In Every Season

In Every Season

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

God doesn’t call the qualified – He qualifies the called. The thorn in my flesh. Are you called to do something? Do you know that God told you to go here or do this but it is so hard that you are wondering if you missed Him altogether? Same. It seems like the more sure I am going in the harder the fight to the finish. How do I know if God called me? Oh, you know. Or at least you did going into the season, but now that the ground is dry and the river run dry – you are looking for an escape. You are not alone. The enemy is hurling lies at every person who launches out in obedience with the intent of retreat. He wants you to leave the season. He wants you to abandon the field. The only thing that the enemy can use against those called by God is a lie. He wants you to accept twisted truth so that doubt will take root and grow into disbelief. He did it in the Garden and continues today.

Those who delight in the Law of the Lord, His Word both spoken and written, meditating on it day and night are like trees. Not just any tree, but the ones planted by the riverbank always watered by His Word. They will prosper in every season because they are rooted and grounded in Christ. Their leaves do not whither even in drought, and they will prosper IN ALL THEY DO. You will prosper despite the drought, famine or harsh conditions. Your life is not dependent on your atmosphere around you but the Living God within you. He is your supply and source for life and life more abundantly. Are you tapped into the Living Water within you today? Or are you trying to survive in the dry and thirsty land?

Psalm 107:33-38 (NLT) He changes rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry, thirsty land. He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands, because of the wickedness of those who live there. But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities. They sow their fields, plant their vineyards, and harvest their bumper crops. How he blesses them!

What if God has disguised your blessing in a barren land? What if it is not the enemy causes the struggle or challenging you to believe, but the Lord God? He doesn’t tempt us. The Lord will never tempt His Children. However, God will discipline us not to be confused with punishment. Endurance and perseverance are necessary qualities for success as a believer. Only those who endure to the end will be saved. Yet when we are stretched, pressured or exhausted – it is our first reaction to look for a way out. When things get rough or life is too hard – our finger points at God rather than the other direction. Our flesh is always looking for an opportunity to avoid death. The death of our flesh gives way to the Spirit. When the Spirit is poured out on dry land there is a change. However, if there is no seed planted in that season what will grow. Faithfulness is the sowing of seed in the life of every believer. To believe when there is no reason to believe is reminiscent of the Father of Faith, Abraham who waited well into his nineties to see God’s Promise.

Isaiah 44:1-5 (NLT) “But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. The Lord who made you and helps you says: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one. For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the Lord.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.”

Reading these words today, I am encouraged. Like a sprinkle of rain in the desert, it is water for my soul. Do not be afraid my chosen one. I will pour out water and quench your thirst and irrigate parched fields. I will pour out my Spirit on your family and blessing on your children. (My paraphrased version) God did not call us to survive the seasons of life – we are chosen to thrive. To thrive in God means to trust Him in every season. If He called you to a place, you must stay there until He comes or His Blessing arrives. If He called you to do something, keep doing it whether prosperity comes quickly or takes many seasons. Keep sowing even when your arms are tired and knees feel weak. Why is life so hard? It was hard before you knew Christ or you would not have been searching for a Savior. Why is it hard now? Because knowing Christ does not necessarily change the world or everyone who lives in it – the Spirit of the Living God invited to live in you is to transform you into a new creation.

My response must be to the One who called me. The One who loves me. The One who promises to never leave me or forsake me. The One who promises to perfect that which concerns me. The One who gives me perfect peace to weather every storm or wait for rain in times of drought. He is the One who promises to make good come from every detail of my life. Am I reacting to my environment or responding to its Creator?

I Thessalonians 5:24 (NLT) God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

God will not increase any part of our life apart from faith. If faith is not required, God didn’t do it. Miracles are labeled “IMPOSSIBLE” for a reason. Otherwise, we would take credit for God’s Work. Every day farmers sow seed in fields. Faithfully breaking the ground, tilling the soil, planting good seed, watering and waiting and enjoying some kind of harvest. Sowing and reaping, planting and harvest were established in the days of Noah as God promised to never flood the earth again. The rain falls on the just and unjust.

God will make it happen. How many times do we limit the Lord to our natural expectations? Our clock is preset. Our journey marked out. Our ability measured by comparison. When God doesn’t do it according to our schedule, agenda or designate path – we decide to question the Lord and his ability even his faithfulness. God didn’t tell you to force it – He said, “I’ll do it.” According to my Word, Will and Way – set out before you were born as a prerecorded (Psalm 139) plan and purpose for your life (Jeremiah 29:11) which will result in a masterpiece (Ephesians 3:20). We would settle for refrigerator art, paint by numbers, or even a sidewalk artist rendering before being willing to wait for God to make a Michelangelo or Picasso of our life. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. He does it. God is the Creator and ultimate designer of life. We must trust in every season that He who calls you (and me) is faithful to finish.

2 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

According to Ephesians 1:3, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. We have everything we need, want and desire hidden in our life for discovery. These blessings are from the “heavenly realm” so they can only be accessed by right standing with God. Salvation is only the beginning. Faith must be sown and grown in our life to keep us deeply rooted and grounded in the Love of God and His Grace which is union with Christ. Faith bores belief. The fruit of our faith is belief manifested in trust and dependence on the Living God. He has given us everything we need for living a godly life which is defined by prosperity, success and abundance according to His Word. We will only survive until our faith thrives even in the driest and barest of season knowing that He is faithful and true even when nothing we see is evidence of that.

The Kingdom of God and its fullness is available to us. We must seek the Kingdom of God above everything else which means continually searching for it, pressing toward it, and staying put in steadfast faith until the Lord reveals it, releases it or relieves us. This is only accomplished by faith in God not our senses or seasons. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises rather than our personal struggles and challenges in life. There will always be adverse conditions, unfavorable circumstances, senseless tragedy as love grows cold and sin grows rampant in this lost and dying place. But we do not rally in hope for this world, but rather press for the mark of a higher calling. To be part of a Kingdom where leaves do not wither and prosperity is the outcome of every season. For now, the Kingdom is in you. It is in me. We must trust and believe that God has given us His Glory and Excellence enough to give Him glory and excellence when times are tough and we want to quit. His Word promises it will be worth it when we learn to prosper in every season.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All of my life…in every season…You are still God…I have a reason to sing…I have a reason to worship…

 

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My Holiday List

My Holiday List

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s funny how things work. I was visiting a local discount store the other day entering through the Lawn and Garden Department through the automatic doors into a winter wonderland. How did that happen so quickly? It’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Surveying the Christmas trees and contemplating going back to a fake tree, it hit me. The holidays were here and I was fighting the blues or on the verge of depression. My poor children will attest that I am not very festive during such times. I have had to fight my entire life to find peace during this time. It begins as a mad rush to meet the expectations of so many and time which already seems short so exhausted. As I walked through the Christmas décor as if to challenge my emotions to rise up but nothing. I celebrated my small victory. It would be short-lived. Talking with another ministry leader in our church and our pastor, she began detailing my responsibilities during the holidays. Decorate the church, provide food for a fellowship, host a women’s meeting, and my mind checked out somewhere after that. Suddenly all those emotions came flooding back, I no longer wanted to decorate even our tree, celebrate the season or engage in the holiday rush. I just wanted to disappear and see everyone in January.

Now I could dig into the vast depths of such an emotional shutdown and bore you with details, I love to celebrate the Lord’s Birth. I love to worship Him during this miraculous and wonderful season of hope. But truly we all have our ghosts of Christmas past, just as Ebenezer has heralded. I don’t really care to share these things but rather offer a light given to me from the Word of God today. The Word is the weapon of our Spirit to kill the lie of the enemy, to subdue and take captive rebellious thoughts, and to overcome the bondage of expectations other than those God has for us. His Spirit takes them and uses them to combat our troublesome flesh that longs for control but uses it against us.

I read I Thessalonians 5:18 yesterday and then again today. The overture of emotions and fight for my peace is keeping me locked in this selection of scriptures. I sense that maybe they might be useful for you as well. Setting out to sermonize my symptoms, I found that many people actually suffer from seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression largely from unrealistic expectations, financial pressure, and excessive commitments. Add in to the mix – that there is less sunlight which is known to change human behavior. With less sunlight, people are prone to eat more and sleep more. With such insight – I give you my new holiday list.

This year my holiday goals are simple. I will rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. I will know and do the Will of God for me which are these three things. End of list. I am challenging myself not to make a list this year and give up control of all the details. I release myself from unrealistic expectations because the Greater is He who lives in me does not make me a super human. He is the Greatest Thing about Christmas. I must keep my focus clearly set on Him. It is His Birthday that we celebrate. He brought hope to a dying people of new life, rebirth, renewal and full restoration. This is God’s Will for me. I am challenged to do His Will this holiday season as I strive to the rest of the year with greater success.

I Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV) Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.

The Holy Spirit is our helper. The Lord gave Him to us because of our weakness. To plant seeds of faith deep into the crevices of even the most broken of hearts to grow and prosper our soul according to His Will. God’s Plan for our life does not change or stop because one chooses to disengage. The Lord is always working in us to fulfill His Work in us. I am quite sure it grieves His Spirit when the enemy is able to convince us otherwise.

In a season meant for fellowship and celebration, he pulls out an arsenal of lies, confusion and discord to wreak havoc on God’s People as we celebrate our Savior the annihilator of sin. When Jesus arrived, the enemy was put on notice. When He made it through this life as a sinless man to sacrifice His Life on the Cross, death and the grave were rendered ineffective. Those who believe in Jesus Christ have nothing to lose and everything to gain. During a time when many people go to church for the first, one and only time of the year, what better way to hinder God’s Work than to plague his people with fear, anxiety, stress, depression, and dim the Light of God’s Love that is love, joy, peace and absolute freedom.

We must strive to hold what is good and reject every kind of evil especially that which plays on our mind, will and emotions. It is a personal choice to rejoice always. It is personal commitment to pray continually. It is an absolute necessity to be thankful in all circumstances for that is the Will of God for us.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV) May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

In Luke 2:14 the angels declared, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His Favor rests.” God’s Favor belongs to us. He gave it to us. He also has given us peace. Peace that can silence the demands of the world and give us absolute rest during the busiest most overwhelming season of the year. The secret is found these verses today. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless in the coming of Christ. Sometimes “blame” comes hidden in the expectations of others that we try to carry rather than fully entrusting our spirit, soul and body to Christ. It is the lie that if we do not meet the expectations of those around us to “their” full satisfaction that we somehow have “failed the Lord. God’s Will for my life is listed clearly to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. I do not read anywhere that it is to make everyone else happy and content but to receive and live in the full satisfaction and contentment of Christ. The Lord is faithful. Our faithfulness in Jesus Christ gives us good fruit to satisfy others much more than a “perfect” holiday that is simply not possible.

John 14:27 (NIV) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I offer you the same gift that I am challenging myself to hold tight to this holiday season. The Peace of God has been given to us. It is His Gift upon his departure so that we can live completely resting on the faithfulness of God and His Promises through Jesus Christ – His Gift to us. Do not let the enemy have your joy. Do not give up your prayer time which is communication with the One who loves us the most and expects the least. Be thankful even when challenged with discontentment, dissatisfaction and unmet expectations that this world will readily offer throughout the next month. Gratitude will always change your attitude. The enemy wants to steal away this season of celebration of our Savior’s Birth. He wants to make you doubt the Hope found in His Arrival. Don’t let him. Use the Spirit of the Lord within you to rally against such thoughts and unfruitful considerations. Greater is He that is in you! You are an overcomer even when it is self that is the adversary. My prayer for us today is this:

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you (me) completely with joy and peace because you (I) trust in him. Then you (I) will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Level Paths

Level Paths

Isaiah 26:7-8 (NIV) The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

There is a popular Christian saying that “God is greater than our highs and lows.” Originating from Romans 8:39 – it is a reminder that neither height nor depth or anything in all creation can ever separate us from the Love of God. The certainty of our faith and confident hope in Christ is the fact that His Unconditional Love and Unfathomable Grace belongs to us. No matter how chaotic our conditions or crazy the circumstances of life become making it possible to keep our eyes on Him and our feet traveling in His Direction. The acquisition and full possession God’s Love personally and intimately allows us to walk on level paths. It says so in Isaiah 26 that “the path of the righteous is level.” He makes “the way of the righteous smooth.” The journey of life is full of bumps, barricades and road blocks. We can overcome them all in the Name of Jesus. But how?

Glad you asked. When we walk in the way of the Word, waiting on the Lord, and make His Name and Glory our deepest desire – a union is formed between us. In Matthew 11, Jesus offers to yoke with us or become partners. Intimacy with the Lord requires many of the same things that a personal relationship in the natural would. We must learn to pay attention, invest energy, and give up our way in order to move closer to Him and become one with Christ. Christ lives in us. His Spirit is evidence of the consummation and desire of the Lord to be one with us. However, just as two people can live in the same home or be married for decades, sometimes intimacy is not achieved. Any relationship that is ignored will die over time.

With this in mind, are you walking with Jesus today? Are you aware of His Presence in you and around you right now? He goes before us, stands right there with us, lives in us and hedges us in from behind. I am just like you and cannot fully comprehend the omnipresence of God but by faith I accept it and choose to engage in a relationship because I have confident hope. The Lord has made the Way for us. He has ordered our steps and leveled our path. How do I find it?

Psalm 119:103-105 (NIV) How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

As a teenager, I was challenged by a Sunday school teacher to learn and memorize scripture verses. She gifted me with a little packet of cards. Psalm 119:105 was one of the first verses. Why do we need God’s Word? I have heard many people express difficulty in reading, understanding and continuing in the Word of God. I get it because I used to feel the exact same way. However, the Word of God is absolutely essential to walking on level paths through life. You must know the Word to know Jesus Christ. He is the Word. The Word of God is our instruction book and map to the promises and blessings that the Lord has hidden in this life for our natural and spiritual success. It points us in the right direction. It helps us to decide at the crossroads of life and valleys of indecision. The Word of God is our weapon against the lie of the enemy which is the only thing that he has in his arsenal to use against us. The Bible tells us that people perish for a lack of knowledge. It points out that in the end times – the Word will help people identify false teaching. It is absolutely the lamp and compass for our life.

Psalm 119:103 describes the Word as “sweet” to the taste. It’s funny that sometimes it seems like a bitter pill going down but as we begin to feast on His Word, chew it up, and fully digest it something remarkable happens. The Holy Spirit takes the Truth and begins to feed and nourish our soul with it. He uses it to combat all our rebellious thoughts and contrary nature. As we grow stronger in the Word, it develops and matures us from the inside out. When I eat a green bean, I do not immediately feel full. I do not experience the process going on inside of me as my body takes all the nutrients out of the vegetable. It begins a digestion process with in me. I also don’t immediately feel the effects of white chocolate macadamia cookies when I eat them – I just know I really like them until I cannot button my jeans. The Word of God is not always a quick fix. It is an ongoing investment in intimacy with Christ as we get to know Him more and more. We eat (or at least are supposed to) three meals a day. Some of us may do a little snacking, too. This keeps our body strong and healthy. The Word must be partaken just the same to build a strong and healthy soul that will prosper.

Psalm 18:32-36 (NIV) It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

David killed a lion and a bear before facing the giant that day. God ordered his steps to train him for one of the biggest challenges of his life. He spent countless hours tending sheep. During that time, it is clear that he spent time with the Lord. David is called a man after God’s Own Heart. His Love for us unquestionable in the giving of His Son, Jesus. His Commitment undeniable as evidenced by His Spirit entrusted us. God gave us the Word to make our paths level, but that doesn’t mean to smooth out all the bumps in the roadway of life. It is not about making this life and the world a better place. He has given us His Word and provided the way for level paths by faith and confidence. God is greater than the highs and lows because He carries us high above them.

The Lord has provided a wide path, a spacious place, an open heaven in our midst. Walking in it doesn’t always mean there will not be challenges, struggles or battles otherwise there would be no need to train us or give us a shield. We wouldn’t need His Help if perfection possible. He causes me to stand on the heights but that means I am going to travel up some mountains out of some pretty low valleys. BUT…it says He keeps my way secure…whatever that way is…God has already been there to make a way where there was no way, provide everything I need to get through it and most assuredly will give me victory in due time.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NIV)Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Make level paths for your feet. Our active participation and dedication to intimacy with Jesus Christ is to pursue Him in the Word. By doing so, we level the way before us because our life is no longer defined by words, opinions or lies. It is bound by Truth. Truth will produce more faith and confidence in the Lord. Confidence that will keep on keeping on even when the mountain seems high or the valley too low. His Love will carry you above your situation to see things as He sees them and give you hope that keeps you in the good fight of faith. Be encouraged today. God loves you. No height or depth or anything in all creation will ever separate you from His Love whether naturally occurring or self-imposed. His Grace is ALWAYS enough. The Lord will never ever let you down. You have to believe that to receive it otherwise your life will be wasted reacting to the change of scenery rather than responding to His Promises and flourishing in faith. You have His Word. You have His Spirit. Christ is in you. Make level your path today. Fill your insufficient faith with the Word and watch it grow into all the good things He promised.

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Mountain of Sacrifice

Mountain of Sacrifice

Genesis 22:1-2 (NIV) Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

What does God require of you? What is it that God desires of you? Does He require a sacrifice? Yes. Does He desire an offering? Yes. It is important to understand exactly what God requires and desires of us to walk in alignment with His Word, Will and Way. Does such a thing mean that there is not freedom in Christ or an obligation for God’s Love? No, God loves you. He definitely desires you and has expressed His Love and Desire through the sacrifice of His Only Son to live in unity with you. However, communion and partnership with the Lord is no different than a bond of friendship or marriage. If there is not a giving of one’s way there cannot be harmony in a relationship. Giving to form a relationship is called grace. We must give up our way in order to form a new way. To surrender wants, needs and desires to be with someone else is commonplace. So why do we struggle so hard when it comes to doing so for God?

God’s Love for us is established in His Identity. God is love. (I John 4:8) To know God is to understand that the Love given to us is complete and unconditional. Our relationship of righteousness offered in the acceptance of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus allows us to return to such a position and enjoy a relationship with God the Father again. Sin separated us from God. Our chosen defiance of His Word and Way caused us to rebel from it and therefore step out of unity with Him. Repentance in the form of pouring our faults and failures before the Lord and admitting to our insufficiencies may not be all that hard, but when it comes to true repentance even strong Christians are at a loss. Picking and choosing the parts of scripture found appealing or doable but bypassing those things that conflict with our flesh including our deepest desires.

Complete confidence in the Love of God will produce true repentance not just lip service. The confession of our heart is our deep desire to serve the Lord but when it comes time to go to the mountain of sacrifice many compromises are offered in lieu of absolute obedience. Why would God summon Abraham to the mountain? Why would He torture a father in such a manner especially one who waited a lifetime for his promised son? Now Abraham is tested by God and sent to the mountain. “Take you son, your ONLY son, whom you love – Isaac…” Why would the Lord even suggest something so cruel? The Lord wasn’t after Abraham’s son, God desired his servant’s heart.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NIV) You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

The beauty of brokenness is that it draws us closer to the Lord and He is able to come closer to us. It allows us to live in intimacy with Jesus. His Spirit has freedom within the broken heart that is open and exposed for seeds of faith to be planted and given a place to grow in our life. Abraham was not a madman or out of his mind when he gathered up supplies for sacrifice and took his son to journey to the mountain. He knew exactly what he was doing, but more importantly Abraham absolutely and completely trusted God. He was confident that at the end of the day God would do something miraculous. He believed in the One who brought dead things to life. He believed and his faith saved his son.

You do not delight in sacrifice…

Are humans being truly able to sacrifice their all to the Lord? I believe it is our heart’s desire but follow through the issue. True repentance is turning our natural life over for eternal life. It is to turn from sin and embrace righteousness. Grace does not afford perfection but allows us to experience a thriving relationship with the Father through the giving of His Son. His Grace is enough therefore sacrifice is unnecessary. The sacrifice acceptable to the Lord is a broken spirit. A spirit no longer driven by the flesh but by the Holy Spirit. Abraham had one son. It was in the giving of that son that he obtained the many generations of children born of his faith. God does not delight in our sacrifice. He delights in the heart willing to give its all even when giving all is not what we want to do but we use our freedom to do so anyway.

Deuteronomy 30:8-10 (NIV) You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

God has recorded our lifetime before we were born. (Psalm 139) We are fearfully and wonderfully made with great potential. His prerecorded order promises future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The Lord promises to make good from the details of our life and nothing will ever separate us from His Love. (Romans 8) He also promise to partner with us and help us carry our burdens giving us rest. (Matthew 11) He will perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138) What’s the catch? We must search for Him wholeheartedly. To desire the Lord and His Goodness as our heart’s longing. Those who desire the Lord will seek Him and find Him in the Word. Finding Him they will then pursue Him wholeheartedly. God wants us to desire Him more than the things of this world and more than any human being. In exchange for our faithfulness and obedience, God promises success to His People. He promises to make the work of our hands prosperous. Why then does He require things of us as He did Abraham? A sacrifice and offering much greater than a tangible object or animal of some kind. Why does the Lord require our heart and everything in it?

Faith grows in a fertile and broken heart. Doubt hardens our heart keeping us from finding, following and pursuing the Living God. It tells us that His Word is not for us, His Way may not satisfy us and His Will may kill us. All the while, the Lord whispers come to the mountain and give your all. What am I giving? I am giving God my heart piece by piece – day by day – until my sacrifice is complete and satisfaction fills its void.

Small children will grab hold of things sometimes that are not necessarily good for them to have. As a parent, I had two choices to snatch if from them or to offer them something better in exchange. Either way as their parent the thing they were holding would have to be released. They made the choice to willingly release it or forcefully give it up. Throughout their childhood, I tried to instill the knowledge, wisdom and discipline to make good choices. In fact, many days dropping them off at school, my parting words would be I love you and make good choices. Life is all about choices. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. God gives us choices each day. Life or death. Blessing or cursing. Bondage or deliverance. Captivity or freedom. Settling or full satisfaction. Sickness or healing. Poverty or prosperity. We make the choice the realm in which we live – reality or hope. See there is more to life than this but we are given the opportunity to decide which life we live. Faith is the substance of things hope for and evidence of their reality. How we live decides the productivity of our faith. We all have faith. The question is have we provided a place to plant it?

Romans 2:29 (NIV) “Circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”

The spiritual significance of circumcision is to purify spiritually. It is to cut away something. Today I wonder if the sacrifice God is asking of us goes deeper than the things we do or don’t do but is actually a surrender of our heart to the Lord. The mountain of doubt which we seek to overcome keeps us from doing that so when we go to the mountain and give the Lord all we can for that moment or season, He honors it. As our heart breaks open before Him, the Lord pours into us renewal, restoration and revival. A little at a time as we give Him bit by bit and piece by piece. Do not despise small beginnings for the Lord uses them to complete us and fulfill us. To produce purpose begins with a single seed of faith that grows, develops, matures and reproduces in us and through us. The Light of our love must begin as a burning passion for the Lord on the inside before it will ever be bright enough to reach or influence the people around us.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Could it be that the Lord is not calling us to sacrifice anything of worth but everything we have? He desires us. God wants to share His Kingdom with us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. His Son, Jesus. When we struggle on the subject of sacrifice it is not because what God has for us and is promised to us is not desirable but rather the overwhelming nagging doubt that keeps us fixated on the mountain not the Mountain Mover. The Lord wants to give us a new heart in exchange for the stony heart that keeps us bound up in tight places with limited resources and chaotic emotions. He wants us to come give Him that heart of no use and allow His Spirit to work in us.

Lord, I give my heart to you again today. With each new day and each new mountain, I ask you to take my heart as a sacrifice and smash it until it is soft, pliable, moldable, and shapeable. I want to give my all. Will You take this small piece today and we will work on the rest tomorrow? Back to the mountain we go…

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

 

When Mountains Move

When Mountains Move

Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountain fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

“The mountains quake with their surging…” I wonder what our response might be to the moving of the mountain beneath us when the Lord starts to break apart the foundation of doubt that once was our security as pride kept us in complete control. The smallest step in faith will produce a profound rumble in the ground beneath our feet. Faith is not logical. It is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen which makes it intangible. In fact, sometimes the smallest movement of faith in our life produces an avalanche of circumstances as the enemy fights to keep us from attempting another. Fear is a fortress with an unlocked door. It binds us in the dreadful expectation of something that may not ever be a reality. Faith produces a refuge in the Presence of God that endures the moving of our mountain as the earth gives way to eternity.

It seems as though the more I desire to live by faith the more uncertain life becomes. God is an ever-present help in trouble because His Spirit lives in us. The reality of God’s Love shines from those who encounter it, engage it and somehow endure to the end. It is up to me to fan the flames of His Spirit and keep the light shining brightly even on the darkest days. I must feed my faith the Word of God to continually nourish and strengthen it. I must water it with the Word to keep it supple and growing. I must protect my seed of faith from the things that want to choke it and kill it such as fear, anxiety, stress, worry and cares. Life is hard. There is no question that everyone faces difficulties in life. The outcome is determined by our response to adversity. Do I run for cover or run to my refuge. God is with us. He is working for us. He will never let us down. He must be the place of comfort and rest when the mountain starts moving.

Psalm 46:4-7 (NIV) There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Faith displaces fear in our life but doesn’t stop the world from turning. The world is headed for destruction. There are wars and rumors of war just as the Lord predicted when He was with us. Just because you have faith doesn’t change the current conditions or natural consequences in the world, it changes us. It conditions our soul, mind and body to respond to God’s Word and His Faithfulness rather than reacting to the situations faced on any given day. I didn’t realize until today that the words, “God is within her, she will not fail” were actually words of encouragement tucked in the Bible. I needed some encouragement today. If God lives in you, you will not fail. It’s true. If we could only believe that His Word is true and relevant in our life – we just might wait to see what happens.

Haggai 2:6-9 (NIV)  “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Why shake things up? I believe that the shaking is to keep us from settling. Comfort and complacency produce a sense of control that is contradictory to allowing God’s Spirit to work in us and through us. God is determined to give us His Very Best. He doesn’t cut corners or compromise. We must press and push to stay in the Presence of God even in the midst of violent storms or shifting sands. In Luke 6:38, it talks about being “pressed down, shaken together and running over.” The giving of our life in full surrender to faith produces this kind of movement in our life. It is not a bad thing. It reveals the true wealth of our life. We have the opportunity to become refined and purified as gold.

Psalm 46:8-11 (NIV) Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Is the ground beneath you moving? Are the winds of change blowing like a hurricane through your life? Do you feel unstable? Could it be that your faith is producing some movement in the mountain of doubt you have been climbing? Faith moves mountains even in the smallest form. The changes and conditions that seem to be threatening you might be the very things moving you from complacency to confidence and producing the hope from the ashes of unmet expectation. You cannot expect to be transformed and not moved. It would be contradictory. Stagnancy is not a Kingdom condition as His Spirit flows through our life. Changing us and the outcomes of each trial. The Lord is moving us into a refuge of faith that produces confident hope that in the midst of shaking all around us – it produces a stillness just knowing that He is God. He is Good. His Love for us is unending and unconditional. He will stop at nothing to show you how much He desires you. If the mountain is moving today, do not let it move you. Keep the faith. Remain committed to confident hope. Hold on to Him with both hands. The Lord is for you. You will not fail!

Psalm 62:8 (NIV) Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Desire & Destination

Desire and Destination

I Corinthians 12:31 (NIV) Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

Our desire will lead to a destination. Desire defines our drive, dictates our dedication and decides our destination every single time. Desire is not an opinion but an inner force of combined thoughts that become our attitude and actions. Desire is a strong feeling. A feeling of wanting something or wishing for something to happen. God has a desire. His Desire has a face. It is your face and mine. God desires people. To create an everlasting Kingdom of those He loved first and still loves the most.

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” (Plato) Our attitude and actions first formed deep within us are motivated and mastered by sin. Our flesh knows no other way until introduced to the better more excellent way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is by way of Jesus that humanity is reconciled to God through His Grace that is always enough. To know the Way is not enough – even demons know the Name of Jesus and tremble at it. However, to the Way and decide to follow Him is a new thing altogether. Our destination is decided by our desire. Desire dictates our drive. Desire is the motivation for dedication. When we desire anything other than Christ, it leads to dissatisfaction.

Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 (NIV)  I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

The Lord loved Solomon. In I Kings 3, King Solomon was faithful to the Lord God and so God offered Him anything. Solomon chose wisdom and a discerning heart. I wonder how the same person who was so invested in serving God would come to such a place as Ecclesiastes 2. At this point in his life, “everything was meaningless.” His desire and drive made him successful. He denied himself nothing that his eyes could see. Maybe if he had heard Paul’s warning that all things are permissible not all things are beneficial. When he surveyed his success, all that his hard work had achieved – he found it all meaningless. He had gained the world and lost his soul. Anytime that our life prospers without soulful participation – life becomes meaningless. The purpose and plan of God that leads to fulfillment cannot be achieved apart from Him.

Mark 4:18-20 (NIV)  Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Overcoming doubt in our life is accomplished by faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Seeds of faith planted by the Word have various results. Seeds sown among the thorns hear the word and maybe even believe it but quickly the “worries of life”, “deceitfulness of wealth” and “desires for other things” literally choke the word and it does not bear the fruit it was intended to. This was King Solomon’s dilemma. God was true to His Word and gave the king exactly what he asked for. However, his human desires overtook his desire for the Lord and well we see what happened in Ecclesiastes 2. It happens to us all. God blesses us and then our desire overtakes our desire for the Living God and well you know the rest of the story. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:17-19)

Romans 8:5-6 (NIV)  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

We must master our desires and place them fully into Christ. The mountain you are facing marked doubt will not move until the very thing you desire is Jesus Christ. Why would God move a mountain if the everlasting was not waiting on the other side. The Lord has placed His Spirit in us to cultivate the fruit that leads to everlasting life and hope that never disappoints. Are we using these gifts for righteousness sake or do we simply desire the Hand of God? Are we after His Heart in the process? The things of this world will pass away. Our life in Christ is eternal. It is the admission point of eternity. Jesus died to give us access to His Kingdom. His Father will not give us the things that might block our entrance. His Grace is enough to endure our wrath of unmet expectation. “Desire increases when fulfillment is postponed.” Maybe the mountain is not moving because secretly you desire something different than Christ? Is it possible to know the Lord but not desire Him? Absolutely.

The Spirit of the Living God will lead you to life and peace. Feeding our flesh starves our soul. Feeding our soul, likewise, starves the flesh. The Fruit of God’s Spirit changes our appetite for the things of this life as eternal life becomes a reality. Suddenly, all the things we wanted, needed and desire change to one thing – Jesus Christ. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Psalm 145:13-16 (NIV) Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same. (Unknown) Are you satisfied with your life today? Are you struggling with unmet expectation? King Solomon had it all according to earthly success yet found life to be meaningless. How many of the rich and famous who appear to have it all end their life due to depression, discouragement and distress that the world could not see for the notoriety of fame and influence of wealth? Life outside of Christ is preset and predetermined. Sin produces death. Our life in Christ must become more than just knowing His Name but we must desire the Lord. He desires a relationship with us. His Hand opens with His Heart. His Hand will not open outside of an established relationship or risk losing us forever. His Desire is for us so He will do nothing to keep us from Him even if that means withholding what we ask of Him.

C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” You were born to be part of an everlasting kingdom yet arrived in a temporary world. The Lord is trustworthy and true. He created you with purpose. You have a handwritten plan prerecorded for your good. The only investment you make in your future is faith. Faith in God’s Love. Faith in God’s Son. Faith in God’s Grace. Faith in God’s Promises. It is all about living a life of faith that overcomes doubt in every area of our life. This is when the mountain will move and be cast in the sea. The very moment our heart’s desire is for the Lord and Him alone. God will then open His Hand and satisfy our desire.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (NIV) With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ

Keep Climbing

Keep Climbing

Romans 5:1-4 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

I wish I could blame the dog for waking me up so early on Saturday, but that is not the case. Turning over this morning, I am completely certain that every bone in my body made some kind of unnatural sound. Once I transitioned my position, everything hurt. I decided to use my three-day weekend to paint. Not just a room but probably half of our house. Though I conquered most of it in one day, there is still some tasks left to complete. Full of excitement and expectation in the beginning, I am fighting the dread of climbing the ladder again today. As I try to jot down notes in my journal, I can hardly hold the pen much less scribble anything legible. Hours of holding the paintbrush cutting in trim has left my hands sore. My husband warned me not to overdo it and once again my stubbornness did it anyway. Turning on the light, I feel a bit of satisfaction seeping in my tired body. I can see an end in sight, but honestly I am not sure how to get there.

As believers, there are seasons of great success and then those marked “perseverance.” Though my body is aching and muscles screaming, I know that it will be worth it. When our new furniture arrives on Tuesday, everything will come together so I press on. I guess the easy part is seeing. I know that these things will happen. I have a receipt from the store to prove these items belong to me. The delivery service has called twice to confirm the date. I have been preparing because I know and have confidence. What might happen if as believers with an inheritance of hope if we truly had confidence that God’s Goodness is for us and His Promises were true. To believe that if we just pressed a little longer and held on a little tighter that what is written will be received.

Therefore is a definitive term. It means “for that reason” or “consequently”. Since we have been justified by faith. Justified by the Blood of Jesus and the grace dispensation associated with it, I now can receive from the Father again. All I need is faith. It means that when I suffer, endure and choose to persevere. I will have exactly what God promised. Suffering is pain, distress or hardship. Everyone goes through some form of suffering usually on any given day but only those who live by faith have hope.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

It is much easier to be confident of things that are natural. The tangible items that can be seen, heard, or touched. The hope I have is certain, but faith is wavering. My participation in the process of redemption is singular. It is faith. The sum total of my responsibility is to trust the Lord enough to keep pressing and pushing for the higher calling and greater things that become the rich, satisfying and abundant life that I have been promised. Just as my painting project will produce something new and appealing, how much more does the Lord want to do in us and for us? I can quit now and leave everything half-finished and each day it would mock me. However, I want to see the results and gain the satisfaction so I will pick up the paintbrush with tired hands again and climb the ladder with my sore legs. Did you stop halfway in pursuing the thing God has for you? Did you give up on a dream? Did you decide the mountain of doubt you are facing will get the best of you? Well, God gives second chances. In fact, it is my experience that every time I say, “I will” He does!

If the past was so wonderful, you would not have left it behind. The past is comfortable. It is convenient. It gives us an illusion of control because we know the consequences and outcome of our actions. We give up easily and run back thinking it is better than pushing through the pain and pressing through the pressure. How many times have you started the climb only to slide back down in complacency? There is a prize at the end of perseverance called hope. It is worth having. It makes every care, worry and concern given over to confidence yield its potential as God works every detail of our life for good. He will perfect that which concerns us when we give it all to Him. He promises to give rest to those who come to Him and partner with Him for life. It begins with a decision. It requires holding tight to our confidence when our body says to quit.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)  Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 

The Lord is faithful. Our confidence in His Faithfulness will increase our ability to endure and persevere when things get uncomfortable or even seem impossible. Our confident hope is not in our ability but the Sovereignty of God that makes Him perfect. He never lies or changes His Mind about us even if we fail miserably or get lost or settle for lesser things. The Lord meets us with new mercy each day. He says, “Let’s try this again.” Hope is worth having. It requires character-building challenges along the way. It will present pressure that requires perseverance. Hope comes with a guarantee that life will not give you. Hope never leads to disappointment.

Draw near to the Lord today. He will draw near to you. He has done everything possible to prepare you for His Purpose and Promises now you must engage in the process which always requires perseverance. There are no shortcuts that will produce the Glory of God in our life. We are called to endure. Those who do will be saved and our hope of an abundant met to the fullest extent.

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NIV)  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

“Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

 

I Wonder…

I Wonder

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

What is the substance of your life? What is “the real physical tangible matter of which you consist and has a tangible solid presence in your life”? Substance adds weight to our life. In continuing the ongoing study of mountains and more specifically the kind of faith that moves mountains (Matthew 17:20), I wonder if we changed the substance of our life then would it break down the mountain of doubt on which we stand. Part of our driveway is broken. The large pine trees roots underneath caused it to be unleveled. When the previous owner parked a fully loaded moving truck on it, the weight of the truck broke apart the foundation. I wonder if our faith outweighed our doubt if it too would break the foundation of our fears. What if the mustard seed of faith planted grew large roots and then we put the substance of our life including every need, want and desire on top of it. Would the mountain move? Would it begin to break apart on its way to the sea? I wonder…

Faith is the substance of things hoped for not what we see. The evidence of our faith are deep roots of trust and dependence on the Lord without seeing it first. God gives good outcomes. He completes us. He finishes what He starts. The Lord wins every battle engaged in. He is the overcomer of the world. He promises good things to us in the land of the living. The righteous will not fall. All these wonderful and precious promises are there for us but do we place our life upon Him. Jesus is the Cornerstone described as the One the builders rejected. What if we became approved builders who decided to build our life and existence on God taking Him at His Word and pursuing His Son as our source rather than just the blessings and promises He offers. I wonder…

Proverbs 6:30-31 (NKJV) People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; he may have to give up all the substance of his house.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly. (John 10:10) If God’s Word is true, it also indicates that once vindicated that the thief must return to the owner sevenfold the loss. Sevenfold is seven times as great in number or amount. Therefore, as Children of God, the enemy owes us seven times anything that he has taken from us. I work in the insurance industry. According to most homeowner policies, if the insured experiences a covered loss, they must return the damaged property in order for it to be either replaced with like kind or better. In some cases, it will be for financial compensation according to the loss payment provision of the policy. The only requirement is that I keep the policy in effect. Two things are required – I pay the premium and keep my part of the conditions. I wonder…

Is it possible that we cannot obtain the substance of our faith because we will not relinquish the weight of our doubt including but not limited to fear, anxiety, stress, worry and even complaining and grumbling. Or could it be our lack of willing obedience in keeping with the guidelines of His Word which our way of acquisition in Christ? Could it be our substance that is keeping the mountain from being cast into the see? I wonder…

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV) Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus offers to shoulder the load of life with us. He will not take it from you. You have the freedom to choose whether you will carry the burden of your life or give it to Him. Life is hard. There will be struggles. We have an opportunity to transfer the weight or substance of our life to the Lord. We must choose to. Come to me – this is His Invitation. I will give you rest. The rest and peace of His Presence is a choice. We decide to plant faith in our life and let it break apart the foundation of the mountain of doubt keeping us from His Promises. Just like the moving truck that eventually broke the driveway did not receive its load all at once but box by box and with each piece of furniture carefully loaded, we can give our worries, cares and burdens to Jesus bit by bit. It is a trust process that will take time. Give Him one thing. Let the Lord show you His Faithfulness. Carry another concern to Him. He understands us. He knows us. He has experienced our weaknesses firsthand. He is patient, loving, kind and gracious! Why not try? I mean what do we have to lose. Faith over fear. Confidence instead of uncertainty. Promises and prosperity from the inside out. I wonder…

Romans 15:13 (NKJV) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber

James 2:20-22 (NIV) You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

Have you ever climbed a mountain? Moving through the brush excited and full of expectation. At the base of the mountain full of energy and exuberance – beginning the ascent to the top while taking in the natural beauty all around. Body, mind and spirit fully engaged. As the steps continue it gets a little steeper, naturally so, you are moving higher therefore it will require climbing to reach the highest peak. Maybe at this point, your body aches but your mind is determined to reach your destination. Minutes turn to hours and yes, you’re still steadily moving up but at this point losing sight of the surrounding beauty our mind gives way to focus on breathing and continuing to put one foot in front of the other. You are tired. You begin to contemplate giving up. This was a stupid idea. A complete waste of time. You have better things to do. Maybe I should just turn around and go back. I am not getting anywhere. This journey will never end. Pushing through the trees, they finally give way to the peak of the mountain and the limitless is right before your eyes. Breathing in deeply you cannot fully contemplate the vast beauty surrounding you. You didn’t give up. You pressed in. You made it to the top and now you can see from a new perspective.

Have you ever climbed a spiritual mountain? The feelings and emotions are really the same. You start out full of excitement and expectation at the promise of God set before you. You believe it is for you. Beginning the daunting task of walking it out seems so easy until the first obstacle rises up. This may be harder than first considered. Pressing on – more obstacles and even some opposition and now your own body works against you. The place of decision and crossroads of thought to consider rather to give up or continue to preserve. Relief sounds wonderful. Rest is appealing. An escape from the challenge seems like the most viable option. What will you do? Will you continue the climb or run back down the mountain to live a comfortable, complacent, and convenient life?

You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

The last couple of days, I have studied the mountain looking closely at its structure and evaluated it by design. We can all draw a triangle and fill it with what comprises our latest challenge and become the mountain in our life. But as discovered yesterday, the mountain is not what it seems. The mountain is nothing more than doubt ready to be overcome by faith. You have to climb the mountain to overtake it. A daily commitment to overcome doubt is the only way to have the Promise of God for those who live in His Righteousness. But how do I get there from here?

Faith and our actions must work together. Faith is made complete by the two becoming one. How is that possible? Faith in the Promise of God must become our motivation. Doubt is the obstacle. The mountain in our life may be comprised of a number of challenges, difficulties and even impossibilities. We overcome them all by believing God over our situation, circumstances, trials and trouble. God’s Word refutes the enemies lie and is the truth concerning us. Those who believe the Word of God claiming each promise personally must engage in overcoming doubt including fear, stress, anxiety and worry which keep the mountain in place. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.” (Matthew 21:21 – Jesus)

Romans 4:16-17 (NIV)  Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

The God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. This is the God we serve. He is a miracle working God who can take an ordinary life and make it extraordinary. He has a plan and purpose that will lead you directly to fulfillment but you have to work His Plan not make up your own variation. There is an amusement park about an hour and a half from our home. It is not as far away as Orlando or the Magic Kingdom. Living on a tight budget with a large family, it would be a weekend getaway. Even though many great memories were made there, it did not compare to the wonder and excitement when we took the kids to Walt Disney World. I remember our youngest watching the parade and whispering, “A real princess, mommy” in breathless awe of the fairytale unfolding before her eyes. Compromise is evidence of doubt complicating our life and deteriorating faith.

Abraham had nothing to lose. When the messengers came to deliver the news that his promise was about to arrive, he continued in his expectation just as he did the day before. For years, he and Sarah struggled with heartbreaking infertility. Abraham did not sit idly by. He did do try to compromise. He did try to do it himself. Advanced in age, it was now impossible humanly and then God showed up. The promise of God comes by faith. The ultimate promise is eternal life. It is only achieved by faith. Faith is evident in our everyday life…or at least should be to be effective.

Romans 4:18-20 (NIV) Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God…”

Here are some important truths to remember to overcome doubt today:

The promise comes by faith. If you can do it, see it, or make it happen – it is your plan – not God’s Perfect Plan. If you decide to change course, and stop pushing, pressing and planting seeds of faith in the mountain called doubt it will stay right where it is.

Against all hope – you must believe. Believing God at His Word and deciding it belongs to you is the beginning of fruitful expectation. A broken heart is a fertile heart. Humility softens our heart and it receives seeds of faith more readily. Sometimes it takes the impossible for us to finally give God all the pieces of our broken heart and allow Him to make the beautiful masterpiece that He promised in Ephesians 2:10.

Without weakening in faith – you must continue to believe. Faith is not logical because it is not based on anything we can see. Thomas encountered Jesus after the resurrection. He had followed Jesus throughout His Ministry. He was there when Jesus performed miracles. He was witness to signs and wonders. He heard the Word right from the Living Word. He saw Jesus crucified. He was at the empty tomb. Minutes before the Risen Lord walked through the walls and filled the room with His Presence. What more would anyone need to believe? Thomas had to see and touch the Lord to finally believe. What will it take for you to finally believe that Jesus is Who He said He is and will do exactly what He has promised to do? “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29 – Jesus)

Do not waver in unbelief. When did you stop trying to overtake doubt and give in to it? We all find ourselves at the crossroads of decision – continue in faith or abandon the effort. How do I know when I waver in unbelief? Fear, anxiety, stress, worry, and retreat are all characteristic of doubt. Doubt cannot coexist with belief. It is the polar opposite. If you believe, you will continue. If you believe, you will wait. If you believe, you will not go back. If you believe, you will accept no substitution. If you believe, you will obtain God’s Promise in the land of the living and forevermore.

Genesis 22:9-14 (NIV) When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Abraham finally had a son. Years and years resulting a single precious boy that would make him the “father of many nations” per the promise of God to him. Now Abraham did not see the real meaning of his promise for his eyes were on the natural. God instructed Abraham to take his “promise” to the mountain. I just want to stop here and interject – would any parent reading this do anything to intentionally harm their own child. I didn’t think so. Me either. Well, God instructed his servant to take his son to the mountain and offer Isaac as a sacrifice. How important is your promise to you? Does it have a face? Is it a person? Can you see, hear or touch it? It may be required of you. It is all too easy to decide what is best for us or to lay hold to the identity of what we need, want or desire and lose sight of the Source. The Source of Hope beyond today, tomorrow and stepping into eternity. Abraham went to the mountain but now the face of it had changed. He offered his son, his only son, Isaac to the Lord. The Lord provided the sacrifice so now we can live with the promise. Abraham called that place, “The Lord Will Provide” and to this very day it is said, “on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” What will be provided? Faith.

Your mountain must be overtaken. We overtake doubt with the Truth of His Love and faith in His Word. Jesus overcame the enemy in the wilderness and even on the mountain simply repeating the Word of God. We must remind ourselves that God love us. He is Good to us. He fights for us. He desires us. He has a promise for us. It is all received by faith that does not doubt. The mountain cannot be cast into the sea unless we believe. Faith and confident hope begin to break down pride, fear, anxiety, worry and stress. As faith grows, it breaks up any foundation of doubt so when the time is right the mountain will be cast in the sea. What is on the other side of the mountain? Well, why don’t you just go and see!

James 2:23-24 (NIV) And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

The Mountain

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Mark 11:22-23a (NLT) Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.

David faced the Philistine giant and won. How many times do we feel as though we too face giants in life? The people who come against our beliefs. Those who cast insults and hurl slurs at the God we serve or His Son, Jesus. The ones who are mean, cruel, betrayers, abusers and/or spiteful users. Are they really the enemy? No, they are people who the Lord loves just the same. We mark them as the “giants” because the adversarial force that comes against believers is unseen. We need a mark or target to sling the smooth stone and exact a mark for certain death. The opposition in our life is not people but the Father of Lies who shrouds lost and unsuspecting souls in darkness. Are you facing the giants today? They are most easily taken down by love and forgiveness which are foreign bodies to them. They do not deserve the wealth of expectation placed in their unworthy hands which they are unable to meet. Love covers a multitude of sins. Forgiveness allows grace to mend relationships and shines the light of His Love on others.

There is a far greater obstacle in the distance. Just beyond the fields of giants that no longer pose a risk – it is the mountain. It is huge and foreboding. Maybe you have been casting curses, insults and threats to the mountain in your life and like its namesake in the form of Everest it hasn’t budged at all. Jesus told his disciples to have faith in God and by doing so you can say to the mountain, “May you be lifted up and thrown in to the sea” and it will happen just like that. Well…have you moved any mountains lately? Why not? Have you given up? After trying to go around it, get over it or somehow make it through, do you now reside on it? What we tolerate in our life quickly becomes the place of comfort. If you entertain it, you will begin to accommodate it in your life. Today – let’s talk about the mountain. The thing you just can’t seem to get past. It has a name.

Mark 11:22-23b (NLT) But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.

There is a name inscribed on the bottom of the mountain – it’s called “Doubt”. The foundation is nothing more than insecurity. It begins as a molehill but quickly can be built into a sizeable obstacle in our life. The Lord was quite clear. In order to have mountain-moving faith, there must be no doubt in our heart. If you believe like that you can pray for anything and it will be yours. Do you doubt the Lord today? Before you hastily answer with a Christianese type response, let’s talk a little more about doubt so that we are clear in God’s Expectation of the believer.

What is doubt? Doubt is uncertainty. It is to consider questionable or unlikely. It is hesitation in our belief of God – His Love, His Power, His Faithfulness, His Grace and His Goodness. The root word means “hesitate or waver”. Are you wavering in belief today? Do you doubt God will do what He says? Has it taken too long? Is the journey too hard? Are you too hurt or broken to continue? See the enemy wants us to doubt the Lord.

Matthew 4:8-10 (NLT) Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

During the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, the enemy took him to the mountain. It is comforting to know that our Lord and Savior went through the same trials and temptations that we experience and leads us by example. The enemy showed Jesus the earth as far as the eye could see. “I will give it all to you, if you will kneel down and worship me.” He countered the lie with truth. “You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.” Obedience is essential in overcoming doubt because it produces the outcome of faith. Now Jesus could see the earth but in His Heart – He was after the Kingdom. What about you? What are you after in this life? Do you want a better life or do you desire eternal life?

”For we live by believing and not by seeing.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) If only our spiritual eyes could see the future and plan of God for us rather than the situations and circumstances of life. The miraculous begins in the impossible. The mountain is the birthplace of ministry or obedience to the Living God who is invisible to the living world. Immediately after his experience on the mountain, Jesus began his earthly ministry. If you read the accounts of his teaching, preaching, healing and more – most encounters took place at the mountain.

Mark 3:13-15 (NLT) Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, giving them authority to cast out demons.

Jesus chose us on the mountain. The mountain called doubt that believed this was it. This was how it would always be. The sin within us bound us from anything more than getting by. Grace came and gives us more than enough in spite of us. The Lord knows the innermost workings of each human heart. His Spirit is given to us to weed out doubt and sow seeds of faith that grow into His Fruit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and even self-control. We came with the seeds to produce such but sin inhibited our ability to do so. The Blood of Jesus and the Word of our testimony – His Word – gives way for His Spirit to promote, teach and increase godly obedience from within. The more we allow the Spirit of God to work in us – the greater our experience will be.

Matthew 28:16-20 (NLT) Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The same disciples who Jesus called into close fellowship and ministry from the beginning are now back on the mountain. They spent every day with the Lord hearing His Teachings, engaged in His Ministry, witnessing miracle after miracle, followed Him to the Cross, watched Him die, and discovered an empty tomb. Now eleven remained standing in the Presence of the Resurrected Lord, plot twist – “but some of them doubted.” You’re kidding, right? Exposed to all of these things naturally not spiritually but right in front of their eyes – how is doubt even possible at this point? Should we ask ourselves the same thing?

I am born again. I have received the Holy Spirit. I know that Christ lives in me. I have witnessed miracles firsthand. I have seen the impossible happen. The unexplainable a reality yet I still struggle with doubt. How do I know? I experience fear, anxiety, worry and stress which are all indications of doubt. They are the anchors that keep the mountain called doubt from moving in our life. The only thing that can move the mountain of doubt is faith. Faith moves mountains. It only takes a mustard seed of faith to move a mountain…

1 Kings 19:8-13 (NLT) So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave, where he spent the night. But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

“What are you doing here, ______? Sometimes we become so fascinated with moving the mountain, we miss the encounter waiting on it. Elijah had witnessed amazing miracles. He was a well-known prophet with great influence. The threat of a woman sent him running in fear. The source of fear doesn’t have to be real to be effective. It exposes the doubt in our heart so that we can see it and deal with it. The productivity of the mountain marked “Doubt” is fear, insecurity, worry, stress and anxiety. It gives away the power and authority given to us by Christ to something or someone other than the Lord. Your mountain is not moving because God is holding it in place. It is human doubt and lack of expectation in the Living God that keeps it firmly in place. Maybe we must climb the mountain and seek the Face of God to find our answer and experience a release today.

What is holding you back? What is keeping the mountain from moving in your life today? The mountain of doubt is the only hindrance in our life and it must come down in the Name of Jesus.  Disbelief fuels doubt. Doubt is a formidable foe to faith. It is deteriorates and erodes it until there is nothing left to sow and little to harvest. If you want the mountain to move, it is time to get to the root of the foundation and destroy it. Doubt will be destroyed by Truth. The Word of God is the Truth of our life. God loves us. Nothing can separate us from His Love. His Grace is enough. Christ lives in me therefore I am enough. There is no giant greater than My God and no mountain too big to be cast in the sea if only I could believe without reservation, wavering or hesitation. All would fall in the Name of Jesus.

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.