Where Is Your Faith?

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Luke 8:22-25 (NLT) One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

The rain and wind must have awakened our newest fur baby or maybe it was just time to go, whatever the case, it was clear she meant business. It was still dark swinging my legs over the side of the bed thinking I am too old for this, but she is oh so worth it. Our family adopted a black lab puppy a few weeks ago. Usually our dogs have been acquired at an older age from someone who took on the responsibility of pet ownership and decided several months in that it wasn’t for them. Our family considers our dogs members of our family. At any rate, she was barely nine weeks old when she became our fur-ever baby. She is very large as her dad is a giant, so sometimes it is hard to remember she is not even three months old. She is extremely laid back and conservative. She approaches new things curiously – stepping in not running to it – and holding her ground yet pensively. Very different from our little Chihuahua with the heart and personality of a Rottweiler, who despite her small size is always in charge or so she thinks. I was interested to see how Scout responded to the storm. She just walked right in it like any other time. The rain didn’t bother her. The flashes of lightning did not get her attention. Even the thunder was not big deal to her, she just went about her business like it was any other morning on any other day. In the distance, I could hear other dogs not so fortunate as our little ones who I was drying off on the back porch. No barks or howls just whimpers. I wonder why their owners didn’t take them out of the rain. Give them proper shelter to keep them dry. Maybe their food is all soggy now or washed away in the storm. Poor puppies! Even Scout takes notice standing with her nose in the air, looking out in the darkness, her tail stops wagging as she listens…I wonder if she knows what they are saying.

I will be the first to admit that I wasn’t thankful for today’s rain. It means that I cannot finish painting the latest restoration I am working on in my “free time”. It’s going to be a mess getting to church. Why even bother doing my hair? Yuck. But then I thought about the fertilizer my husband put down yesterday that will work best with the added water, and the fact that rain is essential. We haven’t had any in a while. I crawl back in bed with the puppy satisfied and our tiny one in the bed – safe, secure and content as the storm really kicks up. I drift off to sleep to the sound of the rain.

Jesus told his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” The men obeyed Jesus and everyone got in a boat to head over as He instructed. Obedience is not always a quiet ride. Just by doing what the Lord instructs us to do or being led by His Spirit does not guarantee a clear forecast in life. It isn’t always smooth sailing ahead. Having enough faith to get on the boat is not always enough to carry us to the other side. Once on the boat, Jesus took a nap. While he was sleeping, “a fierce storm came” and the boat filled with water. They were in “real” danger. Let’s stop there for a moment. What constitutes real danger? Loss of control. When there is nothing humanly possible to do who do we look for? Jesus, of course. In their panic, they go and awaken the Lord. He immediately rebukes the wind and rain. Turning to the men who had walked with him, talked with him, heard all his best messages so far and even experienced miracles with their eyes and asks, “Where is your faith?”

“Where is your faith” today? How far have you trusted Jesus? On the shore, to the dock, on the boat, across the water, or to the middle of the storm? At what point did you go to Jesus and ask Him for help or abandon this crazy thing called Christianity because it didn’t work out like you thought? Where is your faith? Is it in the vessel, the storm or the Savior? We can obey Jesus Christ taking Him at His Word and never trust Him enough to rest in His Authority and Power over our life. Fear and insecurity are based on a lack of confidence. It is seldom as much about the reality of the outcome but merely a perception based on the current situation or experience. The realm of hope which is available to God’s People comes with peace and rest unaffected by a change in natural conditions resting on a Supernatural God.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. 

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for. Real faith is necessary to please God. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6) To say one believes must be evidenced in our life not just our words. Anyone who comes to the Lord must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. Obedience is not always faith-based. In fact, to do what the Word of God tells us to is much easier sometimes then doing what the Holy Spirit impresses on our heart. The doing that can be incorporated into our routine, schedule or agenda works well for us. The knowing conceived through God’s Word and verbally repeated is good for us, too. We like it. Memorization that never becomes meditation does nothing for us. It cannot get past our head to make it into our heart. Reciting is one thing but remember is truly another. It is when faith is required that it is revealed. The moment that religion becomes reliant on a relationship. It is the times when everything falls apart and I am completely undone when I must run to Jesus because my faith has run out. These are the opportunities to make something real out of the seeds planted in our life but not given to the ground to produce a harvest. Or sometimes, it is all the seeds that have not grown into anything yet.

Matthew 17:19-20 (NLT) Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

Animal experts believe that dogs that fear thunder and lightning do so based on past experience. A time when it occurred and they’re expectation of care not met. Experience at an early age. Another theory, dogs respond to storms based on their owner’s attitude and actions. How might believers respond to life if they truly knew the potential called faith and purpose called hope? What if we really believed the words recited from the Bible? What if the promises claimed were not worth giving up on? What if we were willing to wait it out until the end? Trusting. Believing. Clinging to God and His Word until it came to pass in the land of the living as He promised. “Nothing would be impossible.”

Too many time, God is given the benefit of human experience rather than the honor of being constant, sovereign and all-mighty. We expect God to be like our natural father and/or caregiver. We put our faith in Him in a limited supply because of fear and insecurity from past experiences with imperfect people. God is faithful. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. If He has told you He will do it – God will absolutely do it according to His Plan. In the meantime, His Children are offered this refuge called peace that allows us to wait on Him no matter how long it takes. The Power of God is no match for the storms of life. At His Word, the wind dies down, the rain dries up, the thunder ceases and lightning goes dark. One word. His Word. So if the storm is still raging all around you – does that mean that the Hand of God is losing its hold – has He come to the end of His Reign? Is His Authority null and void now? No. Absolutely not. The storms in our life offer us the opportunity to see where faith ends and fear begins. This is essential in developing faith that just gets by in the natural to wonder-working power in God’s Supernatural.

I want to live in the place where “nothing is impossible.” The place and time where my life is ruled by peace and favor not worry and anxiety. To be the kind of believer that takes God at His Word first and can walk strong and courageously through life no matter the conditions I face. That is who I want to be so I guess that is an invitation to God to let it rain in my life. When you open the Windows of Heaven, I accept that some rain will fall, storms come, wind blow and thunder roar. I know you have me safe and secure in the Palm of Your Mighty Hand.

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Having been through many storms in life, I am happy to report that God has not failed me. He has been with me, carried me through and set my feet solidly on the other side. This is not to imply that I came through with flying colors but rather a broken heart held in hands raised to God for healing and restoration many times. The undoing of me is messy and not pretty but absolutely necessary to have the life I believe God has planned and prepared for me. I do believe. I need the Lord to help me overcome my unbelief today. In doing so, I am inviting a storm or two to come. I am asking for a forecast of rain. I know the rain is coming. It is well with my soul. I know that the Lord will never leave me or fail me no matter how many times I fail or fall down – He is still right there working all things together for my good like He promised. (Romans 8:28) He continues to perfect that which concerns me day by glorious day. (Psalm 138:8) If we can just overcome our disbelief, fears and insecurities about God’s Ability and Willingness to do exactly what He has promised enough to ride out the storms of life to the end – we would see the Glory of God overwhelm us and He would do more than we can even think to ask for. (Ephesians 3:20) All things would be possible just because we believed. Thank you Lord! Help me, Jesus to make it to that place of stillness as You bring me safely into the harbor! Lord, give me peace and confidence to trust you a little more, a little longer and a little farther than ever before! In Jesus Name!

Psalm 107:28-30 (NLT) “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!

Monday

Monday

Psalm 100 (NLT) Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

How does come so quickly? Five days seem to drag by yet two pass in a flash of light. The weekend is over and Monday is here. Ugh! Rocking in the chair on the front porch, I really needed to take a broom to the pollen and spider webs. Instead, I just rocked watching my husband plant the lovely hydrangeas that were my gift for Mother’s Day. As he worked, I thanked him for my coveted plants. He had been asking for weeks what I wanted, and finally I decided I wanted them. Are you sure? Yes, I am absolutely positive. As I sat there in the afternoon breeze, I knew that I had made the right choice. Their position in the bed was perfect. Morning sun and then partial shade. The soil remained moist which is their favorite. They would grow and fill the area just outside the dining room windows. I wondered what color the flowers might be. Hydrangeas don’t all bloom the same color but it is not because of the variety but rather the pH level of the soil. I wanted to just sit there in that chair and watch the flowers grow. But I knew in my heart all good things must come to an end because tomorrow would be Monday.

Sundays are my favorite days when we worship the Lord together. Fellowshipping with other believers. Finding new seeds of Truth to plant in our hearts growing into purpose as God designed. It goes by so fast and quickly I am thrust back into the rat race of this world. Work has been a challenge lately. Just the thought of the week ahead makes me want to avoid it at all costs. It also seems as though the last several weeks, the enemy has paid particularly close attention to my every move. As if in a game of Mario Kart, I am just tooling along in my little race car while all the other opponents throw everything but the kitchen sink in my way. To spin me out. Make me crash. Give up my joy. Relinquish my peace. I want to win the race that I am in. I want to claim the prize that Christ Jesus has called me to. So this morning, as usual, He meets me with mercy and provides more grace with a word for my life that will changes things – if I allow it in my heart and to rise up out of my mouth.

Shout with joy. Worship the Lord…with gladness. Come before Him…singing. Acknowledge that He is Almighty God. Creator of all things – caretaker of the same. Take full advantage of the access I have into His Presence – go to Him rather than waiting on Him to come to me. Give thanks. Praise Him. For the Lord is good…He is always good. His Unfailing Love and Grace never, ever run out so His Goodness is always available to me. Right here. Right now. It comes as peace and inexpressible joy to those who seek Him. In Christ alone I find that all the impending problems are disguised lies for God is with me and I will not fail.

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

We must learn to make our mouth and heart agree. There are many times, our head says one thing while our heart strives to believe another. Such disagreement will never provide the peace everyone longs for. To be of one mind and one spirit. Isn’t that what our purpose is in life? To be one with Christ – to live and move in Him. To count everything else as “garbage” compared to just knowing Jesus. Yet, we allow stinking thinking to sometimes muck up our conversation and words of doubt and discontentment begin to form and fall out of our mouth. I was made to praise the Lord. My mouth was created for worship. It is to declare God’s Glory in good times and even on bad days. My confession should reflect a heart in covenant with Jesus Christ. As Ruth to Naomi, “Where you go, I will go.” Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you.

Psalm 27:4-5 (NLT) The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.

The Presence of God is an absolute necessity in our life each day. When Jesus died on the Cross and released His Spirit, the very first thing that He did was rip the veil or curtain that separated mankind from the Living God from top to bottom. This was no small set of draperies. The Lord made it clear that His Intention was not to be a God who is far away or distant. He wants us to come to Him. Romans 12:1-2 talks about being a living sacrifice. To give up our bodies or natural life including desires and inclinations to be one with the Lord. Why? Because of all that He has done for you and me. The kind that He finds acceptable. Hmm… I have heard this verse explained many times in many different ways according to the doctrine of the preacher or teacher. But you know what I think this means…God loves us. He doesn’t need us. He desires us. There is nothing God requires me to do other than just repent or turnaround and find Him. My sin is under the Blood of Jesus Christ and I have full access to His Presence. It doesn’t mean I won’t sin and make bad choices. The worst thing I could ever do is claim or even try to convince others of my perfection.

The absence of honesty is insanity. It is very easy to assume the customs and behaviors of the world because of overall acceptance. It is easy to assume the identity of the church culture that one participates in but in the Presence of God there is clarity. He defines our life and how we live it if we enter His Presence. Not occasionally or when things get a little rough or even completely overwhelming, no when I make it the ONE THING that I seek the MOST is when I finally begin to see this life I live agree – body, mind and spirit. Such agreement with the Lord gives me the confident hope that produces heavenly communication. I can praise Him when things are good just like when everything falls apart. Worship is my life not a few songs laced with tears. He will clear the way of all obstacles when I stop holding on to them. I can enter His Presence no matter where I am or who I am with. Jesus gives us that kind of access. The kind of unlimited access that comes without penalty just purpose.

Psalm 50:15-16 (NLT) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) Thankfulness is the most fruitful part of communication. It is the remedy for discontentment that leads to doubt and discouragement. It turns our situation from hopeless to hope full. Gratitude will change our attitude. Rather than concentrating on what I am waiting for, if I can just begin to praise Him for all He has done. I will admit in a world driven by supply and demand with greedy temptation vying for our attention – it is hard to remain thankful. God’s Will for my life is found in thankfulness. Thanksgiving produces a change in my heart so significant that the Word of God says, He “will give me” His Glory. When I enter the Presence of God, my words are equally important as those cast around carelessly each day. Every word I speak bears fruit in my life good or bad. I must tend the gateway of my mouth and tame my rebellious tongue. My heart desires the Lord. My head knows His Way is best. I must make a careful and considerate commitment to continually monitor my conversation. Are my words filled with praise? Do they worship the Lord? Am I thankful? No more grumbling or complaining about God’s Care for me. That’s what we are saying by doing so that the God of all Creation is not a good caregiver but a careless Father. Which is simply not true!

Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

The God of Sunday is still God on Monday. The Presence of God that gave you goosebumps in church is the same Holy Spirit that is in you right now. You are a Child of God. He is a good father. Have you forgotten some of the good things that He has done? Or maybe you just haven’t taken full advantage of them yet? Praise Him today. Worship Him. Love on Him. Enter His Presence. Thank the Lord for all the good things that He has done and promised to do for you and in you. This is the best way to start the week. It will end your Monday blues and fill your life with His Presence including His Love, Joy and Peace that is hidden there for you. He fills our life with good things. Always. Every day. More than we can even think or imagine. I must only make myself available – letting go of every complaint – and make my heart and mind agree so my mouth declares His Praise – He is good! He is good on Sunday. He is still awesome on Monday! We serve a good God! Let’s sound like it.

Those hydrangeas in the flower bed have some blue and purple blooms on them right now. I have the ability to change the color of the flowers by what I put in the soil. I can add pH or alkaline depending on what I would like them to look like. I also have the ability to decide what blooms in my life, too. It is about my conversation. It is how I communicate with the Lord and other people. The foundation of my life will be evident in the fruit of my life. Let it always represent that I am rooted and grounded in His Love.

Colossians 2:7 (NLT) Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Live Courageously

Live Courageously

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

As the sun began setting on Sunday evening, I could feel it coming like a dark shadow falling in step behind me. Working on some furniture, piddling in the yard, playing with the new puppy with no real timeline or agenda, I could smell it in the air. Monday. I have felt this foreboding for weeks now as our office is in the midst of transition. The relentless pressure of responsibility falling squarely on my shoulders – it begins to suffocate me. I cannot make the clock turn back or add another day to the reprieve. I hate this feeling. I generally do not experience stress and pressure that is overwhelming. Anxiety is not my usual response to challenges or unfavorable conditions. Now it is morning, I have to go and face this day. The one I dreaded. The time I loathed. I know it is only for a season but sometimes it feels like a lifetime. Does anyone else know what I mean?

I cannot help but wonder sometimes if the Lord allows me to experience certain situations because it is my nature to analyze it thoroughly and completely then share it right here. Tearing through the Word of God, like a messy sock drawer looking for a matching pair, I need a promise or truth to tie to these feelings together with a solution. Jesus is always the One who has my solution. I used to look for answers other places. I found some substitutions. I discovered compromise. However, once I found myself in Word…it all changed. When I came to realize that Christ lives in me…I then found my Source.

Yet…means at the present time, now, in the time still remaining and before it is all done. Yet. It means that there was a whole lot of stuff before the adverb but there is something coming after it worth noting. I am linking my past condition with my future courage. I am yoking my circumstances to my commitment to Christ. Something is about to change because in spite of everything else or yet I am confident. Not confident in myself, but that I will see the Lord’s Goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Have you brought Christ to the forefront of your life today? Is He the One who is our Connection and Source? Connection and source of what? Jesus Christ is my courage. I must be confident in the Lord to receive the fearlessness that He offers me. Let’s talk about courage today. How’s your confidence in the Lord?

I John 4:18 (NLT) Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

Perfect love expels ALL fear. Stress, anxiety, worry and insecurity are all byproducts of fear. Fear is the absence of confidence and it will drain courage quickly. When Peter and the other disciples were in the midst of a raging storm, Jesus came walking by them on the water. Once he identified Jesus, Peter asked to join Him on the water. Jesus said, “Come.” Peter took just a few steps before the waves and wind in the midst of pummeling rain caused his faith to turn to fear. When he began to be overtaken by the storm and sea, Peter called out to the Lord who quickly grabbed hold of him. (Matthew 14:24-31) God’s Love seems too good to be true. He would be a fool to love us unconditionally, right? How could a perfect God love such imperfect people? I scrutinize these questions many times especially if I fall or fail God which is just about every hour of every day minus when I sleep. I can try to do all the right things and speak life, but if I do not have confidence in the Love of God – courage will not be within my character.

All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” (I John 4:15-17) What does love have to do with courage? The sufficiency of God’s Grace accepted in our life gives us access to His Strength. If I am not fully aware and embracing of God’s Love for me demonstrated by His Grace, I have no hope. I must be confident in His Love to become fearless in life. Too many times, once discovering the Love and Grace of God, it is human nature to attempt to earn it or somehow become deserving of it. But friend that is not what the Word of God tells us to do at all! We are to live in Christ because now God lives in us. Each day is the opportunity to get out of the boat no matter what the weather conditions or circumstances surrounding my life and walk with Jesus by faith and confidence in His Love. It does change the outward atmosphere of our life, but gives us the courage and strength to face whatever comes simply because the Love of God is enough to keep me.

The Presence of God in our life is our confident hope that no matter what happens – I will experience His Goodness in the land of the living. I don’t have to wait for Heaven to win but just wait on the Lord to finish what He started in my life before I was born. All I need is to live in His Presence. It is the Presence of God and Permanence of His Love that sustains me. He gives me boldness, courage, strength, fearlessness and boundless opportunity. He will never leave me. He cannot fail me. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Obedience based on confidence in Christ’s Love and Commitment will foster obedience in my life that will give me success in all I do. (Joshua 1:7) Even in the midst of overwhelming circumstances and daunting challenges, the Word of God and His Presence enables and encourages me throughout the building process of faith. (I Chronicles 28:20) Hope is our courage because it is the strong anchor that steadies our wavering heart. (Job 11:18) The Lord wants to revive and restore us with His Love, Grace and Goodness today. To fully immerse us and overtake us with His Abundance. We must be confident in this to have the courage to do all He has created and called us to do.

Confidence is full trust. Do you trust the Lord today? Do you believe that in spite of you being you, His Love is compete? To be confident in Jesus means to absolutely believe in His Power, Trustworthiness, and Reliability which comes from His Presence in our life. Do you believe that Christ lives in you today? Confidence in the Love of God for me is essential for courage to rise up and take over every stronghold of fear in my life. I must be completely convinced that God loves me. His Grace is enough for me. His Goodness is for me. His Presence within me. Courage is evidence of confident trust that nothing and no one can ever separate me from the Love of God. Not because I am strong or have it all together, but He holds me in His Hand. I cannot be taken from the Love of God as He wraps me in His Righteousness and lavishes His Goodness in my life each day. Would you stick it out at work another day if you knew promotion was coming? Would you keep watch over your field of harvest if you knew the abundance of the crops that are coming? Would you pray one more prayer if your loved one would be saved, healed or delivered? God’s Love and commitment to us is never in question. It is our confidence in His Love that is waning. Where is the line? When do you stop trying? Will you give up? Those who are confident live from Glory to Glory in every season knowing that God is with them and they cannot fail.

Hebrews 3:6 (NLT) But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.

God is with us. Christ lives in us. He is more than enough to lead us from victory to victory if only we would have enough confidence in His Love to live fearlessly by faith. Faith sounds so big but really it is only the size of a mustard seed. It is the decision to reject fear and accept the Love that makes all things work together for our good. It is confidence that the Love of God is committed to perfecting all that concerns us. Confidence in the absolute and total completeness of God’s Love will give me the courage I need to face whatever challenges arise today. To focus on His Love and not my unloveliness allows me to live life by His Grace according to His Word and become fearlessly bold and courageous every day. I must become less while Christ explodes inside me making His Way outside me permeating my life with all of His Goodness just like He promised. Good things are for me in this life I live today. Lord, give me the confidence to live courageously.

James 5:7-8 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

Left Unfinished

Left Unifinished

I Corinthians 3:5-7 (NLT) After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.

For a few months now, I have been refinishing a table. It was thrown away like garbage, posted on line as a “curb side” alert. In my heart, I saw a new project piece and immediately thought of someone I knew who could use a gift. She was going through some difficulties in life and I felt the Lord impressing on my heart to bless her. It usually doesn’t take me this long to work on the furniture I find, but this process has been revealing. It seems that every time I begin to work on the table it turns out to be more of a task than before. Just sanding out all the marks and blemishes on the tabletop took days. It had been well-used to the point of abuse. The person who I have been repurposing the table for has been going through her own troubled time of transition. I know that for the last couple of years, the Lord put her in my path for encouragement, instruction and guidance through rough passages. However, just like the table, I have discovered that sometimes God doesn’t always make our work as believers a walk in the park.

I set out this weekend to finally finish the table so it can make its way to her house. I applied stain to the sanded top. I love this step in the process. To see the wood soak in the new color and watch a piece come to life. Well, not this time. The stain revealed some more imperfections that would require additional sanding and retracing some steps. After many attempts to get it just right, I walked away and began working on an old chair for our guest room. It is almost done. The painting went perfectly. The sanding a piece of cake. Recovering the seat was simple and I had enough leftover fabric to match the antique footstool. I stained the back of the chair reluctantly but it was perfect on the first try. Why is the chair taking a couple hours but this table just won’t seem to cooperate? Why isn’t the person who I have been supporting and believing God to renew and restore leaving unfinished? Why is she moving on? Why doesn’t she get it? God, have I let you down? Did I not do enough, say enough, or believe enough for the seed of Your Word to produce much fruit? Sometimes in life, God leaves work unfinished.

I planted. Oh boy, did I sow some seed in this situation. But the one day, the gate to the field closed. No more seed could penetrate the hard ground. The wishy washy rain of uncertainty seemed to wash many of them away. The leaves sprouting up looked like it might bear much fruit but alas it was all just a cover. Apollos, are you watering? There are many times that work is left unfinished but will not be undone. We must not stop planting just because we do not see God’s Increase. I think of all the people who sowed good seed in my life that was watered by others. Confirmed by more than one, just now revealing blossoms of fruit yet to come. I understand the process of growth takes time and many seasons. Sometimes, I must be reminded that God gives all increase. Human nature wants the satisfaction of seeing the harvest but with the Lord trust is obedience that continues to plant and water in the absence of harvest.

Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT) God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

It is safe to say that my elbow will never meet my nose naturally. I cannot touch my nose with my elbow. Yet they are valuable and important parts of the same body. The cells in my nose have the same DNA as the ones in my elbow. The same brain makes them all work together. The blood that nourishes my nose is the same flow that reaches my elbow. Sometimes it is important to remember that the same body must remain connected even if they cannot reach the other. My hand and knee can reach my elbow even though my nose cannot. However, my nose doesn’t abandon my body or the elbow cease to move because of its lack of proximity. Just because the person you have invested time, energy and maybe even resources into does not necessarily “get it” or leaves our life an unfinished work doesn’t mean you were not faithful or seeds unfruitful. God evaluates our faithfulness to Him. Our dedication to love and be loved. Our commitment to Christ to become complete lacking no good thing. He doesn’t expect us to plant, water and grow. He expects us to be faithful, hopeful and loving. I am an unfinished work just like my friend. I must never forget who the One is that makes us full and complete – His Name is Jesus.

I Corinthians 13:11-13 (NLT) When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

I must be completely honest. Lately I have just wanted to drag the table I am working on out to the trash. As my frustration grew with the person, I suddenly abhorred the process of giving the gift. I know I am a terrible person. I didn’t do it. I have been rubbing, painting, sanding and staining just the same. It is hard to remember all the Christ has done for us once leaving the past behind. All the people who deposited His Love and Truth labeled the Gospel in our life. Sharing the Gospel is our privilege. The purpose of the Gospel is to love. I can give sound instruction. I can stand right by your side. I can encourage you when you are down. I can even hold you when you cry. However, if someone decides to chase after something else. Wander off into the wilderness. Or even just turn and walk way – it doesn’t end there. I am must still love them and pray for them just the same. I have done my part to plant good seed. I have tried my best to be the Light. Now I must wait and watch for the Lord to give His Blessing and Increase – in His Time according to His Plan. Lord, teach me to see that every seed comes from You. The Word I use for water to a dry and thirsty soul – it is You, Jesus. I cannot take ownership of the process that you created and divinely instituted. I am called to love. Let me love every unfinished work in my life with the unconditional and faithful love that deposits new mercy and overflowing goodness in my life each day.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

It looks like the table I have worked on so long will be finished today. God’s Word in my heart is to let it go. He is working all things together for this young woman as He promises to do for me as well. (Romans 8:28) This trust without borders things extends pretty far in our Christian walk as we sow seeds in every area of our life. When we choose to sow good seed in people, it is never wasted. There will be an Apollos down the road to water or maybe many more. The principle to hold on to, have faith in and find glory in is that God ALWAYS gives the increase. His Word will not return to Him void so if that is what you are sowing there will always be harvest down the road. Good seed will find its way through a furrowed, fertile heart so sometimes it is necessary to stumble or even fall to break a hard heart. Sometimes it takes a little darkness to find the Light of His Love. It is our union with Christ that gives us anything worthwhile to give. Sometimes I lose sight of the One who is doing the work focusing too much on what I am doing. My work is nothing without Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:1-3(NLT) I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” These are the words in Revelation to the church of Laodicea. Paul “agonized” for these believers who were becoming lackadaisical about their ministry and calling to Christ. Lukewarm is the term used. As believers, it is our job to sow generously into the lives of other people. We are called to love them even when the work of God in them is not meeting our growth expectation. I am a planter. I am a waterer. From time to time, I am even a harvester. However, in all things – God is the increaser. Christ is the completer. I am only his servant. Nothing good can come from my life outside of Jesus Christ. God’s Power works through the more I am humbled by His Grace. People will pass through our life like seed falling through a farmer’s hand. It is up to me to plant the ones that need planting, water the thirsty and in all things trust the Lord for increase. Human nature would be to be weary in well doing when I do not see the outcome. To become tired of investing my time in people who just don’t seem to get it. To allow unmet expectation dissuade me from my purpose. Not today!

My prayer for all people who cross my path is this: “I want them to be encouraged and kit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.” I want them to discover “all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge” that allow us to be complete lacking nothing in life. The Lord promises to perfect all that concerns me in Psalm 138:8. Today I entrust You, Lord with every unfinished work in my life. If it is in me, Lord I give myself back to You today for increase. Examine my life. Clean me up. Restore me. Lead me to the abundance and fulfillment hidden in my life. If the unfinished work is in others, forgive me for my bad attitude – Lord of the Harvest – increase their faith, hope and love today.

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NLT) Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

One More Step

One More Step.

Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT) The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

One more step. Just one more step. What if my purpose will be revealed in the very next footfall? What if my potential will be realized in just the span of one foot length? What if I am that close to a breakthrough but too tired to move? What if the door is finally open but I choose to stop and turn away? One more step. The Lord is asking us to trust Him for the next step in our life not the summation of our destination. Too many times our focal point is not the finite but much farther ahead than human eyes could ever see. Determining our destination by a divine moment than God’s Plan – we take His Whisper and whip it into our own idea, concept or goal rather than patiently and confidently waiting on the Lord to show us the very next step.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. If you read this verse and think about it, the Goodness of God will begin a spark in your heart today. The Lord directs our steps. Is this a good thing…always? Well, it is if you continue reading “He delights in every detail of our lives.” What about the tough times? Heartbreaking situations? Overwhelming circumstances? Chaotic situations? What about those steps…are they divinely ordered because the Lord delights in us? Absolutely. Romans 8:28 is our guarantee. God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His Purpose for them. What is my purpose? To love God. Do I? Well, of course I do. Do I always get it right? Nope. Do I fall, fail, and mess up? Constantly. The sufficiency of God’s Grace is that no matter what if I love and desire God – I will always find myself in His Goodness. Always.

How can this be possible with all the sickness, hardship, trauma and terror in this world? The good die young while evil prospers. The rich get richer and the poor die in poverty. Love is cold and growing more so every minute. Sin has taken over. Perverted thoughts and skewed thinking rule the world in which we live. Jesus has not fallen off His Throne. He has not turned His Back on us. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We are permitted to choose our steps each and every one to our liking and choosing. God put mankind out of the garden not because He was mad at us or hated us but to save us from the torture of living forever in a deteriorating condition as a result of sin. Can you even imagine? A terminal cancer patient who can never be whisked away from pain and suffering into the Arms of Jesus? Death would be our escape and sudden release from the condition caused by our rebellion. We made the choice to turn our back on God that day. He made the choice to love us any way and make a way for our return.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.  So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Discipline will always move us away from disqualification. Discipline keeps our feet on the path when our heart looks back or tries to wander of. Discipline is the stairway to goals and achievement. Discipline focuses on the end goal not all the steps that make their way to it. If God showed us the summation of our life from the beginning most of us would quit right then and there. If we could see our life without God’s Plan to teach us things like persistence, patience and endurance – it would be so overwhelming many would never take the first step – let alone another one. God has planted purpose in each and every step that I take. His Plan is a good one and comes with a future and hope. Discipline requires a wholehearted effort and so does the Plan of God. No halfsies. You must desire the Lord with your whole heart to trust Him without borders. To go where you have never been. Do what you never thought you could do? Be exactly who God created and called you to be.

I Samuel 17:38-40 (NLT) Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.

David obeyed his father’s directive to go to the battlefield to take his brothers food and supplies. He was then to bring back a report on their condition and news from the front. David followed his father’s directions. It seemed like just another monotonous task yet he did it. Upon arrival, each step led him from shepherd to warrior to giant killer in the span of one afternoon. I wonder where God is leading you today. Is today that one step will turn into victory? Is today the day you kill the giant who has been taunting and threatening your life? You will never know if you do not take the first step. David’s journey to the battlefield did not begin that day. It was a series of steps. Each one in obedience to someone or something in his heart, and know he would become a name everyone knew. He would become a giant killer. He would be victorious and his story recorded in the Word of God for all to read and glean from. What is your story? There is no way that you could possibly know because His Thoughts are so much higher than our own. The Lord is preparing a blessing far greater than you can think, ask or imagine. He is leading you to it. Are you following?

Here is something else from this passage that I believe is wisdom from on high. God has placed purpose in each and every one of our steps. He has planned, prepared and equipped us to overcome and achieve victory in our life. The absolute worst thing to do in such a situation is try to do it our way, be someone who we are not, or follow the advice, direction or leading of anyone other than the Lord. David was fully armed to take down the giant that day. God sent him into battle with everything he needed to overcome. If he had worn someone else’s armor or yielded a borrowed sword, I do not believe that David would have triumphed. We must have confidence, not only in God’s Plan, but that He has fully equipped us to achieve our goals and triumph in each battle. Faith is worth more than any other commodity used to fight. Grace keeps us moving in the right direction. Discipline will always lead to success. Obedience to God may lead us right to the battlefield but it comes with the promise to triumph.

Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

I do not believe in random fate. I do not ascribe to coincidence. I believe that no matter how I set out today that God is with me and in complete control. Even when I choose a different direction than where He is leading me, His Unfailing Love and Goodness is still in hot pursuit. Like a sheepdog herding wandering sheep, I believe God and His Spirit are constantly encircling me, directing me, leading me, and guiding me just like the Lord has promised. On especially difficult days, it is hard to see God’s Purpose, His Plan or even experience His Presence, but if I decide to take just one more step – I will find Him right there waiting for me. God is with me. Christ lives in me. Where I go – He goes. Where He goes – I want to be.

In John 18:4-5, Jesus is in the garden. He went there to pray. But now the Temple guards were there, things were beginning to come together. And the Word of God says, “Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him.” God’s Plan fully revealed. It was going to be rough. It would be horrible and torturous. He thought I was worth it, so you know what Jesus my precious and loving Savior did? “So He stepped forward…”The Lord took one more step. I don’t know what you are facing. The last few weeks have been challenging in my life. The thought of leaving this quiet place in the Presence of God is disheartening, but God is with me. He is where my help comes from. He promises that my steps are ordered. He tells us that He delights in every detail of my life. Is there blessing even in the bad days? Yes, according to His Word. How will I find it? Taking one more step…

Proverbs 20:24 (NLT) The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?

After walking through a long season of waiting and a time where two steps forward seemed to result in three steps backward, I have seen God change my mode of operation. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have no reason to look back. Anything in my past worst having the Lord is more than capable to bring into my future. Micah 6:8 has become one of my most favorite verses, “…The Lord has told you what is good and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” It is so simple. Not hard to understand or follow. There are some things in my life that don’t add up or make sense according to His Goodness or His Glory and these are the things that might hinder my next step if I hadn’t decided to just trust the Lord and keep walking.

In Acts 2:14, the Holy Spirit had finally come to fill us. The Day of Pentecost must have been quite a party. It would also be the consummation of purpose in a man named Peter. The same Peter who said that he would die for Christ yet denied him not once but three times just hours before His Death on the Cross. Same Peter just kept following Jesus. He stepped out of hiding into purpose that day. You never know if today is the day that your purpose in Christ will be revealed. It doesn’t matter the outlook or forecast today – the Lord directs our steps. To overthink and scrutinize our course according to our expectation leads to discouragement. We have a hope that never ever leads to disappoint. The power or purpose is not in my next step but the Power of the One inside me who has already planned, prepared and promised me a rich and satisfying life. He is directing my steps right to it. He will lead me there if I just follow Him. This is not an act of service or according to any ability that I have. It is based solely and completely of faith and trust in God’s Love for me. Do not despise small beginnings. Rejoice in every victory even those that seem insignificant. Take the next step today. Do not be afraid to move ahead. Simply walk humbly with your God. All the Power, Potential and Promises of Your Father are carefully laid out before you – you are headed in the right direction…as long as you take one more step.

Galatians 6:9 (NLT) So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

New Puppy

New Puppy

Colossians 3:12-13 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

I am really not sure why or how I thought a new puppy was necessary but in my crazy need for nurturing there is a new family member. Her name is Scout and she is a massive Labrador Retriever. Her daddy is larger than most in his breed and she is definitely daddy’s girl. So much so, that is hard to conceive that she is only nine months old. We have had a few dogs over the years. All Chihuahuas and none above about 8 or 9 pounds. Scout is already about 16 pounds. She lumbers around like a toddler requiring constant supervision as she is currently “teething”. She wailed driving away from her parents and siblings. Crate training is our method of pet handling and she does not agree with our methodology so her first night home was a living nightmare. She wailed and whined as though being tortured until finally like any baby falling asleep. I was near tears heading to bed thinking what have I done? Did we really near this kind of responsibility? Oh my goodness!

Many people recommend this breed of dog. She has great potential not only as a pet but maybe even as a duck hunting dog when she is older. Right now. She is a demanding puppy in need of much love, training and discipline to teach her acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. She requires a commitment. It will take a whole lot of patience although last night I pretty much felt like she was going back. I believe the Lord is going to teach me something valuable and important in this process. Our other dogs have been rescues. Dogs that were brought home and discarded. Each required some retraining and discipline along with great patience. But this is my first baby – dog that it is – I keep telling myself I raised five human babies so surely I must be able to do the same for this animal.

Puppies are obviously not as important as people but still require commitment and patience to nurture and develop successfully. I wonder what might happen if we made the same commitment to difficult relationships and undisciplined people as we do the new puppy at home. Do we cast them off when they do not get it or continually mess up? Do we become tired of cleaning up their messes? Paying the price to care for them? The breach in relationships of the church and empowerment of people may be evidence that there is some work to do in this area.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. It is not always the easiest route but certain the most worthwhile highway to be taken. “Since” God chose you to be His Child, it is our responsibility to clothe our life with “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” This is not such an easy task. When I stayed home with the children, I had the time and energy to invest in dog training but now with a full-time job and other duties I am a bit overwhelmed. I am committed. I want to make it work. I wonder if I can say the same about my commitment to people. Not those easy to love, but those who may be a bit more difficult to endure. Am I tenderhearted? Am I merciful? Am I kind? Do I remain humbly engaged? Am I gentle with them? Am I patient? These are the qualities of Christ that I should be giving to all people, just as Jesus did for us.

Matthew 5:44-48 (NLT) But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. When we do such a thing, it is to act as true Kingdom kids. However, how often do people not really engage in real relationships with their own family let alone loving the unlovable and praying for problematic people? God does not withhold the sun or rain from any person. He gives each the opportunity to plant and harvest. God does not have favorites. He loves His Children and desires those who are not just the same. The Grace given by Jesus makes us all His Beloved whether we accept Him or not. Kindness to our family and friends is to be expected but loving everyone can be a challenge. It takes a commitment to Christ and others that does not go back on its word. It is a life-long endeavor.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

The next few months should prove quite interesting for our family. Our newest family member has a lot to learn to become the pet that I believe she will be – a loyal and trusting companion. I have made the commitment to her. I have promised to give her the time and attention needed. The discipline and training required. The patience and love necessary to make her feel secure in our home. I wonder if I can say that same about people? Will I be a loyal friend and trusted companion to those the Lord has placed all around me? Will I make a commitment to love them unconditionally and provide grace for every insufficiency in our relationship> Will I be patient and loving? Encouraging? Will I be faithful to my commitment to Jesus Christ by loving them as He has loved me? Our new puppy is teaching me lessons from the moment she arrived. Reminding me of my commitment to Christ to love those who He loves and give my life away to them. Jesus help me. With this new little puppy for sure, but even more so with those around me. The people I encounter in each day of ordinary life. Let my love for them be extraordinary. May the commitment to Christ that I have made be evident in my care and concern for them. I hope to apprehend each enemy with so much love and grace that they cannot be an enemy any more. Jesus thank you for this lesson in love. I needed the reminder. Now about this dog…

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

The Burger Joint

The Burger Joint

Psalm 34:8-10 (AMP) O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good; how blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who takes refuge in Him. O [reverently] fear the Lord, you His saints (believers, holy ones); for to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions lack [food] and grow hungry, but they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing.

Our girl’s weekend has concluded. It has been a good time. We attended the Beth Moore, Living Proof Ministry Conference and I would highly recommend it to individuals, families, friends and women’s groups. I may or may not have been living under a rock the last ten years, but I have never read one of her books or heard any of her teachings. Her team definitely were game on this weekend. I came hungry and received more than my fill. My hunger and desire for Jesus these days seems insatiable. The turning point is unclear when His Word and His Voice became a vital nutrient and daily requirement for my life but now I cannot seem to make it through a single moment of an ordinary day unless I know that the Lord is right there with me – walking arm-in-arm.

The first night of the conference ended after 9:00 PM and the parking garage was a crush. Glad the victory was won that night, because after hometown football games I have sat in the long line of cards with the bitter taste of defeat and a roaring belly. Sitting in the car packed in like tiny sardines, the most pressing matter in the moment became food. No one had really eaten since breakfast and all were getting hungrier by the minute. The only thing open that late was the usual breakfast clubs and a few burger joints. Votes were cast and due to the early wake-up call everyone decided on the latter. Now, I have not completely purified my diet but in the name of old age and trying to preserve this shell of humanity that covers me, I don’t eat greasy food much anymore, especially not late in the evening right before bed. I prayed a little prayer that the Holy Spirit would but His Hand on my stomach and protect me. Once in the booth, I really didn’t need a menu. We all ordered the same cheesy, greasy, double patty burger loaded with fries and milkshakes, Lord help us – we were now committed.

When the sweet waitress delivered the food, I am sure to other patrons it must have resembled a school of piranha in the Amazon River. My daughter confessed later that she did not even remember consuming the pile of fat and calories. Every person who engaged in the frenzy agreed that the burger was the best they had in a long time. Food was delicious. I had to smile inside. Was the burger really so tasty? The fries cooked to perfection? The milkshake filled with all the creamiest richness? Or was our perception of the food based on our appetite conditioning our desire? Or our hunger that led to desperation? When our appetite was fulfilled and our desperation turned to satisfaction, suddenly the burger was praised. I think you know where this is going so let’s just dive in…

O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good; how blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who takes refuge in Him. I have been a Christian since I was eleven years old when I invited Jesus to come inside my heart and live there forever. I did not fully understand what I was asking or how it would happen, I just knew that He is who I desired based on the recommended by others and the little bitty hunger that rose up in my heart that day. It would take hears for me to develop a true desire for Jesus Christ in my life. However, once we do “taste and see” for ourselves – no one can change our mind. No one will convince our group that the burger on our plate and then in our stomachs the night before last was anything less than perfection. However the Truth is that the burger really was not that great for us. Some experienced a bit of gastric distress but deemed it worth it in the end. Hear me today! To taste and see that the Lord is good requires dining at His Table. In fact, Jesus is always knocking on the door to our heart asking to share a meal with us. (Revelation 3:20) Too often, busyness or cares of life or fear of expectation keep us from allowing Him to come and satisfy our heart with His Richness and Goodness so we pop in another microwave, quick-gratification meal to keep us from experiencing those hunger pangs or feelings of desperation just a little bit longer. The Lord has desires. He is desperate to bless you and me. To make us fortunate, prosperous because we are favored by God. Too many times, we choose something less to meet the current need rather than to experience a rich and satisfied life. (John 10:10)

O [reverently] fear the Lord, you His saints (believers, holy ones); for to those who fear Him there is no want. Fear is a powerful force. There are two kinds of fear. The first and most understood by people is the feeling. Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by perceived danger, evil or possible pain where it is real or imagined. This is not the fear expressed in Psalm 34:9 yet the reality of faith for most people. They fear God’s judgment and punishment because they have not fully comprehended the authenticity of His Unconditional Love and Amazing Grace offered in the Person of His Only Son, Jesus Christ. When Jesus lives in us, and by chance we fall in love with Him. The bond creates a union so that when God sees us – He does not see our sin but the Beautiful Face of His Son and the sacrifice offered to rid us of it. Fear arises from doubt in the sufficiency of God’s Grace and is often shrouded by religion rather than true fear of the Lord arising from confident trust in the relationship offered when we yoke our life with Jesus Christ. The fear that offers us a fully satisfied and completely content life is found in reverence for the Lord. Fear defined as reverential awe. Reverence is the feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe and the outward manifestation of it. It is to have faith and trust the Lord. When He acts upon His Promises as a result of this attitude, it only deepens and widens our capacity to love and trust Him more. Reliance becomes inevitable. Our hunger will grow. Our desire deepen. Our appetite will increase for more of Him. All of this will create people who are desperate for all of Jesus.

The young lions lack [food] and grow hungry, but they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing. Yes, I am convinced that our perception of the hamburger the other night was based on our hunger and need for food rather than the reality that it was that tasty or divine. It just hit the spot. Somebody needs to hear this today. You live from day to day even meal to meal on less than God’s Best driven by natural desire and hunger that force you to compromise and live on less. No experience will do this every time. Young lions lack food and grow hungry. BUT… But God… But they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing. Food is a daily necessity for healthy growth and development. The Lord invites us to His Table today. He is the Bread of Life. Communion is not just for certain Sundays but welcomed in every day of our life with the Lord. It is up to us to make better choices in our consumption. The day after eating the burger and fries guess what I was craving again? You guessed it. I was ready to consume more of it. It is up to me to decide what the best choice including the things I take in to my life naturally, emotionally and spiritually each day. I must choose what I consume based on the desires for each area of my life.

Galatians 5:22-24 (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. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.

I am so thankful today for the Spirit of the Living God who resides inside me. Not only is He an excellent life coach but the Holy Spirit produces fruit in me that will produce complete satisfaction in my hungry heart. He offers things like love, joy, peace, and yes, even patience to wait for the right thing rather than grabbing the first thing that comes along. He offers me kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness in such abundance that I have no other choice than to share it with others. He also provides self-control so I will make better choices in all areas of life. Why do we limit God to the super-spiritual when He offers to bless, prosper, multiply and increase every are of our natural and spiritual existence? All I must do is choose to bring my choices, appetites, desires and even passions to the Cross and hand them over to Christ for inspection. He does not shame me in those things that are not good for me, but rather always offers me something so much better than I might have settled for. His Word instructs me to choose better. His Spirit leads me to those things. I have the opportunity to live a life defined as rich and satisfying. It is up to me if I will choose it.

Psalm 37:3-5 (AMP) Trust [rely on and have confidence] in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed [securely] on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him also and He will do it.

Our desire for the Lord will turn to delight by tasting and seeing that He is good. To know if a certain food is palatable to us requires tasting or trying it. This is a commitment. I cannot sniff and decide it worthy of consumption but must put it in my mouth, roll it around and swallow it. You will never know or experience the fullness of God available in Christ until your faith tries Him by trusting Him. We must rely on Him some to develop confidence in the Lord. We must “feed on His Faithfulness” to see the remarkable changes produced by such a choice. The Lord wants to give you a rich and satisfied life unaffected by the temporary problems, troubles, trials or even distractions. Once you experience the Goodness of God, you will never be the same. It changes us from the inside until suddenly there is a deep desire that becomes desperation. Now no longer do we want His Hand but all of His Heart. This will lead to the everlasting lifetime of called glory to glory which produces an abundance of love, joy and peace in our life. It raises our standard of living to the God’s Standard again. Right here. Right now. His Love is amazing and overwhelming. The question has been posed – How do you eat an elephant? The answer is simple. One bite at a time. You get to choose when and where you will decide to taste and see that the Lord is good. Why not today? Why not now?

Matthew 5:6 (AMP) “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.”

Reviving Relationships

Reviving Relationships

Proverbs 11:30 (NLT) The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.

It’s a girl’s weekend – Woo Hoo! My mom, sister, sister-in-love, oldest daughter and I have ventured to a women’s conference out of town. Over the years, the Lord has grown our family and knit us together beyond the commitment of family to the covenant of friendship. We do not get to choose our familial relationships. It is ordained by God and heredity. However, friends are not the same. We do decide who is allowed in the inner circle of our lives. Those who can be trusted to share life with beyond superficial communication and ordinary contact. Some people are wonderful at maintaining such connections. Thoughtful and dedicated to each relationship. Others not so much. I see it in my own family among my children. Some are social and make friends easily. Some not so much. Others gather friends easily and others move from one friend to the next.

It always happens once reconnected with these ladies. I remember how much I love them and miss them in my everyday life. We live in different places. From Missouri to New Hampshire to Florida, yet put us in a room together and the laughter begins to flow as words and stories fill the room. I love that. I cherish that. We are called to be friends and have friends. God loves relationship. He loves friendship. He created families and encourages us to be friends. Yet, the enemy attacks such a kinship daily. Strife lingers in most families deemed imperfect and dysfunctional. It’s not a people problem. It is a sin problem. The only solution for sin is the Blood of Jesus that provides us a sufficiency of grace to draw from and spread all around.

The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life. Each day our life is comprised of a series of sowing and reaping. Planting seeds for the next season and harvesting the crops of the last. Those who sow love, grace and friendship will receive the same. But if I feel alone, isolated and lacking in this area, the Lord will provide every seed I need to sow it into my future. Wise people are those who sow God’s Word in their life to allow its promises to grow will make the decision to pursue relationships and work to maintain them. Why? It fills our life with His Love, Grace and Goodness as it multiplies around us.

Luke 1:39-42 (NLT) A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.

As many know, Elizabeth carried John the Baptist who would become the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Mary had just been told by the angel that she was carrying the Son of God. Jesus and John the Baptist were destine for friendship. Mary and Elizabeth were cousins. Mary chose to go to her cousin who must have been her friend and confidant to share her good news. When she arrived on the threshold of Elizabeth’s home, the baby inside of her swelling form leapt with joy. It says that in that moment, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. God has made an investment in those who He predestined for relationship. The seeds in others hidden for us as a deposit to be discovered in the midst of friendship. He ordained this between Mary and Elizabeth. He also ordered it for the next generation – Jesus and John.

We must learn the value of friendship. If we understand that it is ordained by the Lord and blessed by the same, it will become worthwhile. It is essential to becoming the Body of Christ rather than a dysfunctional and barren union that lacks productivity or prosperity. Friendships should be evident in the Body – the whole Bride of Christ is to be presented without blemish or handicap to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords which is not possible if it is all torn apart. Relationships are messy. Family drama just plain foolishness. It is much easier to shake the dust off our feet and walk away then to fully engage and fight for friendship. The Lord has blessed friendship. He loves harmony above all things.

Psalm 133:1-3 (NIV) How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

I struggle reading the story of Job. Engaged in the good fight for faith in the midst of great tragedy and devastation, I find his friends religious and annoying. They are constantly berating him and accusing him and seemingly judging him. I wonder why Job keeps answering their knock on the door. I think as I sat scraping my sores with fragments of pottery with a broken heart and tear-stained face that I would probably respond to their intrusion with a “go jump of Mount Sinai” retort. Job continues to engage with them. It was well worth his time. In Job 42, the Lord instructs Job to pray for his friends and so he does. It is immediately following the restoration of friendship through forgiveness that “the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!” (Job 42:10) Could there be a blessing that we are missing due to an unwillingness to nurture and maintain friendships in life? Absolutely! What the Lord does for others He will do for us? He has no favorites. I am God’s Favorite Child just like you are.

Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT) “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Elizabeth and Mary experienced the Power of Agreement when two friends become one by faith. The Holy Spirit joined them right then and there. This is the same promise given to us by Jesus in this passage. Ecclesiastes 4:12 elaborates with A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Relationship is God’s Security in our life as it unites the Body of Christ in to a faith-fighting machine. The enemy is powerless against God’s People standing together as one. We must seek to agree with our family and build strong bonds of friendship within each structure. Our families include those given by birth or joined by association. Any seed of potential friendship that is not cultivated is purpose left to die in the ground. Real friends have bonds closer than family ties. (Proverbs 18:24) It takes work. It requires our attention. We need the Fruit of God’s Spirit to feed and nourish godly relationships in our life to build long lasting and diehard friendships. Iron sharpens iron. (Proverbs 27:17) It smooths rough edges and breaks off hard parts especially in our hearts. We need those kinds of friends to grow, mature and develop in our walk with the Lord. They are the very ones who God uses to speak instruction, wisdom and direction into our lives. These are the ones who will be His Voice to us. The heartfelt counsel of a friend is valuable and sweet. (Proverbs 27:9) The Lord has hidden treasure in each one to be unearthed and bound in Heaven to experience blessings only given by a good, good God!

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

If we only knew the promise hidden in real abiding relationships called friendship, I believe it would become a priority in our life. God has given us such an opportunity to be empowered by investing our life in others if only we believe. I will admit that I have taken relationships and friendships for granted countless times in my lifetime. Allowed distance or even dispute to separate me from people who I know the Lord has specifically placed in my life. There is no such thing as a coincidence for those called by God just constant opportunity to experience His Grace, Goodness and Glory like gentle waves washing over our life. The enemy wants to make us think that people are the problem when really they are the reality of blessing in our life. No greater love for Jesus is shown than when we lay down our life for our friends. It is not all about the big things but each day giving up a little bit of my way to maintain peace and prosperity in friendship. God blesses every relationship that is harmonious and unified. He loves it. His Spirit cannot help but come in the midst of such agreement. Maybe we have missed the true meaning of revival. Maybe just maybe it will begin with the restoration of true friendship and real relationships in the Body of Christ that cause an outpouring of His Love too great to deny! We won’t know unless we try! We can start with our family and work our way out until ripples become a current that changes the atmosphere with His Love. We must revive relationships and be committed to friendship to experience the Fullness of God’s Love.

Romans 15:5-6 (NLT) May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thief Among Us

Open Window

John 10:10 (NLT) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

There is a thief among us. He tried to climb through the window of my mind this morning and steal the joy rising with the morning sun. He tried the handle to my heart hoping to get his foot in the door. Little lies spread all around like almost unnoticeable traps carefully laid to ensnare my foot or cause me to stumble. His pursuit is relentless. He wants all that is mine. Not for himself because he cannot have it. Jesus has given me a rich and satisfying life. The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy every good thing that God has for me. It is his purpose. It is the onslaught in each moment of every single day that there is breath in my body. Jesus has overcome the world. I have the same power that rose Him from the dead living in me. He is becoming greater as I become less yet in the moments of attack – my thoughts can be misled, deceived and even easily overtaken no matter how far I walk this journey called faith.

I am not generally given to worry. Stress is not something I easily take on. I would not classify my thoughts as anxious. My nature is contrary to such think. I relish in optimism. I believe that when the thief finds his way into my life that it is a bit more difficult to fight back because it is not a battle that I fight every day.

Psalm 127:1-2 (NLT) Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

From time to time, a door may be found unlocked in the morning or the garage door left open the night before and my husband is most unhappy. He is concerned that our carelessness could have allowed an intruder to easily enter and put our family at risk. I, on the other hand, possess a very different perspective on life. I thank God for His Protection and move on. I believe that while both mindsets have strengths and weaknesses that is more prudent to check doors and windows routinely to make sure each one is secure. Many years ago arriving home after a long day, I noticed the door leading from the garage inside the house was cracked open. I did not think too much about it because our little dog sometimes would push on it looking for us and if not closed tightly it would do the same. The children went on high alert immediately. I scoffed at their concern and began give them instructions for the afternoon. Well once inside, it was clear that things were not okay. Thieves had come and helped themselves to valuable contents inside the home and now our children were fearful that they were not safe inside their own house anymore. We must secure not only the doors and windows of our home for safety and security but we must close tightly the entrance to our heart and mind as well.

We become busy and distracted with life and soon the cares and worries of life become burdens to us. Dependency on Christ gives way to insecurity and soon the weight of the world falls squarely on our shoulders. How we feel overtakes what we know and overwhelming fear, worry, stress and anxiety hold us captive. God did not give us the spirit of fear but how many times do we simply take it? The Lord has given us the ability to pursue potential and passion in our natural life. However, it is to remain secure in the Kingdom that gives our potential purpose that is able to become a rich and satisfying life.  

Luke 12:32-34 (NLT) “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

It gives God happiness and exceeding pleasure to give me the Kingdom. He wants to give it to you, too. The Lord promises that He will “accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” That is a lot by anyone’s standard. He wants to restore the glorious standard of living that sin and the enemy stole from us. Jesus is giving us back our birthright. It says, “So don’t be afraid…” As believers – there is an opportunity to give up this life and secure the Kingdom. Not just futuristically but practically – even today. It begins with peace of mind. The kind of peace offered in Isaiah 26:3 – perfect peace. The Holy Spirit is our helper who teaches us and instructs us. (John 14:26-27) He takes God’s Word and inscribes its meaning for us on our heart until all that we know is the Love of God and Grace of Jesus Christ which will change how we think about life in general. Do you believe that Jesus Christ overcame the world? (John 16:33) Do you believe that He has given you the Keys to the Kingdom for your security and use? Faith is the first step to perfect peace. It is the gateway to a secure place in life where confident hope leads to complete trust lacking no good thing. With met expectations taking the place of those unmet by other people, it is the freedom to pursue God wholeheartedly without divided interest.

Luke 12:25-26 (NLT) Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

Worry, stress, fear and anxiety are all byproducts of insecurity. I know I don’t like to hear that word any more than you do but it is true. When I worry about a situation or stress over life, it is an immediate red flag or alarm that the thief is attempting to break in. The most precious commodity given in life is time. You cannot replicate or reproduce it. Once a single second is gone, it is gone forever never to be reclaimed. Worry cannot add a moment to our life but rather wastes it completely.

The cares of life – food, shelter and clothing are all covered for the creature by their Creator. Yet, we think that it is up to us to do something when He already did it all. We worry about the minutest details of life especially what we do not have so much that sometimes it keeps us from seeing clearly all things that we do have. To worry, stress and fear over our well-being is characteristic of limited faith. Faith that only goes so far in need of conditioning. The enemy is always willing to offer a lie for the Truth. It is tempting to take it. However, then with his foot in the door, he will quickly fill our heart and mind with countless fears and many worries in an attempt to steal our peace, kill our faith, and destroy our life. Faith must lead to confidence in God’s Ability and Willingness to do infinitely more than we can think or ask. However, doubt tells us that God’s Promises are not good enough and it is up to us to add to it.

Hebrews 12:15-17 (NLT) Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

The enemy pounced on my thoughts last night, continued in my dreams and I awoke fighting fear and worry this morning. I am willing to admit my humanness. Are you? There are days when faith carries us and other days it is a fight just to keep it. Faith must overcome insecurity every single day. People are at an extreme disadvantage because I have nothing to offer God to reciprocate His Love and Generosity of Grace in my life. Nothing. In fact, before the day is over, I will most certainly fail Him several times. I have no reason other than faith and trust to believe that I am somehow worthy of limitless and unconditional love that leads me from victory to victory and glory to glory. Jesus is the only reason I have any kind of real purpose and potential in my life. With that being said, I cannot help but wonder if it is not always the thief stealing from us but sometimes us. Do we give up our birthright for a single meal as Esau did? In Genesis 25, Esau was “starving” so he offered his brother, Jacob who was an excellent cook, his birthright for one meal. One might think Esau was either really hungry or Jacob an even better cook than described or could it be that Esau did not value his birthright? I know…stung my heart a little (or a lot) to think that rather than the enemy stealing what God has given me that it might just be my own doubt and insecurity giving it away. Leaving the door to my heart open and the windows to my mind unsecure, allowing the enemy to come into my life and steal what God has so graciously given me or promised to come.

In Genesis 27, Isaac is nearing death and giving his final blessing to his children. Esau wept bitterly before him as it is clear Jacob has received the blessing. Jacob duped him again. Or did he? Finally, Isaac, shares these words with his devastated child, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” Read that last sentence again with me…”But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” What if it is me? I have been given a birthright. I am a Child of the Living God. I have Christ living in me. He overcame the world. Could it be my own doubt and insecurity causing the limitation of faith and prosperity in my life because I do not believe or understand the value and worth of my birthright so I give it away?

We give ourselves to worrying about people. (Matthew 7:2-4) We stress out about our position in life. (I Corinthians 7:20-22) Fret about what might or might now happen. (I Peter 3:13-15) We allow bitterness to take the place of forgiveness. Our heart is driven with desire for more and a hunger for this world rather than satisfaction and contentment in Christ. Crying out for His Word, Will and Way in our life – we leave the doors and windows of our heart and mind open so the moment God pours it in the enemy quickly snatches it out. I am asking the Lord today to “search my heart – point out anything that offends Him – and to lead me to the everlasting – not temporary and worthless. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Lord has created and called us to live peace-filled and satisfied lives. If that is not reminiscent of your life today, it doesn’t mean it cannot be. It is up to you and I to take hold of our birthright as Children of God, secure it with faith, fasten it like an anchor called confident hope to our life and decide to trust the Lord each day. Trust is a choice. Faith is an investment in the Kingdom of God not useful in this life. If you can do it, you don’t need faith to have it. We must decide the new life in Christ is worth having and invest our whole being in becoming the new creation that He promised. We must secure the door to our heart and fasten the windows of our mind to ensure that every thought and motivation are subject to the Gate Keeper, our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. (John 10) There is nothing left for Jesus to do. The rest is up to you and me. Will we choose to let the thief in or shut him out of our life for good? There is a thief among us. He wants to stop us. Our faith is his death and defeat. Jesus has given us the victory now it is up to walk in it confidently and consciously each day. Securing our life with more faith and confidence in God than ever before so every stronghold of insecurity is smashed by it. True freedom in Jesus Christ produces a rich and satisfied life that begins in our heart and mind. It is called peace. Peace leads to everlasting life and hope that will never cause us disappointment.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Wrestling with God

Wrestling With God

Ephesians 5:21 (NLT) And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The struggle is real. To learn to submit is a far greater discipline than most. I remember the first day I heard the word “submission”. Preparing for a women’s conference at church, in the copy room. My husband and I had a rift the night before and I was looking for support from a close friend. Expressing my frustration about the situation and, of course, HIS stubbornness causing me great aggravation, I didn’t hear her careful footsteps coming up behind me. Turning me mid-packet with her hands gently on my shoulders, she lovingly yet firmly looked me in the eye and said, “You must learn to submit to your husband.” Say what? My gaping jaw slammed shut and my mouth became dry. I know that there was fire in my eyes that gave away the fury in my belly about that time. Had she not been listening? How could she say such a thing? Like a basketball thorn unsuspectingly, her words hit me in the stomach and bounced on the ground at my feet. To be honest, I stewed for the rest of the day. I avoided conversation and contact with her immediately following that conversation. I had no response. Oh, I was reeling and ranting in my head and the filter right behind my mouth – but nothing.

The Word of God is clear. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Submit from its earliest Latin conception means to yield, lower, let down, put under or reduce. It means to yield to the power or authority of another. To be subject to certain influence. To present for approval or consideration of another. The Lord has spoken on submission and it remains clear that our reverence for Jesus Christ should promote such behavior. He is not asking us to become human doormats or accept abuse at the hands of an oppressor but rather to give up our way to embrace the humility demonstrated by Jesus for others. It means giving up our rightness to maintain righteousness according to the Grace of God given through the Love of Christ and the ability to effectively demonstrate unconditional love and overwhelming grace. It is forgiveness. Not once, but constantly forging deeper and stronger relationships through the release of self.

It is the “and further” moment in life when our soul longs for satisfaction. It is often representative of human interaction rather than any other opportunity. We are called to submit to others as a form of worshipping Christ. We wrestle with that. The struggle is real. To give up our way, wants, needs and desires to experience the fulfillment of Christ seems appealing on paper, but completely overbearing in life. It is, however, the beginning of the giving our life away described as acceptable offerings by the Lord.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Sacrifice is against human nature. Our instinct is for survival. Our flesh rebels against daily crucifixion with Christ. It rebukes the nails that hold our passions and desires to the Cross. Yet, in our heart, we long to worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth. Therefore, something must give. Will it be my way or God’s Holy Highway? It is foolishness to think that going my way that I can have His Way. It is naturally impossible. Impatience and lack of endurance makes us think that we are capable of deriving God’s Best from our own perpetuated imperfect plan. We give up on waiting and watching while living a disciplined and purpose-filled life of faith, hope and trust in the Lord, but instead do our own thing and balk at the results. To be a living sacrifice requires giving up or it is only an offering. Such a giving limits the increase and abundance of God in our life by boundaries set by self.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. I know how you feel right now. I felt the same way when my dear friend introduced me to submission. I thought she was crazy to tell you the truth. I didn’t believe in the power of submission but could only see its weakness. I couldn’t perceive its reward just the risk associated with such behavior. To submit to the Lord by submitting to others is NOT what you may be thinking. It is to release yourself and humanity from your expectation and putting all our faith, hope and trust in the Love of God and His Caregiving of us. The world will tell you that submission is weakness. I will testify today that submission to the Lord is power. Submission to the Lord is to submit to all mankind.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NLT) So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What if the very thing that you think God is using to break you is really an attempt to remake you? What if the giving up of your way is essential to claiming His Best for your life? Are you convinced now? Of course not. The risk seems to outweigh the reward. How many times have I heard I will forgive them but not forget what they did to me… Our stubbornness and unwillingness to submit certain areas of our life creates boundaries to God’s Grace reaching those areas. I must submit my life to grace in order to receive it. I must sacrifice my life by submitting it to the Lord through careful and complete submission of each area day by day.

Submission to God’s Way is all the way. When Samuel approached Saul about his disobedience, Saul insisted that he did obey God. The Lord told Saul to completely destroy the Amalekite nation including “men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels and donkeys.” They won the battle but Saul chose to spare the life of Agag the king, and some choice animals for sacrifice. Saul kept everything that appealed to him. When Samuel arrived, Saul boasted his obedience. The Lord pointed out the error in his way. “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” Partial obedience is disobedience. Deviance is rebellion. Submission is sacrifice anything less is an offering. If my desire is to sacrifice my life in obedience to Christ, it will require me to submit my way. Give up what I want and fully embrace the Lord’s Desires and Design for my life. The Lord is clear. His Word is the same today. Still true in every way…Obedience is better than sacrifice. Submission is better than an offering. To have God’s Plan means giving up our way to fully pursue Him.

Genesis 32:24-31 (NLT) This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said. “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.”

Are you wrestling with the Lord today? Jacob wrestled with the Lord. He left his home long before this night to save his life. He had stolen his brother’s birthright. He had manipulated his way to the firstborn position. He fled for his life. He served Laban well, marrying his two daughters, bearing eleven sons, and building a powerful estate. It was time to go home. I cannot imagine the conflict within him that night as his family waiting on the other side of the river. I think everyone comes to this point at some juncture of life. The turning point when control is surrendered to submission. It is a breaking process that releases the breakthrough promise. He had every right to march back into his homeland with his head high. He left with nothing and came back a successful man. He had been given the birthright. The land and honor belonged to him. He was right, but Jacob wanted God’s Blessing. He desired righteousness first.

The Lord gave Jacob a new name. He would no longer be the “supplanter” who had to overthrow others for his position in life. His new name would be “Israel” which means “triumphant with God.” No longer at odds with the Lord, Jacob now Israel had chosen the better way. He didn’t have to fight his way through life or struggle for success. God gave Him victory in his relenting to the Lord. Submission is always the best way. Note that as he left that place of victory, he was limping because of the injury to his hip. Submission marks a changed and transformed state to the believer. The transition point when all of me is given to all of Him through giving my life as a living sacrifice. It is not what I can or cannot do but my willingness to do it all for the Glory of God.

I cannot tell you the many blessings and benefits in my marriage as a result of submission to God first and then my husband. Giving up my strength and reveling in human weakness that allows the One who is greater to live through me. It is called submission and smacks of all things unpalatable to people. It is fragrant aromatic worship to the Lord. He desires it more than anything else. To give less to God who has given it all for us to live in His Love seems so senseless, yet we do it every day. God – teach me to submit to all people in reverence to You today. May I find the fullness of Christ in pouring out my life as a living sacrifice – the kind that is holy and acceptable to You, Lord!

Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT) You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.