To Be Steadfast

To Be Steadfast

Psalm 51:10 (NIV) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Oh for the grace of God that gives me a clean and pure heart each day. Mercy provided at the first of each day to cover all the faults and failures before they even come to pass. Such a great God, so loving and compassionate, faithful and true, yet I struggle to remain steadfast. Do you? Are there days when it just doesn’t seem like life is going as expected? Caught in the abyss of waiting and going through the motions of “walking by faith and not by sight” yet still wondering if this is the way? Indulge me, please if I am the only one who finds herself on the edge of reality and verge of faithful possibility teetering on the edge. God’s Word seems so distant and faint as the taunts of the enemy resound in my head. “Did God really tell you that? Are you sure? I think you should go back, step own, or move on.” All lies meant to lure me off course. So in the wee hours of morning, sitting in this place, and asking for a new heart. One that is pure, true and solely devoted to staying the course, finishing the race, and fulfilling my purpose, I wonder if what I need more than that today is to be steadfast. What if my heart is not the problem, but rather the doubt in my head?

Let me be the first to admit that I am impatient. It is one of my greatest character flaws that require more grace than I am willing to admit. Long lines and slow people drive me crazy. Waiting rooms are like prison cells. Waiting is the exercise needed to produce endurance. I must endure to the end. I must remain true to my faith and stay the course. One might think my stubbornness might work in my favor and maybe sometimes it does. However, most of the time it is the very thing I must overcome just to keep moving in this direction. The further you go the less you know. It is the truth about faith. Trust requires me to wait and watch for the Lord and not waver in my trials. Lord, teach me to be steadfast today.

Proverbs 4:23-27 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Visiting Proverbs for some wisdom and insight, simple steps are offered to keep us along the way. Above everything else, I must guard my heart today. How do I do that? I am told to give my life away. To love without expectation or obligation of another human being. To live as Light in this world with His Love shining from the broken crevices of my heart. The heart that I am guarding is broken. God is creating a new heart in me. It will take some time. I am not guarding my heart from being broken more but rather making sure that it stays soft and pliable in the Hands of God today. Not hardened or calloused by doubt, fear or even regret. Why? For everything you do flows from it. Good intentions become godly influence when our life is wrapped up in love.

Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. From the abundance of the heart, our mouth speaks. So maybe if I listen to what I am saying today, I will find the error of my ways. What is the contents of my communication? Do I speak life, faith and love throughout the days no matter my situation? To be free of perversity is to be willfully determined to remain on the desired and expected course and not contrary to the Word of God. Perversity is to say something other than what is believed to verbally live a contradictory life. Faith produces praise. Truth produces possibility. Hope is relayed in confidence. Confidence is evident in our words. Our conditions should dictate our communication but our faith and hope manifested in trust should make our words fruitful bearing the produce of seeds of truth planted and grown in our heart. What are you saying? Complaining and grumbling is not the kind of talk that demonstrates a heart full of faith but instead implies discontentment and dissatisfaction with God’s Care for us.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Comparison is a joy killer. The grass will always seem greener on the other side. Wandering eyes lead to a wondering heart. You cannot see the details leading up to this moment for others so do not evaluate their outcome by what you see now. The price paid may be more than you are willing to give. We must focus. Many days, I must refocus. What did Jesus say? What did the Lord tell me to do? Where did I step off course? The moment I took my eyes off Jesus and starting looking for something to ease my impatience or relieve the pressure of change. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of faith. I need Him to finish the work that He began in me. He is my Champion. He is my victory. I must remain steadfast in my pursuit of the Lord for all His Promises and His Purpose to come to pass in my life. Have I looked away? Have I wandered off? Is my mind wondering about the Truth? He is a good Shepherd who calls out to sheep and comes looking for the ones who wander off. Here I am Lord – thank you for calling out to me!

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Think about it. In Joshua 1:8, it says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Who doesn’t want to be prosperous and successful? I do. Not only in my spiritual life, but my natural life, too. I want the world to see what a Good and Great God that I serve. He has a plan for my life with a future and hope. One that will produce everything I need to have the rich and satisfying life that Jesus Christ died to give me. His Word is pivotal to living that life. I cannot hear it a couple times a week at church or on a podcast and think that this will be a roadmap for success. I must meditate on the Word of God every day and find new ways to implement it. The Bible is the Greatest Love Story ever written. If I break it apart and consume it day by day, tiny seeds of His Love will sprout in my worn out, tired and broken heart to produce life and life more abundantly. When my life begins to produce godly fruit, I will become a little more satisfied and a bit more content. This will produce a desire for more. One foot in front of the other in faith is simply planting a seed and waiting for it to grow. To not leave our field but work it real good. It is to know God. We cannot know the Lord without reading, studying, eating and digesting His Word. Why? Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. To know Jesus – I must know the Word. To know my way – I must know the Word.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Steadfast is our staying power. It is the decision to stay on course and maintain our heading even when the storms of life blow like a mighty wind all around us. To be still and know that He is God. He is Good. He is working on my behalf. When everything is falling apart, yet remaining right there because you know He will never let the righteous fall. Steadfastness produces a precious commodity called endurance. It is the moment when our eyes cannot see and our footsteps are simply by faith. Keeping a fixed direction when everything points to running in the other direction. To be firm in our purpose, resolution and faith. An attachment to Christ that is unwavering. Being yoked to the Lord, and refusing to go anywhere that He is not. Lord, make us steadfast today. Give us immovable faith untouched by the wind and rain of life. Let the condition of my heart and spirit reflect Your Faithfulness and Love rather than the conditions or situations that I may be facing right now. This too shall pass…

Lord, make me steadfast in spirit today. When I am about to complain, remind me to rejoice. May the fruit of your Spirit abound in my life today. Let be my offering to others. I want to be loving, kind and gentle as You are to me. Do not let my anxiousness turn into anxiety. Lord, remind me that You will carry each care and concern that I am willing to give to you completely. I will be prayerful. I will be thankful. Lord, I will place all my expectation in you and not people. You are faithful and I will try with all my heart to be the same. Jesus, I want to be steadfast and immovable in all things pertaining to life and godliness. Create in me a clean heart today Jesus and renew a steadfast spirit within me. May the offering of my life be pleasing and acceptable to You!  Amen and amen.

I Peter 5:10-11 (NIV) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

See the Stars

See the Stars

Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV) Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

Since our move to the country, I have noticed when I go outside early in the morning or after the sun has fallen in the west the number of stars that I see now. The sky is captivating as I look up and see stars of all shapes and sizes spread wide and far. It is beautiful like a magical light display. Where were all those stars hidden in our old house? They were not hidden, I just couldn’t see them. In the city, there are many lights. Those lights that help us make our way around are the same ones that create something called light pollution. It is the light pollution that makes the stars impossible to see. Normally about 2,500 stars are visible to the human eye without using a telescope or any other assistance. Scientists say that because of light pollution only about 200 to 300 are visible in suburbs and fewer than a dozen in the typical city. It makes me wonder. What else do I miss because of the “pollution” in my life?

To pollute something means to make it foul or unclean. It also may mean to make morally unclean or defile. To desecrate which is the opposite of consecrate which we is something we are called to be – “set apart” for God’s Service. The result is to render less effective or efficient. What is contaminating our life today that is keeping us from seeing the Glory of God all around us? Our inability to see God’s Presence in our life does not mean that He is not right there with us. It just means something is blocking our view. The stars are there all the time. Light pollution kept me from seeing them. But when our family moved, changed our position, relocated our life – suddenly their presence is undeniable and beautiful illuminating the darkness around us.

Psalm 8:3-8 (NIV) When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels   and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

What is mankind that you are mindful of them? Human beings that you care for them? God set every single star in its place. In the Psalm, it goes on to talk about God’s Mindfulness of us as mere mortals. Just ordinary people filled with faults and failures yet so loved by God that He made us to be crowned with glory and honor. He created us to be rulers over all the works of His Mighty Hands. He put everything under our feet beginning with the enemy but also every other created thing. Are you living in the Glory of God today? Are you as mindful of His Presence around you as He is you? Has some kind of pollution made its way in your life that is blocking the view of Your Extraordinary and Extravagant God who is working on your behalf? As I look at the stars, I am reminded of Abraham who the Lord pointed his face to the sky repeatedly to keep him focused on the promise of many descendants. I believe that Jesus loves us just like Abraham and His Promises for our life is just as numerous. We just have to look to the sky from where our help comes from.

Psalm 121 (NIV) I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

The enemy cannot stop God’s Will for our life. He cannot steal a single blessing from us. The devil does not have the power to make us do anything or lead us off other than that which we give him. He is a liar and manipulator – that’s all. It is our inability to keep our eyes on Jesus the Author and Finisher of Faith. The Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. For if we truly believed that the Lord was all these things, we would not need to wander or chase after other things. Christians would live lives of abundance, prosperity with constant joy and peace. Each and every promise made to us in the Word of God are “yes” and “amen” for those who believe and call Jesus Savior and Lord. Sin is pollution in our life. Distraction is pollution in our life. All the things we put before loving God and serving Him with our whole heart is what is drowning out His Glory in our life. It is up to us to clear away those things, change position, moving closer to the Lord for He is our Helper. He is the Maker of Heaven and Earth who chose to give us His Glory. It is up to us, because He has given us freedom, to decide if we will live a glorious life.

Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

I need a clean and pure heart unpolluted by malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” I need my heart to be soft and fertile ready to receive God’s Word and allow it to grow into each promise. I must be rooted and grounded in the Love of God in order to remain strong and unmoved in the storms of life. Jesus, create in me a pure heart today.

I need to have a steadfast spirit. There is a war inside of me waged daily for control. I want to respond to all of God’s Promises. I strive to remain in right standing with God. My flesh rallies to live when I try to crucify it each day. I must be steadfast. I must be strong and immovable. Always working enthusiastically for the Lord because I know that nothing I do for Him is useless. (I Corinthians 15:58) Lord, I rededicate every chamber of my heart and orifice of my mind to you today. Jesus, make me steadfast.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Salvation should fill our life with joy. It is up to us to rid our life of pollutants of every kind. In Philippians 2:14, it begins with grumbling and complaining. Every complaint registered in our life is against the Father. It relays the message to God and others that our life in Christ is unsatisfactory. It screams His Grace is not enough. Why would anyone lay down their life and pick up their cross just to be miserable. Life is hard enough already – thank you very much. What if we just stopped complaining for a single day? What if in that time when an objection or grumble started to rise up – we immediately replaced it with thankfulness or praise before it left our mouth? It would change the atmosphere of our life making it conducive to God’s Glory surrounding us. Our words hold power. Today God may the words of my mouth match the meditation of my heart which tells me your Word is true. You are good. All things work together for my good all I have to do is believe you. Trust you. Depend on you.

2 Peter 1:4-8 (NIV) Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. (Song of Solomon 2:15). Little foxes can be compared to all the distractions, compromises and substitutions the enemy offers us in exchange for God’s Glory and Favor in our life. We must learn to work smarter not harder giving our full attention to maintaining a pure heart and steadfast spirit. The Promises of God fill our life whether we can see them or not. Our response is faith. Faith that allows us to see the stars in the sky and know that they are hand-placed and named by God each and every one. Who is this God that is so detailed yet knows the number of hairs on my head and sand that on the beaches by every sea? He is the God who loves you and pursues you every day of the life. What is keeping you from seeing God’s Glory surrounding you today? Can you not see the forest for the trees? Is it time for a change? Is it time to make a move? God is waiting. He is always waiting for us to take just one step closer to be overtaken with more of His Love, empowered by more of His Spirit, and to take our rightful place of authority over the enemy in our life. What are you waiting for?

God created us to shine today. Jesus is the Light of the World. The Light of the World now lives in us. Can others see the brightness of His Glory shining from our heart? Are we a city on a hill? Or has our light gone dim as darkness closes in around us? There is no power in hell or prevailing darkness that can extinguish God’s Love for you. His Passion is like a raging fire relentless in consuming all that is in its path. He desires you. He pursues you with His Love. His Love for us is as strong as death, it is unyielding to the grave, and it burns like a blazing fire like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench His Love for us and rivers cannot sweep it away. (Song of Solomon 8:6-7) It is a love worth having, making room for, moving closer to and it is all for you.

Psalm 139:1-10 (NIV) You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 139: 23-24 (NIV) Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Whoa

Whoa

Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

 

Be still. Know that I am God. What if we could grab hold of these two statements and carry them with us throughout the day, applying them to any and all situations. What would be the result? I have decided that it would be peace. Rest. Calmness. Steadfastness. We would become immovable if we would simply decide to be still knowing that He is God. If you are like me, no matter how calm and tranquil the morning begins in the hours before dawn when the kids and animals are still sleeping, as soon as the day gets going it is off to the races. In the course of each day, hundreds of choices must be made small and large. We are given so many options it is not wonder our heart beats wildly and mind reels in chaotic thought. The enemy thrives in such an emotional environment. If you can picture an adolescent antelope grazing in a plain who is unaware of the pending danger. Inexperienced and young, it has never heard the quiet before the attack. It doesn’t realize all of the mature animals are watching and waiting because they know danger approaches. Before it can catch a breath, the race for its life begins as the stealth lion knows that if he can separate the young one from the herd that he will quickly overtake him. So he waits for that moment when the antelope is not paying attention, or maybe just naïve and unaware to lunge after him. The enemy in our life comes after God’s People the very same way. He watches and waits for an opportunity. He creates many distractions to lure us away. If he can catch us alone, off guard, not paying attention – he will surely overtake us. It happens all the time.

 

We are to be steadfast and immovable in the Lord. To be still and know that He is our God. It is not a play on words but complete and total mindset that forces us to act upon it. It is our only hope of peace in this crazy world that we live in. I want to be still. To be still is to remain in place, at rest and motionless. It means to be free from turbulence or commotion. To be peaceful and undisturbed. No anxiety. No worries. No cares. Just abiding faith and confident trust in the Power of God’s Love to sustain us. There are times when an overactive mind will expose a weakness in our faith that must be swiftly dealt with. As if watching the attack of prey on film, if we could just say, “Whoa!” Stopping the live action long enough to help the inexperienced animal have just one more day. As he runs fueled by adrenaline and fear, we watch feeling helpless and afraid knowing that any moment he will make a wrong turn, trip and fall or run into a dead end losing his life. Today I am telling my heart to whoa, my mind to cease its reeling as well. I must be still. I must know that He is God. I will do it but not on my own.

 

Mark 4:38-40 (NIV)

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

 

Jesus was sleeping in the stern of the boat as it rocked wildly in the midst of a powerful storm. He was unaffected but not unaware. Jesus knew that He had all power and authority over the elements of nature. He was fully at rest and fully in power all at the same time unlike his disciples whose fear finally overtook their faith so they asked Jesus to intervene. But look what they say to the Lord. They do not ask Him to calm the wind and waves but question his love and care for them. “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown? Notice also the Lord got up and rebuked the wind and waves not his followers. Instead asking them two things. “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

 

Jesus knows our heart and mind. He sees our limitations. He has given us His Spirit to overcome these weaknesses so we are empowered to be steadfast. It is the trials and challenges of this life posed in natural troubles and hardship that force us to examine our faith and prove its authenticity. This is not for God’s Benefit. It is not punishment but discipline as the Lord teaches us the insufficiencies of our faith to offer more grace until we are complete lacking no good thing. The problem is that at the first sign of trouble – most of us abandon ship. We would rather swim through the storm which implies some variation of human control then call on Jesus to calm the wind and waves, waiting for Him to do it, and not moving until He does. Guilty! I am so guilty of this sometimes and I detest this quality in me. What is the driving force in your life today? Is it the wind and waves? Is it the storm? Or is it faith in God and His Word?

 

Psalm 37:7-9 (NIV)

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

 

Be still before the Lord. Wait patiently for Him. I almost laugh out loud every time I read this. People say do not pray for patience. Well, if your desire is to follow Christ wholeheartedly – His Spirit will work to produce patience in you whether you pray for it or not. (Galatians 5:2) He will toil the rocky, hard ground of our heart until fertile soil is found, and then the Spirit works that place until patience rise up. Hope cannot be seen or obtained naturally so of course, it will require patience.

 

Stillness would be less difficult if we didn’t have to deal with people all the time. Living with blinders on is not an option, if we want to serve others we must be observant and aware. It all comes to down to patience. Discipline. Commitment. Obedience. We must be willing to trust the Lord and wait on Him if the whole world passes us by. We will catch up. Those who endure until the end will be saved. Patience is produced in waiting.

 

Psalm 130:5-6 (NIV)

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

 

I have to chuckle as I write about waiting today. It is the bane of my existence. The Lord makes me wait constantly and on purpose. It is a difficult process that will yield powerful results but it is painful. I remember as a child into my teenage years, my sweet grandmother telling me all the time that I was not patient. “Lori, you must learn to be patient.” Well Gram, I am finally getting there as I near the big 5-0. I can now do those things that she once told me required patience. Patience is a process. We are not born with them but rather a selfish need for immediate gratification.

 

Today I am reminded that I must wait for the Lord with my “whole being”. Body, mind and spirit must live in agreement with God’s Word and in cooperation with His Holy Spirit in order to wait as the watchmen for the morning. They will not leave their post until the sun rises. They keep their eyes fixed on the horizon waiting for the sun, while watching for the enemy. We will only wait and watch expectantly if we believe wholeheartedly that the Lord will come to us. (Psalm 5:3) Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit that will wait until You come. (Psalm 51:10)

 

I Peter 5:8-11 (NIV)

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

 

I know what you are thinking right now. I must be strong. I must stand tall. I must fight the enemy so that he will flee. I often have the same thoughts, too. But this is not the case at all for believers. We must just be still and wait on the Lord because He fights for us. (Exodus 14:13-14) Too many times we fight battles that are already won because our faith is not large enough to consider a Savior who is always victorious. Our mind will not accept a priceless battle or effortless war. We do not battle with flesh and blood but principalities and darkness. We are saved because through the Love and Blood of Jesus Christ we live in the undeserved privilege of righteousness again. No weapon formed against us will prosper. The righteous will not be shaken by fear for they trust in their Refuge and Strength – not in themselves. (Psalm 112:6-8) Though the whole earth shakes, we are bound securely by God’s Love and therefore untouchable if we remain there. (Isaiah 54:10) God will not allow the righteous to be shaken or removed from His Love, His Presence or His Body. (Psalm 55:22) If it happens, we bear responsibility. It is a lack of trust. A lack of faith. A lack of confidence in the Lord and His Ability to keep and care for us that leads us from His Presence to pursue lesser things. Jesus wants to make us strong, firm and steadfast again. I want to be strong, firm and steadfast, too.

 

Hebrews 12:26-29 (NIV)

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

 

What if this shaking and shifting that is causing us to examine our faith and recommit our trust to Jesus is not really the enemy rattling our cages, but the Lord once more shaking the earth? What if it is not a test but final preparations for His Return? Too many times we give the enemy way more credit than he deserves by assuming he has some power and authority over us. He doesn’t. The God of Peace will crush satan. (Romans 16:20) For a believer to have strong faith and confident hope produced by learning to patiently, steadfastly, and persistently wait on the Lord until His Word comes to pass – they will live in the Peace of God forever. God’s Peace is like no other. It is not logical but always faithful. It is not something the world will ever understand because it is not of this world. You will not find it in this temporary place called earth but it is transferred from God’s Kingdom and imparted supernaturally to His People.

 

John 14:26-27 (NIV)

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

 

When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He left a gift behind for me. It is called the Holy Spirit. He is my Advocate. He knows my weakness of heart and mind working to resolve it each day so faith and hope may abound in my life and peace right along with it. On those days when I think about giving up or quitting, He encourages me. On the days that I become prideful, He instructs me. On the days I choose my way, He guides me back to God’s Way. Jesus gave me peace. It is up to me to maintain it in my life. I am the protector of my own peace. I must feed it the Word of God. (John 16:33) I must be obedient. (Romans 8:6) Jesus is my peace. As long as I strive to live and abide in His Love, I will have perfect peace. (Ephesians 2:13-17) Peace is accomplished by remaining still and steadfast trusting, believing and obeying the Lord and taking God at His Word. Our feelings and emotions don’t really matter for they are changing all the time. Jesus gives us victory if we are willing to wait for it. Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always giving ourselves to the Work of the Lord. This is a place of peace. This is where I learn to be still. This is when I will know that He is God. (I Corinthians 15:57-58)

 

Philippians 4:6-9 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

Like wild horses, we must learn to rein in our rebellious thoughts and wayward thinking. We are to be anxious for nothing. Tell the truth. You are worried about something, aren’t you? You are concerned. Lets’ be real. There is something compromising your peace today. I am right there with you but it doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t tell me you are a worrier because I know that you are really a warrior of Christ. One thing that I have learned over the last five decades of life, waiting is inevitable. Patience and persistence pays off. When you apply it to faith and confident hope, it will become the anchor for our soul that keeps us from drifting or wavering from His Promises. (Hebrews 6:18-20) The enemy is working hard to shake your faith and confidence in the Lord. We must pay attention. The Peace of God always seems a bit crazy and insane because we cannot understand it. We know where it comes from but when it overtakes us – the impact is crazy. The Lord has given me peace. In the stillness of waiting on the Lord, there may be many storms and attacks but if I strive to remain faithful in all things His Peace will soon overtake me. I have been given the opportunity of righteousness or right-standing with God if I choose to live in it. It is this profound privilege that affords us to be still and know that He is God. He is Good. He is relentless working on our behalf to make good from every detail of our life. His Love is unfailing. His Goodness is constantly pursuing me. I must only wait and watch for it to catch up. Whoa today my fellow believer! Stop trying to make things happen and let God be God again. Don’t buck the waiting but embrace it as fulfillment comes to you. Patience always pays off greater dividends than our investment. Be still today in all things. Have faith. God is with us. He is for us. He will never let the righteous be shaken much less fall.

 

Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV)

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

 

To Stay – A Devotion

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”

 

Another storm, really Lord? Another drought, again? Does your soul cry out to God today at the circumstances of life wondering how much longer can one make it without giving in? There are many storms in life as well as seasons of prolonged drought. You, my friend, as a Child of the Living God were not created to pass by these times. God has not made alternative routes to go over or around avoiding such treacherous situations. No with deep roots have you been created to withstand all of life’s ups and downs while flourishing like a tree by a riverbank. Trees do not come in from the storm but simply endure them. The tree with deep roots will stand strong and even benefit in the midst of torrential rain while those who are shallow will be swiftly carried away. Storms are tests that will determine if your faith is grounded in a firm foundation or it will reveal any dangerous insufficiencies that may linger under the surface. God is helping you to determine the level of hope and confidence that you have established in the Source. The challenge you are facing is not without reward for those who withstand the challenge and remain strong – there is blessing.

 

Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

 

Valid faith worthy of withstanding every test in life even death is found in righteousness alone. We may have days that we feel strong and courageous. That is, until the weather calls for storms then suddenly the world feels so big and we feel so small. Helpless in the wind and rain, we cry out to the Lord to take out of such fretful circumstances and take us out of the storm. But God created you for this life that you live including every difficulty and opposition that one will face. He did not create you to run from battle to stand strong in the midst of fierce fighting knowing that victory belongs to the righteous who remain in the Presence of God. Yes you will mourn. Yes you will faint. But you will find joy, peace and gladness at the end of the rainbow (promise) that comes when the sun or Son shines again. You were made with everything you need to stand tall in this storm and even grow from the experience. But you must remain in the midst of the uncertainty knowing that God is with you working on your behalf. He is your strength. He has given you every single thing you will need physically, emotionally and spiritually to win this battle if you will choose to stay!

 

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT)

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

 

You can’t say that we were not warned. Jesus said that there would be days like this. (John 16:33) Here on earth there will be many trials and sorrows, the Lord told us so. But He also was very straightforward in letting us know that we can have peace in every situation because Jesus has overcome all of it. How does one prepare for the storms of life? Here’s a hint, it begins long before there is a forecast of rain. Deep roots are established by a tree planted in Living Water that is bearing fruit. It is not enough to call yourself a “Christian” and attend the local church every Sunday. It requires good positioning from the beginning on good soil. The best foundation for faith is the Word of God. It is the whole truth and nothing but the truth making it rich with knowledge and promises that will anchor one’s hope in the Lord from this day forward. Strong roots make what’s going on above the ground inconsequential. Limbs may break and leaves may fall but the tree remains. The Word of God establishes faith in a firm foundation that is far out of the reach of the circumstances of life. You know what you know and that settles it. Nothing – not wind, rain, or other people can move the one who is rooted and grounded in the Word of God. So send the rain. Send the storm and those who have chosen good ground will stay!

 

Matthew 13:20-21 (NLT)

The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.

 

Storms rage all around the outside but for many people there is inner turmoil as well. With hardened hearts the message comes and they receive it but there is no place to plant it. Roots cannot grow in a stone cold heart. You will not be safe in the circumstances of life if the inside of your soul is wavering and weak. The Spirit of the Living God is looking for something to latch into. He knows the Truth, but until you are fully convinced enough to allow God to break your heart once or twice and restore it for righteousness sake, the storms of life will take you out every single time. There is no foundation. The Spirit and the Word make a connection that is unbreakable. The more Word you pack into your life the less room there is for you! Flesh is weak and cannot survive tragedy but your soul can! When the Spirit of God has His Truth to work with in your life a firm foundation is established that cannot be swayed by convincing flesh. Before you know it, the roots of your heart will be so intertwined with the Father’s Love for you that you cannot be bothered with what the world says and its perception of events because you are wrapped up in the strong bonds of God’s Love for you. Who would leave such a place? No one. You will hold tight to such knowledge no matter what you are facing because it is better than life. Make it a point to establish deep roots in the Word of God by studying and praying His Word every single day. Memorize the verses that break your heart and the ones that rebuild you into the new creation you are called to be. You will be an Oak of Righteousness not by your power but by His Spirit able to stay when most people run.

 

Colossians 1:21-23 (NKJV)

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

 

In the midst of the storm, it is often hard to see clearly. As water pounds from the Heavens, it beats off the debris from the tallest tree and clears the dirt from the ground and sidewalks below. While the rain keeps coming, it is hard to see the benefit but when the sky clears and the sun comes out it is evident that things are different. Your flesh is obviously a big part of your life and sometimes wicked ways, thoughts or actions go by undetected flying under the radar of life as we try to remain rooted and grounded in the Love of God. But when the Holy Spirit hits a rock or barrier, He will call for the rain to melt away the imperfections in our foundation. He is preparing you for the day your faith will carry you from death to life. There is no room for insufficiencies in one’s faith at this time so the Lord takes care of it in our natural life. When facing a barrage of problems and opposition in life while crying out to God, we often cannot see the benefit in the midst of a trial but that does not mean that God is not recreating His Precious Child and enacting His Perfect Plan. Your only requirement in this spiritual battle for your soul is to stay! Stand against the devil and He will flee! There is no need to fight for Jesus has overcome the world including every single problem that you will ever face. Plant your feet in the Truth. Grab the Shield of Faith and stand tall. The Breastplate of Righteousness will be intact if you do waver from God’s Truth. The Helmet of Salvation will guard your mind with peace no matter what others say or do. You are rooted and grounded by faith so bring on that storm, God wants to bless you and He begins by clearing away anything and everything that may have come between you!

 

Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT)

You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so.You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops.You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

 

God is watering your soul today. The trial you are facing is Living Water in disguise. He has decided that you are worthwhile rich and fertile ground for His Seeds of Hope so God is “melting the clods and leveling the ridges” in your life so that the rain will make it to your heart! Abundant crops come after the earth is softened by the rain and you will live in abundance when you choose to stand in the midst of a storm. Living Water is flooding your heart and life preparing you for a “bountiful harvest” even though it seems everything is just being washed away. Don’t abandon the process but be willing to receive the priceless overflow from Heaven that God is sending in abundance to water your soul! In John 4:10, Jesus spoke of “living water”. He said, “If you only knew the gift God has for you…” God has many promises waiting for the faithful and righteous ones who remain in His Presence no matter what life hurls at them. Do you know the gift God has for you? Salvation is only the tip of the iceberg of blessing God has reserved for you. If you knew all the gifts God has waiting for you, I think instead of saying, “Why me?” many people would be crying out, “Send the rain!” God is hoping you will decide to become rooted and grounded in His Amazing Love so He can send the rain of Living Water He has reserved to cover your life, clear away all barriers between the two of you and pour His Spirit fresh and new throughout your entire life, watering you from the inside out! Stay awhile and ask the Lord to send the rain even if it comes in a storm – you are ready! God made sure of it! It’s time to stay!

 

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT)

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

 

To stay in the Love of God and remain in His Presence throughout life’s storms will make you a mighty oak of righteousness with deep roots forever nurtured by Living Water. Jesus Christ wants to make His Home in your heart. His Word planted there will grow into a wonderfully sound relationship with roots that are established in a firm foundation of faith. It will give you the power to understand the capacity of God’s Love and recognize it in every situation and circumstance in life. It truly is the only way to EXPERIENCE the Love of God. God’s Love will complete you giving you a full life from creation to Eternity rather than birth to death. It all begins by planting yourself and remaining there no matter what constantly working on the foundation of faith that began when you said, “Yes” to Jesus Christ! You will be ready for the wind. You will not be afraid. You will listen for thunder. You will stand strong in the storm. Soon you will say, “Lord send the rain and I will stay!”

Soul Prosperity – A Devotion

Genesis 49:22-26 (NLT)

“Joseph is the foal of a wild donkey, the foal of a wild donkey at a spring—one of the wild donkeys on the ridge. Archers attacked him savagely; they shot at him and harassed him. But his bow remained taut and his arms were strengthened by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, by the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel. May the God of your father help you; May the Almighty bless you with the blessings of the heavens above, and blessings of the watery depths below, and blessings of the breasts and womb. May the blessings of your father surpass the blessings of the ancient mountains, reaching to the heights of the eternal hills. May these blessings rest on the head of Joseph, who is a prince among his brothers.”

Where are you standing today? Look around and what is it that you see? Are you high on the mountaintop of life overlooking a world full of options? Or are you trying to see the light in the darkest depth of the valley surrounded by insurmountable barriers too high to climb? Maybe you are moving at such a pace that the scenery has been a blur for a very long time and you really have no idea where you are and what is next? No matter what the actual scenery is everyone has a different vantage point of life. It is really not your proximity in life but your perspective that will drive you from Glory to Glory. The Kingdom of God cannot be seen in its entirety from the earth. But it can be experienced by those who Love God through a prospering soul! The problem is life is consuming. There are so many things coming at you that are visible making it almost impossible to remain focused on the unseen. The pressures placed on your shoulders in life bear a weight so significant it often blocks the view of Eternity. The enemy can take his best shot and though we may feel the momentary sting of our humanity, it can never affect our destiny in Jesus Christ. Venture with me to the mountaintop and closer to the vantage point of God. There are days when only your hope in Jesus can take you there. If only for a moment, we can see things through His Eyes and come to understand that the trials in life do not define us. In fact, once positioned in the righteousness of God nothing can harm us. God’s blessing will overtake us and carry us through hardship to His Kingdom forever.

The life of Joseph is marked by circumstance after circumstance. In spite of it all, his soul prospered. As a young man, he was filled with prophetic dreams from God. But the world did not embrace what faith had revealed to Joseph. He encountered many unexpected stops on his way to destiny. The muddy walls of the pit his brothers threw him in probably could not be seen through the tears of his broken heart. Shattered by rejection and betrayal, Joseph was forced to rely only on the Love of God. Sold into slavery, Joseph lost his dignity and freedom in an instant. Joseph had no choice but to seek freedom in his soul. In Potiphar’s house, Joseph found favor only to once again be devastated by a lie. Thrust into prison, his momentary glimpse of partial freedom replaced by defeat all over again. How much more could one person take? Maybe you have been asking yourself the same question. The favor of the Lord remained on Joseph and once again his master found him to be quite capable and responsible. Joseph had favor with the warden. Even in the “prisons” of life, you can succeed. Your soul can prosper in the filth of a prison. God never left Joseph’s side. He will not leave yours. It was God’s Master Plan in action that allowed Joseph to be put in these situations. Joseph was being refined and though his location changed multiple times, Joseph’s faith remained true to God’s promise and his soul was fed. When the cupbearer and baker of the king, his new “friends” forgot him Joseph did not waver. Joseph still gave God his best. As Joseph was brought before the king, I am sure he wondered what the day would bring after so many disappointments. Anyone would, right? Still, he gave his very best. This day, Joseph was made the ruler of Egypt. He would be reunited with his family. God did not forget one promise that He ever made to Joseph…and neither did Joseph.

Successful believers of unwavering faith require an eternal perspective to succeed. You have nothing to lose by giving your heart and life completely to God. In fact, you have everything to gain. Circumstances turn into victory and disappointment into destiny for those who place all their faith and trust in the Lord. Your vantage point is unimportant. Your perception of God’s Proximity is imperative. “His bow remained taut and his arms were strengthened.” Great responsibility comes with the Promises of God. God dreams of BIG THINGS for you. Your finite thinking must be completely reconditioned to rely on God’s power to take you to such places and bear such awesome responsibility.  Your faith must be immovable, yet flexible only to the repositioning of your Father. Trials will create such faith. It is gained through obedience regardless of what you can see. God wants everything to be perfect. He is creating an avenue of blessing that confounds the enemy and will completely overwhelm you. If you could only see what your Father is doing behind the scenes, maybe then you would embrace your surroundings and choose to do your very best right where you are. There is favor where you are when you rely on God’s strength and are not moved by your circumstances. Your soul can prosper until the rest of your life catches up.

Psalm 30:4-6 (NLT)

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. When I was prosperous, I said, “Nothing can stop me now!”

Speak the words – “Nothing can stop me now!” This outward expression of faith can create an inward transformation. The circumstances of life may or may not change depending on God’s Plan for your life! Your soul can prosper regardless of your situation. Weeping is temporary for joy will always follow those who remain faithful to the promises of God. Stand strong today. Do not give up. Nurture prosperity from the inside out. Things don’t change lives – Jesus does. May a deep well of joy spring up in your life today and carry you through whatever you are facing!