Jealous for Me

Jealous for Me

Deuteronomy 4:24 (NIV) For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Is it worth it? All the time and energy put into serving an “unknown” or “unseen” God. At times the relationship may feel a bit one-sided especially if the enemy has chosen to sift you like wheat. In times of testing or temptation, one may wonder does God really love me. When natural struggle reaches the end of our spiritual rope, tying a knot to hang on to hope can be difficult. To walk by faith and not by sight is not easy. God’s Love for us is complete and perfect. It is boundless and endless. There is no condition which makes it all the more challenging to accept. Life always has conditions and consequences. Grace takes away the penalty to give way to purpose in us and through us. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) Fully consummated and complete is God’s Love for us producing a jealousy that is incomprehensible.

A couple of years ago, our daughter and son-in-law moved to New Hampshire to pursue ministry with a fast-growing church. Though I was extremely proud of them, I was less enthusiastic about the 21-hour move. Our family went to visit them. During our stay, we toured the church offices. The pastor introduced us to a very nice woman who he referred to as the adoptive mom of my daughter. Whoa buddy! I was not ready for the flush that came to my face, pounding of my heart and sheer unadulterated jealousy that came upon me. She was not her mother. She was not even related to her. I didn’t want her to have an “adopted mom” because I was her mother and quite fond of my role. My love for my child caused a physical and emotional reaction that took over my whole body. God’s Love for us is greater than human love for a spouse of child. It is pure. It is complete. It is consuming.

God is jealous for us. His Love is reckless. It is extravagant. It is the reason that good enough is not a stopping point but His Best is all that He has for us. Sometimes in the midst of challenges, it is good to spend some time focusing on God’s Jealous Love for us. It puts things into perspective. The Love of God desires us in the purest and most relentless way. It is not that He needs anything from us. (Acts 17:25) The angels serve the Lord.  We “do” all these things to feel deserving of an undeserving love. We “try to” make up for all the grace that is needed in our life. The truth is God’s Love for us is complete and constant without anything from me. His New Mercy each day is tangible evidence of God’s Capacity to love us no matter what state or condition we are in. It doesn’t make any sense. His Love is incomprehensible. With all this uncertainty as to the width, length, height or depth of His Love comes His Invitation to seek His Love, search it out, try it out, examine it thoroughly and hopefully accept it in full measure. The Love of God changes everything beginning inside of us working its way out of us. If we could just saturate ourselves in His Love today, it would make all these light and momentary troubles fade in the Light of it. The Armor of God protects the seal placed over our heart by the Lord when we accept His Love as our own.

Song of Solomon 8:6 (NIV) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

God knows the enemy’s proximity to you. He knows exactly what is going on and is working every detail for your good today. God’s Love for you is jealous, wild and extravagant. It is recklessly fighting for your freedom. He wants only the best for you. The Lord is fighting unseen battles for you because His Love is far too jealous to allow the enemy to overtake you. You will be victorious because Jesus is our Champion and hands it to us. It is the perception of God’s Love and the Power of it that will keep you fully focused on Him and not all the warring around you. His Love is an all-consuming fire. Place it as a seal over your heart today. Put it as a seal on your arm marking you as a Kingdom Kid. His Love is strong as death. It is unyielding as the grave yet completely overcame it to give you new life and the opportunity to experience His Love firsthand.

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do you believe that God is jealous for you? Even in His Jealousy, God is good. His Jealously is characterized by a solicitous or vigilance in maintaining and guarding you – the person who He so greatly desires and longs to have a relationship with. His Love for us is without rival. There is no one and nothing God loves more than you and me. It is the conviction of His Love that sustains us in trial, trouble and temptation. You will become more than a conqueror when you stop trying to please God and fall in love with Him. Sin is avoidable when it hurts someone we love. We try not to because we want to maintain the relationship in the natural. It works the same way with Jesus. The more I know Him, the more I love Him, the more I seek Him, the more I find Him. He fills the voids in our heart, mind and soul so we are complete lacking nothing especially love. It is from this place that the good fight of faith is won. Confidence in God’s Love for us gives us the courage and boldness to live outside of insecurity and fear in His Refuge called Presence.

Are you convinced? Do you know that God is jealous for you? Do you believe it? Seek His Heart today. Let God show you just another facet of His Love for you. I know that when troubles come it is with firm conviction and absolute confidence I can say, “It is well with my soul.” Not because everything is going right, but that God’s Love holds me in until His Goodness finds me. Nothing can separate me from the Love of God. His Glory will always find me there.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV) May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

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Gaining Perspective

gaining perspective

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Perspective is relative to position. The vantage point dictates vision. For example, if there are many witness to a car accident, each person may have a different account of the cause based on their placement in relation to the event. As believers called to walk by faith and not by sight, it is our personal challenge to gain perspective according to the Word of God in order to see our life as God plans it and not according to random events. We must fix our thoughts and align them with God’s Perspective and leave behind our human viewpoint. Faith is only logical when perceived from such a position. God’s Word details our life. Without it, there is no possible way to perceive a future outside of our current condition or circumstances.

Fix your thoughts on these things – what is true, honorable (respect or upright), right, pure, lovely, and admirable (excellent). What sounds like optimism to the world is so much more when faith produces hope in our life. To change our perspective from death to life means moving from a temporary being to an eternal creation. Desperation becomes determination when our eye is on the prize. Confidence overtakes our insecurity when Jesus becomes our Champion. Faith without the word is not faith at all. Jesus who is the Word is the basis of faith that produces forever in our life. To change the natural into supernatural requires a new vantage point for living.

Hebrews 12:2 (NLT) We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

The evidence of God’s Goodness and His Glory are all around us. However, distractions easily overtake discipline for those who have no concept of faithful reality. Christ is with us. He lives in us. To see Him is to align our heart and mind with the Lord and prosper soulfully in life. God’s Grace gives us access to His Love and Peace. Believing does not make our life easier. We remain in this world but are no longer of it. However, it takes time to change our heart and mind and become confident and disciplined in our Christian walk.

Grace is enough to do it. Grace is made perfect in our weakness when God’s Powerful Peaceful Persuasion take over and His Love comforts us while His Timing beautifies the brokenness in life. There must be brokenness to receive the fullness of His Power. I must give up my way to have His Way. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus. He is the Champion who “initiates” and “perfects” our faith. Initiates means that Jesus is the beginning of faith. He is Alpha. He introduces us to the knowledge of faith. It is up to us to turn it into wisdom by putting into practice what the Word of God tells us. He sets faith into motion. He also “perfects” our faith which means conforming to an absolute standard. The proposed standard is God’s Glorious Standard which is exceedingly abundantly more than we could think, ask or imagine. God is good and His Way is perfect. Jesus leads us into a place of excellence according to the future and hope prescribed by God for you and me. It is the time between what Jesus initiates until He fully perfects it that we must put in some effort. The renewing of our heart and mind is essential in gaining a new perspective of the purpose and plan the Lord has mapped out that will never lead to disappointment but always the fulfillment of hope.

“Keeping our eyes on” or “looking” as used in other translations in the Hebrew means to look away from to see. Life happens in living color. Eternal life is achieved not by sight but fully relying on the Living God who is within us. Our natural inclination is to follow our vision in the natural but faith requires staying focused on Jesus Christ who is yet to be seen. We must give Jesus undivided attention in our life to successfully find Him by investing our wholehearted effort in seeing life from His Perspective and not our current position.

Proverbs 4:25 (NLT) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.

The enemy uses distractions to keep us from focusing on Jesus. Daily diversions that are meant to keep us from fixing our eyes on what lies before us and becoming consumed with life happening all around us. It takes extreme discipline to keep our eyes from being diverted by the enemy’s tactics. He uses lies. He offers us fear in place of faith. As passionate as the Lord is to see us victorious in life all the way to the everlasting, the same passion is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy God’s People. Discipline overcomes distraction. It requires our full attention and daily motivation to keep our eyes on Jesus.

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

Our first grandbaby is on the way! We could not be more overjoyed about the little person who is currently residing in mama. I cannot see the baby, but I still love them. I cannot wait to hold and love the baby. I have great joy each day while sharing this experience with our daughter. We talk about the baby. Shop for the baby. Listen to its heartbeat. There are plans to celebrate the day we find out the gender, showers to celebrate the arrival, and even a developing birth plan. Our daughter is reading, studying and talking to other moms about important decisions that will need to be made. All this for a person who is taller than an inch and really doesn’t even look human yet. The promise is real and developing.

What about God’s Promises for you and me? God gives us a future and hope that comes with the package. Just as by faith I fully anticipate the safe arrival of our first grand, we must highly anticipate and expect God’s Promises. Prepare for them. Not just by our conversation, but how we live our life. It is the active changing of our heart and mind to fully accept and believe that His Promises are a reality in our life that will change us from the inside out to fully perceive the reality of faith in our life. Just as I know that I will get a call one day or night to come to the hospital and our little one will become a tangible and touchable blessing in our life – we must meet God’s Promises with the same expectancy.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you…” Sitting by our son while he received chemotherapy, I remember watching him sleep. The pumps were coursing pure poison through his veins to kill cancer. His hair long gone. His fair skin so pale from all the treatment. Yet as he slept, he looked so peaceful. Other than his physical appearance, the peace in his countenance and the position of his body was at complete and total rest. I couldn’t help but think of God’s Perfect Peace.

The realm of hope offered to us as believers make this the reality of our life if we choose to live there. The exercise of faith achieved through the trial and testing of having a child on the verge of death completely changed my perspective on life and peace. The moment of realization that all my trying to be the perfect parent can still end in such a situation stripped me of the concept of control. We do not control our life. God has a plan. It is a good one. It is filled with purpose and promises that far outweigh our ability. When our eyes are focused on Jesus and He is our Champion our lives become confident in His Ability. It focuses on everything that He did for us on the Cross and keeps us in peace until it becomes the reality in our life. We must guard our hearts and keep them fixed on Jesus to have these things. To live in the reality of God’s Love and His Constant Care is up to us. We must desire to be where He is enough to look away from ordinary life and focus on the Extraordinary God. This is the place of peace that gives way to waiting and patience until God completes the work within us. The Peace of God (shalom) emphasizes its greatness and perfection. You cannot express it to someone. They must experience it to know it is real.

2 Corinthians 4:18(NLT) 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.

Life happens. The details are not in our control. There are many variables. God is working every detail for our good and His Glory. In the meantime, we must stop focusing on temporary problems and fix our heart, mind and eyes on Jesus Christ. I believe in practical faith. Sometimes religion makes it hard to see the simplicity of a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Study the Word of God every day. Mediate on it. Memorize it. Force your mind to accept the reality of faith. The continual sowing of God’s Word will begin to produce the Fruit of His Spirit in us. Love, joy, peace, and the rest of the vital sustenance that feeds our faith not fear. Pray. Talk to the Lord. Listen for His Response. God still talks to people. We must listen for the still small voice. Get into a quiet place every day and share your thoughts, fears and hopes with the One who loves you most. The Lord will not shout over all the noise in your life. He waits for us to enter His Presence. Turn off the noise. Be aware of what you watch and listen to. The things that feed your mind can poison your soul. Fellowship with other believers and like-minded people. Praise God. If you have a long commute to work, listen to your favorite preacher or crank up some good worship music. To worship God is not an event in our life it is how we live it. Those who do will gain a new perspective as faith turns to confident hope and daily expectation. You will find peace that passes understanding. Freedom allows us to choose our vantage point in life – Jesus I choose You!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

The Known God

The Known God

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NKJV)  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

I have a friend who is experiencing a difficult season in life. He has family issues. He is experiencing health issues. He is an optimist at heart but the last message bringing bad news threatens to take him out at the knees. He writes editorials for the local paper. Articles from a personal perspective offered as encouragement. He came to me asking if I would read his latest commentary. His concern was that his perspective was too raw and might be detrimental to his readers. He is part of the Unitarian church which believes that each person is free to search for their own personal truth on issues such as the existence, nature and meaning of life, deities, creation and afterlife. The mission is “inspiring to seek freely, live ethically, and nurture each other and the Earth.” He is one of the kindest people who I know that lives this very thing in his life. However, knowing the adversity that he is facing and reading the words pouring from his heart, it is clear that in the midst of this overwhelming trial – he is struggling to keep his optimism. Without faith there is an end to optimism.

Paul talked about the “Unknown God” standing before the council in the midst of Areopagus…“Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you…”(Acts 17) When everything is going right and all is well in life, it is easy to praise and worship an “unknown” God but when everything is falling apart and nothing is as it should be – this person is not enough. Without His Constant, Abiding and Sovereignty, there is no anchor of hope to hold on to and no one to put our faith in. So it is through our suffering that God is truly revealed to us. Our desire to know Him deepens trying to make sense of the unthinkable when it comes. He is the one who we carry the pieces of our broken heart and life to in an effort to be made whole again. It is hard to make sense of suffering sometimes but thank you that God doesn’t have to be foreign and unknown to us anymore. Greater is He who lives in us than He that is in the world. (I John 4)

Proverbs 14:10 (NKJV) The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.

Suffering is defined as enduring pain, disability, or death patiently or willingly. To tolerate or allow. To undergo, be subjected to, or endure. You know the very thing that is causing your heart sorrow or even bitterness today. The very thing that challenges your heart and mind to believe beyond the impossible boundaries of the earth into the heavenly realms of possibility just to survive. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those with crush spirits. (Psalm 34) The sufficiency of God’s Grace that releases His Power in our life is when weakness takes over and we cannot in our own strength do anything at all but rely on the Lord. (2 Corinthians 12) God knows what we need, when we need and how to give it to us. We must only have faith in God to receive it. The decision to make the Living Hope a known reality in our life is essential.

Romans 15:4 (NKJV) For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Faith is illogical apart from God’s Word. Without a knowledge base to build our faith in Christ upon, there is no possible way to convince our mind of anything else. To attempt to believe in Jesus without knowing Him including His Sacrifice, His Character, and His Identity will only lead to frustration and failure. Jesus is the Word of God. He came wrapped in flesh to be our living love story. (John 1:14) The Cross is unpleasant. His Death violent. His Blood shed quite messy. It is all relevant to the story and without it – God remains unknown to us. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We can know who God is by name but become His Child or know Him. God loves you. He loves me. Jesus died for every single human being on the earth. It is totally up to us in accordance to freedom to choose to know Jesus or not. The seed of faith must be planted in the Word of God to grow and mature into confident hope. This is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen reality of the Living God at work in us and through us. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. When God becomes known to us, His Comfort surrounds us. He doesn’t make our life comfortable but gives us love, joy and peace from the inside out.

Acts 9:25 (NKJV) Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

God has given us a Comforter. He is the Holy Spirit. The essence of Christ released when He died on the cross and made available to all of mankind through His Sacrifice. The veil or curtain in the manmade temple which separated God and His People was destroyed in that moment. Free access to God in His Presence offered to all who come by way of Christ. We need God’s Word to know Him and His Spirit to be known by Him.

Those who walk in reverence to God (fear) and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit where multiplied even in the heavy persecution of the early church. The word “comfort” used in this passage comes from the word “paraklesis” which means calling alongside to help, to comfort, to give consolation and encouragement. The Holy Spirit is the one who produces the inner peace that allows us to walk by faith and not by sight as instructed. (2 Corinthians 5) “Paraklete” means strengthening presence or the one who upholds those appealing for assistance. The Presence of God is essential for our successful navigation of trials, troubles and trauma in life. It doesn’t make sense. Jesus warned that as sin grew rampant and love would grow cold. There would be wars and rumors of war. There would be hard times. Those who endure to the end will be saved. This means that no one is exempt from such adversity in life but that we all can overcome through the Word of God and His Spirit. True worshippers do so in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11)

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NKJV) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” (Friedrich Nietzsche) The humanistic statement quoted by many is simply not true. What doesn’t kill us can make us bitter and broken. It can destroy our soul with vacant barrenness as the last shred of hope is consumed by fiery trial. The treasure I have is the Known God who loves me. He is constant. He is in control. He is good. He is always working for my good and His Glory in the worst of all possible situations. Faith in God is my comfort zone. I must leave the earthly comfort of complacency, compromise, and conventional thinking to know Him. I must accept the terms and conditions of salvation which require a Savior and Old Rugged Cross. I know it makes you uncomfortable to owe someone something. The flipside of the coin is certain death. To live a life that ends in torment forever. Thanks be to God that though there is suffering and sorrow in life – my hope is secure. Faith in God makes all things possible. He comes close to us in our brokenness to be our comfort. He is the Resurrection and Life but to experience these qualities something must die.

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

I am praying for my friend today. His heart is heavy. Hope is waning. He is struggling to maintain happiness and hope without substance. His Faith is in an Unknown God defined by his mind. The Unknown God will never be enough. We must know God to enter His Presence and live in it. You know your own suffering today. Your heart can well define its sorrow. Bad news may have come calling. It has visited me recently too. It is only by faith and trust which gives way to confident hope that I am still here. God knows what I need and how to deliver. His Spirit comforts me, encourages me and restores me when emptiness threatens to overtake me. Christ is enough. He must be our portion. We must live in Christ to know God and experience His Glory and Goodness in our life. His Way is always better which means I must yield my way to Him. Even when that way is dark and foreboding, I must go where He goes, doing what He does, saying what He says, and becoming who He has called me to be. I must decrease so Christ increases in my life. (John 3:30) It is only then that we do not fear the messenger but fully embrace the Word. Only then can I take my eyes off the giant and turn to my Champion. I have hope that is eternal and cannot be stripped away. Living hope. He is the Known God to all who seek Him. His Name is Jesus Christ.

I Peter 1:3-5 (NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

Shove the Mountain

Shove the Mountain

Matthew 17:19-20 (ESV) Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

“Are you ready to shove the mountain?” What in the world? Where did that come from? The Voice of the Lord whispering inside of me, yet audible enough to make me look around. Did anyone else hear it? Apparently not. When the Lord speaks to us, it is human nature to try to excuse it away as our own personal thoughts or maybe think our mind is playing tricks on us. After hearing His Words in the innermost depths of my heart and soul, I knew in that moment that God was up to something. It begins as a thought or idea planted inside of us. Maybe it came to you as a dream or vision. It has to be the Lord because it is a notion of the impossible too great for human comprehension or execution. What if? The dare to dream mentality that overtakes fear of failure. The decision of faith that determines God is good no matter what and to grab hold of the anchor called hope.

Isn’t it funny how God works and His Perception of timing? Allowing us to make it to the end of our strength, use up personal power, run out of ideas, and about ready to give out when He comes and challenges us for more. Oh, it’s not personal but providential. See you can’t do it. The things that God has in store for us are humanly impossible but pride will not relinquish control until it is thoroughly exhausted and out of ideas. Our plan must be completely interrupted to finally accept the Will of God for our life. Desperation must become our drive which leads us to the divine. The Lord is patient concerning us. He waits for the right moment. When it comes, He is ready to take full advantage. “Are you ready to shove the mountain?” These words have been written on my heart as a challenge to experience a new level of faith empowered by higher levels of grace and greater expectation than ever before.

If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” What is your “impossible” today? What is the thing that you believe to be the biggest obstacle in your life? Many times, there is a face attached to the problem when people have nothing to do with the blockages and stoppages of life. Define the “mountain” in your life today. Though you may be plagued with many problems and situations in need of divine intervention, just pick one. The Word of God tells us distinctly that if our faith is the “like a grain of mustard seed” that “nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 4:8-10 (ESV) Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

The impossibility in your life represents an opportunity to exercise faith. Faith must be used in order to properly develop. It must be planted if expected to grow. When the “Spirit led” Jesus into the wilderness, it was a test of faith. It was to demonstrate to us how to deal with the lies of the enemy which are thrown at us every day. The Armor of God includes a shield of faith to ward off these “fiery darts”. The enemy took Jesus to a “very high mountain” and showed him the kingdoms of the world. He told Jesus that it would all be his if the Lord would bow down and worship him. Now I know it sounds preposterous to think that the devil would be so ostentatious display, but he did just that. He does it to us every day. Offering an alternate route and a subtle substitution for the very thing God has promised you in His Word. Of course, the Son of God quickly dismissed him reminding Him that “you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.”

Worship. What is it? Worship is to show profound devotion or respect. It means to adore. To profess feelings of profound adoration and genuine respect. Our words are representative of our worship. Fear is a form of worship. It demonstrates respect. Fear of God is produced by love. Fear in any other sense is the product of a lie allowed to grow in the fertile soil of our heart. Perfect love casts out all fear not associated with God. Luke 6:45 explains “for out of the heart (our) mouth speaks.” What are you saying about your impossible situation today? Are you speaking the Word of God as Jesus did? Or are you telling everyone how hard life is? How broken you feel? Crying out the people of this world rather than King Jesus who rules and reigns over the universe and everything in it? Are you complaining, grumbling or constantly expressing dissatisfaction? The contents of our heart is the context of our speech and daily communication. Sometimes we worship the giant rather than celebrating the Lord who is the giant killer. It is human nature. It can only overcome by faith invested in God’s Word, His Way and His Will. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Our faith grows when rooted and grounded in God’s Love through Jesus Christ. When faith is the substance of our heart, the words of our mouth begin to speak what God says about us, our life and our problems rather than what the enemy is trying to convince us of.

Matthew 21:20-22 (ESV) When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) First, the disciples could not cast out the demon. Perplexed they came to Jesus and He told them they needed faith. Part two of the lesson would come at the expense of the fig tree. “How did the fig tree wither at once?” Jesus replied, “If you have faith and do not doubt…” Doubt nullifies faith. There is life AND death in our tongue. We decide what flows out of it by the prevailing substance in our heart. Do you believe? Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe that He is for you? Do you believe that nothing is impossible? Do you believe that there is nothing that can separate you from God’s Love? Do you believe His Grace is enough? Do you believe? Doubt is not only evident in our daily communication.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight…” (Psalm 19:14) Schizophrenic Christianity produces nothing. To live by conflicting and inconsistent doctrines, one day the world and the next day the Kingdom, will not release God’s Power in our life. Mountains to not move with halfhearted commands but wholehearted commitment to faith. The words of our mouth must agree with God’s Word. The meditation of our heart must be God’s Word creating the abundance that flows from our mouth which empowers us to do the impossible simply by praising and worshipping the Lord with consistent and ongoing faith. The mountain shakes at its very core when a believer truly believes. It knows it’s about to move. Something is about to happen. Faith is effective when our heart, mind and mouth agree. The agreement of these three will overcome our rebellious flesh every time.

Faith is illogical without the Word of God. We walk by faith and not by sight. Like a blind man heightens other senses to overcome his inability to see with his eyes, Sons and Daughters of God must begin to see their life through God’s Word. Speak God’s Word. Pray God’s Word. And above all else plant their faith in God’s Word by choosing to believe it. “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

It was almost time for Jesus to ascend to the Father. Where did He go? He took the disciples back to the mountain. I never realized how many times “mountains” are mentioned in the Bible. Jesus taught on the mountain. There are blessings from the mountains. Escaping to mountains. Going up mountains. Mountains quaking. Faith moving mountains. Mountains removed. And here we are again…at the mountain. I wonder if all these mountains of problems in our life are by divine appointment. Is the Lord leading us to them on purpose? Yes, for a purpose. Jesus gave the disciples His Final Instructions on the mountain. But do you see what I see today? Jesus standing before them demonstrating resurrection power and life and it says, “But still some doubted”. How is this even possible? It doesn’t matter how many times the Lord saves us, heals us, blesses us, delivers us, answers our prayers, fills us with His Spirit and all the other wonderful things that only He can do for us…everyone struggles with doubt. It is our human nature. If we want to shove the mountain into the seas, we must take the seed of faith and plant it a little deeper today. We must water it with the Word of God. Speak life giving words over it. Weed out doubt, fear and insecurity. Wait for it. Worship until it comes. Praise the Lord and serve Him faithfully even in seasons of drought. Those who do will see the impossible happen and dead things come to life. Will that be you today? Will you accept the challenge to shove the mountain with me?

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Gathering the Crumbs

Gathering the Crumbs

Psalm 51:16-17 (ESV) O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Is brokenness a requirement of God? Yes, it is. It sounds contrary to a God described as love. The One who is always good. The Lord whose character is defined by faithfulness. It is hard to understand these verses that reach further into His Way to remind us that it is with a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart that God is delighted in us. It almost sounds cruel and heartless on His Part. There is an indescribable beauty in brokenness that cannot be seen from the outside but must be experienced inside of the human heart. I wonder today if in His Word – there is a way to extract praise from the shattered pieces of our broken hearts.

Jesus is the “stone that the builders rejected” who “has become the cornerstone” of the Kingdom of God. He is the foundation on which the church now constructed of people is being built. However, the Word of God also calls Jesus “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” Jesus is also described as “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” His Unchanging Character and Divine Nature is always good and given to holiness but those who came to save, heal and deliver are not. It is a daily choice if faith and hope will be the substance of our life joining with Jesus or will it mean stumbling in rebellion and refusal to submit to His Love. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but that through Him people might be saved. We receive God’s Love, Grace and Mercy in our broken heart that no longer desires control but gives control of their life and destiny into the Hands of the Savior.

It would be safe to say that most of us have sought after the Hand of God more than the Heart of God though few are willing to admit it. We want the Kingdom of God but not the change in character necessary to live there. God understand our selfish nature and is not at all offended by this innate character flaw. He completely understands it. Yet still in His Perfect and Loving Way – He chooses to continually offer us more. I have been trying to make sense of the many pieces of my life lately. However, it situation and circumstance significant in and of itself comprises overwhelming conditions that have caused me to stop and collect my thoughts. Why is life so hard sometimes? Why is the chosen path of holiness so darn difficult? Why must there be desperate circumstances and devastating situations in life? I will never know the “whys” and “what fors” of all the details of my life but the Lord has promised to make good of every one of them. (Romans 8:28)

Matthew 15:22-28 (ESV) And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

“O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” Who doesn’t want to hear these words of Jesus in their life? I want to be found faithful in the end when it matters the most. Yet what if finding our faith requires complete and utter devastation? Are we willing to continue to believe when life becomes impossible? The Canaanite woman had no claim to the Messiah. She was not of Jewish decent and therefore a lost cause to the House of Israel. Jesus came as the Messiah. To save God’s People who at this point wanted no part of Him. She came to Jesus desperate for her child. What mother wouldn’t do anything to see her baby delivered or healed? She cried out to the Lord in the midst of many onlookers that day. Jesus would make a lesson of the woman’s plight that day and give her a forever place in His Word. It would come at a great price she was absolutely willing to pay. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s Table.” Humility. This woman would do anything to see the Power of God move in her life. Would you?

Humility is the greatest stumbling block that people and the Body of Christ face even today. When was the last time every single person in your church came to the altar unsolicited by the coercing of the pastor but so in love and in need of Jesus that they stopped worrying about what everyone else thought and fully gave their heart, mind and pride to the Lord? It didn’t happen at my place of worship last Sunday either. It is a common plague of pride that is delaying the arrival of the next great revival. People want God’s Hand but have no interest in His Heart. To become humble one must be broken. It is to give up pride and arrogance to live a modest life. To lower our opinion of self in order to exalt the Name of Jesus in our life. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom but our freedom comes when giving up our independence to become completely dependent on Jesus Christ. It is to live in meekness which many consider weakness. To love, forgive and avoid all offense even when you have done nothing wrong but knowing your relationship with God must be defined by His Character being developed and personified in each one of us. Even the disciples struggled with the concept of humility as Children of Israel, when Jesus told them how difficult it would be to enter Heaven – Peter reminded the Lord that he and the others had given up everything to follow Him.

Mark 8:14-21(ESV) Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

I am so thankful that Jesus is patient, loving and kind. How many times will it take for us to understand? Twice the disciples witnessed a miracle. Feeding tremendous crowds with a few loaves of bread and then retrieving basketfuls of pieces or for this lesson sake, crumbs. Well, they forget to bring bread…again. They had only one loaf in the boat. Jesus warned them saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” Leaven represents pride in this passage. Leaven is what elevates and gives rise to the dough. Yeast is a form of leaven. Pride requires us to keep our present form and hold ourselves together. But to fully experience a miracle – humility is required. Brokenness is godly humility that allows Jesus to take our life and make it into the beautiful masterpiece that He promised. It cannot happen in our present form. We must live humbled and broken before the Lord to have all that He has promised and so much more.

Psalm 34:17-19 (ESV) When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Are you brokenhearted today? Is your spirit crushed? What if the Lord is the one pressing, pushing, molding and shaping your life into His Purpose? Would it be worth it? Of course it would even though you are not so sure in your present condition. The undoing of what we are to become a new creation is never a comfortable process. Change is good but no one likes it. Troubles in life cause us to reevaluate our existence time and time again. It is the opportunity to reprioritize our life. God has promised that we will be victorious in His Son, Jesus who is our Champion. Well, we must get on the winning team for that to happen which means moving or transition our life from here to Heaven. We must live for forever today. We must walk by faith and not by sight. We must live in humility and not pride. When we are brokenhearted it is because our expectation is not met and disappointment shatters our perception. However, when we are broken it is the Lord’s Opportunity to perform a miracle and release His Power in our weakness. God is not as interested in our comfort as much as our confirmation. He will do whatever it takes to make sure that our destination is to be with Him forever.

Psalm 147:3-6 (ESV) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.

The fact that you are reading these words today means that there is still hope for God’s Plan to become your fulfillment. I have spent the last six years trying to take all the shattered pieces of my life and put them back into something normal that I am comfortable with. Today I am challenged to see the pieces as crumbs rather than hard, sharp pieces of glass meant to cut me. The brokenness that the trials and troubles have produces are leading to the abundance and fulfillment of God. I no longer can depend on me. I am not a trustworthy source. I am weak and powerless to control the details of my life much less make them anything good. When I praise and worship, lift my hands and shout His Name in church – it is not because I want anything from His Hand. He has given me so much even in the midst of pressures and problems. I need Him to continue to heal my heart. To make it beat with His Heart because it no longer can hold its own.

Jesus will heal our broken heart but He needs all the pieces. After each miracle, the disciples gathered more baskets of crumbs than the loaves they began with. You were created with a plan and purpose that will prosper your life. It is in you. God wrote it out before you were born. He set it into motion from the beginning. Jesus died to ensure that you could be that person who can live with Him forever. It is all in you. It comes out through brokenness and humility before the Lord. He will life us up, when we live a humble life. Great is our Lord! Abundant is His Power! He is mighty to save, heal and deliver us. To move us from glory to glory and victory to victory. The disciples experienced miracles through the brokenness of bread. The Canaanite woman would forever be remembered as the one who would eat the crumbs from the Master’s Table. Will you allow the Lord to exalt you through humility? Will you be broken to be remade in Christ? The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Is this our desire? What will be our sacrifice? A broken spirit and broken and contrite heart summons the Presence of God into our life. He will heal your broken heart and prosper us from this place of humble brokenness. Gather those crumbs today. Cast your cares before the Lord. Let Him take you from brokenness to blessing. Bow before Him in humility and He will life you up!

James 4:10 (ESV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

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.

Shortchanged – Dealing with Disappointment

Shortchanged

Romans 5:3-5 (Message) There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Romans 5:5 (NLT) And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Disappointment – To fail to fulfill the expectations or wishes of. To defeat the fulfillment of hopes or plans. To thwart, oppose successfully or prevent from accomplishing a purpose. To frustrate.

Disappointment is a dangerous word. It ends the pathway to fulfillment in thought and theory. It is a stumbling block caused by disarmament of God’s People. It is the lie of the enemy that he can stock God’s Ability or someway hinder the Lord accomplishing more than we can think, ask or image. It is the persuasion that God’s Word might in somehow or someway return to Him without accomplishing what it set out to do. It is the thought or whim that the Christ living in me is not enough to overcome every obstacle in the way of destiny and myself. Disappointment is the cultivation of doubt. To feel that in some way grace may not be enough which eludes to the idea that the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ was not sufficient in providing a rich and satisfying life. It is a pitfall. We must learn to deal with disappointment and do away with it in our life.

Disappointment and discouragement are weapons in the enemy’s arsenal against every believer. If he can successfully introduce doubt to the heart and mind of a believer, it subtly begin to eat away at our faith sowing seeds of bitterness along the way that will captivate our thoughts binding our minds in the lie that God does not love us. He is not good. He does not care. Fulfillment is not possible. All of these things begin to work within the person to prevent fulfillment of purpose. How does one deal with disappointment? Overcome doubt? Move past the delay? Find joy in the deferment? This hope will not lead to disappointment. Are you holding hope by a thread today? Wondering if God really is working all things together for your good or making you a prime example like Job? Friend, I am right there with you.

There’s more to come… Our life is prepackaged with a future and hope handwritten by God and set into motion not according to our faithfulness but His Faithfulness. His Grace is enough. God is good. His Love for us is always working in our favor. No matter how long the wait…fulfillment will always exceed our expectation. There is more to come. I must wait for it.

God forgive me but I am sick and tired of being patient. Would you be so honest to say the same? Tired of waiting, watching and wondering when the Lord will do as He promised. Impatience has been my biggest challenge in life. I was born with a stubborn nature and strong will. Patience is the pathway. God is always found in the waiting.

Proverbs 13:12 (NLT) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.

Joseph understood disappointment. When his face hit the hard ground at the bottom of the pit, his dream could have died from the fall. But instead as he was sold into slavery and destined to a life of serving others under a heavy yoke of oppression. Joseph held on to hope. The dream that God had given him playing over and over in his mind. In the house of Potiphar, Joseph faithfully served his new master. The Lord was with Joseph. God blessed Potiphar’s house for Joseph’s sake. Joseph was promoted to the highest position. (Genesis 39) Then his master’s wife decided to seduce young Joseph, but his character and integrity would not give in to her powerful persuasion. The woman scorned reared her fangs and claws. Her attack successfully landed Joseph in prison falsely accused and wrongly convicted. But the Lord was with Joseph, even in jail, and soon he was promoted again. The Lord was with Joseph and caused everything he did to succeed.

While incarcerated, Joseph interpreted the dreams of two men working closely with Pharaoh. His only request was “please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place.Yet another painstaking betrayal by people as the men left that day and completely forgot their new friend. (Genesis 40) Two full years later, Pharaoh had a couple of disturbing dreams that no one could make sense of. It was then that the cupbearer remembered Joseph. You know the rest of the story…Joseph successfully explained the meaning of the dreams and soon Pharaoh would put him in the highest position in the land. Not only did God save and prosper Joseph, but Joseph was able to save his family in the midst of famine. His dream became a tree of life just as the Lord has promised.

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.

In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

All praise to God. Oh, the power of persistent praise in the life of a believer. I have learned through many deferments, detours and delays that praise is a valuable partner. People can say some really dumb things as they struggle to offer encouragement from an empty well. They want to lend a hand but don’t want to fall in with you. Offering prayers of encouragement, maybe a little advice, a quick hug or pat on the back – they are gone as fast as the cupbearer and baker that day the invite from Pharaoh opened the prison door. They forgot Joseph…or did they? His time had not yet come. I know this may come as a jagged little pill if you are in the midst of a long waiting period, but purpose born too soon is an abortion. God makes everything for a season and it will be beautiful in that season. In the meantime, He builds our character to receive it.

We live with great expectation or at least we should. We have a priceless inheritance. The Lord is an awesome caretaker who provides our needs according to His Glorious Riches. (Philippians 4:19) He doesn’t stop there but blessed us “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are untied with Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) It all comes together with the promise that the Lord will make us “complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:19) And finally, “God, who is able, through His Mighty Power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Do you believe the Power of the Living God is at work in your life today? Even with the smallest measure of faith, and hope hanging by a thread that decides to praise God one time, serve Him one more day, believe Him for one more second and let it be the anchor for our soul will cause disappointment to dissolve as His Spirit is free to move through us uprooting bitterness, drowning disbelief and filling us with His Love and empowering us by grace even in our weakness. God isn’t finished working out the masterpiece of our life. (Ephesians 2:10) We must remain His Steadfast Canvas in the midst of being stretched, stressed and pressured to give in. It will be worth it.

Romans 4:16-22 (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. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 

Faith makes the impossible possible. Miracles require the impossible. God’s Glory shines brightest in the impossibilities of life. However, these can be some of our darkest days. Trials and testing produce God’s Glory in our life. Those times when trusting God is the only option. When our hands are too small to hold all the pieces of our broken heart that is when we give all its pieces to the Lord. When I cannot possibly make it without Him, I learn to trust Him more. God has promised that He will never lead us to disappointment which means I must follow Him to fulfillment. Nothing is impossible for those who believe. I believe. I trust. I have faith. I have confident hope. Even on those days when my heart is sick and mind plays tricks on me, the Holy Spirit accompanies me through the challenges of my humanity to the place of His Presence. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. Not only waiting for his son to come, but all the way up the mountain of sacrifice when nothing seemed to be going right. Even when there was no reason to hope, Abraham kept hoping. Our does not, cannot and will not ever lead to disappointment.

Feeling shortchanged by God today? I fully understand. Wondering if the promise will ever arrive? God’s Word says it will so I must believe it. Go with what I know not how I feel. Remind myself how many times impossibilities became realities in my walk with God. The enemy wants us to accept disappointment so we become defeated in life. Choose faith and confident hope today. Take control of every thought rebellious to God’s Word, His Will and His Way. Speak God’s Word in and over your life and every situation. Pray without ceasing. Ask for God’s Help and He will gladly give it. Tell the giant what God says, not God what the giant is saying. On those days when life is overwhelming, put off fixing the problem for another day and rest in His Presence. Our hope in Jesus Christ never leads to disappointment. We are not shortchanged have a priceless inheritance. God will never stop short of His Best for us. Until then, we must wait. Hold our hope. Keep the faith. God is faithful. He is good. He will never let the righteous fall. He knows the desires of our heart. He is working it all out for our good and His Glory.

Mark 10:27 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

Calling All the Warriors

Calling All The Warriors

The Entrusted Sword by Ilse Kleyn

I Timothy 6:12 (NLT) Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

“Warriors are not the ones who always win…but the ones that always fight.”

The definition of warrior is one who is engaged in, experienced in, or devoted to war. There is an ongoing war for our faith every day. The declaration of Jesus Christ not only as Savior but also as Lord is a proclamation of allegiance to another Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is taken by force. The fruitless attack of the enemy to overthrow the Power of God and His Son, Jesus is obvious. His kingdom is the world. It is filled with darkness and inevitable death overcome solely by Jesus Christ. Why attack God’s People who are weak and rebellious by nature? Because Jesus Christ lives in us.

Fight the good fight for true faith. Calling all the warriors today. Those men and women who have decided to give up this life to gain their soul and place in God’s Kingdom. “Si vis pacem, para bellum” is Latin translates “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Jesus Christ won the victory. He died on the Cross offering the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind – past, present and future. He released His Spirit to give us new life. Walking through hell, Jesus snatched back the keys to death and the grave. He triumphantly rose up out of the tomb and gave us the Keys to the Kingdom. Now we live under constant attack and in inner turmoil as our heart, mind, body and soul strive to take hold of the Kingdom while living in the world.

Faith may be small. It may seem wasted on so many things but the one who fights to get it in the ground, nurture and protect it while it grows, will one day harvest its reward. It is tiny yet of infinite value and worth. It is the very salvation of our souls with the potential to change every impossible outcome to possible for our good and God’s Glory. You are worth fighting for. The Lord fights for us. (Jeremiah 20:11) He is a warrior and Yahweh is His Name. (Exodus 15:3) It is up to us individually to decide that faith is worth fighting for. The battle ends once He is seen before us face-to-face and we exchange faith for forever. Until then…

Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT) So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. Every warrior gets tired. Their sword becomes too heavy or sometimes they get lost in the fight. We are no exception. Fighting the good fight for true faith might be a bit easier if not fighting internally, too. Life is hard enough fighting spiritual and physical battles not to add emotional and mental skirmishes, too. My pride gets in the way. Offense builds obstacles. Hurt causes hindrances. My flesh fights back. To let the Holy Spirit guide our life from victory to victory and grace to grace and glory to glory requires an absolute surrender and submission of self to the Cross of Jesus Christ proclaiming allegiance to the Kingdom of God. My sinful nature is evil. My mind will play tricks on me taking the lie and accusations of the enemy to tangle me in words and wrap me in his lies if I am not careful. Daily I hear a voice seething at me to give up, give in, and quit. Do you? Are you weary in well doing? Is your sword dragging the ground? Are you tired of fighting for faith and ready to just stop trying?

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT) For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” (Sun Tzu – The Art of War)

Jesus Christ is our Champion. (Hebrews 12:2) He is the one who initiates and perfects our faith. He disregarded the shame of surrender, and endured the pain of submission on the Cross to give us victory in life especially over death and the grave. No matter what you are facing, battling or striving against Jesus has already overcome it. To know, recognize, understand and fully comprehend the magnitude of His Win – the Word of God is essential. It looks like the enemy is winning but truly he is warring without cause. The end is written from the beginning just as every day of our life is prerecorded by God. He gives us a plan which includes future and hope which is ours for the taking. It only requires a wholehearted attempt at acquisition and it belongs to us. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) To believe that Jesus is the ultimate overcomer changes our strategy in life. To be a victorious warrior it means knowing from the onset that we win. Such knowledge will help us to pick and choose our battles carefully. This is not a life of survival but a place in which God’s People can thrive. Jesus secured our victory now we live to claim it. Such an understanding changes our perspective in life from the overwhelmed to the overcomer in Jesus Name. (John 16:33)

Ephesians 6:16-18 (NLT) In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

“The true warrior understands and seizes that moment by giving an effort so intense and intuitive that it could only be called one for the heart.” (Pat Riley)

Take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. It is important that as believers as we fight for our faith that it comes from our heart. The Sword of our Spirit is the Word of God. Jesus declared in Matthew 10:34 that He did not come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword. We see the same image in Revelation 1, “and a sharp two-edged sword came from His Mouth.” It is definitely Jesus because the Words from His Mouth are “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

“Stay alert and persistent…” We do not battle against flesh and blood so stop looking for someone to blame for your current situation or position in life. As our shield of faith slips – it is human nature to lash out against those fiery darts at prime enemy number one other people. The enemy works overtime to divide the Body of Christ which is contradictory to the harmony that God desires. The iron sent to sharpen your iron may be the very person you completely disregard or seem to be constantly at odds with. (Proverbs 27:17) Children of God should be prepared to live the life of a warrior who walks courageously by faith through life unhindered by what they see or experience in the natural but completely influenced and motivated by the supernatural.

It is not a physical fight so exercise and train your spirit to war effectively and rely on the victory given to us by Christ. It is important. Our physical strength must give way to the Spirit. God’s Power works best in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) When the men came to take Jesus, one of his men used his sword and struck the high priest’s slave cutting off his ear. He was defending the Lord. But Jesus made it clear, this is not the way we do battle. Jesus could have called a thousand angels to come to His Rescue and God would have sent them instantly BUT if He did how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen? (Matthew26:51-54) Your life is a purpose to be fulfilled by God. Your natural strength must give way to the Spirit. If you are tired and weary of well-doing, ready to give up and about to give in – it can only mean one thing – you are about to see God’s Power manifested in your life.

Some final parting words of encouragement straight from God’s Word to the warriors…

Joel 3:9-10 (NLT) Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors.

You have everything you need to be victorious. To fight the good fight of faith. Sometimes, it means hammering plowshares into swords and pruning hooks into spears. Take some time today to hone your spiritual sword sharpening it with the Word of God and praying in the Spirit of the Living God. You eat, train and discipline our body and mind – physically and religiously but the Spirit man wins the war.

Nehemiah 4:14-16 (NLT) But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah who were building the wall. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm.

The good fight for true faith is fought daily. We are building the Kingdom of God. It means building a wall around our praise so it may never be silenced. Judah means praise. God always sent Judah first because praise before the battle relays confidence in our promised victory. You must work with one hand supporting the load AND the other hand holding the Sword of the Spirit entrusted to us so our labor is not in vain. You have a sword use it. Carry it with you every day. Speak the Word of God over your life and you will win every battle.

2 Kings 13:18-19 (NLT) Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

Limited faith produces limited victory. Faith in God includes faith in His Process. It trusts in His Timing. When God tells us to do something, wholehearted obedience is required. Our victory is solely dependent on our trust in the Lord. It is secured by faith. If He pointed you in a certain direction, do not stop until you arrive at fulfillment. If He gave you His Word, hold it until it comes to pass. If you have a dream, do not give it away in the pit or prison but remember it so you will reach the palace. Serving the Lord by faith is truly a fight. Daily engagement. It requires a warrior spirit that refuses to quit. Giving up is not an option. Giving in is just not possible. The Glory of God awaits those who decide God is faithful and remain courageous when nothing is going right knowing His Righteousness is coming. I do not want to stop short of God’s Plan and Purpose for my life. I want the rich and satisfying life Jesus promised. He told us that those who endure to the end will be saved. I want to be that person. I am a warrior. I will not stop short of victory.

“The strongest of all warriors are these two – time and patience” (Lee Tolstoy)

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

Finding Joy

Finding Joy

Psalm 34:4-8 (NLT) I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

The word “joy” is often confused with happiness. Happiness is a feeling based on the current condition of our life but joy is confidence in the God of our life. Our youngest child’s middle name is “Joy”. It wasn’t our first thought. I was convinced she was a boy. When the ultrasound tech told us she was a girl and not a boy, I asked if she was sure. She was confident enough to bet her paycheck on it. My husband clearly in shock muttered, “We don’t even have a girl name.” The name selection process started all over again. Shortly after our surprise came the devastating news that my grandfather was ill. It would soon be his time to join Jesus. It was a devastating time. I began to contemplate a namesake. His name was Isaac. His namesake was Isaac in the Bible. Isaac was given his name when his mother laughed upon hearing she would bear a child in her nineties. I would have laughed, too…all the way to the looney bin. Joy was noted as the female version with the same meaning so it would become our youngest daughter’s name. Joy came in the midst of devastation. It’s funny how that works sometimes…I never really thought about it until today.

As Ecclesiastes 3 clearly delineates there are many seasons in life – both good and bad. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” All of them. I think it is important to remember that sin was not God’s idea but mankind’s rebellion against God’s Perfect Plan and Glorious Standard of Living. Yet God in His Unfailing Love and Infinite Grace STILL loves and desires His Children. God preordained our life with a future and hope that is attainable if so desired but gives us the freedom to choose who we will serve. This is important as one will soon see in the Word of God. As always, God includes a promise of recovery, renewal, restoration and rebirth in all seasons – “yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the scope of God’s Work from beginning to end.”

While happiness is temporary coming and going according to each season, the joy of the Lord remains constant for those who put their trust in Him. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy. Those who look to him for help can only mean that there will be times of need, fear, desperation and desire in our life that turn us from the lesser things to grab hold of hope. Impossible precedes every miracle. Trials are an opportunity to trust. Even in the darkest night, the Light of His Love surrounds us. He sings over us a joyful song. Joy is coming in the morning when His Mercy comes and offers us a better way. Finding joy is not an outward pursuit but an inward mission.

Deuteronomy 28:47-48 (NLT) If you do not serve the Lord your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. The Lord will put an iron yoke on your neck, oppressing you harshly until he has destroyed you.

We choose each day who to serve. Will I serve the Lord today? Or will I serve something else? There are really only two choices. Our feelings and emotions are linked to rebellious flesh. We can choose to give into our feelings or serve the God who is greater than our feelings (I John 3:20)! To serve the Lord with joy and enthusiasm in the midst of trial or trauma is evidence that His Spirit lives inside of us and has been given control. He produces “love, joy, peace” and so much more. He does it. I cannot produce joy for myself. I cannot serve the Lord apart from the love, grace and mercy of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and my acceptance of His Gift. I call Him Savior. I must also call Him Lord to reap the benefits and blessings of pure joy. I cannot find it on the earth. It lives in depravity. Love grows colder each day as it is dying plant. Sin is rampant as the departure from God is evident. But…the Light of His Love shines in the darkness as a beacon for those who love and desire Him. One promise of many is joy. We must choose joy each day.

I do not discuss politics. I will not be lured into an argument with anyone about elections or presidents. No matter who is in the White House, the Word of God says that God chose them whether I did or not. The one thing I do tell people all the time is that if you do not vote then you forfeit your right to complain. If you do not choose, then you do not have a right to be mad about it. We have been given the right to choose who we serve in this life and beyond. To choose Jesus is to choose a life of joy. It is not an exemption from every problem but a promise that in every situation you will overcome and have victory according to the Champion that lives inside of you. You must choose one or the other. To Jesus is to have consistent and constant joy as a product of the faith and hope as the unseen reality that produces such power in our life.

Ezra 3:11-13 (NLT) With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord: “He is so good! His faithful love for Israel endures forever!” Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid. But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.

The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance. The rebuilding of the temple was a big deal. It represented a place to house the Presence of the Lord. When the foundation was laid, the young praised God, shouted to Him, and celebrated openly. The older leaders began to weep aloud. Such a mixture of emotions filled the air, it could be heard far away. When I read this today, it struck a chord in me. My life is filled with much happiness. God is doing so many good things. But there are struggles and challenges, too. Things that are not as they should be. Situations that require the Lord’s Attention beyond my own ability. Mountains and valleys with definite highs and lows that take human emotions on a rollercoaster ride to nowhere but insanity if allowed to run its course. Isn’t that really what life is all about? We have highs and lows every day. Great things, good things, not-so-good things and then those things that just are not good at all. God promises to work it all out for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) How do I find joy in such a mixture? How do I allow it to be the place where I live?

Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT) And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

To summarize Nehemiah chapter 8, the wall of Jerusalem was finally finished after much adversity. The people gathered together to dedicate the new wall and celebrate their success together by having church. As the Word of God was read in the form of the Law of Moses, the people were overwhelmed and began to weep. Nehemiah exhorted the people, “This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” I think sometimes our feelings get in the way of our joy…okay all the time. These people lived before the dispensation of God’s Grace, but we live a new free life in Jesus Christ. If I look at my life through my choices, decisions, and errors – I am clearly unfit and unworthy of any good thing God does in my life. However, if I decide to look at my life through Jesus Christ deciding that His Grace is the power driving my life and learn to love and trust Him then I will have joy in that place of surrender.

Psalm 16:11 (NLT) You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Joy is found in the Presence of God. To live in His Presence is to find a way of life not defined by current affairs but a constant love affair with Jesus. We find peace in this place that nothing else can ever provide because it is on the inside working its way out. (Psalm 4:6-8) To live in the prevailing Presence of God gives us more joy than tangible things or natural success. His Joy gives a place of peace to rest our head and heard each day. The world cannot comprehend it or understand it because they cannot experience it outside of Jesus. The Temple build in the Old Testament was the place where the people could experience His Presence but they could not enter into it only the priest could after offering substantial sacrifices for sin. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit and tore the veil from top to bottom as an open invitation to step into His Presence and live there. He put His Spirit inside of us so love, joy and peace can be the productivity of our life. We have His Presence therefore we have found our joy. It is up to you and me if we choose to enter in and live there. It is a daily decision to allow His Spirit to produce good fruit or continue to try to control our emotions and feelings by pursuing happiness rather than hope.

Psalm 20:4-5 (NLT) May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.

God promises to grant our heart’s desire when He is the treasure we seek. He promises to make our life rich and satisfying. Full of abundance. Who doesn’t want that kind of success? Praise Him today. Not because everything is going great and every problem has been solved, but because you have victory. You win. We win! Christ lives in us. He is working it all out for our good. In the meantime, His Presence is our waiting place until the final score is posted. We must raise the banner in the Name of Jesus and decide that He is our Father, Healer, Provider, Protector, Prosperity, and Confident Hope. To believe that He has it under control gives us peace that produces joy in us. Joy comes from the desperate times, broken hearts, and the impossible because usually that is the only time one truly turns to God. Don’t let that be you. Let His Presence fill you with peace and produce joy in your life today. Finding Joy is simply finding Jesus. Grabbing hold of hope with both hands and letting go of control. To constant plant faith in every barren situation and waiting until new things grow. God loves you. He is for you. He is as desperate for your turnaround as you are. Find joy in the Lord today. He is waiting for those who seek Him. They will find their joy.

Psalm 30:11 (NLT) You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy…

Plot Twist

Plot Twist

Matthew 1:20-23 (ESV) But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Talk about a plot twist. Joseph surely didn’t see it coming. I imagine that Joseph and Mary were the couple everyone knew would one day be betrothed and then married. Good Jewish kids from faithful families, there would be a celebration when they finally were joined to be one. A house full of love, laughter and many children. It was all predicted and carefully planned between their families. God came and messed it all up. Like a made for television movie by Hallmark, who would have thought that Mary would be found pregnant before the union. Who would have ever believed that God would design such an introduction and arrival for His Only Son? God is the master of plot twists, my friend. Life with Him will never be found to boring or mundane. It is thrill ride for those who grab hold of hope refusing to let go. It will take you to the depths and raise you up to the highest hill. Never a dull moment, but always worth it.

One might only imagine the turmoil in Joseph’s heart that night, he wanted desperately to believe the story of his one true love. How can she even whisper that God did this? The Holy Spirit producing a child. Is it even possible? The Word of God predicted it. Yet, how could he believe such an audacious claim? He gave this young lady his heart, and now considered taking whatever part of it he could reclaim prayed to the Lord for help. I do not think Joseph was asking God in that moment if Mary was being truthful but how to get out of this mess alive. He loved her. He had given his heart, life and future to her. But now, he felt embarrassed, betrayed, hurt and confused. The Lord came to his sweet son that night. He told him the truth, his beloved had been true to him. She was carrying the Jesus the Messiah who would save his people from their sins. The baby was Immanuel. He would be God with us. All Joseph had to do was believe.

In the plot twists of life, it is human nature to reevaluate what one believes. When God doesn’t do things as expected, doubt rises up and disbelief tries to erode our trust. “But as he considered these things…” What’s on your mind today? What is the plot twist currently unfolding before you? Take it to the Lord. I say that without hesitation or moving one more step in the Word today. He did not leave us alone or forsaken. Christ lives in us. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

As our worship team sang “Spirit Break Out” in the morning service, I heard the voices of those around me which is unusual. Worship is my escape. Praise is the platform that rises my head above my circumstances to see God is in control. Yet, as they sang, I wondered if they really comprehended the words of the song. “Spirit break out. Break our walls down. Spirit break out. Heaven come down.” To look to the roof, sky or beyond the clouds for His Spirit is not looking for Him at all. The Holy Spirit lives in us. He is with us always. From the moment, one invites Jesus to be their Savior and become the Lord of their life – His Spirit unites with us like a marriage. He is with us always. He guarantees every promise God has made us. When God sees the Spirit – He knows that I am His Child. The Holy Spirit is not coming down from Heaven to be with us and then recede back to the sky. He lives in us and is always trying to find a way out of us. God’s Goodness and His Glory wants to permeate our life from the inside out. The walls that need to come down are of our own making. Heaven joins with earth when our spirit connects with the heavenly realm. It doesn’t happen all around us if nothing is going on inside of us.

Isaiah 7:10-14 (ESV) Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Immanuel is introduced in the Book of Isaiah. The Lord offers King Ahaz an amazing offer. “Ask a sign of the Lord your God” not just any sign, but God goes one step further…”let it be as deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” The response of Ahaz may sound shocking to read, but it is very common. “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” Drop the mic. The Lord invited Ahaz to ask anything of Him. The All-Powerful, All-Mighty, and All-Knowing God gave this man the opportunity to test Him. He declined the offer. Who would do such a stupid thing? Before you begin to judge Ahaz too harshly, consider the fact that God lives in us. Jesus Christ offers to yoke with us and help us through this life including providing everything we need, carrying every burden and doing more than one might think, ask or imagine, yet we still try to do it ourselves. Until that moment, the plot twist comes and everything seems to be falling apart.

Hebrews 6:17-18 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

Ahaz refused to trust the Lord. The sum total of his response was an absolute refusal to allow God to be God, have His Way or do His Will. God was shaking things up and the king’s comfort zone was being unsettled. But rather than trust the Lord, Ahaz was going to try to work out the details in his own power as king. Doubt and fear were his counsel. Lack of faith evident in his words. His heart feeble and shaking at the thought of such a plot twist. No thanks, God. I have everything under control. How many times do we say it? We pray one way with words and do something entirely different.

God’s character is constant. He does not lie or change His Mind. The plan that the Lord designed for your life is for your absolute good with a future and hope. The only requirement is faith. Not words, but trust that responds to His Voice and His Word. His Spirit is your guarantee that everything God promised will be yours if you decide to believe. The Spirit of God is in you today. The only limitation on your life is the one placed there when you choose not to believe. God is okay with us testing Him and trying out His Word. He answers our questions. He calms our fears. Immanuel is God with us. Jesus deposited His Spirit in us. It is still full of every bit of power and resurrection life that it contained the moment He released it. If God’s Power is limited in my life, it is me.

Romans 8:5-11 (ESV)  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

To further divulge the imagery in my thoughts during worship that day, I saw the Holy Spirit standing with a person looking at a giant wall. They walked around the wall. They shouted at the wall. Together doing everything one might have heard to do in church or a song. Now the man is scratching his head looking up at the wall with one hand on his hip, when the Spirit whispers in his ear with a huge sledgehammer in the other hand. It is clear to me that the Spirit is offering to take the wall out. The man shakes his head putting one hand up as if to say, “Wait a minute, I am thinking this through…” How many times is the Lord ready to take down walls, boundaries and barriers between us and His Blessing that we respectfully decline until we figure it out? What is the chance that God has been pushing on walls that we are holding up?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” God has given us His Word. Jesus came as the Word of God wrapped in flesh. He died and released His Spirit to live in us. To give us His Power and Authority on the earth and mark us as residents of Heaven. It is finished. The deal is sealed. Faith is the assurance of the hope we are given. It is evidence of the unseen. Ahaz could not see God’s Plan so he chose his own instead. Gideon did not see the man in the mirror who the Lord did so he asked for a fleece. (Judges 6:37) Nothing is impossible for God. (Luke 1:37) Impossibilities in our life is the opportunity to expand our faith and trust in the Lord. As a spirit-filled believer any impossibility in our life is the chance to let the Spirit out. We cannot please God without faith so what if the plot twists in our life are really God given us another chance by His Grace to grow in faith and confident hope rather the enemy’s device to take us out. Impossibilities are only impossible for those without the Living God. The moment He came to live in us nothing is impossible anymore…if you believe.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (ESV) By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Set your heart and mind on the Spirit life. Plot twists will happen in every great love story even the one that is written for us in Christ. Without change, it is human nature to become comfortable and complacent right where we are. God has offered us a limitless life with endless possibilities. It is accessible to those who by faith and trust choose to believe Him at His Word and follow live as one with His Spirit. Immanuel. God with us. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross allows the same Spirit in Him that overcame death and the grave to give us overwhelming victory in life. Enoch was a man of faith. He walked so close to God that he just was gone one day. I want that kind of relationship with the Lord where I disappear in His Presence. Enoch pleased God. Enoch put all his faith and trust in the Lord. In order for my faith to be valid, it must grow into trust and confidence. God uses every plot twist in our life as an opportunity. Impossibility is just another reason to test Him at His Word and follow the Guidance of the Holy Spirit. God is in us. God is with us. We cannot fail. God doesn’t fail or fall short. Neither will I if I put my faith and trust in Him today and every day especially those days with a plot twist or two.

I Corinthians 1:9 (ESV) God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.