The Undoing

Onion.

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

I seldom use onions in recipes but when I do I handle them with care. Peeling off the paper-like covering, to reveal the pearly white surface releases the distinct odor of the onion. However, once you cut into it – the onion fights back as oils are released into the air that irritate our eyes producing seemingly endless tears. A trick to eliminate the tears is to cut the onion under running water. This causes the oils to be rinsed away and keep them from reaching the tear duct. Fancy trick I learned from my grandmother. You can learn a lot from grown folks. You can learn a lot about life in Christ from an onion, too.

Salvation is only the beginning of discovering our newfound freedom in Christ. Redemption is to take full advantage of the gift given to us by the Grace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Christianity and the pursuit of Christ also will produce many tears in our life. As the Lord peels back the layers of sin, shame, regret, guilt and stinking thinking, the aroma and stench of death leaving us to make room for new life, new hope, and new freedom causes tears to be released. Our life is going to produce an aroma of some kind. Will it be a fragrant sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving while claiming God’s Gift or will it be the continued stench of rotting flesh taking over again? It really is up to you and me what kind of life that is produced after coming to Jesus inviting Him to be our Savior. It is in His Lordship that a whole new existence is possible free from the chains, bondage and slavery of this life to claim freedom.

John 8:36 (NLT) So if the Son set you free – you are truly free.

Do you feel free today? Are you singing a freedom song? There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ so who the Son sets free is free indeed. The word condemnation means to pronounce guilt. It is an unfavorable or adverse judgment. It means to pronounce unfit for use or service. To force. It is to declare incurable. None of these qualities exist in the character of Christ concerning you. He is intent on freeing you from every thought, suspicion or notion that you are bound, hindered or restricted in any way, shape or form. He says that you are free…completely free…totally free. You are free to win. Free to live. Free to prosper. Free to grow. Free to love. You have absolute and complete freedom in Jesus Christ. You own Him nothing. He gave you everything. So why the long face and heavy heart today?

Christians do not experience freedom because they cannot accept the free gift of God’s Grace completely. There must be a catch. So like a prisoner who has been imprisoned far too long, the door is unlocked but they will not reach out their weary, tired, oppressed and fearful arm to open it and walk out. Jesus has set you free today. Free from sin, worry, despair, self-loathing, religion, and more You are free indeed to do as you please with this new life you have been given. What will you use your freedom for today?

Life is like an onion covered in many layers. I am like an onion who as I have grown older in life taken on many layers that do not necessarily belong to me in Jesus Christ. I wear them proudly and hold them tightly. When the Lord comes to make something beautiful out of my life, I refuse to let go of the known to take a faithful chance on the future. What lies just beneath the surface of me that He is trying to get to? We do not like brokenness and fear the cut of pruning. It produces many tears in our life. But I know a trick that I want to share with you (again) that my grandmother shared with me…you gotta run it under the water!

Romans 8:26-30 (NLT) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

The Holy Spirit is our partner when it comes to attaining the freedom offered in Jesus Christ. We need His Help. This is way too complex and comprehensive for my finite thinking and limitations of the human mind. I need His Wisdom and Guidance to wash over me and renew me as I endure the process of change from death to new life. As the Word cuts to the core of my heart, pruning out sin, eradicating the flesh that keeps me from growing, it is His Spirit that washes my wounds, heals my heart, nourishes my soul and nurtures my growth. The Holy Spirit is water the water that keeps me in those times when I don’t feel free or try to shut myself up captive in fear, doubt and worry again.

The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and waters me with it. My family is not too big on raw onions. So often when I cook, I use the dried minced onions from the spice aisle instead. This is very convenient but not as flavorful. It lends some of the taste to a recipe but not the full flavor of a freshly cut onion. Now if you take a raw onion and cook it, something changes. The flavor changes and becomes sweeter as the texture softens. This takes longer than just grabbing an onion and cutting it up. We give food time to cook but refuse to give any credence to God’s Timing and Preparation when it comes to us. The onion is only one ingredient in the recipe. Brokenness is only a part of the process. With patience and time, the onion is going to work with all the other flavors to produce a delicious dinner.

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose. His Purpose. His Recipe. His Design. This means that you are only seeing a small part of a huge picture. You are in a single step of a perfect process. Do not judge your future or forever by the tough situation, hard time or heart break you are going through right now. It is part of a beautiful masterpiece that the Lord has designed your life to be. “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 the 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.” (2 Cor. 3:16-18)

Colossians 3:10-14 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. Any part of our life lived in bondage is not of God or His Son or His Spirit. Sin doesn’t condemn us anymore. Sin happens so repentance is given so grace may be applied. Those who love the Lord will try not to sin. Love is the best motivator for repentance. Change comes more easily surrounded in purpose. It is my passion and pursuit to live in the Kingdom of God. I live in Florida. If I get in my car intent on traveling to Canada, I must go north. If I go south, I will fall into the ocean. If I go east or west the same thing will happen. My vehicle is faith. Faith is the title deed to hope that is the Kingdom of God. I must head in that direction if it is my chosen destination. With that being said, religion often adds extra layers of “things” I must do and rules to follow. My relationship with Jesus Christ is not dependent on religion or anything or anyone else. My relationship is intimate and personal. I am committed to Jesus Christ so I strive to be close to Him. To come closer means certain layers of my life have to go. Those things can hurt and produce many tears but it is full assumption of my freedom to undergo the transformation. Beauty is pain. I believe it. Letting go of how life defines me to grab hold of my destiny.

True freedom is to fully assume your new nature. To be renewed body, mind and spirit to become like Christ. It doesn’t matter what religion you belong to because it is all about our relationship with Jesus that matters. God chose to love me. It is my privilege to remove the layers of life and take on the splendor of His Kingdom. To be clothed in tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. To form strong bonds and build relationships with my brothers and sisters. To forgive and off the grace that I have so generously been given. To love and love some more. The freedom that I have is found in His Love. As I discover just how “wide, long, high and deep” His Love really is, it is then that I am able to see just how free I really am.

It is hard to remember in the midst of hurt, hardship and trials that our life is part of something bigger than what we see, know and experience every day. It is also difficult to fully understand and therefore accept that God’s Love is completely unconditional and His Grace never ending. It is with this in mind that I am reminded today I am free. I have been freed from sin, shame, guilt, and every other kind of bondage that exists in the world today. I am a soul set free in the One I love. I am destined to be part of something much bigger. To fulfill my position will be my complete undoing as God peels back the layers that keep me from fulfillment and becoming exactly who He created me to be. Brokenness will come. Tears will fall. It will be my undoing. But it will be worth it – it will be worth it all!

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.

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Death by Distraction

Death by Distraction

Luke 10:39-42 (NIV)

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Thriving on schedule and routine, one of my greatest struggles is maintaining my attitude when this is not maintained. It is how I keep from becoming overwhelmed. I thrive in order. There are many reasons that I will not bore you with from childhood to adulthood that have made me this way. The prioritization of life ends procrastination and promotes progress. I am very driven by it to the point that when it becomes interrupted that I cannot see the forest for the trees. For a week now, my husband has been out of town which has changed our morning routine. The rhythm established that keeps our house moving has been left up to me. Second distraction. Every Thursday, I clean my house. On rare occasions, this is moved to Fridays but that pushes grocery shopping to Saturday which is inconvenient. So when plans changed last night, I could feel myself getting all stirred up. Our routine was interrupted by a midweek event that though it was an obligation I really wanted to back out to keep order in my life. It would not have been the right decision but one to pacify my flesh. Now all the mole hills in my life were slowly building into mountains. When you add the Daniel Fast which makes meal preparation and planning a little more challenging and add to it the fact that my body is now rallying against me…well, you get the picture. I am a bit distracted. My house is not clean. My grocery list is not done. My husband is coming home which makes the first two very important to me. I could add the list of “things” but you have one of your own. Walking into my prayer closet this morning, getting into the Word, the Lord whispered in my ear, “Lori, Lori, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one.”

“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” The challenge within in. Every day, I want to live on purpose. My purpose is to serve the Lord. However, sometimes I get distracted by all the ways that I think honor Him when really He is after only one thing. Jesus wants my heart. When He has my whole heart, it gets my attention. When I step into His Presence leaving all of those “things” and “preparations” behind I see that He is all I need. Are you distracted today? Do you keep your phone by your side at all times? Do you lose it when your schedule is interrupted? Does chaos undo you in a vain attempt to keep a firm grip on your life? Do not get me wrong. I am not in any way condone a life lived randomly. To serve the Lord with each moment will require a certain schedule and order to be obedient with our time and talents. The life of faith is not random but intention as we take control of flesh and lead it to the Cross each day in submission to the Word, Will and Way of Jesus Christ. We must live an ordered live for a lack of control and firm grip will lead us from wilderness to wilderness. However, we cannot get lost in the doing and forget who we are.

Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”

The mindset of religion is doing something for God. The heart of the church should be the pursuit of Christ. I know a lot of worn our ministers of the Gospel on every level who are wearied by the work of the church and distracted by it. When I came to the Lord this morning, I was reminded that the only way I see the lack of proper prioritization in my life is when my routine is interrupted, schedule messed up or experience a change of plans – this takes me from my agenda back to God’s Plan and Presence in my life. To depend on Christ fully means that every detail of my life belongs in His Hands. It begins with this prayer each day. “Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” How many times do we ask the Lord to help us get everything “we” need to get done today rather than entering His Presence with our life in our hands saying, “Here Jesus, you work it out today just tell me what to do.” I know…I know… it sounds unrealistic. Who is going to work to pay the bills? Take the kids to school? Clean the house? Prepare the meals? Serve in church? Lead Sunday School? Do those things only “I” can do? The enemy is subtle in his attack. He knows that you are in tune to the Jesus in you so he has to sneak in. If he hit you with something big, satan knows you would run home to Daddy. So he comes in via pride, the kind that says, “I have to do this” rather than “Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” The struggle is real. The Truth of the matter is that everything I need to be successful today is found in the Presence of the Lord. I cannot get there in my own way with my agenda and goals to be successful my heart and mind must align with His Will and His Way with a heart fully committed to living close to Jesus.

Galatians 6:7-9 (NIV)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Am I sowing in the Spirit today? OR am I sowing in my flesh? Everything I do should be as unto the Lord and to glorify my Father in Heaven. Who am I working for today? Who am I living for today? Is it me? Or is it Jesus? Think about it. I am. We “do” a lot of things in the Name of the Lord but are we doing it for Him or to pacify us and our own need for order. When we ask the Lord for help in doing, we are sowing in the flesh. See God has already everything we need to live a godly life so all we have to do is step into His Presence, ask for it, and according to His Will it is a given. It is when we enter His Presence desiring Him change our situation here on earth, to help “us” work out our problem or meet our need that is a definite sign that we have become distracted. When come to the Lord for the assistance of others rather than asking for His Help, we have designated that person as the one who has higher authority and power over our life than the Lord. It is when we enter His Presence with Thanksgiving and Praise no matter what is going on around us and even when all our plans have ended in frustration that we know our faith is secure and hope is confident in Christ alone. It is a subtle transference. Trusting Christ alone is our mission relying on Him alone is our goal.

Hebrews 6:19-21 (NIV)

People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

People have good intentions. The promises made most do with the purpose to keep but then things happen. Life happens. In that moment of disorder, what is your response? I must admit mine is not very good most of the time. I deal with the busyness of life by given everything a proper place. The problem is I create natural comfort that when disrupted distracts me from my true calling and life purpose of serving the Lord in all things. Good is not served by my purpose but when I live for His Glory. That means if He has an assignment for me of greater priority than the one I have established for this day or moment that I am confident and secure enough in His Word that I will walk in obedience not only in my actions but in my attitude as well. It is good to plan. Routine is not the enemy. Scheduling will indeed set the course for a day and even make time for important things like spending time with the Lord. It is when our plans fail and human expectations not met that we see who or what was the driving force behind our plans and purpose.

If it is true that God does not lie or change His Mind, He has it all worked out already. Everything even the smallest seemingly insignificant detail will work for my good according to His Word. Do I trust Him is the question enough to give up control when life throws me a curveball, or will I take my toys and go home? I hear it all the time. How do you find time to write? I get up two hours earlier each day. Oh I can’t do that I need my sleep. I am too busy to pray. Turn off your phone and spend some time with God alone. Oh, I can’t I have to work it’s how I pay my bills. I am tired and need rest. Make time to enter His Presence. Oh you don’t understand, I have kids. We prioritize our life. We choose our Provider. He promised to supply all our needs according to His Riches in Glory. He will not force us to have it but invites us to come. If you want to work yourself to death, He will allow you to its called freedom. If you want to get all worked up, so be it. If you want to wear yourself out until there is nothing left to give until you come crawling back to Him – Jesus will always be there waiting to provide everything you need. He has been waiting to give it you. You (and I) were too distracted in our preparations, plan and purpose to see. We choose the path that we will go in each day with each moment. To fully trust in the Lord means relinquishing control of our mind, will and emotions to Jesus, stepping into His Presence and closing the door on the world. Work and responsibilities outside of the Will and Way of God will only yield human results which will be reflected in our outcomes. The Favor and Goodness of God is reserved for the Marys in life who choose first to live in His Presence and then go conquer the world. Today I am a Martha who needs to join Mary.

Matthew 25:10-13 (NIV)

“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’  “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

When the bridegroom returned the virgins were “on their way to buy oil.” Five of them brought oil with them and waited on the Lord. The other five were “distracted” and did not bring any oil to trim their lamp. So when he finally came, they were out making preparation and missed it. When they came to him, he said, “I don’t know you.” Keep watch for you do not know the day or hour is the warning in this parable of Jesus. Are we working for the natural or waiting for Jesus to come? Our life means nothing outside of knowing Jesus Christ and living according to that sweet knowledge and understanding that He is really all we need. When Jesus truly is the Lord of our life, our doing is nothing compared to what He is doing. Yes, we should work as unto the Lord. But He is our Provider of all things that make our life fruitful and prosperous because we know Him, spend time with Him and finally trust Him with our life. It is human nature to take God’s Plan and try to run with it. It is not always are job to “do”. Our blessing is not the result of anything we do but strictly our relationship and proximity to Christ. In the end, when it really counts only one thing will allow us to enter Eternity with the Lord, does He know you? I want Him to know me. I don’t want to be the casual acquaintance who calls only in the time of need. I want to have an intimate and thriving relationship with Jesus which means my priority list and his must become the same.

James 2:21-24 (NIV)

Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

Abraham believed God. It was credited to him as righteousness and he was called God’s Friend. I love that. I want to be friends with the Lord. Yes, I can come to Him when I am overwhelmed, weak or weary and HE will restore me, renew me and revive me. He will set the order of my life for His Plan and Purpose when I choose to seek Him wholeheartedly. The sacrifice will be my schedule, routine and plan for success. It will yield results but only natural ones. To take my plan and surrender it to the Lord while accepting His Plan will turn my outcomes from ordinary to extraordinary. Will I keep planning? Of course. Will I keep a schedule? Yes. Will we observe a daily routine? Absolutely. The key is being caught up in Jesus and not our plans that are subject to change in the Light of His Love. It means when all these things are interrupted, I will not become distracted but rather go deeper in His Love. Amen and amen.

Philippians 3:8-9 (NIV)

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.