The Reveal

The Reveal

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Today, our family will come together to find out the gender of our newest edition. The gender of our first grandbaby will be revealed in grand fashion. Our families will come together to see who this little person will be. It is better than Christmas because there will be no disappointment. No matter what color confetti shoots out of the handheld cannon – we are blessed far beyond anything imaginable. God is good! He is always good! His Plan for us has a future and hope worth having that no evil can prevail against. The feelings and emotions that I have today given this important truth could be applied to my entire life if I am willing to believe. Believe that the Lord is good and will never let me down.

God wants peace with His Children. All my children will be together today and nothing brings me greater joy and peace even in the chaos of sibling rivalry. To love them, spend time with them, and take with them. To encourage them and just be in their presence. How much more does the Father desire His Children all together – living in confidence of His Love and Care for them? It is this kind of assurance that faith takes root and grows into the future and hope that is promised. Not because we do anything other than seek our Father’s Presence and choose to live in pursuit of Him. When we speak to Him, He promises to listen. If we seek Him, He will always be found. The only requirement is that it is a heart decision. To love Him with our whole heart produces the life that is exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or imagine.

Watching the little baby who is the size of an avocado moving around in ultrasound images, I was in awe of the Lord and the fact that already this little one has a personality. Just seventeen weeks old, it was clearly annoyed by our intrusion. Nestling into its mama and flipping over abruptly just when we could see the little face, even at one point with little legs jumping trying to get away. God has given us this awesome little person to love and cherish. He created this baby in His Image and to be His Child. Everyone in the room sighing in breathtaking awe of the beginning of life – not realizing they were once in the same place. God created you with purpose. Promises too wonderful. A hope and future worth having scripted specifically and especially for you! You are precious to Him just as this little one is to us.

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

The Plan of God comes with a wonderful disclaimer. Life is hard. It can be a struggle. There are tests, trials and temptations all along the way. But the Lord is working all things together for good to those who love God and those who are called according to His Purpose. (See Jeremiah 29:11-13) See the Plan of God cannot be influenced or intercepted. Inside your mother’s womb, God was handwriting your plan and purpose which began the moment that you drew your first breath. No detail of your life does not have the potential to bear good fruit.

Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV) Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There were eight people in the room during the ultrasound yesterday who will love the little baby soon to come. All so in love already that their hearts are bursting. Nothing will ever separate this child from the love of its parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and more. The love of all will bind it close in the structure called family. Yet even in our great capacity and commitment to love the little person, our imperfection will not allow us to make its life perfect. It is our relationship in Christ that makes us more than conquerors. His Love is the constant that keeps us safe. Tucked always in His Presence with perfect peace in the most violent storms. The victory of Jesus over death and the grave gives us hope that when things are falling apart, He has the whole world even our tiny part in His Hands. He is molding, shaping and perfecting us to be part of His Body.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 11 (NKJV)

Verse 1 – To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.

Verse 11 –  He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

Although I long to hold and love this little one, I know that I must wait a little longer. Any promise born too soon is an abortion or miscarriage. All things have a time and season that cannot be rushed without consequence or complication. We must wait. If only as God’s Beloved, trust would give way to rest as we endure seasons that are long or tests that seem impossible all the while waiting and watching for the Lord believing His Promises are true and for us. God placed eternity in our hearts and a measure of faith to grow there. It must be planted, watered, and cultivated in our life. Assurance is born of trust well-planted that grows into confident hope no matter what the season knowing and believing that God makes all things beautiful in His Timing.

James 1:16-18 (NKJV)  Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from God. Today we celebrate “a” gift. Sometimes we lose sight of all our blessings in the midst of unmet expectation. The “one” thing hoped and longed for that hasn’t happened makes us lose sight of all that God has already done. We cannot see the goodness and greatness of our gifts in life because the enemy is sowing discontent, disbelief and distrust in our hearts. Thankfulness will always water our heart in times of sorrow, barrenness and even just waiting. To praise God for who He is by faith believing all these things about Him are true and personal for us. His Love will never let us down. (Period) It is up to us to have faith, invest trust, and believe enough to wait on Him allowing His Spirit to produce love, joy, and peace in us. As our soul prospers so will we.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

“For we are God’s Masterpiece.” (New Living Translation Ephesians 2:10) This is the tricky part. The part of the promise that our flesh does not like and does not want to participate in. We are God’s Masterpiece. We must submit and yield our life to God through Jesus Christ in order for our life to become all that He has promised. Yes, it all comes to yielding our life to God’s Authority and Power as the superior force driving and determining our life. He gives us mercy to find Him. Grace for our weakness. Beauty for ashes. Joy for sorrow. He gives us peace in the waiting. We must decide to trust Him. To submit our life to the Lord will always begin with surrender and submission contrary to the world’s idea of success. Today I look back over all the details of my life and see God’s Hand. I am over fifty years old. I see things in my past that are now bearing fruit in my future. It takes time and trust. Friend, it’s too soon to give up. God will reveal His Plan and Purpose to those who choose to seek Him wholeheartedly. Your life has potential unrealized. You have promises yet to come. It is a life worth living.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV) Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

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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.

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.

Being Confident of This Very Thing

Being Confident of This Very Thing

Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…

Walking into church, he stopped me to greet me along the way. “Hey, I have been reading your stuff and you should write a book!” Awkwardly, I laughed and thanked him for the kind words of encouragement making my way to a seat. Immediately, flushed I couldn’t help but think of how many books started and stopped in the files on my computer all the way back to the first time I thought about it. Just out of high school and the beginning of college, I worked in the preschool ministry of a large church. Putting together packets for the upcoming Sunday, the thought occurred to me that it would be neat to write curriculum for the teachers and volunteers to use with the children. It wouldn’t be long after that I would wander off in the wilderness for quite some time.

I assumed after living apart from the Lord for many years that the possibility of purpose in my life was over. To live for Jesus is a privilege considering my misuse and abuse of His Love and Grace all those years ago, why would God still want to use me? How could there be an ounce of purpose left and not drained by impatience and impulsivity over the years? I am thankful that Lord still loves me, hears me, speaks to me, and blesses me like He does. Religion bases God’s Promise, Purpose and Prosperity on our own ability which is not how it works at all. Relationship gives me full access to God’s Plan for my life. The same plan written beforehand. “And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

Being confident of this very thing… Are you confident today? Confidence is a quality born of absolute trust. The enemy works every day to keep us from building trust and confidence in the Word of God for our life. He wants us to believe that our inability to perform will somehow change or eliminate God’s Power, Purpose and Potential in our life. That is a lie. There is simply no truth to it. If God knew our end from the beginning, then He had to know exactly how many times that I would fail, fall short, walk away and give up before finding my way back home.

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it… The good thing in me working its way out is all God and not me. He doesn’t take bits and pieces of my life for His Good. No, the Word of God explicitly states that “and we know that ALL things work together for good to those who love God.” The only prerequisite to God’s Power fully working in our life is to love Him. Do you love God today? I do, too!

Until the day of Jesus Christ… This is probably the hardest part to figure out. The Good Work in us that God is working out through us is a complete work meaning it begins at birth and ends in Eternity. Salvation is always God’s Primary Objective in our life. The first work is the finished work that leads to God’s Grace, Goodness and Glory in our life. All the other details fall into place accordingly. Those who endure to the end will be saved. Therefore…

Zechariah 4:10 (NLT) Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Do not despise small beginnings. We put too much pressure on ourselves to work God’s Plan for our life. The real work is submission. To humble our life before Jesus Christ, surrendering our way for Him to do what He will in us and through us. We do not really “do” anything other than submit and surrender our life for His Work. God does the rest using His Word, His Spirit and His Love to mold us and shape us into new creations and masterpieces just like He promised. The Lord rejoices at the beginning of this work. The moment that we give our whole heart to His Plan and embrace the future and hope set before us. But be forewarned…

Isaiah 55:9-12 (NKJV) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

God doesn’t do things like we do things. His Thoughts and Ways are much higher than ours. His Perspective far greater than our current comfort and convenience or even discomfort and inconvenience. God’s Plan is not influenced in any way, shape or form by us. It is always working in us and through us for complete reconciliation and restoration whether we decide to receive it or not. His Word is seed. God’s Word is not barren – it is full of uncompromised potential for our life. Once planted deep in the folds of our heart, it will grow. His Power is in that seed and it is the very thing that leads to fulfillment. The only part I play in the whole plan is to humbly accept God’s Word (Jesus) in my heart and allow His Spirit to sow His Word in my heart to produce God Fruit in my life. It is all Him – I must decrease allowing Christ to increase in my life. It will happen. I must be patient and wait for it trusting the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NKJV) The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

We must not give in to impatience. Patience is a product of the Holy Spirit who produces longsuffering in us. (Galatians 5:22) We must learn to give God time to do what He has promised. What do I do in the meantime? Walk by faith not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) Walk worthy of your calling with which you were called. Walk humbly. Walk in gentleness and with longsuffering (patience). Love one another. (Ephesians 4:1-2) God is completing His Work in you. He promised not to quit, give up, give in or walk away no matter what you choose to do along the way. He is still working His Plan, Purpose, Future and Hope all around you. Like the father of the prodigal, the Lord waits and watches for our return. He celebrates our arrival. He embraces us. Fully restores us. Nothing changed at home – it changes in us.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I will write a book one day. I am confident not in my ability but the fact that the Lord has called me to do so. I will wait for Him to give me the words to complete it. I will carefully transcribe whatever He says. In the meantime, I must put aside every weight and sin that easily ensnares me such as the lie of the enemy that requires immediate gratification and insists on shortcuts marked by impatience. As I continue to sow my life into Christ and accept new seed of His Word in a soft heart, every good thing that He has ordained for my life will come to pass in His Timing which makes everything beautiful. I have no performance pressure other than to daily surrender and submit my life to Jesus and His Spirit working in me. Jesus is not only the Author of my faith but He is the Finisher. He will complete in me the good work that He began. Amen and Selah.

James 1:2-4 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

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.

When I Am Weak

When I Am Weak

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.”

I am weary. Actually, I am exhausted. I feel like when I sleep each night that I am regaining just enough strength and energy to last through the next day. The empty light of my body is burning brightly. Going through the motions of life, I feel like I am living from to-do list to to-do list without enough time in a day to catch up. We moved out on Monday, closed on Tuesday, moved in the same day, unloaded and unpacked for two days until it was done. Wednesday was back to work along with five days of church/revival. Late nights and long days have taken a toll on my body and mind but not my spirit. Physically and mentally, I am worn slap out as they say in the South. Poke me with a fork…no please don’t…I am done.

Internet is out this morning with an error flashing on the modem. Add it to the list. My body needs rest. My mind needs quiet time. As I sit in my daily conversation with the Lord today, I cry out to Him from this place of sheer exhaustion. I need rest, Lord. As I read Matthew 11:28-30 again today, I try to tear it apart into bite size pieces that will nourish and replenish my weary soul. Come to me. Here I am, Lord! Yet in this place with you, Jesus, I am still tired, weary and exhausted. I need your rest. Where do I find it?

“I will give you rest.” It sounds so simple. We interrupt the elongated to-do list, overbearing schedule, ridiculous routine, and overwhelming responsibilities carried in life for this message from the Lord. Jesus wants to give us rest today. It is up to us if we will take this Gift from God just like every other blessing and promise that He offers. I am learning day by day that the inheritance of God with all of its favor and prosperity come to us as a Gift. A humble offering from the Hand of God offered to His People. It is up to us whether or not it is accepted and applied to our life. Many of the burdens carried by God’s People are not given by the Lord but self-assumed by an inability to trust and depend on Jesus.

“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.” There are some key words in this verse that are often overlooked by overachievers. Those people who think that they serve a performance driven task master rather than a perfect Savior. I am not pointing at you because I am do busy self-identifying. The key words are “take”, “learn” and “will”. We must take His Yoke upon us. We must learn from the Lord. Those who do will find rest for their souls. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV) Therefore since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have on who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

“Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well.” (John 4:6) Jesus was tired. He was weary. He was thirsty. Jesus knows our weakness and limitations firsthand. He understands the weakness in our flesh that leads to weariness. The Lord ministers to the woman at the well despite his physical weakness and hunger. When the disciples arrive, they are concerned about their Master’s state. Jesus tells them, “My food is to do the Will of Him who sent me and to finish His Work.” (John 4:34) What feeds our soul? Serving the Lord in all humility with total and complete dedication. Is it enough to overcome human limitation and shortcomings? Absolutely.

In Deuteronomy 25:17-19 comes a warning for those who serve God. The enemy attacks us when we are weary and weak. We need Jesus more than ever during that time. The Amalekites seized the opportunity to attack and overtake those who lagged behind in weariness. The enemy watches and waits for the moment that we fall behind due to fatigue or exhaustion. He just has to catch us off guard or sleeping. We cannot allow such things to hinder us. When we are tired, it is not the time to sleep in but get up and press into the Word of God, His Presence, and pray until our burdens are once again yoked to Christ. Do not forsake your fellowship with other believers. Just as you push to make it to work even when you are tired and sick or sick and tired, it is important to gather with those who urge you, stir you and motivate you to a closer walk with Christ.

Matthew 26:40-41 (NIV) Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he said to Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Continuing to read this passage, it tell us that the disciples continued to sleep even as the Lord pleaded with them to watch and pray. In verse 43, it says, “When he came back, he again found the sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.” We have weak flesh. We need a willing spirit to overcome the insufficiencies of our flesh. Even in our willingness, it is hard to overcome our humanness some days but God offers a wonderful solution for us. It is called His Grace. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Nobody likes to admit weakness. But the Lord promises that those who rely on His Grace will find that it is enough for those times. In fact, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) Could it be that we are allowed to reach our limit so that God can effectively apply more grace to our life?

In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, Paul talks about becoming weak to win the weak and becoming all things to all people. It is time for the church to stop acting like they have it all together and live perfect lives. People need to see that our struggle is real. We get tired. We get weak. We have help. Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh who came to live among us. We need the Word of God every day. The High Priest who overcame our weaknesses has given us His Spirit. (Romans 8:26-27) We must rely on the Holy Spirit in our life to help us in our weak moments. If the world does not see a human church overcoming weakness by God’s Word and His Spirit – they will never know true worship because neither do we.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV) Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I encourage you to declare these words over your life if you are tired, weary and need rest. There is rest for the weary when they look for in the Presence of God. We can come boldly before the Lord today and He will give us more of His Wonderful Grace. Weakness is part of the process by which we discover the Power and Potential of God in us. Let Him be your strength today. It is not a sign of weakness but readiness to be filled with new life, new faith and new hope from the Lord. It is a readied state of receivership for those who know where to go to find rest and restoration. Let the Lord feed and nourish your soul today by doing the Father’s Will in spite of how you feel physically or even emotionally. As our soul prospers so do we.

Psalm34:8-10 (NIV) Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.