Beauty of Submission

The Beauty of Submission

I Peter 3:1-4 (NKJV) Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

There is beauty in submission for the heart intent on surrender. It is a beauty far surpassing the outward appearance that leaves an indelible mark on the heart it touches. The heart must be soft, pliant, open, and humble to receive such instruction and not become hard and unyielding as pride senses a takeover. Submission is the utmost form of trust in any relationship. It denotes total surrender to the Lord for fulfillment of expectation releasing all other human counterparts. In the beginning it may be a bitter pill choked down rather than savored. Those who force it down will find it to be a seed of blossoming blessing that will lead to success in all relationships as we live and love from a gentle and quiet spirit confident in God’s Love, Grace and Goodness.

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands…

I will be the first to admit that I did not receive the “gift” of submission as one probably should. Preparing for a women’s conference at church with a fellow board member, I had spent the better part of a half-hour ranting about my husband and a disagreement the night before. She allowed me to vent thereby setting the groundwork for a message that would change my marriage forever. When I finally ran out of words, the room was silent. She crossed over to me with what I knew would be solid and profound advice. Holding my hands in hers and looking me right in the eye, she said, “You must learn to submit to your husband. You must be submissive.” If it were possible for my head to spin and steam come shooting out of both ears, it would have happened in that moment. I was so angry that not a single word could be formed and my mouth was hanging open. Had she not heard the injustice? Had she not listened to my hurt? Did she not understand that it was all his fault? I thought she was on my side. She was. She was the godly influence who would plant a seed of truth in my open and exposed heart that would grow, develop and mature into a beautiful marriage of mutual responsiveness and respect.

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

I am woman hear me roar…not so fast tiger. Inner beauty within our heart is the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that God finds very precious. I am an extrovert and my husband an introvert. Our personalities are very different as are our life experiences. Coming together in marriage is to leave all other relationships and establish a primary connection with our spouse. To become one together. Just as two people traveling in different directions do not end up at the same destination, one of the two must submit. It is our gift and calling as wives to do just that. To become a reverent partner to the man who God has joined us with is to honor and revere God with total trust and dependency. I trust my husband. I love him. He is just as human as I am and we both make a lot of mistakes. The Grace of God is the glue that keeps our marriage strong as I have learned to submit to God’s Authority and my husband but boy oh boy was it a fight.

Ephesians 5:22-24 (NKJV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

To submit means to be humble and compliant. It is a perceived vulnerability yet must be pursued for complete faith. Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. As wives, women are called to respect, regard and deeply care for her spouse. To reverence or be in awe of as translated from the Greek word “phobeo”. All believers are called to live in mutual submission. (Ephesians 5:21) As a wife I am called, according to God’s Word in Ephesians 5, to serve, honor and edify my husband. Does such a statement rub you the wrong way? Are you irritated at the thought of it? Good, so was I. My life as a wife is to be lived as unto the Lord. I do these things for my husband out of reverence for God and His Word. This should end the argument but it usually causing a warring in our heart and mind. What about me? Who’s going to take care of me?

The husband is called to lay down his life and sacrifice his interests for his wife. He is tasked to support her growth and development spiritually. He is to cherish, warmly care for and attend to her needs, wants and desires. He is to love her as Christ loves the church. He holds the most responsibility in this thing called marriage. God holds husbands accountable for their wives. We must only trust the Lord. This is important unless marriage is deemed impotent because it is out of order or misaligned.

Submission to each other following the guidelines set forth by God creates mutual responsiveness. Just as the Body of Christ is formed by leaving the things of this world and clinging to God through Christ and His Way – marriage is the same process. To become one body in marriage or in the Body of Christ requires leaving and cleaving. Cleaving is to adhere firmly and closely with all loyalty unwaveringly to something. Genesis 2:24 sets forth the marriage principle that “a man shall leave his father and mother to be joined with his wife and they become one flesh.” I wonder what the success rate of marriage might be if both partners embraced these roles fully and completely as designed by God made possible through Jesus Christ. Would revival break out in the Body if it became one?

I Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV)  Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;[a] not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

Smith Wigglesworth was a great man of faith. One of the forerunners in faith for the modern day church. His wife, Polly, was a mighty woman of God in her own right. When his plumbing business became very successful, Smith began to work long hours. He missed services and his heart grew cold toward the Lord. Polly faithfully continued serving the Lord. One night she was later than usual returning from church and her husband rebuked her saying, “I am the master of this house and I am not going to put up with you coming home at such a late hour.” Polly told her angry husband, “You may be my husband, but my master is Christ.” Smith put her out the back door in anger forgetting to lock the front door. She came around to the front entering the house in laughter. Soon her gentle spirit and sweet response had both parties dissolved in fits of laughter.

It is human nature to be caught up in our rightness and miss the point of righteousness. We are Kingdom builders which is all about relationships. Building relationships requires submission. Successful marriages are marked by wives who embrace the role of submission and empower their husbands to take the leadership role and fulfill the assignment of accountability for our life. Grace is the gold of submission. We serve in all positions of life as unto the Lord including our marriage partnerships. Each member of the Body of Christ has a role that must submit to the headship of Jesus. Without submission – all things will remain broken. Those who embrace and strive to live a submissive life will inherit a blessing far greater than pride could ever yield. Be submissive. Take on your role given by Christ, whatever that is, fully embracing the calling clearly defined by His Word. You will prosper as your soul prospers.

Ephesians 4:4-6 (NKJV) There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

 

No More Mediocre

No More Mediocre

2 Peter 1:4-8 (NLT) And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Is mediocrity a sin? The word “mediocre” means of only ordinary or moderate quantity. Neither good nor bad. Barely adequate. Not satisfactory, inferior or poor. However, it is not a sin. You can live a mediocre and mundane life and still make it into heaven. In the warning of Revelation 3:15-16 to the Church of Laodicea regarding a “lukewarm-neither hot nor cold” life it says that the Lord is “about to spit you out” of his mouth. Detestable, undesirable and distasteful to God and its works, mediocrity is not a rejection of Jesus. It is to reject His Promises. Hebrews 6:12 warns about becoming “spiritually dull and indifferent.” Such a mentality keeps us from inheriting God’s Promises which require faith and endurance.

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

God is full of glorious excellence. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He decided to save you, call you and even bless you – it became a done deal. I remember in youth as a teenager hearing the story of a man walking with Jesus in heaven. He was walking through a warehouse stacked high with many boxes both large and small. As they continued to walk, the man asked the Lord, “What’s in all these boxes?” Jesus told the man that they were filled with all the promises and blessings left unopened or unwanted in his natural life. God has given us a rich inheritance. It is already written in our life plan containing a future and hope. It is up to us if we will have them or not. He gives us precious promises according to His Glory and Excellence. We receive them in righteousness and by His Grace. It is up to us whether or not they are manifested in our life according to our desire for them.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

Moral excellence is to strive to have superior merit and possess the outstanding quality of morality. To live a life intent on excelling in the principles of right living. This is not the same as being right but living in right standing with God every day in every possible way. It is to sow spiritual fruit in our heart and mind so that our soul will prosper in the promises of God such as love, joy, and peace. This will produce the Promises of God in our life through His Perfect Love.

Our willingness to sow determines our ability to reap in the natural and supernatural realms. If I work with excellence in my job, those seeds of faithfulness will generally turn into a promotion or pay increase. If I sow seeds of investment, I can expect a return on the good seed. If I sow generously, I will harvest the same. Sowing and reaping is a promise of God given to us for this life, as well as eternal life. Love is the commodity of the Kingdom of God. He loves faithfulness and willingness on our part to love Him and everybody else. It is the trait that the Lord commands of us. Excellence is the quality that dictates the outcome of our sowing. To sow with excellence will reap in abundance.

Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT) Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters…” (NIV) Whatever you do. What are you doing today? Will you do it as if working for the Lord? Will your effort be wholehearted? I believe that mediocrity implies a worthless god. We do not serve a God like that but one who promises us good things. So much so that His Purpose in sending His Son was to give us a rich and satisfying life of abundance. In Ecclesiastes 9:10, it tells us that whatever our hand finds to do to do it with all our might. This comes just after the promise a few chapters earlier that God makes everything beautiful in His Timing. Romans 8:28 tells us that He works all things together for our good. God has given us every spiritual blessing. We must simply seek to find them in our life.

If a bank posted an advertisement that it was going out of business, starting tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM that they were opening all the safes and vaults to give away all the cash and gold – would you go? The majority of people would go deciding it would be worth it for some “free money” if the ad was true. Some may hesitate but still join in the fun. Then there would be the select few who would get up and go to work just like every other day. The Word of God has promised us a life of abundance. What is your response?

Colossians 3:15-17 (NLT)  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I am challenged today to examine each area of my life for excellence. To weed out the mediocrity and plant renewed diligence in these barren places. My desire is to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. I do not want to become spiritually dull or indifferent. Unresponsive to the Word of God, His Promises and His Blessings in my life. The Peace of God is worth having and is produced abundantly in a prospering soul. Mediocrity may not be a sin but it still keeps us from the Promises of God which became our inheritance through Jesus Christ. To live in excellence produces the harvest worthy of His Sacrifice and His Glory. I am thankful for God who provides all my needs according to His Riches in Glory. The same Lord who uses His Spirit to press upon my heart when I am setting for less and He has so much more.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NLT) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 

The Doorkeepers

Doorkeepers

John 10:9-10 (NKJV) I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

It’s the end of summer. Almost time for the kids to head back to school, praise the Lord! My power bill welcomes the relief. It has been steadily climbing. Partly due to the television, lights, and ceiling fans constantly burning up precious kilowatts. However, I could not figure out why it was higher than normal. We have had children in school for more than 20 years now. Down to just two girls at home, I was a bit perplexed. Did I mention that we also acquired a new family member in the form of a fur baby? She is in the midst of housebreaking. She also must be defective because she has a hole in her lip that causes her to slop water all over the place. What does this have to do with my power bill? Well, when our girls take the dog out or to the porch for water, they were leaving the backdoor open. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. The point is that our air conditioner has been servicing the entire neighborhood. Ugh! How many times have I asked, pleaded and even shouted – “Shut the door!” Can anyone else relate? It’s like money flying out the backdoor and floating in the sky.

An open door is an access point. It allows things to come in and go out like the air conditioning of our house. We decide what gains access or is shut out. With heavy locks and deadbolts to keep those unwanted to enter for our protection. I am terrible at locking doors by the way. I am learning to be more diligent about what I allow to have access in my life. It is important that believers become doorkeepers who are diligent, determined and disciplined when it comes to granting access to our life. Jesus declared Himself to be the door! Anyone who enters by me will be saved. He offers freedom to those who enter salvation through Him. He is the Way, Truth and Life who gives us access to the Father. The door that He offers also is the way to have life more abundantly. The threshold is two-fold. Not only does it grant us access but it gives Jesus access to our natural life.

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

Faith is the key that opens the door to Heaven for us. Faith in Jesus Christ (who is the door) opens all of God’s Kingdom to the believer. I can have keys to many places, but if I don’t use them keys are useless. Faith in action creates an access point to the Father through Jesus His Son. We must enter into the place it provides called Presence to have the abundant life that is offered. Jesus has given us the Keys to the Kingdom. What are we doing with them today?

Revelation 3:20 (NKJV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

The first door to be opened is the one to our heart. Jesus is gently knocking and asking for entrance to us. He promises that if I just open the door that He will come in and live with me. The intimacy of relationship cannot be established with barriers between us. We must give the Lord access to our heart, mind, body and soul. He does not change. He will change us. When the Lord enters – He brings with Him things like Resurrection Power and Life. He is a very attentive lover who always brings good things to His Beloved. His Spirit produces good and lasting fruit that provides fullness of life and true satisfaction. He gives us the knowledge and wisdom. His Favor is full of opportunity and new life that does more than we can think or ask. All this because we chose to open the door and let His Unconditional Love and Overwhelming Grace flood our life. We could stop here but there is so much more to our life with Christ and in Him…why would we?

Revelation 4:1 (NKJV) After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

There is a whole lot of life to live in the dash between the dates on the birth certificate to the one on our death certificate. To live in abundance, favor, and victory requires a new perspective. To expand our perception of life from the natural to the supernatural. The Lord wants us to “come up” higher and see our life and ourselves as He does. To fully embrace the new thing that He is doing and become the new creation that is promised. I cannot live in the fulfillment of God in the midst of human logic and rationalization. I need the Spirit and Truth to produce new understanding that becomes knowledge to apply as wisdom. The kind of Truth that steps out of fear, worry, anxiety and insecurity to walk by faith and total trust that produces confidence in the hope I have in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 78:23-24 (NKJV) Yet He had commanded the clouds above, and opened the doors of heaven, had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven.

When the doors to Heaven open, something is released. Always. It is by faith that a foundation of expectation is built beneath us. It keeps us focused on the door with expectancy. To believe that there is something behind the door that I need keeps me every before it. Expectancy in God turns our timid knocking praying and hoping that He will answer into a mighty pounding on it knowing the One behind it is faithful and true. Do you believe that Jesus has something behind the door? Is there something in the Presence of God you need? Are you willing to come boldly before His Throne and beat on that door until it opens? Urgency produces expectancy that becomes boldness. How important is the thing you are trusting and believing the Lord for? Is it your health or maybe deliverance? Is it for a loved one? Anything wanted, needed or desired by us according to His Perfect Plan and Divine Fulfillment is behind that door and when we knock He has promised to open it :– something will come rushing out when He does open it so in the meantime…

Proverbs 8:34-35 (NKJV) “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord…”

Thank goodness the Spirit of the Lord produces patience and longsuffering in us because it certainly did not come with this package. We will watch at His Gates and wait at the door when what is behind it is worth having. When Jesus becomes that which is desired most, our willingness to wait is expanded. Whoever finds Jesus finds life and obtains the favor of God. I want eternal life. Isn’t that the whole point? Sometimes we forget when impatience overtakes us and the enemy offers immediate gratification in the form of substitution. I want life AND God’s Favor. The Favor of God will work in our life now. I cannot have His Favor outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the vine and I am a branch unable to produce anything good outside of our connection. Opening the door to my heart and inviting Him will be my salvation. But God doesn’t want to stop with just saving us but He has a plan and purpose to prosper us, to make us successful, and give us abundance in life to fuel generosity and give even more credibility to the Goodness of God, His Grace and for His Glory.

Psalm 84:10-11 (NKJV) For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Are you a doorkeeper in the House of God? The Presence of God is available to all of us thanks to His Son, Jesus Christ. The temporary trials and momentary problems of today do not block us from the Kingdom and its power. We have been given the keys to the Kingdom. Am I using them today? Shaking those keys at the enemy does nothing but make a lot of noise? The devil is not afraid of the keys but that you will use them to open the door to Heaven. It is the job of the doorkeeper to open the door. To use the key marked faith and open the door of Presence is to allow all of God’s Grace, Goodness and Glory to permeate our life. He becomes our sun and shield as His Presence surrounds us, provides for us, empowers us and protects us. He is the Light that leads to all wisdom and truth so we are not tangled in lies or trapped in walls of untruth. He wants to give us more grace and more glory every day. He will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly in His Presence. We have the keys. He has already told us in His Word that He will come in. The real question is not whether He is faithful but will I be faith full? When God opens the door to Presence will I step in? His Presence is unsettling and produces change. It makes us uncomfortable. It is often inconvenient. It requires us to relinquish control. Am I willing to live undone in the Presence of God? Yes, I am. There is something I want that is found only in His Presence. I must make the conscious choice to live ever before the door to Heaven knocking and when He opens the door – I must be willing to rush in.

John 10:1-4 (NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

Out with the Old

Out with the Old

Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

In a little classroom after a powerful church service, the leaders gathered at the pastor’s request. I knew what was coming, it had been stirring in me for a couple weeks. He called a time of fasting and praying. Ugh! The moment the words came pouring out of his mouth, my stomach responded. Suddenly, all I could think of was my next meal. It’s funny how our flesh reacts to discipline. It doesn’t matter how many times diet, exercise and yes, even fasting and praying has yielded positive results – our flesh hates discipline on every level. Spending time with the Lord, I have heard over and over again – it’s time to give up comfort, convenience and control. It’s time to press harder and reach farther than ever before. Not that I have already attained it…not that I am already perfected…but I press on…

What’s all the fuss? I mean really isn’t fasting Old Testament living. Is it religious? What’s the point of self-denial? Discipline is the heart of discipleship that yields results in us and through us. I used to go to the gym three or four times a week. My physical condition was better than even my youth. Why did I stop? Responsibilities took the time. I moved away from the convenient location of my gym membership. I became overwhelmed by work and church. No matter how positively my life was impacted or what my excuse, I gave in to comfort and became complacent about my health. Excuses limit our life. I am too busy for anything means that you have decided to spend your time and are not satisfied with how it is portioned. Everyone has the exact same amount of time and the freedom to use it by our choosing. Responsibilities is the yoke that is chosen. Taking on too much is a human choice not God-given calling. Who He calls He equips! So here I am the day before the fast begins arguing with myself – truly flesh and spirit are debating.

I am sharing the details not to point to anything good in me. I am not telling you to fast or not to fast simply what fasting can produce in a life yielded to God by faith. I have successfully accomplished times of fasting and then others when I have failed miserably in my flesh. When I sat down this morning, it was with mixed emotions. Isn’t that what faith is sometimes? We want what God has promised but do not want to do what He says to have it. Faith is not pretending but believing God with our natural life including all conditions and circumstances. The fine line believe confession and confidence is achieved by silencing one of the two. Fasting kills our flesh and enable our spirit to regain control.

One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…

Experience is a form of education. It conditions the mind as far as expectation. Even living a Christian life, our expectation is constantly being molded and shaped by experience. It is important to evaluate our expectation and live in expectancy. God wants to accomplish more than we can think or ask in our life. He does this through faith. Faith occurs when we stop trying to do something by our own efforts and trust someone else to do it for us. Faith is the one attitude that is exactly the opposite of trusting ourselves. Faith is not pretending but living in confident belief of God’s Power in our life and that He is willing to do the impossible for us.

I have experienced miracles firsthand. The unexplainable and undeniable move of God completely independent of anything I could have accomplished on my own or that which anyone else could have exacted in my life. Just as important as forgetting the past including shame, regret, failure and frustrations, we must not attempt to reproduce yesterday’s move of God in the present. Religion is the art of repetitiveness. A relationship with Jesus Christ is Resurrection Power and New Life as a new creation. He wants to do something new and different every single time. Experience is like a recipe made over and over producing the same thing. God is not looking for sacrifices of old, or fasting in the form of routine. He is looking for a rending of the human heart so He can produce new life and new glory in His People.

Lukewarm living takes over when church becomes a service. When our religious routine loses its willingness to do whatever it takes for God to move in our midst. My life is better knowing Christ. Preachers encourage me in the Word of God. The Word of God washes over me and refreshes me each day. His Spirit works in me to renew my thoughts and motivation. Prayer keeps me connected to Jesus and the Father. But still, like any relationship, we must work to avoid monotony that leads to disregard for the precious ember and burning passion that brings love to life. Living not by “you know that I love you” in the realm of “I am going to make sure you KNOW that I love you”. Dead church does represent the Kingdom because His Kingdom is a remnant of living breathing bodies pursing Him day by day by faith and trust in the God of the Impossible and His Viable Interest in us as His Children.

Reaching forward to those things which are ahead…

Joel 2:12-13 (NKJV) “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”

Living in waves of amazing grace, it is easy to become complacent. Our life is better than we hoped for but not all that God has promised. We settle in the place of comfort afraid to test the limits of God with radical obedience. What if there is an end to His Love? What if grace has a capacity? What if God is not the God of the Impossible? What if hope only an elusive dream? Why push it? When the end comes, will Jesus know me? I wonder if in taking advantage of His Grace, we miss the open door of opportunity marked obedience. Obedience to Christ is more than just doing, serving and ministering. Full obedience is giving Him our life. All of it including every facet of our being, living, doing, working and loving. We do not HAVE TO but do it because we want to. Freedom will never require anything of us that we are not willing to give or liberty is lost. Fasting and praying rends our heart and allows God to inspect the contents removing those things that keep us from fulfillment.

Joel 2:28-29 (NKJV) “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; our sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

Joel 2:32 (NKJV) And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord
shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

A remnant is a small part or quantity. God is looking for a place and people to literally pour out His Spirit to. Will it be me? Will it be you? There is only a remnant of believers who will experience such an outpouring. It comes at the price of self. We must be moved out of the way in order to make room for Christ to expand and be expressed in our life. He must increase and I must decrease. Fasting is the vehicle of miracles. It is the place where faith is exercised and used in order to be strengthened and renewed. It is the place of dreams and visions becoming a reality as in our personal weakness – God’s Power is manifested. In those days…meaning it hadn’t happened yet. We are the remnant church. Those who continually seek to know Him more and exchange comfort, convenience and control to drain the depths of complacency giving way to an outpouring of God’s Spirit in us and through us. We must reach for it. Press toward it. Strain our flesh to obtain it. We must answer the call to fast and pray like never before.

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 4:16-21 (NKJV)  Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 

Faith is the art of heavenly acquisition. Pressing toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ requires faith. The thing about faith is it is likened to a mustard seed. Seed holds potential. Seed reproduces. Seed is filled with perpetual life. If we put a seed in the ground, it must grow, develop and mature to reach its full potential. It must endure many seasons. A seed’s potential is not evident in its present form. It must be planted deep in the ground and hidden in darkness for the work to begin. There is a process. If the seed never makes it through the hard layers of fear, doubt and insecurity into our heart, it cannot grow and reach its full potential. We must rend our hearts in order for the potential of faith evident in God’s Word to become the reality of our life. Faith is absolutely essential in the fulfillment of God’s People. Not sometimes faith, yesterday’s faith but the perpetual planting and harvesting of new and greater faith in God.

Abraham is the father of faith. God who “gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did” is ready. What is dead? What is dormant? There is a difference. The dead things in us must go so that God can awaken that which has only been dormant. Impossible things are possible by faith in Jesus Christ. All those dead dreams and lost visions are not gone forever just submerged in the comfort, convenience and control. Once complacency becomes confidence in the God who brings dead things to life and speaks invisible things into reality suddenly your natural will become supernatural. It is going to take some effort on your part to haul your flesh to the altar binding it with strong faith. Is it time to call a fast? I wonder…may I ask you a question? What are you trusting and believing the Lord to do in you, through you and for you? Can you do it yourself? If not, fasting and praying brings the impossible to endless possibilities by faith! We must be fully convinced that God will do what He promised and is able to perform it.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NKJV) And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

I often joke with people if you see me running you should run to because something must be chasing me. I am not a runner though I would love to run a marathon one day. I think the Princess Run at Walt Disney World would be so much fun. Trekking along in tiaras and tutus, call me crazy. Anyway, I cannot imagine finally entering a marathon, running the course, and finding no reward at the finish line. Just a line to cross without any cheering or medals essentially no victory or glory. Nothing to celebrate, just getting in the car and heading home. When we compete it is for a prize, the thought of disqualification is bad enough but if there is nothing to gain why do it?

Am I comfortable? Am I holding on to convenience? Am I maintaining control in my life? Am I confident in Christ or my own ability? Am I fighting the good fight of faith or simply beating the air? Am I a true disciple or just following a crowd of Christians? Am I complacent? Lukewarm? I would like to answer a resounding “NO” to all these things but I am not sure. The only way to be confident in our hope is to fully accept God’s Grace, Mercy and Love by faith. Faith that is not reliant on what we see but who we know. If there is no passion in my praise, worship and obedience to Christ, then I am in danger of being disqualified. This love affair is not ordinary but extraordinary. To be successful, I must endure to the end. Am I holding on by a thread?

Tomorrow begins this new journey with new expectation. Subjecting my flesh to discomfort, inconvenience and surrendering control of my entire life to Jesus Christ all over again. Confident hope and complete faith marked by total trust requires a challenge or test. I am called to God so must strive and reach for Him daily to achieve it. Is God calling you to fast and pray? If your first response is absolutely not or no way – you might consider it as your flesh speaks out against it. I encourage you to try it. It doesn’t have to radical just ask the Lord to reveal something to you to give up and fill that time with prayer and create expectancy by releasing all of yesterday’s expectations and experiences to fully embrace fulfillment in Christ.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Psalm 27:7-8 (NLT) Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Peace of Mind

Peace of Mind

Matthew 8:23-26 (NKJV)  Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Faith. Heavily marketed in the church and weighty in the Word of God often tossed about flippantly in Christian conversation, but what is faith? I know…I know…”faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I’ve read it too. It is one thing to read and another altogether to comprehend, understand and put to good use the Word of God by applying it to our daily life. Muscles must be exercised to build a strong body. Faith is essential to a building God’s Kingdom. The concept of faith is widely publicized within most congregations around the world. Yet it remains hidden in the hearts of mankind trying to grow from the confines of human logic and beyond rationalization to radicalization of the Kingdom finding its way to earth.

“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Jesus did not rebuke the disciple but the tempest around him. The work of our Lord is not to change the condition, circumstances or situations around us but to create strong faith and confident hope within us. The world has a predetermined future that is quickly coming to pass. It will not survive the return of Christ. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. The Lord returns for His People – those who know Him, love Him and live in relationship with Him. He calls us His Bride implying an intimate soul tie between Jesus and His Beloved. His Love stronger than death, His Jealously as cruel as the grave, His Passion that of a fiery flame that many waters could not quench, no flood could drown it, and He gave His Life to secure it. Why is fear a continual threat to our faith? Why is worry and stress filling us with doubt? Where is confident hope? To say that I have faith and confident hope without peace of mind and rest in my soul is to live a dangerous lie. Faith and confident hope will fill our life with peace. I need peace of mind. Jesus wants to give you peace of mind.

I Corinthians 2:16 (NKJV) For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Jesus gave us a piece of His Mind. It’s called faith. He provides us a measure of faith that has great potential. The faith comes in the form of seed. The more it is sown in our life the greater the harvest. Faith is a substance the size of a mustard seed. The Parable of the Farmer scattering seed tells of the variety of ways that it never gives way to its full potential. The enemy snatches the unprotected seed. There are those who receive God’s Word but because of a hard heart cannot receive it. There is no way for the roots of His Love to penetrate the callous exterior. Then there is seed sown in thorns that is choked out by distractions of life the points are marked with worry, stress and anxiety rising up from certain insecurities. The seed though full of great potential to prosper is unfruitful. But then there is the one who receives the Word of God with a fertile heart. Pressing it into the broken places, diligently sowing each day in anticipation of spiritual growth of faith that will become the substance of hope and source of life. We have the great potential of faith provided to us as a measure. What we do with it is up to us. That’s what freedom is all about. Faith is found in the Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God who came in the flesh to show us how much God loves us by giving up His Life for us. We must believe to receive His Kingdom.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NKJV) Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

“Little faith” is not the absence of faith or unbelief or distrust. It means underdeveloped faith. Faith will not meet its full potential unless it is cultivated in our life. When faith grows into confidence, it will sustain our life and fill us with peace no matter what the natural conditions are around us. It is the peace of heart and mind that Jesus is in full control. When the “tempest” or storm rose up, Jesus was sleeping but rather than following the example of their Master – the disciples viewed it as complete disregard. He was right there with them. They could see Him and still didn’t have enough faith to weather the storm. They knew Him but still did not believe in His Power and Authority. Even the demons know the Name of Jesus including His Power and Authority, so they tremble when they hear it. Do we who are called by His Name feel the same way? The Presence of Jesus in our life is the peace of mind needed to overcome all fear, doubt, worry and anxiety. Faith is the substance of such confidence. We must sow the Word of God and know the Word of God to grow faith and confidence trust that is fully matured and able to rest in the worst of natural conditions.

Matthew 6:30-33 (NKJV)  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

What are you worried about today? What has you so stressed out? This is the field to sow in. The place where fear reigns is the most in need of faith today. Jesus has all authority and power over natural conditions. By faith we give him permission to have His Way in that area of life. Maintaining control is never the answer. Grace becomes power in weakness. When I yield that field to the Lord, He begins to develop my faith into confidence in that area. Sow His Word in that field. Not once, but daily until it grows into confidence and peace. Continually. Wait for His Word to take root and grow there. God’s Promises are not dependent on anything we do other than to trust and believe. Prosperity is a soul condition. The overflow of a soul fully trusting and totally confident in Jesus will be an abundance and increase simply flowing from our belief.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NKJV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Faith is the most valuable commodity of our spiritual life. It is the basis of all fruitfulness and productivity. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. There must be an investment. Seed must go in the ground to yield its full potential. God desires to give us His Kingdom. GIVE IT TO US. We cannot earn it, deserve it or in any way acquire it but by faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot access the Father but by the Son. We must pursue faith. We must make an effort to sow it in our life. It is a hidden treasure. We must dig deeper. It is the most valuable treasure we have therefore we must protect and preserve it above all things.

Matthew 14:28-31 (NKJV)  And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Peter was the most impulsive, impetuous, spontaneous, compulsive and emotional disciple. He was all over the map. Jesus prophesied to him early on that “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This was long before Peter would deny Jesus three times. See the Lord sees the potential of our faith and uses the details of our life to produce it. Faith is not just for our church life it is for every facet of our life. Peter knew Jesus was the Son of God in his heart. The heart that would waver back and forth. The heart that would be broken at his betrayal of his best friend. The heart that would be revived by an empty tomb. The heart that would dive over the edge of the boat into the sea and swim to shore just to be with Him. Your potential is within you today. The enemy uses trials to tempt us to abort our mission of sowing faith and reaping confidence. He doesn’t want you to experience the Peace of God and enter His Rest because if you do – you will invest more and more of your life into it. I am challenged to find the areas of my life not prevailing in His Perfect Peace and break up the hard ground to plant seeds of faith. I want the peace of God in every area of my life.

Matthew 16:5-8 (NKJV) Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?”

One final thing to think about today. How many times do we worry and fret over things that never actually happen? I am typing this with my hand in the air. There was a situation recently when I received bad news and felt the downward spiral of emotions begin to drag me down. The more I prayed about the situation, I could sense the Lord essentially telling me to “hold tight”. Not to worry or stress or fear or be anxious but to simply wait on Him. It took a whole lot of prayer and studying the Word to get to that place but finally I decided to package the concern up and hand it to the Lord. FEAR is false evidence appearing real. Human reasoning grabs hold of it as the logical and obvious choice. The enemy wants us to think that God’s Love, Grace, Mercy and Favor have a limit which is true. The limit is our faith. If I extend faith and trust to that problem or concern it makes the impossible become possible. Well, as sure as I am sitting in this chair, I am seeing a plan far greater than I imagined begin to unfold. It far exceeds what I could think, ask or imagine. God is good. He is faithful. His Promises all true. I must simply sow my faith and trust into His Way, Will and Word to have every good thing that is provided, promised and potential in my life. Start small. My advice is to not forsake small beginnings. Begin to speak God’s Word over that situation. Work daily to release every burden associated and yoke that part of your life to Jesus. It’s going to be hard. The struggle is real. The more you try the greater the opposition from the adversary. Take it as a sign you are doing something right. Faith planted always grows. Confident trust opens the door to perfect peace…every single time. You may not have bread today but that seed of faith will leaven into the Bread of Life allowing us to taste and see that the Lord is good!

Mark 9:24 (NKJV) Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

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.

Can’t Stop the Rain

Can't Stop the Rain

Isaiah 55:10-11 (NKJV) “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Our son recently graduated from college and secured a position in our hometown. Yesterday was moving day so our family loaded up to help him make the trek with all his possessions back home. He doesn’t have a great deal of furniture since he has been living in the quad housing with only a bedroom and bathroom to himself sharing the rest of the unit. The forecast was favorable all week. Hence, it was decided that a truck, my SUV and his car would be sufficient to get the job done. Well, the work truck ended up needing a new tire that delayed our departure a couple of hours. It took three stores to find the tire in stock. Our plan was not already behind schedule. Upon arrival, it seemed time was on our side as in less than an hour fully loaded and ready to go – the caravan back began. It didn’t take long to see the clouds on the horizon grow dark and black. My daughter and I prayed asking the Lord to hold back the rain. We asked in Jesus Name. Within minutes – a few drops became a torrential downpour. My heart sank as I realized unavoidable rain would ruin everything in the truck. Why? Why didn’t God answer our prayer offered in His Name? I know that I believed in my heart that He could and He would but He didn’t? Food for thought for the next hour and half.

Why doesn’t God keep us from the inconvenient to inconceivable in life? Whether we pray to miss a storm or for Him to heal cancer, why doesn’t it happen? To know and understand this truth will change the way a believer approaches the things in life that cannot be understood and must be overcome by trust. Isn’t the point of this life? To exercise faith and develop confident hope that is able to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) The Holy Spirit lives in us. He is working hard to sow seeds of faith that will grow into His Fruit. The kind of fruit that not only promotes godliness, but prospers us. (Galatians 5:22-23) As our soul prospers, so will our life. (3 John 1:2) God has granted us every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) accessible by faith and trust that decides to live in a right relationship or covenant with the Lord. There is purpose in our life with far more potential than the human eye can see or mind understand. (Ephesians 3:20) God is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”. We must walk by faith and not by sight to receive it. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

John 14:12-14 (NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

I asked the Lord to stop the rain during our trip because it was inconvenient. It would cause a problem for us. It would cost us money to replace the furniture. It would not be good for us. It was not what I wanted. It would prolong our day and lead to great frustration. There is a whole lot of “me”, “we”, “us” and “I” in the previous statements. If every day and in every way including every detail of my life goes the way that I want it to – there is no need for faith or trust because I am content within my conditions, circumstances, and control. However, when things do not go according to my plan, my will and my word it forces me to depend on, lean on, rely on and trust the Lord.

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

We want to believe that whatever you ask in Jesus Name that He will do it. However, the important part is hidden in the remainder of the ordination when it says, “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” God has a provisionary plan for our life. He also has a providential plan for us. God supplies all our needs according to His Riches in Heaven. A place that we cannot see, feel or experience apart from Jesus Christ. It is not a place to be comprehended by human logic but faith made logical by the Word of God. We pray for the things that produce comfort, convenience or control but to know Christ and live in Him means giving up these things to become confident in our hope. Truth bomb that doesn’t feel good when it hits but as it sinks in you will experience peace that passes all understanding. This peace allows us to be patient enough to see that when God doesn’t answer our prayer for our will that His Will comes to pass and it is exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask.

Yes, it did rain on our son’s furniture and ruin some of it. However, before we made it back to town new items were found and arranged for purchase. We were all gathered around a nice meal enjoying each other by dinner time. Tired? Yes. Rained on? Totally. Together? Absolutely. God is doing wonderful things in our midst. His Plan and Purpose always is far greater than what we can promote for ourselves. He is working in us to make certain that our faith and confident hope prospers into a bond that will overstep death into eternity. Yes, it is in the details of life that challenge us until one day rather than trying to control everything – we finally see that His Word will not return to Him void. He is indeed working every detail of our life for His Glory. He will answer the prayers of a righteous man but it doesn’t always turn out, look like or happen as we asked. Faith in God requires us to experience rain. The rain comes with promise. It promotes productivity. It waters the seed of faith in us so it will grow, develop and thrive in every season of life straight into forever.

James 5:17-18 (NKJV) The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

“And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” (I Kings 17:1)

When Elijah prayed that it would not rain, he was not praying according to his will. Think about it. Drought in the land would cause him personal hardship. It would also be a life-threatening proclamation to king and country that would put his life in danger. However, God was setting Elijah and the people up. First there was the widow who would be given the impossible child. This would be the child resurrected from the dead. This would be the same woman whose testimony restored all she had lost in the drought. All this came to pass because she faithfully opened her home to the prophet. God had all the details planned out in the drought. Then God told the prophet it was time to release the rain again. Surely this would bring favor to God’s man, Elijah. Well, not exactly. It would be the setup for great revival on Mount Carmel when the prophets of Baal would be proven wrong and many would call on the Name of the Lord. Jezebel would now threaten Elijah’s life and he would hide on the mountain. God came to him there and he would experience new revelation and communion with the Lord.

I Kings 19:11-12 (NKJV) Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God is setting you up. He has something in store for you worth waiting for. He is working in you and through you to bring it to pass. God did not send the rain, wind, broken pieces, earthquake, fire or any of those other things to harm you. He is going through them with you to bring about fulfillment. The Lord is removing every barrier between you and His Blessing, Promise and Prosperity for your life. He is working hard to tear down every lie that keeps you from the Truth. Will you trust Him? Will you wait for Him? Will you seek Him? Will you keep talking to Him? Will you believe?

Genesis 9:12-16 (NKJV) And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

Our son arrived to the college campus compliments of Life Flight. Once there he underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer. He spent six years on that campus getting his education and fighting cancer more than half the time. On my way to the hospital to begin treatment and on the same highway traveled home on yesterday – there were more rainbows than I could count. I cried the whole way. Not because of the journey begun but the promise in those rainbows. Rain comes with promise. The promise that God is with us. He has not forsaken us and will use every drop to prosper our life. It may be messy and inconvenient. It may spoil our plans or reroute our life. But in the end, I have found the Lord to always be faithful. Our son graduated college and beat cancer more than once maybe that was the sign in all those rainbows. When God decided to destroy the earth and all the inhabitants except Noah and his family – the man of God who found favor with Him could not stop the rain from coming. He could just be obedient in building the ark, getting on it when ordered, patiently waiting out the storm and exiting when it was time. Once there God promised a new covenant…a better covenant… and with every shower there will be a rainbow to remind us. God is with us. Jesus lives in us. It may not be going according to our plan, but it is according to His Plan. He is faithful.

If you are going through a storm that you have tried to pray away unsuccessfully, be encouraged today. God is with you. He is for you. The rain is watering the seed of faith planted in your heart and as your soul prospers so will your life. God is doing more than you can think or ask. You just have to believe and keep confident in God’s Word for your life. He has promised you a future and hope attained in wholeheartedly seeking Him. It will cost you convenience, comfort and control. But in the end, it will be more than you ever could have produced naturally as His Peace overtakes you and His Joy fills you from the inside out. Your cup will run over. The table set before your enemies. His Unfailing Love and Goodness will sweep you off your feet and carry you way into your Destiny.

Hosea 6:3 (NKJV) Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.

 

Praying in the Spirit

Praying in the Spirit

Romans 8:26-28 (NKJV) Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[a] with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This verse can be exciting in the beginning of a new thing, but as the wait prolongs the desired outcome it can also be a source of contention. God’s Timing is perfect. It promises to make whatever you are anticipating beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3) Everything has its season which everything in our life has a purpose of productivity all working together for a harvest. Not every season is as pleasant to endure but all have the potential of fruitfulness. The eternity placed in our heart by God is not fully redeemed until we die and leave this world behind yet death is avoided at all costs. The complexity of God’s Plan for our live is incomprehensible by finite human minds. Engrossed in the moment and overwhelmed by temporary things – the thought of waiting is approached with dread. The truth of the matter is “no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Therefore, our life in God requires constant and abiding trust.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Trust is a learned behavior completely contrary to human nature. The inability of mankind to be perfect gives way to one’s disability in this area. Life is hard. People disappoint. The enemy’s lies entangle us and trip us up along the way. Living in a world that is completely contrary to God’s Kingdom makes it even harder. The dark shadows in need of the Light of His Love keep us bound up in a place of not knowing. By the time the Light of His Love is revealed, it is cast on a hard and callous remainder. Trusting the Lord with all our heart is tough when our heart is broken in a million pieces. Which part do you want Lord? Jesus says, “All of it.” Lean not on your own understanding is not the same as “go with what you know.” In all your ways acknowledge Him. God doesn’t want to show Himself faithful in part of our life but all of it. He shall direct your path. Why? So that “all things (will) work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His Purpose.”

I John 2:1 (NKJV) My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 

John 14:25-26 (NKJV) “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

Jesus is our Advocate. He sits next to God the Father constantly interceding for us. He reminds His Father that we belong to Him. Jesus did not leave us here without a helper. He knew just how hard it would be to trust and believe so He gave us His Spirit. When He released His Spirit on the Cross, He tore the temple veil from top to bottom allowing us complete access to God the Father through Himself. The Spirit would come to inhabit God’s People on Pentecost. The Spirit of Jesus Christ lives in us. Greater is He who lives in us than he that is in the world. Another word for advocate is to champion. Jesus is our champion. Do you believe that today? Are you feeling all alone? Overwhelmed? Having trouble trusting and believing? You are not alone many Christians struggle with trusting the Lord for today let alone every other day. You are not alone. The Spirit of the Living God is inside of you waiting to help you when you don’t understand His Ways.

Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…”

For just a few moments let’s talk about praying in the Spirit. This can mean many things doctrinally and from theology to theology. This is not about whether your church speaks in other tongues or doesn’t think it happens anymore. Speaking in tongues is a prayer language a form of communication in our attempts at intercession. I worship with other believers who speak Spanish. When they pray in Spanish, I don’t know what they are saying but that doesn’t mean that their prayers are not effective in my life. The Kingdom of God has a language utilized by the Spirit. Just because I don’t speak the language doesn’t change the substance or effectiveness of my prayer. I believe our prayer language is a gift. Some use and some do not. Another story for another time. What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? You absolutely can and should know what it means and utilize the partner given to you for this purpose.

I John 5:14 (NKJV) Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

The most important element of prayer is faith. We must pray with confidence believing that God is able and willing to do exactly what His Word says that He will do for us. Confidence is the essential ingredient to trust. Without confidence, you will always be suspect. Doubt penetrates the mind of those who are not confident in hope. Faith eliminates doubt. When we believe – we will pray. To pray in the Spirit – you must believe.

John 14:13 (NKJV)And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

God’s Glory is demonstrated through His Son, Jesus. We must use the Name of Jesus to gain access to the Father. He is the only Way to right standing with our Father in Heaven. Whatever we ask in His Name, God promises in His Word that He will do. Our prayer credentials are the Name of Jesus Christ. To pray in the Spirit, we must use the Name of Jesus to gain access to the Presence of God and come boldly with confidence before Him.

John 15:7 (NKJV) If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

Prayer is a relational conversation. It is the product of a relationship. In order to abide in Christ, we must have a fully consummated relationship with Him. He lives in us so we must live in Him to complete the connection. Our prayers will only be based on God’s Character, Word and Will if we know Him. There is nothing I can do to move the heart of God. He loves me just like I am. His Grace is enough to open the door for me to enter a loving relationship with Him. I must rely on His Character, His Word and His Will to become one with Him. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Word who came in flesh to show us just how much His Father loves us. To pray in the Spirit, we must abide in Christ and live in His Love.

James 5:16 (NKJV) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

A righteous man or woman is not a sinless person for there is no such thing. We must live in a constant state of confession of our sin and true repentance to see the miraculous outcomes that God has promised. To live a life of effective prayer and fervent prayer without living in a right relationship with God will lead to frustration. The Power of God is released in His Grace. Grace is made manifest in our weakness. If you are not willing to repent, then your prayers will not be answered because you are not walking in righteousness. Sure, we try not to sin but do anyway because it is our nature. The Holy Spirit lives in us working God’s Word through our life like seed, and nurturing it to produce good fruit. Repentance keeps our heart fertile so seeds of faith will become confidence. Praying in the Spirit is powerful and effective when we live in true repentance.

James 1:6 (NKJV) But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

Let’s talk. Be honest. It’s just you and me. Do you really believe God will answer your prayer? Doubt is the biggest destiny diversion of all time. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. You have a measure of faith given to you by the Lord. What you do with that faith is up to you? It is important to continually work to weed out doubt and replace it with seeds of faith. God’s Word is a great place to start. It feeds our Spirit and seeds our heart. We must make the decision to trust and believe not moving until the end of a thing. What does that mean? Too often we pray for things and when they don’t happen in a microwave minute take matters into our own hand. Impatience strengthens doubt and dares us to move from waiting on the Lord into a frenzied state of panic and control. God is working all things together for your good which means He has a lot of ground to cover and many details to work through. Waiting is always part of the growth process and is not possible without believing that God will do what He promises. Praying in the Spirit must be backed by full assurance, faith, belief and total trust that keeps our fears and doubts at bay until fully eliminated.

John 14:12-14 (NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Friend, we have been called, equipped and qualified by Jesus Christ to even greater works. Miracles will happen. Lives will be saved, healed, delivered and fulfilled. God has a plan for each one of us that culminates in a Kingdom. Prayer is the pathway of communication that leads to such things. The powerful revelation that God will do exactly what He says and we can participate in the process through prayer will change our lives, families, workplaces, churches, and communities forever. We can split hairs on doctrine, theology, and religion all day long and never see the Glory of God manifested or revival break out. We can worry and fret in our waiting and let impatience still our provision, promises and prosperity in God or we can pray without ceasing accompanied by God’s Spirit who infuses and empowers our prayers making the effective and life changing. Praying in the Spirit and partnering with the Kingdom of God will produce greater things in the Body of Christ.

Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Being fully persuaded is the key to have patience in God’s Timing. Prayer is the opportunity to communicate with the Lord and partner with His Plan. It will give us the confidence needed to wait through God’s Process as He works all things together for our good and His Glory. To trust and believe that God loves us and nothing can separate us from that love is impossible if our life is not consummated in the Spirit. His Spirit is the identifier of God’s People as those born again in Jesus Christ. Have you prayed today? Have you prayed in the Spirit? Power-packed prayer must be exercised from a place of faith and confident hope believing that He who called you is faithful and responding to His Call each day.

Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

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.

 

Eyes Front

Eyes Front

Luke 9:62 (NKJV) But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

“Eyes front” is a military command. It is a call to attention. An important order that calls the soldier to readiness. The discipline of the military is established in drills. Exercises designed to prepare them as a unit to execute precise movements. The unit must respond by moving together on command. It is vital to their success on missions when distractions and disorder can cost them their lives. Discipline brings to a state of order and obedience by training and control. It is to behave within the rules of conduct and skill improvement. Discipline is to train. We are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. A disciple is a follower. One who is adherent to the doctrines of another. Many desire to follow Christ but few will follow through finding the cost of discipleship more than bargained for. One must consider the cost of following Christ in order to have expert follow through and success as his disciple.

The parable in Luke 9 gives some examples of the things that keep us from living a disciplined life following Jesus Christ. He offers us insight on the very pitfalls to prosperity and shortcomings to success that will allow us to look forward and stop looking back. It is a call of “eyes front” for the believer who desires deeper faith and abiding hope as the mainstays in their life.

Luke 9:57-58 (NKJV) Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

The Emotional Follower

The emotional follower impulsively decides to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Influenced by hype and zealous to serve. Hearing the Word of the Lord and sensing His Calling, they jump in feet first without any knowledge of what they are getting themselves into. In Hosea 4:6 warns that “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” It is dangerous to live by faith without God’s Word and the Holy Spirit for guidance. True worshippers do so in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4:23) Submission to God’s Righteousness is yielding our way to follow Christ that takes a level of discipline that is not based on emotionalism but steadfast commitment according to His Word, His Way, and His Will. God is greater than our feelings. To know God we must know His Word. For faith to become the logic that leads our life the Word of God must be a priority. Knowledge is used to breed understanding that produces godly wisdom in our life.

Luke 9:59-60 (NKJV) Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”

The Realistic Follower

The realistic follower is a responsible person. Quite dependable as the loyal person who is consumed by their current cares, worries, burdens and responsibilities in life. They want to follow Christ but are too connected to their daily duties. Their time consumed doing all the right things but not allowing God’s Righteousness to take over. Righteousness is not claimed by my performance but persistent yielding of my natural life to supernatural conduct. Faith is the key to the Kingdom. The realistic follower wants to be a disciple of Jesus Christ but cannot get past what they see to walk by faith. The world fills our plate and tells us that we must finish it all to serve Jesus Christ. He says, “I am the Bread of Life.” You don’t need all that. His Body was broken for your consumption and His Blood spilled for your freedom so that you can choose how to spend your time without care or worry for the worldly distractions designed to detour you from living a godly life. Sometimes it is not always sin that so easily besets us but the cares and worries of this life that threaten to cross forever boundaries. All lies set forth by the enemy to convince you to do what the world requires rather than releasing your time and talent to Jesus Christ. Discipleship does not leave us destitute but allows divine intervention in our natural life producing God’s Favor, His Provision, His Prosperity and Increase. The more faith becomes the reality of our life the less that is needed as Christ completes us.

Luke 9:61-62 (NKJV) And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

The Halfhearted Follower

The halfhearted follower is probably the most dangerous disciple of all. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” The Lord has not time or use for the halfhearted follower. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ requires our whole heart not just the bits and pieces of no use to us. We give God the leftovers of our life rather than giving Him our first fruits. “Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38) Jesus goes on to tell us that second is to love others as you do yourself. Let’s be real. We cannot get to the second commandment without fully embracing the first one. How many false starts and do overs have you experienced in your walk with Christ? Too many for me to count. We want to go all out for Jesus but when it gets a little difficult, our flesh cries out for relief or we just get plain tired and worn out – we take detours and shortcuts rather than staying the course and keeping our eyes on front. Discipline is a requirement of discipleship. It defines the integrity of the calling. It is the very character that the position is produced. The first discipline in life is to love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind. It is a daily binding of our life to the altar, allowing His Blood to cover our sins, His Word to wash us like water, and to give our all to Jesus again because His Mercy is there to greet us. His Grace is enough. Jesus doesn’t need us to accomplish His Work. He already did. He desires a relationship with us that increasingly leads us to freedom.

John 20:4-8 (NKJV) So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.

The Religious Follower

Two of the disciples ran to the tomb. They heard that it was empty and were intent on seeing for themselves. You know Peter was one of them. He was the most emotional, impulsive, realistic, and halfhearted of them all. When Jesus was walking on the water, he was the guy who jumped out of the boat. He was the one who told Jesus that he would die for him. He was the practical one. He also was the one who went back to fishing after Jesus died. Although the other unnamed disciple outran Peter to the tomb, it was Peter who went into the grave looking for Jesus. We are not perfect people just forgiven ones. His Grace is enough to overcome every shortcoming of the follower. However, the “other” guy couldn’t get past religion. He couldn’t go into the place of the dead. Peter was after resurrection life. He wanted a relationship with Jesus the Son of the Living God enough to get past religion.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The heroes of faith are not spectators. This is the difference between followers and disciples. Just because you choose a life of love with Jesus becoming his disciple doesn’t mean that you will not get bogged down or fall into one of the category of followers listed above. It does mean that His Grace is enough to pull you off the sidelines and back on course. Jesus is fully aware of the sin that easily ensnares us. He is the author and finisher of our faith. He is our champion. If we can keep our eyes front and focused on the Lord enduring all the way to the end. We win. Every single time…we have victory as Christ leads us from victory to victory. We must commit our life to not just following Jesus but becoming his disciple.

Philippians 3:13-15 (NKJV) Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

We are equally called and fully equipped to be disciples of Jesus Christ. It is willingness that makes all the difference. He gave us every spiritual blessing. The Lord is poised over the windows of heaven ready to release every blessing and promise that He has offered you. His Resurrection Power is ready to give new life to all the dead dreams and broken visions in your life. He is ready to heal you. He desires you more than anything. Will you reach for Jesus today? The word “reaching” in this passage is the striving and straining as a competitor in a race presses to the end running to win.

Perhaps you saw yourself in one of the follower roles listed above, but your heart is set on becoming a disciple of Christ and living in a loving relationship with Jesus Christ overstepping the bounds of religious activity to full consummation and oneness with the Lord. Well, I have good news. He promises to come when you call. The key qualities of a disciple are teachability and willingness. Are you willing to change? Are you ready to invest time into character development as the Bible sets forth for God’s People? The opportunity greets us each day as new mercy. His Word cannot return to God void. His promises are yes and amen in Jesus Christ. His Spirit lives in you ready to produce every good thing that God has placed inside of you. The plan was set before your conception. Those who seek Him wholeheartedly throwing all they are, know and desire into the cause of knowing and becoming like Jesus will have the desires of their heart, live in abundance and have a rich, satisfying life.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NKJV) Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.