The Simplicity of Faith

The Simplicity of Faith 2

Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV) I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

A car insurance company had an advertisement on television depicting a group of young people attempting to escape some kind of evil villain. Running out of the clearly haunted house, they are presented with two options. First, jump in the running car and speed away or go hide in the garage filled with chainsaws. The obvious point is that choosing their company should be simple. As a kid, I watched some of those scary movies that are spoofed in the highly effective ads. Whispering under my breath don’t go in there or run. Life is filled with choices. Each day a gift opened that is used how a person sees fit. Perspective changes the outcome of things. Too often driven by nature, society or basic instinct – people react to their environment rather than living by faith in the Lord who promises to be our help.

I lift my eyes to the hills.

What is your focus today? Is it getting the kids to school? Making it to work on time? Fulfilling your overloaded schedule? Meeting the demands of all those who depend on you? Stress, worry and burden is the enemy’s secret scheme to weigh you down so that he can overtake you. Like a mighty lion chasing its next meal, once close burying its claws into the prey so that it must now carry the weight of both animals to continue to flee. Tiring quickly from the extra burden, the animal grows weak and tired so that the lion must only wait until exhaustion takes over and he can easily steal the victim’s life. There is a roaring lion pursuing you today. He wants to distract, detour, and discourage you so that doubt will begin to fill your heart and overtake you. The burden of life becomes too heavy and God seems so far. He cannot take your life but simply waits for you to give it away. Well, I have wonderful news for you today!

Psalm 121:3-8 (ESV) He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

The Lord is your keeper. That’s right – He is with you always. In Psalm 139, it reminds us that the Lord knows us. He knows when you sit down and rise up. He is well aware of the words I speak. He knows what I am doing before I even do it. He goes before me and hems me in from behind surrounding me with His Love and Protection. His Hand steadily upon me. The Lord is ALWAYS thinking about me. Good thoughts! This psalm is written by David as many of them others, too. I wonder how many were penned sitting in a field tending sheep all alone. Isolation can be a deafening silence. The enemy of our soul uses it to try and convince us no one cares not even God. Simply not true and overcome by the simplicity of faith.

What is this simplicity of faith? I am so thankful you asked. Talking to a young woman at church whose heart had been broken and betrayed, she made the statement – “I don’t know how to put God first.” My response – “It is a lifelong struggle.” We speak faith. Pretend faith. Preach faith. Who really lives by faith? Before you raise your hand and voice your “faith”, hear me out. Faith is living in full expectation that what God said – He will do. It means living like the impossible will happen at any given moment. People with such a hopeful expectation are not consumed by earthy trivialities. They do not get caught up in “civilian affairs”. They are not whining or complaining on social media to draw the attention of others. They are not fighting one another for earthly causes but bound together by the Love of God to be the Light of the World pointing to the Kingdom. No, they are walking by faith. Faith in God’s Word with such confidence they look for their Helper in every detail of life.

What does that mean? They keep their eyes uplifted looking for their Helper to arrive. Faith walkers are talkers who decided to buy the hype and become zealous for the promises of God. They began to actually believe, like David, that He pursues them with unfailing love and goodness ALL the days of their life. They grabbed hold of the promise that He works all the details for our good. They envision the masterpiece of their life coming together so rather than keeping their eyes on the ground or looking around – they look up!

Matthew 17:19-20 (ESV) Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

The disciples were perplexed. They could not cast out a demon which was a high priority on the resume. Coming to Jesus for technical advice, the Lord dropped a truth bomb on his team. They were unsuccessful because of little faith. The Lord goes on to tell them that if their faith was the size of a mustard seed that nothing would be impossible for them. Faith is simple. It is small. It is contrary to human nature. Yet, the Lord saw fit to give us a measure to work with. He even says that those who have this faith can move mountains. Oh the mountains and other treacherous terrain! Rather than avoiding them, what if we looked for our Helper in overcoming them. That’s faith. Every hill and valley were created by the Word of God and His Workmanship therefore remain subject to Him. Look up! Look to that mountain you are facing – God is waiting for you right there! You must have faith in God. You must put your trust in Jesus. Not just in big things but even the smallest detail. When you are tempted to look around, push your head up. When your arms are weak, force them up in praise. When your knees are tired, fall down and pray anyway. That is the simplicity of faith. God first. Jesus in everything. Bit by bit. Piece by piece knowing that it will take a life time to achieve. We must start somewhere. Why not start now?

Whatever you are facing – no matter what it is – the Lord promises to work it out for your good. When the enemy enters your mind trying to commandeer your thoughts, find the promise! You don’t have to memorize the whole book – but find your Word in God’s Word and use it! You have the mind of Christ. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. The enemy is a roaming lion seeking the weak and helpless but thanks be to God – He shuts the mouth of lions sending them on their merry way. Help is coming! Look up! Your faith has summoned King Jesus and His Power and Authority is yours. It only took a few moments. A little reminder that God is with you. Know you have placed your eyes back on the Helper – see faith really is that easy. This is the simplicity of faith. Daily sowing new seeds in the fertile heart broken by life but being mended by the Lord! Look up – help is on the way!

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

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So We’re Not Giving Up

So We Are Not Giving UP

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (Message) So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

What a great reminder! I need to be reminded often that this life is temporary – it is not permanent yet it is all I know in terms of reality. There are days that I know God is real but wonder where He is. I know you never feel distance from the Lord so please humor my musings with me today. Despite avoiding sin, trying to make better choices, attempting to live according to God’s Word, trying to love with regard for His Command, and serving continually in church – there are still days when giving up seems like a good idea. I wonder today if for just a moment one might peer inside with quiet introspect to evaluate life from a forever standpoint. How are you today? No really strip away the façade of who the world thinks you are, what you do, and how others expect you to act and look into the mirror of your soul – who do you see? What does your life really look like to you? The authenticity of faith is the complete conviction that what is hoped for is the reality of our life. However, as Christians who often pretend, it is important to soul search and heart seek to see the truth behind our convictions.

Going with the flow can carry us away. In any pursuit, it is easy to get swept away by the current of culture or society even church. It is important that faith be the forefront of our life but not in just idea but complete conviction. To know Christ by name is not enough, it is only in our relationship with Him that there is fulfillment to be found at the end of this troublesome journey called life. Unfortunately, human nature generally only seeks the Face of God and salvation from His Son when tragedy strikes and suffering ensues. An emotional overture leads us to Him but the process is abandoned when the pressure of change and transformation begins. Fear of the unknown take the place of faith in the unseen God and suddenly what seemed like a great idea is abandoned as a fruitless endeavor. Most will give up on the verge of breakthrough because they do not believe that God is good or completely head over heels in love with them.

I Peter 2:11-12 (Message) Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

People without an identity have no residency. However, God has given us His Identity and full residency in His Kingdom. Our ability to know and understand this is important in the exercising of our rights and responsibilities as Kingdom residents. I Peter 2:10 says, “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s People. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s Mercy.” You have it all but must decide to claim it, receive it and walk it in it day by day. The Lord will not force His Love and Goodness on us but promises to pursue us without day by day. (Psalm 23) He meets us each morning with new mercy and the promise that joy comes with it. The potential of our life is in our recognition of who we are, whose we are and to become determined to live that life.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (Message) If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! 

The ordinary life that you are currently living is not your future. There is an extraordinary one waiting for those who fully recognize that Christ is in them. The transformation process is well under way. It will take time. Time has meaning – every single second appointed by God with purpose. (Ecclesiastes 3) There is also a promise attached – “Yet God made everything beautiful for its own time.” Timing is important to God. So much so that He recorded every single moment of your life before a second was lived or a breath even taken. (Psalm 139) Why would you give up now? You are pressed but not crushed. You may be persecuted but never abandoned. You may be struck down but never destroyed. You are blessed far beyond any curse because His Promise for you is etched in time. It is your history. It is your inheritance. Let go of fear, doubt and worry today. Do not let anxious thoughts coax you from the hiding place that is our refuge. God’s Presence will keep you until His Promise overtakes you.

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” (Lance Armstrong) How true! When discomfort, inconvenience, annoyance, betrayal or even pain overtake us – what is the response? It depends on the foundation of faith and the conviction in our heart that makes the difference. To believe that there is nothing more to life than this would be a sad revelation to live by. If you believe deep down in your heart that there is more to life than this, you must decide to know what exactly that is or risk giving up on your passion and purpose. Life without meaning seems fruitless. Your faith will pull you through if it is credible. If when we take the time to look past the layers of self-imposed identity to our soul – we must see Jesus. He is our new identity. The life giver who can take the messed up pieces of broken hearts to make a masterpiece. He resurrects dead dreams to become our reality. He has already predestined you to live with Him forever. Jesus is waiting on you to become committed and convicted to engage in the process of building a relationship and then a Kingdom together.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (Message) So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

Juggling Life

Juggling Life

Hebrews 4:1-3 (NLT) God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. 

God’s Promise for us is rest. The ultimate rest is in His Presence. To enter the Kingdom and rest forever in His Presence is our end result but too often we miss the opportunity to experience such peace in every moment of every single day. We juggle life. The image in my head so clear this morning in a moment of reflection. All the balls fall sometimes. The colorful commitments and circular schedules of life’s expectation exceed our time limits so anxiety takes over and tiredness ensues. To live life to its fullest requires not only hard work and perseverance but rest. At the completion of creation, God rested. He set an example for us yet in our pride it is human nature not to follow.

God has prepared rest for us. He has announced it to us in His Word. He has marked it as “just for them” or you. The passage says, “But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.” Busyness is the direct result of a lack of faith. I am not talking about activities of life but rather when the things in life eat up all our time and there is none left to rest in the Lord. He designed rest for us and leaves an open invitation to experience His Peace every day. We must learn to enter His Rest.

It is in the moment when all the things being juggled fall down that our lack of rest and peace are discovered. When unmet expectation exposes the area of our life in need of careful reprioritization – the Lord is clear that rest never escaped us but rather it was our choice not to enter in. The juggling act is not only comprised of physical activity but thoughtful overtures as well. Our mind can be more active than our body at times stealing our rest as well. Lying awake when we should be sleeping or absentminded rather than present in the moment – the enemy wants to steal our rest and peace in the Lord.

I know what you are saying for I used to say the same thing, too. “I am so busy.” Well, the true revelation about time truly humbled me. The Lord gives each person the same 24 hours a day with the freedom to use it however one desires. The productivity of our time is the prosperity of our life. If choose to invest it in seeking God’s Promise including His Rest – the fruit of His Spirit will feed our soul and prosper us from the inside out. If time is sown into the world, it will produce the things of it – good or bad. We must take our “time” and examine it. Evaluate its usage. Set priorities. Determine true satisfaction in its investment or change our strategy completely.

Matthew 11:27-30 (NLT) “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” 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.”

Jesus told the people that God had “entrusted everything to” Him. Jesus Christ has all power and authority over life including every outcome. He then invites us to “come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” I shared yesterday that our dryer had disappeared. We had called a repairman to come take a look. It was decided that it needed some parts. When they came to fix it – there was another problem so they hauled it to the shop. When I came home expecting to do laundry, there was no way to complete the task. I sat on the front porch rocking and spending time with the Lord because the dryer was gone. Now here is the irony of it – the dryer was broken in that when you turned it on it sounded like it had two tennis shoes and a large brick rolling around inside. I used it anyway. So when it was taken away – I found an alternative. I sat on the front porch in a rocking chair talking to friends and ultimately spending time with the Lord.

The yoke of Christ is faith. We must learn to rightly divide our time according to our faith in Christ which leaves little time for anxious activity and overactive minds. It means allowing God to grow and prosper our life rather than making it a diversified effort. Faith requires an exchange. You cannot live a faithful life in two places. Where is your faith today? Is it fully invested in the Lord? I am challenged to inspect the balls I juggle in life. To carefully decide if they were placed in my hands by God or I picked them up because I was afraid no one else would. Juggling is a sport that takes practice. It is all about timing. Maybe it is the same with time management and faith. Perhaps, we must practice resting. True rest is a body, mind and spirit promise. God’s Promises require perfect timing…His Timing. God is perfect in all of His Ways including His Timing. It is important to invest our faith in His Time Clock.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

The beginning of Ecclesiastes 3 promises us that “for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Do you believe that today? Those who do will find the peace of God called rest. It is the full investment of our life in Heaven’s economy. The fertile ground of a broken heart that has decided to give itself fully to live in the Presence of God. To rely on the Maker of Heaven and Earth in every season because He is faithful to do exactly what He promised according to His Timing. God makes everything beautiful in its time. Even broken things scattered in many pieces have the potential to become a masterpiece in the Hands of God if we would only give it to Him. God blesses our lives simply because He loves us and decided to do so. When we forget that rest is a part of it, it is human nature to take His Glory. Our lift is a Gift from God for His Glory – let’s leave the juggling to Him and choose rest today.

Hebrews 4:10-11 (NLT) For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.

Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart

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

Always. To all. Do not be. In every. The absolute terms used in this passage are often ignored. Is it really possible to always rejoice? Is it logical to be gentle to all? Can one truly live anxiety free and answer the directive, “Do not be anxious about anything”? In every situation is peace truly an achievable goal and aspiration? We have the customary response of “yes” but if it is not evident in our life is it truth we speak or simply the acceptable vernacular of Christianity. Though called a peculiar people, radical Christians are not supposed to be odd in a crazy kind of way but rather decisive in the Love of God firmly and completely established in Jesus Christ. In other words, authentic faith is radical and illogical thinking to the world, but we can be credible Christians living in the peace of God that “transcends all understanding.” Jesus Christ is the guard for our heart and mind in a world set on rebellion and an enemy bent on destruction. You have within you the power to overcome in every situation. It begins by dealing with doubt.

Doubt is the culprit. The carefully laid trap of the enemy to take the promises of God and make them seem illogical and impossible. The suggestion by him that God does not have the capacity to love unconditionally and forgive completely that leads us to believe that maybe the Gospel is too good to be true…for me. If for just a moment the enemy of the human soul can muster a tiny bit of uncertainty – it becomes a fast growing weed choking out the Truth being rooted and grounded by God’s Word cultivated by His Spirit. Our hope seems unstable in a stormy sea of stirred up emotions and overwrought feelings when God is unchanged. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are the ones who waver.

I John 4:17-18 (NIV) This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Let’s face it perfection is impossible for people. Perfect love is only possible in Jesus Christ. We must place our life in Him to experience a love so profound that it transforms our life from mediocrity to magnificence just because He is perfect. Love completed in us nullifies our doubts one by one quenching fear in the fire of passionate love. There is no fear in love. Therefore, the new creation of Christ makes way for a life of peace and calm. Each worry, care and anxious thought is the product of contention with God. It is a place that His Love has not overcome our doubt and disbelief. Peace is established in us by constantly reconciling every thought, feeling and emotion to the perfect love of God given to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. God does not punish us or it would suggest that His Grace is not enough. God is disciplining (or teaching) us to live a worry-free life of careless pursuit of His Kingdom.

Luke 12:22-26 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

The title of this section in my Bible bears the heading, “Do Not Worry”. Do not worry about your life. It goes on to detail the very things that consume our thoughts on a regular basis. Our perspective is influenced by society. The key to our success as believers is our full perception to be based on God’s Word. How is God’s Word going to feed me? Cloth me? Take care of me? It already does. Look around right now. Not at what you do not have but what God has already provided you. Media heavily influences our wants, needs and desires. We keep our eyes on our neighbors rather than on Jesus and His Kingdom. To covet what someone else has keeps us from living the rich and satisfying life promised by the Lord. We must learn to set our sights higher than eye level. Walking by faith is to see and adhere to principles of an unseen Kingdom that can change our existence on the earth.

Jesus asks a very pointed question, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Good point. What comes next is even better! “Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Worry robs us of precious time. It steals moments of joy from us. It wastes time better spent sowing faith and reaping promises. Doubt will use the same ground of heart that faith is supposed to grow from. We decide what is sown in our heart and given to its cultivation. I am not in control. You are not in control. Sometimes I have to remind myself that God has already ordered the steps of my life. He put eternity in my heart so I will never be satisfied with less than God’s Best. He gave me faith so that I can reach my full potential. I have already been provided with everything I need. Every spiritual blessing fully and firmly implanted in my life. Purpose is imbedded in me by God for a prosperous life. I have the keys to God’s Kingdom…I must simply learn to use them.

Luke 12:27-31 (NIV) “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

If you read Ecclesiastes 3, it makes some valid points in the logic of peace over worry. First, there is a time for everything. Second, there is a season for every activity under heaven. It goes on to list every detail of human existence. The process that comprises the little dash between our birthday and day of departure. Finally, it says, “(God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” It is not a promise problem but a perception problem. We must change our perspective to change our pursuit. According to God’s Word, our life is predestined and predisposed to eternity. We have a destiny. It is ordered. It is timely. We must simply seek the Kingdom and these things are given as well.

Luke 12:32-34 (NIV) “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Where is your treasure today? It is usually best determined by where you invest your life? Your time, talent and treasure are the deposits made into the earth and/or Kingdom. To give our all in earthly pursuits leaves the eternity in our heart unsatisfied. The world is subject to destruction. Fear is the natural accumulation when evaluating one’s existence according to the earth. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. Wars and rumors of wars. It is not a very hopeful place. You and I carry the Light of the world inside of us. We have the Kingdom in us and the ability to share it without worry, fear, stress or anxiety. We have been given our freedom to choose how to portion our life including our heart, mind and body. In order for our life to prosper – our soul must prosper first. Our soul prospers in the Kingdom. But as in any endeavor, we must give the time and energy in pursuing it to become our reality.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44) If you want the Kingdom, you must invest your life pursuing it. To have God’s Kingdom means to live in peaceful allegiance to Jesus Christ. There is no other way to the Father. Are you willing to give up your cares, worries and anxiety to have it? Will you forfeit fear? Will you bury every doubt in the Truth that it is Your Father’s Good Pleasure to give you His Kingdom? You must only give up this worthless, dead end life to have it!

God has placed eternity in our heart. We have the potential to prosper in this life by carefully placing all of it in the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to give you a rich and satisfying life. He did it. It is finished. To claim it is to change our perspective from earth to the Kingdom. To pursue the Kingdom relentlessly will allow perfect love to overcome fear by removing all doubt. We must believe that God is good. He loves us. He will always love us. He does not punish but prospers His Beloved. If only we would follow our heart and the eternity in it.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Chaos

Chaos

I Corinthians 1:9 (ESV) God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Chaos! Utter chaos! The words scribbled in my journal this morning. The last few weeks have been a runaway train. Today our fourth child graduates from high school – breathe mama breathe! Time is flying by and the winds of change are clearly stirring up my heart and soul. With a mind fully of memories, thoughts and a to-do list that keeps on growing – I am seeking peace this morning. I need rest for my mind. Rest for my body. I am looking for the Peace of God and calling on the internal comforter – His Spirit inside of me.

The words that come next are from a place of deep reserve. The reservoir of hope filled each morning in this quiet time begins to spill forth from my mouth even though my head and heart may not agree right this second – God is faithful. The faithfulness of God is not surprised by circumstances or shaken in our disbelief. He is faithful always. Let that sink in for just a moment as I have this morning. Even though I have lost control – God is still sovereignly in absolute control of my life. My world is in His Hands because I have placed it there and refuse to take it back. It is in this passage I find new breath on a morning of absolute stress, worry and well…chaos.

Our little fur baby, Izzy, is asleep in the chair next to me. Our giant fur baby, Scout, resting at my feet. Both are completely passed out and intermittently snoring. They are resting after an early morning breakfast and frolic in the yard. They do not worry about their next meal. They are not concerned with the details of the day. The rain is of little to no concern to them in the shelter of the home provide. They trust me to take care of them. They follow me from room to room plopping down right where I am working, sitting or even sleeping if possible. I wonder today if that is the lesson in the busyness of life – a gentle loving reminder of the faithfulness of God that is for us and the rest found in Him. I must only trust Him. Believe Him. Take Him at His Word. Love Him. Desire Him. Seek Him. Serve Him. Follow Him…and all these other worries, concerns and details fall into place. Lord, let me find my way back into your Presence today.

Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV) Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations…

Do you know that God loves you with steadfast love today? It is not performance based but a covenant promise to you, His Beloved Child. God keeps His Covenant with us because He is faithful. My ability to keep my covenant with Him was irrevocably broken by sin. So His Faithfulness provided a sacrifice for my sin to pay the debt owed and rescue me from certain death – He has apprehended me with love not by force. His Love set me free to choose who I love and serve in this life. I choose You, God! I have decided to follow Jesus and accept the grace that I have been given. God only desires our love. Not just any love, but a committed love. A love that tries to be faithful and is remorseful in our failures. We have made a very structured idea of church and set mandates for the Body of Christ never detailed by God. He asks only that we love Him enough to seek Him, follow Him and trust Him.

Deuteronomy 32:4 (ESV) “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”

The firm foundation of our life, faith and confident hope is the unchangeable, all-powerful, fully authoritative, all-knowing, and ever present Rock who is the Lord. He is incapable of lying or changing His Mind without altering His Perfection. If something is perfect, it has no need to change. It is our imperfection that calls for change. God promises to be the Rock. Our shelter. Our refuge. The hiding place of the righteous who come boldly before Him. He is a Good God who is faithful and without iniquity. He offers divine disciple but thanks to grace there is no punishment involved. When faced with challenging seasons or long processes, it is the faithfulness of God that is our hope. We must look above the wind and waves to see that He is still right where He has always been and perfecting all that concerns us according to His Word. (Psalm 138:8)

Hebrews 3:3-6 (ESV) For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

God’s faithfulness was demonstrated in Jesus Christ. Though tempted by the enemy, Jesus overcame him by simple telling him what God said. The enemy fled. Christ lives in us. The resurrection power and life that overcomes is in you and me. Moses built a tabernacle for God’s Presence in the wilderness. God revealed His Glory to the people. Forty long years of wandering and there were few who would ever enter the promise of rest. King Solomon built a beautiful temple. God was pleased. He went on to waste his life indulging in sinful conquests. God had a better plan and a more glorious thought – He sent His Son to inhabit those who would be His People. We are His House. Christ lives in us. He gives us the desire and drive to be faithful to God so it is no surprise that the enemy comes to tempt us. He reminds us of our past. He sows regret, remorse and shame to choke out new life and hope. He tells us that God is mad at us. He says that He is punishing us. He tells us that the Lord has forgotten us. Or maybe just that we deserve the consequences of our choices. He is a liar. The Word says that God has other plans for “His House”. Christ is building a strong “Body”.

I Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

The greatest temptation commonly faced by believers each day is to abandon trust. To believe something other than the Word God has given us. To pursue lesser things hoping to achieve some other kind of glory. We have been given the Glory of God for our broken vessels. He resides in us and wants to shine through us. I don’t know what you are facing today – I only know the insufficiencies of my own heart. What I do know is that God is faithful! Some days, like today, I must remind myself that He is faithful. He is always faithful. His Faithfulness is unreserved when it comes to me. He is relentless in His Passionate Pursuit of me. I must learn to run to His Refuge and seek His Shelter when tempted not to trust Him. To seek His Peace that passes all understanding to pull in my rebellious thoughts. I must only call out His Name and He always rushes to my aid. He will leave the 99 just to carry me back. He is faithful today. He has already provided everything I need to overcome temptation and achieve my purpose today and every day. I must remind my heart, mind and soul – God is faithful every day even today!

Psalm 62:8 (ESV) Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Tiny Box

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Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Oh what if we could wrap our thoughts in a tiny box and put them on a shelf. To unclutter our mind and organize our thoughts in such a way that worry, anxiety and stress could be alleviated in such a simple gesture. Each morning when the alarm sounds at 4:30 a.m., it is easy to hit the snooze button. One would think after years it would be a habit but I still moan and groan about it most of the time. So when my mind wakes me up somewhere around 3:00 a.m., my body begins to revolt. Tossing and turning, adjusting and readjusting, from the right to the left. I often begin to pray since I believe God is the only one up at such an awful hour. Finally, it is useless to try to drift back asleep so I tumble out of the bed. Those thoughts circling in my head are the things that wake me up. If I allow my mind to start to contemplate the day yet before me, I know I have lost the battle and will give in.

Set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits… How do I set my sights on the realities of heaven, when life keeps me completely preoccupied? How does one walk by faith and not by sight in actuality? Is faith really practical thinking? Is it logical at all? If so, how do I set, put, place my mind in the realm of hope as if wrapped in a tiny box and put in the Hands of God? The challenge is often accepted in powerless situations when life is too hard to handle so you have to let it go, but what about every other day? How do I live a Kingdom life in a loud, intrusive world? To think about the things of heaven and not the things of earth seems irrational and irresponsible somehow yet it is the reminder given in Colossians 3 today.

2 Timothy 2:3-7 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.  And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

We have but one enemy and a fierce adversary. He has nothing to lose. Everything to gain. So he sows weeds to choke out God’s Words, and lies to trip us up along the way. Eve was not persuaded by a boldface lie but rather a subtle half-truth. Jesus overcame every temptation by the Word of God. Jesus did not have to defend who He was instead he simply recited the Truth which is the Word of God to the enemy until he left. As believers, too often we get caught up in “civilian” affairs. Rather than fighting the good fight of faith, we fight everyone else including ourselves for things already given and promises already made. We are Kingdom kids. We have an inheritance untouched and untainted resting in the Presence of God and acquired through repentance and reconciliation to Jesus Christ. There is nothing in this world for us. We are temporary residents on a journey to eternity. Faith gets us there. The power to believe beyond what is perceived by human senses but carried in our heart. We must learn to keep our heart and mind set on Heaven. The realities of faith are given to the righteous who can do this – those who remain undaunted and undistracted by the common problems of life given to the reality that God is enough in every situation.

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.

Last year, my husband and I were overjoyed to find out that our daughter and her husband were moving closer to home. For three long years, they had lived in the North about 21 hours away. Shortly after the news another announcement came that they were expecting their first child. I could not believe God’s Goodness and Grace in giving me the desire of my heart. Well, soon after that, plans began to unravel. The church delayed the transfer. It seemed as though she would deliver before moving. How would I get to her when the baby was coming? How could this be happening? So my daughter and I made a pact to put the situation in a tiny box and pray about it. We did not discuss it further. It literally was such a hard thing that we both just put it in God’s Hands and walked away. Well, as it turns out, God moved them as planned but closer than originally thought. Instead of four hours away, they live 30 minutes from us. Our grandson came right on time with us all gathered to celebrate his arrival. God had a plan. The Lord worked out the details. We didn’t have to worry or work it out – He did it all!

I share this with you because I am learning to live life through Christ. The new life that He promised us can only be attained by faith that becomes confident hope. Our confidence is built on trust. We must learn to trust the Lord in every situation even when it is beyond logical comprehension or even the slightest possibility. This is how the reality of heaven is discovered in an ordinary life. When the Lord opens doors, no one can close it. We have the power to bind and loose things but only by faith. We must make faith practical and intentional in our life. Everyday life not just overwhelming situations. To take each worry, care, fear, insecurity, doubt, what if, regret, and every other negative thought or idea and put them in tiny boxes sending them up to the one who relieves all fear and takes care of His Beloved Children. God did not give us the spirit of fear. Do not take hold of it. He gave us His Spirit to produce the fruit that nourishes our soul, fortifies our heart, and changes our mind.

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 Word of God is clear. Don’t worry about anything. What are you worried about today? What is your greatest concern? Does fear rule your life and make your choices? Do you doubt the validity of God’s Word today? Doubt is manifested in our thoughts in the form of fear, worry, stress, and anxiety. All are characteristic of insecurity. We must become firmly rooted and grounded in God’s Love through His Son, Jesus Christ. Pray about everything. It sounds crazy to whisper things to God rather than rushing off to try to them. You must tell the Lord exactly what you need and wait for Him to respond to experience the new life found only in Jesus Christ. When the impossible comes, give it to Him. When you are overwhelmed, cry out to Him. He is waiting for your call. He is ready to respond to your cries in the night. When our faith begins to wrap each impossibility in a tiny box and send it up to Heaven, it is exchanged for peace that exceeds anything we can understand. The Holy Spirit guards the faithful heart willing to trust the Lord and live life through Jesus Christ. He gives us perfect peace that goes beyond human comprehension and logic. It is the conviction that anything is possible if we just believe enough to give it all to God!

Do you have something ready for that imaginary box? A problem too great. A circumstance too overwhelming. A situation that seems to have no positive ending. Give it to the Lord today. You have tried everything else. The secret is letting it go and filling the void with God’s Word. His Promises always produce good things by faith in the heart willing to believe.

Romans 12:2 (NLT) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Time Bandit

Time Bandit

I Peter 5:6-8 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

This week has been a busy one at work. The days stretching past the normally scheduled hours to get the project out the door. Hours seem like minutes as the emails and calls keep coming. In the midst of activity, my daughter sends me a text. She would like to go to the store and was wondering if I could watch our newborn grandson. I obviously accepted the opportunity to have the little guy all to myself. The new “me” values time way more than the old “me” did. There was a time in my life when work consumed the majority of my attention. Nothing left undone everything took a backseat. Leaving early and coming home late, I would give my family what was left of me if any. Exhausted and overwrought overtaken by the cares, worries and burdens of life. Caught up in the tasks losing sight of my treasure but not anymore.

Sitting in the quiet apartment and staring at the sweet cherubic face of my sleeping grandson, it seems surreal that I am a grandmother. Five decades of life gone – I am so thankful for this moment. The precious time of bonding with the newest member of our family. At the same time, I am sad for my friend whose husband has made his transition into eternity. We met at the Hope Lodge. A housing facility for patients and caregivers in the fight of their lives. Cancer taught me a valuable lesson. It reorganized my priorities by taking the “normal” and ruthlessly shattering it like a glass vase hitting the floor and breaking into a million pieces. Nothing in my life will ever be labeled “normal” again, I refuse to accept that life of hopelessness anymore. Every good gift is from the Father above. Lord, teach me to humble myself to receive it.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

It is absolutely humbling to relinquish control of one’s life. To come to know and understand that despite my best efforts – I am not in control. I am okay with that… now. My flesh hated the idea at first. Many tears of painful frustration and overwhelming pain the moment I learned that I cannot always make happy endings. Yet in humility before the Lord – it is a sweet and gentle exchange. To transfer the burdens of my life in exchange for His Perfect Peace. Peace that passes all understanding cannot be derived from pride but in learning to trust that God is good. He is a good father with a good plan for us. He promises to work every detail of our life for good. In the midst of a world crashing down around you, it is not the first thing that comes to mind.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

The enemy is a time bandit. He is a thief. He wants to steal your joy and peace. He will crush our confidence in Jesus if allowed to have a place in our heart and mind. Any door or window left open is an access point. He is constantly telling us lies and half-truths. The devil has three namesakes that he uses – distractions, disappointment and doubt. All will produce disbelief if allowed to manifest in our life. I have a friend. I visit her often. Her name is Martha. She is found in God’s Word. She reminds me on those days when I attempt to return to my normal life to be sober-minded and watchful. The thief is coming!

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Let’s hear it for the Martha’s out there. The real go-getters and hard workers who get the job done. Pride tells us that “if we don’t do it who will.” In reality, our doing is what keeps pride alive. The thought that there is something to do to maintain the love of God or earn His Great Grace. Doing for people to meet their expectation in the hope that they will reciprocate. There is nothing wrong with hard work. Motivation is the heart of change within us. It becomes a problem is when our doing is a distraction. I am too busy is an excuse not an explanation. Our time belongs to us. We have the privilege of giving it to whoever or whatever is deemed worthy.

Martha was distracted with much serving. What are you distracted by today? We pursue the desires of our heart. Sometimes it becomes a cluttered place filled with worthless ambition and futile pursuits which are the product of a lie planted in us long ago. We must weed out our heart and reprioritize our time. God should always get the first fruit but note that He is not interested as much in our doing as our knowing. Mary sat in the Presence of Jesus first and the Lord clearly favored her decision. Faith and family should be our first priority. There is room for everything else.

John 11:21-26 (ESV) Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Disappointment is consistent with failure of hope. To become depressed or discouraged when one believes that there is no reason to hope. The Word of God promises that our hope will never lead to disappointment. It doesn’t say anything about God doing it our way. So often the confusion comes when God doesn’t do things according to our expectation or timeline. We discard it or decide it just isn’t going to happen. When Martha met Jesus on the road that day without any kind of greeting, her grief spilled out of heart falling from her lips, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Martha was so devastated by her present condition that she was blinded to the hope standing before her. Jesus was there now. His Presence brought resurrection life and power. But her unmet expectation in her way and her plan overshadowed the hope that was before her. “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” She tried to say the right thing in her darkest hour, but her faith was not in Jesus in the present but the One who held the future. How many dreams lay in the tomb of disappointment? Buried by depression and discouragement deemed lifeless and void. God’s Word does not return to Him void. He will do exactly as He promised to do – His Way and in His Time. Are you disappointed today? God is with you. His Presence is all around you. His Goodness is pursuing you. His Unfailing Love is for you and His Hand outstretched. We must lay aside disappointment in order to have victory in Jesus.

John 11:38-40 (ESV) Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 

Doubt is the mountain that needs to be moved in our life. Doubt is the firmament of the enemy like cement boots to keep you from walking in the Presence of God, experiencing His Peace, living in His Victory, and filled with inexpressible joy in every circumstance and situation. When our pride is in conflict with our faith something has to give. Only one will have its way. Jesus was ready to call Lazarus from the grave but Martha had her hand on the stone. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha protested. How many times do we do the same thing? We label it impossible forgetting that nothing is impossible for the Lord.

Stinking thinking keeps us from the miracles, blessings, promises and prosperity that God has apportioned just for us. Our words and ways hold the stone over the grave of dead dreams ordained and predestined to be a reality. We cannot wrap our head and heart around an impossible God ready to do extraordinary things in a supernatural fashion for those He loves and calls to Him by name. You are that person. Dead things are coming to life. His Spirit is ready to pour out visions for the new hope reserved just for you. All you have to do is have faith? Not verbiage but a new heart and mind set on the Father believing that all things are possible if you only believe.

Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

There is no place that I would rather be than rocking that little boy. The contentment of being a grandmother fills my heart with new joy. The Word of the Lord is coming to pass in my life. I don’t make things happen but the Word of God spoken over me in my mother’s womb is becoming my reality. (Psalm 139) It didn’t happen as a result of anything I have done or become. I cannot take any credit for the change of heart and mind. It came when a normal life became impossible. The Light of God’s Love was discovered in absolute darkness. The faith in my heart was not revealed until it was irreparably broken. All my worries and cares do not add a single moment to my life but stole precious time better spent living and loving God and enjoying all the good things that He has placed in my life. If we could learn to do everything to the Glory of God and not man – I wonder if a change of heart might happen accompanied with the signs, wonders and miracles that we pray for. Why is it that in the face of death – we finally appreciate the things that really matter? Do we really have to lose our life to gain it? Yes! We do!

There is a thief among us. He is a time bandit ready to fill your life with worries, cares, fears, doubts and insecurities. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfied life. A prospering existence that as our soul prospers so will every area of our life. Are you missing out? Do you feel cheated and robbed watching others live in joy and peace? Does it seem like others are thriving while you are barely surviving? Stop comparing your life to other people. The grass is not always greener on the other side. You have the same seed and potential called faith. Nurture it. Grow it. Pay attention to it. Weed out the distractions, disappointment and doubt. God will do for you exactly as He promised. You just have to believe. Shut the door to your heart and the windows of your mind to the enemy’s lies and fill them with the truth. Nothing is impossible with God. Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. His Grace is always enough. Nothing can separate you from God’s Love. Christ promised you victory so it’s coming. You just need to trust Him! Your hope will never ever lead you to disappointment when your faith and hope are in the Lord!

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

 

Practice What You Preach

Practice What You Preach

Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

I heard a voice in the darkness. “Honey, it’s after 5:00 AM. Did you set the alarm?” I guess not although I thought I did. Too late to worry about that now, I try to pull myself from deep slumber. Immediately the cares and worries I went to bed with come to greet me. Warding them off, I stumble out of bed as my husband, the makeshift meteorologist, tells me that is a whopping 26 degrees outside to which I mumble, “Of course it is!”

For just a moment, let’s pause. Let me set the scene for you. I am late. I usually get up at 4:30 AM and need every moment of that time to take care of the dogs, spend time with the Lord, make lunches for my family, and get ready for work. Today is Thursday which is cleaning day in our house. I try to get our bathroom out of the way before I head out. It is also my weekly trip to the grocery store so a list is being made simultaneously. Add to this already scheduled day, our daughter’s baby shower is in two days. Her due date in just a month. Oh, did I mention that I have been sick for almost two weeks so very behind in last minute details. My mom, sister and sister-in-law will arrive tomorrow night to stay with us. On top of all that, I have a scheduled dental procedure on Monday. To some that is no big deal just a date on the calendar – but in my mind it is a date with absolute torture. Hate the dentist as a profession although mine is very patient and kind. All of these “things” came rushing into my head this morning, I almost became entangled in worry, stress, fear, and anxious thoughts. But now it is time to practice what I preach…

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things…

This is not a message for the unbeliever today. This is hope for the imperfect Christian. It is a word of encouragement to put down the bat and stop trying to do everything right. It is an invitation to rest. To rely on the Lord and trust in Him. Today, there is no possible way that I can do all the things that I think I need to do. The expectation heaped on me by my own hands is just too much. The Bible says, “I can do all things THROUGH Christ who gives me strength.” I must practice putting all the details of my life including those things I call priorities into the Hands of Christ and allowing Him to hand back what I need to do, say and be in any given day. So I called a meeting inside my head…

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The only weapon in the enemy’s arsenal is the lie. If he can change your mind about God just enough to believe anything contrary to the character and nature of God – you will question everything you know about Him. If he can somehow convince you that the Lord is not with you, for you, and in you, he will have the power to persuade you to engage in detours, distractions and delays. We must learn to practice what we preach and become consummate doers of the Word until our mind and heart align with God’s Word, Will and Way and cannot be swayed.

When I was in gymnastics, I decided that I wanted to do a back handspring. I am not athletically inclined but I really wanted to accomplish this feat. So what did I do? The instructors showed me how to do a back handspring. They instructed me on proper form and execution. They encouraged me to practice all the time. So that is exactly what I started to do. I fell countless times. I made several attempts. Time and time again, I couldn’t get my feet over my head. I was on the verge of giving up but something in me just kept nagging me to try one more time. You know what happened? I learned to do a back handspring. Can I do one today? Nope. I stopped doing them and am what? Out of practice…

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV) For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

As believers, we must protect our thoughts. Seeds of faith planted in our heart cannot grow until our heart is made up that God is for us. He is good. Working in us. Our dependency on the Lord requires a heart and mind that agrees. We must…We Must…WE MUST destroy arguments and EVERY lofty opinion raised against the Knowledge of God and take every thought captive to OBEY Christ. Why?

To say one thing and do another is a contradiction. Once our mind is made up – our flesh must follow. To worry, stress and be anxious is to accept that lie that there is something to fear other than God alone. To decide that change is impossible is to allow pride to tell us our flesh is stronger than our Savior. Disobedience to God comes with a heavy price. Grace covers sin completely. God does not punish His Children. The discipline of God is to right our way and send us into the Promise. Disobedience is the enemy’s ploy to keep us from all God has for us including blessings, favor and prosperity.

Psalm 111:7-10 (ESV) The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

When I woke up late today, the enemy presented me with anxiety overload before my eyes even opened. I reached my hand out until it was just beyond my grasp. But you know what else met me this morning, the new mercies of God – Jesus offered me His Hand – “Here let me take that from you.” It was definitely a standoff like an old-time western movie – I had to choose who I would give my burdens and cares in that moment. I haven’t always made the right choice. There have been many days when the things that happened this morning would have resulted in me rushing around completely overwhelmed snapping at my husband and children. I would have given up my time with the Lord in order to regain some lost moments. BUT NOT TODAY!

Today I must practice what I preach. God is love. So I will be loving even though I don’t feel very loving but agitated and stressed. God is good. He will work every detail of my life out for His Good. God is with me. Christ lives in me. The important things will be done if I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and do what He has called me to do. We must make it a conscious effort each day to respond to the promises of God rather than reacting to the lie of the enemy. To focus on the call of God rather than the taunts of the giant. What is my purpose today? “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) The Lord knows the desires of my heart. He knows my motives and good intentions. He will never let me down if I put my whole heart and all my trust in Him. I must not only read the Word of God but do what it says to have its promises. So today…I will practice what I preach!

Romans 8:35-39 (ESV)  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Steadfast

The Steadfast

2 Chronicles 27:6 (NIV) Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.

The view of strength and power based on human perception implies influence and affluence. One might think those who have it all are set, when in truth their souls are empty. Void of peace, looking for love, and hoping for acceptance outside of the social circle, those envied and sought after often are the loneliest of them all. Even in the church, people paint a pretty picture over the reality of a life lived in fear and insecurity. Setting up a religious order, that makes us feel comfortable in our inability and effective in human weakness. The Lord tells us His Grace is enough. He has overcome the world. We have the victory. If only we believed Him enough to stand steadfast. To wait and watch for the Lord rather than human acceptance, affirmation and acknowledgement. To order each day and every single step in accordance with the one who offers all of this one neat package labeled Jesus Christ. The One who will fill us with His Spirit to produce all the things ever longed for that will overflow from a prospering soul into our natural life. If only we became the steadfast…

To be steadfast. It doesn’t sound exciting. It really seems to be quite boring. Maybe the enemy tells us it is such to keep us from the blessing and prosperity found in walking steadfast with the Lord. To daily be loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependent, steady, true and constant to our calling in Christ. What would be the impact? We would grow more powerful. It happened for Jotham, King of Judah and son of Uzziah. Though he never entered the temple built with human hands, He walked steadfastly before the Lord His God. His reign only lasted sixteen short years yet he defeated his enemies and grew in great wealth. He was a good king who walked in alignment with God’s Kingdom.

What about Enoch? He walked faithfully and steadfastly with God until he was no more because whisked him away. There is no record of his death only that God took him away. Hebrews 11:5 says that “he did not experience death” for “he was commended as one who pleased God.” Faithfulness until the end is exemplified by a steadfast and immovable heart that does not react to this life but responds to the Promises of God and His Purpose for our life now and forevermore.

I Corinthians 7:37 (NKJV)  Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well.

This passage from I Corinthians is part of Paul’s letter to Corinth regarding principles of marriage particularly referencing the unmarried and widows. While this refers to the one who cares for the unmarried, I love the inspiration to stand steadfast – He who stands steadfast in his (or her) heart, having no necessity (content) but has power over his own will (self-control) and has so determined in his (or her) that he will keep ________ , does well. There is instruction in the Word of God that is to lead us to a better life. A life filled with a future and hope. Jesus has given us freedom and complete liberty to choose how we live and make our own choices. He has given us abundant grace when we choose less than His Glorious Standard or decide to sin. True repentance leads us back into the waiting Arms of God who never left us and waits for us to respond. To be steadfast is a heart decision to choose the Lord over anyone or anything else in this life. The impact of steadfastness blesses this life – it doesn’t make sense but the Grace and Goodness of our Lord seldom does.

I Peter 5:8-11 (NIV) Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

You do not fight for victory but from victory. Jesus Christ has given us victory. We must only assert His Power and Authority in our life to secure it. The stand of steadfastness is our battle stance. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God which is the details of our covenant and what belongs to us as Children of God. It is not our job to oppose the enemy or even other people but rather to oppose our flesh. The inner tendency to try to do something that has already been done for us. The drive to be perfect or at least appear worthy of the priceless gift that has been given. To stand in opposing flesh demands a certain death. Will your faith die or your flesh? You decide. Day by day – a steadfast heart must stand on faith in God’s Word, His Will and His Way to overcome the thief who will try to steal from, kill or destroy you. How is your stand today? Are you unshakeable, immovable and fearless?

Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV) Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

Fear is a symptom of insecurity. Something inside of us is not convinced and unbelief exists. We must secure our heart and eliminate fear. The spirit of fear is not given to us by God and therefore can be refused. Fear rears its head in many ways. Stress, worry, and anxiety are just a few. When we experience any feeling or emotion of dread and do not have perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) there is a trust issue that requires immediate attention. Our steadfastness is compromised and in need of immediate attention. A steadfast mind produces a peace-filled life. Trusting the Lord defies who we are as human beings. Circumstances and situations do not impact or influence our heart when set on the Lord. It is a daily pursuit of His Presence guided by His Spirit to become a new creation as He promised. It will cost us every ounce of our flesh. As more of our natural life is yielded to Christ, He fills our voids, heals our wounds, roots out insecurity and doubt to fill our life with the good things that He has promised beginning with the soul-strengthening Fruit of His Spirit.

Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Could this be the guidelines for a steadfast life? A steadfast heart is important to our spiritual success. We have a plethora of promises yet to come to pass. There is an abundant life waiting for those who desire it enough to pursue it. Our flesh wants to fight, but our spirit guided by the Holy Spirit tells us to stand fast on the Word of God and let Him complete the work that He has begun in each of us. To be steadfast is not a proud position but a humbled existence that considers God’s Word, Will and Ways before our own. Jotham grew in power because he walked steadfastly before the Lord. Enoch did not die but instead was simply swept up in the Presence of God. The lives of both men are briefly detailed in God’s Word. The message of faithful obedience and steadfastness speaks volumes. In our need to acquiesce our flesh, it is human nature to complicate things with overwhelming details and complexity. It weaves a tangled lie making the excuse that such an existence is impossible. The simple truth is a life lived in steadfastness before the Lord is powerful.

Proverbs 4:25-26 (NIV) Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

Can You Feel It?

Can You Feel It

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (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. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

It happened in the middle of the local superstore. Holiday shoppers scurrying all around. A cart full of supplies for the ladies Christmas party. The checklist of details in my head somehow got tangled up in my brain. Completely turned upside down with every other to-do list it began sucking me into the vortex of too much to do and too little time. My heart began racing . My head pounding. Stress, anxiety and pressure met together and staged their attack and it worked. I left the cart and walked out the door.

Can you feel it? The pressure, stress and anxiety waged against the human heart and mind during this busy season. The Light shining in our heart somehow grows dim under the shadow of human expectation and high demands. It doesn’t have to be the world. It can even be the church often found to be a shelter of peace and place of rest. I have openly shared my own struggles with the holiday season in an attempt to help others overcome the enemy’s plight to steal the love, joy and peace out of Christmas. To somehow overshadow the hope that arrived when Jesus made His Arrival.

“We are pressed on every side by troubles…” The first step to overcoming the burden of our heart is to find the source of the pressure. Trouble comes in all shapes and sizes. It is no respecter of persons. The uninvited guest overstaying their welcome – it begins to take over our thoughts and feelings. Like a thief in the night, it comes unexpectedly and takes others belongings. There is a promise in the pressure. We will not be crushed. When we are perplexed, there is a limit before reaching despair. Though hunted down by a ruthless enemy, we are never abandoned or forsaken by God. No matter how many times knocked down, we cannot be destroyed. It is through suffering, our life begins to resemble that of Jesus. What is your response to pressure? Walk away? Tap out? Shut down? Melt down?

Proverbs 24:10 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

Reading this today, I can’t help but thing “no kidding”. What if this is not a slight or cut down but a simple observation? God’s Word is instruction. It is not uncommon for Christians to think that every bit of opposition and adversity that creates pressure in our life is from the enemy of our soul. I believe God uses the very thing the enemy has tried to break us for His Glory. What if the pressure is not from the external force but the internal God who lives in us? What if it is the Holy Spirit pressing out the doubt, uncertainty and insecurity found in hidden unbelief in the deepest darkest recesses of our heart? To fail under pressure often reveals parts of our being reliant on an insufficient source.

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

The father brought his son to Jesus. Filled with an evil spirit, he was constantly tortured. Convulsions that through him violently to the ground. Foaming at the mouth and grinding his teeth. It even tried to kill the boy by throwing him in water and fire. The father was desperate so he came to Jesus. The disciples tried to cast out the demon but could not. So the father came to the Lord sharing his plight. He said to the Lord, “Have mercy on us and help us…if you can.”

“If you can…” Words fatal to our faith and evidence of unbelief. Driven to the edge of despair, the contents of the father’s heart poured out before the Lord. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Do you believe today? The father was honest in his response to Jesus. “I do believe but help me overcome my unbelief?” This is the product of pressure. Pressure forces what is in our heart out of it. It allows us to carefully inspect the contents. Careful examination often reveals the fears, doubts and insecurities hidden within so that we can give them to Jesus so He WILL DO what He has already promised to do!

Psalm 119:143 (NLT) As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.

Pressure is applied by expectation. Expectation in any other source than Jesus Christ has the possibility of being unmet. God’s Word tells us exactly what is given to us by the Lord and what is not. It is a light for our path and compass for our soul. It reveals the traps and pitfalls set for us by the enemy. Jesus gives us examples time and time again of ways to overcome fear with faith and triumph over trouble by simply believing. We need the Word of God for faith to become logical and for practical application in our life. The Word was made flesh. Jesus is the Word of God. There is no way to know Him without knowing the Word. There is no way to reach the Father without Jesus. Faith is seeded by the Word and then watered by it as it grows, develops and matures in our life. A seed undergoes tremendous pressure to be transformed into its true potential as do God’s People.

Matthew 9:17 (NLT) “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

Are you pressed today? What if the pressure is coming from the inside and not the outside? What if the Holy Spirit is working in you and through you so that God’s Goodness and Glory will be manifested in your life? Pressure requires change. Our old life, old ways, and old habits must be revealed to be removed. As God begins to change us from the inside out and do that new work inside of us – it produces pressure. Those who choose to stay the same will burst under pressure – give up, go back and quit the process of redemption, restoration and renewal that the Lord has begun. Those who allow the Lord to transform them from the inside out will see new life, new hope, and all things become new because they believed.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Can you feel it? God is pressing us today. He wants to give us new life. To make us into a new creation. There are some things that must go and seeds to be planted in its place. Generosity in our life begins within our heart. We must not give in response to pressure but rather willingly. God will do exactly what His Word says for those who believe. He is doing for those who do not believe but because their faith is in other things – they do not see results. Pressure, stress, worry and burdens are part of life. What we do when trouble comes dictates the outcome. I can choose to retain them in fear and doubt caused by unbelief or I can surrender them all to Jesus Christ.

Faith is an action not just a word. It means taking my life and sowing it as seed into the Kingdom. When pressure comes don’t blame the enemy but seek the Lord. Failing under pressure means our strength is not coming from God but either self or some other unworthy source. You are a Child of the King. Live like it. Let Him show you who you are and what He has for you in His Word. Talk to Him and listen for His Whispers to you. Your life has purpose and it is glorious. Lord, let us be vessels that do not give into pressure but give way to Your Spirit – In Jesus Name!

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.”