Plenty

Plenty

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

The word “plenty” means a full or abundant supply. It is the open invitation when unexpected guests arrive at dinner time. Here in the South, the surprised host might say, “Please stay…there is plenty” knowing full well it will be a scramble in the kitchen. Somehow it always works out though. I wonder if the food in our pantry mysteriously doubles in the invitation to others. Could it be the meat in our freezer magically grows and expands to meet our hospitality? Who knows…but all I know is that there always seems to be more than enough.

God has promised us an abundant life. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The Word of God tells us that He has already supplied all that we need. There are many stories of plenty in the Bible. The key to plenty in the Kingdom of God is obedience. To give with the full expectation that God is enough and Christ in us is sufficient as our Source and Supplier. When Moses built the tabernacle in the wilderness, somehow the Children of God left Egypt with a rich supply for their pain and suffering. So much so that Moses had to tell them to stop giving. In the Book of Exodus, an opulent design is set forth for the Tabernacle’s construction and design including the wardrobe for the priesthood. Rich and luxurious lacking nothing completely extravagant. When the time came to build it, the people began bringing in the offerings. In Exodus 36, Moses commands the people to stop bringing gifts because “their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.” They fled Egypt with only what they could carry yet still make it out alive. They had enough. In fact, they had more than enough. How is it even possible?

What about the widow woman in 2 Kings 4? Her husband, a man of God, has passed away and the debt collectors are threatening to come take her sons. She seeks out the prophet, Elisha who inquires, “Tell me, what do you in the house? The woman replies, “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Oil often represents anointing. We are anointed. Christ, the Anointed One, resides inside of us. It is in her obedience to the prophet’s instructions that the flask of oil becomes barrels of oil. Watch this – the woman does as instructed. The oil stops when the vessels are full. She had enough to pay her debts AND to live on the leftovers. God is ready to pour out plenty in our lives. In fact, the Great Multiplier is already inside of you and me as believers. It is in obedience that plenty becomes the abundance that we are looking for and satisfaction is discovered.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. The secret to satisfaction is contentment. Not that God would ever prescribe us to settle for less than enough or living in lack but to learn to be content. This requires setting our full expectation on God the Father and depending on Christ in us for everything. Our needs, wants and desires are important to the Lord. His Spirit cultivates good fruit in us to feed our hungry soul the kinds of things that lead to satisfaction. As our soul prospers, our life will prosper in the expansion. God loves a cheerful giver. How much of your life are you willing to give to God’s Cultivation called prosperity? It begins in our heart. We must learn to trust in God’s Perfection and Planning. He makes everything beautiful in its time!

Matthew 14:15-21 (NLT) That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. “Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!

Church folks love fellowship! You cannot get into the local restaurants on a Sunday around one o’clock where we live in the Bible belt. Everyone is ready to eat and commune together in the local diners and buffets. The crowds came to see Jesus. To hear what He had to say, and now it was dinnertime. The disciples weren’t about to make a fast food run, but rather send the folks away. Jesus told them to feed them. Say what? The men had a borrowed lunch of five loaves of bread and two fish to feed thousands of people. Jesus took the meager meal and blessed it. He thanked God for it. Then He broke it into pieces and gave it away. In the end, everyone was full and there was more left over than what they started with.

Do you feel pressure today? Are you dissatisfied? Are you wondering why you do not have plenty but barely enough to survive? You want to give your life away but I dare say that until it is blessed and broken on the inside – there is nothing in our hands or homes worth giving. What is meager in your hand becomes mighty in God’s Hand! What seems mediocre in life becomes magnificent in the Kingdom! What seems impossible to you right now is miraculous when Jesus takes over! Maybe the pressure is your ordinary life about to give way to something extraordinary. All these stories seemed like not enough but became more than enough through obedience. Godly obedience will always include giving because that is how He supplies us.

2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NLT) You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Lord, I have all that I need today to live in the land of plenty and to experience the abundant, rich and satisfying life that you promised. It is here in the now. Bless it, God. Break it. Use it for your good and glory in my life and to those around me. In Jesus Name, AMEN!

 

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The Case of the Missing Dryer

The Case of the Missing Dryer

Proverbs 16:2 (NIV) All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Our dryer was in need of repair. The repairman came last week and determined the problem. He would order the parts and return this week to complete the task. Upon arriving home from work, I noticed that the laundry room rug was in the garage and dryer lint everywhere. Opening the door, there was a 100-lb Black Lab where my shiny white dryer used to be kicking up dust with her wagging tail. I called out to the girls, “Where’s my dryer?” They came out laughing. “In the laundry room…” Still giggling as they looked around for it, the two set out in search of the dryer all in jest. No seriously – how does someone remove a major appliance from my house and nobody notice? This is no laughing matter.

We do laundry every single day. The washer and dryer are full service in our house and part of the daily routine. The initial reason for the visit turned into a two-fold repair and it was easier to take it to the shop to complete it rather than try to in the very small and narrow laundry room. My watchful eyes were unavailable when they were leaving so they later called my husband to explain. No big deal right? Maybe not for you but we take our washing, drying and folding very serious around here.

All joking aside, our days are filled with activities, actions and even attitudes based on the motives of our heart. Innocent routines and schedules that can become a priority to us. Perhaps there are certain things that you do on a regular basis that others find a bit excessive. I hear it all the time. Whether it be accusations or excuses, judgment of the life or lifestyle of others based on the motives in our heart. It is important to examine and evaluate our ways to decide how to spend our time. Time is the most valuable commodity that is given. We do not know how much we actually have. It is invaluable because once it is spent and cannot be replenished. The resources in our life are time, talent and treasure. The Lord takes the human heart and weighs its motives not productivity. God doesn’t give to us based on performance but rather obedience. Obedience to God will always produce blessings and promises in our life even if it takes a bit of time.

What does any of this have to do with a clothes dryer? While some people reading this may think the loss of a dryer no big deal, others will be completely offended that the repairmen took it without asking and then some may know the feeling because they are avid launderers, the point is that no matter what we do or do not do in this life – God is weighing the motives of our heart in all things. He is checking our time table for His Timing. He is evaluating our motivation according to His Word. God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. He says that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Perhaps, it we became more intent on examining our heart and motives daily – extra time or different priorities might be for our favor. I didn’t have a dryer last night. I could not continue my evening routine of putting on a load while cooking dinner and tending to it afterwards. Instead, I sat on the front porch rocking, Snapchatting friends, and then talking with the Lord. I rested for a few moments.

Psalm 26:1-3 (NIV) Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

The Lord searches our heart for our motives. He evaluates our intentions. He rewards us for our actions. (Jeremiah 17:10) Is it possible to be obedient with the wrong motives? Is it feasible to be right with unjust intentions? Does God reward actions other than obedience? The Lord is looking in the human heart for one thing – love. Every other action must come from the Source of Love that is in us thanks to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is on a mission to produce Christ-like Love in us so that every motive and intention becomes an action based on our sole motivation to love the Lord and others. Ugh.

In our busyness, it is easy to justify good motives and intentions without ever tapping into the prosperity of God given to our soul. We perform hoping to persuade God to move for us but His Desire is to move in us. To change our heart and mind to live in full agreement and harmony with other people. He wants to break our routine to produce new relationship opportunities and increase our sphere of influence. You can be filled with faith and overflowing in anointing yet completely miss God’s Will, His Way and His Blessings in our own rightness.

The psalmist says, “Vindicate me…” which means “Free me”! Are you living a blameless life but are not experiencing the blessings and benefits promised in God’s Word? Do you trust the Lord with limits? When your life does not align with God’s Word, His Will and His Way – it is time for a test. Testing and trials give us an opportunity to examine our heart and mind for breaches. To be mindful of His Love is not enough. We must learn to trust the Lord and depend on Him in full reliance. Our purpose in life is not fulfilled until we are called home. God has placed certain things in our life that take time. Things that will require change in us that takes us out of our comfort zone and destroys complacency. To have them requires us to examine and evaluate our motives and intentions openly and honestly before the Lord and allow Him to point out any offensive way in us without becoming obstinate and offensive. Ouch! Ain’t nobody got time for that… except those who desire to live as one with Christ.

I Corinthians 4:4-5 (NIV) My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

My mother keeps an impeccable home. It looks as though it is the model home staged for perspective buyers at all times. She has always been that way. I am quite sure it set her into heart palpitations trying to keep up with our family as none of us were committed to the same level of clean. Over the years, I developed better habits and decided to keep a neat home. Yet, when my mother comes for a visit, I am set into a flurry of activity to clean and organize my house. When I visit my daughter, she does the same thing. She attempts to make it acceptable to me. The truth is that my mom doesn’t judge my home according to her standards. When I go to visit my daughter, I am after the chunky little hunk of a grandson not that all her laundry is done and dishes clean. We must be very careful not to judge our life according to others or we will become busy in comparison rather than in our convictions.

My conscious is clear. It doesn’t make me innocent. There will always be someone with higher or lower standards to compare ourselves to in order to feel better or worse about our life. However, the Lord is our judge. He examines our heart for love born of the faith found in Christ that releases all humans from our expectation to invest our entire life in the Hope of Glory – His Name is Jesus. He will bring to light those things hidden in darkness to expose the motives of our heart. His Convictions are not the same as the court of law but based on His Love. His Grace. His Mercy. He delights in mercy. I believe that by investing all our faith, hope and trust in Jesus that we will begin to let others live their life freely as well. It is by cultivating my relationship with Christ that allows me to let go of what I do for Him to become like Him. Lord, help me to evaluate my motives and examine the intentions of my heart today. May I only compare my life and standards to You – Jesus and the love you have placed in me with the grace to fully accept it. Let me live according to Your Standard of Love for others and even myself.

The case of the missing dryer is solved. It will be back in its proper place today ready for service. I am thankful for the mysteries in life that cause us to hear God whisper even in the simplest of things. He is always speaking – but sometimes busyness keeps us from listening and routine too busy to sit and hear.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

Oh For Grace

Oh For Grace 2

John 1:16 (ESV) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

I have been parenting for over 28 years now. With five children, I have experienced a variety of personalities. Each kid and relationship just a little bit different from the other. When our daughters came home from Bible study last night, our young adult chatted for a few minutes heading back to her room which is normal for her. Our youngest daughter has a friend visiting. One of them is a handful – two of them are more than anyone can handle. I should have noticed that they were not loud and boisterous upon arrival. It did not catch my attention that she was cleaning her room unprovoked when I went to check on them. In fact, I really should have been more observant because I know the potential of quiet teenagers. Well…

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to a lengthy apology from my little suspect. She and her friend had made a poor choice and ended up with a consequence. Discussing the matter with my husband, it was decided to apply grace to the situation. When she wakes up – we will discuss the details of the decision the girls made. There will be some things they will be required to do but overall I cannot help but smile just a little inside. I am blessed that my girls love me. They cannot stand when anything comes between us. Hence the text at almost 2:00 a.m. Our relationship is important to them. It is evident that rather than hiding the truth – they come to me. Oh Lord, teach us to value and appreciate our relationship with You! To come to you as little children seeking the Father’s Love no matter how bad we mess up or constantly make bad choices. You are full of grace. You give us grace upon grace!

Matthew 18:2-4 (ESV) And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Unless you turn and become like children”… Reading this passage today – many may have the excuse of poor parents or even none to speak of. I have imperfect parents. I live in a dysfunctional family. If we are “perfectly” honest, there is no such thing as perfect and fully functional relationships when people are involved. Putting our expectation in a being that cannot ever be without fault or failure only sets one up to be let down. Whether our parents were great or not so great, there is still a call from Christ for us to come as children all over again. To relinquish responsibility for our life and humbly relish His Magnificent Grace. God does not punish us. I need you to hear what I am saying today – it is vitally important in understanding what to expect when you turn back to the Father. He doesn’t take anything from us or allow bad things to happen to us on account of sin. To do so would diminish the value of grace and deem it insufficient which it is not. God offers divine discipline. He teaches us better ways that lead to positive outcomes and fulfillment of potential already in us.

Romans 3:22-25 (ESV) For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

The application of grace in our life is complete in Christ. He has given us the gift of grace. It is received by faith. We do not deserve it and certainly could never earn it. We can only accept it and live in it. God’s righteousness and steadfast love is demonstrated in divine forbearance. Forgiveness. How many times do we transgress yet God still blots it away like a father or mother when their little child presents a skinned knee? Taking a clean white cloth and soaking it in water, carefully and gingerly removing the particles of dirt and grass to reveal the bleeding wound. Then gently oh so gently applying the ointment to aid in healing then covering it with a bandage to protect it from further injury. Oh Children of God if only we could learn to live in His Grace and administer grace as the Father.

We are all in this together. Sin is a factor in everyone’s life. We can only overcome death and the grave, which is the future of sin, by humbly accepting God’s Grace. Jesus is our Savior. There was no way to save ourselves as each is born destined to die until Jesus came to pay the penalty price. Now we live in the overtures of abounding grace given to those who will simply come to Him and receive it. He gives us an abundance of grace and His Spirit produces good fruit for us to share with others…gracefully. Notice that as I shared the misfortune of our teen’s poor choice, I did not go into detail and share all the sordid details. We must learn to covers our brothers and sisters in Christ as the Lord has covered us. One sin would have required every ounce of the Blood of Christ right down to His Last Breath. We all took His Life to find our own. No one is exempt.

Psalm 103:10-13 (ESV) He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

His Grace is sufficient. It is always enough. The Lord is ready to cover us in grace upon grace. It is not based on my faithfulness but rather His Faithfulness. It doesn’t come from any good in me but rather His Goodness towards me. Grace changes us into Children of the Living God. It’s funny how kids can fight one minute and be best buds the next. Maybe it’s because they have an inner longing for grace and therefore can administer it more freely. Experience teaches us differently. Unmet expectations create voids that can only be filled by God yet we seek out imperfect humans to meet that need. The Lord reminds us today that He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin but chooses to administer His Grace. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. He decided to forgive you so it is His Constant and Ongoing Response when we come before Him. His Steadfast Love vast and unfathomable. He removes our transgressions as far as the east is from the west tossing them into the sea of forgetfulness. This does not allow room for regret or shame because He is rewriting our story and marking it innocent. He does so as a father shows compassion to his children. I am reminded today of the Father’s Love. His Grace that is abounding to me.

Lord, teach me to respond to Your Grace each day with true repentance. May I start each day turning back to You as my child has demonstrated today. You are a Good Father! Let me not forget that new mercy is mine each morning. You always have good things in store for me. Not because I am good but because You are Good and Your Grace is always enough!

Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV) Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Lamentations 3:22-26 (ESV) The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

It’s A Stretch

It

Psalm 77:1-3 (ESV) I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

If I were to wake up with a headache, I would immediately get out of bed and walk to the kitchen. In the last cabinet on the left bottom shelf, there is a bottle of ibuprofen that has proven to give immediate relief in the past. As I reach for the container, popping off the lid, I take two little tablets with some water. After about fifteen to thirty minutes, the headache usually dissipates. Problem solved. Health restored. Simple, right? True story – my child (who goes unnamed) tells me that they have a headache. I give them directions as to where the pain reliever is located and tell them exactly how many pills are appropriate. A little while later the same child complains of headache. I ask, “Did you take some medicine?” The answer is “no”. Different child is feeling some pain from dental work. Same instructions given. Child continues to gripe about their mouth. Same question is asked, “Did you take some medicine?” “No…” I further inquire, “Why not?” Answer from ailing child, “I don’t like to take medicine.” Now it is me ready to hit the medicine cabinet…

My first kid wanted me to do if for them. They were waiting for me to go get the medication and a glass of water. I was supposed to bring it to them. Without asking, the assumption was that I would know and do it in response to their complaint. The second kid has a fear of swallowing pills. Rather than overcoming fear to receive the relief desired – this child would continue to tough out the discomfort instead. I am not a pill pusher. In fact, I am a borderline hippy when it comes to medication. The point of these illustrations is only to share some insight about the Lord today.

In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.

It is human nature to pursue God with our problems. To ask for relief, pray about problems and give Him a complete and detailed list of our desires. In the beginning, coming to the Lord like a child, leaving full of hopeful expectation. But as the relationship grows, it can also become stale and stagnant. We stop reaching for God’s Heart only seeking His Hand. When His Hand does produce what we want and how we want it – we stop reaching. In the day of my trouble…I seek the Lord. Same. In the night my hand is stretched out without wearying. Same. My soul refuses to be comforted. Concerning and still same. There are times when it is our nature to live in our consequence, dwell in our problems and make our situation the excuse of incapacitating faith that will not bend to relieve us or soften to sustain us, but will only be complete in our believing. Nothing is impossible for God. (Luke 1:37) If we believed this simple verse completely and if it was the conviction of our life – we would be fully restored and renewed sparking a revival of epic proportions.

Luke 5:12-13 (ESV) While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.

Faith in Jesus Christ will always produce a miracle. Oh I hear the naysayers, I have been praying for years. My body is not whole. My bank account broke. My loved one not saved. I have no peace. The list goes on and on. Faith will produce nothing until it is invested in Jesus Christ. You can love the Lord with all your heart, mind and body but if you do not trust Him enough to believe – it will do nothing to produce His Promises in your life. Obedience is essential. The man had leprosy. A common ailment in Biblical times. It made him a beggar and outcast. He fell on his face before Jesus and full of faith said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” When was the last time, you fell on your face before Jesus and spoke similar words? Jesus didn’t hesitate for a moment, but immediately stretched out His Hand and healed him. Right there on the spot. Why? The Lord is ready to heal us. Renew us. Restore us. He is waiting on you. Jesus is waiting on me.

Matthew 12:10-14 (ESV) And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

The organized body called church has been infiltrated by preference rather than permeated by His Presence. Oh God is with us. Where two are gathered in His Name…He is right there. He is right here with all the power to save, heal, and deliver promised to those who believe. He can and will do exactly what His Word says that He will do. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. So if the Lord is ready, willing and able according to His Word to do miracles, solve problems and heal bodies there is only one other explanation. We do not believe.

The man with the withered hand is an awesome illustration of church. He came to church with a problem. The religious folk had doctrine to follow. But then Jesus filled with the Presence of God showed up, and messed up the carefully planned service on the designated day. He gave the man one simple instruction – “Stretch out your hand…” He did. He was healed in that moment. I wonder if we are not experiencing the miraculous because no one is reaching out to Jesus. The fruit of our faith is believing. Believing is trusting. It means reaching when no else is reaching. Stretching our hand out when everyone is staring at us. It means doing what He asks in that moment to receive what He has for us! We want God to bring it to us where we are when the Lord is trying to deliver us from our current situation. We desire the healing but not the healer. The giving more than the giver. We want to be saved but do not have a desire for our Savior.

Matthew 11:25-30 (ESV)  At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

A relationship will fall apart of one person stops reaching. The moment that there is not stretching to come together and continue in a relationship it is the beginning of the end. Jesus Christ offers openly to become our life partner. To shoulder the weight and carry the burdens of our life, but to give it all to Jesus means giving up the right to complain. It means reaching when others just stand there. It means stretching even in our discomfort to access the divine. The yoking of our life with Christ is a covenant relationship of continual exchange. He asks us to come to him. Take my yoke and learn from me. You will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy. My burden is light. We must simply come.

Psalm 143:5-6 (ESV) I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.  I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

To be completely honest, I don’t mind bringing my kids some meds and a glass of water. I love to take care of them. If I were to wait on them hand and foot, they would never understand what is required of them in life. Sometimes you have to reach for things even when it’s a stretch. I can give them what they need but it is up to them to heed my instructions and take what is given. God is a good father. Jesus is a faithful Savior and Lord. The Holy Spirit is constantly cultivating God’s Fruit within us by faith. The trouble is that if we stop reaching – we will never take hold of what faith has in store for us. We drag our baggage into church and lug it right back out because we identify with the weight of it. To release it all to Jesus is an act of total trust. What if He doesn’t do anything? Oh, my friend, what if He does?

Psalm 84:11 (ESV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Keep the Peace

Keep the Peace

Matthew 10:11-15 (MSG) “When you enter a town or village, don’t insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave. “When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way. You can be sure that on Judgment Day they’ll be mighty sorry—but it’s no concern of yours now.

Where in the world did the saying, “Save the drama for your mama” originate? This mama doesn’t want any drama. The world today thrives on the dramatic overtures of emotional tirades and all about the “feels”. It is important to set boundaries and guards as filtration of certain thoughts and ideas that stimulate emotions ultimately causing a reaction. According to a good old-fashioned dictionary, drama is any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting or striking interest or results. It is highly emotional, tragic or turbulent in nature. In the age of technology and social media relationships, the filter once set by face-to-face communication has created a commonplace of tirades and overtures of drama that becomes barriers in life.

When Facebook released the “unfollow” button, I was overjoyed. I do not want to unfriend anyone. It sends the wrong message. How can you love your enemies when you can’t even stand the sight of them? Social media has a way of producing unprecedented courage and bouts of bad judgment, as it becomes a platform (or soapbox if you will) for dramatic tirades, rants and even off-handed slights. I don’t want to be a part of it. God doesn’t want His People to fall into the trap of offense or become entangled in bitterness which are produced by mislead emotions and misunderstood gestures and comments. I wonder what would happen if we unfollowed people to maintain peace rather than unfriending them completely? To unfollow…it’s Biblical. To unfriend…is not.

Jesus sent his disciples out with specific instructions. Travel light. (Matthew 10:9-10) Leave the baggage behind. There is a lesson to be learned in these verses. People tend to carry their feelings like luggage from one place to the next. It is human nature supported by pride and selfishness that causes people to allow personal feelings to take precedence over someone else. To carry the weights and burdens of past hurts is not the Will of God for us. Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” We must release the burden of bitterness and take hold of grace to the fullest extent which means forgiving others and forgiving ourselves to love freely in a world that no longer knows what love is. Offense is an enticing offer but builds a stronghold around our heart that hinders the one who harbors such feelings. When the Lord sent His Followers out to be the light of the world and share His Message, he told them not to take anything with them including money. Why? Relationships require dependency and trust. Jesus was instructing them to form bonds with the community which would require humility.

Let’s move on as not to meddle. When Jesus sent His Disciples to share the good news – the instructions given are useful today. If you are welcomed, be gentle in your conversation. If you are not, quietly withdraw. Oh, the wisdom in the Lord’s instruction. Our rights are forfeited for righteousness in coming to Christ. We are commissioned to people. Christian ministry begins and ends with people. All people. The ones we love, like and dislike all fall under the same category in the heart and mind of Christ. We must learn to build the Kingdom of God rather than allowing it to be destroyed by drama. Drama keeps us locked in today because it is an emotional instance rather than a supernatural existence. To leave behind our emotions, and decide to pursue the heart and mind of God through His Son, Jesus Christ is an act of complete humility and surrendering our emotions for God’s Will.

Luke 10:5-6 (MSG) “When you enter a home, greet the family, ‘Peace.’ If your greeting is received, then it’s a good place to stay. But if it’s not received, take it back and get out. Don’t impose yourself.

Luke relays the same experience like this, “When you enter a home, greet the family, “Peace”… How do you greet others? Is it with peace? Every encounter with another person should be in the pursuit of peace. If I cannot project peace to people, I must find it first within myself so that I have an overflow for others. We are called to be a body – not just any body – but the Body of Jesus Christ. How can a hand hate a foot? What good is a thumb that cannot work with the other fingers on the same hand? It sounds silly – I know. It happens all the time.

Ephesians 4:30-32 (MSG) Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

The only weapon that the enemy has to use against us is the lie. The lie of the enemy allows bitterness and offense to be viable emotions and feelings. The Lord warns in His Word about these two lies. We must tend that which grows in our heart and mind carefully. To be rooted and grounded in God’s Love through Jesus Christ means relinquishing our right to be bitter and offended. We must work diligently to silence gossip even those words veiled in false concern and regard. You can be the place where cutting, backbiting and profane talk end. You have the power within you of resurrection power and life including the ability to bind and loose. When gossip makes it to your ear, you can stop it and reverse the curse with blessing…if you choose to pursue peace. Proverbs 16:28 warns that “Troublemakers start fights and gossips break up friendships, but Proverbs 19:11 says, “Smart people know how to hold their tongue – their grandeur is to forgive and forget. My behavior can grieve the Lord. We must become diligent in pulling up bitterness before it takes root. We must teardown walls of offense. God in Christ forgave you. He forgave me. Who am I to withhold love, grace and forgiveness from others?

Romans 18:19-21 (MSG) So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.

The pursuit of peace will sometimes require a quiet withdrawal. We must learn to live in the robe of righteousness offered to us by Christ. The wardrobe God has chosen for us is compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline. To be even-tempered – not emotional. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises and not react to people. It is hard to remember but a simple truth. People are not our problem but comprise our purpose. Every person in our path is divinely placed by the Lord. Whether it is to instruct, influence or enhance us or it is our mission to offer them something or maybe an equal exchange. We are all predestined to be part of something greater than could ever be accomplished on our own. The person who is deemed offensive or unforgivable may very well be the one who holds the keys to the next open door. The people divided are hindered by separation because the Lord has given us the command of unity – one heart, one mind, and one purpose – Jesus Christ.

When a relationship is broken by bitterness and offense, it breaks the heart of God. Like two quarrelling children hurts the heart of a parent, ugliness and strife between two people (any two people) does the same to God. We must learn to reconcile our life to Christ completely so that we can learn from His Example and reconcile our relationships as people. People are not in control of your destiny – Jesus Christ controls every outcome of our life. People do not have the power to hurt you unless you give them access to that which belongs to Christ. Our full expectation must be in the Lord to protect our heart in earthly relationships. When I don’t want to forgive, I must remember that He forgave me. When I don’t want to forget, I must remind myself that the Father chooses to release my sin into a sea of forgetfulness. When I want to lash out at others, I try to remember these careful instructions – if they welcome you, be gentle… if they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. To maintain peace with God through His Son Jesus – I must keep the peace with others. His Way is not my way. His Thoughts are not my thoughts. However, His Way and His Thoughts are what I desire. I am chosen by God for this new life. I must wear love and never be without it.

Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG) So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Don’t Panic

Retro Red Industrial Panic Button

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT) So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

A month ago, the news reported that gas prices would take a hike. Warning travelers to expect higher expenses due to increased cost in oil. I remember reading it but really didn’t think much about it until the sign at the pump was nearing the $3.00 mark. We use a lot of gas in our family with three cars. My husband and I work in town so the commute is lengthy from our home in the county. Thankful I had downsized to half the SUV that I used to drive, I didn’t give it much thought just kept going on my merry way. Today, AAA is reporting that gas prices are falling again by about eight cents a gallon currently and so is the trend. Life is full of ups and downs. Good news one day and not-so-good news the next. According to Ecclesiastes 3, there is a proper time for every activity under the sun. There is no reason to be afraid or panic. We have Jesus Christ living in us and He wins. He always wins! Yet still in this thing called life it is sometimes to keep our life fully focused on Jesus and easy to be distracted by the news.

This is only one example of media hype. Exaggerated news that gets people all stirred up only to produce fear that often turns to panic. Panic is a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, which produces hysterical or irrational behavior and has the propensity to spread through a group rapidly. Fear is often defined as false evidence appearing real. The enemy is always dropped lies in our path inviting us to entertain and embrace fear. Fear is a much more logical choice then faith as it is based on our current reality rather than personal revelation. We must make an exchange each and every day to consciously release and abandon fear as to not subscribe to panic. The Lord invites us to be strong and courageous. He exhorts to not be afraid or given to panic before the enemy and his lies. God promises to personally go ahead of you and me. He promises not to fail us. He will not abandon us. The key to overcoming fear that leads to panic is to fully embrace faith in Christ and learn to trust Him more.

God is Sovereign. He is perfect, therefore, He does not lie or change His Mind. His Word must accomplish what it was sent to do. He is ever-present. He is in our past. He is present now. He is already in our future. Cannot grasp or comprehend the vast proximity of God? Me either. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever which means He knew you then, He knows you now, and He intends to be with you forever. When He died on the Cross, Jesus knew exactly what He was getting into when it comes to you. He bore the weight of every sin and provided sufficient grace so that you could maintain a right relationship with God the Father if so desired. Oh that we would comprehend and somehow understand that constancy of God and His Pursuit of His People to fully know that there is nothing to fear in life or death.

Psalm 112 (NLT) Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need.  Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.

How joy full are those who decide to fear the Lord, delight in obeying His Commands and pursue Him with passion…I have embellished the scripture a bit. We must get wrapped up in the Presence of God in order to silence every other influence in our life. The enemy is constantly sowing seeds of doubt in us. He is offering half-truths, substitutions, counterfeits, and false exits that only lead to exile. He cannot overtake us so the enemy of our soul tries to immobilize us. Creating chaos, fueling fear and pressing the panic buttons hidden in the inner most depths of our heart where faith has not found its way yet, we forget who we are in Christ and who we belong to.

Those who confidently trust in the Lord to care for them do not fear bad news. What happens when you hear bad news? A bad report? An unexpected bill? A terrifying diagnosis? What is your reaction? How do you respond? Faith in God is a discipline. It is not something that just happens but must be cultivated in the broken recesses of our heart until it grows larger than any fear that once existed. Trust is a decision. Like putting a hand to the plow and moving in the right direction, the farmer doesn’t know what will come from each seed but he believes enough to sow each one. As believers, we sow faith and trust God with the harvest He has promised. Panic will cause you to abandon the field and leave the crop for someone else. Fear robs us if not dealt with swiftly and removed completely. We are called to be strong and courageous. We must answer that call.

I John 4:15-18 (NLT) All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

God has not given us the spirit of fear or timidity. He has given us His Spirit. His Spirit is that of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) The power in us is greater than any force around us. The Spirit of God is inside of us. Christ lives in us. He has given us victory. Our needs are sufficiently provided and in fact we are given every spiritual blessing. The only weapon the enemy has to use against us is a lie. A lie destroys trust. Truth establishes trust. It is up to us to live in love with God and His Son – Jesus Christ. To become fully convinced that God is love and He loves me will uproot many fears and doubts sown by sour relationships and broken soul ties in life. As we live in God – our love grows more perfect through experiences and encounters with His Unfailing and Unconditional love. The more confident I become in God’s Love and Care for me the less dependent on what I see that I will become. We walk by faith and not by sight.

To live in fear of any kind means that area of life is not subject to God’s Perfect Love. It is drinking the Kool-Aid offered by the world and buying the hype. The enemy is the father of lies. He knows the areas of insecurities in our life most vulnerable to attack and capitalizes on them. We must live strategically disciplined lives sowing God’s Word in our heart, changing our words to blessing and life, wrangling in all rebellious thoughts contrary to the Lord, it is up to us to cultivate the life that God has promised by faith and trust that overcomes ever fear. We are to be strong and courageous. We are to trust in all things. We must listen for His Voice and respond accordingly. There will be wars and rumors of war. There will be false prophets. There will be lies meant to entangle and trip us along the way. God is with you! You will not fail. God has not given you the spirit of fear. Do not take it. Refuse it and replace it with faith. Tell the enemy what God says about you and what He promised to do through you. Remind your soul. Take captive wayward thoughts and you will find perfect peace in the Presence of Perfect Love.

Joshua 1:9 (NLT) This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Just to Know

To Know

Psalm 46:10-11 (NIV) He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of praying people at the end of our church service. I am always moved by such an honor when connecting and agreeing with other believers standing before the Lord. As the pastor began to exhort and dismiss the congregation, I was acutely aware of the woman standing next to me. She had not come forward yet I felt strongly that I was to share this verse in Psalm 46 with her. So just as any “obedient” believer would do – I returned to my seat to gather my belongings without saying a word. The Holy Spirit began tugging at my heart. I could not leave without telling her. Of course, as only God can do, she knew exactly what the Lord was saying to her and her husband’s face confirmed her affirmation. I had to laugh when it popped up in my Bible application as the verse of the day. Was this a word for my life, too? Maybe yours?

Performance is human nature. Sin gave us full responsibility for the life that it wrecked. Rather than full reliance with God – our lack of compliance called for a penalty. With Jesus Christ repaying the debt of sin, we are gifted with our freedom once again. Freedom to choose the path of life to take. Course of life to engage in. Righteousness to live in right relationship with God again. Free to live in the peace of His Presence or continue to try to outperform His Grace. There is no obligation in freedom. Yet somehow humanity has decided that the gift of eternal life is not free. Grace is not enough. Righteousness – some kind of lost leader that draws us in only to discover that it is not exactly what originally promised. When the Lord calls you – He equips you – when religion tells us otherwise. By grace – we are saved through faith – not of ourselves but through Jesus Christ. It is a gift that cannot be repaid. Set free to choose who to serve and how much passion to invest. The Lord invites us into the quietness of living at peace with Him. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Your God. A Good God. A Loving and Graceful God. A Kind God overflowing with goodness for you. A God of Refuge. A Mighty Fortress that protects you in the storm and keeps the wind and rain from moving or displacing you. I Am. No, really, I AM!

Psalm 46:1-7 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Do you dwell in the Peace of God today? I try to. Yet there are days when distractions and delays challenge my human nature. When God is ever-present and still ever-elusive to me, the stillness produced by confidence turns to insecurity. Sink or swim? Neither be still. To be completely still and unmoved by my situation, circumstances or current conditions to KNOW and believe that God is with me. It is an exercise of extreme discipline to persevere past our emotions and natural inclinations. To stand rather than try to build a new exit. To stay the course rather than reroute. To be still and know that God is going to do exactly as He promised if we would only persist in knowing and trusting Him more.

God is constant. He is our refuge. He is our strength. He is an EVER-PRESENT help in danger. THEREFORE – I will not fear. Fear is produced by doubt and insecurity. This is the downfall of most believers in claiming their calling and stepping out by faith. Fear consumes the faith that is growing from a heart given to God but not fully committed to becoming convinced.

Matthew 14:28-30 (NIV) “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Peter was a risk taker. Whenever Jesus said, “Follow me.” Peter followed. I believe that there was an immediate connection between the two that kept Peter pursuing the Living God. Peter was not the perfect disciple. The Bible tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Faith is a whole lot of fear and trembling. If we do not face our fear and confront it with faith, then it will hinder us for the rest of our life. How better to face our fears than to walk by faith? To walk by faith and not by sight. Fear is a natural emotion conducive to survival of humanity. Healthy fear, for example, if I do not look both ways before crossing a road that I may get hit by a car. Healthy habit of self-preservation. Common sense. This behavior came from parents or guardians who instilled it. Coming to Christ, we can now live a fearless life yet nevertheless should still look both ways before crossing the street. Faith is the same. It is not about leaping off mountains or running blindly across busy highways during rush hour. Faith is fear of God as in awe and respect. To put our perspective in the perception that God has of our life from beginning to end and live according to His Word by faith. It is way more disciplined and specialized then some religious folks make it. Taste and see that He is good. Test me. Try me at my Word. See God is all about opportunities. The prime opportunity for every believer is to trust Him. Trusting God is not a dangerous venture but the sublime moment when peace replaces the need to perform and we become followers of Christ rather than trying to build our own road to nowhere.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place through the Blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the House of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings… (Hebrews 10:19-22) We can live in perfect peace when our heart and mind agree with full assurance that faith has great potential. The belief that the hope given to us by Jesus Christ will never lead us to disappointment makes us followers. Peter got it all wrong a lot. He kept messing up. He proclaimed Christ to His Face and then denied Him on His Way to the Cross. However, Jesus still met him on the beach that day. Jesus called Peter a rock. Not just some rolling stone, but the foundation of His Church. You are part of the same Body as a living stone in His Temple. You have a place of importance. You are not insignificant to the ministry or in the effort to share the gospel. You must only be at peace with the Living God.

Peace with God is a complete confidence – mind, body, spirit and soul that He will do exactly what He promises in His Word – in you, for you and through you. The belief that His Grace is sufficient. The understanding that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us and to walk through the gate each and every day. Your ability to change your life does not impress God. To develop certain disciplines and holy habits is not what He is after. You can do nothing for the Lord because He did it all for you. Complete and absolute stillness comes when peace prevails in our life. When we decide that He is perfect in all of His Ways, trust becomes our refuge. We will not be moved from His Presence when peace is found there. To be still and KNOW that He is God – it changes everything beginning with me.

Isaiah 26:2-4 (NIV) Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

Bad Seed

Bad Seed

Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT) Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Is there such a thing as bad seed? At the end of Creation, God looked over all that He had made and He saw that it was “very good”. God declared it complete and not just okay but “very good.” Our seed is good. The ground is good. From the foundation of the earth, it was good. Sowing and reaping is a principle set form later in Genesis by God. Sin entered the world. Now mankind was at odds with the Lord God, and so now the ground would be cursed. The Lord told Adam that “all your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you though you will eat of its grains.” So the land now would bear good and bad in each harvest.

Sin grew more rampant and then God sent a flood to destroy the earth and everyone in it. There was one righteous man, Noah. Noah faithfully constructed the ark and entered it. God shut the door and wiped the earth clean. Noah and his family endured the destruction of the earth by flood and immediately departing the ark set up an altar consecrating the new beginning and rebuilding to God. The Lord said, “As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” (Genesis 8:22) With this brief history lesson complete on seedtime and harvest, I ask the question again, “Is there such a thing as bad seed?” I don’t think so.

When sin entered the earth, God did not curse the seed. He cursed the ground. The potential of seed remained intact. So if there is no such thing as bad seed, why are there weeds in life? Bad choices. Bad investments. Bad returns. Bad consequences. The Bible is clear that one will reap as one sows. This is not a punishment of God but a principle of life. If I plant corn in my backyard, but expect cucumbers to grow – I would be foolish. The Lord has given us seed to sow. He always gives those who plant the means to grow something in their life. It is up to us to follow the leading of God in our sowing and planting. It is our freedom to choose the seed that will be planted in our life. So if the seed is not the problem, what is? It is the ground. The soil of sowing. The condition of the field.

In this parable of Jesus, the farmer was doing what farmers do – he was planting crops. However, when the sprouts came up – there were weeds among the wheat. Panic ensued. Surely the enemy has come and sown weeds in the wheat. Has the enemy sown weeds in your wheat today? The seed that you have placed in the fertile ground will produce exactly what God has promised you. The weeds will be of no avail if you do not panic and pull up all your seed – good and bad. As you inspect the productivity of your life today, there will be good things and not-so-good things. I want to charge you today that the problem is not in your seed. It will always produce according to the promise of God for your life.

Isaiah 28:24-26 (NLT) Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds—black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat—each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.

Lord give us understanding. Teach us that you have given us good seed. Show us where to plant it. There are many seeds in our life including natural, physical, mental and spiritual. Seeds are the productivity of life. There must be an investment to yield a return. We must be careful not to eat our seed. To be generous sowers that is the charge in the New Testament. Fear is a prime hindrance when it comes to the giving of our life to God’s Potential. Fear of loss, failure, rejection and the unknown are all excuses that keep us from trusting God.

The immediate reaction of the workers was to pull all the weeds before they overtook the crops. The farmer responds with wisdom instead instructing them to leave the weeds to grow with the crops instead. Have you ever given a large offering? Maybe you invested an uncomfortable sum of money in a venture? What is the immediate reaction of most people? Regret. Remorse. The enemy wants to rob us in our sowing by convincing us it is foolish. We must know before we sow. God will instruct us in every area that we seek His Wisdom even in our giving. God isn’t looking at what you toss in the offering plate. He is not evaluating your generosity to the poor. He is not judging you by the balance in your checking account. He doesn’t even care that you spent a couple hundred dollars on new shoes and a matching purse. The Lord looks past our appearance and examines our heart. The fertile soil that yields the best harvest comes from a broken and humble heart. The seed in our hand will be blessed according to the condition of our heart not the field it is otherwise sown.

For example, you may have a dead end job with an overbearing boss. Yet, each day before you leave for work, you pray for your employer and coworkers. You arrive early to work thanking God for the opportunity. You work as unto the Lord and not man giving your all even though you are completely overlooked and taken for granted. You give the Lord the first fruits. You tithe off your meager earnings. The job is not your provider but you have decided that God is your Source. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. You will harvest a blessing – pressed down, shaken together and running over. It may not be that your boss has a heart change or the job becomes enjoyable or rewarding. The Lord of the Harvest will bless your faithfulness. He promises a harvest from your tears. (Psalm 126) God’s Eyes are always intent on our heart. We must become faithful farmers who gain wisdom and understanding from the Lord who do not move from field to field based on emotions or reactionary to the natural conditions of life. We must be people who respond to God’s Promises.

Isaiah 32:16-20 (NLT) Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest. Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down, the Lord will greatly bless his people. Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.

Jesus Christ established righteousness for God’s People. In Him, I am in right standing with God the Father. The productivity of the Kingdom is established in my covenant with God as I live at peace with Him. Quiet confidence offers the opportunity to live by faith and not by sight. When I choose God as my refuge and consecrate my life to Him, the field called my life is blessed again. The seed that is planted will always harvest the promise of God instilled in them from the beginning. God has given us seeds of peace and prosperity that will produce His Promises in our life when sown with the measure of faith given to us as well. To put good seed in the ground and let the process be completed takes a whole lot of faith and patience to see come to pass especially when the enemy tries to fill us with regret. Our seed is wrapped in righteousness and cannot help by grow and prosper. No weapon (or weed) formed against us will prosper.

Haggai 2:18-19 (NLT) “Think about this eighteenth day of December, the day when the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid. Think carefully. I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”

We are God’s Temple. His Spirit lives in us. The promise given to the people in Haggai when the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid holds true for every believer you has chosen Jesus to be Savior and Lord of their life. You have become a living stone part of the Body of Christ. The Lord is giving you this promise today. Your seed is good. It is okay to sow it generously because you do not serve a sparing God. Before a single seed is sown in your life, the Lord is assuring you today that it is good seed and the foundation of your life is blessed.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NLT)  Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

God has given you good seed. He has called the foundation of your life blessed. You have all the resources to sow goodness and produce promises. You must now find the faith to do so. To trust the Lord of the Harvest. He will instruct you. He will guide you. His Spirit inside of you is the cultivator of life. An abundant life is a product of righteousness as God’s Word accomplishes exactly what it set out to do in you and for you. Do not regret seeds sown in barren fields? They are still subject to God’s Instruction and Purpose. He will always bless the giver who gives from a humble and broken heart. He is supplies seed to the sower not to the withholder. You cannot judge the harvest by the seed. It must be planted. The giver with a heart for God does so cheerfully with godly wisdom and spiritual discernment. Don’t give under pressure. Give in to His Presence. He will prosper you from the inside out. God is good. His Seed is Good. His Word is Truth. He is Lord of the Harvest.

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

 

 

God is ALWAYS Good

God is Always Good

Psalm 145:6-10 (NLT) Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness. The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you.

God is always good. He is a good God with great plans, purpose and promises for each one of His Created Ones. Every person who was born comes with a measure of faith and eternity tucked in their heart. This is the content called purpose to pursue and find the place of our origin and find our true identity in God through Jesus Christ. Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe that He is good to you? Have you ever whispered God why is this happening to me? Or maybe asked God why He is doing this to you or allowing bad things to happen? The psalmist writes, “Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness.” My grandmother was pivotal in me finding Christ and giving my life to Him. Sadly the greatest growth in my life did not come until after her passing. So I wonder, in my musings and meditation, if when we get to Heaven the Lord shows us the fruit of our life? The things that we did not see come to pass or know had reached their full potential. Are these the crowns to lay at His Marvelous Feet? There are things in my life that do not seem as though they have turned out for good yet. How about you? If everyone will share the story of God’s Wonderful Goodness they must somehow be made aware of it, right?

Psalm 23:6 (NLT) Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

God is always good. His Goodness and Unfailing Love constantly pursue us. All the days of my life, God is with me. He is in my past. He is here today. He has already gone ahead to my future. I cannot truly understand that omnipresence of God with a logical mind. I can only grasp for it by faith. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. If true, it means that God is always good. Because of Jesus, the Unfailing love and Goodness that follows me can one day overtake me when I choose to repent and turn into it. God’s Goodness is not compromised by my rebellion simply just beyond my reach.

Psalm 31:18-20 (NLT) How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues.

To receive God’s Goodness is simply to step into His Presence. It is established in His Word that He is good. It is also presented that He pursues us with love and goodness. We must only step into His Presence to receive it. When I bake a cake, I begin to mix eggs and sugar together. It becomes a creamy substance and then I fold in flour, salt, and baking powder with a little flavoring. I must mix it all together and incorporate all the ingredients then bake it so it becomes a lovely dessert. If I don’t include all the ingredients, it will not be what I expect. If I try to eat the eggs raw, it will be disgusting and far from satisfying. God is trying to incorporate His Love, Kindness and all of His Goodness in our life. We must fully incorporate God in our life beginning with Christ in us and folding all the details of life by faith to trust that He is making good of all the ingredients.

Romans 8:28 (NLT)  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

God is always good. He is taking all the ingredients of our life and making a beautiful masterpiece of it. He takes all the details of our life and wraps them in unfailing love and stirs them with His Goodness until it becomes something of worth. Something good. Do you believe God is good today? Do you believe Him enough to trust Him with everything?

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

God’s Goodness is for the land of the living. It is for your everyday life. It may not come to pass today but in the proper time – God’s Word will come to pass. It cannot and will not return to Him void. Our investment is confidence. Using the faith that He has given us to turn it into trusting His Process and waiting on His Timing simply because you know that He is always good!

Hebrews 4:4-5 (NLT) For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—

Once you experience God’s Unfailing Love and His Overwhelming Goodness – there is not turning back. Once you have a homemade pound cake, the others just don’t compare. To make a homemade pound cake is expensive and time consuming. You can buy one already made or try a shortcut recipe but you cannot expect the same satisfaction. Jesus promised a rich and satisfying life. A reward for those who endure to the end. Repentance is turning from our way and stepping into God’s Way through His Son, Jesus. It is from that place that His Goodness catches us. Those who experience such a moment with the Living God are hooked. His Goodness will overtake them. They will never be the same or satisfied with anything less. God is always good!

Psalm 34:8 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Good Fruit

Good Fruit

John 15:1-4 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:8) Have you inspected the fruit of your life lately? Is it fulfilling? Is it satisfying? Are you hungry? Our alignment to Jesus Christ is vital to survival in the Kingdom of God. It is the access point of divine productivity. If pursued by Children of God, it will produce disciples. There is a certain discipline involved by virtue of title. To be a disciple will always require discipline. A branch cannot produce the fruit of the vine if separated. To be fruitful requires our connection to Christ.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. The fruitfulness of God in our life is produced by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is specific in nature to include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) It is important to understand the fruit of God’s Spirit to find satisfaction for our soul. The soul’s appetite must become the spiritual fruit of God cultivated by His Spirit in order for its own prosperity. As it grows, our life becomes abundant and satisfied because the soul is prospering. (3 John 1:2) The Holy Spirit is Christ in us. His Holy Inhabitation that produces intimacy between us and forms a lifelong partnership destined for eternity. We must remain in Christ and He promises to remain in us. Why not the other way around? It would violate our freedom. We choose where to invest our life. God has given us such an opportunity. His Purpose, Plan and Promises do not change and are always accessible through Jesus Christ. It will always be our personal choice.

John 15:9-15 (NLT) “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Our life alignment with Jesus Christ is facilitated by careful and thoughtful obedience. Proper alignment produces overflow. Obedience that follows clear direction without deviation…ideally. However, we are only human and undisciplined by nature. Selfish in our desires and passions. Pursuing lesser things for immediate gratification rather than waiting on the Living God to produce lasting fruit. There is no one who has not fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard, which is not a behavior, but a lifestyle. In Genesis 8:22, the principle of seed time and harvest was established and the promise that goes with it. Whatever you sow, you will reap. Whatever you choose to sow in your life is exactly what will be. It is science. It is truth.

Our friendship with God is established by faith in His Son, Jesus. Faith is evidenced by trust. Confident hope is secured by faith that does not waver with life’s conditions but holds tightly to the covenant promises of God through every season. God does not lie or change His Mind. The calling on our life was established during our creation and put in to motion when God gave us our first breath. He will pursue us with unfailing love and goodness every day of our life. It is up to us whether or not grace is claimed through faith and abundant life secure.

Matthew 7:18-19 (NLT) A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

When I came back to Christ almost twenty years ago, I had made a complete and total mess of my life. I chose a church completely contrary to my upbringing. As I tried to explain my rededication to my grandmother, she lovingly and gently inquired as to some of my choices especially in denominations. I had only one response for her – “Just watch and see what kind of fruit I produce.” There is no way to make excuses for our sin or fully explain the salvation that has been given to us. The best way to share the Gospel is to live the Truth. The fruit of our life will satisfy the wary hearts of others and share a story to incredible to believe. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!”

 And immediately the fig tree withered up.

We must be very careful not to create artificial fruit. Appearances are for people. Religion paints a pretty picture and produces quite a display. To those who are hungry, thirsty and broken a perfectly composed Christian has nothing to offer. The one who has endured the process necessary to produce the Fruit of God’s Spirit will give them something of substance. Jesus has no time for fake. He is looking for faith. Those who will give up their life to have a new life. The ones who will endeavor in a relationship rather than be excited about a religion. The Lord is looking for trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit in each season. They do not wither. They prosper in all they do. They are connect with deep roots into the Source of Life and the fruit of their life is from His Spirit. We must evaluate our life by our connection to Christ. There is nothing or no one else worthy of comparison.

Matthew 12:33 (NLT) “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.”

We are created to produce good fruit. Jesus makes the fruit of our life good. His Spirit is always ready to cultivate such seeds in a fertile heart. A broken heart. A ready heart. A responsive heart. A heart that passionately pursues God’s Way, His Will and His Word will produce good fruit.

John 15:16 (NLT) You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

The rich and satisfying life promised by Jesus Christ is cultivated and reproduced as lasting fruit. It is the kind of fruit that completes us and never leaves us lacking. It is not in a natural sense though I find the deeper into the Lord I sink the more He prospers my life. The minute I stop worrying about provision or problems – it seems that the Lord provides sustenance and solutions. I must abide in Christ. Cut away those things the rob me of time, treasure and talents to fully and completely align my life with Jesus Christ. To pursue greater intimacy with Jesus than ever before because He chose to love me. It is the only reciprocal response possible as He has already given His All for me.

Matthew 21:43 (NLT)  I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.

God is a God of order. His Design is not chaotic but confirmed. He doesn’t change His Mind simply because He got it right the first time. God produces proper fruit in our life. His Purpose is not temporary but eternal. He will not produce any kind of fruit in our life that will cause us not to hunger and thirst for righteousness. The greater our pursuit of God and passion for His Purpose the less time given to lesser and worthless things. Proper fruit includes proper timing. No farmer plows a field and sows seeds today then goes back tomorrow ready to harvest. We must learn the art of endurance, patience and timing. Pulling up the plants prematurely will end the potential harvest hidden within.

Philippians 1:11 (NLT) May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

It is easy sometimes to become caught up in natural productivity and abort the productiveness of God. To live in Christ is a decision to invest our life in Him and live in alignment with the Word. Jesus is the Word. We see things a certain way even though faith tells us to wait for something better and long lasting. We decide whether or not to trust the Lord. He has given us the freedom to do so. If upon inspection the fruit of our life is not what it should be, then it is up to us to engraft our life back in Christ. The vine cannot leave its position. We must become one with Jesus for He is the Way, Truth and Life. He is the only way to the Father. Do not compare your life to others or its productivity. They do not have your purpose or potential for it is uniquely given to you. May we be filled with the fruit of your salvation today. May the Holy Spirit produce new fruit in us and prosper us from the inside out. As my soul prospers, may this life be lived in the abundance of God given to us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen and amen! Lord fill us with good fruit!

Colossians 1:9-11 (NLT) So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,