The Other Side of the Mountain

The Other Side of the Mountain

Matthew 17:19-20 (NIV) Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Many years ago, I decided I wanted to experience real faith. The kind of faith that produced miracles in life. There was a couple at our church who exuded that kind of faith. It was evident in their worship and life. He was one of the pastors responsible for visiting congregants who were in the hospital. He would not stop at just the person on the visitation list but had to go into every room on the floor. When he was in the emergency room with his own child, his wife couldn’t keep him from praying for all the sick people in the waiting room. He had reckless and limitless belief in God as His Healer, Provider and Deliverer just to name a few. Shortly after my declaration to be a woman of faith, our youngest child developed rapid onset asthma that perplexed her doctors. It came on fast and her respiratory system quickly was compromised beyond anything in their medical protocol. We literally were at the doctor daily for weeks. It was then I decided that if medicine couldn’t heal her faith would have to. I sought the assistance of the powerhouse couple from church. Two simple words – “teach me.”

I never correlated that our daughter’s illness was an opportunity rather than life-threatening. It had the life-giving potential to produce faith even though we were all concerned about her health. Did the Lord allow our daughter to contract a disease to teach us how to have faith? Is it possible that a good God would allow such distress? People get sick every day. They take over-the-counter medications to soothe their symptoms. If that doesn’t accomplish the task, they visit their doctor or the local medical facility for relief. If things become unmanageable or medically impossible to heal – then what? Prayer is the last ditch effort to overcome the impossibilities in our life. Why? Because we have little faith in God and supreme faith in our circumstances.

Nothing is impossible for the one who believes. It’s the Word of God for our life. But maybe if we stopped saying it for just a moment and tried to comprehend the true meaning, it would actually become a declaration in our life. A place where we could live, thrive and prosper. God has given His Son, Jesus all power and authority over death and the grave – the real game changers in life. A member of our church just experienced a tragic house fire that claimed all of their worldly possessions and a beloved family pet – in a recent social media post they shared that in moments like these they understand the value of people over things. Why is it that it is experiences such as these that make us understand the importance of our relationship with God and people?

Through the experience of our daughter’s illness, I began to study faith. Not just “faith” the word but “faith” as a lifestyle. I wanted to see the “impossible” happen. So throughout the extent of her illness, I began to study and pray. The faith couple continually encouraged me, prayed for us, and kept in close contact. One morning I woke up from yet another endless night of coughing, crying and treatments, but something was different. The same medical protocol initiated the day before had yielded mild improvement but our little baby was completely swollen from high doses of prednisone and barely breathing in an acceptable fashion. But for some reason, on this day, I wasn’t annoyed or irritable. Could this be the first day I decided to walk by faith and not by sight? Who knows? The pastor called to check on our little one. He detected a change in my voice. He asked, “Is it gone?” I said, “No”. For some reason, I decided that on that particular day my faith would overcome my fear and I would walk in peaceful joy anyway. I couldn’t decide if it was faith or insanity because sometimes saints it feels the same. He laughed. He declared something good was about to happen. It would be the day that our daughter was miraculously healed by the Hand of God.

What made the difference that day more than a decade ago is only now beginning to make any sense at all. Those circumstances and situations that look like a mountain in our life. The insurmountable challenges labeled “IMPOSSIBLE” are not the issue at hand. It all boils down to our faith. What have we planted our faith in? Where is our faith invested?

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Faith is confidence in what we hope for. What are you hoping will happen today? The everyday wishes and dreams that are just out of reach. Faith is defined as confidence or trust in a person or thing, belief not based on truth, belief in God, belief in anything, and obligatory loyalty to someone. Now if faith can take on so many forms, how do I know I have the right kind of faith? Is the impossible becoming the reality in your life? See faith in God produces miracles, signs and wonders. It dissolves mountains and calms seas. It heals diseases and casts out demons. It makes us whole, complete and lacking no good thing. If you are not experiencing such a life as a believer, it is time to decide whether your faith is in the mountain or in God. What is on the other side of the mountain? What are you seeking as a result of the miracle? Is your desperation for a better life or eternal life? It makes a difference.

Confident hope is in eternal life. It is in the life beyond this one that I cannot perceive with my eyes yet may experience within my heart. If the mountains are standing only in the way of creature comforts and a mediocre life – why would God move them? Just so you could die without Him. His Love is too great for you and me to move a mountain and give us an easy life that leads to death. If the mountain comes down, will it bring you closer to the Lord? If the storm ends, will you forget your first love…again? See we cry out for faith asking God to do the impossible but if our perception of faith is only for the natural without increasing our supernatural relationship with Jesus Christ – I am afraid the mountain is staying right where it is.

2 Corinthians 4:13-17 (NIV) It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

What is on the other side of your mountain? It is the thing you desire most. I believe that God will move any mountain with a mustard seed of faith. But here is the kicker – it is our desire. What do you desire it is the very thing on the other side of it? What is the mountain keeping you from? If God doesn’t move the mountain will you still love Him? Will you still serve Him? Will you still worship Him for Who He is? This is the kind of remarkable faith that will cause the mountain to crumble before you. The faith that says, “I put all my faith, trust and confidence in You today, God!” It is the prayer of not my will but Your Will! It is human nature to walk around things that are in our way. What if the mountain was to get your attention? To slow you down long enough to hear Him or even look for the Lord? We get so busy in the chaotic snare of busyness and self-importance that we forget that God will move mountains to be closer to us. Jesus will stop at nothing to give us a rich and satisfying life. He longs to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask or think but not if it will deteriorate our relationship with Him or cause immediate death.

Do not lost heart today. The mountain before us is of our choosing. We decide if faith will move the mountain or keeping it right where it is. The desire of our heart will determine the outcome. Do we desire God and loving relationship in Christ or do we want things to change so badly we invest our faith in the mountain? Faith is foundational. If our faith is in the Lord, and what He has to offer on the other side – that sucker is coming down. But if our faith is in the substance of the mountain – we will hold it there by our belief in it rather than God. Think about it today. Visualize your mountain and what lies on the other side. Seek the Lord. Father give us faith that moves mountains today rather than keeping them locked in place. In Jesus Name!

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV) So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

 

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Through the Fire

Through the Fire

Isaiah 54:16-17 (NLT) “I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction. And I have created the armies that destroy. But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me. I, the Lord, have spoken!

How can it be only Wednesday? I feel like a whole week has been shoved into two days. I am tired. I am weary. I am drained. It has been days of warfare. I cling to the promise that no weapon turned against you will succeed. Sometimes in life it is not the major problems or troubles that overtake us but the minor issues that pile up. My Bible flipped open is like a weight on my desk while these words apply pressure to my chest. Why has it been so hard for so long? I am not in the midst of a pity party rather a sojourn to survey the success of my plight. To be honest and transparent, my current assignment has been a challenge from the start. I am usually up to the test. Ready to take on the impossible. Driven to live in obedience to Christ. In this moment of introspection, I must take into account the cost of the Cross. Is the price too high to follow this destiny? What more will it take to reach my destination? This heaviness is like iron. I had to fight for my quiet time. Silence the voices in my head to hear His Spirit in the dark. God I know you called me to this place for such a time as this. I know you have supplied all that I need. This is a fertile field ready for seeds to be planted, nurtured and grown.

When reading the Word of God, we like to pick and choose among the verses finding the Bread of Life most palatable to feed our starving flesh. The living water needed to wash our wounds and sustain us for another day. This hunger and thirst finds no satisfaction. It continually cries out for more. The flame in the fire keeps getting hotter. I am reminded that to fully understand I must read the entire book – not just the scripture that is appealing. Every entrée has a recipe. Every product has instructions. The words proceeding the overcoming passage I am clinging to today are not the encouragement I am after but rather “I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons for destruction.”

2 Kings 6:1-7 (NLT) One day the group of prophets came to Elisha and told him, “As you can see, this place where we meet with you is too small. Let’s go down to the Jordan River, where there are plenty of logs. There we can build a new place for us to meet.” “All right,” he told them, “go ahead.” “Please come with us,” someone suggested. “I will,” he said. So he went with them. When they arrived at the Jordan, they began cutting down trees. But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. “Oh, sir!” he cried. “It was a borrowed ax!” “Where did it fall?” the man of God asked. When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. Then the ax head floated to the surface. “Grab it,” Elisha said. And the man reached out and grabbed it.

The prophets were on a mission. Their plight to build a bigger place of worship was stamped “approved” by the Lord through His Prophet, Elisha. The place they were sent had provision to complete the project. They even invited the Presence of the Lord to join them asking the man of God to come along. They began their work and immediately encountered opposition. Ugh! There is always opposition while pressing and pushing through to God’s Plan. He gives us provision, provides us the place, and even gives us His Presence. So why the pressure, pain and problems? It seems like cruel irony (no pun intended). To position us to prosper and then allow such things to happen. Has the Lord set us up to fail? Is He trying to punish us for something in our past? Why does it have be so hard and hurtful? The process of God does not only have purpose around us but it always has a purpose in us. To see God move around us it must first begin within us. The pain, pressure and problems give way to persistence and perseverance. You will need it down the road. The greater the potential the greater the opposition. At some point, the haters must become our motivators. The impossible the birthplace of miracles.

The man who lost his borrowed ax cried out to the Lord. Elisha answered with a miracle. A sign to him that God had kept His Promise and indeed was with them. The impossible gave way to a miracle. I wonder today if the problems I am facing is the Lord’s Attempt to prepare me in this seemingly impossible place for His Power and Glory that is coming. My ax head is definitely sinking today. So I will call upon the Lord, my energy is zapped and efforts are failing.

2 Kings 6:15-17 (NLT)  When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.  “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

Awesome sauce! Reading farther down the chapter, now there is a battle. We must fight for our ground. The ax was already heavy now must I beat my plowshare into a sword? The king of Aram waged war against Israel. The struggle is real. The Kingdom of God is always under attack. We must take it by force. Not the force of our own strength, but rather total reliance, dependence and trust in the Lord. Faith must give way to confidence that doesn’t look through natural eyes.

When the servant came to Elisha overtaken by fear, it was rightfully so. The Aramean army had surrounded them and wanted Elisha. Elisha instructed the king of Israel sharing secrets that no one could have known but a spy. The servant saw the vast army and knew they were done but God didn’t see things that way and neither did Elisha. When the servant’s eyes were open by the Lord – it was then that he could see the army of the Lord which was larger, stronger, and surrounding then the opposition. Sometimes in the heat of our battle, we must find some time to hide in the Presence of God allowing Him to open our eyes to see our Avenger. Christ is the ultimate overcomer. He lives inside of us.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.

We do not wage war as humans do even when there is an army at our door. We use God’s Mighty Weapons. They are not like worldly ones designed to kill. The weapon is the Word of God. It is the sword of the Spirit used to expose every lie the enemy has touted. We have a shield of faith to deflect the fiery darts of the enemy and a breastplate of righteousness for the ones that make it through. We have been given a gospel of peace. Yet if peace is what you after it might be best to prepare for war. What keeps us from seeing God, knowing His Plan and following by faith is not the opposition but rather the proud obstacles, rebellious thoughts and interworking of our own treacherous mind and traitorous heart that get the best of us. It is in full obedience that victory is claimed. God is forging our heart and mind. He is engrafting us fully by burning away everything in us contradictory to His Word, Will and Way. He is perfecting His Plan in us so the potential fulfillment of purpose will be achieve. The heat is getting hotter so that these trials will prove that our faith is genuine.

2 Peter 1:7 (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.

“I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction.” The fire of refinement is not meant to destroy us but to reveal that which is within us. As our soul prospers, so do we. The once ironclad heart is refined and turned into a faithful heart that is considered far more precious than mere gold. He is strengthening our faith to make us powerful. He is preparing us for His Promises. The Lord has given us purpose and potential with a plan for successful abundance. He is getting me out of the way. When this work is finished, it will not be for my glory. It is for His Glory.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18) When King Nebuchadnezzar turned up the heat of the furnace seven times hotter, the three Hebrew men were not cheering. They did not goad the king. They simple stated their faith. God will deliver us or redeem us either way we are not bowing down, giving in or giving up on the Lord. (Paraphrase) The heat of the fire may seem hotter than ever before – it just means that there is purpose and potential inside of us yet to be discovered. God is burning away every impurity because of His Love, Grace and Mercy we will not be consumed. He is faithful. His Word is true. If we must go through the fire, He goes with us. The Lord will not leave us or forsake ever. He is with us always even to the ends of the earth. Lord, give me strength, endurance, persistence and perseverance to make it through the test to triumph. I want to live for your Glory and if that means walking through fiery trials so be it. Greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world!

Romans 8:34-37 (NIV) Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

 

Jealous for Me

Jealous for Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

The Known God

The Known God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gathering the Crumbs

Gathering the Crumbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calling All the Warriors

Calling All The Warriors

The Entrusted Sword by Ilse Kleyn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home Improvement

Home Improvement

I Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT) Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

A favorite date night is a nice casual dinner together followed by a long, leisurely trip to the local home improvement store. Mindlessly wandering around dreaming of home renovation. Our list of projects for this house is exhaustive and grows with each visit. Our last home was built for us. Signing the agreement, all the facades, fixtures and details chosen. We just waited for the building to be complete. It was brand new. Definitely a blessing! Our new home of almost a year is the same floorplan. The similarities end at that point. The front porch is different. It is large and inviting. A place for people to gather sitting in the new rocking chairs. I envision watching our grandchildren one day run up the walk to climb in our laps and rock with us. With two previous owners, it appears that some things were neglected while others stopped and started projects along the way. This place needs some love and attention.

This week’s big purchases included an American flag, solar lights for the walkway, some spotlights and stain for our new front door along with a handle set. My purse was filled with paint chips to decide a new exterior color scheme and options to redo the master bathroom cabinets for future projects. I know that I do not want a washer and dryer made by the same company who specializes in cellphones, no offense. And finally, I am pretty sure that wood tile planks will suit us more than new wood laminate thanks to the growing lab puppy with massive paws and a propensity to sling more water than she swallows. I hope that there are always projects left because I love spending time with my best friend dreaming and doing new things together.

While some may call it remodeling, I believe it to be rebuilding. As I consider my life right now, at this point in time, looking back – God has done some amazing and miraculous things in my life. I have seen miracles. I have experienced His Favor more times than I can recount. His Hand of Provision and Protection always shadowing over us. God is good. He is good all the time. Even on those days thought to be the worst of times, He somehow makes the Light of His Love overshadow the power of darkness of this world. It also my experience that we are victorious overcomers. There have been days when it came down to the final seconds but somehow God in His Sovereignty always pulls out the win. Knowing all of these things about my Lord and Savior and Father God, there is still massive renovation going on in my life. My heart and mind are in a constant state of demo as God rebuilds me. In my complete undoing, the Lord is faithfully making me into a masterpiece. It is painful. It is a process. It is according to His Plan. It will be beautiful in God’s Timing just like He said.

Life is lived in seasons. One building on the next. There are things in our life that must be removed so the Lord can continue to build a firm foundation of faith so our hope in Him is confident until the end. The renewing of our mind including every thought is essential. (Romans 12:2) It is easy sometimes to see what God is doing around us or engage in His Service with our hands and neglect what the Lord is attempting to do in our heart. To be completely honest, six years ago my heart was shattered to the point that I cannot put the pieces back together. God is good. He is faithful to His Word. The outcome yet another victory thanks to Jesus. However, what about me? The soul living inside the body of a human. How do I submit these pieces to His Renewal, Restoration and Rebuilding? Does the process ever end? Will the next phase in this process be too much for me? I am asking all these questions today as God rebuilds me.

I Peter 2:4-5 (NLT) You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 

I am a living stone that is being reconstructed into the spiritual temple of the Living God. He lives in me. Jesus lives in you if you have invited Him to do so and welcomed Him in. When we moved into this house, it needed some work. The process of painting is the fastest and most gratifying. Call me crazy but I love the smell of a freshly painted room. Our daughter’s rooms have fresh paint and new décor along with their bathroom. Each a vivid representation of their unique personalities. The guest room and bathroom completed as well. Making a place for our adult children to come and visit of extreme importance as well. I am contemplating the next redo our bathroom and replacing all the door knobs and fixtures in the house. I am making this house our home. God is making me His Home.

Day by day and surface by surface scrubbing away my past thoughts, ideas and notions about life, changing my expectation, building a foundation of faith and somehow working confident hope through every part of my being. He doesn’t cut corners. God only does His Best. Not based on my faithfulness, but completely structured on His Faithfulness according to His Plan with a future and hope far exceeding my expectation. I just have to surrender to His Will to let Him work out His Plans for me. I do this by surrender. I give up myself in surrender to allow God to have it all. This is a sacrifice. I am free to choose whether I allow Him to finish the work that He has begun or decide my own path. One leads to eternity the other not even close.

How do I know this is what He is doing? Well, in John 2:19-21, Jesus had just cleared the Temple of all the vendors and money changers. In the South, we might say that our Lord “lost it” on them. The Jewish leaders benefiting from those selling sacrifices asked Jesus who gave Him the authority to do such a thing. Jesus told them that if they “destroyed the Temple, in three days He would raise it back up.” They were appalled reminding Jesus that it took 46 years to build that building. Jesus was not talking about a building but His Body. Fast forward to the His Trial when false witnesses would account the events of that day. The high priest inquired a response of Jesus. He remained silent. He asked the Lord, “Are you the Messiah?” Jesus told him, “You have said it.” On the Cross, the people mocked his declaration. Even the two thieves on either side as the Pharisees and other religious leaders stood beneath Jesus hurling insults at Him as He died for them. (Matthew 27:39-44) But then it happened…

Matthew 27:50-52 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.

HGTV lovers and DIY enthusiasts might call it “demo” day. The day that the manmade temple was destroyed. The Presence of God now released in the form of His Spirit began destroying all barriers between mankind and the God who loves them. He ripped the veil from top to bottom opening a door that no one can shut. Death and the grave were robbed on that day. The power of sin stripped in one complete sacrifice. Three days later, Jesus would be raised and the New Temple revealed. The manmade temple in ruins allowed rebuilding to begin on God’s New Temple. He would now live in His People. The Spirit of the Living God chose you and me to dwell in to live in and become one with. He chose us knowing every fault and failure including every act of sin and rebellion. He paid it all that day and still once released began His Passionate Pursuit of us.

Haggai 1:3-8 (NLT) Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord.

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

Plot Twist

Plot Twist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I Can’t

Life is beautiful .Young woman and clouds  .

Philippians 4:12-13 (ESV) I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I can’t do this again. I just can’t. Do you feel that way today? Life is hard. Struggles are real. The burdens can be overwhelming even to the strongest person. The harsh reality is that some things are unavoidable. Life does not present options when it comes to the tests, trials and troubles that come with each new day. When the hit comes, the employment ends, the debt takes over, the diagnosis comes or the relationship is broken – you have no other choice but to go through it. When you come to the end of your proverbial rope all that is left is to tie a knot and hang on. I understand. I truly do.

Many years ago, our family vacationed in Orlando, Florida. Visiting a water park, our youngest was thrilled to find out she met the height requirement to embark on the giant water slides. For years, I graciously relegated myself to accompany the younger children while my thrill-seeking husband would go with the older children to ride giant roller coasters and water slides. The truth is that I am not a fan of fear. I don’t like adrenaline rushes. I am not okay with being scared. I hid in the kiddie lands and pools of our trips. However, now I felt the pressure not to allow my fear to extend to her so I agreed to go with her. Ugh! Climbing the stairs slowly – she was bounding up them joyfully to keep up with the “big kids”. Arriving at the top, all I could think was “heck no” as I could see the entire park from the vantage point. It was a straight shot to the bottom. I was already backing up when I saw them pack my itty bitty in the tube and her say, “Come with me, mama!” How could I back out now? I didn’t. I want my children to be brave and courageous. I did not want to give her the spirit of fear. God doesn’t give us that spirit either. At the bottom, my little girl was jumping up and down ready to go again. Overcoming fear is a challenge every day. Some opportunities come with choices, others there is no choice.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” I wish I could say that the “I can do” comes before the trial or trouble is over but it is my experience that most days I feel the weakness in certain areas of my life. When our son was in the midst of battling cancer, time and time again people would say, “I couldn’t do it.” Friend, when that thing you fear the most does happen – you have no choice but to do something. It may not be pretty or how you expected to respond but you will do something as long as you are breathing. The Lord offers us strength and power. His Spirit inside of us the essence of His Strength and Power. Looking at the verse right before this power verse that is readily shared, printing, and projected is the truth about the strength Paul speaks of – I know…

Proverbs 8:14 (ESV) I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” is a forgotten truth found in Hosea in the Old Testament. It is true today. Faith dies, hope dies and people die because they claim to know God but simply don’t know Him at all. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh so that people could be brought back to life. The Word of God written through inspiration of the Holy Spirit are pieces of the Bread of Life to be consumed on an ongoing basis just as regular food. It feeds our soul giving us the counsel, sound wisdom and insight that gives us strength. Scripture reading, meditation, memorization and recitation is a form of communion offered to us each day. It empowers us with the truth about every situation. It shows us the possibilities of faith. It adds weight to the anchor called hope. Proverbs 24:5 tells us that “a wise man is full of strength and a man of knowledge enhances his might.” We need God’s Word to feed our spirit and overcome our flesh every day. Failure to thrive in a human being is a condition of malnourishment. It cannot be overcome in a day but is resolved with a solid nutrition plan over the course of time. Is your spirit man starving today? Have you been feeding him or her on a regular and ongoing basis? Proverbs 24:10 states candidly “if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is too small.”

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I can’t. I hate to admit this when it is true. I loathe my weaknesses. I don’t expect to fail so when I do it is the ultimate letdown. Who does? Our person comes prepackaged with this little (or not-so-little thing) called pride. It is the flesh. It rivals the Spirit inside of us because it must die to give up control. Pride fights to the death to be in control. Humility is not fashionable and deemed weakness in the world. What is that thing you have pleaded with the Lord about? What is the very thing that keeps coming back to fight your feelings and flesh time and time again? Why? Why does it keep happening? Why God? It is okay to ask God why as long as we do so with the understanding that His Ways are higher than our own and His Thoughts, so it is with full knowledge that it is probably still going to allude our intellect. I will never let God do until I can’t. There I said it… the truth that must come to light but is never going to feel good at first.

Faith is not about what I can do but what I allow Christ to do in and through me. It is in my weakness that His Strength and Power can work miracles in my life. When I finally quit trying to control the outcome, do everything for Him, or be something that I am not. It is that moment when I cry out to the Lord, “I can’t do this anymore” that He can finally rush in and fill the voided bravado and façade of control to be my strength and my power. He promises to be my strength and shield so while He is fighting my battles, righting my way, healing my body, working every detail for my good – His Hand still keeps me safe. He is covering me. It hurts. I am weak. The Lord offers to be my strength today. He is ready to release His Power in my life because when I am weak…I am strong.

Psalm 73:25-26 (ESV) Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” How do I find my way from desperation to delight in the same breath? Reading Psalm 73 this morning, I hear the Lord whisper, “I know the desires of your heart. I haven’t forgotten. I am not done yet.” Oh, how I needed such encouragement. Peaks and valleys do not change the heart or mindset of God concerning His Children. His Intentions for us are always the same. The outcome of the test or trial including our ability to remain faithful in it or not does not change what God is doing in us and for us. It is all working together for our good and His Glory if we can just remember that God is a good father. His Love is constant. His Power is mighty. His Strength invincible. He is working it in us and through us. Our flesh will fail. Our heart might go with it. BUT God…He is my strength of heart and my portion forever. He will never fail because His Love for me never fails.

Psalm 84:5-7 (ESV) Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.

Isaiah 40:29 (ESV) He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Psalm105:4 (ESV) Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!

Just like that, fireworks for my spirit and soul. These promises are for those who think they can’t do it anymore. Those who are growing weary in well-doing. The ones considering climbing down from watchtower of waiting. The ones who might feel they are drowning in doubt or weighed down by discouragement. The valley is deep but God’s Love is deeper. The night seems dark but Light lives in you. You may feel faint but don’t worry His Strength is about to take over. Maybe the drought in your life is not meant to be doused with rain but saturated by the spring welling up within you. Sometimes it is our expectation that limits us until we put all of our expectation in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the One who promised us a rich and satisfying life so maybe it is His Way, His Truth and His Life we needed all along. Perhaps it had to come to this for us to finally reach out and take hold of Him. Who knows? All I know is that when I feel like I can’t – Jesus not only promised that He can but that He will!

Psalm 68:35 (ESV) Awesome is God from his sanctuary the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!