No More Mediocre

No More Mediocre

2 Peter 1:4-8 (NLT) And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Is mediocrity a sin? The word “mediocre” means of only ordinary or moderate quantity. Neither good nor bad. Barely adequate. Not satisfactory, inferior or poor. However, it is not a sin. You can live a mediocre and mundane life and still make it into heaven. In the warning of Revelation 3:15-16 to the Church of Laodicea regarding a “lukewarm-neither hot nor cold” life it says that the Lord is “about to spit you out” of his mouth. Detestable, undesirable and distasteful to God and its works, mediocrity is not a rejection of Jesus. It is to reject His Promises. Hebrews 6:12 warns about becoming “spiritually dull and indifferent.” Such a mentality keeps us from inheriting God’s Promises which require faith and endurance.

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

God is full of glorious excellence. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He decided to save you, call you and even bless you – it became a done deal. I remember in youth as a teenager hearing the story of a man walking with Jesus in heaven. He was walking through a warehouse stacked high with many boxes both large and small. As they continued to walk, the man asked the Lord, “What’s in all these boxes?” Jesus told the man that they were filled with all the promises and blessings left unopened or unwanted in his natural life. God has given us a rich inheritance. It is already written in our life plan containing a future and hope. It is up to us if we will have them or not. He gives us precious promises according to His Glory and Excellence. We receive them in righteousness and by His Grace. It is up to us whether or not they are manifested in our life according to our desire for them.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

Moral excellence is to strive to have superior merit and possess the outstanding quality of morality. To live a life intent on excelling in the principles of right living. This is not the same as being right but living in right standing with God every day in every possible way. It is to sow spiritual fruit in our heart and mind so that our soul will prosper in the promises of God such as love, joy, and peace. This will produce the Promises of God in our life through His Perfect Love.

Our willingness to sow determines our ability to reap in the natural and supernatural realms. If I work with excellence in my job, those seeds of faithfulness will generally turn into a promotion or pay increase. If I sow seeds of investment, I can expect a return on the good seed. If I sow generously, I will harvest the same. Sowing and reaping is a promise of God given to us for this life, as well as eternal life. Love is the commodity of the Kingdom of God. He loves faithfulness and willingness on our part to love Him and everybody else. It is the trait that the Lord commands of us. Excellence is the quality that dictates the outcome of our sowing. To sow with excellence will reap in abundance.

Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT) Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters…” (NIV) Whatever you do. What are you doing today? Will you do it as if working for the Lord? Will your effort be wholehearted? I believe that mediocrity implies a worthless god. We do not serve a God like that but one who promises us good things. So much so that His Purpose in sending His Son was to give us a rich and satisfying life of abundance. In Ecclesiastes 9:10, it tells us that whatever our hand finds to do to do it with all our might. This comes just after the promise a few chapters earlier that God makes everything beautiful in His Timing. Romans 8:28 tells us that He works all things together for our good. God has given us every spiritual blessing. We must simply seek to find them in our life.

If a bank posted an advertisement that it was going out of business, starting tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM that they were opening all the safes and vaults to give away all the cash and gold – would you go? The majority of people would go deciding it would be worth it for some “free money” if the ad was true. Some may hesitate but still join in the fun. Then there would be the select few who would get up and go to work just like every other day. The Word of God has promised us a life of abundance. What is your response?

Colossians 3:15-17 (NLT)  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I am challenged today to examine each area of my life for excellence. To weed out the mediocrity and plant renewed diligence in these barren places. My desire is to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. I do not want to become spiritually dull or indifferent. Unresponsive to the Word of God, His Promises and His Blessings in my life. The Peace of God is worth having and is produced abundantly in a prospering soul. Mediocrity may not be a sin but it still keeps us from the Promises of God which became our inheritance through Jesus Christ. To live in excellence produces the harvest worthy of His Sacrifice and His Glory. I am thankful for God who provides all my needs according to His Riches in Glory. The same Lord who uses His Spirit to press upon my heart when I am setting for less and He has so much more.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NLT) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 

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No Longer Condemned

No Longer Condemned

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

The enemy of all mankind will use just about any bat handed to him. He is aggressive and ruthless in his attack against humanity. He hates people. So when given the opportunity to remind us of faults, failures and shortcomings – he capitalizes completely. Given our inability to earn salvation or restore our relationship with God outside of Christ creates a vulnerability to these tactics. Shame and regret are his biggest enforcers of our insecurity and inability to own our new relationship with God through His Son. We are no longer condemned but empowered by God’s Grace to become new creations. If only we could see the Gloriousness of God and His Goodness concerning us to silence the lie of the enemy in our life.

God doesn’t wait with a huge sledgehammer to smash us when we sin. In fact, our sin grieves God. His Hate for sin doesn’t extend to the offenders. He only hates sin not those who live in it. Unconditional love is probably the greatest love of all and easiest to maintain if our heart would only receive it and our head able to conceive it. Hurt and betrayal harden our heart to such a thing in light of our own broken emotions. This limits the Body of Christ in fully filling each position. It hinders the Kingdom coming to earth in disbelief. God wants to break the stronghold of condemnation over your life. Whether promoted by religion or simply a lack of knowledge. He wants to break through this barrier and free you from this hindrance in your life. God is good. He wants His Glory to fill us to overflowing…despite what we may think of ourselves?

John 3:18-20 (NKJV) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

Why does God love me? How do I know that He does? How can I be sure? Well, the Word of God tells us that God is love (I John 4:8) and He first loved us (I John 4:19)! God’s Word is the credibility of my faith and the logic that I must live by to successfully overcome every lie introduced by the enemy. I must believe God’s Word is for me and about me. I must allow His Spirit to sow the Word in my heart so it will become the wisdom of my life. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love and Desire for me. (John 1:14) The Love of God for mankind is who He is. We cannot make God love us because He already does. His Mercy each day delivered to everyone regardless of what they believe and how they live is evidence that His Love will stop at nothing to apprehend us.

The only condemnation is disbelief. To refuse the Love of God given in His Son Jesus Christ is the only condemnation possible for people. When presented with the Light of His Love, yet they choose darkness rather than light. Aha! Said all the religious people with a Pharisee-spirit in them. No this does not mean that sinners are condemned but rather those who do not desire a relationship with God. The application of grace does not mean that a person is no longer a sinner just forgiven. Doing some things right (or religiously) does not promote you to a higher level in God. In fact, the more humble the person the closer to God. Those who reject His Love. This is very different that feeling unworthy or insignificant. There are a whole lot of people in the world who entered our churches and rather than experiencing the selfless and unconditional love of God – they were condemned by Christians and wandered empty and helplessly back into the darkness. Shame on us for putting a higher price on our love than God puts on His Love. He stops at nothing to make a way for us to enter right standing and promote a restored relationship with even the most violent offender.

2 Corinthians 3:7-10 (NKJV) But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) This is one of the most known verses in the Word of God. God loved us. He sent His Son to save us. But there is more to the story that is relevant and true. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The purpose of Christ was not two-fold. He did not come to save some and condemn others. God is never double-minded. Jesus came that the world might be saved and have everlasting life. There is no condemnation in Christ today. If you feel condemned, it is not from God. God is love! His Mercy is new every morning. He loved you first. He loves you the most. His Grace is enough to gain access to every blessing and experience His Glory in your life. You don’t have to do everything right just love His Son and believe in Him for salvation. A brand new life as a new creation is only accessible through Christ. He gives it to us with a helper that will help us in our weakness. Take knowledge and turn into wisdom. There is no sin insurmountable to an ounce of Christ’s Precious Blood – you are not condemned but made alive again. Resurrection life and power are working its way through you to make its way out of you. Put down the big bat of condemnation, shame, guilt or any other lie that the enemy handed you today. You have a purpose and plan designed for you by the Hand of God. The whole point is that you will know His Love. Gird yourself in the Truth that God loves you. Jesus died for you! His Grace is enough for you! You are alive again! Now walk in that freedom! Live in His Glory! He is for you! Never ever not once against you! Jesus is Our Champion – claim your victory today!

John 16:33 (NIV) “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.”

Expert Witness

Expert Witness

I Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT) I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

In many court cases, attorneys will call on expert witnesses. Doctors or specialists in a variety of fields to testify on behalf of their client. These individuals are retained by either side – plaintiff or defense in order to sway jurors in their favor by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Human reasoning can be a dangerous thing. People are bias. Objectivity tainted by a subjective perspective of life. Emotional impact causes us to feel rather than rely on the facts or truth sometimes. It can impair our judgment at times. The more influential the witnesses in a case the more likely it is for a ruling in your favor. These individuals called to testify are highly paid based on their qualifications. While the counsel may give passionate statements, these folks just speak the truth. Their words hold conviction as they relay what education and experience have given them. They have no side to take other than that of truth. No need to be emotional because at the end of the day they do not win or lose but continue about their daily life.

Each of us is called to be a witness. To share the Gospel of God’s Love and illuminate the dark world in which we live as temporary residents journeying to our forever home. Are we expert witnesses? I wonder. During the past election, my Facebook Friends list grew a bit smaller. I had to unfollow many people who I have kept on my timeline for years. The debate grew ugly. The arguments became less about truth and more about agendas. Hate began to fester. There was no encouragement or kindness as brothers and sisters in Christ began to wage war amongst themselves. Please do not judge me for one click of the button. I did not want to get drawn in or begin to have bitterness in my heart so I disengaged instead. I do not have a dog in the fight as they say. Yes, I live in America. I pray for my country. Yet, I am just a temporary resident. My home is a Kingdom far greater than this place that I live. I have a purpose in my travels. It is to be an expert witness. I must decide who I am in Christ and assume my identity as Child of God to represent Him well.

I Timothy 2:1-4 is a great reminder of real worship. One of my very best friends is a worship leader. My son-in-law the same by profession and trade. When the Bible talks about “instructions about worship”, this is the description given. To pray for each other. Ask God to help them. To intercede on behalf of others. To give thanks for them. Pray for all who are in authority. To live peaceful and quiet lives personified by godliness and dignity. This is good. It pleases our Savior. He wants everyone saved and to understand the Truth. In the words of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth.” I wonder if we can really handle the Truth appropriately. It is not about my rightness but God’s Righteousness. His Grace that is all too sufficient needing nothing from me. Will my pride allow me to be an expert witness?

Revelation 12:10-12 (NLT) Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”

There are two things needed to defeat the enemy in our life. The Blood of the Lamb shed by Jesus Christ and accepted by us. The word of our testimony or truth by which we live. These two things are the essentials to overcoming. The Blood of Jesus is for the remission of sin. Everyone sins. Everyday people sin and no one is exempt no matter how they act or good they pretend to be. God’s mercy is new every morning because it is a daily requirement. The testimony of our life is displayed in our attitude and actions. Those who are confident in the Truth will live by it and through it each day. This is not to be confused with the Law which condemns but the Truth of God’s Love and Salvation who is Jesus Christ. The Word became flesh. He came to live out God’s Love for us and die to pay the bounty for our sin. Now we are free to live and love like Jesus without regard for the outcome. We know how it ends. We win. We overcome. Victory is in Jesus Christ. Or is it?

We are overcomers because Jesus Christ overcame the world. However, there is a very real enemy. He cannot threaten us because he has no power over us but he can spend “night and day” before the throne accusing us. Jesus is on the throne next to Father God so each venomous slanderous word is consumed by the Grace of God given to us by Christ who faithfully intercedes for us each day. The enemy cannot snatch us from God’s Hand or harm us in any way. Christ lives in us and we live in the Presence of God. However, his constant attacks and thoughts on our mind can destroy confidence in Christ if our faith foundation is not solid. We must live to solidify our faith in Jesus Christ. We must cast down every thought contradictory to Christ. We must not join the accuser or cast more stones at God’s People. This is not the kind of testimony that the Lord is referring to. I don’t need you to tell me everything I do wrong. I know the heaviness of my sin as I lug it to the Cross each day. People need to know is the gravity of God’s Grace and potential of His Great Love.

John 8:4-11 (NLT) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Unfortunately, religion can sometimes skew one’s perspective. The woman caught in the “act” of sin and thrust before her accusers was dead wrong. The Law was clear. Her sin demanded her life. Jesus is life. He stood over the woman interceding in the flesh as He does now in Heaven. Let the one without sin cast the first stone. I am an expert witness. My sin left me naked and afraid exposed to a life of disappointment, discouragement, defeat and ultimate death. But God! Jesus came to my rescue standing between me and my accuser. He wrapped me in a robe of righteousness. He has been compassionate, caring and concerned each day continually showering me in His Love, Grace and Mercy. Helping me up when I fall. Holding my hand so I do not stumbling. Whispering truth to silence the lie of the enemy in my life. Who am I to do anything less for others? To be a constant source of compassion and encouragement. To love them unconditionally. To drop all the stones labeled with my expectations of them to fully embrace the grace God has given me to share with others. This makes us an expert witness. Not our rightness but His Righteousness that covers our living breathing soul for redemption sake.

Hebrews 7:24-26 (NLT) But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.

When Jesus was on trial, he did not defend himself. He went to the Cross completely innocent saying very few words – he endured the torture and horror of a brutal death…quietly. In Acts 24, Paul is brought before Felix by his accusers. He did not riot or raise a ruckus. He was brought to Felix because of lies and accusations that were not true. Paul shared the truth but did not argue or cry out for justice. He remained imprisoned instead. Jesus does not need you or I to defend Him. He doesn’t need us to argue His Case. Jesus commanded us to love one another. It is not my role or position in life to point out other’s sin or dissuade them from it. It is certainly not my job to tell them how to live. The testimony I have is simple – I once was lost but Jesus found me. He loves me. Now I am going to love you like Jesus does. Look in your hand – are there stones with people’s names on them? If so, release them and ask God to fill your heart right now with overflowing love and overpowering grace for that person in Jesus Name.

I Peter 2:11-17 (NLT) Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.

Are you an accuser or affirmer? The expert witness offers love, grace, and encouragement based on our faith in God’s Love for us. Envy, bitterness and accusations come from insecurity in our own heart concerning His Love for us. I can fill a bucket with water. However, I cannot share it with others if there is a hole in it. By the time, I get to them the water has run out. We do not live in competition for anything but as God’s Children our inheritance including every blessing and promise is secured for us in Jesus Christ. His Sacrifice set me free to love without condition or consequence because His Love overpowers every other force. It brings fulfillment and contentment in me that results in overwhelming satisfaction allowing me to love other people without any expectation of reciprocation. It draws my attention from self to serving others. My life should not be controversial. It should relay the confidence I have in Jesus Christ, the Power of His Blood and Testimony of His Love lived out before others. I must be an expert witness. To do so requires more of Him and less of me.

I John 5:5-8 (NLT) And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. So we have these three witnesses— the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree.

…When these three agree…it leaves no room for me.

A Calibrated Life

a-calibrated-llife

Proverbs 16:11 (NLT) The Lord demands accurate scales and balances; He sets the standard for fairness.

Life is not fair, get used to it. (Bill Gates) The daily administration of justice and judgment in the world is conducted from shifting standards rather than a consistent one. Such is human natures that seeps into the Halls of Justice along the way. A strong moral code and steadfast ethics is dependent on one’s opinion, religion or political bias. In order to successfully navigate this life as a believer, it is important to set the standard for our life accurately. To makes sure the foundation of faith on which our life is built is level with the Word of God, His Way and His Will. If you have a scale at home, it is important to calibrate it from time to time. One must determine the accuracy of the scale to gauge its validity. Common use or even subtle movement can cause it become off balance. It will not give an accurate reading. Therefore, one cannot access proper progress because it is inaccurate or unbalanced. Our life as a believer changes caliber when righteousness is accepted. It sets a new standard of living not common to man. A life lived according to the flesh and sin now must become aligned with faith and trust in God to accept a higher standard of living. If one is not careful, it is easy to become unbalanced because of failure to check our life for accuracy.

The caliber of our life is defined by the Word of God – both written and spoken. To properly calibrate something is to measure the degree of capacity, competence or ability. It means to check the degree of merit or excellence determined by quality. What is the quality of life you are living? Fairness cannot be determined by our present condition or circumstances as a Christian. We no longer live for today but forever. The measure of our life must be according to God’s Standards to have the kind of life that He has promised. To assess one’s life according to the world, its standards, beliefs, morals, ethics, politics or even religion gives us a shifting foundation and fluctuating mark that lacks true accuracy which gives no validity to our faith in God. We must set our standard of living according to God’s Word. (Period) Be prepared. From a worldly standard – life will never seem fair.

Romans 3:23 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s Glorious Standard.

Sin took justice from us and replaced it with judgment. Jesus came to the world not to bring us judgment but to provide the grace and mercy needed to obtain justice again. The highest standard of living is God’s Glorious Standard which is obtained through Jesus Christ. He is righteous and therefore, can administer righteousness to us. We must consistently calibrate our life according to His Example. To compare our life to other people is to lower our standard of living and creates unbalanced and inaccurate scales by which life is measured. For example, if the only time that I engage in the Word of God is in church or a small group whoever is leading the experience is the one who is calibrating my life. How so? I am using their interpretation of godly knowledge to adjust my life – if I truly desire a life measured by justice rather than judgment – I must make a commitment to God’s Standard of Living and no one else’s. Good teaching is beneficial but the weight and bulk of my life must be faith in Christ alone that creates an alignment and connection directly with the Lord and His Spirit as my source and guide for life. Access to God is in Christ alone. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I cannot get to the Father unless I go through Jesus to obtain righteousness. Jesus is the Word. (John 1)

Proverbs 20:8-12 (NLT) When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence, distinguishing the bad from the good. Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart; I am pure and free from sin”? False weights and unequal measures — the Lord detests double standards of every kind. Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right. Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the Lord.

Our bathroom scale is ancient. I loathe the thing which is probably why I have not replaced it yet. When I visit the doctor, I am weighed on his scale. I usually will come home and immediately weigh on our scale to determine its accuracy. It is inevitable that I will like the measurement of one more than the other. Now if I come back from the doctor, and see that my scale is reading a lower weight, it would be easy to say oh the doctor’s is off. I like this one better or even vice versa. However which one is really right – neither. How do I know that either one is accurate unless before and after each use they are balanced and calibrated which they are not. Our life is based on subjective measurement. The human mind is conditioned with a variance in it. A variance gives us a gray area of operation for the plus and minus factors in life. Nobody’s perfect. Well, no one except the Lord.

A variance is defined by a difference or discrepancy. It is a disagreement. Derived from the Latin word “variare” which means to change. There can be no discrepancy in my life to achieve God’s Standard of Living and receive His Glory. His Goodness falls like rain on the just and unjust, but His Glory is achieved in righteousness which is right standing accomplished with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no other way. He outlines the measurements and specifications in God’s Word which cannot be a variable in our life. God does not change. He doesn’t cast shifting shadows in our life. Any inconsistency must be brought into alignment with God’s Word, His Will and His Way to have His Best. We are free to choose our standard of living but not the calibrations of God’s Highest Standard of Living which comes from a life of faithful integrity in Jesus Christ. God detests double standards and only recognizes one – the measure of His Son. The purpose of the Body of Christ, the Church and every living, breathing temple of God in progress is to measure up to the full and complete standard of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

Psalm 119:137-138 (NLT) O Lord, you are righteous, and your regulations are fair. Your laws are perfect and completely trustworthy.

To improve one’s standard of living means change. It is all part of transformation. Many will choose mentors to mold and shape their life. People comparison is a joy killer due to the flawed and subjective nature of humanity. Even if I do every single thing they do to become who I long to be, it is impossible to ensure that I will have the same success. Sin flawed our condition and disabled perfection in our life. The slightest deviation will lead to a different destination. However, if I choose to believe that all God’s Regulations are fair. To believe that His Laws are perfect and completely trustworthy – I will receive the Promises of God. Through adoption, I have an inheritance to be claimed but if requires a commitment to a higher standard of living that is not common to mankind because it is not based on elevation but humility. I must give this life away to obtain forever. Hold up – doesn’t grace allow me to live how I want, when I want, and do what I choose to do without recourse. No, not really. Sin will never produce God’s Glorious Standard of Living. To repent means to turn and change directions. To step from darkness and into the Light of His Love. His Word is a mirror that points out our flaws and weaknesses to be covered in His Blood and Amazing Grace. The Light will always drive away darkness. “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Proverbs 2:6-10 (NLT) For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.

Do you feel that life is unfair today? Does it seem like other people are getting blessed while you being passed over? Is comparison killing your joy? The Lord is offering you wisdom. Knowledge and understanding that come from His Mouth to our heart. We must make room for His Word to manifest in our heart by rooting out all the lies that the enemy has planted in us through society and culture. It really doesn’t matter if I am right when God returns just as long as I am righteous. I cannot obtain righteousness on my own due to the handicap of sin that I was born with. God’s Gift of Grace allows me to pursue God again and receive all that He promised. I must calibrate my life according to the destination I am seeking. If I want the things of this world, I will pursue them in my flesh according to my plan and marked by my way. I will have successes and failures according to my ability and strength. Freedom allows me to do so unhindered yet unaided by God. If I desire righteousness, it is only obtained by obedience born of willingness called faith and trust in the Lord. I choose to walk His Way according to His Word and Will for my life. His Kingdom come and His Will be done before giving in to my whims and notions of how life should be. I must find what is “right, just and fair” according to God’s Standard of Living to live a glorious life as He promised. God is mighty. He made the world and everything in it. He handed it over to the Power and Authority of Jesus Christ. God loves justice. He established all principles of fairness. (Psalm 99:4)

John 13:14-17 (NLT) And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

When I was a kid, I remember a preacher or maybe it was a Sunday School teacher instruct us to do everything written in red in our Bible. Many Bibles mark the words of Jesus in red. As Jesus knelt down to wash the feet of His Disciples, He set the standard of living for this life. Micah 6:8 puts it simply, “…This is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” So obvious yet such an obstacle ridden stumbling block for one’s flesh. We must die to self to live in righteousness. It is not subjection living but objectively using God’s Standard set forth by the Word to balance the scales in our life. Any other standard deviates from it. We must apply to every aspect of living to achieve success in righteousness, to build a firm foundation of faith, to become confident in our hope and to decide that He is trustworthy enough to invest our entire life. Duplicity leads to failure. Commitment is the act of willing obedience that yields the highest results. How will you determine outcomes in life? With God all those impossibilities are suddenly possible, but in His Way and according to His Timing! The Lord offers peaceful confidence and inexpressible joy to those who choose to trust Him even when life seems unfair because their life is not according to this world but His Kingdom. This means for those who believe the best is always coming our way because we choose to walk in His Ways. Lord, teach me something new in your Word today. Write in on my heart. Remove every hindrance that keeps me from achieving the next step of faith leading to Your Glory. Thank you Lord for amazing grace and unfailing love that helps me if I stumble. I choose Your Word as the scale for my life against it I will weigh everything else. I want your Standard of Living – Your Glorious Standard above all things in Jesus Mighty and Precious Name!

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT) Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us[a] and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

So Inclined

so-inclined

Romans 7:21-25 (NLT) I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

To be so inclined means wanting to do something or likely to do something. It is the impulsive nature of our species to give in to emotions or feelings. Usually based on habit, it is considered the “way we always have done it”. Inclination is not a fan of change as it is uncomfortable like a steady slope of the next mountain. Our faith would move mountains if trust was a factor. Our inability to trust the Lord before the mountains causes us to climb up the grade which makes maintaining a vertical position with the Father more challenging as gravity tries to pull us back to a horizontal position with the world. This place is called compromise. It is a location somewhere between who we were and what the new person that God has called us to be.

Paul summed it up in these words – “I have discovered the principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” Our love affair with Jesus is established through a relationship with Him that is vertical. However, we are not born in love with the Lord but in strict opposition as sin makes it so. Through repentance changing our position by turning from sin to embrace the Light of His Love immersed in amazing grace that a robe of righteousness becomes our bride clothes and He places the ring of covenant on our finger as we become one with Christ. As in any marriage, it is giving up our way to follow one way. Marriage is compromise. Two imperfect people who try to create the perfect union. No one gets married thinking divorce is an option yet it is statistically proven that more marriages fail then succeed. The institution of marriage requires us to leave our past to secure our future. We must cut all ties of our former life and become united to our partner. Love in the early stages is footloose and fancy free. Everything our love does is cute. Once the party is over and real life begins – it quickly becomes clear that maintaining a lifelong union is work – hard work because it is our nature to give up our personal freedom for anyone else. The struggle is real.

To be so inclined in our spiritual walk is disaster. This is the realm called compromise and it is a killer. When we rely on human emotions and naturally feelings to make our way clear, it leads us straight into the wilderness. It compromises our safety and security in the Lord because we are no longer seeking the refuge of righteousness but trying out other avenues. There is but one way. Jesus Christ is the gateway to our future. (John 10) Just as He provides for us and protects us in the place of righteousness. He also keeps the thief from making his way in to plunder our goods. But the gate is open and we are free to come and go as we please. Jesus Christ sets us free to choose each day. Those who choose to wander will experience great loss. Those so inclined to inspect the fields of others rather than enjoying the lush, green grass of obedience may stray too far. It is important to determine our position in life. If we are so inclined by our behavior, it is important to examine our heart and mind to commit all areas to Christ before it’s too late.

Genesis 19:15-16 (NLT) At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!” When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful.

Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) is a Biblical story most are familiar with. A city given to sin, depravity and perversity. Abraham interceded for the cities as he had family there. God would not forsake his wrath on the community but indeed honored Abraham’s request. The Lord spared Lot and his family or at least those so inclined to leave. The angels of destruction told Lot, “Hurry!” But Lot “still” hesitated. The Lord was merciful in moving Lot, his wife and daughters from the city. However, the city was still inside of them. Lot hesitated. When the messengers of God told him to leave – he waited. When they showed where to go – Lot compromised asking to be moved to a different location. His wife directly defied the order of the Lord and looked back longing for her home. She did not make it to safety. His daughters decided to take their future in their own hands deceiving their own father to become pregnant. Their sons would become the Moabites and Ammonites who constantly were battling the Israelites. All because they were so inclined. This family was spared because of the prayers of a righteous man – Abraham. However, though they left the city of sin – they could not overcome the inclination to sin. A lack of trust inclines us to compromise. Compromise does not receive the promise but breeds compromise throughout just as a little leaven makes a loaf – it ferments and rises within us taking over the faith God planted in our hearts for salvation sake.

Matthew 13:33 (NLT) Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

It is important to constantly evaluate the contents of our life. Just as the smallest seed of faith produces an abundance of God in our life, sin also can produce an abundance of doubt and fear in us that causes us to hesitate, look back, and even go back. It breeds complacency that makes us lukewarm and therefore vomit in the mouth of our Lord. It is the even the slightest inclination to do our will or accept the world’s standard that threatens us and our position of righteousness. Later in Matthew, it is clear that even religion can become an inclination if not careful to keep our heart and mind focused on the Lord.

Hebrews 10:37-39 (NLT) “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Are you looking back or looking around? It is time to look up. God has established a way of living through His Son, Jesus Christ that far exceeds anything I can think or imagine even to ask for. It is in fixing my eyes on the Lord and casting down every thought that is not in alignment that secures my vertical position. I am human. I make mistakes…every day. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. The standard of living in this world is nothing compared to our new life in Christ. Regret and fear cause us to doubt that which faith secures. Hope begins to break down as we lose our grip on the reality of faith to delve back into the things of this world. Don’t beat yourself up. Today is a new day and God faithfully provided new mercy for such a time as this. In fact, He gives us new mercy because we are so inclined.

The truth is no one can claim righteousness outside of Jesus Christ. (Romans 3) Sinfulness is the natural state of every human being. The only way to be righteous is to put our absolute faith in Jesus Christ and learn to trust Him completely in all things. The Word of God promises that there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. He knows our weaknesses and died for every sin from the smallest to the largest. His Grace is enough for me. In fact, it becomes my strength when I can’t do it anymore. When I am weak, I am strong. The change of heart that is needed is simple. “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” Do I love Jesus more than sin? This is the deciding factor that produces a life of faith, hope and love.

Romans 12:2-3 (NLT)  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

God is willing to transform you into a new person by changing your inclinations. Inclination is a disposition of the mind and will. Our mind is bent toward sin naturally deviates towards it. It is difficult to change our attitudes, actions and habits. It is important that we filter every thought and notion for inclination toward the Lord. We must be inclined to please God which defies human nature completely. Our filter must be constantly refined as we grow in the Lord. Pride will take many forms for self-preservation. We must behave as foreigners who live in allegiance to the Kingdom and not our temporary home. To move means a change of heart, change of mind and change of position as we live vertically not inclined to compromise any longer.

Colossians 3:5-10 (NLT) So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

My latest hobby is redoing old furniture. My latest find was a dining room table left out for the trash. It has a solid pedestal with a round oak top that the previous owner no longer wanted and felt it worthy of garbage. I retrieved it as my next masterpiece. It’s funny to hear the comments of my family over my garage sale, thrift store and roadside finds. There is something completely satisfying about taking what was tossed out and turning it into a treasure. After cleaning it thoroughly removing all the grit, grime and children’s stickers that covered the bottom. I set to stripping the layers of wear and tear from the surface. After about three hours of sanding and smoothing, it was without a single blemish. This process always makes me think of God working on me. His Care to fix and refine every broken area of my life even those areas I don’t think need improvement. He continually refines and resurfaces me making me into the new creation that He promised. I am so thankful for Jesus and His Absolute Insistence on not leaving me as I was.

We contribute to this process by making it a conscious effort and total commitment to be faithful in all things. The Bible points out the obvious strongholds of sin. It is our willingness to pay attention and direct energy and effort to overcoming our feelings and dealing with such things that give us confident hope to secure our faith. We must examine and evaluate all attitudes and actions that sum up our behavior to determine if they are in alignment with Christ. This includes every word that we speak. (Ephesians 4) It is how we act in church and what we allow to exist in the Body as acceptable. (2 Corinthians) It is important that we do not become so full of self that our religious actions become a righteous platform to spew venom on the tiny seedlings in the hearts of new or young believers. If Christ did not feel it necessary to bring condemnation, why do we? The only emotion worthy of keeping and submitting to the transformation power of God is love. In fact, our love for the Lord should be the plumb line of our life. It demonstrates a vertical connection. When I can choose to love even my enemy, I am showing more than ever my complete faith in God and total trust in His Power.

I John 3:18-22 (NLT) Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

What is your greatest inclination today? What is the prevailing feeling that is dictating your course of action? Those who choose Christ will press forward rather than giving in to that which so inclines us. By faith, we become rooted and grounded in the Love of Jesus Christ. Our faith becomes sustainable and hope the anchor for our souls. By beginning to invest our expectation into this love affair, we begin to change and be transformed by God’s Love. A spark turns into a fiery passion to know Him more. Our feelings no longer will matter when faith takes over. God is greater than our feelings. He is not moved by our opinions or faults. The Lord just waits for us to change our inclination so He can change our heart. To say, “Well, that’s the way I am” is to give in to the lie of the enemy that God’s Love is not real, His Power ineffective, and the Life of Jesus Christ is not enough. You don’t mean that. It is your flesh speaking. What does God say about you? To sum it up, God loved you more than anything and proved that He thought you were to die for. Isn’t that enough to incline you to decide He is enough to live for?

I Peter 2:11-13 (NLT) Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

Wash Rinse Repeat

wash-rinse-and-repeat

James 4:7-10 (NLT) So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

My sweet sister is an esthetician. She is a skincare specialist. During her visit to care for mom during her open heart surgery, there were endless hours of conversation in the waiting room during our more than 24 hours stay the first night. Please disregard any and all Dubsmash videos that may or may not have been posted – it was a very long night. My sister’s skin is perfection. Given her profession, she has a routine of care that has made her completion nearly flawless. She promised to send a box of products for our teenage girls who battle the usual adolescent skin issues. The box arrived yesterday as promised. Late last night my phone received a series of text messages with instructions for all of us regarding the products that she sent. As I read through them this morning, I found that none of the bottles contain any medicine but rather it is all about the proper cleaning. This is definitely intriguing to me.

Wash, rinse and repeat with a once-a-week special treatment. Anyone who knows me knows this is bound to strike a connection with my spirit and surely it did. Sometimes I think we over complicate the process of spiritual freedom by making about more than it really is. I am set free by the Grace of God offered freely through Jesus Christ. The products my sister sent to us are expensive. Probably a higher price than I would pay since I balk at the skin products at Walmart. She must be so ashamed. However, do I also take for granted the simple process of repentance, renewal and restoration offered to me day by day by my Lord? It begins with humility. At first, I asked her not to send at her expense. She insisted. I offered to pay her for the items which she generously declined. Jesus offers to cleanse my heart and mind each day. The gift already given yet I leave it in a box on the counter of my soul much like the box of products not yet applied. He wants to renew me each day so that I may be restored and find joy in my salvation yet I choose to remain guilty, dirty, stained, and full of regret somehow. Am I the only one? Do I carry a burden of sin that could be so freely given in exchange for more freedom than I have ever known? Do I have stains covering a radiant countenance of righteousness freely given but not used for anything in each day? It is time to learn a new soulful routine. It is simple – wash, rinse, renew and restore. I need to do this each and every day to make my soul secure and my Light shine to a world looking for love in all the wrong places. I have it. It is at my disposal. I just need to use it.

Humble yourselves before God. This thing called “humility” is a lifelong endeavor that is produced through our relationship with Jesus Christ. It is promoted with each encounter and experience offered in the Presence of God. You cannot enter His Presence and remain the same. He changes us day by day. He frees us from sin, guilt, shame and regret to renew and restore the life that God planned for us to have not the one poor choices delivered. You cannot resist the devil covered in sin. You cannot tell him to flee or make any other authoritative directive to the enemy without the Power of God at work inside of you. The Power of God that gives us strength is His Grace. It cannot be usurped in our own strength and power but humbly accepted as it cannot be earned in any way. To come close to God and live in His Presence begins with repentance. Repentance is a continual process of exchanging sin for salvation each day. This process cannot change for if it does our loyalty is divided between God and this world. No such division will withstand the process called judgment.

Psalm 51:1-4 (NLT) Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.

I recently posted the lyrics to the song “Brokenness Aside”. It begins “I am a sinner if its not one thing its another. Caught up in words, tangled in lies.” It’s funny because I could feel the buzz of people wondering what I had “done” or how far I had “fallen”. The truth is that I am a sinner every single day. I am almost willing to bet that you are, too. I am aware of it and try to continually repent as not to become weighted down with transgressions. His Mercy is because of His Unfailing Love so no matter what I do I can come to the Lord and request cleansing. The Lord does it. Right there. On the spot. Whatever I submit to repentance, Jesus washes away as far as the east from the west. However, just as if I were to put a toy sailboat in the current of a river holding it tightly it will not float away – my sin cannot go away from me if I do not let it go.

We hold sin in our life two ways. First, we do not repent. Continuing to engage in it, calling it weakness, attempting to cover it up in grace, there is no freedom from it as it plagues us night and day. The second way to hold on to sin is regret. The same God that removes our sin renews our life in the process if allowed to. God is a gentleman. He doesn’t force us to accept anything that He has to offer.

With three daughters, the skin issue has come up many times. All three girls have a different skin type which requires a variety of skin regimes. However, there is one thing that works for all three. I have instructed them to wash their faces in the morning and evening. After school, they should remove makeup and rinse the impurities picked up that day. They have all balked at me until they tried it and found that their skin cleared up. Women use makeup to cover imperfections. However, that is not what we need as believers. Don’t cover up sin. Let it go. Let the Lord remove it and send it away as far as the east is from the west. It doesn’t matter what other people think if you choose to crawl to the altar in every service. So what? You didn’t sin against them. It is God alone we live to please and Jesus who died for us and now we live for.

Psalm 51:7-9 (NLT) Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.

Purify me from my sins and I will be clean. Salvation is a process. It is not just one prayer one time at an altar but daily acceptance of Jesus Christ, His Word, His Will and His Way. We must work on it. Daily surrendering ourselves to Jesus. But unfortunately here is what happens. We wear one face for the world and another when alone at home and no one is watching. There are times when like the Pharisees, it is easy to become enthralled with what we can “do” for the Lord rather than allowing Him to do what He would like to “do” in me. Pride takes over holding on to sin rather than relinquishing it to the Cross. Repentance admits weakness. Our flesh isn’t comfortable with such a thing.

There is no true joy outside of salvation but to fully accept the terms and conditions of the New Covenant means to lay one’s life down at the Cross each day. In John 13, Jesus was preparing to wash the feet of His Disciples. He knew the end was near. The Lord also knew that He had been given full power and authority by God His Father. Symbolically, he removed his robe and knelt to wash their feet. When Jesus made his way to Peter, you have to know he would raise a ruckus. He did true to form saying, “you will never wash my feet.” Jesus said, “Unless I wash your feet, you do not belong to me.” There is no personal pride or accomplishment in our salvation. Jesus did it all. He paid for our life in full. There is nothing else for me to do other than accept it. When I try to maintain my pride and take hold of His Grace, I find this to be impossible.

Of course, during this discourse, Peter the extremist tells the Lord well if you are going to wash me – wash me from head to foot. Salvation cleanses us from head to toe. We work to maintain it by daily cleansing called repentance and humility. Those who do will be renewed day by day. Life will rise up in the places left void of sin as God does a new thing in each surrendered space of our heart and mind yielded to Him. His Word sheds light on the dark places. He speaks softly to us to come closer and let Him get that smudge off our face and stain out of our clothing. God is meticulous in His Care for us and will wash us as many times as it takes until each area is fully surrendered to His Unfailing Love and Amazing Grace. You will never not be a sinner. Full redemption comes when we meet Him face-to-face. Be washed in His Presence daily. Cleansed by His Word.

Psalm 51:12-15 (NLT) Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.

My daughter was frustrated about her complexion one day. I asked her if she was washing her face regularly. She promised she had. I asked her if she had taken the prescribed medication. She again promised that she had. Now I am the “drug dealer” in our home who orders and usually picks up pharmaceutical orders for the crew. I know that I had not refilled her antibiotic in quite some time so I inquired further. How long have you been doing this? She admitted a couple of days. Well, of course. The Word of God tells us that He will restore us. Come on God. However, there is a second part that we are not so excited about…”make me willing to obey you.” Oh that part…

We must allow God time to restore us and commit our lives to the process called restoration. This means waiting, patience, persistence, faithfulness and commitment. We must continue to do what we know to do even when we cannot see the results. This my friend is faith. If I believe, the Lord is working to restore me and renew me I must remain faithful to the process which is what we call endurance. But God is even more faithful and does not make us wait or work out our salvation alone…

Titus 3:4-7 (NLT) But—when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

I love it when God “buts” in don’t you. God our Savior is full of kindness and love. He is mercy full! He washed away our sin. Gave us a new birth so we could live a new life. Jesus gave us a partner, advocate, guide, protector, defender, teacher, instructor… I could go on and on. The Lord gave us His Spirit. His Grace made us right in His Sight. We can have full confidence that every dead dream can come back to life. Old things will become new things. Dead ends are of no use because the Waymaker lives in us. Nothing wasted. We have nothing to lose but everything to gain as Jesus makes good of every detail of our life. We just have to remain in right standing. He did that, too. But God.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT) You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Repetition can become religion without true repentance and daily surrender of our life to Christ in all humility. We can become indignant like Peter to our own detriment. Lord, I am going to serve You. Not the other way around… Pride can sound so holy. It can make its point about being right but righteousness is only found when we surrender and submit our life to Jesus Christ – humbly accepting His Gift of Life day after day. We cannot sacrifice anything of worth. We cannot do anything to earn this wonderful gift that we are given. All we can do is wash, rinse and repeat day after day until He comes.

John 9 tells the story of a man who was blind from birth. Jesus takes some dirt off the ground, spits in it, smears it on his eyes, and then tells him to go wash it off. He does. The man is instantly healed. Yay God right! No not so fast. This begins a series of interrogations of the man, his family and bystanders who witnessed it. Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath. Well, as you can well imagine this drew the attention of the Pharisees who were already sick and tired of this man named Jesus messing everything up. Surely the Messiah would obey the rules and regulations of religion.

Reading this story again, I have come to the conclusion that maybe there is purpose in the mud covering the man’s eyes. I wonder if our natural and spiritual condition is easier to heal then the “muddy messes” of this life. We overcomplicate the process making salvation way too hard. When asked about his healing for the umpteenth time, the man said, “I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” Have we overcomplicated the process stopping the next great move of God? Could it be so simple? Maybe it is as easy as “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.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) These are God’s Words to Solomon after he completed the temple. Our temple is complete in Jesus Christ maybe these are the words resonating from Heaven today. If my people…

I John 1:8-10 (NLT) If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

I am a sinner. I sin every day. If I told you or implied differently not only am I a liar, but I am calling God a liar. If I choose to coat my life with good works, good deeds, good words, and the like it is not the truth or the Gospel. It is not my job to set the standard of life and love for the rest of the world. God set the standard and it is glorious. It says that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. He then gave us this wonderful benefit package to open and enjoy as we continue to journey to forever through this life. I must engage in the process which begins with humbling my life at His Feet every single day and accepting the Grace that is given. New mercy meets me each morning. Will I scoop it up and use it throughout the day? Or will the mud of pride, doubt, fear and anxiety cause me to lose my way? God wants to do a mighty work in us. We are His Temple. He wants to fill us with more of His Presence day by day. Repentance gives way to restoration which makes way for renewal which is how we live in true freedom day by day. Our life is raised to His Glorious Standard each day we say, “Forgive me, Lord. Your Grace is enough for me.” Sin is a burden. It renders us powerless to fight the enemy. It keeps us in bondage. Jesus says, “Come to me all who are burdened.” It is an open invitation to wash, rinse and repeat every day! I speak freedom over your life today in Jesus Name!

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)  Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

I Am A Sinner

Silhouetted female in front of sunset sky

Psalm 51:1-5 (NLT) Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.

“I am a sinner if it’s not one thing it’s another…caught up in words tangled in lies. You are Savior and You take brokenness aside and make it beautiful.” (Brokenness Aside) I posted the lyrics to this song on social media openly, honestly and transparently. There used to be a time in my life that I would reconsider such an admission of guilt on the basis of what other people might think. The truth is that I am a sinner. I fall short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living every single day that I am alive. I was born with sin. It came as part of my genetic package. I can act like I don’t do anything wrong. I can think that I am always right. I can judge other people according to my moral code and ethical background but in the end there is one thing that can change the outcome of my forever. His Name is Jesus Christ.

I believe that there is a lack of honesty in the church that is killing ministry. The idea that anyone can ever overcome sin completely. It is impossible. Changing one’s appearance, conversation, and habits do not make up for the wrong committed in the human heart every single day. Just because I go to church doesn’t make me a Christian any more than standing in my garage makes me a Cadillac. However, many of us become great pretenders judging and evaluating our life according to our own good intentions but viewing others according to our pious bias. In the Name of Jesus, I want to break this mentality. We are all sinners. The same kind of sinners. Full of sin that God abhors. Jesus Christ provides grace and mercy for us to get through life and step into eternity. The more in my life is Jesus. The good in my life is the Lord. The success that I find comes directly from Him. How can I boast about anything else except I am a sinner who has a beautiful life in Jesus Christ?

Matthew 9:9-13 (NLT) As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

The thought has occurred to me a lot over the last month that it is easy for believers to get caught up in civilian affairs. (2 Timothy 2:4) We become weighted down with burdens and cares not of God in our attempt to somehow earn this righteousness so freely given to us by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ. This weight produces a heaviness that keeps us from effectively running the race of faith and welcoming others to join in our journey. We must “strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.” (Hebrews 12:1)

Jesus invited Matthew to follow Him and be a disciple. What an awesome privilege, right? Well, not really if you think about it. The religious order of the day in the Jewish community were the Pharisees. They were the presiding influence. Most of them lived opulent and affluent lifestyles because of their place in the hierarchy called religion. Matthew was a tax collector. Not well respected, he hung out with disreputable sinners. The Pharisees saw this and asked the other disciples why the Lord would associate with “scum”. Let’s ponder this for a moment… how do I treat other people who don’t look like I do, think like I do, act like I do, believe like I do or sin like I do? Moving on.

“For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” The scripture reference is from Hosea 6:6 which in full context reads, I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” When my life begins to get wrapped up on my rightness and not righteousness, I am rebelling against repentance. Every day must begin with the realization that I am a sinner. (Period) Comparison is not only a joy killer but a lie of the enemy being used to destroy God’s Church and the people in it. Hosea 6 begins with a call to repentance. I believe it is resonating through the Body of Christ again as the Lord is drawing His People closer preparing for the revival that will precipitate His Return. It doesn’t matter what you do for the Lord, if you don’t know Him. If you think you are righteous, beware it is knowing that you are a sinner when Jesus is closest.

Romans 3:23-26 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Everyone has sinned. We ALL fall short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living leaving blessings and promises on the table abandoning them for something less, counterfeits and substitutions. God is faithful and His Goodness is constantly pursuing us. What would happen if rather than chasing after God, His People would turn to Him? Chasing is accomplished through my own energy and strength but  to turn back to the Lord allows Him to do that which He promised in His Strength and Power because the reality is I can do nothing to achieve His Glorious Standard except to repent and remain in full surrender day after day.

“He makes sinners right in His Sight when they believe in Jesus.” Right in His Sight. Our putrid condition is not changed by the Grace and Glory of God. Just as one takes out household garbage regularly to avoid our home being overcome with trash and debris, sin must be dealt with on an ongoing basis by faith and trusting the Grace of God to live in His Glory on the condition that when we meet Him face to face righteousness can be fully achieve. As long as there is flesh on our body, we will sin. So if the church is full of sinners, why not welcome everyone? Have we become so enamored with our own reflection and the work of Christ in us that we have forgotten to be a True Reflection of Him instead?

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

Whenever someone turns to the Lord the veil is taken away. Have you turned to the Lord lately? Have you put aside everything you are “doing” in life and for Him long enough to turn back to Jesus? Your eyes will be opened. Your ears will hear. Your heart will break when you choose to look at His Face and realize all those other “things” don’t matter when you truly step into His Presence. Do you want to see your reflection? Or when you look back do you want to see His? There is a difference. The Lord is a Spirit. He produces freedom in our life. Freedom from comparison, compromise, conditions, and cares. There is no need to defend, discredit or disassociate from anyone because in full repentance there is only love so we have nothing to give other than what we have been given. There is always more to know about Jesus. There is always more to see. More to experience in every encounter. There is also brokenness. Without brokenness there can be no repentance. Without sin, what’s the point?

We all have sinned and fallen short of His Glory therefore we are all in the same predicament. God wants to remove the veil of false expectation, half-truth, compromise, pride of life, lies and deception to reveal His Glory in your life. He is whispering to each of us today – just turn around. I am waiting to bring you joy and fullness found in salvation that will set you free forever. Free from doubt and insecurity that keeps you from confidently trusting in the Lord, His Will, His Way and His Word. We are all sinners if it’s not one thing, it’s another. We all have a Savior. There is more to life beyond the walls built to protect our heart and guard our minds. What is God asking of us today?

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

As I turn again to Jesus on this another day, I am a sinner. I need Him to be my Savior. I am handing over all this mess so He can make my life beautiful. I don’t need Him to fix my situation. I am not asking for Him to change anything He is doing. Let my life be Your Masterpiece today Lord just like you promised. I will do what you ask. I will strive to do the right thing. I will love mercy and attempt to extend it to everyone I meet today. I will walk humbly with you God according to Your Grace desiring Your Glory knowing I am a sinner just the same. There is more to life than this. There is always more to be found. Such a life is achieved by repentance, brokenness and humility – I intend to find it.

I Timothy 1:14-16 (NLT) Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

 

Taste and See

taste-and-see

Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Taste and see. Well I have been tasting for a long time and seeing a change to my body that is unhealthy so it was time to do something about it. I need to make some adjustments to my intake to decrease the load I am carrying if you know what I mean. I need to change my diet. Ugh. I hate the word. It gives way to another word that I loathe even more called exercise. You are what you eat. Whatever you put inside of your mouth and choose to digest is what your body uses to sustain itself. Put junk in. Get junk out. Put fat in. Get fat out. With our move and a plethora of other excuses as long as my arm, my diet went from pretty good to terrible seemingly overnight. With this change some unwanted weight gain. Now I must evaluate the foods I eat and what I drink for caloric intake, sugar content and other important qualities to make my body healthy again.

I start each day at my computer in the Word of God with a banana and protein bar. Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium. They also have soluble fiber and natural detoxifying agents that are great for digestion. The bar contains protein which is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Protein is considered a “macronutrient” because the body needs large quantities of it. Since the body cannot store protein, it needs a new supply constantly. In evaluating my diet, I read the protein bar ingredients again to make sure it was a good choice.

Several months ago, balking at the high price of the protein bar that I was eating, I chose a less expensive brand. When I read the packaging comparing it to the old one, I realized that in an effort to save a dollar or two each week – I had definitely sacrificed in the content. Rather than the 12 grams of protein in the expensive brand, I was saving money but only getting 2 grams of protein. I quickly switched back to the one that offered more protein. We do that sometimes in life. You know – like when we set the alarm to get up early to seek God in His Word and pray but quickly turn it off opting for more sleep when morning comes. We need the content but don’t want to give up anything to get it. Taste and see that the Lord is good! The Lord invites us each day to have His Best. Taste His Goodness. See His Glory. Yet too many times we sacrifice quality for quantities of lesser things.

“Oh the joys of those who take refuge in Him!” As we read through Psalm 34, it is a reminder that in our lifetime certain conditions will come like fear(v.4), sin(v.5), desperation(v.6), opposition(v.7), hunger(v.10), temptation(v.13), distractions(v.14), troubles(v.17), and brokenness(v.18) just to name some of them. We must learn to take refuge in the Lord so that in all things – we will overcome. Each condition has a solution. Every time it is the Lord. How do we invest our life with Jesus to the max? How do we maintain a life of victory experiencing His Glory over and over again? We just keep packing Him in. Every day tasting to see that the Lord is good. Even on the days when I am not hungry or feel full, I must keep tasting the Word of God ingesting it over and over again. I must do so with expectation that I will see the Goodness of God in the land of the living. I will not live in fear or lack but confidence and fulfillment just as He promised. I must make the change in my diet and appetite to see the changes in my life that God promises. Why? He does not lie, change His Mind or relent in any way. It is up to me if I will taste and see God’s Goodness in my life today.

Psalm 40:11-13 (NLT) Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me.

The Lord does not withhold His Mercy or His Goodness from us. The enemy would like to make us think so though. Trouble comes at us from all sides. Sin overtakes us and we cannot “see” or comprehend a God who loves us in the midst of constant failure and the bondage of bad choices but He does. Our heart will fail without proper nutrition and exercise. Even by trying to maintain a healthy heart, people still end up needing medical intervention as they advance in their years. The Lord invites us to give Him our heart and allow Him to renew us day by day. In Ezekiel 36:26, it says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

The Lord is intent on keeping His Promise. We must only taste and see that the Lord is good. Change our appetite. Continue to feast on His Word to nourish our soul. We will seek the Lord’s Goodness as He begins to change our heart and mind to what pleases Him and our life follows suit. The Lord wants to save us. He loves to heal and deliver us. He desires nothing more than to flood our life with His Goodness and Glory. I must decide that He is what I want and desire to have the new heart and new life that is promised.

Proverbs 3:1-8 (NLT) My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

I have long since learned that random and radical dieting does nothing more than put my body on a physical roller coaster. There are two closets in my home filled with different sizes of clothing. Rather than reacting to the changes in my body, I can live a life responsibly instead. I don’t have to deprive myself when I choose a healthy diet every day. Just soak that in and marinate on it for a moment since we are talking about food. God did away with religious tradition when Jesus died on the Cross. His Sacrifice covered all our sin and shame so now I am free to live a righteous life with copious amounts of grace and the promise of everlasting life and complete fulfillment. It belongs to me. All I must do is choose to live in it. Each day comes with enough mercy to get over yesterday’s failures and shortcomings, more than sufficient grace to cover my sin and shame, and the same promises that were mine from the very beginning. It is up to me if I will taste and see that God is good, or choose to remain in the troubles all around me. God’s Word leads to peace and prosperity in life – do I read it, study it and ingest it each day. His Spirit allows us to directly communicate with God the Father and Jesus the Son for direction, guidance and wisdom – am I looking for that kind of relationship? Those who do will “win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” which is a good thing. We must trust the Lord with all our heart and stop leaning on our own understanding and just keep packing in wisdom like a free buffet. This will bring health to our body and nourishment to our bones. It is a good life for those who choose to taste and see the Goodness of God!

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Give Me Grace

Give Me Grace

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.

Everyone has bad days. Even strong Christians have moments of becoming overwhelmed, voicing discontentment, lashing out in frustration, stumbling and some even fall. I had that kind of afternoon yesterday. By the end of a day that began with exhaustion, it got the best of me. You ever notice how quickly a bad attitude can go from bad to worse pretty quickly. Well, it did. Thankfully there was no one present to witness my tirade or rant. Ears could not hear me slamming things down and throwing things about. Stepping over the mess of teenagers, walking past the unfolded clothes, seeing the dishes in the sink, and not finding the check in the mail – I was done. So as I carried in the groceries, I voiced my displeasure. I let the Lord know in no uncertain terms exactly how I felt in that moment but rest assured I was not pouring out my heart to the Lord but rather my wrath upon Him. I am a believer. I call myself a Christian. I go to church. I am a leader and Sunday School teacher who faithfully serves and supports ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I share the Word of God in this blog each day. I still need God’s Grace.

As most mornings after such a moment, guilt hung heavy in my heart. I had to get away and talk to my Jesus. Oh, I quickly apologized right after I got things off my chest. I am only human and that irritates me greatly most of the time. Repentance is worthless until one can accept God’s Grace. Such an act is humbling because there is nothing I can do to earn or reciprocate it. I tend to get tangled up in lesser things more than I care to admit. Give me grace, Lord.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT) God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Grace can be defined as “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.” Got it! Not really, what does that mean really? Since grace is the basis and foundation of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we must learn what grace is to apply it to our life. God saved us by His Grace WHEN you believed. You must believe in the Grace of God to experience salvation. Grace is uncomfortable. It creates a debt that cannot be repaid for those who have trouble receiving it for free. What can I do to earn the grace of God? Absolutely nothing. If I give every second of the rest of my life to serving the Lord, selling all my possessions to give to the poor, traveling from city to city around the world sharing God’s Love, and never ever committing another sin – I still cannot earn or deserve God’s Grace.

This is so difficult for our flesh to accept. Jesus understands every single weakness that I have. He bore the weight of my sin on the Cross so He knows exactly what I am capable of. Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted and tested in this world – yet He never sinned…not once. His Sacrifice allows me to come boldly before His Throne with confidence that His Grace is enough for me especially all the times I fall short of God’s Glory and stumble in life.

Salvation will never be based on anything I can do but completely on who Jesus Christ is and what He gave us. The Gift of Grace is offered to us but will we accept it. God planned to give us all grace, orchestrated it and carried it out on our behalf. Indebtedness is uncomfortable. It challenges our pride for control. We must accept God’s Grace for what it is and live in it all our life to “endure to the end” and be saved. We are all saved the same way. It is the undeserved grace of the Living God. (Acts 15:11)

Romans 3:23-24 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Everyone has sinned. We will all sin again and again no matter how hard we strive not to. Let that sink in for a moment because this startling revelation will change your life forever. Don’t let anyone fool you. No matter how self-righteous they may act or religious they come across they sin just like us. We all fall short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. I wonder if the Lord allows me to stumble or even fall sometimes to make me aware His Grace that perhaps I have forgotten. Those times when I have allowed pride and self-indulgence to overtake the Truth that His Grace is all I need.

Every good thing from God intended for you can be limited by disobedience, rebellion and sin. Sin is the very thing that keeps us from our inheritance in God. Obedience allows us to live in those blessings. However, when we finally meet Jesus face-to-face is the only time we will truly understand His Glorious Standard of Living which is absolute and complete satisfaction of our soul. In the meantime, we must strive not to sin and live in the Glory of God by His Grace.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” God’s Power is our strength and power as believers. We cannot ignore God’s Grace and still enter or impact His Kingdom. Grace is the key that unlocks the door to all Heaven has to offer and facilitating it here on earth. If we are not experiencing God’s Power in life – there is a very good chance we must revisit the Cross and accept more of His Grace. Where sin abounds, grace abounded more. I know that when I am struggling His Grace will get me over the hump, but there are many times I must be reminded that it is not about me or what I can do but Jesus Christ who lives in me.

Romans 5:20-21 (NLT) God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In Ephesians 2:10, it declares us to be a masterpiece that God planned from the start. He created us with a plan and purpose that sin interrupted. Jesus came to renew and restore our life by His Grace. The Word of God was a not a new set of laws or limitations but a mirror to reflect the impact of sin in our life. It tells us what we miss out on when we allow sin to be our master. Every morning I receive new mercy from the Lord because He already knows the tests, temptations and trials that I will face in the day. He wants me to overcome them all by His Grace. I can choose to live the brand new life given to me by the Lord or remain enslaved by sin.

Sin is bondage but God’s Grace is freedom. (Romans 6:14-16) We cannot treat the Grace of God as meaningless and continue in a right relationship with God. Religion adds new mandates to an already complete gospel. (Galatians 2:20-21) Grace gives us the right to choose who we will serve. (Joshua 24:15) True freedom always allows one to choose. You cannot have your cake and eat it to. If you choose sin as the master of your life – it will always lead to death. To choose grace is to choose eternal life. Grace is never an excuse to sin but freedom to serve God and live with Him forever. If we choose to sin, it is willful. Without true repentance, no one can have the grace of God. You cannot serve two masters for you will love the one and hate the other. (Matthew 6:24) Do you love Jesus today? Are you on a mission to eradicate sin from you existence? His Grace is sufficient for you, my friend. It is enough for me, too.

Colossians 1:6 (NLT) This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

I believe that part of the salvation that the Lord works out in our life is the full assumption of His Grace. It is hard to accept something that is absolutely free but came at such an enormous price. I creates a feeling of indebtedness. I believe many people cannot fully accept God’s Grace because of the responsibility that comes with it. Even if it is not real and perceived by the flesh as a restriction of our freedom, we are not slaves of God but His Children. This is absolute freedom to live apart from sin and have a new life. Don’t let the enemy lie to you by telling you that God’s Grace is just another form of slavery because its not. It is the Gospel. The Good News of unconditional love must be wrapped in His Grace to operate in us. We cannot ignore grace and continue to willfully sin or we have made another choice entirely. The Good News that bears fruit in everyone’s life is that while we were yet sinners – Christ died for us. To accept God’s Grace knowing we can do nothing to earn it and simply to live in it. This is God’s Power and Strength manifesting in our life.

Romans 12:6-8 (NLT) In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

It’s funny how we overlook the smallest details. In His Grace- God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. I find that when I am not able to see the Fruit of His Spirit or even the spiritual gifts that I am aware of operating in my life that I have somehow strayed from grace. How are God’s Gifts working for you right now? Have you stalled? Stuck in a rut? Not feeling it lately? The warning light is on that maybe, just maybe, His Grace is no longer enough for you. This is when it is imperative that we get to the heart of the matter.

What will you find there? The only foundation worthy of building our life is Jesus. (I Corinthians 3:10-11) It is human nature to put our personal touch on things. Religion likes to add to this foundation with more rules and regulations as if we could make grace any better. Salvation is consummated in my full belief that God’s Grace is ALL that I need to reach the Kingdom of Heaven and life with Him forever. Faith in God requires believing that His Grace is always enough. When we try to “do” things for God, it must be to honor His Gift because we cannot earn it. Any other foundation will crumble and fall.

I need God’s Grace. Lord, give me more grace today. Grace to overcome the sin that quickly overtakes me. Help me to refine the message of my life so that others only see your love and grace – Jesus. Grace is our message. Grace allows us to overlook their sin and shortcomings to hand them God’s Love. Grace seals the way of repentance for the genuine heart. Don’t you love Jesus today? Thank Him, yet again for His Amazing Grace. Look for it in your life today. I encourage you to ask the Lord to give you more grace so that we may be gracious to others sharing the Gospel effectively as it spreads throughout this world.

I Corinthians 15:10 (NLT) 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.

Could It Be Me?

could it be me

Ephesians 4:1-4 (NLT) Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

Always be humble. How is this possible with a hope that must remain confident? Confidence and humility seem to be contradictory qualities. Maybe it is not so much the traits themselves but how they are applied that determines if they conflict. Jane Austen said, “Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.” To say that I am a humble person often reflects a heart that is not humble at all. Humility is the opposite of pride and arrogance. In fact, it is often marked by the feeling of insignificance, inferiority and complete subservience. Called to have confident hope, it is in Christ alone and never ourselves. The moment that one believes anything they do or say is more significant than the work of Christ within them, the threshold has been crossed. If reading this you think, this does not apply to me, it most certainly does. Pride does not find itself in the Word of God. It lies to its owner that there is no need to pay attention or look any farther than the surface. Today I must inspect my heart to determine the places that pride have placed its stake. These are the areas of my life in need of full repentance in order to right my way with the Lord.

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.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, I agree completely. It identifies the evil rulers, authorities and mighty rulers of darkness along with evil spirits in heavenly places as the opposition in our life. Again, I agree wholeheartedly. But not every battle that we face is external. There are many conflicts to be resolved internally. Romans 7:18-20 tells of another force to be reckoned with in life. Paul reveals that “nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t what to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not the one really doing wrong; it is the sin living in me that does it.” Not every battle that encountered in life is spiritual oppression but sometimes it is God putting pressure on that thing inside us keeping us from His Better Way.

“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves…” I want to stop here for a moment today. Prayer is not the problem. People pray every day. In fact, in some cases, prayer is an excuse not to do what the Lord has already told us to do tricking believers into ignoring outright disobedience. Pride is the problem. We do not want to humble ourselves before the Lord. Because to truly do so means to humble ourselves in the world as well. Are you facing a trial in your life today? Are you experiencing too many obstacles to overcome? When this happens, it is important that rather than giving the enemy all the credit in a successful attack to humble ourselves and consider this – could it be me?

Matthew 5:5 (NLT) God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

What is the most valuable commodity on the earth? It is the human soul. Nothing is more valuable to God than those who He created in His Own Image. With this in mind, humility is the very quality that will release revival on the earth. Why? Because if we inherit the “whole earth” the worth of the world it’s people. Pride hinders our ministry. Oh, we all have a ministry. It is the footsteps that comprise our life and define our walk with God. We don’t have to have a fancy pulpit or sanctuary filled with stadium seats. In fact, the loudest message preached is the life that we lead outside of church.

Pride is the opposite of humility. Pride keeps us from following the Lord completely and doing right. (Psalm25:8-10) Compromise on any level keeps us from our inheritance. Humility is absolutely necessary to fully surrender our life to Christ. We must follow Jesus. The moment the thought takes hold that there is anything that the Lord “needs” us to do is the moment pride has planted a seed in our heart and mind that will kill our harvest. The world doesn’t need us. His Grace is sufficient. The Lord is all-powerful. Our service to Jesus Christ is our deep desire to honor His Sacrifice with our life. We add nothing to it. Pride says “if I don’t do it nobody else will.” Oh how find the fine the line between confidence in Christ and the pride of life.

Pride distances us from God. (Psalm 138:6) That’s just fine with the enemy, because the closer he can come when we are far from the Lord. Do you feel isolated and alone? Pride is a joy killer. (Isaiah 29:18-20) It causes us to lose the joy of our salvation that is always Jesus. People cannot touch the joy of the humble as they live wrapped in a robe of righteousness in the Presence of their Savior. It is well-protected by the close proximity of Christ in us. Human pride will be revealed and brought low on Judgment Day because there is only one throne and it belongs to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Isaiah 2:11)

The Book of Proverbs gives several warnings about pride. It is that which comes before a fall. (16:18) To be saved, we must swallow our pride. (6:3) The Lord hates pride and arrogance. (8:13) Pride leads to disgrace. (11:2) Pride leads to conflict. (13:10) Pride ends in humiliation. (29:23) Pride is problematic. To consider every opposition and obstacle in our life as a spiritual attack and not consider pride as the source is to say that I am too good to repent. Repentance is the constant turning of our heart over to the Lord. To evaluate any and all situations and not consider it to be the product of pride is to deny oneself of the Grace of Almighty God offered to those who live in humility before Him.

Matthew 23:11-15 (NLT) The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either. What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!

To serve Christ means humbling our life before Him and doing what He requires not what religion tells us to do. Religiosity is the pride of the church. It will produce sorrow in the sower and division among the people. We must humble ourselves before the Lord in all things. Right standing with God is never based on my ability to perform but my willingness to submit my life to Jesus. Religion gives Christians an environment to “feel good” about themselves which will always produce pride. No one is exempt and all the servants of God must crucify their flesh daily to stay in step with the Lord. Especially those who gain influence and attention in the church, one’s position can develop a sense of pride that prohibits a life of repentance due to the expectations of others and our own expectation of self. We are afraid of what others think so we do not humble ourselves as we should. We do not answer the call to the altar because we must “work” it. This is all wrong. Are we too religious to be righteous? Is pride keeping me from the Kingdom to just build the church?

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

I am humble and gentle at heart. To be like Jesus, we must adopt these two qualities and develop them in our life. Perhaps you are thinking, I am humble. I am gentle. I have been a Christian for a very long time. Let me tell you a little secret. There is pride in all of us looking for a way out. I was a Christian for many, many years. I thought I was “doing” all the right things. I believed I was sharing the Good News with those around me. God had blessed me with a great job that I was good at so I was pouring a whole lot of time into it and prospering. We served God in our home and church. Faithfully “doing” the things His Word called for. I had it all under control. I assumed God was happy with me because we were blessed and prospering in all things. Life was good.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it forced me to reevaluate some things in order to survive. I couldn’t bear the burden of my life alone. The mirror that I had been looking at myself in was shattered on a hospital room floor along with my heart. I could not go back to my “normal” life. I was devastated at what I found. Pride had consumed me. Once forfeited, I could take Christ’s yoke upon me. I was humbled in a moment. It was ugly. It was painful. It was necessary. It wasn’t the enemy who invaded my heart, mind and life. It was the lie that I was capable of anything good outside of Jesus Christ. What followed was a whole lot of repentance, many apologies, some mending of ways, and a whole new life. I could not go back to my normal life again. Pride comes before the fall for sure. The bigger they are the harder they fall is so true. I am so thankful for the lesson that was learned in the midst of tragedy. What the enemy used to harm me actually gave God the opportunity to change me.

Are you overloaded today? Do you feel isolated or maybe even under attack? Have you asked yourself today, could it be me? I find that when peace and joy are elusive it is not an external attack but my flesh rises up for superiority over the grace that has been given to me. Pride is a performer. It will not give up its place willingly and must be ripped out by its roots. It will choke out every good deed our faith attempts to do to honor our Father. Jesus wants to take His Rightful Place next to us and carry our burdens. But He will not share the load with you – He exchanges it for His Burden which is easy and light. Ask the Lord to examine your heart today as I do mine. Ask Him today – “Could it be me, Lord?” I assure you that He will answer. He always does.

Psalm 69:32(NLT) The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.