Pardon the Interruption

Pardon the Interuption

James 1:2-5 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

The pity party was in full effect. I set my alarm for 4:30 AM during the week to spend time with Jesus. It should give me two hours to do what I need to do and sit in His Presence to study, meditate and pray for a bit before getting ready for the day. This morning as I fed the dogs, took them out, gathered dirty clothes from the girls room, tidied their bathroom, started laundry, cleaned out the fridge, made lunches for everyone and detox tea for me, I could feel myself getting frustrated. I set this time aside years ago to spend specifically with the Lord and somehow it has been overtaken by lesser things. My poor husband encountered the pity party. I might add that I recently started a new diet and now on day 3 am tired and irritable anyway. Compound that with menopause and people it is not pretty. As I slide into the seat and sit with my Jesus, I realize that it is my own fault. So pardon the interruption as I share the details of my morning and it is only 5:45 AM.

I am an over doer. I have a Martha spirit and am asking the Lord to help produce Mary’s heart. I am comfortable when in control. I like the house tidy, laundry done and family happy. I am a pleaser who is running out of time in her 24-hour day. The Lord leads me to James. Oh no – not the Book written by the tell-it-like-it-is disciple with no filter at all. Count it all joy. I am counting on the wrong things to bring me joy. When life is imbalanced and Jesus tumbles from the throne of my heart to somewhere beneath a pile of dirty laundry – I have made a terrible mistake. I wonder sometimes if the greatest “trial” humanity faces is simply time management. I hear people say all the time, “I am too busy!” We are all busy. Just as each one has a 24-hour day, each is granted the privilege and freedom to decide how to spend the most precious commodity given to us. Time.

Steadfastness is not busyness. Being the perfect wife, mother, grandmother, employee and even Christian is not about being busy but steadfast. Steadfast in pursuing those things that increase our faith, trust and hope so that our confidence is secure in Jesus Christ. His Kingdom is not built by our hands but comprised by our hearts. When steadfastness has its full effect, it makes us complete lacking nothing.

Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV) Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Diligence becomes duty in our determination. When our commitment is to the world and people, there will never be contentment because it is not offered by such things. It is in our commitment to follow Christ that true contentment is revealed. Paul said that he “learned” in whatever situation “I” am content. Two things here. Contentment is a learned behavior. It is a discipline that takes time and energy. It is painstaking as one must kill the flesh and suffocate pride to achieve it. He also states “I” am content meaning his contentment is not based on other factors but a person decision to live in such a state. My grumbling and complaining today does not reflect a life of confident hope and total trust but one of doubt and fear. When I am content, it doesn’t matter what is going on around me because I can still count it all joy.

When I allow tasks to take over time, I allow the enemy to rob me of the source of complete contentment. I can do all things THROUGH Christ. When my priorities are out of order, then my pursuit is led off course. I become task driven and not Christ following. It interrupts the flow of God in my life because it is through Christ that I have righteousness that allows me to live in the Presence of God filled by His Spirit. The truth I that I love taking care of my family, I like my job, and the tasks associated with such things really are not a burden. I am content with my life yet know God is still working on me and Christ has things to do through me. The problem is that I allowed an interruption to become a full-blown pity party when really I am just have a busy morning that I have the power to change. “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (I Timothy 6:6-8)

Philippians 2:12-16 (ESV)  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 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.

So…pardon the interruption today as the Lord carefully and lovingly puts me in check. It is easy to let the burdens, cares and worries of life rob us of precious moments better spent with the Lord. As I put my priorities back in order, I realize that my life becomes complicated when I am not content. When I begin to try to do or be something other than Christ called me to be. I am making changes. The Holy Spirit has really been heavy on my heart lately. It is kind of like the detox tea that I have been drinking. As I digest it each day, it detoxifies my body. Cleans me internally and externally – I can see the impurities and toxins leaving my body. Sometimes even strong believers who serve seemingly sinless and flawless lives could use a good flush now and then – it is only in removing and reorganizing such things that we order our life and prosper as He promised. Just keeping it real today! God is good. He loves us. He loves me. He has a plan and purpose for my life that is just for me. I am not in a competition. I should probably live in that peace each day. It might just eliminate the worries of comparison that keep me striving for wife, mother, employ and Christian of the year. Lord, let me be a Light of Your Love today. Keep me from running in circles and laboring in vain. Thank you for your Presence that is my peaceful place of constant reflection that it is all about YOU Lord, and not about me. I can do all things THROUGH Christ!

Colossians 1:10-12 (ESV)…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.

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No More But…

No More But...

James 1:12 (AMP) Blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

I am blessed. I am happy. I am spiritually prosperous. I am favored by God. But… The word “but” nullifies everything in the previous statement. It is the very word that renders an apology useless in its own justification. I’m sorry but… It is the place saver for the condition that will limit the commitment. I would go to church but… Three letters can change everything in a single breath. I am blessed, but… I am happy, but… I am prosperous, but… I am favored by God, but… What is the limitation on your life today? What comes after the but…?

Steadfastness in the troubles, trials and temptations of life is only possible when Children of God remove the hindrances often breathed into life giving declarations. The little word “but” seems so small but it holds greater conviction than the statement just before. It is the obstacle of faith that must be overcome. The human heart will reveal places of doubt and disbelief and the enemy picks it up using it as a weapon. There is no weapon formed against us that will prosper, but… We are our own weapons of mass destruction as rebellious thoughts become firm beliefs keeping us locked in what-could-have-been rather than living in the realm of hope marked what has already been done.

The word “but” in the middle of a sentence is called a coordinating conjunction. Ever heard the Schoolhouse Rock song that goes “Conjunction Junction” – “Conjunction junction, what’s your function?” The function of “but” is to create the opposite. When “but” is placed as a conjunction, it represents a change of direction. It is a contradiction. When our attitude and actions are contradictory to the Lord, suddenly we have a crossroad. We have been crowned with victory by the Lord Jesus Christ. His Goodness is for the Land of the Living…but…

What is the contradiction that is confining God’s Best from flowing in you and through you today? What is keeping you from remaining steadfast in the Lord? It is the thing on the other side of your but… There was a man who was lame for more than 30 years. He would sit by the pool and wait for its stirring. Healing would have missed him altogether had Jesus had enough love and compassionate persistence for both of them. Jesus offered the man expectation. The man only made excuses. Jesus said to him, “Get up; pick up your pallet and walk.” The man was healed and fully recovered. (John 5) The man was reacting to his condition and years of disappointment. When he encountered Jesus, these weights would have kept them there except for the faithfulness of Jesus.

James 1:16-18 (AMP)  Do not be misled, my beloved brothers and sisters. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes]. It was of His own will that He gave us birth [as His children] by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits of His creatures [a prime example of what He created to be set apart to Himself—sanctified, made holy for His divine purposes].

Thank you Jesus for Your Persistence and Perseverance in pursuing us with Your Goodness each day. New mercies are bestowed on us each day. His Love and Goodness always pursuing us. He offers us victory. His Power works best in my weakness. How crazy is that? Because I am weak. I fail every single day. Simple obedience is often an overwhelming task. I am not talking about religious rules and regulations. I love God. I love Jesus. I love His Spirit at work in me. I am to love everyone else as well. To lay down my life (pride, bitterness, offense) and love unsparingly. It is easier to do the right things. Wear the right clothes. Avoid the so-called vices. To live a religious life than to strive for a righteous one. Why? I must surrender all my “buts” to replace them with periods. I am loved. I am convinced. I am steadfast. I am blessed. I am victorious. I am prosperous. I am successful. I belong to Jesus. I am an overcomer.

I was made with divine purpose that supersedes human ability. He set me apart for Himself. I am in a relationship with Jesus Christ who gave birth to me by His Word. When I receive Christ, I receive His Word. He is the Word. Now I can have confidence and conviction in every circumstance of life that I am saved, healed, delivered and perfectly blessed. God does lie or change His Mind. He set the sun to rises in the east every single day because He ordained it to be so and as it rounds the earth it will set in the west every single day. If creation is obedient to God, I must be also without reservation or excuses. Simple acts of obedience change the course of our life completely.

James 1:22-25 (AMP) But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively and continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth]. For if anyone only listens to the word without obeying it, he is like a man who looks very carefully at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he immediately forgets what he looked like. But he who looks carefully into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and faithfully abides by it, not having become a [careless] listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he will be blessed and favored by God in what he does [in his life of obedience].

Who do you see when you look in the mirror each day? When God looks at us, He sees His Precious Son. To live my life in accordance with His Word, Will and Way is not a form of restriction or limitation but to live in the liberty of His Love. No longer bound by the penalty of sin or imprisoned by darkness. I can live in the Light of His Love and showers of blessing each day. Confidence in Christ is the beginning of a supernatural life leaving behind the excuses that once kept us from Him. When I look in the mirror, who do I see? Do I see a beloved Child of the Living God? Or do the wrinkles stand out along with every other imperfection? To be steadfast begins with a conviction. To believe means the eradication of doubt. To prove that God is real and trust valid requires a life of faith in action. It is not an outward display but inward belief that no matter what God is good. His Love for me authentic. His Strength for me enough. His Grace always sufficient. His Promise coming. His Blessing given. Prosperity growing from the inside out. This must become our vocabulary to be a firm foundation. To walk confidently in His Love must be more than a confession, it must become our confidence.

I Corinthians 15:58 (AMP) Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

Be steadfast. Immovable. Always excelling in the work of the Lord. Hmm… I have always read this and believed it to mean the “work” I do for the Lord, but what if it really means the work that He is doing in me? God is faithful. He is good. He is going to accomplish everything in me that He decided from the beginning. There is nothing I can do to move the heart and hand of the Lord because He is already totally in love and completely committed to every promise and blessing ordained in my life. He wrote it all out before I was born. (Psalm 139) The commitment of steadfast perseverance is not about me performing. It is about the Lord perfecting me and making me the masterpiece that He designed and declared I would be. If I do my best – the Lord does the rest. If I continually press in to the Presence of God simply obeying his every leading – I will have the life that He promised because He is faithful, persevering, and steadfast.

Are you frustrated today? Do you desire a prosperous life? Do you want to be blessed? Who doesn’t? Everyone wants a good life. We all desire good things. I have come to the place in my life where the suffering of self is really the death of our flesh. When we decide that God is going to do exactly what He said that He would – our faith makes us unstoppable. The impossible becomes an ongoing lifestyle simply because we decided to remove all the “buts” and become confident in the Lord. The God of ALL GRACE is the one who imparts blessing and favor on our life. There is nothing I could ever do to deserve or earn the life that I have been given. He is the One who will complete me, confirm me, strengthen me and establish me. All I must do is believe. Believe enough to stop living in lies and excuses. To be steadfast in believing and stepping out in simple obedience day by glorious day!

I Peter 5:10 (AMP) After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be].

Love Always

CV-LA-LOGO

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (ESV) May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

The word “love” is cast about so flippantly. “Love you” ends our texts and talks but do we really love the person who we just claimed to? Do we love them with the same definition of love set forth in God’s Word? Do we love others patiently, kindly, without envy or boasting, and never with arrogance, pride or rudely? Love gives up its own way with disregard for our own plans and personal agendas. It is not irritable and does not hold resentment in the basement of its heart. It doesn’t rejoice in anyone’s failure and always rejoices in the truth which displaces vengeance and malice from us. The Truth is that God is love and to be one with Christ means to embrace His Steadfast Love and extend it to everyone who is in our sphere of influence. The hula hoop around us that touches the edge of others within arm’s length are the ones I am called to love. Love like God and Jesus. Lord, help me most days to find it within me to do so. Finally the steadfastness of love is that it bears all things, believes all things, hoes all things and endures all things. Love is hard. Love is God. It is our position in Christ to love always.

I Corinthians 13:8 (ESV) Love never ends.

Love never ends. If you really love someone, there is not end to it. Ugh! So many times love is an emotion not a commitment. The staggering divorce rate is proof that the overture of feelings never got through to the center of our heart. Love is commitment. It is messy. It is hard. It takes advantage of our pride. It hurts our feelings. It is not always easy to really love other people but it is only from a heart set on the Father following the steadfastness of the Son that can carry on the family tradition of true love. To love like God and Jesus is a difficult process but worth it to be one with the Lord and His Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Love is produced by the Holy Spirit. I have wonderful news for believers today. Even though agape love doesn’t come naturally, the Lord has given us His Spirit to produce it supernaturally. The more invested our faith becomes in pursing the Kingdom the greater the production of love in our life. We learn to love from the Holy Spirit who takes seeds of faith placed in us at creation and cultivates love in us that is from the Father. It doesn’t come naturally. Love is not an emotion. Love is a commitment. By committing our life including our heart, mind and soul to Jesus Christ, it allows love – His Love – to grow in us. If anyone has every planted a garden, then you know it may take a season or two or ten for good fruit to grow but if we are patient it will come.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV)  But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Love is a pursuit. To fight the good fight of faith often means fighting our feelings and emotions to believe. The starting point of believing for a Christian is to believe that God is love. To believe that He loves us no matter what. To believe that Christ is the Way, Truth and Life of love in us and through us. To put all of our expectation in God’s Love allows us to love others without the need for reciprocation because we are fully invested in the Kingdom and producing enough love to sustain us. Taking hold of eternal life means accepting that His Love is unconditional which means I am indebted to the Lord always and forever. The blessing of the Lord comes with no sorrow added. He says the only thing we owe anything is love.

Philemon 4-6 (ESV) I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.

Paul wrote to Philemon, his sister, Archippus (our fellow soldier) and the church in your house. Paul commended them on their love and faith toward Jesus and for all the saints. How do you share your faith in Christ? There is no more effective gospel than the one that is written. The one that tells of a God who loved us so much that He gave His Only Son, to live in love with us. What is the love letter of your life? The Gospel spoken will never have the impact of good news lived. A life of unconditional love is not our natural. But as I learn to lay down my life and let Christ make a new creation it includes a capacity to love that I did not have before. To release human expectation to fulfillment and satisfaction that only can be established in faith and confident hope. It is worth it. It takes time. I must ask myself is the “church in my house” like a city on the hill that beacons others to Christ when I am not “in” church or around other Christians. There is not greater love than to lay one’s life down for a friend. In Christ, we have only one enemy. The one who tries to destroy every relationship in our life. Love always. It is the ultimate example of God’s Love in us and the steadfastness of Christ working in us to change us from the inside out. A prospering soul learns to love always.

John 3:16 (ESV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I John 4:9-11 (ESV)  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Count It All…

Count It All

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Count it all…when you meet various trials. The past month has been a blur. With the holiday rush, the virus that plagued our family, preparations for our grandson, interrupted schedules, crazy weather (snowing in Florida…seriously), unexpected dental procedure and all the other details of life mixed in – it was wonderful waking up feeling good with nothing pressing on the agenda. Hiding in the refuge of my study, I am overwhelmed with gratitude today. We are in the midst of our annual January fast. Though it has been a strenuous and exhausting turning of years, I am no less motivated for more. God is good! He has been good to us in so many ways. More than I could express in this little blog without blowing it up to a full blown book.

Reading James 1 today, these words are stuck in my mind. “Count it all.” So many times this passage is interpreted as a “suck it up, buttercup” kind of thing. Laughing in the face of adversity is not a natural response. In fact, it is not an honest response. I believe that God is inviting us to experience true joy not in a superficial sense. It is to take an account of our life. If Romans 8:28 is absolutely true, and it has to be or the all of God’s Word becomes invalid, then every detail of my life has the potential to produce something good. If not, God is a liar. This passage specifically says, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…” This statement does not require much interpretation as it is straightforward and to the point. Every detail in our life, good and bad, has godly potential.

Goodness brings joy. When something good happens, we smile. It makes us happy. We are satisfied with the results. If every detail of our life will turn out for the good, then in each moment there is joy to be discovered. So in order to “count it all joy”, our life must align itself with God’s Word, His Purpose and His Plan so that the potential of good in each moment will produce the joy within it. To align our life with God’s Word means we must be accountable. To consider every detail even those that seem small and insignificant in comparison to God’s Word. His Word reveals the promise, potential and plan for a good life of abundance, success, prosperity and fulfillment. It’s all in there. It is all in me. The two must simply agree and be reconciled.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

In Amos 3:3, the Lord is speaking to His People through the prophet asking, “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” Any who is in Christ has the true potential to become a new creation. Staying the same is not possible in the midst of change. Transformation is a reformation that cannot continue in the midst of unchangeability. Salvation is complete in the person of Jesus Christ our Savior. Transformation is the direct result of Jesus Christ becoming the Lord of our life. We cannot yoke our life to Him without giving up our way to fully accept His Way of life. This is not a religious mandate but an opportunity to engage in a full-blown relationship with the Living God that gives us full access to His Kingdom and every benefit that He ordained for us.

We must reconcile ourselves to Jesus Christ. Reconciliation is an accounting term. It means to make one account consistent with another (especially allowing for transactions begun but not yet completed). It means to bring to agreement and harmony. Our life in Christ is a work in progress. There are “transactions” complete, in process and yet to come. All these things must be considered to reconcile our life with Christ. To live in harmony with Jesus Christ produces harmony that allows anointing to flow that the oil through Aaron’s beard. (Psalm 133)

God’s Grace is sufficient. It is enough to cover our sin. Grace gives us the opportunity to live in right standing with God the Father through Jesus the Son. Alignment that produces prosperity in life comes from a relationship with Jesus. It is our personal responsibility to enlist the aid of the Holy Spirit and align our heart and mind with the Word of God. Jesus is the Word who came in the flesh. You cannot know Him or follow Him without the Word because He is the Word. It is very easy to misconstrue spiritual alignment as a religious act rather than a relationship. To know the difference is to know the common denominator which is love. My motivation in Christ must always be love. I love God. I love Jesus. I love others. This is the first step of spiritual alignment and reconciliation to Christ.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (ESV) For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

The Word of God tells us the benefits and blessings that the Lord has in store for us. It details the Kingdom and all the benefits available to those who choose to seek after it. The only weapon that the enemy can use against us is a lie. Ignorance allow lies to seem truthful and logical. Faith relies on the logic found in the Word of God and reinforced by the Spirit of God. Psalm 103 warns the believer – “oh my soul, and forget not all my benefits…” When we do not know God’s Word – we do not know His Will. When we do not know what He will do – doubt turns to disbelief limiting our life.

We must not every forget that we are accountable to God. Even with the dispensation of grace given to God’s Children, we are still accountable to Him. (Romans 14:11-12) Every knee will bow before Jesus one day. God sees us from the inside out. He knows us. He knows things about us that we do not even know. He sees the potential of His Creation not the mess that we have made of it. He says, “It’s all good. Keep going. I have a plan.”

James 1:5-8 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

My prayer is that the Lord will give me wisdom and discernment. The kind that comes from the Word and pierces the hardest parts of my heart to water the seeds of faith hidden within me. As I strive to seek God wholeheartedly, it will require accountability including reconciliation to Christ in every area of my life. I cannot forget the blessings and benefits that His Goodness has already promised me even when it is not evident in my natural life it must be the prosperity of my soul that makes me steadfast.

When steadfastness is full effect, we begin to experience God’s Perfection in the full consummation of His Plan and Purpose for our life. We begin to experience Heaven on earth. His Goodness reserved for the Land of the Living permeates our everyday life. It is then that our life becomes complete in Christ and we lack no good thing. To be steadfast, fixed in direction, steadily directed, firm in faith, firm in purpose, unwavering, adherently, firmly established, and firmly fixed in place until the Word of God comes to pass just like He said it would. That’s where I want to be. So today I will count it all…

I challenge you as this Word has challenge myself today. Consider every area of your life. Examine your heart. Get into God’s Word. Reconcile ever area of your existence to God’s Word and His Will for you. In the areas that do not line up, seek to align them. Pray. Make some changes. Spread your faith around generously over those areas. Allow God to mold and shape your life into the masterpiece that He promised. Seek the help of the Holy Spirit. You have a purpose. The plan contains a future and hope. Every detail has good hidden inside of it. Full accountability requires reconciliation. Spend some time with your First Love. Let Him show you how much He loves you all over again.

James 1:12 (ESV)Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 

Challenge Accepted

Challenge Accepted

I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

The last few weeks have been challenging. But then again, when is life not full of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, good and bad. Life is challenging. Each new day comes with its own set of circumstances, long list of responsibilities, and uncertain conditions. The unexpected really shouldn’t be so surprising. It happens all the time. Constantly recurring change. Will I conform or be transformed? Will I commit or quit?

But as for you, O man (or woman) of God, flee these things.

I am not a quitter by nature although sometimes I say that I am quitting. But when push comes to shove, I hold fast. Words like persistent, tenacious, stubborn and obstinate have been used to describe me. Character is developed when the qualities possessed are shaped by wisdom and not pride. The letter to Timothy written by Paul addresses natural tendencies relevant in our walk with Jesus Christ. He is speaking to him one on one about false teaching. He describes the character of them as “puffed up with conceit” who understand nothing. People who are “an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” As believers, the pursuit of godliness is encompassed in just one commandment defined by love. However, pride and vain glory had somehow begun to seep through the walls of the early church. Gospel for personal gain. There was no contentment but rather pursued God for His Hand not His Heart. Paul tells Timothy…but as for you, O man of God…flee from these things.

Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”

Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

It is challenge to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness. It is especially difficult to maintain them when tough times come along. However, Jesus did not ascend to Heaven with a “peace out” see you on the other side. Or good luck – hope you make it. No, He gave us His Spirit as a helper who would produce all these qualities even though most of them are contradictory to human nature. (Galatians 5:22-23) The first thing I must do is “think about these things”. To change my mind, I must change the way that I think. I change the way that I think by the pursuit of higher learning to obtain understanding applying it to my life so it becomes wisdom. We decide who or what influences us. I must choose to believe what is true. The Word of God is the Truth concerning my life. To pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness outside of the Word of God and Jesus Christ would be pointless.

Fight the good fight of the faith.

What is the good fight of faith? According to the Message translation of Hebrews 11:1, faith is “the fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.” The Amplified Bible describes faith as “the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. We are instructed to walk by faith and not by sight. I don’t know about you, but it is really hard to see past my circumstances sometimes to the Promise of God to work it all out for my good and His Glory. Without faith it is impossible to please God. It is the substance that firmly fixes us in confident hope. It is the recollection that keeps us pressing on when we are pooped out. Why must I fight for my faith? The enemy wants us to give up on faith. He doesn’t want us to trust and rely on God. He is looking to make us collateral damage on his way out. How? He lies to us. Plain and simple. Faith holds firmly to the truth that God loves us, Jesus died to save us, and His Grace is enough for me to live in this world but not be of it. I want to believe God’s Word and that He perfects all that concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) Lord, help me to remember what is worth fighting for so I have the wisdom to pick and choose my battles.

Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Paul challenged Timothy to remember God’s Call on his life and walk in it. The course of life will prove challenging. The only way to overcome is to take hold of Jesus Christ all the way to the finish line. The finish line of faith is found when we meet Him face-to-face. I must settle in stride with Jesus and forget my preconceived notions about life and love. I must be passionate about God’s Heart and not focused so much on His Hand. I have been called to eternal life which is way longer than my natural life – it is worthy of investing in at the price of an ordinary life. It is up to me to lay aside the things that weigh me down like worry, stress, anxiety and fear to take hold of things like “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” and every other spiritual blessing God has already given me that just needs to grow in my life. I have everything I need for such a pursuit. The only thing left is that I must be willing to do it. Laying pride aside to surrender it all…again and again if necessary to the founder and perfecter of faith – Jesus Christ. I have only one thing left to say, “Challenge accepted.”

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Don’t Move – A Devotion

I Corinthians 15:56-58 (NLT)

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

What happens when the pressure of life becomes more than one can bear? Like water boiling becomes bubbles giving way to a vapor rising above the tumultuous churning of the combustion below, there are times when life just doesn’t make any sense. These are the times that even the most steadfast Christian feels the heat and becomes antsy. The feeling to move this way or that overtakes our desire to remain strong and steadfast in the Lord as we look to alleviate the pressures of life. God created the law to lead His People to a life of Fullness in His Glorious Power. Man could not take the stress associated with self-denial and consecration so we chose rebellion and have continued in these footsteps for generations. The law gave power to sin because in our weakness and inability to continuously do right in the Eyes of God, we kept falling and moving outside of the lines of His Will and His Way separating us from God altogether. Jesus Christ came to our rescue, grabbing our lives back from death’s door and removing the power of sin over the life of mankind. His Grace became sufficient for our insufficiencies yet daily people still struggle to live in righteousness and be where God is. It is in the midst of such pressures, we feel the need to move even when God is still. Rather than choosing to be strong and immovable, the stresses of life pull us from our foundation of faith casting our souls into doubt. We must decide if we will fight to maintain our faith or forfeit our position to doubt. If only in that moment, we would decide to take a moment to stop, look and listen for God rather than being subject to the situations and circumstances of our life. What do you do when you have no idea what to do next? Stand strong, serve God and wait until your hope is fulfilled. Sounds like a tall order for the weak and broken, yet in our desperation God is able to do wonders with an ordinary life. We have exceeded our personal power and now must fully rely on His Strength. Maybe that was what the Lord intended all along? When our perseverance results in simply standing on His Word, it can produce Eternal results through unshakable faithfulness in the midst of the storm. I want to be immovable even when I feel like running from the pressures of this world. When the stress is overwhelming, anything that will free my mind seems better than where I am. But God says, “Don’t move!” Will I obey?

Luke 8:23-25 (NLT)

As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?”

As the storm rallied against the small vessel, Jesus slept peacefully in its bow. The disciples panicked finally waking Jesus proclaiming the end, “We’re going to drown!” Jesus calmed the storm and then asked the disciples, “Where is your faith?” As if looking for something tangible that had been lost, the Lord inquires. Did they leave it behind on the shore? Was it all used up? The many teachings of the previous days about growing faith now abandoned in the midst of difficulty. How often we like the disciples lose our faith footing when trials bear down upon us and we look for help. There are times when it feels as though the Lord is asleep and unaware of the pressures of life that are overcoming His People. We become convinced that somehow we have become subject to the Law again and that surely we will perish if God does not perform a miracle. But the truth is we are all given a measure of faith to carry us through the darkest night, it is deep within our soul waiting to be activated by a life of trust in our Savior. He is never asleep. He knows the end from the beginning. Every moment of your life is important to God and is vital in establishing a loving, trusting relationship with you, His Child. But we must hold still and allow His Fullness to fill us to overflowing even in the times when testing is making room for more. When we feel like jumping or running ahead are clearly the times Jesus is asking, “Where is your faith?” Don’t move. Your Redeemer is coming once our faith rises to meet Him.

I Corinthians 16:13-14 (NLT)

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous.Be strong. And do everything with love.

Resist the urge to change course during uncertainty. For indecisiveness is not of God, but of the author of confusion who wants you to act contradictory to the Word of God and will actually use your knowledge of God but lack of wisdom against you. Wisdom is applied knowledge. We must actively apply the knowledge of God to our life until it produces Godly Wisdom in our choices. Wisdom is essential to effectively being on guard. It is the foundation of faith required to be courageous and strong despite satan’s deceptions. When pressure comes, we just want off the hot seat. But that may not be God’s Choice, it just sounds good when it is you. Every decision we make in the midst of the craziness of life must be measured against the Word of God and bound by the Love of God. So no matter how intense the circumstances of your life or how uncertain the future, resist the urge to stray and don’t move to the left or right but stay firmly planted in the Presence of God. You will win! You will prosper if you don’t move!