No More Rivals

No More Rivals

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

My life has purpose. The potential of my being and existence is fully encompassed in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Sovereign Lord. Why do I struggle to maintain His Preeminence in my life? There is no rival to the Lord. He has no equal. Yet in our everyday life – the struggle to trust and believe are real and valid battles in the heart and mind of every believer. Every step of faith is met with another challenging opportunity to take another. Following Jesus Christ in this life requires a depth perception of the Kingdom beyond that which our physical being and personal mindset can comprehend. We cry out for the Spirit of the Lord to fall upon us, restore and renew us and spark revival around us. What is stopping this from happening? Could it be the rivals in our life?

A rival is anything that competes for the same object or goal. It is the competition. A person or perception that disputes another’s superiority or preeminence. Who is like the Lord? Well, theoretically no one. There is nobody greater than Jesus Christ. His Power and Authority is unchallenged yet in our own life, one must decide if this is the case. A free will gives us the opportunity to believe anything and live the way that we choose. This does not in any way compromise God’s Power and Authority manifested in Jesus Christ, it only determines our outcomes and position in life. To ask the Lord to pour out His Spirit on us and desire His Will and His Way requires removal of the rivals in our life. To make Jesus Christ our champion, and put our complete faith and trust in His Ability as Sovereign Lord.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord can only occupy a surrendered and submitted life. To ask the Lord to fill us with His Spirit requires laying aside something in order for holy inhabitation to be complete. I want the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord to live in me. To occupy all areas of my life beginning with my soul, moving through my entire physical and emotional being until He resonates from my life. The process began decades ago. Today, I am still a fragile work in process. However, with each new day comes the challenging opportunity to end yet one more rivalry with the Power of God in my life. It is up to me. To cry out for His Spirit is to put to death anything that comes against my faith in God and willingness to trust the Lord more and more. I must kill those giants. Overcome the enemy. He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.

Submission is power. Grace is made perfect in my weakness. The world doesn’t operate on that belief system. In fact, to surrender is defeat according to the world. But I am only a temporary resident here, just making my way through life to eternity. Forever is a long time in comparison to a life that is only about 70 years or so on average. We must evaluate our existence for the rivalries and inconsistencies. Those areas of debilitation that the enemy has somehow convinced us hold some power over us or limit us in any way. The Love of God for us is complete. We lack no good thing in His Presence living for His Glory. He wants to take that from you. Steal your power and authority by tricking God’s People into believing that there is a limit to the Lord’s Power and Authority in our life or even a boundary to His Love. Nothing could be further from the Truth.

Luke 4:1-3 (NLT) Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. Then the devil said to him… 

The enemy is not short of arguments when it comes to God’s Word or His Power in our life. He constantly offers shortcuts and compromises us. He tests our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and Work in our life especially when God’s People are committed to living for the Lord. John the Baptist foretold His Coming. Jesus has now been baptized receiving the fullness of God’s Spirit and God said, “You are my dearly loved Son, you bring me great joy!” Can I just be real for a moment, I see a giant target being painted on the back of Jesus right about now! The enemy identified the Lord as his rival to contend with in that moment, and believed himself successful celebrating for about a minute before he realized the horrible mistake that he had made but I am getting ahead of myself.

Jesus immediately full of the Spirit went straight to the wilderness. Welcome to your new life in Christ! Purpose must be pressed to release full potential. Jesus responded to each temptation with the Word of God. Finally the enemy had finished tempting the Lord, he left him…until the next opportunity came. The enemy is not a true rival of Jesus Christ unless we allow him to compete for the Truth that occupies our life. The more real estate given to Christ in our life the more challenging it will be as the enemy attempts to take us out. Our potential is not just for our self, but as God’s Glory overtakes us the Light of His Love shines brightly for others to see. Immediately following Jesus’ trip to the wilderness where He overcame temptation, He entered the Temple and was handed the scroll of Isaiah to read. He read the words from Isaiah 61…God’s Power becomes our own by overcoming all rivals in our life. To submit and surrender to the Lord’s Power allows His Spirit…His Sovereign Spirit to manifest in our life. He becomes our purpose and gives us the power to overcome.

Isaiah 48:15-18 (NLT) Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.” And now the Sovereign Lord and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.”

“Sovereign Lord” is used approximately 290 times in the Old Testament depending on the translation you are using. It only occurs 3 times in the New Testament. Why? In the Old Testament, God put His Spirit into different people. When Jesus came in the New Testament, God put His Spirit fully into Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to His People. Matthew 27:50-52 tells us that At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.” Could this be the first documented revival? When the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was released along with resurrection power? It was the moment that God’s Power and Authority became completely available to me and you. The choice is mine if I will submit my life to the Sovereign Lord and accept His Power in my life.

God’s Power and Authority given to Jesus Christ lives in me. The only reason that I am not living in it is because I have allowed rivals to take the place of my Champion. I must overcome every hindrance in the race of faith by keeping my eyes on Jesus, my champion who initiates and perfects my faith. (Hebrews 2) How is this possible when there are so many things vying for my attention? How do I keep my eyes (and faith) on someone who I cannot see when there are so many people in the way? How does a football team win the Super Bowl? Or a baseball team the World Series? How does a fighter become Heavyweight Champion of the World? One game, one series or one bout at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Jesus Christ has given you His Spirit. The Greatness of God’s Son and all of His Sovereign Power lives and breathes in every believer. As we begin to overtake and oust the rivals in our life, Christ becomes the dominant factor in all areas of life. Do not despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) We begin with small increments of faith to build a larger foundation. (Luke 16:9-10) It begins by believing that Jesus is our champion. Our confidence is not in our ability to be faithful or righteous but that He is enough. His Grace sufficient to release His Power no matter how weak or weary that we may become. It all begins by believing. (John 1:49-51) Nathanael believed simply because Jesus told him that he saw him under the fig tree. Jesus told Nathanael that his simple act of believing would produce greater things. What did the man believe? The Word of God. He believed Jesus at His Word.

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

Do you believe? Do you believe wholeheartedly that the Lord is Sovereign and without rival? Is there anyone or anything equal to the Power of God at work in your life today? Before you answer, consider this. Your life should be prospering as your soul does in every way. Isaiah 61 clearly outlines the Power of God at work in us and through us. If my life is not being lived in God’s Power including prosperity, miracles, signs, wonders and exceptional favor, I must eliminate yet another rival. Some of the things that tempt us NOT to trust God are things like the enemy (John 10:1-3; 10:10), His lies tempt us every day. The Word of God is the only thing that will silence the lie of the enemy in our life. We must know the Word of God intimately, personally, and completely to live a successful Christian life. Jesus is the Word of God. We cannot know our Savior and Lord without it. Our flesh wants control of our life or it will die. It makes desperate attempts to challenge God’s Love, Authority and Power in our life as it does not want to submit or surrender to its own crucifixion. (Romans 7) Finally, our feelings. Our relationship with Jesus Christ must become a marriage that decides to hang on and fight for the partnership no matter how we feel on any given day or in any situation. (I Peter 5:7-9) The enemy, like Goliath, is constantly roaring his taunts and accusations at us. God is greater than our feelings. (I John 3:20) We must eliminate all rivals in our life and let Jesus be our Champion. His Sovereign Spirit will take over turning the natural into supernatural and ordinary to extraordinary.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Do you desire Jesus to be your Champion today? To do so requires the elimination of all rivals in our life. We live busy lives in a world that offers many distractions. Comfort is appealing and complacency creates such a place. However, I want to live the life promised in Isaiah 61. My purpose in life is that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord be manifested in my life and overflow to the world around me. I must be disciplined. I cannot allow the things of this world to rival the championship of Jesus in my life. I have a free will. I have the right to choose the amount of my life that is sacrificed, surrendered and submitted to the Almighty. It is all up to me. I choose to run with purpose in every step. How about you? Will you say with me today, “No more rivals, Jesus! All I want is You! You are my Champion!”

Isaiah 30:15 (NLT) This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.

To Be Genuine

To Be Genuine

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT) Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

What is genuine faith? To be genuine is to possess the claimed or attributed character or quality. It is not a counterfeit but real and authentic. Something genuine is free from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy defined by sincerity. The word “faith” is tossed around loosely in the “Christianese” language, but I cannot help but wonder if it bears the mark of authenticity. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says to “examine yourselves” and to “test yourselves” which tells me that you cannot test or evaluate my level of faith. It is not up to anyone else to decide if I have it or not. The contents of my heart and how it impacts my existence in my sole (or soul) responsibility. To allow others to dictate what faith is or how I achieve total trust in the Lord is pointless. It is up to me to examine and test my faith for relevance and substance. I wonder what might happen in believers took responsibility for their own heart rather than trying to judge everyone else and compare others to our own successes and failures as Christians. Those who endure to the end are saved according to Jesus. What is this thing called endurance?

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 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.

Endurance is important in this life. We must not stop loving, believing, trusting and following Christ. To keep the course is difficult because there are peaks and valleys along the way. These require us to dig a little deeper, grab hold a little tighter, and remain on our knees a little longer. When things are out of our control and beyond our comfort zone, we must remain consistent. Endurance produces discipline. It works heart muscles that have never been challenged before as the Light of His Love within us pushes its way out of us. Endurance is the ability or strength to last despite pain, stress or adverse conditions in life. When your life does not resemble God’s Word, but you continue to walk humbly with God knowing He is faithful even though you are challenged to be the same.

Hebrews 12 mentions a “huge crowd of witnesses” who are not our main concern. Too many times, they become our primary focus rather than the race of faith which is a marathon. Though friends and teammates may be on the same course, we run for the prize, our prize, and the high calling of Christ. It doesn’t matter what the voice of the witnesses say or do not say. It doesn’t matter what their personal evaluation, estimation or examination of our life reveals. The one who seeks to endure is in verse 2. They are after one thing – Jesus. With eyes fixed and focused, each step is examined for purpose, each breath exhaled in praise, and the next step embraced with potential. Jesus is our Champion. He is the reason faith is essential in the first place. Sometimes it is important to refocus and reprioritize our life to make sure that faith is our goal and Jesus the prime example.

James 1:27 (NLT) Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” (James 1:21) Pure and genuine religion is not what it has been made out to be by mankind. Pure and genuine religion as God intended is a love story. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ so deeply committed and passionate that one cannot help but give their life to Him. We give our life to many things in the name of love, but have we given our heart to Jesus Christ? Jesus is more than an opportunity. He is not just an option other than death. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come before God outside of Christ. We must have communion with the Lord. We must consummate our relationship with the Holy Spirit. The filth and evil in our lives is everything contrary to love. Anything that might separate us from our partner, Jesus Christ. However, outside the boundaries of love, obedience is meaningless acts of self service. Designed to make us feel better and avoid true repentance that leaves no room for anything good or worthwhile coming from me outside of Christ. It is a hard pill to swallow marked humility. His Grace must become enough for me in order for faith to take over my life. This is only possible when all I am is not enough to be where He is. When weakness prevails, even if I don’t fall, but simply stumble into His Arms. Jesus is always ready, willing and able to carry me on.

God’s Love is unconditional. Do you believe that today? Jesus did not come to judge the world or even condemn it. Sin already did. God sent His Son Jesus because before we were created, He loved us and desired us despite our rebellious and impetuous nature. It didn’t matter that our heart was fickle and gravitated toward depravity. Jesus already decided to die for us to make a way for our return. Why do we set conditions and limitations on others? Why do we expect them to be religious? Why do they have to dress a certain way or act a certain way to be accepted by us? Could it be our faith has some hidden fallacies that need to be exposed? Perhaps, our own inability to believe makes it necessary to set other criteria for acceptance?

Mark 10:20-22 (NLT) “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus gives us genuine love. Love without boundaries. Love without conditions. This man had no problem following the rules but when it came to following Jesus – he couldn’t give up this life. He had many possessions. Jesus said, “Come, follow me.” The man’s face fall and he went away sad. This is the true test of faith. When Jesus asks us to step out of this life to pursue eternity to seek Him wholeheartedly. Holding nothing back. This man was not surrounded by people, it doesn’t say that his family or friends were close by, just Jesus. We will all come to a place in our life that the line is drawn in the sand. The point of no return. The moment when we must choose commitment or comfort. To pursue purpose or settle for mediocrity. Faith follows Jesus, Anything else will hang its head and go home.

Romans 12:9-18 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

What if this was the true measure of faith and following Jesus? To love one another as Christ loves us. Laying our life down for each other so that we all make it to the end. Would it be your religion? Would you give it the hierarchy of church doctrine with all its rules and regulations to live this life every single day? To really love people. To hate what is wrong and hold tight to what is good. To take delight in blessing others. To work hard. Really hard and not be lazy – giving your absolute best in all areas of life as doing it for the Lord. What about patience? Who needs them? We do. What about helping everyone in need without judging the person, their situation or what got them there in the first place. Blessing our enemies. Forgiving seventy times seven and turning the other cheek. What if we decided rather than building a church and filling it, each person decided to be the church and take their rightful place in the Body of Christ? Is it even possible for people to live in harmony when families can’t even seem to get it together? What if all God really wanted and required of us is in Micah 6:8 – “to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.Genuine faith is born of genuine love. Genuine love does not consider self but others first beginning with Jesus Christ and filtering His Love to everyone else. Until I am ready to give my life up to follow Jesus and love others this way – I fail the test of genuine faith every time. Religiosity melts in the midst of a true relationship with Jesus Christ. Fully committed to pursuing Him wholeheartedly and no one else resolves all doubt and disbelief because faith has completed us and we lack no good thing.

I Timothy 1:5 (NLT) The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 

The purpose of my life begins and ends in Jesus Christ. My faith must be genuine. There will be situations in life when I am challenged to examine my heart and mind to determine if the faith I claim to have is real and authentic. I welcome such an opportunity. There has not been a single time that I have not had to call on the Grace of God for His Help because I lack sufficient faith and need His Power to cover my weakness. The Law of God is not intended for those who have decided to follow Jesus yet we use it as a weapon all the time. While it should be directed at the enemy – it is often leveled at family. We are all Children of God loved and desired by our Father just the same. Jesus died for us…all. There are no boundaries to His Love. The only obstacle I face is my ability to believe and live by faith. Lord, help my unbelief today! Teach me to love like you do! Make my faith genuine so it will bring you praise, glory and honor for the whole world to see!

I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT) So be truly glad.There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 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.

Are You Being Sifted?

sifted

Luke 22:31-34 (NLT) “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

My grandmother baked the finest Tollhouse cookies ever created. They literally melted in your mouth. She made them completely from scratch. I tried to replicate her recipe once but mine just weren’t the same. My children prefer those that come in the bright yellow package, marked Tollhouse, yet you break and bake. Of course, they do. They are ready in minutes. You can back them on a whim. There is no recipe to follow or ingredients to gather. One of the secrets to the success of my grandmother’s recipe was the sifting process. She would take the flour and pour it through her old sifter. It was made of tin, weathered by age. It had a little handle on the side with a tiny wooden knob just right for little helpers. I would run the flour through and show grandma. She would say, “Do it again.” I continued to sift the flour, baking soda and salt together over and over again until it finally met her approval. I was not a patient child. I am barely achieving patience in my fifty years of life. Each time she would send me back to sift again, I would head off with a heavy sigh. Mumbling under my breath, not sure what the point was, the flour looked just fine to me. She would take the fruits of my labor and mix it with the carefully creamed butter, sugar and egg dumping in some chocolate chips and pecans. After a good ten minutes or so, she would give me a slightly cooled yet still ooey gooey cookie with some cold milk. Heaven in my mouth, I assure you.

Jesus had already prophesied over Peter that he would be the rock on which the church would be built. His potential was clearly labeled from the start. Yet throughout Peter’s time with the Messiah, it is clear that his faith was struggling a bit and his ability to believe beyond what he could see challenged by all the distractions of life. The night before Jesus would be hoisted up on the Cross, he gathered his disciples together. At the last supper, he told Peter, “Simon, Simon, satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.” Is the enemy sifting you today? Are you feeling the pressure? Is life more specifically your “faith” life a struggle? Do you feel like giving up? Are you confused in your calling? Jesus told Peter, “I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith would not fail.” Sifting is part of the process that the Lord uses to refine our faith while the enemy intends to steal, kill and destroy our potential and purpose in Jesus Christ. It is up to us whether or not we give in to the struggle or learn to strive.

To sift means to separate, examine or question closely. Faith is compared to the size of a mustard seed. No wonder it requires such a rigorous process to be defined and determined. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Therefore, it is imperative in the life of every Christ that sifting occurs. However, our response to such an intrusive is clearly evidence of progress in our life that allows us to see what needs to be disciplined to finish the race and claim our prize. The word “sift” comes from the Old English word “siftan” which means to pass through a sieve. I wonder if this can be compared to the difficult of reaching the Kingdom when Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) Our family has always traveled with four girls including myself. Luggage space was at a premium as the girls wanted to dump their entire closet in the back of the SUV. Many times, they had to rethink, reorganize and repack their clothes, shoes, straighteners and makeup into one bag. They would have to empty the contents considering what they really needed and wanted to take. Sifting in life causes us to empty the contents of our heart and life, examining it closely for one thing – faith. Nothing else is worth taking because nothing else will gain us access into forever. All the other “things” in life are left this side of Heaven.

Job 1:1 (NLT) There was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless – a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.

The very thing that you are going through is the opportunity to sift through the contents of your life and reprioritize. Good people still must go through some things in life because our goal is godliness. Job was a good man. He was blameless in the sight of the Lord living in complete integrity. He feared the Lord and obeyed the Word staying far from evil. Yet, still he lost everything. What makes it even more difficult to understand or comprehend is that it was actually God who recommended his servant to satan that day…

Job 1:6-12 (NLT)  One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

Have you counted the cost for the faith you desire? How you considered your contribution to a new life in Christ? It requires our all. We must be willing to give up this life to save our soul, it sounds good and even looks pretty good on paper until it is required of us in the natural. This is the turning point for many Christians called to the Lord. They cannot leave this world behind so they turn back to this life. God had a plan. He knew exactly what He was doing in Job, through Job and for Job in the process of testing. The only thing Job had to do was to trust the Lord.

I used to talk a good faith talk. I desired to have a faith walk. Continually crying out to the Lord to grow, develop and mature my faith, but never really understanding what might be required of me to do so. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, the Lord asked simply if I trusted Him and I quickly agreed having no idea that a three month treatment plan would turn into a three year battle that would leave me with little left but a mustard seed of faith. It took me a good solid year to decide if I had it in me to continue to seek more faith and trust God more. I was wore torn and battle weary. There was no more of me to give to the good fight of faith. I was empty, depleted and needed Jesus more than ever just to make it through each day. What will it take for your life to come down to faith? How many layers of security must be removed? How many trials and tests to find the relevancy and validity of this tiny seed called faith that we must live by? It really is up to each one of us. Our purpose and calling are never withdrawn. God does not change His Mind about the Plan that He has made for us. We decide if it is the life that we want, need and desire above all things.

Job 41:31-34 (NLT) “Leviathan makes the water boil with its commotion. It stirs the depths like a pot of ointment. The water glistens in its wake, making the sea look white. Nothing on earth is its equal, no other creature so fearless. Of all the creatures, it is the proudest. It is the king of beasts.”

Leviathan is the enemy’s partner. He lurks under our skin and in the recesses of our mind. He is the one who questions every decision or notion to follow Christ. He challenges us with lies and half-truths designed to distract, detour and delay with his prime goal being destruction. Commotion and chaos are not of God. When our life doesn’t make sense according to the Word of God or we begin questioning His Call or even considering giving up the good fight of faith, Leviathan is lurking beneath the surface stirring things up. We are not fighting flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6) We are fighting against evil around us and pride within us. The world produces a craving and desire for physical pleasure, wanting everything we see and pride that is in our achievements and possessions. (I John 2:16) Peter thought that he was ready to die for Jesus but the truth was that he had not yet died to self. The moment one decides to give their all to Jesus – our flesh immediately fights back. The real struggle begins because to give everything to Him requires total crucifixion of our flesh. My old self must be crucified with Christ and only that birthed of His Spirit, our new life, must be allowed to live. (Galatians 2:20) To live for Jesus is to trust in the Son of God who loves me more than myself. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith must be refined and tested until all of the impurity marked by self is removed and Christ is allowed to rule and reign in me so that every day and every choice is subject to the Cross, His Divine Plan and Perfect Will. Satan is the author of confusion and the father of all lies. He will make quitting seem like the right thing to do, giving up like surrender when it is not, and the enemy hates what God is doing in us and through us and will stop at nothing to sideline us to steal our victory.

Job 42:10-12 (NLT) When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring. So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.

The Lord had a plan including a future and hope for Job. I read recently that the Book of Job is really an account of one man and his fight against pride. Pride is the exaltation of self above God put quite simply. Pride is in control when we stop trusting God and decide to do it. The times when God’s Way seems too hard or challenging so instead partial obedience seems to be a better route. We are conflicted. In such a state, we cannot serve both masters. Partial obedience is actually disobedience. The enemy stirs the water of our life with commotion fills us with confusion and suddenly the vortex of stress and pressure quickly overtakes us. Ready to give up or give in – suddenly the price to follow Christ becomes more than anyone is willing to pay. We have exactly what we need to give our all to Jesus because we are all that He desires. The question is really “Am I willing to?” Am I willing to give up my way completely? Am I willing to give up this life for forever? Am I really willing to trust the Lord? Friend, the enemy is out to sift you like wheat today. He knows every doubt and insecurity in you. He is well aware of your weakness and hears every complaint you have against God. He is absolutely hell bent on using it all against you. You are in the Hand of God and he cannot come near you unless God allows it. God promises to take every detail of our life and make something good out of it for His Glory. Our part in that is simple – trust. Do we trust Him enough to stop struggling and begin striving for the prize again? Or maybe for the first time ever? There is a hidden blessing far greater than worldly wealth waiting for those who do. It is called faith and confident hope.

Zechariah 13:7-8 (NLT) “Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die,” says the Lord. “But one-third will be left in the land. I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Why sift flour? Sifted flour is lighter. It blends with other ingredients to form a consistent batter without all the lumps and bumps. It rises better when baking as well. Removing all impurity, it refines the flour to do its job and fulfill its purpose. The enemy uses sifting as a means to destroy God’s People. But the Lord uses it to rid our life of everything hindering us from fulfillment and full satisfaction in life. The struggle is real. We must contend with difficulty. There is a real adversary to our new life in Christ. It will take violence to advance into the Kingdom. When we decide to surrender to the sifting process, and allow God to fully examine our heart and life removing every impurity, casting down every thought contrary to His Word, Will and Way so that we can run without the extra weight of sin or even ignorance – it is then that our struggle becomes striving. Striving is to exert our self vigorously in that which is desired. If that is faith, then giving up on the good fight is not an option. It means rather than fighting for compromise, we try harder to be disciplined and committed to Jesus Christ. It is to make strenuous efforts toward the goal and not focusing on our weakness, problems or feelings anymore. It is to define our purpose in God as valuable and worth the price of self. In Zechariah 8 – God talks about a “remnant”. I believe that this verse in Zechariah 13 sums up the process by which His Remnant is revealed. They are tested. They are tried and most of them give up or fall away in the effort. Those that choose to submit to this process called sifting or refinement and pass the test by faith and trust will be the remnant of God. I do not want my faith to fail me. I desire nothing more than to live in confident hope. I want God’s Will, His Word and His Way to be my every moment. I want to be that person. I want Him to be MY God!

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

 

A Calibrated Life

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Proverbs 16:11 (NLT) The Lord demands accurate scales and balances; He sets the standard for fairness.

Life is not fair, get used to it. (Bill Gates) The daily administration of justice and judgment in the world is conducted from shifting standards rather than a consistent one. Such is human natures that seeps into the Halls of Justice along the way. A strong moral code and steadfast ethics is dependent on one’s opinion, religion or political bias. In order to successfully navigate this life as a believer, it is important to set the standard for our life accurately. To makes sure the foundation of faith on which our life is built is level with the Word of God, His Way and His Will. If you have a scale at home, it is important to calibrate it from time to time. One must determine the accuracy of the scale to gauge its validity. Common use or even subtle movement can cause it become off balance. It will not give an accurate reading. Therefore, one cannot access proper progress because it is inaccurate or unbalanced. Our life as a believer changes caliber when righteousness is accepted. It sets a new standard of living not common to man. A life lived according to the flesh and sin now must become aligned with faith and trust in God to accept a higher standard of living. If one is not careful, it is easy to become unbalanced because of failure to check our life for accuracy.

The caliber of our life is defined by the Word of God – both written and spoken. To properly calibrate something is to measure the degree of capacity, competence or ability. It means to check the degree of merit or excellence determined by quality. What is the quality of life you are living? Fairness cannot be determined by our present condition or circumstances as a Christian. We no longer live for today but forever. The measure of our life must be according to God’s Standards to have the kind of life that He has promised. To assess one’s life according to the world, its standards, beliefs, morals, ethics, politics or even religion gives us a shifting foundation and fluctuating mark that lacks true accuracy which gives no validity to our faith in God. We must set our standard of living according to God’s Word. (Period) Be prepared. From a worldly standard – life will never seem fair.

Romans 3:23 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s Glorious Standard.

Sin took justice from us and replaced it with judgment. Jesus came to the world not to bring us judgment but to provide the grace and mercy needed to obtain justice again. The highest standard of living is God’s Glorious Standard which is obtained through Jesus Christ. He is righteous and therefore, can administer righteousness to us. We must consistently calibrate our life according to His Example. To compare our life to other people is to lower our standard of living and creates unbalanced and inaccurate scales by which life is measured. For example, if the only time that I engage in the Word of God is in church or a small group whoever is leading the experience is the one who is calibrating my life. How so? I am using their interpretation of godly knowledge to adjust my life – if I truly desire a life measured by justice rather than judgment – I must make a commitment to God’s Standard of Living and no one else’s. Good teaching is beneficial but the weight and bulk of my life must be faith in Christ alone that creates an alignment and connection directly with the Lord and His Spirit as my source and guide for life. Access to God is in Christ alone. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I cannot get to the Father unless I go through Jesus to obtain righteousness. Jesus is the Word. (John 1)

Proverbs 20:8-12 (NLT) When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence, distinguishing the bad from the good. Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart; I am pure and free from sin”? False weights and unequal measures — the Lord detests double standards of every kind. Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right. Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the Lord.

Our bathroom scale is ancient. I loathe the thing which is probably why I have not replaced it yet. When I visit the doctor, I am weighed on his scale. I usually will come home and immediately weigh on our scale to determine its accuracy. It is inevitable that I will like the measurement of one more than the other. Now if I come back from the doctor, and see that my scale is reading a lower weight, it would be easy to say oh the doctor’s is off. I like this one better or even vice versa. However which one is really right – neither. How do I know that either one is accurate unless before and after each use they are balanced and calibrated which they are not. Our life is based on subjective measurement. The human mind is conditioned with a variance in it. A variance gives us a gray area of operation for the plus and minus factors in life. Nobody’s perfect. Well, no one except the Lord.

A variance is defined by a difference or discrepancy. It is a disagreement. Derived from the Latin word “variare” which means to change. There can be no discrepancy in my life to achieve God’s Standard of Living and receive His Glory. His Goodness falls like rain on the just and unjust, but His Glory is achieved in righteousness which is right standing accomplished with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no other way. He outlines the measurements and specifications in God’s Word which cannot be a variable in our life. God does not change. He doesn’t cast shifting shadows in our life. Any inconsistency must be brought into alignment with God’s Word, His Will and His Way to have His Best. We are free to choose our standard of living but not the calibrations of God’s Highest Standard of Living which comes from a life of faithful integrity in Jesus Christ. God detests double standards and only recognizes one – the measure of His Son. The purpose of the Body of Christ, the Church and every living, breathing temple of God in progress is to measure up to the full and complete standard of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

Psalm 119:137-138 (NLT) O Lord, you are righteous, and your regulations are fair. Your laws are perfect and completely trustworthy.

To improve one’s standard of living means change. It is all part of transformation. Many will choose mentors to mold and shape their life. People comparison is a joy killer due to the flawed and subjective nature of humanity. Even if I do every single thing they do to become who I long to be, it is impossible to ensure that I will have the same success. Sin flawed our condition and disabled perfection in our life. The slightest deviation will lead to a different destination. However, if I choose to believe that all God’s Regulations are fair. To believe that His Laws are perfect and completely trustworthy – I will receive the Promises of God. Through adoption, I have an inheritance to be claimed but if requires a commitment to a higher standard of living that is not common to mankind because it is not based on elevation but humility. I must give this life away to obtain forever. Hold up – doesn’t grace allow me to live how I want, when I want, and do what I choose to do without recourse. No, not really. Sin will never produce God’s Glorious Standard of Living. To repent means to turn and change directions. To step from darkness and into the Light of His Love. His Word is a mirror that points out our flaws and weaknesses to be covered in His Blood and Amazing Grace. The Light will always drive away darkness. “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Proverbs 2:6-10 (NLT) For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.

Do you feel that life is unfair today? Does it seem like other people are getting blessed while you being passed over? Is comparison killing your joy? The Lord is offering you wisdom. Knowledge and understanding that come from His Mouth to our heart. We must make room for His Word to manifest in our heart by rooting out all the lies that the enemy has planted in us through society and culture. It really doesn’t matter if I am right when God returns just as long as I am righteous. I cannot obtain righteousness on my own due to the handicap of sin that I was born with. God’s Gift of Grace allows me to pursue God again and receive all that He promised. I must calibrate my life according to the destination I am seeking. If I want the things of this world, I will pursue them in my flesh according to my plan and marked by my way. I will have successes and failures according to my ability and strength. Freedom allows me to do so unhindered yet unaided by God. If I desire righteousness, it is only obtained by obedience born of willingness called faith and trust in the Lord. I choose to walk His Way according to His Word and Will for my life. His Kingdom come and His Will be done before giving in to my whims and notions of how life should be. I must find what is “right, just and fair” according to God’s Standard of Living to live a glorious life as He promised. God is mighty. He made the world and everything in it. He handed it over to the Power and Authority of Jesus Christ. God loves justice. He established all principles of fairness. (Psalm 99:4)

John 13:14-17 (NLT) And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

When I was a kid, I remember a preacher or maybe it was a Sunday School teacher instruct us to do everything written in red in our Bible. Many Bibles mark the words of Jesus in red. As Jesus knelt down to wash the feet of His Disciples, He set the standard of living for this life. Micah 6:8 puts it simply, “…This is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” So obvious yet such an obstacle ridden stumbling block for one’s flesh. We must die to self to live in righteousness. It is not subjection living but objectively using God’s Standard set forth by the Word to balance the scales in our life. Any other standard deviates from it. We must apply to every aspect of living to achieve success in righteousness, to build a firm foundation of faith, to become confident in our hope and to decide that He is trustworthy enough to invest our entire life. Duplicity leads to failure. Commitment is the act of willing obedience that yields the highest results. How will you determine outcomes in life? With God all those impossibilities are suddenly possible, but in His Way and according to His Timing! The Lord offers peaceful confidence and inexpressible joy to those who choose to trust Him even when life seems unfair because their life is not according to this world but His Kingdom. This means for those who believe the best is always coming our way because we choose to walk in His Ways. Lord, teach me something new in your Word today. Write in on my heart. Remove every hindrance that keeps me from achieving the next step of faith leading to Your Glory. Thank you Lord for amazing grace and unfailing love that helps me if I stumble. I choose Your Word as the scale for my life against it I will weigh everything else. I want your Standard of Living – Your Glorious Standard above all things in Jesus Mighty and Precious Name!

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT) Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us[a] and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Ready for Rain

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Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain,
 melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Into each life some rain must fall.” He is absolutely right. Before planting a single seed in the ground or one’s heart, it is important to understand the importance of rain. Rain is necessary. It has purpose. When the ground is broken or even the heart, it is ready to receive the seed promised by the Lord for grow into its potential and fulfill its purpose, but if we do not understand the relevance of rain in our life – the seed will die. Just as the ground must be plowed or the heart softened to receive, it is equally important to know that into each life some rain must fall.

Looking at the weather for the next week, it indicates rain will fall on five of the seven days. Ugh! Living in the South, we do not experience snow, blizzards or the like but rain glorious not so glorious rain. Rain is essential to the earth but mighty inconvenient when it comes to routine and scheduling. I am convinced that people have no idea how to drive in it so the commute is longer. There is nothing worse than damp clothes, wet feet or mud puddles unless you are five years old playing in the rain. It is just one big discomfort unless you are a farmer watching your field. Suddenly it becomes a blessing. To those without running water, it fills their water barrels and swells the streams from which they drink. See it is all about perspective. There is someone somewhere today praying for rain. We all should be.

Genesis 2:4-7 (NLT) When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, neither wild plants nor grains were growing on the earth. For the Lord God had not yet sent rain to water the earth, and there were no people to cultivate the soil. Instead, springs came up from the ground and watered all the land. Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Eden was created a civilization completely dependent on God. He created the heavens and earth. Divided land and sea. Springs came up to water the land but there were no crops or grains or people to cultivate the earth. Rather than glancing over the words to make it to the desired text, look closely again. If you ever wonder if God knew people would sin, it says so right here – “there were no people to cultivate the soil.” Cultivation became a requirement outside of Eden after the fall of mankind. God knew. He planned and prepared for our rebellion ahead of time. It was not an afterthought. God did not send rain yet because at this point creation relied solely on Him.

Genesis 6:9-13 (NLT) This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt. So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!

Well, that didn’t take long before people managed to get evicted from Eden and run the entire world into the ground. What a mess! Only one person could be found in all the earth to be righteous, blameless, and in close fellowship with God – Noah. God revealed a crazy plan. He would flood the earth and wipe it clean all except one man and his family. He would be required to build an ark all on his own. Fill it with two of every kind of animal. Get his family and herd to enter the boat and God would close the door. He would be required to live there for 40 days and nights while it rained. It had never rained before. Mankind’s first experience with rain was destruction. As the water receded, everyone remained on the stinky, smelling ship until the ark came to rest and the door opened.

Genesis 8:20-22 (NLT) Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

Genesis 9:12-17 (NLT) Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.”

There is significance in the events following the flood. Noah built an altar to the Lord and sacrificed a burnt offering. Noah did not fear a lack of provision. He offered an offering from the supply on the ark because the earth and all its contents were destroyed. Noah had faith. He trusted the Lord even in lack. His family and supply would populate and fill the entire earth again. What a responsibility – what an amazing God!

The first thing the Lord did was bless the ground. He promised to never curse it again. He ordained seedtime and harvest so that what is planted will grow. It was not because sin was gone but because grace would abound. He even admitted that “everything they think and imagine is bent toward evil from childhood.” God’s Blessing on the land to be cultivated is not based on our ability to plant and harvest but on His Word. I will bless the land and as long as the earth remains there will be planting and harvest. Potential. Our life always has potential even in the natural.

The second thing the Lord did after the flood was to give us a covenant. Yes, the rain witnessed brought destruction. God didn’t want us to fear the rain, storms or even floods of life. So he placed a rainbow in the clouds. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I had about ten days to prepare for his treatment and make my way back to Gainesville from our hometown. I had to trust God to save him. As I drove the interstate, I cranked up the praise music and worshipped the Lord at the top of my lungs with tears streaming down my face. It was raining off and on which I didn’t mind as it was reminiscent of how I felt. I have never encountered what happened that day before or since that drive. There was rainbow after rainbow after rainbow along the way. By about the fifth or sixth one, I was laughing through my pain and sorrow whispering, “I get it God! I hear you!”

Never again will I destroy all life. God does not send rain, storms, floods, sickness, pain, trials, or tests to destroy us. He wants us to be broken and ready to receive His Blessing. His Unconditional Love and Amazing Grace are literally pouring out of heaven each day but am I ready to receive it? God promised in that moment with Noah that He would always remember His Eternal (Forever) Covenant. Jesus was coming. The Lord would come and give us all the opportunity to live. God knew that people were given to rebellion and sin yet still in that moment He prepared them for life eternally. His Covenant that day remains today. Better than before because the Way has been made and now we can be in right standing with God thanks to Jesus!

Psalm 135:6-7 (NLT) The Lord does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths. He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.

Rain is essential to abundance. It comes from abundance. Psalm 135 tells us that these natural elements are released from his “storehouses.” Storehouses are made to hold abundance. No one builds a silo to keep weeds or rocks, but to be full of good things. So it is with God. Rain is good. Rain is needed to produce in our life. The Lord does whatever pleases him. His Good Pleasure and Precious Treasure is His People. When God releases rain the purpose is prosperity. However, you can only reap what is sown in your life. You cannot grow corn from tomato seeds. With this in mind, it is important to note that you rain does not produce a godly crop from a sinful heart. If God’s Abundance is being released, why is there no prosperity in the church today? Why are ministries failing and falling apart? Why is the Body of Christ not growing? We need rain to permeate hard ground and find good seed.

Hebrews 6:7-8 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.

You reap what you so is evident in the productivity of our life. When rain comes and makes it into our heart to make the seeds found there grow, what is produced? The productivity of our life is not always what God planted in us but most often what we decided to sow instead? Rain falls on the just and unjust alike according to Matthew 5:45. God is watering the potential in our life. God rains down provision in our life every day, but often it is not enough to satisfy the desire of our heart. (Psalm 78:21-29) We place our expectation in this world and the things of this world so when the condition or circumstance of our natural life does not change in an instant – we abandon the field and curse the rain. Freedom allows us to choose our way and the pathway of life. He never leaves us without evidence of His Goodness – he sends rain, gives us good crops, and blesses us each day with new mercy (Acts 14:16-18) but is it enough?

Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT) “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

My life must be built on a firm foundation of faith. Not proverbial faith that talks a good talk, but logical and literal faith that knows God’s Word and acts upon it. Faith is our future. Rain often is the test. When rain falls on us, do we respond with faith that accepts it as a promise of abundance in the end? Or does it cause everything known and believed about the Lord to wash away so that fear and anxiety takes over? In Deuteronomy 32:1-4, it says, “let my words fall on you like rain.” God is raining His Blessings and Abundance in your life. Are you uncomfortable? Is it inconvenient? Does it interrupt your schedule or prevent our plans? Rain brings change washing away the temporary in our heart and mind to reveal what is permanent. Seeds of faith are small for a reason. They are hard to find and even more difficult to grow because it requires full attention and complete focus on the Author and Finisher of Faith to acquire it.

Job 36:26-28 (NLT) “Look, God is greater than we can understand. His years cannot be counted. He draws up the water vapor and then distills it into rain. The rain pours down from the clouds, and everyone benefits.”

God has given us an internal watering system to irrigate our heart and soul called the Holy Spirit. Just as Eden was well-supplied so are we, but in the meantime as while faith is cultivated it is human nature to rely on the world, too. God is greater than we understand. He takes the offering of our life the “vapor” if you will, and in turn releases abundance. The only thing of worth in my life is Jesus Christ. How much of my life is surrendered to Him? This is the amount of heaven I am able to receive and achieve in my life. God opens the windows of heaven and pours out blessing on His People and everyone benefits.

Jeremiah 5:23-25 (NLT) “But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned me. They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’ Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.”

Sin will always stop us from receiving the benefits of rain. It creates a hard heart that cannot receive rain to water that seed of faith and potential hidden there. What about grace? Grace is only accepted in true repentance. Grace is not a “get-out-of-hell-free” card. It does not give us permission to sin. It is the understanding that my sin separates me from God and I don’t want anything to keep me from Him. Sin violates our covenant. He gives us new mercy each day to overcome sin each day. To fall in love with Jesus Christ is to not want to sin anymore because it creates separation from the One our heart desires. Falling in love with Jesus Christ is consummated by accepting seeds of faith to be grown for righteousness sake. To give up our wants and desires to receive blessings believing they are better than anything I can produce in my own life. It takes time, it takes tests, and it takes rain to wash away every fear and insecurity and reveal this in our life.

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT) “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

Sowing and reaping in the natural will always produce something. If I put seed in the ground, cover it, nurture it and watch over it – something will be harvested. Rain is essential for seed growth and development in our life. It is the very thing that waters the ground and feeds that seed. However, if we are not sowing for the Kingdom – God’s Abundance is not possible. For example, our family made the decision to tithe according to the Biblical Standard more than a decade ago. God has provided abundantly for us in this area. Dollar for dollar – I cannot figure out the math of obedience. However, I have found that the greatest blessing of tithing has not been found in a dollar figure but rather the favor of God evidenced in our life. There are times when money cannot fix it and I know it is the Favor of God that did it.

When believers decide that the Hand of God is not enough, they will seek His Heart. I was once a very religious person. I had a strict set of rules and regulations that governed my life. I was blessed, but not satisfied. When doctrine did not produce deliverance, I started digging again. There had to be more to this thing called prosperity and blessing in the Lord. When my heart was completely broken and my life torn apart…when I lost control and the world was crashing down around me…it was in that moment of being torn to pieces that His Grace finally reached the seed called faith in my heart. The connection complete something changed in me and is growing through me. True repentance can only be discovered at the end of self. When you have nothing left to give but still choose to come to Your Savior. His Grace is suddenly sufficient in that moment. A place nobody wants to arrive.

Are you living in the abundance of God? Just as sure as the forecast is for rain next week, the windows of Heaven are open over our everyday life. Faith is the seed that produces satisfaction and contentment in our life. It may take our whole life to find it. It may be discovered after the storm. Whatever it takes to get there. God knew people were given to sin. Yet He still sent the rain and marked the sky with a rainbow. He knew our stubborn, rebellious heart and reprobate mind would make us till hard ground for every day blessings. Rain falls on the just and unjust every day as God keeps up His End of the bargain. The Lord is always faithful even when we are not. He waters every seed committed to the ground and gives it increase. What about you? What about me? Am I faithful? Am I willing to really repent? To call Him Savior and make Him the Lord of our life requires true repentance and lifelong change. His Blessings are falling but some are not properly positioned to receive. The next time it rains remember that God is showering the earth with His Goodness including blessings, provision, promises, purposes and power on each of us every single day in each tiny raindrop. Am I ready to receive is the real question?

Joel 2:22-24 (NLT) Don’t be afraid, you animals of the field, for the wilderness pastures will soon be green. The trees will again be filled with fruit; fig trees and grapevines will be loaded down once more. Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring. The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil.

 

Power of Stillness

power-of-stillness

Mark 4:38-40 (NLT) Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Today is Friday. Tomorrow begins a long weekend, I cannot wait. I do not have any solid plans or places that I must be. I am free to stay home and lounge around. Piddle with projects. Discover new ones. I do not have to wear “real” clothes rather delighting in yoga pants and a t-shirt. I love our home. It has become my refuge. Looking back to my younger days, I used to thrive on weekends on the go. Running about as many places and doing as many things as possible until time was up and back to the routine of life, but not anymore. Cramming as much life into every minute, I must have thought I was missing something only to find I have it all right here. Over the years, the more that God has given us and the more we have been able to do – I value the stillness of this sanctuary called home.

Where do you find sanctuary? Where is the place called rest? Do you have a quiet place or retreat? Do you have a refuge to find solace in? A breathing space not consumed by activity and time constraints. I don’t think it is a natural space at all but a place satisfied in our heart. The confidence in knowing that it is well with our soul that soothes the need to find more, do more and be more. Complete trust in who He is rather than what we must do allows us to be still in the Lord. One thing I have noted over the past five decades of life is when that stillness is required to hear the Voice of God, sense His Spirit and build our faith. Fear tells us to run but faith says stand right here. Doubt promotes disbelief that makes us indecisive causing a drift that carries us here and there. Anxiety creates anxiety that will not allow us to stop moving.

Jesus was asleep. One might think that the disciples would notice that He was absolutely undisturbed therefore not concerned about the storm that raged around them. The rocking of the boat did not unsettle His Confidence that He was in full power and had absolute authority the wind and the waves. They panicked. They didn’t tap Jesus on the shoulder and gently awaken Him to tell him about the storm. They shouted. “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” I will be the first to admit that I do that sometimes. When all hell breaks loose, give the Lord a not so gentle reminder that I am in trouble, I am not going to make it, why me or don’t you care Jesus? So Jesus got up and commanded the storm to cease. Turning to them – “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

These men were not new converts. They had given up their life to follow Jesus, witnessed many miracles, heard the Word of God spoken by the Word, and lived in His Presence. Yet still struggled with faith that produced a confidence in hope so profound that not only could they keep their position in the storm but recognized the power and authority that Jesus had over the environment of their life. Faith without confidence is not faith at all but just an idea. It is a concept longing for understanding to solidify our stand that we hope is a reality. Stillness expresses full confidence in God even when our environment is unfavorable, disaster looms around every bend, people lose all senses, and the world comes crashing down around us. It is the strictest of confidence that is completely convinced that God is in control. I will not be moved.

Psalm 46:10 (NLT) “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

On our moving day, the house empty of its contents. Every possession crammed in trucks, cars, trailers and any other vehicle offered to us, I received a phone call from the bank. There had been a miscalculation and there were additional funds needed to close. Not a hundred but thousands. I am discussing this with the lender, when the new buyer comes to inspect their pending purchase. The realtor interrupts me to question a higher than usual utility bill discovered when they contacted the city about new service. It must be settled before closing early the next morning. Meanwhile, all of our helpers were beginning to panic that there might not be room for the remaining items and the rental company had closed for the day. Finally in my car, so loaded it barely moved , I dared to take a breath. I knew in my heart that God had ordained this move to the county for our family. As new chapter of life and new season was turning it felt like all the words were falling off the page. What seemed so certain suddenly chaos! The phone buzzed but my thoughts overwhelmed me. At that moment, I couldn’t even tell you where the kids were or if anyone had loaded up the dogs. I did what any sane, rational, human woman might do…I sobbed.

Well, it all worked out. Every single detail to the tiniest degree just like God had planned. I share all the details with you because doing the Will of God does not always mean a peaceful journey from here to there. “There” is forever. It is the future and hope we live for whether we know it or not. It takes tests and trials of trust to convince our hard, stubborn and wavering heart that God really is in complete control. This is only possible when I yield control to Him. I will never yield complete control of my life to Jesus Christ without storms to try my faith and reveal its insufficiency. God’s Power is only perfect in my weakness. He doesn’t need my help though I attempt to do so all the time. He doesn’t need my opinion, His Word will do exactly what it says it will do. He needs nothing from my but to trust Him wholeheartedly.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NLT) God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

My power flows through Presence. Jesus did not come to bring peace to the world but stir things up. (Matthew 10:34-36) We live here so obviously this stirring occurs in the environment where we live. If you happened to come upon a house that was on fire, would you leisurely walk up to the front door and ring the doorbell. Wait for a few minutes, then knock. Wait a few more and call out to see if anyone was home. Of course, not. You would do everything in your power to alert anyone inside. Get the picture? However, Jesus did bring peace. He packaged it as a gift for those who belong to Him. (John 14:27) Peace is not found in conditions or circumstances but to be still in His Presence and maintain our position. Peace is discovered by faith in confident hope.

With this in mind, it is important to note that while transferring our existence from death to life and allowing God’s Renewal and Restoration to remodel our heart and mind, there may be uncertainty along the way. The transition of moving unsettles me. I don’t like the homeless feeling or nomadic state. I long for the security of my home, refuge, space. Yet there are times when God compromises my comfort to remove complacency from my life. He wants me to invest all of my life in His Kingdom. To live in His Peace. To take full advantage of His Power. My power flows from His Presence in my life.

Psalm 46:4-7 (NLT) A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. 

Stillness is the strong confidence in God’s Full Power and Authority over every condition of our life. It is not in the environmental condition surrounding this life. Love is growing colder by the day. Sin is rampant and quickly multiplying. The world is shaking at the close proximity of Jesus Christ. Christians are finally believing the Book of Revelation just might be true. Believers desire revival again. Movement is not the answer. The power of His Presence is. To step out of this world’s ideology and stand on the Word of God refusing to move at any cost. If you read Matthew 24, it gets worse before it gets better. There is no need to panic. Just to move our life into His Presence fully. God is our Refuge and Strength. He fights for us. He will deliver us. We must only believe without seeing and endure to the end to be saved. He didn’t tell us to win but rather has already given us victory! Do you believe? Will you be still?

Psalm 37:5-7 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Stillness is a position of trust. To be still and know that He is the Lord takes more than a casual relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a full on marriage to Him. To become one with Him. It is to know Him. To believe in Him. To be committed to Him. I love my husband. There are days when I am not so lovable and neither is he but it is our commitment to Christ and each other that bridge the gap of human imperfection, selfishness and pride. Jesus is perfect but I am not. On the days, I don’t understand, become overwrought, or believe the lie of the enemy even for a second, I must decide to remain still based on what I know not how I feel or how things look. His Presence is my position of power in all things and every situation. It is not an emotional reaction but a committed response to who He is not how I feel.

To trust the Lord requires letting go of certain feelings. There are emotions that keep us from fully trusting the Lord and the blessing of His Presence. Psalm 37 lists some of those emotions that must be replaced with faith. Things such as worry (1-2), anger (8-9), fear (12-13), greed (21-22), pride (27-28), ignorance (30-31) and more. There are certain things that comprise our position in His Presence because they destroy our faith. These are some of those things. Certainly the world would justify our feelings and need to react. However, trusting the Lord means to wait until His Word comes to pass in our life. Holding our position in His Presence even though our thoughts tell us to run or escape. To move from this impossibility and settle for less. What are you going to do today? We are free to choose. Lord, help me to choose faith and confident hope over anything I feel today.

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. 

Is your home your refuge? Do you find comfort in place where you live? I am blessed to have a peaceful home. Partly because our children are most grown but mostly because our family has invited the Holy Spirit to live here. Most every day, just like you I must go about my daily tasks and responsibilities outside of the four walls of this place. The same Holy Spirit (the Presence of God) goes with me. I can allow Him to be my peace, refuge and strength by faith and confident hope. This allows me to excel in the stillness of trust to allow Christ to have complete authority and power over my life. When we divide our interests between the Kingdom and the world, it makes for a shaky foundation. Our marriage to Christ compromised when we give our attention and love to other gods. The stillness of God including the overwhelming gift of perfect peace and inexpressible joy can be with me always when I choose to live in the Power of His Presence and be still. It allows me to respond to His Promises rather than reacting to worldly problems. My natural home is a refuge only because Jesus lives here, too. He lives in our heart. He goes where we go so we can always be still. Greater is He who lives in me – to believe it means to trust Him, have faith in Him, have confidence in the hope I have in Him and to be still in Him – all day…everyday! So let the wind blow, let the storms surge, let the whole earth shake…my heart is full of His Presence and I will not be moved. There is power in stillness to live in His Presence undeterred and unshaken you will not be moved.

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.

The Perfect Holiday

the-perfect-holiday

John 15:1-4 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

Is Thanksgiving really next week? How in the world did it sneak up on me this year? Not really sure with all family, church, work and life how it happened but it did. Normally, I would panic that certain preparations have not been made. By now, the list and menu should be fully outlined and detailed on a Pinterest board. Have I mellowed with age? What’s wrong with me? I cannot understand why I am not all worked up right now. Life happens. It changes us. Molds us and shapes us into creatures of habit. For a long time, I had a houseful of kids and a list of personal expectations that kept me on the run. But now, in this new stage of life, my nest is emptying and I cannot find my list or my glasses and sometimes my keys.

Remain in me and I will remain in you. Have you made room for more of Him lately? Before you answer that, I know what it means to be busy, stressed and overwrought not just during the holiday season but all the time. I used to live that way. Constantly moving, never stopping and working harder than I was supposed to by calling or design. The whole idea of resting in the Lord was lost somewhere in my Martha mindset. Mary called from within as the Lord whispered, “Come talk to me.” But rather than responding to His Invitation and opening my heart to His Gentle knocking, I said, “Hang on.” We all do it.  Expectation is a powerful driver. When I was a kid, my parents divorced and there were two of everything for a long time. Two Thanksgiving meals to eat. Two Christmas’s. Two lifestyles. Two families. When my family finally settled, blended to become one, my husband and I decided that holidays would be spent at home. There would be no rushing about…though our traditions changed – my heart did not. I wanted to make the “perfect” holidays for the kids. The kind of memories that I wanted to have. Though my intentions were good, His Plan is always better.

God made a plan for our life. (Jeremiah 29:11) It comes with a future and hope. Sin blocked us from having all the benefits and blessing of God’s Plan which is His Glory for our life. You were created as a marvelous masterpiece by God. (Psalm 139; Ephesians 2) However, the original was tainted and flawed in need of a good cleaning. Jesus came to forgive our sins and died on the Cross so that we could reclaim our predestined life. Don’t get caught up in these details but continue to the place where we are changed. Knowing all of these things does nothing until we apply knowledge and it becomes wisdom. Peter shared the secret of a success in obtaining a new life – “each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) This is the beginning and ending point of spiritual success. The renewal process of God the best restorer because He is the Creator is all in Jesus Christ. I can do nothing to add to His Plan or take away from it. No matter how close I choose to live to the Lord or how far I wander – God’s Heart and Hand for me is never moved. He does not change. He is constant. I am the one who must change. I must move. I must be renewed.

Let’s take a moment or two to talk about true repentance. Repentance is not just saying that you are sorry. If my husband and I disagree or maybe I hurt his feelings, I will say that I am sorry. However, if I continue to do the same thing over and over again with no real intent to change, what is my apology worth? Nothing at all. Repentance is an admittance of wrong and acceptance of change. It is to “turn” to God. Which is a new direction? An unwillingness to turn from sin is only an apology. In order to repent, one must be apologetic and change directions, attitudes, actions and intentions.

Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT) Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

“Since.” For our purposes today, let’s decide that since represents the moment that I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ. When I heard the Gospel and responded with my life. I now know the Truth. Truth changes everything. Once you know the truth it is like light that chases away darkness. The lie now is overshadowed by the truth. Choosing to ignore the truth is called denial and leads to disobedience when the truth is disregarded. Jesus Christ is Truth. He is also the Way and Life – no one can get to God except through Him. (John 14:6) This is the truth that now guides my life and hopefully yours. Jesus is the Son of God. I need Him. He is the Way. I must turn from my way and follow His Way.

Now what…”throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life.” Ew. That means the “c” word. It means change. Change is uncomfortable. We want it but do like how it feels or what it requires. To have something new means letting go of what formerly occupied the space. Let’s be real for a moment. My desire to make “perfect” holiday experiences for my children stemmed from dissatisfaction of my own childhood. Feeling pulled in two directions. Always being tugged between two families whether it was intended or not. Anything we do stemming from dissatisfaction is not of God but man. My sinful nature desires its way. Every day. All day. My former life has baggage that occupies the space of new things that the Lord has designed and prepared for me. I must actively seek the new life that I am promised making room for it.

How? God has given us His Spirit to help us. He will renew our thoughts and attitudes. God is not mad at us for our feelings of dissatisfaction, discontentment, devastation or desperation. These are the things that drove us to Him in the first place. However, as a new creation, these dry, dead and rotting things are replaced with fresh fruit prepared by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As His Fruit nourishes all my new life – I will begin to prosper as He prunes away the dead fruits and rotting flesh of sin-infested life.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

The hope given to us in Jesus Christ will not lead to disappointment. Do you believe that today? Do you trust the Lord to make good of the details of your life as promised in Romans 8:28? We confuse God’s Renewal Process sometimes with the world’s way of doing things. Some simply throw out the “garbage” and get something new. Others choose to recycle taking what was old and making it useful some other way. God made us perfectly. Our Creation is flawless. Sin was the problem. Once we turn from sin, the product of our life remains. Our purpose was not changed or influenced by sin simply hidden under it. Through the lifelong process of “working out” our salvation – it is how I come to terms with every single misplaced expectation in my life.

We have purpose. God defined and delineated our purpose as He recorded moment by moment of our existence. (Psalm 139) If salvation to me is a moment when I say sorry to God, but do not turn from some things or turnover some things to Christ there is no exchange. Cutting away the sin that separated me from the Lord, I know must cling to Him. Becoming grafted to Him, I strive to remain close to Jesus. Allowing Him to change me from the inside out. Faith is about the unseen never the seen so my life may look the same. The change in me precipitates the change around me. The conditions of my life may not significantly change but the change in me will create a different outcome. As we cling to Jesus, His Spirit works in us to change our character.

Character change releases our new life and the person who God created us to be from the beginning. Right standing with God realigns us with His Will and Way through His Word so we can have every benefit and blessing ever promised for us. Repentance is a change of position that will impact our character. Our character is molded and shaped by His Spirit when problems come that knock off sharp edges and make us soft and pliable in the Hand of God for His Plan and Purpose. Trials cause discomfort that produces a desire for change. Endurance strengthens our character allowing us to endure the process of change and accept His Work within us. Continued endurance gives way to confident hope that will release our expectation from this life and place them in forever.

Colossians 3:10-11 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

I have a new nature. I must put it on day by day. It really is simpler than I realized. For a long time, I felt like I had so much to do. Countless changes to make. See what it says…put on your new nature. Then what? Renewal is knowing God and becoming like Him. All that matters to God is that Christ lives in me. Every expectation outside of Jesus Christ is in vain. Every good thing in my life comes from God – I did nothing to produce it. Every blessing I have is from the Hand of God. Every good thing being produced in my heart and mind is fruit of His Spirit. Every single day of my life is planned to perfection by the One who goes before me to make a way. All I have to do is remain in Christ. He renews me. He softens my heart to accept His Word. He changes my mind to live by Truth. He satisfies my soul. It is from there, my life will prosper as my soul does.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Thanksgiving is next week. That’s just crazy. The only thing on my menu as of right now is pumpkin cheesecake. Tried some and liked it so I am going to make it. However, honestly it is just another day. I am given the opportunity to be thankful every day. When I choose thankfulness every day, it produces contentment that solidifies character in my life allowing God to renew me. I am thankful for my life, growing family, and the new things He is doing all around me. I am thankful for the present troubles that are small yet seem so significant because God is working out His Plan for me. I want God’s Glory in my life. It always outweighs the problems. It will last forever.

Yesterday, I heard the news that a young man who I prayed for had received a good report from the doctor. He is still in remission. I literally broke down in tears of thankfulness and awe at the Goodness of God. Our son endured three years and multiple relapses including countless rounds of chemotherapy – in the end to God be the glory – He is in remission, too. Sin is the cancer in our life that too often is held tightly in fear of dissatisfaction, discontentment, desperation, and more. God wants to take that which is killing us and fill our life with His Goodness and Glory today. I think it is in that moment of realization that the renewal of God is not religious or radical but complete reconciliation of our past and present to prepare for a perfect future that we find out it is refreshing and worth having all the small inconveniences that build character along the way. I am thankful today. I am content. Thanksgiving is next week, but the celebration has already begun.

Do not give up? Do you feel like it is just not worth it anymore? I promise it is when we allow God to be God and do His Thing. You cannot create a perfect life but He can and will perfect those who are willing to turn it all over to Him. It is refreshing. It is renewing. It is revival of our heart and soul the joy of the Lord and His Peace flood our life. His Spirit is a happy homemaker who will do it all if given the go ahead. The Lord promises in Psalm 138:8 to perfect all that concerns us. Will you allow Him to do so today? Don’t panic. Don’t freak out. Don’t get all worked up and stressed out. Just trust the Lord to do what He promises. He will work it all out. The Lord is producing glory for us that far surpasses and completely outweighs any burden that is released. Why not give it a try? I am going to get a menu together. Grab some food. Put together a good meal. No need to worry or rush. I no longer expect a perfect life. I cannot do it I tried. Stop worrying about everything next Thursday may or may not be and begin to count your blessing right now. His Goodness is right behind you accompanied by His Unfailing Love. New mercy is waiting on your doorstep why not open the door to your prayer closet and let it in. God is good all the time. His Love is forever. You have all you need to live a glorious life so live it. Make new memories. Do new things. Stop worrying and start celebrating. You are a new creation. He makes all things new including you!

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.

This is War

this-is-war

Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLT) A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

In all my years as a Christian, I have never been more aware of the good fight of faith as I am in this moment. The war around me in the spiritual realm has reached a magnitude of epic proportions. To believe is a battle. Fighting for faith is not at all easy. How do I hold something I cannot see? When choosing to hold on to God’s Word, many times it means holding our tongue, staying our hand and not taking a single swing. I am not there yet. I want to be. My desire is to become so confident and strong in the Lord that I am unaware of the assaults of the enemy around me. I cannot keep my heart from people and remain in unison with the Lord so it is open to the insults and hurts of others. Be strong in the Lord and in His Mighty Power. What do we do as believers when it appears that we are losing ground to the lie of the enemy? How do we respond to attacks? What are the rules of engagement in fighting the unseen when what we see is challenging enough? Put on God’s Full Armor so that you will be able to STAND FIRM against all strategies of the devil. Lord, help me to secure my armor because my strength is fading fast.

Ephesians 6:13-18 (NLT)Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

I am struggling a bit today so forgive me. I want to encourage you and exhort you but I am tired and weary. King Jesus, I need you to be my champion today. To come and save the day. The battle is too big for me. The ruthless attack is tearing away pieces of me. Secure me in Your Armor today. I am trying to stand. I do not want to walk away. I believe this is all part of Your Plan. The Belt of Truth keeps me standing. The armor of Righteousness wraps me tightly in Your Love. It promises that no weapon formed against me will prosper although it seems as though it might be. My shoes must be of peace though the hot coals of accusation and poking lies spread carelessly about are wearing through them quickly. Lord, let the peace in me be like that of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness never wearing out. My shield today is faith. Faith in Your Way. Faith in Your Word. Faith in Your Will. Faith in Your Promise. Faith in Your Name. Faith in You, Jesus. The fiery arrows are flowing from all directions. I am saved. I have the Helmet of Salvation to guard me against such lies as you will not make it and you are going under. It hushes the whispering hissing that tells me to give up. The giant is too big. My faith is too small. Greater is He who is in me than he that is in this world. Holy Spirit help me. I am fanning the flame today. Praying for His Spirit to rain down and rush in to help me. Wash away the offense. Soothe the hurt. Fight for me today Lord. This is war…

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

We live in a war zone. Love has grown cold. Sin is rampant. Division is permeating people making its way through society all the way to the church. The Body of Christ has become cannibalistic rather filled with all-consuming love. What are we fighting for anyone? What is our mission? Do we have a goal? If it is to build a Kingdom, why are we tearing it down? Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier. The war for our soul is real. The enemy cuts to the heart every time. We are not called to fight the enemy but stand in the Power and on the Promise of God. Faith confident in the Lord’s Ability to fight and win our battles is not always easy and sometimes seems downright impossible. I like impossible. It is the realm where God takes over as I step back. Coming to the end of myself always births the promise. Today I am there. Civilian affairs are messy and keep us from the mission. Athletes can train to perfection but cannot win if disqualified. We are called to love others. (Period) To step out of love even in a religious effort to serve the Living God produces no prize just lasting disappointment when we meet Jesus face to face. Hardworking farmers enjoy the fruit of their labor. If your appetite is for anything less than the fruit of God’s Spirit, the same will be produced in your life. To cultivate hate will yield hate. To plant seeds of love will become a harvest of love. You reap what you sow. God’s Word always brings forth His Promise when we put our faith in Jesus. Lord, help me to understand all these things today. I am evaluating myself and current position. Am I enduring like a good soldier on a mission to fulfill the Great Commission? Am I training with purpose or shadowboxing with my soul? Am I planting anything in my life worth harvesting or should I burn the field and start over? Guide me Lord. Show me the Way. I want to find victory in You today.

Matthew 14:24-28 (NLT) Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

Jesus and His Disciples just fed 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. It was miraculous. I am sure as the disciples boarded the boat that they were filled with awe and excitement at what they had witnessed. But then the storm rose up along with the wind and waves and suddenly everything that they had just experienced went overboard. “They were fighting heavy waves.” I grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida spending many summers on the beach. We would body surf as kids. When a wave came rolling in that wasn’t quite right, all you had to do was go underwater and let it roll over you. Or, you could try to fight it and go tumbling to shore. The enemy is fighting us in the supernatural realm every day that is given to securing more faith and stability in Jesus Christ and building His Kingdom. Though you cannot see him, he is working overtime to destroy every bit of faith found in you. The men saw the Lord yet did not recognize Him as they were overtaken by fear and exhaustion. Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage I am here!” Then Peter, man I love this guy, called to Him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

It is in those times that our flesh becomes weak and giving up seems like the only option when Jesus calls to us. He invites to come closer. He wants to take hold of our hand. Peter called out to Jesus and Jesus said, “Come!” I am not only battling an adversary every day of my Christian life but I am also battling myself. “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” (Galatians 5:16-17) My flesh wants to fight back. It wants to go after those people who are spreading lies. I want to defend my life, my stand, my actions and words. However, God didn’t tell me to fight back. He told me to stand. Jesus didn’t say, “Sic ‘em!” He said, “Come!” Lord, give me the strength to stand and watch you fight for me today. Help me to hold this position of trusting and believing in You. I will not take offense. I must keep my full expectation in You today, Lord. I don’t want to go under but walk on water with You. I have good intentions, Lord show me the ones that are godly expectation.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 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. 

This is war. The enemy is raging. My flesh is crying out. Jesus is my Champion. He is my example. He holds all expectation for my life because He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. My only possible route to the Father is to go through Him. I am tired Jesus. I am weary. I have been standing here for a long time waiting for You to fight this battle and win the war. My weariness is a sign that I know well. It is the moment of truth when you see me come to the end of myself and reach down to pick me up again. I must endure to the end to be saved even if the “end” is of me. You are the champion who secures victory in my life. I walk in it when I walk by faith and not by sight. What I see in my life currently is sad. It is heartbreaking and disappointing. I do not see a win but crushing defeat. This is war. Through it all, I hold the promise that You Lord are initiating and perfecting the faith I need to have everlasting life. Lord, help me to forgive. Do not allow bitterness to grow in the recesses and folds of my heart restricting my faith in any way. As God fights my battles today, I must fight my flesh. I must keep standing. I must keep resisting the enemy. I must keep my joy in the midst of the flurry of fiery darts. I cannot fear evil or what man might do to me – my strength comes from the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:56-58 (NLT) But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

 

 

 

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.

Heart Failure

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Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Really? Forgive as I forgave you. Come on Lord, you know what they did! Forgive as I have forgiven you…Okay fine. The conversation in my mind continues to go in circles. What happens when you want to forgive but can’t seem to find it in your heart? Or when the offender doesn’t have any remorse and continues in their plight? What then? We must forgive them anyway. I know not as easy as it sounds even to the “best” Christian. There are many perceived enemies and threats all around you in any given day but people are not one of them. We may call them our enemy but really they are our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Sibling rivalry is raising a ruckus in the Kingdom and will continue to cause division as long as we don’t really dig down in our heart and find the faith to forgive others as God has forgiven us through Jesus Christ. I am guilty of unforgiveness. Clothing myself as a Child of the Living God includes compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, of course, but without forgiveness I exempt myself from God’s Grace, Mercy and Love. We cannot withhold that which God so graciously gives us and think to become one of His Kingdom. Unfortunately…or maybe fortunately it just doesn’t work that way.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV) Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

In Matthew 18, Jesus shares a parable with Peter concerning forgiveness to reinforce the importance of forgiveness. A king decided to settle accounts with his servants. A servant was brought to him that owed him a significant amount of gold. The servant begged and pleaded with the kind promising that if he would patient with him that the servant would pay it all back. The king let him go. The servant was wicked and grabbed one of his fellow servants who owed him less than what he owed the king demanding immediate repayment. But when this servant begged to be allowed time to pay it back, the wicked servant refused to do to his peer what the kind had done for him throwing the man in prison. When the king heard the news, he had the wicked servant apprehended, thrown in jail and tortured until the debt was repaid in full. The parable concludes with this verse – “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)

Forgiveness is a matter of the heart. It has nothing to do with being right or being wrong. It is not contingent on the repentance or repayment of the offender but rather a release of real estate in our heart for the Lord to fill with more of His Grace, Mercy and Love. It is uncomfortable to learn that when you think you have it all together in God that He allows us to be shaken a bit so that voids may be discovered in our life. I am a forgiving person when it comes to me. Maybe it is because I know who I am and what I have done and how much I need God’s Grace. However, there is always more that I need to learn and the Lord is faithful to teach me those things. I share this with you from the bottom of my heart which clearly needs just a little more love.

Recently my mother had open heart surgery, I have spent time with her as she recovered. A home health nurse indicated on a visit that she could hear a slight rattle in mom’s right lower lung. This is of note in a patient especially a heart patient because that could indicate fluid in their chest which can lead to congestive heart failure. If fluid builds up around your heart, it can keep the heart from pumping blood through the body sufficiently. As the pumping power is affected, the body will begin to show symptoms of distress such as shortness of breath, swelling, fatigue which will worsen over time until there is irregular heartbeat and chest pain, etc. The next day I took my mother to get an x-ray. Walking into the clinic, she indicated that she felt weak, tired and a bit short of breath. This would not be alarming if it was part of her continued recovery but up until that day she was slowly increasing her activity so I became alarmed. The radiologist showed her some fluid built up in her chest. The nurse called that evening but did not address the fluid so I asked her about it including running down the symptoms that I was seeing as mom lay in her chair becoming weaker throughout the day. Within minutes, she called back with a whole list of doctor’s orders to address what now appeared to be the early stages of pneumonia. God is so good! Within 24 hours mom was recovering quite nicely.

I share this to story with you today because we must pay careful attention to the signs and symptoms of unforgiveness in our life. It will begin to manifest things in us that are not Christ like. To forgive another person from our heart opens our life up to harm again so it is human nature to forgive but never forget. This impacts our heart and ability to love others as the Lord has instructed us to. I am guilty. During the time with my mom, there was a situation with our daughter that has caused great heartache and division between us and people who we love. Now a week or so later, I am struggling to find forgiveness in my heart. I can forgive and pretend to move on but I must forgive as Jesus has forgiven me to insure that my heart stays healthy and in tune with Him. It’s funny how I can forgive people for hurting me but mess with my kids and mama bear comes out. Well, I cannot live in unforgiveness and in the Kingdom of God as well.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NIV) And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Half of the Lord’s Prayer is about forgiveness. This tells me two things – it is a high priority to God and it is probably one of the number one temptations to His People. Forgiveness is an act of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience because if fully demonstrates the love, grace and mercy demonstrated on the Cross. We are to love one another. More importantly, we are to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48) The world loves its family and friends. It chooses to hate those who are perceived as enemies. Jesus has commanded, not suggested, us to love other people as He has loved us. How are you doing with that? Our heart must grasp the power of loving those who are unlovable and even those who cause hurt, offense, and brokenness just as much as our friends and family. It begins with forgiveness. Who do you ignore? Who have you written off? Who has real estate in your heart today that belongs to Jesus? Just as fluid will cause the heart to stop functioning properly and lead to death, so will unforgiveness if we do not deal with it properly.

Luke 6:37-38 (NIV) “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I need, want and desire all of God’s Love, Grace and Mercy in full operation in my life. Now that my mom has had her heart “fixed”, she must observe a heart smart diet. She must change certain habits and modify what she eats to keep her heart healthy. We are the same when it comes to love, grace and mercy in our life. If mom goes back to eating a high sodium and high fat diet, she will likely end up in the same condition as before as her heart will not be properly cared for. It is up to my mom to make life changes to accommodate her heart. We must do the same. The world will justify hurt and unforgiveness. After all doesn’t the saying go, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”? How many times must I forgive seventy times seven? Really God? Absolutely. The Lord will give me the same amount of love, grace and mercy that I give to others not based on their offenses but compared to His Great Affection for me. I am to love others as He has loved me.

2 Corinthians 2:5-11 (NIV) If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Has someone caused you grief? Are you offended? Are you done? The closer a person is to you the deeper the cut when they come against you. I understand this completely. Several years ago, I was struggling with unforgiveness toward someone. I wanted to just become indifferent about them. You know act like they did not exist. As I prayed for the Lord to calm my heart and forgive me for my attitude, a question popped into my head. “What if you are the only person praying for them?” Think about that. Could it be that the scheme of the enemy is to get us to write people off in our heart and mind so that we will not pray for them much less love them? The Lord’s Prayer says, “Lead us not into temptation…” The enemy wants to cause bitterness, strife and division in every relationship where a Christian believer is present. It sabotages the Kingdom work and stops revival when relationship are interrupted in such a way. We must live in a surrendered state of forgiveness because it allows His Grace to be sufficient for me. Unforgiveness implies that Christ’s Work on the Cross was not enough to cover every offense. It was enough for me. I must extend to others. All others. I need the overflowing love and mercy of God in my life every single day. I will not allow the enemy to stop it with unforgiveness which always leads to heart failure.

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