Gaining Perspective

gaining perspective

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

Perspective is relative to position. The vantage point dictates vision. For example, if there are many witness to a car accident, each person may have a different account of the cause based on their placement in relation to the event. As believers called to walk by faith and not by sight, it is our personal challenge to gain perspective according to the Word of God in order to see our life as God plans it and not according to random events. We must fix our thoughts and align them with God’s Perspective and leave behind our human viewpoint. Faith is only logical when perceived from such a position. God’s Word details our life. Without it, there is no possible way to perceive a future outside of our current condition or circumstances.

Fix your thoughts on these things – what is true, honorable (respect or upright), right, pure, lovely, and admirable (excellent). What sounds like optimism to the world is so much more when faith produces hope in our life. To change our perspective from death to life means moving from a temporary being to an eternal creation. Desperation becomes determination when our eye is on the prize. Confidence overtakes our insecurity when Jesus becomes our Champion. Faith without the word is not faith at all. Jesus who is the Word is the basis of faith that produces forever in our life. To change the natural into supernatural requires a new vantage point for living.

Hebrews 12:2 (NLT) We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

The evidence of God’s Goodness and His Glory are all around us. However, distractions easily overtake discipline for those who have no concept of faithful reality. Christ is with us. He lives in us. To see Him is to align our heart and mind with the Lord and prosper soulfully in life. God’s Grace gives us access to His Love and Peace. Believing does not make our life easier. We remain in this world but are no longer of it. However, it takes time to change our heart and mind and become confident and disciplined in our Christian walk.

Grace is enough to do it. Grace is made perfect in our weakness when God’s Powerful Peaceful Persuasion take over and His Love comforts us while His Timing beautifies the brokenness in life. There must be brokenness to receive the fullness of His Power. I must give up my way to have His Way. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus. He is the Champion who “initiates” and “perfects” our faith. Initiates means that Jesus is the beginning of faith. He is Alpha. He introduces us to the knowledge of faith. It is up to us to turn it into wisdom by putting into practice what the Word of God tells us. He sets faith into motion. He also “perfects” our faith which means conforming to an absolute standard. The proposed standard is God’s Glorious Standard which is exceedingly abundantly more than we could think, ask or imagine. God is good and His Way is perfect. Jesus leads us into a place of excellence according to the future and hope prescribed by God for you and me. It is the time between what Jesus initiates until He fully perfects it that we must put in some effort. The renewing of our heart and mind is essential in gaining a new perspective of the purpose and plan the Lord has mapped out that will never lead to disappointment but always the fulfillment of hope.

“Keeping our eyes on” or “looking” as used in other translations in the Hebrew means to look away from to see. Life happens in living color. Eternal life is achieved not by sight but fully relying on the Living God who is within us. Our natural inclination is to follow our vision in the natural but faith requires staying focused on Jesus Christ who is yet to be seen. We must give Jesus undivided attention in our life to successfully find Him by investing our wholehearted effort in seeing life from His Perspective and not our current position.

Proverbs 4:25 (NLT) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.

The enemy uses distractions to keep us from focusing on Jesus. Daily diversions that are meant to keep us from fixing our eyes on what lies before us and becoming consumed with life happening all around us. It takes extreme discipline to keep our eyes from being diverted by the enemy’s tactics. He uses lies. He offers us fear in place of faith. As passionate as the Lord is to see us victorious in life all the way to the everlasting, the same passion is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy God’s People. Discipline overcomes distraction. It requires our full attention and daily motivation to keep our eyes on Jesus.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Our first grandbaby is on the way! We could not be more overjoyed about the little person who is currently residing in mama. I cannot see the baby, but I still love them. I cannot wait to hold and love the baby. I have great joy each day while sharing this experience with our daughter. We talk about the baby. Shop for the baby. Listen to its heartbeat. There are plans to celebrate the day we find out the gender, showers to celebrate the arrival, and even a developing birth plan. Our daughter is reading, studying and talking to other moms about important decisions that will need to be made. All this for a person who is taller than an inch and really doesn’t even look human yet. The promise is real and developing.

What about God’s Promises for you and me? God gives us a future and hope that comes with the package. Just as by faith I fully anticipate the safe arrival of our first grand, we must highly anticipate and expect God’s Promises. Prepare for them. Not just by our conversation, but how we live our life. It is the active changing of our heart and mind to fully accept and believe that His Promises are a reality in our life that will change us from the inside out to fully perceive the reality of faith in our life. Just as I know that I will get a call one day or night to come to the hospital and our little one will become a tangible and touchable blessing in our life – we must meet God’s Promises with the same expectancy.

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

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you…” Sitting by our son while he received chemotherapy, I remember watching him sleep. The pumps were coursing pure poison through his veins to kill cancer. His hair long gone. His fair skin so pale from all the treatment. Yet as he slept, he looked so peaceful. Other than his physical appearance, the peace in his countenance and the position of his body was at complete and total rest. I couldn’t help but think of God’s Perfect Peace.

The realm of hope offered to us as believers make this the reality of our life if we choose to live there. The exercise of faith achieved through the trial and testing of having a child on the verge of death completely changed my perspective on life and peace. The moment of realization that all my trying to be the perfect parent can still end in such a situation stripped me of the concept of control. We do not control our life. God has a plan. It is a good one. It is filled with purpose and promises that far outweigh our ability. When our eyes are focused on Jesus and He is our Champion our lives become confident in His Ability. It focuses on everything that He did for us on the Cross and keeps us in peace until it becomes the reality in our life. We must guard our hearts and keep them fixed on Jesus to have these things. To live in the reality of God’s Love and His Constant Care is up to us. We must desire to be where He is enough to look away from ordinary life and focus on the Extraordinary God. This is the place of peace that gives way to waiting and patience until God completes the work within us. The Peace of God (shalom) emphasizes its greatness and perfection. You cannot express it to someone. They must experience it to know it is real.

2 Corinthians 4:18(NLT) So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Life happens. The details are not in our control. There are many variables. God is working every detail for our good and His Glory. In the meantime, we must stop focusing on temporary problems and fix our heart, mind and eyes on Jesus Christ. I believe in practical faith. Sometimes religion makes it hard to see the simplicity of a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Study the Word of God every day. Mediate on it. Memorize it. Force your mind to accept the reality of faith. The continual sowing of God’s Word will begin to produce the Fruit of His Spirit in us. Love, joy, peace, and the rest of the vital sustenance that feeds our faith not fear. Pray. Talk to the Lord. Listen for His Response. God still talks to people. We must listen for the still small voice. Get into a quiet place every day and share your thoughts, fears and hopes with the One who loves you most. The Lord will not shout over all the noise in your life. He waits for us to enter His Presence. Turn off the noise. Be aware of what you watch and listen to. The things that feed your mind can poison your soul. Fellowship with other believers and like-minded people. Praise God. If you have a long commute to work, listen to your favorite preacher or crank up some good worship music. To worship God is not an event in our life it is how we live it. Those who do will gain a new perspective as faith turns to confident hope and daily expectation. You will find peace that passes understanding. Freedom allows us to choose our vantage point in life – Jesus I choose You!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Without Further Delay

砂時計とお金

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

A young woman who was quite intoxicated made the fatal decision to livestream from her car while driving. In the video, she loses control of the vehicle which flips multiple times. You can hear the screams and moaning of her passenger. She continues to livestream from the accident as her fourteen year old sister succumbs to her injuries. The newscaster sharing the details of this tragic and terrible story says, “What has the world come to? Is it going to get any better? It only seems to be getting worse.” Senseless death and the memorialization of horrible events such as this happen every day. Children committing suicide on the air. People mocking a drowning man rather than saving him. What once was hidden is now broadcast on blast. The modern day anchor-now-prophet declaring to the world on national television – things are only getting worse. He wasn’t talking about the economy or the healthcare system. He was talking about human beings. The love of many has grown cold while the lukewarm hearts become stone cold. Sin is rampant. I remember my grandparents telling me how sad the state of affairs of the world had become and that surely Jesus was coming soon. Now as I await the birth of our first grandchild, I realize they were right. Jesus is coming back. As the details of God’s Word become the chilling reality in which we live – there is no reason to fear. Instead, it is a call to action.

Some will stop reading right here. Isn’t there enough bad news in the world today without the added stress or pressure of the end of the world? For those who know the Lord, the end is only the beginning. God is not slack concerning His Promise. Jesus will return to triumphantly claim His Bride. It all sounds like some fairy tale. However, faith tells us that is not fiction but the fact to live by. One day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack. He is not in any way delayed. His Longsuffering and His Heart cannot accept that any of His Beloved would choose to die rather than accept eternal life. The new life that comes to those who are a new creation. It all sounds wonderful and almost too good to be true. As God waits, it is time to take notice. He is not delayed. You are not deferred. He is waiting for us to respond to Him so He can receive us.

Romans 6:15-17 (NKJV) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

We are no longer slaves bound by debt or obligation. The Son has set us free and given us His Grace. The Blood of Jesus Christ paid the price of sin fully so now freedom takes over our life. We choose who we serve making us servants. I can choose the master of my life each day. Who do I choose to portion my life to? Who do I give the best of my time? What is the ethical and moral outline of my life? The process of salvation is grace giving way to faith that produces obedience to the Lord. Salvation is only the beginning. If salvation does not make our life better and more productive, we are not fully utilizing the promised provision, every spiritual blessing and exceeding abundance that God has ordered for His Children.

All things become possible to the one who believes. If the process of God is not producing these things in our life, it is up to us to find the disconnect. Why? Because by grace, we are saved through faith. Faith is the productivity of our life. If we believe, all things become possible because God does not lie or change His Mind. If He releases His Word, it cannot return to Him without first accomplishing all that it set out to do. This is all from the Word of God to the believer but we must accept it as the Truth of our life for it to change us from the inside out.

The girl who foolishly caused her sister’s life to end is greatly desired by God. Acting out in her personal freedom, she will now likely give up the rest of her life to captivity in prison for a single moment. Yet, it did not diminish God’s Love for her in any way, shape or form. The crack addict wasting away in a building is His Beloved. The madman who killed a warehouse full of people or human smuggler who allowed eight human beings to suffocate and die in a tractor trailer – all these people Christ died for. The goal is that none would die and all would come to know Jesus and receive His Precious Gift. We are not in this for ourselves but to build a Kingdom based on the Grace of God filled by faith in God rising up from the obedience of God’s People in expectation of the return of their Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ.

Luke 12:35-37 (NKJV) “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.

In Ephesians 6:14, it says, “Stand therefore, having girded your wait with truth.” The Truth of our life is found in the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God. To know the Lord it is important to know His Word. Not just to know it but to “gird” our life in it. What does that mean? To gird means to surround, enclose or hem in. It is to prepare for action. To provide, equip, or invest as with power or strength. “Let your waist be girded.” Are you girded and fortified by God’s Word today? Could it be that your provision, promise or prosperity is delayed simply by ignorance that produces disobedience?

The wise servant keeps his light burning waiting for the Master’s Return. Jesus is the Light of the World. He has put His Light (His Love) in us to spark passion for all mankind and lead as many as will come into the Kingdom. Is our light burning bright? The Light of His Love is a powerful force that will draw even the most callous heart to be broken. It is not a haughty position but humbling of our life to represent God’s Love. Faithful obedience is demonstrated in unfailing love. To love God with all our heart and others more than ourselves. There is no greater love than to lay down our life for another. To forsake convenience, comfort and even control so that another might get a glimpse of God’s Love for them. When was the last time you gave up your personal comfort to be a blessing to someone else? To consciously serve another over serving yourself? God’s Love is exhibited through His People. It is not a live and let live but a daily giving up our very lives to pursue others as the Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one.

It is not enough to serve the Lord but we must also sup with Him. To live in communion with Jesus Christ building a strong relationship not just a religious connection. Many know the Name of Jesus, some even believe in its power but few yield their life to faith in His Power that gives way to obedience. We rely on His Grace to save us but not change us. There is power in our weakness when we give His Grace an opportunity to work in us and through us. When we allow His Spirit to produce the good fruit that is promised, it becomes prosperity in our life that is easily shared with others. To know and experience God’s Love through a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ causes us to become a new creation, a living love story, and true testimony of God’s Power.

Psalm 119:60 (NKJV) I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments.

The watered down gospel of today does not offer the supernatural power given to us by Christ. It invites people to experience Jesus Christ but does not fully expose the power workable through His Grace. Our life was not meant to be like it is now. God’s Design for you is a masterpiece. Consider the Word of God the paint by numbers that gets us there. All throughout the Bible, we cry out to the Lord to make haste in His Coming. What if He is waiting on you? What if the grace being provided is for you to finally believe? This passage hidden away in Psalm 119 demonstrates a change of heart that invites the Lord to have His Way in our life. “I made haste.” Has the Lord been speaking to you about something? Has your heart been heavy? Is there something you want to see changed in your life but keep procrastinating? The word “haste” means swiftness of motion or speed. It is urgent need of quick action. “I made haste and did not delay to keep your commandments.” The Lord is inviting us into a union and partnership with Him today. An opportunity to have every provision, promise, and prosper in all we do beginning with obedience.

I love to find new recipes on Pinterest. Changing up the family mealtime and trying new things. When I find a recipe with many favorable comments from those who also tired it and liked it – I make it for our family. I must follow the recipe line by line. There are instructions on how to prepare the food, set the oven and steps to be followed in order to have the desired result, I follow the recipe. No one forces me to try it. I want to. Did you know that is exactly what obedience to God is like? Growing tired of the same old thing, I try something new. The Lord has promised that you will be a new creation. I do not feel imprisoned or any way hindered during the process no matter how long it takes or painstaking it becomes because I want the end result. The enemy wants you to believe that obedience to God is the absence of freedom. Nothing is further from the Truth. It is the opportunity to yoke our life with Christ and claim every promise for our life. It is not burdensome as some might think but leads to victory after victory. We must make haste to know the Word of God and follow the steps to prosperity as a way of claiming all that Christ died for us to have and to become which is exceedingly abundantly more than I could ever think, ask or imagine.

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 (NKJV) For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.

In 2 Corinthians 9. Paul is speaking to the cheerful givers. Salvation is a Gift from God to be sown in our life. God gives seed to the sower. Those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly. Those who take the seed of faith and sow it obediently will produce enough in their life to become givers. It goes on to say, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” The Grace that God has given us is the beginning of many great things that He has for us. While this passage refers to tangible giving, our life has nothing to offer anyone else outside of grace that claims faith and uses it for obedience. Obedience prospers our life increasing our offering. People don’t need more stuff but rather the tangible substance of faith that finds love that is passionate, reckless, all-consuming and unconditional. I cannot give that kind of love away unless I have a commodity of it in my life. God increases me as I come to know Christ and He becomes the reality of my hope. My life is to glorify God for obedience that confesses not only that I know who Christ is but I believe in who He is and what He came to do. God supplies us in surplus so that we can give from the abundance and increase of our life. If you are not a receiver of God’s Love, you cannot be a giver of it. If you have not accepted God’s Grace fully, you cannot share it with others. If you do not believe the Word of God, you will have nothing to encourage others. We must believe in God who rewards those who diligently seek Him with wholehearted and hasty obedience in order to stay in His Service.

Matthew 25:6-13 (NKJV) “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

In Ezekiel 12, the Word of the Lord came to the prophet to tell the Children of Israel that they were making a mistake. They believed that the postponement of God’s Judgment was actually an annulment. Despite the cries of men like Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah, the people decided that God had changed His Mind and granted some kind of reprieve. The Lord spoke to them. “For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God.’” We must not ignore the signs of the times. Jesus will come back. Will you be ready? Will I? The answer is within each human heart.

God is not delayed. He is waiting on us. Jesus wants us to be with Him. He wants us to know Him so that He can say that He knows us. The Lord has not left us but lives in us. He wants to consummate the relationship fully as salvation plants seeds of faith and obedience creates a bond stronger than death and greater than the grave. Jesus wants us. He desires us. He is waiting for us. He will not wait forever. There is a day that will come when He will return. It will be a day of great victory for His Servants and huge regret for those who missed the opportunity. It is my privilege to serve Christ not my responsibility. To know Him is to love Him and it is from this place faithful obedience is born…not because I have to but because I want to. I want Him. I desire the Lord above all things so I pursue Him wholeheartedly by faith and obedience His Grace empowers me. One day there will be no further delays. I intend to be ready. What about you?

I have been married for almost two decades. My husband likes things neat and tidy. When I get home each day, I will clean up the house and put away the things our girls leave strewn about the house. I do it just about every day if I beat him home. He doesn’t require me to do it. I know that he likes things in order. This daily act of obedience is not because he makes me do it but because I love him and know he likes things that way. I do it out of love not responsibility. Our life with Christ is like a marriage. When our obedience flows from love, it is not a burden or challenge but an opportunity to strengthen our relationship and please our beloved.

Philippians 2:5-10 (NKJV) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Finding Refuge

Finding Refuge

Proverbs 14:26 (NKJV) In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.

The waiting room of God has a sign hanging over the door marked “Refuge.” It is a place of peace and calm even when storms rage all around us. Like watching a torrential downpour from the comfort of our home, tucked under a soft blanket in our comfy clothes, listening to the rain hit the house, and watching the wind whipping through the trees yet somehow comforted and untouched by the sound structure of our house. When I was a child, our family lived in a mobile home. Not like the manufactured homes produced today but more like a tin can with wheels. When a mighty storm with wind and rain rocked the trailer back and forth, I would sleep peacefully knowing my parents where in the other room seemingly unaffected by the bad weather outside. Refuge can be found in our natural circumstances and sometimes in situations and certain people can offer the aid, comfort or escape needed. But what about all the other times when conditions around us threaten the peace within us? Those times when nothing in the natural can give us rest or relief from the storms of life? We have a refuge. We must learn to find Him.

Life is full of changes and uncertainty. Just when everything seems to be coming together, it can suddenly fall apart. The unexpected looms around every corner. Comfort is compromised on a regular basis. Convenience is our goal most often unattained. Could this be God’s subtle way of ushering us from movable circumstances to immovable confidence? Maybe in the storms of life it in our panic it is possible to persuade us to enter His Refuge called Peace? Refuge (machseh) is translated in the Bible as trust. Trusting the Lord is our shelter, refuge, protection, fortress, hope, shelter from the storm. We find the word “refuge” used many times in Psalms. It describes the place of peace and calm in the midst of violent storms and enemy attacks. It is for God’s Children. He offers us refuge. It is up to us to enter in.

Psalm 62:5-8 (NKJV) My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

My soul, wait silently on God alone, for my expectation is from Him.

To wait on the Lord is the most trust-filled position yet completely contrary to human nature. To stop trying to find a way out, over or through a situation or problem and rest in peaceful hope with the fullness of expectation that God is good, able and willing work it out for us. God’s silence is not His Absence. It is an opportunity to step deeper into the refuge called hope. To experience the comfort called peace. To the God of the Impossible and live in His Presence. Yet, silence makes us uncomfortable. It makes us fidget and squirm. The lack of communication fosters fear in those who do not have fearless confidence in the Lord, His Way and His Word. We must buffet our heart and mind with the essentials of faith so that hope becomes our refuge even in God’s Silence. While the enemy dares us to move, our heart remains steadfast in His Shelter.

I shall not be moved…

The Lord is my salvation. He is my glory. He is my strength. He is my refuge. All these qualities of God are to be made manifest in our life. Salvation being the core value of faith that gives us a place to put all our expectation. He is our Glory because through Christ we are victorious in our Champion who overcame the world. He is the rock so much higher than I but climbing is striving drawing me from my comfort zone into His Presence. To look down from such a place in the natural is riveting but to remain steadfast in such a place is powerful.

Trust in Him at all times…

Easier said than done most of the time, trust is the access point marked “refuge”. We must trust the Lord to find the peace of God even when He is silently working every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Fear and doubt produce anxiety that keeps us from staying in the refuge of God’s Presence. Faith cannot remain where fear is given a place in our life. The two cannot coexist but are mutually exclusive opposing forces. If we could only learn to trust the Lord with every detail of our life – we would live in the refuge of His Presence where peace passes all understanding. Faith would give way to confident hope rooting and grounding us in His Love. (Ephesians 3:17)

A preacher once gave the illustration of trust being the difference between a potted plant or planted tree. A potted plant is in grave danger when the storm comes. A tree planted with deep roots will fair far better. The potted plant is tossed about in the driving wind and raging storm where the one that is planted will be swayed back and forth but remain steadfast. There are many believers who are like potted plants when it comes to the Lord and His Presence. Running to and fro when the storm comes their position in Christ is compromised by a lack of commitment. However, those who decide to be like a tree planted by the riverbank will prosper in every season because they are planted in the Presence of God. The roots that keep us planted in the Presence God called refuge are called trust. When we trust the Lord, it will create a bond that keeps us latched on to Him tightly making us immovable and unshakeable in the most violent of conditions.

Psalm 46:1 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

God is a very present help in trouble. What about when I can’t hear Him? Feel Him? See Him? Understand Him? Our inability to perceive the workings of the Lord doesn’t mean that He is absent. We are called to walk by faith not by sight or any other of our natural senses. When given the opportunity to trust the Lord, we choose our position. Will I remain faithful? Will I continue to worship the Lord for Who He is? Will my words be filled with confident praise or constant complaining? Will I believe for one more day? Will I wait for Him to come like He said that He would? Will I give God the time and space to allow His Will to come to pass even if it means forsaking my comfort, convenience and control? God makes all things beautiful in His Timing. We are His Masterpiece yet to be completed.

Trusting God is the only way that fulfillment will come and our expectation be fully met. He is our strong tower that keeps the enemy at bay. (Psalm 61:3) God does not force us to enter refuge but we must make the decision. “I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my refuge…’” (Psalm 91:2) God’s Presence, His Place called Refuge, is “my portion in the land of the living.” (Psalm 142:5) So many times, we try to weather the storms of life because we cannot accept that by grace we are saved through faith” and there is nothing that can be done to earn it, deserve it or preserve it. I must have faith in the Living God. He lives in me…now. He wants to give me refuge now. He wants to be my peace and portion…now. Trust creates the kind of reliance on God that meets our expectation despite our current condition. “But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.” (Psalm73:28)

Hebrews 6:17-20 (NKJV) Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

The only place in the New King James Version of the New Testament that refuge is mentioned is in the Book of Hebrews. The faith book of the Bible tells us that so “we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” Are you holding on to hope today? Even if it is only by a thread you can use it to pull yourself into the Presence of God. He is our hope. He has made an oath to us. He has given us a plan containing a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) God created us with a measure of faith to seed our life (Romans 12:3) so that confident hope will be produced. We sow God’s Word in our heart and it is cultivated by His Spirit inside of us when we trust Him to do so. (Galatians 5:22-23) God does not lie. He does not change His Mind. (Hebrews 6:18) He does not withdraw His Calling from us. He is always for us working every detail of our life for good. (Romans 8:28) He promises to perfect all that concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) But none of these things will ever come to pass, if we do not learn to trust Him. We must yoke our life to Jesus Christ in order to find the refuge needed to wait out the storm or find protection from the enemy. It is in that place of silence and security that peace passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and there is joy in our salvation (Psalm 51:12). He wraps us in a robe of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:10) Shields us beneath the wings of angels (Psalm 91:4). He will fight for us when our faith allows us to stand down yet steadfast in His Love. Confidently waiting for our portion to refill us, restore us and renew us day by day.

There is no greater refuge than the peace found in the Presence of God. He offers to be our refuge always not just when tough times come or bad things happen. We can live in the Presence of God every day. He will be our refuge. He wants to be our strength. Finding refuge means to simply trust Him with your life. All of it. Withholding nothing and His Presence will fill every nook and cranny. You will prosper as your soul prospers according to His Word. Once you find it, you will never want to leave Him again.

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV) The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Can’t Stop the Rain

Can't Stop the Rain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sow Good Seeds

Sow Good Seeds

Mark 4:30-32 (NLT) Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” While I agree with Mr. Franklin in his statement about discipline, I might be so bold to add that what you do between those hours of rising and then falling into bed are equally important. The hours of each day are expended time which cannot be reclaimed. Some days are filled with productivity and others lived on a whim. What are you doing with your time? The most important commodity of your life is the very thing that cannot be replenished. In order to produce something of worth – the Kingdom of God – we must sow our time wisely along with the right seed to have it prosper into fulfillment rather than regret.

Seedtime and harvest is the simple process of planting and harvesting in life. Sowing and growing are naturally occurring but when used to expand and increase the Kingdom the natural is infused with the supernatural.

I Corinthians 3:6-7 (NLT) I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.

What is God growing in your life today? Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your current condition? Are you prospering or stalling? Consider the seed you are sowing. Going to bed early and getting a good night sleep will definitely improve the quality of your day with ample endorphins. Rising early will allow you to get a head start. However, before attempting to put your seed in the ground – let’s consider what it is that is being sown. It is the telltale of the harvest. Sowing the right seeds each day will produce a good harvest. God wants us to be healthy, wealthy and wise – these are qualities of prosperity in life. Jesus came to give us an abundant life full of satisfaction. We must plant. It must be watered. God will increase it.

2 Corinthians 9:10 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

In Matthew 3, it tells of the farmer who is scattering his seed. The seed is sown in a variety of places. There are many outcomes to the productivity of the seed according to where it falls. The parable is a picture of God’s Word. Each day it is important to sow the Word of God in our life to produce Kingdom results. Not to get too deeply theological, it is the essence of communion with Jesus Christ. His Body was broken for our consumption so that we can live connected to Him like the vine and branches. Abiding in Him. Jesus is the Word of God. We must consume the Word daily to produce the workings within it. The Word of God that falls on a fertile heart will produce the kind of life we long for.

We must make a conscious choice to find time each day to plant God’s Word in our heart. To study, meditate, marinate and digest the Word of God is my personal endeavor in farming His Plan and Purpose for my life that will prosper into a harvest of His Promises. To rise early allows us to do just that apart from the distractions of life. If we can get a jump on the day and determine what God has for us – it will allow us to get good seed in the ground before facing the challenges and responsibilities that come with the sun. I Co

“Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” (2 Corinthians 9:6) If you have decided to follow Jesus all the way to the Kingdom, sowing the Word of God is essential. The more you sow the more you grow. God’s Word is filled with good things for your life. It is impossible to please God without faith. The Word of God feeds our fail and grows into confident hope in our life producing God’s Goodness wherever it is planted.

Mark 4:26-29(NLT) Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

Once seed goes in the ground and watered, God takes over. He is the one who increases our life with good things. He has an inheritance in Heaven released by obedience. The Word of God released in our life, over our homes, in our finances, infusing our ministry, or any other area of life partnered with God – it will experience radical growth. The potential in the seed is not obvious to us but God knows exactly what to do to bring it to full maturity and productivity in our life. Sowing is an act of faith. To put that seed in the ground and leave it requires patience and persistence that require assistance from the Holy Spirit to encourage us and keep us in the waiting. “As soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it.” God has not forgotten or ignored the seed. He is preparing and processing it to produce abundance in our life.

James 5:7 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.

The pathway to prosperity is patience in the process. Be patient. The seed you have sown will grow because it is mandated by God. If you sow plentifully, you will reap bountifully. If you are sowing God’s Word, you will harvest supernatural abundance if you are willing to wait for it.

Psalm 63:1 (NLT) O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.

Consider the seed being sown in your life today. Where do you spend your time? What are you investing in? The place where seed goes in the ground is the place your harvest will come from. Seedtime and harvest is a natural and supernatural process ordained by God. He promised never to curse the productivity in our life again. But God is Sovereign. He does not lie or change His Mind. He has no double standards. What does that mean? What you sow you will reap. When you plant you will harvest. He does not pick and choose what is planted – you do. I decide the productivity in my life by the sowing I choose to do and the seeds I pick to plant in my life. The natural conditions and circumstances of my life do not impact God’s Potential Growth in me – I do. Will I choose to sow seeds of God’s Word and plant from the measure of faith that I have been allotted or will I let natural conditions dictate the harvest in my field?

Early to bed and early to rise works. When I choose to rise early and seek His Face with a thirsty soul filled with good seed sown from God’s Word, my life begins to change supernaturally as my soul prospers so do I. I cannot explain it but can testify of it. God is good. His Mercy showers my life removing the bad seed giving the good seed room to grow, develop and become the abundance of my life. It’s time to sow some good seed. If you plant it, He will water it, and give increase in your life.

Hebrews 6:7 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. 

 

Abounding in Abundance

Abounding in Abundance

Colossians 2:6-10 (NKJV) As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

Our walk with Christ should lead to abundance. Jesus came to give us life and that it would be abundant. I believe that our idea of abundance changes as our heart and mind become new. The new creation gives ways to revolutionized thought and radical ideas defined by faith. Faith is not logical to the world but relates specifically to the Word of God and is heavily influenced by His Spirit inside of us. A life yielded to Christ makes room for the transformation of the way we live, breathe, move and exist in this life as residents of the Kingdom of God. However, the mind is a force to be reckoned with. It is set in its ways. Certain images cannot be so easily erased. The renewing of our mind is essential to live in the abundance of God. Our life must abound in Christ to enter the abundance He offers. Abundance in our life is defined by the prosperity of our heart. We can have it all and have nothing at all. We can have nothing at all and be fully complete in Jesus lacking no good thing. The contents of our heart determines the fruitfulness in our life. Prosperity is a heart condition beginning with a transfer from earthly provision to Kingdom Providence.

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith…

As you therefore…as a result of…have received Christ Jesus the Lord…accepting not only His Saving Grace but also His Authority and Power… so walk in Him. Have do I take an ordinary life and make it extraordinary? By full submission to Jesus Christ, the words seem so straightforward but it’s a fight to the finish. To establish every movement and all my thoughts according to the Word of God, Way of God and Will of God…every day. The Lord provided a measure of faith. He knew it would be impossible for us to please Him without it. Jesus came and supplied the grace needed to overcome sin, death and the grave. I am free to live the life I choose. However, my heart and mind were held captive so long it will take Resurrection Power and Life to keep me from returning to the bondages of life.

To become rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ and established in the faith means being uprooted from the life that is our basis and foundation. John 10:10 is two-fold. It tells us that Jesus Christ came to give us life and have it abundantly. It also warns us that there is a thief among us. He is a con artist of sorts. Luring God’s People into the dark shadows, offering subtle substitutions, and cunning compromise. The enemy’s greatest weapon is a lie. Truly it is the only thing that he can use against us to convince us to move from God’s Presence into bondage. We have the power to live in super abundance which is a byproduct of freedom unless we choose the way of the beggar eating crumbs under His Table rather than dining with King Jesus. Do you see the place of God’s Table? He prepares “a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” We want the abundance of God that abounds in His Presence but are we willing to fight for it?

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV) For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Our life can be filled with mentors, teachers and others who teach us ways to improve our life. The power of change is faithful obedience. If I believe the person who is instructing me, I will do what they say. To change requires belief and confidence in the source. There are many voices in our life that can be influential. The prevailing voice will be the one that one can relate to. Philosophy is the rational investigation of truth and principles of being that govern the choices made about life. It is the basis of most ethical and moral concepts. The Lord offers to renew our mind. In doing so, by changing the way we think, our life becomes influenced by Kingdom principles rather than earthly opinions also known as philosophies.

Knowledge of God is found in Spirit and in Truth. It is a product of worshipping God with our life and not just our words. It means daily digging up the “strongholds and arguments” against faith and planting God’s Word in the voids and vacancies left behind. It requires effort. Feelings and emotions must be replaced by faith and confident hope in God’s Word. Otherwise, our life will continue to be barren. To abound requires seeds of abundance being planted in our heart and mind, watered by the Word, fed by His Spirit and given time to grow in protected fields. To have abundance means abounding in seasons of fruitlessness. We must learn to take captive every thought and idea that is contrary to God’s Word and His Promise for our life. To become bold in our faith and relentless in our pursuit of confident hope which anchors our soul until the harvest comes. It will come. It just needs some time and space to grow without the overcrowding and choking of weeds and vines of meaningless ides, thoughts and notions.

Ephesians 3:19-20 (NKJV) To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…

Ephesians 3:20 has been my verse for 2017. To Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to His Power that works in us. I desire abundance. Abundance has taken on a new meaning for me. It used to mean stuff. Can we be honest? The world is an economy of stuff. It is how success and failure are generally determined on the earth. But it is not God’s Economy. Walking the dog with my husband on a hot, humid evening, we started sharing the moments in our day and it became a discussion about our place in life. Deep philosophic stuff. I am content with my life. I have more stuff than I need or want. I have way more than I ever thought possible from my humble upbringing. When I was a kid, I thought if I could just have a home on wheels that no one could come and just roll away – I would consider my life successful. Well, I live in house built on a concrete foundation. If I look at my life in a non-tangible sense, God has given me a beautiful family. A loving husband and five beautiful children who are now adding to it with spouses and one day grandchildren. I have way more than I deserve. I am content but dissatisfied. There is a place of abounding that gives way to abundance when in our complete satisfaction with God’s Provision – our heart decides to seek Him fully. The final thoughts on our walk that night concluded – we are blessed and thankful and even content in our natural life but there still has to be more. God widens the space in our heart and makes room for us to move from abounding to abundance by filling our life with His Love, Grace and Goodness.

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. The dissatisfaction of most long time believers is not in any way associated with God or even Christ but the lack of completion. It is by design. As faith grows in us what was tiny and small presses against our captive thoughts and the boundaries of our mind to see if there is room for growth and expansion. God knows that there is because He has already ordained every blessing and promise for our life and is waiting for us to prosper in Christ to make what already abounds in us to overflow as abundance out of us.

I Thessalonians 4:1 (NKJV) Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God…

The Lord invites you and me to a place of abundance. Obedience takes us there. You may think of it as bondage but that is not the case at all. Jesus Christ has set us free indeed. Now we choose who we serve, how we serve and the magnitude of blessing according to such choices. The prodigal son exercised his right to freedom. His father gave him the inheritance and he left his childhood home convinced that he desired freedom. He quickly exhausted his resources and found himself fighting pigs for scraps of food. His thoughts turned to the hired servants at home who would eat a good meal and sleep in a warm bed. The young man decided being a servant was better than being his own man and humbly went home to serve the father. He was greeted by the father who restored him as son and welcomed him home. This was the same child who left home. The same kid who wasted his entire inheritance. The one who left his position. He was the one who rebelled against his father causing him tremendous heartache. The only thing that changed was his heart. His pride crushed by failure – the prodigal son successfully returned home in humility to find that he had lost nothing at all. To give up my way to follow the Lord is an act of humility. The only thing sacrificed in that moment is my flesh and limited life. What’s keeping you from abundance today? Is it pride? Rebellion? Radical thoughts? Empty philosophies? Religious tradition? Corrupted culture? You have not missed a thing. The Father will restore you when you humbly return home. His Presence is always open thanks to Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:7-12 (NKJV)  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

I love these verses. God has given us riches of His Grace. He causes us to abound in all wisdom. It is His Good Pleasure and His Purpose to dispense His Fullness to us. He has provided an inheritance. He has predestined all things to work according to His Will which includes all these abundant and abounding words. Fullness. Completion. Success. God is good. He is for me. Jesus Christ promised you us a rich and satisfied life. A life of abounding abundance. What is abundance? It is overflowing fullness. To abound means to occur or exist in great quantities; to be rich and well supplied; and to be filled and fulfilled. Do these qualities define your life today? If not, I challenge your mindset. We are no longer subjected to the limitations of this life. (Colossians 2:20) If our life is limited it is because there is something blocking the overflow of abundance. Nothing is impossible for those who believe. Do you believe? God’s Grace is the opportunity to abound in abundance beginning with the Fruit of God’s Spirit. This is the supply from which we find satisfaction in the rest of our life. To overflow in this areas feeds hungry and thirsty souls around us which motivates them to being the journey to fulfillment. I can live by the basic principles of the world and even in accordance with church doctrine, but true abundance is found by planting my faith in Jesus Christ and submitting my life to His Growth and Development. It means changing the way I think by the renewing of my mind in Spirit and in Truth. Humbly returning to His Presence day after day waiting for godly instruction and wisdom to guide me along the way. I must examine my heart daily for those negative and rebellious thoughts contrary to what Jesus says about my life. Making a way for His Abundance to abound in my life. Spiritual success and maturity produce abundance in our life by moving deeper in Christ – all He is must complete us as He promised.

Ephesians 4:13-16 (NKJV) till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Eyes Front

Eyes Front

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

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

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

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

The Emotional Follower

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

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

The Realistic Follower

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

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

The Halfhearted Follower

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

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

The Religious Follower

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simply Repent

Girl Praying With Hands On Bible

I John 1:9 (NKJV) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

During worship on Sunday morning with lifted hands our congregation sang together, “Holy Spirit you are welcome here…” In the midst of mixed melody as voices melded together inviting the Lord to join us, I heard the whisper of the man standing behind me. I promise I was not ease dropping and I definitely was pressing into the Presence of God all around us. Yet, his words caught my attention and immediate my heart was shattered in that moment. He simply said, “Jesus, forgive me of my sins.” It was soft and intimate. Like one might whisper to a loved one in an embrace. The intent of his heart rolling of his lips in the sweetest apology that I know melted God’s Heart. It made me ask myself when was the last time that I came to the Lord and chose simply to repent?

This verse brings back memories of a scripture memorization challenge in high school. More years ago than I care to count, we were given packets of cards to memorize just one verse per week. This would be the card on top. The significance only now sinking in after many decades. Our life in Jesus Christ begins and ends in simple repentance. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. He does it all. Not only does He accept our apology but unlike in the realm of humanity – the Lord chooses to restore our righteousness or right standing on the spot without anything else from us. True repentance opens the door to righteousness. To humble myself before the Lord and to say, I have sinned and I am sorry opens the door to prosperity in the life of a believer. Obedience does not change the heart or mind of God toward us. It is repentance that does that. If I could have done anything to save myself from sin, then salvation may have been something altogether different. But the truth is that apart from Jesus Christ, I am nothing. I have no future. I cannot produce anything good in my life including salvation. It is the single most important step of faith that secures future hope for all mankind.

Luke 18:9-14 (NKJV) Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Pharisee

Romans 3:23-25 (NKJV) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed…

We all have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory. God has justified us freely by His Grace through the redemption offered by Jesus Christ. God accepted His Blood sacrifice as enough to repay every single sin ever committed past, present and future. By way of the Cross, those who humble themselves before the Lord and repent will receive God’s Glory in their life. Note it does not give a list of demands or expectations other than we come with open hearts to receive the Lord. The Pharisee came to the temple to pray. He came to repay an obligation. His routine ritual defined by religion. He prayed loudly so everyone could hear him. He used comparison to prove his ceremonial worthiness. He was prideful. He was arrogant. This man left the temple the same way that he arrived. Full of self. Full of sin.

The Tax Collector

Micah 6:8 (NKJV) He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

James 4:10 (NKJV) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

The tax collector came to the same temple to pray in the exact same condition as the Pharisee. Obedience will never take the place of repentance. It implies that salvation can be earned which is not true. It is offered and received by the humble. Those who are willing to come before the Lord and confess their sins from an honest and forthright heart. The Pharisee compared his life to the other people who came to pray and worship God. Comparison will always keep us from the Cross. My calling is to walk humbly with my God. I cannot do that trying to be like or be better than anyone else. I must keep my eyes on Jesus Christ and keep the way clear. He is close to the brokenhearted. Those who fully expose their heart to the Lord cannot do so without repentance. A relationship defined by love cannot stand to have anything barring access to the other. When we hurt someone we love, we should apologize. To fully restore the relationship there must be some kind of repentance.

What does it mean to repent? The word comes from Latin origin meaning repentir or “to regret” and poenitire to “make sorry”. The Old French definition means to feel such regret for sins as produces an amendment of life. The origin of the words regret and repent are connected. One should produce the other. According to Dictionary.com, repent means to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better. To repent means to ask God’s Forgiveness through Jesus Christ and turn from that thing which brought you there. I cannot live a successful life with God is I am not consciously aware of the sin that separates us and take the time to simply repent. Romans 3:23-25 makes it clear that 1) We have all sinned and need God’s Forgiveness; 2) None of us can afford to repay the debt associated with our sin so we need Jesus; 3) the only way salvation can be received is to accept it and obtain it freely; and 4) There is nothing I can do to repay Jesus for one ounce of His Blood so I must live in humble acquisition of His Grace. This is an act of humility. There is nothing I can do to save myself. My life is no longer my own.

Proverbs 28:13 (NKJV) He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

The person who covers his sins will not prosper. There is a subtle truth in this statement that pride and self-preservation would like for us to overlook. The enemy will continually offer substitutions for true repentance and water down grace if possible by offering excuses for our indiscretions. The worst one of all is comparison. The truth is my first sin was the only sin needed to condemn my life to certain death. It required every single ounce of Jesus’ blood in repayment. God did that for me. Jesus died for me. There are many empty altars in the House of God with rooms full of Pharisees trying to pretend that sin is not their problem any longer. The few who do choose to live at the foot of the Cross are afraid of judgement by the religious order of the day and quietly whisper to God from their seats. I wonder what would happen if we all chose to simply repent before the Lord as the tax collector did that day. To say to the Lord, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”

2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NKJV)  if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.

Could it be that the church is going about this revival thing all wrong? What if the Lord is listening and waiting for a people to humble themselves, pray and seek His Face willing to turn from their sin and simply repent. The Word of God says that He will hear from heaven, forgive us and heal our land. We must humble our heart before the Lord at every opportunity. True love is defined by forgiveness. Constant grace for each other as offered by the Lord to us. We must learn to live in love with Jesus. We do this by living a truly repentant life that is not afraid to humble our life at the foot of the Cross. To kneel at the local altar in our churches. To say, “I am a sinner who needs God’s Grace.” The confession of an obedient servant touched my heart yesterday. His apology was soft, honest and sincere. His words laced with love, awe and admiration. They broke my heart for my Savior all over again and within a few short minutes, I was doing the same. It was freeing. I felt a peace flood over me. Worries and cares melted off of me. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. Our willingness to expose all of our life including our shortcomings and sin to the life-giving and life-changing Power of the Living God will never take anything from us we do not want or force anything upon us. It will break every chain holding back God’s Blessing and Prosperity in our life. It is my earnest and heartfelt intent to start each day from this place. To simply repent and walk humbly with my God.

Psalm 26:4 (NKJV) Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.

Psalm 51:9-12 (NKJV) Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

 

All in the Waiting

All in the Waiting

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NKJV) The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

The end of a thing is better than its beginning. The conclusion reveals a concept fully conceived and completed. The destination is the end of the journey. When our children were younger, trip planning and preparation was essential. The word “spontaneity” was not in the vocabulary when accompanied by almost a half dozen children. I would begin the process months before our trip. I would reserve condos or homes rather than hotel rooms. Plan activities that would be kid-friendly and parent approved. The day before would be endless checklists of everything one might need for the family and a printed map to the nearest Wal-Mart close to our accommodations. But when we finally arrived at the desired location, unloaded the car, and began our vacation – the end was definitely better than the beginning while enjoying our family and making memories. May I encourage you just a little today? The place that God has promised to take you – He is now preparing you for. The end will be better than the beginning if you choose to allow Him the time to prepare you for it and prepare it for you.

The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Having five children is the product of multiple pregnancies. A tiny egg inside the body that becomes a living breathing person. It is nothing short of miraculous. Pregnancy is the process to the promise. Just ask Abraham, who for his entire lifetime desired a child. When it finally came to pass, he was in his nineties. I cannot even imagine such a thing. Once the process of pregnancy begins so does the waiting. It takes nine months or 40 weeks on average from start to finish. In my case, I tend to gestate for 42 weeks which means I had to wait two extra weeks to meet my children. Our last child was a scheduled induction. She was due to be born on Christmas, and due to my readiness to be done, the doctor picked a day to induce the labor process. After three completely natural childbirth experiences, I was not ready for what was in store. Tweaking the natural process of childbirth does not always work with our body or timing. My other children were delivered in about two hours. It took more than 12 hours to see her beautiful face. She had trouble along the way due to the fact she was not fully in position. God’s Timing is an essential part of His Plan and Process. You are pregnant with promises today that the Lord planned for you and is preparing for you. Waiting is an important part of that process to have the desired result of God’s Very Best. Just as interrupting my body’s birth plan made the delivery much harder than before, so it is when we do not endure God’s Process. If you want God’s Promises, there is always a process that goes with it. The promise has a time and place for its arrival. We must wait for it.

Proverbs 14:29 (NKJV) He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly.

The literal translation of the word “impulsive” in this verse means “short of spirit.” Impulsivity is characteristic of human nature and can only be overcome by self-control. Our will can overcome many things by changing habits or applying knowledge to become wisdom in our life and essentially making better choices. However, to become the person God has called you to be and do what He has commissioned you to do requires the Spirit’s self-control that overpowers our flesh giving way to God’s Plan. To be impulsive is to be swayed by emotional or involuntary impulses. It is the opposite of steadfast and immovable qualities which are essential to growing our faith into hopeful confidence and the ability to trust the Lord even in His Timing. Impulse is the influence of our feelings, emotions or mental state so it is subject to change with our condition. We must learn to be patient in our faith. Patience is developed and matured by the art of waiting. We must learn to be patient and faithful in the waiting.

Hebrews 6:11-12 (NKJV)  And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

When a pregnancy ends too soon, there is an abortion, miscarriage, or prematurity. Abortion is when someone chooses to end the process. Miscarriage is failure to attain the just, right or desired result. Prematurity means occurring, coming or done before maturity or proper timing. Babies who are born prematurely are not fully developed and ready to sustain life on their own in many cases. A promise aborted, miscarried, or prematurely released will never reach its full potential because it is out of God’s Timing. God’s Promises are made beautiful in His Timing. We must wait for God to complete the good work that He begins in us rather than forcing a counterfeit or substitution by accepting less than God’s Very Best. We must show the “same diligence to full assurance of hope until the end.” We must endure to the end to be saved. Do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Hebrews 6:15 (NKJV) And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

Abraham had to wait until he was over 90 years old to receive his promise. How long have you been waiting? Does it feel like a lifetime? Does every old season just give way to a new season of preparation rather than the prospering harvest of God’s Promise? Faith and patience inherit the promise. Nothing less and nothing more. Our willingness to wait on the Lord and trust Him until He delivers is essential in obtaining every spiritual blessing and fulfilling every high calling in our life planned by God and promised in Christ.

Psalm 37:3-7 (NKJV) Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

The prosperity of patient and faith is God’s Promises. Trust takes dedication to doing good, dwelling where God placed you, and dining on His Faithfulness. It is to delight in the Lord while He plans, prepares and promotes His Promises for you. To make the commit to see this thing out to the very end and trust Him UNTIL He brings it to pass. Trusting God’s Timing is one of the biggest challenges because walking by faith and not by sight is tough. His Timing usually leads us to the impossible so that by faith the impossible becomes our promise. He is bringing forth His Righteousness and Faithfulness so your life will resonate His Glory all around so others can experience His Goodness and Love. Rest in this season of waiting friend as I try to do the very same thing. Wait patiently for Him and do not compare your life to other Christians but accept your calling in Jesus Christ. He is preparing you for something more than you can think to ask for or even imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

Zechariah 4:10 (NKJV) For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

Do not despise small beginnings. Israel faithfully completed the second temple but to them it seemed small. They became discouraged. The temple was only a tiny step in God’s Great Big Plan. God is still building His Church, His Kingdom, and completing the Body of Christ. We must celebrate new beginnings, patiently wait through each process, and endure to the end to receive every promise ordained in our life. The bigger the promise the greater the preparation. Patience is born in the waiting rooms of life. It is the place where tiny seeds of faith sprout and blossom into trees of life with leaves that do not wither and bearing fruit in every season. Abraham carried the tiny, single seed that would become Isaac inside of him for almost a century. Faith is the size of a mustard seed but has the potential to become life everlasting. It takes time to grow. It is not an overnight sensation but a lifelong legend. God is doing something in you and through you far greater than human comprehension understands. You will need to invest your faith and time into waiting so His Spirit can produce the characteristics and qualities necessary to have all that He promised because honestly right now you couldn’t handle it. Do not resent small begins. Do not vacate waiting on the things of God. Give yourself wholeheartedly to do all that He is asking you to do. Jeremiah 29:11-13 expresses the connection between wholehearted obedience and God’s Plan. Read it. Trust becomes confidence when exercised properly. Faithfulness in the smallest things will produce more as God increases us in our ability to have faith, trust Him and wait while He works all things together for our good and His Glory. It is all in the waiting friend. I must choose to wait.

Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…

 

Honoring God

Honoring God

Proverbs 3:9-10 (ESV) Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Honor the Lord with the firstfruits of all you produce. Love is not an emotion it is an action. It is a noun demonstrated by a verb not an adjective. Love has an extensive definition according to I Corinthians 13. Just a few verses that challenge the entire concept according to the context of worldly like and lust put in its place. One of the attributes of love is found in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends.” The example of Jesus Christ to all mankind. It’s funny how the word “tithing” sends a jolt through people. Bristling at the thought of giving up a tenth of the income makes way for many excuses. So before you decide this message is not for you today, I am not after your money and neither is the Lord. In fact, according to Psalm 50:8-15, God is well-supplied with an abundance and needs nothing from us. Acts 17:24-25 describes it this way – “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Before you get your knickers in a twist, please understand tithing is not a requirement of salvation. Obedience is the opportunity to experience the richness and prosperity of Heaven. The work of Jesus Christ that provides us with grace is more than enough. We are made right with God by the sacrificial offering of Jesus when He laid down His Life for us and by fully accepting Him as our Savior. Yet, there is more. There is an abundance for those who decide to make Jesus Lord of their life. To honor Him and live in allegiance to His Kingdom.

Honor the Lord with… Honor simply put is to worship. To hold in high honor and treat with respect. It also means to accept as valid and conform to the request. The Lord puts it simple and straightforward through the writer of Proverbs. Honor the Lord with your wealth and the firstfruits of all your produce…THEN your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine. There are three resources from which I can give to the Lord. My time. My talent. My treasure. Time is the most valuable. Talent will result in obedience. To give my treasure or the tangible blessings in my life will produce abundance. Increasing the equity in my life. How? The seed produces like kind fruit. Sow your time. You will harvest time. Sow your talent. You will harvest talent. Sow your treasure. You will harvest treasure. What you are willing to sacrifice will be your reward.

Sowing and reaping are not Biblical principles altogether. When God instituted the principle, it was for all mankind not just His People. Therefore if a farmer sows a seed, it will grow because that is what it is commanded to do by God naturally. However, when we make the choice to obey the Lord and return a tenth of the firstfruits to Him, suddenly the same seed is blessed. Faith makes all things possible but faith is not demonstrated by what we see but by trusting the Lord with what is unseen. We give God our time. The most precious commodity of our life. We give Him certain talents. However, when it is time to sow the tangible things in life – most people choose not to. I believe God wants to bless your life today. I know He wants to bless me.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24) To honor the Lord in whatever you do…work heartily as for the Lord and not men. People tend to live two separate lives. A natural life and spiritual life cannot coexist. There can be only one master. You can only serve one at a time. Therefore, if you want a supernatural life it comes at the price of pride and human productivity. A spiritual life is one that is surrendered and submitted to Jesus Christ allowing His Spirit to produce a godly life working inside and making His Way out of you. To be called a Christian is to take up our cross daily not just on Sunday and Wednesdays. The Light of His Love is to shine through us always. It illuminates our homes, workplaces and every other place that is frequented. The work of our hands will produce something but until our soul prospers it is limited. When faith is the foundation of our life and the Word of God sown in a fertile heart, it produces obedience. Obedience is a form of worship that says, “Lord, I believe in You and trust You with my life.” Only the part or portion of our life sold out and surrendered to the Lord as an act of worship will be blessed. Faith only works where it is applied. God is expanding the boundaries personally set in our heart and mind to live in His Abundance and have a rich and satisfying life. What are you withholding today that is limiting your increase?

Malachi 3:8-10 (ESV) Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts. God invites us to test Him. The God of the Universe who does not need us but desires us offers us the opportunity to test Him. What is the tithe of your life? What is your contribution to God? He promises that if we tithe our life to Him that He will open the windows of heaven over our life and pour out a blessing until there is no more need. You will be satisfied. You will be fulfilled. You will live in abundance of time, talent and treasure. Not because you did anything other than put good seed of faith in God’s Soil called trust and He did exactly what He said that He would do. It’s not the lottery. It is the Word working and doing exactly what God said. This is not just about your money. It is about every area of your natural life. However, if you do not participate in tithing then there really is no reason to think God will increase your life. Why? There is no seed for the Sower.

Matthew 23:23-24 (ESV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”

Tithing the firstfruits of our life is evidence of faith in God. It was instituted by Abraham in Genesis 14:20 when he gave a tenth of all he had to Melchizedek the High Priest. In Leviticus 27:30-32, the tithe is called holy. Deuteronomy 14:22 – it is a command. Deuteronomy 26:1-2 tells us the tithe is an invitation for God to dwell with us, live in our land, and be our source. In Nehemiah 10:35, it is described as perpetual. We are to give the best of our firstfruits (Exodus 23:19) not what is leftover but first pick of the best things in our life. Are you giving the Lord the best parts of your life today? Or just the broken pieces and leftovers? It is seed in the ground of your life sown in trust. The portion of our life given to God is the productivity of our faith. It only takes a mustard seed of faith to produce abundance and do the impossible. If your life is not marked by miracles and supernatural increase, it would be best to consider the seed of faith being sown.

What are you given to God to use for His Glory? What are you honoring Him with today? Is He getting the best part of you or just what’s left after the world takes what it wants? We would rather give an offering that sow a sacrifice of self. Fear of lack or loss will hinder the possibilities of faithful sowing in our life. It will stop up the windows of Heaven. It will bar increase from entering in. It will stifle abundance because there is nothing for it to come from. To have the rich and satisfying life promised to us by Jesus means giving up this less than enough life that we live. All of it. Withholding nothing from the sowing and reaping of God’s Kingdom but giving Him our absolute best and most valuable parts.

Luke 18:10-14 (ESV) “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

John 15:4 (ESV) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 

John 15:7-8 (ESV) If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

The Lord invites us to partner with Him now and forever. In this life, there is the challenge of integrating our spiritual and natural life into a godly one. We must abide in Christ to prosper. When I got married, my husband and I combined bank accounts. His income was greater than mine but when I looked at the bank statement it didn’t say this belonged to him and this was mine. It was our financial statement. The years that I stayed home with our children. He didn’t come to me and require a contribution to the account. He trusted me to take care of our household and nurture our children. Tithing our life is a contribution to the partnership and union offered to us by Jesus Christ. We have time to give. We have talent to give. We have treasures to give. Tithes and firstfruits that are seeds to the fruitful abundance offered in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Vine. I am a branch. From the beginning of our marriage, we have tithed in regard to our finances. It is evident not necessarily in the bottom line but the fact that God has incrementally increased us over time. He has kept us in during tough financial times. We have experienced God’s Favor in so many ways that I cannot begin to list them all for you now. But if the only area of our life partnered with God is our finances, then our finances would be the only thing thriving. It is important to continually examine our heart and hands to see what there is to honor the Lord with. Our worship is not in our words but demonstrated in faith and trust. To continually invest more and more of our life into God’s Kingdom. Sowing seeds of faith, love and trust beyond any tangible giving until our entire existence is partnered with Jesus and His Kingdom.

Mathematically the tithe is one-tenth. Do you give one-tenth of your waking hours to the Lord? If we sleep six hours leaving eighteen hours in a day, it would mean dedicating and offering God just under two hours of our day. Seems like a lot, until you consider what He can do in us with those two hours. The fundamental test of tithing is trust. Do you trust the Lord at His Word? Do you believe that He is faithful? Find something. Anything. A portion of your life that you are willing to give to the Lord and sow into His Kingdom. No excuses. Just do it.

I leave you with this story. I worked part-time as a church secretary many years ago. A woman and her young child came to the office one day. She shared that her husband would not allow her to give to the church. He would not allow her to tithe or even give an offering. So she loaded her car with supplies and came to offer to clean the church. Now there was a cleaning service who maintained the building so there really wasn’t anything to clean at that time. She seemed discouraged and went out the door. The next thing I know she is cleaning the windows on a hot summer day. The smile on her face shining brighter than the sun as she gave her offering to the Lord with gladness. She has been a living testimony to me ever since. Such a humble example for us all. What can you give today? What are you willing to offer? God is open and ready to receive us as we honor Him and wants to bless us for it.

Proverbs 22:4 (ESV) The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.