United We Stand

United We Stand

Romans 12:4-5 (ESV) For as in one body we have many members and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

I loved scrolling through all the social media feeds to see red, white and blue. The celebration of the 4th of July with family and friends. Firework displays lit up the story line of each outlet. Though this was a quiet day for us – we did eat with some of our kids and the littlest firecracker – our sweet grandson. Facetiming with other family members who are out of town. We exercised our right to “Netflix and chill” as some might say which is totally out of character for me but a welcome respite for the midweek holiday.

Social media would give the illusion of unity yesterday as everyone seemed to be doing the exact same thing in America. The same feeds usually filled with political opinions and tirades were instead filled with images of family and food all in red, white and blue. Unity paints a beautiful picture. I believe it warms the heart of God when people put aside their differences sliding the soapbox under the bed to celebrate life together. Yes, I know that important causes exists and there are some things really wrong with the world. I am not delusional enough to think that ignoring them will fix them. However, I do believe that unless we come together nothing will ever change.

In Romans 12, it reminds us that we are one body with many members. It is clear that not everyone serves the same function yet still vitally important to proper operation. We are one body in Christ. Individually we are still corporately responsible for each other. The binding factor is love. Not our ability to love each other unconditionally and without fail but God’s Love demonstrated in His Son – Jesus Christ. In John 12, Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” The common factor in Christianity is Jesus Christ. He has called for all people to come to Him. Also in Romans 12, it begins by describing our life as a “living sacrifice” which is “holy and acceptable to God” and considered spiritual worship. It means not conforming to the social circles of the world but allowing God to transform us by the renewing of our mind into the fully formed and functional Body of Jesus Christ. This is the Will of God that is good, acceptable and perfect.

Psalm 133 (ESV) Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

God loves unity. He blesses such a life offering. Unity requires giving up ourselves in order to become one. The completion of Christ is established in the unity and oneness of His People. He is not coming for many brides but one bride. The Bride of Christ must be complete. The Spirit and the Bride (singular) say, “Come.” I believe that if the church could tap into the real potential of unity rather than calling for diversity and doctrine – it might just experience revival. We focus on the wrong thing. The great commission of Jesus Christ was to love and be loved as one – to come together into completeness. The Lord commands His Blessing on unity and life forevermore.

Ephesians 4:1-7 (ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

The individuality of churches and institution set forth by doctrine may be the very thing limiting revival today. The religious world is not demonstrating the relationship of Kingdom. Until we grow in perfect unity, the Bride of Christ may resemble the Bride of Frankenstein. The human soul is not clothed in race, color, gender or any other physical quality. The Lord is looking at our heart and soul. I know no coroner or medical examiner that can determine any of the physical characteristics of a person by just looking at the heart. Yet God is most interested in our heart and soul. Who we love? How we love? These are the fulfillment of the Great Commission set forth by Jesus Christ. Leading someone to Jesus is not the same as loving them like Jesus.

The basics of unity are one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God who is Father of all. That’s it. No matter how we paint it, carpet it, light it up, or make it loud – this is the basis of the Body of Christ known as the church. Religion creates diversity. Relationship says, “Whosoever will come” and lets figure this out together. It is simple. It is real. It has feelings but lives in a commitment called love. Not worldly affection or temporary lust but rather love that is “patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” It is a love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, (and) endures all things. Love (that) never ends.” To immerse ourselves so completely in the Love of Christ that loving others is no longer optional but the very condition that unites us.

What can I do to unite the church?

The character of Christians must be changed, transformed, and renewed by God’s Love. Repentance, true repentance, is a turning from our way of living to totally exist in the shadow and example of Jesus Christ. I cannot love like Christ until He is the One who I am following and imitating. People are not easy to love but it is each personality that comprises the Kingdom. I cannot make them love me. But I can allow God and His Spirit to make me more lovable. The Fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” This is the kind of spiritual food that feeds hungry souls and waters thirsty hearts. It is to put “me” aside and allow Christ to flow through me. Religion allows us to maintain pride and position. However, to fully assume our place in the Body of Christ – we must become like Paul who declared himself to be “a prisoner of the Lord.” We must carefully put our mind, will and emotions under the careful guard of the Holy Spirit at all times. We must daily crucify any rebellious thought in contention with Christ and put it in the grave to die. We must remain prostrate in a posture of prayer and humility before the Lord daily and even on some days moment by moment. We must walk by faith and not by sight. Unity blesses God’s Heart and I believe if we get it right – it will bless us, too as united we stand.

Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Advertisements

Ripple Effect

Ripple Effect

Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV) Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The Ripple Effect is based on the understanding that all of humanity is connected. The interwoven tapestry of persons is complicated. Each individual has a place in the entirety of existence. Thoughts and actions are like peddles tossed across a once still pond that create ripples which travel outward. The choices made in our daily life create such an event in the atmosphere. It is our decision what kind of influence and impact our attitude and actions will produce in this world. As believer, the Ripple Effect does not stop in this realm but resonates into the Heavenlies. God made us with eternity in our heart because our destiny is to be eternal with Him. Therefore, our residence in the earth is not limited by death but given a doorway into forever. Our influence on the earth carries over into eternity. What is the impact of your life? What are the implications of your actions? What is the impartation made in your words? All of these things create ripples and waves that will either draw people to Jesus Christ or drive them away.

God in Jesus Christ has called us upward. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. This is important. It makes the promise that God will make good of the details of our life – past, present and future because He was already there. We cannot hold on to the past, live for the moment or forget the future. Every moment of our existence holds great potential according to God. He knows the number of hairs on our head which changes with each movement. God is detailed in His Thoughts concerning us. He has given us all power and authority to live a life in full pursuit of His Kingdom unhindered by sin, shame, regret, doubt, or fear.

It is important to know and fully understand what is on the inside of us. Each movement, word, and breath hold the power and authority of Jesus Christ. Our rightful place is dominion. Therefore, whether it is our intent or not every action produces a reaction. It is vital to the Body of Christ that each member determine the influence and impact of everything done and said to become intentional about the ripples created by us. The pursuit of purpose begins internally and produces an external effect. If our purpose is to know Christ and live for Him, then the ripples in our life will draw all to Him. All other pursuits outside of Christ risk driving others from Him.

Consideration. We must consider our place in the Body of Christ…in the Kingdom and in this world. The Bible calls us temporary residents or a sojourners who are just passing through. It also calls us a peculiar people. Out of place. Not impacted by normal reactions and social cues – but those who are governed by a different set of rules as Ambassadors of Christ. My life has meaning instilled by God during my creation that requires a change of heart and mind to fully obtain. Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” What are you doing to change the world?

2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (ESV) For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Sigh. Yes, sigh. It is all for your sake that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving to the Glory of God. Opening a door for someone. A greeting with a mile does wonders. Saying, “Thank you.” I could go on and on with endless gestures which are like pebbles that create positive ripples. Random acts of kindness are always good. God loves them. But then there are those things that are not so pleasant like forgiveness and forbearance. To love those who use, abuse and accuse you. Really love them regardless of the offense nevertheless extending grace. It is but light and momentary affliction but our reaction to it will determine the overflow. The more and more I am aware of the commission of Jesus Christ – the more cognizant I must become of my life in relationship to others. All others. Everyone else. To listen to the still small voice that says to be quiet for righteousness sake when the mind screams, “Fight for what is right!” Ripping up bitterness before it takes root. Offering apologies when not at fault. Accepting “I’m sorry” when you know they are not. To love like Jesus creates a ripple that leads to revival but leaves self behind. It is the undoing of our way to fully embrace His Way.

Romans 12:3-5 (ESV) For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 

I am part of a body. Just as if I stub my toe or smash a finger it impacts other areas of my body, so it is with the Body of Christ. We cannot ignore our left hand just because our right hand is dominant. The left hand is useful and must work with the right hand to get the job done. If blindness strikes one eye, the other eye must do double. If one foot becomes lame, it is almost impossible to walk without assistance. You cannot ignore the ramifications of a broken body part on the function of the whole person nor can one decide to go their own way, live their own life and do their own thing and remain in unity with the Body of Christ. It is in Christ that we are bonded together and engrafted in love. We can do nothing good apart from our connection to Christ who connects us together as one.

Paul points out that this is a form of pride. To separate our life from the Body of Jesus Christ expresses a lack of dependence on the Cross, Grace and Power of our Savior and Lord. It is an act of rebellion. It defies our imperfection and need for Him. Paul reminds us to “think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” so we do not think more highly of ourselves than others. Furthermore, the higher the call the greater the measure of faith so the more grace is needed to finish the race and be found faithful in the end. Every single action and attitude creates a ripple. It has an impact. It makes a movement. It is up to me to carefully consider each one in relation to Jesus Christ. Once it is released, a ripple must continue to the end. Apologies and forgiveness are the waves that overtake little ripples of hurt and offense. We must learn to administer them graciously. Every day and in every way I must carefully examine my heart and mind for honorable intentions that will keep me connected to Christ. Considering each movement. Will it draw others to Him or drive them from Him? Lord, help me to be conscious of every move I make and its impact on forever! Let every move that I make create a ripple of love and grace in Jesus Name!

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (ESV) Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.

One.

one

Matthew 18:18-20 (ESV)  “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Just two or three people who agree on earth can release Heaven. It only takes two people to open the window of the Kingdom. I don’t know whether to celebrate this promise or shake my head in shame. Is the limitation in our life simply because we cannot agree, get along and live in harmony? If harmony is a precious anointing, it should be a daily pursuit by God’s Children who desire His Blessing. To not just tolerate the presence of others but fully embrace one another with love, grace, generosity, and compassion.

Jesus plainly states, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” There is no mixed message or need for extensive commentary. It’s simple. If two or three agree and come together in Jesus Name – whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever is loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Jesus is Resurrection Power and Life. When His Spirit is present – freedom is released. Healing dispensed. Change unleashed. Revival begins. Too often we look for it in the masses but I believe if just two or three would gather in His Name…not the name of a church, or doctrine, or religion, or mission even that the Lord would show up and true revival would begin. The unexplainable would happen. The impossible would result in miracles. The Body of Christ would come to life again.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility  and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In order to walk in unity and experience the fullness of blessing found in such a choice means giving up our way, the lie of the enemy and normal existence. We must fully embrace the characteristics of Jesus Christ including unfailing love, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and work diligently to maintain it. Crucifying our flesh is a painstaking and painful process. No death is ever pleasant but it is rewarding to give up the permissible to fully embody the benefits given to us by Jesus Christ. (Psalm 103)

Our imminent failure comes from ignorance. That’s right – it is a lack of knowledge that causes people to perish. It is a lack of direction that causes delays, detours and distractions that lead to doubt, discouragement and even disappointment. The hope found in Jesus Christ never leads to disappointment. God’s Word cannot return to Him void. What God has ordained for our life will come to pass. We just have to seek an abiding relationship in Jesus Christ and allow His Spirit to produce the kind of fruit that feeds our soul and starves our flesh. Pride must die in order for faith to flourish. There is no other way.

What if every believer became “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”? What a lofty pursuit? To step up from the natural and begin to believe that you can live supernaturally. It doesn’t matter what man thinks about you if you are walking in the Shadow of God. To fully embody and embrace Jesus Christ allows us to live a new life and become a new creation. Christians who compare themselves to anyone but Christ are out of order. My calling and your calling are individual. God doesn’t have favorites because we are all His Favored Children. Our feelings of inferiority and insignificance are just the enemies lies. We can live in a lie but the Truth will always set us free.

Psalm 133 (ESV) Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

Why do you go to church? Is it a social event? Is it expected of you? Do you get encouraged by the pastor’s message? Does it make you feel good? I believe that everyone goes to church looking for hope. This world is a dark place full of heartbreak and tragedy. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. Evil seems to be triumphing over good. Do you need a miracle in your life today? Are you facing the impossible? Are you tired of just enough and desire more than enough? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Is the Word living, breathing and changing your life? It can. It will. It requires unity in the Body of Christ. How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity. It is like precious oil. The anointing of Heaven will meet us in our gatherings from small groups, to church services to civic center conferences if we strive to do just one thing. Agree.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

To become one means giving up my way to fully accept the Way. Jesus has given us His Spirit to lead, guide and direct us. While doing so the Spirit takes the Word working it into our heart to uproot every lie that the enemy has told us. The Spirit produces the character needed to agree by feeding our soul good fruit so it will prosper. It is human nature to focus on our differences but the Lord is challenging His Church to focus on our common bond. To become One Body filled with One Spirit. We are all called to one hope. His Name is Jesus Christ. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. One. When two or three agree the One who meets every need and will do exceedingly abundantly more than we think or ask is in our midst. He is the Resurrection that calls forth dead dreams to life. He is Life to our body, mind, spirit and soul. We must become one. The church united becomes the unstoppable Light that drives out darkness in their homes, workplaces, community and even the world. I want to be part of “that” church.

Ephesians 4:15-16 (ESV) Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Get It Together

Get It Together

Romans 12:3-5 (ESV)  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

One body. One Spirit. One church. Oh, so many members. The human body has many components that somehow can figure out how to work together in one fluid movement. Our brain tells our organs how to function, our limbs to work in unison, and somehow there is a coordinated effort it all work together. A handicap is when there is a component of the body not properly functioning according to its original design. The word “handicap” means a disadvantage. It makes success more difficult. It is considered a disability or burden to the bearer. It creates a challenge to the proper function of that which it impairs. To some this word is considered offensive. I mean nothing of the sort. Our body was designed by God to function a certain way. Sin introduced certain disadvantages that Christ has overcome. The Body of Christ suffers certain handicaps that the Spirit works in us to overcome. I am encouraged today that I serve the Living God who gives resurrection power and life to all His People.

Acts 2:42-47 (ESV) And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Everything created by God works in the realm of relationships. Even our bodies were designed with many members and one brain that works together. Right down to cellular regeneration within us, everything has a purpose in the grand scheme of our natural bodies. When a part of the body is not fully functioning, it may be considered disabled or handicapped. If our immune system is not successful in overcoming an attack, our body becomes sick or infirmed. If an organ ceases to function, life is compromised by the adverse condition. This is all in the natural AND spiritual realm of relationships. Our body’s ability to coordinate all its members into a fully functioning operation is what perpetuates and propels us through life. We are not only a physical body but a member of the Body of Christ.

Within our participation as a Child of God, believer and even Christian – we are part of a body. We have a purpose and place within the Body of Christ meant specifically for us. I have five children. Two boys and three girls. Each one has a special place in my heart and in our family design. It would be ridiculous to think that if something happened to one of them that it would be okay because we have four other children. There is no such thing as collateral damage in a household. If a family member passes, they will be missed. It will create a void. It should be so in the Body of Christ. He is a Good Shepherd. He will leave the ninety-nine to find the one who is lost. We must learn to place value and worth on the Body of Christ that we belong to. It is vital to our successful prosperity in life. To be a fully functioning member produces the promises of God not only in our life but for those around us in relationship with us, too.

The early church came together. They became a body. A functioning unit that added to the Kingdom daily. They spent every day in close fellowship with one another. None too busy or self-involved, these believers experienced miracles, signs and wonders as God’s Power flowed through them. His Breath is life to us. When we breathe together, it becomes a source of power. God loves unity. Harmony is precious anointing that He is ready to pour out over the Body of Christ. Are we ready to receive it?

Romans 12:9-13 (ESV) Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

In Romans 12, the believer is encouraged to become a living sacrifice. To live a holy and acceptable life that promotes a fully functioning body. It is called worship. We must not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Hence the war of self begins. It is human nature to survive. Yet, we are called to thrive. No one will prosper if they are not willing to invest. There is no return where there is no investment. It’s Biblical for a man cannot reap what he has not sown. With this in mind, to become a living sacrifice means something must be fully surrendered. To say, I surrender all means nothing if not accompanied by change. Sacrifice is not generally a comfortable effort but completely worthwhile endeavor.

I am led a ladies small group the other night. I am challenged to do so. Women are tough when it comes to relationships. I should know… I am one. However, I know that God desires us all to maintain healthy, loving and trusting relationships with those around us. We struggle because of past experiences. Trust forsaken is tough to recover. Yet we must find a way to overcome our differences, and forge strong bonds together to see the Body of Christ become healthy again. To see a Body fit for our soon and coming King!

Let love be genuine.

I Corinthians 13 lays out the guidelines of God-like love and commitment that characterizes genuine. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. This is genuine love. This is the love that God places in us and is the kind of love that He wants us to have for others. Lord, let my love be genuine.

Abhor what is evil.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

We must flee from evil. Do not entertain it. Our minds are like sponges the things we permit to remain will assert dominance in us. You cannot love God and love sin at the same time. There is no meeting of the minds when it comes to the Goodness of God and every kind of evil. We must learn from God’s Word what He defines as the sin that defiles us and permit the Holy Spirit to change our mind from loving sin to loving God more than sin. This is how we combat evil in us. Our flesh wants to live. It wages war against the Spirit. There will be no unity in the Body of Christ if each member seeks its own way and allows sin to have dominance in their life. The word “abhor” is a strong verb. It means to regard with extreme repugnance or aversion. To detest and loathe something. Sin is rampant in our world. Violence at an all time high. Love has grown cold and there is complete disregard for others. Lord, show me the sin and evil in me and around me. Teach me to abhor it as much as you do!

Hold fast to what is good.

God is good. He is always good. No matter what is happening around you He is still good and His Goodness is for you. It doesn’t matter your present conditions or situation. God is still good. His Unfailing Love and Goodness are pursuing you. On those days when nothing is going right, Lord I challenge me to still sing, “You are good!”

Love one another with true affection.

We are all members of one body. Mic drop. The first commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and body. The only other one is to love others. Loving one another is non-negotiable. By choosing to remain offended and unforgiving, we are the ones who are limited. Love is expendable and thereby expands into full satisfaction and inexpressible joy, not in its reproduction or reciprocation, but as the Lord fills more and more of our heart with His Love.

Outdo one another showing honor.

Comparison is a joy killer. I need my right and left hand equally to type these words to you each day. My left and right hand are both appendages but they do not fight for superiority. They were created with a job to do and they do it seemingly unaware of the other hand doing essentially the exact same thing. The Word of God tells us who we are in Jesus Christ and promises to make us a new creation in our abiding relationship with Him. My purpose and promises are not your purposes and promises – this is not a competition for the Father’s Love. We care brothers and sisters in Christ with an equal proportioned inheritance. It already belongs to us. There is nothing to do but remain in a righteous relationship through Jesus to secure it. Lord, help me to look for my value and worth in Your Word. There is no competition. Hands down! I have victory in You!

Do not be slothful in zeal.

Praise the Lord! No seriously! We have to live in a constant state of praise and worship to maintain life in His Presence. It creates enthusiasm in our spirit person when the Holy Spirit responds to the close proximity of God. The Lord inhabits the praise of His People. Get excited. Stir up the Gift of God within you. You have every reason to celebrate even on your worst day knowing that all things work together for your good!

Be fervent in Spirit.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Jesus Christ has given you His Spirit. Resurrection power and life live in you. The Holy Spirit is our helper. Teacher. Mentor. Guide for life. Utilize this power gift imparted to you by God through His Son – Jesus.

Serve the Lord.

Wow! This fell so far down the list. Love. Be loved. Finally, we come to service. Serving God must be precipitated by a deep and abiding relationship of love for Him and other people. We owe no man anything but love. To serve God we must be lovers.

Rejoice in hope.

The hope that has been given to us never leads to disappointment.

Be patient in tribulation.

Tests and trials are temporary. Do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. If I break a toe, I am not likely to cut it off.

Be constant in prayer.

Communication with God is essential to maintain a right relationship with Him.

Contribute to the needs of others.

The blessings in my life are not just for me. God provides seed to the sower. He gives to us in the name of generosity so we can pour it out on others. The Body of Christ needs each member to become united. To live looking after one another so the Body will thrive again. The fractured, dysfunctional unit presented to the world today does not offer anything any different than another group of people. Where is the power? Where is the difference? What happened to the Light? Why aren’t we salty anymore? Could it be that rather than considering God and His Purpose to love others – that we have become lost in ourselves?

Seek to show hospitality.

Church of the Living God and Members of the Body of Jesus Christ, I am challenged today. I am moved in my heart and soul that we need to get it together. God has set forth characteristics for Christian believers. One thing is clear. It is not about me. Or you for that matter… It is all about Jesus. His Body is hurting, broken and fragmented. I can do nothing other than be sure that my “member” is ready. I must examine my own heart. I must allow the Holy Spirit to change my mind. I must remove myself from the throne of self and put Jesus back in His Rightful Place. The early church was exciting. Charismatic. There were signs, wonders and miracles. Life was a party in the midst of terrible tribulation. They were murdered for believing back then yet risked it all to be together as one. What will you give up to assemble the Body of Christ again? What am I willing to sacrifice for unity? We have to get this together before Jesus comes for us. We must put aside our differences and find commonality and community in Christ.

I Peter 3:8-9 (ESV) Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

The Messenger

The Messenger

Malachi 3:1 (NLT) “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

I live in a rural county. Our family moved here just over a year ago exchanging city life for a more laid back existence. Living in the county, you give up conveniences like the mall, a variety of restaurants, and other creature comforts on every corner. However, I still work in town and commute five days a week about 45 minutes each way. Some may balk at such a drive, but I actually don’t mind it. It has become a time to meditate, pray and worship the Lord each day. One thing I have noticed is that although this community lacks a variety of options it is not at all lacking in churches. There must a three churches to every square block though I may be exaggerating some. Not to offend anyone, but there are denominational and non-denominational, black and white, large and small, with schools and without, and every other make and model that one might come up with. All serving the same God and relying on the same saving Jesus. So why so many? Why are there so many different churches only half full of worshippers each Sunday?

It’s all about the message. Do we find the message appealing? Do we like the music? Can we live by the rules? Do we like old time religion, full gospel, spirit filled, prosperity preaching, experiences, or gooey grace? There is one true God. He has one son, Jesus Christ who sacrificed His Life to pay the debt of sin for all mankind. The Holy Spirit is the partner in the trinity given to humanity for assistance, direction, guidance and growth. Jesus Christ has all power and authority in heaven and earth. He is the only way to God according to the Word of God (well, Jesus is the Word) and no man can restore a right relationship with the Father except through the Son. All these truths more than likely are in the doctrine of your church so why are we so divided?

“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.” The Lord spoke through Malachi to His People telling them that a messenger was coming to prepare the way. John the Baptist was considered a messenger as he prefaced the arrival of Jesus and told everyone who would listen that the Lord was on the way. He even baptized Jesus saying, “Look, He is the One!” John did not fit in with the rules and regulations of organized religion even considered a madman by some. The messenger is sent to tell others to prepare for the coming of God. To prepare people to experience the living God. We must carefully consider our messages as we are the messengers of God.

Nicodemus was a Jewish religious leader and Pharisee. One night, he went to Jesus. He saw the signs and wonders of the Lord but considered him only a teacher sent by God. Nicodemus was trying to logically sort out what he saw compared to what he knew about the Messiah. “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.  Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.” I wonder how many churches are built on misunderstanding of the message. So it becomes our mission to create a “religion” to justify our “relationship” with the Living God. Paul wrote I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. One church, one mind, untied in thought and purpose.

Acts 2:38-41 (NLT) Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation. Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

Is this the message of the modern day messengers? Are we really preaching this straightforward approach? Jesus said this to Nicodemus – “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” Sound familiar? God loves you. He loves me. He loves every person who He created which is all of them. The only separation in the church should be those who believe and those who do not. Sin didn’t separate the church – it is what we all have in common creating our need for Christ. Jesus said, “Whosever will (wants to) come.” There is no mandate to change anything before Christ fully and completely accepts us and covers every single inch of us with His Blood. Grace is enough.

Proverbs 15:30 (NIV) Light in the messenger’s eyes bring joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.  

The Light of His Love must burn bright in the eyes of the messengers. Love is God’s Primary Motivation in pursuing us. Unfailing love and goodness that desires us. I tried the “religious” route and failed too many times to count. I read the word. Served in church. Left on mission trips. Witnessed to the lost. Gave up Tuesdays for community visitation. I prayed. I fasted. I did everything the church told me to do and avoided the things it told me not to do. When I failed, church failed me. I am not blaming the church at all for my own faults and failures but what I am saying is that when everything falls apart, or we fall down and experience brokenness – it is not judgment or condemnation that changes us but the unfailing and forgiving Love of Jesus Christ.

Love multiplies. Love binds. Love is patient. Love is kind. It doesn’t not envy. It is not boastful and is without pride. It doesn’t dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no records of wrongs just ample amounts of forgiveness. Love does not delight in the faults and failures of others. It rejoices when truth gives way to freedom. It ALWAYS protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. Love never ever fails. In fact, it says from the beginning of I Corinthians 13 that religious attributes are meaningless if love is not our motivation. Love like the Word has clearly outlined here. If I do not have love…I gain nothing. I wonder if our primary motivation in all religious endeavors is to strengthen our relationship with others as we align our life with Jesus Christ. Without love, the Gospel is not good news but just another church bulletin.

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The early church did not have a fancy building marked “sanctuary” with loud sound systems, light shows, and huge media screens. They were not in buildings at all. The church resided in people who bound themselves together not by a membership but through a relationship with Jesus Christ that bound them together. The love they experienced with Christ given to others freely holding nothing back. They became united. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Hmm…

All those churches with so many different doctrines and a variety of designs. In our need to appease some of the things that make us comfortable have we somehow forsaken the original design of the church? We can give to the poor and even serve in the community a couple times a year, but is that truly what Christ had in mind? To be an effective messenger of the Gospel, it seems that I must understand the concept through Christ, His Word, and develop His Way of doing things so my life is in alignment with His Idea of the Body of Christ for obvious reasons. I must consider my words, thoughts and actions compared to His Purpose. Love must be found as the foundation of everything I do or say to be likeminded and on the same page as my Lord and Savior.

The Lord loves people. He rejoices with all of heaven when just one is returned to Him. One. I am a messenger. Lord, I ask you today to refine my message and remove everything not representative of You and Your Kingdom. Let my eyes shine forth the Light of Your Love. Thank you Jesus for this opportunity to share the Good News. I ask that it destroy all strongholds in the church until all walls come down and everyone comes together.

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary…pure and holy…tried and true…with thanksgiving…I’ll be a living sanctuary for You. (Sanctuary – The Whole Song)

Under One Roof

Under One Roof

Ephesians 1:23 (NLT) And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

There is something about having our children together under one roof. Even though there is chaos to just be together enriches my soul and fills my heart to overflowing capacity. Last night, we have the privilege of our oldest daughter spending the night with us. Sitting around the table at a local Mexican restaurant, the girls were chatting and my husband had that look. The smile that effortlessly creeps across his face when his girls are with him. There is something about daddies and their little girls. Even though the group around the table are far from small anymore. Our oldest daughter is great with child in her last trimester of pregnancy. Our middle daughter graceful and beautiful even in a t-shirt, athletic shorts and hair put up in a messy bun has become a woman right in front of us. Where has time gone? In a week, our baby girl, the last to join our large family will be driving a car as her fifteenth birthday comes and goes. God has blessed us with this group. Our boys are now men building families and careers. How does it all happen so quickly? I cherish these moments and times like this when I can enjoy these kids that once had me running in five different directions.

Two people came together with the commitment to love each other no matter what. Now close to twenty years later, look what love has done. It wasn’t always easy. We are a blended family. My new husband and I brought a handful home from the church on our wedding day. God took two empty lives and filled them to capacity with love. There were days when the commitment to God and each other held us all together. He did it. Now our next generation will soon arrive. The connection of family is important. It is worth the cost of love, grace and forgiveness that is required. How often we allow insignificant things to breach the bond that God has instituted? Thoughtless words or careless actions cause offense to root in human hearts as pride tells us that we somehow in our imperfection still deserve better. Families have been under attack since the first one was created in Genesis. We belong to individual families; but it is only a fragment of our true family.

The Body of Christ is a family or at least it is supposed to resemble one. With many members, there is but one unified body that should work together to be unified. I wonder if it brings the Father the same joy it brings my husband when all of his “kids” work together, enjoy each other, share with one another, and long to be together. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Our family doesn’t always enjoy peaceful harmony. My girls can be arguing over a borrowed shirt one minute and helping each other pick out tomorrow’s fashion statement the next. But let another person come against one of my children, and you must contend with the tribe. They will circle wagons and turn on you with a vengeance. There are little insecurities in the heart of our youngest at the thought of a new baby arriving soon. She has always been the baby. She sometimes feels forgotten as we gush over movement in our daughter’s belly or talk about when the little man arrives. It is foolish to think she would lose her place among us but in her heart it is real. These are little things the Family of God encounters although the Word of God says that we are “made full and complete by Christ.”

Romans 12:9-10 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Love is a commitment. I have tried to vehemently express this to each of my children in their relationships and preparing one day to be married. Love as the world knows it is not real love. It is based on emotions and feelings. It requires reciprocation. It is conditional. God’s Love for us and in us is not like that. It is defined as “patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Love never fails.

To “love with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other” takes hard work, motivation and concentration. You can fall in love but you will not remain in love without a commitment to love. God is love. Our identity in God must be characteristic of love to unite the family of God as instructed. Not just to love the lovable, but to love our enemies as well. It is a pure and true love based on how God loves us not how people do. Romans 12 begins with a plea to give our life as a “living sacrifice” and then goes on to tell us to love each other, honor each other and bless one another and more…

Romans 12:14-18 (NLT) Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

The Christ in us allows us to love others unconditionally. There is freedom in such love because it casts out all fear. The fear that breeds insecurity. The kind that allows unbelief to flourish in doubt and choke out the new faith that is growing inside of us. We are to be a representation of Jesus Christ to others. We must not expect others to be our Savior or allow them to reign as Lord. This is evidenced in our ability to love and be loved despite human imperfection, betrayal, and offense never allowing bitterness to disturb the newfound love growing in us as our relationship with Christ makes us one.

Ephesians 2:4-6 (NLT) Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. My body houses the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God who identifies me as His Child. The same Spirit that unites me with every other living breathing human who God created with purpose and promise. He is Father to us all. The Spirit lives in those who have taken their place in God’s Family by a choice to be reconciled to the family. Estrangement from God because of sin gives way to reconciliation by accepting Christ to be our Savior. His Grace is enough to give us access to the Kingdom and our rightful place in the Body of Christ. We are all unique. There is no competition and God has no favorites. Our desire to be one with Christ which leads to repentance keeps us unified with His Body that completes us so that we can give our life away recklessly. This allows us to take on the Character of Jesus Christ who is humble, gentle, patient, and forgiving. This is not a human trait. Pride hates these attributes and fights to reject them in our life. It is His Spirit who allows us to become like the Lord by producing good fruit in fertile and broken hearts.

As I mentioned before, though my children may bicker and pick on each other, if anyone comes against them they instantly become a unified front. A few years ago, while I was caring for our son who was undergoing cancer treatment, I got a call from my oldest daughter. Someone was bullying her younger sister in middle school and she was really mad. She called to tell me that she was on her way to confront the girl and do something that were less godly to her. I reminded her that she would be arrested for assault but at that moment she did not care. She continued to vent while I listened with a grin on my face. Someone was picking on her sister and she was ready to fight. She finally calmed down and chose only to stare the girl down. The bully and my daughter are still friends today.

What would happen if the Body of Christ became protective of relationships? What if we decided to become one family? I live in the South. There are churches on every corner, in just about every strip mall, and even small groups in homes. Why so many? There are some churches being planted, but it seems that most of them are products of disagreement. Someone gets upset and spreads their discontentment. People choose sides and suddenly a molecular split occurs. I cannot imagine how this breaks the heart of God who gave His Son, His Only Son, to bring His Children back under one roof.

We must make the decision to agree. To find common ground in Christ, and stop being led by emotions and feelings contradictory to those given to us by His Spirit. Just like a family, the Body of Christ must make the commitment to stop allowing fear, insecurity and offense to be the guidelines for their life and overcome them with the Love of God that gets rid of such nonsense. There will be disagreements. There will be hurt feelings, disappointments, unmet expectations and failed attempts in human relationships. When we allow the Love of God to be our response rather than reacting to the imperfection of humans it will produce the kind of love that will produce unity in the Body of Christ once again.

Is your family coming home for the holidays? Will all of your children gather around the Christmas tree? I find no greater joy than when our family is able to worship together in the House of God. Imagine what the Father would experience if all of His Children gathered together under one roof labeled Jesus Christ. Choosing to put aside personal feelings and accept perfect love, joy and peace from our Living Breathing Source of Life and Hope. It would change the impact of the church. Functioning as one body, the church would become effective. Salt would become salty again. The Light would reach the darkest corners of the lost and dying world. Imagine the Glory that would pour out in our services when Jesus was the Center of it all. Last night my husband slept like a baby, just the thought of all his girls under one roof. He woke up with the same look on his face. I wonder if the Father smiles when we get it together…of course, He does!

Psalm 133 (NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

Stop, Drop and Roll

Stop Drop and Roll

James 3:2 (NLT) Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

I remember as a young child in school learning the technique of “stop, drop and roll” to extinguish a fire. Taught as part of health and safety, a nice fireman dressed in his gear instructed our second grade class on fire awareness. Part of his lesson was what to do if our clothing caught on fire – we were to stop, drop and roll. Consisting of three components as the name suggests, the first step is to stop. Stopping means to cease all movement which may fan the flames or even hamper those coming to one’s aid. Dropping to the ground, lying down and covering the face to avoid further injury. Finally, rolling on the ground in an effort to extinguish the fire by depriving it of oxygen. Even wrapping up in a rug if nearby to further put out any flames. I wonder if we might use the same techniques when putting out the fires started with harsh words and misunderstandings. Is it possible that stop, drop and roll might work in such conditions?

James 3:3-6 (NLT) We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.  

Recently, I have watched a beautiful friendship completely destroyed by careless words and misunderstanding. Burned to the ground as it spread through two families. I am praying for restoration, repair and rebuilding yet I cannot believe the absolute devastation. How many times to careless conversations, pointless debates or one-sided tirades destroy the beautiful harmony and unity that God has ordained for His People? Churches have literally split, divided and died from gossip, slander and malice among close friends now misaligned by the lie of the enemy who is the Father of Lies. Is it too late for grace? Oh man, I hope not. The Grace of God is always enough but like any other building the institution of relationship takes time to reconstruct. Trust is probably the hardest structure to build and maintain so once it is compromised it takes a committed effort by all to restore. How can something so small do so much damage? Why can’t we control our tongues? Why is our need to be right or defended so strong that pride keeps us from humbling our tongue and limiting our words to what is kind, necessary and true? Lord, help us today to examine our hearts, thoroughly inspect our thoughts, and completely control our tongue to bring glory to Your Great Name.

James 3:7-12 (NLT) People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

The complexity of human nature and the war against our flesh makes the products of our lips sometimes uncertain. Romans 7 talks about the war between flesh and spirit that wages war within us. We want to do what is right and try to but still do what is wrong on a regular basis. The need for constant grace is clearly definitive in the simple truth that humans are imperfect and our weakness is sin. We can change our habits. We can modify our routine. We can educate our opinion. Yet in the final stages of release our words are on a mission – to give life or pronounce death. (Proverbs 18:21) To be imitators of God and follow the example of Jesus – there will be times to be silent. To stop talking, drop to our knees in humility and roll out the flames set by the harsh words, judgment or gossip of another. Jesus was completely innocent yet in the midst of His Accusers – our Savior and Lord set forth an example that we are to learn from – He said nothing. (Matthew 27:11-14; Acts 8:32) This fulfilled the prophecy about our Lord and did not further fuel arguments. It would not hinder His Walk to the Cross. In order to fulfill God’s Destiny for our life and walk in His Ways, sometimes that means walking away from a fight right to preserve the relationship or to say, “I’m sorry” even when the offense was against you. The point is to continue to follow Jesus and not be detoured by dysfunction by the lie of the enemy. We need each other despite what the liar has said.

Psalm 34:12-14 (NLT) Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?  Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

Perhaps these verses might be labeled the “stop, drop and roll” instructions when it comes to our words. Do you want to live a long and prosperous life? I dare say no one reading this will say, “No” or “I’ll pass” but rather every day it is our goal to live in the promises and prosperity set forth in God’s Word according to the blessings prescribed for us. The scripture is clear. STOP your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Pretty straight forward but not always easy. It is important to think about what we say and how we say it. Being right doesn’t always result in righteousness. It is up to us to condition our heart and soften it with God’s Word. This will change how we think and respond to other people. We must be quick to forgive and stop the progression of bitterness within us that turns into malicious conversation. DROP – Turn away from evil and do good. Repentance is essential in transforming our communication with others. Sometimes we can do nothing more than make things right with the Lord and pray for a severed relationship until the other party softens and accepts you again. Humility brings agreement to a growing, prospering and thriving relationship. As harmony is established and unity maintained the Lord blesses both parties and creates a living flow between them. Is it really worth limiting our godly potential to allow separation to build walls that block His Prosperity in our heart and life? I don’t think so. Finally, ROLL – grace teaches us how to let things roll off of us like water off a duck’s back. We must learn to overlook the careless conversation and decide to love them anyway. We must be the one to extinguish the passionate flames of fear and insecurity that feed our pride. We give power to the words of others in our life and the same words meant to harm us can free us when grace is applied and forgiveness given or received. I want the power of God to be a daily experience all around me. I want love as strong as death to overtake me and filter into every relationship established in my life. To search for peace and maintain it means giving up my way to Christ and others daily. It doesn’t really matter if they hurt my feelings or break my heart. I am called to love them. I am ordained to live in harmony with all my brothers and sisters not just the ones of my choosing.

James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

I am grieved literally sad in my spirit over the friendship recently destroyed by the enemy. I believe in the Resurrection Power of God that gives new life. As I pray for this friendship, maybe there is a family member or friend that you know of where there is distance in what was a close bond. The enemy hates relationships. He hates when people love each other. Daily satan sows seeds of offense and hurt hoping someone will take hold of them. It is up to you and me plant seeds of peace and reap the harvest of righteousness. It will take effort. You cannot sit idly by when it comes to the words used or conversation allowed. We must take the burden of repentance and give grace even when it is not deserved. There is seldom a disagreement where both parties did not hold their ground. Reconciliation takes both sides coming together as one. Our common ground is Jesus Christ. His Grace is enough for me today and you, too. We can live in love with others because His Love completes us. People are not perfect, but they are not the problem either. In fact, they are the key to a prospering, productive and long life. Praying for the full restoration of my broken friendship today. Can I join with you in doing the same? Let’s pray for protection over our relationships today and that the Spirit of God will tame our tongue.

Proverbs 17:27-28 (NLT) A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

Come Together

Come Together

Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT) God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

The church. The Body of Christ. The formation of believers and Christians meeting together. For what? Sundays, Wednesdays, and small groups with scheduled meetings and organized plans. What is the benefit to the world in which we live? A bright and shining light that drives our darkness. A salt so flavorful it is desirable. Paul prayed in Ephesians 1 that the church would know the greatness of power that God has invested in them. To understand the Resurrection Power possible to those who believe. Christ is the ruler, authority, power and leader of the church and in Him it is made full and complete. As we come together in corporate congregational meetings is unity and fulfillment the experience taken from it or just another social circle in which to navigate?

Philippians 1:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

The power of the church is in love and unity. There should be encouragement from belonging to Christ. There should be comfort found in His Love. We are His Hands and Feet. We should experience God’s Glory as His Spirit joins us in our gatherings and fellowship together. Leaving the cares, worries and burdens of this world at the feet of Jesus as we come together to share one another’s concerns untied in Christ. We are to agree wholeheartedly. The giving of our heart cannot be done any other way than completely. Do we love one another? Really love each other as delineated in I Corinthians 13? Do we work together putting aside our own schedules and agendas? When the Body of Christ figures out how to come together with one mind and purpose – revival will be the result. But until then…

I Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

What would be the possibilities if rather than always seeking a blessing, believers decided to be a blessing? Sowing seeds of generosity in all things, in all ways and everywhere we go. What might the harvest be? Rather than spouting out religious rhetoric our lives were living demonstrations of the love of God invested in us through Christ Jesus, would witnessing be so hard? If we could trust the church with our families, friends and co-workers, I bet the invitation would flow much easier.

Colossians 3:14-17 (NLT) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

How do I become the church? It’s all about me. That’s right. I must choose to clothe myself in love rather than worrying about my appearance on Sunday, I should maintain a heart covered in love all week long. The kind of love that is described in God’s Word. The kind of love that Jesus demonstrated. I must trust the Lord until His Peace rules in my heart. It means that my conditions and circumstances do not change my conversation and I will bless the Lord at all times. I must remember I am called to live in peace with all believers. If I cannot manage such a life with those I have the most in common (Christ), how will I ever reach a lost and dying world with anything of worth?

Always be thankful. How does it represent our Father when we grumble and complain all the time? If He is our Provider, Healer and more, what is the message of hope in disappointment, discouragement and discontentment? Faith cannot be faked or it is fruitless. Artificial, plastic fruit carefully displayed and occasionally dusted on the dining room table for all to see bears no seeds, fruit or life to those who see it.

Seek wisdom. If you do not choose to partake of the Bread of Life and Living Water, from what resource do you have to give? How can your Spirit man live in starvation? He cannot. The Word of God is Light. It is life. We need it to illuminate the need in us for a Savior and the areas that He is to be Lord in us so that we can manifest His Power and Praise on this planet.

Finally, probably the most important part, “and whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” All this is important striking out in this world as His Disciple, but if it does not begin in the church, we have failed. A dysfunctional church is governed by pride and selfishness. Love does not live there. Without love and grace and generosity, the church is just another religious organization. There are many religions. Only one relationship changes a religion into something more, a living breathing body, and that is Jesus Christ. Have we come together as the Body? Or are we hacking off members and a disfigured representation of what could be? Lord, forgive us for our failure to be fruitful in coming together as one body with one mind, one purpose and one heart.

I Corinthians 12:27 (NLT) All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

In I Corinthians 12, Paul addresses the church in regarding unity. The early church was experiencing growing pains and having some issues no different than the modern church. Paul describes the body of Christ and the need for unity. We are many members who all have a place in the Body of Christ. Too often rather than focusing on who I need to be and what I need to do to effectively and efficiently do my part in the Body, I can become distracted. An effective church is harmonious. An efficient part has fully functioning members. Members are supposed to take care of each other. How is your church doing in maintaining the health of its body? People come and people go…is that okay? I mean if you lost your right arm or left foot would you go on as though nothing happened? Let’s get real for a moment. The pain of others should be our pain. The process of all in the Body should be part of our process. My position does not take from another but should be productive in securing the Body as one. How am I doing? The most important question you can ask yourself today is not what can I do but who am I supposed to be? Our membership in the Body of Christ has purpose and meaning. It cannot function properly without us in place.

Philippians 1:27 (NLT) Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

As a believer, you have the potential to become part of something much larger than your current position. Your realm of influence is ready to expand breaking down every barrier holding you back from reaching your full potential. Fulfillment in Christ is never a solitary position but unity as a whole. You have a plan that includes a future and hope. Your future and hope is membership in a Body. A complete being called the church or the Body of Christ. You have a position to fill that only you can do. The enemy wants us to believe that we do not need anybody but Jesus. Like every other lie he tells the believer that is only half true. The Body of Christ is built of those who make Jesus Christ their everything. To surrender to the Lord is to give yourself to His Body. There is no way around it. You cannot do it alone. Isolation and separation are the tools of the enemy to destroy His Body. Don’t let him use you like that. Seek unity and harmony in your life above all things with all people including the church you attend. People are people. Grace would not be needed if perfection was possible. If you are not part of a local church, I encourage you to find your place. If you are a member of a church but not involved, I encourage you to find your place, too. If you are involved and fighting the good fight of faith, I encourage you to keep doing what you are doing even if you don’t think you can continue – it’s only because breakthrough is almost there. We must come together as believers to be the Light of the World.

Right before our kids moved back from New England, we visited a salt cellar. The store was actually called the Salt Cellar. Traveling down a steep flight of stairs into a dimly lit store, there were tiny jars of salt everywhere. I have never seen such a variety of different flavors of salt. Salt without flavor is useless – it takes all kinds. Today as I think back, I wonder what might happen if we all lined our lives up in one place as the spice of life others need to overcome a dull and useless existence. To offer a place where others could come to taste and see that the Lord is good! Imagine the potential of a unified church that exemplified the Love of God through Jesus Christ effectively. We would call it revival.

Psalm 133

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

 

Until Me Becomes We

Until Me Becomes We

Romans 15:4-6 (NKJV) For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Taking my usual Sunday morning journey into the dark corridors of our girl’s side of the house, I began taking inventory of the usual chaos created by teenage girls. Blessed with closets full of nothing to wear, and the smell of hot flat and curling irons with lights blazing and music blaring, I pride myself in such trips as my husband is not brave enough to make such bold adventures. Sifting through our youngest daughter’s tangled necklaces, while formulating my request to clean her room for the umpteenth time in a way that she just might hear me, I hear the word’s to the music playing from her abandoned phone. “All I want is for you…for you to be glorified…for you to be lifted high… (Let Praises Rise). Continuing on my mission to make it out of the house on time, I didn’t even realize that I was still singing it under my breath.

Gathering in our church with all the people, it occurs to me that we want the glory of God to meet us in this place. We call out and cry out for revival from the chaos and craziness of life. Yet it doesn’t seem to come. The kind of glory that is talked about long after the service is over. The report of miracles, signs and wonders that happen as His Spirit sweeps through the receptive and resting on their body, mind and spirit.  A collective gathering of people who relinquish their burdens rather than basking in them. Trusting God with trouble who live triumphantly even in uncertainty. Full confidence in the hope we have that never leads to disappointment enough to surrender their complaints to the Lord and sing His Praise instead. We look like the church. But are we really the church who Christ is coming back for? I hear the words of the song playing in my head, “All I want if for you to be glorified for you to be lifted high. I ask myself this morning, “Do I really?”

John 17:1-5 (NKJV) Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

It was time. The hour had come. Jesus would glorify His Father on the Cross. God had given His Son His Power so if Jesus decided not to go to the Cross – He had the power to do so! (John 3:35) Jesus was willing to go to the Cross to do the Will of His Father. This truth alone is enough to dig open, tear apart, and continue to rifle through but maybe another day. What does it mean to glorify? To treat as being more splendid, excellent than would normally be considered. It is an act of worship and a way to praise. To make glorious or invest with glory. To glorify God was Jesus’ express purpose. To point all people to the Father and reflect His Love for them in a tangible means. To show them God’s Love and make a way for them to return to Him. The Father and Son share the same purpose, plan and power. They are a unit of one. It is through Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life that we are able to access that love again and become one with His Glory.

Unity is the miracle of oneness offered through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. To share God’s Purpose, His Plan and His Power in this life all the way to eternity. Is your life miraculous? Are you experiencing supernatural favor? Is the impossible becoming possible in your life? God will turn ordinary to extraordinary for His Glory. God will not share His Glory but it is through Christ we are able to experience it with Him. Our unity as the Body of Christ and His Church comes from and is completely dependent upon sharing the priority of seeking and doing the Lord’s Will. The equation of oneness is profound yet simple. 1 + 1 = 1. There is the secret to God’s Glory manifesting in our life, church, community and even around the world. How is that possible? Unity is completely possible but it comes at the most high price. The Lord must become our sole priority. To seek Him, know Him and choose to do His Will. It is a matter of total trust and complete commitment. The miracle of unity is only possible by the indwelling of Christ. To prepare and live for revival is to explore and execute God’s Unity among us until He is glorified by our attitude and actions to all people in the name of oneness.

Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV) “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Is my life a light post for Christ? Who sits on the Throne of my life? Is it Jesus? My family? My job? My worries and cares? My own selfish desires? Is it me? For my life to glorify the Lord, I must examine my heart and remove all other gods who threaten His Lordship in my life. I choose who I serve each day. I decide who has complete authority and power in my life. Is it the person who hurt my feelings? Is it the promotion or raise that I didn’t get? Is it the disappointment of yesterday that has become regret? What is that thing that takes priority over my pursuit of Christ today?

I have a desk lamp that burns when I study and write. I ordered it a few months ago because these aging eyes were struggling. It does the job. Lights up the darkness in the room so I can see the Word of God before me. But that’s really all it does… It doesn’t make me feel loved, accepted, confident and secure. In another hour the sun will rise in all its brilliance. It will not only chase the darkness away but it will bring heat. I can feel it radiating on my skin. It produces vitamin D which my body needs to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. It also has been linked to treating depression. Jesus was the Light of the world. He calls us the Light of the world as He gives us His Spirit with all power and authority. The Light invested in us is not small but likened to a city illuminating the side of a hill for all to see. Like the sun, we are to let our light shine so people will see our good works AND glorify the Father in heaven. I quietly must say, “It’s not about me…it’s all about we!”

God receives glory not in our rightness or religious activity but when our relationship with Jesus Christ if full-consummated in a loving, trusting and committed relationship that creates oneness within His Body. I cannot experience the Glory of God in my life if my life is all about me, my family or my adventures. It must be invested fully in the pursuit of oneness with Christ that produces unity in the Body. Christ died for everyone. He didn’t come for one but all. Whosoever will let them come is the call. I wonder if they hear the Lord, feel the Spirit tugging but cannot find the Light because it has grown dim within us and cannot make its way out of us.

John 17:20-23 (NKJV)  “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

It absolutely melts my heart that Jesus prayed for me. I am one of “those who will believe in Me.” His prayer was simple and straightforward. “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You…that they also may be one in Us. Unity. Complete oneness. The prayer of Jesus Christ for His People. What will happen as a result? “That the world may believe that You sent Me. Jesus goes on to say that the glory God gave Him has been given to us. It is the Light of His Love. We can share this not in our words, messages and teachings from the pulpit but reflect it in every area of our life. Christ wants us to be perfectly one. This leaves no room for insecurity, jealously or pride because there is a place for everyone in His Body and His Church. The world will not see Jesus until we experience the Oneness promised in this prayer. Jesus did His Part and the Father was glorified. It is up to us to reflect this by our unity in Christ and love for others.

“All I want is for you…for you to be glorified…for you to be lifted high…” I have come to the conclusion today that revival will not come until God is glorified by our unity and oneness in Christ on an individual and then corporate basis. Until I put aside the “me” and accept the “we” that is the purpose and plan of God for His People. We must live as a light in the darkness but not a light that can be turned on and off but one that is consistent in its brightness for all the world to see. When God’s Glory becomes our priority, revival will come. Miracles will happen. Signs and wonders will appear but more importantly God the Father and Jesus the Son will be glorified through us. Amen and amen.

Acts 2:44-47 (NKJV) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Hearts and Hands

Hearts and Hands

Luke 10:38-42 (Message) As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

Balance. Life in balance. God designed and ordered our life with particular steps to fulfillment. Each one has a purpose for our heart and hands. I struggle between the personalities of Martha and Mary. I tend to be more of the Type A personality of the hardworking sister. Driven by labor, responsibilities and working. I find great satisfaction in a clean house and well-ordered life. The concept of control even in the smallest of tasks gives me security. I am learning to live like Mary. The worshipper who did not worry so much about her duties but focused on Christ. In the brief visit of Jesus to their home, Mary understood the importance of sitting at His Feet. Martha was overloaded with worry and stress to please the Lord and make His Visit pleasurable. Both ladies were noble in their efforts. Their actions demonstrating their fondness and admiration of Christ, but then the joy killer called comparison set in.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” (Theodore Roosevelt) How do we admire the beauty and worth of another without questioning ourselves? Comparison with myself and the person who God created me to be as mirrored in His Word will bring improvement as I grow, develop and mature in Christ. However, when I compare myself to others it breeds only discontentment and a lack of fulfillment. I am conforming to a standard other than that purposed for me. Psalm 139 reminds me daily to praise the Lord for who I am because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I have a purpose all my own. Promises aligned perfectly to fulfill that purpose and not that of another. My perception of life must be through the Father’s Eyes in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Otherwise, I have set the standard too low…less I digress.

Comparisons can make you feel superior and other times inferior. Neither serves a useful purpose in the life of a believer. We are called to build a Kingdom. No two members will be the same. Each has a place, purpose, plan and promise which is in direct correlation with that of another. The enemy uses comparison to tear down the Body of Christ especially women. The media projects images of who we should be and what to believe. It creates a stirring that there is something to prove or improve in all of us. This may or may not be true but the kind of change society promotes is temporary but we are everlasting beings created by a Sovereign and Forever God who far outweighs today or tomorrow living in the vastness of eternity. His Son reserved a place for us there that has our name on it. Will He recognize us when we arrive?

The woman at the well in her conversation with Christ was told that true worshippers will do so in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) I believe that Martha and Mary demonstrate the two distinct personalities that the Lord carefully molds into this kind of worshipper. The one who does so in spirit and in truth. Mary was the spiritual worshipper. The one who couldn’t get enough of Jesus. She would sit at his feet, ignoring her household task, to “hanging on every word.” Martha, on the other hand, she was the worshipper in truth. She was busy preparing a meal for her guest, overseeing the task at hand, she was getting ready because she knew His Visit would be brief and she wanted to honor Him. At this point in time, Mary chose the essential. But wait there is more…

John 11:20-26 (Message) Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house. Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”  “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

Lazarus had died. The sisters were mourning their great loss when Jesus arrived. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet Him while Mary remained in the house. Martha decided to engage the Lord and went to Him. I am sure she had some questions. Where were you? Why didn’t you come sooner? We needed you, Lord. Engaging faith is demonstrated in Martha who took her matter straight to Jesus while Mary stayed in her mourning. See Martha was not the one driven by emotionalism. She was a woman of action. Jesus shared with Martha in that moment just as He had taught Mary at His Feet. Her brother would experience resurrection power and new life right before her eyes that day.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (Message) Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.

The truth in Deuteronomy is applicable today. Our heart is the place of God’s Perspective. He looks deep inside our heart to determine the changes necessary in fulfilling our purpose. We must do the same. Our attitude and actions must relate to and live in relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Word of God. Mary may have been lazy. Martha may have been lax. Their purpose was not defined by personality but rather by the Person of Christ. The Lord did not leave them the same in each encounter. To Martha – He gave her permission to rest. To quietly spend time in His Presence. To the worker, Jesus says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it…” (Matthew 11:28-30 – MSG) To the others, He says, “Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!” (Isaiah 35:3-5) To both the Lord says, Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.” (Ephesians 6:6-7 – MSG)

Romans 12:4-6 (Message) In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

I wonder news for you today! It doesn’t really mattered if you came wired like Martha or Mary. You are you because God decided you were an important part of the Body of Christ. We must learn to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Knowing the Word of God and doing as He says. It creates unity in the Body and harmony in the Kingdom. God finds great pleasure in harmony. It releases new anointing and opens the windows of Heaven. We need Marthas. We need Marys. We need every other personality the Lord saw fit to create for His Kingdom. The key is aligning our lives to Christ and with each other as one. “Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.” What a wonderful truth! You are the Light of the world – a city on a hill – you will shine in your time! Be the heart of Jesus today. Be His Hands. Be one with each other. It’s His Purpose for our life.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.