Finding Refuge

Finding Refuge

Proverbs 14:26 (NKJV) In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.

The waiting room of God has a sign hanging over the door marked “Refuge.” It is a place of peace and calm even when storms rage all around us. Like watching a torrential downpour from the comfort of our home, tucked under a soft blanket in our comfy clothes, listening to the rain hit the house, and watching the wind whipping through the trees yet somehow comforted and untouched by the sound structure of our house. When I was a child, our family lived in a mobile home. Not like the manufactured homes produced today but more like a tin can with wheels. When a mighty storm with wind and rain rocked the trailer back and forth, I would sleep peacefully knowing my parents where in the other room seemingly unaffected by the bad weather outside. Refuge can be found in our natural circumstances and sometimes in situations and certain people can offer the aid, comfort or escape needed. But what about all the other times when conditions around us threaten the peace within us? Those times when nothing in the natural can give us rest or relief from the storms of life? We have a refuge. We must learn to find Him.

Life is full of changes and uncertainty. Just when everything seems to be coming together, it can suddenly fall apart. The unexpected looms around every corner. Comfort is compromised on a regular basis. Convenience is our goal most often unattained. Could this be God’s subtle way of ushering us from movable circumstances to immovable confidence? Maybe in the storms of life it in our panic it is possible to persuade us to enter His Refuge called Peace? Refuge (machseh) is translated in the Bible as trust. Trusting the Lord is our shelter, refuge, protection, fortress, hope, shelter from the storm. We find the word “refuge” used many times in Psalms. It describes the place of peace and calm in the midst of violent storms and enemy attacks. It is for God’s Children. He offers us refuge. It is up to us to enter in.

Psalm 62:5-8 (NKJV) My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

My soul, wait silently on God alone, for my expectation is from Him.

To wait on the Lord is the most trust-filled position yet completely contrary to human nature. To stop trying to find a way out, over or through a situation or problem and rest in peaceful hope with the fullness of expectation that God is good, able and willing work it out for us. God’s silence is not His Absence. It is an opportunity to step deeper into the refuge called hope. To experience the comfort called peace. To the God of the Impossible and live in His Presence. Yet, silence makes us uncomfortable. It makes us fidget and squirm. The lack of communication fosters fear in those who do not have fearless confidence in the Lord, His Way and His Word. We must buffet our heart and mind with the essentials of faith so that hope becomes our refuge even in God’s Silence. While the enemy dares us to move, our heart remains steadfast in His Shelter.

I shall not be moved…

The Lord is my salvation. He is my glory. He is my strength. He is my refuge. All these qualities of God are to be made manifest in our life. Salvation being the core value of faith that gives us a place to put all our expectation. He is our Glory because through Christ we are victorious in our Champion who overcame the world. He is the rock so much higher than I but climbing is striving drawing me from my comfort zone into His Presence. To look down from such a place in the natural is riveting but to remain steadfast in such a place is powerful.

Trust in Him at all times…

Easier said than done most of the time, trust is the access point marked “refuge”. We must trust the Lord to find the peace of God even when He is silently working every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Fear and doubt produce anxiety that keeps us from staying in the refuge of God’s Presence. Faith cannot remain where fear is given a place in our life. The two cannot coexist but are mutually exclusive opposing forces. If we could only learn to trust the Lord with every detail of our life – we would live in the refuge of His Presence where peace passes all understanding. Faith would give way to confident hope rooting and grounding us in His Love. (Ephesians 3:17)

A preacher once gave the illustration of trust being the difference between a potted plant or planted tree. A potted plant is in grave danger when the storm comes. A tree planted with deep roots will fair far better. The potted plant is tossed about in the driving wind and raging storm where the one that is planted will be swayed back and forth but remain steadfast. There are many believers who are like potted plants when it comes to the Lord and His Presence. Running to and fro when the storm comes their position in Christ is compromised by a lack of commitment. However, those who decide to be like a tree planted by the riverbank will prosper in every season because they are planted in the Presence of God. The roots that keep us planted in the Presence God called refuge are called trust. When we trust the Lord, it will create a bond that keeps us latched on to Him tightly making us immovable and unshakeable in the most violent of conditions.

Psalm 46:1 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

God is a very present help in trouble. What about when I can’t hear Him? Feel Him? See Him? Understand Him? Our inability to perceive the workings of the Lord doesn’t mean that He is absent. We are called to walk by faith not by sight or any other of our natural senses. When given the opportunity to trust the Lord, we choose our position. Will I remain faithful? Will I continue to worship the Lord for Who He is? Will my words be filled with confident praise or constant complaining? Will I believe for one more day? Will I wait for Him to come like He said that He would? Will I give God the time and space to allow His Will to come to pass even if it means forsaking my comfort, convenience and control? God makes all things beautiful in His Timing. We are His Masterpiece yet to be completed.

Trusting God is the only way that fulfillment will come and our expectation be fully met. He is our strong tower that keeps the enemy at bay. (Psalm 61:3) God does not force us to enter refuge but we must make the decision. “I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my refuge…’” (Psalm 91:2) God’s Presence, His Place called Refuge, is “my portion in the land of the living.” (Psalm 142:5) So many times, we try to weather the storms of life because we cannot accept that by grace we are saved through faith” and there is nothing that can be done to earn it, deserve it or preserve it. I must have faith in the Living God. He lives in me…now. He wants to give me refuge now. He wants to be my peace and portion…now. Trust creates the kind of reliance on God that meets our expectation despite our current condition. “But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.” (Psalm73:28)

Hebrews 6:17-20 (NKJV) Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

The only place in the New King James Version of the New Testament that refuge is mentioned is in the Book of Hebrews. The faith book of the Bible tells us that so “we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” Are you holding on to hope today? Even if it is only by a thread you can use it to pull yourself into the Presence of God. He is our hope. He has made an oath to us. He has given us a plan containing a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) God created us with a measure of faith to seed our life (Romans 12:3) so that confident hope will be produced. We sow God’s Word in our heart and it is cultivated by His Spirit inside of us when we trust Him to do so. (Galatians 5:22-23) God does not lie. He does not change His Mind. (Hebrews 6:18) He does not withdraw His Calling from us. He is always for us working every detail of our life for good. (Romans 8:28) He promises to perfect all that concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) But none of these things will ever come to pass, if we do not learn to trust Him. We must yoke our life to Jesus Christ in order to find the refuge needed to wait out the storm or find protection from the enemy. It is in that place of silence and security that peace passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and there is joy in our salvation (Psalm 51:12). He wraps us in a robe of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:10) Shields us beneath the wings of angels (Psalm 91:4). He will fight for us when our faith allows us to stand down yet steadfast in His Love. Confidently waiting for our portion to refill us, restore us and renew us day by day.

There is no greater refuge than the peace found in the Presence of God. He offers to be our refuge always not just when tough times come or bad things happen. We can live in the Presence of God every day. He will be our refuge. He wants to be our strength. Finding refuge means to simply trust Him with your life. All of it. Withholding nothing and His Presence will fill every nook and cranny. You will prosper as your soul prospers according to His Word. Once you find it, you will never want to leave Him again.

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV) The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

This is the Day

Field and sun.

Psalm 118:24 (ESV) This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

After receiving some challenging news, a friend text me, “Are you okay?” I confirmed that indeed I was just fine. I have been through enough seasons like this to know that “it is what it is”. If I fell apart every time the enemy threw fiery darts at me or dropped smoke bombs in my camp, I would be a worthless wreck right about now. Walking with the Lord can feel like skirting through a land mine field sometimes trying to avoid pitfalls and trip wires, but sometimes they are unavoidable. I would be a liar to say that I am unaffected. It is hard to maintain joy in the midst of adversity. It is our privilege in Christ to live in constant rejoicing but one must find such a place first.

This is the day the LORD has made. Today. This one. The day you woke up in. It has every bit of potential and purpose God saw fit to pack in it just for you. You do not have to just endure it, go through or be held captive by all the things that want to suck you in. This is the day the LORD made for you. He captured each second in handwritten form before you were born. He knew exactly what you needed to make it to the end of it. He prepackaged enough mercy to see you on your way and grace to catch you as you fall into bed tonight seeking rest and refuge from all its worries and cares. The faith in you has room to grow today. Hope can add another link the anchor that holds our soul. God’s Goodness can reach us right here and now. His Glory can surround us if that is what we desire. We have a choice to make today. Will I rejoice and be glad in today?

I know what you are thinking. I hear your sarcastic smirk even though silently crossing your face. What do I have to be happy about? What could there possibly be to rejoice over? I will be honest, I have no idea what it is or how you will do it but I know that joy is always possible in Jesus Christ. The night our son was diagnosed with cancer – I was there with his older brother. In that moment, the carefully constructed and controlled life that I had built came crashing down. However, about an hour later, there was laughter coming from our room. The nurses came down to check on us. Surely their ears were deceiving, as it must have been tears and wailing they were hearing. When they came in the room, it was indeed laughter. The joy of the Lord is our strength. He is our refuge. To rejoice is not just words written by a psalmist to make us feel better but the reality is it is a place that will hold us when life is hard and the struggle real. They smiled in awe as they shut the door and allowed us to continue. I wonder if that is what the others thought when Paul and Silas sang praises to the Lord from their prison cell. Could it be that our light shines brightest in the dark? How can it shine if there is no joy in the hope we have? Faith is evidence of what we cannot see that manifests in the impossibilities of life. We must learn to take each day and make it a time to rejoice.

Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV) Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. 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.

Is it even possible to “always be full of joy in the Lord”? Life is tough. The unexpected hidden in each twist and turn. Disappointment lurking in the dark corners. The struggle real. The thoughts overwhelming. Responsibilities endless. Distractions plentiful. Doubt logical. Fear real. How do I remember that the Lord is coming soon? How do I choose peace over worry? When can I find time to pray about every little thing? God knows what I need, right? He knows my heart and can see all its good intentions. If I want the kind of peace that God provides…the peace that passes understanding it means I must stop trying to figure it all out and choose joy in every situation. Where do I find such a thing? When I decide to rejoice, pray, and let God be the source of my hope again…I will find perfect peace just like He has promised. (Isaiah 26:3) To live in perfect peace – I must trust the Lord and keep my thoughts fixed on Him.

Philippians 4:8 (ESV) 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.

If it is true (which it is) that faith is the reality of what we hope for and evidence of things we cannot see, we must learn to trust what we know rather than what we see, feel and experience in this life. It is to begin to look at things through God’s Word, His Will and His Way. To apply Jesus to every situation in our life is to apply the Word because Jesus is the Word of God. I will not rejoice in my situation or circumstances – my joy comes from the Lord so if I am constantly fixated in what I see rather than living out what I know – I will not grow in my faith but be surrounded by fear. Hope is elusive to the human eye most of the time. If I can see it or imagine it – it is smaller than what the Lord has planned for me. What I can do in each new day is choose to fix my thoughts and eyes on what is true. God’s Word is the Truth concerning my life. To focus on living an honorable, sincere and authentic life. To do what is right. Live what is pure. Devote myself to what is lovely and loving. To fix my thoughts on what is admirable or that which is deserving of respect and approval – I can think of only one thing – Jesus Christ. When I decide to devote my focus and energy on that which is excellent and praiseworthy it always comes back to Him. No matter how hard life is and terrible it seems – the joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV) Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

Again, I have no idea what you might be facing today. It could just be another day of the same old thing. It could be the day you decided to throw in the towel. Maybe it is the moment you thought things will never change. There is a knock on the door of your heart. It is the Lord. In His Hands, He offers new mercy and the opportunity to turn things around. Why? No matter how bad today is – God is still good. No matter how testing the trial – He has the answer. No matter what comes your way expected or unexpected – He knew it all along and prepared you with everything you need to go around it, through it or to overcome it. Nothing surprises the Lord so He can remain our confident hope. He has provided all that we need and ordained us to have every spiritual blessing. I am well-equipped for victory today. It comes when I set the Peace of God as my priority.

Psalm 16:8-9 (ESV) I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

As I set things in order, ready to face this crazy day, I am encouraged by the Word of God today. If I choose to set the Lord always before me, he is always at my right hand. I must set the Lord always before me. To see life through Him, the future through Him, and make better choices through Him. I will not be shaken in such a position and faith will make me immovable. Therefore…my heart is glad. It begins in our heart. The place where faith grows into confident hope. My whole being rejoices. As my soul prospers, it spreads. And finally…it is important to note that the flesh is the last to be secured. Our flesh will always war against the peace of God in our life. To give up its right to understand all of the “what ifs” and “whys” to fully expect the great I AM in all situations. When I decide to rely on what I know about the Lord and focus on my champion – I will beat my feelings and frustrations today. I will find peace and joy as my refuge. THIS is the day the Lord has made with all its ups and downs, bumps and bruises – I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Philippians 4:4 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Chasing Victory

Chasing Victory

I John 5:4-5 (AMP) For everyone born of God is victorious and overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has conquered and overcome the world—our [continuing, persistent] faith [in Jesus the Son of God]. Who is the one who is victorious and overcomes the world? It is the one who believes and recognizes the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.

Yesterday. Oh my goodness! Where to begin and yet not bore you or even overwhelm you with the details. The only reason that I even dare to share it is to encourage someone who may be facing the same. His voice broke through the darkness like a huge hand shaking me violently from sleep, “Honey, it’s 6:30!” How can that be possible? I set the alarm. No, I didn’t. I must have forgotten. We got in late. Our routine not the same. Ugh! No Jesus for me this morning, or so I thought. Running through the paces of what had to be done over what my heart desired to do, I bypassed the study to grab the dog and wake up the girls. My poor little had quite a shaking the day before while tubing on the river. Her head slammed into the water and the pressure made her earache. Now her body was sore from the impact, no worse for wear but exhausted from a long weekend without much sleep. Work has been crazy. Do I stay home with her? Is she okay? What should I do? Why is this so hard? She gets up and begins to get ready so I do the same. My husband and I run over each other in our morning routine which is usually hours apart. I am struggling with my attitude. I have so much to do lingering from last week into today. It seems no matter how much I mark off the list more keeps piling up. Running around in a flurry, I remember that I need to change the sheets in the guest room. The laundry is piling up, too. I grab some frozen chicken for dinner and head for the shower. I have to leave in less than an hour. I promise the Lord that we will talk on the way to work. The long commute is good for quiet time with Jesus unless work meets you in the car with your office manager. My mind is racing and my heart is sinking. Lord, help me today. This day is going to be a booger. I feel it inside me. I hate days like this. “Lord, I need you!”

Arriving to work and reviewing the que, all the projects due that loom over my head present as a little black rain cloud. “God, I need you!” I grab the Bible out of my purse. Surely, there is a word for me somewhere in this little blue book. I read Ezekiel the first chapter. Let me summarize. God calls Ezekiel to bring a Word to the Children of Israel – a strong retort to stubborn people who will not listen. Okay, thanks Holy Spirit that is encouraging…no seriously I get what you are saying but I need to hear that you will rush in to help me today, calm my racing heart, ease my anxious mind, and still this chaotic day. Leaving around six, two hours later than the norm. I am so tired and drained as I crawl to the car. My brain is mush for lack of better terms. My job is not physically strenuous at all, but mentally it is brutal. Holding the steering wheel tight in my hands, I whisper, “God, I need you!” I call my husband to let him know I am late. Hinting at fast food, his disappointment clear, I decide to cook even though it’s getting dark. Let’s not forget that the taxes are due. I have to submit them tonight. The to-do list for tomorrow may not leave room so prudence says, “Now!” While dinner is cooking, I slide into my desk chair. The place where I seek Him, but now just keep doing. The sheets in the guest room still calling – in between dinner and taxes – I strip it and put them in the washer. The timer sounds from the oven and I rally the troops. Sitting around our table, I look at their faces missing the ones who are not there. Thankfulness floods my heart. I made it. We made it. I begin to think about the things that have gone right today. All the small victories won. All the challenges overcome. I am thankful. So I ask each one to share just one thing no matter how big or small they are thankful for, too. The tension breaks as our family meal begins… Lord, thank you for being so much greater than me.

Everyone born of God IS victorious and overcomes the world. It says, “Everyone.” There are no exceptions. If Christ lives in me, I am enough. If He lives in you, you are more than enough to overcome every challenge and temptation that comes your way. It is our continuing and persistent faith in Jesus that gives us victory every day. My strength is no match for the enemy. However, His Grace is enough. It is sufficient. It is exposed when my weakness leads me to the Cross and I exchange my inability for all of His Possibilities. We become victorious and overcome by believing in the Power of Jesus Christ and its potential in us. I didn’t do the things I normally do including spend a significant time in my study and prayer room. Discipline puts me in this place daily so that on those days when life comes hard and pressures are overwhelming – the Christ in me is enough. I believe not because I everyone is in my favor but on the simple and active belief that all things are working together for my good because Jesus Christ is alive and well inside me.

What does it mean to overcome? Jesus overcame the world. It would be a good idea to know what He did. Overcome means get the better of in a struggle. To conquer or defeat something. It means to prevail over or persist in one’s effort. It is to overwhelm or overpower the mind, will and emotions to hold on to our faith. It means to gain victory. Victory is just on the other side of overcoming. We must overpower that which is fighting against us to live in the constant state of winning that Christ promises. How do we overcome? We must fight for our faith despite the constant conflict with our flesh and relentless adversity by the enemy.

John 16:33 (AMP) I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

Jesus was honest. He did not sugarcoat the truth about life in this world. It’s going to be hard. Difficulties will rise up. Challenges will be faced. Temptations will greet us at every turn. It is not going to be an easy journey, just a worthwhile one. You will have “tribulation, distress and suffering” BUT be courageous, confident, undaunted and filled with joy. There is joy in Jesus Christ. What I failed to mention in my dissertation about yesterday is there was laughter. There were friends who encouraged me. Keep running! You’ll catch up. Jesus overcame the world. God is greater than my feelings. Many of the things, I give a high priority are not as important as I think compared to the more than I can think, imagine or ask (Ephesians 3:20) that the Lord is doing in me and through me at the very same time.

My conquest is accomplished. My victory abiding. I love these words so much today. They give validity to my hope that I hold so dearly and tightly to my chest. As if to let my beating heart, help revive it in tough times. Yet, I know that my hope is established by faith and not anything that I can do. I cannot boast of the breakthrough today. The kind of accomplishment that allows us to lay down and sleep in perfect peace even in the midst of crushing pressure and countless deadlines. Jesus keeps telling us these things, encouraging us to believe, empowering us to hang on because He is building, shaping and molding our heart to live in victory rather than chasing it all the time. He is filling us with more of His Spirit and the inexpressible joy that is evident in perfect peace. God is with us. He lives in us. We are victorious.

I John 4:4 (AMP) Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind]. 

It’s funny that these words of encouragement are sandwiched between warnings about false teaching. When I missed my quiet time in the Word this morning and did not go into my prayer closet, but conversed with the Lord on the go. I was tempted to take an invisible bat and beat myself in the head. I have to do this – I always do this – the Lord has instructed me to do this. No, He has simply asked me to follow Him wholeheartedly. All the “to do” things are of my own design. I believe that the enemy works on both sides. The world places a high demand on our time and attention. Sometimes the people in church can do the same thing. We must be faithful to the fellowship. We must “serve” the Lord and “do” the right things. Is this really the Voice of the Lord? Because His Word says that the “blessing of the Lord brings true riches and He adds no sorrow for it.” There was no more important place I went or task performed yesterday than to sit down with my family at the dinner table and join hands to pray. To speak our thankfulness to Jesus because no matter how difficult it was – we made it. Overcoming the world’s pressures and gaining victory over the enemy’s attack – our family sat together in the Presence of the Lord, filled with His Spirit, covered with grace and shared a meal together. We made it. It was in the moment of perfect peace that victory is secure. The knowing that God is with us – Immanuel and stopping because nothing is chasing us but His Unfailing Love and Goodness. It will find us if our heart and mind are set on Him.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (AMP) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [as conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

Can I just encourage you a little today? You are victorious. You don’t have to chase victory or try to overcome. The Victor and Overcomer already lives in you. By trusting and believing that He is enough and continually pushing every care, worry, need or burden over to Him, it builds our faith into confident hope so on days when all hell breaks loose, nothing goes right, and everything seems to be falling apart – His Chaotic Love sweeps us up and envelopes us in perfect peace. The kind that our heart, mind, will and emotions can rest in even when our body is on the go. Life will continue to be full of temptation, pressure and responsibility. Jesus didn’t promise to take these challenges away but that in each one – His People overcome. Victory belongs to us if we choose to claim it, step in it and live in each day.

Psalm 117:2 (AMP) For His lovingkindness prevails over us [and we triumph and overcome through Him], and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)

 

Power of Stillness

power-of-stillness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. 

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

Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT) I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

Salty Seeds

salty-seeds

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

All things. Every single detail and moment of life prescribed and predestined as prerecorded purpose for us. It is unfathomable to comprehend a God who knows it all. Everything. From beginning to end, He is God. He is the Great I AM. In Him, we live, move, breathe and exist even when our choice is to wander, rebel and reject the Lord. Love so deep that its boundaries cannot be met or exceeded. Grace that reaches higher and wider than my wanderings. It is just too good to believe. So we don’t…

If I believe that God is the God of the harvest, why don’t I sow seeds in every season? If the Lord promises to perfect all that concerns me, why do I insist on worry and stress? To have faith in Jesus is not a sedentary or momentary passage but a lifelong journey and full-on pursuit of the One who is in control of everything. The Highest Power with great depth perception who takes every detail of my life and when given the opportunity works it out for my good and His Glory. What about that kind of God? Who has that kind of faith?

Praise is given in response to a performance of some sort. We acknowledge the “good” thing that is done or the blessing given or great deed accomplished. It is what we offer God when things are good or at least getting better. Worship has nothing to do with what the Lord has done or is doing. It is a lifestyle based solely and completely on Who He is. Many will praise His Great Name today for the favor that they experience but who will worship the Lord in the midst of brokenness by giving all the pieces to Him with a hearty have Your Way, God. The very second that I decide to say with all that I am to all that He is … Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. This is when the authority, power and control of my life is relinquished along with everything I hold dear to my heart and tightly in my hands to His Heart and His Hands. It is the very instant that faith moves a little and trust rises from it.

Psalm 126:4-6 (NLT) Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

After our Wednesday night service, I had retreated to the ladies’ room with a friend. This woman is locked in a battle. Things don’t look like the victory she is promised, but she will not give up or give in. The fact that she is standing is a testimony to the faith within her. Sharing together, a young woman walked in with a tear-stained face. Looking at each other, we all kind of laughed at our red noses. Instinctually, I asked, “Are you okay?” She nodded, “Yes…” It’s funny how we do that as women. So caught up in our role as nurturer and giver that when someone reaches out to us – it is hard to become a receiver. Just think about that for a moment… back to my story. When I continued to look at her with the “no you’re not” look on my face, she broke down and began to share the brokenness of her heart. After offering some encouragement, I was blown away when my friend who is broken herself reached out and offered comfort, kind words and the Love of Jesus to this girl. It stayed with me the rest of the night. Where did that come from? How could she give when so much has been taken? She is a Mighty Woman of God. She has faith in her heart that cannot be touched, tugged or tried away. She planted seeds in her tears that will produce a harvest of joy in her life.

 

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.” No truer words have ever been spoken. So often as believers our life is limited to the productivity of this season or our current situation rather than fixed on the God of all things, who does all things, is in control of all things, and promises good things to those who continue to plant in their brokenness, emptiness, hurt, and lack. Those who are intent on making it to the end even if it is a fight every step of the way to get their seed in the ground and wait on that harvest. Is that you today? Are you broken? Is it hard to breathe? To live a life of worship moves us to the momentary life of mundane supply to the overflowing supernatural abundance hidden in the next harvest that is just around the corner. Too often it is human nature to abandon the field or consume our seed rather than use our resources for the next day or coming season. Our fruit begins to die away because there are no seeds for the future.

I Chronicles 29:10-15 (NLT) Then David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly: “O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever! Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Do you believe that God does all things? Do you believe that He is in full control of the workings of our life? Do you think that His Plan contains a future and hope that cannot be trumped or thwarted by the enemy no matter how lengthy his pursuit or unrelenting the assault on your natural life? Do you trust the Lord? The only way to know our faith is genuine and trust is true is through the trials and testings of life. It removes the layer or rhetoric and façade of religion to reveal the rough reality of the smallest of faith. Faith is only perceived at the end of self. The moment when I have nothing left of me and must decide where to turn to. When the rubber hits the road, will I continue my journey to the Cross or lay down the burden of believing and move on to something else?

If God is omnipotent and I believe it, I must trust Him to release His Power and Authority in my life. I must decide to worship Him in my brokenness. To continue to sow seeds of faith and righteousness even when they are soaked in salty tears. He must be the God of my life not the lie that I tell. I can profess to believe all day long but at the end of the day if I cannot live in love with Jesus and share it with the world – what do I really have? A thriving relationship with the Lord must be evidenced in trust. Faith requires trust because it is not based on what we see or evidence that can be touched but knowledge that God is God. It must believe in the Hand that holds us even when our world seems to be falling apart.

“Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!” David was a man after God’s Own Heart. He was discredited by his family only fit to tend sheep. God saw a warrior and soon to be king. David was passionate. His passion led him to sin. He murdered for lust. David was a father who paid dearly for his sin. David lost a child. I cannot even imagine. I don’t want to know. David lived a life of many ups and downs but believed that God was greater. Perfection is our worst enemy. God wouldn’t have given us grace if it were possible to be perfect. His Grace is the power of change in our life. To believe that His Grace is enough will empower us beyond our natural ability because we believe.

Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace. Life is temporary. This world will pass away. Nothing here will remain when His Kingdom comes. Why do we waste our life on a bad investment? The seeds sown in life produce a harvest in the future. This is not just in our daily life and natural seasons but in forever. If I become caught up on having the perfect life, I will never have the Kingdom. The one where there are no more tears. Where there is no sun because the Glory of the Son shines brightly from the throne. There will be no burdens, sorrows, sickness, worries or cares. Today seems so difficult. Tomorrow will have its own trouble. What I choose to do in this moment will ripple into tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. What do I want? These are the seeds I must sow.

Hosea 10:11-13 (NLT) “I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’ But you have cultivated wickedness and harvested a thriving crop of sins. You have eaten the fruit of lies—“

The enemy sows weeds of lies in our life every single day in an effort to create doubt. It is human nature to consider his words and threats against us, but is spiritual maturity to discern the Truth from a lie. The Word of God is “good seed” for our life. It lines our heart with hope that enables us to grow a little bit of faith here and there. God’s Love and His Grace is all that I need to secure a future and hope for my life. When I choose to seek Him wholeheartedly, it is submitting my heart to the plow of persecution and pain that breaks up the hard ground packed down by hurt, offense and disappointment to prepare it to be fertile soil that produces blessings in my life. Pain is part of the process. Brokenness is absolutely essential. Pride must be crucified with Christ to clothe us in righteousness that is signified by humility. How can I say less of me and more of you God when I am my own god? To think that I can do anything significant in this life apart from God through His Son, Jesus is the greatest lie of all.

James 3:13, 17-18 (NLT) If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

God is the God of everything. All things are under His Authority and Power. He gives us the same in the submission of our life to Him. Why do we live discouraged and defeated lives? Lack of faith or trust gives way to the fruit of lies. We must plant seeds in every season even the difficult ones. We must believe when our situation becomes impossible. In Job 2, Job’s wife tells her husband to give up…just “curse God and die.” Wow, she was a real gem. To give up on God when storm’s come, battles rage and earthquakes rumble is a warning that there is a lack of seed in our life. If our life is defined only by praise without worship, the fruit of the Spirit will be sparse and seeds for the future limited in our life. When we can give up salty seeds sown in our tears, it is then that trust is revealed and faith exposed so our hope is secure. Our seasons will yield a new harvest when change comes. Not because of anything we do or do not do, but because God always gives increase to the sowers in life. Seeds must die in the cold, dark ground to be transformed into fruitful plants. So it is with us, we plant seeds of righteousness by faith and the Lord gives a sustenance through the current season only to reveal an abundance in the next. Sow seeds in the Spirit today. He gives you a fresh supply. It’s called mercy and it arrives each new day so that we can continue planting and sowing God’s Word in our life and watching for the harvest. Don’t abandon your field – you have no idea what is happening underground. God is breaking off the hard exterior to reveal the potential of each well-planted seed. He is changing it and transforming it become the purpose hidden inside. If you abandon the process now, you will miss the productivity of your pain. Hang on. Keep sowing. He is making all things new. All things are working together for your good. The Lord is making all things beautiful…in His Time.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) 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 whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Trust Him More

Young woman reaching hand towards sun

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Well, the itch is not satisfied therefore I must continue to scratch beneath the surface of this thing called revival and consider the source. I want revival to come to me, my family, my church and my community. It is my heartfelt desire that in the year 2017 that there is an undeniable move of God within me and the atmosphere around me that it draws people to Him while pulling me closer to Jesus than ever before. I want to know it is God in our midst. I want to experience Jesus face-to-face. I long for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that moves past what I am comfortable with completely overtaking my life. Otherwise, what is the point of praying for revival if we don’t really want it?

God is our source of hope. He will completely fill us with joy and peace. How? When? What is the prerequisite for such an experience? Trust. We must trust the Lord with all of our life and expectation. I do. I hear you…I always think I do until He shows me where I don’t. Cleopatra lived on the river called the Nile and many Christians live by one called Denial. Trusting God is not a church concept by a lifetime commitment. Everything in the asset column of God, every single promise, all the blessings, and every single Word that He has given you is contingent on one thing – will you trust Him? Will I? I have heard the audible voice of the Living God ask me this question. My first response to Him was “of course, I do” followed by “this is not about that.” It was the night I beat down the door of His Throne Room in the middle of the night. Death had approached our son and I wanted no demanded that God answer this threat. I am His Child. He is my Father. What would He say or do to stop this assault against my child? He asked, “Do you trust me”? What if your trust in God became a matter of life or death? It is.

Romans 8:23-25 (NLT) And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

For those who are willing to be completely honest today, do you “groan” for a “foretaste of future glory”? Do we long to be “released from sin and suffering”? Do we wait with “eager hope for the day when God gives us full rights as His Adopted Children”? God gave us hope when we were saved. Hope is not seen but desired. Do you desire hope today? Or is it the immediate gratification of better things and an easier life today that one longs for? See in many cases, like many children wait for Santa to come this week, we also wait for God to act the same way towards us. With complete disregard for how we live, it is the Gifts from His Hands rather than Glory pouring out of His Heart that is so greatly longed for and desired. We want a better life now and seldom consider forever.

Hope is validated by trust. Do you trust the Lord today? How do I know? Do you worry often, stress a lot, or feel anxious all the time? This is a manifestation of fear that grabs hold of our heart choking out any hope it can find there. The enemy is not after you as a person. He wants to rob your soul of salvation, dousing your faith with fear and causing doubt to douse any fulfillment once possible. Church becomes monotonous not because our pastor is boring, the music is weak or attendance is poor. No church becomes monotonous when I lost sight of my mission.

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

God’s Promise to pour out His Spirit again has not waned because our faith, hope and love may be compromised. God does not lie. He doesn’t change His Mind. Every day in every possible way He is looking for an opening for His Glory to fill the Temple (you and me) once again. So if it is not the Lord, it must be us…it is me. God has given me a promise and His Oath. What about me? I must have enough confidence in my source of hope that I am willing to trust Him beyond my comfort and convenience. Hope is the strong and trustworthy anchor that will keep me securely in His Presence and allow His Glory to fill my life again. Hope opens the curtain to the deepest sanctuary of Heaven into the Presence of God. I cannot venture there and remain the same. It demands a complete sacrifice of self, sin and suffering to get there. I must see myself through the eyes of Christ refusing to turn back but constantly pressing in until I am changed. Why? Because God does not change. His Love is relentless. It is perfect. It doesn’t settle for less than His Best…ever even when I want to save myself with compromise.

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Some may say that Google is god of the internet. It offers just about every convenience and service imaginable to manage our life and files appropriately. Recently, a friend recommended the Google photo application. You can back up precious pictures and videos to manage the limited storage on your cellphone. I tried it. It is pretty awesome. Each night every photo I have taken that day is whisked into a file in the Cloud somewhere and easily retrieved if I want it. I delete the ones that are safe and secure in Google. All but one. The day of our son’s bone marrow transplant – the entire medical team sang “Happy Birthday” to him in honor of his rebirth. I will not delete it just in case the application fails.

I have a God who has promised to give me eternal life in exchange for my ultimate failure. Sin can give way to Glory if I will release it. I wonder if there may be certain things that I do not trust the Lord with. Things I hold on to because I am just not 100% sold that God has everything under control. This is not blasphemy. This is honesty. If we do not evaluation our spiritual condition beginning with our ability to trust God with our whole life, we run the risk of missing the Lord altogether. Jesus invited those who are weary and overburdened to come to Him – giving up all of our worries, cares and concerns in exchange for rest. We pray but let go of nothing. We ask for things that we are not willing to look for. We cry out with closed hearts and clenched hands.

Therefore…since we have been made right in God’s Sight by faith…what is faith? Faith demonstrates the reality and validity of what we hope for. It is evidence that I completely believe in the unseen enough to trust God with not only my spiritual life but also my natural life. Why don’t I trust God with everything? Why don’t you? Life is hard. Each day is filled with godly choices, good choices and bad choices – too many choices. One wrong choice does not condemn you but it may cause consequences. After all, sowing and reaping are foundational laws of our earthly existence as well as spiritual well-being.

Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We all agree. We love the fast pass. When Christ’s Undeserved Privilege and His Favor move us to the front of the line or arrives in the form of an unexpected blessing BUT what if it comes as a test or trial. Many tap out at this point. We don’t want to rejoice in problems or trials but want God to wave His Hand to make them disappear. We don’t want to develop endurance because it requires patience and is rather exhausting. Most of us can’t even commit to the gym and 30 minutes of cardio likewise unwilling to endure discomfort or inconvenience. Endurance develops strength of character. God knows me. If His Grace is enough for me, why do I need character? There is more to life than this. There is more to this than our emotional state and all our feelings combined. Salvation is our hope of stepping out of this life into forever. Trust is the conduit of not having to wait to experience the Glory of God but allowing it to fill our life now.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

When we walk with the Lord in the Light of His Word, What Glory He sheds on our way; while we do His Good Will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. I love this old hymn. Sadly, most days, it is our heart’s motivation to obey God but not to trust Him. It is when I try to do all the right things to experience His Glory that I end up falling short. His Glory is mine because of His Grace. His Grace is not only sufficient but absolutely a must to experience the Glory of God in my life. Well, all I can do when it comes to God’s Grace is to trust Him. My obedience is only worthy of anything as a direct result of trust. I must examine my heart today for trust. I can do a lot of things for the Lord but it means nothing if I do not believe and trust that His Grace is enough for me.

I must be confident that I will see the Lord’s Goodness while I am in the land of the living. If I live every day for forever, but do not believe that His Kingdom will come and His Will done on the earth – I have missed my calling altogether. Faith and trust in God is not for when I die but for today, tomorrow and every other day between here and eternity. God has ordered my steps to enter His Presence. Most of us will not, cannot and refuse to trust the Lord until He is the only way out of our present situation. When God is all there is left, He becomes our sufficiency. Restoration and revival cannot enter a restricted area of our life. Our free will does not allow it. It is only in our complete trust and surrender to Christ that anything I offer in the form of obedience is acceptable.

Waiting on the Lord demonstrates the longevity of our trust in Him. Have you given up on God’s Glory in your life? Like Christmas morning that never comes or gifts that don’t satisfy, are you resigned to the fact that this is life? Life is hard. There is no goodness here for me. God will not, cannot, or may not satisfy me so I am just going to have to do it myself. Those who put their trust in the Lord including the investment of their whole life will have a hope that will not lead to disappointment. That’s what we are afraid of…being disappointed. What if we are wrong? Well, to have confidence in Jesus means to trust Him. The Lord can only enter those areas of our heart, mind, body, soul and life yielded to Him. Careful inspection will probably reveal that the areas struggled most in are those held tightly to our chest. Are you praying for revival today? Me, too. Revival begins with trusting hearts willing to venture closer, deeper and farther into the Presence of God and releasing all those other things that have kept us from going there. You will not give up your life until you are convinced that there is more to life than this. Do not be surprised by disappointment or dissatisfaction but consider it a blessing as the Lord shows us the closed doors keeping His Glory from filling us and the church today. As we continually discipline ourselves to surrender these things and scoop up the new mercy each day to feed our developing hope soon confidence will fill every void of our life while we wait for Him. He is coming! We just have to be ready. Lord, teach me to trust you more and more until all of my life is yours. I want to be restored and renewed from the inside out. God, show me Your Glory in every possible way. We want revival, Jesus. Let it start with me.

Romans 12:12 (NLT) Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

 

 

 

Sowing Victory

Sowing Victory.jpg

Galatians 6:7-9 (NLT) Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

I am tired. I am weary. I am overwrought. Worried. Stressed and fearful. Life is hard. Pressures are mounting. I believe that there are certain seasons that as the Lord fights for us that somehow it bears down around us in the atmosphere. I know that she is just a little dog. I know that God created her and many would say that she has no soul. Yet, she brings me great joy. She is loyal and loving. She is also very, very sick. As if this week wasn’t hectic enough, still no Christmas tree up, my to-do list not done, not to mention fighting off a case of the holiday blues – our little dog decided to try potpourri – it must have smelled delicious. So she foraged through a bowl of it until she found the scented pod filled with oil and decided to gnaw on it. This made her terribly ill. Now it is the end of the week, she refuses to eat. She is becoming weaker. Two visits to the vet, multiple medications and fluids – still she refuses to eat. I am sick inside. Not sure if it is all about her or the fact that life seems full of the unexpected. You can seldom rely on settled because at every twist and turn the unknown greets you.

Don’t be misled. I am being misled today. No one can mock the justice of God. No matter how I feel in this season, the seeds planted in my last season will grow its fruit. If I planted faith, it will be faith that I feast on. If I sowed worry, I will only become more fearful over time. Those who live in the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. On days like today, when exhaustion and frustration threaten the seed that I am planting, I must take another look around me and evaluate my circumstances according to the Word of God which clearly states through many scriptures that there will indeed be days like this. But it also promises that my current condition do not dictate my future that is defined by hope. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. I must not give up.

Psalm 24:7-8 (NLT) Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle.

The Lord is invincible in battle. He is strong and mighty. He is the King of Glory. He is victory. God never loses a battle or war that He engages in. He is omnipotent or all powerful. He is the Creator of everything. He has predetermined the outcome of every situation according to His Will. Before waging war against our enemies, it is imperative that one believes that our Lord is all-powerful and always victorious. Then…

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

Overwhelming victory belongs to me because Jesus loves me. Not occasional wins but overwhelming victory is mine. What about days like today when I do not feel victorious? It is on days like today that the faith and hope sown in my heart yesterday bears fruit to sustain me for today. My life is lived from victory to victory. He changes me from glory to glory. This is a promise. It is not a suggestion. Victory in Jesus is given by His Grace. There is nothing I can do to earn it or precipitate it but rather must accept it. Wait for it. Believe it.

Why? With all my faults and failures, why would the Lord allow me to live victoriously? Because victory was predestined for my life and is not contingent on me but rather my existence. When I was born, God’s Plan for me was set into motion. Each day God’s Goodness and Unfailing Love pursue me. Am I running from it or stepping into it? This is the difference between whether or not I am living in defeat or walking in victory. Faith is the game changer. Do I believe that God loves me? Do I truly understand that His Grace is absolutely enough to make me a winner in every situation, circumstance, trial and trouble that I go through? If not, I should.

Finally, it is important to note that the Lord does not start naming all the seen faith inhibitors but the unseen predators. Death or life. Angels or demons. Fears and worries. Tomorrow. Powers of hell. Nothing in all of creation seen or unseen will ever be able to separate you or me from the Love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Why? His Grace is enough for me. I can overcome and be victorious in all things when faith in Christ is cultivated in my heart day by day.

Ephesians 6:12-13 (NLT) For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

We are not fighting flesh and blood. Even if your adversary has a face and breath in their body, they are not the problem. Ever. It is every – evil ruler of the unseen world, mighty powers of darkness, and evil spirits of the heavenly realm. See you cannot see the enemy although he often uses people to do his bidding. We must concentrate on winning the battle for our heart so that faith is planted and not fear. Guard our mind taking hold of every thought contrary to God and His Word and casting it down, stepping over it and putting it far behind us. We will win a few and lose a few because of our humanness and that’s okay as long as we get back up and get back to it.

These powers and rulers of the darkness – the minions of the enemy of our soul are not after us. They want to destroy the God in us. They want to steal our faith and fill us with fear. They want us to buy into the lie rather than investing in the Promises of God for our life. They are trying to convince us to forfeit that power and authority that Christ has given us to take hold of despair, disappointment and defeat. Well, I say not today devil!

Hebrews 11:32-35 (NLT)  How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.

How much more do I need to say? How many battles are you willing to engage in? How many fights are you willing to face? The faith inside you is under attack. Every force and power in hell is trying to lure you away from God’s Love because they cannot touch you. They can only lie to you. To win a battle means little if we do not win the war. Wars are comprised of many battles with varying degrees of importance. Though what you are facing seems small it may be leading to something much bigger…will you fight for it. Maybe what you are going through today seems impossible…will you give up or choose to endure? God is the God of Impossibilities. Jesus provided enough grace for us to stand in every battle. The Lord is invincible. He fights for us even when we no longer are willing to fight for ourselves. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate.

All those who were victorious attained it by faith? I am quite sure that Daniel was preparing to die when he was cast into a den of hungry lions yet once inside the lions were not hungry anymore. See God goes before us. He goes with us. The Lord works behind us pursuing us with Goodness, Grace and Unfailing Love. He perfects that which concerns us. He makes good of every detail of our life. Every step my foot takes by faith and trust in the Lord leads me to victory. We must sow victory in our life through faithfulness and by trusting the Lord so in the moment of despair, disappointment and destruction – we win victories by faith in God rather than fear of the enemy!

Psalm 144:1-2 (NLT) Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in him. He makes the nations submit to me.

To be completely honest, frustration got the best of me in the wee dark hours of the morning. As I had to reach inside her kennel and gently rouse our sick and sleepy little dog. I knew she wasn’t interested but I had to try so I once again I began offering anything I could think of she might eat. She just turned her head. I held her close to my face and in a stern whisper said, “You know what if you don’t want to eat…fine. If you don’t want to live…that’s fine, too.” Then I walked her back to her crate. Going into my office to have some “quiet time” with the Lord, I am sure He heard me coming with all my negativity and grumbling going on under my voice.

God spoke just one word to my hurting heart. Victory! You have the victory today! It is up to you to take hold of it, to walk in it, believe in it, and to secure it. I don’t have to fight for victory just fight for my faith that gets caught up in worthless things sometimes rather fully standing on God’s Promise for my life each day. All impossible things are possible. Every negative has a positive exchange. God is fighting for me. The Lord is winning all my battles. I just have to say it is well with my soul and stay firmly positioned in His Presence and stand confidently on each promise.

Thank you Jesus for reminding me today that I have victory in all things. With this revelation, I retrieved our sick fur baby from her bed and began speaking life and resurrection power over her. I had to pull up those words that cursed her and plant words of faith, hope and love in their place. I wrapped her in a blanket and tucked her in on my lap to write this blog and it is where she is sleeping right now. What’s is spoken in our life grows into the harvest of our life? Sowing seeds of doubt, worry and fear will only produce more of the same leading to death. Is there something in your life that needs resurrection power and life today? We must speak life over those things in our life that are dying. We must let go of worthless worry and sinful stress that overtakes our mind and attacks our faith. We must look past this light and momentary troubles to the everlasting glory that is to come. We win. We will win the battle but most importantly we win the war. Walk in victory today my friend! The Lord is with us. All honor, glory and praise to the One who gives me victory today.

Proverbs 21:31 (NLT) The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.

Life is Hard

life-is-hard

Colossians 1:26-27 (NLT) This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

Life is hard. It is not fair. There are days when it seems to be unbearable. Are you struggling today? When coming to Christ, there is an expectation of relief, but is it reality. Are you not exchanging one burden for another? Well friend, that depends on you. I decide whether or not to continue to endure pressure in this life or simply give up. It is called a free will. God gave each us the freedom to choose how to live our life and make choices day by day. I do not have to pick goodness. I can leave behind mercy coming back for it later. I can wander as far and long as the winding wilderness I choose and when I call – the Lord immediately answers. This is hard to comprehend and in most cases arguable by many.

Religion often defines the rules of relationship within the Body of Christ called His Church. Well, every medical textbook and journal can outline how the human body is supposed to work and delineate the diseases and disorders that arise, but in the end it is never completely documented. New things crop up every day. Medicine evolves as quickly as church does. We find “new ways” to worship God when really there is only one way to approach Him.

God’s ways are not our ways and His Thoughts are than our own or so it says in the Book of Isaiah. If life is hard, what difference does Jesus make? If there is no real explanation of how to love Him, ways to serve Him or clear-cut directions to the Kingdom of God then how will anyone ever get there? Oh there is definitely instruction and guidance to step in the Glory of God but it is hard. It requires struggle. There is endless pressure. It all produces endurance. The fiery trials of life reveal genuine faith, but as one may recall only three Hebrew boys were brave enough to defy man’s law and step into the hot furnace that day.

The church is crying out for revival. I am praying it will come. The Glory of God manifesting His Presence in corporate worship that spills outside the four walls of a building and washes through the streets of every city until the overflow covers our nation and overflows its borders around the world. Revival is not about you. It is about the Body of Christ coming together to prepare for His Return. We just have the privilege of participation. It is within us the moment Christ is accepted in our heart to be our Lord and Savior. However, life is still hard just the same. Christ lives in me. I have full assurance of His Glory. The secret of centuries died on the cross and came up out of the grave so that you and I could become new creations. Now is that so hard…yes, it is very difficult.

Acts 14:21-22 (NLT) After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.

Paul and Barnabas gave this reminder to early believers while encouraging them to continue in faith. “We must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” Do you agree? Did you come to the Lord under false pretenses with the wrong expectation? Many do. A watered down Gospel preached by false prophets tell of a grace that is wonderful and free allowing us to do what we want to when we want to and how we want to and all gathering together in the end to meet Him face to face. Who doesn’t love free? There is another end to that spectrum called legalism that prescribes long list of dos and don’ts that mean nothing when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus did it all. He paid it all. I can do nothing to earn the Grace gifted to me by the Living God. So that doesn’t make life any easier either. Life is still hard no matter which end of the spectrum our life falls. But wait, then there is the Truth…

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

“When I am weak, then I am strong.” How many times I have read this verse in the course of my life? Sometimes to understand what a scripture really means one must go back and read the course of events prior to it. In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul discusses the trials and hardships that he has endured since meeting Jesus Christ. He is talking about false prophets and teachers. By mid-chapter, he is pretty worked up as one might say in the South. People boasting about all they do for the Lord have sparked a tirade in God’s man. He talks about serving God candidly. He is not boasting but making a point. “I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) Paul was a high ranking Pharisee who lived in comfort and opulence until he fell in love with Jesus. Once he had given his life to the Lord, he goes on to say now he has a burden for all the churches. He finally concludes that given all that he has done for Christ, he would rather boast about the things that show I am weak. Why? Why would he say such a thing?

For when I am weak, then I am strong. Let me give you a hint that I discovered a couple of years ago, if you can still do it – it’s not weakness. It is when you cannot do it any longer that God takes over. Peter was walking on the water by his faith, when that ran out is when he reached out grasping Jesus’ Hand for help. In Mark 6:47-52, the disciples are on a boat in a terrible storm. They are not praying but in a full panic. When Jesus comes walking on the water, they do not even recognize him. This is right after he fed five thousand with a little boy’s lunch but now it is about them. They are facing a struggle. It’s their very lives that are in danger. It just got personal and they do not even see that it is the Lord. Hmmm… Could it be that it was in this moment that these men came to the end of themselves?

“He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them…” (Mark 6:48) Did you catch that? Jesus intended to go past them. Why? The disciples had the Word of God in them and knew Jesus. They were in serious trouble. They were rowing hard. They were struggling. Why would their friend just walk right by? Because they had the power in them to calm the storm and regain control of their vessel, but they did not believe. They got in the way. Fear. Pride Doubt. There are so many things that deprive us of faith every single day. When we come to the end of our own strength, we do what these men did. They cried out to Jesus. Is life too hard to bear right now? Are you working hard and getting nowhere? Struggling just to keep your head above water? Holding all the broken pieces together hoping your heart will beat again? Are you close to giving up? Are you tired and weary? Have you called on His Name?

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

In Mark 14, there is an account of a woman who came in with expensive perfume in an alabaster jar. She broke it open and poured it out over the head of Jesus. She broke the beautiful vessel containing her life’s worth. She gave her all to Jesus. What do you hold precious in life? It could people…possessions or even pride. It is required. All is required for His Glory to come out of us. We have been given a light that shines in our heart. The pain and pressure of life makes personal strength wane as the structure of our life begins to shake precariously. Life is hard. It is rough sometimes. It is purposefully that way as God answers our call for revival and begins to move closer as He is called. We cannot remain the same. My strength has to go so that I am weak and submitted before Him. This pressure brings forth purpose. The pain causes brokenness. The hunt causes desperation. When we are knocked down, we extend our hand while calling His Name. It is through suffering that the meaningless things blocking the out powering of God that we desire are removed. Suddenly, His Great Power will pour from our heart into our life. We must give our all. Most people aren’t ready for that because it makes life too hard.

God’s Grace is enough for me. It is when His Power works best in my life. He is doing a new thing that sometimes caught in old ways and old things we miss. (2 Corinthians 3:13-15) Tradition robs us of future glory basking in afterglow instead of the light glorious light that brings new life. We will never see the Glory of God by keeping the Law. (Romans 9:30-32) The Glory of God called revival will only come in the sufficiency of God’s Grace when each person accepts humility and weakness to be strong in the Lord. We all have hidden thorns designed to burst our pride and keep us humbly walking with God. Some of us are just too afraid to expose them and accept His Grace alone to cover them. I don’t want to be the one show stops revival from coming to my church, community and the world. I am weak. I need God’s Strength every single day. Life is hard but His Grace is enough for me.

Luke 5:1-7 (NLT) One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

Peter and the others had a bad day of fishing. As they were cleaning their nets, Jesus asked Peter to take him on the water to speak to the people so he did. Fish weren’t biting anyway. Afterwards, Jesus told him to go deeper and let down his net. He told the Lord listen we worked hard all night and came back empty handed. “But if you say so…” Let’s retrace what just happened. Peter was working his everyday job in everyday life. Jesus came walking by and asked to use his vessel. Peter obliged. Jesus then instructed Peter to go fishing again. Peter had a choice. He chose to obey the Lord at His Word. What happened? Their nets were so full of fish that they began to tear! I wonder how many times we hear the Word, but do not believe it enough to do it. How often does Jesus whisper a thought or idea to implement and we decide it is not worthy of our attention? Been there done that. Life is hard and too often so are our hearts.

2 Corinthians 6:3-6 (NLT) We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.

What is your heart’s desire today? Do you want to be a true minister of God sharing the Gospel, building His Kingdom, and releasing revival? Life is hard. The pressure will not let up especially if this is your purpose. We must live so that no one will find fault in our ministry – there goes pride. I have seen pride kill so many congregations. God begins to move. Pressure builds. People refuse to submit. Passion dies. God’s Presence moves to where He is welcomed and given His Proper Place. We must learn patience. Persistence. Pursuit. Pride must go in the Mighty Name of Jesus. We prove ourselves as God’s People by living in love, preserving purity, gaining understanding, learning to be patient (Lord help me please), being kind to all mankind, allowing the Holy Spirit to shape, mold, change and even break our heart when needed, and by our sincere love. Love has grown cold even in our churches. Lord, teach us to love all people. Desire them above ourselves and minister to them selflessly. Life is hard. I am weak. Jesus be my Strength today. Your Grace is enough for me.

2 Peter 1:10-11 (NLT) So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Good Soldiers

good-soldiers

2 Timothy 2:3-5 (NIV) Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.

What is a good soldier? Paul invites Timothy to join in suffering with me “like a good soldier”. How does that seem fun or rewarding? Aren’t Christians supposed to be lovers not fighters? Well, honestly that is exactly what I believe soldiers do. They love their country and the people in it too much to not preserve it and defend them. It is too easy to enjoy the comforts of home and enjoy the pleasure of freedom and take for granted that it is possible because men and women are fighting our enemies every single day. The difference in a soldier and civilian is found in their heart. The heart of a soldier comes with a sense of purpose to serve and protect from the very beginning. We are to be good soldiers in Christ Jesus. We are to live to please the commanding officer – King Jesus. We must act as though our lives depended upon it – which they do along with every other person who lives in darkness. Will you step up the calling of good soldier today?

Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

My strength comes from the Lord. To fight the good fight of faith as it is called requires that I depend fully and completely on the Grace of God and not my own ability. Objective one is the hardest because we do not like to trust anyone or anything completely – it is our human nature. Trusting God is not lip service but life service. It is not based on conversation but a conversion of the heart from the things of this world to the supernatural realm of life.

I must be fully equipped in the Armor of God to stand against my enemy. Our enemy is not and will never be other people even those who seem to fully oppose our call to serve Christ. People are not the problem, they are our purpose. We are on a mission of uniting the Body of Christ so it will become His Bride. This is the objective. We do not struggle or battle against people but rather “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.” Whoa! Kind of sounds like a superhero move and I get to be the one in the costume and cap! I am in… not so fast there are a few things you should know!

Ephesians 6:13-17 (NIV) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I am not naturally equipped for this battle in life. I must turn to the Lord to equip and empower me with the proper armor. Far too many have rushed off into battles they are not called to with faulty armor and have never come back. We must put on the full armor of God which is nothing we can see or feel but simply what we know. The more our faith is empowered with knowledge the more likely we are to stand in the next battle. The platform called faith is small remember it is likened to a mustard seed so if you are looking for comfort – look no more it is not in the place or radical lifestyle. We must be belted with the Truth which is the Word of God. You cannot just carry it but it must carry you. This is not done on a dusty shelf but a well-worn desk where the Bible is constantly studied. It is our strategy and battle plan. Our heart must be cloaked in righteousness. Examining its contents daily to remove any insufficiencies we find with a strong measure of grace as it is provided to us in copious amounts. We must always be on the lookout for anything that separates us from the Lord even in the slightest. Our feed must not be ready to run to war but prepared for. How is that possible? Jesus was a mighty warrior who is our Champion. He did not do it with force but His Great Love. The shield of faith keeps us focused on the future not on the present. When we walk by faith, we walk in victory. Our faith knows that we win. The battle belongs to the Lord so if I can just deflect all doubt and fear – I will be victorious. The Helmet of Salvation reminds me constantly that I am going to make it no matter what. There are days that it is our salvation alone that keeps us fighting when everything goes wrong and it seems like everyone is against us. That’s okay. There are days that soldiers want to leave the battleground and come home, too. Nothing can separate you from the Love of God. Finally, the Spirit or Word of God is our sword. The Word of God nourishes the Holy Spirit in us. As we fill our mind with God’s Word and make our body follow through, it makes our flesh give way to the Spirit. The Spirit fights our battles by simply reminding the enemy of the outcome. He always loses when we stand. What don’t good soldiers fight? Yes, sometimes. Many times the most profound statement is when they stand.

Ephesians 6:18-20 (NIV) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

A great army is comprised of good soldiers. Each individual must take a personal stand to join in the corporate stand. Not every Christian no matter how religious is prepared for the battle. Not every believer has enough faith to make it through. Sometimes it takes seasoned soldiers to come from behind and rally the troops. The Holy Spirit knows the outcome of your current engagement. He knows when and where victory is secured. Blinded by tears and filled with pain – it is sometimes easy to forget what we are really fighting for. The enemy is ruthless and is always trying to deal a death blow to God’s People. He never relents. But the Love of God for you and me does not relent either. We must pray in the Spirit on all occasions in the battle and out of the battle to be prepared to stand. The truth is that sometimes being a good soldier is a lonely position. We do not always have other people around to encourage us or help us. We must stand alone. Frankly, I feel that this is what our faith works towards all our spiritual life as the Lord prepares us to stand before Him on that final day. He wants us to stand before Him confidently and boldly knowing that He is our Savior and we served Him as Lord. We want to be a good soldier. I must trust the Lord with all my heart. Leaning not on my own understanding but fully committing my faith to my Champion.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NIV) Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

A good soldier decides in his heart to give his life for his country. We must give our life to the Kingdom. We make the choice if we will stand for God’s Kingdom or live for the world. It is in each moment. Each new day comes with what we need to stand and the opportunity to step back. We decide in our heart to give or not give. God loves a cheerful giver. A good soldier fully covered in the armor of God who decides to stand today is like that cheerful giver. The one who sows generously and reaps the same. Good soldiers are the ones that God is able to bless abundantly. He will bless you and me that in all things, at all times, having all that we need, will abound in every good work. Are you a good soldier? You can be. Put on the armor of God today and take a stand. Drive back the enemy with your faith and draw a line in the sand. Guard your position. If you should happen to fall, don’t worry! The Lord will send new mercy in the morning with a full supply of joy to do it all again!

Psalm 18:30-36 (NIV) As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

For the Joy

 

for-the-joyPsalm 89:14-17 (NLT) Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness.  You are their glorious strength. It pleases you to make us strong.

George Orwell said, “Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” We must learn to accept and reject certain things in our life to maintain our emotional state of wellbeing. Those who allow their circumstances, situation or current condition to touch that part of our heart where happiness lives will never be satisfied. Life is hard. It is not fair. Society is perverse and twisted. It is heart wrenching to read the news. How do I keep happiness in my heart when it keeps being broken? How do I maintain joy when there is so much pain and suffering all around? To remain constant in the Lord by faith will produce joy in us that is not impacted by trials but maintained by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who produces real joy in our life. (Galatians 5:22)

Bitterness is a root that chokes our spirit and crushes the human soul. The idea or thought that captures our heart and begins to overtake the seeds of life sown in the Spirit. Hurt left unhealed. Offense allowed to survive. Doubt not dealt with turns to disbelief and suddenly we become discouraged. Where is God? When darkness compromises the Light in our life, it is not because the Light has somehow moved like the sun setting, but rather we have moved away from it. Sin will create darkness in a once illuminated life. How do we combat it? Perseverance takes its toll even on the strongest Christian and most dedicated follower of Jesus Christ.

“My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!” (Psalm 42:4) David goes on to say, “Why am I so discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? Then He bounces back with a solution, “I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again My Savior and My God!” We all can get discouraged. It is hard not to be. The state of affairs whispers, “He is coming!” but still produce tragic circumstances as the earth quakes at His Close Proximity. Jesus is coming! I am happy that He is! Lord, help me to live for the joy!

Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV) Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the Throne of God. He earned this position because “for the joy” that was set before Him endured the Cross. Any idea what that joy was? You and me. He looked past the torture and complete disrespect to see us and decided it was worth putting down His Crown and taking up the Cross. Thank you Jesus that you thought I was worth it! In Psalm 89, it says that the foundation of His Throne are righteousness and justice. Both are big problems for people due to inherited sin and the fact that God is Sovereign. Let’s talk about that for a minute. We do not understand the concept of a Sovereign God because we live in polluted justice. There is no one who is righteous other than Lord. We have never encountered such a presence therefore do not understand the gravity of our situation. God does not consume us because He is mad at us or hates us. It is the sin that causes our destruction because God is that good. He does not lie or change His Mind, but if I do it causes a problem because He cannot change. He is absolute and constant. Take that in for a moment.

God has a plan and purpose for our life. (Jeremiah 29:11) We can only obtain it by seeking Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:13) To do so required Grace from God because He could not give up His Perfection. The foundation of His Throne are still righteousness and justice which will never change but we can change because there are attendants around the Throne called unfailing love and truth. Unfailing love says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I have been given His Unfailing Love accompanied by His Grace. The Truth is that God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son that we would not die in His Presence but have everlasting life. There should be joy the fact that I will not die but live eternally. Where is my joy? Why do I get discouraged? When I move from the Presence of God, I feel the separation from the Source of Life. I cannot be righteous or get justice because I am a sinner. God hates sin. I need His Unfailing Love and the Truth to prevail in my life to allow His Spirit to produce joy and happiness in my life that is not conditional. To live in the Presence of God allows me to look beyond this life – for the joy set before me.

Proverbs 3:13-18 (NKJV) Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain  than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.

Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh who came to bring us unfailing love and truth. Truth is the Word of God. The Word formed the world. The Word is wisdom. We must find wisdom to be happy. Worldly wisdom is the truth according to sin that always leads to death. The introduction of Jesus Christ gives us new truth. New wisdom. New understanding. When we try to fill our old life and way of doing things with new truth, it bursts like an old wineskin. We must put on new ideas, habits, attitudes and actions to accept happiness in our life and allow the Holy Spirit to do His Work producing joy. Joy and happiness are not a way of life but only found in the Source of Life. We must take our expectations from this life and put them in everlasting life.

To know God is to love God. To know Jesus is to desire the Lord. The more I know Him – the more I want to know. Faith is like riding a bicycle. At first, there are training wheels. We ride up and down the road without a care in the world because we know there is extra support that will keep us from falling. But then comes the day when it is time to learn to ride the same bike without the comfortable assistance that we have become accustomed to. We must learn to keep going on just two wheels. I still remember my dad teaching me to ride a bike. We lived in North Carolina and I was maybe six years old. There was a dirt road behind our house that sloped downhill. His brilliant idea was to put me at the top of the path and let the momentum carry me down sure that I would not fall. Well, he didn’t consider that I may not be able to stop the bike. What a scary ride! What a dramatic ending! Faith feels like that sometimes. I didn’t want my training wheels off and cried when dad took them off. But can you imagine how ridiculous it might be for a grown person to be riding around with training wheels. We walk with them sometimes.

I Peter 1:7-9 (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Inexpressible joy is found in faith. Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. Our decision to love and trust the Lord in all things allows His Spirit to produce this joy that cannot be described in our life. But like the child who likes keeping those training wheels rather than risking a fall, we do not take the steps according to our purpose in fear of failure. Faith is tried and tested. As we learn to love and trust Jesus, we begin to live by faith and not by sight. This perspective begins to produce happiness and joy in our life. The kind of joy and happiness that is not impacted by ordinary life but based solely on the unfailing love and truth who is Jesus Christ. We have been given a gift that can be opened daily in our life. We can choose joy by choosing to trust the Lord. We can live a happy life in the most devastating circumstances by believing the Word of God and not the opinion of man. I can trust the Lord because God is Sovereign. He is constant. He remains the same. He cannot lie or change His Mind or God wouldn’t be God. I can put my whole life in His Hands and in return, He fills my life with joy!

Psalm 51:10-12 (NLT) Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

Create in me a clean heart. Why do you think it says “create” in me a clean heart? It is only through repentance that we can have a pure heart. I need Jesus to scrub my heart each and every day. To remove every impure thing that keeps me from coming to the Throne of God boldly. His Grace is enough for me. I need the Word of God to renew my spirit – to feed and nourish my soul so I can remain steadfast and loyal in my pursuit of the Lord. I need the Holy Spirit to produce inexpressible joy and complete happiness as He satisfies my life with all the good things that God has in store for me. I am ready to receive the Joy of the Lord when I start each day this way.

Do you need the Lord to restore the joy of salvation today? Does happiness escape you in the midst of trials and temptation? Every single morning the Lord leaves you new mercy in the hope that you will take full advantage of His Gift. He wants to wash your heart, rejuvenate your spirit and stir up the Holy Spirit in you. Do you want Him to? We cannot have the joy of the Lord and prevailing peace any other way but to live in Jesus Christ! It is just not possible. To accept anything less is a tragedy. We choose happiness. We decide to have joy. It is released in our commitment, obedience and devotion to Jesus Christ. He gives it to us freely. He applies it to our life generously. If we do not have it, maybe we just need to move a little closer. We find joy when we find ourselves in His Presence basking in the Light of His Love. The Lord invites us to come to Him today. He will never pull us or shove us into His Glory and Goodness but whispers our name day by day. Those who answer the call to worship will find true happiness and inexpressible joy!

Lamentations 3:21-23 (NLT) Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.