What’s the Point?

What the Point

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

What’s the point? You know you have asked yourself the question at least once along the way of life. What’s the point of trying? Giving? Forgiving? Starting over? Disappointments are a dime a dozen. Faith seems futile in the absence of logic. Hope elusive in the chaotic degradation of the world. Yet still there are those who strive each day to plant just a tiny seed of faith and stretch to see a glimmer of hope. Romans 5 begins THEREFORE SINCE WE HAVE BEEN JUSTIFIED BY FAITH (all caps all mine). Our predisposed position in life due to the justification offered by faith and believing gives way to peace with God through Jesus Christ. This is the point of access. Suddenly the faithless and hopeless generation born of sin has been pardoned and set free to become a new creation and accept a brand new life. No matter who you are or where you came to Christ from – this statement is about you. Therefore, since (you) have been justified by faith, (you) have peace with God through (your) Lord Jesus Christ. The first step of purpose is the point of salvation. The moment in time when our old identity was exchanged for a new one – Child of the Living God and Member of His Kingdom.

You will never know the point of a God-seeking, faith-driven, hope-full life until you see yourself and your existence from God’s Perspective. God created us and has already plotted our life according to His Plan. It is a series of carefully orchestrated steps that go through valleys, around the bend and over the mountain with seasons set forth to produce an abundance in each one. When our focus is based on what we can see rather than on what we know about God’s Plan – it is easy to say, “What’s the point?” Throwing up our hands and walking away serves our pride and preference but perseverance always leads us to purpose and promise.

The Plan

Jeremiah 29:10-14 (ESV) “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 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. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”

“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 hope.” Oh, how many times have these words been recited and never fully realized. To keep this in context, the promise required a journey. To bring you “back” from exile. It had a time frame. When seventy years are completed. God has a plan. It requires a journey. It has an appointed time. You also have a requirement. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Sometimes reading part of the verse only gives us the promise and by not reading the rest – the process is missed. There is always a process in God. God is transforming us from the inside out. Jesus Christ is inside of us. New life is birthed from the inside.

Psalm 139 tells us that our days are prerecorded. Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 informs us of our predestination to become Children of God. To be adopted to Himself through His Son – Jesus according to His Purpose and His Will. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. He is the Beginning and the End. Our Savior is the Author and Finisher of faith that puts us and keeps us in right standing with God our Father. Everything is going according to His Plan even when our plans fall apart. God’s Sovereignty is our security. It means He does not lie or change His Mind because He is perfect in ALL of His Ways. God’s Spirit seals us as sons and daughters of God cultivating good fruit to feed our starving soul until we hunger and thirst no more. Friends – God has a plan. There is a point to all that you are going through today.

The Path

Psalm 37:23-27 (ESV) The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing. Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.

Let’s plunge into the deep for a moment and think about this – what if God really does order our steps ahead of time? In other words, what if you have not strayed from the Lord? What if your mistakes were on purpose? What if the whole point of everything you have been through was to lead you to Jesus? Once Jesus Christ came to reside in you – His Power and Authority vested in Him by God the Father became your power and authority, too. THEREFORE…nothing can ever separate you from the Love of God, no weapon formed you will prosper, greater is He that is in you, and you have hope that can NEVER lead to disappointment which means by faith you always win, live victoriously and overcome.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He was with you then, is in you now and will be with you forever. The Plan gave you the Person of Christ to navigate the path to His Promise which is our purpose in God. If this is true, you do not ever have to experience a lack of anything again because you are full of Him. It says that the righteous are not forsaken and they do not have to beg. In order to live the life promised all that is required is to turn away from evil and do good – in one word – repentance. It’s not about turning you around – it’s about turning our life over to Jesus Christ. It doesn’t mean you will change position in life but you will be positioned in the Kingdom.

The Process

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 (ESV)  From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

The process of redemption is achieved through reconciliation. Repentance turns us back to Jesus Christ. However, if there is no reconciliation the relationship falls apart. Our calling is to become a new creation in Christ Jesus. To stop looking at our existence through human eyes and take on a spiritual perspective. Christ does the work. We only give Him something to work with and through. To reconcile means restore friendly relations, to coexist in harmony, become compatible, and make consistent with one another. The process is in full operation – it is our choice to participate. Those who do not participate do not get the prize or promise. It is in our complete reconciliation of our life to Christ that purpose is fulfilled and destiny released in the life of God’s People. Simple obedience offers radical change that blesses those willing to engage in it.

The Purpose

but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame…

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

What’s the point? Perfect, complete and lacking in nothing. God has already provided it all. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The purpose of the plan, path and process is to achieve His Purpose. We would have settled for less so long ago. Our lack of discipline gives way to substitutions when times get tough. Doubt and insecurity makes us question God’s Goodness due to our inability to do good all the time. Disbelief leads to questions and scrutiny of the Truth set forth by God’s Word. Delays and detours all have a place in God’s Perfect Plan. You cannot miss God! He is always with us – will never forsake us and pursues us with unfailing love and overflowing goodness. God has ordered our steps. Every single one is part of the course toward something good. God uses every detail of our life for good. His Glory is ready to fill every empty vessel poured out and ready for His Love. Your life is not pointless. God is always on point.

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

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Time To Change

Time To Change

Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Daylight Savings Time. I will not complain. I will not gripe. I hate it. There I said it. I don’t care which clock you choose just pick one. A CNN poll shows that I am in the minority. Truth be told, I do not mind the results of the time change. I do not like the disruption of my schedule. It creates a few days of discomfort as my body whines for the extra hour of sleep. It’s change. You can say that you don’t mind change but we all are impacted by it. I painted the study in our house yesterday. I had already decided to move the furniture around so my desk faced the window. I like to change things up in the house. After 18 different renderings, I asked him to come look. He said, “I like it the old way better.” My daughter said, “It’s because you don’t like change.”

Transformation always requires change. If you are a creature of habit, it is uncomfortable to have your routine interrupted. However, I believe for the transformation from death to life requires it. We believe in God. We profess Jesus Christ. Yet, the patterns constructed by our habits and experiences are held tightly too. The Lord is offering us the opportunity to live a satisfied life. To live from glory to glory. To prosper as our soul does. To be resurrection and life in the land of the living long before we meet Him face to face. Yet the moment when change begins, most will begin to whine and complain as I do about the time change because change often makes us uncomfortable. It is new. It is inconvenient to those of who maintain order such as habits, schedules and routines that are completely compromised when the Lord steps in. It is a place of trust rather than confidence that our flesh does not want to fall into. We cannot control Christ. Christ must control us in order for our life to change from ordinary to extraordinary.

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV) “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Resurrection power and life are available to us right here and right now. I have been studying John 11 and the death of Lazarus. I am like Martha. There is comfort in control that I am slowly giving up on. She liked staying busy. She ran a tight ship. She believed in Jesus Christ to a point. But the Lord had so much more for this radical doer. When Lazarus died, she believed that he would be raised…in eternity. Jesus stood right there in front of her offering new life to her dead loved one. She went back to her busyness. She told the Lord that she believed, but did she? Really? When it came time to roll the stone away and call forth her sleeping brother – she protested. His body in the grave for four days – she was concerned about the stink of it. New life could only come if she gave up the body to receive it.

How many times do we believe to the point of return? Our mind limits us. We can only journey to the extent our belief. The moment doubt, fear, anxiety, and worries take over – it is human nature to take control of the situation. How many times has the resurrection and life stood before me and because I was losing control or ran out of faith that my courage waned and I walked away from a miracle? God wants to open the windows of Heaven and pour out a blessing on His People. However, human nature loses courage when the impossible happens or unthinkable occurs. The Lord invites us today to set our mind on higher things. To begin Kingdom thinking giving up our earthly cares and concerns. Trust is a fall from fear to faith that lifts us above our circumstances and situations to full satisfaction for those who will go. Do you believe that His Resurrection Power and Life is for you today? In the land of the living…

Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Daylight Savings Time is really a good thing. By setting our clocks forward one hour, it gives us more daylight in the summer. I will complain for a few days about the loss of sleep but fully embrace the light in the afternoon when I get off work. How many good things do we miss because our flesh doesn’t like the inconvenience? I am afraid quite a bit when it comes to the Lord. Faith is not in the seeing. Hope comes from confidence in the one who is faithful. If we are waiting for the Lord to show us His Hand, it will not happen until we give Him our heart. Fully trusting and believing in His Faithfulness now AND forever. With each new day comes the opportunity to say, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Then comes the not so fun part, I will wait for the Lord. Be strong. Let my heart take courage. And wait some more if necessary.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (ESV) From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Word of God is Jesus Christ. In John 1:4, it says, “In Him was life.” As a believer, Christ lives in you. His Breath is in your body along with the Resurrection Power and life. What is holding you back? What is keeping His Power from overflowing into the natural realm of today? Fear and insecurity keeps the stone over the dead things in our life. We doubt the Jesus of today yet claim to fully embrace our future hope. Jesus wants to breathe new life into those dead dreams today. Something will have to change. It will begin in you. Transformation is not comfortable or convenient. You will not be in control when the Lord reigns and rules in your heart. But you will be blessed beyond measure when Jesus begins to pour out the full satisfaction that He promises in His Word!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

We are transformed by the renewing of our mind. (Romans 12:2) I cannot give my life away without change. Today, I ask the Lord to change my heart and mind from natural excuses to supernatural expectation. To produce new faith and establish firm confidence that allows me to embrace change rather than trying to control it. To surrender my life like a seed put in the ground, He will transform it into exactly who and what He has called and created me to be. Lord, change me. Transform all the brokenness into the beauty you have promised. Bring every dry and dead bone back to life. I trust you Lord! Change is good when it is according to your Word, Will and Way. Teach me to embrace and embody all the changes you have in store for me!

Romans 12:2 (ESV) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

No More Resolutions

No More Resolutions

2 Peter 1:4-5 (NLT) And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. 

Renew. Restore. Revive. Radical. Reckless. To respond. The “R”’s of my rambling for 2018. Tonight at sundown or a little after, our family will begin our annual fast for the New Year. For eleven days, through fasting and prayer, as a body of believers (yes, just the four of us), we will seek the Face of God for many areas of our life. To focus our family and life in one direction. The Way. To turn away from the worthless things that so easily captivate our attention and rob us of time. As I began to write in my journal today, I found these words forming from the ink of the pen. I am asking the Lord to renew me from the inside out. To restore me after a month of minor illness and inconvenience. To revive my passion and desire to pursue Him wholeheartedly leaving behind the distractions from 2017. To make my love for others radical in recognition of His Love for me. To be reckless in my pursuit of Christ making faith seem the only option. To respond to all of God’s Promises. To believe that God is doing exactly what He said and to let His Spirit fortify my fickle heart. I can make a list of habits to change, budgets to follow, and schedules to keep but if Christ is not the priority in all of them – what’s the point?

No more resolutions. The power to change is the Christ in me. It is not something I do but what He does in me. I am giving up on resolutions and instead this year I choose to respond to God’s Promises instead. Why? Because of His Glory and Excellence, He has given (me) great and precious promises. These promises enable (me) to share in His Divine Nature. A resolution is a firm decision on my part to do or not to do something any longer. It is the action of solving a problem, dispute or contentious matter. It is me. A resolution is self-resolve to fix something that appears to be broken or dysfunctional. Well…I have come to the conclusion after fifty-one years of life – I can’t fix it. I cannot make “me” a better person. I am going to fail. I will mess up. I will fall short. I will give up, give in and give out depending on the situation. The only good thing in me is Jesus Christ. The Power of Christ is manifested in my weakness. So this year, I no longer resolve to make me a better person but let Christ transform me into a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Titus 3:4-7 (NLT) But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

Jesus Christ revealed God’s Kindness and Love for us. When He saved us, it was finished. The process of redemption complete. The renewal process made available to all mankind. He washed our sin away. Gave us a new birth and new life through His Spirit. Generously His Spirit is on us identifying us as God’s Precious Children. It is said that you do not pick your parents which is absolutely true. In this case specifically, God chose you. He chose me. God, the Father, decided that He loved us and wanted us. His Reckless Love would stop at nothing to have us. I wonder what would happen if for just a moment, a single solitary second, we could completely wrap our head around the Truth that the entire process of salvation and redemption is a direct result of the Love of God. He had no other intention but to pour out unfailing love and unfathomable goodness on His Beloved. Would we respond differently? Absolutely. Religion would be crushed beneath the heaviness of unconditional love in the church and “whosoever come” would be plastered over the doors and altars while those who want to be loved would come pouring in.

Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Grace is the reason that God loves me and is for me. It is the essence of relationship that if we could just wrap our heads tightly around it – faith would not be so hard and confident hope the common sense of our life. We can go into the world and try to share the love of Jesus Christ but until we understand that His Love, Grace and Kindness are for us and there is nothing further that we can do but receive it – our message is in vain. Perfect love casts out all fear. Fearless faith comes from a heart that comes to know God’s Unfailing Love and accepts it as a way of life. This will enable us to “respond” to God’s Promises rather than trying to earn them or deserve them which cannot be done.

Proverbs 3:3-4 (ESV) Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

This year it is my deepest desire to live in God’s Steadfast Love and Faithfulness to the fullest. I must bind His Promises around my neck and continually inscribe them on my heart. My love is imperfect. It tends to be conditional. It has flaws and faults that the Lord continually works on. I will never love like Jesus unless I love through Jesus. The Christ in me must be given wide open space. The Spirit in me must be the ruler of my heart, mind, soul and body at all times. The Favor of God and Good Success that I believe God has promised us is not in my ability to do everything right this year, but to continually seek the Lord wholeheartedly. I must decrease so that He can increase.

I wonder what would happen in our natural life if we lived as though supernatural promises were inevitable. What if we decided that God is good, His Love unfailing, His Grace enough, and His Faithfulness forever? Would it change the potential of our life? Would it change us? We must invest our mind, soul, body and spirit into obtaining the promises of God which begins by believing that they actually exist and are obtainable rather than living a diversified life with one foot in the world and the other in the Kingdom. It is impossible to establish dual residency with God. He is not a wishy washy – halfhearted God. You love Him or you hate Him. There is no coexistence in the Kingdom. You embrace Christ or idols. See we live in a world of moving lines and shifting sand – it makes a completely constant God who is always good and always loving and always kind very hard to believe so we must not lean on our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

2 Peter 1:5-7 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

Responding to the Promises of God. This is my resolve for this New Year. This is the year that I will allow God to be God and simply cling to Him. I must supplement faith with qualities and characteristics produced by God’s Spirit inside of me. I must embrace and acknowledge the Holy Spirit as He is my teacher, guide, counselor and even comforter in the process of becoming a new creation. Transformation is not comfortable. It is inconvenient. It is uncontrollable. It takes time that I don’t think I have. Yet, in the end, it will all be worth it. Forever is the past, present and future wrapped neatly into a package called life. God knows the beginning from the end. It is His Unfailing Love and Faithfulness that has brought you this far and will carry you through. You have done nothing to facilitate the process other than present your worthless life to Jesus Christ. Rather than making any more resolutions. This year I am changing my resolve. I want all that God has for me. I must submit my life to Christ all over again. All of it. Holding nothing back, making the decision that this life is not about me – nevertheless Christ is for me. His Promises are real. His Love is true. His Word lasts forever. He is faithful. To this I will respond…

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Too Hard

Too Hard

Jeremiah 18:1-4 (NLT) The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

Modeling clay has great potential. It can become whatever the sculptor desires it to be. When it comes out of the package it is hard and cold. Difficult to shape, it must first go through the rigors of plying and kneading in order to soften it. It may be in the strong hands of the artist or thrown on the potter’s wheel. Spinning endlessly as it is worked into something pliable. The cycle of the wheel perpetuated by the steady foot of the potter. Water is mixed in to make it moist and moldable. This process continues until it completely flexible and changeable. It is only then that it can be useful into becoming the very thing it was meant to be.

So he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

We are called to become a new creation in Jesus Christ. The purpose of true repentance is the changing of our heart, mind, spirit and soul into the masterpiece. God planned a good life with a future and hope with the promise that He would work every detail of our life for good. There is a process to transformation that requires a certain flexibility in order for the Spirit of the Living God to do His Work in us. God promised that He would complete the work. We must make the commitment to remain on the potter’s wheel. To be gracefully broken again and again until we become a new creation in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 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.

Anyone who belongs to Jesus Christ has the potential to become a new person. We do so by reconciling our life to Him through an active and abiding relationship with the Lord. In doing so, one must consider that God is Sovereign. He does not change. He is always right and His Way is always better. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can get to God except through Him. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. The changing is on our part never the Lord’s. The moment God changes His Mind – we have a problem. It is constancy that keeps our confidence firmly in place.

It is human nature to quit when things get too hard. It is our flesh’s desire to live that keeps us from new life. How do we evaluate our heart and mind properly when that which is in conflict is our very nature? As Paul explains no matter how much we desire to do the right thing, we inevitably do the wrong thing. (Romans 7) Brokenness creates an orifice in our life. Something will fill the void. The flesh wants to fill it with pride in order to sustain itself. The Spirit works to fill it with grace so that our life continues to build a strong bond with Christ. It is our job to live in a pliable state in the Hands of the Creator and battle our fleshly desire to survive the transformation process. Grace is only powerful in my weakness and inability to change myself. God has promised to do all the work. I must only submit and surrender my life to Him.

Luke 5:36-38 (NLT) Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites cried out to God. But rather than a relationship with the Living God they decided to remain in the confines of religion. They wanted the Hand of God but did not seek His Heart. How many times do we do the same thing? Try to be a good person, do the right things, be a hard worker, serve tirelessly, and give generously but missing the point altogether? The Hand of God means nothing unless the Heart of God is our desire. The rain falls on the just and unjust. To receive one must only believe that God is able and not doubt His Power and Ability. However, to be complete in Christ means a full offering of self by true repentance and surrender to His Plan wholeheartedly. To allow the Lord to take all of our broken pieces and make the beautiful life that He promised. Nothing is wasted with the Lord. He uses all of our details not only to produce good in us but to resonate His Glory through us.

If our goal in life to live in the Presence of God, our desire is to be completely broken and reconciled to Him. Hardness in the life of the believer is right before the breakthrough. It is the moment that our spirit encounters unyielding flesh and rebellious thoughts that tell us this is too hard and to give up. The moment our flesh screams out in fear and our heart grows weak is the precise time that reliance on God becomes reality in our life. Faith must be tested to be genuine. Confidence left untried cannot be validated. Hope is for that which cannot be seen but accepted as a reality. Impossible is when something miraculous happens. Do things seem impossible right now? Are you considering giving up? Giving in? Walking away from this God thing? What if that which feels like it is going to break you is your breakthrough?

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT)  That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[a] being renewed every day. 17 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!

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Psalm 51:17 (NLT) The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

I find that when I think things are “too hard” it is usually because I want my way. Living yoked to Christ only creates tension if I am trying to go my own way, do my own thing, or live contrary to His Word (the way). The hardness is produces from a heart that will not allow further change. It is the opposition with the Holy Spirit that creates pressure inside of me to choose. Will I be a living sacrifice today? Will I choose to give my body, mind and spirit to the Lordship, Authority and Power of Christ or concede the throne of self? God will transform those who are willing and weak but waits on those who are hard-hearted and stubborn. As we cry out to the Lord for more, He will respond and in doing so our old life is shattered to make room for something new. God’s Will is not book knowledge but carefully continuing even when we do not understand or fully comprehend His Method. His Ways are so much higher as are His Thoughts. The only thing of worth that I contribute to this process is a broken spirit that is humble and a repentant heart that turns to God daily for restoration.

The Lord is the Ultimate Potter who only creates masterpieces. He uses the broken heart of His People. He makes beauty from ashes. He is faithful and true. His Grace is always enough. Our weakness is the conduit of change. Our willingness to put our life on the altar again and again until there is no sense of self but overflowing evidence of Christ in us. Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

Genesis 18:14 (NLT) “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

Mark 9:24 (NLT) “I do “believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

WWJD?

WWJD

Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Remember the Christian trend several years ago, “What would Jesus do?” The question posed everywhere from colorful silicone bracelets to bumper stickers. I wonder what happened to all the paraphernalia. You don’t see it much anymore. I wonder if anyone still seeks the answer or was it just another fad. The Word of God tells us to imitate Him. To strive to make the same choices and live by the same moral code. Society has made church a culture. Churches have turned to conformity rather than embracing real transformation. There is more to life than just repentance. God did not create us to just get by but to prosper, live in abundance and thrive. His People should be influential with the kind of character that is attractive not reactive. I wonder if the simple question posed decades ago might just be a relevant one today. What would Jesus do?

Jesus would not be religious. He would not live a pious existence of judgement. He would extend His Love just as broad and wide as when he stretched out His Arms to die on the Cross to save us. He would continue to rejoice from every lost one who is found yet still seek to live in love from that day on. He would forgive seventy times seven and once more if needed. The example of Jesus Christ is not defined by doctrine. Religion is not his idea. Relationship is the pursuit of our Lord and Savior. A love as strong as death…jealousy as demanding as the grave…so passionate it is as consuming as a flame. When you love like that it transforms you. It makes your desires and passions one with the object of your attention and affection. You seek to please your true loves. Those who matter most you would stop at nothing to live in love with them.

Do not be conformed to this world…   

How do I know the difference between conformation and transformation? Why is it so important? Religion seeks to conform you. It sets a standard of rules and regulations in place to create order to its body. This is not a bad thing and in fact necessary to create agreement and harmony within a congregation. But it is not enough to complete the transformation process. In fact, it can even hinder or limit the complete work the Lord is attempting in our life.

Religion often leads to conformation. To conform is to act in accordance to or in harmony with or compliance. The doctrine is the prevailing standard, attitude, practice of the group. This is an outward change in actions or appearance. Conformation as a Christian can be fatal. To change outwardly but not be transformed inwardly can create the idea of true repentance without ever truly experiencing such a marvelous encounter with the Living God. Society set the precedence as it is human nature to want to fit in with the group. Unquestioning a soul wanders into church and if able to blend in effectively may never know there is more to life in Christ than a religion and never enter a real relationship with their Savior.

Relationship will transform you. A relationship with Jesus Christ is consummated by His Spirit living in a holy inhabitation of our life. The Lord seeks intimacy with you and me apart from any other human being. It is personal. It requires a willingness to invest all of who we are and accept all of who He is. Redemption provides the provision of power to instill godliness in us. It is the means of transformation. Transformation changes our thoughts which leads to formulating. It changes our purpose which proceeds our actions. It changes our actions which are character determining habits. Salvation is the acceptance of new life. The transformation process is not something that can be faked or replicated. It is a change of heart that is undeniable. As our soul prospers so does our life.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…

Willingness is the key to relationship. A true love relationship is willingness of two parties to become one together. This is in all loving relationships such as marriage, family and friends. In Christ, it is extended to all people even our enemies. When a believer tries to live the commands of the Bible in their own power and strength it is impossible. Our conflicting nature is contrary to the Word, Will and Way of God because is the death of flesh. Jesus gave us His Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit needed to feed our soul, mind and body and nurture our relationship with the Father. He even gives us self-control. This is the power to be transformed. It is not what I do but what Christ does in me. It may not be evident on the outside because it is working its way out of me. I can change bad habits and make better choices. This is conformation. The transformation comes when all my attitudes and actions are based on my love for Jesus Christ and nothing else.

Titus 3:4-6 (NKJV) But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The kindness and love of God demonstrated in the giving of His Son. I can never be righteous apart from Jesus Christ. God’s Mercy and Grace are the power of salvation. The power of transformation is acceptance and willingness to be changed from the inside out by His Love and Kindness. I wonder what impact it would have on the modern day church if we took off the masks of conformation and revealed the work in progress. What if rather than acting like Jesus somebody tried to live like Him? Jesus broke all the rules of religion to have a real relationship with you and me. We prove what is good, acceptable and the Perfect Will of God not in our pious attitudes and rightness but our ability to demonstrate His Love, Grace and Kindness in every situation. To live a higher standard of humility and love that demonstrates the Character of God no matter how we are mistreated or conditions one might be facing. Jesus poured out His Spirit abundantly in us so that His People will be genuinely regenerated and renewed by Him. To effect a change that no one can do on their own. Driven by passion and love that asks in every situation, “What would Jesus do?” because you love Him too much not to do it.

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

To be practical in this application, one might ask so what do I do to facilitate this process. Well, the good news is that Jesus already did it. You must be confident that Christ is doing a good work enough to invest yourself in the process. Study. Pray. Praise. Worship. Everyday. Jesus is the Word and this is how you work on the relationship. Willingness to change is absolutely essential. When you feel the urge or nudge to reach out, give or give grace to another – simply do it. These are the baby steps to allowing Christ to work in us and through us. Allowing what He is doing in us to leak out on others. You must make the commitment to stay in this relationship no matter what. Never back down. Never give up. Never walk away. But if you do, remember His Grace is more than enough to successfully continue the journey. You are greatly and dearly loved and desired by Jesus. He will not stop even if you do.

Philippians 1:21 (NKJV) For me to live is Christ…

It’s Only Temporary

It's Only Temporary

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (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! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

In life, change is inevitable. Everything is in a state of evolution. Evolution is the process of formation, growth and development. Consider technology, for example, and its many advancements in the last decade. Everything is “smart” now…or so it claims. Without growth, there is only death. Nothing stays the same over the course of time. Life is temporary. Things that are temporary last, exist, serve and are effective for a certain amount of time only. They are not permanent but again subject to change. Oh, how I wish I could remember this on a daily basis. Especially on those days when outcomes appear terminal. Terminal is forming the end. My life is eternal but most of the time – I live for the day.

Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. God has ordained every activity under the sun with a time and season. (Ecclesiastes 3) His Promise is that everything is beautiful in His Timing even those things that seem brutal now will be transformed. Planting seems like sacrifice until the harvest. If only as believers, we could see that the space of time between our prayers and outcomes is temporary and not terminal. If only we could discern the lie of the enemy from God’s Truth about our life. It is important to never make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances but it happens every day.

Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. God is moving on the inside which produces pressure to change. We are being transformed which means what we are today will give way to who He called us to be if we do not give up on the process. Called to walk by faith and not by sight, there must be a new perspective so that in the temporal passages of time – our thoughts are transformed by heavenly possibilities.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT) So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Romans 12:2 (NLT) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

The beginning of our transformation process in Jesus Christ is faith. The renewing of our mind gives way to the new person as faith becomes the logical choice. Faith is only logical when supported by the Word of God and motivated by His Spirit. The Lord is making us into His Image as His Children. He is molding and shaping our life into a vessel that can hold the abundance that God has planned as our future and hope that becomes a rich and satisfying life. Our present condition cannot hold the Glory of God in store for us. Like an old wine skin, it is completely undone under the pressure of new wine. Our form must give way to His Process so that our faith becomes our foundation when everything changes and nothing remains the same. Hope is the anchor for our soul when God begins to move us from this place to new horizons without boundaries or limits. You are being transformed by God, therefore today is only a temporary condition.

Colossians 2:6-9 (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. 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.

Psalm 52:8 (NLT) But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.

Transplant means to move from one place and plant in another. Before meeting Jesus Christ and inviting Him to be Savior and Lord, our life was subject to natural outcomes and consequences governed by our choices. However, the decision to follow Christ is a process of transplantation. No longer subject to the consequences of sin, grace changes outcomes in our life. God promises to work every detail for our good and to His Glory as His Children. It doesn’t mean that God’s People are exempt from the sowing and reaping of the effects of poor choices or sinful misgivings. It means that by choosing to live in the Presence of God – His Grace overwhelms the power sin once had so that our life becomes fruitful again. Even barren land will give up good fruit when surrendered to the Lord of the Harvest.

God has promised those who seek Him wholeheartedly will have all that He planned before our birth during creation. His Word cannot return to Him void. The soil of a fertile heart is softened by brokenness. It is such a state that transplantation is possible as God begins to sow His Word into us and it grows into every blessing just as He promised. It is not a matter of can the Lord do it but our faithfulness in trusting, leaning and depending on Him makes it inevitable that He will do it. The trouble is most people live in pots rather than planting themselves in the Love of Jesus Christ. Living one way on Sunday and another the rest of the week, souls starve Monday through Saturday. To grow deep roots in God’s Love is to be planted in Christ allowing His Love to grow and overtake us from the inside out. It is to study God’s Word. Practice its principles. Pray it. Purpose to live by it and believe it. This is how faith becomes practical in our life. Tired of striving? Ready to thrive again? This place is only temporary. God’s Kingdom is forever. Choose carefully where to reside today.

I Peter 1:16-18 (NLT) For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value.

Acts 17:28 (NLT) For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

In the old episodes of Star Trek, Captain Kirk would say into his teleporter watch, “Beam me up, Scotty.” Suddenly, his entire body would begin to become blurry until it changed form to be transported to the good ship, Enterprise. On those tough days when life is overwhelming wouldn’t it be nice if we could request the same of the Lord? To see things from His Perspective. To see the end from the beginning. To understand the Will of God enough to fully commit to His Way. The enemy wants us to believe that life is terminal, void of possibility, and subject to natural laws. It’s not. We are being transformed, transplanted and even transported to a new life in Jesus Christ that is always subject to change. The Lord does not change. He does not lie or change His Mind. He does not take back blessing. He doesn’t withdraw callings. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever which means I am the one who must be changed.

When the pressure is constant and pain overwhelming – it is tough to hold on to our faith and confident hope because after all we are only human. If only our heart and mind would agree that today’s situation, circumstance, condition, hardship, trial or even diagnosis is not terminal but temporary. Tomorrow new mercy will meet us and His Word says that joy comes in the morning. If only I can hold that thought for today. God is transforming my life. I am in the midst of constant change, growth, and development. Things are always subject to change in the life of a believer. Life is temporary so we live for the eternal. Lord, help me to remember that today and your promise that you perfect all that concerns me. (Psalm 138:8)

Be encouraged today. God’s not finished with you yet. When I woke up this morning, I knew today is a brand new day. I had a choice to make before my feet hit the floor. The enemy offered me my disappointments and “not yets” of yesterday, but today I decided to try out new mercy and its working quite nicely. To view of life in the natural is to lose all hope. The hope that I have is in the supernatural living God inside of me who is changing me day by day. He teaches me to live from victory to victory. He is preparing me to live from glory to glory. I am changing but He is not. My life is temporary here on the earth but not terminal. I am in the midst of transformation, transplantation and transportation from this place to live in the flourishing Presence of God both now and forevermore. I cannot see it with human eyes so I must live by faith and hold fast to hope. Change is inevitable. Life is temporary. Everything is subject to change. In this I can plant my feet, invest my faith, and hold tight to hope. God is good.

I Peter 2:11 (NLT) Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.

3 John 1:2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Dangerous Habits

dangerous-habits

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. (Aristotle) Successful people are those with successful habits. (Brian Tracy) We often look to those who have achieved success that is coveted to decipher their lifestyle and habits to glean the tips and tricks needed to have the same effect in our life. What are their habits? The things they repeatedly do. Here are some examples that I discovered: Get up early (Robert Iger – Disney CEO), Have a plan (Benjamin Franklin), Stay active (Anna Wintour – Vogue Editor), Prioritize what’s important – Steve Jobs, Make time for hobbies (Warren Buffet), Practice stillness (Oprah Winfrey), Take time to reflect (Bill Gates), Give back (Richard Branson – Billionaire), and Keep up momentum (Jay Z – Rapper/Music Producer. These people are considered highly successful individuals whose wisdom is coveted by those who wish to achieve the same things in life. There is truth in their statements that can be applied to our life and effect positive change.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine. (John C. Maxwell) There is a myth that habits are formed in just 21 days of repeating the same behavior. This is now proven to be a myth. There is a new belief that there are actually three phases to habit formation. The first is the Honeymoon Phase – This is characterized by the feeling that this change will be a piece of cake. The “this is easy” feeling much like in marriage. The first week or two of elation ends when two people begin to actually do life together. The next phase is termed appropriately the Fight Thru Phase. It is when inspiration turns into brutal reality. A person must find the means and motivation to “fight thru” positive habit completion. The final phase is called the Second Nature when balance is achieved and the habit finds its place in our routine becoming engraved in our brain. All of this is not a bad thing, but I have decided that though good habits make for success in life that they can be dangerous to one’s spiritual success.

A habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. As I prepared a cup of hot tea this morning, I forgot to put the microwave cover back in its place. I stopped and put it back. It caught my attention. When I was a young person, I was messy. My children all but one have followed suit. Yet now, I make my bed every morning. Put things away after I use them in the proper place. I get up early each morning. I used to love to sleep until noon. There are mornings as I make the commute to work in thought or prayer that I lose track of the journey. Segments of time that I am no longer conscious of the road, lights or other drivers. These are all things that I no longer think about but just do. Some may call these good habits, I tend to agree as they suit me just fine. The part that concerns me is the word “involuntary”. Involuntary means independent of one’s will. It is not by choice. Unintentional. Unconscious. What if my pursuit of Jesus Christ has become a habit and I am no longer aware of it? What if the things I do for the Lord are no longer faith based but just something I do lacking passion and desire? Am I a creature of habit or becoming a new creation? I must examine my heart to be certain that my life is marked by intentional Christianity and not involuntary actions. If you make positive changes, you will most certainly reap what you sow. However, I am not after earthly reform but holy transformation.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

It is comfortable to order our life according to certain behaviors and schedules that offer a level of control. Is the control over my life self-control produced by my ability to change or the Holy Spirit within me? We pattern our lives in accordance with the goals perceived as good and beneficial. At some point, most successful people will achieve some form of balance. This is not all bad, but it can cause our relationship with the Lord to become stagnant. If I judge my life according to the world’s standard, it may appear to be a good life with a fair amount of success. I have had my share of failures. Success is not defined by those who don’t fail but those who do not give up. When I experienced a failure in life, it quickly became a lesson for survival. I am not called and created to survive in this life but to thrive well beyond the 70 or so years that I am given.

With this in mind, if I become comfortable with my life serving God I am susceptible to complacency. Religiosity gives a false send of security to the believer based on good behavior and time well spent serving God that produces certain blessings. I am blessed. Is it enough for me? No, I have a deep desire and burning passion to be transformed. What if transformation doesn’t look like success to the world? It doesn’t my friend. Success in the Kingdom is selflessness that gives way to complete unity with Jesus Christ. I cannot gauge my spiritual success by a worldly standard. I must not become a habitual Christian but strive to be an intentional one.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it.” (Charles R. Swindoll) While this is applied in both the natural and spiritual realm equally, I believe that this powerful statement holds the secret to our success as a believer. If we could focus 10% on life and become 90% fixed on responding appropriately by using God’s Word, His Wisdom and Christ’s Example to transform our heart and soul – we would be a successful, healthy and functioning Body of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 3:16-20 (NLT) But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Has my spiritual life become a habit? Am I serving God involuntarily? Am I lukewarm? Am I intentional anymore? Am I willing to be honest with myself? Our life in the Lord is like an onion as each season peels back another layer producing a new aroma and often many tears. What if I get used to the smell and do not give way to those tears anymore. Becoming comfortable with the process of transformation thereby giving way to complacency. How will I know? Will it be too late when my lack of newness becomes evident in the Presence of my Savior? My attitude and actions can be changed by my ability to change certain habits in my life. But if I don’t allow the Lord to expose every weakness and every insufficiency to effectively apply more of His Grace until I am a new creation – my life will be a complete failure. The Lord is offering to strip us of indifference before it’s too late. He wants to heat things up so our life is palatable again. I must be willing. It must be my choice. I must be intentional. It is my conscious decision to be successfully transformed no matter what it takes.

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be…is what you do.” (Bill Phillips, Author and Entrepreneur) Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We are free to choose the life we life. The Lord will not force us into a relationship with Him or this would be void of love but enslavement. He is offering us the opportunity of unity which means I must leave “me” behind and become one with Him. All of me for all of Him. I am free to choose the type of relationship that I have with God. Each day holds 24 hours of opportunity. I am the master of my time. How I spend it? How I waste it? What I do with it? What I get out of it? My mind, body and soul can be invested as I choose to do so. However, if my heartfelt desire is Jesus Christ. It is not a habitual change that will create success in my pursuit but rather intentional surrender and submission of my life to the process of transformation called faith. I must give up my rights to claim righteousness. I must admit I am weak to secure His Strength. Hope must be the anchor for my soul not schedule or routine. I must go where Jesus goes. Do exactly what He says. Come when He calls to me. Not because I have to but simply because He is my greatest desire.

Lord, forgive me today for the lukewarm places in my life. I repent for every action that has become habit and routine lacking passion and burning desire for You, Jesus.  I want to move deeper into Your Presence. I desire You above all things. Show me the areas of indifference in my life so I may surrender them all to You, Lord. Show me the involuntary actions of compromised complacency. I rebuke religious habits and give these also to You! My greatest accomplishment will be acceptance into Your Kingdom forever. Lord, make my life so. I ask you to makeover my heart and renew a right spirit within me, Jesus. All I want is You, Lord and my full intention is to have more of You!

Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Embracing Change

embracing-change

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Living in Florida, the winter season is very mild here. There may be rainy days, but at least I do not own a snow shovel or ice scraper. Amen! Hallelujah! When I woke up this morning to twenty degree weather, I could feel it coming through the window before I got up. Mounds of blankets and covers along with the steady hum of the heater running, I snuggled in a bit more. The clock was not so accommodating. If I was going to have time with my Lord this morning before church, it was clear I must get out of my cocoon and prepare for the change in the atmosphere. Donning a hoodie and wrapped in a blanket, I was ready to face the cold with our fur baby in her tiny cute sweater. I still wasn’t ready for the blast of frigid air that met me at the door. Baby, it’s cold outside.

Rummaging through the closet, it is clear that I must put on some extra layers today. But what to wear is yet another challenge as the change of conditions make it necessary. I have apparel for warm weather and even days of pouring rain but this freezing thing is new so I must adjust. I have pulled out some options to be revisited before I get dressed. It’s funny that on days like today rather than getting out there and embracing this new season as experience, my girls and I just want to hunker down and hibernate. Willing to forgo shopping or an outing into “town”, they were just fine piddling around the house and staying warm inside. Oh the comforts of home that breed complacency within us in more ways than one!

What is complacency you ask? It is the feeling of quiet pleasure or security along with satisfaction with an existing condition or situation that often makes one unaware of some potential danger or defect. I am comfortable in the warm weather of the South. This sudden change in the environmental conditions around me are unfamiliar, uncomfortable and unwelcome. God does not change. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. If there is to any change or transformation in my life – I must be the one. Change is inevitable in the progression of our relationship with the Lord…if we allow it to move us, mold us and make us new.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

The Lord is constantly promoting change in our life. His Deepest Longing and Greatest Desire is that we are changed into His Glorious Image. This morning when contemplating what to wear to headed to church. I have selected some options not only for the occasion but for the conditions. There is one thing to be clothed in to meet with the Lord. Do you know what that is? Righteousness. The only thing that God looks for when He sees us is Jesus Christ. When I am “in” Christ, I am His Child. Sin is no more. Grace properly applied and love exuding all around me as Light to a dark and dying world. It is all about righteousness. God is absolutely right. He is perfect in every way. When my life doesn’t line up with His Word, it would be foolish to pray for my way because the Lord will never march us back to captivity but always provides opportunities for freedom.

Genesis 31:1-3 (NLT) But Jacob soon learned that Laban’s sons were grumbling about him. “Jacob has robbed our father of everything!” they said. “He has gained all his wealth at our father’s expense.” And Jacob began to notice a change in Laban’s attitude toward him. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there, and I will be with you.”

To recap the story of Jacob, he came in this world wrestling with his twin brother, Esau. He finally tricked him out of his birthright. With the help of his mother to avoid his brother’s wrath, Jacob went to live with his family member, Laban. Laban had two daughters, Rachel and Leah. Jacob fell in love with Rachel immediately and after working to obtain her hand was tricked into marrying Leah. He worked even more and would be given Rachel in marriage as well. The Lord blessed Jacob with many children and he prospered caring for Laban’s flocks. However, Jacob began to notice a change in Laban’s attitude toward him. It was then that the Lord revealed His Plan to His Child. “Return to the land…I will be with you.” The conditions of Jacob’s life which once were comfortable became uncomfortable and it was time for him to move.

It would be ridiculous for me to get mad that the temperature has dropped outside. It is not unusual for extreme cold in winter seasons. However, it is not normal for where I live. With this in mind, consider the conditions of your life today. Has there been a change in people’s attitudes? Have uncomfortable situations presented themselves? Do you feel sudden dissatisfaction? Are you discontent? Is there strife or division around you? Conflict? God does not change. We must. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. There I must not be. If the conditions surrounding my life change, could it be a new season is upon me? Is it time for a move? Is God promoting change? His Spirit seeking more freedom? Yes. Yes. Yes.

Genesis 32:22-28 (NLT) During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions. This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob. Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

At this point, Jacob has made a covenant with Laban. He could go back if he wanted to. Jacob has sent gifts to his brother to make way for his future. His wives and children were already there including his servants and possessions. It was Jacob and the Lord. In Exodus 14, the Children of Israel have been freed from slavery but now faced with the Red Sea they are unsure if they desire this change. The people and Moses cry out to God. God replies, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” I wonder if this was not the same point in time for Jacob. While the promise of his future and hope was before him, the comfort and control of the past summoned his return. We do not like to be uncomfortable. We do not yearn for inconvenience. Like Jacob, we wrestle with change. God does not change. Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever. If a new life is to be had, new person discovered and new thing to come about, it will never because anyone else moved but me.

Philippians 3:20-21 (NLT) But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

There are some people who will wake up this morning realizing how unfavorable the conditions, turn over pulling the covers up and skip church. Barring unsafe conditions, these are the ones who just do not want to weather the cold but certainly go make it if they tried. We are citizens of Heaven. The future hope held on to is much more than our needs, wants and desires for our natural life but securing our residency in God’s Kingdom. This will always require change on our part. Change is inevitable to those who desire success according to God’s Plan which is perfect. He perfects all that concerns us. Promising to make good all the details of our life, no circumstance is wasted. No hardship unnoticed. However to avoid change is to skip the transformation process of God that moves us from death to life. God desires to give us a new heart. He wants to give you His Spirit to produce the kind of fruit that will satisfy our soul. He will take out that stony, stubborn heart that keeps you from fully accepting the robe of righteousness that awaits you so that you will be responsive to the change that the Lord is precipitating in your life. (Ezekiel 36:26)

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

Have the conditions of your life changed? Do you feel like it is time to move? Is the atmosphere of your life forcing a choice that you are not comfortable making? God is with you today. He is in you. He is more than likely the One who is promoting change in your life. Change means to make the form, content, nature or future course of something different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone. God will not force you to change but offers us the opportunity to do so in the form of freedom. You are free to remain comfortable and complacent without hope. Hope is for the future. Hope requires change.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (NLT) God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

Hope is the anchor for our souls. Hope is for the future. It requires faith that believes without seeing. Faith will allow God to move us and change us even when uncomfortable and inconvenient. God does not lie. He doesn’t change His Mind. We must change. Change is indeed inevitable, yet why are we surprised when it comes. Struggling and striving with God for our way only hinders the process of prosperity in us. We must submit and surrender to win the race of faith and secure the hope to endure to the end.

I want to encourage you today to embrace the change. Look for the ways that the Lord is pressing you toward freedom, take the leap of faith that carries you from death to life transforming the natural into supernatural that touches here and now. God has a plan for you that contains a future and hope that is not in any way impacted by us. It can only be accepted. You can do nothing to limit God’s Love and Devotion to you. Nothing can separate you from His Amazing Love. It is unconditional. That in itself will take me a lifetime of searching and transition to Heaven to fully understand. Friend, God is offering you an opportunity to be changed and transformed. For your life to look like His Word and according to His Plan… the rest is up to you!

I Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

A New Thing

a-new-thing

Titus 3:4-7 (NLT) But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

The past few weeks I have discovered chalk paint. To be completely honest, it has become somewhat of an obsession taking over my life. I love to make old things new again. My first project was an old antique dresser. It was a minimal investment to insure if I ruined it that I would not fret. Staining the top to bring out the original wood grain and textured, the old chest could be seen. I proceeded to coat and cover the rest of the piece with linen white chalk paint and it became my masterpiece. So now every old piece of furniture that I am considering getting rid of undergoes a fresh transformation thanks to the newly discovered painting product and the fact I discovered a wide selection of colors at the local Wal-Mart. I love taking something someone is ready to throw out and giving it new life. Making it into something new and useful. God did that for me, you know. Took a little girl lost, gave her a new life, new purpose, a beautiful family and wonderful future. It didn’t always look like it but as I trust the Lord with a little bit here and a little more there – faith is growing into something more beautiful than anything I could think or ask for.

No, this is not a tutorial on chalk painting or the merits of it. But one more thing about the paint that I find quite impressive and then I will move on. It covers everything. One coat makes such a difference. If you distress it by rubbing off edges or added some texture, it looks even better. The Blood of Jesus covers it all. My past is hidden behind the pristine righteousness left behind once our sins our covered in His Bright Red Blood. I wonder if we could see ourselves as God sees us after grace is applied, if we would understand that our future is way better than our past. Would we give up the old things taking the place of the new things that the Lord is ready to do in us, through us and around us? Would we trust Him in the application of transformation just a little more and know that in that moment His Grace is enough to catapult us into a prosperous future? What if we took a chance on a new thing rather than clinging to old things that are comfortable? The unknown Plan of God is way better than our present reality – we just need a little faith in the product of our salvation and confidence in the Promises of God.

Isaiah 48:6-8 (NLT) You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled, but you refuse to admit it. Now I will tell you new things, secrets you have not yet heard. They are brand new, not things from the past. So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’ “Yes, I will tell you of things that are entirely new, things you never heard of before. For I know so well what traitors you are. You have been rebels from birth.

It took me months to muster the courage to paint a piece of furniture. I was afraid that I would mess it up. Yet secretly I kept looking at the work of others thinking I could do it. I had no confidence in myself. I had no knowledge and therefore doubted my ability to do so. Here is the thing. I wonder how many things that the Lord whispers to us to encourage us and empower us to do something new that are suppressed based on our old life, old ways and old person. What is He whispering in your ear today? What is that new thing that sounds impossible? Overwhelming? The Lord inspires us to do new things because we are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) He sees us as a new person even if we don’t. He sees the purpose in us not the conditions around us. He makes all things new beginning with you. It takes time for us to be transformed into the new creation but the most important thing is that no matter how long it takes – we are transformed. (Galatians 6:15) Also of great importance to note is that God knows people are rebels from birth so He provided grace and new mercy each day. No excuses. Today is the day of new things…

Isaiah 43:18-21 (NLT) “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

I used to think that all the “new things” the Lord wanted to do in my life was new like the world perceives it. Out with the old in with the new. God is the Creator of all things. He created you with a plan and purpose that sin tried to kill and the enemy tried to steal. But God. He provided everything we needed from the beginning right down to documenting every minute of our journey and recording it in time, that lead to our success and not failure. So what does that mean? Your life is just as it should be. When we discover the Love of God and accept Jesus Christ as Savior – the sin that once killed every good thing in our life and darkness that prohibited our growth potential is gone. The decision to make Jesus our Lord and follow Him causes the new things He promised to come to pass. He takes our life, this life exactly where we live and prospers us here. He turns wastelands to waterfalls. He makes a pathway through our wilderness. Our commitment to Christ is what brings forth the new thing. Our willingness to follow leads us to prosperity.

Romans 4:16-17 (NLT) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

Faith is all that is needed to have a new life. Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Do you believe in that God, too? Abraham believed enough to sacrifice his only son that he waited almost 100 years to meet. What are you willing to sacrifice? Your time? Your comfort? Your trust? Your feelings? Your rights? Your past? Your anything? The Lord has been whispering to you a new thing. He is always leading us to new life. Are you listening? Are you trusting? Do you believe that He can actually do something with all those broken pieces not fit for anything? Why not hand it over? Why not just give God a chance? Faith trusts God when we cannot see what is coming or a way out. It is the thing that says keep going when the impossible rises up. New things come to those who trust the Lord enough to stop looking back and take one step…just one step forward. Is that you? Are you ready for something new? Go for it. He is waiting on you!

Mark 8:34-36 (NLT) Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?

Happy Transformation Day

Happy Transformation Day

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

July 23, 2014 will forever be a day celebrated by our family. It was on that day that our son received his bone marrow transplant. After years of cancer relapse and treatment, one desperate attempt to save his life worked. On that day, everyone who followed our son’s story and supported him in prayer wore our favorite football team’s colors and joined Team Unconquered. I was hoping for a reprieve but God blessed him with remission. The medical team told us that transplant day when they give you bone marrow to rebuild your blood and body is like a second birthday for it gives new life again. For our boy, it would best to think of it as his third birthday. The first in May when he came into the natural world, the day that he was born into God’s family, and then transplant day. Two years later, he is actively pursuing his degree in college full-time. Just an ordinary guy on an extraordinary journey loved by a God who couldn’t bear to leave him as he was but saw fit to transform him into a walking miracle.

As I think back over the last five years of our life, things have changed significantly. Down to just two kids at home, it is a whole lot quieter around here. Turning 50 has proven to be uneventful except for a new job, a new house, and new people in my life. Some of the very same people who cheered our son across the finish line are now in the battle for themselves. The most obvious difference to me is me. I am changed…for the better in some crazy way. I don’t complain as much as I used to. I notice the little things. I am way mellower than before. I have learned to wait thought I still have a long way to go. I have decided that it is in our complete undoing that we are molded and shaped by the Hand of the Lord. Broken hearts are soft hearts. Unfulfilled expectation only lead to the pursuit of satisfaction. Again just as the Lord could not bear to leave our son in his sickness, He cannot leave me in my mediocrity. When I cry out for more, He works to make room for all.

James 1:17 (NLT) Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

I believe that is our inability to fully comprehend the goodness and perfection of God our Father that hinders us from full acceptance of His Gifts. Too many times, it is easy to compare the Lord to the other people in our life and the expectation formed on their faithfulness to us. I know that there are times when our kids want what they want but we have already purposed in our heart to do more. If there is a wait time associated or work that must be done, they become impatient. They do not want to be inconvenienced or made uncomfortable so they settle for they can see.

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father. This passage reminds us today that God is intent on giving us His Very Best. In fact, it is His Decree over our life. The prodigal son is an excellent example. Everything his father belonged to him. He had to do nothing but remain in his father’s house to enjoy everything that was his. The son decided that he wanted to go his own way, so he took the portion that was his squandering it quickly. When he could take it no more, he decided to go home and become a servant. But his father had other plans and he was welcomed home. This is our story depicted through others.

God gave us everything in the Garden of Eden. The very thing that was kept from us was not out of selfishness but to keep us secure. We wanted more and took it forging off to journey through like making our own way. Sin proved no match for us so God gave His Only Son to repay our debt and give us our freedom again. When we come back to the Father as a servant, He molds us and shapes us into a beautiful bride to become His Children again through a spirit of adoption.

Hosea 2:14-16 (NLT) “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’

My relationship with the Lord changed in the “Valley of Trouble”. It was in complete desperation and total devastation that God was able to begin to transform my life again. New life is a lifelong process. If you are dry, thirsty, broken or done, it’s not over. He is with you. Jesus is waiting on you to come to Him. He whispers to you. Here is the thing: Freedom will not allow the Lord to force you to come closer, claim your blessing or step into your promise. It is 100% up to you. If you decide to wade in the gray and live in the middle of the road, He will wave from the sidelines trying to get your attention but He will not drag you off into His Goodness. Jesus wants to win you back but not as a servant but beloved bride.

Psalm 23:4-6 (NLT) Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will be afraid for you are close beside me. I have experienced this kind of companionship with the Lord. It is an awesome peace that I must learn to maintain outside of crisis. How? Your rod (discipline) and staff (instruction) protect and comfort me. Discipline is created by the Holy Spirit who cultivates the fruit of His Spirit including self-control. His Instruction is His Word. Jesus said that true worshippers do so in “Spirit and Truth.” Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – no one comes to the Father except through His Son. We pass through the “Valley of Trouble” and move past the darkest valleys. In the meantime, the Lord prepares a feast for us right in the enemy’s face. Doesn’t the Word of God tell us that He came to give us a rich, satisfying life. His Goodness is to be experienced in the land of the living. You are anointed. David was as well. It took years for David to fully realize his calling and step into royalty. David had a heart set on God so he waited for Him. David made mistakes. He didn’t always make the right choice, but his love for the Lord kept him moving toward the throne.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life and I will live in the House of the Lord forever. The Valley of Trouble has a way of stretching the perspective of our life from here to Eternity. Heaven becomes just a little sweeter each time a loved one crosses over there. It is in that moment when we lose all control and cannot change the circumstances, conditions or complications of life into resolution when we move just a little closer to the Lord. You will never be able to pursue the Lord wholeheartedly with only half your heart. His Goodness is perfect. His Grace is enough. God works in the realm of constant purity and truth. He operates in perfection. We do not so just a little of God’s Love is so much sweeter than anything we have experienced before and changes our life for the better so we become comfortable rather than committed to the process of change called transformation.

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

During the process of preparing for the transplant, there are several meetings set to make certain that you understand the profound risk associated with destroying all your bone marrow in order to give life renewing stem cells to produce new healthy ones. There is a period of time when the patient is severely immune-deficient. We had two options – no transplant and his imminent death or do the transplant with a 2% chance at life. Where is the choice?

We are given a choice each day to serve God or not. Life or death. Blessing or curses. It is our choice to carry our cross and crucify our flesh that allows the God in us to grow into divine direction and better choices. His Grace is enough for all the times that I fail. His Mercy says, “Good Morning! All things are possible to those who believe!” I must make the choice to be my Father’s Child and live in His Presence. I must be aware of the substitutions and compromises that are offered to me each day waiting the perfect and good gifts that God has promised for me.

I don’t think a life of transformation is a much different process than a transplant. See I have the right to choose. I choose life over death each day. I have met some people with cancer who decided they did not want to lose the time they had left fighting it. There were some who fought for just enough time to walk their daughter down the aisle or hold their newborn grandchild. We get to choose if we fight the good fight of faith. We are created and called to be new people of God. We approach as humble servants, who He elevates to His Children.

2 Corinthians 5:13-17 (NLT) If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

“A new life has begun.” Are you walking in the newness of life today? Or is it just normal life? You are filled with the Living God as a believer. Your declaration today can be greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world. Two years ago, I held my breath as people sang, “Happy Birthday” to our son just before giving him the stem cells. I didn’t know what might happen next. I couldn’t see the outcome. I didn’t celebrate in that moment. I simply said, “God Your Will be done.” God’s Will is always for our blessing and benefit. God’s Word is filled with promises that should have us racing after Him. God’s Way is Jesus who promises to ease our burden and make it light when we yoke our life to His Plan. We don’t do any of these things. Why? We don’t believe.

The medical team believe firmly as do I that part of the reason our son made it through five cancer diagnoses and subsequent treatment was his mindset. He never got mad or sad and didn’t complain. He endured. By faith, he believed that God wanted to heal his body so he was willing to just walk it out. There are a whole lot of people who claim to have faith but have never really had it tested. There are others who in the test forfeited faith as too hard. I believe that in every season of life our faith is tested so we can be transformed. What I believe in my heart will be evidenced in my life. If we could just wrap our head around the fact that God is good and His Will perfect, I believe we would see the signs, wonders and miracles that He promised. Rather than sitting in the Valley of Trouble, maybe if we forged ahead by faith instead of being held captive by fear. Today is Transplant Day another birthday for our son, it could be a new birth, new life, and new season day for you too. Happy Transplant Day, buddy! Today can be a Happy Transformation Day for you, too! Just believe! To God be the glory! Great things He has done!

2 Corinthians 3:9 (NLT) If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!