Hunger Games

Hunber Games

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (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. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.

The Hunger Games trilogy is a futuristic novel set in post-apocalyptic times. The Capitol society is marked by extreme wealth and power over the twelve Districts who are the product of past rebellion live in extreme poverty. As entertainment, each year one boy and girl from each district is chosen by a lottery system to fight to the death in the public arena which is broadcast for all to see. The winning participant and their district will be supplied with food, supplies and riches. The Capitol continued to exhort its power over the Districts this way. I cannot imagine. How horrible to think that a child would be selected as a sacrifice for that which is freely given to us in the earth? This was the inspiration for the writer after reading Greek mythology’s account of Theseus and Minotaur – as punishment for past crimes, Athens were required to sacrifice seven boys and seven girls. Even as a child, she was stunned by the cruelty. Her writings are also influenced by society’s public display and entertainment called reality television. We make sport and competition in the name of entertainment. Yet the reality is that cruelty and poverty are rampant in a world inhabited by a Kingdom of more than enough. Sons and daughters of the Most High King who join the numbers of impoverished ones of the districts rather living in the life their Father has given them.

Though the concept of The Hunger Games is futuristic, it can be compared to the reality of life. The rich get richer and poor get poorer is a frequently used statement. Dependency is created by need. Those in need of something must find a source to provide it if they cannot produce it themselves. The Districts had rebelled against the Capitol and were now being punished with poverty. Kept in a perpetual state of need, it would take a rebellion to obtain their freedom. In the subsequent books of the series, this is exactly what would happen. I am not promoting the trilogy called The Hunger Games. I am only aware of the books and concept of the series. I am challenging the impoverished mindset of God’s People that keeps us captive and stagnates our purpose to set the captive free.

“For God provides seed to the farmer and then bread to eat.” Our family has been committed to tithing for almost twenty years now. For eighteen years, it has been our commitment to pay God the 10% that He requires up front as an act of obedience. Before I lose you, this is about you tithing but a personal testimony of harvest and favor. In all those years, there has not been an unmet financial need in our family. Every bill paid, lights that turn on, transportation and of course, food on our table. The kids all had diapers and clothes. Not a single natural need has not been met. But wait there is more, we have also been able to help others giving to missions, feeding the hungry and other noble efforts. I hope I haven’t lost you yet. Giving the Lord His Requirement and also sowing seed (yes, seed) in offerings has also produced a hidden abundance in our life. During spring cleaning and organizing closets, I always find things that we no longer need, want or use. Some of it, I give away to those in need. The rest of it, I post in online resale sights or set up a garage sale. I cannot think of a time when the Lord has not supplied our needs, or given us more than enough. I do absolutely believe that two Biblical Truths are in full operation. Tithing, as well as, sowing and reaping. God’s Abundance is hidden in our life from the devourer. But it is often the “hunger games” of life that allow us to connect with the Source of Life.

In Luke 15, we visit the home of loving and wealthy father with two sons. He loved both of them exactly the same and cared for them equally. There was no favoritism in him and all that he had was to be their inheritance. As you may already know, one son chose to take his inheritance and leave his father’s home losing everything. Ready to eat slop with the pigs came the realization that even servants in his father’s house were well-cared for so he would go back, beg his father’s forgiveness and serve him. You may also know that the son who remained true to his father and home was overtaken with jealousy for his brother. He had done both of their jobs while his brother was out carousing. When his father welcomed his lost son home, the brother refused to come to the celebration. He was mad. He couldn’t understand the grace of his father. See the estate and wealth did not mean as much to this man as his precious and dear children. This is the Father’s Love that is given to us as His Children.

Luke 15:17-20 (NLT)  “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 

Our Father is the Source for our life. Nothing can separate us from His Love for us. His Compassion longs for our safe return. Jesus promised to prepare a place for us. (John 14:1-3) I have a home in His Kingdom that is mine. It is an individual inheritance not offered to anyone else. A place in His Presence just for me with my name on it. There is no need for insecurity and doubt because God does not have favorites. There is no competition for a place in God’s Kingdom. It has been given to you when you accepted the Keys to the Kingdom from His Son, Jesus Christ. All that is to be done is follow Him home. Humility accepts God our Father as the Source of Life and lives according to His Standard of life. It takes us out of the rat race, fighting our way up the corporate ladder and no longer subject to the dog-eat-dog world. We are given more than enough according to His Riches in Heaven.

Luke 15:28-32 (NLT) “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

The son who stayed with his father did not feel that his brother was worthy of celebration. His jealousy overtook him so that he did not see the obvious. “You have always stayed with me, and everything I have is yours.” As Christians, it is human nature to fall in the trap of the other brother. To have it all but lose sight of it. Pride robs us of satisfaction with the weapon of comparison. We cannot see the blessings and promises coming to pass in our life and the abundance hidden in our closets blinded by envy. When those who have been used and abused by the world show up on our churches, we tell them of God’s Great Love, His Grace and His Compassion but do we show it or even share it with them? Or like the jealous brother set requirements based on our willingness or unwillingness to welcome them home just as they are. I am a Child of God. My inheritance is secure in my relationship with my Father through Jesus Christ. I do not have to compete with anyone for His Attention, His Supply, His Provision or even His Abundance in my life.

Like 12:16-21 (NLT) Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

It is important to have a rich relationship with God. Who wants to serve a Father who does not have enough to care for all of his children? The richness of our Father should be filtered through us His Children. It is called generosity. We have seed to be put in the ground that is stored in silos of fear and greed that mark the impoverished mindset. Like the widow who kept her “oil” sealed in a bottle for a “rainy day” found that there was more than enough to care for her family for the rest of their life, we have more than enough but it is hidden behind fear of lack and no trust in the Father’s Love and Resources. The prodigal son had to lose it all to realize the resources in his father’s house. His failure humbled him and he returned to his home. The woman lost her husband who she perceived as her source only to find that God had already provided her with more than enough.

A rich relationship with God through Jesus Christ amply supplies our life with favor and resources. Seeds of potential are hidden away tucked in the dreams and desires of our heart. Rather than building bigger barns to house God’s Surplus in our life living in fear that His Grace, Love or Mercy might run out – what if we built bigger windows and doors to let it all come pouring out? A rich relationship with God is marked by trust that He does have a Kingdom with streets paved of pure gold and that He is a Good Father who cares well for His Children.

Matthew 15:32-34 (NLT) Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.” The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?” Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?” They replied, “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.”

Jesus did not just believe in feeding people the Word. He believed in feeding their bellies, too. Unmet need creates desire. When we send the hungry and hurting off with a kind word and hug around the neck when what they really need is food or their utility bill paid, what message are we sending? Are we Children of the King or kids on welfare? I do not have to participate in hunger games. I am a Child of God who has supplied all that I need and desire in abundance. As my soul prospers, so will I. I am ordained for increase, multiplication and reproduction in this life. I have access to the riches in Glory. In fact, obedience stores it up for me according to God’s Kingdom. Generosity is my opportunity to give it my life away. To let go of this world and claim His Kingdom.

Man’s economy is based on supply and demand. Creating desire so it can make something to fill it. It does not want you to be satisfied or content but always leaving you wanting more. Buy a new cellphone and before you can run the battery down there is a newer and shiner version being hawked as the best. We have more than enough. An endless supply flowing from the windows of Heaven, it is accessed by generosity and giving. How? Generosity is good seed. If we give to others expecting nothing in return, it is a seed of faith that says, “I believe my God supplies all my needs according to His Riches.” It will grow into a harvest in our life. Seed left in silos will also die, rot and decay. Its purpose is unfulfilled. It is destine to be nothing. When sowing good seeds of faith not just in word but in our works, it becomes a harvest of abundance in our life. There is an equal and personally identified inheritance for each child of God individually. It cannot be earned. It is our birthright. To tithe protects us from the devourer but it is our offering that demonstrates faith and confidence in God who is more than enough.

I John 3:16-18 (NLT) We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

Grab a Shovel

grab a shovel

I Corinthians 3:6-8 (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. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

A visiting minister was sharing his heart on faith and prosperity to our congregation. He spoke of the intangible and tangible blessings of God that is the inheritance of God’s Children. He said, “People pray for God to move mountains but refuse to ever pick up a shovel.” His words made me chuckle audibly quickly looking around to see if anyone heard me. I have been at this whole faith thing a while. Just when I think I have it all together, I realize that I have only just begun. It is an adventure now. Deep cries out to deep so I swim a little farther until my feet can no longer touch and I call out to my Savior to come and get me. He calls me a little higher and as I quickly step up – I realize in my flesh that I really am not a fan of heights and my fear of falling reaches for God to catch me. Hebrews 12 reminds us that the raceway is crowded with many witnesses. In the midst of the great cloud of witnesses is an enemy who wants to get me tangled in worthless words and caught up in bold-faced lies. His response to my faith is to remind me of every insecurity that is hidden in my thoughts. To tell me that I am not good enough, missed the mark, or will fail like before. But I have been in this race for a while now, and what I have discovered is just about the time that I am grow weak or weary yet decide to take just one more step – that tiny seed of faith in my heart grows just a little bit bigger.

The Lord has planted a seed in our heart from the very beginning. Ecclesiastes 3 – it tells us that God put eternity in our heart. If it were complete it would not be hidden, but before the Lord tells us this secret – His Word holds true – God has made everything beautiful in its own time. Time. The most precious commodity given to humanity but so often wasted on useless and ordinary things. I find it a bit ironic that in all the places this could have been put in the Word of God that He chose to scribe it in Ecclesiastes. Written by the one who asked for wisdom to whom it was granted and who wasted in on many futile endeavors in this life. God has planted eternity in our heart. We will journey through life to eternity. We have been given absolute freedom in our relationship with Jesus Christ to do with it what we will. But what I am discovering as time goes by is that if I am not carefully many seeds will never be given the opportunity to grow not because I do not have them or they are being watered but I do not have any faith in the process.

I Corinthians 15:36-38 (NLT) What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed.

Growth is a process. It takes an investment or sacrifice if you will. The seed must die to its presence forth to release the hidden potential inside. For the believer, death gives way to life. Resurrection power is demonstrated in each seed that is planted with the promise of harvest. God did not limit seed time and harvest to the earth but through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ empowers us to experience rapid and expansive growth in every area of our life that is committed to sowing and reaping including the hidden growth process called faith. As faith becomes confident, it increases our life. All areas of our natural, physical, emotional and spiritual life are open to God’s Reproductive Process called Prosperity – with no limitation to increase and growth.

Though so simple, people cannot seem to grasp the concept of seedtime and harvest in every area of life. We claim to have faith but our actions tell on us. We profess to belief yet our lives do not emit the Glory of God or Goodness of the Father. It is no wonder that the church buildings are empty. Congregations closing down. Who wants a disempowered god or disloyal parent? Life is full of disappointment. Hope never leads to disappointment but is it the harvest of our life? Those who sow will reap. Those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly. Those who sow generously will reap generously. Every area of my life should prosper because the seed of God’s Word has been planted in my heart. It is watered as I seek the Lord and choose to follow Christ. Where is the increase that He has promised? Why are there areas of lack in my life? The Body of Christ will never be attract to lost and dying people if there is nothing to offer them. If following Christ leads only to more disappointment, why bother? Intentional faith plants seeds in every area of life. Faith waits for the seed to die and begin to grow. Faith oversees the field and waits for the harvest.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (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. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.

God provides seed for the farmer and bread to eat. The difference between disappointment and satisfaction is defined by expectation. Every day is filled with expectation. Hope never leads to disappointment based on the fact that God dearly loves us. He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Are you rich? Wealth comes in many forms from wisdom down to finances. Are you satisfied? God has placed eternity in our heart. To settle for anything less than complete fulfillment is to leave that seed unsown in our life. Ordinary and natural outcomes are for those who sow sparingly. Extraordinary and supernatural who make it a point to put every seed in the fertile furrows of our heart expecting God to make it grow rather than abandoning the field to eat the scraps under another man’s table.

Why would the Lord command us to be generous and then withhold the resources to fulfill that command? It just doesn’t sound like the God I know. Yet, there are areas in my life that I have not been sowing into. When our son was battling cancer, my faith was completely focused on sowing seeds of healing. I was continually studying, praying and exercising my faith in that area of God’s Plan. So much so, that I now have total trust and confident hope in the Lord when it comes to healing – medically, miraculously and mercifully. However, at the end of his fight and entrance to remission, I realized I had put it all out there. Like an athlete who won the Super Bowl or World Series, the morning after was a little rough. Celebrating victory and realizing that I had just left it all on the field. God gave me time to recover but then immediately started pressing my heart. Faith is not just for healing. It is not just for one thing in our life but God has given us faith to prosper our life and lead us to confident hope that completes us so we will lack nothing. I have been able to share our son’s story including his victory and our experience related to faith in Christ freely and openly because it is worth sharing and I believe it to be true. Faith and confident hope can never be given to others until you have a supply from which to give.

Matthew 13:3 (NLT) “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds.”

Going back to Genesis 1:28 where God blessed humanity to “be fruitful and multiply” and to “fill the earth and govern it.” It was no small order. God blessed us. He gave us the ability to be fruitful and multiply. The gift of increase was given to us in our DNA. From the very beginning, the reproductive gene is in our body, mind and soul. It is not just in physical reproduction but when Jesus gave us His Spirit – it was with the promise of spiritual reproduction as well. We pray “may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus handed us the Keys to the Kingdom. Grace empowers us in our weakness. Like a seed planted in the ground, the more of our life invested in Christ the higher the dividends across the board.

Matthew 13 is all about planting and harvesting. Reading it today, I discovered four seeds that it eludes to. These are the seeds that grow into harvests worth having in life. Matthew 13:18-23 is the harvest of the heart. God’s Word is planted in our heart but the condition of our heart determines its ability to reproduce. A soft, fertile heart is conducive to successful harvests. ”Good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Before any other area of my life will produce a harvest, it must begin in my heart. I must believe that God is able and will do everything that He promised. I have been guilty of being the one who lets thorns get in the way. Worries and cares of life that overtake my heart and mind. Well, not anymore. I have experienced the productivity of faith and decided to dig up those things that are not worth of faith and trust to replace them with good seed that promotes constant growth.

The seed of Heaven is covered in Matthew 13:24-29. God has given us a plan. A good plan that leads to prosperity as our soul prospers. We must only seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) If my treasure is heaven, there the desires of my heart will be as well. (Matthew 6:21) Once my heart is set on heaven every other increase in my life is blessed. Prosperity is not the problem. Riches, power and influence do not have the ability to change a person’s heart. They magnify what is in that heart. God’s Blessing comes without sorrow. If having more leads only to disappointment, then the heart was not set on heaven in the first place. God will grow good things from good seeds in our life naturally and supernaturally. Hope is the only thing that does not lead to disappointment.

The seed of hope is found in the Parable of the Mustard Seed. When a person comes to Jesus, the measure of faith hidden in our heart is discovered. To take this teeny, tiny seed and plant it is to release our life from human expectation and seek something greater. I believe this is the turning point of harvesting and increase in a person’s life. The realization that I am nothing outside of the Christ who lives in me and the grace that Jesus has given me. It is at that moment, heaven and earth connect as the Keys to the Kingdom are used to unlock God’s Hidden Treasure kept safe for us. The handle to the shovel that breaks the ground to bury our faith is marked with “obedience”. The head on the end of that handle is embossed with the word “trust”. God is faithful. What you sow you will reap. When we allow our heart to become fertile and accept God’s Word then begin to seek the Kingdom of Heaven something begins to grow in us as our roots grow into God’s Love. Suddenly, we begin to prosper as our soul prospers. Life is good. Things are getting better. But we must not and cannot stop here…we must keep digging, planting, and harvesting.

The seed of harvest is one that is probably the most difficult to press for so God allows testing, trials, and troubles to apply a certain pressure to our life. The faith discovered in the trial of cancer for our family meant applying all that we had learned about it and putting it all on the line for our son’s life. To say, I trust you God no matter what. At the end, I wasn’t sure I could venture out on faith much farther and stepped back for a moment. Seeds in the ground must die to self to grow. However, if we do not abandon the field, quit or give up – there will be a harvest far greater than we can think about, pray for or even imagine. After a period of rest, the Lord has challenged me. He has put the shovel back in my hand and challenged me to dig some fresh holes and plant more seed. In fact, our life is filled with all kinds of wonderful and valuable seeds that are overlooked because of all the cares and worries that fill our busy lives.

The mentality of just enough seems noble but God says He is the God of more than enough. The last thing the enemy wants us to do is plant seeds and cover them with faith. As the Body of Christ become consistent and confident farmers of God’s Word, the Glory of God will begin to shine from a church full of believers who lend and not borrow, become the head and no longer the tail, are independent of the world’s fluxes in economy or do not trend with society. They are confident in their God who supplies all of their needs as evidenced in the harvest of their life. Complaints are silenced by completeness. Flaws are filled by fulfillment. Who could resist a God who does not lie or change His Mind, but blessed His People as evidenced in their prosperous lives? We cannot offer revival until we experience it. As our soul prospers so will the church.

Galatians 6:7-8 (NLT) Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

As I am challenged today, I am asking you to pick up the shovel and begin planting seed in your life again. What area is lacking? It is the perfect place to plant. Where is dissatisfaction or disappointment? Dig into God’s Word and find His Solution – plant it in that barren field and watch what the Lord will do. It is God’s Will for us to prosper and experience increase in every single area of our life. We are His Children. He is a Good Father. His Kingdom is filled with a priceless inheritance with your name on it. It cannot be stolen or taken unjustly but those who faithfully plant God’s Word in their life will have a harvest. The Lord is bound by His Word. It cannot and will not return void. It will do exactly what He said it will do if we trust Him enough to plant it in our life and wait for it to grow. Survey your life. Take inventory of your heart. Grab a shovel and begin to dig up the hard areas that have been overgrown by doubt and disbelief. Water it with His Word. Plant that promise and wait for it to grow. Sow some seed. Real seed. Tangible seed in that area. God is faithful. It will always grow!

2 Corinthians 9:6 (NLT) 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. 

Keep Pounding

Keep Pounding

Proverbs 10:28 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

I caught a snippet of a sermon from Elevation Church Pastor, Steven Furtick not too long ago about some arrows. It was only a segment of a series. He pointed back to the story in his commentary. I was not familiar with it and jotted down a note in my journal to look it up. But you know how it goes sometimes, time gets away from us, you get busy or head off on another rabbit trail and even the best intention is forgotten. This morning I couldn’t sleep and this story came back to my thoughts. I need to find this person and his arrows. God has something there for me that I am about to miss – propelled me out of bed and into the study. God is good! He knows our heart and its many desires. Even when He offers a nugget of golden Truth and the hidden secret to success that I desire most – but I do not listen – the Lord doesn’t give up but keeps knocking on the door to my heart, whispering in my ear and attempting to get my attention. ”My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8)

2 Kings 13:14-19 (NLT) When Elisha was in his last illness, King Jehoash of Israel visited him and wept over him. “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” he cried. Elisha told him, “Get a bow and some arrows.” And the king did as he was told. Elisha told him, “Put your hand on the bow,” and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands. Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.” Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

The final words of Elisha must be important. King Jehoash is obviously completely devastated at the impending loss of the prophet. He is crushed. His heart knows danger is coming. Perhaps, the loss of Elisha may be perceived as a new vulnerability as he is clearly God’s Man. He told the king to take a bow and arrow and prepare to shoot it. Elisha put his hands over the king’s hands. He then instructed Jehoash to open the eastern window and shoot. He did. Elisha told the king that this was the Lord’s arrow. It announced victory over Aram prophesying that they would completely conquer the Arameans. Elisha then told the king to take the remaining arrows and strike the ground with them. The king picked up the arrows striking the ground just three times. The man of God angered said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed.” The king quit pounding limiting his victory to just three times.

If we fail under pressure our strength is too small. The Power in my life is a direct result of God’s Grace. I lay claim to His Grace by faith and confident hope in the Lord. I demonstrate my faith and confident hope in my attitude and actions in life. It is not the words I speak but the life I live that demonstrates God’s Power in my life. When I am weak, He becomes my strength. I am called to live a life of overwhelming victory. However, this does not mean that I do not play a valuable part in the release of God’s Power and receiving God’s Promises in my life.

Romans 8:35-38 (NLT)  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

There is nothing that can ever separate us from Christ’s Love. However, Christ’s Love does not keep trials and troubles from our life. Instead, Jesus gives us overwhelming victory. If all of God’s Children could tap into this Truth and begin pounding again – there would be a mass revival sweeping the land and uniting God’s Church. The enemy is after the Power in us. The Holy Spirit is public enemy number one and the most wanted picture on hell’s wall. Every demon is hell bent on us rejecting God’s Spirit and will not stop relentlessly pursuing us to engage in combat with the God in us. The more you love God and seek Him the greater the challenges you will face. Your faith may be as tiny as a mustard seed, but the power and potential in our faith can destroy every assignment against us. As long as my heart’s desire is to know the Lord and make Him known, I have a big red target painted in red on my back. Every day – it is up to us to plead the Blood of Jesus over us so that red mark will be our salvation.

Ephesians 3:19-20 (NLT) May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

The Love of Christ is too great for me to fully understand. His Purpose and Potential in me is to be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. He is working in me. His Mighty Power is pressing the boundaries marked doubt and disbelief to release new faith and more confident hope in the areas. What is my faith in? The Love of Jesus. Where do I find confident hope? In the Love of Jesus. We must press, push back, be persistent, and persevere to have all that the Lord has promised us in His Love. It is not the promise that must be produced. It is faith and confident trust to get past our limitation and claim overwhelming victory.

Remember the widow woman in 2 Kings 4 who Elisha visited only to find on the verge of giving up? He said, “What do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” What if the very thing you need is already housed in your life but you just haven’t tapped into it yet? What if the capacity of your faith is just not big enough to contain the outpouring God is ready to release in you, through you or to you? The oil did not stop flowing until the woman ran out of containers. The victory did not stop until King Jehoash stopped pounding. Have I limited God’s Promises in my life because I stopped pounding? Did I give up when my expectations were not met? Did I stop when I when it seemed pointless? Did I quit when I ran out of strength? Is it just taking too long? Lord, I want to keep pounding – please show me the way.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. He promised us a rich and satisfying life. Why are we so quick to settle for good enough or just enough? Jesus already told us that the Kingdom of Heaven must be taken by force and that there is a constant war between heaven and earth. (Matthew 11:12) We limit our life when choosing comfort and complacency over constant pressing. God has given us promises and a rich inheritance. He even tell us that it is for the land of the living. When we do not press, there is no release. Religion fancies the arrival of some, but the truth is they still have the same pressures and pitfalls everyone else does some just hide behind the veil. Well, the Holy Spirit tore the veil right down the middle. The Lord has told us that He is working every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Yes, the very same chapter where He assures us that NOTHING can separate us from His Love. Don’t compare your life to other people. Do not evaluate the grass in your yard to your neighbors. The Lord has made you promises. He has given you purpose. God made a plan for you to have more than you can imagine, think or even ask for. It is time to press. To continue pressing. To never stop pressing for His Perfection in all areas of our life.

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

It is essential for believers to KNOW the Word of God. To read it, study it, meditate on it, and pray it over our life. Why? Truth overtakes the lie every time. The enemy doesn’t use bold faced audacious ridiculous lies. No, his attack is subtle as he gently twists the Truth just enough to get you slightly off course. Once, he has a foot in the door – the real attack begins as the enemy works overtime to refute the Truth and get you all tangled up in words that are not what God said or meant for your life. Doubt and disbelief attach to these lies and they begin to take over our mind. Suddenly, we feel isolated and alone. No longer listening to the still small voice of God’s Spirit, we find ourselves locked in the stronghold of human reasoning. Faith is not logical outside of God’s Word. God’s Word is not productive until planted in our heart. Faith grows from it that develops into confidence so that when the enemy offers a life it is quickly shot down by the Truth. We must become violent in the push back against the enemy’s attack on our mind, will and emotions. We must close every door and lock every window. It is an all-out war just ask Paul who talks about in Romans 7 (again right before Romans 8).

Matthew 7:7-11 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

When our daughters want something and they know that I will say, “No”, they will sneak off to talk to their father. My husband may be a six-foot-one muscular guy who is quiet which is perceived as a daunting and ominous presence to some especially those who would like to date one of his girls, but when it comes to those three – he absolutely melts like a candy bar in a hot car. When they come to me asking where he is, I immediately ask them what they want because I know their intentions. God is a good father. Like my husband, He desires nothing more than to bless His Children. So many times, we don’t come to Him unless things are hopeless and we become desperate. This is not the way to pray.

Persistent prayer is the pounding action that knocks on God’s door and releases heaven on earth. Prayer is communication with God. It doesn’t matter how you pray just talk to Him. The more you converse the more you will have a relationship with His Spirit, who helps us when we don’t know how to pray and will teach us to pray. Our daughter says the blessing over the evening meal. Recently I have challenged her to change up her prayer from the one she has spoken for as long as I can remember. I am encouraging her to do so because her prayer is routine. It is not heartfelt anymore. I am hoping that as she thinks about thanking God for our food – it will change the way she thinks about talking to God about everything. We all fall into ruts and routines. Persistent prayer is asking until you receive. Seeking until you find Him. Knocking until the door opens. We give up too easy on prayer because we are used to pulling up to the drive-thru placing our order, pulling to the first window to pay for it, and picking it up at the second window – it’s called immediate gratification. Here is the problem – God is doing infinitely more than I can even think to ask for, Jesus paid for it because I couldn’t afford it, and He is preparing for me a valuable inheritance not a Happy Meal. We must be persistent in our prayer life to keep pounding.

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

Finally, to keep pounding it is imperative that we persevere. Holding tightly without wavering to the hoe we affirm because God can be trusted to keep His Promise. What is the promise you let go of? There are so many it is different for everyone. The dream that died and seems like it will never be revived. Did you know that after Elisha died and was entombed that a man’s dead body came body when it was thrust in the same grave? When the cold dead body touched the bones of God’s man – he came back to life. Your dream is not dead. God gave you the desires of your heart and will bring it to pass if you would just keep pounding past the pressure, pain and persecution in life. You cannot have the Kingdom of God unless you are willing to exert pressure, push back against the enemy, be persistent in prayer and persevere for your promise. It is worth having but only faith believes it. You must have faith that God is able to do exactly what He said that He would.

We must motivate and encourage each other to keep pounding. We have inside of us God’s Love, His Power, and His Spirit nothing is impossible for those who believe that and live like it. He has blessed the very ground that we walk on so if we plant seeds – we will have a harvest. It is time to expect the seed that is going in the ground around us – if any and what quality. We must sow generously in life to reap abundance. God has promised more than we can think or ask. He even calls us more than conquerors because Christ is in us. We must believe it enough to live like it. Have you stopped pounding? Well there is no time like the present to start again. Press on. Push back. Pray persistently. Persevere. Those who do will live complete and satisfying lives lacking no good thing. Don’t believe me. Try it for yourself. My faith will not produce your blessing. My hope will not lead you to the same destination. I challenge you today. Dig up that one dead dream. Or focus on the one “forgotten” promise. Commit the next 30 days to pounding for it. See what happens…

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT) Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Four No More

Four No More

I Peter 1:3-6 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

I could blame it on a hectic and chaotic week or admit I am no spring chicken, either is fine. My usual Saturday routine is wrecked. Usually up before everyone else to spend time with the Lord and get a jump on the day, I dragged myself out of bed much later than most weekends. With my usual schedule disrupted, I tried to gather my thoughts and filter them into an organized list. Saturdays are the one opportunity to do everything that you cannot incorporate into the work and church flow that orders our everyday life. The disciplines in my life allow me to maintain some level of control. (Written with a chuckle or laugh.) I no longer fancy myself in control of this summation of time called life but rather have finally decided each day is simply a new opportunity filled with moments and increments of time to be invested. I know that God has a plan so I loosely hold on to my timeline and prepare for the inevitable interruptions along the way. But I digress…

For those who do not know me, during the week I begin my day around 4:30 AM. Shuffling out of bed stumbling through the darkness, I grab our fur baby – feed her and take her out while the microwave brews the detox tea. With power bar and banana juggling my tea, I then head to my study to enter my prayer closet and spend time with the Lord. On the weekend, the routine is the same just a couple hours later. But not today…today was different. I woke up two hours later. Put on the tea and took care of the fur baby. But before heading to that quiet place, I decided to start a load of laundry. The machines were enshrouded in hanging clothes so retrieving mine I went to the closet to put them away. Trying to find them a place in the midst of the plethora of clothing crammed, I made an impulsive decision to finally get rid of all the pants that don’t fit. I used to be a size four. I am a size four no more.

I will not bore you with the details of my plundering but I will admit that I have not been a size four for quite some time. I have only worn that size once in my life a few years ago. Now some may say – oh man she fell off the wagon. Yes, I fell alright but not off the wagon but an impressive elliptical at the local gym. My fall was not physical but mental instead. I began working out halfway through our son’s illness. Walking for the first year or so gave my clarity and time to talk to the Lord about our journey. It was during the downtime of the battle or in between treatments. Our son is an adult so I am quite certain he welcomed those times of independence and solace from doctor’s and mom’s poking and prodding. I was in the gym a lot during those times and would run on that poor machine until my head was clear, mind at peace and heart still again. It was a long journey. It felt like running up the steep side of the mountain. But this is not about that journey (okay maybe a little) but when I was exercising to benefit my mind, something crazy happened to my body. I melted to a size four. What is ironic is that for my whole life I have struggled with my body image, but during that time my heart and mind was set on healing and nothing else. For God’s Word to come to pass, I was just doing what I needed to benefit my heart and mind. I got healthy – go figure. Well, our son is healed and living his life as it should be. I no longer am fighting a battle within myself and my body is a four no more.

What I realized this morning is, though maintaining my health is important, I do not expect to be a size four anymore. I am quite fine with a solid six. I am so certain that I am gathering all the smaller clothing to post online. Somebody will get a new wardrobe for mere pennies…any takers? Well, God as usual was using this exercise to show me something important. To release limitation in my life comes at the price of human expectation. I must examine my life and ask some pointed questions. Do I want an ordinary life or an extraordinary existence? Do I desire the natural or am I set on the supernatural? Do I settle for face value or will I wait to obtain vested interest? There is a difference. Life is filled with opportunities. They look the same but have great potential according to the mindset of each person. The probability of earthly success is measured by hard work and motivation. Spiritual success is to move the asset called your life into the person named Jesus Christ. The details of the natural for all are the same. The conditions may be different but everyone has a mind, soul and body to do with as they will. You will find many successful and wealthy people who have terrible health habits and horrible mental capacity. Though they prosper in business they are failing at other things. There are many people who lack financial success who are amazing athletes with sharp mental aptitude. Their focus is on health and strive for longer life through making good choices for their body. Though their body is flawless, a few bad choices may lead to the end of the life that was otherwise fit enough to live a hundred years. I have been given the freedom as an American to live my life how I choose. I have been given freedom in Christ to pursue His Kingdom. My life is my opportunity.

Proverbs 8:27-31 (NLT) I was there when he established the heavens, when he drew the horizon on the oceans. I was there when he set the clouds above, when he established springs deep in the earth. I was there when he set the limits of the seas, so they would not spread beyond their boundaries. And when he marked off the earth’s foundations, I was the architect at his side. I was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence. And how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family!

I am going to let you in on a little secret – in Proverbs 8 wisdom who is speaking is actually Jesus. He hints at His True Identity in these words and no I cannot back it up with a whole lot of resources but I know it is Him. I know Him. He was with God in the beginning. His Hand is part of all creation. Everything exists through Him the Spoken Word of God. Jesus came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love to us. He lives with God forever seated at the right-hand side of God with all power and authority in heaven and earth. This is important. Remember it. Jesus is God’s Constant Delight. Christ lives in us. God also delights in us. Oh wait, “how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family!”

God created the world with limitation. He established the boundaries of heaven and earth. He marked the line of the horizon which divides night and day visibly. He put the clouds in the sky. He limited the depth of springs. He set limits for the sea so they could not spread beyond the boundary. He plumbed the earth’s foundations. Jesus was the architect at his side. But when God created mankind it was different. He set us up differently with the potential of an unlimited life. Genesis 1:28 – he gave us the ability to increase, be fruitful, multiply and have dominion over the earth. It is our potential. He planned it and decreed it for His Human family. Sin came to call and humanity chose it. However, God wasn’t done with us. In Genesis 8, though God was angry with the world so He wiped it clean, He found goodness and grace for Noah. He was pleased with this man’s sacrifice so he said, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think is evil”…”As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” The place where you are standing right now is blessed. There is potential in the real estate of your life whether you realize it or not. The situation you are in may seem limited. The conditions adverse to growth and prosperity. But the Word, the Jesus in you is much greater than that. In creation, you were ordained for prosperity from the inside out. When sin took over the world, God blessed the very ground you walk on. You work the land and there will be growth and increase despite our inability to be perfect. The Grace of Jesus Christ and His Blood allows the growth potential of Heaven to live in us and so what is limited to the natural can give way to supernatural because Jesus has all power and authority over every boundary in our life. The ordinary can release extraordinary if we just take the time to work the place we are whether than envying the greener pasture next door. Everything I need to prosper is in me and around me – the only possible limitation is me.

Proverbs 10:28 (NLT) The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.

Hope is the expectation of the godly. Hope is not what we see but faith in the unseen reality of our life in Jesus Christ. I cannot see heaven but I have the keys to it. The first one is labeled faith and it has the powerful potential to unlock every promise of God beginning in Genesis 1:28 including every promise from Genesis to Revelation and ultimately that place called Eternity I am destined for and strive for every day. Faith in God makes all things possible but I must believe. During our journey with our son, I got a tattoo. I can hear some of you gasping. There are times when I must cover it as not to offend the religious and that’s okay, too. I did not get it for you. I got it for me. I needed to remember that this whole journey called life is about faith that produces hope. When I look at my wrist, I see the word “faith”. If I extend my arm, you will see the word “hope”. I wanted to remember that no matter what the outcome of this endeavor, whether God healed our son medically, miraculously or even mercifully taking him home – it was all about faith and confident hope. This would be the journey that changed my life forever. It was the battle that once overcome I experienced true fulfillment like Peter that day when Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?” I know Jesus. Everything has changed. Human expectation has melted into the spiritual realization that things of this world really don’t matter. I have absolutely no control over the situations, conditions or circumstances that rise up in my life but I do have the power to overcome and experience His Glory in each outcome.

Hope is the inexpressible joy that many search for and never find because it is not an outward accumulation but an inward uprising. It is the prospering soul transitioning from earthlike expectation to holy inspiration breathing in Christ and expelling doubt and fear along with it. Just like my husband has always loved me no matter what size my body is – Jesus love is far greater than any limitation that I face or boundary built before me. It is in His Love that I overcome every obstacle of faith. It allows me to plant in tears and still sow joy. It is the kind of faith and hope that gives God time and freedom to work all things together for my good and His Glory so I keep myself in the race for faith and fight the things that come against it. I know God will do it. I have experienced it.

So today I am a four no more and truly I am okay with it. I am emptying my closet to make room for the size that fits. I am okay with that. I will still work to maintain a healthy lifestyle and be a good steward of my physical health. I have stopped evaluating my image by a human standard. Is there a closet or two that need to be cleaned out in our hearts and minds today? Do I need to make more room for faith and hope to expand and take over new areas of my life? Human expectations create the limits and mark boundaries around us. They give increase in size to the obstacles that we face. God is greater than our feelings. Perfect love casts out all fear. We have nothing to lose but a Kingdom to gain in our personal life and in the realm of influence called our life. Is it time to stop shaking the keys to the Kingdom trying to scare the enemy off or use them to open the door to God’s Presence running boldly and confidently before His Throne?

Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT) I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Deep in conversation with someone the other day, I shared with her the simplest truth about faith secured in the love of Christ. I have come to a place in my life where I don’t have to argue religion or the relevance of Jesus Christ. I know Jesus lives in me. I am confident enough not to need anyone else opinion to confirm or deny. I know Jesus loves me. I know His Way is the best way for my life. I know that even if I died to discover there was no truth to heaven or eternity that my life is significantly better just by believing anyway.

I “know” that I will not be a size four again. If I do somehow stumble my way back into it – God will supply all that I need to walk in it and wear it. Just as I am cleaning out my closet of unwanted clothing, I must examine the expectation in my life to determine if it is limited by my human condition or if it is spiritually secured in the Love of God. God calls us His Precious Treasure. He promises an inheritance that is secured in Heaven. This does not mean that I must wait for eternity. It means that I must connect my natural and spiritual life to be mutually conducive rather than ultimately exclusive. (Matthew 6:10; 16:19) We must live in constant faith and confident hope every day for entrance into eternity. Our life does not have to be limited to the natural. It does not have to be ordinary. It is not God’s Plan for us. It is not His Way. It is a choice. We must learn to stop limiting our life by human expectation and yield our life’s capacity to the Lord so He can complete our life by His Design giving us the fullness of life and power that He promised.

Can I just encourage you today? God really is working every detail of your life for your good and His Glory? He is offering daily opportunities to release your natural expectation and increase your expectancy in Him. Focus on faith today. Do you believe that the Lord can and will do more than you can think to ask for? Explore new regions of hope that extend beyond the boundaries and obstacles of your natural life. Consider the impossibilities in your life. God will make them possible according to His Will and Word. Faith and hope are the evidence of believing that must be a daily consideration. The limits placed on our life are natural. God gave us everything needed to prosper from the very beginning and to have a blessed life. Jesus came and handed us the Keys to His Kingdom so now not only do we have all of His Resources but He lives in us empowering us to overcome all barriers and obstacles to have a complete and full life. We can find overwhelming satisfaction in this life and forever. Release those natural expectations today and let the Lord fill you with new revelation that will increase your faith and fortify your hope. The best is yet to come!

I John 3:2-3 (NLT) Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

Passion Fruit

First Fruit

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

When taking on large projects or tasks, I usually comprise a “to do” list to keep me focused. I write down everything that needs to be done and then decide on a game plan. I will be the first to admit as a young adult – I was a procrastinator. Chronically late, I lacked conscious respect for other’s time. I would stay up late and wake up later. I live a completely disheveled and disorganized life. I will even admit that there would be days or even a week that I did not make my bed. This chaotic existence was not the fault of my parents who built a structured home and attempted to teach us discipline. When set free into adulthood, I was able to choose how to live my life. What changed? Children. When my first child was born, I discovered this little thing called responsibility in a whole new way. This little perfect person was depending on me for everything. I was to mold him, shape him, and care for him as he was now my responsibility. Suddenly – I wanted to be a better person and the perfect mom. Love produced a change in me.

Purpose is a wonderful thing because it sparks passion in us that burns away things that used to hinder us. It ignites a change inside of us that requires careful attention to build momentum and see the results. As my family grew so did I, old habits gave way to new and improved drive to be organized and skillful in the things “good moms” do. But despite my best intentions, looking back, I realize that even though I tried really hard to be the best mom ever and never make mistakes with my children. I blew it on several occasions. There were days that I took the responsibility of parenting too seriously and needed a little more grace and love. My desire to be perfect overshadowed my purpose which was to love my children with all that I had and give them the life I thought they deserved.

For the Lord is the Spirit and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is – there is freedom. Freedom to live a life of full satisfaction apart from perfection but marked by passionate purpose. The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His Glorious Image. I am struck by these words today. I am in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is my beloved as I am His. As in any partnership, I must learn to find ways to remain faithful to Him even when my flesh doesn’t necessarily agree. The first fruit of God’s Spirit – who is now recognized as Jesus is love. Love produces passion. Passion fuels purpose. How do I take the natural love I have and use my freedom in Christ to expand it and fan it into burning desire? I must live by the Spirit.

I am tiptoeing here. So please bear with me…I am challenged today! I want to live in the Glory of God. I don’t think the church or people who call ourselves Christians really know what that is or how to achieve it on a regular basis. We are to live in the Presence of God. Well, if Christ lives in me doesn’t that mean God is present all of the time? Yes! Am I present all of the time? No! Let me explain – there are times when my husband and I are sitting in the same room and one of us will begin to speak to the other. While lost in thought or completely engrossed in what we are watching or reading, the other may not hear what he or she is saying. Suddenly shaken from our stupor – we will respond to the other with apologies because our attention was elsewhere. God’s Spirit lives in us. His Name is Jesus. He has granted us freedom. Freedom is the opportunity to choose our life and how we live it. To become aware of the Glory of God in us and His Goodness all around us would be the most advantageous use of the gift of freedom – but sometimes we have our heart and mind set on other things.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Jesus lives in me. His Spirit has set me free. This freedom is made strong as it is nourished by the Fruit it provides us. The first fruit of the Spirit is love. I cannot love anyone else until I fully conceive the Love of God for me and living in me. See God’s Love IS His Glory. When I love like Jesus loves and inspired by the selfless and unconditional Love of God – I reflect His Glory. God gave us freedom to choose a relationship with Him as His Child. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us that allows us to have a rich and satisfying life beginning with love and ending with self-control. Religion gets this all out of order. We attempt self-control outside of love which leads us nowhere. The passion of our love for Jesus Christ will inevitably produce self-control as the final fruit not the first fruit.

Galatians 5:24-26 (NLT) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Those who belong to Jesus must nail their passions and desires associated with their sinful nature to the Cross. Do not think about the seven deadliest sins and most horrible offenses you can think of, but consider this – if our passion promotes anything other than sincere and persistent love for people – we missed the first step of full satisfaction in the Glory of God. Love produces joy. Joy gives us peace. Peace affords us patience and so on. “Since” we are living by the Spirit as God’s Spirit is manifested as Christin us…we must follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Love is the first step of freedom yet the hardest to overcome. Love puts others before our own wants, needs and desires. It is not a me-first position and therefore considered the greatest vulnerability. But if Christ truly lives in me – I am free to do so because greater is He who lives in me. The greatness of God’s Grace is His Love. His Glory is His Presence that is possible by His Love. Everything begins with and ends with love.

Luke 12:49 (NLT) I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! (Jesus)

Have we misplaced our passion? Have we focused heavily on producing fruit from our self and not of the Spirit? I can pretend to have all of God’s Fruit in my life but my life is not surrounded by His Glory and defined by His Love it is just another pointless pursuit. Jesus came to set the world on fire. His Love could not be denied for His Sacrifice complete. He empowered us with His Grace which is totally sufficient to overcome every obstacle and live in His Glory now and forever more. However, this would require giving up our way first.

When I think about the Glory of God, I hear the churches outcry for revival. Revival is new life that will take the place of our old ways. Like the relationship now possible with God through Jesus Christ removed the “veil” that once separated us from God’s Presence. It did not open the curtain so we could step behind it. It tore it right down the middle. When Christians live according to the rules and regulations of the Law, it is not freedom but a foray back into judgment. In Christ there is no condemnation. Christ is alive in me so I am no longer condemned so think about this…

If you come upon a burning building, it would probably be your immediate instinct to call 911. You may decide to be a good Samaritan and get out of the car to offer assistance. If you hear cries from within the inferno, you may try to find a way to get inside and save those who are trapped. Only a few people might risk their life to go inside despite the danger to pull people from inside. However, if the house is your home everything changes. Your love will overcome all fear and insecurity to get your loved ones to safety pulling them out of harm’s way. What if Jesus meant to set the world on fire so we would develop a passion from His Love? What if it is a test of our first fruit to see how willing I am to use my freedom to love people enough to reach them right where they are rather than standing outside calling them out?

Jude 20-25 (NLT) But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

The potential of my life is the Glory of God because Christ lives in me. I have a new love that has given me a whole new purpose. I am a new creation. The law is no longer relevant to me as it has been made complete in Jesus Christ. His Grace is truly sufficient for me. As long as I choose to live free from the Law, I am able to pursue with passion the First Fruit of the Spirit which is love and believe that as every other fruit is born of its seed that I will someday learn self-control. If sin separates me from Jesus, my love for Him will keep me from sin. Apart from God’s Love there is no glory. His Glory is His Love. His Love must be perfected in my life. It does not require me to be a perfect person just perfected by His Love. Passion must be examined and evaluated in our life to determine its origin. It is easy to become religious in our pursuit because habits come and go every day. Love does not. Love is the most difficult to obtain and arduous to keep because it is the constant consummation of self. We must invest all that we are into the Christ living in us so He takes over. Jesus would not think twice about going into whatever hell we wander into and pulling us to freedom if we cry out to Him. My response to others must be the same. Lord, I ask you to examine my heart, my mind, every motive, attitude and action for love. Love is the first fruit produced by Your Spirit, and I want to know I am living a life guided by Your Spirit. Help me to love like You do. Teach me to love like You. Complete me in love as You do. I ask you to grow the first fruit of love in me so I can share it with everyone else and be a true reflection of Your Glory! Fan the flame of love in me until it burns like an all-consuming fire with passion for You, Lord! For without passion – love quickly grows cold!

John 14:26 (NLT) But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

I Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT) This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Now and Later

Now and Later

James 1:12 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

When I was a kid, my favorite candy was called “Now and Later”. Small squares of taffy individually wrapped in a variety of flavors wrapped in colorful paper sold at every corner store. A bit sour at first, it took a while to chew it until it softened and completely swallow it because it stuck to every corner of your mouth. The inventor decided to take a bar of taffy and cut it up so it could be enjoyed – you guessed it – now and later. Previously the bar was sold in whole pieces so it had to be consumed all at once. Surprisingly this candy has withstood the test of time and is still available in nineteen different flavors. Have you ever eaten a “Now and Later” candy? It is very dense, thick and chewy. At first it requires a great deal of jaw strength and a whole lot of work to make it soft enough to enjoy. It takes a while to process and swallow to digest. So it is with faith and the process is called endurance. The only requirement is patience.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation now. Afterward (later), they will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him. Why would God test and tempt us now? He doesn’t. God will test us, but it is our flesh that does the tempting. Today – there are many in the middle of a test who think God is tempting them or otherwise engaging them in this difficult process. It is human nature to try to escape those situations and conditions that require us to “patiently endure.” Who wants to be stretched? Who asks to struggle? Yet throughout our life certain circumstances and difficult conditions call for this very thing. We must learn to patiently endure because Jesus told us those who “endure to the end will be saved.” I think we have painted a multifaceted picture with brilliant color of what that means in accordance with our situation or condition. However, God in all things sets forth a redemption process in our life. We endure the process and He produces the outcome. Not just any outcome, the best of all possible outcomes. He gives us victory in all things through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are overcomers.

What does it mean to patiently endure? I looked up both words and here is what I have come up with. To be patient means bearing provocation. Provocation is anything that incites, instigates, angers or irritates. Provocation occurs each day. People seem to be the ones who hit the deepest nerve and many will give credit to the enemy. Proverbs tells us that if we fall under pressure that our strength is too small. There is no provocation that can overtake us unless it is our reaction to give in to it. Provocation is like the giant taunting David in the midst of the battlefield. His words and verbal attack could not hurt God’s Man. He patiently endured his brothers ridicule and the Philistines banter. He won!

To be patient means bearing annoyance. I grow annoyed every day don’t you? Little things become bigger things by dwelling upon them. How many thorns in the flesh do you have? Overcoming annoyance means to learn to ignore disturbances and those pointless arguments. We must learn to focus on the One who brings peace and rest to our mind, will and emotions. Those who trust the Lord will have perfect peace. Annoyances become disturbances that distract us. Leading us from following Jesus to be driven by the fuel of emotionalism.

To be patient means bearing misfortune. Everything may not work out the way that we think it will or expect it to but that does not mean it is not working in our favor. God takes every detail of our life and works it out for our good and His Glory. When reading the Gospels, it is hard to understand sometimes the doubt and disbelief exhibited by the disciples. However, we have the whole picture. We see Jesus on the Cross. We know that He released His Spirit and soon it would be available to us. We know that He is coming back from the dead and resurrected to life. But to these men, this was real life. Depicted in real time without a higher perspective or futuristic vantage point. They say Jesus persecuted. They witnessed the violent beatings and torture of the Man they called Messiah. They heard the nails being driven into His Hands and Feet. They experienced the humiliation of the Cross and the belittling of those who watched everything they believed made a sacrifice that day. We were not. We are given the whole story beginning to end. Yet many still do not believe…it was the same then as it is now. Unmet expectation only means that it was not in Jesus Christ. He will fulfill every desire of our heart if we are patient in misfortune.

Patience is bearing delays, deferment or postponement in life. It means taking a seat right there and being still when God says, “Wait.” I don’t like to wait. In fact, over time I can see all the ways the Lord has offered me opportunities to learn to wait. A little here and a little more there. Over time, I have become much more patient. From my early childhood to young adulthood, my grandmother probably told me once a day – you must be patient. The church told me no matter what to never pray for patience for the process is too hard. Knowing all this, the Word of God tells me that I must by all means endure the process that produces patience to receive God’s Blessing. Proverbs says a hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. I wonder if God proverbially calls life a tree so that we will come to realize growing faith is a slow process involving many seasons. We will wait. Those who wait in the Lord are promised not just the strength to do so but in their humble state to be lifted up at just the right time. I know you are tired of waiting – I feel your pain. I also know the joy and life that comes when the dream or desire is finally fulfilled. It is always worth the wait.

To be patient is to bear hardship. Life is hard. Bad things happen to good people. Sin is the rampant. Love has grown cold. Worldly expectation cannot count on fulfillment because the heart is fickle. Difficulties are certain. Oppression will come. Suffering is inevitable. Feeling any better yet?

Of course, the final thing and probably the one most understood is pain. Human beings experience pain from birth. It is a common thread. We know how to support each other through painful processes including physical infirmities, emotional breakdowns and mental suffering. Most people have some form of compassion. Pain is part of life because of sin. It was introduced by the first humans who chose their way over God’s Plan. They picked the lie over the Truth and so here we are now. Your sin does not necessarily produce the pain in your life because of anything you do or do not do. It is just a prevailing factor of human depravity. If a virus or germ goes undetected by our immune system, it becomes an infection. If our body doesn’t come against it fighting it, it will lead to death. Sin is a factor in our DNA. God’s Word, His Will and His Way are given to us and we are guided by His Spirit to avoid it. However, we are still subject to the invasion of our life due to the sin that is already here. God’s Grace given in Jesus Christ has broken the power of sin and death over our life. Though there is pain, there is the promise that He will relieve our pain, wipe our tears, and heal us forever.

All of those bearings in life will inevitably happen in your lifetime, but the thing that makes the difference between going through them or to do so patiently is this: to do so with fortitude and calm without complaint, anger or the like. I have endured many things in life. However, by definition there are not many of them which I have done so successfully. I have quit and I have definitely complained. I have been angry. Pitched a fit. Walked away. How about you? God uses these natural situations and everyday occurs us to teach us endurance. To endure means to bear without resistance, to hold out against, to sustain without impairment. It is to tolerate and put up with it. Those who learn to do so are promised God’s Blessing in their life now and later.

Maybe you are thinking as you read this – you have outlined my life, trials, tests and temptation in great detail – are you really trying to make me feel better about it? “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a change to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing!” God has a purpose in this process called life. It is not easy. It requires patient endurance that is only possible by faith and confident hope. That is not easy either – faith is evidence of unseen things that cannot be experienced in the natural. It is to explore possibility in the impossible. It to live a life that is illogical compared to our flesh and human nature. It takes time to produce such a change in the heart and mind. Trouble is when the pressure and pain that produces endurance hit us – it is our desire and temptation to escape. Temptation is the personal desire to give up, give in, or go another way when faced with obstacles and oppression the force the God in us to be expelled from us. The pressure of death to life is overwhelming. New life takes time. Like a tree planted by the riverbank going through many seasons, but the promise is that we will prosper in all of them. A tree must withstand every season because it is planted with deep roots in the ground. What about you? Are you planted in a firm foundation of faith? Are you patiently enduring the change of each season? Are you struggling just to hang on? Does the end of your rope appear to be a disappearing thread?

I Peter 2:19-21 (NLT) For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

I used to perceive God only as futuristic. This was my way of avoiding the things I did not understand or could not reconcile to the Love of God and found contradictory to His Character. There will be things in my heart and mind that I struggle with. Certain outcomes that do not meet my expectation. Are you patiently enduring today or just struggling to get by? I want to encourage you today. If we decide to apply faith and confidence to our struggles each day, it will produce peace and joy as God begins to complete the work that He began in us. Do not be discouraged. The disciples struggled to believe in all things with Jesus right there with them. God is pleased when we patiently endure. He did not say that we were perfect, He is perfect. It is His Perfection that blesses us as He makes good out of every detail of our life. We must only try wholehearted to seek Him and we will find Him. Patient endurance is holding on to our faith without wavering from our faith. He knows life is hard. He knows we are tempted. He knows we are only human. He is working every detail for our good. His Blessing is not our success or failure to overcome the obstacles presented in each day but our simple obedience called patient endurance.

Mark 6:47-50 (NLT)  Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” 

When the disciples were caught in a storm in the pitch black darkness right in the middle of the lake, Jesus was walking across the lake. We often think it is to them, but in the Gospel of Mark it tells us that Jesus was going to pass them by on His Way to the other side. It was a test to measure their faith. Their faith ran out before they made it to the other side. They cried out to the Lord in fear and terror. So He came to them… Jesus will do the exact same thing for you. Yes this may be a test. This may be the opportunity God has designed to grow you in faith and confidence. If you are in need of strength or courage, cry out to Jesus today. He did not tell you that you must do it alone. He is our example. The Lord is our every present help. We are not called to be the strong ones but to be yoked with Jesus so He can be our strength. Don’t go it alone. He is our Lord both now and later.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NLT) Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

 

 

Know Your Limits

Know Your Limits

Ephesians 3:10-12 (NLT) God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

Pressing the boundaries of ordinary in pursuit of extraordinary is not without certain challenges. To take this thing called “faith” that is tiny and small in the first place and finding the right “ground” in which to sow it is also difficult. Faith is not logical. I cannot take the title or deed to the supernatural blessing of my inheritance in God secured by Christ and shake it in the world’s face demanding my rights as His Child. Yet, it is because of Christ and (my) faith in Him that I can now come boldly and confidently into God’s Presence. Oh, how elusive this place of power seems when the world and its ways are pressing in on us. The further one ventures in faith the more distant God seems sometimes. In the moment of testing and trials – how do I hold tight to my faith without wavering? Stuck in the realm between impossibility and possibility – I desire more faith to hold on to. I want more confidence in Christ than I have ever had before. I hear His Voice but cannot always see His Hand holding me. What about you? Have you come to the edge of His Love? There really is no limit to God’s Love or the potential of faith in our life. We have limits to overcome to keep exploring and experiencing the spiritual blessings that are already given to us but grace has not expanded far enough in us to release that segmented power hidden within us.

God’s Plan for us is set in the Heavens. The one and only thing that can separate us from God and His Blessings is sin. Sin is overcome by the love and grace that flows in the Blood of Jesus Christ. Our life has the potential to dramatically change by faith. Faith is tough. You cannot see it, feel it, touch it or hear it. The reality of it is not influenced by our inability but rather acceptance of it. It seems too good to be true so it is half-heartedly pursued. I hear people say all the time, “I have faith but the reality is…” I must be a realist. Realism is an interest or concern for the actual or real. It does not consider the abstract or speculative. A realist subscribes to the thought and rationale of all five senses staying away from anything that is not factual reality discerned with the mind backed up by human consciousness. I am a realist. I am also an optimist. I have a tendency to look at the favorable side of things and to expect favorable outcomes. I believe that people all have the potential of goodness hidden inside broken hearts and dysfunctional lives. I believe that goodness pervades reality because God is good. He is a good father who created a good thing. However, optimism does not change the conditions, circumstances or situations in my life – faith does.

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

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1 (AMP) Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].

Hebrews 11:1 (MSG) The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.

Anything untried cannot be proven. It is human nature to try things. We are inquisitive by nature and quite curious about things. Faith must be proven to become a reality in our life. Otherwise, it is just a notion. We must have faith to please God. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” God’s Plan becomes possible by faith but not just any kind of faith. It is made a reality by faith that not only believes God is alive but also that He is good. He is a rewarder. He provides well for His Children. It is not enough to believe but we must know God – His Nature, His Character including Who He is and what He does. Faith is confidence in the Character of God and His Faithfulness not our ability to be faithful.

I have included four translations of Hebrews 11:1. Let it soak in for a minute. Faith is the title deed to the things we hope for. It is the evidence of the unseen and our confidence in it. Do you have faith today? I know – every Christian shakes their head in affirmation and whispers, “Yes, of course.” Do we really have faith and confidence in a person who acts completely contrary to human nature and boasts of the impossible? Optimism believes in goodness. Faith rests assured in the Goodness of God held tightly by faith and accessed with bold confidence.

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

If faith is illogical, how do I apply it intellectually to my life? Faith is illogical to the world in which we live. However, to our spirit (and soul) it is absolutely essential. Sin came into this world because a lie was conceived as truth and influenced humanity. Welcome to the world in which we live. Our life is lived by our belief system. Driven by emotion, and reactive to our five senses, it is a difficult transition to believe God for our daily life and not just eternal salvation. Life is hard. The enemies attacks and assaults against us are relentless. Our faith in God must overwhelm every doubt, fear and lie that has entangled us and trapped us in an unlocked cell with a door held shut by ignorance. I must know the Word of God to overcome every doubt and fear. My life is not limited because I serve a limited, powerless Lord. My life is limited because of self-imposed strongholds that must come down.

I believe there are four significant limitations that Christians must overcome to have a flourishing and productive life of faith. Disbelief is always overcome by the Truth. Once you know the Truth, you cannot fall privy to a lie. It becomes a choice. Imagine a field with a fence line of four sections. When each one is in place, it contains something. Limits its ability to move. A farmer puts fences in place to keep his sheep inside of it.

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Jesus said that He is the Gate but His Sheep are free to come and go. The first limitation is that of limited perception. I must recognize, discern, envision and understand a faith that cannot be perceived by any of my natural senses. It must become the solid foundation of my life. To believe God at His Word, I must know the Word. Jesus Christ is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. I must hold tightly to these teachings to see earth and heaven. There is a relationship between the two achieved by faith in the Person of Jesus Christ. When Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” He confessed Jesus as the Son of God. It was in that moment of faith that the Lord told Peter who he was to Him. Jesus knew when he spoke to this man every fault, failure and denial that would come. My faith is not based on my ability to live according to each every single moment of every single day but my recognition, discernment, envisioning and full understanding that by His Grace – I am saved. I must remove the limits of my perception to the Person of Jesus Christ. Rather than trying to be all things and do all things to be right with Him, I must overstep my limitation of perception into the vast depth of faithful and boundless love that is completely independent of me and available solely in Christ. This is the field in which I live. It is the gateway to freedom.

I John 3:19-20 (NLT) Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

The second limitation is that of perspective. God is passionate but He is not emotional. He does not lie or change His Mind ever especially according to how He feels about us on any given day. He loves us unconditionally. It is human nature to examine and evaluate our life from a human perspective. We doubt the influence of faith in God in our life based on current circumstances, situations or conditions rather than seeing them only as temporary. God has promised to make good of every detail in our life. To trust the Lord by faith to do so we must remove the barrier of doubt that is driven by emotions and not our faith. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises and not react to the current stressors of the momentary problems that have a positive outcome and blessing attached. We sell our birthright for a single meal as Esau did when we give up the impossible and settle for what is possible. To live in the ordinary rather than pressing for the extraordinary. We ask not so we have not and we are not asking because we do not believe beyond our current perception and given reality.

Matthew 19:26 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

The third limitation is limited possibilities. We simply do not believe that with God everything is possible. I do not mean to offend you, but if you truly believed that God is able. If you lived by the truth that God does not change His Mind, He doesn’t lie, He does not go back on His Word, and that His Word never returns void – your faith in Him would make all things possible. “To all perfection I see a limit, but your commandments are boundless.” (Psalm 119:96)

Ephesians 1:14 (NLT)  The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

The word “pretension” can have a negative connotation. There are many believers who boast of a faith they do not have because it is what they are supposed to say. It means to claim something. We claim to have faith. However, our faith is limited. As Christians, we lay claim to the promises of God as the reality of our life by faith. Really we are not claiming it, but attempting to fake it until we make it. Trusting God is evidence of faith and confidence in Him. We may not see His Perspective, Perception or even the hidden possibility of God’s Plan but faith follows through with willing obedience anyway. Are you living a pretentious life? Claiming a faith that you do not have. A Good God that you do not know or see. Pretense limits the potential in our life. It can only come down when faith is applied to the lie that has been holding us. God has filled His Word with promise after promise. Pick one. Grab it. Hold it. Wait for it. This will break down pretentious faith and make it purposeful again.

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

So here I am again back in Ephesians 3, as the Lord begins to break down my hard heart and plant new seeds of faith and confidence in it. Right after we moved in this house, we took down an overgrown bush that grew into a cumbersome tree on the corner of the house. It was at the end of the flowerbed and an eye sore. We left the little stump there. Now spring, I bought some lovely azalea bushes to fill the barren bed with new life. My husband was planting the bush closest to the little stump but found he could not dig into the ground because of the roots hidden underground. The tree had established some thick and massive roots that we didn’t bother to remove with the tree. And so it is with our faith, as we explore new heights and depths of God’s Love there will be some resistance as our heart and mind shifts from worldly thinking to Heavenly revelation of this new life given to us as new creations in Jesus Christ. We must dig up those roots and strongholds that attempt to keep us in the impoverished mindset of false perception, perspective, and possibility living in a state of pretension when God wants to give us everything He promised us instead. My thinking can limit my life completely. Faith must become the logic. I live by. I must daily fight to remove every bit of my stinking thinking, untangle myself from all the lives and saturate myself in Truth that produces faith and confident hope. As I trust the Lord, doors are unlocked that lead me deeper into His Presence, His Provision and His Prosperity for my life. I may be an optimist naturally but I long to be faithful and confident in the hope that I have supernaturally. Lord, help us today to remove every self-imposed limitation and boundary in our life until nothing stands between me and You! God has blessed me and the earth in which I live. God teach me how to overcome every obstacle of faith in my life so I may live in the unlimited Power of Your Presence both NOW and forevermore.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT) Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Fizzy Soda

Fizzy Soda

Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Have you ever been then grocery getter for your house? You have those thin and useless plastic bags rolling around in the back of the car. When you get home an army of helpers hoping to plunder the new supplies arrive to help carry the hoard in. Some of those big two-liter bottles of soda were on sale so you got them BOGO or to the novice shopper – buy one, get one free. Immediately, my people turn up their nose at them. In my efforts to be a wise consumer, I find that they do not want the surplus of soda and list their complaints. Opening the bottles at the release of pressure, the dark syrupy liquid becomes a foaming bomb shooting soda everywhere creating a huge mess that even the dog is incapable of licking it all up. They don’t like the way that after a day or so they go flat – no matter how tight the lid is kept or how quickly they try to consume it. When the fizz is gone – so is their appetite for the once coveted drink. In all fairness, I bought them for portion control. Tired of pouring their unwanted, forgotten soft drinks down the sink that sounds like change falling in the drain. Yet now, I have a garage full of unwanted bottles but wait what just happened? Suddenly, they are grabbing water bottles instead. How did that happen?

For more than a week, I have had this image of fizzy soda in my head along with the idea that it is just like the zeal a Christian might have at first for the things of God. We come to the Lord full of expectation and excited about the potential of His Spirit’s Inhabitation in life. But once the “fizz” is gone, our life goes flat so we return to our old life and old way of thinking abandoning the potential of faith in God that remains there. Where are we once the excitement is gone? What happens when things take longer than expected? Why is discipline necessary? God is greater than all things. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He supplies all we need but when I ask I must wait. We must taste and see that the Lord is good. We must desire to move from things that are not good for us to those things that benefit our life. It will be a struggle in a world that offers immediate gratification and feeds our emotions. God wants us to be godly people who have joy in Him and those who trust Him will lack no good thing.

For the last month or so, I have been attempting to give up a beloved diet drink. Is it bad for me? Depends on who you ask. Water is better for me. All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. When I was young, my birth mom was a “Coke” addict in the soft drink form. She gave it to us freely. As I began to share time between both parents’ homes, my new mom provided sweet tea – the soft drink of the South. Loved it and consumed it freely. However, I became more aware as I grew older that water is a much better choice. However, I don’t necessarily want water. I don’t care for the taste. I don’t really want it or desire it. It is good for me in many ways. It is the best for my body health wise. It is excellent for my skin. It keeps me well-hydrated. But I prefer other things and none of that I desire is illegal or prohibited. I make the choice to drink a gallon of water or at least try to every day. What I have found is the more water I consume the less capacity that I have for those things that are not as good for me. Water is more beneficial. How does this all tie together? I am glad that you asked.

So many times, we try to make a Godly life resemble our good life worldly expectations applying our appetite to the things that the Holy Spirit would like to do in us and through us. Did you know that the primary content in all soft drinks is water? We add the sugar or sugar substitute. We put the carbonation in it that makes it fizzy. Have you ever noticed that conscientious parents do not give their newborns soft drinks or tea? They give them milk. If not straight from mom, they sterilize the bottles. Everything they do is to make sure that their baby grows, develops and matures. God sees us as His Children. He feels the same way.

I Peter 2:1-3 (NLT) So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

Pure spiritual milk. What is it? I believe that it is the Word of God. We must know the Word to enter fully into a productive relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh. Salvation is not an arranged marriage but a personal choice to engage in an active and committed relationship with Christ as Savior and Lord. We make that choice. All things are permissible yet not all things are beneficial. Just as in our relationships naturally, there must be development and growth to mature our relationship so it is no longer superficial. If we are not growing in the Lord, we are growing apart from Him. I find it interesting that in this passage, it says, “Get rid of all evil behavior.” Then it begins to talk about things that destroy relationships first. To cry out for nourishment once we have tasted the Lord’s Kindness is to grow in our knowledge and capacity to love the Lord and other people. We focus on our list of seven deadly sins and regard religious rules and regulations but miss the part about love. God is love. To be godly we must be good lovers.

John 7:38 (NLT) “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

A newborn primarily exists on milk although the newest parenting trend does add water at an early age. When my babies were little, I only gave them milk, some juice and lots of water. Growing in our walk with Christ, spiritual milk gives way to living water. Jesus promised that living water would flow from His Heart to us. He has given us His Spirit. The Word of God works with the Spirit of God to allow us those benefits offered to those who choose the better way over the permissible options in life. We must discipline our body and mind to live a healthy spiritual life. Have you ever tried to take candy from a baby?

The little children at our church flock to “Memaw” a beloved matriarch. She always has a sugary candy treat for them so after service like little ducklings they flock to her. They want the contents of her big bag. They know she has treats for them. However, mom and dad have the opportunity to train their children in healthy habits. Thank God I am headed into “memaw” days! I found with my own children that in order to take something from them, I offered them a better choice. If they did not want the new thing, they would often pitch a fit. As a mom, I hated that they were so upset but my heart was set on giving them the very best start in life. Candy and sugar was limited. I made sure they were given the right food – all the things that were nutritious. Too many times, it is human nature to cave in to emotions rather than stand strong for goodness and so it is with the church.

Romans 10:1-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.

To pursue God emotionally but not spiritually is misdirected zeal. To claim to know Him but not take in the spiritual milk and living water is spiritual suicide. You are starving your spirit to feed your flesh. False teachers pave new roads every day and we fall for it because our flesh is strong and our spirit weak. Many years ago, in order to lose some weight, I switched from full-powered soft drinks to diet soda. Ironically or not so much, it was after a Daniel Fast, where for a solid month I only drank water. After becoming addicted to them, I read an article that warned of the high sodium content in diet drinks that they wreaked havoc on weight loss efforts. How is this possible? Well, the sodium that settled in our body soaked up the water and got fat, too to put it in layman’s terms. Bottom line – water retention. Ugh! Darned if you do and darned if you don’t. Is it possible that rather than relying on water – we are substituting things in our life that are not God’s Best and of no benefit. Absolutely.

Zeal is not bad. In fact, the Bible encourages and endorses spiritual fervor for the Living God. Romans 12:11 tells us to never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. See the “but” – it is our warning. It is easy to direct our zeal toward the Lord, and then get detoured, delayed, or distracted. In fact, it is the greatest scheme of the enemy. He challenges our knowledge of God every day in the temptations of life. Religion is the diet soda of the church. Rather than truly loving people somehow church folks get an appetite for judgment and hypocrisy based on false knowledge of God who expects love to be our first and foremost motivation. If I can do it, God is not required. It’s everything I cannot do that is where grace causes His Power to manifest. I am not supposed to be strong but weak and reliant on Jesus Christ for all things every day. The psalmist admits in Psalm 119 that “zeal wears me out” and goes on to admit that his enemies ignore his words. Words must hold power. The power of my words is based on my knowledge of the Truth and its ability to set me free. I am free to choose the life I live.

God is not emotional. Our feelings do not move the heart of God or His Hand, His Focus is set on our future. He is working in us now for forever. Endurance means making it to the end. It is a struggle because usually somewhere around the middle we begin to wonder what were we thinking. Towards the end, everything in us screams quit. Those who endure to the end are honored because not many will. When the zeal is gone and the fizz goes flat in their spiritual life, many become discouraged, discontent and disinterested in Living Water which runs steadily and consistently in us. Water seems boring. It doesn’t seem like anything of worth. Yet 71% of the earth is covered in it, and mankind is made up of about 60% water. It would seem that water is important. Living water is essential to spiritual survival and one’s ability to thrive in Jesus Christ. Maybe there are substitutions in our life that must be filtered out so that we can engage in spiritual growth and development again rather attempting to survive in deprivation.

Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

People spend a great deal of time on what they consume. Whether deciding what to eat or where to eat. Challenged to consume more or eat less or even just make better food choices. Intake is a primary concern in many households. There are even some that wonder if they will get to eat. We must taste and see that the Lord is good. The first day of the water challenge was horrible for me. I didn’t want to drink one glass of water let alone almost eight. Some days I do great and other days I choke it down. I know that if I stick to it that over time I will develop a taste for it. Why the struggle? Water is good for me. It is good for my body and skin. I hate when my flesh dictates things so the more it fights me – the more I fight back. I want a healthy body.

God is not building a building – He is creating a body. The Body of Christ. The Bride for His Son. It is important that I do my part to be the best member of the Kingdom I can be not for others or even me but to be who I promised to be when I partnered with Jesus. I would become less and He would be more. I would decrease so He could increase. I John 3:20-21 is clear that God is not an emotionally-driven God. Thank you, Lord! His People are emotional enough. When our spiritual life goes flat, maybe God is facilitating an appetite change in us that will produce growth and maturity. He is giving us something better if we will endure the process of refinement. Our flesh wants none of it and will fight it all the way. Until our relationship is not emotional but faithful – the blessings and benefits promised in His Word may seem elusive. Nothing could be further from the truth – they are exclusive. Exclusively for God’s Children, those who decide to use their freedom to become part of the Body of Christ rather than building another church.

To become rooted and grounded in the Love of God through Jesus Christ, we must stop wavering back and forth. Discipline gives way to faithfulness when we decide to engage in the process called endurance. We must move from the emotionalism of infancy into the steadfastness of adulthood – the Body of Christ must mature to become effective. The Holy Spirit and Goodness of God’s Word produce the spiritual growth potential in the lives of those who are committed to its consumption daily. (Hebrews 6:1-6) We must learn to hold on to the progress made in our spiritual life and build upon it. (Philippians 3:14-16) If our goal is to press on and obtain the high calling, we need something to stand on. The firm foundation of faith built in trust is the only way to reach the heavenlies and bring it to earth. God promised that our earthly life and heavenly existence can be connected in heaven and on the earth. We put in the effort.

Discipline is not a warm fuzzy feeling but a tough painful process. Immediate gratification is not part of it but endurance is. There may be some things in our life that although they are permissible are not beneficial to our walk with the Lord. When runners pass a checkpoint, they are not handed coffee or a can of soda. The helpers hand them water or a supplement filled with electrolytes to replace those used while they run. What do we give others when tired, thirsty or weary? When weighted with sin, do we give them yet another set of rules to fail at or the grace that has been so sufficient for me? The first discipline that is to be readily accepted in the modern church is love. Not love for the rules and regulations set forth by religion, but to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ and relaying it to the world including every single person in it. Our language is love and we must not only speak it but live it. You cannot give what you do not have. God’s Word and His Spirit give us new life to give to others. We must taste and see that the Lord is good. Has your spiritual fervor gone flat? Are you growing disinterested in God’s Way? It is time to make a change. Call a fast. Ask the Lord to stir you up. It is up to you to develop a taste for spiritual things rather than feeding full of substitutions. God has given us everything we need to live a godly life – now we just have to tap into it. It’s a choice. Better life or best life. Permissible or beneficial. Good or God! I know what I am after…how about you?

2 Peter 1:3-8 (NLT) His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Hobby, Habit or Holiness

hobby habit or holiness

Luke 14:26-30 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.

In January, my husband and a group of men arranged to go duck hunting. They planned the excursion for months. Purchased mounds of hunting gear and ammunition. Planning included requesting leave from jobs, making hotel reservations and mapping out travel. Everyone paid their portion of the hunting lease and provided for meals and expenses. When the calendar finally fell on the travel date, the weather conditions took a dramatic turn for the absolute worst. It was below freezing. The lakes and ponds frozen over. Each morning they would trudge out to the field, break through the ice, set the decoys and lay in the blinds in the frigid conditions. They didn’t get a single one. They paid a high price yet got a miserable return other than the lease owner offering them a free return visit at the beginning of hunting season. This hunting hobby is new to our family.

We all have hobbies in life. It may be a variety of different things. Activities or interests pursued for pleasure and relaxation but no as a main occupation. I recently began repurposing old furniture. Reconditioning them is therapeutic to me. I was purchasing some pieces from a new acquaintance who encouraged me to sell the pieces rather than giving them away. I don’t really want to do that because I do this to escape the world and get lost in something creative. It is a hobby. Since most pieces are this side of tossing in the garbage, my investment is limited other than time spent cleaning, repairing, sanding and painting. It brings me peace. The great thing about a hobby is that I can choose how much of my time, talent and treasure that I invest in it. If I walk away for a few weeks, a month or so – it has not impact on me, my family or future other than a few choice words from my husband about the clutter in the garage. It is good to have hobbies in life.

What about habits? Those things that are not necessarily for pleasure or relaxation but driven by routine and schedule. Most adults have certain habits instilled by the values imbedded by the example of their parents or mentors. Some habits are formed by a desire to change certain behaviors, trends, circumstances or conditions. Habits can be good or bad. It is just what we do, who we are, and the choices we make. A habit is an acquired behavioral pattern regularly followed until it becomes involuntary. The word “involuntary” means independent of our will and not by our own choice. There are habits worth giving up for better health, emotional wellness, and spiritual awakening.

Church can become a habit. Religion is the routine of the church for organizational purposes. Habits and routines are comfortable. They give way to complacency in life and love. We must evaluate our habits as often as our heart to see our motivation. Do I do the things I do because I have always done them this way? Is there a better way? Is this a Christ-like endeavor or just something I do to fit in to my social group? Church is known for cliques and many times it is the birthplace of complacency as our pursuit of God is tempered by the other sheep in our fold. Is church a weekly habit? Is it an occasional hobby? If our relationship to Jesus Christ can be defined as either it is up to us to count the cost of becoming a disciple. Hobbies and habits do not produce holiness. It is not the way of those who desire God’s Kingdom and His Riches in Glory. It is just another way the enemy is keeping our churches and communities from experiencing revival.

2 Corinthians 6:16 (NLT) For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

When Jesus died, He released the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord made it clear that the new dwelling place of His Spirit was in His People. Those who opened their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ and desired Him as Savior and Lord would house His Spirit. The church moved from the outside world to inside God’s People. Empowering them with new purpose and new power. When Jesus told the people that He would destroy the temple that it took 46years to build and rebuild it in three days, (John 2:15-21) He was referring to His Death which destroyed religion and His Resurrection that move His Church from buildings to bodies. As believers – we are the church. Not just any church of any denomination, we are the Temple of the Living God. Holy inhabitation is the cornerstone of holiness. Holiness is not a hobby or habit. It is who we are in God through Jesus Christ. We must become holy because God is holy. (Leviticus 19:2) His Presence in us forces an evaluation of our contribution to the Kingdom. Are we mere contributors or fully committed to the Cause called Christ in us?

Proverbs 20:25 (NLT) Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.

Have I made a rash (acting too hastily without due consideration)? We all are prone to say, “Yes” to many things without proper consideration or careful contemplation. Why? Who doesn’t want the affirmation and acceptance of others? Our “yes” is often based on meeting the expectation of others rather than fully consideration what it requires or what the desired outcome may be. We must count the cost of discipleship and decide if it is the life desired. Why is this important? At the end of my life, I will meet Jesus face-to-face. If I invested in the Kingdom as a hobby, I do not believe that He will say, “Well done, though good and faithful servant!” A hobby is something I do for me. Me alone. It is for my relaxation and my personal pleasure. Is that what I signed up for when I came to Jesus Christ? Is that what He was really offering? I don’t think so.

Is my commitment to Jesus Christ a habit? Has it become just another routine and scheduled event added to the long list of responsibilities in my life? Is it my religion or a true relationship? The truest test of religion verses relationship is passion. Am I passionate about loving, knowing, serving and following Jesus for the rest of my life? Or do I just go with the flow of the local church? Is my spiritual temperature set by the thermostat of my church or is it a flame being fanned and fueled by an All-Consuming Fire and burning desire to become His Disciple? To go where He goes, do what He does, and experience His Kingdom (as promised) on the earth as it is in Heaven. Hmm… makes me think. How about you?

Luke 14:26-27 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

Holiness is not a religious preference. It is not an organized denomination. Holiness is God’s Mandate on the life of the believer. To be wholly consumed and filled with His Spirit. To passionately pursue the Calling and Purpose found only in Christ as He calls us a new creation. To bring Heaven to earth in our own life while connecting the Body and its intricate membership and parts coming together with one heart – one mind – and one purpose. To make Him greater and greater while I disappear in His Presence. Sounds good until one begins to count the cost. We decide if we will carry “our own cross”. Jesus died to set us free to choose the life we live. To “take up our cross” is become responsible for our membership as one part of the Body of Christ. I cannot live, breathe, move or exist as an effective part of the Body unless fully connected to and directed by Jesus Christ. He must be my motivation. He must be the One Thing that I am after. I hear you. Family comes first. It does right after Jesus Christ. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to discipline my body, mind and spirit that in all things Jesus is first which means if anyone else makes a contrary decision that it does not influence or impact my partnership with Jesus.

Love and grace are the foundation of this wonderful relationship. I cannot have my way and live successfully in any relationship. My relationships (all of them) must have Christ as a foundation. Even my relationships to my perceived enemies, even those who are considered a threat or constant thorn in our flesh have purpose in our life. God put them there for a reason. We do not systematically cut off difficult relations or those who don’t understand our faith and marriage to Jesus. We must learn to put all our expectation in Jesus Christ and trust Him with every other relationship that we have engaged in. We must always take up our cross and follow Jesus.

What do I give my life to? Is it possible to graph the timeline of my life? Of course, it is but do I really want to. How much of my day is focused on this cross I have chosen to carry versus all the other endeavors in my life? Ignorance is not bliss but the death of the good seeds ready to be planted and harvested in our life. The secret to a successful partnership with Jesus is found in His Word. Simply because Jesus is the Word. To decide not to know releases us from responsibility is not ignorance it is foolishness when all of creation displays the Glory of God. If I refuse to follow Christ – the Word of God tells me that I “am not worthy to of being called mine.” Holiness requires shirking off the filthy rags and donning a robe of righteousness. It means picking up the full armor of God to step into a victorious life. It means to put away pride and live in humility. It means giving up my way. If I cling to this life, I will lose it. If I give my life to Jesus fully, I will find my true purpose and live in fulfillment forever. (Matthew 10:37-39) It is a daily choice. (Luke 9:23)

Luke 14:28-33 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

Our life is comprised of three things of worth: time, talent and treasure. These are the things that we have to invest in something or someone. It is totally up to me how I invest my life. Time is the most precious commodity because it is irreplaceable. Talent is only as valuable as the realization of that potential in our life. Treasure is every tangible thing we own whether we think it’s worth anything or not. To become a disciple of Jesus Christ and live a holy life is not what so many have made it out to be. It is to live our life fully consumed by Jesus Christ. To step out of self and into Christ completely. It means investing my time, talent and treasure into His Kingdom. It is to combine our resources with the Lord completely. Giving Him all our time. All of our talent. All of our treasure. Then stepping back and letting Him use it for His Glory. The problem is that we give our hobbies and habits too much time and there is not enough to pay the price of discipleship. Divided interest and diversified investments may create natural security by not putting all our eggs in one lifetime basket but if my heart and soul are set on Eternity – I must take all my life and invest it in Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NLT) For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

When Jesus handed us the Keys to the Kingdom, the first key is marked “freedom”. I am now free to choose how I live my life. I choose my master. Asking Jesus to be our Savior is not enough, we must make Him our Lord to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God. I choose death or life each day. I choose blessing or otherwise. I decide if today will be to the Glory of God or pursue selfish interest. I get to choose. When I do, it determines my destiny. I cannot choose one course and expect to become part of the Kingdom. There is no middle of the road or gray compromise. Is my relationship to Jesus Christ a hobby? Do I do it for my own benefit and blessing but nothing more investing what is left of my time and energy? Is my relationship a habit? Do I take Him for granted? Rather than pursuing Him do I just pencil Him in? Is He part of the schedule or a routine measure? Do I every even think about Him or just do what I do and have done traditionally? Is my life ordinary? Is it just mediocre? Where is His Glory? It is not for the hobbyist or habitual Christian. It is for the intentional believer whose one desire is to be one with Christ. To put everything second. To give God the surplus of our life trusting Him with all of it. To follow Him relentlessly and passionately from beginning to end, no matter how deep the valley or high the mountain – no matter who comes with us. Does your love affair with Jesus have passion? Do you think about Him most of the time? See we have made this thing called discipleship a production but its not. It is the process by which our life, entire existence, is reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. It is how we achieve a state of holiness. It is not a hobby. It is not a habit. It is a relationship with the One who thought we were to die for. He gave up everything for me. I must reconcile my life to Jesus Christ to live a holy life. I must use my freedom to bring every part of my life into agreement with His Word, His Way and His Will. It is personal. Am I willing to give everything to Jesus? Lord, examine my heart and evaluate my life. Reconcile everything to you, Lord.

Acts 17:28 (NLT) “For in Him we live and move and exist.”

No More Rivals

No More Rivals

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

My life has purpose. The potential of my being and existence is fully encompassed in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Sovereign Lord. Why do I struggle to maintain His Preeminence in my life? There is no rival to the Lord. He has no equal. Yet in our everyday life – the struggle to trust and believe are real and valid battles in the heart and mind of every believer. Every step of faith is met with another challenging opportunity to take another. Following Jesus Christ in this life requires a depth perception of the Kingdom beyond that which our physical being and personal mindset can comprehend. We cry out for the Spirit of the Lord to fall upon us, restore and renew us and spark revival around us. What is stopping this from happening? Could it be the rivals in our life?

A rival is anything that competes for the same object or goal. It is the competition. A person or perception that disputes another’s superiority or preeminence. Who is like the Lord? Well, theoretically no one. There is nobody greater than Jesus Christ. His Power and Authority is unchallenged yet in our own life, one must decide if this is the case. A free will gives us the opportunity to believe anything and live the way that we choose. This does not in any way compromise God’s Power and Authority manifested in Jesus Christ, it only determines our outcomes and position in life. To ask the Lord to pour out His Spirit on us and desire His Will and His Way requires removal of the rivals in our life. To make Jesus Christ our champion, and put our complete faith and trust in His Ability as Sovereign Lord.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord can only occupy a surrendered and submitted life. To ask the Lord to fill us with His Spirit requires laying aside something in order for holy inhabitation to be complete. I want the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord to live in me. To occupy all areas of my life beginning with my soul, moving through my entire physical and emotional being until He resonates from my life. The process began decades ago. Today, I am still a fragile work in process. However, with each new day comes the challenging opportunity to end yet one more rivalry with the Power of God in my life. It is up to me. To cry out for His Spirit is to put to death anything that comes against my faith in God and willingness to trust the Lord more and more. I must kill those giants. Overcome the enemy. He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.

Submission is power. Grace is made perfect in my weakness. The world doesn’t operate on that belief system. In fact, to surrender is defeat according to the world. But I am only a temporary resident here, just making my way through life to eternity. Forever is a long time in comparison to a life that is only about 70 years or so on average. We must evaluate our existence for the rivalries and inconsistencies. Those areas of debilitation that the enemy has somehow convinced us hold some power over us or limit us in any way. The Love of God for us is complete. We lack no good thing in His Presence living for His Glory. He wants to take that from you. Steal your power and authority by tricking God’s People into believing that there is a limit to the Lord’s Power and Authority in our life or even a boundary to His Love. Nothing could be further from the Truth.

Luke 4:1-3 (NLT) Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. Then the devil said to him… 

The enemy is not short of arguments when it comes to God’s Word or His Power in our life. He constantly offers shortcuts and compromises us. He tests our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and Work in our life especially when God’s People are committed to living for the Lord. John the Baptist foretold His Coming. Jesus has now been baptized receiving the fullness of God’s Spirit and God said, “You are my dearly loved Son, you bring me great joy!” Can I just be real for a moment, I see a giant target being painted on the back of Jesus right about now! The enemy identified the Lord as his rival to contend with in that moment, and believed himself successful celebrating for about a minute before he realized the horrible mistake that he had made but I am getting ahead of myself.

Jesus immediately full of the Spirit went straight to the wilderness. Welcome to your new life in Christ! Purpose must be pressed to release full potential. Jesus responded to each temptation with the Word of God. Finally the enemy had finished tempting the Lord, he left him…until the next opportunity came. The enemy is not a true rival of Jesus Christ unless we allow him to compete for the Truth that occupies our life. The more real estate given to Christ in our life the more challenging it will be as the enemy attempts to take us out. Our potential is not just for our self, but as God’s Glory overtakes us the Light of His Love shines brightly for others to see. Immediately following Jesus’ trip to the wilderness where He overcame temptation, He entered the Temple and was handed the scroll of Isaiah to read. He read the words from Isaiah 61…God’s Power becomes our own by overcoming all rivals in our life. To submit and surrender to the Lord’s Power allows His Spirit…His Sovereign Spirit to manifest in our life. He becomes our purpose and gives us the power to overcome.

Isaiah 48:15-18 (NLT) Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.” And now the Sovereign Lord and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.”

“Sovereign Lord” is used approximately 290 times in the Old Testament depending on the translation you are using. It only occurs 3 times in the New Testament. Why? In the Old Testament, God put His Spirit into different people. When Jesus came in the New Testament, God put His Spirit fully into Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to His People. Matthew 27:50-52 tells us that At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.” Could this be the first documented revival? When the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was released along with resurrection power? It was the moment that God’s Power and Authority became completely available to me and you. The choice is mine if I will submit my life to the Sovereign Lord and accept His Power in my life.

God’s Power and Authority given to Jesus Christ lives in me. The only reason that I am not living in it is because I have allowed rivals to take the place of my Champion. I must overcome every hindrance in the race of faith by keeping my eyes on Jesus, my champion who initiates and perfects my faith. (Hebrews 2) How is this possible when there are so many things vying for my attention? How do I keep my eyes (and faith) on someone who I cannot see when there are so many people in the way? How does a football team win the Super Bowl? Or a baseball team the World Series? How does a fighter become Heavyweight Champion of the World? One game, one series or one bout at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Jesus Christ has given you His Spirit. The Greatness of God’s Son and all of His Sovereign Power lives and breathes in every believer. As we begin to overtake and oust the rivals in our life, Christ becomes the dominant factor in all areas of life. Do not despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) We begin with small increments of faith to build a larger foundation. (Luke 16:9-10) It begins by believing that Jesus is our champion. Our confidence is not in our ability to be faithful or righteous but that He is enough. His Grace sufficient to release His Power no matter how weak or weary that we may become. It all begins by believing. (John 1:49-51) Nathanael believed simply because Jesus told him that he saw him under the fig tree. Jesus told Nathanael that his simple act of believing would produce greater things. What did the man believe? The Word of God. He believed Jesus at His Word.

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

Do you believe? Do you believe wholeheartedly that the Lord is Sovereign and without rival? Is there anyone or anything equal to the Power of God at work in your life today? Before you answer, consider this. Your life should be prospering as your soul does in every way. Isaiah 61 clearly outlines the Power of God at work in us and through us. If my life is not being lived in God’s Power including prosperity, miracles, signs, wonders and exceptional favor, I must eliminate yet another rival. Some of the things that tempt us NOT to trust God are things like the enemy (John 10:1-3; 10:10), His lies tempt us every day. The Word of God is the only thing that will silence the lie of the enemy in our life. We must know the Word of God intimately, personally, and completely to live a successful Christian life. Jesus is the Word of God. We cannot know our Savior and Lord without it. Our flesh wants control of our life or it will die. It makes desperate attempts to challenge God’s Love, Authority and Power in our life as it does not want to submit or surrender to its own crucifixion. (Romans 7) Finally, our feelings. Our relationship with Jesus Christ must become a marriage that decides to hang on and fight for the partnership no matter how we feel on any given day or in any situation. (I Peter 5:7-9) The enemy, like Goliath, is constantly roaring his taunts and accusations at us. God is greater than our feelings. (I John 3:20) We must eliminate all rivals in our life and let Jesus be our Champion. His Sovereign Spirit will take over turning the natural into supernatural and ordinary to extraordinary.

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

Do you desire Jesus to be your Champion today? To do so requires the elimination of all rivals in our life. We live busy lives in a world that offers many distractions. Comfort is appealing and complacency creates such a place. However, I want to live the life promised in Isaiah 61. My purpose in life is that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord be manifested in my life and overflow to the world around me. I must be disciplined. I cannot allow the things of this world to rival the championship of Jesus in my life. I have a free will. I have the right to choose the amount of my life that is sacrificed, surrendered and submitted to the Almighty. It is all up to me. I choose to run with purpose in every step. How about you? Will you say with me today, “No more rivals, Jesus! All I want is You! You are my Champion!”

Isaiah 30:15 (NLT) This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.