Turning Toil into Rest

Turning Toil into Rest

Psalm 139:1-5 (ESV) O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite passages in the Word of God. Like a giant soft snuggly blanket on a cold night, I can wrap myself in God’s intentional creation and determination to love and keep me in the psalmist words. It makes the chaos of life stand still in God’s Supremacy. It makes me feel important when dark shadows of insignificance creep into my heart. God has carefully scripted the details of my life including every moment before I was born. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me and far too high for me to grasp so I am get caught up in the waves of busyness and striving that are the cast nets of the enemy to trip us up in the race of faith. To think personal appearance, qualities, abilities, and achievements even when applied to discipline, faithfulness and obedience to God in some way influences the outcome is ridiculous when I am predestined for the Kingdom – including every promise, blessing and prosperous moment that God our Father already planned and prescribed for us. Excessive pride and exceptional vanity cause the believer to strive for what is already given and long for what we already have. These two traits are the very essence of frustration. Greed for more is the appetite of pride. Discontentment is the adornment of vanity. Neither will ever bring peace nor rest in our life but a constant need to seek worthless things rather than heavenly rewards. God did not call us to live in poverty or lack. He is an excellent Father and wonderful Provider. God did not call us to walk around brokenhearted, sickly and diseased. He is the Healer. God still does miracles. Just as the plan of God was foretold, the process of God lies within us. Written on our heart, it must be opened and carefully read. There is a plan and purpose within us that will lead to full satisfaction and complete contentment. It begins in our heart not in our hands.

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

I do believe the prosperity gospel. God desires to prosper us…just as your soul prospers. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5) One of the greatest privileges as a believer is to enter the Kingdom economy on earth before entering heaven. Peter experienced such when he was asked who Christ was to him. His response opened the Hand of Jesus who gave Peter “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Peter’s confession of Christ as the Son of the God established the platform of his life on which the Lord would begin constructing the church. Psalm 103 reminds us “bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Kingdom benefits and blessings belong to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and decide to make Him the Lord of their life. We must bless the Lord with the offering of submission giving Him access through salvation to our soul first and then placing the rest of our life under His Authority and Power which will release Kingdom benefits and blessings that make ordinary existence into the extraordinary life that is exceedingly and abundantly more than is humanly imaginable filling our journey with supernatural occurrences that will always point to God!

Ecclesiastes 2:22 (ESV) What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

Where did this journey in the Word begin? I love Saturday morning. It is the only day of the week when I do not have to wake up early. The alarm is not set for 4:30 AM as usual. This morning rather than relaxing and resting my mind woke me up. Swirling with my expectations for today mixed with others expectations of me roused me until finally I got up. Busy. What is busyness anyway? Everyone is busy. But no one is too busy. Oh, I hear you ready to lop off my head. God gives each person 24 hours in a day and the freedom to choose how to use it. All things are permissible but not all things beneficial – given all the same amount of time in any given day – it is up to us to decide how it will be portioned. The pressure I was feeling caused irritability to arise and I could feel the bristling of emotions. Walking into the study, sliding into my chair, I opened my journal and wrote the following: “How do I do it all? Lord, I need you to take control of my time.” Toil and striving for anything other than Jesus Christ and His Kingdom is the product of pride and vanity. Where do I get this from? Ecclesiastes – yes the whole entire book. We must place our priority on Kingdom first. No, I did not say “ministry” or “church” first. I did say, “Christ and His Kingdom.” It is the place of allegiance for the believer that allows all other areas of life to be successful. It somehow miraculously stretches our time and energy. The word “toil” is not a Kingdom word. It’s not. Toil means hard, continuous, and exhausting labor or effort. God calls us to rest. Jesus calls to those who “labor and are heavy laden” with the promise of rest. To rest in His Love, on His Promise and trusting in His Plan. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. However, in our toiling at home, work, ministry, church, and even in our hobbies and extracurricular activities – the enemy tells us that God is please with such exhaustive toil and really it does not bring the Father any glory because though it make a man rich it brings great sorrow with it. The blessing of the Lord does not bring us sorrow but complete satisfaction and contentment in all things. Toil is birthed by vanity which refutes the declaration that His Grace is enough for me. His Power works best in my weakness. Toil is vanity’s effort to self-assert itself over the completed work of Christ in us.

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV) ”Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness AND all these things will be added to you. It is a terrible cycle entered into by most creating a vortex that separates many from the lifestyle God intended from the beginning for each one of us. We are told to be anxious for nothing. Trust and confidence that God is our provider of all things pertaining to life. It says in His Word that God has already given us every spiritual blessing. Like the widow with one flask of oil, it is up to us to find the vessels to pour it into. Most hold that little bottle of anointing in one hand and work with the other. This is not the plan of God for our life but rather to pour out the anointing in us into every area of life. No duplicity. Faith in every approach. Giving the Lord authority in every area of our life. Instead, work becomes our priority because everyone needs to money to survive, right? So our life is poured into our job, career or climbing the corporate ladder. Seeking to acquire things becomes the focus of drive and ambition. Work gets the majority of our time. Work also makes play justifiable. There is nothing wrong with balance but soon our life is filled with busyness. Add on top of that trying to serve in church as well and what a chaotic mess develops. Why? Seek first the Kingdom of God. The filling of our life with Jesus and His Anointing makes everything we do prosper and purposeful. Trouble is most give the Lord what’s left which is a pitiful pittance rather than the extravagance of our predestined masterpiece life. We must discipline ourselves to seek the Kingdom first. Above all things and ambitious journeys. God knows every need, want and desire of your heart. It is only in trusting the Lord to do as He promises that a prosperous life is achieved.

I John 2:15-17 (ESV) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, my perspective and priorities were radically changed. Not over time, but in a single moment. Funny thing is that it was not when the words rolled out of the doctor’s mouth sending my heart crashing to the floor. It was not in the two weeks of trying to reorder and reorganize our schedule to include fighting for his life. It was sitting in a parking lot waiting for him to arrive to enter treatment as I was texting the office assuring them I would be there next week. My son got out of the car and the Lord let me see with vivid clarity what death looked like. It was in that moment that the things of this world did not matter anymore. I needed Jesus. I needed Him close. I needed Him to be real. I needed Him more than anyone or anything else. I called the office in that moment telling my supervisor that I would do my best to help them but I would not be back until our son was in remission.

Friend, we must reprioritize our life. It is imperative that our heart and mind be set on Jesus and His Kingdom first. It is not an old-fashioned cry of the church but the modern day yearning of those who desire His Kingdom on earth and revival to come. The world will give as many cares, burdens, worries, fears, doubts and insecurities it takes to keep God’s People land-locked and not Kingdom-bound. The enemy knows exactly what it will take to discourage, distract, detour and dissuade you from seeking the Kingdom first. We are driven by so many drives, urges and emotions that striving just comes naturally. Comparison does not only kill our joy but chokes out contentment. King Solomon had great wealth so much so that he was able to indulge every indulgence. Nothing was kept from him yet he declares it all vanity. It’s sad because so many famous people who are envied by others end their life because of depression. I wonder if it is because when they attained what they thought would be bring them peace and happiness – they found it be an illusion of emptiness which was completely devastating. The true meaning of hopelessness, I guess, is having it all and finding it is not what you wanted. We have a hope that will never lead to disappointment. To acquire Jesus Christ and His Kingdom is to have it all. We must not get caught up in busyness. It is a prideful place of vanity that takes Christ out of the equation. Toil must be turned to rest in the peace of God that is afforded those who trust the Lord in all things. Lord, I cannot do it all. I am not supposed to. So let me do one thing and it is this one thing that I ask:

Psalm 27:4 (ESV) One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

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Fight for You

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Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Our middle daughter still lives at home while attending school. She is employed by a new restaurant that is just starting out. Living in the county, it is difficult to start such a business and endure the cost until patrons begin to help meet budgets. A little more than a week ago, she had the unfortunate situation arise and her paycheck was returned for non-sufficient funds. Now our daughter only works a night or two a week as she attends class Monday through Friday all day long. She contacted her employer who assured the funds would be available immediately and given to her. She is learning to adult in the safety of our home. Her father and I assisted her financially in the interim while she attempted to work with her employer. However, the limited funds impacted her social life and freedom she had come to enjoy. If mama pays, I have a say is the rule. She had been handling the situation completely until I received a call from my defeated teenager. The bank informed her that they needed a new check to process and they could not redeposit the old one. The restaurant manager disagreed so she sat on the verge of tears overwhelmed with frustration and called her mama.

Can I just say that it had been very hard to intervene from the beginning? I asked for the owner’s name and telephone number. She hesitantly obliged as she did not want to lose her job or cause a problem. I have to be honest. I was ready to burn the place down and call the Labor Department. As the phone rang, I prayed that the Lord would keep me to the point and calm. The young man who answered sounded to be about 20 years old. I told him who I was, my daughter’s name and that she needed to be paid immediately. No hesitation or wavering in my voice. He must have felt that parental authority because before I could finish – he told me his location and that if she would come to the establishment that he would honor her check. Well, my daughter was quite relieved but now concerned that due to my intervention she would lose her job as all expected cutbacks. Within 30 minutes, the message came that there would be cutbacks. Her name was NOT on the list. Isn’t God good? Yes, God!

The Lord will fight our battles for us. In fact, the victory is secure in Jesus Christ. When my daughter cried out for assistance, of course mama bear came charging through the forest. She works hard in school and maintains good grades. She is a dedicated and committed worker. She loves Jesus and tries to make good choices according to her faith. Truth is I would have helped her from the beginning, NOT because of all the former qualities and characteristics I shared, simply because she is my daughter and she belongs to me. No one will cause her ill will or come against her without facing mama bear. Just ask the Labor and Delivery nurses who attended our grandson’s birth, God bless them all. If we love our children and desire good things for them, how much more does the Father love us?

Deuteronomy 3:18-22 (ESV) “And I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel. Only your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in the cities that I have given you, until the Lord gives rest to your brothers, as to you, and they also occupy the land that the Lord your God gives them beyond the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you.’ And I commanded Joshua at that time, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. So will the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’”

The life you may be settling for is not the one that God intended for you to have. He did not promise you poverty. He did not threaten you with enemies. He did not tell you to struggle. The Lord has given you possession. Power and authority to take over the place you occupy and vision and dreams to claim that which is beyond human reach but acquired by supernatural application. The Lord has given you protection. He will fight for you. You just have to trust Him enough in the transition. You already own the new season, position, or place that His Grace has given you. You just simply have to take the land. Finally, God didn’t tell you to go it alone. The Lord has given you His Presence. He will take out the giants, overthrow kingdoms, and give you victory in all things. You are not made to survive but to thrive. He did not create you to exist but to flourish.

You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you. The Lord doesn’t need you to fight His Battles or even your own for that matter. Our position in this relationship is to trust and obey. To fall into complete alignment with His Will and His Way all laid out in fine detail in His Word (who is Jesus in human form so we have an earthly example). Do you believe that God is for you? Do you believe that He is with you? Has He made you a promise that seems too good to be true? Well its not! God is with you. He is for you. He is always good. He is always victorious. He is your protector. He is your provider. By choosing to live in the Presence of God all of these benefits belong to believers, oh there is the missing ingredient – do you believe?

Luke 11:10-14 (ESV)  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

You are a Child of God. You must tell yourself daily, “God is good and He is for me.” You must remind your heart and mind, “I am a Child of God and exactly who He says that I am.” Your identity must be founded in the person of Jesus Christ and trust must bind us to that realization to hang on until His Glory comes and Goodness fills the vacancies and voids of our life. Too many time it is a settlement, compromise or substitution that is chosen out of doubt which produces fear and anxiety that produces an identity crisis.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

In the meantime, what am I fighting for? Faith. We must fight for our faith. Faith is evident in one’s ability to cling to Christ until the promise comes rather than grabbing hold of the next best thing. It is to pray and seek the Lord’s assistance with full confidence that He is working behind the scenes. It is to entrust every single detail of our life to Him as He promises that it will be turned into good. It is to believe without a single doubt that there is nothing that can separate you from His Love so it is easy to put every expectation in Him. He promises to meet and exceed them all! We must fight the good fight of faith in order to live a life of obedience as good children who love and trust their Father. My daughter called mama because she knew she would answer. She shared her problem and frustration with me. When I asked her to trust me and give me the phone number, she was obedient. I called and they answered – praise God! The Lord was already there and the cash in hand. Not only that with favor, He gave her double for her trouble in protecting her position and giving her more shifts. God is a good Father. He is so in love with you! Why not share your burdens with Him today! He will fight for you!

Psalm 84:11-12 (ESV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

The Simplicity of Faith

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Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV) I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

A car insurance company had an advertisement on television depicting a group of young people attempting to escape some kind of evil villain. Running out of the clearly haunted house, they are presented with two options. First, jump in the running car and speed away or go hide in the garage filled with chainsaws. The obvious point is that choosing their company should be simple. As a kid, I watched some of those scary movies that are spoofed in the highly effective ads. Whispering under my breath don’t go in there or run. Life is filled with choices. Each day a gift opened that is used how a person sees fit. Perspective changes the outcome of things. Too often driven by nature, society or basic instinct – people react to their environment rather than living by faith in the Lord who promises to be our help.

I lift my eyes to the hills.

What is your focus today? Is it getting the kids to school? Making it to work on time? Fulfilling your overloaded schedule? Meeting the demands of all those who depend on you? Stress, worry and burden is the enemy’s secret scheme to weigh you down so that he can overtake you. Like a mighty lion chasing its next meal, once close burying its claws into the prey so that it must now carry the weight of both animals to continue to flee. Tiring quickly from the extra burden, the animal grows weak and tired so that the lion must only wait until exhaustion takes over and he can easily steal the victim’s life. There is a roaring lion pursuing you today. He wants to distract, detour, and discourage you so that doubt will begin to fill your heart and overtake you. The burden of life becomes too heavy and God seems so far. He cannot take your life but simply waits for you to give it away. Well, I have wonderful news for you today!

Psalm 121:3-8 (ESV) He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

The Lord is your keeper. That’s right – He is with you always. In Psalm 139, it reminds us that the Lord knows us. He knows when you sit down and rise up. He is well aware of the words I speak. He knows what I am doing before I even do it. He goes before me and hems me in from behind surrounding me with His Love and Protection. His Hand steadily upon me. The Lord is ALWAYS thinking about me. Good thoughts! This psalm is written by David as many of them others, too. I wonder how many were penned sitting in a field tending sheep all alone. Isolation can be a deafening silence. The enemy of our soul uses it to try and convince us no one cares not even God. Simply not true and overcome by the simplicity of faith.

What is this simplicity of faith? I am so thankful you asked. Talking to a young woman at church whose heart had been broken and betrayed, she made the statement – “I don’t know how to put God first.” My response – “It is a lifelong struggle.” We speak faith. Pretend faith. Preach faith. Who really lives by faith? Before you raise your hand and voice your “faith”, hear me out. Faith is living in full expectation that what God said – He will do. It means living like the impossible will happen at any given moment. People with such a hopeful expectation are not consumed by earthy trivialities. They do not get caught up in “civilian affairs”. They are not whining or complaining on social media to draw the attention of others. They are not fighting one another for earthly causes but bound together by the Love of God to be the Light of the World pointing to the Kingdom. No, they are walking by faith. Faith in God’s Word with such confidence they look for their Helper in every detail of life.

What does that mean? They keep their eyes uplifted looking for their Helper to arrive. Faith walkers are talkers who decided to buy the hype and become zealous for the promises of God. They began to actually believe, like David, that He pursues them with unfailing love and goodness ALL the days of their life. They grabbed hold of the promise that He works all the details for our good. They envision the masterpiece of their life coming together so rather than keeping their eyes on the ground or looking around – they look up!

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

The disciples were perplexed. They could not cast out a demon which was a high priority on the resume. Coming to Jesus for technical advice, the Lord dropped a truth bomb on his team. They were unsuccessful because of little faith. The Lord goes on to tell them that if their faith was the size of a mustard seed that nothing would be impossible for them. Faith is simple. It is small. It is contrary to human nature. Yet, the Lord saw fit to give us a measure to work with. He even says that those who have this faith can move mountains. Oh the mountains and other treacherous terrain! Rather than avoiding them, what if we looked for our Helper in overcoming them. That’s faith. Every hill and valley were created by the Word of God and His Workmanship therefore remain subject to Him. Look up! Look to that mountain you are facing – God is waiting for you right there! You must have faith in God. You must put your trust in Jesus. Not just in big things but even the smallest detail. When you are tempted to look around, push your head up. When your arms are weak, force them up in praise. When your knees are tired, fall down and pray anyway. That is the simplicity of faith. God first. Jesus in everything. Bit by bit. Piece by piece knowing that it will take a life time to achieve. We must start somewhere. Why not start now?

Whatever you are facing – no matter what it is – the Lord promises to work it out for your good. When the enemy enters your mind trying to commandeer your thoughts, find the promise! You don’t have to memorize the whole book – but find your Word in God’s Word and use it! You have the mind of Christ. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. The enemy is a roaming lion seeking the weak and helpless but thanks be to God – He shuts the mouth of lions sending them on their merry way. Help is coming! Look up! Your faith has summoned King Jesus and His Power and Authority is yours. It only took a few moments. A little reminder that God is with you. Know you have placed your eyes back on the Helper – see faith really is that easy. This is the simplicity of faith. Daily sowing new seeds in the fertile heart broken by life but being mended by the Lord! Look up – help is on the way!

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Abraham Moments

Abraham Moments

Genesis 22:1-2 (ESV) After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Abraham waited 99 years for the birth of his promised son, Isaac. Well advanced past the age of child bearing, it seemed impossible that his wife, Sarah, could conceive yet just as the messenger of the Lord prophesied she would she did. Now years later – some scholars believe that Isaac was in his mid-thirties when Abraham led him to the land of Moriah as God instructed. More than 30 years old means a life of memories, watching his son grow, mature and develop into a man and now God asks his father the one thing that is most precious to him. Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Why would Isaac freely go to the altar realizing full well that his life would be required? There is but one word to describe it and you don’t want to hear it. Obedience.

Obedience smacks our pride in the face as it always requires more than our flesh wants to give. Like a hot poker, striking the most sensitive part of our heart to refine us and make us holy and willing. The purpose is to prosper us but it feels like death to that not so freely given. The sacrifice of God provided by His Son, Jesus, is demonstrated by the Abraham moment. Are you willing to give up that thing most precious by faith trusting in God’s Plan? The realm of hope yielded the promise now the promise is required for more. How quickly people stop praying when the answer comes? How immediately is yesterday’s miracle forgotten and tomorrow’s worries consume us again? Taking that which is good and forgetting that our life in God is always ready to yield more. Are you having an Abraham moment? What is the Lord requiring of you today? God is not looking for a sacrifice. He is only searching for obedience.

But what if He doesn’t provide? What if He doesn’t do what He said? What if… We as believers do not serve a “what if” God but a “when He does” kind of God. He is always faithful. He is always good. He is not like man that He should lie or change His Mind. Why would a perfect God change His Perfect Plan? We must be changed. Our hearts soft and reverent in our pursuit of Him. There may be something good required but it is only God’s Greatness that is in store. In fact, He promises it will be more than we can think to ask for or even imagine. Faith is born in obedience. Faith will always require trust. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Our faith is weak until it is tested. Will you place that thing on the altar of the Lord and wait for Him to act?

I Samuel 15:21-23 (ESV) But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

When a young soldier attends boot camp it is with the intent and purpose to tear down and rebuild the person and develop strong character. The kind of character that relies on obedience to guide each action. This is imperative to the strength of the troop and success in each mission. If there is rebellion or division, the entire group is compromised and in danger from the enemy. It is complete unity and absolute obedience that a strong front is presented. Obedience requires absolute faith and trust in the one who is in charge. To literally put your life and well-being in the words and commands of such an individual. It is no different with the Lord. Completion in Christ requires obedience. Too many times like poor Saul, our power and authority are taken from us because sacrifice is misguided by doing what we want rather than relying on absolute obedience. Tired of waiting? Pressing on wearing you out? Persevering uncomfortable? I encourage you to continue in your well doing and do not grow weary. God desires full obedience because He already made the perfect sacrifice. He wants you to hear His Word and do what He says even if it means lugging to the altar what you value the most. He is really pulling your heartstrings to see if you will meet Him there.

Romans 16:17-20 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Success in the Abraham moments of life changes every outcome for the better. What is sacrifice anyway? It must be something we have to give. Well, every good thing in our life comes from God so it is not our sacrifice. The sacrifice can only be one thing. It is our freedom. Freedom to hold on to that which is good and give it back to Him as required. To sacrifice implies that something I have is of greater worth than anything given to me by the Lord. Think again. It all is from God and it all belongs to Him. My very life once given to Christ in exchange for salvation is not my own any longer. Obedience is my free will to give the Lord what He is asking for. It is the very thing that pleases Him.

The power of obedience is its ability to “the God of Peace” who will “crush Satan under your feet.” When we obey the Lord, the enemy loses all power in our life because there is nothing held in higher regard than our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. It is a full demonstration of allegiance to His Kingdom which backs our stand with armies of angels at the command of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The empowerment of God by faith and trust is when in the midst of great loss or suffering – obedience is chosen over any other act or reasoning. It is the moment that every argument is cast down and our hope fully embraced. When arguments and lofty opinions give way to punishing all disobedience and living in the freedom of total obedience. (2 Corinthians 10:5-6) A mind made up in God will always strive for obedience in God’s Word and His Way because it is our connection to His Kingdom. Which leads me to our primary example…

Hebrews 5:7-10 (ESV) In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

The act of obedience demonstrated by Jesus Christ is our example. He prayed for God to deliver Him from the Cross and when God asked for obedience that is exactly what Jesus gave Him…and for us. There is no temptation or trial that overtakes us because even in death there is victory for the believer. The struggle in this life is to have faith and trust God in all things. We have Abraham moments when the Lord tests us looking for obedience. He loves us. He doesn’t want to harm us but to make sure that our heart is set on Him above all things. Idols in our life are quickly identified when God asks us for it. Pride is exposed when our answer is an excuse. An outright “no” driven by fear reveals hidden doubt keeping us from God’s Promises in the first place. Obedience is not God’s Punishment it is a privilege to come to Him and in return, He can do exactly as He promised. What is God asking of you today? Will you obey? Jesus did. Will you? Will I?

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Just Plain Wrong

Just Plain Wrong

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV) For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There is a temptation far greater than our weaknesses. It is unforgiveness. The do’s and don’ts in the Word of God are for our benefit. The greatest commandment is to love. Not just any kind of love, but to love others as God loves us. Jesus gave His Life for love. I encountered such an instance this week and even now three days later – I am still building my proverbial bridge to get over it. The details are unimportant. In this predicament – there is no question that the other party wronged us. Those who know of it will quickly attest yet as grace is applied – I am miffed. I am just being transparent because I know that others struggle with me. Old hurts, betrayals, and abuse that leave a void that bitterness quickly fills if forgiveness is not instilled. I must forgive others to be forgiven. If I choose unforgiveness, I cannot be forgiven. It is right there in black and white. I must forgive the person who hurt my family. I have no other choice and remain in fellowship with my Father.

There are very few sore spots left in my healing heart that are vulnerable to unforgiveness and bitterness. It has taken two decades and will probably require a couple more to allow the Lord to touch those places and make them whole as well. I have learned over the years that unforgiveness is an open wound constantly seeping poison into our thoughts, mind, will and emotions. It is a thorn in our flesh that requires all of God’s Grace to completely cure. It is clear without question that my Heavenly Father requires me to offer the grace I have been given to all mankind and it must be from my heart. (Matthew 18:35) I cannot pretend to forgiven but choose not to forget.

Matthew 5:44-45 (ESV) But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 

I have tried to pray for my “enemy” of late. My heart is struggling with sincerity as I do. I am reminded that I am to love my perceived enemies and those who persecute me. The person who made an error in judgment is loved and desired by Jesus just as much as me and yet in my rightness I am still offended and appalled so the Word is the water washing such emotional overtures in waves of overwhelming grace. God makes the sun to rise and rain to fall on the just and unjust because it is His Will that none should perish but have everlasting life. The struggle in my heart is real, but the evidence of God’s Spirit working and massaging at the hard and unrelenting place inside me is obvious. Lord, how do I forgive those who hurt me? How do I overcome the just plain wrong that has come against me? How do I move past the insult to pray for the one who did this to me? Well, maybe it’s not all about me…

I John 4:18-19 (ESV) There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

Oh, how the Lord has a way of sticking it to the part of our heart that hinders us. I must love and learn to forgive fully and completely simply because He first loved me. I had no right to His Love yet He gave it. I had no claim to His Life yet, Jesus laid it down for me. There is nothing innocent in me except Christ lives in me now. He paid the price for my life so the life I give away is His to give not mine. I may be right but righteousness is my lifelong pursuit. I have every right to be offended, mad and seek justice. However, I am a product of selfless love and unending forgiveness therefore I cannot continue in the state of mind or risk losing what matters most to me.

When Jesus told Peter to forgive those who sin against him “seventy-seven times” maybe he wasn’t talking about that many offenses but that it might take our heart that many tries to forgive a single offense. Forgiveness is against human nature. Self-preservation and pride demand recourse and even revenge. I am challenged today to remind myself seventy-seven times seven plus one to forgive. Forgive this person. Bless this person. Pray for this person continually until I mean it from the innermost depths of my heart. Why? Simply, because Jesus chose to love me first. While I was still a sinner, He died for me. He fought for me even when I was His Foe. I can love fearless when I do not let insecurity to produce unforgiveness in me. Perfect love expects nothing from others but gives it’s all just the same.

Matthew 18:21-22 (ESV) Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

When I Want to Fight

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Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

A church leader shared this passage in Sunday service last week. It was good then…but this morning, I wasn’t sure I liked it quite so much. The Lord told Moses and the people to fear not…stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord – He will work for you today! The enemy in their sights would be gone forever. This is the good part. Now comes the struggle in certain situations – “the Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent.” There are situations in life when one might prefer to wage war against other people or vilify themselves and seek revenge in order to give the other person what they have coming to them. When facing the giants in this world, it is much easier to let the Lord have His Way and slay them. But when the foe that is faced is of a sizable match – it is up to us to let the battle be the Lord’s and to remain silent.

I Timothy 6:11-13 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

There is only one fight that I am called to as a believer. I am ordained to fight the good fight of the faith. Faith is confidence in the Lord and putting all expectation in Him. It is an act of trust that causes us to stand and wait rather than pursue and overtake. We must fight the battle within our flesh to let the Lord fight our battles, win our wars, and even to be silent while watching and waiting. As believers, the encounters and engagements with the enemy become more and more unjust as our life is aligned to Jesus Christ. To hold on to eternal life rather than prideful rightness is so hard when right. Our good confession in the presence of many witness is always faith in God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We must stand in victory because Christ lives in us and not fight amongst each other.

As believers, our lifelong pursuit is righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. Ugh! Sometimes these qualities and characteristics of the Lord that He is attempting to create in me cause a war in the flesh. I must stand on the Word of God and walk in His Ways even when the enemy knocks on the front door, meets me at work or even shows up in the church parking lot. The struggle is real. It is an everyday battle of our mind, will and emotions to remain in partnership with Jesus Christ. To maintain our relationship so that it is thriving, growing, maturing and constantly developing into an inseparable bond both now and forever.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Is it a coincidence that the great cloud of witness are mentioned immediately after the great hall of faith in Hebrews 11? A reminder that faith is not easy. Trusting God is hard. When the enemy comes throwing his weight around, trying to stick sin on us, and attempting to trip us with lies, we must continue to run the race of faith to the prize that waits before us. It will require endurance. You will get tired of turning the other cheek. Standing doesn’t release the adrenaline that fighting for your right will, but righteousness comes from living as one with Christ. We must keep our eyes fixed on our Champion. The One who is the Founder and Perfecter and Author and Finisher of our faith in the first place. The Lord will fight for you today. He will fight for me. I must be silent and wait on the Lord even when it hurts. To know whose I am and who I am in Christ must lead me down a pathway of peace in life so that others will entertain His Presence through my influence. Peace lives in me. The war waged in my mind and heart are against flesh and blood that seeks retribution. My flesh is called to die so new life will take its place. Lord, help me to be confident and silent as you fight my battles today. Help me to stand firm and having done to stand firm. In Jesus Name…

Ephesians 6:12-13 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Adopted

Adopted

Romans 8:14-16 (NLT) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

When my husband and I married, I gave him the gift of three children. In fact, they were with us in the wedding and rode home to begin our new life together right from the church. He was made by God for his new role in our blended family. It was as though God predestined him for the job. Our daughter expressed a desire from the start that she wanted to be adopted. She wanted have the same name and security of the official process. Her dream would become a reality. There were papers to be signed and filed. A price to be paid. A process to follow. But I can remember how exciting it was to go before the court and finalize the adoption. Not long after – the official documents arrived including a birth certificate with her new name and her dad’s name on it. With these important papers in hand, we began to change her name in school, at the social security office, and every other place necessary to assume her new identity.

I am no longer a slave to sin. I am a Child of God. How often this is the declaration of a people who still live as orphans. Those who have Jesus Christ inside of them have been sealed by the Spirit of the Living God. You are a son or daughter of God in that moment. It is up to us to assume our new identity in Him. He adopted us to be His Own Children. We have the privilege of calling Him, “Abba, Father.” His Spirit joins with our spirit to become the confidence needed to enter boldly to Him and live in a loving and abiding relationship with Him. In 2 Corinthians 1, it tells us that God “has identified us as His Own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us.” Why do sons and daughters of the Living God live in lack? Lack of confidence, faith, hope, love, joy, peace, provisions and prosperity are all signs of orphan syndrome as I would call it. If we are not confident in our adoption by God through Jesus Christ and His Spirit who seals and entitles us to every blessing and promise, how can we ever convince others of the same? It is our purpose to be fully convinced of our spiritual adoption and live out the process of showing our identity to the watching world.

Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 

Before… I wish it was possible for the finite human mind to fully wrap itself around the concept of God’s Omnipresence. He is everywhere all the time. He always has been and always will be. The constancy of God is the stability of His Plan. He is. He was. He will be. God is the Great I Am. Jesus, His Son, is the same yesterday, today and forever. He goes before us, falls in behind us, and is right there with us living on the inside of us. Conceptually, it is easy to repeat this but to fully understand it is crazy. Yet even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ. I read it. I understand the meaning of the words. I know that it is true. Yet, I still cannot fathom knowing me how God would desire me as He does. He does because God already decided to love you. He was ready to adopt us into His Family knowing full well the sin that would plague us. He provided all the grace necessary to cover our sin and build a pathway to Him. All because He decided to love us and desired to adopt us.

Galatians 4:4-6 (NLT) But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”

The Bible tells us that God placed eternity in our hearts along with a measure of faith. I believe at the right time the two will become one and our life will prosper when Jesus comes to reside in us. His Spirit cultivates good fruit and changes the appetite of our soul. However, it takes time to change our heart and mind healing the past experiences and working all details for our good. The Holy Spirit prompts us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Why not? I believe that if you polled your congregation asking the question, “Who have always had a good relationship with their birth father?” You would find very few who shared such an experience. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 million children, which is more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home. These kids are more likely to live in poverty, develop behavioral problems, become pregnant as teenager, to face abuse or neglect, go to prison, to abuse alcohol or drugs, suffer obesity, commit a crime or drop out of high school. Fatherhood is a necessary role..

With this in mind, there is a fatherless generation who cannot experience the fullness of God’s Love because they do not understand His Role as Father. They cannot love or trust Him because their experience is absence, abandonment, or abuse. They do not cry out to Him for fear that He will not come because their natural fathers were not around. As the enemy works to destroy the home, he has successfully caused a separation between God and His Children based on experience. Many foreign orphanages are silent halls lined with cribs of babies who do not cry out because they know that no one will come. We must learn to lean on the Father again. Call out His Name. Allow our heart and mind to receive the adoptive spirit and live in His Love completely as sons and daughters of the Living God.

Acts 2:16-18 (NLT) No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.

I do not believe that revival will come until the sons and daughters become confident in their identity. To fully assume our position in the Kingdom of God with confidence that nothing will ever separate us from the Father’s Love. To remind our heart, mind and soul that He is a Good Father and oh so faithful to His Children. We need to learn to recognize the Father’s Voice as He whispers His Love, Affirmation and Acceptance of us. To realize the full benefits of all His Promises and understand that they are not by chance but the rights of an inheritance. They belong to us because our Father has given them to us. God has poured His Spirit in us. We are free. Free to live. Free to love. Free to dream. Free to prophesy good things and God things in our life. It is only by achieving confidence that overcomes the experience of our past. To fully assume our place in the Kingdom is to complete the process of adoption by fully receiving our rights as the sons and daughters of God. He will not force you to come home but the Lord will welcome you every time. His Love for you and me established before the creation of the world. His Grace made sufficient because He knew us and desired us before time began. He is a good Father. He calls you His Child. Isn’t it time we lived like it?

2 Corinthians 6:18 (NLT) And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Lay Me Down

Lay Me Down

John 15:12-14 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

The more in love with Jesus I become the more evident the loveless places in my life. When invited the Light of His Love shines into the deepest and darkest parts of the human heart and illuminates all the places where love is not definitive. Pride tries to brush it off in the name of self-preservation but the Spirit continues to press on the sorest part to make the change and trust the Lord. Over the years, I have developed the uncanny ability to shut off the switch of my emotions when it comes to hurt, betrayal and devastation. To become indifferent is a dangerous quality that should never be embraced but carefully extracted. Life’s experience give us certain coping abilities that are unhealthy to the spirit man and contraindicative to growth, development and maturity of the new creation. The command is to love each other as Christ has loved us. He establishes that there is no greater love than for one to lay down our life for a friends. The Lord goes on to evoke that those who master this concept will be called and considered His Friends. Faith makes us a friend of God. Love makes us a friend of Jesus. The key to laying our life down properly is love. We must get it in the right order to have the desired effect!

In Revelation 3, the Lord talks about indifference. He calls those who live in it as “lukewarm” and tells us that He will spit such people out. It goes on to say that Jesus will correct and discipline us to love everyone. It comes with the warning to be diligent in pursuing passionate love and turning away from the tendency of humanity to live in indifference. Indifference makes us disinterested, inattentive, uncaring, and self-centered. Intentional Christians cannot be indifferent but must live passionately in love with Jesus Christ. It all begins with our acceptance of His Love and commitment to learn love like our Savior. But this is not always the case. Some will come to Jesus and attempt to lay down an incomplete life for others to follow which will only lead to despair and disappointment. The beginning and end of our faith is the Love of God for us. Lord, teach us to love like you do!

I John 3:16-18 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

I must lay down my life for my brothers and sisters. The Kingdom of God is reserved for every man, woman and child who asks Jesus to save them. God’s Desire is to save, heal, deliver and restore them all. Am I working with the Lord? Or working against Him? Friends work together. We give up our time, energy, resources and more to help out those who are called family and friends. But what about the rest? Oh I hear you! I give. I help. I share. I am generous. There are many philanthropists who give away their wealth. The Kingdom Economy called wealth is not measured in such things. It is our capacity to love others and from that love give our life away. We cannot get it out of order. Love is not a compulsion it is a commitment.

John 13:36-38 (NIV) Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Peter was probably one of the most enthusiastic, passionate and zealous Christians to ever live. He believed it when he told Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you.” How devastating to discover just hours later that the Lord was right when Peter denied Him the third time and the rooster sounded as promised. Peter already had the revelation of who Jesus was. He knew that Jesus was the Son of the Living God. I know a lot of people but I am still learning to love them. Not everyone is lovable and not everyone understands love. There are many people who have only experienced brokenness and devastation in giving love away so they give their life but withhold their heart.

In I Corinthians 13, it says “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” When Peter saw Jesus walking on the shore after the resurrection, he dove in the water and swam all the way to shore to meet Him. Peter was different now. Indifference was now filled with passionate love for the Lord and a willingness to give his life from that love. We must fall completely head over heels in love with Jesus in order to make the laying down of our life meaningful.

John 10:14-18 (NIV)  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Love cannot be forced. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. To love or not to love. It is a personal choice made each day. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is not distant but constant. His Sheep know Him and respond to His Voice. Why? Because they love him so. He offered His Life as a sacrifice for our sin so that our relationship with God the Father could be reestablished. He did so out of love. To properly lay our life down for others it must always be from the same love that God gave us through His Son, Jesus. It is in that capacity that our power and authority to lay our life down and pick it back up is possible. No one can take your love from you. You must choose to give it. We have the full power and authority of Jesus Christ – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – on the inside of us. Full dominion is ours because Jesus gave it to us. To lay down my life for others and fulfilling the commandment of Christ means receiving His Love. Allowing Him to teach me to love through correction and discipline. Continue to love until He comes for me or I go to Him. Lord, teach me to lay down my life properly. In Jesus Name!

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Trust Fund

Trust Fund

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (AMP) Now it is God who establishes and confirms us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and who has anointed us [empowering us with the gifts of the Spirit]; it is He who has also put His seal on us [that is, He has appropriated us and certified us as His] and has given us the [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as a pledge [like a security deposit to guarantee the fulfillment of His promise of eternal life].

I was not born into an affluent family. In fact, the first home I remember was a mobile home that traveled with us. My parents hardworking both coming from middle class families so the idea of a trust fund equated to a jar for loose change left somewhere in the house. Yet today I have an abundant trust fund waiting for me. It came as part of the package provided to me by God and accessible through Jesus Christ. I have a rich and satisfying life available to me and sealed by the Holy Spirit. So where is it?

The truth is that those who decide to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are now members of a ridiculously rich and lavishly opulent Kingdom. It has everything need, wanted and desired by God’s People beginning with fellowship with God the Father through Christ the Son. There is a trust fund of precious promises, bountiful blessings and certain benefits that belong to us. Again, where are they now? Why do believers live desperate, disappointed and devastated lives as paupers – body, mind and spirit when the Word of God clearly establishes otherwise? A trust fund is comprised of a variety of assets to provide benefits to individuals or organizations. Established by a grantor, a trust fund provides security to the benefactor. There are guidelines for distribution that if met it is automatically released to the person or group intended.

Galatians 5:18-21 (AMP)  But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If guided and led by the Holy Spirit invested in us by Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation. The Law is now satisfied and therefore we can live in its abundance. Sin will always separate us from God, but His Grace is sufficient meaning once applied it is more than enough. Eternal life belongs to those who are completely broken in sin but covered in the Blood of Jesus. Salvation is only the beginning of the process of true repentance which is the act of reconciling our life to the Lord. It is not a forced act but a display of willingness. How so? Freedom! Who the Son sets free is free indeed. You can remain subject to the susceptibility of sin or choose a better way.

Religion is still reliant on the Law to find a better way. Our relationship makes us reliant on the Love of God and His Kind Forbearance and Mercy to get us through this life. You will never be able to completely fulfill the Law with attitudes and actions completely like Christ. Our sinful nature will always have some level of influence. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. There is eternal life freely given by God through Christ and accepted by mankind. But then there is a Kingdom that holds an inheritance for those who are the Sons and Daughters of God. It is completely yours tucked away as a “trust fund” for those who desire to be part of the Kingdom now AND forevermore.

There are certain things that hinder us from the blessings and benefits of our inheritance such as immorality. Can I just put this out there? Just because a church allows unwed couples to serve in ministry positions does not release the blessings of servitude to them. It is still considered immorality and though our entrance in Heaven is secure in Christ, the blessings of the Kingdom are not released until our life lines up with the Kingdom. So what good is to other people when sin is tolerated and the Kingdom limited in their life? Truth will always promote trust that will open the windows of Heaven in our life and rain down blessings. That’s just one thing on the list of many things that the church entertains these days which limits the potential receivership of others. Sin separated us from God and Jesus paid the price for our sin. The actions of the Savior remove all condemnation and give us complete access to the Father. It is making Jesus our Lord that releases our trust fund in the Kingdom.

Galatians 5:22-23 (AMP) But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The fruit of my life that feeds my soul is from His Spirit. It includes love, joy and peace. It also provides patience or the ability to wait on the Lord. It fills us with kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness that will eliminate certain behaviors that once limited us including hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envy and others like these that divide the organization called church or the Body of Christ which is ordained to be blessed beginning with unity.

Ephesians 2:18-22 (AMP) For it is through Him that we both have a [direct] way of approach in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord]. In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

What if our trust fund in the Lord is not just individual but corporate? What if the blessings and benefits that are prayed for and desired are actually linked to others in the Body of Christ? We are no longer strangers and aliens. We must trust the Lord in all areas of our life to receive that which is ordained as an inheritance. The economy of the earth is driven by supply and demand. There must be a relationship of commerce to keep the country running. Ephesians 2:14 tells us that Jesus is our peace and our bond of unity. Maybe the Kingdom is not being released in our personal life because we lack proper relationships in our new life. The Kingdom’s economy is souls. Souls bound together in perfect unity with Christ so that it can also attach to others freely without human expectation but hopeful revelation. We must expand our sphere of influence so that God can use those who are the executors to grant what God has freely given. Our life is not independent of others but intertwined. Each person has a deposit to make in our life and we have something for them, too. Not of ourselves but through Jesus Christ.

We desire God’s Hand and Outpouring but until we know and understand His Heart there will be no such thing. Revival of the family is in its offspring. Generations will die if not reproduced. God’s Heart and His Kingdom flourishes in “things” with streets of gold and mansions all around. God’s owns the cattle on a thousand hills but what He desires most is you. Me. Us. Together. God’s Kingdom is a family of believers who when they find perfect unity in Christ will experience an outpouring like never before. God loves you. He loves me. He has already ordained blessings and benefits for us that far exceed our expectation and will satisfy us completely. It cannot just be obtained individually but entrusted corporately as well.

In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. We must work on our relationship with Jesus Christ not as Savior but as Lord to release all that is given to us through our covenant. We must strive to develop strong bonds and eliminate division in the Body of Christ which is to be God’s Dwelling Place. It will provide the proper place for His Glory to dwell. God has so many wonderful things in store for us. Dissatisfaction, discouragement and disappointment are all evidence that there is more to come. We must put them off for determination, discipline and dedication to establishing His Kingdom here on earth so that His Spirit has plenty of room to move and fill our lives with what we desire the most – Jesus!

Psalm 103:1-5 (AMP) Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is [deep] within me, bless His holy name. Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of His benefits; Who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle.

Always Good

Always Good

Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

God is good, therefore; I am good. This contemplation in my head today consists of every shortcoming I can think up. All my faults. Failures. Inconsistencies. The bat of self-deprecation is often the tool of destruction in a believer’s life. The notion that my inability to do and be all that God’s Word calls me to is my own fault. The innate component of sin given over to the overwhelming overtures of grace should be enough to flood us with His Love and Goodness but it often runs over us like water on a rock. It is hard to understand and believe that a God so good filled with loving kindness could desire me. The Lord loves me. He loves you. He desires us above all things. Each one of us.

Praise is the prophetic voice of victory. There are times when the words we sing are really not what we believe but only hope for. Nevertheless by releasing these words into the atmosphere the Lord begins to change our mind and perspective from us, our abilities or inabilities to the truth that all things are possible for those who dare to believe. Believing does not increase the power of God or move Him but it gives Him permission to access to us. He set us free so the Lord cannot come and take over but we must surrender. To surrender our life, hopes, dreams and its entirety cannot be accomplished outside of trust. Trust waits on God. Trust holds steadfast when the situation is hopeless and conditions unfavorable. It is the moment our heart takes courage not in us but the Lord Almighty. It is a place of vulnerability. It is our weakness given to His Strength. Human nature balks at such a notion and pride persuades us to stand tall. If we believe that God is good and His Goodness is for us – faith will become the foundation of our life. This life. Here in the land of the living.

Genesis 1:26-27 (ESV) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:31 (ESV) And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good.

God created the heavens and the earth along with creatures to fill it and then called it good. With the introduction of humanity and order set forth, it was then that God declared creation “very good”. You and I are created in the image of God after His Likeness. God is good. Sin kept us from becoming like our Father – God. When Jesus declared His Work on the Cross finished, He gave our life and purpose back to us when He took back the keys to death and the grave. It means that there is nothing keeping us from all of God’s Goodness. He is good. We are good. It is Christ in us that achieves. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve grace. His Grace is completely sufficient in establishing goodness in me again.

I know what you are thinking. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I have done or maybe not done. The depths of human depravity in a godless culture is no match for the boundless love of God who continually offers us the promise of becoming a new creation from the broken pieces of our past. So while I may not know you or those things hidden in your heart, God knows it all. There is nothing about you that God is not privy to. In fact, Psalm 139 tells us that our life is prerecorded. God wrote it all down. How can grace be enough if the debt not yet calculated? God knows you inside out and upside down and chose to love you and pursue you. Those who accept Jesus Christ into their heart and love Him just love Him are restored to righteousness with God. You don’t have to do a thing except love Him and accept to be your Savior and Lord. This establishes us as good people in God’s Eyes.

Romans 8:28 (ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Ecclesiastes 3:1&11 (ESV) For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 

We are God’s People and that makes us good people. Our value and worth is not established by who we once were, who we are now or who we might be becoming, but complete in Christ alone. Christ established our worth on the Cross when He gave His Life for us. Those who believe this will begin to see with new eyes the coming together of life’s details in the masterpiece the Lord promises in Ephesians 2. What you see as broken, God calls beautiful. What you decide is flawed, He declares it fixed. What you see as impossible, God has already decided is a miracle. If we could only see ourselves as He sees us, maybe just maybe rather than abandoning promises, cursing seasons, wasting time, and running from Him – we would wait for His Goodness to come to pass and catch up with us. His Unfailing Love endures forever. His Goodness is constantly pursuing us. The person who once was lost now is found and received into a Glorious and Prestigious Kingdom. You have dominion and power over the earth God ordained it and Christ restored it. We must walk in it with confidence.

Regret and shame bar the doors of opportunity opened for the redeemed. Guilt keeps us from full restoration and the blessing of the believer. Performance doesn’t impress the Lord – persistent faith and preserving hope catch His Attention. Religion tells us to do this and don’t do that. Relationship tell us that all things are permissible but not all things beneficial in achieving oneness with our Beloved. Faith is not logical. Unconditional love is confounding. How is it even possible? But it is. God’s Love for us is without question and His Goodness without end. We must only believe to receive. Not only believe that He is good but that He has made us good, too!

I Timothy 4:4-5 (ESV) For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.