Weight of the Anchor

weight of the anchor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Que Sera Sera

Que Sera Sera

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NKJV) Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines;
though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

“Que sera sera” is a Spanish phrase translated means “what will be, will be.” You may be familiar with it from the 1956 song of the same name made famous by actress/singer, Doris Day in the fifties. It means that the future is random and whatever happens is going to happen essentially. It is most often used as a fatalistic term referring to a hopelessly unchangeable situation that is accepted. You may be more familiar with the term “it is what it is.” Usually these statements end with a sigh or some other reflective pause. It is a placeholder for whatever comes after that and the resolve that people are powerless in such situations. Do you feel that way today? Stuck between a rock and a hard place? Nothing ever seems to come out in your favor? It seems like you just can’t catch a break? No matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to get ahead. Have you given in to que sera sera? Today – this very moment – could be the defining moment when you change “what will be, will be” or “it is what it is” or even “que sera sera” to Selah! God wants to move your mind from the place of acceptance of all those seemingly hopeless and unchangeable situations to the realm of hope. The entry point is to leave behind hopelessness and step out in faith to the place called Selah.

The word “Selah” is used twice as much as “amen” and three times more than “hallelujah” in the King James Version of the Bible. Why? God’s Word is alive. It is powerful. Sharper than a two-edged sword, the Word of God has the power to do away with the subtle lies that keep us bound by hopelessness so that the Lord can move us into the realm of hope that strips impossibility from our life making all things possible if we only believe. That’s right! If you believe, faith moves mountains. It changes outcomes in our favor. It doesn’t always eliminate the struggle or battle but empowers us to be victorious in all things. Selah marks a turning point. It is found only in Psalm and Habakkuk.

The prophet, Habakkuk, had pleaded with the Lord in prayerful conversation on behalf of the people. The Lord responds to him each time yet the prophet is pressing in for the deliverance of the people. In Chapter 2, he promises to wait in a “watchtower” for the Lord to take action on his request. Sin rampant. Love cold. Sickness and famine in the land. The prophet still cries out for the people in Chapter 3 four times he says, “Selah”. Selah in the Hebrew means “lift up” or “exalt”. I believe “amen” is similar in that it expresses agreement with God by exaltation as does “hallelujah” which expresses affirmation of God with exuberance.

The difference may be as small as a mustard seed of faith but more powerful than any other expression. It is the moment that in spite of the chaos all around us, wars and rumors of war, famine, drought, circumstances, adverse conditions, or even consequences. Or maybe we should get a bit more personal – the infidelity of a spouse, betrayal of a close friend, loss of income, terminal diagnoses, or even death of a loved one – in that moment by faith when I choose to say, “Selah” that it is the very second that His Grace covers me in His Power and He becomes MY Great I Am. Habakkuk 3:17-18 is the prophets declaration as a direct result of his four “selahs”. It took four, mind you, for him to say, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” How many will it take you?

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

For my own peace of mind, I have a list of those things that happen that I just can’t seem to reconcile by faith. Those unthinkables that happened even though God is good and loves us unconditionally. I know that the list will mean nothing when I meet Jesus face-to-face but I had to put the thought, idea, disappointment or uncertainty somewhere in order to keep moving on. I am only human just like you. There will be things that just don’t make sense in this life. His Ways are higher than our ways. His Thoughts much different than my own. Time has resolved some of the items on my list which are now stricken but there will be somethings I never understand. I must have faith that just because I can’t explain it, don’t understand it or even don’t agree with it that God is God. He is the Great I Am. His Love for me complete and comprehensive. Unconditional. His Grace completely unfathomable. I believe that He perfects all that concerns me. It is right there in His Word. I also believe that because I love and trust Him all things work together for my good. Even those things, I try to forget. Don’t want anyone to know. Faith takes us past those things marked impossible and moves them to the column of possibility. When I choose to stop saying, “Que sera sera” and by faith declare “selah” things begin to change.

Psalm 3:1-4 (NKJV) Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill. Selah

Psalm 4:1-5 (NKJV) Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood? Selah But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the Lord will hear when I call to Him. Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.

Psalm 32:8-11 (NKJV) I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Selah is the affirmative response when God says, “Do you trust me?” I don’t want to flood this message with verses that cause you to not see the clear relevance of trusting God when your situation seems impossible, irreversible and overwhelming. When all hell breaks loose in your life and everything falls apart – the absolute best declaration of faith is to trust the Lord. When you are going through the valley – it is not human nature to sing, “Hallelujah!” When everything is going wrong, who is going to shout, “Amen!” But in our distress, discomfort, discouragement and even disagreement with God’s Way of doing things that moment, to say simply, “Selah” tells God despite all these “things”, God I trust you. I believe that you are the miracle maker. I believe that no matter what the condition, circumstances or consequences that I am facing that Your Grace is enough for me and Your Power will overcome my weakness. It is spoken in the darkness, despair and disappointment as a white flag of surrender that no matter what God I belong to You!

Psalm 61:1-4 (NKJV) Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

Selah is a term that is not easily given. It is an offering of all that I am or have left to the awesomeness of the Lord for His Careful Intervention. It is to take that last sense of control or comfort and burn it on the altar so that His Spirit can take over. I love to shout “amen” when the pastor makes a good point, or the Holy Spirit moves in someone’s life. It’s almost like saying, “You go God, I see what you are doing there Jesus!” I love to sing “hallelujah” even when no one else does because the Lord has been so good to me. My life is not perfect, but I have lived long enough to see His Word and His Way make all the difference in my life. However, I can also testify that my faith has grown more in the moments when all I could whisper was “selah” than any of these other times. The days when nothing seems to be going right and all my hope seems lost yet in my prayer closet, on my knees and through my tears cry out, “Selah, I trust you God!” These are the moments that the tiny seed of my faith grows just a little bit more and my hope becomes more confident than it was before.

I don’t know what you are going through today. I know what it is like to feel the pressure and stress of life bearing down on you. I know the breathtaking feeling of anxiety gripping your heart until it can hardly beat. I also have felt the pain of my heart being broken into a million tiny pieces thinking no one could ever put it all back together again. I know what impossible looks like. I know what the realm of hope feels like. It is the moment the breakpoint comes that breakthrough is possible. Are you there yet? Your life is full of possibility and potential yet to be recognized. How do I know? Put your one hand on your chest. Feel that? Your heart is still beating with life. God’s not finished. Put your other hand just outside your mouth – do you feel that? It’s the breath of God that you are exhaling. He is alive and well in you. Without purpose, God would have stopped your heart and carried you home. If you had no further potential, the Lord would not make you suffer here when Heaven is so much better. The fact you are still breathing means there is potential inside of you yet to be revealed and cultivated in your life. The pressure you feel is faith trying to grow so that you will reach the next level that the Lord has prepared for you. If He allowed you to remain comfortable – complacency would take over and your purpose would never come to pass. So rather than saying, “Que sera sera” maybe if you changed your declaration to “Selah” – all those seemingly impossible things might come to life again. Dead dreams begin to breathe with new purpose. Visions become a reality. See God just needs a little bit of faith and trust from you and me to do extravagant things. So I say, “Selah!”

Psalm 67:1-4 (NKJV) God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, Selah That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth. Selah

Disappear

disappear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Don’t Have To

you-dont-have-to

John 10:17-18(NLT) “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”

Engaged in worship on my daily commute, a song called “Thank You” came up in the playlist. It is a song asking for nothing but simply thanking Jesus for always coming. “How do I say thank you, Lord for the way that You love and the way that you come…” It goes on in the chorus to say, “You don’t have to come but You always do.” The bridge explains further…”You didn’t have to come, but you wanted to.” Jesus Christ came as a sacrifice for my life. He didn’t have to. He chose to. Let those words sink into your heart today. Jesus didn’t have to come. He still doesn’t have to. He chose to be made an example for us. He decided to sacrifice His Life for me. The Son of God in an act of submission gave up Heaven and all His Glory to come save us. People who didn’t want Him, yet He came to give up everything just to give every human being the opportunity to have eternal life. He chose to surrender His Life for me on a long shot.

Sometimes our unmet expectation misplaced in this world or misguided by half-truth or boldfaced lies gives us a sense of entitlement created a divided and unthankful heart. We forget who we are in the midst of insecurity when fear overtakes our still small faith. Jesus is our example. He demonstrated the best way to use our freedom and obtain a Kingdom far greater than anything we can see now. He gives a place to put our faith. Wraps us in a robe of thick righteousness allowing the Father to only see the Son in whom He is well-pleased. Placing an anchor called hope in our heart to keep us from wavering. All of this simply because He wanted to. Can you just thank Jesus for a minute that He desired you? I am so thankful that the Lord wanted me enough to come to me! Die for me! Get back up for me! Secure my place in Heaven forever! Now what is it that God desires of me…

John 6:29 (NLT) Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

The only “work” God wants from you and me is to believe. How is this possible? It is not the way of the world though difficult to wrap our head around imperative that we do. The “work” of God in us is a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) The Word of God is clear that no one comes to the Father except through Him. It is human nature to try to earn our way but it is clearly evident there is nothing that I can do to earn my freedom. “Who the Son sets free is free indeed…” This one truth will change your perception of religion forever. Jesus died to hand us the Keys to the Kingdom. In our hand, pocket or lost in the junk drawer, they open nothing. Everything remains closed in our life but for those who choose to engage in the “work” God desires may lose their life on earth but gain forever in that moment.

John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Jesus set three very important examples of us as believers and Children of God here on earth. They are hinted at in John 14:6. I am the way, the truth and the life. There are three responses respectively to these three qualities. If He is the way – we must surrender. If He is truth – we must submit. If Jesus is life – I must sacrifice my life to have eternal life. These are not the ideal characteristics people seek God for. They want His Gifts, His Goodness, and His Glory. Desiring His Kingdom come to earth but not His Kingdom more than the things of this world. When it came down to the wire, and this message was finally brought into the light. People had a problem with it. John 6:67-69 us that many deserted Christ. He asked the twelve, “What about you?” (Paraphrased) Simon Peter spoke from the newfound faith in his heart and replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe and we know you are the Holy One of God.” Our faith must produce a belief in our heart that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life so that our mind, soul and body believes in Him enough to surrender, submit and sacrifice our life and gain eternity. We are free to choose. Have I chosen well?

Matthew 10:37-39 (NLT) “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

Have you surrendered to the new way of life offered in Jesus Christ? It is not as you might think or has been engrained in us by religion. There is nothing to gain from religion other than a new set of rules. Relationship is the key to successfully surrendering our life to Jesus Christ. The moment that He becomes the One who our heart loves and desires more than anything – sin is no longer our desire. Anything that may come between us and our one true love is unacceptable. Just like in marriage, there are things I no longer do because my husband does not appreciate them. Just as Christ surrendered His Way to become the Way for us, love demands surrender. The commitment of love is a giving of our way to be one with another. Since Jesus is “the” Way, it seems to be one with Him that I must surrender my way.

Matthew 8:8-10 (NLT) But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!

Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh to share the message of His Great Love for us. (John 1) Do you believe God at His Word? Do you trust that every single written word is inspired by God and useful in everyday life? Will you submit to His Word? Submission recognizes authority and is the response to it. The Roman officer commanded an army. He understood the importance of submission even though many responded to him the very same way. When Jesus spoke the Word that his servant would be healed, as a man of authority, he responded to the authority of Jesus Christ over sickness and disease. What is that thing too big to overcome? If I am willing to submit to God’s Word in every facet of life, it is possible to have the power and authority of the Lord in my life. Do you believe God’s Word is the Truth? If so, our response should be submission. Not only to the things that appeal to us, but every single written word like any good soldier reacts to his commanding officer. Jesus Christ is the Truth. To believe in the Truth and “work” out one’s salvation requires belief that operates on the Word of God alone in the Person of Jesus Christ, His Son.

I John 3:16 (NLT) We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Jesus gave up His Life for us. Jesus had the perfect life but came to sacrifice His Perfection for our imperfection so that we have the freedom to choose a new life. That’s right a new life rather than the stagnant existence that produced dissatisfaction drawing us to the Cross. We come to Christ is search of a better life. He offers us the freedom to have one. We must choose the life that is desired. He will never force us to live in His Love, become His Light, or give up our life. Love is not forced it is sacrificed. I choose to respond to His Love with my life. Am I willing to lay down my life, hopes, dreams and desires at the feet of Jesus Christ and become the new creation obtaining new life? I have that choice. I don’t have to. I must want to…just like Jesus wanted to. God did not send His Son to judge us but to save us. Jesus didn’t come to condemn us but that all might be set free. His Spirit lives in us with a handful of keys that will open many Kingdom doors for those who choose to surrender, submit and sacrifice this life for a new life in Christ. We have the right to choose.

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

You are free in Jesus Christ today. You can use your life any way that you see fit. You can come to Jesus and allow Him to give you the rich and satisfying life promised or continue to forge your way through the world. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. In this right to choose, we can follow the example of Christ which is always surrender, submission and sacrifice or any other way that one might life. The invitation is simple and clear – “Come.” (Revelation 22:17) God just wants you to come. Jesus died so you could come. The Spirit calls out to you to come. Will you come? Well, that is up to you. But the one thing I know that inspires me is that Jesus didn’t have to come but He did. He still doesn’t have to come when I call but He does every single time. He doesn’t just come and say, “What a fine mess you got us in again!” No, the Lord brings the very thing I needed and gives it to me in abundance. He gives me perfect peace. He provides inexpressible joy. He gives me deep satisfaction. All these things well up inside me even when not a single detail changes. All this in spite of my fickle, disbelieving heart that I struggle to keep in check. Just because He loves me. Jesus really loves me. Do I really love Him? Enough to surrender, then to submit and ultimately to sacrifice – giving this life away for the new life found in Christ alone. I want to…I really do!

Revelation 22:17 (NLT) The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.

Stop Fighting

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

I am the oldest in our family. The big sister, if you will, who could aggravate her siblings with the best of them. On the contrary, the same big sister who became staunch defender and quite ferocious if you messed with those who fell under me. When I was in elementary school, probably around second grade or so, my brother and I were playing in the neighborhood when a truck passed by with what appeared to be my brother’s bike in the back of it. I was absolutely appalled that someone had the audacity to steal it. So I hopped on my bike and headed after the thief, who lived just a few blocks over. Watching them from a distance, it was my brother’s bike. How dare they? I went home to tell my parents. My father went and retrieved the missing property.

As a child, I was no match for the dishonest adults who dared to take what did not belong to them. But inside I was filled with indignation at the thought of such injustice. Now as an adult with children of my own, they trust me to look out for them and fight for them when necessary. Did you know that Your Father is fighting for you? God is our Father. Jesus is the Lion of Judah. Mighty in battle and able to sustain us through this life into forever. I am not called to fight for my victory. He gives me  victory in life when I trust Him.

In church during worship, we sang the song “The Lion and the Lamb.” The chorus is “Our God is a Lion, the Lion of Judah, He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles and every knee will bow before You. Our God is a Lamb, the Lamb that was slain for the sin of the world, His Blood breaks the chains and every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb.” I wonder…who is fighting your battles today? Is it you? Am I fighting for myself? Or am I submitted and surrendered to the Lion of Judah and the victory that He promises? My God is a Lion. He roars with power. He is God Almighty. No one or thing is more powerful than our God. Yet, we insist on fighting battles that He has already won. Wrestling for victory that is freely given. Why?

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

Let all that I am wait quietly before God for my hope is in Him. Trust. Do you trust the Lord today? We all want to say yes, but it is in our everyday life and responses to conditions, circumstances and crisis that there is truth in our declaration. It is human nature to fight for our rights. It is our innate need for survival that will not allow us to rest and wait quietly before the Lord. In some instances, I believe that righteousness somehow goes to our head causing one to forget that the Power within me is not me at all but the Lion of Judah who sleeps in my soul. He is full of power. His Authority is unquestioned. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The victory in my life is secure. It is my wandering heart and wavering mind that keeps me from walking from victory to victory and living from glory to glory each day.

My victory and honor come from God alone. This is truth that changes us from revolutionists to revelationists. It doesn’t matter if the whole world rebels against God. It makes no difference if they remove His Name from every building and dollar bill. God is God. He is the Great I Am. I am His Church. His Temple. His Place. They cannot take Him from me or remove me from His Presence. Confidence in His Power and His Authority allow all that I am to rest in all that He is today. I am not called or commanded to fight for His Name but for my faith.

Revelation 5:4-6 (NLT) Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.

God has secured victory for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Our victory is in the fact that Jesus Christ, the Lamb, laid down His Life so that God’s People could attain righteousness again. The Power is in the Blood. In Revelation 5, the chapter is devoted to the Day of Judgment. The Day of Redemption is near. Who can open the scroll? The Lamb. One would think it is the Lion of Judah in all His Ferocity that would be the one to open it, but it is the Lamb. Jesus. He is our example.

The Word of God does not tell us to fight but wait for victory. Exodus 14:14 tells us to be calm. God is fighting for me. Deuteronomy 3:22 do not be afraid but have confidence in the Lord. Deuteronomy 20:4 says He goes with me. He will fight for me and give me victory. Joshua 23:10 His Power belongs to us in that our presence will set 1,000 of our enemy to flight. Flight not fight. They will run from us as our confident trust keeps us in step with God for all who humble their life to Him.

2 Chronicles 20:16-17 (NLT) Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”

King Jehoshaphat was in trouble. His nation was surrounded by many nations bent on destruction. He went to the Lord. This was the word of the Lord to the king. “You will not need to fight.” How often God speaks this to our heart but our mind will not accept it. Finding our right in rightness not righteousness – our fear and lack of trust cause us to lash out rather than lock in to God’s Word for us. “Take your positions. Stand still. Watch the Lord’s Victory.” It is not the place to which one is driven by the world and its ways. It tells us to fight or take flight. Adrenaline coursing through our body cannot be overcome by those who lack confidence or trust in the Lord’s Power and Strength. The Lord is fighting for us today. Am I fighting against Him?

2 Chronicles 20:20-22 (NLT) Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.” After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!” At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.

The enemy is a roaring lion who seeks those that may be devoured. Those who are isolated, weak and defenseless. Paralyzed by fear, confused by doubt and lacking trust in their Refuge and Strength wandering aimlessly with a toy sword. Praise secured victory that day for Jehoshaphat and His People. Praise secures our battle today in the Name of the Lord. The Lamb has handed us His Victory though some days I refuse to take it. His Grace is enough for me. Do I want grace? Grace means that I must follow His Example and lay down my life to take up my Cross and follow Him.

Luke 22:47-51 (NLT) But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, the disciples were ready to fight. They were armed with swords. They asked, “Lord, should we fight?” We brought the swords!” Jesus said, “No more of this.” The battle to be fought and won was over the death and grave. It was not a worldly war. At that moment, Jesus reached out to the man who was there to take his life and healed him. Church…this is our calling. This is our mission. We are not called to fight the battle…Jesus won the war. We are to walk in victory and power today. We have been given the Authority of Jesus Christ. Grace is the power that is given to the weak. It produces praise in us from confident hope born of faith. The enemy is real. The enemy is not people. The enemy is defeated. Our mission in life is to love and heal the broken. Find those lost in dark hopelessness. Set the captive free. Break the chains holding many captive. We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. When I came to the end of myself, I found Jesus waiting. I could do nothing to save myself…He did it all.

Hebrews 12:2-4 (NLT) We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Singing the song, The Lion and the Lamb, the Lord pressed it onto my heart that I am called to be like the lamb. Laying my life down for others. Reaching out even when my hand is slapped with offense, hurt and anger. To keep shining the Light of His Love, no matter how deep the surrounding darkness. He is the Lion. He fought all my battles and secured victory for me. I am not called to fight but lay down my life to Him. Fighting is my natural instinct born of a sinful nature that cannot place its trust in an unseen God. But hope arises that Jesus is the Champion of my faith. He initiated it and will complete it in me. All I must do is lay my life down and stop fighting all the battles already won. What battles are you fighting today? We become weak and weary fighting for things already secure.

It is time to stop fighting. Not everything battled in life is the enemy’s doing. Sometimes when we do not like God’s Way, His Timing or His Answer – it is our nature to rebel. I believe that our struggle is not flesh and blood but always within ourselves to wrestle just a little more of our heart and mind to surrender to the Lamb. Jesus won the victory. He is the Champion. He gives us the win when we trust Him completely, lay down our carnal weapons, and live a life of praise. You have the victory. Faith allows you to walk in it. What are you fighting for today? Is it a victory already won?

Psalm 44:6-8 (NLT) I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us. O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name. 

Found My Joy

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James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Our family has a very odd way of dealing with discomfort. When trouble comes, it seems to produce laughter in us. At the hospital the night our son was diagnosed with cancer, the nurse came down the hall to see what all the commotion was as the Lord turned our sorrow and immediate devastation to gut wrenching, overflowing laughter. The tears of sorrow were somehow exchanged for those produced by joy. When my mom went in for open heart surgery a few weeks ago, at 6:30 AM in the morning, the surgery waiting area erupted with laughter while our family took selfies in matching tees that said, “God is good, y’all!” After surgery, while mom was resting in ICU, since the militant nurse would not allow us stay with her, my sister and I created Dubsmash videos and reconnected after many years apart in an empty waiting room all night long. Joy. Just joy. Not the kind of joy that the world has but the kind that comes from knowing that God works everything out for the good of those who love Him.

There is a great exchange made when gathering our hopes, dreams and expectations and dumping them at the feet of Jesus Christ. It is the moment that our tears created by sorrow can be turned into joy. It is in that decision that a challenge, hardship or trouble goes from a struggle to an opportunity. When our faith is tested, endurance has a chance to grow. Yay, patience?! It is not the growing pains that are funny but the inexpressible love and peace found in the refuge of Christ offered to those that bring their hurts for healing, disappointments for hope and brokenness for beauty. We decide when joy makes its way to us because it is always streaming down from the Heart of Jesus to His Beloved People.

Let it grow. I believe that joy is evidence that there is another root has made its way into His Foundation, that our lives have transitioned a little more to the Kingdom, and that our faith is a little stronger than before. (Colossians 2:7) The Lord has a plan. It is that you and I will be perfect and complete needing nothing. Is that you today? Are you perfect? Do you feel complete? Are you needing nothing? Yeah, me either. So now what?

James 1:5-8 (NLT) If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

What did people do before Google, YouTube, and Pinterest? No, really. How did we find information without the world’s largest search engine? How did we fix things before YouTube came along? My cooking skills were developed spending hours on Pinterest expanding the menu. In fact, my daughter’s wedding was made completely possible by Pinterest as well. See there is an information highway out there and media that floods our hearts and minds. It is driven by supply and demand as every website and television show is sponsored by a company trying to “sell” us something. It may be a product, service, or idea. When I need true wisdom, there really only is one credible source.

The Word of God is written, spoken and imparted to people. If we do not have joy, it represents a need for faith and trust in the Lord. This is not developed the way it is achieved in the world. Yes, there are resources on the Internet, television, podcasts, and in churches, but the most credible resource that is given to the believer is the Holy Spirit. Do you spend time in the Word of God each day? Do you listen for His Voice? Do you exercise the knowledge that you have attained turning it into wisdom? Only faith and trust in a God who cannot be seen produces the kind of joy that gushes past the troubles of life making its way into the atmosphere. We must know the Word of God and recognize His Voice to have the kind of faith that endures tests and temptations.

James 1:9-11 (NLT) Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

God doesn’t really care about your bank account, investments or portfolio. He gave it all to you anyway. It all belongs to Him. The treasure that He is after and desires most is our heart. The love born of commitment, devotion, desire, passion and pursuit. When our life is worthless outside of Christ is when a believer finally invests all their resources including time, talent and treasure into knowing Him more. This kind of life is marked by humility. This is the downfall of the modern day church and the rising of the remnant church all at the same time. The religious congregation says come here let me fix you. You need to look like us, talk like us, act like us and be like us to see Heaven. Then there is the opposite extreme that tells you grace is free so trample it as you may. Do what you want when you want and it really doesn’t matter because God is all about free love. Well that’s not the truth either. Jesus paid the ultimate price to set us free. It was not free but cost Him everything. He freely gave His Life as a sacrifice. This is humbling.

I believe that the Lord is rising up a church that is recounting the cost paid for them and realizing its incredible worth. They are embracing “whosoever come” and “meet this man”. It is filled with imperfect people passionately pursuing a perfect God together. Laying down their life for the Lord and one another. It’s called a remnant because it’s small. God is looking for humble people with heart’s intent on finding Him. Committed to knowing Him. Devoted to following Jesus all the way to the Father. Giving up their life to have Eternity. Is that you? Oh Lord, I want to be that kind of church.

James 1:12-15 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

Having a large family and five children, you think that you will always have a houseful until they begin to grow up and fly away. Our fourth child will be a senior in high school next year – ugh! She brought home her class ring information which made my husband decide to look for his own class ring. I don’t know if he found it or not but he did manage to produce the sappiest love letter I have ever read from a clearly smitten woman – me. How embarrassing! As I read it, I realized that after all these years – I still feel the same way. We have been through many ups and downs. We are blended family which only adds to the commotion. We have had great times, good times and devastating times and the glue of our family has held tightly.

God blesses those who patiently endure the testing and temptation. Life is full of tests. There will always be temptations and easy ways out. At the end of this life will we find our first love? God never tempts us so when a trial comes or hardship arises – we can find refuge in the Lord. Do we? Or do we give into the temptation to react to our circumstances, situation and discomfort? When I am faced with difficulties, I have learned that I can trust the Lord. How did I learn that? Brokenness that lead to complete submission. Absolute loss of control which has been my undoing. It is the trials and temptations of life that drive our faith in the ground like a well-positioned post so as it gets harder the believer gets stronger. The process can be painful. It is hard. But it is always worth it.

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

There is a song that I love by Bethel Music called “I Have Found My Joy.” It says, “there’s a line and we’ve crossed it. Some would say that we’ve lost it. But we’ve found our joy, we’ve found our joy, it’s all in knowing You.” Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. The joy in our life is discovered in our relationship of faith and trust in Jesus. We are His Most Prized Possession but how can we know that if we do not come to Him, communicate with Him, and commune with the Lord. It is our relationship with Jesus that allows all the good and perfect things that the Father has for us to make their way to us. This is why when hard times come, true believers laugh through their tears. We can trade every sorrow for joy at His Feet and in His Presence.

Have you found joy today? Do you know what its like to laugh in pain? Find humor in hardship? Jesus wants that for you today. He is calling you to it. There is inexpressible joy in Jesus Christ. I cannot explain it but to say that when I should be crying – I am laughing. Some people may think that I have lost it but I really don’t care what they think – I have found my joy. In every season there will be rain, but He is the Light of my Salvation that reminds me that this season will end producing new seeds to plant, some that are growing and there will be fruit on my vine if I just stay close to Jesus.

I Peter 1:7-9 (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Are you in the middle of one of “these trials”? Yeah, me too. The good news is that the Lord will reveal if you have genuine faith. The bad news…well, I can’t seem to find any because where faith is revealed joy is released. The more faith produced in us when we go through trials, overcome temptations and move just a little bit closer to the Lord, the more blessed we become even if we have less in this life – it is abundant life that makes us completely needing nothing. Don’t give up. Trust the Lord. No matter what you are going through He is fighting Your Battle, making a Way, and there is purpose and meaning in our life far beyond human comprehension. Just stand right where you are and He will fight for you. Jesus loves you. You are His Prized Possession. In exchange for your small investment of faith under fire, the Lord will give you glorious, inexpressible joy. This is the reward of trusting Him and it will be the salvation our soul!

I have found my joy!

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Broken Worship

Broken Worship

Psalm 51:15-17 (NIV) Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

It’s Sunday. The day set aside by most Christians to “worship” the Lord in a congregation during a church service. I love Sundays. I love to worship Jesus. I have been a believer for a very long time. I have attended countless services not only here but in foreign countries. Most people associate worship with music and the songs sung to prepare our heart to receive God’s Word or at least it should. Worship is music, but it doesn’t start there. Worship is more than that. Worship is a demonstration of our reverence for the Lord. It is a deep respect tinged with awe that should reverberate through our life like a ripple in an endless pond. However, most of the time it is hidden in a box, stored on a shelf, and taken out only at the appropriate time.

I am challenged today to dig deeper and find a place hidden within me that may not be fully expressing the Love of God as it should. I want my worship to transform my life rather than using it as a shot in the arm that gives me an instant boost. However, to truly know what worship is and what it requires may not be the immediate gratification that one desires. Worship requires brokenness. Raise your hand if you want to be broken? Yeah, me either. However, in this broken state in which I live now, I can attest that I do not necessarily want to be put together again after all.

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God will not despise.” God does not “desire despair in us but in necessary humiliation and sorrow for sin. It is a heart breaking within itself and breaking from its sin; it is a heart pliable to the Word of God and patient under the rod of God, a heart subdued and brought into obedience; it is a heart that is tender, like Josiah’s, and trembles at God’s Word.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary) The Lord is always looking at our heart not our intentions. He looks deep inside of us where no one else can see. He is looking for those who are humiliated that they have sinned against Him. Those who have true sorrow that sin exists in their life. See worship is born of repentance first. If I am not humiliated by my sin or sorry that I am unable to completely avoid it, I cannot worship the Lord as He desires. Worship requires repentance. Repentance requires a change. Repentance turns our heart over to the Lord so He can prepare us to be true worshippers. I must live in a state of repentance to worship God each day.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

To be a “living sacrifice” and live a life “holy and pleasing to God” is to express “true and proper worship”. Conformity is not just a pattern in this world but it has infiltrated our church. The transformation that comes from Spirit and Truth has been put in a box by religion, doctrine and tradition. God is trying to rip the lid off that box and pour out revival in these last days. I do not want to be the one who is stopping it from happening. True worshippers must do so in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4:24)

Luke 7 tells the story of the woman with the alabaster box. It was filled with expensive perfume which she acquired from her suitors. She was a woman who lived a sinful life. When she came to the house of Simon, a Pharisee, she broke the jar of perfume and anointed the feet of Jesus. Her actions sparked outrage among those in the house that night. As she wept at the feet of Jesus wiping them with her hair, those around expressed their disapproval. The disciples felt her efforts a waste because the cost of her sacrifice would have padded the benevolent fund to feed the poor. The religious order of the day were indignant and judgmental immediately dismissing Jesus as a prophet or He would have known what a “sinner” she was. This woman, indeed, was a sinner just like you, me, the disciples and Pharisees, but one thing she was that most of us are not is a true worshipper.

Mark 14 gives the same account in less detail. There is one point in this account that is important not to miss. She “broke” the jar. True repentance is brokenness. She did not intend to return to her old life so she did not need the jar to collect any longer. By breaking the jar, her worship was the loudest. She gave her all. I cannot help but also consider her act of worship in facing all of her accusers and those who judged her the most to worship when there are some days that I will not go to the altar to pray because of what someone might think. What about the act of weeping at the feet of Jesus and wiping his feet with her hair? If our Lord sat before us, would we be so humble? Humility comes from complete brokenness and sacrifice of our pride to serve Jesus. Can we worship like she did? Are we willing to break our alabaster box?

Matthew 21:42-44 (NIV) Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Reading this passage again, I wonder if the Lord has hidden a message to those who desire to worship Him. A word of encouragement in the midst of refinement. “Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken into pieces.” I thought this was about them. All those fingers pointing to Pharisees, hypocrites and sinners…you know them. But what I have discovered is that those who do not repent will be the ones who are “crushed” when judgment finally comes. The ones who “fall on this stone” are those who call on the Name of Jesus to be saved, repent and turn to follow Him the rest of their life. We are the ones who will be broken into pieces. It is what it means to be a living sacrifice. We must be broken to express true worship but as always it comes with a promise.

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

My heart rejoices today that even as I submit to brokenness and attempt to live in it that the Lord is close. My brokenness allows His Grace to cover my sin. It is a Robe of Righteousness that covers my naked state and allows His Love to wash over me again and again as I live to worship Him. This is the life that I must live. For far too long the church has tried to relay an image of perfect people who have it all together but the Lord is close to those on the verge of falling apart. His Presence is open to those who are broken. Those who live in a state of brokenness not because of sin but surrender and submission to the Lord in reverence full of deep respect tinged with awe.

Psalm 147:3 (NIV) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

It is time to rip the lid off the box and break some alabaster jars at the feet of Jesus today. It is time to stop acting like we have it all together and allow ourselves to be broken as we fall at the feet of Jesus. It is humbling and necessary. To be broken allows the Lord to heal those open exposed wounds that have festered beneath the surface of pride for years. It is the opportunity to move closer to Jesus than ever before. In Luke 7, Jesus told the woman “your faith has saved you; go in peace.” And in Matthew 26 and Mark 14, Jesus tells the others, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Oh friend, don’t you want your worship to be memorable to Jesus today? I know that I do!

Psalm 96:1-9 (NIV) Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.

 

Life of Submission

Praying woman hands

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

What is submission? It is not a popular word. To submit means to give over or yield to the power or authority of another. It means to present for approval, consideration or decision of another. Our life is to be fully submitted to the Lord. It is the next step after repentance and the turning from sin and rebellion to righteousness and obedience before the Lord. You cannot received the fulfillment of salvation without submission to God. Trust in the Lord with all your heart means that we do not “lean on” human understanding any longer but base the decisions in our life on the knowledge, wisdom and understanding that God’s Word and His Spirit produce in us. In order to have God’s Plan and His Will for our life, we must submit to Him.

Many folks desire submission to the Lord but cannot tolerate the inconvenience, uncomfortableness, and weakness that comes with it. In order to submit my life fully to the Lord, it is to surrender my way completely. To trust the Lord with all of my heart and not the pieces that get broken off along the way. Submission to the Lord creates vulnerability as it requires more and more until our heart is fully invested. Human pride must be crucified with our flesh in order to become one with the Lord. We say that we want to trust the Lord with all of our heart but do we really mean it?

James 4:6-8 (NIV) But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Then redirects us to the statement just before it. He gives us ore grace. Who? Those who are humble have the favor of God but He absolutely opposes the proud. Is it possible to think our life is submitted to the Lord yet live in religious pride and arrogance? Absolutely. Many people do. Interested in the Power of God and His Hand they are not interested in investing their life in knowing His Heart and becoming one with Jesus. This is called doubleminded. It comes with a warning. We must wash our hands and purify our hearts as we lift them in full-submission to the Lord. In return, He releases grace and favor which are absolutely essential in our pursuit of Him.

Proverbs 3:7-8 (NIV) Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

There is a difference in confident hope and religious pride. As believers, it is important that our wisdom is based on the Word of God and our way is directed by the Will of God. Our respect for the Lord will separate us from evil as we consecrate our life in full submission to the Lord. It actually has the power to renew us from the inside out. How can I determine if my life is submitted to the Lord genuinely? Perhaps if we inspected the spiritual fruit of our life, it might allow us to see what is feeding our life? Spiritual fruit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) Those who are fully connected to Jesus Christ will bear much fruit but apart from Him can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV) Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

To honor the Lord with our wealth goes beyond a monetary contribution. The wealth of our life is the Fruit of God’s Spirit as listed previously. If we are not producing these very important fruits then we have nothing of worth to offer a lost and dying people in a forsaken world. They do not need a handout they need God’s Love. If we are unable to be productive in our life with Christ, what do we have to offer? I can browbeat people. I can scare the “hell” right out of them so that they change their habits and try to live the right way. Obedience is not the way of salvation. Submission is the way of salvation.

Have you ever been wandering the aisles of the grocery store to find hostesses at kiosks along the way with hats and aprons offering a sample of certain products? They will offer you a sample to taste and put a coupon in your hand to purchase the product. Genius! Whoever came up with this idea was absolutely a marketing genius. “Taste and see that the Lord is good blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8). The fruit of our life is the offering given to others to show them God’s Love and His Grace. We honor God with our wealth not only in our giving physically but our giving supernaturally to others. To share the Love of God we have been given.

Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV) My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Submission will require discipline along the way. Our flesh will always rise up against submission and God’s Discipline or Guidance through life. It does not want to die. But if we are not disciplined, we are not loved. To be undisciplined is to be considered illegitimate meaning that we are not Children of God as once thought. He loves us too much to allow us to live without correction. He is a Good Father who loves His Children.

Proverbs 3:13-18 (NIV) Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.

A philosophy of life that I share with my children is that to make a mistake is not fatal. It only becomes tragic when we gain no wisdom from it. Blessed are those who find wisdom. We must gain understanding for it is the wealth of life. Wisdom gives us long life in one hand and riches and honor in the other. Her ways are called pleasant. Her pathway is peace. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who hold on to her tightly. Those who do are blessed. I wonder what might happen if our pursuit of wisdom today took us down the road called submission. What if we truly understood what it meant to fully submit and surrender all of our heart to Jesus?

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

Submission to God is a mindset. Why do I say that? Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding in ALL YOUR WAYS SUBMIT TO HIM. Trusting the Lord with all our heart and not leaning on our own understanding to guide and direct us through life is submission. We are warned in James about “double-minded” people. Godly submission is different than religious pride. There is a fine line between confident hope and arrogance. We must daily seek to submit our heart, mind, body and soul to Jesus Christ.

How do we submit to an unseen God? Well, the Word of God is quite detailed in its explanation. True surrender and submission to the Lord is evidenced in one’s ability to submit to authority. All authority in life, good or bad, is placed by the Lord and should be honored with submission. (Romans 13:4-5) It is important to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ not worthiness of character. (Ephesians 5:21)

We must be careful not to be caught up in the Power of God but committed to the submission of heart to Jesus every single day. Religiosity will draw our focus from Jesus to things like the power manifested in a ministry or the angels all around. Where is your focus today? On the miracles, signs and wonders, or the Person of Jesus Christ? It matters. The Power of God accessible in a believer’s life is “heady” and personal. It manifests from the Spirit within us so discernment is required. If we do not live fully submitted and surrendered to the Holy Spirit humbly before the Lord, we are in danger of falling from our high place. One must remember especially in ministry that it is not that spirits submit to us but that we are surrendered to God and saved that really matters. (Luke 10:19-20) To know what we are producing, we must examine the fruit of our life. Anyone can lose their connection to Christ. His Grace allows full restoration? We must all live under this warning – “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” (Colossians 2:18-19)

Matthew 8:7-10 (NIV) Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

A long time ago, a good friend told me that I must submit to my husband. I was angry at her words. She was given me godly instruction that made my flesh really, really mad. But the Holy Spirit inside of me took that Word and began to work it through my heart and mind. Have you ever read the book, “Green Eggs and Ham”? I felt like at every turn the Lord kept offering me this thing called submission. It was not palatable. I did not like it. I did not want it. Thanks but no thanks. But just as the Dr. Seuss concluded, he just had to try it. Well, I cannot necessarily say that I always find submission palatable at first. There is a story written in Matthew 8 that is one of my favorites in all the Bible. It is about the centurion and his faith. He believed Jesus at His Word. He understood the authority of Christ because he was not only a soldier submitted to his commanders but a commander with committed soldiers. Submission is our commitment to trust the Lord with every expectation in our life. It is to surrender before we understand and work to gain wisdom. We all need wisdom, understanding, and discernment. We must understand the importance of submission to get the same response as the centurion. “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Submission is a requirement of faith. It is by faith that we are saved. Salvation requires submission.

Today I must evaluate the relationships in my life and determine if I am fully submitted to the authorities in it. I must examine my connection to everyone else to see if I am submitted to them out of reverence to Christ. A lack of submission is spiritual rebellion that demands a change to be righted. It is not lip service but life service. If I truly love and respect the Presence of Jesus Christ in my life – I must learn to live in a life of submission. To be productive in Christ and His Spirit is a submissive trait. It will require a lot of grace to get right. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Lord, be it unto me as I learn to submit my life to you more and more each day. Jesus I want to trust you with all my heart today.

I Peter 5:5-11 (NIV) In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Undignified Worship

Undignified Worship

Psalm 30:11-12 (NIV) You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

When our oldest daughter married a couple of years ago, her wedding was truly a celebration. After months of planning and preparing, her big day finally came. It was clear that everyone was intent on making the most of it. Not only did it mark the end of a courtship turned into a covenant, but it also was the end of the long treacherous road to her brother’s battle against cancer. When dinner was over and the music started, no one could have imagined the celebration that would begin. The carefully set tables would be pushed aside, shoes were flying, ties and jackets discarded. It was quite undignified from that moment on. The DJ said that he had never seen such a reception without alcohol. God is good!

Sitting on the front row on the cold November day, I turned to watch our bride walk with her handsome dad to meet her groom who had dissolved into tears at the sight of her. I was holding it together quite well at this point thanks to a mixture of exhaustion and mascara keeping me intact. But when she reached her destination, I panned the wedding party to find that all my beautiful children were standing before me. Handsome and beautiful, as well as, healed and whole. The enemy tried to take one of my sons but the Lord saw it fit to give me another. God is good!

Today as I think about the wedding reception, I remember the relief that it actually went off without a hitch. Wedding planning and preparation is stressful. Bringing two families together is difficult even when everyone is saved and sanctified. But in that moment, everyone in that place danced together. It didn’t matter if they were from the bride’s side or the groom’s side. I wonder if we should be dancing more as believers as I ponder the moment. I wonder if our faith gets stifled inside of us at the thought of a display considered a bit undignified. Faith without works is dead according to the Word of God. I wonder if redemption without celebration is dead, too. I wonder if we sing but don’t move beyond lip service to celebration if we have missed it.

I Peter 1:6-9 (NIV)  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Genuineness of faith is expressed in inexpressible and glorious joy. It is the salvation of our souls. Working out our salvation is a God process and our surrender to His Will and Way for us. Obedience is not a mundane following of a mediocre God. When obedience begins in our heart making its way to our hands, our soul begins to prosper and so will the productivity of our life. It matters what drives our actions and attitudes in life. If I treat others better than myself, yet secretly have hate or prejudice against them in my heart – all good deeds are fruitless. Love is the bottom line in all things. My husband and I have been married almost two decades. We have had great times and difficult seasons yet the prevailing commitment between us is always upheld by our love for Jesus first and then each other. It allows us to wake up each morning and find joy in each other even if we were at odds last night. This is the care over of faith in life. No matter what happens – the Lord gives us new mercy each morning to keep hope alive in our hearts.

Our love for the Lord should produce joy in our life that is more than just words. Singing a song comes from memory but when it causes us to lift our hands, tears running down our face, or even leads us to an altar then our praise made it into our heart. If my praise is rehearsed, I wonder if my life may be too. Habit rather than holiness. If my worship is dry, I wonder if my heart is hard and barren. When declaring His Great Name, does it press me to draw closer or do I tend to remain self-controlled. Where are the David’s who choose to dance before the Lord in an “undignified” state? Are they hiding from the Michal’s?

2 Samuel 6:14-17 (NIV) Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord.

The Lord will not force us to love Him with all of our heart. He will not force us to praise and worship His Holy Name. He provides new mercy and plenty of grace that allows us to step into righteousness and ushers us into His Presence. When will we come as David did, “dancing before the Lord with all his might”? David was leaping and dancing before the Lord as the Ark of the Lord was brought to the city. The Ark represented the Presence of God. The Spirit of the Living God now lives in us. Are we expressing the precious treasure invested in us to the watching world? Why not? Michal was David’s wife. She worshipped idols not the one true Living God. She was embarrassed by her husband and king’s ridiculous behavior. David was a man after God’s Own Heart. It did not stop him from worshipping the Lord openly. What is stopping me? What is stopping you? When God moves on our heart, why do we refuse to move?

Joshua 6:2-5(NIV) Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

Six days of silently marching around a solid wall seemed silly to those who did not understand. On the seventh day, when the people broke out into a giant praise break, the enemy must have been very confused. There was no battle. There was no fight. However, through careful obedience the walls of Jericho fell completely flat. Could it be that in our mundane praise and mediocre worship that we have limited the Lord in bringing down the strongholds of our life and breaking all the chains? We are at the wall chiseling and hammering at it but God is telling us to stand back it will fall flat. Faith doesn’t mean fighting our own battles. Faith is believing that God has given us the victory. Waiting on it. Watching for it. It means praising God today for the victory that is coming tomorrow. It is to allow Him to heal the heart hurting from past battles and overwhelming storms. We must find our way to praise the Lord with all of our might again to bring down every stronghold and set all the captives free.

Psalm 8:1-2 (NIV) Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

True and valid faith will not allow us to live in the doldrums of life. In fact, according to Psalm 8, it is through praise of children and infants that God places a barrier of protection around our life. What does our praise and worship tell the next generation? Does it portray the Living God who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Are we showing them that faith is worth it? I want my children to love and serve God. If my witness to them that it leads to a mediocre life, will they want to know Him personally? Jesus wants to set our soul free today to prosper. He desires to give you inexpressible joy that cannot bear to be contained. It is not a change in circumstances, but rather a heart change. One that doesn’t base praise and worship on how we feel about life but our love for God and His Son, Jesus alone.

Psalm 149:3-9 (NIV) Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them—this is the glory of all his faithful people.

What would happen if our life was characterized by undignified worship every day? What if rather than complaining with praised the Lord for His Faithfulness? What if rather than taking matters into our own hands, we lifted those same hands to surrender all to the Lord each day? What would happen if our live was devoted to praising the Lord in all things and blessing His Holy Name? What if our praise and worship made its way out of the four walls called church and became the premise of each temple (we are the temples of the Holy Spirit)? I am challenged today to undignified worship. The kind that gets the enemy’s attention. It says that “praise of God can be a double-edged sword” in our hands. The Word of God gives credibility to our worship as it is the foundation of faith that produces hope in us. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness to find something…anything praiseworthy and boast of the God in us. We will never be truly free until faith in the Son of God sets us totally free. Prison doors open with praise, strongholds come down with worship, and chains fall off when we life our hands to the Lord. God has given us victory and the power to overcome in all things. Undignified worship will release it in our life.

Psalm 30:4-5 (NIV) Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I Am Weak

When I Am Weak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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