Fake Plants

Artificial Plants

John 15:5 (NKJV) “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 

I am a natural born plant killer. When I walk through a garden center or nursery, all the little plants shake in fear that they will be fatefully selected. My thumb is a dark and ominous shade of black. Thank the Lord that I am much better at raising children and pets than the unsuspecting houseplant. About the only safe plant I own would be the one that is planted in our yard where my husband can take care of it. I am not a fan of artificial plants with all the vivid and perfect greenery. I have one little tree in the corner of the house given to me by my mother. It really is beginning to look sad after years of being dusted and vacuumed. Little hands tugging at the fronds. Now a huge puppy who likes to nibble running by. It cannot experience new life and regrowth because it is plastic created in a factory made to look good but produce nothing.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” An illustration of new life, growth, maturity and productivity available by engraftment. The cutting away of our flesh sounds painful and brutal. Engrafting allows us to grow from a new source. In horticulture, it means to insert one tree or plant into another for the purpose of multiplication. The Kingdom of God operates on the principle of sowing and reaping. We sow our life into Jesus Christ. He produces the Kingdom through us. Planting is the pathway of productivity ordained by God. Whatever you plant, you will harvest. You cannot harvest what you do not plant.

“He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  

The Fruit of the Spirit are clearly identified in Galatians 5:22-23 as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” But many times, this is not the natural expectation of new or young believers. They come to Christ desiring the things naturally occurring rather than supernaturally produced. It’s only natural. However, to truly flourish and prosper is to live IN Christ. Give up our way of doing things to live disciplined lives hence He produces self-control in us that allows us to truly repent and turn from our old way of life to fully embrace His Gift of new life.

John 15:1-4 (NKJV) “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

Walking through the local Ace, looking for my next victim. Just kidding, I was actually trying to find a crepe myrtle tree for the yard so botanist and horticulturists can put their mind at ease. It was hot and humid outside but then a steady midst of cool water made me look up. All around the covered area a PVC irrigation system periodically watered all the potted plants. The plants will survive in this environment until they are rescued and put in the ground. Once in the ground, the fertile soil will begin to give the plant or tree the nutrients it needs to begin to sprout new growth. The roots will anchor it down so wind and rain will not be a threat. It will be watered from the ground to the sky and all around as natural and man cooperate to produce an environment conducive to growth and prosperity. What was once limited to a contained environment will hopefully begin to grow, develop and mature. God is inviting us to enter the prosperity process of growth but it requires being moved out of the limitations of our natural life and planting ourselves in His Presence. I access such a place through His Son, Jesus Christ. He washed us in the Word. The Word made flesh is Jesus. Now we have true growth potential but we must endure the growth process to actually prosper.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Reading some commentary on this passage, I came across a new term. It shook me to my core rattling my roots if you will. Pseudo-believer or false believer. Yikes! How is this even possible? Do I truly believe? Am I growing in Christ or producing a bunch of leaves without fruit? Here is the danger of religion versus relationship exposed as a warning to those who follow Christ. If I do what the Word of God tells me to do, my life will become productive. I will experience increase because I am sowing good seed…God seed. It will do what is sent forth to do in spite of me. God is good. He wants to bless us. Obedience produces blessing and prosperity in our life. Any part of my life partnered with God’s Word will begin to experience a radical change and dramatic shift not because I did anything but when I plant and water with the Word – God gives increase. However, it is possible to walk with Christ but not live in Christ. Prime example – Judas. He was one of the twelve. He heard every word spoken by Jesus, experienced every sign, wonder and miracle with the others and even walked in the Presence of the Living God but did not believe. If I do what the Word says but do not fall in love with Jesus Christ, I can experience a pseudo-relationship called religion. If I fall in love with Jesus Christ and do my best to follow His Teachings and allow His Spirit to produce His Fruit in my life – I am redeemed. I will live in Christ. I will become a true believer worshipping in Spirit and Truth. I will not be separated from Him in the end.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I John 5:2-4 (NKJV) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

The word “yoke” is the device that joins two or more work animals so that they work together. Jesus invites us to take His Yoke upon us and partner with Him in this life. I must give up my way to go His Way. The promise is that His Yoke is easy and His Burden is light. This does not mean that life is easy and becoming a new creation is not without its struggles, sorrows and suffering because the death of our flesh and old way of thinking is often painful. But when we love God, live in Christ, and strive to keep His Commandments – His Spirit cultivates growth in our relationship. We do things every day out of responsibility. Some relationships such as that with our co-workers is born of responsibility. There are things we do to maintain that relationship because it is our job, duty or responsibility. However, when we yoke our life to Jesus and decide to live in love with Him first, all other responsibilities become His Responsibilities. He takes the lead. It is His Yoke. His Burden. We can have peace that the process is prosperous without worrying, stressing, or fretting about it. We do not have to fear the outcome but simply wait on it. God gets no glory in our death but His Glory shines in our success.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV) For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Are you rooted and grounded in His Love today? Does Christ dwell in your heart? Do you abide in Him today? Fake faith and artificial growth produce nothing but disappointment. It may bring some momentary happiness and temporary blessings but just a fake plant fades with time so will our satisfaction. Sometimes it is easier to take up the responsibilities of religion and do the right thing rather than allowing Jesus to be completely and totally responsible for our life. I cannot become the new creation that He promised and have the rich and satisfying life marked by abundance if I do not surrender my life to Jesus. My heart must bear the Fruit of His Spirit first to live in love with Him. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us. Jesus lives in us. We must focus first on cultivating our relationship with the Lord in order to experience the prosperity and success promised as our soul prospers. Without a prospering soul, our flesh will never be satisfied with the productivity of our life. Jesus is the One who satisfies our soul.

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.

Have I Failed?

Have I Failed

Psalm 73:26 (NKJV) My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

My flesh and my heart fail…Have I failed God? What happens if I do not pass the test? When my flesh and heart feel like failures – what then? What’s next for the believer who doesn’t get it right? In the midst of spiritual droughts, it is not uncommon to feel like a failure. To wonder “what’s the point” of even trying because I have made a fine mess of things. Or even worse lug out the heavy bat marked regret in order to beat yourself up over and over until you live in shame. The enemy of our soul wants us to believe that failure is not an option but inevitable. Do you feel like a failure today?

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. We can be our own worst critics. Examining our life and choices with a magnifying glass. Comparing our success to others. Trying to do it all and do it all well. A life of excellence is not defined by doing everything but doing what you do well. The accomplishment of excellence takes focus on raising the standard of our life with commitment and discipline that cannot be diverse. It must be consistent. It must remain constant. How does a human being accomplish such a daunting task? With fickle hearts and wandering minds, how is it even possible to achieve God’s Standard of Living. Truth is it is impossible. I cannot make my life any better. I can make better choices. I can change some of my behaviors. I can develop good habits. Yet still I cannot change my future and hope. It is already established. A plan carefully written for me, my good and God’s Glory before I was born. It contains a future and hope. Always good things in store for me. But the only way that I can have constant success in life is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly. Is it possible to fail God? We already did. Is it possible to fail? Yes. Our flesh and heart will fail us over and over again. The good news is that even when our flesh and heart fail that the Lord is our strength and portion forever. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

The definition of failure is a lack of success. It is absolutely possible and inevitable that there will be failure in certain areas of our natural existence. In fact, our body is born in a state of aging and deterioration. Our choices directly impact the advancement of the process. At some point in the future, everyone will die. It is unavoidable. However, as sons and daughters of God this does not impact our future negatively. Others will mourn our crossover into Heaven, but I do not think a single person welcomed by Jesus ever looks back. Disappointment is unmet expectation. Any expectation placed in people or the world will often result in disappointment or discouragement. This impacts our heart and mind. Unless we understand the greater picture of our new life in Christ it is easy to become persuaded that there are things that can separate us from the Love of God and His Plan for us. This is simply not true.

I John 3:1-3 (NKJV) Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

I am a child of God. Are you? If you are a child of God – you have an inheritance. He becomes your portion. What does that mean exactly? Every promise and blessing that the Father has for you is unconditional. It is your inheritance. You receive it simply by becoming His Child. Let these words sink in for just a minute. Failure means nonperformance on something due, required or expected. God released His Word for your life. His Word cannot return to Him void. It must accomplish what He pleases and it must prosper in the thing for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:11) It doesn’t matter if you fail what matters is that God’s Word cannot fail. God is not like mankind. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He commands a blessing in your life, it must happen. It will happen. Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;Yes, I have a good inheritance. (Psalm16:5-6)

Lamentations 3:21-25 (NKJV) This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

I have hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of the unseen reality in our life. God is our hope. Faith attaches us to the hope. We must believe it to receive it. If only men and women of “faith” could overcome fear of failure. Imagine the explosive impact on those who were not afraid to fail in their faith but flourished in hope. Confident hope becomes consistent faith. Faith that moves mountains is not the kind that whispers words of uncertainty or remains tangled in regret. Fearless faith is that which relies on God’s Mercy that comes to us each day. The Spirit-Filled Bible puts it like this – “Where grace emphasizes the freeness of God’s Love toward us, mercy stresses the freeing of our lives from the misery of disobedience.” The truth is that we obey God’s Word because we do not believe it. For if we believed in our inheritance, we would devour the Word of God finding ways to make it work in our life. When new mercy came this morning, did you receive it? Did you use it to cover the wounds of disappointment, the marks of regret, and the stains of shame? God’s Compassion for us does not fail. His Love for us provided a wave of grace much larger than any mistake or indiscretion. The current of His Love, Grace and Mercy gently drawing us closer to Him so that our inheritance is released to us as His Children.

Mercy is God’s Covenant of Compassion for us. It is His All Consuming Commitment to bring us into the good things that He has prepared for us. It is the invitation to live in everlasting communion with our Father. Mercy is the key to our success. It is the understanding that though we may fail, God never fails in His Love including His Compassion, Commitment and Communion with us. He is our portion. This is vital in our understanding of faith and hope and how it all works together. We need His Mercy every single day because we will fail. It allows us to see that He never fails. We will prosper by remaining in His Love.

Psalm1:2-3 (NKJV) But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

I wonder if a barren tree sitting in a blanket of snow in the winter feels like a failure. Or maybe a flower whose blooms are wilted and withered on the ground, does it bow its head in regret at what it has lost. It knows what season it is and therefore waits in the soil for the conditions to change. You are God’s Child. He is molding and shaping your life into a masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10) Just because your life looks like a mess right now, does not in any way mean you have failed?

At the end the school year, my youngest partnered with a friend to do a class project. She asked if they could use some of our crafting supplies and work on it at our house. I agreed. When I came home from work from my kitchen to the porch all the way in the back yard including covering the girls – it looked like a paintball war had occurred. I was quite sure her oldest brother was involved but I cannot prove it. I was less the enthused by the condition of our home. They completed the project with a “B” – I think. I am still cleaning up the paint. Life is messy. There will be tests. Some you will pass with living colors, others only barely get by and there will be those that you fail altogether. God’s Grace is sufficient in every season. His Mercy is new every day. His Love for His Children unfailing. He is constantly working success and prosperity according to the measure of faith that He put in our hearts and the Spirit that He has given us. He knows we are weak. He knows we can’t do it all.

All that the Lord desires is that we seek Him. Make a commitment to love Him wholeheartedly and seek Him the same. He will make His Way known and empower us to follow and equip us for success. We must only know that though I may fail – it is impossible for God to fail. His Hope NEVER leads to disappointment – we must follow through. God is good! He loves you! He is our inheritance which is freely given to His Sons and Daughters without condition. He is prospering us from the inside out. God is for you – you cannot fail. His Grace is producing His Glory in us and through us. Where my life ends, and my new life in Christ begins is the day I leave failure and regret behind. He is working all things together for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Take hold of Jesus today. He will lead you from victory to victory. Let Him tell you who you are. Stop looking around and look up. Let the Lord be the strength of your heart and your portion forever. You will be satisfied.

Proverbs 3:21-24 (NKJV) My son, let them not depart from your eyes—Keep sound wisdom and discretion; So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.

Cloudy Days

TX_Road_Into_Rain_HDR

2 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV) For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Just before the alarm began to vibrate on the nightstand, my eyes opened as if shaken awake. Laying in the quiet, a flash lit up our bedroom. In the distance a soft low rumble, I thought it sounds like rain. Trying to shake myself from slumber, the room was bright again. I stumbled out of bed gathering my senses and calling my mind and body to work together and start this brand new day. The thunder again could be heard far off. A bit of urgency got me moving. I have two little dogs that need to go outside. If I hurry, I will beat the rain. Outside the air was heavy with anticipation of the low pressure that would soon burst forth the clouds and produce a downpour. Thankfully our fur babies cooperated and we made it in just as small droplets turned into the promised overflow.

The anticipation of rain led to immediate action today. Hearing the thunder and seeing the lightning – all signs pointed the coming storm. I had to choose to act on the signs around me or ignore them and sleep just a little bit longer. Those five or ten minutes would have changed the outcome of my morning as I trudged through the rain with the dogs. But instead, the action of anticipation changed the outcome and everything worked out just fine. Now the rain can water the grass and flowers around our house, wash away all the dirt and pollen and the earth is replenished by the Mighty Hand of God. Who knows I might find rainbow on the way to work?

Anticipation is influenced by expectation and hope. It is the sense of what is coming, intuition, foreknowledge, or prescience. It is the realization in advance. It is the very thing our faith in God works from. If our faith is in the Lord, He sets forth our expectation and promotes anticipation. Faith is to expect, look forward to and be sure of … before anything happens. As believers called to walk by faith and not by sight, it is important to allow the Holy Spirit through God’s Word to change our expectation so anticipation calls us to action in advance of the desired outcome. To become aware of the Spirit of God moving and changing the atmosphere around us. If our faith in God does not change our expectation – it cannot influence the action of anticipation.

I Kings 18:42-46 (ESV) So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Elijah had declared three years of drought according to God’s Instruction. Now in the third year, God was ready to send rain to the people again. Elijah was on his way to tell Ahab when he met Obadiah along the way. He asked his fellow prophet to announce his arrival to Ahab. Obadiah considered this a death sentence as the last message delivered by Elijah had brought a terrible drought and severe famine. Surely, Ahab would “shoot the messenger.” Ahab was definitely not amused or overjoyed at Elijah’s arrival. The next scene would be at Mount Carmel. Elijah would put his faith in God up against the prophets of Baal. Of course, all prophets were no match for God’s Power that day and none would live to tell of it. It was after that the prophet told Ahab to “Go up, eat and drink for there is the sound of rushing rain.” Ahab followed his advice. Elijah did not join him. Instead, “he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees.” Elijah began to pray. Do you think it is odd that though Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal and was the overcomer that it was Ahab who went to eat and drink while he went to pray? Why pray after the events of the day? Because though God showed up in a miraculous way, Elijah did not come for a show of signs and wonders. He came so that it would rain and replenish the earth. He came to bring the Word of the Lord to restore the land. He did not lose sight of his mission in the midst of great success. Have we lost sight of our mission?

Elijah didn’t go to Ahab to show off God’s Power but to give Him God’s Promise to deliver God’s Word. The Lord was ending the drought. He was going to rain on the land and end the famine. His message of hope for Ahab was that the Living God was coming to restore the land. Nothing was expected of Ahab. There was nothing that he could do. He was the king but could not control the atmosphere or environment. God manifested His Glory on Mount Carmel so the king went back to doing what king’s and ordinary people do. Elijah was not ordinary but extraordinary. God was with Him. His Word in the prophet. Elijah expected rain. He anticipated the rain. Yet, the Man of God still went to pray. To seek the Face of God again, not for His Hand but His Heart. God had already promised rain. In fact, Elijah sent his servant not once, not twice but seven times until the first sign of rain was evident.

We are called to walk by faith not by sight. Walking implies movement or action. Our action is driven by anticipation and expectation. Elijah expected it to rain even though at first there was no sign of rain. If our daily motivations are driven by the atmospheric pressures of life, our outcomes will remain ordinary. We are dependent on the natural resources and not supernatural abundance produced in an abiding relationship with God. The kind of relationship not influenced by people or the problems of the day but completely driven by God’s Word and His Spirit within us.

2 Chronicles 7:13-16 (ESV) When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

Life is a series of seasons. Some pleasant while others are long and harsh. Winter with its bitter cold. Spring as the earth is replenished and replanted. Summer with high temperatures and little rain. Fall brings the harvest. The manifestation of every seed put in the ground. Our spiritual life is perpetuated by seasons, too. Ecclesiastes 3 delineates most of them. God’s Promise for each season is that all things are made beautiful in His Timing.

I have been in a very dry season. My soul has experienced almost drought-like conditions. I know God is good. I know He has a plan for my life in full motion. I know that if I walk by faith – I will have all that God has promised and willed for my life. I believe God’s Word. I am filled with His Spirit. Yet, there are still days, weeks and even months that turn into years of waiting are tough. During those times, it is important to continually seek His Face, look for the clouds of His Presence all around us and more importantly humble ourselves and pray.

The pressures of life push out the God in us and produce the fruit that is planted in the deepest recesses of our heart. Whether we remain engaged in the process and continue to expect God’s Best or settle for what is currently available is truly up to us. This morning I awoke to the sound of rain. The thunder seemed distant. The lightning lit up the sky but it was not loud at that point. The air was heavy. A choice had to be made. I could move with expectancy finishing the task at hand in anticipation of the rain or I could slough it off and sleep another 15 minutes or so. This is our life in Christ. A series of opportunities each day to seek and serve the Lord or put it off one more day. We want revival. It comes like the rain. There is a small cloud in the distance rising up. It is not from the church house but the prayer rooms of God’s People who desire Him to come like the rain. Their eyes fixed on the clouds in full anticipation of His Arrival that brings them to their knees and faces to the ground. If my people who are called by my name. Are you a Christian? Are you a believer? Do you expect Jesus to join you each day in each new adventure? I know that Elijah did. On Mount Carmel, the prophet expected God to come and consume the sacrifice offered not because it was a fancy show but because He is a Faithful God ready to rain down on those who anticipate and expect Him to by faith that seeks Him and desires Him before He comes.

For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

God chose you. He loves you. He desires you and your heart above all things. He is desperate to reach you. He sent His Son to save you. The Spirit of God fills us as we have become His Temple. He has given us a new name and relationship – we are the sons and daughters of God. His Eyes are on us and His Heart is with us. Do you love God today? Do you desire Him wholeheartedly? Do you expect Him to come? Do you look for His Presence in your everyday life? His Word says clearly and boldly that “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land…” God is ready to send revival like rain to restore our dry and weary land. To end the drought-like conditions in our churches and fellowships. The cloud is on the horizon. Will you be like the servant that continues to seek after Him? Once, twice, seven or more will you look and listen for the Lord. Or will you be like Elijah praying, facedown before the Lord inviting Him in and welcoming the Lord in full anticipation and expectation of His Arrival. Or will you be like Ahab and just go about your day business as usual? It is really up to us. Those who humble themselves and seek His Face will experience the God of the Breakthrough who opens the windows of Heaven releasing the Abundance of His Kingdom to those waiting and watching on the earth. Lord, let me walk by faith and not by sight today. I will humble myself and pray before you. Please Jesus rain down revival on our dry and thirsty land. Send healing to our land. Let my actions show anticipation of Your Arrival. May every expectation be fully invested in You!

I Corinthians 13:12-13 (ESV)  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

Care Package

Mail package parcel on wooden table, top view

I Peter 5:7 (NLT) Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

I wonder what life would be like if people were able to give God all the cares and worries of life. To give up anxiety and fear to live confident trust no matter what the situation. It is possible but not popular. So often it is the instruction from pulpits, teachings and other Biblical resources but when it comes to our own heart and life – it is personal and intimate. Some try to hide the fact they live in insecurity barricaded by constant thoughts of uncertainty. Pride tells them if anyone finds out it will make them a fraud or phony. This is a lie from the enemy meant to isolate God’s People so in time he will surely overtake them. Others openly live struggles constantly looking over their shoulder at the giants pursuing them reminding God there is a problem and it is closing in quick. Everyone has problems. There will be troubles in this life. Jesus told us that trials and temptations would be at every turn. How do we successfully give ALL of our worries and cares to the Lord?

All is a big word including everything and anything. To rewire our thinking and gain control of our thoughts such knowledge and understanding attributed to society must be replaced by faith. Faith is not logical. It just doesn’t make sense. We must allow our mind to be transformed by letting the Holy Spirit renew our mind day by day. “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Romans 12:2 – NLT) Yes, in our salvation experience there will be things that are easily left behind. Things that really don’t matter. Addictions and bad habits miraculously or even naturally released. But then there is the common mentality ingrained by society encoded in our nature from the beginning, some are worriers, some live in fear, others survive on control and then there are those who live with all of the above and more. These are mindsets. The only way to change our thinking is to “destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God” and to “capture (the) rebellious thoughts” teaching them to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) How do I change my mind? How do I change who I am? What I believe? Easy. You don’t – Jesus does.

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

A couple of things to note in the successful transference of burdens, cares and worries to Christ. We cannot release them completely. They are come from our heart’s desire. There are things in our life that are contrary to God’s Plan and His Word that are subject to change by faith and confident hope over time. Until then, we label them by these names. Also of interest is the use of the word “yoke”. The Lord says, “Come to me…I will give you rest.” Rest is the Peace of God that passes all understanding…in the storm, during the trial and in the midst of hardship. He then tells us to “take His Yoke upon us.” We must partner with Christ in our life. Become one with Him. Walk with Him. Talk with Him. Develop a loving and trusting relationship that produces confidence in His Ability and Willingness to care for us. It is the one who endures to the end that is saved so that must mean there will be struggles all through our natural life. Of course there will be as long as our flesh is alive. Pride has no interest in dying and will do everything in its power to survive. To live with Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life does not allow us to not change or be changed because He will never change. Good to know. It explains many of the times when it felt like God was not with us, the Spirit was not moving, and the Grace of God not enough. We refused to change or be changed so at an impasse there was no satisfaction.

Let me teach you. The Word of God is absolutely essential in the life of a believer. It is our guide and instructions for living a godly life. It tells us exactly what to do when we have no idea what is expected. It changes the way we think giving us new knowledge and important understanding that will grow into wisdom and truth. This feeds our confidence and gives faith a chance. “I am humble and gentle at heart…” Jesus will never make us follow Him. He invites us. He will never force us to love Him. Love is freedom. His Grace is enough without exception but must be accepted to become a powerful force in our life. It is perfected in weakness. Jesus is humble. We must be likewise humble. Humility releases burdens, carries and worries to Christ in exchange for rest, peace and even joy during the most harrowing of times. It is the moment that we understand that we have no control that His Power can be manifested in our life. Pride says hold on. Humility says let it go.

I Peter 5:6 (NLT) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

“Consistency in godly living despite our circumstances is the true test of growth in godliness.” Studying these verses today in the Spirit-Filled Bible, I came across this reference. Consistency relays the evidence of confidence. To trust God when things are good is a natural response to human satisfaction. To praise God in the storm is evidence of faith and confident trust in the hope we have in Jesus. Is your heart heavy today? Mine has been lately. Is your mind racing with all the problems that you face? Seems lately that worries and cares are being handed to me at every turn as well. I am not telling you what to do but sharing instead what I have been doing simply to survive. I have been creating care packages. Each new day I take the biggest burden, worry, fear or anxious thought I have and mentally put it in a box. I put a note inside for the Lord with the promise or passage that He has given me through His Word. I wrap it up neatly in faith, trust and confident hope. I sent it to Him in prayer not asking for anything other than for Him to hold on to it for me today. He is welcome to work on it and do with it what He will, but I don’t have time to deal with it anymore. Instead, today I choose to fill that void with praise and honor. I accept His New Mercy as healing balm for my worn-out brain and weary emotions. I am confident that the Lord will take care of the desires of my heart so for today I will just give Him glory even if nothing changes in my life to allow Him to change my heart and mind.

Here are some verses that keep me company while I wait…

Psalm 8:3-5 (NLT) When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.

God loves me. He created me. He takes pleasure in my existence and has big plans for my life. He is always thinking of new ways to bless me and to convince me of the same.

Psalm 55:22 (NLT) Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

God will. Most people believe God can – they question if “He will” based on their summation of their life, worth or choices. Grace took care of everything and anything that kept us from God and His Kingdom. I can live in the Presence of my Father not based on anything I do or do not do. He will take care of me. I just need to trust that My Father will not permit me to slip or fall so I keep walking even when I have no idea where we are going or how it will turn out.

Psalm 112:6-8 (NLT) Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.

We must fight for our faith. Walking by faith and not by sight is not easy. The pitfalls of pain are many but praise overpowers pain and fills in the potholes along the way. Investing my life in God’s Plan and Purpose insures fulfillment and completion that far exceeds my expectation. It empowers me to be fearlessly confident in the good fight of faith knowing no matter what the battle or how impossible things seem I have victory in Jesus Christ. I will be triumphant as long as I hold fast to the anchor of hope. It anchors my soul so that when the storm passes and the sun shines again all will see the faithfulness and goodness of God and give Him the glory.

Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT) “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Psalm 104:16 tells us that the “trees of the Lord are well cared for.” In Psalm 1, it says those who delight in the Lord are like “trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit in each season. Their leaves never wither and they prosper in all they do.” I know Jesus tells us not to worry about the cares of life but human nature has a very strong influence. In the transformation process, there are seasons. Some are favorable and some not so much, but we are promised success in every one of them if we simply trust and depend on the Lord. God knows exactly what I need. He will give me the desires of my heart. I must only seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live confidently in the hope I have through Jesus Christ. To live in Christ assures me that He will give me everything I need. I have already been given every provision. He wants to prosper me now.

Do you have burdens weighing you down today? Cares crowding out every good thought. Overwhelming worries that keep you up all night. Pick one. The biggest one. The one that keeps your feet planted in fear and anxiety. Take it to the Lord. Just the one. Your pride will not allow you to relinquish full control. The secret to trusting the Lord is beginning with one thing and continuously giving Him one more worry, one more care and one more burden. Each new day when the enemy comes ready to give it back – simply refuse it while working on the next care package. I cannot have fulfillment of the fruit of the spirit including love, joy and peace until I rid my heart and mind of all the junk taking its place. Faith allows confident hope to prosper in the place of every fear released. Join me today as once again I yoke myself to Jesus Christ learning to love and trust my partner more and more. He is worthy. God is able. The Lord will to do just what He says. It’s all in the waiting not in the worrying. Give the Lord your problems and take on the task of praising His Great Name.

Psalm 27:14 (NLT) Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Tug-0-War – It’s Not A Game Anymore

Tug o war

Philippians 1:21-23 (ESV) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Since bringing home our new lab puppy, Scout – she bonded quickly to our Chihuahua, Izzy. From the moment, they get up until it is time to go to bed there is nothing but nonstop activity. Scout is very large yet quite passive while Izzy is tiny but ferocious. When they both take hold of a toy and pull, it is clear by Izzy’s hold and posture that she fully intends to win the game of tug-o-war clearly unimpressed by Scout’s size and power. Currently, Scout is five times the size of her fur sister. But Izzy has heart and tenacity – she does not ever back down. When she engages in tugging, she believes she can win. With one mindless jerk of Scout’s powerful head, the game is over. Izzy’s response – like any good sport – she attacks Scout with all the growling and snarling she can muster while our oversized fur baby just enjoys her conquest and rolls over on her back.

While both of the participants in the tug-o-war are impacted by the pulling and tugging, can you imagine the condition of the object of their grasp? With our dogs, it may be a rope or small squeaky toy but in the game of life too often it feels like it is us. Or maybe I am the only one who has days when despite my very best effort to hold tight to my faith, steady my heart, do the right thing and keep pressing on – I feel stretched and pulled in two opposite directions? I have put forth my best effort. Tried to keep the right attitude. Even forgiven along the way as hard as that may be sometimes, yet still feel as though I have come up short. A discarded heap of hopelessness who strived with all her might yet her flesh failed and her heart is weary. Come on. I cannot be the only one.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

To live IS Christ. To die is gain. The death process begins at birth. From the moment of taking in our first breath, a human being is one step closer to their death if you think about it. God has ordered the life span of each person according to His Will and His Way. It is not always possible to understand the number assigned to each living creature, but God knows. If only it were easy to live for Christ every moment of every day and serve Him faithfully apart from all sin and transgression as one might desire. It is not easy. It is not even possible. So why keep trying?

I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

The struggle is real. For me to live is Christ but to die is gain. The more I grow to understand this – the more I understand terms like endurance. The stretching, molding and shaping of my heart and mind to hold fast to the confession of my faith and let other things go. It would be easy if I did not battle an unseen adversary every single day. No, it is not the enemy. Satan has no power or control in my life because I have given it to Jesus Christ. I am a Child of God. No the waging war with in us is our flesh. On those days when the pressure and problems of life leave us stretched and stressed lifeless forms crawling into His Presence exhausted and done, it is not always because the oppressor has been the foe that is faced but our flesh. We do not battle people. We must hold tight to the Word of God and respond to the Will of God even when our stubbornness and pride dig in. The good fight of faith is waging in our heart and mind not the world in which we live. I believe that it is important to identify the problem to find the solution. What if the problem is me?

Romans 7:21-25 (Message)

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

No believer – saved and sanctified can ever say with any credibility that “the devil made me do it”. Satan cannot come near the Light that lives within us. God has given us His Spirit. The object of greatest oppression is flesh. Our own will who seeks to survive despite our desire to be crucified with Christ and live. I have been crucified with Christ by choice. I have chosen to give up sin and accept salvation. Now what? Fight. Fight for faith. Work toward obedience. Do my very best to hold on to what is good and avoid that which is not. To endure. To love. To forgive. To hope. Christ lives in me and is working His Way out of me into every part of my existence. The life I live now in the flesh is by faith in the Living God who is in me. The overwhelming factor that is my success is His Grace. (Galatians 2:20) Despite my full intent and heartfelt commitment, my flesh fails time and time again. This is the reason His Grace is my power. It is the very essence of power that lives in me overriding my inability to allow the fulfillment of Christ to be mine.

Can I just publicly thank the apostle Paul for his transparent honesty in Romans 7! If only every believer would allow others to see the reality of their plight, not by glorifying sin or immortalizing failure, but rather allowing others to witness the process. Our soul cries out for the Living God but our flesh fights to survive. It is a natural born tendency that is not exempt when it comes to dying to this life to obtain forever with the Lord. When I am overwhelmed and feel stretched like a dog toy that has been tugged and pulled on all day, I realize that maybe just maybe it isn’t the enemy pulling on me. In fact, the Lord has shown me clearly that it is not. I live in the Hand of God. The enemy cannot touch me. No, on those days, I have held hope with one hand not two and taken hold of something with my flesh that I need to let go of. This process is so intimate and personal. The good fight of faith is not in an arena but in the quiet recesses of our heart as His Word works its way through and hopeful confidence lays claim to it.

“Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.” His Grace is sufficient for me. It is enough for those days when my flesh rises up and wages war to take over my heart and mind. I will not overcome this rivalry until Jesus takes me home and removes it from me forever. In the meantime, it is important that I work in close partnership with the Spirit of God so it is two against one.

Hebrews 5:7-10 (ESV) In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 4:14-15 (ESV)  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus lived in the flesh. Yes, He was God during that time, too but chose to be subject to flesh and blood just like the ones who He loved and chose to die for. He experienced every bit of warring of the flesh just as anybody else does on any given day. He overcame sin. He endured every test and trial all the way to the Cross. He died a sinless man. Who better to help us then the One who knows and understands our flesh and feelings? Jesus overcame the world. He did it by overcoming flesh. One sin would have nailed Jesus to the Cross. His Death was would have been required if only a single sin existed. The necessity of grace is not proportioned to the quantity of sin but rather to overcome death produced by a single sin. Wrap your brain around that one and the playing field of life becomes quite level. There is no pride in obedience just surrender to God because there is no prize or promise outside of the Grace and Love of Jesus Christ. If there is no hierarchy of sin, that means that God has no favorites. There you have it the full potential of our life is in the Grace of God given through Jesus Christ…alone. I can do nothing to earn it, obtain it or pay it back. I can only accept it.

Philippians 2:14-16 (ESV) Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

What if we have been interpreting these verses all wrong? We are to do all things without grumbling or disputing…good luck with that right? To remain sinless (without blemish) in this crooked and twisted generation…it is not possible. Do you work with other people? Commute home in five o’clock traffic. Let’s be real – do you own any teenagers? Life happens. Sin slips out. Our flesh rises up. What then? The Light that shines within us comes out through our brokenness. When our hard heart cracks open and our one-track mind gives way to the new life and new way of thinking that is not religious but relational. The Law of God did not save us just shows us how bad we messed up. It proves the sufficiency of His Grace when knowing all my faults and failures in a single day – I still fight to hold on to faith and cling to confident hope. “Holding fast to the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run or labor in vain.” The confident hope that I have is not in my own ability to live a sinless, good life but it is in the Grace of God given to me based on His Love and Faithfulness. The Word of Life says that nothing can ever separate me from the Love of God and in fact it is His Love that makes me more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37) Pride says otherwise but grace always proves it wrong.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Before this passage in I Thessalonians 5 comes a list of instructions. Things like love each other, help one another, and be an encourager. It also tells us to rejoice, pray and be thankful. It clearly outlines qualities and characteristics that are the Will of God for our life. (I Thessalonians 5:18) But the important part follows closely behind, the specific thing that I must cling to throughout each day as I try to run with purpose. The goal that I long for and strive for is this – that my whole spirit, soul and body will be kept blameless. His Grace is enough, I must cling to it every day. He is the one who is Faithful. Jesus will surely do it if I will just hold on the hope that He has given me.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain…

My steadfastness will not ever be in me. I will continue to strive to live apart from anything that displeases the Lord but I know that it is only by His Grace that I find the power to overcome every shortcoming, fault and failure. Sin separated me from God and only His Righteousness will allow me to live in His Presence again. He does not lie or change His Mind so the Word of Life is the anchor of my soul and substance of my faith that keeps me from giving up and letting go when I feel the pressures of life, stress or restlessness. My flesh is always at war with the Spirit in me. It is a fight to the death. The Spirit of God overcame death and administers life to all who live in partnership with Him. It doesn’t mean there is not struggling or no suffering in this life but He give us the power and strength to hold on and endure to the end. I don’t know what might work as soul soothing for you but when I feel weary in well doing or pointless in my pursuit of Christ, I find that worship is my release. To lift my hands, open them wide, and show love and adoration on Jesus. Burdens fall off as He picks me up and holds me. When was the last time you stepped into the Presence of the Living God? There is nothing there but life. The struggle ends where surrender begins. The hopelessness gives way to hope in the Light of His Love. Grace works best in weakness. His Power is manifested in our life when we can’t but believe He will. There is a reward for those who choose to keep His Word, walk by faith, hold on to hope and endure until the end through every trial, hardship and struggle believing God is good, God loves me, and God will never let me down.

As Scout and Izzy wrestle at my feet, I am blissfully aware that Jesus isn’t finished with me yet. Izzy will learn one day to pick and choose her battles but I hope that she never loses her heart. Scout in her sweet nature will one day learn the same or give up every toy and treat to Izzy. I believe that this is life in our house with our pets. I believe this is the life lived in Christ as well. Picking and choosing battles, knowing when to take heart and surrendering to Christ always. It is only a tug-o-war if both sides pull. The game ends when one or the other let’s go. Lord, I give you my heart, mind, body and spirit all over again today. I let go of everything except the Word of Life. May hope keep me anchored. Have your way in me, amen! I surrender all!

Revelation 3:10-12 (ESV) Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

The D-Word

Dare To Be Disciplined

 

Philippians 3:12-16 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.

It’s funny as I type this today, that spellcheck on my computer doesn’t care for the word “Christlike”. It has the red squiggly line under it that means it doesn’t recognize it or suggesting that I select an acceptable alternative for it. Isn’t that life most days? Autocorrect and spellcheck are used for grammatical and typographical errors but omit certain legitimate words according to the usual vocabulary. It is even modified as not to offend others. Sigh. Yes, I have inserted a sigh. I am not a runner. I am not built for endurance. Patience are a challenge for me most days. I am cool under pressure… most of the time. But as time goes by, things don’t change, my plans don’t line up, and fatigue sets in – the thought “there has to be more to life than this” brings me to a choice. The valley of decision. It is a low place with many dark corners. It is filled with echoing voices and shadows of doubt and fear that tell me just quit. Stop. Give up. Quit. What’s the point? Life cannot ever be normal again. There will always be problems. Constant pressure. What are you going to do? My head is filled with circling thoughts of why I should give to all these suggestions made valid by my feelings and emotions. But then I hear it…that still small voice inside of me…probably a lot like the one Elijah heard on the mountain after the earthquake, fire, and storm…”What are you doing here?” The Lord spoke these words to the prophet. So many victories in his corner, so many miracles already in his midst, yet still the voice of doubt and fear drove him into hiding. The voice I hear today is just a bit different. The Lord says, “Press on.”

2 Timothy 4:7-10 (NLT) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. Timothy, please come as soon as you can.  Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia.

Before you pick up the bat of comparison and begin beating yourself soundly in the head for feeling this way today, let’s look at the Super Christian Paul. Paul fought the good fight. He finished the race. He remained faithful. He knew in his heart that his days were numbered and soon he would claim the prize. The crown of righteousness which the Lord would hand to him. He was ready. Paul was also human. Immediately following this confident statement comes the cry of man struggling and feeling isolated. “Timothy, please come as soon as you can.” Everyone had gone on their way. The only one left with Paul was Luke. He was calling for backup. Paul needed some support. It is only natural in this life of following Christ to have days when the pressure is overwhelming, doubt may kick in, discouragement gets the best of us, our emotions out of whack, and even when throwing in the towel seems like a viable option. It doesn’t mean that you do not love God or desire Him with all of your heart. It means, dear friend and follower of Christ, that you are human.

Matthew 26:36-40 (NLT) Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 

Jesus understands how pressure feels. He knows what it means to want to give up. He also decided to press on. The Last Supper over and the betrayal of his follower, Judas revealed. Our Savior and Lord is well on His Way to the Cross. The hour had come. The end was near. He needed to talk to His Father one more time before this final journey to the Cross. He already knows the one who claims to love him most and the person who professed dying for him would soon deny ever knowing Him. Yet, Jesus asks him to come and keep watch while He prays. Well, Peter, James and John were exhausted from their journey. Still mulling over His Words, they fall asleep. Even after Jesus said to them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” – still they could not keep their eyes open. In those final moments, Jesus petitions His Father in Heaven, “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” I cannot imagine how the words of the Son must have ravaged the Father’s Heart.

I believe that when in the midst of a trial or plagued by problems that when we pray – the Father’s Heart breaks for us. The Word of God admits that He is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18) What a promise? Especially for those who feel abused, violated, betrayed or isolated. The Lord is with you. He is close to you. He is ready to rescue you. You must press on. You cannot give up. It is now when the breakthrough comes because God can easily access the brokenhearted.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT)  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Our body works against us. Our thoughts rally to stop this foolishness. Our emotions and feelings press us to give up. Why all the pressure? Why am I so perplexed? Why isn’t following Jesus easy? All the workings of our flesh are enticed by temptation working against us from the inside out. The enemy is aiding it in every way possible. Why? “There is a light shining in the darkness for you today. It invites you to live in the Presence of God. To experience His Glory in your life. To radiate the Favor of God. To become a beacon of hope to those who are lost and dying. To have this great treasure means pressing in rather than giving in to the pressures of life. Sin is not the problem for those who have fully experienced God’s Love, Grace and Mercy responding by faith that says, “Jesus, I want you.” It doesn’t mean my life will look radically different the morning after I ask Him into my heart. It is the starting point of the race to the finish line marked faith. It is going to be a long, tedious journey. My flesh and feelings are going to try to trip me up. The enemy will be shooting fiery darts at me all along the way. Those who cheer me on in the beginning may not make it to the end. But there is a prize worth having and I intend to take it.

2 Corinthians 9:22-27 (NLT) When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

It is a privilege to participate in this race of faith. It is a divine opportunity provided to me by Jesus Christ. I would also like to run the Disney Princess Marathon races. If you must know, I would be thankful just to survive a 5K or 3.1 mile race. I must admit that I am not a runner. I am not sure that I could make it one mile running and not dying. In fact, I will tell you the same thing I tell other people – if you see me running you should too, because something is probably chasing me. Now how in the world can a 51-year-old mom who is out of shape make it to a Disney Princess marathon? I guess first I would have to make up my mind that I wanted to do it and set a goal with certain steps to achieve before the next race. Given the popularity of these events, I should probably go ahead and sign up now. It might be a good idea to invest in some good running shoes. The next is probably the hardest part of all – I would then have to discipline myself to train for the marathon. Ugh! The D-word wreaks havoc in us. It is the boundary and barrier for most people when it comes to achieving even the smallest goal or aspiration. What overcomes the thought of discipline – devotion. What is devotion? It is profound dedication and consecration. An earnest attachment to a person or cause. Devotion is the attachment or assignment to any purpose. In the Biblical sense, devotion is an act of worship including worship for a special use.

Are you dedicated to Jesus Christ? Fully devoted heart and soul to knowing Him fully and having His Way in your life? Me, too. Discipline is the choice to take what we know about the Lord and His Word and apply it to our life. Not just in word, but in every attitude and action much like an athlete eyeing a prize. It is not an endeavor casually undertaken but a full-on effort to make every part of our life conform to that of overwhelming victory. After all, Christ is our Champion according to Hebrews. To those who disciplined, dedicated and fully devoted probably the worst word they will ever hear is disqualified. “So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

I do not believe that discipline is the same as punishment. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but that through Him that I would be saved. Thank you, Jesus! However, it is human nature to view discipline as punishment. When I go to the gym after missing days, weeks, months or the past year – my muscles scream for relief as I press through the pain and work through the notion that quitting would be so much easier. No one is punishing me. I want more. I desire to be healthy. I pay for the membership to undergo such “torture”. Devoted to Christ, the pressure inside of us is His Way of making us into the masterpiece that He purposed and designed us to be. It is the molding and shaping of character so that endurance will keep us until His Glory is released in our life. I must press past every pain, insecurity, fear and emotion if I am dedicated to this cause called Christ. Anything worth having requires a higher price, I must decide today if I will pay that price. If I will endure tough times, difficult seasons and painstaking processes to let Christ have His Way in my life which will lead to a rich and satisfying life just as He promised. I must press on to have that which the Lord is calling me to. I must not give up or give in but allow the Lord to strengthen my tired hands to life them in worship and my weak knees to seek Him in prayer. The only thing that must not happen is I cannot and will not quit, give up or give in. I am His Prized Possession. No discipline is enjoyable. Can I get an “amen”? It is worth the peaceful harvest that is coming for those who decide to be devoted to right living and following His Way.

Isaiah 38:16-20 (NLT) Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord.

Live Courageously

Live Courageously

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

To Be Steadfast

To Be Steadfast

Psalm 51:10 (NIV) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Oh for the grace of God that gives me a clean and pure heart each day. Mercy provided at the first of each day to cover all the faults and failures before they even come to pass. Such a great God, so loving and compassionate, faithful and true, yet I struggle to remain steadfast. Do you? Are there days when it just doesn’t seem like life is going as expected? Caught in the abyss of waiting and going through the motions of “walking by faith and not by sight” yet still wondering if this is the way? Indulge me, please if I am the only one who finds herself on the edge of reality and verge of faithful possibility teetering on the edge. God’s Word seems so distant and faint as the taunts of the enemy resound in my head. “Did God really tell you that? Are you sure? I think you should go back, step own, or move on.” All lies meant to lure me off course. So in the wee hours of morning, sitting in this place, and asking for a new heart. One that is pure, true and solely devoted to staying the course, finishing the race, and fulfilling my purpose, I wonder if what I need more than that today is to be steadfast. What if my heart is not the problem, but rather the doubt in my head?

Let me be the first to admit that I am impatient. It is one of my greatest character flaws that require more grace than I am willing to admit. Long lines and slow people drive me crazy. Waiting rooms are like prison cells. Waiting is the exercise needed to produce endurance. I must endure to the end. I must remain true to my faith and stay the course. One might think my stubbornness might work in my favor and maybe sometimes it does. However, most of the time it is the very thing I must overcome just to keep moving in this direction. The further you go the less you know. It is the truth about faith. Trust requires me to wait and watch for the Lord and not waver in my trials. Lord, teach me to be steadfast today.

Proverbs 4:23-27 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Visiting Proverbs for some wisdom and insight, simple steps are offered to keep us along the way. Above everything else, I must guard my heart today. How do I do that? I am told to give my life away. To love without expectation or obligation of another human being. To live as Light in this world with His Love shining from the broken crevices of my heart. The heart that I am guarding is broken. God is creating a new heart in me. It will take some time. I am not guarding my heart from being broken more but rather making sure that it stays soft and pliable in the Hands of God today. Not hardened or calloused by doubt, fear or even regret. Why? For everything you do flows from it. Good intentions become godly influence when our life is wrapped up in love.

Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. From the abundance of the heart, our mouth speaks. So maybe if I listen to what I am saying today, I will find the error of my ways. What is the contents of my communication? Do I speak life, faith and love throughout the days no matter my situation? To be free of perversity is to be willfully determined to remain on the desired and expected course and not contrary to the Word of God. Perversity is to say something other than what is believed to verbally live a contradictory life. Faith produces praise. Truth produces possibility. Hope is relayed in confidence. Confidence is evident in our words. Our conditions should dictate our communication but our faith and hope manifested in trust should make our words fruitful bearing the produce of seeds of truth planted and grown in our heart. What are you saying? Complaining and grumbling is not the kind of talk that demonstrates a heart full of faith but instead implies discontentment and dissatisfaction with God’s Care for us.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Comparison is a joy killer. The grass will always seem greener on the other side. Wandering eyes lead to a wondering heart. You cannot see the details leading up to this moment for others so do not evaluate their outcome by what you see now. The price paid may be more than you are willing to give. We must focus. Many days, I must refocus. What did Jesus say? What did the Lord tell me to do? Where did I step off course? The moment I took my eyes off Jesus and starting looking for something to ease my impatience or relieve the pressure of change. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of faith. I need Him to finish the work that He began in me. He is my Champion. He is my victory. I must remain steadfast in my pursuit of the Lord for all His Promises and His Purpose to come to pass in my life. Have I looked away? Have I wandered off? Is my mind wondering about the Truth? He is a good Shepherd who calls out to sheep and comes looking for the ones who wander off. Here I am Lord – thank you for calling out to me!

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Think about it. In Joshua 1:8, it says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Who doesn’t want to be prosperous and successful? I do. Not only in my spiritual life, but my natural life, too. I want the world to see what a Good and Great God that I serve. He has a plan for my life with a future and hope. One that will produce everything I need to have the rich and satisfying life that Jesus Christ died to give me. His Word is pivotal to living that life. I cannot hear it a couple times a week at church or on a podcast and think that this will be a roadmap for success. I must meditate on the Word of God every day and find new ways to implement it. The Bible is the Greatest Love Story ever written. If I break it apart and consume it day by day, tiny seeds of His Love will sprout in my worn out, tired and broken heart to produce life and life more abundantly. When my life begins to produce godly fruit, I will become a little more satisfied and a bit more content. This will produce a desire for more. One foot in front of the other in faith is simply planting a seed and waiting for it to grow. To not leave our field but work it real good. It is to know God. We cannot know the Lord without reading, studying, eating and digesting His Word. Why? Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. To know Jesus – I must know the Word. To know my way – I must know the Word.

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

Steadfast is our staying power. It is the decision to stay on course and maintain our heading even when the storms of life blow like a mighty wind all around us. To be still and know that He is God. He is Good. He is working on my behalf. When everything is falling apart, yet remaining right there because you know He will never let the righteous fall. Steadfastness produces a precious commodity called endurance. It is the moment when our eyes cannot see and our footsteps are simply by faith. Keeping a fixed direction when everything points to running in the other direction. To be firm in our purpose, resolution and faith. An attachment to Christ that is unwavering. Being yoked to the Lord, and refusing to go anywhere that He is not. Lord, make us steadfast today. Give us immovable faith untouched by the wind and rain of life. Let the condition of my heart and spirit reflect Your Faithfulness and Love rather than the conditions or situations that I may be facing right now. This too shall pass…

Lord, make me steadfast in spirit today. When I am about to complain, remind me to rejoice. May the fruit of your Spirit abound in my life today. Let be my offering to others. I want to be loving, kind and gentle as You are to me. Do not let my anxiousness turn into anxiety. Lord, remind me that You will carry each care and concern that I am willing to give to you completely. I will be prayerful. I will be thankful. Lord, I will place all my expectation in you and not people. You are faithful and I will try with all my heart to be the same. Jesus, I want to be steadfast and immovable in all things pertaining to life and godliness. Create in me a clean heart today Jesus and renew a steadfast spirit within me. May the offering of my life be pleasing and acceptable to You!  Amen and amen.

I Peter 5:10-11 (NIV) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Hidden Treasure

for sale

Matthew 13:44 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.”

Hidden treasure, how exciting! The thought of a chest of gold at the bottom of the ocean. Or maybe beneath the sandy beaches of a shore left long ago. Secret maps encoded by those who never would return to claim their prize left to be discovered in another time. The fodder of fairytales no doubt or is it. Is there really such a thing as hidden treasure and secrets in this life?  In the ruthless reality of life is there really room for fantasy? Or would it just be another set up for failure to expect the unexpected? To truly believe that there is more to life than this and that there is a favor yet to be revealed in a mundane existence of struggle and striving just to get by. Does Cinderella really leave to marry a prince in a castle? Does Snow White find a way of escape? Does Aurora ever truly experience the kiss of her sweet prince? The plight of the princess ends in a rescue by her prince. Such things are not truth but written by fanciful authors to bring hope to the hopeless. What about us? We are believers. We have hope. Hope that promises to never lead us to disappointment. We do not wait for a prince but King Jesus. The One who sits on a throne with every enemy as His Footstool. The reality of hope is dependent on faith. Faith is the substance of what we hope for. It is the matter that keeps us engaged in the pursuit of the impossible day by day.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure. When you think about Heaven, what do you see? The envisioning of a place filled with light paved in gold? A gathering of those who are now gone but your heart still longs for? What does it look like to you? The Kingdom must become a reality in our life in order to fully seek it out and discover its true potential. A man discovered a treasure hidden in a field. He was excited. He would not steal it so he hid it again. The man returned to his ordinary existence and sold everything he owned to buy the field. Is Jesus real? Is His Kingdom a true destination? Our life hints at the truth of what one believes. We invest our time, talent and treasure to have what is truly valuable to us. There is treasure hidden in Heaven for me. I have an inheritance and secret blessings that are mine for the taking yet if I do not understand the value and worth enough to desire it above all things – it is as the hidden chest of gold or potential princess in the secret place – it waits for us to believe and therefore search for it.

If my grandmother were alive today, she would confirm that I loved to read about the princesses. The story of Cinderella was my favorite. The pages worn thing in the book from constant reiteration. She would offer to read another account of one of the others, but I pleaded to read Cinderella again. Dreams are something given to us at a young age which often are forfeited to cruel and harsh reality. Visions of a better way, life and journey forsaken to disappointment that causes us to bury our dreams while entering adulthood. The desire of our heart is designed by God. I believe it is the potential that the Lord wrapped with the measure of faith and marked “eternity” that is placed in our heart. Your life today has the priceless potential to be more than you can think, ask or imagine. Have you buried your dead dream today? Deciding that it was just a childhood foolishness called fantasy and moved on to real life. I did, too. However, for some reason, they seem to be coming back. My mind is entertaining them again. My heart quickens at the thought. Could it be that the Light of the World is lighting up inside of me and through a fragile heart marked with cracks and crevices full of flaws and imperfections that He is illuminating the hidden secrets called fulfillment as He works the details of life for goodness and His Glory just like He promised. Is it possible?

John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

People are quick to judge the rest of their life by its current condition. We make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. There are things that the Lord has hidden in us from the beginning of time when our creation was decided. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) Every moment of our life is previously recorded by God. (Psalm 139:16) Our life is predestined to be glorious. (Romans 8:29-30) Jesus changes everything. (Ephesians 1:10-11) Nothing can separate us from God’s Love any longer. (Romans 8:38-39) This is not random fate or good fortune. God planned it from the very beginning that our life would become a masterpiece on display for all the world to see, like a city on a hill that is well lit and inviting. The Glory of God is revealed in His People. What glory is there in a life of poverty, weakness, and ignorance? Faith promotes growth and increase in our life. His Grace gives us the power to overcome every weakness. Knowledge and understanding mean nothing until they become wisdom or applied in our life. Hope never leads to disappointment but if we do not believe hope exists or do anything to pursue it – we will not benefit from it in our natural life. If hope exists only after the expiration date marking the end of our earthly existence – we will miss the glorious life that Jesus Christ offers while alive. Christ lives in me. He is worth having and I am ready to “sell” out to have His Kingdom a reality in my life.

Proverbs 2:1-4 (NLT) My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.

Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh to come express God’s Love in a real and tangible way. Even the people closest to Jesus struggled to believe even witnessing great miracles, signs and wonders. Those who believe without seeing are the ones that Jesus called more blessed when showing Thomas His Wounds for credibility. To ask Jesus to be our Savior and call Him Lord gives us keys to His Kingdom to unlock hidden doors and open secret places that are just for God’s Children. My faith in Christ is all that I need to make those dreams and desires a reality now. To know Jesus I must know the Word. To treasure His Commands empowers the process that leads to potential and the realization of my purpose. Ignorance is not bliss. It kills our dreams and the potency in our life. We must listen for God’s Voice and engage in conversation with Him to know the way. Wisdom is applied knowledge. Concentrate on understanding. Cry out for more insight. Ask for understanding. What if all that I am doing is in vain even humbling my life in service to God? What if all the things that I am doing are religious because I do not have a connection or real relationship with Christ? The enemy tells us that Christ requires us to give up everything and live an abased existence because we owe it all to Jesus. Jesus didn’t say that at all. We forfeit the bondage to sin, captivity to the lies of the enemy, and breakthrough every wall of resistance when our faith in the hope that He offers makes us confident enough to pursue Him wholeheartedly. We are adopted by God as His Children. To live in His Kingdom is to experience His Glory now AND forevermore. We must get our faith working for today as it does for the future.

Mark 4:21-23 (NLT) Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

It is human nature to think the worst. How many times have I heard this verse used in conversation concerning people living double lives? “Well…everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open…” said with strong Southern slang followed by the obligatory “bless their heart” or worse the knowing nod of the pious. What if Jesus didn’t mean that at all? What if He was saying as my love burns through your heart igniting a passionate love affair building confident hope that causes you to come boldly before me seeking, knocking and asking that I will show you all the wonderful things that I have hidden in your life? What if it means the windows of Heaven will open flooding your life to overflowing with all my promises so you can lend and not borrow being generous without regard, worry or regret? A lamp draws those in darkness to the light. The Lord is gracious. He doesn’t want to put our sin on display but His Glory. We are all sinners who have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living and continue to do so daily no matter what we do to avoid it. His Grace is enough. His Mercy is new every morning and fuels His Love and Power in us. We have great potential and purpose in life to do more than imaginable simply because Christ is alive in us.

Joel 2:28-29 (NLT) “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.

Matthew 27:50-52 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. 

When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit. The temple veil torn from the top to the bottom. God was ready to receive His Children and grant them an inheritance. Joel’s prophecy fulfilled. Dreamers could dream again. Visionaries have new visions of the Kingdom. God’s Glory permeated the earth and in Acts 2 came to live in His People. This would be the moment in time that changed everything. God in us. Why is that we bury our dreams? Why do we pass off vision as fantasy? Where is our confidence in hope? It is time to take the measure of faith given to us and unwrap it, inspect it and use it again. God has given us the potential to achieve great purpose and shine His Glory for all to see. We will prosper. We will have success. We will be blessed. We will have influence. We will experience favor. We will see signs, miracles and wonders as His Glory permeates every area of our life. However, none of this is possible until faith is the reality of our passion and persistent pursuit of our life. The reality of His Kingdom is our hope. Hope must have confidence to be of any use today. My forever and future are secure. It is up to me to decide if His Kingdom will impact my today. Dreamer – the Lord invites you to dream. Visionary – the Lord invites you to see new things. Child of God – there is a treasure you have yet to discover. Give up the reality called life to experience the true revelation of hope. A life fully invested in Jesus Christ will bring to light the secret and hidden things that are there just for you! Sell everything to acquire it and it will be yours.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.