Make the Sacrifice

Make the Sacrifice

Psalm 118:26-28 (NLT) Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you!

After a spectacular Saturday, I awaken to an overcast and humid Sunday. What a disappointment! I had plans for today including washing the smelly dog, planting a hydrangea and maybe going for a leisurely drive with my sweetie. The forecast for today now seems to include a trip to church and a long rainy day nap. Ugh!

I could feel my emotions dampen a little bit. It is in the moment I realize that my heart is sinking for no reason at all that I am reminded I am not a child of darkness but live in the light. The Light of God’s Love wraps around me. It floods every shadowed part of my existence when I choose to keep my face, heart, mind, body and soul set upon Him. It is an intentional life to live in His Love. We must daily combat emotions lending themselves to temporary things and fully embrace the new life set before us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords to the altar. What are these sacrifices that keep us near the heart of God and detached from worthless feelings and overwhelming emotions?

Psalm 50:14 (NLT) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

Thankfulness is a sacrifice when you really don’t like what you see. To be thankful that God is good. He is for you. His Love for you unfailing and unchanging even when you are really not thankful at all. Thankfulness allows gratitude for flow where ungratefulness once hindered you. To begin to count the blessings in our life allows faith to rise up and bring hope along with it. The quicker our words begin to give thanks to the Lord it is the same time when His Light and Love illuminate the darkness trying to overshadow us. There is line in one of my favorite worship songs that goes “you can’t turn out light that shines from the inside.” Thankfulness is a light in the darkness even when it is a sacrifice. The attitude of gratitude will do nothing more than lift you up!

Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT) For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 

Praise honors the Lord for who He is. He is God. He is Jesus. He is the life giving source of every good thing in our life. Sometimes our heart becomes cluttered with the temporary worries, cares and concerns of life. Distracted by busyness and overloaded by feelings it is easy to forget WHO HE is and all that He has done. Salvation in and of itself would have been more than enough, but God didn’t stop there. He didn’t just save us but adopted us as His Beloved Children. I am a Child of God. Praise offers allegiance to His Name.

Grumbling and complaining are not the vocabulary of victory. They imply a lack of faith and flourishing doubt in our life. To bless the Lord, oh my soul, with all that is within me means that even when I am not happy or content in my present situation that I honor the Lord with praise. Our words are like a shovel. They either dig a pit or fill in the spaces. One pulls us deeper while the other makes a way out. Praise is the proverbial shovel that provides a pathway to the Presence of God and a change in our perspective.

Psalms 54:6 (NLT) I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.

Every week I shop at a local department store. It is known for its low prices. It is also a pain in the neck. I usually end up with an overflowing cart at a long line of closed registers wondering if the savings are really worth all the hassle just to pay for my purchases. There are more than twenty checkout lines but only four are open with long lines at each one. I pick the one that will inevitably take the longest. I begin to pray for the patience not to glare at people or complain with those who feel the same way. If someone comes up with only a handful of items, I have made a practice of offering them to go in front of me. I can only think it must be the Holy Spirit working in me because that is one more person I must wait for. However, over time it has made me consciously aware of those around me. I cannot count how many times I have offered and the person in shock and awe goes before me. I also have found that every single time I am in a hurry and need a break that the person in line has done the same for me. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

The command to love one another begins in simple gestures and random acts of kindness. To pay it forward with the Lord is to give a voluntary offering which requires something of our heart. God doesn’t need our time, talent and treasure. He is Sovereign. All-knowing, all-powerful and everywhere all at the same time. I believe that when we become His Hands and Feet relaying His Heart to others by offering acts of loving kindness, goodness, forgiveness and every other good fruit His Spirit gives us that He is glorified. I can invite people to church to experience the Lord but if I only have that instance will my attitude and actions off an encounter with Christ? To be a living sacrifice requires a renewed mind that comes from a changed heart that is willing to lay down its selfish ways to make a sacrificial voluntary offering to the Lord. I must lay down my life. I must lose my life to find it in Him.

Psalm 97:10-12 (NLT) You who love the Lord, hate evil! He protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked. Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right. May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord and praise his holy name!

Well the day is still overcast. The humidity is rising. Rain is in the forecast. I am thankful for the rain today. I wasn’t when I got up but surely it will wash away the pollen and water the grass. I praise the Lord for He is good! Always good! I am thankful for His Word today and His Spirit who come to me when I am sinking and life my heart. I have a hope that does not lead to disappointment. When my feelings or emotions try to pull me into the pit of unthankfulness riddled with grumbling and complaining, I will begin to praise my way out. I am a Child of God. Every detail of my life is destined to turn out for my good. Nothing can separate me from the Love of God even my bad attitude. (Praise God!) Thank you Lord for inexpressible joy that I find when I choose to enter Your Presence rather than succumbing to the pitfall of pitifulness. I have much to be thankful for. My life is praiseworthy just because you are in it and I belong to you. Lord, help me to find a way to give you a voluntary offering today! Do something for someone else that will bring glory to Your Name! Thank you Jesus for being the Light of my life!

Psalm 118:23-25 (NLT) This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success.

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Rags to Riches

Rags to Riches

Colossians 3:14-16 (NLT) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

I am one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of my life is changed. Filled with disappointment, bitterness, and completely devastated by bad choices I was lost in my own regret and shame. All that changed when I met a man. A man who knew all about my life and yet still chose to give me a brand new one. He took all those details and continues to make good on His Promise to change this mess into a message. Like an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor yet private and intimate, I cannot begin to tell you how love made the difference in my life. His Love that clothes me allows me to love freely and forgivingly. His Grace that has kept me this far has produced a need to give it away just to have more. His Goodness has benefited my life in more ways than I could ever count or confer to another without forgetting some of the miraculous and wonderful gifts I have been given. His Name – Jesus.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” One of the greatest gifts given to us by the Lord is His Peace. The kind of peace that passes understanding. Derived from unconditional love and uncompromised acceptance of all imperfections by a perfectly sovereign God provided by his perfectly sinless Son, how is it possible to accept such an extravagant gift without somehow reciprocating it? It would be wonderful if there was something of any worth that I could give Him, but there really is nothing other than to accept His Gift of Love, Grace and Mercy and apply it to my broken life. Oh how our pride hates the thought of something that is unearned and undeserved. Our need for supremacy and control puts rules, regulations and mandates on the freeness of God’s Grace in order to fulfill its obligation. Such in intrusion sows seeds of insecurity and doubt that will begin to uproot faith and choke out the hope rising from within.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love…” In Isaiah 61:10, it says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” The Lord gave us salvation and wrapped a white robe around us to cover us. It is this robe that gives us confidence that our relationship is secure again. Nothing can now come between us and the Love of God. Sin is covered sufficiently by the Blood of Jesus. Game over. However, if we do not clothe ourselves in His Love daily – it is easy to put back on the filthy rags of a beggar. Imagine. Why do such a thing? Would you do that now? Would you choose clothes out of the hamper rather than grabbing a fresh clean garment from the drawer?

Today, before you leave for church, you will choose an outfit, check your appearance in the mirror, and make sure everything is just right before heading off to worship the Lord. The people in the congregation will appreciate your diligence but when you arrive will the Lord see the robe of righteousness that He has given you. The love that identifies you as His Own. Will God recognize you as His Own? It is easy to get caught up in life and social standards but today if only for today – can we get so wrapped up in Jesus that no one recognizes us?

Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Studying the Word this morning, my intent was to focus on thankfulness. I am determined to carry over the thanksgiving season all the way through the Christmas holiday. Thankfulness produces contentment in our life. Taking our eyes off what we do not have to appreciate and acknowledge the things given to us by the Hand of God. Every good thing in our life is a product of God with us – Immanuel. It doesn’t matter if we acknowledge the Lord or not – He blesses us according to His Will. The rain falls on the just and unjust because God ordained it not man ordering it. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve the Grace of God in my life. What I can do is to let the Prince of Peace rule my heart.

You must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow done into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. The instructions are simple. Why do we make it so hard? Faith is not impractical. It may seem a bit illogical until the Word of God becomes a daily consumption and His Spirit uses it cultivate your faith into a practical lifestyle. God’s Word is the fertilizer of faith in our life. The roots of faith connect us with God’s Heart and His Desires. As we build our lives on Christ who is the foundation of our faith, there is a wonderful transformation from dissatisfaction and discontentment to full satisfaction and completion. It is not based on feelings, emotions or worldly standards but thankfulness. How can I be thankful when my needs are not met, my emotions are all over the map, and my expectations seem wasted on an unseen God with invisible hands?

We walk by faith and not by sight. Faith is followed by simply doing what the Word of God says even when the outcome is not clear. A farmer plants a field with great expectation but no guarantee. Doing his best to prepare the field, sowing good seed, watering and caring for what looks to be barren, while beneath the soil – the seed is growing, changing, developing and maturing. What if the very thing you prayed for is just below the surface of your life, but unwillingness to wait causes you to leave the field? The seed will still produce in your absence.

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Disqualification is ineligibility when breaking the terms of an agreement. The enemy will continually offer compromises in order to attempt to disqualify you. Empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that appeal to human reasoning but are not divine wisdom. It is written that God’s People will perish from ignorance or a lack of knowledge. God’s Word is absolutely essential to tearing down the strongholds of the mind those things that appeal to our flesh but wreak havoc on our heart. The fullness of God lives in Christ. Christ lives in us. His Authority and Power belong to us as a product of grace and grace alone. We are overcomers in all things. We have been handed the victory. Disqualification is only possible apart from Christ. His Grace fills the void of broken rules and agreements so now we are right with God the Father again. We must make the decision to capture every thought that is in rebellion to God, His Plan and Purpose for our life in order to remain qualified for the calling. Otherwise, we will choose less than God’s Best and wander off to wildernesses in search of substitutions, shortcuts and subtle settlings.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

You are one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of your life is subject to change. Though you may be experiencing disappointment, bitterness, and complete devastation by bad choices or unfortunate situations, the Fullness of Christ in you is looking to make its way out into the open. Has shame shattered your confidence in Christ or maybe regret is reasoning that you are not worthy of God’s Investment of His Son and Spirit so you simply live in your suffering?  God has written an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor just for you, it begins only by accepting the fullness of His Grace and then following Him. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, fail or flail, God is doing the good work inside you and His Grace is always enough.

Devote yourself today. The word “devote” means to give all or a large part of one’s time and/or resources to an activity or person. I wonder what would happen if we devoted more of our time and resources to discovering the Fullness of God given to us in Christ. If we strived to clothe ourselves in the righteousness that is grace given rather than continually donning the old filthy rags of our past indiscretions or present insecurities. Devote our life to God, Jesus and His Spirit by pursuing intimacy that is not dependent on anyone else. To live with an alert mind that is fixed on the Kingdom, heavenly outpourings and miraculous outcomes. God has placed potential in us that will lead to daily fulfillment and abundance. We must be consciously aware that this moment does not dictate our future, but should be lived with forever in mind. Least but not last, a thankful heart. This is for me today.

My identity in Christ is enough to live in complete fulfillment with hopeful expectation. I must build my confidence by increasing faith. I must devote my life to Jesus Christ in all things. (Ephesians 5:10) I must be confident of the Kingdom to which I belong and its sustainability for my life today. (Hebrews 12:28) On those days when I got lost in emotional overtures or overwhelming feelings, I must still manage to sacrifice thankfulness because He never changes and is bigger than my feelings. (Psalm 50:14; I John 3:20) God knows exactly what He is doing in me, through me and for me. I must maintain my belief that He is good and will never let me down. I must remind my soul by worshiping God for who He is and not what He does.

With this in mind today, let us devote ourselves to the Lord once again. I find that I do this on a daily basis these days. About five years ago, I came to the place of understanding that I have no control over my life and what happens in it. God has complete control now. He always did but when I gave up my need to control it and came to the realization I can do nothing apart from Christ – everything changed. I am changing. The more I change the more I find that is needed to be given to His Transformation process. Giving up control is hard, but the realization I have no control is life changing. It is the moment when His Grace becomes enough…all sufficient.  I am nothing apart from Christ. I can do nothing of worth outside of the God living in me. Everything I am ever will be or have is from the Hand of God who is loving, gracious and good even when I’m not. Thank you for taking my filthy rags and giving me the riches of Heaven. Lord, let me live like it today and every day.

Ephesians 5:20 (NLT) And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Just For You

Just For You

I Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” C.S. Lewis

True godliness mixed with contentment is the catalyst of love, joy and peace that eliminates the need to compare and compromise. True godliness is not something to be attained or achieved but simply accepting our identity in God through Jesus Christ and not subjecting ourselves to a lower standard of living. It is a choice. A daily decision to be thankful and focused on the treasure inside of us that is taking over. In fact, I believe that contentment is great wealth because it cannot be taken away from us. We came into the world naked and afraid and will one day leave it the very same way. Will there be an inheritance left behind for our children? What will it be? To teach our children even ourselves to live a life of godly contentment will do far more than any amount of money, assets or investment left in their name. To be certain that they know and understand their worth outside of the earthly economy will lead them to forever with a future and hope.

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Paul let us in on a little secret. We must “learn” how to be content. Contentment is full satisfaction. It is happiness outside the boundaries of acquisition that allows us happiness, joy and peace even when lacking our wants, needs and desires knowing that God is our Provider. He is a Good Father. He will never let us down. Faith in God includes trusting and believing that His Goodness is for us. Right here. Right now in the land of the living. Yet, continuing to preserve unfavorable conditions, live through trying circumstances, and knowing when to wait on the Lord rather than giving into our impulsive nature. Tis the season of giving and getting and giving and getting until it everyone is all given out. Yet the Gift already given in Jesus Christ is enough to fulfill the promise that I can do all everything through Him who give me His Strength. Lord, teach us contentment today. Holy Spirit help us to learn when enough is enough.

“Contentment does not mean that I desire nothing. But rather, it’s the simple decision to be happy with what I have.” Paula Rollo, Author of Beauty through Imperfection

Matthew 6:33 (NLT) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

How does one find sufficiency in God without ever seeking Him? To seek the Kingdom of God above all else means making thankfulness and contentment a priority in our life. It is to live righteously always pursuing a close proximity to the Lord and not letting stuff (including pride) to get in the way. Pride is the drive and desire for more to somehow exalt us rather than living in subjection and surrender to Jesus Christ who says, “I am enough!” Is He enough for you today? Busyness and business makes us think we need more to be happy and extra to live extravagantly. I find that as my life is simplified that I sleep better. My drive for success has been redirected from this world to the Kingdom. God has been faithful in our partnership. Seeking His Kingdom including our willingness to be faithful to His Word, obedient in tithing, and sowing seeds of faith even some monetary will change our perspective of worldly success. Generosity is born of humility. Trusting God that whatever source chosen to give from will be replenished to overflowing again. Psalm 34:7 is the promise that those who take delight in the Lord will be given their heart’s desire.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis

Psalm 21:1-2 (NLT) How the king rejoices in your strength, O Lord! He shouts with joy because you give him victory. For you have given him his heart’s desire; you have withheld nothing he requested. 

What if the Lord is not withholding anything from us but simply waiting on what we desire to be more on His Scale? What if He desires to give us love, joy, and peace not subject to the things of this world and give us full satisfaction? The Lord has promised good to me. He has been faithful across the board in all things. To trust Him that He will never let me down, provide all I need and do exceedingly abundantly more than I could even think to ask for takes a faith in the unseen reality of what we hope for rather than in the light and momentary trinkets of today. We have been given every spiritual blessing in heaven. The ability to produce and prosper in every season. Foreigners journeying home to a Kingdom. We are sons and daughters of the King. It doesn’t matter what our life looks like here. Our lineage in Jesus Christ is to rule and reign with Him. Confidence in our identity will overcome the need to compare and compromise to someone else’s standard. It allows us to walk boldly before the Throne of God in our time of need and patience to wait as He fulfills our request according to His Perfect Will.

David was not a perfect man. He committed adultery and murder yet the testimony of his life is summed up in the statement that God had given him the desires of his heart and withheld nothing he requested. Our past does not dictate our future. The Lord is ready to make us a new creation and give us new life. We must be willing to accept it. Godliness is to step into the fullness of our identity with bold confidence that God, our Father, will never let us down and thereby produce complete contentment in our body, mind and soul.

I John 2:15-17 (NLT) Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

What is the desire of your heart today? Are there many desires? The world offers many “things” that it believes are necessary to be successful and prosperous. Heaven offers only one. Jesus Christ is the completion of our life. To become one with Christ in this life leads us to the everlasting. There are so many distractions and deceptions as the enemy of our soul feeds our flesh with cravings for lesser than things when God has an abundance for us. We must make room for His Fullness by taking captive rebellious thoughts and guarding our eyes, mind and body from all the substitutions being offered. Are you happy today? Are you content? Love, joy and peace are products of God’s Spirit and can never be taken from us. Happiness is an emotion. It comes and goes like the tide. It can be changed with just one tidbit of bad news or the knock of unexpected trouble. The Lord has something just for you. A gift to be opened. If used it will be the greatest blessing your heart and soul has ever known – it is called contentment. You must learn to be content. Contentment is found only in Jesus Christ as He completes His Work in us. Will you accept this precious and priceless gift just for you today?

John 14:27 (NLT) “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

“The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in the ecstasy of love…” C.S. Lewis

Give Thanks

Give Thanks

Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)  So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Thanksgiving is this week. No really, it is in just four days. How did it get here so fast? I feel the panting of the racehorse of stress and anxiety beneath me. Panting hard getting ready for the pistol shot and the gate to fall. The holidays are here…Lord help us. We also have other excitement in our family. Our son is now engaged. There is a wedding upcoming. Our daughter is expecting our first grandchild at the beginning of the New Year. Office parties some to plan others to attend. Church related activities. List making, shopping, and gift giving. I can feel the pull and stretch already.

The stores have all the fall seasonal merchandise on clearance. Rifling through a pile of placemats – I find one that says, “Give Thanks”. I pause for a moment. Looking at all the plates, platters and wall signs also marked down – it is written on many of the items. All of them hidden away on a clearance aisle. While they have been replaced with Christmas trees, ornaments, gift wrap and the like. A celebration is coming. The newborn King has arrived. Salvation is introduced to the world. Grace ready to overflow to all mankind. Hope restored for a lost world and people shrouded in darkness. We have much to be thankful for and so little of it is in this store. Hidden deep in our heart where His Spirit lives there is quiet voice reminding me – “Give Thanks. Don’t forget to be thankful. You have it all right here in Me.”

Overflowing thankfulness is not a human quality but a spiritual gift born of a made up mind and hopeful heart. To be thankful in every situation is our goal but not always the outcome. “So then” as an introduction to this passage points to a result. This has happened so then this is the result. Paul indicates that the church has shown great discipline and firm faith in Christ so then…the result is to continue to live life rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith and overflowing with thankfulness. I wonder if our hearts focus solely on living the life prescribed by the Word and continually attempting to sow seeds of faith for prosperity in all things, but we struggle with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a result of satisfaction and contentment. To be overflowing with thanksgiving means to live in a constant state so that it continually multiplies and cannot be contained. The result of living in Christ and firm steadfast faith should be thanksgiving. Are you thankful today?

Colossians 4:2 reminds us to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful for the return of Christ and to be thankful. I wonder if our prayer life is stagnant and witnessing weak because we have forgotten to give thanks. Discipline is not only a spiritual trait but can be from natural habits. Religion sets forth a standard doctrine. People who comply with the demands of the doctrine exhibit discipline but it doesn’t mean they have a relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship is formed of a different kind of discipline that changes our character and identity. Two become one making it a whole different creation. Christ promised to make us new creations. This is not possible until our attitude and actions are changed by His Word, Way and Will for us. We don’t make that change but submit to His Discipline as a disciple of Christ. Without a heart experience, an encounter with Jesus is a chance meeting. It is our heart, desires and passions that He is after to make our life fulfilled and complete. Apart from the Lord this is not possible and therefore overflowing thanksgiving the same.

Colossians 3:15 (NIV) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

“And be thankful.” This mandate comes after a long list of characteristics of God’s chosen people. We are holy and dearly loved to be clothed in compassion, kindness, tenderness, gentleness and patience. To bear burdens together and to be forgiving. With all these attitudes and actions – we are to do them in love. Live in peace with Christ and others. Then the statement comes almost like an add-on “And be thankful.” It’s almost as if it says, “You must do all these things and like it.” The giving of our life to Christ does not come with challenges and struggles along the way. We must wrestle our flesh for control of our mind, will and emotions in order to surrender our heart and mind to the Lord. We can do all of the conditions listed above but without thankfulness – is it really a heart change or merely a change in habits?

In Ezra 3, the builders had laid the foundation of the Temple. The reconstruction process was finally showing some results. They stopped to have a praise break. “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; His Love toward Israel endures forever.’” It goes on to say that many people did not share the same enthusiasm and joy. There were older priests, Levites, and family leaders who had seen the former temple that wept with sorrow. Change is hard. It is difficult to endure. As the Lord prepares His Church for eternity, it requires transformation which is more than just a habitual change or altering of appearance. He is molding and shaping a Body of People to fit together in unison and harmonious perfection. The foundation of our life is faith in Jesus Christ. Though all engaged in a personal process, it is with one purpose. Where are you today in the restoration and renewal process of Christ? Is it hard to be thankful because life is just too hard? Are you the one who is celebrating all the good things going on around you? Are you the one who weeps in sorrow when the praise team starts singing longing for the faith, love and hope that you are still trying to find?

Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV) Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Therefore…the world is certainly shaken. Love is cold. Sin rampant. It is a polluted place and perverted culture all around us. As “temporary residents” this is not our home or forever. Sometimes in the midst of our natural life our supernatural destination grows cloudy and dim. We forget that the details of our life are promised good outcomes. (Romans 8:28) We forget that Jesus will never leave us or that His Spirit is alive and well given as our helper. Burdened and pressured by the temptations and trials of life the unseen reality of our faith becomes elusive. Not only that tradition seldom gives easily to transformation, God is doing something new in the churches around the world. New vitality is rising up from ashes, as the Lord shakes Heaven and earth once more. Since we are part of the Kingdom of God and His Chosen People, we have confident hope that no matter what happens, our future is secure. For this reason alone, the Word of God says, “Let us be thankful.”

Give thanks. I don’t know the trials you are going through or the temptation you are facing, but for a few moments, just thank God for His Love, His Son, His Spirit, His Salvation, His Kingdom, and continue to thank Him for every single thing that is good in your life. We all have something to be grateful for especially if America is our home. The enemy wants to put out our passion and desire for the Lord by making us overly busy, consumed with lesser things, bound up in lies, falling into temptation, caught up in religion, hanging on to tradition, and so many complications. It is up to us to enter His Gates with Thanksgiving and His Courts not one day but every day if our intent is to be one with Christ. I must make the personal choice to begin each day with a grateful heart even when dissatisfied, discouraged or overwhelmed. It may begin as a habit but will lead to personal transformation. Peace with God removes all doubt and fear becomes love dispels them. God is good. He is good to us. He will do exactly what He promised that He would do. Trust produces thankfulness before the thing for which we asked, prayed and believed ever happens. It is the foundation of faith like mortar in its bricks. Don’t get caught in the holidays but being changed by His Holiness. The Lord longs to live in partnership with you. He desires to carry those burdens and teach you to live apart from them. (Matthew 11) He is the Gift that keeps on giving. Give thanks today for the greatest gift of all.

Psalm 100 (NIV) Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Substance of Prayer

Substance of Prayer

Psalm 141:1-2 (ESV) O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

In the Tabernacle and then the Temple, the high priest was tasked with burning incense. Incense is a gum, spice or other substance that is burned for its sweet smell it produces. Incense comes from the Latin incensus or set on fire. Incense refers to the substance consumed and burned not the aroma emitted. The high priest would offer incense while performing morning and evening prayers in the Presence of the Lord symbolic of the prayers of the people to God. Prayer is the incense of our life. It is to be sweet smelling and sacrificial. Pouring our hearts out to the Lord in reverence of who He is.

Give ear to my voice when I call to you!

God hears every word spoken. The conversations among each other. The secret whispers in the dark. The cries of His Children never uttered past thought. He is interested in us. He longs to live in intimacy with us. Too often our approach to the Lord is like the local fast food drive-thru, speeding up the window, barking our requests in detail into the speaker, pulling around to the window impatiently, and grabbing our food then speeding off. God forbid the poor worker gets our order wrong or it is delayed at which time it is our duty to angrily give them a piece of our mind. Oh, I know what you are thinking. I would never treat God like that. But I ask you to carefully consider your prayer life today as I do mine. To examine your heart for the content of godly communication in your life. How do you approach the Presence of God? Do you enter in with thanksgiving and praise or barging in to demand what’s ours? Is it an ongoing conversation between friends and lovers or a clandestine affair of convenience? God hears every word that is spoken, what is He hearing from you? What am I a saying to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords on a daily basis? “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,”

Isaiah 56:6-8 (ESV) “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Are my prayers incense to the Lord? In Isaiah, an image of prayer arises that may change one’s perception of prayer altogether. Good, I hope so. Prayer has not lost its power but people have forgotten its purpose. By joining ourselves to the Lord, it becomes our privilege to minister to Him, to love His Name, to be His Servant, and to hold tightly to the covenant given to us in our relationship with Jesus Christ. He promises His People to be brought to “my holy mountain” or into His Presence. To make them joyful in my house of prayer. The old time church believed in travailing before the Lord and there are times and seasons that may elicit such prayers. However, the true power and potential of our prayers come when our confidence in the Lord allows us to praise His Name and live in His Presence apart from the distractions of need or want knowing and believing God will do exactly what He has promised to do. These are the prayers that silence worry, fear, anxiety and doubt. Power packed petitions that silence the enemy in the Greatness of our God. The Lord waits for “the one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ESV)  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Psalm 139:16 (ESV) Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

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

Do you believe these verses are true? Is this the potential for your life in Jesus Christ? Can I ask you to consider your prayer life? If this is the Truth concerning your life, what is there to ask for? God has plans for our welfare never to be in distress. He has given us a future and hope through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord promises that when you call on His Name, come into His Presence and pray that He will hear you. When you seek Him, you will find Him. Are you seeking the Lord wholeheartedly? Only you know the answer to that. Truly believing and trusting the Lord takes our faith and plants it in His Word, relying on His Wisdom, and walks in confident confidence not in our condition or circumstances but the constancy of His Great Love. God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. Once His Word is released, it cannot come back to Him until it accomplishes exactly what He sent it forth to do. It tells us in Psalm 139 that every day of our life is prerecorded and therefore provided for by God. We do not lack any good thing because He is a Good and Gracious Father. And finally, trusting the Lord includes those days when He is still working to work all things together for our good and His Glory. What does my prayer life sound like on those days? Is it an incense filled with sweet praise? Faith and confident hope changes the consistency and content of our prayers changing them from desperate cries for help to desperate cries for more of Him.

“The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

James 5:12-16 (ESV) Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Prayer and praise are partners. They go together. Our prayer must be infused with praise to become powerful. Yes, there will be times when our human weakness needs assistance. However, the majority of our prayer time should be incense on the altar of God – day and night, night and day – let incense arise. In Exodus 30:7-8, there is a direct command for the priest to enter the Presence of God each morning and evening with incense. This represents prayers and praise to the Lord perpetually. Is your prayer life consistent? Day and night and night and day. What is the content? Is it incense to the Lord? Does it give off a sweet aroma of faith mixed with confident hope emitting praise and honor and glory to God? Or does it stink of doubt and fear crying out for what is already given? Exodus 30:37 makes it clear that prayer is not about me and what I want but the Lord and who He is. The vessels on the altar of God took human form (2 Timothy 2:21) when the Spirit of the Living God came to live in us and make us His Temples (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

My righteousness is not me, but Christ who is in me. Every good thing in my life is straight from God. Nothing good lives in me apart from the Lord. When I come to Him and communicate with the Lord, it is an opportunity to express my faith in His Power and confidence in His Plan. Am I wasting my time whining and complaining or do I spend it wisely worshipping the Lord? I can only evaluate my own time spent in the Presence of God. God is able. His Power is not in any way lessened by my ability to believe but when I do by chance get it right and plant my faith in His Power, watch out! The prayer of a righteous man or woman is powerful. My righteousness is Christ alone. If this is what I believe, it changes my prayer time. To fully invest our time and energy in praising Jesus even in our prayer time changes the content of our life. There is power in prayer, I have seen its wonderworking power firsthand. Imagine the change in the atmosphere if God’s People stopping begging for bread and began singing the praises of an abundant God. The Light of His Love would burn brightly from our passion. The incense of praise overpowering the stench of doubt. Revival would come as God rushed in to get a closer whiff of His People’s Praise. The drawing in of His Mighty Breath would pull us closer and deeper than ever before. Lord, set us on fire with passion for who You are. Make the words of our mouth and mediation of our heart agree and pour out praise. May the incense of our prayer life be praise and adoration formed from faith and trust in You!

2 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

 

Ready for Overflow

Ready for Overflow

Colossians 2:6-7 (Message) My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well-constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

I had this thought today. It was really a revelation. Am I ready for rain? I am I truly in the right place for abundance to overflow in my life – from the inside to the outside. Many times I have shared the story of car shopping with my grandpa. My grandfather loved me. I never had a doubt that he would do anything for me. He cared for my brother and I during some pretty tough times. Always full of love and generosity towards us. After eating his favorite barbeque one night, we walked to the dealership next door “window shopping” as I was fourteen almost fifteen years old. Now understanding that I am in my fifties now, I discovered a Trans Am just like the one Burt Reynolds drove in the movie, “Smokey and the Bandit”. Black with the gold firebird on the hood. It was my dream car. I walked all around it. Clearly overtaken at the thought of potentially driving it, I could tell by my granddad’s face that he was perplexed. As any well-meaning teenager might I jumped at the opportunity to play the heartstrings. “I love this car, grandpa!” He said, “I know you do, but if I bought this car for you it would ruin you.” I didn’t understand what he meant all those years ago. I knew that he loved me. I also knew whatever he meant was for my own good. I was still heartbroken as I walked away from my dream car.

Now that I have been a parent for more than twenty years, I fully understand what my grandfather was telling me all those years ago. To give me that car would definitely have ruined me. There are times when I have wanted to give my kids the desires of their heart but have not because of the very same reason. I want what is best for them even if that means withholding certain things from them. They would rather eat junk food then healthy choices. However, I provide for them good nutritional choices for meals. I would love for them to have every “thing” that they want but how will they ever develop a work ethic if I hand them everything. I wish I could hold their hearts in my hands and keep it safe from all of life’s emotional and relational hazards until they are fully mature but how would they ever develop wisdom so when they are on their own they can guard their own heart. I have stood by the bedside of a child wishing and praying that I could take their pain and suffering away along with the deadly disease in their body but all I could do was offer comfort and companionship through the journey. Parenting is by far the toughest job to balance our love and commitment to our children with wisdom that will benefit their life. Imagine how difficult it must be for the Lord…

It all belongs to God. He loves us too much to just flood our life with an outpouring that might disconnect us from Christ. We must remain deeply rooted in Christ to have a rich and satisfying life. This is not found in the world but the connection we have to the Kingdom of God. It is within our future and hope. What if the abundance that God ordained in our life is just waiting for us to be rooted and grounded in the foundation of Christ so there is no risk of being swept away by its magnitude. Spiritual maturity is not doctrinal or theological. It is sustained by love, confidence, trust and endurance. It is persistence in pursuing Jesus and building our home in His Presence. There are things I used to think were important that now pale in comparison to my new life in Christ. The new thing that God is doing is not new to Him. The new creation that I am becoming is no secret to the Creator who designed this masterpiece life I am being built for. It is all new to me though. The only way that I can have the life God has called me to live is to raise my standards to that of Jesus Christ. Or maybe it is lowering my worldly standard to inherit a heavenly reward.

John 15:5-8 (Message) “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”

I have never sought the Lord more than in difficulty, disappointment and in desperation. If you were honest, you might agree. Those times when the “new” thing, life or creation was just not happening according to my expectation so I retraced my steps back to Christ. I find that when my life lacks the simple fruits such as love, joy and peace – it is because I have let go – never the other way around. Jesus is the Vine. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. My soul satisfaction is found in the Lord. The lie of the enemy in the life of the believer is that God cannot or will not meet and exceed our expectation and it lures people from following the Lord to the rich and satisfying life that He promised. Joseph ended up in a pit when he began to share what God was revealing to him. His brothers were not his enemy’s just part of a bigger plan. God sent Joseph to Potiphar’s house on his way to the palace. Joseph served his master faithfully and diligently along with God. His service as to the Lord and not man. He learned a great deal in that house. He faced temptation and accusations. He ended up in prison…still serving God wrongly accused and an innocent man. He helped some fellow prisoners. Please don’t forget me, he said to them. Isn’t it human nature to look for help from people? They forgot about him. God never forgot His Plan or the dream that He placed in Joseph’s heart when he created him. Sometimes it is in the discovery of true humility that our surrender is complete. In every season from the pit, to Potiphar’s House, to the prison and finally to the palace – God was with Joseph. Could it be that all of it was necessary so that when the overflow of abundance finally came – the man of God knew what to do with it? God’s Abundance is not compromised by our lack of faith and dedication. It is withheld until there is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God not even prosperity. He will wait until our preparation is complete so when the outpouring begins it will run through our life and not run us over.

I Thessalonians 5:17-22 (Message) Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

Today – right now – I have so much to be truly thankful for. I have love, joy and peace that prevails in my life. There are days when I feel things rising up inside me contradictory to the life I am promised. Times when I allow what I see to influence the hope that I have. Days when the hardships in life and the lengthy waits that cause my flesh to squirm under the direction of God and His Plan which always includes His Timing. The Lord has promised to do exceedingly abundantly more than I can even think or imagine. I believe that. I hear the words of my grandfather today. God is not going to release an overflow in my life until I am ready to sustain it. He is preparing me. He is positioning me in the foundation of Jesus Christ so strongly that when He releases all that He has prepared and promised to me – I will not be moved from my faith and hope in the Lord.

My challenge today is dig a little deeper into the rock solid foundation of Jesus Christ. He is where my strength comes from. To climb back into the watchtower marked waiting keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus until the vision comes to pass. To find refuge in the Strong Tower of His Presence until the rain finally comes and the harvest rises before me. I am well loved. I am well provided for. I have all that I need. I have more than enough. I am more than enough because Christ lives in me to be who I need to be for His Abundance, Increase and Prosperity to rise from within me and overflow all around me. I comes when my faith is ready and hope is confident.

My goal for today – be cheerful no matter what. Pray all the time. Thank God no matter what happens. Hang on! Let me repeat that one for me… I will thank God no matter what happens leaving no room for complaints. I will not be gullible and fall for the enemy’s lies today. This is just a season. This too shall pass. The rain is coming. I must be ready. I will examine my heart, mind and life. I will keep only the good things that God is doing and leave the past behind. Lord, make me ready for rain today. I know the harvest is coming! Prepare me for the overflow that I will never be removed from You Jesus – let me remain in Your Presence no matter how blessed I am. No matter how good things get. No matter how supernatural the overflow headed my way!

Psalm 27:13-14 (Message) I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth.
Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again:
 Stay with God.

The Gift

the-gift-2

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT) For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Twas the night before Christmas (well morning actually) and all through the house not a creature was stirring except for our little dog not much bigger than a mouse. Christmas Eve is here. Walking quietly as not to awaken three sleeping kids, I am acutely aware of my surroundings today. The silence gives me time to think. It reminds me that my life is not as chaotic as I sometimes perceive it. I realize that this house of barely six months has become our home. Even more so I feel, then the last one of twelve years. I love its rooms. Yesterday, I painted our daughter’s room so the “girl wing” of our humble abode is now coming together nicely. The Christmas tree illuminates the family room that is comfortable and homey. Under it lies more gifts and packages than one family deserves wrapped and ready to be torn open, Lord thank you for blessing us. The endless list of home improvement remains but I see all the things accomplished for some reason today. Timehop, the phone app that recounts past years in personal history, shows that for three long years this day would be spent traveling back from Shands Hospital. The battle is over. Cancer lost. Jesus won the victory for our son who will soon graduate from college and start his new life. I guess with all the busyness I forgot those years shared with hospital staff rather than baking with family. Lord, you are our Healer. It is easy to be consumed by life, all its hurts and heartaches along with daily responsibilities both common and unexpected. To focus on the things undone rather than achieved. It is easy to overlook a Savior who came to us in the middle of our self-consumed rush hour to change everything in a single moment that might take our whole lifetime to see.

It’s Christmas Eve. The day before the Greatest Gift of all time would arrive. The Messiah was not what anyone expected. Yet in that tiny baby was exactly what we needed to saved, healed, delivered and fulfilled. Our Lord of opportunity bearing His Own Gift of a brand new life. His arrival was a statement. The enemy put on notice. Satan knew that if Jesus made it to the Cross it would be finished. The one who seeks to steal, kill and destroy us could not stop the King of Kings and Lord of Lords from fulfilling His Mission. The Gift was given. Will it be received? The enemy did not stop at the Cross, throw up his hands and admit defeat. If he could not stop the Kingdom at least he could wage war against it taking as many souls as could be distracted, deceived and drowned in darkness. What will be our choice today? To see the Gift of Jesus and enjoy all of His Blessings and Benefits or allow the enemy to capture us, saturate our mind with fear, worry and anxiety, separate us from family and friends with mere words or thoughtless actions, be consumed with everyone else forgetting the One tomorrow named for.

Wonderful Counselor

Colossians 3:12-17 (NLT)  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

The arrival of Jesus Christ marked the Word of God becoming flesh to demonstrate a love that prior to that time mankind could not comprehend. He didn’t come as they expected. He was not who they built Him up to be. The logic of a baby born in a stable becoming King of Kings and Lord of Lords would demand a faith and trust far greater than human beings could find on their own. When Jesus died, He released His Spirit to each one of us. He is the Wonderful Counselor. What is a counselor worth if nobody listens or does what is suggested? I have struggled with the holiday blues for many years. My husband was shocked by the revelation. He had no idea. I have hidden it well as I intended to, but today I do not feel sad, lonely or depressed but filled with hope.

Hope never is reliant on what we see now or how things are in this moment but is reserved for that which is coming. To be alive is the opportunity to grow our faith which is focused on unseen things not reality. Faith becomes logical when the Word is applied to our life rather than the things happening to us right now. Thankfulness recounts former faith made into the manifested promises of God. There is no better way to show appreciation for a gift to the giver than to say thank you. Thankfulness is not only in words of appreciation but acts of affirmation. How do we do that? We affirm our appreciation by using that which has been given.

I am a representative of Jesus Christ. I can tell others that I am a Christian. There are many who profess to believe in Jesus Christ by calling themselves Christian but remain exactly the same as the day they asked Him to live inside their heart. Why? They have left the Gift of Salvation wrapped in His Love and Grace unopened. Why not make a difference this year? To be present in Christmas rather than getting wrapped up in presents. The Wonderful Counselor will guide us through the holiday rush just like He will do every single day – if we let Him? We must clothe ourselves in love. We must be representatives of Christ this Christmas. We don’t do that by putting on the best performance but by basking in His Love and sharing it with others.

Mighty God

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing in creation will ever be able to separate me from the Love of God revealed in Christ Jesus my Lord. Say it again. Jesus came to make a statement. Nothing in this life can separate me from the Mighty Love of God when I choose Him to be my Savior and make Jesus my Lord. Despite all these things, every tactic of the enemy to make us let go of faith and confidence in God’s Love should be removed by this promise. The Gift of God’s Love did not come from a weak and whimpering being who could not maintain it. No, it says that overwhelming victory is ours in Jesus Christ. It is not earned and completely undeserved but His Love for us maintains it even when our choice is to give in or even give up. His Love is maintained by His Power. Where do we find His Power – in His Grace! When I am weak, I become strong simply in trusting that His Love never fails and He is more than equipped to maintain it.

Everlasting Father

John 1:12-14 (NLT) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

Do you believe? No not in Santa, but in Jesus Christ the Father’s One and Only Son. Do you believe that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life? If your answer is “yes”, you are a Child of the Living God. He is our everlasting Father who created us fully knowing what we were capable of and still decided to send His Son to make sure there would be a place for us with Him forever. A father’s love longs for his children all of his children. This holiday season brings families together. Families are dysfunctional. ALL families are due to imperfection and human nature. When gathering together, if for a moment could put our full expectation in our Everlasting Father maybe then we can cut each other some slack. My parents are not perfect and neither am I. My birth mother died addicted to alcohol that built a barrier separating her from children and grandchildren. I loved my mom even though I could not have a healthy relationship with her. My siblings are a little crazy, too. My own children get on my nerves sometimes but I would do anything for them. This year maybe if our expectation was in our Everlasting Father – relationships could be mended. Walls could come down. Lives brought together again in harmony and unity which our Father loves the most as evidenced in the Gift given to maintain one with us.

Prince of Peace

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Holiday stress is overwhelming. Depression is heightened during the Christmas season. Fear, worry and anxiety will take over if not dealt with completely. Stop. Today. Just stop. Put the list down. Push the bowl aside for just a minute. Drop the scissors. Just stop. Jesus is a wonderful counselor. The Lord came offering joy and peace in the midst of our personal chaos and expectation. He offers to help those who weary carrying heavy burdens. When was the last time that you sat down and talked to Him? Minus the list, the worry and every other distraction this time of year brings. Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor. He understands distraction. He knows that it is our habit to grab hold of more than we can carry. He says, “Come talk to me.” What will our heart respond today? On the Eve of His Birthday, will you grant the Lord some time?

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

In the classic Dicken’s story, A Christmas Carol, is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge a cold-hearted miser who hates Christmas. The story is about redemption. Traveling through his life past, present and future – onlookers can see the details of life that molded this man and froze his heart within him. When he awakens to find that it is Christmas Day and he is very much alive, Scrooge sets out to change his ways. As long as there is breath in our body, there lies within the opportunity to take advantage of every spiritual blessing, gracious gift and hidden purpose that Jesus Christ brought with His Arrival and released to us in His Death and Resurrection. Our life remains the same only if our choice is to remain that way. If Christmas is stressful, busy and overwhelming, it is our choice to change that tradition. I cannot take something new without releasing old things – ways, habits, attitudes and actions. Jesus Christ is the Gift that takes all the details of my life and makes them work together for my good. He is the personification of God’s Love for me that brings victory. He is the One who helps me work through the tough times and heals my brokenness. He is the Gift that keeps on giving. My life is proof of that and so is yours if you woke up today. Why not visit the Savior today? Why not come to the Lord? Spend some time with the Gift you have been given. Jesus Christ changes everything for those who do.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

 

 

 

Simple Thanks

Praying woman hands

Ephesians 5:20 (NLT) And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Are you thankful today? It is not always easy to be thankful. Life happens. People are people. Stress this time of year is high. Anxiety from now until January makes it difficult to see the evidence of God’s Provision and Prosperity in our everyday life. This week has been tough. One of our fur babies went to Heaven. Please don’t tell me that animals especially dogs do not go to Heaven. Let me figure it out when I get there…if I get there. I am not always thankful. There I said it. What about you? Do you float on a cloud with a little harp in a pristine white robe of perfection? Or are like me, and some days it is a challenge just to be civil in the midst of performance pressure and long lists of responsibilities? Love has grown cold and it is emanated in a society that is selfish and self-absorbed. I still do not understand why bad things happen to good people. I can’t wrap my head around senseless violence. I know what its like to get an unexpected bill or a whole pile of them. I have kids. They are teenagers…need I say more. But in the quiet hours of this morning, while my whole house sleeps and I trudge to the kitchen to make the Thanksgiving meal. I may not be thankful for everything in my life or some of the circumstance or current conditions but I am content. I am not thankful for everything in my life. But that doesn’t mean I can’t “give thanks for everything to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here’s why…

Ephesians 1:3-4 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. I have overwhelming victory because God loves me. And finally, whatever does not line up to God’s Best in my life is not impossible but processing. God has promised to cause everything to work together for my good simply because I love God and He called me to His Purpose. So when I am not thankful for something I can still be thankful because God is working it for my good and I always win. I am a winner because Jesus is my Champion.

Going back to Ephesians 5:20, I made the conscious choice to paint our youngest daughter’s bedroom yesterday and some furniture. I completed the task singlehandedly which usually is a two-person project with my husband. This morning when I got up, my body was as stiff as a board. With each bend and twist something snapped, crackled and popped. I went to get our little dog to feed her and let her out. My heart sank at the reminder her “brother” is gone. I felt a tear rise up. I began to think about our kids who won’t be with us today. My son who will protect and serve today. My daughter and her husband who are serving God in New Hampshire much too far to come home for the day. Sigh… Stepping into the kitchen I became overwhelmed, I know I pared down the menu and tried to simplify some things but I still was overcome by the preparation process. Finally, I realized things were going south fast. So I began to thank God. I thanked Him for my family, home, church and job. Provision. Blessings. The Holy Spirit urged me to be more specific. Naming each blessing right down to the running water in the sink and the disgusting raw turkey I was cleaning. Suddenly, I could feel a change in my heart and the atmosphere around me. Thankfulness gives us contentment. Contentment brings peace.

So to make it simple – I looked up thankfulness in the Word of God and am sharing some tips for those days when it is a challenge to remain thankful. Just to make is easy…

Psalm 50:14 (NLT) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

The Lord knows that thankfulness is difficult sometimes. He doesn’t condemn us or punish us but waits for us to remember. The Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness even when it is that of being unthankful or taking the Blessing of God in our life for granted. It is okay if your thankfulness is a sacrifice. If life is letting you down, circumstances devastating, people disappointing, or problems plague you – just say thank you for whatever it is that is good. There is always something to be grateful for – always.

Colossians 2:7 (NLT)Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Thankfulness that leads to satisfaction can only be found in a deep and abiding connection to Jesus Christ. There is nothing in this life that can satisfy our soul. We need Jesus. Without Him, there is a longing that will never be satisfied. We must strive to know Him. To remain in Him. To commune with the Lord each day. To invite Him into our life and spend time with Him.

Psalm 100:4 (NLT) Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.

Thanksgiving opens the door to His Presence and as praise pulls back the veil, it allows us to enter His Presence and prepares us for an encounter with the King of Kings. So often we come to Him without acknowledging who He is and dump our mess at His Feet. He is our Lord. We must come with thanksgiving and praise.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

A thankful heart produces a productive prayer life. It creates intimacy between you and your Beloved. The way one enters a conversation often dictates the outcome.

Colossians 3:15-16 (NLT) And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

When our heart is thankful, it ushers His Presence. Where Christ rules peace is enforced. Always be thankful. When dissatisfaction and discontentment come knocking on the door to our heart, it is up to us if we will let them in. Will I entertain such thoughts? Will I allow this attitude to come between me and my Savior? Will I choose thankfulness? Thankfulness is a choice. We decide to entertain any other concept in our life. We choose who or what is accepted and entertained in our life. We are the gatekeepers of our heart… unless we allow Jesus to be.

I Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

The things in our life that bring dissatisfaction, discontentment and unthankfulness are usually the areas that the Lord is attempting to gain access to. He wants us to pray about these things so He can reveal His Will to us. Jesus wants His Best for us even when we are willing to settle for a substitution. Compromise is not in the Covenant of God for our life. It is a provision that humans try to write in there when tired of waiting or fear takes over. All circumstances in our life come with purpose, promise and provision. Be thankful for God’s Commitment and Covenant on those days when you are troubled by circumstances. He is always working on our behalf even when we give up or give in.

I Timothy 6:6-7 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.

Finally, let’s put things into perspective. We brought nothing with us into the world. What do you have right now? Look around you. What do you see? Every “thing” that is good is from God. When we leave this world, we take nothing with us except our soul. About that…

Hebrews 12:28 (NLT) Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.

And it is with this thought that I leave you to check the turkey and take a shower to get ready for the rest of this busy day! We have been given life and an unshakeable everlasting Kingdom in Jesus Christ. There is more to life than what we see, how we feel or what we are going through. For this we can be thankful. In each moment of every day, we have Jesus. If you know Him, you know that He is enough. If you have experienced Him, you want more of Him. If you have an encounter, you will never want to leave His Presence again. This life and the things in it will never be as Glorious and Perfect as Heaven. But to see Christ in all things, makes thankfulness simple. Be thankful. In all circumstances friend, for this is the Will of God for us.

Psalm 106:1 (NLT) Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

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.

Shake It Off

Shake It Off

Acts 16:25-28 (NLT)

Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”

 

I must admit I have been fighting off discouragement. I think as believers, we must be real with people. To act like our new life in Christ is without challenges is to boast a lie. We still face trials, tests and even tragedy sometimes. The point of our salvation is to become a new creation. There is a whole lot of flesh and baggage to be discarded along the way. Can I get an “amen”? So with that in mind, please do not judge me in my actions. This morning I woke up to a dark and cloudy day which only allowed my mood and attitude to be persuaded to be the same. I kissed my husband, took out the dog and plopped in the chair at my desk. As the computer was loading, I began looking at Facebook on my charging IPad. First world “probs” as the kids might say. Twice on my timeline I found these words, “God has perfect timing, never early, never late, it takes a little patience but it’s worth the wait.” I get tired of waiting, don’t you? Watching, wondering and waiting for the Lord’s Promises to manifest in our life. I know His Word is true. He has proven to me over and over again that He is a good God and gracious Father, yet I still think sometimes that He takes too long. When the computer finally came to life, I went to the Bible that I use for study and typed the words “shake it off” in the search bar. Surely there would be nothing. Maybe there was a hint of sarcasm in my approach.

 

Well friend, God’s got jokes. Even when I am not happy with His Timing or my current placement, the Lord somehow manages to get through to me. The Lord doesn’t deserve my bad attitude or even my tapping foot. The great thing about Him is that He is so loving that He provides plenty of mercy and lots of grace so when I do grow tired of waiting or impatient in the process, I have what I need to hang on and not give up. It’s all God. He is an everlasting God. The Creator of everything. He does not grow tired or weary and with His Unfathomable Understanding and Unconditional Love allows us these moments to catch our breath and shake off those things keeping us from His Very Best.

 

Paul and Silas were in prison. They had been beaten, battered, and bruised. Their response was to worship God in the midnight hour – praying, singing and praising God! I have never been in jail. In fact, I do everything in my power to avoid such an experience. They were in this situation not for criminal acts but because of their faith. We are not far off in the society in which we live. In the midst of it all, there was a massive earthquake. Now before we get to the good part, think about it. It was an earthquake. The prison was shaken to its very foundation. This was no joke. The doors flew open and the chains of every prisoner fell off. Why did the Lord go to such lengths rather than just skipping to the part where doors opened and chains fell off? See this our problem as believers – we see our situation, experience the pressure of change, and feel the heat of our trial but He is an everlasting God. This is not permanent. Our condition is temporary. It is small in the grand design of God’s Purpose and Plan for us. We have faith in us that could move a mountain yet sometimes in the midnight hour – we have trouble believing for the smallest thing. One other note about this story, our life is a living, breathing testament to God, His Love, Grace and Goodness for all mankind. It would take something of epic proportions to make this more than a coincidence.

 

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.

 

There is that nagging word again “wait”. My victory comes from Him. He “alone” is my rock and my salvation and my fortress where I will never be shaken. Never is a definitive word. Standing on my faith firmly in the Presence of the Living God – I never be shaken. I must put my faith in the Almighty God and leave it there despite my contradictory nature that wants fast answers and immediate gratification. Why? Because God is doing more than I could think or ask. (Ephesians 3:20) I know this to be true. He has done this over and over yet I still do not like to wait. But in my wait time – there is promise much bigger than my current need, want or desire. It is forever. I must be firmly established by faith in Jesus Christ. I must trust the Lord to secure victory in my life. What happens when my faith is tested? What happens when my timeline challenged? What happens when I am shaken naturally? See these yield important facts that can be applied to my life successfully if I pay attention.

 

Psalm 33:10-12 (NLT)

The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes. But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.

 

God’s Plan is not challenged or change by our expectation. His Plan and Purpose for our life is predetermined as we are predestined. The mitigating factor is our ability to have faith and trust the perfection of His Plan by faith and wait for it. Obedience is crucial to fulfillment but disobedience does not change God’s Intentional Outcome for our life. It was long time in years gone by that if you stepped out of God’s Perfect Will that you could never go back. You would never attain God’s Best. If this were true, why would Jesus have died to provide grace to God’s People? If we could never live in total agreement with the Lord and obtain right standing then what would be the point? It just doesn’t make sense. The Lord’s Plan for our life is firmly established with a future and hope for all who choose to seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) Note: it says nothing about being perfect just giving God your whole heart.

 

Genesis 27:38-40 (NLT)

Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me, too!” Then Esau broke down and wept. Finally, his father, Isaac, said to him, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”

 

Hebrews 12:15-17 (NLT)

Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

Poor Esau. First, he sold his birthright to his brother because he was hungry. Then when he went to gather the meat for his father’s final meal, his brother stole his father’s blessing. Things just went from bad to worse for him. I am not sure why Esau’s life turned out the way it did. No one knows the contents of the heart except its owner and Creator. But I have found something useful in his story as I am struggling with impatience and dissatisfaction today. As his father scrambled to bless his son, he said these words, “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck” (talking about Jacob). The enemy wants to yoke me in bitterness today. He wants to immerse me in pity. He wants to trip me with discouragement and depression. If he can strip me of my joy, silence my praise, he will thwart my victory. He will cause me to be shaken rather than me shaking off the yokes that he desires to kill my faith and bring death to my dreams. He cannot stop God’s Plan for my life. But his lies can stop me if I am shaken off the firm foundation of faith I have in Jesus Christ.

 

Bitterness comes in many forms and fashions. Each one a yoke on our back or tiny hook in our flesh that keep us from standing on the Word of God by faith until it comes to pass. He whispers maybe that’s not what God said, or not what He meant. Why does he “always” make you suffer these times of waiting? God has forgotten you. He doesn’t care about you. Every single one a lie yet the flesh wants to hold on to it as a means of escape. Our flesh must die for new life to come about. If we abandon God’s Word, His Will or His Way, our flesh gets to live another day but our soul is slowing dying.

 

I Samuel 4:5-7 (NLT)

When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake! “What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, they panicked. “The gods have come into their camp!” they cried. “This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before!

 

The Presence of the Lord used to be in the Ark of the Covenant. It represented the fact that God was with them. When the Presence of the Lord came into the Israelites camp, they began to shout. Not just any shout, but the kind of praise and declaration that made the ground shake. What might happen if we announced the Lord’s Presence the same way? We have no excuse. Greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world. The Presence of God moved from a box carried outside to all of mankind in the form of God’s Spirit alive and well inside of us. We can shout right where we are, no matter what we are going through, even if we are waiting for God’s Hand to become evident in His Next Move. We do not have to wait but can begin to praise Him right now.

 

What happened next is pivotal to us as believers? When they shouted, the ground shook AND the enemy (the Philistines) panicked. The Lord was with them. They did not know what to do. Fear overtook them. What do you think the enemy will do if we begin to declare God’s Promise for our life? If we shout AMEN to God’s Word, Will and Way for our life? It we sing praises to the Lord in the middle of our situation or covered by circumstance, the enemy will flee. This is the resistance believers are missing today. We must resist the temptation to agree with the enemy and celebrate the Presence of the Lord even while we wait. In the pressing together and shaking down, we give God sacrificial praise because we are about to run over. (Luke 6:38) The secret was whispered by Isaac into Esau’s ear that day, “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” The enemy wants to rope you in, but Jesus is ready to bust you out!

 

Psalm 16:5-8 (NLT)

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

 

My daughter and I were riding home from a restaurant last night discussing the promise on which we wait. She said, “Mom, are you sure you heard from God?” Without hesitation, I says, “Yes!” I needed to hear that and am quite convinced it was the Holy Spirit that motivated her to ask. I know the Voice of God. He has spoken to me before. I have had to wait before, too. I know that He promises good things to me. I know that I will see the Goodness of God in the land of the living. I know that He is my inheritance and holds a cup of blessing over my life. I know all these things yet still must shake off the lie of the enemy and the chains of bondage that come with each lie. The Lord guards all that is mine. I must guard my heart and build up my faith. All of God’s Promises are fulfilled with a resounding “Yes” and “Amen” in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:20) Sometimes I forget that and need a reminder. Maybe just maybe this is why my life is shaken sometimes even if ever so slightly so the insufficiencies in my faith and trust are revealed for even bigger things. So today, I shake off fear, doubt, anxiety and impatience in Jesus Name. I will respond to waiting with love, joy, peace, praise and thanksgiving with the help of my Helper, the Holy Spirit. Today, I will wait and shake off anything that tells me not to any longer. The doors are opening. The chains are falling off. I am free again.

 

Hebrews 12:26-27 (NLT)

When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.