It’s A Stretch

It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Every Blessing

Every Blessing

Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.

I am blessed. Truly blessed. I am blessed beyond that which I could have ever imagined. To think that there could possibly be more is incomprehensible if I assess my life from the beginning. All the times I messed up, fell short, wandered off or completely rebelled against God – yet somehow sitting at my desk, looking outside, hearing the birds singing, smelling coffee brewing in the air conditioned comfort of my home – I am definitely blessed. I am a sinner. I sin every day despite every effort not to. I serve God yet still get lazy or remiss in my duties. I read His Word every day yet still stumble over lies and half-truths. My imperfection puzzles me when it comes to the blessings of God that still overtake me. How about you?

How is it possible to be blessed in our imperfection? How can God take all the details of our life and make good of them? Falling short and failing often – how is it even possible that every spiritual blessing is still available to me? The beginning of blessing is perspective. Perception is everything to those who walk by faith and not by sight. We must see our life through spiritual eyes guided and led by the Holy Spirit to walk in the blessings and prosperity of God. To live a life of rejoicing in every small beginning and victory rather than focusing on what we do not finish or have not won…yet. If I can learn to comprehend God’s Blessing – where it is and how it works? I will be like a tree planted by streams of water that yields fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

God’s Blessing is not a product of my ability to live right but provided by His Righteousness. The Spirit of Adoption makes every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places mine simply because I am a Child of God. The only thing I do is to accept my position in the Kingdom through salvation and repentance. Repentance is not kneeling before God constantly confessing what a terrible, weak person I am. It is turning over my sin and weakness for grace and power. I can only be holy and blameless through Jesus Christ so I must surrender my life to Him. He is the One who causes the seeds already planted in me along with faith to grow into the blessings and promises already ordained for me as my inheritance. By the virtue of Jesus Christ, I am redeemed and granted every blessing hidden in me once buried under sin and shame.

Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (ESV)  “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

Do you get mad when instructions for some assembly required are included? No, you get mad when they do not include instructions so you must either figure it out or wait for one to be mailed to you. Do you get frustrated cooking because the recipe has twelve steps? Do you get irate when shortcuts produce a less than fantastic meal or dessert? When the map application on your phone carefully details a route to your destination? What do you do? Follow it. If you decide to head off in your own direction and miss your destination, are you shocked and dismayed. Of course, not. Instructions guide us to success if followed and adhered to closely. Most of the time, you will get the intended or expected results. So why in the world do believers forego God’s Commandments? Instructions? Guidance? It is called the Law because God is Sovereign. He is not a man. He does not lie. He does not change His Mind. His outcomes are consistent. “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord God will set you high above all the nations of the earth and all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you.” Obedience is a choice. Blessing is always the outcome of obedience.

Now the mind-blowing revelation of it all…where is the blessing of God? It is not in His Word. It is in you! Seriously. Every spiritual blessing is hidden inside of you right now. You came into this world prepackaged with every spiritual blessing that would give you a rich and satisfying life. You even came with the fertilizer called faith. God gave you everything to prosper from the beginning to the end. It is all inside you. The blessing of God comes in the form of fruit. Read it. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Fruit comes from a seed given the place and time to grow from a seed into its full potential. All your fruit is blessed. However, seeds must be sown to grown. Seeds must die to their present form to release the fullness called potential. All seed have a purpose. You are filled with seeds of spiritual blessing. You take it everywhere you go inside of you. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

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

Further in Ecclesiastes 3, it says, “a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what has been planted…” Seasons are important in our life. Every single season from birth to death have meaning in the acquisition of spiritual blessings. To prosper means engaging in each season and continue to sow and reap along the way. God has a time appropriated for every matter under heaven. It is all under His Careful Watch and Control. What is His Purpose for us? Sometimes in the midst of drought or famine – our fear and doubt begin to attack our growing and developing faith. God does not help those who help themselves. God helps those who trust Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (ESV) What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 

The gain of a worker from his soil is dependent on the worker. Busyness can become a distraction. We look without for what lies within us. God will bless the work of man’s hands. The principle of sowing and reaping is not only spiritual but natural. Seedtime and harvest puts food on everyone’s table. I can invest all my time and energy in the workplace and have nice things. I have sown into it so I will yield something from it. Faithfulness will always have a reward. God placed eternity in our heart to reach for something higher than basic living. He has given us a measure of faith to sow with each seed. He has filled us with spiritual blessing. It comes in the form of seeds that will produce good fruit. It must be sown. It must be cultivated. It must be remembered. Many seeds produce fruit but the harvest is given to others because we abandon the field. God makes everything beautiful in its time. He does not forsake His Seed. We are not created or destined to beg for bread.

3 John 2 (ESV) Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

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

Spiritual blessings come from a prospering soul. Our life will not prosper or go well until it is well with my soul.

Galatians 5:23-25 (ESV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 

The Fruit of God’s Spirit feeds our soul. It prospers us from the inside out. We must live by the Spirit first and every spiritual blessing will follow. It is not determined by a long list of rules and regulations but rather a covenant. God’s Love for me provided me with a blessed and prosperous life. Jesus Christ died to pay the debt that kept me from it. Grace provides access to those blessings in my life. When I apply faith to every facet of my life starting with my heart and soul, something miraculous happens. The Favor of God called fruitfulness is restored and ordinary becomes extraordinary as the Heavens are accessible again. The enemy is attacking you because of the seeds of blessing and prosperity inside of you. As faith grows and godly potential is released, you become unstoppable because of Christ flourishing inside of you. Nothing is impossible for those who believe.

Proverbs 28:19-20 (ESV) Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

God has filled us with every spiritual blessing. I am blessed. You are blessed. My “land” belongs to me. It is my life. I choose what to plant in each season which determines the yield of each harvest. The blessings of God within us cannot be accessed apart from Jesus Christ. He calls himself the vine. He connects us to the source of life so that by faith each seed in us can prosper and grow. If you are only after God’s Hand, you are considered a robber and thief. The Kingdom of God is accessed through His Heart. It is a covenant relationship between the Father and His Children. As our heart and mind aligns with God and His Word, the productivity of our life will turn into prosperity. Every blessing is inside of you. It is a seed. Will you sow it?

Proverbs 10:22 (ESV) The blessing of the Lord makes rich and he adds no sorrow with it.

Lord, Help Me

Lord Help Me 2

Psalm 121 (ESV) I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Did you know that broccoli can cure cancer? No seriously there is a study that there are properties in this amazing veggie that can end these rogue cells attack. Lord, help me. Help me to see that people are trying to help when offering advice and articles such as this one to my son or even me. Our son has been in remission for almost four years now. People still send us information about diets that help aid in the fight against this horrible disease. I value their concern. I appreciate their good intentions. Really, I do…at least I try to.

There was a point in time about five years ago that every avenue of treatment was being explored. Our son was living in the realm of hope. Doctors were desperate for something…anything to save our son’s life. Not only were physical doors slammed in his face but financial wells of insurance dried up completely. We were living in a season of extreme drought and famine. Sitting in the hospital praying for God to help us – I would open emails or get texts about dietary changes that would heal our son. I would get so angry and frustrated in my desperation for a “real” solution. Our prayers were answered by none other than the Lord. There is no other explanation. He is alive when there was a 98% chance that he would die. He is well despite the fact that “if” he survived they only expected it to be for a couple of years at the most. God is my helper. The Lord helped our son. He is ready to help you, too.

People generally have good intentions. So it is only natural that when trouble comes or tragedy strikes – our eyes wander looking for a helper. Someone who will listen or give a hand. What happens when no one comes? What does one do when forgotten? How do we handle loads too much to be borne alone? Where is our help? What does it look like? The Lord has promised not to leave us or forsake us so why do we feel all alone sometimes? Maybe a more fitting word might be…helpless.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Perspective and perception determine our position in life. We must decide where our help will come from by where we look for it. I can turn to people and they will help as much as they are able. I remember in the beginning of our son’s battle and our journey of faith – people brought food to our family every single day for months while I was away taking care of him. Not just take-out – no friends – they cooked spreads of delicious meals for them. Our son’s friends who were attending college in the same town as his treatment would come by to visit and maybe play some cards or video games. In the beginning, we were literally surrounded. Facing a disease such as cancer can be a long arduous journey. It is hard to watch a friend endure the treatments or loved one with anxiety. It’s hard to watch another face what we fear the most. The enemy wants us to feel isolated, alone, and abandoned. It makes us easy pickings for his lies.

From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord. You will never gain such insight until every leaves you. I wish it were different but our eyes lead us most of the time. It is only when we cannot see any other assistance or exit from our current situation that we tend to cry out to the Lord. Yet, He is always ready, willing and able to help us. In fact, it is His Prime Objective and Innermost Intention to save, heal, deliver, and prosper our life. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. The faithfulness of the Lord keeps Him on high alert and always attentive. He doesn’t fall sleep on the job. He never changes. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. So if it’s not the Trinity’s fault we feel helpless and alone…who is it then?

Psalm 40:1-3 (ESV) I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

When our son was diagnosed, I sought the Lord concerning this turn of events. Recounting my allegiance to Him and then reciting His Word to Him as if He somehow forgot, I stormed the gates of Heaven and marched right up to His Throne. He told me, “Your son will live and not die.” I took that word and tucked in my heart and mind for safekeeping. I began to build my faith around it. There came a point in time that those words given to me by the Lord were all I had left to hang on to. Nothing…NOTHING pointed to a future only a funeral. Yet sitting in the darkness, I dared whisper them just one more time. God is our helper. If He says it – it will come to pass. His Word never ever returns to Him void. It is us. We are the problematic variable in this life of faith and believing. We do not wait on God. God is not into temporary fixes but triumphant recoveries. Jesus did not come for ties – He promised you the WIN! The Holy Spirit was placed in us to remind us of His Word and accompany us in our wait time. What has the Lord promised? Are you still waiting? Waiting and wandering are very different things. God is not diversified. He calls it double-mindedness. God is faithful to His Word…are you? Am I?

Mark 9:22-24 (ESV) And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

But if you can do anything…

How many times is this our prayer to the Lord? Rather than coming to Him with boldness and confidence in His Word as the Truth that governs our life and guides us to destiny – we come to him like a homeless and helpless beggar? God if you can do this one thing. Jesus if you can heal me. Lord if you can help me. Well, it is obvious in his response, Jesus was a bit irritated with the man’s lack of belief. All things are possible for one who believes. Do you believe today? Before you answer think about it. It is disheartening to think how many Christians do not believe and have no idea. Vacillating between yes He can to maybe He will to can He – as believers it is important to stand on the firm foundation of faith in Jesus Christ knowing that He will do exactly as He promised to those who believe. He is faithful even when our faith is flailing about.

Psalm 118:6-7 (ESV) The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

Please do not misinterpret these words today. People are important. Everyone who is in our life is there for a reason. God orders our steps and encounters along the way. He puts certain personalities in our path. There is purpose and meaning in every human connection in our life. We must come to know and understand that the Lord is on our side. He is always with us. No matter where we go, what we do, and even how badly we mess us. He is right there – on the inside of us. Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit who is our HELPER. He lives in us now. It is up to us to develop a partnership with His Spirit inside of us. We must become friends of God through faith and believing that He will never leave us or forsake us. Just one impossibility turned into a miracle will change your perspective forever. Just one instance when God’s Word comes to pass will change your heart and mind. Faith begins to grow in the fertility of a broken heart. Jesus knows and understands our feelings, emotions and pain because He experienced them all. He knows our weaknesses. He carried our burden. Let Him be your helper today. Lord, help me.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 54:4 (ESV) Behold God is my helper. The Lord is the upholder of my life.

Keep the Peace

Keep the Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the Instructions

Read the Instructions

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Raising five children, I am somewhat familiar with some assembly required. Many Christmas’ have taught me to dig through each box and find the manual ahead of time as there are just some things that Walmart doesn’t carry after midnight on such an important night. I realize that to some people that these are simply the manufacturer’s suggestions for construction. However, I ere on the side of caution in most things. Not all retailers provide clear instructions so sometimes I must rely on an occasional YouTube video or bloggers insight to complete the project. My advice for life – read the instructions. All of them. Count the pieces. Make sure all the parts are included. Lay it all out and patiently inspect it. Make a plan. Then, put it all together. In most cases, this will lead to your success.

It amazes me how many Christians (even pastors in recent studies) who do not read the Bible every day. It is our instruction manual for life. It tells us what to expect in a new life not based on this world but the Kingdom. It carefully outlines pathways of prosperity that lead to His Promises. It is our strategy guide to winning the battle against the enemy and even our flesh. There are so many good things in the Word for me that I cannot imagine not having it as part of my daily sustenance. It was not always like that. Like most people I did not understand how the Law could benefit me when all it did was convict me. I didn’t measure up. I fell way short of God’s Glorious Standard and the harder I tried to follow His Instructions the more inadequate I felt. God’s Instructions are for your good. He is leading you from the past into your future. He is making good of every detail in due time. The seeds sown by His Word always produce a good harvest of great abundance in our life. We must read the instructions.

All Scripture is breathed out by God. We must believe that the Word of God is from the mouth of God. To fully understand its potential is to know that it came straight from the Father through the Son to us. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh. (John 1) He came to demonstrate the story that mankind simply could not comprehend. God pursued the people with unfailing love – but they chose other lovers. He continually showered them with His Goodness – but they craved substitutions and counterfeits. He begged them to wait on Him – but they all wandered off. God is offering you today the opportunity to prosper in every promise and to benefit from every blessing. It is in His Word. It is all part of His Careful Instruction.

Profitable for teaching… We must read the instruction manual to understand the structure of God’s Kingdom. To know and realize how it works and comes together because it is not logical. Faith is illogical apart from the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. We cannot teach a truth that is not known. It is important to lean on God for understanding rather than relying on his teachers all the time. Why? God’s Divine Inspiration can be convoluted by man. Man’s interpretation of God’s Word may not work for you in your life. God wants to speak directly to you and your purpose. Teachers are good. Mentors are good. Pastors, leaders and the like – all good and beneficial but if God’s Word is not known to us – we cannot rightly discern if the one teaching us is credible. There are many half-truths taught each day readily consumed by people who are gullible. The Word is clear. People perish from a lack of knowledge. I don’t want to be that person. The profit of the Word of God is wisdom and discernment. These are especially important in the present day and age.

Now the part we don’t like so much – reproof, correction, and training. Ugh! All part of discipline. The life of a disciple is impossible apart from discipline. You cannot live apart from reproof, correction and training yet still be a follower of Christ. God is Sovereign. He is perfect. He doesn’t lie. He doesn’t change His Mind. God is constant. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus is the Word of God and never changes. If this is true (and it is), we are the ones who must change and be transformed. The Word of God is what recreates us from the inside out. His Word is reproves His Love for us each day. It is reminds us that His Grace is enough when we mess up which we will. It tells us over and over again that His Love never ends. It is steadfast that nothing can ever separate us from His Love.

Pride hates correction. Correction demands a response. To err is human but to continually commit the same mistake is sin. We cannot have God’s Best our way. God corrects us through His Word. We read it and are convicted. I have been in the Word daily for almost a year now. I have found that there are some habits that changed. There are some choices that are different. The heart absorbs the seed of the Word and things are produced in us that will begin to sustain our spirit and starve the flesh. Pride will always reject the Word because it demands a soulful engagement that leads to godly transformation that will always be the death of our flesh.

Training in righteousness. The goal of salvation is that believers would like in a right relationship with God. The Word tells us exactly how to do it. A daily manual of instruction to remind us who we are and what we are here to do. When we starve our soul, the flesh arises. It takes over with rationale rather than radical faith in the Living God. We must live in a constant state of training. Our heart is a muscle. If I go to the gym on a regular basis, I strengthen my muscles. When I stop going, I begin to get soft and weak again. The Word works our heart muscle into shape for the Kingdom. When we stop our training, we will become lax.

Deuteronomy 4:1-2 (ESV)  “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

God’s Word is the teaching needed that you may live and take possession of all that the Lord has for you. He gave it to you. You have to reach out and take hold of it. To love Jesus is to love the Word. To know Jesus is to know the Word. To live for Jesus is to live the Word. You cannot find a teacher who will add a new spin because the Word never changes. It holds secrets and truths to your purpose, promise and potential that no one else will understand but you. To try to live a godly life without God’s Truth about things is foolishness. To blindly walk in flailing faith is also foolish. You have a light that shines through all darkness inside you that is fanned into flame and fueled by His Word and its constant consumption.

John 14:25-27 (ESV) “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

When Jesus left to sit at the right hand of the Father, He did not leave us alone. He gave us His Spirit. The Spirit is our helper. He teaches us God’s Word. He helps us understand the Word. He produces the Fruit of the Spirit with it. Above all things – the Spirit takes God’s Word and uses it to give us peace. Not worldly peace – but when the earth shakes, normal falls apart or our heart breaks in a million pieces – there is still hope. We must learn to read the instructions. Build a firm foundation of faith. Continue in constant hope. Experience peace that passes all understanding.

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

The Sword of God’s Spirit is the Word of God. It is the weapon that deliver us from evil and illuminates the lie of the enemy set against us. To be a disciple or approved worker never ashamed by ignorance requires knowing and believing the Word of God. It is important to read the instructions. How can you be mad if you choose to forego them and things don’t turn out like the picture? How can you have God’s Way doing it your way? The meditation of my mouth and heart must agree. To speak the Word over my life means I must know what it says. To take the land I must know the plan. God has a plan. It is carefully outlined and detailed in His Word. The Word is not a mystery to those who choose to read it, study it, think about it, know it and believe it. It becomes a life source.

Psalm 119:28-34 (ESV) My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame! I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart! Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.

 

No Longer Orphans

No Longer Orphans

John 14:18 (ESV) “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

On this Father’s Day, many will celebrate the men in their life who have filled the prestigious role of dad. Dad comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The natural father given the title by sheer contribution would be the likely candidate for celebration. However, there are guardians, grandfathers and step-fathers that have become the bonus dad for many. Men who stepped up to fill the void or simply added to the enrichment of children who were not their biological children but their kids just the same. Some may even honor the spiritual fathers and mentors who have guided each one with love and divine discipline along the way. Dads will be honored on earth and in heaven today. Today is all about dad!

I am quite certain the song, “Good Father” will resonate in our churches in honor of God our Father. Sons and daughters of God will sing it out among those who remain orphans. Those who have not met the Father in person or allowed Him to manifest in their heart and mind will not understand the grace and goodness of unconditional love from our Father in Heaven who came to us in His Son. We can relate to the story of the prodigal son because most of us identify with his person. It is difficult to understand the heart of the father who loves without consequence or condition but welcome his son home with open arms and full reconciliation. Oh that we could know the Father’s Love today as it is not as one may perceive it.

John 14:8-11 (ESV) Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Philip thought his request reasonable in his misconception of Christ. He wanted to identify with the Son but needed to “see” the Father to bring it all together. Faith does not come by sight but by hearing. The Word stood right in front of him, but because Jesus did not meet Philip’s earthly expectation – he questioned the identity of Christ. The prodigal was in a pig pen eating with swine when the thought of being a servant in his father’s house seemed like a logical solution to his impending starvation. I will return home and ask my father to allow me to be his slave. He was looking for a consequence. He was convinced there would be a condition. Philip didn’t see the Father in the Son so he doubted. It didn’t matter how much love Jesus demonstrated or how many miracles that He performed. Philip did not believe. The prodigal did not believe that he was worthy of his father’s love so he sought his compassion instead. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to release the Spirit of Adoption for us. The Holy Spirit in us identifies us as sons and daughters of God. He is a good father. We are no longer orphans. The question is – do you believe?

John 14:12-14 (ESV) “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

The Spirit of Adoption gives us the right of receivership. Jesus Christ gave us His Spirit when we first believed. This is the Way Maker that restores a right relationship between God the Father and His Precious Children. Done. Complete. Powerful. Life. See there is nothing in heaven or the earth withheld from us as His Children but we do not live in freedom as His Children when locked in our identity as orphans. The prodigal spirit is that of an orphan.

Romans 8:14-17 (ESV)  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

You have received the Spirit of God. You do not have the spirit of slavery or fear for these are products of sin. You now have been saved from these terrible reminders of your past. The Spirit of Adoption given to us by Christ FULLY RESTORES our relationship with God the Father. Complete. Lacking nothing. You are a Child of the Living God with full access and benefits. We must learn to identify with the Spirit within that bears witness to our true identity. The One that reminds us in the midst of the storm or struggle that we are Children of God. The One who whispers the truth when the enemy is pummeling us with lies. The One who is always ready to receive us because He pursues us each day with unfailing love and goodness. His Goodness is for the land of the living. You are no longer left to feed on the crumbs under the table but have been given a seat AT the table. God will not force you to be His Child or live as part of His Kingdom. He simply has given us access. The rest, my dear friend, is up to you and me.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Your natural father is only a man. Any other father figure, like the one who partnered in your existence, is a human given to faults and failures just like everyone else. As we celebrate dad today, it is important to understand that although the one who is called father in your life may have disappointed you – there is one father who never disappoints. He will meet and exceed the expectation of His Children. Children exercise the rights of relationship. There is no prerequisite for a father’s love. As Children of God, our acceptance or denial of God’s Love does not change the fact that He is love and has chosen to adopt us as His Children. He has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ withholding nothing from us that was given to His Son – Jesus. It is easy to judge God by our human parental experience, but so errant and remiss. God is not an earthly father but our Father in Heaven. Nothing can separate us from His Love. He is constantly pursuing us and waiting for us to return to Him without reservation. He is ready to respond to our acceptance of His Spirit of Adoption today and every day!

You are not an orphan. You are not alone. God has not left you to fend for yourself. He is a Good Father.  He loves you and has wonderful promises hidden away just for you. It is discovered by accepting Him as our Father. The Perfect Father. We access Him through His Son – Jesus Christ. He gives us His Spirit which seals our adoption as sons and daughters of the living God. Every day is Father’s Day for those who believe. We celebrate adoption today because we are no longer orphans.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (ESV) And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Easily Distracted

Easily Distracted

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

I sat down with the youth of our church last week to talk about distractions. Using these two verses, we discussed some of the distractions in their daily life that keeps them from focusing on time with the Lord. In just a brief thirty minutes, it was as though the Holy Spirit was teaching the lesson. Rabbit trails and squirrel chases had us in fifty different conversations all at once. It took extreme discipline to wrangle everyone back on topic. It’s funny how that works in life. We are so busy running around like chickens with our heads cut off that we lose sight of Jesus unintentionally. He is the founder and perfecter of our faith that is discovered by following Him rather than seeing where exactly He is going. This requires paying attention to every detail such as His Word and communicating through prayer to know and understand what to do and when to do it. The benefit is at the end of the day peace overtakes us and the lie of the enemy causing panic is dissolved in truth. Let us run the race with endurance that is set before us. This indicates a marathon and not a sprint. One must live a life of self-control and discipline to find His Way. We must learn to cast aside the weight of sin, doubt and discouragement to live in righteousness, trust and hope. How do I get there from here?

Song of Solomon 2:15-16 (ESV) Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom. My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies.

I find it fascinating that these two verses are coupled together in the Word of God. It is an intentional dialogue and one that can change our focus immediately. Catch the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards. Your life is fertile ground. You have seeds of potential to be planted in faith. The enemy knows that God has promised you a prosperous and abundant life. He is not after the fruit of our life but rather to kill our potential. The distractions of life will cause us to stop plowing, planting, pruning, and preparing for a harvest. The little foxes ate away at the base of the plant and it died. They did not kill it but rather disconnected it from the source of the soil. Our source in life is Jesus Christ. He must be our beloved. We must decide that my beloved is mine and I am His. This commitment called covenant changes everything. It demands our attention. It is a union of one.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (ESV) “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

When Jesus Christ died for you and me, He gave us freedom. Real freedom to choose all over again the life that is lived in us and through us. We have life and good or death and evil. Life and good is only obtained when we choose to pursue God through the Love of Jesus Christ. His Grace gets us there. It is a choice to walk in His Ways, keep His Commandments, and to live and prosper in His Love. Bottom line – it is a choice. The life of my choosing is not the result of God’s Lack of Goodness or the Insufficiency of Christ’s Grace but my selection of something else. God does not offer a lower standard of living – it is up to us to choose it instead of abundant life.

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

To decide to pursue God’s Love is to believe that He is good. His Goodness is for you. It is for right here and right now. Those who believe will wait on the Lord. To be strong is not the absence of weakness but acceptance of amazing grace that affords unconditional love. The lie of the enemy is that God expects something of us other than just us. There is nothing I can do for the Lord – He did it all for me already. I cannot repay Him. I cannot in any way compensate the God, Father, Son or Spirit for the complete work. All I can do is accept it. To fully experience God’s Goodness is to fully believe that His Love for me is complete without my assistance. What a pride killer and ego buster? I am weak and helpless but all I have and all I am – I give to You – Jesus!

Philippians 4:4-8 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I love this “let your reasonableness be known to everyone”. The problem with our faith is that it is illogical. We are not convinced and so easily distracted from the truth by the lies of the enemy. We settle for less because there is doubt within us. Faith is reasonable when Christ becomes our beloved. When our relationship with Him is the foundation of all other things in our life. Fiction becomes fact when backed by Truth. To decide to pursue the Lord is not enough. We must be fully persuaded that God loves us and His Goodness is for us. Otherwise peace is compromised by rebellion and treason of the heart gives way to compromise because doubt is allowed to exist. We must focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy. This will silence complaints, grumblings, arguments and disagreement. When faith becomes a reasonable choose, it will be our choice every time. God’s Love is full of goodness. He is always good. He promises to make good of every detail of our life. It is all about believing enough to wait for Him.

Have you lost sight of the author and finisher of faith today? Have little foxes nibbled at your confidence a bit? He is the vine. We are the branches. Jesus will sustain you if you choose fix your heart and mind on Him today and stop allowing all the distractions whittle away at your faith. You are your beloved’s and He belongs to you. There is nothing that can or will every separate you from the Love of God or Christ in you… but you! Change your confession over your life today. Speak the Word not the world’s perspective. Make your faith reasonable and logical by putting God’s Word in action and living a life of rejoicing in all things. The enemy flees when we resist him. Be strong in the Lord today – He is strong in you!

Lord, I ask you to fill each person’s heart with the peace that passes all understanding. Put Your Mighty Hand over each fragile broken heart and guard it from the fiery darts of the enemy today. You are good! You love us. You pursue us with unfailing love. May each one of us accept your love, grace and mercy today – in Jesus Precious Name!

 

The Light

The Light

John 8:12 (ESV)  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

In a moment, the last breath is taken and another beautiful light is gone from the earth. Reading all the posts on social media, the light that one woman cast was far greater than she knew. She simply did as God instructed never pretending to be perfect yet striving for perfect love. Her character was that of a Titus woman called to build others and restore the broken hearted. Her hands bathed in the tears she had captured and arms heavy from the hugs she had given – it seems surreal that her work here is done. Laughing, crying and healing together – she spoke wisdom into my life. She was only a few steps ahead of me in time yet so wise in the depths of her soul. She is with the Lord today. Her light is not out as I thought it was waning but through the legacy of her life – somehow seems a bit brighter.

When my grandmother passed away so many years ago, many people offered their condolences. Their words were inspiration of another light in the dark shadows of the world. Though she never held a microphone, stood behind a pulpit or even conducted a Bible study – my grandmother gave off a similar light. People talked of her loving kindness. They told stories of her encouragement and generosity. Individuals pouring out volumes about her love. No one really mentioned anything about my Gram’s earthly accomplishments just how much she loved others. What a legacy to leave! Jesus create that legacy in me!

This is the legacy of light that God has entrusted us with through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.” But the Lord did not stop there but went on with a promise – “whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Those who are believers have the Living Light inside of them. We are but earthen vessels but our great potential is to cast off the Light of His Love hidden deep within. To love others as Christ loves us. To give our heart away with nothing to lose but everything to gain as our Light grows brighter with each new spark or tiniest flame.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (ESV) For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

God placed His Light inside of us knowing that we are all broken vessels. No one lives a perfect or sinless life but that cannot be our excuse but our exclamation. Every crack and crevice in the human heart has the potential, once filled with His Love, to illuminate the darkness for someone else. We do not give off artificial light but rather simply allow our passion for Christ to burn within us. To know Him is to love Him and to serve Him is to love everyone else with His Love.

Some people are really good at this kind of love. They are usually the most broken folks you meet because there is nothing left to hold on to. In their lifetime, the heartaches and disappointments that the enemy used to destroy them makes them perfect vessels to let God’s Love and Light shine through. They have no pretense but live transparently held together by His Love. Light shines though such people. God wants to shine the Light of His Love through you. I think sometimes it is human nature to try to present a Gospel that is not real rather than the True Love that is found. It doesn’t require bright lights, good seating, loud music or perfect people. No it begins with the confession – I once was lost but now I am found. It continues with extending the same love, grace, compassion and kindness to every person encountered for the rest of our natural lifetime.

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Yes – you! Inside of you is enough light to illuminate every dark place around you. His Name is Jesus! Inviting Him to live inside your heart is enough spark to start revival all around you. Today as I think of my dear friend and her living legacy of light – I must ask myself – Is my light shining before others so that they see God is good and give Him glory! When I came to the church I attend and met this mighty woman of God – my torch was dim. My heart so broken that the light inside was flickering in my tears. She helped me. She gave me some of the light inside of her to help me find my way back into the light of His Love completely. I will be forever grateful for my friend. I am so thankful for Jesus who gives us the Light of His Love to walk through dark places and times in this life with hope and revelation. Lord, help us always remember to be the light. To never give up but constantly fan the flame that you have placed inside us for all the world to see. In Jesus Name – Amen!

Fresh Springs

Fresh Streams

Proverbs 18:20-21 (ESV) From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

The proverbial warning is that death and life are in the power of the tongue. It is spoken and taught on a regular basis. Cautioned that every idle word will be judged according to its fruit. Though such a small part of a large organization, the tongue is the most powerful weapon given to mankind. We can start wildfires with one tiny spark. It can also put out raging ones with just a little of its soothing calm. Communication is the sowing of many seeds. What is growing in your life today? What is the fruit of your communication today? Are you satisfied? From the fruit of my mouth, my stomach is satisfied. I am satisfied by the yield of my lips. Faith has deposited seeds of potential in full measure inside of me. They are waiting to be sown. My words are part of the process. If my words are not life giving, they will be death to my potential. Words can take the life of my dreams and seal them in dark tombs of disappointment.

Proverbs 15:4 (ESV) A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

The gentle tongue is a tree of life. It takes a tiny seed to make a giant oak. God has called us to be “oaks of righteousness”. In our frustration, He is blamed when there is no growth or development of the promise that is in us. But maybe…just maybe… it is not God’s Lack of attention that is the problem but rather the poison flowing from our lips. Right and righteousness must be partners. I can be right about a lot of things. Righteousness is given to me only through Jesus Christ. My mouth my speak truth. Truth without love is the law and seals my fate. Each word is wrapped in the breath that God began in me and carries the fruitful potential of prosperity in my life.

James 3:7-10 (ESV) For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

Jesus has cleansed the church by the washing of water with the Word. The same Word is declared living and flows within us as a steady stream. It is useful in cleansing our conversation and watering the fresh seeds planted in communication. Blessing and cursing cannot come from the same mouth without nullifying itself. If you bless it, then curse it – something will die. You are created in the image of God. The Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is resurrection power and life, lives inside of you. You will make declarations on the earth. You cannot choose to be salty and sweet at the same time. You cannot be living water and a stagnant stream together. You must choose to be a fountain of living water. You must decide that you desire to bring life and not cause death. The taming of our tongue and monitoring of our words is not easy but vital in living the life that God has promised us. We must speak His Word. We must let Him be the gatekeeper of our lips.

Exodus 4:10-12 (ESV) But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Moses was commissioned to set God’s People free. He was to go and speak to Pharaoh. Moses used the excuse that he was “not eloquent…but I am slow of speech and tongue.” I wonder if that was really what was holding Moses back or could it be his pride. He was in exiles tending flocks in a hillside because he was a fugitive from justice. A murderer. He was once a palace dweller, but now living in a pasture covered in the smell of sweat and sheep. Was it really his ability to speak that was holding him back? Sometimes our mouth gets us in trouble and pride keeps us from making it right. Look what the Lord tells Moses, His Servant, “Who has made a man’s mouth? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be your mouth and teach you what you shall speak?” In Psalm 139:4, it tells us that even before a word is fully formed on the tip of our tongue, God knows it altogether, fully or completely. It means that before our body gave breath to that thought or idea – God had already put life in it. He knows the potential of our words and the rebellion of our tongue which means that Jesus has already provided sufficient grace to secure it. It means that the potential inside of our words always has goodness attached to it. Even when rash, callous, heated or ugly words are spoken, at the submission of pride, He will bring about new life.

Luke 6:45 (ESV) The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Our life is lived in seasons. God is constantly giving us the opportunity to sow and reap in a perpetual seedtime and harvest. What we sow in each season determines the harvest that will come. The great part is that our next season of life doesn’t have to yield the same as the previous one did. Because Christ lives in us – we have the promise of new life and becoming a new creation. Our words reveal the abundance of our heart. Harsh and hurtful words are often born of the same seeds planted deep within. It is up to us to filter our speech but first we must sift through the contents of our heart. A communication problem is a heart problem…at least that’s what God’s Word indicates. If the mind, soul and body agree than our words will duly reflect its unification, but if blessing and cursing come pouring out – it is time for careful examination. No one is exempt. We will be judged by the fruit of our life. The Lord is looking at our fruit. We must become fresh streams of living water to prosper as the Lord intended inside and out.

John 7:37-38 (ESV) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

What flows from our mouth waters the seeds of promise in our life? Abundance is born of living water that produces a harvest in our soul that prospers our life. You have this kind of stream inside of you. Release it today – in Jesus Name.

Proverbs 10:19-21 (ESV) When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.  The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.

Don’t Panic

Retro Red Industrial Panic Button

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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