Soul Wellness

Soul Wellness

Psalm 131 (NKJV) Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

Psalm 131 describes the heart of one who fully and completely trusts the Lord. The words are not eloquent painting a picture of divine intervention and a perfect life. It is more a surrender and submission of the psalmist’s heart, mind and soul to the Sovereignty of God. It is simple truth about simple trust. My heart is not haughty or my eyes lofty. Pride crucified. Completely convicted of its own inadequacy and inability to be effective on its own. The first step to trusting the Lord is humility. Grace is accepted in our absolute weakness. It is the moment the Power of the Living God is manifested in us…not necessarily around us. The expectation that Jesus came to change our situation and save the earth is false. He came for one thing. He died for a single cause. It was for me. It was for you. His Desire for us so great that He set aside His Throne to come and live a humble life as our example and to be crucified as a sacrifice for us. My heart is humbled at such a thought. The idea that a perfect and sinless man would lay down his life for me is overwhelming in the first place, but to add that it is the deity of God who took my place is incomprehensible even to those who believe.

As I write these words today, there is a hurricane headed in our direction. The sky is growing darker and the wind beginning to pick up. It is midmorning and the neighborhood is eerily quiet as the community waits, watches and wonders what will happen next. Fully prepared with food and supplies, the unpredictability of nature and the weather is still unnerving. Standing outside it is clear even the birds, squirrels and animals that live in the trees around our house have gone into hiding. Vivid images being broadcast from the center of the hurricane make it clear things are destined to change. In the stillness, I am reminded – the will of God is stillness for our soul no matter what the situation. I do not understand the nature and condition of the world in which I live. I am not entirely sure why bad things happen to good people or why the innocent die young. The more I think I know the less I seem to understand many things. However, I have come to know a few simple things – God is good. He loves me. He is for me. Christ lives in me. His Spirit helps me. In the Lord, I will trust.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

Yesterday, the wind began to pick up just a little bit. A tree fell in our yard. There was only a gentle breeze. How could it cause such damage? On closer inspection, I found that the tree was completely rooted on the inside. Though it looked fine from the exterior, the interior was fragmented and crumbling easily picked apart with my bare hands. It wasn’t the wind that knocked over the tree and caused it to fall but rather the tree was dying on the inside already. When the breeze came along it could not stand anymore. An object lesson for me, I believe. Maybe it Is not the problems in life that cause us to stumble or fall crying out to the Lord, but rather out inward condition of distrust and disbelief that push us over when things start moving and shaking around us. Rather than trusting our Good Father, Loving God, Savior, Redeemer, Protector and Friend, our inward condition causing outward consequences. I want to trust the Lord. I want to be welcomed into the Kingdom of God. I must be unshakable and immovable in my faith which is evidenced by trust.

What if the situations and circumstances that come with life are not the cause of our fall, fail or future? What if it is just the conduit that causes us to see our current condition? The tree was on the verge of falling already. It was deteriorating rapidly on the inside. The first brisk breeze that came along knocked it over. Could it be that it is not the things that happen to us that are the problem but rather reveal the contents of our heart? Psalm 131 says, “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul…” The security of our heart, mind and soul are manifested by trust. To trust the Lord making Him our refuge and strength. This means letting go of the three “C’s” (comfort, control and convenience) to fully embrace Christ in all things.

Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) Be still, and know that I am God…

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God is our refuge. He is our strength. He is a very present help in trouble. The humble heart knows this and puts trust in the character and divine nature of our loving, faithful Father and Friend. We must trust the Lord. Trust is reliance on the integrity, strength, ability and surety of the Lord with full confidence. It is the confident expectation or hope given to us as an indication of faith in our life. Hope is futuristic. It is intact whether our natural circumstances or condition indicate its relevancy. God is God with or without our belief. Our belief does not fuel His Power but aligns us within it. Miracles are made up of impossibilities. It is such times that God becomes our hope and security. Without impossible situations there would be no signs, wonders or miracles. It is the shaking of our heart, mind and soul that reveal the contents of our heart and soundness of our trust. It is when we can be still in just knowing that He is God when simple trust becomes evident.

Psalm 62:1-2 (NKJV) Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

There is a great deal of uncertainty in the city and surrounding area. Our lives may change dramatically in the next 24 hours depending on the intensity of the hurricane when it reaches our area. More than 20 people have died in its wake. We have prepared to the best of our ability for the storm. Our home is well-constructed and completely insured. There is a generator with a fresh supply of gasoline and plenty of food and water if needed. Now we wait… If tomorrow tragedy strikes what will be my response? Will I be able to say, “It is well with my soul”? Where we wait is the tell-tale sign of the outcome in moments such as these.

Triumph over tragedy is found in the Lord and in God alone. It is the peace that passes understanding that allows us to draw our next breath when it is all we have left. His Love is the place where shattered pieces of broken hearts find healing. The Refuge called Presence is the hiding place for God’s People. His Grace is our strength yet only evident in our complete and utter weakness that causes us to humble our heart before Him.

Today as I wait for the storm to pass, I am challenged to examine my heart and listen for the inner voice of my soul. Will I wait silently before the Lord knowing that He alone is my salvation? Will I be moved? Will I stay put in my faith and simple trust believing that no matter what tomorrow holds that He holds me firmly in place? We put so much emphasis on what we can see, feel, hold and touch in this life that sometimes it is the moving and shaking of those things that cause us to inspect the contents of our heart and soul. My deep desire is that when morning comes – the voice that I hear will say, “It is well with my soul!”

When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul”.

Romans 15:13 (NKJV) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

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To Be Immovable

To Be Immovable

I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV) Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

The world is full of distractions. Detours are at just about every turn. Delays drain our patience. Doubt fills the void. Discouragement overshadows confidence. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. The current is swift and is always moving. Yet believers are called to be steadfast and immoveable. Feelings and emotions get the best of us sometimes and pride tells us there is no turning back. How does one become immovable? Is it possible that within our humanness there is enough character to become fully confident and totally trusting of a God who cannot be seen? To walk by faith and not by sight. It is our calling. It is the purpose of all who follow Christ. To find the diligence in discipleship that allows us to submit our life fully and completely until established in our faith and moved by nothing but the Lord. I desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, therefore; I must find such a place.

Leaving a party, I was following my husband through the winding roads of an unfamiliar place. A warning light came on indicating the tailgate of my vehicle was not fully closed. I pulled over to secure it and realized that he had continued on his way. He did not see that I had fallen behind. I took out my phone and used the app for directions. It took it a little while for it to load my location due to poor service. I waited. Once it completed the operation, it rerouted my route so I had to turn around. Finally, I was on my way again. I have lived long enough and been lost more than once so I know that the last thing I needed to do was keep driving looking trying to find my way. I had everything I needed to make it to my destination. I have confidence in the little tracking device as it has taken me many places. The hardest part is the waiting. Waiting will always be a part of our process. It is the part where trust is testing and confidence established.

Faith enables us to believe and receive. Trust is the vehicle of faith that takes us to our destination marked abundance. Human logic immediately translates the Favor of God in financial or monetary aspects. Truly the abundance of the heart and soul are love, joy and peace found only in a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. As our soul prospers so will our natural life. Proper order and priority is the key to prosperity. By faith, believers walk in God’s Fullness beginning with the Fruit of His Spirit. Love, joy and peace are only the beginning of all God has for us. He continues with “forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are the key ingredients of a steadfast and immovable life in Christ. Each one nourishing a part of our mind, soul and body otherwise left to the deterioration of sin and ignorance. That’s right…ignorance. God clearly defines ignorance as a killer. (Hosea 4:6) To serve the Lord properly is to know His Word and apply it to our life effectively.

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Confidence in God’s Word, His Power, His Authority and His Goodness will promote faithfulness. It must become a priority in our life that overcomes pride, selfishness and even busyness. To serve the Lord with persistence and diligence even when the way is unclear, uncertain, or even impossible. How do we remain unwavering, steadfast and immovable in the Lord despite hardship, hurt feelings, and overwhelming circumstances? It is a state of constant giving. To give ourselves fully to the Lord means bit by bit and piece by piece of our life is surrendering and submitted to God and His Word until all of us is fully invested in all of Him. The same verse, I Corinthians 15:58 in the New King James Versions calls brothers and sisters “beloved”. I am the one who Christ calls beloved. Like a groom to his soon-to-be bride whispered in the intimate embrace full of expectant exhilaration of the future that is at hand. I wonder how our effort and determination might change if our mind could fully conceive the capacity of God’s Love for us and His Commitment to our fulfillment as His Beloved.

I Peter 3:8-9 (NIV) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

I Peter 3:14 (NKJV) Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless…

In the popular worship song, How He Loves, my favorite verse and constant reminder is that “We are His Portion and He is our Prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in His Eyes, if grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss, and my heart turns violently inside of my chest. I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us.” The greatest hindrance in our life as a believer is doubt and disbelief. To know Christ and His Love any other way than fully is an injustice of His Grace. The Grace of God leads to righteousness through Jesus Christ to the fulfillment of every individual who fully engages in pursuing His Love completely trusting and fully faithful. Diligence comes when doubt and disbelief are eradicated.

I wonder what might happen if one fully realized the kind of love that Jesus has for us. The kind of fathomless grace offered in finding our way and fully realizing the potential of new life. Marriage always needs a whole lot of love, grace and forgiveness to successfully overcome statistics. Jesus has such grace for us. He wants to live a love story with us. We must accept His Love and grow in the relationship to find the persistence, perseverance and diligence to become steadfast and immovable. Such a realization allows us to put all expectation in the Lord and stop expecting perfection from people. It slays our pride and opens our heart to love freely and generously.

Hebrews 6:17-20 (NKJV) Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

God is constantly promoting and producing abundance for our life. What is abundance? It means to superabound, have in excess, greatly surpass and excel. The word shows the generosity of God’s Grace giving assurance that faithful use of one’s talents and gifts set the stage for one’s advancement. This is our hope in Him. New life. New creation. New things. New possibilities. However, without hope, we cannot attain such things. Hope is the anchor of our soul that keeps us persistent and patient in the testing, temptation and trials of life. When presented with an alternative, substitution, settlement or counterfeit, it is easily identifiable given our knowledge of His Character and Intentions for us so we are able to endure and remain steadfast and immovable as we await with expectation fulfillment according to His Word. Jesus did not die for us to live status quo or so-so existences. It is our disbelief and doubt that hinder due diligence.

The surety and steadfast of salvation is God’s Word. Jesus came in the flesh to live out God’s Love for us. He left with the promise to return for a bride spotless and blameless. His Grace is enough to fully transform us but it is our weakness that allows us to claim it fully and completely. Those who believe that by grace they are saved through faith and not of themselves must come to this realization to live God’s Revelation for their life.

Psalm 51:10-11 (NKJV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your Presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

This is my prayer today. I want a steadfast heart. One that is not easily distracted by the detours and delays in life but fully trusting in God’s Word, His Promise and Purpose for my life. It will require an immovable heart fully trusting Him at His Word. Walking by faith and not by sight. Waiting until He speaks, moves and leads. This is not my natural character and the very thing pride is always trying to stop. Submission to the Lord and living in full surrender will always come at the sacrifice of self. The freedom found is indescribable. The moment persistence is born of patience and one is able to wait out the process and receive the promise will change us forever.

What is stopping you today? Feed it the fruit of God’s Spirit. He gives us everything we need to overcome. In every situation, we win. It is confidence in the hope given to us that allows us to obtain the victory described in God’s Word. Jesus is our champion. We must trust the Lord to do all He has promised and allow Him to be our portion. He is our prize. Grace gives us every opportunity to live a life of fulfillment and abundance by offering the paltry sum of self for the perfection of God. Ask the Lord to give you eagerness in your pursuit of Him today. Eagerness will combine thinking and acting. It will partner planning and producing. It is inception and action that leads to follow through in our natural life for a spiritual fulfillment. To exert ourselves, make every effort, make haste, be zealous and strain every nerve to further the cause of Christ in us, through us and all around us. God is good! I believe that wholeheartedly. Am I willing to invest in it is the question? Are you immovable? Are you steadfast? Do you believe? God is good all the time. He is patient, loving and kind. He will never let us down. The Lord is our hope and salvation. He gives enough grace to overcome every weakness with power. I will be unstoppable when I become immovable because Christ is in me.

Psalm 112:6-8 (NKJV) Surely he will never be shaken; the righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established; he will not be afraid, until he sees his desire upon his enemies.

Finding Refuge

Finding Refuge

Proverbs 14:26 (NKJV) In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.

The waiting room of God has a sign hanging over the door marked “Refuge.” It is a place of peace and calm even when storms rage all around us. Like watching a torrential downpour from the comfort of our home, tucked under a soft blanket in our comfy clothes, listening to the rain hit the house, and watching the wind whipping through the trees yet somehow comforted and untouched by the sound structure of our house. When I was a child, our family lived in a mobile home. Not like the manufactured homes produced today but more like a tin can with wheels. When a mighty storm with wind and rain rocked the trailer back and forth, I would sleep peacefully knowing my parents where in the other room seemingly unaffected by the bad weather outside. Refuge can be found in our natural circumstances and sometimes in situations and certain people can offer the aid, comfort or escape needed. But what about all the other times when conditions around us threaten the peace within us? Those times when nothing in the natural can give us rest or relief from the storms of life? We have a refuge. We must learn to find Him.

Life is full of changes and uncertainty. Just when everything seems to be coming together, it can suddenly fall apart. The unexpected looms around every corner. Comfort is compromised on a regular basis. Convenience is our goal most often unattained. Could this be God’s subtle way of ushering us from movable circumstances to immovable confidence? Maybe in the storms of life it in our panic it is possible to persuade us to enter His Refuge called Peace? Refuge (machseh) is translated in the Bible as trust. Trusting the Lord is our shelter, refuge, protection, fortress, hope, shelter from the storm. We find the word “refuge” used many times in Psalms. It describes the place of peace and calm in the midst of violent storms and enemy attacks. It is for God’s Children. He offers us refuge. It is up to us to enter in.

Psalm 62:5-8 (NKJV) My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

My soul, wait silently on God alone, for my expectation is from Him.

To wait on the Lord is the most trust-filled position yet completely contrary to human nature. To stop trying to find a way out, over or through a situation or problem and rest in peaceful hope with the fullness of expectation that God is good, able and willing work it out for us. God’s silence is not His Absence. It is an opportunity to step deeper into the refuge called hope. To experience the comfort called peace. To the God of the Impossible and live in His Presence. Yet, silence makes us uncomfortable. It makes us fidget and squirm. The lack of communication fosters fear in those who do not have fearless confidence in the Lord, His Way and His Word. We must buffet our heart and mind with the essentials of faith so that hope becomes our refuge even in God’s Silence. While the enemy dares us to move, our heart remains steadfast in His Shelter.

I shall not be moved…

The Lord is my salvation. He is my glory. He is my strength. He is my refuge. All these qualities of God are to be made manifest in our life. Salvation being the core value of faith that gives us a place to put all our expectation. He is our Glory because through Christ we are victorious in our Champion who overcame the world. He is the rock so much higher than I but climbing is striving drawing me from my comfort zone into His Presence. To look down from such a place in the natural is riveting but to remain steadfast in such a place is powerful.

Trust in Him at all times…

Easier said than done most of the time, trust is the access point marked “refuge”. We must trust the Lord to find the peace of God even when He is silently working every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Fear and doubt produce anxiety that keeps us from staying in the refuge of God’s Presence. Faith cannot remain where fear is given a place in our life. The two cannot coexist but are mutually exclusive opposing forces. If we could only learn to trust the Lord with every detail of our life – we would live in the refuge of His Presence where peace passes all understanding. Faith would give way to confident hope rooting and grounding us in His Love. (Ephesians 3:17)

A preacher once gave the illustration of trust being the difference between a potted plant or planted tree. A potted plant is in grave danger when the storm comes. A tree planted with deep roots will fair far better. The potted plant is tossed about in the driving wind and raging storm where the one that is planted will be swayed back and forth but remain steadfast. There are many believers who are like potted plants when it comes to the Lord and His Presence. Running to and fro when the storm comes their position in Christ is compromised by a lack of commitment. However, those who decide to be like a tree planted by the riverbank will prosper in every season because they are planted in the Presence of God. The roots that keep us planted in the Presence God called refuge are called trust. When we trust the Lord, it will create a bond that keeps us latched on to Him tightly making us immovable and unshakeable in the most violent of conditions.

Psalm 46:1 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

God is a very present help in trouble. What about when I can’t hear Him? Feel Him? See Him? Understand Him? Our inability to perceive the workings of the Lord doesn’t mean that He is absent. We are called to walk by faith not by sight or any other of our natural senses. When given the opportunity to trust the Lord, we choose our position. Will I remain faithful? Will I continue to worship the Lord for Who He is? Will my words be filled with confident praise or constant complaining? Will I believe for one more day? Will I wait for Him to come like He said that He would? Will I give God the time and space to allow His Will to come to pass even if it means forsaking my comfort, convenience and control? God makes all things beautiful in His Timing. We are His Masterpiece yet to be completed.

Trusting God is the only way that fulfillment will come and our expectation be fully met. He is our strong tower that keeps the enemy at bay. (Psalm 61:3) God does not force us to enter refuge but we must make the decision. “I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my refuge…’” (Psalm 91:2) God’s Presence, His Place called Refuge, is “my portion in the land of the living.” (Psalm 142:5) So many times, we try to weather the storms of life because we cannot accept that by grace we are saved through faith” and there is nothing that can be done to earn it, deserve it or preserve it. I must have faith in the Living God. He lives in me…now. He wants to give me refuge now. He wants to be my peace and portion…now. Trust creates the kind of reliance on God that meets our expectation despite our current condition. “But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.” (Psalm73:28)

Hebrews 6:17-20 (NKJV) Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

The only place in the New King James Version of the New Testament that refuge is mentioned is in the Book of Hebrews. The faith book of the Bible tells us that so “we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” Are you holding on to hope today? Even if it is only by a thread you can use it to pull yourself into the Presence of God. He is our hope. He has made an oath to us. He has given us a plan containing a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) God created us with a measure of faith to seed our life (Romans 12:3) so that confident hope will be produced. We sow God’s Word in our heart and it is cultivated by His Spirit inside of us when we trust Him to do so. (Galatians 5:22-23) God does not lie. He does not change His Mind. (Hebrews 6:18) He does not withdraw His Calling from us. He is always for us working every detail of our life for good. (Romans 8:28) He promises to perfect all that concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) But none of these things will ever come to pass, if we do not learn to trust Him. We must yoke our life to Jesus Christ in order to find the refuge needed to wait out the storm or find protection from the enemy. It is in that place of silence and security that peace passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and there is joy in our salvation (Psalm 51:12). He wraps us in a robe of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:10) Shields us beneath the wings of angels (Psalm 91:4). He will fight for us when our faith allows us to stand down yet steadfast in His Love. Confidently waiting for our portion to refill us, restore us and renew us day by day.

There is no greater refuge than the peace found in the Presence of God. He offers to be our refuge always not just when tough times come or bad things happen. We can live in the Presence of God every day. He will be our refuge. He wants to be our strength. Finding refuge means to simply trust Him with your life. All of it. Withholding nothing and His Presence will fill every nook and cranny. You will prosper as your soul prospers according to His Word. Once you find it, you will never want to leave Him again.

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV) The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Don’t Move

Dont Move

I Corinthians 15:58 (ESV) Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

I went to bed exhausted. Fell fast asleep, slept through the night, yet still woke up tired. My body is ready to jump into the day but my mind is not quite so enthusiastic. My plate is full. May I be so transparent today? I needed to come into His Presence just for me today. My thoughts are filled with too many details to stop the cursor from spinning 24 hours a day. I know God loves me. I am absolutely certain that He is in complete control. He is working every detail of my life for good and His Glory. I know this full well. My faith and trust are in the Lord and His Love for me. His Mighty Hand provides and protects me. His Intent is to prosper me. However, I am a human being just like you. The stone slinging hand of every giant killer needs a rest. The sword wielding arm grows weak. You know the days when it seems like carrying our cross, holding the shield of faith and dragging the sword of the spirit is just too much. Yeah…I think I am there today. Just a little while longer…

Endurance takes time. Endurance takes patience. Endurance drains all of our strength. It brings us to the end of self where the Savior is waiting. The key element of survival in the process is to be “steadfast, immovable and always abounding in the work of the Lord”. We can do this by “knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Note: It does not say “knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” This would limit the text to what we do to just those things done expressly as an act of direct service to God. No – it says that “in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Life is full of details. The more it is one’s intent to serve the Lord completely surrendered and submitted to God’s Plan and Purpose the greater the target painted on your back. The enemy doesn’t have anything to take from halfhearted servants or those who choose another way. He attacks God’s Children who seek to do their Father’s Business. He wants to move us from knowing God loves us and waiting for what is coming. He wants to steal, kill and destroy every bit of faith and trust in us in order to stop us from receiving eternal life. I know the cares and worries that fill you because the same are on my plate, too. However, at the end of the day, it is all about the Kingdom. My future. My hope. My forever with the Father who loves me.

I Corinthians 15:58 is a little different in the New Living Translation. It says, “Be strong and immovable.” Such a simple statement can be the greatest challenge a believer may face. To be completely confident means that when chaos interrupts, everything falls apart and all hell breaks loose in our life that God is in control. To believe this enough to remain strong and immovable.  “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” The enthusiasm and zeal that produces inexpressible joy is not from the outcome but the onset. To know that no matter what the task or undertaking, nothing done for the Lord is ever useless. Do you believe that today? If so, you must not move.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV)  For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

I love the Lord. Don’t you? I have come to the realization that no matter what I cannot walk away from my relationship with Jesus Christ. Trust me when I say it has been tested. It has even made me feel a little bit guilty. To love the Lord more than anyone or anything else challenges our roles as children, spouses, parents, grandparents, even with friends and acquaintances. I remember before this realization thinking it’s just not possible to ever love God more than my husband or children. Climbing the mountain with our son, there came a day when I wasn’t sure if he was going to win his battle with cancer, then what? Would I still love God? Would I still believe that He is good? Would I be convinced of His Love in my loss? I heard a weak whisper from the bottom of my heart and soul rise into soft broken words from my quivering lips say, “Yes.” It didn’t feel good. It wasn’t a celebratory moment. The accuser came to whisper – “You are a terrible wife and horrible mother to forsake your own.” But then His Grace rushed in to remind me that I can truly love through Christ way better than I ever did apart from Him. I am a better wife and mother because I know Him, love Him and trust Him with my life.

“…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love…”

I have shared before that I was once given a word from a friend. He said the Lord had given him the image of a peg being driven deep into the ground and that peg was me. I thanked him with a chuckle for such encouragement. I didn’t really think much of it until later. It was a word from the Lord for my life. I must be rooted and grounded in God’s Love. My heart must be broken from hard ground to soft fertile soil for His Love to get inside and give me the new heart that is promised. His Spirit comes in to tend to God’s Planting and strengthen us from the inside out. This wonderful power is a product of grace. When our weakness is evident, His Grace can produce His Power in our life. It begins inside of us. To change our heart and mind until we know, understand and believe His Love for us is real and immovable so hope is established by faith in such a way. This is not anything I do but what Christ wants to do in me and you “according to the riches in glory.” See God has something for us far greater than this ordinary life. Mundane is not in His Vocabulary only “magnificent”. The Lord is ready to do the miraculous. Your natural life is not representative of the supernatural life coming once you are fully invested, rooted and grounded in His Love. This is where a believer becomes steadfast and immovable.

that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

I am convinced that there is always more. Jesus came to give us an abundant life marked by satisfaction. Are you satisfied today? Me either. Are you content to point of continual thanksgiving? Nope, me either. Are you living in God’s Abundance – physically, spiritually, financially and completely? Funny…me either. There is more. God’s Love is endless, limitless and always abounding. Our faith is small. It takes time to grow it and develop it. Endurance is required. It is always in the waiting that God’s Love is most evident. In our complete desperation for Him that keeps us from giving up or giving in even when we are weary of well doing, tired of pressing on and ready to just stop. God’s Grace is enough for you to stop but you cannot move from the foundation of faith that is His Love for us. Why? Because Jesus able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Nothing is wasted. Nothing is useless. So what do I do when I cannot do anything at all?

Colossians 1:9-12 (ESV)  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 

“Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” Your life is productive even in the waiting. The process called endurance can bear much fruit. Colossians 1 gives us some very practical steps to walking through tough seasons defined by waiting on God. We are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. Hold your head up confidently. The Lord is working every detail of your life for good and His Glory. You are not defeated. You win. You are victorious. God is moving us from grace to grace and glory to glory planting seeds of righteousness that are blooming into every promise that He made. You must wait. Like a good farmer, sowing seeds faithfully knowing that God is going to increase them. Successful farmers plant in all seasons not always in favorable conditions. They have faith in the process. They believe if they plant that they will harvest. We must do the same. I will never be worthy of the unconditional love and grace that I have received so I must walk by faith in the Lord and His Love and Grace rather than my worthiness. I live for Him because Jesus is worthy of my best. I live to please God. It doesn’t mean I get it all right or never make a mistake. Lord, knows I still sin despite my best effort not to. When the Lord looks into my heart, He must see good intentions and conscious effort to please Him. He knows I am incapable but am I willing to try? Bear fruit in every work…not just church work. To live out His Love in season and out of season in every societal setting. To live as a Child of God who loves like my Father does. Increasing in godly knowledge by planting God’s Word in my heart, allowing His Spirit to water it and waiting for it to grow into all He says it would be. To be thankful in all things for all things. To be strengthened by His Grace while my pride lay slowly dying. To allow His Power to work through me rather than always wrestling for control. To endure and be patient in the waiting joyfully. God qualifies us for this wonderful abundance in life that comes by His Faithfulness not our ability to be faithful. We just have to remain steadfast and immovable in His Love to attain it. It is His Work in us – I don’t work for it. I wait for Him.

Mark 14:3-6 (ESV) And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

Jesus is close to the brokenhearted. He was fellowshipping with Simon the leper. The woman who came with the alabaster flask did not have a very good reputation. The flask was all she had. It represented her total worth. Her future was in that bottle. Her past filled it. But in the present, she just had to worship Jesus. She wasn’t worried about tomorrow. When she came in and anointed Jesus – the others were offended. The worth of its contents wasted on the ground would have been a huge benefit to the poor. Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” She was not moved by public opinion or she never would have come to the house of a leper or the Presence of Jesus in her sinful condition. If she had evaluated her offering by the way she had procured it, she would have turned away in shame. She was not moved by the many faces who knew her intimately or even had taken advantage of her, it didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered to her was Jesus. She had to worship Him. She had to give her all. So she did.

I wonder if in the midst of our doing, serving and trying that we miss the fact that it is really the place of waiting that allows us to see that worship is the key. It is not what tomorrow holds but our faithfulness in just worshipping Him today for who He is. Jesus didn’t do anything for the woman with the alabaster box other than accept her worship and she was made complete. He didn’t change her or require anything of her but accepted her offering with complete satisfaction. Immediately Jesus became her Savior, Provider and Protector warding off even those closest to Him including their indignation. What seemed like a careless and thoughtless act to others drew her closest to His Heart. If this is all there is to life will Jesus be enough for you? If there is more to come will you forget this moment walking into your promise? The Lord is securing us to be rooted and grounded in His Love so that nothing will ever move us from this place. Don’t move. Don’t allow the enemy to goad you from the place of waiting and watching. The Lord is working. You must only wait. Worship Him in the waiting and do not be moved from Him but move closer than ever before.

Acts 17:28 (ESV) …For “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”

Tug-0-War – It’s Not A Game Anymore

Tug o war

Philippians 1:21-23 (ESV) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Since bringing home our new lab puppy, Scout – she bonded quickly to our Chihuahua, Izzy. From the moment, they get up until it is time to go to bed there is nothing but nonstop activity. Scout is very large yet quite passive while Izzy is tiny but ferocious. When they both take hold of a toy and pull, it is clear by Izzy’s hold and posture that she fully intends to win the game of tug-o-war clearly unimpressed by Scout’s size and power. Currently, Scout is five times the size of her fur sister. But Izzy has heart and tenacity – she does not ever back down. When she engages in tugging, she believes she can win. With one mindless jerk of Scout’s powerful head, the game is over. Izzy’s response – like any good sport – she attacks Scout with all the growling and snarling she can muster while our oversized fur baby just enjoys her conquest and rolls over on her back.

While both of the participants in the tug-o-war are impacted by the pulling and tugging, can you imagine the condition of the object of their grasp? With our dogs, it may be a rope or small squeaky toy but in the game of life too often it feels like it is us. Or maybe I am the only one who has days when despite my very best effort to hold tight to my faith, steady my heart, do the right thing and keep pressing on – I feel stretched and pulled in two opposite directions? I have put forth my best effort. Tried to keep the right attitude. Even forgiven along the way as hard as that may be sometimes, yet still feel as though I have come up short. A discarded heap of hopelessness who strived with all her might yet her flesh failed and her heart is weary. Come on. I cannot be the only one.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

To live IS Christ. To die is gain. The death process begins at birth. From the moment of taking in our first breath, a human being is one step closer to their death if you think about it. God has ordered the life span of each person according to His Will and His Way. It is not always possible to understand the number assigned to each living creature, but God knows. If only it were easy to live for Christ every moment of every day and serve Him faithfully apart from all sin and transgression as one might desire. It is not easy. It is not even possible. So why keep trying?

I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

The struggle is real. For me to live is Christ but to die is gain. The more I grow to understand this – the more I understand terms like endurance. The stretching, molding and shaping of my heart and mind to hold fast to the confession of my faith and let other things go. It would be easy if I did not battle an unseen adversary every single day. No, it is not the enemy. Satan has no power or control in my life because I have given it to Jesus Christ. I am a Child of God. No the waging war with in us is our flesh. On those days when the pressure and problems of life leave us stretched and stressed lifeless forms crawling into His Presence exhausted and done, it is not always because the oppressor has been the foe that is faced but our flesh. We do not battle people. We must hold tight to the Word of God and respond to the Will of God even when our stubbornness and pride dig in. The good fight of faith is waging in our heart and mind not the world in which we live. I believe that it is important to identify the problem to find the solution. What if the problem is me?

Romans 7:21-25 (Message)

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

No believer – saved and sanctified can ever say with any credibility that “the devil made me do it”. Satan cannot come near the Light that lives within us. God has given us His Spirit. The object of greatest oppression is flesh. Our own will who seeks to survive despite our desire to be crucified with Christ and live. I have been crucified with Christ by choice. I have chosen to give up sin and accept salvation. Now what? Fight. Fight for faith. Work toward obedience. Do my very best to hold on to what is good and avoid that which is not. To endure. To love. To forgive. To hope. Christ lives in me and is working His Way out of me into every part of my existence. The life I live now in the flesh is by faith in the Living God who is in me. The overwhelming factor that is my success is His Grace. (Galatians 2:20) Despite my full intent and heartfelt commitment, my flesh fails time and time again. This is the reason His Grace is my power. It is the very essence of power that lives in me overriding my inability to allow the fulfillment of Christ to be mine.

Can I just publicly thank the apostle Paul for his transparent honesty in Romans 7! If only every believer would allow others to see the reality of their plight, not by glorifying sin or immortalizing failure, but rather allowing others to witness the process. Our soul cries out for the Living God but our flesh fights to survive. It is a natural born tendency that is not exempt when it comes to dying to this life to obtain forever with the Lord. When I am overwhelmed and feel stretched like a dog toy that has been tugged and pulled on all day, I realize that maybe just maybe it isn’t the enemy pulling on me. In fact, the Lord has shown me clearly that it is not. I live in the Hand of God. The enemy cannot touch me. No, on those days, I have held hope with one hand not two and taken hold of something with my flesh that I need to let go of. This process is so intimate and personal. The good fight of faith is not in an arena but in the quiet recesses of our heart as His Word works its way through and hopeful confidence lays claim to it.

“Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.” His Grace is sufficient for me. It is enough for those days when my flesh rises up and wages war to take over my heart and mind. I will not overcome this rivalry until Jesus takes me home and removes it from me forever. In the meantime, it is important that I work in close partnership with the Spirit of God so it is two against one.

Hebrews 5:7-10 (ESV) In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 4:14-15 (ESV)  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus lived in the flesh. Yes, He was God during that time, too but chose to be subject to flesh and blood just like the ones who He loved and chose to die for. He experienced every bit of warring of the flesh just as anybody else does on any given day. He overcame sin. He endured every test and trial all the way to the Cross. He died a sinless man. Who better to help us then the One who knows and understands our flesh and feelings? Jesus overcame the world. He did it by overcoming flesh. One sin would have nailed Jesus to the Cross. His Death was would have been required if only a single sin existed. The necessity of grace is not proportioned to the quantity of sin but rather to overcome death produced by a single sin. Wrap your brain around that one and the playing field of life becomes quite level. There is no pride in obedience just surrender to God because there is no prize or promise outside of the Grace and Love of Jesus Christ. If there is no hierarchy of sin, that means that God has no favorites. There you have it the full potential of our life is in the Grace of God given through Jesus Christ…alone. I can do nothing to earn it, obtain it or pay it back. I can only accept it.

Philippians 2:14-16 (ESV) Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

What if we have been interpreting these verses all wrong? We are to do all things without grumbling or disputing…good luck with that right? To remain sinless (without blemish) in this crooked and twisted generation…it is not possible. Do you work with other people? Commute home in five o’clock traffic. Let’s be real – do you own any teenagers? Life happens. Sin slips out. Our flesh rises up. What then? The Light that shines within us comes out through our brokenness. When our hard heart cracks open and our one-track mind gives way to the new life and new way of thinking that is not religious but relational. The Law of God did not save us just shows us how bad we messed up. It proves the sufficiency of His Grace when knowing all my faults and failures in a single day – I still fight to hold on to faith and cling to confident hope. “Holding fast to the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run or labor in vain.” The confident hope that I have is not in my own ability to live a sinless, good life but it is in the Grace of God given to me based on His Love and Faithfulness. The Word of Life says that nothing can ever separate me from the Love of God and in fact it is His Love that makes me more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37) Pride says otherwise but grace always proves it wrong.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Before this passage in I Thessalonians 5 comes a list of instructions. Things like love each other, help one another, and be an encourager. It also tells us to rejoice, pray and be thankful. It clearly outlines qualities and characteristics that are the Will of God for our life. (I Thessalonians 5:18) But the important part follows closely behind, the specific thing that I must cling to throughout each day as I try to run with purpose. The goal that I long for and strive for is this – that my whole spirit, soul and body will be kept blameless. His Grace is enough, I must cling to it every day. He is the one who is Faithful. Jesus will surely do it if I will just hold on the hope that He has given me.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain…

My steadfastness will not ever be in me. I will continue to strive to live apart from anything that displeases the Lord but I know that it is only by His Grace that I find the power to overcome every shortcoming, fault and failure. Sin separated me from God and only His Righteousness will allow me to live in His Presence again. He does not lie or change His Mind so the Word of Life is the anchor of my soul and substance of my faith that keeps me from giving up and letting go when I feel the pressures of life, stress or restlessness. My flesh is always at war with the Spirit in me. It is a fight to the death. The Spirit of God overcame death and administers life to all who live in partnership with Him. It doesn’t mean there is not struggling or no suffering in this life but He give us the power and strength to hold on and endure to the end. I don’t know what might work as soul soothing for you but when I feel weary in well doing or pointless in my pursuit of Christ, I find that worship is my release. To lift my hands, open them wide, and show love and adoration on Jesus. Burdens fall off as He picks me up and holds me. When was the last time you stepped into the Presence of the Living God? There is nothing there but life. The struggle ends where surrender begins. The hopelessness gives way to hope in the Light of His Love. Grace works best in weakness. His Power is manifested in our life when we can’t but believe He will. There is a reward for those who choose to keep His Word, walk by faith, hold on to hope and endure until the end through every trial, hardship and struggle believing God is good, God loves me, and God will never let me down.

As Scout and Izzy wrestle at my feet, I am blissfully aware that Jesus isn’t finished with me yet. Izzy will learn one day to pick and choose her battles but I hope that she never loses her heart. Scout in her sweet nature will one day learn the same or give up every toy and treat to Izzy. I believe that this is life in our house with our pets. I believe this is the life lived in Christ as well. Picking and choosing battles, knowing when to take heart and surrendering to Christ always. It is only a tug-o-war if both sides pull. The game ends when one or the other let’s go. Lord, I give you my heart, mind, body and spirit all over again today. I let go of everything except the Word of Life. May hope keep me anchored. Have your way in me, amen! I surrender all!

Revelation 3:10-12 (ESV) Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

Steadfast Love

Steadfast Love

Psalm 118:1 (ESV) Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Some things remain the same like this morning. My children still like to sleep. The puppy is happy to see me. My breakfast bar still has 12 grams of protein and the banana grew on a tree. My husband is still precious. I love the quiet of morning and Jesus was waiting when I walked in my study. The constancy of my life is Jesus Christ. His Love endures through everything in my life that is not the same today. There is always uncertainty in our future and some days it is just a little more of a reality than others. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and His Solid Foundation but it is a challenge to live there every single day especially those that don’t line up with His Word or His Way. That’s why I must know what I believe…it’s simple. The Lord is good. His Steadfast Love endures forever.

I am thankful today that my faithfulness is not a factor when it comes to God’s Constancy in my life. The fact that His Love for me is unshakeable and immovable gives credibility to the foundation of my life called faith. It means that when all hell breaks loose, chaos starts churning and people go on with life that His Love waits on me. It is there for me to hold on to. It is an open and waiting place for those who choose its shelter. It is the thing that holds me together when it feels as though I am falling apart. Grace allows me access even on those days when my belief is shaken, hope elusive, and faithfulness compromised. His Mercy met me that morning to escort me right back to the foundation held in place by the invisible anchor that keeps me safe and secure in the midst of fear and insecurity. It is always there because God is constant.

Psalm 118:5-9 (ESV) Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

Distress, distractions, detours, and even delays press and squeeze our confidence in the Lord sometimes. Lack of knowledge, understanding and wisdom threaten what we know to be true about the Lord because our mind has not firmly taken hold of that providential piece of His Character that constantly and overwhelmingly loves us no matter what. No matter what the deterrent may be the Lord is faithful in His Love as He rushes in to rescue those who cry out to Him. It doesn’t matter if my fear is valid or not because God is fearless. There is nothing that can ever overpower God’s Love for me. Nothing I can do. People can do. The enemy can do. His Love for me is constant and unchallenged by life and its many seasons. My love for Him must grow in its capacity to widen the foundation of faith my feet remain firmly planted in to the point that it doesn’t matter what happens around me, in me or at the hands of another – His Love must be the reality of my life. It is my certainty.

I Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 

The very premise of the hope that I hold on to is God’s Love for me. The fact that nothing can or will ever separate me from His Love. This is essential to living a life in love with Jesus. My love for Him is challenged and compromised by the things I see, want or desire every day. But His Love for me remains. It is everything written in I Corinthians 13. He is not a man. God does not lie or change His Mind concerning me even when I fall, fail or forget. His Love is endless. It is boundless. I can wander through this life forever and never find the edge of it. I can swim as deep as breath allows and never ever find the bottom of it. His Love for me is patient. His Love for me is kind. His Envy doesn’t want anything from me just my very human and broken heart. His Love doesn’t boast of being better only desires my best. God is not arrogant and aloof. He is not rude but always responds with loving kindness even when I knew better and did it anyway. He offers me His Way but doesn’t insist on me taking it yet still remains faithful in all things. He doesn’t get irritable when I am stubborn. The Lord never is resentful because His Grace won’t allow it. God never says, “I told you so…” but rather responds with “what are you doing here?” He keeps looking for us when we turn a blind eye to Him. His Father’s Love uncompromised by wandering and rebellion. He rejoices over me singing. My Creator sees His Masterpiece Creation inside this messed up mama. God’s Love bears all things and believe me I have put a lot on that love. His Love believes in me when I don’t believe in myself. His Love puts His Hope in me over and over again even though I am so unworthy. His Love endures my inability to get it right and always showers me in more grace, mercy and love. God is love. His Character will not permit Him to operate outside of it because it is who He is. His Love never ever ends.

Psalm 118:21-28 (ESV) I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord‘s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us.

What if for just one day rather than trying to act saved or serve God humanly – His People decided just to respond to His Love. Salvation is the Love of God for us that does not lead to condemnation but sweeps us from this life into a realm called hope. It is a new place. It can be a scary transition as what we rely on and build our whole life upon is not seen. The hope that I have in the Lord is that His Love for me never ends. It is not what I can do for Him or how much I can change my life, habits or behaviors but just how fully and completely I am willing to accept His Love as the premise and purpose of my life. Let’s not lose sight today of the fact that religion died on the Cross with Jesus, tearing the veil and offering all mankind the opportunity to live in a relationship with the Living God. To love and be loved by our Creator. The one who designed our heart and knows every strength and weakness hidden inside of it. Can you just thank God for His Love and mean it? You were not saved just by asking Jesus to be Your Savior and Lord! I know what they told you. You didn’t have to join a church or serve every Sunday. We are called to be the church with consummation in our love for Christ to become one with His Body. You can miss a prayer meeting and still be saved. You can sin and still experience the Love of God, otherwise how can His Grace be sufficient? It is love for Jesus that gives us a desire not to sin. Otherwise, it is a habit change not a heart change. All things are permissible just not beneficial. At the end of the day as I recount my successes, failures and yet-to-be-determined – it is with the thought in mind – His Faithful Love endures forever. There is no end to God’s Love for me. He is constant in every season. He is constant in the change and chaos churning all about. He is always in love with me. His Desire is for me. His Heart is for me. God is for me. If only I can respond to His Love today, what are the possibilities? Not because I am right or did a single thing right, but simply because His Love endures forever. Amen.

Psalm 118:28-29 (ESV) You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

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!”