Call to Rest

Call to Rest

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

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Rest is important in the life of a believer. To take a step out of the busyness of life to physically and mentally rest and be rejuvenated. The enemy uses overloaded schedules, rigid routines, and mounting pressures to perform as a means of distraction until people become so overwhelmed by the persistent pull of responsibility that faith in God forgets He is in control of our life. A couple of months ago, I felt the gentle whisper of a loving Savior confirmed by the voice of my husband the call to rest. Life has been hectic. Chaotic. Crazy. It is time to get away. The beach is our favorite place to unwind and getaway. Today we leave for a respite.

Of course, this morning the dog woke me up in the wee hours of the morning. My brain then refused to go back to sleep so I packed and repacked the car in my head. I woke up grumpy. Worried a little about work and other things circling my thoughts. I need to rest. Not just rest my body and mind but my soul. So do you… It is important to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ more than serving Him physically. We must connect our heart and mind with Him. Just like a natural marriage requires such attention to continue to thrive, it is important to spend time with the Lord away from the cares, worries and burdens of life. I plan to do just that…

Love, joy and peace are the Fruit of God’s Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) They are not naturally occurring in a world that demands all our time. They call it a rat race for a reason with hurrying and scurrying all around. The Kingdom of God is not based the pursuit of such things. All that we need, want and desire are fulfilled when we come to Him. He gives us rest. Rest is from the word “anapauo” – ana meaning “up” and pauo meaning cessation from toil and refreshment.

Prosperity begins in the soul. To prosper in our soul impacts our natural life. Prosperity in our natural life that does not reach our soul can do nothing to bring satisfaction. Jesus is the Bread of Life. (John 6:35) Those who live in Christ find full satisfaction not in what they have but who He is. Only those who taste and see His Goodness will understand the value of such peace. Just like any food in life, you have to try it to see if you like it.

Matthew 6:25-32 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”

What are you worried about today? What burdens your heart and mind? Robs you of sleep. Steals your attention. Keeps you weary. Tells you to give up. What causes fear to overtake your confidence? What is keeping your faith small? It is important to examine our heart and mind to answer these difficult questions. It will identify the areas of our life not entrusted to the Lord giving us the opportunity to surrender each burden and care to Him. Worry, anxiety, stress and fear evaporate when faith grows in us. Total trust in God’s Goodness and Greatness in our life. Confident hope that the grace of Jesus Christ is enough to release of His Power and Authority in every situation. These are the qualities that allow us to release every burden to the Lord and yoke our life to Christ.

God knows exactly what you need. I used to tell the young girls in our youth group that women are natural gathers. Born with little baskets on each arm designed to nurture and care for future families. The enemy wants to fill them with unnecessary things. It is important to empty our baskets on a regular basis and continue to carry only those things given to us by Christ. We can discern such things in His Word and communicating with the Lord in prayer. Living in His Presence gives us the peace and confidence to say, “No” to lesser and unnecessary things because our faith is in God alone because man cannot fill our expectation.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Perfect peace. There is nothing like it. It comes when our life is yoked to Christ. Partnered with Him, the waves of the storm cannot remove us from the anchor called hope. Together – we are unstoppable because He overcame the world and handed us victory – Jesus is our champion. He has given us every spiritual blessing, provides all that we need, and promises to do more than we can think, ask or imagine. We have it all but settle for less when working for things already given. Trusting the Lord means resting in Him. It means releasing cares, worries, burdens, anxieties, fears and insecurities to take on the yoke called righteousness that by faith makes all things possible in Jesus Christ. To live in Christ is the place of perfect peace.

Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT) The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

The Lord calls us to rest and leads us as well. He is a good shepherd who cares for his sheep. He will leave the 99 just to find the one who is missing. Distractions lead us off course. The lie of the enemy is that God is not enough and His Grace insufficient. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s examine our own heart and mind today. Find all the burdens, cares, concerns and worries. Take captive fear and doubt that are adversaries of faith. Go to Jesus and give them “up” and to be refreshed, restored and renewed. His Love for you will never let you down. We must trust and believe that God is good. Good to us. He is for us. He fights our battles and wins our wars. To step into partnership and presence allows us to let go of the lead and follow the Lord to love, joy and perfect peace. This is the place called rest. Well, I am off to the beach. I am stepping out of life to find solace with my family and seek the Face of Jesus at the sea. My prayer for you today is rest. May God apprehend your heart all over again and fill it with His Love, Joy and Peace. Amen and amen.

Philippians 4:6-7 (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.

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Peace of Mind

Peace of Mind

Matthew 8:23-26 (NKJV)  Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Faith. Heavily marketed in the church and weighty in the Word of God often tossed about flippantly in Christian conversation, but what is faith? I know…I know…”faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I’ve read it too. It is one thing to read and another altogether to comprehend, understand and put to good use the Word of God by applying it to our daily life. Muscles must be exercised to build a strong body. Faith is essential to a building God’s Kingdom. The concept of faith is widely publicized within most congregations around the world. Yet it remains hidden in the hearts of mankind trying to grow from the confines of human logic and beyond rationalization to radicalization of the Kingdom finding its way to earth.

“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Jesus did not rebuke the disciple but the tempest around him. The work of our Lord is not to change the condition, circumstances or situations around us but to create strong faith and confident hope within us. The world has a predetermined future that is quickly coming to pass. It will not survive the return of Christ. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. The Lord returns for His People – those who know Him, love Him and live in relationship with Him. He calls us His Bride implying an intimate soul tie between Jesus and His Beloved. His Love stronger than death, His Jealously as cruel as the grave, His Passion that of a fiery flame that many waters could not quench, no flood could drown it, and He gave His Life to secure it. Why is fear a continual threat to our faith? Why is worry and stress filling us with doubt? Where is confident hope? To say that I have faith and confident hope without peace of mind and rest in my soul is to live a dangerous lie. Faith and confident hope will fill our life with peace. I need peace of mind. Jesus wants to give you peace of mind.

I Corinthians 2:16 (NKJV) For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Jesus gave us a piece of His Mind. It’s called faith. He provides us a measure of faith that has great potential. The faith comes in the form of seed. The more it is sown in our life the greater the harvest. Faith is a substance the size of a mustard seed. The Parable of the Farmer scattering seed tells of the variety of ways that it never gives way to its full potential. The enemy snatches the unprotected seed. There are those who receive God’s Word but because of a hard heart cannot receive it. There is no way for the roots of His Love to penetrate the callous exterior. Then there is seed sown in thorns that is choked out by distractions of life the points are marked with worry, stress and anxiety rising up from certain insecurities. The seed though full of great potential to prosper is unfruitful. But then there is the one who receives the Word of God with a fertile heart. Pressing it into the broken places, diligently sowing each day in anticipation of spiritual growth of faith that will become the substance of hope and source of life. We have the great potential of faith provided to us as a measure. What we do with it is up to us. That’s what freedom is all about. Faith is found in the Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God who came in the flesh to show us how much God loves us by giving up His Life for us. We must believe to receive His Kingdom.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NKJV) Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

“Little faith” is not the absence of faith or unbelief or distrust. It means underdeveloped faith. Faith will not meet its full potential unless it is cultivated in our life. When faith grows into confidence, it will sustain our life and fill us with peace no matter what the natural conditions are around us. It is the peace of heart and mind that Jesus is in full control. When the “tempest” or storm rose up, Jesus was sleeping but rather than following the example of their Master – the disciples viewed it as complete disregard. He was right there with them. They could see Him and still didn’t have enough faith to weather the storm. They knew Him but still did not believe in His Power and Authority. Even the demons know the Name of Jesus including His Power and Authority, so they tremble when they hear it. Do we who are called by His Name feel the same way? The Presence of Jesus in our life is the peace of mind needed to overcome all fear, doubt, worry and anxiety. Faith is the substance of such confidence. We must sow the Word of God and know the Word of God to grow faith and confidence trust that is fully matured and able to rest in the worst of natural conditions.

Matthew 6:30-33 (NKJV)  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

What are you worried about today? What has you so stressed out? This is the field to sow in. The place where fear reigns is the most in need of faith today. Jesus has all authority and power over natural conditions. By faith we give him permission to have His Way in that area of life. Maintaining control is never the answer. Grace becomes power in weakness. When I yield that field to the Lord, He begins to develop my faith into confidence in that area. Sow His Word in that field. Not once, but daily until it grows into confidence and peace. Continually. Wait for His Word to take root and grow there. God’s Promises are not dependent on anything we do other than to trust and believe. Prosperity is a soul condition. The overflow of a soul fully trusting and totally confident in Jesus will be an abundance and increase simply flowing from our belief.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NKJV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Faith is the most valuable commodity of our spiritual life. It is the basis of all fruitfulness and productivity. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. There must be an investment. Seed must go in the ground to yield its full potential. God desires to give us His Kingdom. GIVE IT TO US. We cannot earn it, deserve it or in any way acquire it but by faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot access the Father but by the Son. We must pursue faith. We must make an effort to sow it in our life. It is a hidden treasure. We must dig deeper. It is the most valuable treasure we have therefore we must protect and preserve it above all things.

Matthew 14:28-31 (NKJV)  And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Peter was the most impulsive, impetuous, spontaneous, compulsive and emotional disciple. He was all over the map. Jesus prophesied to him early on that “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This was long before Peter would deny Jesus three times. See the Lord sees the potential of our faith and uses the details of our life to produce it. Faith is not just for our church life it is for every facet of our life. Peter knew Jesus was the Son of God in his heart. The heart that would waver back and forth. The heart that would be broken at his betrayal of his best friend. The heart that would be revived by an empty tomb. The heart that would dive over the edge of the boat into the sea and swim to shore just to be with Him. Your potential is within you today. The enemy uses trials to tempt us to abort our mission of sowing faith and reaping confidence. He doesn’t want you to experience the Peace of God and enter His Rest because if you do – you will invest more and more of your life into it. I am challenged to find the areas of my life not prevailing in His Perfect Peace and break up the hard ground to plant seeds of faith. I want the peace of God in every area of my life.

Matthew 16:5-8 (NKJV) Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?”

One final thing to think about today. How many times do we worry and fret over things that never actually happen? I am typing this with my hand in the air. There was a situation recently when I received bad news and felt the downward spiral of emotions begin to drag me down. The more I prayed about the situation, I could sense the Lord essentially telling me to “hold tight”. Not to worry or stress or fear or be anxious but to simply wait on Him. It took a whole lot of prayer and studying the Word to get to that place but finally I decided to package the concern up and hand it to the Lord. FEAR is false evidence appearing real. Human reasoning grabs hold of it as the logical and obvious choice. The enemy wants us to think that God’s Love, Grace, Mercy and Favor have a limit which is true. The limit is our faith. If I extend faith and trust to that problem or concern it makes the impossible become possible. Well, as sure as I am sitting in this chair, I am seeing a plan far greater than I imagined begin to unfold. It far exceeds what I could think, ask or imagine. God is good. He is faithful. His Promises all true. I must simply sow my faith and trust into His Way, Will and Word to have every good thing that is provided, promised and potential in my life. Start small. My advice is to not forsake small beginnings. Begin to speak God’s Word over that situation. Work daily to release every burden associated and yoke that part of your life to Jesus. It’s going to be hard. The struggle is real. The more you try the greater the opposition from the adversary. Take it as a sign you are doing something right. Faith planted always grows. Confident trust opens the door to perfect peace…every single time. You may not have bread today but that seed of faith will leaven into the Bread of Life allowing us to taste and see that the Lord is good!

Mark 9:24 (NKJV) Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

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.

Holding Hope

Holding Hope

Psalm 43:3-5 (NLT) Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

Hope deferred makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12) Discouragement is a bummer. It is not the product of confident hope that is incapable of leading us to disappointment. God loves us. We know that but it is difficult to hold tightly without wavering to hope which cannot be seen or experienced right now. The absence of hope is discouragement. How can a believer be discouraged? Don’t beat yourself up too bad. We are all human beings comprised of dying flesh no matter how pretty the package or righteous one appears. Some days life is more than to be handled and burdens just too heavy to bear. If perfection were possible, grace wouldn’t be necessary. However, the Word of God is clear that grace is always enough. We need God’s Grace. No one can live beyond their last breath without it. In fact, no one can live a life of potential and purpose in the here and now without it.

Faith is the reality of what we hope for – it is the evidence of what cannot be seen but is relevant to our life. If you can see it, do it or produce it in your life – faith and hope are not necessary. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith makes all things possible if one believes. Hope is the essence of what we believe and invest our faith in. Yet there are days when our heart, mind and soul can empathize with the psalmist. Our prayer to the Lord is one for help and rescue. “I am slipping!” (Psalm 94:18) The support that keeps us from going under in such times is the hope that anchors our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) Like the massive piece of metal resting on the bottom of the sea, it holds the ship safely. But still, the vessel moves up and down in the waves, feels the weight of the wind, and experiences the natural conditions of the atmosphere. Lord, help me to hold on to hope today even though I cannot see it – it is holding me in place. Let me feel its strength and security surround me and hold me even tighter than I cling to it.

Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me.” God’s Word is our Source of Hope. Spoiler alert – Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:1-5; 14) He came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love for us. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) I need God’s Word in my life spiritually to survive beyond my last day. Even reading the Word of God can be difficult when the wet blanket of discouragement finds us. These are the days our prayer might be “send out your light and truth.” Obedience to God’s Word is nothing more than accepting His Guidance from Glory to Glory as one lives in the Presence of God. We need His Presence to comprehend illogical faith that makes no sense outside of the Word of God. God’s Word gives us knowledge and understanding that allows us to hold to our hope. It gives it substance. Psalm 119:105 calls the Word a light and lamp that helps us find our way. Proverbs 24:13-14 compares it to honey that is sweet to taste. Nothing will overcome bitterness like the sweetness of the promises found for us in God’s Word. We must always use God’s Word to anchor our heart and mind to the reality of faith and hope that is to be clung to. Life is hard. The struggle is real. Our anchor is secure.

“Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy.” The Presence of God is the place of restoration, renewal and revival of the weary and fallen who are righteous. Just because you are down doesn’t mean you have fallen. Just because you are discouraged doesn’t mean that you have lost your hope. It just means you need more Light and Love found in His Presence to drive the darkness away. Some people make Presence about manifestation. I say that sometimes the greatest miracle that can happen is to find peace in the storm and joy in the midst of great sorrow. It produces satisfaction and contentment that God is enough. He is no bigger than when His Love surrounds us and His Goodness overtakes us. To sit in the Presence of God and decide not to move until He comes will allow you to experience the faithfulness of God in the absence of doing, moving or even speaking. It is to allow Him to be God and in control at least for those few moments. God is the God of perfect peace and inexpressible joy. He is the One who promised to do more than we can think or imagine to ask for. Jesus promised a rich and satisfying life that can only be discovered in His Presence. Stop worrying about what you can do for God and let God do what He wants to do for you today. “The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.” Psalm 145:14-16) Too many times we put certain conditions on our life that Jesus never mandated or authorized. Our feeble attempt to somehow earn what has already been given makes us think there is something of worth in our actions that Christ did not already complete on the Cross. This burden is not one that I am called to carry so the weight overwhelms me until I realize again that Christ is enough. He is all that I need. He is my hope. His Name is hope. (Matthew 12:21) I must put all my faith, hope and trust in the Lord to avoid discouragement in life. I will fall. I will fail. I will be discouraged. The Lord promises to be my refuge. I must go to Him.

Hebrews 10:20-23 (NLT) By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

My hope is in Christ alone. Period. God’s Plan for my life comes with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) God doesn’t say, “Now go make it happen.” No, the Word of God goes on to say that those who seek Him wholeheartedly will find it. (Jeremiah 29:13) Maybe I am discouraged because I somehow took parts of my heart, mind or life back? It’s possible. Romans 8 is not for babies. It is not spiritual milk. No friend, Romans 8, is the reality of hope. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:1) Therefore, I have absolutely nothing to fear or be sad about. It doesn’t matter what other people think or how harshly I may be judged. There is no condemnation in Jesus because His Grace is enough. If I continue in His Word to build a new knowledge base for faith to become wisdom and I invite the Holy Spirit to live, breathe, move and have His Way in my life – I will not be led to disappointment. If I find myself discouraged, I have everything I need inside of me to be encouraged by hope yet again. I am not in this alone. The entire body of Christ longs for and groans for completion in the Lord. “We were given this hope when we were saved.” (Romans 8:24) Since we do not have it yet, we must wait patiently and confidently in it. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. He will even pray for us. (Romans 8:26) God promises that He is working together every detail of my life for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Things are looking up. Finally, the greatest detail of hope is that no matter what I have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ and absolutely nothing can separate me from His Love…not even me or my bad attitude or inability to hold “tightly” to hope. He still is holding on to me no matter what! (Romans 8:35-39) I didn’t learn these truths in the last couple of hours but have invested and reinvested my life in believing, trusting and living in God’s Word and His Presence. He is my hope when everything is hopeless. Jesus makes all things possible when life is impossible. This is what I believe and today what God is reminding me of.

Lamentations 3:20-24 (NLT) I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

Could it be that God uses discouragement to reproduce faith and confident hope in us? Those times when our burdens overwhelm us push us into His Presence. When the details of life just don’t make sense, it forces us to find the reality of our faith in the Truth concerning us (the Word). Sin is rampant. Love is cold. Bad things happen to good people every day yet still God’s Mercy is new every morning. Day after day an opportunity to experience new faith and confident hope that fills our life with His Glory and Goodness. It is time to reinvest faith in hope. It doesn’t matter how far you have fallen – the Lord can still reach you with His Love. He is strong enough to rip bitterness from its root and restore the soul drowning in doubt. The anchor of hope may be unseen but rest assured it is secure, unmovable and unshakeable in the foundation of faith who is Jesus Christ.

Psalm 94:18-19 (NLT) I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

I have to laugh a little today even feeling a bit overwhelmed and slightly discouraged at the irony of Christ. I cry out to the Lord, “I am slipping!” But the reality of it is I am secure! His Unfailing Love is holding me tight. He is supporting me in this time of weakness of spirit and feebleness of heart offering me time, grace and mercy to get over it and keep walking with Him. Isn’t this what being yoked to Jesus Christ is all about? (Matthew 11:28-30) He says, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens…” Is that you today? “Take my yoke upon you…” Jesus is inviting us yet again to partner our faith and hope with Him, it’s called trust. The Lord offers to teach us His Way. He will give us a new heart that is gentle and submissive to His Way that never leads to disappointment but victory to victory and glory to glory. The promise is that we will find rest for our souls. Hope gives us peace so that we can rest on God’s Promise even in the midst of a storm. His Yoke is easy and burden is light because Jesus will do just as He promised. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He completed His Work on the Cross and released His Spirit to live in us. Our hope is secure. Faith attaches us to hope. It doesn’t have to be “big” faith just enough to truly believe. Lord, as I read your Word and enter Your Presence, I ask you Jesus to bring me comfort, renew a right spirit in me, and give me the inexpressible joy and cheer that is only found in You! Teach me to hold on to hope as tightly as You are holding me!

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Live Courageously

Live Courageously

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

As the sun began setting on Sunday evening, I could feel it coming like a dark shadow falling in step behind me. Working on some furniture, piddling in the yard, playing with the new puppy with no real timeline or agenda, I could smell it in the air. Monday. I have felt this foreboding for weeks now as our office is in the midst of transition. The relentless pressure of responsibility falling squarely on my shoulders – it begins to suffocate me. I cannot make the clock turn back or add another day to the reprieve. I hate this feeling. I generally do not experience stress and pressure that is overwhelming. Anxiety is not my usual response to challenges or unfavorable conditions. Now it is morning, I have to go and face this day. The one I dreaded. The time I loathed. I know it is only for a season but sometimes it feels like a lifetime. Does anyone else know what I mean?

I cannot help but wonder sometimes if the Lord allows me to experience certain situations because it is my nature to analyze it thoroughly and completely then share it right here. Tearing through the Word of God, like a messy sock drawer looking for a matching pair, I need a promise or truth to tie to these feelings together with a solution. Jesus is always the One who has my solution. I used to look for answers other places. I found some substitutions. I discovered compromise. However, once I found myself in Word…it all changed. When I came to realize that Christ lives in me…I then found my Source.

Yet…means at the present time, now, in the time still remaining and before it is all done. Yet. It means that there was a whole lot of stuff before the adverb but there is something coming after it worth noting. I am linking my past condition with my future courage. I am yoking my circumstances to my commitment to Christ. Something is about to change because in spite of everything else or yet I am confident. Not confident in myself, but that I will see the Lord’s Goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Have you brought Christ to the forefront of your life today? Is He the One who is our Connection and Source? Connection and source of what? Jesus Christ is my courage. I must be confident in the Lord to receive the fearlessness that He offers me. Let’s talk about courage today. How’s your confidence in the Lord?

I John 4:18 (NLT) Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

Perfect love expels ALL fear. Stress, anxiety, worry and insecurity are all byproducts of fear. Fear is the absence of confidence and it will drain courage quickly. When Peter and the other disciples were in the midst of a raging storm, Jesus came walking by them on the water. Once he identified Jesus, Peter asked to join Him on the water. Jesus said, “Come.” Peter took just a few steps before the waves and wind in the midst of pummeling rain caused his faith to turn to fear. When he began to be overtaken by the storm and sea, Peter called out to the Lord who quickly grabbed hold of him. (Matthew 14:24-31) God’s Love seems too good to be true. He would be a fool to love us unconditionally, right? How could a perfect God love such imperfect people? I scrutinize these questions many times especially if I fall or fail God which is just about every hour of every day minus when I sleep. I can try to do all the right things and speak life, but if I do not have confidence in the Love of God – courage will not be within my character.

All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” (I John 4:15-17) What does love have to do with courage? The sufficiency of God’s Grace accepted in our life gives us access to His Strength. If I am not fully aware and embracing of God’s Love for me demonstrated by His Grace, I have no hope. I must be confident in His Love to become fearless in life. Too many times, once discovering the Love and Grace of God, it is human nature to attempt to earn it or somehow become deserving of it. But friend that is not what the Word of God tells us to do at all! We are to live in Christ because now God lives in us. Each day is the opportunity to get out of the boat no matter what the weather conditions or circumstances surrounding my life and walk with Jesus by faith and confidence in His Love. It does change the outward atmosphere of our life, but gives us the courage and strength to face whatever comes simply because the Love of God is enough to keep me.

The Presence of God in our life is our confident hope that no matter what happens – I will experience His Goodness in the land of the living. I don’t have to wait for Heaven to win but just wait on the Lord to finish what He started in my life before I was born. All I need is to live in His Presence. It is the Presence of God and Permanence of His Love that sustains me. He gives me boldness, courage, strength, fearlessness and boundless opportunity. He will never leave me. He cannot fail me. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Obedience based on confidence in Christ’s Love and Commitment will foster obedience in my life that will give me success in all I do. (Joshua 1:7) Even in the midst of overwhelming circumstances and daunting challenges, the Word of God and His Presence enables and encourages me throughout the building process of faith. (I Chronicles 28:20) Hope is our courage because it is the strong anchor that steadies our wavering heart. (Job 11:18) The Lord wants to revive and restore us with His Love, Grace and Goodness today. To fully immerse us and overtake us with His Abundance. We must be confident in this to have the courage to do all He has created and called us to do.

Confidence is full trust. Do you trust the Lord today? Do you believe that in spite of you being you, His Love is compete? To be confident in Jesus means to absolutely believe in His Power, Trustworthiness, and Reliability which comes from His Presence in our life. Do you believe that Christ lives in you today? Confidence in the Love of God for me is essential for courage to rise up and take over every stronghold of fear in my life. I must be completely convinced that God loves me. His Grace is enough for me. His Goodness is for me. His Presence within me. Courage is evidence of confident trust that nothing and no one can ever separate me from the Love of God. Not because I am strong or have it all together, but He holds me in His Hand. I cannot be taken from the Love of God as He wraps me in His Righteousness and lavishes His Goodness in my life each day. Would you stick it out at work another day if you knew promotion was coming? Would you keep watch over your field of harvest if you knew the abundance of the crops that are coming? Would you pray one more prayer if your loved one would be saved, healed or delivered? God’s Love and commitment to us is never in question. It is our confidence in His Love that is waning. Where is the line? When do you stop trying? Will you give up? Those who are confident live from Glory to Glory in every season knowing that God is with them and they cannot fail.

Hebrews 3:6 (NLT) But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.

God is with us. Christ lives in us. He is more than enough to lead us from victory to victory if only we would have enough confidence in His Love to live fearlessly by faith. Faith sounds so big but really it is only the size of a mustard seed. It is the decision to reject fear and accept the Love that makes all things work together for our good. It is confidence that the Love of God is committed to perfecting all that concerns us. Confidence in the absolute and total completeness of God’s Love will give me the courage I need to face whatever challenges arise today. To focus on His Love and not my unloveliness allows me to live life by His Grace according to His Word and become fearlessly bold and courageous every day. I must become less while Christ explodes inside me making His Way outside me permeating my life with all of His Goodness just like He promised. Good things are for me in this life I live today. Lord, give me the confidence to live courageously.

James 5:7-8 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

Thief Among Us

Open Window

John 10:10 (NLT) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

There is a thief among us. He tried to climb through the window of my mind this morning and steal the joy rising with the morning sun. He tried the handle to my heart hoping to get his foot in the door. Little lies spread all around like almost unnoticeable traps carefully laid to ensnare my foot or cause me to stumble. His pursuit is relentless. He wants all that is mine. Not for himself because he cannot have it. Jesus has given me a rich and satisfying life. The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy every good thing that God has for me. It is his purpose. It is the onslaught in each moment of every single day that there is breath in my body. Jesus has overcome the world. I have the same power that rose Him from the dead living in me. He is becoming greater as I become less yet in the moments of attack – my thoughts can be misled, deceived and even easily overtaken no matter how far I walk this journey called faith.

I am not generally given to worry. Stress is not something I easily take on. I would not classify my thoughts as anxious. My nature is contrary to such think. I relish in optimism. I believe that when the thief finds his way into my life that it is a bit more difficult to fight back because it is not a battle that I fight every day.

Psalm 127:1-2 (NLT) Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

From time to time, a door may be found unlocked in the morning or the garage door left open the night before and my husband is most unhappy. He is concerned that our carelessness could have allowed an intruder to easily enter and put our family at risk. I, on the other hand, possess a very different perspective on life. I thank God for His Protection and move on. I believe that while both mindsets have strengths and weaknesses that is more prudent to check doors and windows routinely to make sure each one is secure. Many years ago arriving home after a long day, I noticed the door leading from the garage inside the house was cracked open. I did not think too much about it because our little dog sometimes would push on it looking for us and if not closed tightly it would do the same. The children went on high alert immediately. I scoffed at their concern and began give them instructions for the afternoon. Well once inside, it was clear that things were not okay. Thieves had come and helped themselves to valuable contents inside the home and now our children were fearful that they were not safe inside their own house anymore. We must secure not only the doors and windows of our home for safety and security but we must close tightly the entrance to our heart and mind as well.

We become busy and distracted with life and soon the cares and worries of life become burdens to us. Dependency on Christ gives way to insecurity and soon the weight of the world falls squarely on our shoulders. How we feel overtakes what we know and overwhelming fear, worry, stress and anxiety hold us captive. God did not give us the spirit of fear but how many times do we simply take it? The Lord has given us the ability to pursue potential and passion in our natural life. However, it is to remain secure in the Kingdom that gives our potential purpose that is able to become a rich and satisfying life.  

Luke 12:32-34 (NLT) “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

It gives God happiness and exceeding pleasure to give me the Kingdom. He wants to give it to you, too. The Lord promises that He will “accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” That is a lot by anyone’s standard. He wants to restore the glorious standard of living that sin and the enemy stole from us. Jesus is giving us back our birthright. It says, “So don’t be afraid…” As believers – there is an opportunity to give up this life and secure the Kingdom. Not just futuristically but practically – even today. It begins with peace of mind. The kind of peace offered in Isaiah 26:3 – perfect peace. The Holy Spirit is our helper who teaches us and instructs us. (John 14:26-27) He takes God’s Word and inscribes its meaning for us on our heart until all that we know is the Love of God and Grace of Jesus Christ which will change how we think about life in general. Do you believe that Jesus Christ overcame the world? (John 16:33) Do you believe that He has given you the Keys to the Kingdom for your security and use? Faith is the first step to perfect peace. It is the gateway to a secure place in life where confident hope leads to complete trust lacking no good thing. With met expectations taking the place of those unmet by other people, it is the freedom to pursue God wholeheartedly without divided interest.

Luke 12:25-26 (NLT) Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

Worry, stress, fear and anxiety are all byproducts of insecurity. I know I don’t like to hear that word any more than you do but it is true. When I worry about a situation or stress over life, it is an immediate red flag or alarm that the thief is attempting to break in. The most precious commodity given in life is time. You cannot replicate or reproduce it. Once a single second is gone, it is gone forever never to be reclaimed. Worry cannot add a moment to our life but rather wastes it completely.

The cares of life – food, shelter and clothing are all covered for the creature by their Creator. Yet, we think that it is up to us to do something when He already did it all. We worry about the minutest details of life especially what we do not have so much that sometimes it keeps us from seeing clearly all things that we do have. To worry, stress and fear over our well-being is characteristic of limited faith. Faith that only goes so far in need of conditioning. The enemy is always willing to offer a lie for the Truth. It is tempting to take it. However, then with his foot in the door, he will quickly fill our heart and mind with countless fears and many worries in an attempt to steal our peace, kill our faith, and destroy our life. Faith must lead to confidence in God’s Ability and Willingness to do infinitely more than we can think or ask. However, doubt tells us that God’s Promises are not good enough and it is up to us to add to it.

Hebrews 12:15-17 (NLT) Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

The enemy pounced on my thoughts last night, continued in my dreams and I awoke fighting fear and worry this morning. I am willing to admit my humanness. Are you? There are days when faith carries us and other days it is a fight just to keep it. Faith must overcome insecurity every single day. People are at an extreme disadvantage because I have nothing to offer God to reciprocate His Love and Generosity of Grace in my life. Nothing. In fact, before the day is over, I will most certainly fail Him several times. I have no reason other than faith and trust to believe that I am somehow worthy of limitless and unconditional love that leads me from victory to victory and glory to glory. Jesus is the only reason I have any kind of real purpose and potential in my life. With that being said, I cannot help but wonder if it is not always the thief stealing from us but sometimes us. Do we give up our birthright for a single meal as Esau did? In Genesis 25, Esau was “starving” so he offered his brother, Jacob who was an excellent cook, his birthright for one meal. One might think Esau was either really hungry or Jacob an even better cook than described or could it be that Esau did not value his birthright? I know…stung my heart a little (or a lot) to think that rather than the enemy stealing what God has given me that it might just be my own doubt and insecurity giving it away. Leaving the door to my heart open and the windows to my mind unsecure, allowing the enemy to come into my life and steal what God has so graciously given me or promised to come.

In Genesis 27, Isaac is nearing death and giving his final blessing to his children. Esau wept bitterly before him as it is clear Jacob has received the blessing. Jacob duped him again. Or did he? Finally, Isaac, shares these words with his devastated child, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” Read that last sentence again with me…”But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” What if it is me? I have been given a birthright. I am a Child of the Living God. I have Christ living in me. He overcame the world. Could it be my own doubt and insecurity causing the limitation of faith and prosperity in my life because I do not believe or understand the value and worth of my birthright so I give it away?

We give ourselves to worrying about people. (Matthew 7:2-4) We stress out about our position in life. (I Corinthians 7:20-22) Fret about what might or might now happen. (I Peter 3:13-15) We allow bitterness to take the place of forgiveness. Our heart is driven with desire for more and a hunger for this world rather than satisfaction and contentment in Christ. Crying out for His Word, Will and Way in our life – we leave the doors and windows of our heart and mind open so the moment God pours it in the enemy quickly snatches it out. I am asking the Lord today to “search my heart – point out anything that offends Him – and to lead me to the everlasting – not temporary and worthless. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Lord has created and called us to live peace-filled and satisfied lives. If that is not reminiscent of your life today, it doesn’t mean it cannot be. It is up to you and I to take hold of our birthright as Children of God, secure it with faith, fasten it like an anchor called confident hope to our life and decide to trust the Lord each day. Trust is a choice. Faith is an investment in the Kingdom of God not useful in this life. If you can do it, you don’t need faith to have it. We must decide the new life in Christ is worth having and invest our whole being in becoming the new creation that He promised. We must secure the door to our heart and fasten the windows of our mind to ensure that every thought and motivation are subject to the Gate Keeper, our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. (John 10) There is nothing left for Jesus to do. The rest is up to you and me. Will we choose to let the thief in or shut him out of our life for good? There is a thief among us. He wants to stop us. Our faith is his death and defeat. Jesus has given us the victory now it is up to walk in it confidently and consciously each day. Securing our life with more faith and confidence in God than ever before so every stronghold of insecurity is smashed by it. True freedom in Jesus Christ produces a rich and satisfied life that begins in our heart and mind. It is called peace. Peace leads to everlasting life and hope that will never cause us disappointment.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Overwhelm Me

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Isaiah 61:10 (NLT) I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.

Life can be overwhelming. Circumstances, conditions and even change can overcome our mind, run rampant through our emotions, and stir up anxious thoughts and feelings. I would rather face an issue in my body then to deal with my mind. Sickness in our body, in my opinion, is much easier to overcome than weakness in our mind holding us captive in our mind, will or emotions. Physical ailments are one thing, but mental impairment is twice as debilitating. Our spirit, mind and body must work together in our pursuit of Christ and all that He promises, but it is our flesh that fights for its life. It is our will that refuses submission and clings to stubbornness. There will always be things that overwhelm us in this life. We choose who holds us captive. Will I live in bondage to negative thinking and limited vision or will I be captivated in the inconceivable yet always perceivable love of God? Lord, overwhelm me with Your Love today!

2 Corinthians 4:7-8(NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.

The pressures of life are inevitable. There will always be something attempting to weigh you down, block your path, pull you back or divert you altogether. The enemy is relentlessly and ruthlessly attempting to quench that tiny fire burning inside you. He wants to make sure that it does not become a bright and shining light representing God’s Love, Goodness and Faithfulness that will lead others from the dark and dying places in the world. He is after that seed of faith. If he can just pluck it out of you or maybe overcome the Word in you with the weeds of problems, troubles or trials – you will stop this foolishness called faith, hope and love.

The word “overwhelm” means to load, heap, treat or address with an overpowering or excess of anything. The word itself is not negative. How one responds to it determines the meaning? How do you respond to pressure in life? Do you press in? Do you give in? There will always be pressure. There will always be something that is trying to overwhelm you. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! We have the freedom to choose that which overwhelms us today! Will it be the great load of temporary things that threaten us in this moment or will it be God’s Faithful and Abiding Love that is greater than death and the grave? Will it be the sufficiency of His Amazing Grace that empowers me when I am weak and flailing? There will always be a “master” in our life. Jesus gives us the right called freedom to choose who it will be. I choose the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! How about you?

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Generally, it is not the problem that brings the pressure but our perception of the problem. Have you ever looked in the side mirror of the car? There are words written on it that warn us – “OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.” We look back rather than looking ahead. Our focus should be on the future but the past is bearing down on us. It seems like the enemy is hot on our heels. Out of breath. Losing hope. Wondering if today is the day. Will I fall? Will I fail? Oh Lord, I am so overwhelmed! The Lord says to us today, “Look again!”

Psalm 23:4-6 (NLT) Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

What if that “thing” you think is after you is really the Lord? Is it Him who is the one pursuing you and positioning you for an outpouring of His Goodness and Unfailing Love? When I was in fifth grade, I had an unwanted suitor. He would taunt me at the bus stop at school every afternoon. Rocking back and forth poised on his bike. He would push me to run away threatening me with the most heinous and horrendous threat – a kiss. I didn’t want to kiss him. I didn’t want him to kiss me. He would chase me around in circles until a teacher came along or the bus arrived. One kiss – it was harmless but to an unsuspecting child an unwanted advance. Fast forward forty years to now, I will chase my husband around or let him catch me just to steal a quick kiss. It is all about perception. It is all about possibility. What if the seemingly impossible situation is just a divine set up for the Lord to catch us and keep us just a little closer? After all, His People are His Bride. His Heart longs to connect with us. His Spirit to remain intimately acquainted with our soul. Jesus is pursuing you and me with His Goodness and Unfailing Love.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 

We are human. I wish for just a moment even the strongest Christian would be transparent enough to admit this is true. Everyone sins and falls short of God’s Glorious Standard every single day. The message of the Gospel is not good news that sin is completely extracted from us making us flawlessly perfection but that in our absolute and complete imperfection that His Grace is enough to cover me in His Love. We must use God’s Mightiest Weapons to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and destroy all the false arguments arising between humans. All humans. All people. God desires every single one who He created. Jesus died for them just like you and me. The Spirit of the Lord full of His Faithfulness, Goodness and Unfailing Love is after them equally. We must destroy every prideful obstacle IN US until our complete and total focus is on Jesus Christ. We must capture the religious and rebellious thoughts that give us some kind of superiority. The truth is that I fail in my attempts to be faithful every day, but God never fails at being faithful. In fact, He overwhelms me with His Love and Commitment to me even when I fall, fail or quit.

No matter how hard I try, I will mess something up today when it comes to my good fight of faith. (Romans 7) I will find myself off shadowboxing rather than doing what I know to do and resting in the Peace that God has offered me. Like a toy – wound too tightly – bumping into the wall with wheels still spinning but getting nowhere at all, I will get distracted and caught up in temporary troubles or momentary weakness. I am human. So are you? The true character of Christ is His Love. The identity of God is He is love. Love is the challenge that I am given. To accept His Love and then distribute it throughout the world. This is a far cry from religion, but a genuine invitation to a real relationship with the Living God. Obedience to Christ is not in one’s ability not to sin. It is in my ability to love the Lord and His People. It is that simple even though we make it so hard. It begins with allowing God to overwhelm the strongholds in our mind. Releasing us from every fear, doubt and insecurity and drowning us in His Love. This is what allows us to become real light in this world. The kind of light that attracts others to Jesus rather than driving them farther apart.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Despite all these things, every situation, problem, people, trial or circumstance, overwhelming victory belongs to me. I win. No matter what the weapon is I am victorious. I believe it. Do you? The Power of God is made available to me by His Grace. His Love provides all the grace that I need to endure this life. He has made us more than conquerors. If I find my place in Christ, I will never now the agony of defeat again. I will always have the opportunity for the impossible to be made possible in my life. It is all according to what I believe, and my ability to hold on to that hope.

There is absolutely nothing in heaven or on earth that can or will every separate me from the Love of God. Nothing. No sin. No shame. No regret. Nothing in my past. Nothing in the present. Nothing in the future. Even if I wander off or wonder more, God is still pursuing me with His Unfailing, Unconditional Love. So today if a care or concern begins to overwhelm you, overwhelm it instead. Tell it what the Word of God says about. Remind the enemy who your Daddy is. Take captive every single thought that is contradictory to God’s Word and hold it subject to His Promises. Praise, praise and praise some more. Protect that little light inside you until it burns passionately. Fan the flames until the whole world can see it burning again. The Spirit of the Living God lives in you and me, too. Every detail in our life works for our good and His Glory according to His Plan that is unfolding. We must only wait and watch because God will make it happen for those who believe. Let your mind be totally overcome and your heart fully apprehended by the Love of God today. Nothing can ever separate us from Him or snatch us from the folds of His Mighty Hand. His Love is overwhelming. Lord, wash over me today and overwhelm again with Your Amazing Love.

John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Chasing the Wind

Chasing the Wind

Ecclesiastes 11:4-8 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. 

Saturdays are precious in our family. Five work days and one day of church worship leave only one for my husband and I to do spend time with our children and do some chores around the house. To wake up when we want to and dawdle through the day is quite nice rushing through the week. The alarm this morning did not greet a happy and expectant employee ready to jump up and seize the day. With a sigh, I immediately began to pray and thank the Lord for the opportunity I have in the workplace and the great weekend that we had. Gratitude seems to change my attitude. It is a great help when the dark cloud of drudgery tries to overshadow God’s Goodness, His Grace and His Glory in our life.

This Saturday an industrious spirit took over as Spring Fever was in the air. Our neglected front porch is right outside the windows of the study where I write. As the morning sun beamed brightly through the windows, I decided to wash away the residue of a long winter and pollen that collected as spring arrived. Armed with all my supplies, I tackled the windows inside and out. The front porch of our house was barren. There really was no point upon our arrival and many other areas of our “new” home that needed our attention, but an image filled my head of two porch rockers. Well, you know the old saying, if mama ain’t happy then… well you know the rest. My husband and I headed to our favorite date place or the home improvement store. Loading a hand cart with two black rocking chairs, a couple small palms and a can of black paint along with a couple other “necessary” items – we headed home. After some assembly required, the two rockers were just as I imagined. We sat down to overlook our work for the day. The yard was manicured, the windows washed and porch cleaned – all the details in place. Sitting in the cool breeze, just rocking along, I realized that the newest chapter in our life had finally arrive. Our littlest girls are almost grown. The three older ones all in their twenties and living their lives. Me and my best friend rocking on the porch in the chairs that will be the place to rock our grandchildren, visit with friends, or maybe even share the greatest love story ever told with someone who is hurting. I have named the two chairs – one is satisfaction and the other will be contentment.

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.” If a perfect life were possible, grace would not be necessary. Since people are not perfect, the ability to live such an existence escapes them. To live this live pursuing our dreams and working for our goals outside of satisfaction and contentment is chasing the wind. I believe this is the meaning behind 3 John 1:2. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” Funny that it comes in 3 John and not 1 John. The prosperity of our soul is satisfaction. The confidence in Christ born of faith is called contentment. Both are qualities birthed by trust, yet hard to grasp much less hold on to in a world that lives according to immediate gratification and a constantly changing perception of what will bring these two qualities. If it were power and wealth by the world’s standards, there would not be so many people who end their life in the height of success because of dissatisfaction and disappointment feeding a disease called depression or fueling the fire of anxiety buffered by mood altering drugs and pain killers. So many talented people who no matter how successful could not catch the conditions they desired most – the peaceful stillness found in two rocking chairs on a front porch in the county.

“Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.” Balance is the art of both hard work and peace of mind that is very hard to achieve outside of Jesus Christ. Striving becomes thriving when this balance is achieved. God gave us goals, dreams and desires when He placed eternity in our heart. Without a perspective of heaven or His Kingdom including the blessings and benefits that His Children have there, the joy and peace marked satisfaction and contentment are impossible. The Lord planted a seed in you and I called faith. It is the substance of all that we hope for. Unless this seed is cultivated in every area of our life – it will only bloom where it is planted. A diversified life will only contribute to stress and worry increasing our burdens but Jesus invites us to “yoke our life with Him” and He will partner with us in all our endeavors sharing the heavy load of responsibility that weighs us down in life giving us a precious promise called rest. (Matthew 11) You have the potential of prosperity in you. It will yield the two things you desire most but we must work into the fields and furrows of our heart to be incorporated in every endeavor of life or we are just chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11-12;17 (NLT) Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

The Lord has a plan for our life. Recorded before our birth (Psalm 139), it is a good one with a future and hope. God didn’t design our life for disaster. God promises to hear our prayers. He will be found by those who look for Him wholeheartedly. This is an important detail often missed in a world that cries “what is in it for me.” Life. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) All of us. He didn’t go to the Cross just so you and I could just make it but that in Him find live a prosperous life according to God’s Riches in Glory. To restore the glorious standard of living that sin had taken from us but Jesus came back from the grave to give us. He didn’t force us to take the Keys to the Kingdom but rather offers them to us each day. Our willful disposition fostered by the old Elvis anthem, “I Did It My Way” will find many in the same position that the world renowned “king of rock and roll” did. A man who could have had anything he wanted, denied himself nothing, reaped a huge reward for all his labors and fully accomplished in his industry died in addiction. We must seek soul satisfaction or risk putting all our efforts into a success that will never reach the innermost part of us. Without faith it is impossible to please God – without faith there is no satisfaction and contentment continues to wave in the wind at those who pass it by.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 (NLT)  So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” (James 1) The realization that every good thing in our life is from the Hand of God can change one’s perspective. The greatest revelation is that of Romans 8:28 in the promise that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them.” To find truth in the words and apply trust to them will change our lives forever. To believe that every good thing in our life is a product of God and not self or random fate is one thing, but to also see the potential of God in every situation and know that He will work it in our favor – now that my friend is life changing and soul altering. Soul satisfaction comes from faith that trusts God and believes in His Goodness even on our worst day.

Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 (NLT) Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. “Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.” And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”

Comparison is a joy killer. It comprises faith because it plants a seed of envy that will bloom into bitterness. God has no favorites. Before declaring the grass is greener in someone else’s yard, perhaps one might ask what fertilizer they use. See God uses every detail of our life for our good. Before comparing our life journey to another, one might decide if it is worth the cost. We are a masterpiece – each one of us an individual work of God with his or her own process of completion. The end result is the same. The process is different. To be jealous of another displays disbelief in God’s Purpose and Plan for us. It destroys satisfaction. It corrupts contentment. A seed demonstrates the growth process in God – one must first die to self. Our present form must be completely undone to incorporate His Goodness in every facet of our life until His Love completely overtakes us and trust allows all good things to grow hidden in our new heart – new life – new creation. To prosper without satisfaction and contentment is not to a blessing. Any form of prosperity does not change our heart but simply magnifies what is already in it. The Lord offers us the Mind of Christ. We must know Him, trust Him and believe Him to have perfect peace that is not challenged by condition or circumstance but leads us to safe harbor every time. The truest blessing of prosperity is a satisfied soul resting in the Peace of God even in a stormy situation.

Ecclesiastes 5:15-20 (NLT) We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

I love our new rocking chairs. I love the front porch. The wind feels good blowing on my face. I love the promise represented called satisfaction and contentment. I know they are a product of age and maturity. There is no need to chase the wind for it will blow where it will. Looking back, I do not see the broken life that I have lived and all the bad things that have happened. I do not look ahead with fear, worry or stress but I sit there rocking and thinking of all the good things that the Lord has done for us. Our youngest daughter sits at our feet with playing with our little dog laughing at her antics. She is the last of our children who is growing up so quickly before us. But I am not afraid my role as mom will soon be over. Sitting next to me is my best friend and soul mate given to me by a gracious God. Our journey has not been easy but it has been worth it. From the beginning, we decided to be yoked with the Lord. He has carried us to this point. As I continue to rock envisioning children running around the yard as the days turn into years, I ask the Lord not for more of anything but to continue this work in my heart. Give me a wealth of satisfaction and rich contentment to fill every nook and cranny of my heart. There is nothing in this world worth more than a prospering soul. It shines a new light on an ordinary life magnifying far greater potential then hard work and motivation could ever afford. To find satisfaction is really what we are after no matter how hard we try to seem confident and uncaring. We want to be loved just as we are in a world that cries to take – maybe God wants us to give. You cannot give to others what you do not possess yourself. It is common sense. You cannot share the fathomless love and endless grace of God with others until it is found within ourselves. You cannot faith it until you make it. Faith is a solid footstep in God’s Direction. Real love and true faith produce satisfaction in life because they are the seeds that God planted in us and faith in Jesus will begin to grow. Once our soul is satisfied, the sky is the limit literally as the windows of Heaven open and His Light reveals all the blessings in our life and sends down all every promise day by day.

I Timothy 6:6 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great worth.

Halfsies

Half Empty Half Full

Matthew 6:21 (NLT) Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Call me an optimist. I have heard it before. I always believe that when it comes to the age old question, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” I will always say, “Half full!” Without hesitation. I have always believed that there is more to life if we just keep a good attitude and work hard. I believe that people are good, but life is hard. I am quick to apologize. I hate broken relationships and strained communication. I was raised by a man who wasn’t afraid to try. If he broke, he always tried to fix it and many times was successful without the need for a repairman. Not everyone is like that – there are pessimists and they cannot understand such thinking. The glass is always half empty and surely has a hole. Living in bondage to stress and fear of failure, they do not try new things and become frustrated in setbacks. They often live in a state of “it is what it is” and that’s just my luck. Trust is hard for them. They seldom can apologize and struggle to forgive. Unmet expectation overshadows their victories in life. Living under a little black cloud, they do not dance with the optimist in the rain. It is all about perspective. Life perception dictates the outcomes in life because it is what fuels our motivation. To live a life that is half empty is draining. But to live a life that is half full without real expectation is to live a life of misdirected zeal and enthusiasm. We are born with a plan and it’s a good one. It comes with a future and hope that cannot be realized by the optimist or pessimist without a true change of heart. Regardless of perception our life is supplied by sowing and reaping or planting and harvesting. Positive people are rewarded with positive results. Negative people may experience success for their efforts but their perception of life robs them of the reward called satisfaction. Whether you fall into one of these personas or the other – your perception may be flawed. No really.

2 Kings 4:3-7 (NLT) And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

As I tiptoe back to this woman’s house, peering in her windows again, I cannot imagine the wonderful hope that flooded her heart and soul as she began pouring the flask of oil into all those jars. Container after container from empty to full and empty to full right before her eyes. It was a miracle that speaks to my heart today. Yes, even the optimist needs some direction when it comes to faith, trust and hope. The Lord has blessed my family and me. I cannot begin to share all the ways that the Lord has provided for us physically, financially and supernaturally. However, lately I have been nudged by the Holy Spirit to leave this place of comfort that produces complacency in life. Most of the time pursuing the deeper things of God are only possible in desperation. Look at this little lady, the threat of losing her children drove her out of her tiny box into a realm of hope overflowing. She was poor then rich not because someone gave her anything or even working two jobs. The woman took what she had, broke it open and it began to flow through her life. She saved that flask for a rainy day or maybe for such a time as this – all along all that she needed to provide increase for her family was bottled within her reach.

Matthew 6:22-23 (NLT) “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

Perception is from the Latin word meaning comprehension, literally or taking in. It is how we perceive things. To perceive means to become aware of, know or identify by means of senses and feelings. Our perception is formed by how we perceive things. Personal recognition, discernment, envisioning and understanding of life and how it works is formed by our five senses, feelings, emotions, education, knowledge, and influences in life. Our parents and guardians begin the process and then the baton is passed to instructors, mentors and even those held in high regard from presidents to pastors. It can be a mixture of many things in our life and defines how we live our life.

Jesus warned us about perception in Matthew 6. In fact, it relates to our treasure and the reality of faith in our life. Wherever your treasure is that is where your heart is pointing to and headed in the direction of based on our perception. Our eye works on the basis of its ability to process light through the lens to display an image on the retina. The retina receives the image through the lens and transforms it into an image into electrical impulses that are carried by the optic nerve to our brain. I wear contact lens to see clearly. If something gets caught between the synthetic contact lens and the lens in my eye, it obstructs my view of things. Over time, my eyesight changes and I need new lens when things are not clear anymore. Jesus is the Light of the world. We must take our perception of life, whether optimistic or pessimistic, to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven rather than the things of this world. In doing so, my perception of life changes from what I see to what I know. Jesus is the Word. Faith is illogical outside of the Word so one must focus on natural elements to survive much less thrive. Jesus said, “Your eye is the lamp that provides light for your body.” To see our life as God planned it and fully utilize the Presence of God in us – our perception must gain understanding and then apply it to our life through the Word. In doing so, life is perceived from a Kingdom perspective rather than a natural one. The greatest influence will become our life perspective.

Matthew 6:24 (NLT) “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

No one can serve two masters. If the desire of my heart (vs. 21) is to connect with God through His Son, Jesus Christ and live in His Presence. My perception of life must change from darkness to light. What does that have to do with serving two masters or even being enslaved to money? The earth is bound by economy that is not the currency of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is bound by love, grace and increase as it is a place of abundance and increase. I will connect my life to one of two sources – the Kingdom of God or the world in which I live. I researched the word “economy” and it is not what I thought it would say at all. Synonyms for the word economy are “thriftiness, thrift, and saving”. Interestingly enough the opposite of economy is “lavishness and extravagance.”

Sin caused us to “fall short of God’s Glorious Standard.” Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life who gives us access to the Father again. Do you believe it? When the Blood of Jesus washed away sin and grace is applied to my life – God’s Glorious Standard of Living becomes possible again. Are you with me so far? I must allow the Spirit of God to change my perception so I live with a Kingdom perspective of life rather than selling out to the world’s economy which keeps us in a state of thrift and, dare I say, lack. What if I told you today that the glass is not relevant? The substance in it is not as important as the substance of faith in you and I? What I do with the contents is the potential of my life? Will I keep trying to protect the glass in its half full state and add my own provisions to it? Or do I insist on constantly emptying it out so God who is my Provider and Resource must continually fill it up to maintain His Standard and radiate His Glory in my life. Let’s keep going.

Matthew 6:25-30 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. 

Jesus gives a directive – “I tell you not to worry about everyday life.” What is the source of stress, anxiety, worry, fear or doubt today? What is keeping you from doing what God has called you to do? Are you married to your job? Do you live from paycheck to paycheck? Are you constantly longing for things you cannot afford? Are you content? Are you satisfied? God is good. He is our Provider. Salvation is consummated by seeking out the Lord and living in His Presence. He put His Spirit in us and we connect with Him by pursuing Him. We pursue Him by following Jesus. The secret to success when striving for God’s Will and His Way that are His Plan for us is in our ability to trust the Lord enough to seek Him wholeheartedly. Perfect love expels fear from our life because no matter how life looks our perception of the light of His Love completes us. Our full expectation once invested by faith into God as our Provider and Christ as our Resource allows us to do things like the woman did. She took a small flask of oil and turned it into enough to cover her debt, save her sons and provide well for her household. Whether our glass is half empty or almost full in the natural doesn’t matter as much as what our faith allows us to do with it.

Matthew 6:30 (NLT) Why do you have so little faith?

Paul said this when instructing the Corinthians in his second letter. You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.” (2 Corinthians 8:9-12) Our decision to accept Jesus Christ is to ask Him to be our Savior and our Lord. When coming to Jesus it is with the best of intentions but soon it is overshadowed by “real life” and “real problems” so we begin to recant the “Jesus is Lord” part of our promise. We live a diversified life. We trust Him with our soul but not our natural life so when our soul prospers but our life does not – our perception is perplexed. Holding tight to our resources, including but not limited to our time, talent and treasures, we never fully connect to His Limitless Resources. We sow but do not reap. We plant yet never see a harvest. If we do, it is not marked by prosperity or abundance – it is just enough.

Paul’s advice for the Corinthians works for us today. We must return to our First Love and give Him our first fruits in all things. We must learn to trust God with all our life not just the portions that are comfortable to give. To live in the Presence of the Father is only possible by faith. We must seek Him to find Him. We must knock to gain entrance. We must believe that He rewards those who seek Him. Once we do, it will be evident as insomnia gives way to rest. Stress is given up for trust. Worry is no longer a problem as peace floods our heart, mind and soul. Fear gives way to perfect love that clears our perception of live to perceive the opportunities and potential of God in all things pertaining to our life. See the glass is just a glass. The contents unimportant. Given to God it will become increased, abundant and fulfilled. Take your eyes off the glass that contains that which is desired. Put your eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith. Faith fills every need and produces Godly Riches and Resources in our life to flow from the Windows of Heaven. Abundance flows from a heart full invested in knowing Jesus Christ. He promised to give us a rich and satisfying life. If the Lord cannot do that, then how can I trust Him for the Kingdom? Do you trust Jesus today? Do you believe that His Promises are true? If not, it is never too late to start. His Grace is sufficient for you. He has already given you a measure of faith to start with. Sow it in just one area of your natural life. Yoke up with Jesus Christ today and let Him show you how to walk through life in constant and confident trust. (Matthew 11:28-30) Let Him give you peace and rest. Strive for it. Fight for it. Do not stop pressing until your stress, worry, care and anxiety give way to peace. God is a good father. You are well supplied. He has already supplied every need you have. To those who keep seeking, knocking and asking – He will be found. He will open the door to His Presence. He will answer doing more than you can think, imagine or ask. Faith is the solution to a changed perception of life. Jesus is the light that changes our perspective.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word. Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

 

Power of Stillness

power-of-stillness

Mark 4:38-40 (NLT) Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Today is Friday. Tomorrow begins a long weekend, I cannot wait. I do not have any solid plans or places that I must be. I am free to stay home and lounge around. Piddle with projects. Discover new ones. I do not have to wear “real” clothes rather delighting in yoga pants and a t-shirt. I love our home. It has become my refuge. Looking back to my younger days, I used to thrive on weekends on the go. Running about as many places and doing as many things as possible until time was up and back to the routine of life, but not anymore. Cramming as much life into every minute, I must have thought I was missing something only to find I have it all right here. Over the years, the more that God has given us and the more we have been able to do – I value the stillness of this sanctuary called home.

Where do you find sanctuary? Where is the place called rest? Do you have a quiet place or retreat? Do you have a refuge to find solace in? A breathing space not consumed by activity and time constraints. I don’t think it is a natural space at all but a place satisfied in our heart. The confidence in knowing that it is well with our soul that soothes the need to find more, do more and be more. Complete trust in who He is rather than what we must do allows us to be still in the Lord. One thing I have noted over the past five decades of life is when that stillness is required to hear the Voice of God, sense His Spirit and build our faith. Fear tells us to run but faith says stand right here. Doubt promotes disbelief that makes us indecisive causing a drift that carries us here and there. Anxiety creates anxiety that will not allow us to stop moving.

Jesus was asleep. One might think that the disciples would notice that He was absolutely undisturbed therefore not concerned about the storm that raged around them. The rocking of the boat did not unsettle His Confidence that He was in full power and had absolute authority the wind and the waves. They panicked. They didn’t tap Jesus on the shoulder and gently awaken Him to tell him about the storm. They shouted. “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” I will be the first to admit that I do that sometimes. When all hell breaks loose, give the Lord a not so gentle reminder that I am in trouble, I am not going to make it, why me or don’t you care Jesus? So Jesus got up and commanded the storm to cease. Turning to them – “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

These men were not new converts. They had given up their life to follow Jesus, witnessed many miracles, heard the Word of God spoken by the Word, and lived in His Presence. Yet still struggled with faith that produced a confidence in hope so profound that not only could they keep their position in the storm but recognized the power and authority that Jesus had over the environment of their life. Faith without confidence is not faith at all but just an idea. It is a concept longing for understanding to solidify our stand that we hope is a reality. Stillness expresses full confidence in God even when our environment is unfavorable, disaster looms around every bend, people lose all senses, and the world comes crashing down around us. It is the strictest of confidence that is completely convinced that God is in control. I will not be moved.

Psalm 46:10 (NLT) “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

On our moving day, the house empty of its contents. Every possession crammed in trucks, cars, trailers and any other vehicle offered to us, I received a phone call from the bank. There had been a miscalculation and there were additional funds needed to close. Not a hundred but thousands. I am discussing this with the lender, when the new buyer comes to inspect their pending purchase. The realtor interrupts me to question a higher than usual utility bill discovered when they contacted the city about new service. It must be settled before closing early the next morning. Meanwhile, all of our helpers were beginning to panic that there might not be room for the remaining items and the rental company had closed for the day. Finally in my car, so loaded it barely moved , I dared to take a breath. I knew in my heart that God had ordained this move to the county for our family. As new chapter of life and new season was turning it felt like all the words were falling off the page. What seemed so certain suddenly chaos! The phone buzzed but my thoughts overwhelmed me. At that moment, I couldn’t even tell you where the kids were or if anyone had loaded up the dogs. I did what any sane, rational, human woman might do…I sobbed.

Well, it all worked out. Every single detail to the tiniest degree just like God had planned. I share all the details with you because doing the Will of God does not always mean a peaceful journey from here to there. “There” is forever. It is the future and hope we live for whether we know it or not. It takes tests and trials of trust to convince our hard, stubborn and wavering heart that God really is in complete control. This is only possible when I yield control to Him. I will never yield complete control of my life to Jesus Christ without storms to try my faith and reveal its insufficiency. God’s Power is only perfect in my weakness. He doesn’t need my help though I attempt to do so all the time. He doesn’t need my opinion, His Word will do exactly what it says it will do. He needs nothing from my but to trust Him wholeheartedly.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NLT) God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

My power flows through Presence. Jesus did not come to bring peace to the world but stir things up. (Matthew 10:34-36) We live here so obviously this stirring occurs in the environment where we live. If you happened to come upon a house that was on fire, would you leisurely walk up to the front door and ring the doorbell. Wait for a few minutes, then knock. Wait a few more and call out to see if anyone was home. Of course, not. You would do everything in your power to alert anyone inside. Get the picture? However, Jesus did bring peace. He packaged it as a gift for those who belong to Him. (John 14:27) Peace is not found in conditions or circumstances but to be still in His Presence and maintain our position. Peace is discovered by faith in confident hope.

With this in mind, it is important to note that while transferring our existence from death to life and allowing God’s Renewal and Restoration to remodel our heart and mind, there may be uncertainty along the way. The transition of moving unsettles me. I don’t like the homeless feeling or nomadic state. I long for the security of my home, refuge, space. Yet there are times when God compromises my comfort to remove complacency from my life. He wants me to invest all of my life in His Kingdom. To live in His Peace. To take full advantage of His Power. My power flows from His Presence in my life.

Psalm 46:4-7 (NLT) A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. 

Stillness is the strong confidence in God’s Full Power and Authority over every condition of our life. It is not in the environmental condition surrounding this life. Love is growing colder by the day. Sin is rampant and quickly multiplying. The world is shaking at the close proximity of Jesus Christ. Christians are finally believing the Book of Revelation just might be true. Believers desire revival again. Movement is not the answer. The power of His Presence is. To step out of this world’s ideology and stand on the Word of God refusing to move at any cost. If you read Matthew 24, it gets worse before it gets better. There is no need to panic. Just to move our life into His Presence fully. God is our Refuge and Strength. He fights for us. He will deliver us. We must only believe without seeing and endure to the end to be saved. He didn’t tell us to win but rather has already given us victory! Do you believe? Will you be still?

Psalm 37:5-7 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Stillness is a position of trust. To be still and know that He is the Lord takes more than a casual relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a full on marriage to Him. To become one with Him. It is to know Him. To believe in Him. To be committed to Him. I love my husband. There are days when I am not so lovable and neither is he but it is our commitment to Christ and each other that bridge the gap of human imperfection, selfishness and pride. Jesus is perfect but I am not. On the days, I don’t understand, become overwrought, or believe the lie of the enemy even for a second, I must decide to remain still based on what I know not how I feel or how things look. His Presence is my position of power in all things and every situation. It is not an emotional reaction but a committed response to who He is not how I feel.

To trust the Lord requires letting go of certain feelings. There are emotions that keep us from fully trusting the Lord and the blessing of His Presence. Psalm 37 lists some of those emotions that must be replaced with faith. Things such as worry (1-2), anger (8-9), fear (12-13), greed (21-22), pride (27-28), ignorance (30-31) and more. There are certain things that comprise our position in His Presence because they destroy our faith. These are some of those things. Certainly the world would justify our feelings and need to react. However, trusting the Lord means to wait until His Word comes to pass in our life. Holding our position in His Presence even though our thoughts tell us to run or escape. To move from this impossibility and settle for less. What are you going to do today? We are free to choose. Lord, help me to choose faith and confident hope over anything I feel today.

Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. 

Is your home your refuge? Do you find comfort in place where you live? I am blessed to have a peaceful home. Partly because our children are most grown but mostly because our family has invited the Holy Spirit to live here. Most every day, just like you I must go about my daily tasks and responsibilities outside of the four walls of this place. The same Holy Spirit (the Presence of God) goes with me. I can allow Him to be my peace, refuge and strength by faith and confident hope. This allows me to excel in the stillness of trust to allow Christ to have complete authority and power over my life. When we divide our interests between the Kingdom and the world, it makes for a shaky foundation. Our marriage to Christ compromised when we give our attention and love to other gods. The stillness of God including the overwhelming gift of perfect peace and inexpressible joy can be with me always when I choose to live in the Power of His Presence and be still. It allows me to respond to His Promises rather than reacting to worldly problems. My natural home is a refuge only because Jesus lives here, too. He lives in our heart. He goes where we go so we can always be still. Greater is He who lives in me – to believe it means to trust Him, have faith in Him, have confidence in the hope I have in Him and to be still in Him – all day…everyday! So let the wind blow, let the storms surge, let the whole earth shake…my heart is full of His Presence and I will not be moved. There is power in stillness to live in His Presence undeterred and unshaken you will not be moved.

Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT) I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.