out of her. How many prayers might be answered if we stopped worrying about what other people thought and decided to ask, seek and knock together wholeheartedly? What if we stopped looking around when offered the opportunity to come and pray at an altar and pressed into His Presence once again? Is your life perfect? Mine is not either. Are you still falling short? Me, too. Do you want the Lord with all your mind, soul and body? You are not going to find Him sitting on pride and self-righteousness but must go through the Son to get to the Father.

My kids will work hard to get to dad when it comes to “good gifts” and even “unreasonable requests”. They know that their daddy wants to bless them. He will do everything in his power to make their dream a reality. What if we have some of that confidence in God our Father? Would it make a difference? Yes, we would continue asking not stopping as long as we have breath. We would keep knocking until our hand or the door falls off one. We would keep seeking until we find Jesus never settling for the lesser things just to know Him more. Have you stopped asking today? Have you stopped knocking? Are you tired of seeking? Do not give up. The Father is waiting to bless you. Continue to walk by faith and not by sight. He will answer. He will open. He will be found. He will grant your requests if you do not give up. Ask one more time, knock again, and take one step deeper by faith. This just might be the day! If you don’t, then you will never know.

John 16:23-24 (NLT) At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

Fast Life

Fast Life

Isaiah 58:6-8 (NLT)

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.

The day has finally come. The end of Daniel Fast 2016. Those who chose to participate forsaking meat, bread, sweets, and beloved caffeine are ready to get back to living again. Many congregations will break their corporate fast by taking communion together. There could be nothing more fitting. Though my body is relieved that the days of fasting are coming to a close, I am not sure my heart is as happy. The commitment of our church and family to this endeavor this year has yielded more than I can begin to explain in one blog. The Lord has poured out in response to our cry. Though my flesh is anticipating lunch without restrictions, my spirit is in mourning. I am torn between leaving this place in the Presence of God where 21 days of prayer and fasting takes you. Each step gained closer to Jesus is precious and few as the fight against our flesh, distractions, detours, schedules, routines, and busyness of life take over. I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to lose the place where this journey of 21 days have led me. Lord, I want to live a fasted lifestyle all the time. However, if I continue to serve meatless meals and bean filled dishes ever baking again, I do not think my family will oblige. In fact, I am quite sure there would be a rebellion. So, how do we maintain this ground gained in fasting in our everyday life.

To tell you that I was struggling with ending this time is really an understatement. It literally brought me to tears. Going to my prayer closet, I took my concerns to the Lord and He brought me right here to Isaiah 58. The heading in the New Living Translation is “True and False Worship”. The people in this chapter had been fasting and praying to the Lord. They came to the Temple every day and seemed excited to learn about the Lord. They acted religious and righteous as though they would never abandon the Law of God. They would try to get close to God so that He would do their bidding. They even pointed out their time of fasting before Him. Why wasn’t God impressed? “We have put ourselves through all this and you, God, have not even noticed???” These were their cries to the Lord.

God did not hold back and let them have it. “I will tell you why! It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves…” What? Fast to please ourselves…have I fasted for me? When I read this I was dissolved to tears. This one statement was my complete undoing. I would never want fasting to be about me. But sadly in all the years that I have done it, there have been many that were just that all about me. I will be transparent because I think we should all consider the motives of fasting and prayer as a unit. To corporately seek the Face of God in such a demonstration is definitely as step in the right direction unless it has become like so many other things a performance of religion that is false worship and from a heart of true worship.

Joel 2:12-13 (AMP)

“Even now,” says the Lord, “Turn and come to Me with all your heart [in genuine repentance], with fasting and weeping and mourning [until every barrier is removed and the broken fellowship is restored]; Rip your heart to pieces [in sorrow and contrition] and not your garments.” Now return [in repentance] to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness [faithful to His covenant with His people]; and He relents [His sentence of] evil [when His people genuinely repent].

When I really want to dissect the meaning of a verse, I like to read the Amplified version of God’s Word. Fasting without true repentance is nothing more than a religious act or worldly diet. The prayers offered during this time must begin with repentance and surrendering ourselves, once again, to the Word, Will and Way of God completely. While your stomach roars, mood swings, and weakness sets in, your flesh fights for control. It is hard to focus, but we must press in. The origin of the word “fasting” was “hold firmly” and the sense evolution via “firm control of oneself.” To hold in observance or to keep or observe. Fasting is restricting the flesh to release God’s Spirit in our life. If you do not want to follow the Lord completely giving one’s life to Him solely and surrendering all, then fasting is not for those individuals because it will do nothing in their life.

Fasting is accepting God’s Invitation to “turn” and come to Him with all your heart in genuine repentance until every barrier is removed and the broken fellowship restored. It is God’s Way of opening the door to His Presence so that you can come in closer than ever before. If it does not remove barriers, or break chains, it is not working like it is supposed to which usually means that we are not doing our part. Rip your hearts to pieces and not your garments. It means seek righteousness not religiosity. Return to the Lord your God. Discover His Grace and Compassion again. Let His Abounding and Unfailing Love overtake you in these moments that make your body weak so the Spirit can takeover. Fasting is all about removing me so that He can have His Way. The Lord promises that those who do will find that “it shall come about after this
that I shall pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29)

Isaiah 58:6-7 (NLT)

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”

 

To live the fast life. That is my goal today. I don’t want to leave this place of physically fasting with a plan to remain as close to the Lord as I am right now with every intention of moving in closer. I needed a plan. God gave me one. If fasting is meant to remove every barrier and restriction between God and me, I must fast my life every day. If fasting is not a food limitation but physical apprehension then it can be applied to every area of my natural life as I strive to do these things that God has asked of me – free the captive, lighten the burden, release the oppressed, break the chains, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, meet others needs and not hide from family who need help…naturally or spiritually. True repentance leads to the fast life which will always be experiencing the Love of God by stepping into His Presence and letting that Love pour Light into our world. If fasting is nothing more than gaining “firm control of oneself” – it is a daily fight not seasonal gesture.

Romans 12:1-2 (AMP)

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Could it be that this is how we actually achieve the position and posture of living sacrifice? Is it a fasted life lived in daily repentance with God? Is it forcing our flesh to be in firm control aided by the Spirit of God who bears the fruit of self-control? I think it just might be. It is by apprehending our flesh and forcing it to submit to the dedication of all of ourselves to Jesus – mind, soul and body. Living that way every day no matter what we eat or what day that it is. I just don’t understand the new age church philosophy that we can live the way that we did before we meet Jesus and experience His Love and Grace. I just can’t see that as logical or intelligent. That we can have God’s Best at our worst would mean that the Lord lowered His Standard of Glorious Living for us. I don’t want less than God’s Very Best. I am not satisfied with His Permissible Will. I want to be as close to Jesus as possible so I do not become mistaken or mislead into thinking sin is acceptable and less is more. This is my choice. Each is given the right to choose. In the end, the Truth will be revealed.

Do not be conformed to this world. The fasted life is not the popular life. It means that in true repentance one strives daily to turn more and more real estate of their life over to the Lord for His Plan and Purpose…not our own. I don’t want the Lord to make MY life better. I want to live the life that He wrote out before I was born. I must mature spiritually day by day and moment by moment seeking, searching and striving to know Him more and do what He asks. Fasting and prayer will only aid my cause as barriers fall, mountains move, and walls come crashing down before me as I make my way to the King.

Isaiah 58:9-12 (NLT)

Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!  Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.

The reward of a fasted lifestyle is not something God comes up with to pay us back for our efforts. It is accepting the life that He promised us from the very beginning. Each step closer yields a reward that most often is not a tangible blessing but inward maturity spiritually that produces the Gifts of His Spirit. To experience the perfect “love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” that comes from living in true repentance and fully in Covenant with God will never be explainable. It satisfies our soul and comforts our mind with a peace that passes all understanding so it really doesn’t matter what is going on around us. In exchange for our life as a living sacrifice, the Lord grants us salvation, healing, wisdom, protection, as He answers our every call. If your life is not experiencing such characteristics, just move in a little closer. Give just one more room in your heart to His Work until His Spirit makes its way all the way through.

Well, we made it. Or did we? Today as I prepare for church and to break our corporate fast, my heart and mind are searching for another area of surrender for the days ahead. I don’t want to stop pursuing the Lord like I have the last 21 days. I want more. I want my worship to be true. I want to be a living sacrifice. I want to live the fast life.

Psalm 27:4 (NIV)

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

Full Pursuit

Full Pursuit

Proverbs 21:21 (NLT)

Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.

 

What are you after in this life? As a human being, is it just to live a good life full of love and love and laughter? As an American, is it life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? As a Christian, is it righteousness? As a Believer, is it to have more faith? The problem is not what we are after in life but in the diligence and discipline of our pursuit of these things. The mountains, valleys and storms of life demand our attention distraction us from those goals and aspirations. Problems present obstacles and hindrances hold us back. Unmet expectation keep us in the present looking for something we missed rather than reaching for the future to find what is hidden in the arrival of tomorrow. The Word of God says, “Whoever pursues righteousness (or right standing with God) and unfailing love (born of His Perfection provided in His Son) will find life, righteousness and honor. You have heard the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for…” The same can be said of our prayer life. Be careful what you pray for. To find something we must be determined to look for it. To have it one must pursue it.

I read a post on Facebook that grabbed my attention, “God seekers are God finders every single time.” Do you seek God every single day? Do you go after the promises of God for your life every moment that you are awake with every breath taken? Why not? I am asking myself this minute. With brief hesitation, I want God’s Hand in everything I do, but I have a different perspective now. I am not jaded but cautious. For years, I cried out for more of God. What I got was the biggest test of faith that I could ever imagine. To walk out into depths where my feet failed and my faith stretched to its limit, I found myself drowning in His Love. The journey of our life for the last few years has been surreal as though I was not walking but being carried. I would not have asked for it or chosen it but through it I decided that rather than just seek the Lord that I would pursue Him. I sought the Lord in complete and total desperation. I could not breathe some days in the midst of the uncertainty of this world clinging to the promise of life given to our son by no one but the Lord. Think about that. What if you were thrust into a situation where the ONLY hope you had was Jesus, what would be your response? Would you trust Him? When we begin to seek the Lord and cry out to reach the depths of His Love, please understand what indeed is being asked. To pursue such things like righteousness and unfailing love, the kind that leads to life, righteousness and honor, comes at the end of self.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT)

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

 

As I stand on this plateau, dusting off the mountain that is behind us peering into the sun on the horizon on the other side of the valley, I am looking ahead and feeling the need to run again. To run after, seek and pursue God even more than before. Some days I am a bit concerned that I am crazy. Not that I do not want the life God promises for those who seek Him with the promise of always finding Him, but the testing and trials that temper our faith, burn away our flesh and grows our character into one of right standing. To run from all evil things continually promotes separation from this world which can feel like isolation if not immersed in the Presence of God. To pursue righteousness is not regular church attendance and occasional faithful service but to actively follow Jesus in order to overtake Him. To walk in close alliance and adherence to His Word. To strive to gain every single thing that the Lord has promised. This is not a casual seeking. Not a single random act, but a radical lifestyle of obsessive persistence determined to find the Lord and maintain a total existence in His Presence. To live a godly life means giving up our life to live like God. We are created in His Image but must surrender our sin and selfishness to be like Him. Those who try must learn to walk in faith when fear is logical. They must love when encountering the unlovable. Perseverance is their purpose in each day. Never giving up on finding the faith that moves mountains, stills waters, saving souls and healing nations. To fight the good fight of faith is knowing there is more of God to love and making it your passion to find your way there. Eternal life is the ticket we hold on for preparing and waiting for that day.

A few years back or so, I bought our daughter a ticket to a concert. It was a gift given long before the big day arrived. From the time she got the ticket, she began planning and preparing for the big night. She picked out an outfit and great shoes changing her mind multiple times before it was time to get ready. She carefully selected a friend to go with her. She imagined how it would be and what they would do over and over in her head. Due to an illness in the singer’s family, she postponed the concert rescheduling it for a later date. Of course, our daughter was disappointed. What did she do? Did she tear up her ticket and throw it away? Did she take back all the special outfit because she didn’t want to wear it anymore? Did she allow her frustration to rob her of that night? Of course not, yes she hemmed and hawed a little but the night finally came and she rocked the night out with her famous person. Last year, we had to make a hard decision as our son was going through his transplant with a wedding being planned in the middle of it and had to postpone the same daughter’s wedding for a month. Her brother would not be able to travel when the original date was set due to some complications that delayed the transplant process. She didn’t say dump her groom or decide it wasn’t worth the wait. The bridal gown did not go back to the shop and the caterer was not cancelled. She just waited. Just like her brother who when faced with a delay, did not decide to give up on cancer treatment! What is the point? We give up on God and seeking Him so easily when faced with a setback and miss the blessing that He is taking us to time and time again. What have you given up on? Where is your fight? You called out to Him on the water like Peter and the Lord responded just the same, but now that you are out there you want back in the boat rather than seeking Him more.

Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

 

Seek first the Kingdom of God above every other thing you do in life. Live righteously is not a call to be super spiritual spooky and weird but rather to live life in Light of His Love meaning that every decision you make is centered around knowing Him more. I want nothing in my life to come between me and God. Nothing. I am desperate for His Love. What does it say about those who simply seek Him? Those who go in search of, try to find Him, try to discover His Love, to try to obtain His Favor or just try…He will give you EVERYTHING you need. But wait there is more…

To seek the Lord is good. But to pursue Him is better! Pursue means follow to overtake, follow closely, strive to gain and it means to seek the Lord with purpose. These are the people that experience more than they can even think to ask for! (Ephesians 3:20) God blesses those who understand that they need Him and without Him they have nothing – these are the very same ones who the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to. (Matthew 5:3) Those who come boldly into His Presence like they have a right to. (Ephesians 3:12) We must decide that He is worth more than any other endeavor and decide to pursue the Lord like the woman after the lost coin. She had nine other coins and was only missing one but would not stop until she had them all. (Luke 15:8-9) What have you stopping looking for today? Is there a promise you have forgotten? When did you stop asking for more? I know when I stopped. I also know the day I began pursuing God again. Will today be that day for you?

Matthew 7:7-11 (NLT)

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Are you living in full pursuit of God today? This is a candid and pointed question. It is none of my business whether you do or not, it is a personal question. It doesn’t matter how it looks to others because everyone knows how to fake it until you make it. We enter this relationship with Jesus Christ as strangers but like best friends it grows in an instant. When Jesus becomes real, and our friendship with Him turns to true love, we go from seeking Him to living in full pursuit of Him. We are jealous for Him and passionate about Him which promotes a deep level of commitment that no matter what happens – we stay in love. Have you stopped asking afraid of what you will get? Have you stopped knocking afraid of what you will find? Whoa, even I had to stop and mull over that for a minute. To whom much is given, much is required. (Luke 12:48) This was my spiritual rut until recently. I just didn’t know if I could survive another trial like the last. I was not up to the test or so I thought. Until the Lord revealed to me, you never were. It was Me all along. It is with that I began a full pursuit of Him once again realizing I am nothing without Him and cannot survive outside the Love of God anymore. I am changed. My needs are met by seeking Him. My life is blessing by pursuing Him. I want it all. I want Jesus.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT)

 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”