Time Bandit

Time Bandit

I Peter 5:6-8 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

This week has been a busy one at work. The days stretching past the normally scheduled hours to get the project out the door. Hours seem like minutes as the emails and calls keep coming. In the midst of activity, my daughter sends me a text. She would like to go to the store and was wondering if I could watch our newborn grandson. I obviously accepted the opportunity to have the little guy all to myself. The new “me” values time way more than the old “me” did. There was a time in my life when work consumed the majority of my attention. Nothing left undone everything took a backseat. Leaving early and coming home late, I would give my family what was left of me if any. Exhausted and overwrought overtaken by the cares, worries and burdens of life. Caught up in the tasks losing sight of my treasure but not anymore.

Sitting in the quiet apartment and staring at the sweet cherubic face of my sleeping grandson, it seems surreal that I am a grandmother. Five decades of life gone – I am so thankful for this moment. The precious time of bonding with the newest member of our family. At the same time, I am sad for my friend whose husband has made his transition into eternity. We met at the Hope Lodge. A housing facility for patients and caregivers in the fight of their lives. Cancer taught me a valuable lesson. It reorganized my priorities by taking the “normal” and ruthlessly shattering it like a glass vase hitting the floor and breaking into a million pieces. Nothing in my life will ever be labeled “normal” again, I refuse to accept that life of hopelessness anymore. Every good gift is from the Father above. Lord, teach me to humble myself to receive it.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

It is absolutely humbling to relinquish control of one’s life. To come to know and understand that despite my best efforts – I am not in control. I am okay with that… now. My flesh hated the idea at first. Many tears of painful frustration and overwhelming pain the moment I learned that I cannot always make happy endings. Yet in humility before the Lord – it is a sweet and gentle exchange. To transfer the burdens of my life in exchange for His Perfect Peace. Peace that passes all understanding cannot be derived from pride but in learning to trust that God is good. He is a good father with a good plan for us. He promises to work every detail of our life for good. In the midst of a world crashing down around you, it is not the first thing that comes to mind.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

The enemy is a time bandit. He is a thief. He wants to steal your joy and peace. He will crush our confidence in Jesus if allowed to have a place in our heart and mind. Any door or window left open is an access point. He is constantly telling us lies and half-truths. The devil has three namesakes that he uses – distractions, disappointment and doubt. All will produce disbelief if allowed to manifest in our life. I have a friend. I visit her often. Her name is Martha. She is found in God’s Word. She reminds me on those days when I attempt to return to my normal life to be sober-minded and watchful. The thief is coming!

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Let’s hear it for the Martha’s out there. The real go-getters and hard workers who get the job done. Pride tells us that “if we don’t do it who will.” In reality, our doing is what keeps pride alive. The thought that there is something to do to maintain the love of God or earn His Great Grace. Doing for people to meet their expectation in the hope that they will reciprocate. There is nothing wrong with hard work. Motivation is the heart of change within us. It becomes a problem is when our doing is a distraction. I am too busy is an excuse not an explanation. Our time belongs to us. We have the privilege of giving it to whoever or whatever is deemed worthy.

Martha was distracted with much serving. What are you distracted by today? We pursue the desires of our heart. Sometimes it becomes a cluttered place filled with worthless ambition and futile pursuits which are the product of a lie planted in us long ago. We must weed out our heart and reprioritize our time. God should always get the first fruit but note that He is not interested as much in our doing as our knowing. Mary sat in the Presence of Jesus first and the Lord clearly favored her decision. Faith and family should be our first priority. There is room for everything else.

John 11:21-26 (ESV) Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Disappointment is consistent with failure of hope. To become depressed or discouraged when one believes that there is no reason to hope. The Word of God promises that our hope will never lead to disappointment. It doesn’t say anything about God doing it our way. So often the confusion comes when God doesn’t do things according to our expectation or timeline. We discard it or decide it just isn’t going to happen. When Martha met Jesus on the road that day without any kind of greeting, her grief spilled out of heart falling from her lips, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Martha was so devastated by her present condition that she was blinded to the hope standing before her. Jesus was there now. His Presence brought resurrection life and power. But her unmet expectation in her way and her plan overshadowed the hope that was before her. “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” She tried to say the right thing in her darkest hour, but her faith was not in Jesus in the present but the One who held the future. How many dreams lay in the tomb of disappointment? Buried by depression and discouragement deemed lifeless and void. God’s Word does not return to Him void. He will do exactly as He promised to do – His Way and in His Time. Are you disappointed today? God is with you. His Presence is all around you. His Goodness is pursuing you. His Unfailing Love is for you and His Hand outstretched. We must lay aside disappointment in order to have victory in Jesus.

John 11:38-40 (ESV) Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 

Doubt is the mountain that needs to be moved in our life. Doubt is the firmament of the enemy like cement boots to keep you from walking in the Presence of God, experiencing His Peace, living in His Victory, and filled with inexpressible joy in every circumstance and situation. When our pride is in conflict with our faith something has to give. Only one will have its way. Jesus was ready to call Lazarus from the grave but Martha had her hand on the stone. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha protested. How many times do we do the same thing? We label it impossible forgetting that nothing is impossible for the Lord.

Stinking thinking keeps us from the miracles, blessings, promises and prosperity that God has apportioned just for us. Our words and ways hold the stone over the grave of dead dreams ordained and predestined to be a reality. We cannot wrap our head and heart around an impossible God ready to do extraordinary things in a supernatural fashion for those He loves and calls to Him by name. You are that person. Dead things are coming to life. His Spirit is ready to pour out visions for the new hope reserved just for you. All you have to do is have faith? Not verbiage but a new heart and mind set on the Father believing that all things are possible if you only believe.

Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

There is no place that I would rather be than rocking that little boy. The contentment of being a grandmother fills my heart with new joy. The Word of the Lord is coming to pass in my life. I don’t make things happen but the Word of God spoken over me in my mother’s womb is becoming my reality. (Psalm 139) It didn’t happen as a result of anything I have done or become. I cannot take any credit for the change of heart and mind. It came when a normal life became impossible. The Light of God’s Love was discovered in absolute darkness. The faith in my heart was not revealed until it was irreparably broken. All my worries and cares do not add a single moment to my life but stole precious time better spent living and loving God and enjoying all the good things that He has placed in my life. If we could learn to do everything to the Glory of God and not man – I wonder if a change of heart might happen accompanied with the signs, wonders and miracles that we pray for. Why is it that in the face of death – we finally appreciate the things that really matter? Do we really have to lose our life to gain it? Yes! We do!

There is a thief among us. He is a time bandit ready to fill your life with worries, cares, fears, doubts and insecurities. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfied life. A prospering existence that as our soul prospers so will every area of our life. Are you missing out? Do you feel cheated and robbed watching others live in joy and peace? Does it seem like others are thriving while you are barely surviving? Stop comparing your life to other people. The grass is not always greener on the other side. You have the same seed and potential called faith. Nurture it. Grow it. Pay attention to it. Weed out the distractions, disappointment and doubt. God will do for you exactly as He promised. You just have to believe. Shut the door to your heart and the windows of your mind to the enemy’s lies and fill them with the truth. Nothing is impossible with God. Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. His Grace is always enough. Nothing can separate you from God’s Love. Christ promised you victory so it’s coming. You just need to trust Him! Your hope will never ever lead you to disappointment when your faith and hope are in the Lord!

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.



Treasures in Heaven

Treasures in Heave

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Do you have a treasured possession? My grandmother’s china is very special to me. She kept it in her china cabinet only bringing it out at certain times. I remember looking through the glass at them and how they shown in the golden light of her dining room. Funny, that in the same cabinet, in the midst of all the good stuff, grandma had a plastic salt and pepper shaker in the shape of two hanging grape clusters. These were a gift from me to her. She treasured the artwork and tiny trinkets given to her by her grandchildren. They took a place of honor in her home. My birth mother passed away a few years ago. We had been estranged due to addiction for many years. When her death certificate arrived, it contained two gumball machine rings that belonged to her. Little pieces of cheap metal crafted in to plain bands that were gifts from her grandson. I have tucked them away. Tiny treasures with great significance.

We all have treasures. People or things highly valued and greatly prized in our life. Some of those things may actually be of monetary worth while others provoke precious memories. If a thief were to break in, would he be able to steal your treasure? Could moths or rusts destroy that which is most precious to you? Treasure is defined by the value or worth placed on something. It is the desired content of it that makes it so special and sought after. What do you spend your time pursuing these days? The pursuits in which our time and talent are invested generally will reveal our treasure. Priorities produce busyness but what is the purpose and motivation behind all the rushing back and forth? Where is my treasure? Where is my heart?

It would be quick to interpret this passage to dissuade us from loving things and money too much. While looking ahead, the perception of worth and wealth is based on the perspective of what we see. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. The kind of faith that sees the Kingdom must turn its face from worthless substitutions to obtain the treasure stored for them in heaven. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Drives and desires become our masters. To have money, possessions and things is not bad. To love money, possessions and things allowing them to become the master of our life and that which defines our pursuits is the real trouble for believers.

Proverbs 2:1-5 (ESV) My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

The hidden treasure of heaven belongs to you and me. We have the Word of God to invest in our life like good seed planted deep in fertile soil. The act of sowing God’s Word in our lie turns knowledge into understanding and wisdom. We must “receive“ His Word. We must “treasure” His Commands. We must be “attentive” to His Voice. We must “incline” our heart to understanding. Treasure is defined by human desire. The thing desired most defines the idea of “treasure” in our life. Who or what gets your time? Who or what gets your talent? Who or what gets your treasure? This is the person or thing valued most in your life. It will show you who or what the desire of the heart is.

Matthew 13:44 (ESV) “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is hidden treasure. It is found when Jesus Christ is discovered. The potential of the Kingdom is in us. He has placed eternity in each heart and a measure of faith to cultivate the purpose placed within us. In order to have it, we must pursue it wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) The man found treasure and covered it up. We invite Jesus to come live in our heart. What we do with our salvation is completely up to each one of us? To participate in a building a relationship with Jesus Christ means that we must go and “sell” this life to obtain the Kingdom. The man sold everything for “joy”. Less is more in the Kingdom. I must decrease so Christ can increase.

What if this passage represents moving our life from the planet to His Presence? To begin getting rid of lesser things to make room for His Abundance. To work the fields of our heart rather than toiling with our hands all the time. To build a life on faith rather than worrying about the world and its future. We are temporary residents of this place, the Kingdom of God is our forever home.

Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Reading these verses today, I am wondering if there is a message here. The “man” moved his life and existence on the field. He sold everything to dwell in it. Live in it. Take ownership of it. What if these verses represent our personal life with Christ and the next ones our professional life? The merchant bought and sold pearls for a living. But when he found the pearl of great price, he sold all to have it. The treasure of my life is Christ. To have the Kingdom – I must have faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is not futuristic. He invites me to open the windows of Heaven and bring it down to the earth.

The deal breaker, game changer is my participation. Will I sell out for the Kingdom? Will I place the highest priority on heaven rather than earthly pursuits? It doesn’t say that they gave everything up for the Lord. They sold everything to acquire the Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven offers abundance, full satisfaction and complete contentment. It is not to accept a life of poverty, but to prosper from the inside out. I find that as I continually invest more and more of my time, talent and treasure into the Kingdom – things begin to change as I do. The struggle is real. Faith relies on that which it cannot see as the vivid reality of what is true in our life. There was a rich young ruler who came to Jesus in Mark 10. He was rich. He was a ruler. He was religious. He was the total package according to the world’s economy. Jesus instructed him to sell all of his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor and to follow Him. To exchange all of his things for righteousness. To have a constant and abiding relationship with the Living God. The man walked away “disheartened” for he had many possessions.

Luke 12:32-34 (ESV) “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

If the world didn’t give it to you, then the world cannot take it away. The Treasure of Heaven is Jesus Christ. The Presence of God that wants to dwell in us, live with us, save us, heal us, and deliver us. The Prosperity of God that wants to increase us from the inside out. To create such contentment and godliness that the conditions, circumstances and situations of life cannot impact the love, joy and peace overflowing from us. It says, “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” We cannot earn the Kingdom with all of its blessings and benefits. We certainly do not deserve it yet each day His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursues us. “Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail.” God is asking His People simply to prepare a place for the Treasure of Heaven and He will gladly do the rest. What do you treasure? Where is your treasure? Can anyone take it away from you?

God is good! He is an excellent provider. He only gives us good things. He is perfect in all of His Ways. To connect with God’s Economy – one must move into His Presence and learn to operate in godly prosperity. It doesn’t work like the world does. It operates by unconditional love, unending grace and overflowing blessing from the inside out. Tap into the hidden treasures of heaven. Reinvest your life into the potential of faith living in confident hope. He will never ever let you down. It is His GOOD PLEASURE to give us the Kingdom!

Matthew 19:21 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”


Half Empty Half Full

Matthew 6:21 (NLT) Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Call me an optimist. I have heard it before. I always believe that when it comes to the age old question, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” I will always say, “Half full!” Without hesitation. I have always believed that there is more to life if we just keep a good attitude and work hard. I believe that people are good, but life is hard. I am quick to apologize. I hate broken relationships and strained communication. I was raised by a man who wasn’t afraid to try. If he broke, he always tried to fix it and many times was successful without the need for a repairman. Not everyone is like that – there are pessimists and they cannot understand such thinking. The glass is always half empty and surely has a hole. Living in bondage to stress and fear of failure, they do not try new things and become frustrated in setbacks. They often live in a state of “it is what it is” and that’s just my luck. Trust is hard for them. They seldom can apologize and struggle to forgive. Unmet expectation overshadows their victories in life. Living under a little black cloud, they do not dance with the optimist in the rain. It is all about perspective. Life perception dictates the outcomes in life because it is what fuels our motivation. To live a life that is half empty is draining. But to live a life that is half full without real expectation is to live a life of misdirected zeal and enthusiasm. We are born with a plan and it’s a good one. It comes with a future and hope that cannot be realized by the optimist or pessimist without a true change of heart. Regardless of perception our life is supplied by sowing and reaping or planting and harvesting. Positive people are rewarded with positive results. Negative people may experience success for their efforts but their perception of life robs them of the reward called satisfaction. Whether you fall into one of these personas or the other – your perception may be flawed. No really.

2 Kings 4:3-7 (NLT) And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

As I tiptoe back to this woman’s house, peering in her windows again, I cannot imagine the wonderful hope that flooded her heart and soul as she began pouring the flask of oil into all those jars. Container after container from empty to full and empty to full right before her eyes. It was a miracle that speaks to my heart today. Yes, even the optimist needs some direction when it comes to faith, trust and hope. The Lord has blessed my family and me. I cannot begin to share all the ways that the Lord has provided for us physically, financially and supernaturally. However, lately I have been nudged by the Holy Spirit to leave this place of comfort that produces complacency in life. Most of the time pursuing the deeper things of God are only possible in desperation. Look at this little lady, the threat of losing her children drove her out of her tiny box into a realm of hope overflowing. She was poor then rich not because someone gave her anything or even working two jobs. The woman took what she had, broke it open and it began to flow through her life. She saved that flask for a rainy day or maybe for such a time as this – all along all that she needed to provide increase for her family was bottled within her reach.

Matthew 6:22-23 (NLT) “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

Perception is from the Latin word meaning comprehension, literally or taking in. It is how we perceive things. To perceive means to become aware of, know or identify by means of senses and feelings. Our perception is formed by how we perceive things. Personal recognition, discernment, envisioning and understanding of life and how it works is formed by our five senses, feelings, emotions, education, knowledge, and influences in life. Our parents and guardians begin the process and then the baton is passed to instructors, mentors and even those held in high regard from presidents to pastors. It can be a mixture of many things in our life and defines how we live our life.

Jesus warned us about perception in Matthew 6. In fact, it relates to our treasure and the reality of faith in our life. Wherever your treasure is that is where your heart is pointing to and headed in the direction of based on our perception. Our eye works on the basis of its ability to process light through the lens to display an image on the retina. The retina receives the image through the lens and transforms it into an image into electrical impulses that are carried by the optic nerve to our brain. I wear contact lens to see clearly. If something gets caught between the synthetic contact lens and the lens in my eye, it obstructs my view of things. Over time, my eyesight changes and I need new lens when things are not clear anymore. Jesus is the Light of the world. We must take our perception of life, whether optimistic or pessimistic, to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven rather than the things of this world. In doing so, my perception of life changes from what I see to what I know. Jesus is the Word. Faith is illogical outside of the Word so one must focus on natural elements to survive much less thrive. Jesus said, “Your eye is the lamp that provides light for your body.” To see our life as God planned it and fully utilize the Presence of God in us – our perception must gain understanding and then apply it to our life through the Word. In doing so, life is perceived from a Kingdom perspective rather than a natural one. The greatest influence will become our life perspective.

Matthew 6:24 (NLT) “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

No one can serve two masters. If the desire of my heart (vs. 21) is to connect with God through His Son, Jesus Christ and live in His Presence. My perception of life must change from darkness to light. What does that have to do with serving two masters or even being enslaved to money? The earth is bound by economy that is not the currency of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is bound by love, grace and increase as it is a place of abundance and increase. I will connect my life to one of two sources – the Kingdom of God or the world in which I live. I researched the word “economy” and it is not what I thought it would say at all. Synonyms for the word economy are “thriftiness, thrift, and saving”. Interestingly enough the opposite of economy is “lavishness and extravagance.”

Sin caused us to “fall short of God’s Glorious Standard.” Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life who gives us access to the Father again. Do you believe it? When the Blood of Jesus washed away sin and grace is applied to my life – God’s Glorious Standard of Living becomes possible again. Are you with me so far? I must allow the Spirit of God to change my perception so I live with a Kingdom perspective of life rather than selling out to the world’s economy which keeps us in a state of thrift and, dare I say, lack. What if I told you today that the glass is not relevant? The substance in it is not as important as the substance of faith in you and I? What I do with the contents is the potential of my life? Will I keep trying to protect the glass in its half full state and add my own provisions to it? Or do I insist on constantly emptying it out so God who is my Provider and Resource must continually fill it up to maintain His Standard and radiate His Glory in my life. Let’s keep going.

Matthew 6:25-30 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. 

Jesus gives a directive – “I tell you not to worry about everyday life.” What is the source of stress, anxiety, worry, fear or doubt today? What is keeping you from doing what God has called you to do? Are you married to your job? Do you live from paycheck to paycheck? Are you constantly longing for things you cannot afford? Are you content? Are you satisfied? God is good. He is our Provider. Salvation is consummated by seeking out the Lord and living in His Presence. He put His Spirit in us and we connect with Him by pursuing Him. We pursue Him by following Jesus. The secret to success when striving for God’s Will and His Way that are His Plan for us is in our ability to trust the Lord enough to seek Him wholeheartedly. Perfect love expels fear from our life because no matter how life looks our perception of the light of His Love completes us. Our full expectation once invested by faith into God as our Provider and Christ as our Resource allows us to do things like the woman did. She took a small flask of oil and turned it into enough to cover her debt, save her sons and provide well for her household. Whether our glass is half empty or almost full in the natural doesn’t matter as much as what our faith allows us to do with it.

Matthew 6:30 (NLT) Why do you have so little faith?

Paul said this when instructing the Corinthians in his second letter. You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.” (2 Corinthians 8:9-12) Our decision to accept Jesus Christ is to ask Him to be our Savior and our Lord. When coming to Jesus it is with the best of intentions but soon it is overshadowed by “real life” and “real problems” so we begin to recant the “Jesus is Lord” part of our promise. We live a diversified life. We trust Him with our soul but not our natural life so when our soul prospers but our life does not – our perception is perplexed. Holding tight to our resources, including but not limited to our time, talent and treasures, we never fully connect to His Limitless Resources. We sow but do not reap. We plant yet never see a harvest. If we do, it is not marked by prosperity or abundance – it is just enough.

Paul’s advice for the Corinthians works for us today. We must return to our First Love and give Him our first fruits in all things. We must learn to trust God with all our life not just the portions that are comfortable to give. To live in the Presence of the Father is only possible by faith. We must seek Him to find Him. We must knock to gain entrance. We must believe that He rewards those who seek Him. Once we do, it will be evident as insomnia gives way to rest. Stress is given up for trust. Worry is no longer a problem as peace floods our heart, mind and soul. Fear gives way to perfect love that clears our perception of live to perceive the opportunities and potential of God in all things pertaining to our life. See the glass is just a glass. The contents unimportant. Given to God it will become increased, abundant and fulfilled. Take your eyes off the glass that contains that which is desired. Put your eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith. Faith fills every need and produces Godly Riches and Resources in our life to flow from the Windows of Heaven. Abundance flows from a heart full invested in knowing Jesus Christ. He promised to give us a rich and satisfying life. If the Lord cannot do that, then how can I trust Him for the Kingdom? Do you trust Jesus today? Do you believe that His Promises are true? If not, it is never too late to start. His Grace is sufficient for you. He has already given you a measure of faith to start with. Sow it in just one area of your natural life. Yoke up with Jesus Christ today and let Him show you how to walk through life in constant and confident trust. (Matthew 11:28-30) Let Him give you peace and rest. Strive for it. Fight for it. Do not stop pressing until your stress, worry, care and anxiety give way to peace. God is a good father. You are well supplied. He has already supplied every need you have. To those who keep seeking, knocking and asking – He will be found. He will open the door to His Presence. He will answer doing more than you can think, imagine or ask. Faith is the solution to a changed perception of life. Jesus is the light that changes our perspective.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word. Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!




Matthew 13:45-46 (NIV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

A fisherman was on the water one day when his boat anchor became stuck below the sea. After many attempts to free his vessel, he had no other option but to dive in the water and swim to the bottom to eliminate the problem. He found that the anchor was clinging to a giant clam shell. The man dislodged the anchor and decided to drag the enormous obstacle with him to the surface. He was unaware that a treasure was hidden inside. Upon opening it, he discovered a large pearl. It measured two feet long and one foot thick. He considered this to be a lucky find and stuck his prize under this bed for good luck. The pearl was hidden there for ten years. He was unaware that the pearl was five times larger than the world’s largest pearl ever documented. When he finally decided to share the pearl with the world, it was determined that the giant pearl weighed almost 75 pounds and was worth an estimated 100 million dollars.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.” The fisherman had an abundance of wealth hidden under his bed. One hundred million dollars changed his life forever. Yet, he had no idea that the huge misshapen hunk of pearl was worth anyone. Maybe he was looking for one of perfect roundness. Or perhaps he expected a valuable pearl to fit on a necklace, bracelet or earring. People spend most of their life in pursuit of purpose. No one wants to live in vain and think that their life did not matter. It is the cry of every human heart to find its place in the grand scheme of things. God placed eternity in our heart. He also gave us a measure of faith to find the true meaning of our creation. I wonder if because this life doesn’t always turn out as we expect that we hide things of worth away rather than examining them for their real worth and meaning.

The Kingdom of Heaven is our treasure. It is the reward for a life lived in pursuit of the Living God. It is the only thing of worth that we have because it is the only thing there is beyond this life – it is called eternal life. What does it matter if I have the whole world yet lose my soul? My spiritual connection to the Kingdom cannot be separated from my natural life or I will not acquire the treasure that is everlasting.

Spoiler Alert – If you are in the Sunday school class that I am teaching this morning, you may want to read this later. I discovered this week that somehow my pursuit of the Kingdom had been a bit detoured. One of those times when lesser things became greater things and my priorities were misaligned. How can you tell? When agitation overtakes my peace, joy turns to aggravation, and disappointment begins to overshadow hope. The Lord is my satisfaction. He is the only thing worth pursuing in my life. The closer my walk grows with Jesus the more aware I become when something tries to interfere.

To discover Jesus Christ is to find the “pearl” of great price. His Love and Grace causes a heart change that desires to know Him more and seek Him. However, the pursuit of Jesus is difficult in a world filled with distractions, shortcuts, compromises and substitutions. The enemy offers counterfeit blessings every day. Even though we know God has something better, we choose to accept that which is easy and does not require a process.

Matthew 7:6 – (NIV) Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do not throw your pearls to pigs.” I have read this scripture many times but feel there is new meaning here to be revealed by God’s Spirit to my heart. We have been given the Kingdom of God. It is part of the salvation package offered by Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God is our gift eternal life. We do not experience the reality of eternity until we die. Our whole existence is centered on avoiding death altogether when the reality is that every baby is born dying.

In Matthew 13:44, Jesus tells us through a parable that the Kingdom of Heaven is worth the “joy” of complete sacrifice. The man sold all he had just to buy the field it was in. It says that the treasure was hidden there. He bought the field by faith. He would have to go through the process of cultivation to harvest it. There is a process to acquire the Kingdom. It requires sacrifice, commitment, dedication and motivation.

The enemy cannot touch anything bound by the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 6:19-21, the Word of God tells us to “store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven.” Why? Because they cannot be destroyed by the enemy. They cannot be corrupted. No one can steal anything we place there. Our heart follows our treasure. Jesus wants our heart today. He wants our love. Our heart must be bound in Heaven and not set on the earth.

Are we throwing our pearls out to the pigs to be trampled on? A pig eats whatever it is given. It is not discerning and eats whatever is in the slop to fill its insatiable hunger. Could this mean that when we reject the process of God in us set in motion to provide the promise of great value and worth culminating in entrance to the Kingdom, could this be the meaning of throwing out our pearls?

Revelation 21:21-27 (NIV) The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Pearls are formed when a small irritant, like a grain of sand, somehow makes its way into the interior of an oyster shell. Annoyed by this foreign object, the oyster begins coating it in a material it produces called nacre. The oyster slowly coats the foreign irritant in layers upon layers of nacre, eventually forming a pearl. Freshwater pearls take 1 to 6 years to form. Saltwater pearls take 5 to 20 years to form. If the oyster could somehow remove the irritant aborting the process, there would be no pearl.

Relief ends the trial eliminating the problem. Release is enduring the process to produce the promise. What do I do when irritated? How do I react to trials? Do I respond to the promise or react to the problem? It is important to note our behavior in the midst of opposition, irritation or challenges. There is a Kingdom waiting for me. Each gate is made of a giant single pearl. A pearl can only be made one way. Could it be that God placed them there to remind us that this life is a process not a quick fix? Maybe He is telling us that the Kingdom is worth every trial and hardship endured rather than escaped? The Lord is reminding us of the power and glory invested in our fragile jars of flesh today. He is saying don’t give up. It’s going to be worth it.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (NIV) – But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

On a personal note, the last month or so has been very trying. Everything seemed out of order. Nothing was adding up. I felt agitated all the time. I prayed and prayed. I poured over the Word of God for answers. I begged God to show me what I was doing wrong. Nothing. Midweek – there was a breakthrough. Hallelujah! Thursdays I clean house. It was quiet as my girls were off with friends and my husband cutting the yard. The phone rang. It was my friend. A godly gentleman who I respect as a mighty man of God had a dream regarding my husband and I. It seems to be a prophetic dream about a trial that is coming and a promise that we will overcome. My heart sank. Lord, Lord. See I have been through some stuff, I know that Jesus is faithful and will do exactly as He promised. I am human. My flesh cries out that I just don’t think I can do it again. The Lord whispers to me, “You can’t, but I will.”

I have been given a measure of faith that must become large enough to walk over into eternity. When you study the Word of God, it is clear that it is not an easy or lighthearted acquisition. There are many things from here to there that I would like to walk around and run past without enduring but where is the value and worth? It is the process that produces the promise in me. To forsake the process is to relinquish the promise. We cannot have the pearl without the price. I must decide whether I will use my life to gain forever or to live for this day. It is not forced upon me. God injects that irritant that requires change and I decide if I will receive it or reject it. It is that simple.

Where is your treasure today? The fisherman did not know that the hunk of pearly mass under his bed was worth anything at all. He made it worth what he wanted it to be worth. He called it his good luck charm. I have to chuckle. Do we put God and His Kingdom in the same kind of box? Do we decide His Worth and limit His Wealth in our life? Fear will do that. Doubt can certainly do it too. The faith that the Lord has invested in you is worth something. It will be worth every fight to hold on to it. Jesus will be the firm foundation that He promised but we must build that foundation of faith in our life. We must be committed enough to sacrifice. It will not be easy. It will not be quick. It will be worth it all.

Matthew 16:19 (NIV) – “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Hunting the Kingdom

Hunting the Kingdom

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT)

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Have you ever been looking for something and decided the closet or drawer was a mess? Or maybe you find something you were looking for before or something that sparks your interest so you become distracted? I set off after one thing and end up with another. Distractions. When I am rummaging through a closet looking for something, my daughter will say, “What are you hunting?” Oh how this chafes me. She learned this from her very Southern grandmother. You do not hunt for things – you look for them. I guess when I became insistent on finding that which is lost or simply misplaced, I really am hunting for it. Perhaps the term implies a little more than looking but pursuing. Just a thought!

It is possible to miss the mark, veer off course and become distracted. In fact, I think the enemy uses our life against us and our best intentions work in his favor. Our hearts come to Jesus broken and in need of repair. As the Lord begins to right our life, we forget the Source of our Power and take back control. Okay, maybe I am the only one. I want God’s Best in my life. I want all to be all that He promised to make me and that I would become. I want His Kingdom. Today, I am reminded what I am after. It’s not the first time I woke up in this place feeling a little lost and overwhelmed. I feel that I might have misplaced Him among the details of my life. I am hunting the Kingdom today.

Years ago when our youngest child started school, I was offered a job beginning the same day. I thought why not. It was working for the school system so I would be off when the children were off but would not be wandering aimlessly the rest of the time. At that point, we were doing okay so money was not a motive just killing time until the kids got home from school. Somehow over the course of a couple of years, I had assumed way more responsibility than I had intended. Promoted to supervising three departments with a multitude of tasks and responsibilities, work slowly began to take over my life. Don’t get me wrong. I was still a wife, mom and Christian just one who worked a lot. When I was at home, I began checking emails and taking care of problems to alleviate the pressure of each day. Suddenly, I was grabbing dinner at the local takeout chicken place every other night and barely keeping up at home because I was working later and later. Antacid became a daily routine as stress eroded my stomach. On top of everything else, my son who was away at college was sick. In and out of the doctors, then the hospital for tests. Finally, I traveled down to see what was going on and take over. A divine appointment no less. It was October. School had started and my tasks piling up. As our son went into surgery for a “tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy”, I will admit that in my head I was already back at work figuring out how to get everything taken care of after missing a few days. All that changed when just a few short hours later, my heart was smashed to the floor and my head sent into a tailspin with the words, “I am so sorry. He has cancer.”

Now one might think that would change everything in a second, but I am not the average bear. For two weeks following his diagnosis, he went back with family to withdraw from school and get ready to begin treatment. I was back at home trying to make “cancer” fit in our life, routine and schedule. Let me help you out – it doesn’t. We were creating a schedule of care but suddenly that job I that was so important was slipping out of my hands. The schedule so well-maintained in chaos. I couldn’t do it. The most important thing at that moment was our son. What I learned over the next four years has changed my life forever. I didn’t begin the job to become a workhorse but slowly over time the enemy slipped the bridle of success over my head and it became my driving force like a noose around my neck. It took one event to change my life forever and put me back on course. Today, I have yet again become distracted with life. No, it’s not work. God gave me a new job where my family comes first. There is not a lot of stress. Nevertheless, I have become a bit distracted.

“Who do you say that I am” changed Peter’s life forever? It did not make him perfect in a moment or even a few days. He would stumble and get up several times. However, in the end, the Lord’s Word is true and on that “rock” He built His Church. He told Peter that in the realization of who Jesus was that he was given the Keys to the Kingdom. This is true for you and me, too. The days when fighting a war with full frontal assaults, we are good at wielding His Power. But what about the subtle skirmishes in life when the enemy uses the “little” things to lead us off into the wrong direction? Those are the most dangerous of all because before we know it – we find ourselves far off-course. This morning my objective is to make sure that I am on track with God’s Word. I want His Kingdom. No more or less. I want it all.

Matthew 18:18 (NLT)

 “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”


We have literally been handed the Keys to Heaven. We can unlock every door and barrier in our life because of faith in Christ alone. We need nothing else except a desire for the Kingdom to permit Heaven to come to earth. What is stopping us? Desire. We don’t want Jesus as much as the acceptance, affirmation and approval of others. Guilty as charged but not anymore. We want things of the earth more than the blessings of Heaven. We want it all right now so we refuse to wait on the Lord to make good on every detail (Romans 8:28) and perfect all that concerns us (Psalm 138:8). Jesus is not our Source of life but the emergency roadside assistance kit hidden in the trunk of our car who is used when we get broke down and cannot get going on our own. We have all the Power of God who created the entire universe and everything in it. He has the Power and Authority to overstep hell, death and the grave to bring us back out and put us into forever, but we treasure too many other things. Again, guilty as charged but not anymore.

Matthew 5:3-10 (NLT)

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.


When I began reading the Beatitudes this morning, I wondered what the definition was of the word “Beatitude”. Maybe you already knew, but the word simply means “blessing”. I am realizing that I have drifted slightly off course, I want the Kingdom of God to manifest in my life every single day. I want His Blessings above anything I can create in this life. As I read them, I began to translate them into what it required of me and here is what I came up with. I need Jesus. (v.3) I must live in repentance because I need Him. (v.4) I must follow the Lord. (v.5) (This means giving up my way.) I cannot get enough of Jesus in my tiny life so therefore must yield more and more of me every single day. (v.6) I must walk in forgiveness or risk rebellion that locks up Heaven. (v.7) Maintain a pure and blameless heart. (v.8) (Which leads me back to verse 4 again and again.) My mission on any given day is peace. Peace at heart. Peace of mind. Peace with others. (v.8) (This can be the toughest one of all.) I must do what is painfully right. (v.10) Why? Why do all of this? I want the Kingdom of God. I want to be blessed. To be blessed is not to have it all but to have all of Him.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NLT)

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”


I must not forsake small beginnings. A tiny mustard seed of faith has great potential in my life. To have faith means nothing until I put it all in the ground. It is when I commit my faith to Christ that it grows, develops and matures into something greater. The Kingdom of God manifests in my life through the tiny sacrifices of faith along the way. I must not be distracted but put my faith in Jesus all day every day to live in His Presence and have the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 13:33 (NLT)

Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

The amount of my life given to God is not as significant as what His Kingdom will do when allowed to permeate my existence. I just give Jesus what I can that day and He does the rest. The key is I have to give Him something. Some days it seems easier than others to give Him my all. Other days it is struggle to part with much as my humanity has death grip and will to live beyond my own resolve. What is important I that I keep giving the Lord what I can to permeate my life with His Presence. Every day something. Anything. He will work with it all.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT)

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

How badly do you want God’s Kingdom? This is not an open conversation but a quiet inspection of each heart by its own person. Do you really want what God has for you or just enough to get by? It matters in the harvest, friend. I have heard people say they want the Kingdom but then live for the world. I have seen people led off believing it really doesn’t matter how they live who are painfully deceived. It is all about what you want in life. You will make time to have that which is desired. I have been the one with every excuse in the book. Until I tried it all and failed, then I realized that I really did want the Kingdom of God above all else. Maybe it was in the realization that my child might have gone there before me, suddenly it became a little more beautiful. If God had stopped working in my heart there, I would have left Him when He healed my son. But through the process of healing our child, the Lord has given me glimpses of the Kingdom that I can no longer live without. Things that make me painfully aware when I have strayed off course. It gives me a strong drive and desire to get back to it.

Heaven is filled with Jesus. He is my treasure. He is my reward. There is nothing that I want more than Jesus. I may not always live like it or do the right things, but He is my great desire. What am I willing to do to have Him? Will I sell everything? Will I give away my life heartbeat by heartbeat and breath by breath to know Him more? I am heartbroken that I missed it and got off course again. His New Mercy met me this morning and reaffirmed that I have hope and the Lord is far from done with me yet. Thank you Jesus for your mercy that comes with each morning even when it finds me far from Home. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.


When I walked outside with the dogs this morning, I was greeted by cool morning air. Fall is here. With this new season, hunting season began. All the hunters have been inspecting their favorite hunting spots, planting seed to bait their prey, and preparing for the hunt. Their rifles and bows have sights on them to see the animals afar off and hit their target. Those same sights can be moved askew by carrying the weapon or just from use. The firing of the weapon can move its sight. Without proper sighting, you can keep aiming but you are not going to hit anything. Weird how the Lord works in my mind since we are not a hunting family.

I must keep my eyes on Jesus Christ. He is the Author and Finisher of my faith which means not only did He give me faith but now the Lord will show me how to use it to have the Kingdom of Heaven in my everyday life. Jesus wants to be as close to me as possible, what am I doing to make room for Him today? Are there doors in my life locked that will require keys of faith and confident hope to open? Will I step in? Do I want what God wants for me? Christianity is a frustrating endeavor if we do not want the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t look like this world. It certainly doesn’t act like it. It is humility, love and submission to God’s Power at work in us to produce His Kingdom around us. Seeds must die and give their all to produce something far greater than they once were and the same goes for us! I want God’s Kingdom. He has righted my sight today. I am hunting the Kingdom of God full force with all my mind, soul and body! What are you after today?

Matthew 6:20-21 (NLT)

Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

I Must Press On – A Devotion

I Must Press On

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.


My little engine inside of me is saying, “I think I can…I think I can…I think I can.” But the great big brain inside my head is chanting, “I don’t want to…I don’t want too…I don’t want too.” My body chimes in, “I am tired…I am tired…I am tired.” My mind only adds to the chaos, “You don’t have to…you don’t have to…you don’t have to.” Oh and let’s not leave out enemy who sits in the peanut gallery, “Just give up…just give up…just give up.” The great cloud of witnesses are not so effective when it is comprised of the flesh, sinful nature and the devil himself. I want to press on like the Spirit is leading and have every reason marked “promises” to finish the race so why am I losing steam as I near the end. Compromise seems so easy. Complacency seems justifiable. After all, this year has been a success. Our son is cancer-free. We won the fight. Our daughter is married and we have a new son. Extra points from the Lord, no doubt. Yet, I know it’s not over. There is one final push. Celebrating the victory, I try to ignore the pressure to finish the race and claim my prize which is always more faith.

The Lord is working on the inside of me to increase my faith and produce confident hope beyond my personal abilities. The enemy wants me to settle for the faith that I have even if my hope is insufficient. In fact, he is counting on me to give up the fight and rest on these laurels rather than keeping my eye on the real prize which still lies ahead. Change is coming. I can feel it in the air. In many ways I welcome yet, yet uncertainty of how and when still seem vague and unsure. I just need more faith. But faith comes at a high price, it costs all my flesh. It consumes all my strength plunging me into total weakness before it makes me strong in Him. I can only wonder if I have what it takes to press on. The Lord knows me better than I know myself. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I must press on to reach the end of the race and receive the Heavenly Prize called faith. I must press on.

Philippians 3:2-6 (NLT)

Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.

It is not about me. It is the Christ living in me that leads me to the prize and keeps me moving in this race. The other day, I picked up my favorite necklace only to find it knotted in more ways than one. My children gave it to me a couple years ago for Mother’s Day. It is nothing fancy but precious to me. A sterling silver chain with a heart, an anchor and my initial, I wear it all the time. I have no idea how it got to be in such a wretched state and tried for about a half an hour to unknot it before laying it aside to get on with the day. When evening came, I found became determined to undo the mess after my children had tried in vain to help. Sitting down with a small wire and sheer determination, I sat relentlessly working through the knots in the tiny chain for what seemed like days. I could hear my husband in the background commenting on my tenacity. Surely he knew how important this was to me. I could not, would not give up until every single tangle was released and I could wear my treasure again. I know it was well over an hour of constant unraveling before my trinket was finally free. I wanted to cry in relief that my tiny treasure was saved. The necklace is not worth much but it means a great deal to me so it was worth the intense effort to fix it. Christ works on me from the inside out relentlessly. He strives to make every detail in my life turn out good. He works in me and through me to insure that my life is perfected just as God-the Father has prescribed.

If I can do it, it does not require faith. Faith is for all the things that I cannot do like live a sinless, perfect life. Faith is the conduit of salvation and exists when I no longer have confidence in myself. I can do everything right in this life and have many successes but without faith my life is meaningless. Paul had every reason to believe that He was righteous in God’s Eyes from a human point of view. He was a religious man born into Judaism. He was circumcised as religion dictated and became a Pharisee who followed Jewish Law with the strictest obedience. But when he met Jesus Christ, Saul became Paul. All of his best intentions and efforts were worthless when laid at the foot of the Cross, and he decided to follow Christ. God will use every facet of our personality. The same zealous nature that drove Saul to persecute the church became passion for believers when subject to faith in Christ. God made Saul with a purpose that Paul would fulfill. But everything had to become worthless for Him to see the value of his faith. It is not about me or anything that I can do when it comes to the prize that I am after. It will cost me every bit of me so that in my weakness, I become strong.

Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT)

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

When what is valuable becomes worthless, we become vulnerable. King Solomon had all the wisdom and wealth a person could possibly claim, yet called it all meaningless as he wandered from God into a world of compromise. Life loses meaning outside of Christ because without the Lord we do not have life. We are, in fact, born dying in our flesh. The knowledge of such is to realize the infinite value of Christ which makes anything less garbage. Have you taken out the trash or do you wallow in it? Like a dog returning to vomit is a life of compromise knowing Jesus Christ. We have prize worth having if we do not give up and keep pressing on to know Him more and believe in Jesus with faith and confidence that is our hope. Everything in our life should have a lesser value. I spent well over an hour working on a necklace that is only worth about 30 bucks. How much time have I spent expanding and increasing my relationship with Jesus Christ? When I feel like quitting, giving up or throwing in the towel, I know that it is time to take out the garbage and refocus on my prize. I want to gain Christ. I want to live in right standing with Him. Nothing that I can do will ever make this possible, but to fully submit to what Christ is doing in me. God’s Way of making me right is faith. It will be my greatest accomplishment in life if I choose to live by faith not human ability and invest my life in confident hope that to know Jesus is worth more than any other thing that I can ever do.

Philippians 3:18-21 (NLT)

For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. 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.


I do not want to be an enemy of the Cross. I do not want to live contradictory to its meaning. A life for a life is what I have agreed to even when I must press myself to keep going and giving up more of me day by day. This world has many distractions. It calls for the comfort of compromise. We are born with an appetite, but we must refine our taste to dictate our desire. I can eat cake and candy all day but in the end it will adversely affect my body, teeth and overall health. We are in this world but decided to transfer our citizenship to Heaven when answering the call to follow Jesus Christ. Are we moving? Pressing? Keeping on keeping on? Are we eager for His Return or quietly hoping to get a few things done before He comes? My sister prayed diligently that Christ would not return before her wedding day. He obliged. What are you hoping to accomplish before Jesus comes back? If it is anything other than knowing Him more, there may be a problem. Faith makes us eager for the return of Jesus Christ. It is definitely worth having and of infinite worth. It is my human weakness when I am about to give up that I find He has room to move in my life. It is when change happens the quickest because my flesh is too tired to fight. Now God’s Power which brought Jesus Christ out of the grave can effectively move in me and through me for His Glory and by His Grace. It is in the quiet revelation that weakness is the most useful state for change that I can rejoice in what the Lord is doing. Jesus is changing me from filthy rags to a radiant robe of righteousness. When I choose to discard the lesser things, the Lord can fill my life with His Promises. Faith is the only requirement. Confident hope is the driving force that keeps me going. I must press on. Whatever happens, I will rejoice!

Philippians 3:1 (NLT)

Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.