I AM

I AM

Exodus 3:14 (NKJV) And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

I AM. A statement of the divine nature and eternal quality of God the Father. Moses in the wilderness tending the flocks of his father-in-law encountered the burning bush. The point of revelation that would take the man who once lived in a palace, by sin relegated to a pasture, to step into his purpose. God carefully scripted His Plan to his servant. Human insecurity rose up in the heart of Moses. Surely the Lord did not know who he was speaking to or the tremendous impossibility of such a plan. Moses was willing yet lacked confidence. He asked, “Who am I that I should go before Pharaoh…? The Lord responded, “I will certainly be with you.” However, that was not enough to leave the place of comfort, convenience and control. He needed a name. Not just a vision or revelation, Moses needed a name of power and authority even presence not only to influence Pharaoh to release God’s People but to encourage them to step into the newfound freedom to be offered. God’s answer was simple. “I AM WHO I AM”!

What’s In a Name?

Exodus 34:6-7 (NKJV) And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

Our daughter is expecting her first child (our first grandchild). She and her husband have chosen names for a boy and girl. Each name has a meaning and his special to them. A name is important. “I AM.” The Name of God is important to us. We must know His Name and the power and authority it contains to fulfill God’s Purpose for us. It is not enough to know His Name but His Character as well. To be convinced of who He is and His Ability to do exactly what He says. God is love. He is mercy. He is grace. He is patience. He abounds in goodness for us. He also abounds in truth which is an attribute for us but also a stumbling block to us.

In the beginning God created… (Genesis 1:1) In the beginning was God. God is not a man. He does not lie or change His Mind. (Numbers 23:19-20) In Psalm 139, the mystery of creation unraveled, God creates us and ordains purpose with a plan for fulfillment for us. Every day of our life is carefully scripted before our arrival. Isaiah 55:11 takes it one step further declaring that God’s Word cannot return to Him void. It must accomplish what is set forth to do. God is constant. He does not change which requires us to change to step into righteousness apart from sin. It means that repentance must be accompanied by the willingness to submit our life to Him.

God is justice. (Exodus 34:7) His Love for us cannot change His Character. Sin has a price. There is a penalty. God who loves us released His Word in the form of His Son, Jesus to come wrapped in flesh and live out His Love for us. We make the choice to accept God’s Love, Mercy and Grace. We are free to choose. Our choice does not define God’s Character but dictates our own destiny. We decide to live in the Light of His Love or in the darkness leading to death. God is constant. He is Sovereign. He does not live on emotions, feelings or impulse but wrapped in truth and justice. Access to God is only available through His Son who bears the same character being the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) To submit to God is to understand that He is the ultimate power and authority. He is the Creator. We are His Creation. To choose another way is the freedom given to us. The outcome is clearly detailed in the Word of God.

I Corinthians 15:23-25 (NKJV) But each one in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.

Submission to God is inevitable. He is Sovereign. He has given each man and woman a free will. The ability to choose their course of life and their destination. Each day we choose the path taken and the outcome. It is our inability to accept the constant in a world filled with variables. Each with its own agenda and plan for personal gain and happiness. The inconsistent character of people with all the flaws and imperfections leading to distrust due to inconsistently met expectation creates an inability to trust and believe in the flawless character of God and His Son, Jesus. But that does not change who God is and what His Word says about you. We must grow in knowledge and understanding of who He is to understand the Power and Authority given to us in the Great I Am. Trust is only possible in seeds of faith given time to grow in a fertile heart. God is patient. He waits for us to fall in love with Him. Submission to God and fulfillment are born of trust.

Matthew 16:15-17 (NKJV) He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 

I believe God is asking us today, “But who do YOU say that I am?” We know who great preachers and pastors call Him. We know who are parents or mentors may have believed Him to be. There comes a moment in everyone’s life when the question rises up within us to be met with the truth of our heart and mind. Jesus asked Peter the same question until it came to the moment of truth for the man. “Who do YOU say that I am?” Who do you say that He is? Faith is given in a measure like seed. The Word of God facilitates spiritual growth of good fruit that nourishes our heart and mind with the Truth of who God is. It grows within us forcing the boundaries of human understanding forcing us into new uncharted territory of repentance and obedience. How far will you go today to know the Truth of Who He Is and what He wants to do in your life? Trusting God is the first step in submission. Faith will only take you where you are willing to surrender and go. It is dependent not on any human quality. Fulfillment comes in the Name of God and Christ who lives within us.

Philippians 2:9-11 (NKJV) Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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A Humble Heart

A Humble Heart

Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21) To revere Jesus Christ in our life requires submission. To be completely humble and gentle. To be patient and loving. To make every effort to keep harmony, unity and agreement in the Spirit bonded by peace. This may very well be the most difficult aspect of submission to God. It is a sacrifice of pride that leaves people vulnerable and is completely contrary to society. It leaves our heart open, broken and exposed to His Grace and susceptible to the insults, offenses and hurts of other people who do not live by the same. To be united with Christ, I must have a humble heart.

The humble heart might be achievable if believers could hide away in their prayer closet or live lost worshipping in the Presence of God. But that, my friend, is not where we live. As temporary residents of this world, to find time and place in the Kingdom can be a struggle. Busyness becomes the enemy of time spent with the Lord. Troubles, trials and tragedy tread on the human heart making it hard, callous and even bitter. To walk by faith and not by sight is to keep our eyes on the unseen yet living, breathing God. Well, one trip to Wal-Mart may very well drain every ounce of patience left on reserve. A quick drive across town may evoke enough anger to steal every bit of our joy. Dealing with teenagers is a call to preserve and a reminder that the terrible twos should have been a sign. Bills pile up. The unexpected catches us off guard. People seem to be our problem. All these factors, do not change or impact the Word of God. It stands firm, true and constant just as the One who delivers it. Lord, teach us how to live with humble hearts.

John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13) Jesus instructs us to love our enemies. (Matthew 5) There is even a full description of love in I Corinthians 13. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” The opposite of proud is humble. Love is humble. It is to offer our heart equally to the just and unjust. To give it to those who are worthy and unworthy following the example of Christ. If they do not love us back, it should not be because we are unlovable. Grace given to us must be paid forward to others.

To be a disciple of Christ requires a humble heart. A heart be molded and shaped in the image of that possessed by Jesus. The King who took off his crown and left his throne to give his people life. Life more abundantly. Full satisfaction. To offer access by way of a humble life and tragic death to give us victory that He already possessed. Jesus is the example of humility. To continue to maintain pride and selfishness withholding love and grace from others is to deem our life more important than the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Love one another defines the parameters of this commandment (not suggestion) to all people. To walk in the shadow of Jesus and live in His Image requires selfless love of humble stature. It means forgiving the unforgivable. Accepting the unacceptable. Rejecting offense and not becoming offended. It literally is to lay our pride on the altar allowing our heart to remain broken before the Lord. Accepting His Love makes this the mandate for our life.

Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

In your relationships with one another…” A relationship is a connection, association or involvement. This does not limit relationship to familial or friendship. It is not defined by intimacy. A relationship is formed upon meeting or interacting with another person. When you open the door to allow someone to enter, it is a connection. Maybe you smile as they walk by or nod your head to acknowledge their quick “thank you” hurrying by. A connection is made in that moment. It is a stranger yet still there is a form of relationship. By opening the door to allowing them to enter before you, there is a humble giving of way that takes a step back. Maybe if we begin by allowing others to enter physical doors, or stop our vehicle to allow others safe passage across a crowded parking lot with a smile, it will crack open our hearts just a little to the Light of His Love and the impact kindness has on the world today.

To be honest, marriages and family relationships are hard enough without trying to live in love with everyone else. The word “dysfunction” is closely associated with every family I know even those I hold in high regard including my own. The church is no better. Arguments and disagreements that would easily be resolved by love and humility quickly escalate to hurt feelings and division. Pride is the culprit. Humility is the cure. Religion tries to do everything possible to emulate relationships that only love, grace and mercy will allow. God is breaking open the heart of His People today and calling them to accountability. Jesus is coming! Love will be the line drawn in the sand dividing the save and unsaved. Love is the ticket. To be found with a humble heart. Love must be the death of me.

I Peter 3:8-9 (NIV) Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Be sympathetic. There are several meanings to the word “sympathetic” that apply to a humble heart. It means to be characterized by compassion. God is compassionate. Each morning the new mercy given is from God’s Love and Compassion for us. It is the nature of a mutual responsive relationship which is the very character of godly submission. Is to look upon others with favor just as Jesus gives us His Favor. Sympathy is synonymous with kindness, tenderness and great affection. We must pay forward all these things from the reservoir of receivership since Christ has given them to us in full measure. By faith, I can pay it forward knowing that God’s Love and Faithfulness will never let me down no matter how others treat me or whether or not human love reciprocated. His Love will continue to fill my life as I continually pour it into others.

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11) Just like a fence, offense can be a barrier in life. It doesn’t keep others out but keeps us from the wide space of freedom that is our calling in Christ. Fear and insecurity quickly build walls around the hearts of God’s People when offense is allowed to clutter our heart and mind. Strongholds are formed from such thought. The limitation is placed on our life in one’s attempt to protect their heart from being broken. The Lord is close the brokenhearted. I cannot live in close proximity to God preserving my pride living behind walls of fear and insecurity. In such a place, pride has its way with us and the favor of God is far from us. It is to our glory and God’s Glory when we overlook offense. Opening the gateway of forgiveness, to move on in our high calling in response to the Shepherd’s Voice.

“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”(Proverbs 17:9) The growth of God’s Love in us is inhibited by offense. Bitterness chokes out the truth marked as seed of the human heart. We allow their offense to be greater than the Blood of Jesus in our mind. We are called to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Fostering love in our life is a form of submission to God’s Power and Authority. Placing our life and love in His Compassionate Care while venturing out to love in all relationships. As the Body of Christ, to build His Kingdom, unity and agreement is a requirement. It will never be found taking our own way but following the example of Jesus Christ fully and completely beginning with His Love. A humble heart is the only way to live such a life. To overcome every obstacle. To experience fulfillment. To fulfill God’s Purpose.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Come to me – an invitation to those who are weary and burdened. Jesus promises to give us rest. Take my yoke and learn from me – now comes the point that we have come to – I am gentle and humble in heart. What if the weariness in our spirit and heaviness of our burdens are not from the enemy but a prideful heart? What if the problem is that in carrying our burdens to the Lord, we refuse to take His Yoke? Love is the yoke that binds us to Christ and the offering our heart to others. It is the agreement and unity that creates a real relationship with Jesus. He came to save us not condemn us. The only condemnation is to love darkness more than the Light of His Love. Pride is the darkest depravity of the human soul because it elevates itself against God. Creating conflict and hostility within us that is so subtle like a cancer destroying our soul unnoticed. Healing comes in the form of brokenness. Taking all the broken pieces of a heart subject to all the unmet expectations of love to the Lover of our soul who was willing to lay down His Life and Lordship for us. To accept – I must have a humble heart and follow Christ’s example of love.

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

Peace with God

Peace with God

Job 22:21-22 (NIV) “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.

These are the words of Eliphaz to his friend, Job during the worst time of his life. Job’s children were gone. His wealth gone. Everything God had blessed him with in his lifetime taken from him within a single day. Even his own physical health compromised, I am quite certain that he was not looking for a sermon but sympathy from his friends. The story of Job is one, though hard to read and difficult to comprehend, is absolutely necessary to understand true submission to God. “Submit to God and be at peace with Him.” This may imply that Eliphaz had decided that Job must have sinned against God to invite such tragedy into his life. From a human aspect – it would be the natural assumption. However, his words I believe are led by the Holy Spirit and not his own intellect. Submission to the Lord in all things will give us peace. The Holy Spirit produces peace in our life as a fruit. As our soul prospers so does our life, but I do not believe that God will allow us to prosper in this life if it compromises eternal life. “

“In this way prosperity will come to you.” Everyone has a natural desire to prosper. To see increase and live in abundance. It is a common thread of commerce. However, peace does not come from financial security but confident faith that there is more to life than this. A place of eternity rest offered through Jesus Christ. The Lord has given us His Spirit to produce the kinds of fruit that satisfies our soul and causes our heart and mind to prosper in God’s Word which is His Plan for us. “Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.” I have studied the Word of God every day for the last eight years. Each morning getting up early to read, study and meditate on it. I want to extract every single truth, promise and blessing hidden within the pages of text. I do not say this to boast but rather to share that even though I have spent countless hours poring over the Word of God, I find new things every single day. It is life to my heart, mind, thoughts and soul. It is never old but always fresh and new.

Romans 10:2-4 (NIV) For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Our zealousness and enthusiasm serving God must be based on His Word. Faith comes by hearing and found in God’s Word. We desire righteousness but do not fully understand what it entails. Pride wants to earn it. Somehow find a way to deserve the Grace of God. It is impossible. Yet still religiosity can interrupt our relationship when pride tells us – “I can do it.” The only way of reconciliation with God is through His Son, Jesus. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can make it to God except through Him. The Word made flesh to live among us is none other than Jesus. I must submit to God’s Righteousness fully accepting His Grace in my weakness. His Power is complete in my life when I do. The story of Job depicts man’s struggle with pride. Doing everything right cannot erase our sin or promote a relationship with God. It is our thriving relationship with Jesus that gives us total access to God the Father and His Power in this life.

Divine discipline as recorded in Hebrews 12 is not in the form of punishment. It is God’s Love at work in us to remove barriers of pride, fear, and insecurity that keep us from reconciling our life to God through His Son, Jesus. It is always born of love, mercy and grace. God cannot punish those who believe as it would be contrary to His Word. God doesn’t take back His Promises but daily pursues us in order to bless us. It is His Desire to give us the desires of our heart. Misalignment spiritually creates conflict in our life. (James 4:1-6) Our friendship with God makes us enemies of the world. I want more of God’s Grace. To have it means moving my life from this world to Kingdom living by constantly pursuing a relationship with God by way of accepting His Grace more and more which means I must decrease and He must increase in me. Pride is crucified in this place and submission fully embraced as a way of life.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

To be reconciled with God is live at peace with Him. Submission to God comes in the form of acceptance of His Grace as enough for my life. His Power is manifested in my weakness and inability to accomplish anything of worth outside of my relationship with Jesus Christ. I must become a new creation. Pride must be executed so that the fulfillment of His Purpose can be accomplished in me. I must learn to submit. Humbling myself before the Lord and other people. God has a plan containing a future and hope that oversteps death into eternity. By faith, I can achieve it. I must understand my place as a participant in this process. I must humble myself before the Lord which means also extending it to other people.

“Submit to God and be at peace with Him” is not a threat or form of punishment. It is an invitation. Like a wedding invitation all in white tied with a scarlet bow, bidding us to come and participate in the greatest love story ever written. To be His Bride. To await His Coming with real enthusiasm not overrated zeal. His Word gives us the opportunity to know Him. His Spirit is the intimate consummation of His Betrothal. We have a promise, not only of a fantastic future, but blessings for the land of the living. Pride will never exalt us to the level of confirmation that humility born of absolute trust in the Living God allows. It is the destruction of the platform of pride that spiritual elevation takes to the new levels and life intended by God. I must live in Christ to find them. He must increase and I must decrease. I must live at peace with God in Christ Jesus to reach my full potential. Sometimes it is the moment when all we have is the Lord, that we find He is all we ever need.

Colossians 1:19-20 (NIV)  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

To Trust

Old chair and wall

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

I want to trust the Lord with all of my heart. I would like to lean on His Understanding and not my own. But then there is that word again, submit. In all your ways submit to Him… How do we submit our life to the Lord? How do I surrender my life to the Living God who is invisible to me? Trust and dependency require submission in order to be valid. Trust is not good unless tested. Dependence is invalid if not tried. To lean on something determines its strength and stability. If I want to try out a chair, I must sit in it. Commit my weight to the structure of it. It requires me to stop standing and press into the chair for support. Once it is trusted, never again will it be a concern when sitting down. Trusting the Lord works the same way. We must daily try and test our faith in the form of trust.

Submission is a characteristic of trust. To trust the Lord with all of our heart requires submission on a daily basis. Such faith is evidence of unseen hope that defies human logic based on God’s Word and Way. We must walk by faith and not by sight to experience true intimacy with the Lord. It is important to learn the humble calling of submission in order to live in alignment with God and His Plan. It is in complete subjection to Him that our way is made straight. Submission acknowledges our faith, trust and hope in the Lord above all other authorities and powers that govern our natural life. It is a higher calling and one that few will ever fully invest in.

The word “acknowledge” is used in this verse in the New King James Version. To acknowledge the Lord is to submit all of our ways to His Kingship, Authority and Power. In Hebrew it is “yada” which means by observation, investigation, reflection and firsthand experience. To acknowledge the Lord by submitting all our ways to Him is an active process engaged in daily by the believer in order to have divine order and spiritual clarity in our walk with God. The highest level of “yada” is direct intimate contact as in marriage. Direct intimate contact in marriage is life-giving and so it is in a spiritual marriage to Jesus Christ. Intimacy gives new life to the covenant of marriage as it does in our relationship with the Lord. When we submit our life to Jesus Christ, it will carry over into our natural life. To submit to others – empowers our life rather than limiting it.

Romans 8:6-8 (NIV) The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Trusting God is a decision. It is more than a spoken word but a daily endeavor to change our heart and mind from hostility toward God to total trust and dependence. Hostile flesh is a force to be reckoned with. There is no compromise. You cannot appease flesh and Spirit at the same time. It requires a choice. One or the other. It is totally up to us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Allowing God’s Spirit to change our heart and mind leads to steps of faith and trust that build an intimate relationship with the Lord like a marriage. Abraham was considered a friend of God for his faith and demonstration of trust still believing that God brings the dead to life. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Trust is how one accesses the plan and purpose of God that lead to fulfillment. Distractions detour our destinations. Submission means giving up my way to have His Way.

Psalm 37:3-5 (NIV) Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this…

Trusting the Lord means doing good even when others are not good. Our life goal should be to live in alignment with God and His Plan for us. It is life giving not limiting. In doing so, is to dwelling the land AND enjoy safe pasture. It is life for this life. It is peace for this life. It is joy in this life. It is every fruit produced by His Spirit becoming an everyday harvest even in seasons of drought and famine. Life in me is produced by intimacy with God. Such intimacy is the result of submission to the Lord evidenced in my life acknowledged when my expectation and hope is in God not man. Submission to people is possible when our full expectation, trust and dependency is committed to the Lord. Those who learn to delight in the Lord will have their heart’s desire. It says so right there. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust Him. HE WILL DO THIS… Every good and perfect gift is from the Father and accessible by faith and trust. ”Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3)

James 4:7-10 (NIV) Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

“But He gives more grace…” Grace is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) His Grace is enough. It is sufficient for me. I am only able to submit my life to God and man when I completely accept the grace of God as enough for my shortcomings and insufficiencies, as well as those of other people. When the Grace of God is enough, people will not have to meet certain standards in my life because He gives us more grace. The enemy cannot overcome the power of agreement. It dissolves his strategy which is to steal, kill and destroy. He uses strongholds in our thoughts that keep us from fully engaging in intimacy with God. However, when people agree with God and each other, no weapon formed us can ever prosper. Alignment with God and His Plan require submission. End of story.

You cannot live in complete agreement with the Lord and not be subject to every authority that He has instituted in our life. The character of that person is not my problem. The choices made by them is between the Lord and the person. I am held accountable to my response when given the opportunity to submit. Double-minded people cannot make up their mind who to serve so they serve them all – self, others, things and last of all God. I don’t want to be that person.

Coming near to God requires grace. All of it. His Compassion for us is His Mercy but His Grace is the access point to be entered by faith and trust. Trusting God will our life is essential and a process that will take up all our time. Humility before the Lord requires the same in this life. We must humble ourselves before the Lord and submit to others following the example of Jesus Christ who took off His Crown, set it on His Throne and came to this world to die for us. He laid down His Life to become our bridegroom so we could be His Bride. Intimacy with the Lord requires my submission of my life, all my thoughts, all my actions, every single word to the Lordship of Christ demonstrated in laying down my life for others as I honor Him.

Ephesians 5:21 (NIV) Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Beauty of Submission

The Beauty of Submission

I Peter 3:1-4 (NKJV) Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

There is beauty in submission for the heart intent on surrender. It is a beauty far surpassing the outward appearance that leaves an indelible mark on the heart it touches. The heart must be soft, pliant, open, and humble to receive such instruction and not become hard and unyielding as pride senses a takeover. Submission is the utmost form of trust in any relationship. It denotes total surrender to the Lord for fulfillment of expectation releasing all other human counterparts. In the beginning it may be a bitter pill choked down rather than savored. Those who force it down will find it to be a seed of blossoming blessing that will lead to success in all relationships as we live and love from a gentle and quiet spirit confident in God’s Love, Grace and Goodness.

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands…

I will be the first to admit that I did not receive the “gift” of submission as one probably should. Preparing for a women’s conference at church with a fellow board member, I had spent the better part of a half-hour ranting about my husband and a disagreement the night before. She allowed me to vent thereby setting the groundwork for a message that would change my marriage forever. When I finally ran out of words, the room was silent. She crossed over to me with what I knew would be solid and profound advice. Holding my hands in hers and looking me right in the eye, she said, “You must learn to submit to your husband. You must be submissive.” If it were possible for my head to spin and steam come shooting out of both ears, it would have happened in that moment. I was so angry that not a single word could be formed and my mouth was hanging open. Had she not heard the injustice? Had she not listened to my hurt? Did she not understand that it was all his fault? I thought she was on my side. She was. She was the godly influence who would plant a seed of truth in my open and exposed heart that would grow, develop and mature into a beautiful marriage of mutual responsiveness and respect.

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

I am woman hear me roar…not so fast tiger. Inner beauty within our heart is the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that God finds very precious. I am an extrovert and my husband an introvert. Our personalities are very different as are our life experiences. Coming together in marriage is to leave all other relationships and establish a primary connection with our spouse. To become one together. Just as two people traveling in different directions do not end up at the same destination, one of the two must submit. It is our gift and calling as wives to do just that. To become a reverent partner to the man who God has joined us with is to honor and revere God with total trust and dependency. I trust my husband. I love him. He is just as human as I am and we both make a lot of mistakes. The Grace of God is the glue that keeps our marriage strong as I have learned to submit to God’s Authority and my husband but boy oh boy was it a fight.

Ephesians 5:22-24 (NKJV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

To submit means to be humble and compliant. It is a perceived vulnerability yet must be pursued for complete faith. Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. As wives, women are called to respect, regard and deeply care for her spouse. To reverence or be in awe of as translated from the Greek word “phobeo”. All believers are called to live in mutual submission. (Ephesians 5:21) As a wife I am called, according to God’s Word in Ephesians 5, to serve, honor and edify my husband. Does such a statement rub you the wrong way? Are you irritated at the thought of it? Good, so was I. My life as a wife is to be lived as unto the Lord. I do these things for my husband out of reverence for God and His Word. This should end the argument but it usually causing a warring in our heart and mind. What about me? Who’s going to take care of me?

The husband is called to lay down his life and sacrifice his interests for his wife. He is tasked to support her growth and development spiritually. He is to cherish, warmly care for and attend to her needs, wants and desires. He is to love her as Christ loves the church. He holds the most responsibility in this thing called marriage. God holds husbands accountable for their wives. We must only trust the Lord. This is important unless marriage is deemed impotent because it is out of order or misaligned.

Submission to each other following the guidelines set forth by God creates mutual responsiveness. Just as the Body of Christ is formed by leaving the things of this world and clinging to God through Christ and His Way – marriage is the same process. To become one body in marriage or in the Body of Christ requires leaving and cleaving. Cleaving is to adhere firmly and closely with all loyalty unwaveringly to something. Genesis 2:24 sets forth the marriage principle that “a man shall leave his father and mother to be joined with his wife and they become one flesh.” I wonder what the success rate of marriage might be if both partners embraced these roles fully and completely as designed by God made possible through Jesus Christ. Would revival break out in the Body if it became one?

I Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV)  Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;[a] not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

Smith Wigglesworth was a great man of faith. One of the forerunners in faith for the modern day church. His wife, Polly, was a mighty woman of God in her own right. When his plumbing business became very successful, Smith began to work long hours. He missed services and his heart grew cold toward the Lord. Polly faithfully continued serving the Lord. One night she was later than usual returning from church and her husband rebuked her saying, “I am the master of this house and I am not going to put up with you coming home at such a late hour.” Polly told her angry husband, “You may be my husband, but my master is Christ.” Smith put her out the back door in anger forgetting to lock the front door. She came around to the front entering the house in laughter. Soon her gentle spirit and sweet response had both parties dissolved in fits of laughter.

It is human nature to be caught up in our rightness and miss the point of righteousness. We are Kingdom builders which is all about relationships. Building relationships requires submission. Successful marriages are marked by wives who embrace the role of submission and empower their husbands to take the leadership role and fulfill the assignment of accountability for our life. Grace is the gold of submission. We serve in all positions of life as unto the Lord including our marriage partnerships. Each member of the Body of Christ has a role that must submit to the headship of Jesus. Without submission – all things will remain broken. Those who embrace and strive to live a submissive life will inherit a blessing far greater than pride could ever yield. Be submissive. Take on your role given by Christ, whatever that is, fully embracing the calling clearly defined by His Word. You will prosper as your soul prospers.

Ephesians 4:4-6 (NKJV) There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

 

Humble Calling

Humble Calling

Ephesians 5:21 (NIV) Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Submission is a commandment of God given out of reverence for Christ. An act of humility far from human nature and often misunderstood. It is important to not ignore the call of God on our life to submit, but to fully embrace it and learn to live by it. Submit to one another. The world might tell us that it is a weakness. However, according to scripture, it is a powerful alignment with God and His Word. To submit means to give over or yield to the power or authority of another. The Greek word “hypotasso” gives in more in depth meaning to the believer. It means “under God’s arrangement” or to place in alignment with His Plan and Purpose. Our life lived in alignment with the Lord allows Heaven to come to earth. It is the gateway by which Kingdom outcomes are possible over human impossibilities.

“Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” The same connotation of the Greek word is used in I Peter 2:18 that is used in Ephesians 5:21. Submission is not necessarily to those who are worthy but in all situations of authority. If you are subject to a person who is given authority over your life, submission is the choice made to remain subject to and under the power of the person. Notice that the position in I Peter is to the “slave” not the “servant”. A slave is under the authority of the master and must be subject to them. However, we are servants of the Living God by choice. Submission is a choice. It is the humble giving our life to Jesus Christ. To reverence Him in every interaction.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV) Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

It is important to read God’s Word in context. Follow God’s Example as dearly loved children. God’s example to us is Jesus Christ. The Word made flesh to demonstrate a plan incomprehensible and illogical outside of faith. A King who put down His Crown to come to die for His People. To make a way for those who rebelled against it in the first place. To restore right standing and release the Spirit of adoption to us. Jesus submitted to God’s Authority out of love for us. We submit to authority out of love and reverence for Christ. To walk in love, one must submit their life to others. It is the only way. To give up our life as “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Submission is to take our divinely ordered place in a relationship. You cannot force submission it is an offering and sacrifice of our life that can only be made by the individual. Joseph understood the importance of submission. When taking captive by the Midianites, sold to Potiphar, falsely accused, sent to jail, forgotten for years and even in the house of Pharaoh – at any time Joseph could have rebelled against the unjustness of his treatment and difficult circumstances but instead he humbled himself before the Lord. In each position, Joseph served God by serving others. When his brothers came before him, he forgave them. He did not withhold anything from them but wept in joy at seeing them again. The same ones who threw him in a pit to die. Forgiveness is a form of submission. It is also a requirement of God.

Romans 13:1-5 (NIV) Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

The authorities that exist have been established by God. The last election for the President of the United States was downright nasty. I have many friends who are no longer friends on social media because of the ugliness and riotous rants being posted. It doesn’t matter who you voted for. The day after the election the person in power is God’s Elected Authority. Now before you decide to shut me off, leave the page, or sent me an outrageous opinion, I believe that all presidents are divinely appointed. I believe that once in office as a citizen of the United States and a believing Child of the Living God it is my duty to submit and pray for them. My faith, trust and hope is fully invested in the Lord so it really doesn’t matter who God places in authority over me as long as I remain in alignment and full submission to God and the authority who He has chosen for His Purpose. I must remain in submission to remain in alignment with God. I know this is hard to grasp but let me set forth some ideas.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 – God has a predesigned plan for my life that includes a future and hope. If I seek Him wholeheartedly, I will have every single promise and spiritual blessing ordained for my life. My hope and future are not dependent on the authority and power in this life but my willingness to live a submitted life in accordance with God’s Word, Will and Way.

Romans 8:38-39 – Nothing can separate me from the Love of God. I live in service to the Living God. My full expectation is that the Love of God will overpower any injustice or insecurity that I experience. In other words, God is in control of my life including the authorities over me. God changed the heart of Pharaoh to let His People go – I serve the same God.

Romans 8:28 – If I believe that God works all things together for my good because I love Him, it includes every power and authority that governs my life in the natural. Submission to God is to live under His Arrangement. At no point in time do I believe that God every set down His Authority or Sovereignty but rather has ordered every single moment of life for my good and His Glory.

When submitting our life to the Lord, it becomes our service to submit to all authority and power placed over our life rather chosen or prescribed. To end this debate scripturally, “whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.”

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

”Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) I encourage you to read the story of Joseph. His journey is a wonderful example of humility. It is to choose forgiveness over bitterness. We are not to do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Pride tells us otherwise. We have a right to our opinion. However, as Children of God it is His Truth that is the seed of all prosperity in our life. To grow, develop and mature into the masterpiece He calls us to be requires submission like clay in the potter’s hands.

I Peter 5:5-7 (NIV) In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Humble yourselves under God’s Mighty Hand…that He may lift you up in due time. God has promised to make all things beautiful in His Time. We cannot fathom God’s Work from beginning to end so we must trust Him. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Eternity is in our heart. It is our purpose and destination. It is accepted through humility beginning with His Grace. It is lived in humility by loving Jesus and others more than ourselves. Rather than fighting authoritative power it is our humble calling to submit to all authority AND be like Jesus Christ. Submission is reverencing Christ and His Selfless Sacrifice. Am I better than Jesus? Do I have the right to rebel? No, it is my privilege in Christ to submit to mankind in this life in order to live in alignment with eternity. I am given the opportunity every day to live reverently for the Lord by humbly serving and submitting my life to others. This is the life each of us is called to live in Christ. It is to put all my expectation in the Lord and cast all my cares with it. Trusting the Lord will always require submission. There cannot be two masters in our life. We serve the Lord by serving others.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Wrestling with God

Wrestling With God

Ephesians 5:21 (NLT) And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The struggle is real. To learn to submit is a far greater discipline than most. I remember the first day I heard the word “submission”. Preparing for a women’s conference at church, in the copy room. My husband and I had a rift the night before and I was looking for support from a close friend. Expressing my frustration about the situation and, of course, HIS stubbornness causing me great aggravation, I didn’t hear her careful footsteps coming up behind me. Turning me mid-packet with her hands gently on my shoulders, she lovingly yet firmly looked me in the eye and said, “You must learn to submit to your husband.” Say what? My gaping jaw slammed shut and my mouth became dry. I know that there was fire in my eyes that gave away the fury in my belly about that time. Had she not been listening? How could she say such a thing? Like a basketball thorn unsuspectingly, her words hit me in the stomach and bounced on the ground at my feet. To be honest, I stewed for the rest of the day. I avoided conversation and contact with her immediately following that conversation. I had no response. Oh, I was reeling and ranting in my head and the filter right behind my mouth – but nothing.

The Word of God is clear. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Submit from its earliest Latin conception means to yield, lower, let down, put under or reduce. It means to yield to the power or authority of another. To be subject to certain influence. To present for approval or consideration of another. The Lord has spoken on submission and it remains clear that our reverence for Jesus Christ should promote such behavior. He is not asking us to become human doormats or accept abuse at the hands of an oppressor but rather to give up our way to embrace the humility demonstrated by Jesus for others. It means giving up our rightness to maintain righteousness according to the Grace of God given through the Love of Christ and the ability to effectively demonstrate unconditional love and overwhelming grace. It is forgiveness. Not once, but constantly forging deeper and stronger relationships through the release of self.

It is the “and further” moment in life when our soul longs for satisfaction. It is often representative of human interaction rather than any other opportunity. We are called to submit to others as a form of worshipping Christ. We wrestle with that. The struggle is real. To give up our way, wants, needs and desires to experience the fulfillment of Christ seems appealing on paper, but completely overbearing in life. It is, however, the beginning of the giving our life away described as acceptable offerings by the Lord.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 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.

Sacrifice is against human nature. Our instinct is for survival. Our flesh rebels against daily crucifixion with Christ. It rebukes the nails that hold our passions and desires to the Cross. Yet, in our heart, we long to worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth. Therefore, something must give. Will it be my way or God’s Holy Highway? It is foolishness to think that going my way that I can have His Way. It is naturally impossible. Impatience and lack of endurance makes us think that we are capable of deriving God’s Best from our own perpetuated imperfect plan. We give up on waiting and watching while living a disciplined and purpose-filled life of faith, hope and trust in the Lord, but instead do our own thing and balk at the results. To be a living sacrifice requires giving up or it is only an offering. Such a giving limits the increase and abundance of God in our life by boundaries set by self.

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. I know how you feel right now. I felt the same way when my dear friend introduced me to submission. I thought she was crazy to tell you the truth. I didn’t believe in the power of submission but could only see its weakness. I couldn’t perceive its reward just the risk associated with such behavior. To submit to the Lord by submitting to others is NOT what you may be thinking. It is to release yourself and humanity from your expectation and putting all our faith, hope and trust in the Love of God and His Caregiving of us. The world will tell you that submission is weakness. I will testify today that submission to the Lord is power. Submission to the Lord is to submit to all mankind.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NLT) So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What if the very thing that you think God is using to break you is really an attempt to remake you? What if the giving up of your way is essential to claiming His Best for your life? Are you convinced now? Of course not. The risk seems to outweigh the reward. How many times have I heard I will forgive them but not forget what they did to me… Our stubbornness and unwillingness to submit certain areas of our life creates boundaries to God’s Grace reaching those areas. I must submit my life to grace in order to receive it. I must sacrifice my life by submitting it to the Lord through careful and complete submission of each area day by day.

Submission to God’s Way is all the way. When Samuel approached Saul about his disobedience, Saul insisted that he did obey God. The Lord told Saul to completely destroy the Amalekite nation including “men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels and donkeys.” They won the battle but Saul chose to spare the life of Agag the king, and some choice animals for sacrifice. Saul kept everything that appealed to him. When Samuel arrived, Saul boasted his obedience. The Lord pointed out the error in his way. “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” Partial obedience is disobedience. Deviance is rebellion. Submission is sacrifice anything less is an offering. If my desire is to sacrifice my life in obedience to Christ, it will require me to submit my way. Give up what I want and fully embrace the Lord’s Desires and Design for my life. The Lord is clear. His Word is the same today. Still true in every way…Obedience is better than sacrifice. Submission is better than an offering. To have God’s Plan means giving up our way to fully pursue Him.

Genesis 32:24-31 (NLT) This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said. “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.”

Are you wrestling with the Lord today? Jacob wrestled with the Lord. He left his home long before this night to save his life. He had stolen his brother’s birthright. He had manipulated his way to the firstborn position. He fled for his life. He served Laban well, marrying his two daughters, bearing eleven sons, and building a powerful estate. It was time to go home. I cannot imagine the conflict within him that night as his family waiting on the other side of the river. I think everyone comes to this point at some juncture of life. The turning point when control is surrendered to submission. It is a breaking process that releases the breakthrough promise. He had every right to march back into his homeland with his head high. He left with nothing and came back a successful man. He had been given the birthright. The land and honor belonged to him. He was right, but Jacob wanted God’s Blessing. He desired righteousness first.

The Lord gave Jacob a new name. He would no longer be the “supplanter” who had to overthrow others for his position in life. His new name would be “Israel” which means “triumphant with God.” No longer at odds with the Lord, Jacob now Israel had chosen the better way. He didn’t have to fight his way through life or struggle for success. God gave Him victory in his relenting to the Lord. Submission is always the best way. Note that as he left that place of victory, he was limping because of the injury to his hip. Submission marks a changed and transformed state to the believer. The transition point when all of me is given to all of Him through giving my life as a living sacrifice. It is not what I can or cannot do but my willingness to do it all for the Glory of God.

I cannot tell you the many blessings and benefits in my marriage as a result of submission to God first and then my husband. Giving up my strength and reveling in human weakness that allows the One who is greater to live through me. It is called submission and smacks of all things unpalatable to people. It is fragrant aromatic worship to the Lord. He desires it more than anything else. To give less to God who has given it all for us to live in His Love seems so senseless, yet we do it every day. God – teach me to submit to all people in reverence to You today. May I find the fullness of Christ in pouring out my life as a living sacrifice – the kind that is holy and acceptable to You, Lord!

Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT) You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Weight of the Anchor

weight of the anchor

Hebrews 6:17-20 (NIV) Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. 

What a week? It is only Wednesday. Halfway through and it has tossed me about pretty good. The pressures of life have created a fair share of waves and wakes that keep this little boat called life rocking pretty good. At sea a boat is carried on top of the water, the current, tide and waves move it all around. Every ship or even small fishing boat will have an anchor. I tried to see what the average weight of an anchor might be. They vary from about ten pounds to seventy-five tons depending on the vessel it is their duty to secure. However, what I found is it is not the anchor that is most important but the chain that attaches the boat or ship to it. If a chain is too short, it will cause the fluctuation of the water to beat the vessel rather than secure it causing great danger. The chain must be the proper length to allow the ebb and flow of the waves and wake surrounding it. It is better to have no attachment to the anchor at all rather than an improper connection that could end in the ultimate destruction of the vessel anyway.

The one who Christ sets free is free indeed. But sometimes it is the service and actions of self that overtake the Truth that when Jesus split the veil in two – He stepped into His Rightful Place and now He becomes our confident hope. Not the rules and regulations of religion or self-imposed restrictive convictions that lead to ritual and tradition, it is the knowledge of His Amazing Grace and our ability to flow with it, in it and let it move through is overflowing into life. We must learn more about the hope that is given to us in Christ and how to allow it become the anchor for our soul.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV) This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…

Love the Lord your God. Listen to His Voice. It seems easier to listen to the do this and do that’s rather than the part that says, “Hold fast.” Submission and surrender are not terms of endearment in this world. They are considered strength to the enforcers but a weakness to everyone else. Comfortable in the service of God it is difficult to maintain our grip in the stillness of God. The part called trust. Yet it is in trusting the Lord, His Grace becomes most powerful. I know that this is for someone today. I know that it is for me. As I write it, my computer has shut down. Precious words sent from the Father erased in a technological glitch.

Even those closest to Jesus who walked with Him, talked with Him each day, communed and shared meals with Him struggled to maintain course in the storms of life. Uncertainty caused fear that confidence would never allow. Perfect love expels fear in our life. It doesn’t make the way easier but if our complete confidence in the Lord – our anchor called hope is firmly connected by a link of chains called faith. In the midst of a storm at sea or maybe just some high winds, the anchor at the bottom of the sea holding the great ship cannot be seen. It must be trusted to do its job. The sailors on the ship demonstrate the level of trust that they have in the anchor, its chain and even the sea-worthiness of the vessel. They are at the mercy of the sea. The wind will carry them. However, those who trust can safely sleep in the hull riding out the storm. Stillness in the Lord is not always stillness in life. We must learn to be the ones who hold fast.

Deuteronomy 11:22 and 13:4 tell us to observe God’s commands today. It is clear in the steps. Love God. Walk in obedience. Hold fast to Him. Too often love comes easy, and obedience such a struggle that it is hard to read any further. The hold fast is the ultimate and reserved for the end. It is the place called trust when we move past our superficial love and need to do something in order to rest in His Presence. When Jesus tore the veil, He became the High Priest. Confidence allows us to come boldly before Him with even the most seemingly insignificant detail in our life. Too often we try to love God in what we do rather than who He is. He is the anchor for my soul. As my soul becomes secure in Him, it will prosper becoming stronger and longer allowing us to endure those extended trials and deep hurts in order to remain steadfast holding fast to what we know is true.

Joshua 23:8 (NIV) But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.

These words are so important. Someone needs to hear them today. You are still on the watchtower. The Lord has given you the dream, desire or vision but it has taken some time. The thing you are holding onto like a Chinese fortune written on a tiny slip of paper that you have clutched so tightly now seems small and insignificant as doubt and disbelief weigh heavy on your heart. Endurance is expanded by our wait times and increase the weight of our anchor. Each moment given to trusting Jesus is one minute closer to the end and acquisition of that promise but we must not let go. To hold fast to the Lord was the Word of God to the Israelites. The Promised Land belonged to them. The battle was coming to an end and they would have the place God promised them. Holding fast in the hard times keep us focused on the Lord in the good times. We must learn to hold fast to the Lord on the way TO His Promise, so we will not forget Him IN the promise.

Revelation 3:2-3 (NIV) Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Jesus came to give us a rich, satisfying life that the enemy is hell-bent on taking from God’s Children. (John 10:10) Nothing gives the Lord more satisfaction than for His Children to reach their full potential and achieve the purpose of their creation. We are His Priceless Treasure no matter how flawed and imperfect we are. To allow those dreams and desires that were placed in our heart by God to die due to wavering faith and unconfident hope brings Him no honor or glory. To serve Him religiously and obediently will promote certain blessings bound by sowing and reaping or planting and harvest. God doesn’t want to just feed and clothe you but He has called you to prosper. Prosperity is the Promise of God for our life in all things in every season. It is accomplished by trust. Trust in the hope that keeps us weighted by faith no matter what happens in life. We have things to do that are not religions but relational. We have a purpose that is far greater than our human minds can comprehend must less accomplish. My absolute belief and total trust in the Love of God determines the weight of my anchor marked hope. To believe is to receive the blessings of God not because I was strong or finished every task but that my hope always remained secured to Jesus. Jesus is the weight that keeps me from drifting even when the boat of my life is rocking. He is the counter pressure to every pressure so my strength will never be too small. I must simply remain yoked to Him.

Matthew 11 tells us to come to Jesus with every weight and heavy burden. The misconception here is that the Lord removes them all from us and we skip happily through life. He could and would if He thought His People would still reach Heaven. The Word of God says that we are to be yoked with Him. He removed the barrier of sin that kept us from partnering together. However, when two animals are yoked, they must still walk together. Jesus promised to yoke with us. To connect Himself to us and carry the load, but we must continue to remain connected to Him. To watch yoked oxen plow a field does not sound exciting to me, but if I am the farmer and it is my land it may be. If I am expecting a harvest from this planting, it might give me peace despite the dirt on my hands and sweat on my brow. The hope that I have in Jesus Christ may not make the ground any softer, the job any easier, or the wait any shorter, but He always promises it will be worth it. He rewards those who seek Him. He promises success to those who seek Him wholeheartedly. The ones who despite the storms, waves and winds encountered let Him be the Anchor for their soul.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Perseverance and endurance are difficult processes in life. We must hold unswervingly or tightly or fast to the hope that we speak of and profess in our life. The enemy meets our confession with trials and trouble to see just how strong our hope in the Lord really is. To know God is not enough the demons know Him. We must trust the Lord far beyond that which we can see or do holding fast to the anchor called hope. You cannot see that which you hope for. If you can see it, it does not require faith at all because you can do it if you set your heart and mind to it. Those things pursued in simple agreement with others make us unstoppable. Consider the Tower of Babel. However, if a rich and satisfying life is what I desire. It cannot be accomplished outside of Christ. Faith and trust are born of perseverance and endurance. Those things that take us to the end of self to see what we find there. Those who find Jesus will never turn back or give up again. To experience His Faithfulness one time leads us to trust Him next time and the chain of our faith in Him adds another link. True freedom in Christ is to build a firm foundation of faith anchoring our soul with hope. It makes us untouchable and unconquerable and fearless in life because no matter what happens – our soul will prosper and remains secure.

It has already been “one of those weeks.” The pressures of life are weighing me down. Sensing human weakness the enemy is hot on my heels offering me subtle escapes like quitting, complaining or just sitting down refusing to move in overwhelming difficulties. I must hold fast to the hope that I have in Jesus. The Word in my heart fortifies my mind, will and emotions. It will not let them overtake me. Faith is the substance that holds our anchor in place. It is the thing that pleases God not what we do or say. The Fruit of the Spirit is prosperity to our soul. It is born of adversity. “The Broken Way” author Ann Voskamp said, “Growth often looks life total destruction.” I can identify with that on those days when my boat is getting rocked and my faith feels a little shaky. The times when I wonder God did I miss you? Am I still in step with You? This way seems dark and difficult. The wind is kicking up. The waves are rising higher. He is the Refuge I run to. He keeps me in place when all hell breaks loose around me. I must not let go. I will not give up.

Jesus, add weight to my anchor today! I know it may mean a storm, high wind or the unexpected. I trust You, Lord. I want to hold fast to You today! In all things, pulling You closer than ever before!

Isaiah 35:3-4 (NIV) Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

Disappear

disappear

Genesis 5:21-24 (NLT) When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

I am completely enthralled and intrigued by the life of Enoch. So little is said about him in the Word of God yet it says…walking in close fellowship with God, then one day he disappeared because God took him.” End of story. Disappearing in the Lord surrounded by His Glory so close that He just sweeps you away. It says that Enoch “disappeared”. How does one achieve such close fellowship with God that their entire life is summed up in walking so close with God that one day he just disappears? I want that life. Such unity with God through Jesus Christ, that my life no longer as important as the Presence of God that overtakes me. To live by faith to the point that no one really knows where I ended and Christ took over. To be one with Jesus Christ that is my goal and aspiration.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Enoch’s life earned him a place in God’s Hall of Faith – Hebrews 11. Enoch’s faith was the thing that united him to God the Father. A bond so tight that when it came time to leave this earth – he would be the only man spared a natural death. His Partnership with God so involved and consuming that there was no definite mark where Enoch’s life on earth ended and forever began. How is that even possible? It was by faith. Enoch lived by faith. He pleased God. It is impossible to please God without faith. Trust is evidence of faith.

Jude 14-15 (NLT) Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

How could Enoch have the kind of faith that leads to salvation before Jesus Christ? Well, Jesus Christ was in Enoch. Enoch is the seventh generation of Adam but the genealogy of Adam ends in Jesus Christ. Enoch was a man of God. He was a prophet. His example is noted in Jude’s letter that was intended to share the Good News yet again and encourage the recipients. However, Jude changed the content because “some ungodly people (had) wormed their way into your churches, saying God’s Marvelous Grace allows us to live immoral lives.” Such was the time when Enoch lived and prophesied. So it is even today within the four walls of the church…

I Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT) He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Oh Enoch, I hear you. I see your example. I am convicted to my core. I must decrease, Christ must increase. (John 3:30) I must become so wrapped up in the robe of righteousness that I disappear and Jesus is the Shining Light that resonates. I must live in partnership with Jesus Christ. I must be yoked to Him at all times. My relationship with Christ must dissolve into oneness. I must disappear to have the life that I am after.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. (Period) We must believe that faith is our potential in life and make our purpose to attain it at all cost. We have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living and must strive to achieve it again. God decided in advance and made a plan called grace for us to achieve it. Grace is not accomplished by my power but my weakness. It is total surrender of my entire life to live in Jesus Christ. In Him, literally not figuratively. To establish my whole personality and lifestyle including every goal and dream in the Person of Jesus Christ. The trouble is that my flesh wars against such measures. (Romans 7:21-25) I must fight the battle each day to avoid sin and be overtaken by God’s Mercy and Grace. This requires discipline. It will mean going against the flow and defying society’s norm. I know that the struggle is real but so is the Love of God manifested in Jesus Christ.

He is offering a partnership that raises my standard of living even if not evident in this life and its conditions. The purpose of our life is to become so united in faith with Jesus and others that our life measures up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Do you have faith? Do you trust the Lord? Can you find the places in your life where Christ is and is not?

It is time to erase the gray area and middle of the roads until the only thing evident in us and around us is Jesus Christ. This will produce the Fruit of God’s Spirit in us as an offering to the world. This offering is the first fruits of trust birthed in us. Without faith it is impossible to please God. We must desire such unity with Jesus Christ and completely consummated partnership so there is no longer evidence of where I end and Christ begins. We must become one.

Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

We have made something so simple quite complicated with our rules, religion and doctrine. The world has created grace to be a doormat to which all are invited. My life is not dependent on what other people think of me. It doesn’t matter if I attend church, tithe, and serve in ministry every single day for the rest of my life. If I do not have faith and walk in close fellowship with the Lord my life is still compromised. My relationship and proximity to Jesus Christ is up to me. I have eternity in my heart so I have the potential to become a Child of God. I am set to inherit every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way that I can live, walk, breathe and be united with my Father God. There is no other way. Grace is sufficient in my weakness when I surrender my life to the Lord choosing to walk in close fellowship. This is the place where new life begins. This is the place where I disappear and Christ takes over. I cannot maintain my pride, my rights or my natural inclinations but fully surrender my way, submit to the Word in order to have God’s Standard of Living. The Kingdom door is open for those who will trust Him. Do you have faith in God today? Do you trust Him? Nothing can separate us from His Love but sin will always get in the way of our fellowship and communion with Him.

I want to know Christ today. I want to be found in Him. The only way to do this is by giving Him my all. My everything. I cannot walk in close fellowship any other way but to disappear in His Presence and His Person until all they see is Jesus. Lord, examine my life. Reveal any hidden sin, compromised faith or delayed trust in me. Have your way Jesus. I don’t want my way but to walk in close fellowship with you until I completely disappear and all they see is YOU!

Philippians 1:11 (NLT) May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ[a]—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

Planting Peace

planting-peace

Matthew 5:9 (NLT) God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the Children of God.

When my children were all little, there was never a moment’s peace in our life. It seemed they came with only two speeds fast and asleep. There were days collapsing exhausted in the bed when I thought if only I could have a second to myself. Cooking, cleaning, picking up, dropping off, refereeing, homework, and all the other duties in the job description of wife and mother left me complete worn out. This morning the house is quiet. My husband is on a well-deserved and much needed hunting trip with the guys. The three oldest off adulting and creating their own lives in the big world. One daughter house sitting who will soon graduate and do the same. I have one baby in the nest who is not a baby anymore sleeping in a mound of covers with our fur baby. It is that moment I longed for years ago, well at least the quiet anyway.

Just as I was not certain of what I longed for then, I find that peace comes in different forms and fashions. To truly be at peace is not a condition or situation in life. I can work to promote peace and get myself in big messes sometimes especially when it comes to people. Peace is a place found in God. It is the Presence of God permeating our life. It becomes our protection when life doesn’t go as planned or is exactly like it should be but does not yield the satisfaction one expected. There are many people with seemingly perfect lives that never know the contentment and completion of perfect peace.

Proverbs 3:5-8 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

How important is peace? Is it relevant in our life or just a gift that some are given? To truly trust the Lord with all our heard produces a harvest of peace in our life. Faith is not blind and one must never be satisfied until it becomes confident. Confident faith is the belief that the Presence of God in our life, our life in Christ and the inhabitation of His Spirit is all that we need to be victorious in any and all situations. Those who “endure” will be saved. It is a fight of mind and matter being crucified with Christ and a retraining of all senses to rely on the unseen reality of God’s Purpose, Plan and Protection over every other influence and power in our life. It is not a one-time fix but constant process of submitting more and more of our life to the Lord each day. Peace is the evidence that faith is working in our life.

Peace depends on God’s Understanding. His Wisdom over my whims, wants and wanderings. Not so easy when the enemy is beating on the door and world crashing down all around you. Peace is found in the Presence of God. It cannot be fully understood with human logic but is achieved fully by faith. It requires a change of heart and mind that leads our feet in new directions. Once it is found, it will bring healing to our souls. Revive us. Restore us. Renew us day by day no matter what our current circumstance or living condition.

James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

Faith becomes logical the more God’s Word is planted in us. The Way of God is contradictory to this world. Peace cannot be found in an ordinary life but the pursuit of a supernatural existence in Jesus Christ. It means believing God’s Word not the lie of the enemy for your life. How can you tell the difference? Planting seeds of peace in our life begins by putting good seed in the fertile soil of our heart. How can you know God and not know His Word? Jesus is the Word of God made flesh to demonstrate His Great Love and provide the Way for us to return to Him.

How can I get there from here if I do not take measures to find to track Him down? I know that California is on the West Coast and I live on the East Coast. I know that if I head west that I will make it to the other side of the country but will I make it to California without clear directions? Or what I want to go specifically to Sacramento? Or maybe I know someone there who lives at 123 Main Street? If I am looking for the Presence of God and more specifically the Peace of God, I must seek directions to my destination just as I would when traveling the country.

Psalm 85:8-9 (NLT) I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory.

God is speaking. Some are listening. Others do not like what they hear so choose not to listen. Even more do not recognize His Voice and cannot discern the Truth from a lie. Busyness causes a deafness in the midst of more pressing matters that will eventually cause us not to hear Him anymore. Or maybe He just becomes just another voice in our head demanding more than can be given in the limited amount of time left after other priorities take over. Nevertheless… God is speaking to us more importantly to YOU each day. What is He saying? The Lord is calling you closer. He asks Your Heart to come near. He hears you crying out for help and calling for relief but because you will not listen and respond – there is nothing the Lord can do but wait.

God speaks to people every single day. You can hear Him when your ears and heart are open and tuned in. Remember Elijah driven to the cave on the mountain by the lie of the enemy hissed by a woman scorned? It was after the calamities of life that the prophet heard the still, small voice. God wants to save you today. He wants to clean you up. He wants to fix your broken heart and heal every wound. His Spirit wants to help you, guide you and teach you to live in the peacefulness of His Presence every single day. Are you listening?

John 14:26-27 (NLT) “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him? But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. As a believer, you have the mind of Jesus Christ. The potential of full confidence in the Father because you are one with Him again through the Son. Jesus has left us with His Spirit so we can know His Thoughts concerning us and His Will for us. I have the gifts of peace of mind and peace of heart. I must take control of my thinking in order to take captive those things that are contradictory to God’s Will, Way and Word for my life. I must do that because I am fully equipped to do so according to these verses. Like Moses standing in front of the Red Sea, with the Children of Israel whining and the Egyptians closing in – God told his man to stop crying out to me and do what I have instructed you to do. He has given us everything needed to overcome doubt, fear and anxiety. It is called faith. Faith fortified by His Word, His Spirit and His Mindset. The rest is up to us. Faith means believing when you cannot see a thing. Trusting when there is nothing left to hold on to but the aforementioned faith and riding this thing called life out to the end.

Psalm 119:164-165 (NLT) I will praise you seven times a day because all your regulations are just. Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.

Do you praise God seven times a day? When I read this verse, I immediately began to evaluate my life and the confession I make each day. Do I praise God daily just because of Who He is? Do I thank Him when I am not getting my way? Do I praise when I am waiting? Do I praise Him when everyone is watching? Do I praise Him when no one is looking? Do I praise Him without music or someone to lead me to this place? Do I praise Him in the mornings (even though I am not a morning person)? Do I praise at bedtime (even in complete exhaustion and to do list left undone)? Do I praise the Lord when things are good? Can I still manage to praise Him when they are not so good? Can I praise God when nothing in my life measures up to His Standard of Living? Praise is essential to peace. It is the confession of faith over our life that releases our expectation from the natural and grabs hold of the supernatural. Praise is evidence that something inside of us is willing and able to grab hold of the Promise and possibly hang on until the end. Praise plants seeds of peace that yields harvests of abundance in our life. It is an expression of pure faith and trust in the Lord to perfect all the concerns us. When there is nothing else praiseworthy to think of this world, just think about the Gift of Life that Jesus has given us so that there is more to life than this.

Ephesians 4:2-4 (NLT) Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

Perfect peace cannot exist in the presence of pride. Humility and gentleness promotes peace in our life. First with God and then with everyone else. You cannot be at peace with the living God and in constant discord and strife in all other relationships. Submission is not a fashionable word but it is absolutely essential in maintaining peace in our life. What about me? Who is going to take care of me? Total trust means submitting our life to others knowing that God has us in all things. This is not to say that you should be subjected to abuse of any kind but that when it comes to having your way – you will give it up to maintain peace and love in your relationships. It means giving up being right all the time to be righteous.

I have shared many, many times about my friend who taught me about submission. After a long rant about my dissatisfaction with my husband’s attitude and actions, she said, “You must submit.” It made me mad enough to spit. I was offended that she would say such a thing to me. I was ruled by pride and stubbornness that would take years to work on and God is still working on now. But I tried it in my marriage and am happy to report it worked. When two people come together – to walk together one must give in and give up their way. In any relationship this is absolutely necessary. It is not anyone else’s responsibility to satisfy my life. It is not their job to be my perfect partner, friend or whatever role they play in my life. Jesus is my soul mate. He is the One who promises to give me a rich and satisfying life. When I “submit” my way, it is full acceptance of His Way. It is not giving in to another person. It is not losing and certainly not giving up anything of worth. Submission says Lord I trust you more than anyone or anything else to satisfy my soul. We are one body, one spirit and given one hope. Let’s keep our faith in Him and submit our way to His Way – peace is the promise received if I do!

Philippians 4:6-9 (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. 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.

Plant seeds of peace in your life today. Examine every area to find those places in your heart not at peace. Pray about each one specifically and ask the Lord to give you peace. Jesus did not come to bring peace to the world. He gave it to you and me directly. Our peace will never be understood or acknowledged in the natural. It is a God-given gift. It is a seed of faith that if you plant it in every situation will see its fruit in no time.

God keeps in perfect peace all who trust you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3) I have experienced this kind of peace. It came at the price of self and in a place of complete brokenness. I could not do it my way anymore. My human strength was completely gone. All I could do was trust the Lord so I did. That’s when I felt it, knew it, and believed it. Now I desire it more than anything. Are you willing to sow seeds of peace in your life today? What if it costs you pride? What if is at the price of being right? What if it means giving up your way? What if it does not yield immediate results or gratification? What seed does? Will it be worth it? Absolutely. When His Perfect Peace overtakes you – it will be worth it all to have a satisfied soul.

Colossians 3:14-15 (NLT) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.