Water on a Rock

Water on a rock

John 7:37-38 (NLT) On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

“I am like a drop of water on a rock. After drip, drip, dripping in the same place, I begin to leave a mark and I leave my mark in many people’s hearts.” These are the words of Guatemalan Human Rights Activist and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu. It is a declaration of persistence. A canyon is not formed by the hands of man but by persistence water flowing through it. What mark am I leaving on the hearts around me? Do I speak life to them consistently? Do I use word to confirm God’s Love and Affirmation of them in order to show them the Light? What is my impact on others?

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide and about a mile deep. It is the result of the Colorado River running through it. Man did not design it or carve it from the rock masses but a constant flow of water slowly and persistently eroding the hard surface. It is majestic. It is flocked to by many visitors each year attracting tourists to Arizona just to behold its breathtaking beauty. A national attraction of unintentional creation by the Hand of God carved from rocks with a simple flow of water.

Do you feel like the Word you share with others is like water on a rock? You try to share the Love of God through His Word and according to His Spirit, but you are just not seeing any results. Jesus told those celebrating that day, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me. Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! And, “Rivers of Living Water will flow from their heart!” The power of God’s Word is not by force but by persistence. God does not force us to accept His Love and Grace but offers it daily. In the morning, there is new mercies not according to our faithfulness but the Lord’s Faithfulness. Every promise is “yes” and “amen” for us and His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursue us no matter where our feet may wander. His Grace is enough. Always sufficient. Christ gives me overwhelming victory just because He loves me so. Calling me “more than a conqueror” as He completes the good work started in me. He manages to use every detail of my life for good and His Glory. It just doesn’t make sense and it is very simple. Maybe that is why people have a hard time accepting it.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 (NLT) I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

“Dripping water hollows out a stone, not by force but persistence. (Ovid) Some translations of this passage say, “Be ready in season and out of season” to speak the Word of God. It seems that in times of drought and famine in our life that the highest platform is given. What will flow from me when my feelings take over? When pressed? When angry, sad, hurt, betrayed or offended? What will be the words that flow from the depths of my heart? It is from the abundance of the heart our mouth forms thoughts, ideas and words.

We must carefully consider the contents of our conversation. The Word of God is the water and the Spirit gives it life. In John 7, the rivers of living water are a mixture of Word and Spirit that will flow from the heart through the mouth making our witness productive in promoting the Kingdom. We must find truth in the Word and allow the Spirit to teach us God’s Wisdom to share His Love effectively and communicate it to the world. Jesus told the woman at the well about living water. He encouraged her to worship in Spirit and in Truth. In that moment, she forget those she was avoiding and the people who shunned her with boldness she went to them and shared her encounter with the Messiah.

Our message to the world will never be effective if put on reserve. Waiting for the right moment to sow seeds is not advantageous. We sow seeds in every season so there will be a harvest for the next. Withholding God’s Word and His Love from others promotes seasons of drought and famine. God will prosper those who continuously sow in season and out of season including the seeds of His Word into others. Husbands are encouraged to love their wives as Christ loved the church even “having cleansed her (His Bride) with the washing of water with the word.” I wonder what would happen if rather than forcing our convictions on others and withholding the grace given to us by Christ – we chose to carefully bathe and dress the wounds of the broken and lost what might happen? If our vocabulary was a constant drip of God’s Love, Grace and Mercy for us to others who need it as much as we do. Sin becomes less palatable when love is properly seasoned.

Proverbs 18:4 (NLT) The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

There is life and death in our words. The depth of our soul is revealed in our daily conversation. The Fruit of God’s Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness AND self-control. Our words should bear heavy fruit of the Spirit’s cultivation in our heart and mind. Such words end famine in human hearts and begin spiritual reproduction in others. The first fruit is love. The Word defines love as patient and kind. It says that love is not jealous or boastful never rude or demanding its own way. Love is not irritable and always forgiving while not keeping record of any wrongs. Love rejoices in the Truth. The Truth concerning us is the Word. The Word is Jesus. Love does not desire vengeance but thrives on mercy. Love never ever gives up. It never loses faith. Always hopeful, it endures through every circumstance. Without love, I have nothing to offer and nothing to gain.

Luke 6:45 (NLT) A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Jesus didn’t change the world standing on a platform. He did not do it through a megaphone. He did it by walking, talking, living and breathing God’s Love. Jesus did not come to do His Will. He came to express the Father’s Love to us and make a way for us to come back into the family. It worked. Our heart is the treasury that contains His Word and His Spirit. A hard heart cannot flow living water. A stony exterior will stop its overflow. Our words hold the secret of what the contents of our heart may be. To express Christ’s Love effectively our heart must not only contain the Word and His Spirit but be soft enough to let it flow from our lips. We cannot give what has not been received. What are the words of my mouth today? Do they express God’s Love? Are they full of His Fruit? Do they satisfy those who hunger, thirst and desire a better way? Are they light that draw others from darkness? Are they salty enough to add flavor but not ruin the whole meal?

There is an urgency in our collection of water from the Word. Amos 8 warns that the Word of God will not be found in the future. Men will look for it and it will not be found. We must hide God’s Word in our heart so He is with us always. Moses experienced heartbreak when God told him to speak to the rock so water might flow from it, but he decided to strike the rock twice instead. The Word of God is to make a way from death to life and darkness to light. I must always use the Word of God and His Spirit according to His Purpose – not my own agenda. God’s Word is the water that washes away sin and heals broken hearts. His Spirit is the Living Flow that finishes the Good Work God has begun in us. Persistence is my pleasure. Not that I would see immediate results but that the constant drip of obedience to the Lord will make it through my stony exterior to the depths of my heart.

John 4:10 (NLT)  Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

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Conquered By Love

Conquered By Love

Romans 8:37-39 (ESV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Everyone wants to be a winner but not everyone believes they are a winner. Desire must become dedication. It begins with a thought. A dream of a destination exciting and elusive all at the same time. It will take a level of commitment that exceeds our own strength reaching down to the depths of our soul afraid to give up and never achieve the desire and dream that set our life in motion. The runner must go the extra step. The boxer must lift his weary arm for the knock out. The players must rally for the final minute. How far are you willing to go to be “more than conquerors”?

Reading all the trials and tribulations listed in Romans 8, “what then shall we say about these things? If God be for us who can be against us? Do you believe that there is victory in Jesus? We say it and sing about it but without believing it there is no real investment. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Shall tribulation (we have a few), or distress (hello, worriers and anxiety ridden friends), or persecution (feeling isolated today), or famine (anyone experiencing lack), or nakedness (insecurity) or danger (sickness, disease or bad choices), or sword (what is your best defense)…we must decide that the Love of God is greater than any problem or perplexity in life. The Love of God for us is always with us carrying us from glory to glory and victory to victory if it is our vehicle of choice.

Living in America, Christians do not face the same problems of early Christians. The struggle to fully embrace the unconditional love and overwhelming victory making us more than conquerors in Christ is still problematic. To become confident in God’s Love is the very thing that makes us more than conquerors. To desire Christ is not enough, but true dedication in pursuing Him is the pathway to victory many desire but few will reach.

Romans 5:7-8 (ESV) For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

God loves you. He loves me. From the moment of creation until today throughout forever, God’s Love for us is constant. Unending. Unyielding. Unconditional. It is love in the truest and purest form which causes us to stumble in consideration of all our faults and failures. The enemy doesn’t have to beat you. In fact, it is impossible for him to do so. He just has to convince you that you will not win so that you give up and quit. He can only claim victory by forfeiture. With this in mind, how many times have you quit? Given up? Given in to the thought – this will never happen? Why even try? Even in all our wanderings and wonderings about the validity of God’s Love including the insecurity that fuels doubt…God still and always will love us.

Jesus Christ is all about relationship. A loving and productive reconciliation of God and His Children. It is not contingent on anything I do, but completely on Jesus Christ. He is the Only Way to the Father. I have to go through Him by establishing intimacy with Him. Christ lives in me. His Spirit fills my heart with the Love of God for me so that the faith invested in me can grow in confident hope of His Love. The only justification of God’s Love that I have is absolute and concrete faith that Jesus Christ is enough. The Grace of God fully sufficient to cover my sins. Religion puts mandates on God’s Love and provisions of conviction that do not apply. God’s Love for me has nothing to do with what I do or how I do it. It has everything to do with His Son’s Life given for me. The payment was made in full. I am now given the opportunity to live a victorious and prosperous life in Jesus Christ. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” The hope given to us in Christ never ever leads to disappointment but from victory to victory.

Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

How can I be sure that I haven’t missed it? The church I grew up in taught that God’s Will was perfect. It was detailed as a straight line and there would be blessings and promises left behind if one wandered off course. It was very rigid. It was quite strict because after all God is Sovereign. How can imperfect people have God’s Perfect Will? How many times can I miss the mark and still reach my destiny? My heart believed that because I wandered that I could no longer have God’s “Perfect” Will so overwrought by discouragement – I decided there was no point in trying. God’s Love taught without the sufficiency of God’s Grace is pure religion apart from relationship. It’s not true.

You can have God’s Perfect Will. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or how far you have wandered. God’s Will for you is perfect because His Love is constant and His Grace is complete. Let’s go back to Psalm 139. Verses 1-6 tell us that God knows us inside out. He knows everything about us. The Lord has gone before you and hems you in from behind. His Hand is upon you. Verses 7 – 12 remind us that there is no place too far or too abased that will separate us from Him. Verse 13 – 18 now this is the text that helps us understand God’s Perfect Will. Every single day of my life was prerecorded by the Lord. He laid out a plan so that I would attain a future and hope in Him. He knew every mistake I would make, every place I would wander and every sin that I would commit BEFORE I was born. Makes sense when coupled with the verse His Grace is sufficient. The plan containing a future and hope is not some impersonal guideline for our life but a very intricate and detailed purpose for each individual specifically. It also says that His Thoughts about me are precious. God’s Love for me is tender and kind. He sees me for me. Thanks to Jesus – He sees me perfectly. Now jump over to Romans 8:28 – what does it say?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” The complexity of God’s Love is its simplicity. God is love. He loves us. He set His Heart on us and made the Way for us to come back to Him. Our life is a detailed plan of prosperity, promises, dreams, visions, and every good thing possible. It is not found in our abilities, but in our affection and affinity for Him. Quite simply to know Him is to love Him and to love Him is enough. If we could just become confident in the Love of God that leads us to victory, we would all be winners. When you love God, He brings all those broken pieces of our life together making a beautiful masterpiece.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

If only believers could truly know and understand the Love of God. It’s purity, validity and completeness. There is freedom in the Truth. The Spirit of the Living God in us is that of liberty. It is by grace through faith that salvation is established. I can do nothing to save myself or turn my life around. It is true repentance when religion becomes a relationship. When works turn into worship knowing full well that my value and victory is found in Christ alone. Apart from Him I am nothing. Outside of His Love I have nothing. I am God’s Workmanship. He made me. He knows me. And yes, He still loves me in spite of me. I am created for good works in Christ Jesus. God prepared this life for me. Just me. His Plan – to do justice (I am justified in Christ) – to love kindness (I am a new creation born of love and made to love), and to walk humbly with God. He leads me to victory. (Micah 6:8) My confidence today is that God loves me. Through Christ, His Love now can make me a winner in all things victorious. I am more than a conqueror just because He loves me! I am conquered by His Love to be more than a conqueror walking in victory every step of the way.

I Corinthians 15:57 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

His Love Never Quits

His Love Never Quits

Psalm 139:1-3 (MSG) Thank God! He deserves your thanks. His love never quits. Thank the God of all gods, His love never quits. Thank the Lord of all lords. His love never quits.

His Love never quits. The equivalent to “His Love endures forever” in other translations is mentioned 43 times in the Old Testament. From Genesis to Revelation, it is all about an enduring love that never fails. God is love. He loves us. The Father decided to love us when He created us. He was careful and specific in making us calling us “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) and preparing us to become “masterpieces” (Ephesians 2). The plan is complete from inception. No modifications. No do overs. No second thoughts. The Love of God given to us never quits.

Lack of faith and fear from realizing our full potential. We try to “do” all the right things. Live the right way. Make better choices. To be honest, I fail the Lord every single day. Doubt and disbelief live on the doorstep of my heart trying to gain access. Pride doesn’t want to die. My flesh has proven to be a formidable foe. When I am ready to give up rather than enduring, I wonder what might happen if rather than focusing on me, my inabilities, my failures, my feelings, and everything else that comprises my ego, I chose to focus on the fact that His Love NEVER quits.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

It’s not about me. It’s all about the Love of God for me. Me, myself and I were destined for death. When Jesus came to offer me a better way, I chose it. But did I really choose His Way, or did I want the new life without the new way? Do I want new life my way? How is that even possible? It’s not. The Sovereignty of God that works for us in that His Love endures forever means that He cannot change His Mind including His Complete Opposition to sin. It’s what makes Him who He is. His Word is the power and authority in our life because it is infallible. God doesn’t make mistakes and is completely confident in His Love for me. To become less is to accept His More.

Psalm 117 (MSG) Praise God, everybody! Applaud God, all people! His love has taken over our lives; God’s faithful ways are eternal. Hallelujah!

As God’s Love takes over our life, faith and confident hope are established. Not in my ability to do the right thing and never sin again, but full acceptance and acknowledgement of God’s Amazing Grace. The relationship that I am growing with Jesus makes sin less appealing because union with Him is more appealing. The things of this world fade to black while the Light of His Love attracts us to move in closer and keep surrendering more of our heart to engage in more of His Love.

Galatians 6:9-10 (MSG) So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

The more I know about the Lord, the less I understand the vast potential of His Great and Constant Love for us. Unconditional love is not possible in this world. Expectation creates certain conditions on love and relationships that must be met for the partnership to continue. But imagine this, no matter what you do God’s Love for you never ever fails. It is unending. It is not contingent on our love in return. It was in the beginning and remains until the end. I have seen Christians walk by faith and drift into darkness. I have found myself in the wilderness many times. But when I began to grasp the concept that no matter how far I wander, how deep in the darkness I sink or how crazy my rebellious thoughts may be…God still loves me. Jesus wants to have an intimate relationship with me. His Spirit never leaves me even when I don’t want to be with me. It is the moment of realization that His Love never quits that I find new strength. The greatest lie the enemy tries to hand you every day is that there is something too great for grace or a problem too impressive for God, it is simply not true. God is love. His Love for you endures forever.

I Corinthians 16:13-14 (MSG) Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.

Ridiculous, radical and reckless love belongs to us. Love stronger than death and the grave that executes the power of sin and drives away even the darkest shadow. Could the problem with church be a lack of confidence today? We can produce services, performances and doctrine, but can we live in love with Jesus. The body of Christ would function properly with one beating heart and one mind set on loving God no matter what. Believing that His Love never gives up so we won’t either. Before charging out to save the world today, let the Love of God surround you. Bring your broken, tired and beat-up heart to the Lord and let His Love put all the pieces back together. You don’t have to be anything you’re not. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. God will complete the good work that He began in us – we just not to give Him our life to work with. Fall in love with Jesus today – He is already head over heels in love with you!

Psalm 18:26-229 (MSG) Blessed are you who enter in God’s name—from God’s house we bless you! God is God, he has bathed us in light. Festoon the shrine with garlands, hang colored banners above the altar! You’re my God, and I thank you. O my God, I lift high your praise. Thank God—he’s so good. His love never quits!

The Best Defense

Best Defense

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

“The best defense is a good offense.” This adage has been carefully applied from military fields to sporting arenas. It is a strategic offensive principle of war. The general concept is it will preoccupy the opposition and hinder them from an opposing counterattack. It takes the enemy off guard. Busy defending their position there is no room for advancement. We have the best offense in Jesus Christ. He is the Word. The Word is the Truth that knocks down strongholds of human reasoning and destroys the false arguments including all the accusations of the enemy of heart and soul. He will stop at nothing to convince us that God is not good and that the grace given to us is not enough; therefore, Christ is not victorious. All lies and not true yet humanity struggles with a perfect God who loves and cares for imperfect people.

The lack of confidence in our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ fuels religious arguments as people try to find a way to the Father some other way. Rationalizing sin and complicating grace creating obstacles of human pride that keeps people from knowing the Living Breathing God. We must capture our “rebellious thoughts” teaching them to obey Christ. To take the Lord at His Word. To decide that He is enough to live a victorious life and repeat daily.

With the arguments and divisions due to preference and pride, the Body of Christ appears as a dysfunction family rather than a thriving unit of believers adding to their numbers daily. (Acts 2) We cannot assess the damage or change church culture until we settle the argument of self. Is God real? Is His Love unconditional? Is grace enough? Will He meet my expectation? What do I have to lose? Christians must have a strategy to become successful.

Our offense was sin. Jesus covered our offense and turning us into faith-fighting force for the world and darkness to contend with. Now our offense is to fight temptation, overcome in trials and defeat the enemy. We have our marching orders. Now we attack every lie set forth by the enemy and overcome the stronghold of self with the Truth of God’s Word concerning us and absolute confidence and trust in Jesus Christ. Easier said than done when one must battle flesh just as much if not more than the enemy. Offense is not to be confused with offense regarding that which offends or causes displeasure. The right to be offended or take offense is to give into emotionalism, feelings and pride when our God is greater than all that.

Romans 3:21-24 (NLT) But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

What is my defense? Righteousness. I live in right standing with the Father because He gave His Son for me. I have absolutely nothing to do with the payment of my penalty other than to lay claim to all that God has given me. Let’s level the playing field making it fair across the board for all believers. Every single one of us has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. No one is immune from the disease of sin or necessity of grace. Not once, but daily. To walk in righteousness requires repentance which leaves no place for pride because let’s face it – we don’t have skin in the game. Pride wants to think it has something to do with salvation or one’s ability to maintain righteousness with God apart from the Son. Religiosity is built on works outside of relationship. The Word of God is clear and the Truth straightforward – Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – no one comes to the Father but through Him.

Isaiah 1:16-19 (NLT) Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat.

“Come now, let’s settle this.” The Lord is inviting us today to have a made up mind. To decide the Word of God is the Truth that governs our life and live in it. The Word is Jesus. He completes us and gives us victory. Arguments arise from self. Division is a product of unrelinquished pride that is killing the modern day church. Cancer is considered a cell that does not conform to natural reproduction. The disease is caused by the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. It is evil and destructive though it is a product of simple reproduction out of control. Is there cancer in the church? If we aggressively pursued the teaching of 2 Corinthians 10, I believe it could be eradicated. To put an end to all division, teardown strongholds and take captive every rebellious thought is not a corporate endeavor but a personal mission. To have a made up mind full of faith and complete confidence in Jesus Christ changes our life from always being defensive to opposing evil and driving out darkness with the Light of His Love with the embers of Truth burning ever so brightly within us.

Freedom is found when we know the Truth and it sets us free through obedience. I have every reason to completely trust the Lord with my life far beyond my own understanding. His Ways and Thoughts are much higher than my own abased thinking. God is always God. He is love. He pursues me with unfailing love and amazing grace. I can have all that He has ordained for my life and accomplish every call apart from any other person or problem. See I have purpose established in my faith – my skin in the game is believing wholeheartedly in the Word of God and following His Way. My relationship with Jesus Christ established my righteousness. All I have to do is show up and I win.

To have a healthy and thriving church means that every believer must have confidence in the Love of God and His Way. To be full of faith without doubt that no matter what our condition or situation – victory is coming. So many times in the Bible, when the children of God were opposed, the Lord caused the enemy to turn on themselves. This is not an every man (or woman) for himself lifestyle that we are called to but harmonious living as a thriving body. I must decide today if I am the rogue cell causing division or will I let life flow through me. It is not about me but becoming a blameless bride and beautiful body for our soon coming Bridegroom. Our family, friends, church and people are not the enemy. We have only one enemy. He is already defeated. It’s time to oppose every rebellious thought telling us otherwise. Settle things within our own heart and mind. The best defense is established in my righteousness through Jesus Christ. I am free to lead the offense in love and generosity to form one body – one mind and with one heart whose purpose is to know and love Jesus Christ.

Matthew 10:38-40 (NLT) If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me.

Romans 8:37 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

John 8:32 (NLT) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

New Heart

New Heaert

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (ESV) I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

The image a vivid reality in my mind. Praying to the Lord to take all of me is a common cry in the church today but do we really understand what we are saying. God begins a good work in us. Holy Inhabitation makes it possible as the Holy Spirit takes over those areas of our life invested in the Kingdom. The fashion of holy consecration is brokenness. It is an act of humility. Sacrifice that demands all of us to produce good fruit and abundant life in all areas. The Lord has promised to give us a new heart and new spirit. The Word of God says, “I will put within you.” When our religion becomes a true relationship with Jesus Christ – our heart cannot be withheld and flesh cannot survive the burning passion and desire to seek Him, know Him and be with Him.

The Heart of Stone

Back to the revelation in my prayer time, I saw a sharp pointed knife cutting through dull gray exterior resembling a rock. As it began to cut with excellent precision – I wondered if it could get through the concrete exterior. What would be inside? As it continued the downward trend, a beautiful beating heart emerged. It took my breath away as in that moment I drew in a cleansing breath. God is this what you want to do in me, my family, my church and my community. Are you trying to take our stony, hard hearts and give them new life? Absolutely.

It’s funny that humanity thinks it can evoke heavenly change in an earthly body. The embodiment of religion is to produce positive change on the exterior, but without the inward change of a circumcised heart – it won’t work. We can build churches but not become the Church. We can resemble broken and handicap bodies but not become the Body of Christ. The prosperity of our hands will not move the Heart of God. He must complete the good work that He has begun in us through His Son, Jesus. (Philippians 1:6) Have you given your heart to Jesus?

Deuteronomy 10:12-16 (ESV) “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.

Before moving ahead to obedience, our heart must truly repent before the Lord. Jesus must be the Way, the Truth and Life for us. In that moment, everything changes but unless one engages in the relationship with Christ – it is merely another social venue chosen in which to exist. The miracle of salvation is made complete in the covenant formed as a relationship with Jesus. Without a relationship, it is nothing more than religion. Religious people do not necessarily have eternal life. Without a heart change produced solely by the Lord and His Spirit, we may look different, sound good, and live better but eternal life comes from an intimate and ongoing relationship with the Father through His Son.

Grace is always enough. This is not a call to live a perfect life. Never make mistakes. Always make good choices. Stop sinning completely. Though these are our goals, the battle against our flesh is quite evident and the struggle is real. (Romans 7) What does God require of you? To fear the Lord your God. To walk in all His Ways. To love him. To serve Him with all your heart and soul. To keep His Commandments and Statutes.

Here’s a plot twist for you! Every bit of this is summed up in love. Romans 13 tells us that we are to own no one anything but love. The Message translation puts it like this – “Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.” To love Jesus with all of our heart and soul makes sin unpalatable if it separates us from His Love. When our union with Christ is complete, He becomes our priority over selfishness because He is better than life. You cannot engage in a relationship with Christ without a circumcised heart. It is the sign of covenant. In the Old Testament – an outward sign of a promise. In the New Testament – it is an inward sign of a new heart, mind, soul and body devoted to Jesus Christ.

New Heart

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

This verse has been heavy on my heart. The Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any two-edged sword to the division of soul and spirit…Is the Sword of the Spirit for me? Yes. To use on others. To wield against the enemy and every perceived threat. Yes. But first, before all of that, it is for me to allow God to circumcise me and give me a new heart and new soul to serve Him. What if we have been going about this all wrong? What if our first action as a believer is to allow God to use this two-edged sword on our own stony and stubborn hearts…first. Always first. When tempted to lash out can we let His Word cut away the lack of love in us. What if the sword is useless in our defense unless it produces change in us first? Jesus is the Word. He is the Way, Truth and Life. No one gets to the Father but through Him. If God’s Word does not work in me, I cannot become the new creation filled with new life that He promised. I must consecrate my life beginning with my heart and soul before I can make an impact in my home, church and community. Otherwise it is just good works not godly deeds.

Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

A stubborn hard heart cannot give the kind of love that it has received from the Lord. God is love. His Love for us comes without condition and immeasurable grace. A heart of stone cannot receive such love and it is like pouring water on a rock. Only a heart broken before the Lord can receive all that He has for us. I wonder today if I might be so bold as to say the heart of the church must be circumcised again. To cut away the callous disregard for “sinners” just like us. To see people where they are instead of expecting them to “act” like us. To see ourselves transparently through the eyes of grace and humbly expect our misfortune apart from Jesus Christ. We have all failed the Lord. We are all sinners just the same. There is none righteous no not one.

Lord, I ask you to take the two-edged sword of your Word and penetrate our stony, stubborn and selfish hearts today. This word is for no one other than me for I am the least of these. Father, renew a right spirit in me. Let Your Presence be my dwelling place as I crawl back to You with my heart in my hands asking you to give me a brand new one! In Jesus Name!

Ezekiel 11:18-20 (ESV) And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Barriers

Barrier

Psalm 119:45 (NLT) I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.

There is a young lady in my life who I love dearly. She is a beautiful girl with a sweet heart. Like many people her age, she is struggling to make the right choices and apply her faith to life. She didn’t come to church so I reached out on social media. One of the qualities that I love about her is brutal honesty. She doesn’t hide behind a churchy façade of perfection but admits that her struggle is real. I told her I loved her and missed her this morning. She replied, “I was too ashamed to come.” My heart broke in that moment. I told her that God had her and that His Grace was always enough for her, not to mention that I love her no matter what! I hate that the very thing she needed most was restricted by her distrust. She stayed home rather than facing the hypocrites, mockers and stone throwers. “Whosoever come” limited by the line drawn by Christians of boundaries and barriers that keep the seeking from actually making through the door.

I will walk in freedom.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Gospel is only good news when covered by grace. Outside of God’s Grace given to us through Jesus Christ there is nothing good in us. The new creation is a result of God’s Word coming to live in us. His Name is Jesus. He is the Truth. The Truth always sets you free and never limits you. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. This is the inherent struggle of humanity with the Lord. How do we conceive and birth change in our life without rules, regulations and better choices? Jesus. How often do we try to change our attitude and actions only to fail miserable but then hide behind the things we can do and be by ourselves? Disciples of Christ remain faithful to His Teachings. His Primary Purpose and Motivation in all things is unconditional love and overwhelming grace. These are the qualities that establish our freedom and erase the line of religion drawn in the dust and dirt our flesh is made of.

John 8:36-37 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

Everyone who sins is a slave of sin. I absolutely believe that I am a slave to sin. I cannot help but find a way to fall into it at least once if not a hundred times a day. If you think there is no sin in your life, then you are sadly mistaken. All fall short of God’s Standard for living. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. My way of life is not for anyone else other than me. God recorded every day of my life in advance. (Psalm 139) He predestined me with a purpose only found living as one with Jesus Christ. Within that plan and purpose, the Lord has given me a future and hope (Jeremiah 29) with a provision of love and grace sufficient to empower me in every weakness. He works every detail of my life for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8) I have to believe this includes my mistakes, shortcomings and failures.

John 8 begins with the story of a woman who was caught in adultery. I cannot help but wonder where the other person engaged with her was hiding. If she was caught in the act, there had to be another party. Yet, he is absent. If we are all slaves to sin engaged in the same act, why do we not include ourselves when crucifying Christians or calling out their issues. Pride tells us that there is a hierarchy of transgresses not found in the Word. If we can pretend better than others, we win. This is absolutely not true. God’s Love and His Grace are offered to us one way. His Son – the Only Way – to access the Father. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – He is our freedom.

Twice in this account, Jesus stoops to write something in the dirt. Many scholars conclude the Lord may have been listing the sins of her accusers. I wonder if maybe Jesus was erasing the barrier of religion to form a relationship. Perhaps our Savior and Lord was actually wiping away the line between sin and salvation while her accusers left one by one. Guilt and shame form regret that removes us from the Presence of God. His Love and Amazing Grace will lead us to “spacious places” (Psalm 18) but unresolved sin and judgment lead us to deeper darkness than before we knew Christ. He is the Light of the World. What is done in secret will be made public? His Light drives out darkness. It leads us to freedom. True freedom. Free to love Him without shame, remorse, or regret and openly enjoy His Pleasures evermore.

Revelation 3:7-8 (NLT) “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open: “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.”

What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open… Do you believe this passage today? Do you believe that Christ has set you free? What is limiting your life today? Jesus is the Gate. Those who come in through Him will be saved. “They will come and go freely and find good pastures.” The enemy will try to shut the gateway of freedom to our life by putting us back in our sin or at least reminding us of it so guilt and shame tries to shut the door and throw away the key. (John 10) Jesus reminds us today that His “purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” He does not mention our past, present or future shortcomings and promises that His Grace will always be enough for us. Jesus knows how we feel, what we do and yet still loves us unconditionally. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.

Galatians 5:7-8 (NLT) You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.

The religious folks had trouble accepting the matchless and magnificent grace of Jesus Christ. They could not comprehend or accept equality with common sinners. The established order of Jewish culture demanded personal retribution. Pride required a level of accountability. We must be very careful not to become trapped in their culture. The “Saul” in us must become “Paul” through our new life in Jesus Christ or it is a waste of time and energy. God has called us to freedom even providing the Way. It is up to us if we will take it, pursue it and live in Him. Legalism will never produce the kind of change that love will. Faith is in us but must be continually fed and watered the Word of God and cared for by His Spirit to grow and flourish into something reliable in our life. Bad choices do not hinder us. Unwillingness to admit our sin and meet Jesus at the Cross daily does.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Have you drawn a line in the sand? Is there a list of unpardonable sins that keep you from love and forgiveness? The limit in your life is self-imposed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. Freedom to engage in a new life and find an inheritance as a Child of the Living God. Sin made us all slaves. Your only way to freedom is sonship. Turning to the Lord means that the veil of human expectation and accountability is irrevocably broken. Expectation placed in people is misplaced. If we set our heart, mind, body, souls and spirit on the Living God our life will be complete. Satisfaction will be found. Abundance of heart will fill our hands with outpouring of generosities beginning with love and grace for all mankind. It removes the barriers and obstacles of faith marked doubt and disbelief so faith can come alive in our life. Remove the restrictions today. Forgive freely. Turn from rules and regulations to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our freedom allows us to grant others the same becoming a beacon in the darkness for those who desperately need the Light. I am a sinner. I am saved by the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. This is my story. It is the Truth that allows me to come to the Cross to be set free. To live free. To experience abundance to overflowing for others in need. Lord Jesus – please do not ever let me be the barrier blocking another from coming to the Cross. Forgive me if I have. Remind me if I do. Remove me from their path! In Your Precious Name, AMEN!

Psalm 119:96 (NLT) Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit.

Perfecting Love

Perfecting Love

I John 4:17-19 (NLT) 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. We love each other because he loved us first.

The local department store is filled with helium heart-shaped balloons. Aisles overflowing with chocolate and conversation hearts expressing “true love”. A jungle of stuffed animals larger than life surround me. The smell of fresh cut flowers and rose bouquets fill the air. It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s all about love. Expressing love with trinkets and tokens. I will admit I am after some of these things for my family as well. The perfect gift to express my deep affection for those I love and cherish.

Our family “went to town” together. My husband joined us. Not because he likes to shop but he loves us and wants to be with us. We meet our oldest daughter and precious new grandson at her favorite store wandering the aisles. There is nothing really that is needed just spending time with them. Together sharing candy hearts and chocolate on our way to the local mall, it is becoming the perfect date. Entering the mall, there is a section filled with sparkles and tulle. It is almost prom season so the girls and I begin looking through racks of newly discounted dresses. Our middle daughter has a big week. She turns 18. Soon, she will go to her last prom and graduate high school. Where has the time gone? She sees a dress and deems it the perfect princess dress. While she is trying on graduation dresses, I pull it off the rack. She is one of our princesses so it only seems fitting that she would try it on. She made her graduation selection and her eyes sparkle as I enter the dressing room with the “princess” dress. As it slipped over her head, and pooled to the floor nothing could wipe the smile from her face as she whispered, “I love it!”

Well, the end of the story, her dad approved and it came home with us. There was no real thought or discussion about the price or the timing of the purchase only that she loved it and we love her. I am a bargain hunter. It is my goal in life to get a good deal. Hence the huge discount signs walking in caught my attention. But when she put on the dress, and her countenance changed – I just wanted to bless her because I love her! We were blessed to spend precious moments together – to be in each other’s presence. That really doesn’t happen very often. Like every other family – we are busy. We all have places to go and things to do. I wonder if that could be called our Valentine’s date. I wonder if that is really what God is after. Precious moments of time together. To love each other and learn to love others with the same commitment as the ones in our earthly family. To be together and enjoy each other with no real agenda. To stop worrying about all the details of life and wander off together.

And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. I wonder sometimes if we have overcomplicated the perfecting of love. My husband can go buy every box of candy, flower and stuffed animal in the store but if he doesn’t love me the other 364 days of the year – it really doesn’t represent anything other than marketing dominating another holiday. We can get all dressed up and go on a fancy date but if we do not have love for each other – what’s the point? We can follow every rule and regulation in the Bible. Even get dressed up and head on church “dates” every Sunday but if we do not love then what’s the point? I Corinthians 13 tells me I can do all these things even understanding God’s Secrets and have faith that moves mountains but if I don’t have love – “I would have gained nothing.”

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.

I Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Are you dating God or devoted to Him? This is the question in my mind. Dating is when the decision to love is made. It is the testing of our partnership that leads to union. But once married, the covenant of love is a commitment. I Corinthians 13 is God’s Definition of Love. It is not limited to our spouse, family and friends because God sees us all as beloved children. Often – our love and commitment to people is not the same as how we approach the Lord. Expectations are put in others that really belong to the Lover of our soul. God’s Love for us is perfect. His Presence in us allows us to perfect our love for Him and others. Love is a discipline not an emotional overture. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we must be lovers.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. What keeps us from loving the Lord with all our heart and loving others the same way? Fear. Perfect love expels all fear. However, humans are not trusting souls. Grace is difficult to accept when we know the level of sin and shame once lived with. Does God really love us with unconditional love? Does He really pursue us with unfailing love and goodness every single day? Is He really a good, good Father? The answer is a resounding “yes”. It is impossible to replicate perfect love without first knowing and accepting it. You don’t have to understand it to receive it but you do have to experience it to exemplify it in your life. I cannot give away something I do not have. There is nothing to give if I do not know the Love of God and live in it.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

The source of our fears, worries, regret, shame and deepest concerns are not products of God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit in us. He has not given us the spirit of fear or timidity. The Lord has given us His Power which is from a grace that overcomes every weakness. He has given us perfect love in spite of ourselves. He has given us self-discipline to produce change in us from death to life. It is not by anything we do or say but in the truest revelation of a love worth having and worth giving to the world. Fear comes from doubt. It takes the Gospel and turns into religious habits skipping God’s Intent to form a family of perfect lovers and uses discipline to mold and shape others to fit human expectation. For example, we love those who think like we do but if they make bad choices and still manage to come to church on Sunday – they face people who scorn, shun, or shame them rather than the unconditional love of Christ. If I try not to sin, but do not do it out of love for Jesus Christ it is not enough. I must love Jesus so much that I avoid sin because of that love and devotion. I can make better choices. I can do different things. It doesn’t change the fact that I still sin every day and struggle with my flesh. I am no better than the person committing a crime. I have already failed God enough to require every ounce of His Son’s Blood. Friend, we are all in this together. We are all the least of these. The very ones who put Jesus on the Cross. I can change my ways but I can only get to God by His Son – Jesus Christ who is THE WAY.

Romans 8:38 (NLT) And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

What are your fears today? What are you worried about? Do you have things that keep you awake at night? Doubt in God’s Perfect Love causes us to feel that way. To think that there is a limit to the Limitless Love of God given to us through His Son, Jesus. It is the lie of the enemy that keeps us from being overcomers. The greatest barrier in the life of a believer is doubt. The mountain to be moved is not an obstacle in the world but in us. The place where God cannot move is because we do not believe in the God of more than enough, greater than he that is in the world, and the perfect Lover of the less than lovable. I must be completely convinced that there is nothing that can ever separate me from God’s Love in order to live in love with Jesus Christ. To accept God’s Unconditional Love is to admit my weakness and live in His Grace. Pride dies in this place. Human expectation is exchanged for Godly Expectation. Ordinary becomes extraordinary. Natural turns into the supernatural.

I John 4:9-10 (NLT)  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

I John 4:15-16 (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.

I encourage you…no challenge you to read I John 4 today. The love of God is the birthplace of confidence and trust in the Lord. It cannot be skipped or overlooked. It must be undertaken above all things. I cannot become who God has planned and purposed me to be outside of His Unfailing and Unconditional Love. I must be completely confident in the sufficiency of grace at the forsaking of self in order to have all that God has ordained and planned for my life. I must live in His Perfect Love and allow His Love to perfect me. God’s Idea of Perfect is to be completely overtaken by His Love until His Love overflows from us. It requires an honest and forthright examination of our heart, mind and soul for true transparency. It means allowing the Holy Spirit to tear down strongholds built by fear and doubt to protect us with the Sword of His Spirit – the Word of God. Until we understand and believe in God’s Love for us – we can never effectively express it to others. God loves you. He wants to bless your time together. He wants to fill you to overflowing with good things. He will perfect love in us when we choose to put our trust in Him.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT) For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Due Season

Due Season

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

I was talking to a friend of my not too long ago. Experiencing a bit of discouragement, the Lord pressed upon me to share that “He never leads us to barren fields.” The Word I thought was for someone else began to resonate in me. I love how the Lord does that. A word in due season. “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23) What is due season anyway? It simply means at the appropriate time, in due course, in due time, in good time or when the time comes. Due means rightful, proper or fitting. A season is a period of time when something is best or available.

Ecclesiastes 3 sets forth the boundaries and conditions of each season. Not every season seems pleasant at the time but each one holds its own fruit. Purpose and potential are not always evident in what we seen. The process by which God grows and develops are character is often difficult. The struggle is not in the outward conditions but our inward character. It is the death of our flesh that produces new life in every season. Romans 7 reminds us that the struggle is real and ongoing no matter how hard we try to overcome it. What season are you in? Everyone loves the harvest season but our willingness to endure the planting, persevere the drought, and wait for God’s Timing is essential in the abundant prosperity that is promised. God will not allow outward prosperity without soul prosperity. Our reliance on the Lord in every season is important to have His Plan with the future and hope it promises. It really doesn’t matter if we are successful in life if it does not allow the faith in our heart to connect us with eternity.

Leviticus 26:4-6 (NLT) “I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land. I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land.”

What season are you in today? Does it seem like it will never end? Are you discouraged? Do you feel abandoned? God’s Promise in Leviticus remains the same today. He promised seasonal rains. When you think the drought will never end? He sends a downpour. The land you are in has potential and is marked with purpose that will prosper and yield good fruit. Here is the important truth to quiet the need to leave or mindset to escape – “your threshing season will overlap and harvest will overlap WITH the season of planting. Learning to continually sow seed will inevitably result in overlapping harvests in our life. We just have to learn to continue to sow and plant when conditions are unfavorable or the wait seems too long. The problem is not in the land but in our heart.

God promises that we will be fulfilled and protected in “your own land”. Too often the greener grass on the other side causes us to wander rather than staying put to fulfill the plan of God that will lead to abundance and prosperity. He gives us peace in that place marked my own. He protect us giving us rest even when the enemies are pressing in and people seem like problems. God has already ordained blessing in our life – the problem is that we do not believe Him enough to stay put and keep beating the seemingly dry and dead place until breakthrough comes.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 

“But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8) What if God’s Seasons are not set by the same time and space as our perception of seasons? What if the markers He uses are different than the ones that humanity is accustomed to? Not only probably but highly likely. The seasons of the earth are to produce natural occurrences not supernatural outcomes. God defies human logic all the time by doing miraculous things – sometimes in a second or even in lifetimes. The problem is human nature demands natural results when God’s Plan and Promise is a supernatural outcome. He doesn’t bargain with just enough but promises overflowing abundance. He promises that we will produce fruit in season AND out of season. Are we limiting our life by observing natural seasons but not sowing in supernatural outcomes?

What do people really get for all their hard work? Each person who opened their eyes and took in another breath this morning has the same 24 hours to use as they see fit. Many years ago, a friend asked how I found time to write each day. I think she was looking for some epiphany and was quite disappointed with my response. I shared that I set my alarm to get up at 4:30 each morning in order to make time to spend with the Lord and write. She said, “Well, forget that and laughed walking away.” The next time busyness becomes an excuse I challenge you to examine your time. Your schedule and routine will tell you where you are sowing in life. It will tell you where to expect a harvest or increase. When we give a significant portion of our time to the world, we will reap earthly results. Hard work will pay off in our natural life. To sow seed in God’s Kingdom and connect with Him means reprioritizing our time making room for Him. It is only as our soul prospers that all of our life will reap the benefits. We must work smarter not harder. Grace is sufficient to allow us to enjoy the blessings and benefits of God for His Children. It is investing in His Kingdom to be one with the Body of Christ that produces such a harvest.

Galatians 6:8-10 (NLT) Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 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. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. What is your investment in Kingdom Living today? If you made a pie chart, what portion of your life is devoted to loving, knowing and serving God? Do you spend time with Him each day? Does He go to work, school or run errands with you? Is He the primary resource in your life? Do you rely on Him or a paycheck or someone else? What are you expecting from Him that hard work and motivation cannot produce? Do you believe His Grace is enough? The place you are planted has a harvest just for you that cannot be produced by anyone else. It is part of your purpose. It is a product of your plan ordained by the Living God who is inside of you. Watch for it. Prepare for it. Sow it. Wait for it. Stand on that field until it produces exactly what God promised you.

At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Are you waiting for due season? Keep waiting. The harvest of blessing comes with no sorrow added to it. The time, talent and treasure invested in God’s Soil will always produce good fruit even when the land seems barren and dead. He is the Life Giver who has given us resurrection power to call dead things to life.

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. Your process must always produce the Fruit of the Spirit first. Your soul must prosper in order for the ordinary to become extraordinary and the natural to produce supernatural. The world says work for it. The Lord says, “Worship me and you will have it all!”

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

Without Love – I Am Nothing

Without Love

2 Thessalonians 1:3 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.

Flourishing faith is evidenced by growing love. What is your response to pressure? When faced with opposition how do you react? It is human nature to play the name game. It feels good to retaliate even seek revenge. Our flesh prefers to harbor an offense rather than freely forgive. Pride doesn’t like being wrong or to be wronged. We are not creatures of flesh or pride any more but new creations in Jesus Christ. This new life is one of liberty. Our freedom doesn’t limit the Gift of Love but makes it our passion. Grace is free to us but not to Jesus. His Grace is enough because He paid the ultimate price to give us this abundant life beginning with a prospering soul. Our soul does not deal in commodities, assets or finance. It is not hindered by time or testing. Our soul is eternal thanks to Jesus.

These words penned in a letter to the church of Thessalonica by Paul, Silas and Timothy commend the people for their flourishing faith and growing love in the midst of persecution. I wonder if such a church exists today. Could it be that religious freedom takes for granted the importance of love and grace in binding believers into an effective body? Our temporary and often petty problems cause the world to see us as just another struggling organization. Divisions and splits create a “Frankenstein” effect. Rather than a flourishing family with a beating heart pumping out love and community – it is a fractured farce framed in doctrine, rules and regulations, buffeted by comfort and convenience, ruled by preference and opinion, and thereby misrepresenting the Love of God and His Son that draws us together in the first place. We have lost our first love and put ourselves in His Place. How do I know?

Acts 2:42-47 (NLT) All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Peter preached the Word of God. The same message that is given to us was what flowed from him. There was no difference. The Word of God never changes. It cannot return to God until it completes its task and accomplishes all that He sent it forth to do. About 3,000 in all gave their hearts and lives to Jesus in Acts 2. What happened next? They formed a community. All the believers met together in one place and shared everything. They sold property and possessions to share with those in need. They worshiped together every day. Met in homes to take communion. Fellowshipped together with GREAT JOY AND GENEROSITY. Praising God was their lifestyle demonstrated in freely giving all they were and all they had to create a community called the Body of Christ. With this in mind, they did so knowing that at any moment the radical religious community could drag them from their homes torture or murder them as martyrs. What happened next is the very thing the modern church cries out for…revival. And EACH DAY the Lord added to their fellowship… People were getting saved, healed and delivered and joining the community called church each day. Where oh where have we gone wrong? Oh Lord, teach us to love one another properly.

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.”

To love like Jesus Christ is unnatural. It is not our natural instinct to lay our life down for another. It is not our preference to pray for our enemies and loving those who spitefully use us. It is not our culture to form communities of one but to draw lines of division to protect our own personal interests. All lives matter. Jesus proved this on the Cross when He poured out His Blood for all mankind to have access to the Father if they choose His Way.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Put away the personal agenda. Step down off the soapbox. Forget all the rules and regulations. If we do not love others, we do not possess the Love of the Father freely administered by the Son. The full acceptance of God’s Grace requires giving up our own personal interests to pursue Christ in all things. A sacrifice is not a sacrifice if nothing is given. Love is a discipline. It is a learned behavior. Disciples of Jesus Christ must learn and replicate His Love to be His Body and become His Bride. It is that simple but extremely difficult to achieve.

Romans 13:8 (NLT) Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.

Love is not religious – it is radical. I believe this may very well be the biggest stumbling block of organized religion. The thought or idea that God’s Love is completely given by His Grace. His Goodness belongs to me and is exemplified by a daily choice to love one another. The rules and regulations administered as doctrine in the church do nothing to demonstrate God’s Purpose. They are simply guidelines to keep godly order. I like order. I am gifted in administration. But if I am not careful – it will quickly become legalism. The enemy limits us in legalistic thinking and radical religion that adds to our obligation. God says simply the only thing we owe anyone is love. Perfect love expels all fear. Expectation is fulfilled by God’s Love, Grace and Goodness towards us so that we can love freely without expectation.

Galatians 5:13-14 (NLT) For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. How freedom is used is up to us? God does not force us to fulfill His Purpose just promises that His Plan contains a future and hope. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and Life but we are not made to follow Him only offered a better way. The Holy Spirit lives in us but only takes control of the pieces and parts of our life given to Him for holy inhabitation. Love cannot be forced it must be freely given or received. Love contains no “buts”. I love you, but… I love him, but… I love her, but… I love you. Jesus never added a single condition to His Love offering for us. He freely gives it to us and it is up to us how we choose to use it. Unconditional love is the kind of love that proves our discipleship in Jesus Christ. To love like He does. This is how our freedom is revealed in the Lord when no one or nothing holds our expectation above knowing Him.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT) If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Are we gaining anything from church? Lord, help us to love more. Show us what true love is again. Let us fall head over heels in love with our First Love again. Rekindle the passion in our heart and burn away all the worthless things that reside in Your Place.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

There is a fable about a frog placed in a pot of water. It is said that if he is put in boiling water that he will jump out. But if he placed in tepid water and the heat is slowly brought to a boil that he will not perceive the danger. Frogs like water. It is comfortable to them. Science believes this to be false and that frogs will notice the change but I wonder if we notice the change in our own habitat called church. Could it be as we float around in “lukewarm” water that the Lord is turning up the heat to get our attention? Comfort causes a condition called complacency that will create false confidence that can lead to death. If we do not learn to love unconditionally and with the same intensity as Jesus Christ, we have gained nothing other than adopted a social circle.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. The best way to motivate others is to motivate yourself. You get what you give. Sowing and reaping have been around since the days of Noah and will continue until the earth no longer remains. If you plant love, you will harvest love. If you sow grace, you will experience grace. If you bind yourselves to one more person, unity is formed. If you decide to give up your way, harmony is restored. We can never offer the world something we have not attained for ourselves. The Love of God is our primary purpose in life. To live in His Love and share His Love with the world. End of story.

2 John 5-6 (NLT) I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.

Going the Distance

The Long Road Ahead

Revelation 3:10-12 (NLT)  “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

From time to time, I have the privilege of teaching in our church. To share the Word of God like a warm bread basket of fresh rolls with others is an overwhelming responsibility that I find great pleasure in just like having guests over to eat a good meal together. However, there are times when the fresh word given to me from the Word of God and served up by His Spirit is not received as “I” think it should be. Like seeds falling on pavement or water splashing from a rock, last night was one of those times. While preparing, I sampled the thoughts and ideas for my own life and could see areas that the Lord was enriching me but when offered to others it was rejected like stale crumbs to be discarded. My heart was heavy. I was ready to leap off the platform when it was over.

It would be easy to quit. Give up. Never put myself out there again. It is not God’s Will. I know what I am supposed to do but struggle with not doing it. Immediately I begin to evaluate me. My “performance”. Maybe I should yell more. Jump around a little. Be more dynamic. Be more like this preacher or dramatic like this teacher. What if it is not about me at all? Well…now we are getting somewhere. What if everything was exactly as the Lord planned it last night? What if the lesson for me is perseverance not to make a better performance but to continue through the process until His Word prospers into His Purpose and His Plan?

“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere…” To persevere is to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. It means to persist in anything undertaken even when faced with difficulty, obstacles or discouragement. To continue steadfastly. It doesn’t sound fun. It requires overcoming our flesh and pride to attain God’s Best. I want to live in the Presence of God. As close as humanly possible before crossing over into forever. In order to do this, perseverance will be a characteristic that the Lord works to develop in my life. I must persevere to reach my desired destination.

2 Kings 13:16-19 (NLT)  Elisha told him, “Put your hand on the bow,” and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands. Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.” Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

The King Jehoash of Israel came to Elisha on his deathbed. He was perplexed by the Arameans. Elisha put his hands over the king’s hands and shot an arrow. The arrow directed by God’s Hand illustrated victory over Aram in the immediate battle. However, there were more to come. The king was instructed to take the remaining arrows and strike them on the ground. I am quite certain that his royal majesty did not understand the significance and maybe felt a little silly hitting the shafts against the ground. He stopped after striking the ground three times and Elisha with his last bit of strength became angry. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” Why? It is perseverance that leads to overwhelming victory. When things go beyond human comprehension and walking by faith not by sight becomes a requirement, what is your response? What do we do with the promise of victory? Overcoming? Healing? Prosperity? Pursue it for a season and then give up? Press in for a lifetime?

2 Kings 5:9-11 (NLT) So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me!

What do you do when life does not go as expected? When the healing doesn’t come overnight? You are not given a means of escape? When the hits keep on coming? Do you give up? Naaman had leprosy. He came to Elisha’s house for healing. The Man of God gave him simple instructions. But rather than immediately heading off to the Jordan River, Naaman became offended and walked off in anger. The Jordan River was not a clean spring of clear water. Oh how our pride tries to stay alive when it is time to persevere. What condition is lingering because obedience is wavering? What if you did what the Lord said and defied human logic to hold on by faith? What if your promise is not held up by the Lord but you refuse to press on?

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Walking out of church last night feeling defeated, I ran into the pastor. He had spent the evening with the youth. He asked about the service. I said, “Tough crowd.” He said, “Tell me about it.” I didn’t have to ask about his small group as the kids came pouring out excitedly chattering about their experience. I have the same privilege next week to continue this teaching on the Word of God. (with a slight sigh) I know that the Lord has a word of encouragement and instruction for our people. I know that I am the one to deliver it. But honestly it is way easier to share these things in a blog sent out to hundreds of people without consciousness of their reaction or response. It works for me. But for obedience tells me that in six short days, I will climb the same steps. I may even get the same response from the people. But the acceptance, affirmation and approval of others is nice but not needed. I must focus on one thing. One thing only. “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.” (Psalm 27:4)

I must forget the past. I have to look forward to what lies ahead. I must press on (persevere) to reach the end of the race. I want the heavenly prize. To hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” To have something… anything to lay at His Feet will be worth it to me. The world can keep its applause and willy-nilly emotions. Just get me there, Jesus. Holy Spirit lead the way. I will be faithful to the end. I will go the distance.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.