Until We Tremble Too

Unti We Tremble Too

Matthew 17:20-21 (NKJV)  So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Have you ever prayed and it seemed like nothing is happening? Have you believed with all your heart yet still things did not go well? Walking by faith and not by sight is a challenge. It takes a full body, mind and spirit change to meet such a demand. The five senses of the body are acutely aware of its surroundings and work together to make it through each day. It’s called survival. To give in to the current conditions or circumstances of our natural life is not God’s Will for us. Yet, we do it for lack of understanding or full application of faith in our daily endeavors. We save the “big things” for God and attempt to tackle the mundane tasks and small things ourselves. This is not exactly what the Word of God tells us to do, but it is the culture of church today. Lives made a little better just by knowing the Name of Jesus. Well, need I remind you today as I am also reminded – “You believe that there is one God. You do well. (Good for you paraphrased). Even the demons believe – and tremble!”

The demons believe and tremble. The problem is not in the belief system of the enemy. It is in the mind and heart of God’s People. Do we know the Name of Jesus? Do we believe? Do we tremble at the Power and Authority given to us in the Name of Jesus Christ? Jesus spoke and demons fled, dead people came to life, and even the wind and rain obeyed Him. His Power and Authority was evident yet still some did not believe. In Luke 9:1, Jesus gave the same power and authority to His Disciples. Power over all demons and to cure diseases. They still couldn’t do it. The Lord reiterated in Luke 10 that He gives us the power to “trample serpents and scorpions, and all the power over the enemy and nothing shall by all means hurt you.” Do we believe? Do we tremble at the awesomeness of such a gift? To have all power and authority in this life delivered to us by the Christ in us for signs, miracles and wonders. Do we believe? Do we tremble at His Name?

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

It is one thing to imply belief in our words and actions but it quite another to initialize and implement faith. Faith is active. It is alive. It grows when planted. It must be invested to reproduce or it is just an unused resource. The measure of faith given to us is to be used now. Today. Not for big things but everything. Faith is a tangible substance not a passing thought or idea. It is a full investment of this life into eternity that will produce Kingdom productivity supernaturally in the natural. It begins by believing. Believing not just in the existence of Christ, the Gift of God that is eternal life but becoming fully aware and accepting of His Power and Authority handed to us by way of the Cross and Resurrection. We cannot use a weapon we do not possess or refuse to take hold of. A gun in a gun safe behind a locked door is no good if the intruder sneaks in at night. We are unarmed and not ready. But to sleep with the weapon locked and loaded by your bed ensures that you will not be caught unaware. Where is your weapon today?

Obedience is essential. We must not only read God’s Word. Know God’s Word. We must become fully compliant and obedient to God’s Word to have His Authority and Power. Obedience (hupakoe) means to listen with a compliant submission and agreement. Doubt tells us that when happened in Biblical times cannot happen now. Miracles are for fairy tales and fiction not real life. Reading God’s Word will never be enough. The Word of God makes faith logical. It is the revelation of the seed of faith’s potential in our life and the encouragement needed to sow it daily. Real faith is defined by obedience. To strive daily to live God’s Word and fulfill His Purpose.

The Spirit-Filled Bible offers commentary on strongholds that I found to be quite powerful and revealing. A stronghold is first established in our mind. Behind every stronghold is a lie – a place of personal bondage where God’s Word has been held subject or enslaved to any unscriptural idea or personally confused belief. I remember many years ago teaching a Youth Sunday School Class. In the course of the lesson, I mentioned that Jesus never married or had a family of his own while on the earth. I was quickly refuted by a 13-year-old who was adamant that the Lord married Mary Magdalene and had a family. I tried to explain through passages in the Word that this was simply not true. Her family had watched a movie that made this appear to be Truth to her. She could not be convinced otherwise. Eve was caught up in a lie of twisted truth. The enemy does it all the time. Appealing to our mind with a half-truth or skewed interpretation of God’s Word. Behind every lie is a fear and behind every fear that is an idol. Idols exist and are established wherever there exists a failure to trust the provisions of God that belong to us in Christ. Strongholds are broken by Truth that is turned to trust manifested in obedience even when completely contrary to the world and society norm. It is in such a place our heart and mind are changed and become one. Faith grows to confidence in this place. As strongholds come down and faith arises – our body, mind and spirit prosper in Truth as our soul prospers. Suddenly, our life becomes subject to the Kingdom of God and not this world and all its problems, temptations or trials.

Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!”

There are many who say that they believe there is a god. There are even those who believe in the one true God. There are some who believe that Jesus is His Son and that He died on the Cross for their sins. Churches are filled with believers. My greatest fear is that when I met Jesus face-to-face that He would say, “I never knew you…” I cannot even fathom that moment of separation. Faith is given to us to develop a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ which gives us access to the Father. The Father who fully embraces us as His Children again. We can now enter His Presence, talk to Him, listen to Him, and the potential of His Word is now our promise. All of this wonderful! God is good! If I do not realize that importance of obedience in claiming the Kingdom of God and my place as a Child of God through faith and belief in God’s Power and Authority over my life – I will miss out on the impossibilities becoming my possibility. More than that – I may miss out on the greatest love affair ever known. See casting out demons and healing diseases is pretty impressive but it is unconditional love that most people truly seek – the rest is just icing on the cake. Lord, may our belief be captivated by Your Word today, fortified by the Truth of Your Great Love for us. Father, help us to plant faith and sow confidence in Your Love that leads to obedience. Help us Holy Spirit to tear down every stronghold, expose every lie, destroy every fear and knock over every idol so Your Power and Authority will be manifested by Your Grace. Help us in our weakness. God give us insight, discernment, revelation, knowledge and understanding to become our wisdom. Father, help us to know you more. Jesus – we want you to know our name. Lord, may we press in until we tremble at Your Name too! Let everything we do and say rise from this purpose in our life. Amen!

Luke 10:19-20 (NKJV)  Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

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The Doorkeepers

Doorkeepers

John 10:9-10 (NKJV) I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

It’s the end of summer. Almost time for the kids to head back to school, praise the Lord! My power bill welcomes the relief. It has been steadily climbing. Partly due to the television, lights, and ceiling fans constantly burning up precious kilowatts. However, I could not figure out why it was higher than normal. We have had children in school for more than 20 years now. Down to just two girls at home, I was a bit perplexed. Did I mention that we also acquired a new family member in the form of a fur baby? She is in the midst of housebreaking. She also must be defective because she has a hole in her lip that causes her to slop water all over the place. What does this have to do with my power bill? Well, when our girls take the dog out or to the porch for water, they were leaving the backdoor open. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. The point is that our air conditioner has been servicing the entire neighborhood. Ugh! How many times have I asked, pleaded and even shouted – “Shut the door!” Can anyone else relate? It’s like money flying out the backdoor and floating in the sky.

An open door is an access point. It allows things to come in and go out like the air conditioning of our house. We decide what gains access or is shut out. With heavy locks and deadbolts to keep those unwanted to enter for our protection. I am terrible at locking doors by the way. I am learning to be more diligent about what I allow to have access in my life. It is important that believers become doorkeepers who are diligent, determined and disciplined when it comes to granting access to our life. Jesus declared Himself to be the door! Anyone who enters by me will be saved. He offers freedom to those who enter salvation through Him. He is the Way, Truth and Life who gives us access to the Father. The door that He offers also is the way to have life more abundantly. The threshold is two-fold. Not only does it grant us access but it gives Jesus access to our natural life.

Matthew 16:19 (NKJV) “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Faith is the key that opens the door to Heaven for us. Faith in Jesus Christ (who is the door) opens all of God’s Kingdom to the believer. I can have keys to many places, but if I don’t use them keys are useless. Faith in action creates an access point to the Father through Jesus His Son. We must enter into the place it provides called Presence to have the abundant life that is offered. Jesus has given us the Keys to the Kingdom. What are we doing with them today?

Revelation 3:20 (NKJV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

The first door to be opened is the one to our heart. Jesus is gently knocking and asking for entrance to us. He promises that if I just open the door that He will come in and live with me. The intimacy of relationship cannot be established with barriers between us. We must give the Lord access to our heart, mind, body and soul. He does not change. He will change us. When the Lord enters – He brings with Him things like Resurrection Power and Life. He is a very attentive lover who always brings good things to His Beloved. His Spirit produces good and lasting fruit that provides fullness of life and true satisfaction. He gives us the knowledge and wisdom. His Favor is full of opportunity and new life that does more than we can think or ask. All this because we chose to open the door and let His Unconditional Love and Overwhelming Grace flood our life. We could stop here but there is so much more to our life with Christ and in Him…why would we?

Revelation 4:1 (NKJV) After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

There is a whole lot of life to live in the dash between the dates on the birth certificate to the one on our death certificate. To live in abundance, favor, and victory requires a new perspective. To expand our perception of life from the natural to the supernatural. The Lord wants us to “come up” higher and see our life and ourselves as He does. To fully embrace the new thing that He is doing and become the new creation that is promised. I cannot live in the fulfillment of God in the midst of human logic and rationalization. I need the Spirit and Truth to produce new understanding that becomes knowledge to apply as wisdom. The kind of Truth that steps out of fear, worry, anxiety and insecurity to walk by faith and total trust that produces confidence in the hope I have in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 78:23-24 (NKJV) Yet He had commanded the clouds above, and opened the doors of heaven, had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven.

When the doors to Heaven open, something is released. Always. It is by faith that a foundation of expectation is built beneath us. It keeps us focused on the door with expectancy. To believe that there is something behind the door that I need keeps me every before it. Expectancy in God turns our timid knocking praying and hoping that He will answer into a mighty pounding on it knowing the One behind it is faithful and true. Do you believe that Jesus has something behind the door? Is there something in the Presence of God you need? Are you willing to come boldly before His Throne and beat on that door until it opens? Urgency produces expectancy that becomes boldness. How important is the thing you are trusting and believing the Lord for? Is it your health or maybe deliverance? Is it for a loved one? Anything wanted, needed or desired by us according to His Perfect Plan and Divine Fulfillment is behind that door and when we knock He has promised to open it :– something will come rushing out when He does open it so in the meantime…

Proverbs 8:34-35 (NKJV) “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord…”

Thank goodness the Spirit of the Lord produces patience and longsuffering in us because it certainly did not come with this package. We will watch at His Gates and wait at the door when what is behind it is worth having. When Jesus becomes that which is desired most, our willingness to wait is expanded. Whoever finds Jesus finds life and obtains the favor of God. I want eternal life. Isn’t that the whole point? Sometimes we forget when impatience overtakes us and the enemy offers immediate gratification in the form of substitution. I want life AND God’s Favor. The Favor of God will work in our life now. I cannot have His Favor outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the vine and I am a branch unable to produce anything good outside of our connection. Opening the door to my heart and inviting Him will be my salvation. But God doesn’t want to stop with just saving us but He has a plan and purpose to prosper us, to make us successful, and give us abundance in life to fuel generosity and give even more credibility to the Goodness of God, His Grace and for His Glory.

Psalm 84:10-11 (NKJV) For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Are you a doorkeeper in the House of God? The Presence of God is available to all of us thanks to His Son, Jesus Christ. The temporary trials and momentary problems of today do not block us from the Kingdom and its power. We have been given the keys to the Kingdom. Am I using them today? Shaking those keys at the enemy does nothing but make a lot of noise? The devil is not afraid of the keys but that you will use them to open the door to Heaven. It is the job of the doorkeeper to open the door. To use the key marked faith and open the door of Presence is to allow all of God’s Grace, Goodness and Glory to permeate our life. He becomes our sun and shield as His Presence surrounds us, provides for us, empowers us and protects us. He is the Light that leads to all wisdom and truth so we are not tangled in lies or trapped in walls of untruth. He wants to give us more grace and more glory every day. He will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly in His Presence. We have the keys. He has already told us in His Word that He will come in. The real question is not whether He is faithful but will I be faith full? When God opens the door to Presence will I step in? His Presence is unsettling and produces change. It makes us uncomfortable. It is often inconvenient. It requires us to relinquish control. Am I willing to live undone in the Presence of God? Yes, I am. There is something I want that is found only in His Presence. I must make the conscious choice to live ever before the door to Heaven knocking and when He opens the door – I must be willing to rush in.

John 10:1-4 (NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

Calling All the Warriors

Calling All The Warriors

The Entrusted Sword by Ilse Kleyn

I Timothy 6:12 (NLT) Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

“Warriors are not the ones who always win…but the ones that always fight.”

The definition of warrior is one who is engaged in, experienced in, or devoted to war. There is an ongoing war for our faith every day. The declaration of Jesus Christ not only as Savior but also as Lord is a proclamation of allegiance to another Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is taken by force. The fruitless attack of the enemy to overthrow the Power of God and His Son, Jesus is obvious. His kingdom is the world. It is filled with darkness and inevitable death overcome solely by Jesus Christ. Why attack God’s People who are weak and rebellious by nature? Because Jesus Christ lives in us.

Fight the good fight for true faith. Calling all the warriors today. Those men and women who have decided to give up this life to gain their soul and place in God’s Kingdom. “Si vis pacem, para bellum” is Latin translates “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Jesus Christ won the victory. He died on the Cross offering the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind – past, present and future. He released His Spirit to give us new life. Walking through hell, Jesus snatched back the keys to death and the grave. He triumphantly rose up out of the tomb and gave us the Keys to the Kingdom. Now we live under constant attack and in inner turmoil as our heart, mind, body and soul strive to take hold of the Kingdom while living in the world.

Faith may be small. It may seem wasted on so many things but the one who fights to get it in the ground, nurture and protect it while it grows, will one day harvest its reward. It is tiny yet of infinite value and worth. It is the very salvation of our souls with the potential to change every impossible outcome to possible for our good and God’s Glory. You are worth fighting for. The Lord fights for us. (Jeremiah 20:11) He is a warrior and Yahweh is His Name. (Exodus 15:3) It is up to us individually to decide that faith is worth fighting for. The battle ends once He is seen before us face-to-face and we exchange faith for forever. Until then…

Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT) So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. Every warrior gets tired. Their sword becomes too heavy or sometimes they get lost in the fight. We are no exception. Fighting the good fight for true faith might be a bit easier if not fighting internally, too. Life is hard enough fighting spiritual and physical battles not to add emotional and mental skirmishes, too. My pride gets in the way. Offense builds obstacles. Hurt causes hindrances. My flesh fights back. To let the Holy Spirit guide our life from victory to victory and grace to grace and glory to glory requires an absolute surrender and submission of self to the Cross of Jesus Christ proclaiming allegiance to the Kingdom of God. My sinful nature is evil. My mind will play tricks on me taking the lie and accusations of the enemy to tangle me in words and wrap me in his lies if I am not careful. Daily I hear a voice seething at me to give up, give in, and quit. Do you? Are you weary in well doing? Is your sword dragging the ground? Are you tired of fighting for faith and ready to just stop trying?

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT) For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” (Sun Tzu – The Art of War)

Jesus Christ is our Champion. (Hebrews 12:2) He is the one who initiates and perfects our faith. He disregarded the shame of surrender, and endured the pain of submission on the Cross to give us victory in life especially over death and the grave. No matter what you are facing, battling or striving against Jesus has already overcome it. To know, recognize, understand and fully comprehend the magnitude of His Win – the Word of God is essential. It looks like the enemy is winning but truly he is warring without cause. The end is written from the beginning just as every day of our life is prerecorded by God. He gives us a plan which includes future and hope which is ours for the taking. It only requires a wholehearted attempt at acquisition and it belongs to us. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) To believe that Jesus is the ultimate overcomer changes our strategy in life. To be a victorious warrior it means knowing from the onset that we win. Such knowledge will help us to pick and choose our battles carefully. This is not a life of survival but a place in which God’s People can thrive. Jesus secured our victory now we live to claim it. Such an understanding changes our perspective in life from the overwhelmed to the overcomer in Jesus Name. (John 16:33)

Ephesians 6:16-18 (NLT) In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

“The true warrior understands and seizes that moment by giving an effort so intense and intuitive that it could only be called one for the heart.” (Pat Riley)

Take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. It is important that as believers as we fight for our faith that it comes from our heart. The Sword of our Spirit is the Word of God. Jesus declared in Matthew 10:34 that He did not come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword. We see the same image in Revelation 1, “and a sharp two-edged sword came from His Mouth.” It is definitely Jesus because the Words from His Mouth are “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

“Stay alert and persistent…” We do not battle against flesh and blood so stop looking for someone to blame for your current situation or position in life. As our shield of faith slips – it is human nature to lash out against those fiery darts at prime enemy number one other people. The enemy works overtime to divide the Body of Christ which is contradictory to the harmony that God desires. The iron sent to sharpen your iron may be the very person you completely disregard or seem to be constantly at odds with. (Proverbs 27:17) Children of God should be prepared to live the life of a warrior who walks courageously by faith through life unhindered by what they see or experience in the natural but completely influenced and motivated by the supernatural.

It is not a physical fight so exercise and train your spirit to war effectively and rely on the victory given to us by Christ. It is important. Our physical strength must give way to the Spirit. God’s Power works best in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) When the men came to take Jesus, one of his men used his sword and struck the high priest’s slave cutting off his ear. He was defending the Lord. But Jesus made it clear, this is not the way we do battle. Jesus could have called a thousand angels to come to His Rescue and God would have sent them instantly BUT if He did how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen? (Matthew26:51-54) Your life is a purpose to be fulfilled by God. Your natural strength must give way to the Spirit. If you are tired and weary of well-doing, ready to give up and about to give in – it can only mean one thing – you are about to see God’s Power manifested in your life.

Some final parting words of encouragement straight from God’s Word to the warriors…

Joel 3:9-10 (NLT) Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors.

You have everything you need to be victorious. To fight the good fight of faith. Sometimes, it means hammering plowshares into swords and pruning hooks into spears. Take some time today to hone your spiritual sword sharpening it with the Word of God and praying in the Spirit of the Living God. You eat, train and discipline our body and mind – physically and religiously but the Spirit man wins the war.

Nehemiah 4:14-16 (NLT) But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah who were building the wall. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm.

The good fight for true faith is fought daily. We are building the Kingdom of God. It means building a wall around our praise so it may never be silenced. Judah means praise. God always sent Judah first because praise before the battle relays confidence in our promised victory. You must work with one hand supporting the load AND the other hand holding the Sword of the Spirit entrusted to us so our labor is not in vain. You have a sword use it. Carry it with you every day. Speak the Word of God over your life and you will win every battle.

2 Kings 13:18-19 (NLT) Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

Limited faith produces limited victory. Faith in God includes faith in His Process. It trusts in His Timing. When God tells us to do something, wholehearted obedience is required. Our victory is solely dependent on our trust in the Lord. It is secured by faith. If He pointed you in a certain direction, do not stop until you arrive at fulfillment. If He gave you His Word, hold it until it comes to pass. If you have a dream, do not give it away in the pit or prison but remember it so you will reach the palace. Serving the Lord by faith is truly a fight. Daily engagement. It requires a warrior spirit that refuses to quit. Giving up is not an option. Giving in is just not possible. The Glory of God awaits those who decide God is faithful and remain courageous when nothing is going right knowing His Righteousness is coming. I do not want to stop short of God’s Plan and Purpose for my life. I want the rich and satisfying life Jesus promised. He told us that those who endure to the end will be saved. I want to be that person. I am a warrior. I will not stop short of victory.

“The strongest of all warriors are these two – time and patience” (Lee Tolstoy)

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

Will To Win

Will to win

Romans 8:37 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Romans 8:37 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Overwhelming victory. More than conquerors. Through Jesus Christ, this is the promised outcome in our life. We live from grace to grace, glory to glory and win to win. Do you feel victorious? Are you overcoming? Are you winning today? Zig Ziglar points out that “you were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” The will to win is instilled in us from the beginning. No one has a desire to lose or fail in life but always to win. Romans 8:37 promises us “overwhelming victory” through Jesus Christ. If winning is elusive and victory just an illusion to you today, it is not because winning potential is not in you but rather it has not been tapped into yet. You were born to win. God put a plan in place from the beginning (Psalm 139:16) before you drew your first breath to give you a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) If you have not crossed over the goal line of victory, it doesn’t mean it’s not your destiny. Winners must plan to win, prepare for the win and expect to win. Do you have the will to win today? Do you believe that Christ has made you more than a conqueror?

“Before you can win, you have to believe you are worthy.” (Mike Ditka)

I Corinthians 15:57 (NLT) But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am worthy of winning because Jesus Christ lives in me. My Savior and Lord has given me victory. It is a done deal. So much so that I can thank God for it every day even on those days that I cannot see the goal line. I win. I am well-equipped for victory through Christ. The victorious Christian achieves victory through Christ. Any part of my life that is not successful need only be redirected through Jesus Christ in thought and process to experience the overwhelming victory that is promised, not because I am worthy, but Christ who lives in me is worthy. He is not glorified in my failure but when faith succeeds and I believe. Here are some of the things that are established in my life through Christ:

Through Christ – I have grace and more grace. Grace and truth lead me to victory. They are the coaches that establish my place in God’s Word. Grace overcomes every weakness so that His Power is made manifest in my life. (John 1:16-18)

Through Christ – I achieve righteousness or right standing with God again. No longer held captive by sin and bound in its bondage. I am free to win. Ready to overcome. I am destined for victory. My righteousness is not my own but established through Jesus Christ giving me bold access to the Father. (Romans 3:21-24)

Through Christ – I am at peace with God. Faith produces confidence to try again and again according to the hope that belongs to me now. I can even be successful in suffering because it produces something good. God makes good of every detail of my life. (Romans 8:28) He leads us from victory to victory. “Sometimes losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.” (Donald Trump) On the days of simply enduring and making it through, I am still one step closer to having all God promised through the love and grace of Jesus. (Romans 5:1-5)

Through Christ – My life is reconciled to God day by day, moment by moment until His Plan becomes the reality of my life. As my soul prospers in a real relationship with the Lord, my standard of living is raised to His Glorious Standard. Where is God’s Glory in our failure? Where is the Light when we lose? To live a life reconciled to God is to allow His Glory to fill our life. We become satisfied in the abundant life that Jesus Christ produces in us, through us and gives to us each day. (Romans 5:10-11)

Through Christ – I have eternal life. The investment of my life in just this life is futile. It is my Kingdom investment that yields the greatest treasure and triumph in my life. (Romans 5:21)

Through Christ – I can bear much fruit. God Fruit. The kind of fruit that His Spirit produces which lead to supernatural abundance in our life. (Galatians 5:22-23) Apart from Christ, I can do nothing of worth or lasting glory. (John15:5) The fruit of my life that feeds my soul with satisfaction is the kind that gives me love, joy, peace and more. It is the fruit that strengthens me to achieve victory in Jesus Christ. (Romans 7:24)

Through Christ – I find the substance of my faith. To believe in God’s Plan, first we must know His Plan. He sent His Son, who is the Word wrapped in flesh, to show us firsthand just how much God loves us and desires us. (John 1:14) Not to be a step-child but to live in fulfillment as His Child. (Galatians 3:26) Faith is illogical apart from the Word. To live a victorious life in Jesus Christ, I must know His Plan and Process. (Romans 10:17)

Through Christ – I exist. Christ changes a hopeless, fruitless life into an abundant existence. Every part of my life filtered through Christ, even the most impossible, is absolutely possible simply because I believe enough to invest fully. (I Corinthians 8:6)

Through Christ – There is comfort for those times that winning seems elusive. His Spirit accompanies us while we wait on the Lord. He gives us strength and courage as the days drag on. He encourages us to hold on to hope for one more day. (2 Corinthians 1:5) Jesus is our confidence in the midst of confusion as God lines up our life according to His Plan which is always to win. (2 Corinthians 3:4)

Through Christ – I am fully equipped and empowered to win. I have God’s Glory. There is no glory in losing but winning. “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.” (Vince Lombardi) said it but truly God means it. In Christ, there is only victory and glory. (Hebrews 13:20-21) He handed us the keys to the Kingdom now what? We have everything we need including all the resources of Heaven and every possible spiritual blessing – why aren’t we winning? Where is the victorious Christian? Why aren’t we shouting down the walls of the church to tell the world – we win?

Through Christ – I have been given the opportunity to be a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7) To win is to accept God’s Mercy with confidence and allow Him to rebirth and renew us from the inside out. We must set our heart on victory and become more than a conqueror…through Christ.

I John 5:3-5 (NLT) Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

“If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory.” Confident hope is represented by faith fully invested. A diversified life may lead to the occasional win, but a life committed to overwhelming victory and constant conquest in all things must have faith. Faith that through Christ – I have been given such a life. To become fully satisfied in pursuing prosperity according to God’s Kingdom will increase your life. It begins in our soul. Once all in, satisfaction and contentment become the foundation of inexpressible joy and limitless expectancy through Christ. “I will not win immediately but definitely.” (Unknown Author)

Matthew 19:21-27 (NLT)  Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”

I love Peter. He may be my favorite disciple. He was always the first to volunteer. His impulsive nature put him in many situations that others would never experience. He made a lot of mistakes. Yet the Lord still chose to use him. In the story that Jesus shared, He said, “I tell you the truth, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Maybe you are thinking – not a problem I am far from rich. Pause for a moment and take in a deep breath. As long as life is within you, you have the potential to prosper. You have a priceless commodity others have lost – time. Time to be renewed and transformed so that your entire life is through Christ. You have the opportunity to win. However, too many times, we are not willing to give up compromise or “ties” if you will for the win.

We do not want to seem like a worldly failure to begin to prosper in the Lord so we settle for the things of this world. God’s Plan is to prosper Your Life. Jesus Christ has given us overwhelming victory. Are we willing? That is the question, willing to change the way we think in order to find faith, to live what we believe to win, and to who God created us to be not who the world tells us to be in order to live a fully satisfied life? See my friend, Peter said what everyone else was thinking, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Peter still did not know, understand or perceive the potential before Him in Jesus Christ. He was still looking for Heaven on earth when the Messiah was right in front of Him. We must release the temporary to secure the eternal today. To live boldly by faith that is fully motivated and invested in the Kingdom of God.

You have overwhelming victory today through Jesus Christ. Faith sees our life through Christ and His Word not conditions, circumstances or details. Our drive to know Him facilitates spiritual blessing and prosperity that takes chances in life that we would have never had the confidence or boldness to take as God unfolds opportunities to triumph. When the door to the impossible is opened, no one can every shut it again. Jesus opens that door to us. Will we walk in victory? Well that is up to you and me – if we have the will to win. Lord, help our unbelief. You have destined us to win through Jesus Christ. Let us walk by faith and not by sight as more than conquerors in all things today. Help us to follow where you are leading from victory to victory by making your Spirit new in us again. Revive us. Restore us. Renew us. In Jesus Name – make all things possible because we choose to believe.

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

Share the Win

Share the Win

2 Corinthians 3:8-12 (NLT) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold.

If I may be so bold, this is God’s Word for your life today. It is not a coincidence you are reading this today. The enemy already deleted it the first time I tried to send it to you. As I was saving the file, the program shutdown completely. No big deal if you use these products regularly because they come with an “autosave” feature that should bring it right back up on the screen when Word starts to operate again. There would be no recovery document. The clipboard on the computer wiped clean. Coincidence? You may think so but I know in my heart that is not the case. Someone is about to give up and needs to know they win. Somebody is about to quit inches from the finish line marked “FAITH”. I almost got up and walked away completely disgusted that two hours were wasted, but then I thought about you. I am encouraged by the Word of God that promises me His Glory and overwhelming victory. I almost took it with me but the Lord wants you to have His Glory too. He wants you to share in His Overcoming Power bestowed on you because of His Unfailing Love and Faithfulness. So this is for you…just you.

Just before being rudely interrupted by a so-called computer glitch, I was sharing with you a story. Our family was given the unique opportunity to tour the local college’s football facility. We are huge Florida State University fans so it was literally an honor and privilege to go behind the scenes. It was game day so the stadium was a flurry of activity. We had a wonderful tour guide, Nicole, who showed us around, answered questions, and gave us the inside scoop. It was amazing. Right before the game, we met the head coach. In the waiting area of the front office, there were cases filled with the championship rings from all the important games. Nicole showed us her pendant from the last National Championship. When the team wins, everyone from who is a part of the football program gets either a ring or a pendant as a reward. The all share the glory of the win. I love that! Although she had never put her hands on the sod, taking the snap of a ball or caught a fifty yard pass to carry it across the goal line – she shared in their victory. I asked her where I could apply for a job.

Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 

Do you expect to live a glorious life? We have been given a new way of life that leads from victory to victory and glory to glory. Are you living it today? I suspect not or the enemy would not be trying so hard to steal God’s Message for you. He has been working at silencing me for almost a decade now. The old way which brought only condemnation still was glorious. Moses would enter the Presence of God and leave shining from the experience. Literally his face shone with a bright light from his time spent with the Lord. You know the feeling. You get up and drag yourself to church. Glad just to make it your seat. But then through worship, the Word or someone who is a human vessel – God pours His Glory out on you and suddenly the burden you thought might crush you is not so heavy anymore. The loneliness not the isolation you thought it was. The wait has been long but suddenly you have the strength to wait a little longer. God’s Glory changes everything. We find it in salvation and stepping into the Presence of God. Why? Because that is the place where the Spirit in us connects with the God around us and we become one. God was to overwhelm you with His Glory today. He wants to raise your standard of living.

So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Over the years, I have attended many football games. We have won some and lost some. I have watched our team put their all on the field and other times not so much. It is my observation that all the kids train to keep their place on the team but not all of them condition their mind to win. I Corinthians 9 tells us that all athletes are disciplined in training. This is how they maintain their spot on the team. They do it for the prize. We are training to win an eternal prize. So I must run with purpose in every step. The team that plays the game with purpose and drive in each step will win. The ones who want it more. The ones who despite insult or injury keep giving their all. Taking a stand. Pushing and pressing when their bodies are broken. What about you? Are you giving your all? Or are you about to give in?

Sin separated us from God’s Glorious Standard of Living. The enemy would like you to remain in that same mindset. The idea that anything we do can keep us from God’s Best, His Purpose and the rich and satisfying life of abundance that Jesus has promised. Thanks to Jesus our right standing is restored. It is that partnership that gives us God’s Glory. We have access to live a glorious life here and now. Yes, in the current situation, circumstance or condition of your life – you will not walk out of it until you are confident His New Way is better. Remember Elijah and the prophets of Baal. He won. Miracles happened that day. Heaven literally touched the earth in front of them. Then Jezebel threatened the prophet with words… just words. God found him hiding in a cage and asked, “What are you doing here?” We must change our mindset to share the win. God has given us unfailing love and unprecedented favor with a plethora of promises that belong to us…if we continue to run the race of faith. God’s Grace made every good between you. Now, He is ready to give you His Glory.

John 17:1-3 (NLT) After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.

The word “glorious” means delightful, wonderful, and completely enjoyable. Our life in Christ should be all these things because God’s Glory lives in us. Jesus who was the Word of God wrapped in flesh. Jesus was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. We have seen God’s Glory. His Name is Jesus. He is full of glory. In John 17, Jesus is praying. The hour had come. It was time to win it all. It would cost Him everything. Before the battle over death and the grave even began, Jesus gave glory to His Father. He asked God to “glorify” him so He could reciprocate it back to Him. To glorify is to cause to be more splendid, excellent, than would normally be considered. It also means to “invest with glory.” Jesus wanted God’s Glory in this trial set before Him. He wanted to make it to the finish line and claim victory for us all so we could share His Glory. Your life is premediated and preordained to be glorious. When Jesus died and released His Spirit, He would soon make His Way into us. We are filled with the Glory of God – the Holy Spirit is evidence of that.

2 Corinthians 1:19-22 (NLT) For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

Come in a little closer, I have a secret to share with you. All of God’s Promises for your life are a RESOUNDING “Yes!” You haven’t wasted anything. You are not missing out. You have not been passed by. You are on the way to a win. And then another one…and another one. God has given you His Glory. What kind of God would lead you from disaster to disaster, or loss after loss? Not my God. He gave us a champion. His Name is Jesus. He is the initiator and finisher of faith. You just have to stand on the foundation of faith and hold on to your hope and you will win every single battle. You will be victorious in every situation. It doesn’t matter how big the giants are when Christ lives in you. It doesn’t matter how deep the pit – you will still make it to the palace. God’s Plan for you hasn’t changed. It is still all about His Glory overflowing from you and spilling out into your natural life to make it supernatural. It’s not about you, your ability or even your faithfulness. It is all about letting the Christ in you take over and carry you from victory to victory for His Glory. I want God’s Glory. There are many men who own championship rings won in an athletic stadium or arena who are addicts living in poverty because when the glory faded and the spotlight dimmed they were empty and unfulfilled but not you. When you come to the end of yourself, Jesus is always waiting and ready to hand you victory.

He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

You have the Glory of God in you. Jesus lives in us. To live according to the Christ in us rather than the world around us – heaven and earth connect. The resources of Heaven designated for your life begin to pour out and pour into every void. The Holy Spirit guarantees everything God promised us. Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t if you are willing to put it all on the field of life and push until it happens. It is human nature to give up. It is natural to want to quit when things get tough. The world tells us to stop when things become impossible but that is the very moment that God’s Glory is the closest. The moment eyes cannot see but our faith says, “Go for it!” The mindset of victory is confidence. Confidence that evokes boldness to silence the naysayers by doing it. Confidence that carries us far past human weakness into the sufficiency of God’s Grace that elicits His Power to overtake us. We have all heard the stories of people who have supernatural strength when someone they love is in danger. Well, don’t you think the Jesus in you feels the same way? He wants you to use His Power. He wants to saturate your life in His Glory and Goodness for all the world to see. This is what it means to be the Light of the World. People don’t chase after losers but they follow champions. Are you playing to win today? Do you really want God’s Glorious Standard of Living? Do you believe it is possible? Your heart and mind must become confident in the existence of Christ in you in order to follow Him across the finish line. Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Just to speculate a little, I imagine that Nicole, the tour guide at the university, was sitting at her desk one day when an email went out. It bore the exciting news that the championship rings and pendants had arrived. Everyone should report to the conference room to claim their victory piece. But what if Nicole didn’t believe that there was anything there for her? Or maybe she decided she didn’t feel like walking all the way down the hall to wait in a long line, she had lunch plans that were way more important. Perhaps she just didn’t want one. She was free to ignore the email and go about her day. Do you think Nicole did that? Heck no! She was probably the first one in line. She loves her job. She loves the school. She is part of team. A winning team and she shares in their victory. What about you?

Do you believe you are a Child of God? Do you know that the Living God is in you? Do you understand that you have access to all of God’s Power and are guaranteed every promise the Lord has made to you? It doesn’t matter what you do or where you go or how many times you throw in the towel but it is the one time you do hold fast to the hope you are given that God drives it home. If you believe, you will claim victory in Jesus today and keep going. You will not give up because you believe that God is faithful even if you are not! You won’t settle for less than God’s Best but keep pursuing the rich and satisfying life of abundance that God promised you and sealed with His Spirit. Nothing is impossible if you believe. But freedom is a choice.

You choose whose steps you walk in. The world will offer a comfortable and convenient compromise for every challenge to fight for your faith. Today – when the computer shutdown and all the words lost – I was mad. I got up and walked away. I sat back down and tried to recover the file. I was ready to just go about my day. God had other plans. He wanted you to know today that you win! You have victory! You are an overcomer who is more than a conqueror because Christ lives in you. Why don’t you invest in that line of thinking for just one day! The idea that all things are possible simply because Christ, my champion, lives in you and me. Imagine the possibilities. The enemy already tried to take victory from us once today. Will we let him have the day? Not me, friend. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. I win. Christ gave me victory. He continues to provide overwhelming victory moving me from glory to glory every single day! He is sharing His Glory with me…it is up to me if I will take it and run. We can be a reflection of God’s Glory. He shares the win and we receive the prize. Fight for your faith it is worth having. Hold tight to your hope you will need it in the end. Pursue Jesus with your body, mind, heart and soul. He is our victory!

Romans 8:37-38 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

I John 4:4 (NLT) But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 

I John 5:4-5 (NLT) For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT) But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Peaks and Valleys

Peaks and Valleys

Psalm 23 (ESV) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 is probably the most popular of all the psalms. It is about the constancy of Christ even though He is called the Shepherd. I could elaborate on the first verse endlessly never moving on to the rest. When Jesus becomes our Provider, Protector and Providence – there is nothing more valuable or desirable to be found. He is constant. He is sovereign. He is faithful. Always good. Forever gracious. His Loving Care and Kindness is endless. He always offers me more, better, fruitful, and productive opportunities in life. However, this knowledge and understanding comes at a price.

It takes trust. It requires time. It is to invest a footstep in following rather than leading the way. It is to submit the most precious commodity given in order to receive forever. It is a risk in the beginning. How do I know? Where will I go? What will I do? Will it be worth it? The second part of verse one is an achievement of soul satisfaction. Jesus promised to give us a rich and satisfying life which the enemy has decide to steal, kill and destroy if at all possible. This is the journey of life. The ebb and flow of our flesh and spirit as one attempts to surrender our only thing of value to a Savior of infinite worth. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want is not one-sided statement but a partnership. The Lord is my Shepherd. He is doing His Part. I do not want because I have invested my life and my soul is satisfied.

The enemy cannot take anything from us that we are not willing to give. Any part of our life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ is heavily guarded by the One who is victorious and overcame the world. There is nothing invested in the Kingdom that the enemy can lay claim to or take hold of. Someone needed to hear that today. Our eyes keep looking at the giants rather than staying focused on our champion. He is bigger, greater and more powerful. The Shepherd is not meek but a fearless and faithful warrior who will not leave a single one behind who desires to be found.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

The peaks and valleys of life are inevitable. Jesus did not come to save the world. The tumultuous journey and path chosen by darkness is written and confirmed. The earth as we know it will pass away one day despite our stewardship of it. Jesus came for me and you. He loves me and you. His Greatest and Most Earnest Intent on the Cross was to have a relationship with us. The very first thing His Spirit did was to tear the veil that once separated mankind from God’s Presence from top to bottom. It was clear in that moment that our Savior and Lord’s Desire was for us. A personal and intimate journey through life into eternity with us. He is ready to escort us through a world where love has grown cold and sin rampant. Where bad things happen to good people. To a place where sickness and disease snatches innocent children. A place where mental illness plagues many as the tormentor and accuser hisses in their ears. See this world is not going to get better. It has an end. Enoch lived a life pleasing to God immersed in His Presence so one day he just disappeared. I believe Enoch to be just as human as you and I. I am sure some days were great and some a struggle. The consistency of His Life and Love was God.

The last week has been a challenge. The past few months a struggle. However, in the midst of the hardship, hurt and even uncertainty, I have found Psalm 23 to be true all over again. Life with Christ is not always level paths. There will be peaks. There will be valleys. Even plateaus that make some wonder if the Lord really will do as He promised. I have visited all three time and time again. I have a choice in these challenges. I can change and be changed or remain subject to the roller coaster of life. I can remain yoked to Christ or decide to do this on my own. When I remain faithful, I find that His Goodness and mercy are right behind me and overtake me on a regular basis. Not because I have done it all right, or even gotten a single point of the learning experience, but simply because God is faithful. He is constant. He does not change. What if I could for a moment establish such constancy with Christ?

Psalm 37:4 (ESV) Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

About five years ago, I gave up control of my life. It was not a beautiful surrender or sweet submission. It was the moment that I realized I have absolutely no control over the daily outcomes in my life. I cannot provide, protect, or prevent anything in the life of those I love. I cannot fulfill God’s Promises of healing, deliverance or salvation. I am but a mere human being who is dearly loved by the All Mighty. Something in me has changed. At first, I thought it was a survival mode mentality that would surely change when danger passed and disaster was averted. It didn’t change at all. Normal was shattered. New life had begun. It was uncomfortable. It was not convenient. It was my complete undoing. Things are so much better now.

There is a song by Bethel called “All I Know Your Love Endures”. I found it on YouTube this week looking for comfort. A new song. Something to sing walking through the darkness of the valley. The chorus is “all I know is this Your Love endures through every change…I am sure of it Your Love endures it will remain.” Do you believe that today? Can you sing such a love song in the midst of uncertainty, climbing the rough side of the mountain, or on those days when the Light of His Love appears as only a faint flicker in a distance just too far to traverse? The bridge says this “Emmanuel…Your every word sustaining…your nearness is my victory…from summits and in valleys I’ll sing.” I encourage you to find this powerful worship song and listen to it over and over. Our victory in Jesus Christ is not in our ability to make it up the mountain or through the valley but to allow Him to be our constant. To be our song from the highest peak and into the depths of the wildest sea. Deep calls to deep not to wade in the murky and stagnant waters of complacency. God is greater than the highs and lows in life. We say it, wear it, and recite it but when it makes its way into our heart and soul enough to believe it. It is then that our delight will be the Lord and His Unfailing Love, Goodness and Mercy will sweep us into His Presence. As our soul prospers so will we despite the challenges and struggles of life. Not because of our faithfulness but simply because He is faithful. Thank you Lord! You are the Good Shepherd. I do not want but only desire more of You!

3 John 1:2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Just Look Up

Just Look Up

Psalm 121 (NLT) I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.  The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

Not too long ago, there was a viral video of a woman walking in the mall with her eyes fixed intently on her cellphone. As she continued on her way, obviously engrossed in a text conversation, she failed to see the fountain in her path and falls into it. Plunging into the water, she quickly jumps up and looks around to see if anyone noticed and heads on her way. I will admit that I have done the same thing minus the embarrassing fall. The phone flashes a notification so you glance at it drifting into the other lane. You get a text message at work that becomes a full-blown conversation. When I finally upgraded to a “smart” phone, I did a lot of dumb things with it. One of the most freeing came when I found that I got to choose the notifications in my settings. As I turned all of them off to only the most essential, I found that my phone was no longer a distraction. Only important text messages and relevant alerts now divert my attention from the task at hand. I can finally look up from my phone because it no longer has my full attention.

With proverbial hands raised, I ask before you begin to tell me all the reasons why your phone is essential. I know you use it for work. I know it keeps you in constant contact with your children. I get it. I am in the same boat. However, our cellphones can become our focus quite easily and we all know it. How many times are they on restaurant tables or worse both parties at the table paying no attention to each other but the brightly lit device in their hand? Guilty. This is not about cellphones. It can be anything that diverts our attention from what is important to what is the most enthralling. See every detail of my life is under God’s Complete Control when I give my heart and life to Jesus. He becomes my Shepherd. My life is now yoked to Him. He cares for me. Provides for me. Protects me. Leads me. Guides me. It would only seem prudent for me to look up and keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, right? Right…

Every single human being alive today has 24 hours in a day. We are free to choose how to invest those hours in our life. Busyness is our choice. We choose to go fast or slow. We decide what will consume the hours, minutes and seconds of our life. Who will you give it to today? Will it be fully invested in Christ allowing Him to make perfect use of it? Or will you decide to do it yourself…again? I am just as guilty as anyone else of letting other things take advantage of the time that God has given me in a day. However, when I hear myself say, “I am too busy” for this or that – it has become a red flag that I am no longer using my time wisely. God doesn’t create business. The Lord promises rest. Busyness is the product of disbelief, doubt, worry and fear or else that thing you are doing does not make you too busy but completely satisfied. Hold on for a moment…I have to fully digest that.

So back to the woman walking in the mall completely distracted and walking without looking, what would have happened if she was walking down a busy street and walked into traffic? Her slight tumble could have turned into a tragedy. I wonder if sometimes the Lord allows us to stumble a bit to avoid a complete fall. To challenge us to look up and see what He is doing rather than trying to do it all ourselves. Ouch! It is human nature to try to control our life rather than to relinquish it to the Lord. Jesus is still on the Throne. We just stray from it sometimes because of a lack of complete and absolute faith in His Love and/or Faithfulness. God can do it. But until it is our full understanding that the Lord will do ALL He promised in just the right time and wait for Him – well we will run around like chickens with our head cut off trying to reproduce God’s Way in our timing which always results in tired, worn out, frustrated Christians. Have you stumbled? Did you fall? Are you frustrated? Thinking about throwing the towel in? Well, just look up.

Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

The past is not a suitable future for God’s Children. Anything in our past worth having in our future will be placed there by the Lord. We do not have to look back or go back. It is just as dangerous as keeping our eyes down. We must look straight ahead. Fix our eyes on what lies before you. Distractions are the most dangerous strategy because life is paved with good intentions. Nobody who is of sound mind sets out to fall, fail or live a less than satisfied life. No the enemy starts throwing in substitutions and compromises that seem like suitable shortcuts and legitimate routes to God’s Best. When God already told us exactly what to do – keep our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith. Who better to show us the way to all He has for us then the One who gave it to us?

Matthew 6:22-23 (NLT) “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”

I am not going to lie to you. I love the filters on some of the social media applications. They hide the lines marking my age and smooth out my wrinkles. Some will even add some extra touches to my makeup making the girl in the picture much better in appearance then the one in real life… or so I think. The new image is sent out for all to see but what really matters is not in one’s appearance but in the intent and motives of my heart. Is my heart completely in line with the Lord? Does it beat in rhythm to Jesus Christ? My eyes give light to the place where my heart and soul are hidden. I must be extremely careful to filter the light that I allow into my being. Some things may seem good and harmless but eat away at my heart and soul. Faith is my potential. It is pivotal to my purpose. To think that anything is more important that Jesus Christ will erode the foundation laid carefully in my heart and quickly overshadow my soul until nothing can grow and mature into the harvest that I am promised.

Two quick examples would be Abraham and Jacob. When Abraham made it to the mountain fully prepared to sacrifice his only son to the Lord as God required, the Lord told him to “look up”. What did he see? A ram caught in a thicket. God provided for him in that moment. (Genesis 22) It would have been missed and his son forever lost if he had not obeyed the Lord’s Directive. The other is Jacob who after years of serving Laban realized the treachery of his uncle. He had tricked Jacob into marrying Leah requiring another stint of service for his true love, Rachel. He complies and marries both women and the Lord blesses him with many children. The unfair treatment weighs heavy on his heart, but the Lord says “look up” from your pity party. What does he see? The Lord had made him quite wealthy showing him great favor through his years of captive service. (Genesis 31) What if your situation currently is not what you think? What if your head is hanging low like Abraham? Or you are looking at everyone else and your situation like Jacob? What if you just need to look up to see your help is right before you? The Lord never left you. He has provided for you, protected you and now is persuading you to look up and see He is right there!

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Jesus is our champion. He makes us feel like winners. He gives us victory. Opening the door called Triumph to those who are willing to walk through it. I will never “see” these things if I fail to change my perspective in life. The perception of my heart most productive is faith. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of it. He is my champion who gives me the opportunity to live in victory each day. Do I look to win? Or just get by? Am I after God’s Best or willing to settle for a substitute? God has promised me many things. Jesus Christ offers me a rich and satisfying life. What has my attention holds the keys to my future? I want Jesus to be my future. I must look up today from all the things that are demanding my attention. I must control the timeclock of my life and parcel it out as the Lord leads me. This is my life. I choose to spend it wisely on seeking the One who pursues me with Unfailing Love and Overwhelming Goodness. The only thing required of me is to look up and fix my eyes on Jesus. What if the Lord is doing just as He promised? What if everything is coming together but just don’t notice? What if our busyness is robbing us of rest and stealing our joy that His Love and Mercy are providing every day? What if all we need to do is look up? Turn your eyes upon Jesus today. Let the Light of His Glory and Grace fill you with new hope and peace. Let His Love fill you and illuminate His Presence so you will know with confidence that it is well with my soul!

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

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

Chasing Victory

Chasing Victory

I John 5:4-5 (AMP) For everyone born of God is victorious and overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has conquered and overcome the world—our [continuing, persistent] faith [in Jesus the Son of God]. Who is the one who is victorious and overcomes the world? It is the one who believes and recognizes the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.

Yesterday. Oh my goodness! Where to begin and yet not bore you or even overwhelm you with the details. The only reason that I even dare to share it is to encourage someone who may be facing the same. His voice broke through the darkness like a huge hand shaking me violently from sleep, “Honey, it’s 6:30!” How can that be possible? I set the alarm. No, I didn’t. I must have forgotten. We got in late. Our routine not the same. Ugh! No Jesus for me this morning, or so I thought. Running through the paces of what had to be done over what my heart desired to do, I bypassed the study to grab the dog and wake up the girls. My poor little had quite a shaking the day before while tubing on the river. Her head slammed into the water and the pressure made her earache. Now her body was sore from the impact, no worse for wear but exhausted from a long weekend without much sleep. Work has been crazy. Do I stay home with her? Is she okay? What should I do? Why is this so hard? She gets up and begins to get ready so I do the same. My husband and I run over each other in our morning routine which is usually hours apart. I am struggling with my attitude. I have so much to do lingering from last week into today. It seems no matter how much I mark off the list more keeps piling up. Running around in a flurry, I remember that I need to change the sheets in the guest room. The laundry is piling up, too. I grab some frozen chicken for dinner and head for the shower. I have to leave in less than an hour. I promise the Lord that we will talk on the way to work. The long commute is good for quiet time with Jesus unless work meets you in the car with your office manager. My mind is racing and my heart is sinking. Lord, help me today. This day is going to be a booger. I feel it inside me. I hate days like this. “Lord, I need you!”

Arriving to work and reviewing the que, all the projects due that loom over my head present as a little black rain cloud. “God, I need you!” I grab the Bible out of my purse. Surely, there is a word for me somewhere in this little blue book. I read Ezekiel the first chapter. Let me summarize. God calls Ezekiel to bring a Word to the Children of Israel – a strong retort to stubborn people who will not listen. Okay, thanks Holy Spirit that is encouraging…no seriously I get what you are saying but I need to hear that you will rush in to help me today, calm my racing heart, ease my anxious mind, and still this chaotic day. Leaving around six, two hours later than the norm. I am so tired and drained as I crawl to the car. My brain is mush for lack of better terms. My job is not physically strenuous at all, but mentally it is brutal. Holding the steering wheel tight in my hands, I whisper, “God, I need you!” I call my husband to let him know I am late. Hinting at fast food, his disappointment clear, I decide to cook even though it’s getting dark. Let’s not forget that the taxes are due. I have to submit them tonight. The to-do list for tomorrow may not leave room so prudence says, “Now!” While dinner is cooking, I slide into my desk chair. The place where I seek Him, but now just keep doing. The sheets in the guest room still calling – in between dinner and taxes – I strip it and put them in the washer. The timer sounds from the oven and I rally the troops. Sitting around our table, I look at their faces missing the ones who are not there. Thankfulness floods my heart. I made it. We made it. I begin to think about the things that have gone right today. All the small victories won. All the challenges overcome. I am thankful. So I ask each one to share just one thing no matter how big or small they are thankful for, too. The tension breaks as our family meal begins… Lord, thank you for being so much greater than me.

Everyone born of God IS victorious and overcomes the world. It says, “Everyone.” There are no exceptions. If Christ lives in me, I am enough. If He lives in you, you are more than enough to overcome every challenge and temptation that comes your way. It is our continuing and persistent faith in Jesus that gives us victory every day. My strength is no match for the enemy. However, His Grace is enough. It is sufficient. It is exposed when my weakness leads me to the Cross and I exchange my inability for all of His Possibilities. We become victorious and overcome by believing in the Power of Jesus Christ and its potential in us. I didn’t do the things I normally do including spend a significant time in my study and prayer room. Discipline puts me in this place daily so that on those days when life comes hard and pressures are overwhelming – the Christ in me is enough. I believe not because I everyone is in my favor but on the simple and active belief that all things are working together for my good because Jesus Christ is alive and well inside me.

What does it mean to overcome? Jesus overcame the world. It would be a good idea to know what He did. Overcome means get the better of in a struggle. To conquer or defeat something. It means to prevail over or persist in one’s effort. It is to overwhelm or overpower the mind, will and emotions to hold on to our faith. It means to gain victory. Victory is just on the other side of overcoming. We must overpower that which is fighting against us to live in the constant state of winning that Christ promises. How do we overcome? We must fight for our faith despite the constant conflict with our flesh and relentless adversity by the enemy.

John 16:33 (AMP) I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

Jesus was honest. He did not sugarcoat the truth about life in this world. It’s going to be hard. Difficulties will rise up. Challenges will be faced. Temptations will greet us at every turn. It is not going to be an easy journey, just a worthwhile one. You will have “tribulation, distress and suffering” BUT be courageous, confident, undaunted and filled with joy. There is joy in Jesus Christ. What I failed to mention in my dissertation about yesterday is there was laughter. There were friends who encouraged me. Keep running! You’ll catch up. Jesus overcame the world. God is greater than my feelings. Many of the things, I give a high priority are not as important as I think compared to the more than I can think, imagine or ask (Ephesians 3:20) that the Lord is doing in me and through me at the very same time.

My conquest is accomplished. My victory abiding. I love these words so much today. They give validity to my hope that I hold so dearly and tightly to my chest. As if to let my beating heart, help revive it in tough times. Yet, I know that my hope is established by faith and not anything that I can do. I cannot boast of the breakthrough today. The kind of accomplishment that allows us to lay down and sleep in perfect peace even in the midst of crushing pressure and countless deadlines. Jesus keeps telling us these things, encouraging us to believe, empowering us to hang on because He is building, shaping and molding our heart to live in victory rather than chasing it all the time. He is filling us with more of His Spirit and the inexpressible joy that is evident in perfect peace. God is with us. He lives in us. We are victorious.

I John 4:4 (AMP) Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind]. 

It’s funny that these words of encouragement are sandwiched between warnings about false teaching. When I missed my quiet time in the Word this morning and did not go into my prayer closet, but conversed with the Lord on the go. I was tempted to take an invisible bat and beat myself in the head. I have to do this – I always do this – the Lord has instructed me to do this. No, He has simply asked me to follow Him wholeheartedly. All the “to do” things are of my own design. I believe that the enemy works on both sides. The world places a high demand on our time and attention. Sometimes the people in church can do the same thing. We must be faithful to the fellowship. We must “serve” the Lord and “do” the right things. Is this really the Voice of the Lord? Because His Word says that the “blessing of the Lord brings true riches and He adds no sorrow for it.” There was no more important place I went or task performed yesterday than to sit down with my family at the dinner table and join hands to pray. To speak our thankfulness to Jesus because no matter how difficult it was – we made it. Overcoming the world’s pressures and gaining victory over the enemy’s attack – our family sat together in the Presence of the Lord, filled with His Spirit, covered with grace and shared a meal together. We made it. It was in the moment of perfect peace that victory is secure. The knowing that God is with us – Immanuel and stopping because nothing is chasing us but His Unfailing Love and Goodness. It will find us if our heart and mind are set on Him.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (AMP) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [as conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

Can I just encourage you a little today? You are victorious. You don’t have to chase victory or try to overcome. The Victor and Overcomer already lives in you. By trusting and believing that He is enough and continually pushing every care, worry, need or burden over to Him, it builds our faith into confident hope so on days when all hell breaks loose, nothing goes right, and everything seems to be falling apart – His Chaotic Love sweeps us up and envelopes us in perfect peace. The kind that our heart, mind, will and emotions can rest in even when our body is on the go. Life will continue to be full of temptation, pressure and responsibility. Jesus didn’t promise to take these challenges away but that in each one – His People overcome. Victory belongs to us if we choose to claim it, step in it and live in each day.

Psalm 117:2 (AMP) For His lovingkindness prevails over us [and we triumph and overcome through Him], and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)

 

The Warrior

knight wearing armor and holding two-handed sword

Joel 3:9-11 (NLT) Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors. Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley.” And now, O Lord, call out your warriors!

“God doesn’t give the hardest battles to His Toughest Soldiers, He creates the toughest soldiers through life’s hardest battles.” I believe this is absolutely true. Soldiers are developed in training, but warriors are produced in battle. This is contrary to the popular quote, “God gives His Hardest Battles to His Strongest Soldiers.” Forget this idea. Erase it from your brain. This is simply not true. Close but not quite. God has placed eternity in every human heart. It is our purpose in life to secure the Kingdom and arrive at our destination. It will be a fight to the finish to hang on to our faith and secure confident hope. The enemy is real. He is waging war on God’s Elect from the moment the first breath is taken. To believe that my strength is my own puts me at a great disadvantage. The potential within me is a tiny seed called faith. The one who hates me wants to take it from me and destroy it thereby killing me.

I do not mean to discourage anyone by these words but rather to encourage you. Those who feel like weaklings and failures of faith are usually the mightiest of all God’s Warriors. My strength comes from the Lord. The Power within me is Jesus Christ. His Spirit has been given me along with the potential to overcome. This great power is manifested in my utter weakness and humility before the Lord. He is the Warrior. (Exodus 15:3) His Name is Yahweh. Psalm 144:1-2 tells us that God trains our hands for war. He gives our fingers skill for the battle. He is also our loving ally and fortress who is the tower of safety, as well as our rescuer. He is my shield who makes the nations submit to me. There is really not much room for me in this picture except through submission and surrender to the Lord in the heat of the battle and midst of war.

2 Timothy 2:4-7 (NLT) Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you.” It is important to know what exactly the fight is all about. The enemy is the author of confusion. Many battles in the Old Testament ended abruptly when the enemy camp was thrown into a state of confusion. A military unit is only as strong as the commitment of each soldier to the mission or objection. Each man’s heart set on the same thing. They become so focused on the goal that the danger surrounding them blurs in the mindset of victory. Athletes are known for the same spirit. The battle faced each day is for faith. Will I hold tight to my faith in the Mighty Warrior enough to trust Him in the face of all opposition? Will I overcome in my weakness submitted to His Grace? The only thing worth fighting for on a daily basis is faith. This is the act of endurance that allows us to reach the end of this life and receive victorious redemption through Jesus Christ. “I fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”

“Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life.” This is probably our biggest distraction. We get caught up in pointless pursuits rather than purposeful practice. We are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world. We wage war on the unseen world, against the mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) Know your enemy today. It is not the people in life who oppose you but the enemy who uses whatever means necessary to secure your defeat.

John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus Christ overcame the world. “It is finished” meant it was finished. The battle over the war won for us. Now, we fight to believe it. To believe that the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ secured a place for us in His Kingdom so now we are Sons and Daughters of God. The family of unity formed by the Body of Christ binds us as God’s Army ready to fight until death for our faith. Do you believe? Jesus gave us His Spirit to help our unbelief. He knows the battles we face, the struggles of life, the heartache involved and exactly what is needed to overcome. He offers it to us in the form of His Spirit who trains us for the war of life.

John 14:16-18 (NLT) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

Jesus promised to send down His Spirit to us. When He said, “It is finished” with His Last Breath on earth – He did just that releasing His Spirit to all mankind. Now we have an Advocate who teaches us and trains those who are willing to become mighty warriors of the Lord. Not every soldier is a warrior. In 2 Samuel 24, there was a census that noted over a million capable warriors, yet in 2 Samuel 23, only 37 make the list of the mighty men. The Presence of the Holy Spirit within us empowers us to be good soldiers and fight for our faith. It is the total development of that soldier through successful engagements that make mighty warriors. We all have such potential but only few will answer the call to grow from simple soldiers to mighty warriors.

In Joel 3, warriors are called forth. Let’s go back a chapter to Joel 2. Who do we find? The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all people. Jesus has given us His Spirit with the intent of intensifying our faith, growing our confidence in God that becomes courage. The Spirit becomes our sword in the heat of battle. His Word our weapon. Faith is the shield that keeps us safe when the enemy attacks with all his fiery darts, lies and betrayal. It keeps us focused from distractions and busyness. We all have the potential to become mighty warriors but must be willing to fight for our faith to become one.

Judges 6:11-13 (NLT) Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

The Lord found Gideon hiding in a wine press threshing wheat so the enemy would not take it. He greeted Gideon, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you?” I imagine Gideon probably sarcastically chuckled a bit like Sarah’s laugh at the thought of pregnancy at 99. My current condition will never limit God’s Potential in my life unless I abandon faith. Faith makes every impossibility potential in my life. Gideon was ripe for productivity. He was about to advance from soldier to warrior even though he did not see it, feel like it, or even believe it. God called Gideon who He created Him to be not who He was.

Too often our circumstances and current condition are the thermometer of our faith rather than basing our life outcomes on the Word of God by faith. No soldier enters a battle or athlete a competition intent on losing. Faith is the mindset that in complete submission to Jesus Christ that we overcome every single time that leads us to victory. Doubt means I believe losing is an option. It implies that the Power of Christ within me is not enough. Confident hope produces courage that no matter what happens my victory is secure in the Lord both now and forever. It is not prideful, boastful or cocky just plain good old confidence that Christ is enough.

Gideon was a man. He was human. He asked the angel of the Lord to paraphrase, if I am so “mighty” why am I hiding in a winepress cowering in fear? Why is this happening to me if I have the Favor of God?” Why is life so hard? This life is temporary. The Kingdom is eternal. The Kingdom is taken by force. You must fight for your faith every day in order to enter the Kingdom. Your faith and confident hope becomes the light that leads other to victory. No solider becomes a warrior without acts of engagement and forays on the battlefield. To become a warrior means you must fight the war…and win. Why is this so important? “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive.”

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When sharing the wonderful testimony of our son’s victory over cancer thanks be to God, many people say, “I don’t know how you did it” or “I couldn’t have made it through like you”. I immediately stop them. When the cancer diagnosis came it wasn’t the result of a questionnaire given us the choice to opt out of the battle. No it was satan’s best attempt to kill our son and the potential within him. With four relapses, each one threw away every bit of my self-confidence. The thought that I had the power to protect and save my own children destroyed my confidence as a mother. There was little of me left by the time – we entered the realm called hope. But it was there when God’s Grace finally became enough for me that I discovered I am not the strong one at all. My faith is the strength of my life. Faith in Jesus Christ that allows Him to take over when I cannot take another step, breathe another breath, do another thing or hold all the pieces of my broken heart. It is in that very moment that I discover Jesus is all that I need. It is through these times that soldiers become warriors not the other way around. I thought I was strong and self-sufficient along with being faithful. Total surrender to the Power of God is claimed in our absolute weakness apart from Him. This is the potential of the warrior hidden within. When against all odds, our response to the war cry of the enemy is that Christ is enough to overcome and claim victory. To fight for our faith above all other things. To advance the Kingdom at all costs. To care less about our life and more about eternal life.

Nothing can separate you from the Love of God today. He is our overwhelming victory. To engage this life in Christ will create a victorious lifestyle that makes you a warrior rather than just a well-trained soldier. These are the ones who thwart the enemy at every turn. The ones who race out to face the giant. The ones who against all odds persevere not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of the Living God within them. Are you a soldier or a warrior today? You can choose to advance anything you want to by faith. The Lord is calling His Warriors as He readies His Return. Will you answer the call?

Isaiah 13:2-3 (NLT) “Raise a signal flag on a bare hilltop. Call up an army against Babylon. Wave your hand to encourage them as they march into the palaces of the high and mighty. I, the Lord, have dedicated these soldiers for this task. Yes, I have called mighty warriors to express my anger, and they will rejoice when I am exalted.”

 

To Be A Champion

Confetti and trophy

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Can I encourage you a little bit today? To all those who are tired, weary, and on the verge of giving up, can I offer a little insight today? Does this race of faith seem just a little too long? Is endurance a longer word than you thought? Is persistence requiring patience you just do not have? Do not give up. Stay right where you are. You can be a champion. If Jesus Christ lives within you and eternity is etched on your heart, there is no fall to far, failure to fatal or loss to bad for you to be the victorious overcomer that the Lord has called you to be. In fact, champions are not winners all the time. Yes, you heard me correctly. It takes losses to be the lessons. It takes weakness to find new strength. It takes humility to overcome the pride that wages war against our flesh. You must breakdown fat to find muscle. You must have a broken heart to be saved.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us. What is slowing you down today? What is tripping you up? What is the obstacle that you named Goliath too big to overcome? Goliath came crashing down with a little stone marked faith planted square between the eyes. What are you hurling at that mountain refusing to move? Are you being tossed to and fro by the wind, waves and storm swirling around you? Endurance is needed for athletes to become champions. Persistence is the pays it forward for them to overcome losses to obtain the big win. Champions overcome failure to grab hold of victory. Failure does not make you a loser. Never trying again is what labels quitters. Jesus is our example. He was not a failure. The Lord never quit, but that didn’t mean in human form it was not a temptation. Jesus is our champion. He gives us the ability to be a champion, too!

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” What makes Jesus our champion? Dying on the Cross did not give Him that honor. If Jesus had died for our sin, and remained in the grave – He would not be a champion. What made Jesus our Champion is the fact that after He died – He did not stay in the grave but came walking out with the keys to death and the grave firmly in His Hand! This is our encouragement today. To fail a test, lose our way, or give in to sin now and again does not take away our potential to be overwhelmingly victorious in life. Grace would not be necessary if this were the case. God would not give us new mercy each day. Renewal, restoration and revival would not be promised if one pitfall was all it took to take away our victory. Those who endure to the end will be saved. They will obtain the crown of righteousness offered by our Champion – Jesus Christ. Somebody needs to hear that today. You are not defined by your past, your today, your failures, your shortcomings, your weakness or even devastating heartbreak – what makes you a champion is when you decide despite all things I am going get back up and do it again.

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

Champions realize their purpose and capitalize on potential. Perseverance is an act of discipline. It is to push our mind, soul and body past the natural limitations of our flesh and decide that faith is our primary goal. Faith is never a natural thing but always dependent on the supernatural. It is all about what we cannot see, the highly unlikely outcome and even the impossible that is promised to us in God’s Word. It is the thing that makes us send away our Hagar and Ishmaels because God promised us Isaac. It is the determination to put away the things of this world to make room for His Kingdom. All athletes are disciplined in training. They set a goal in their heart long ago that is not dependent on their team but solely defined by a heart that refuses to quit and sees the glory of their goal. We must decide as believers what our true purpose is in Jesus Christ. What has He called you to do? What is your calling? Calling is not what you feel necessarily qualified to do. Purpose defines the potential of our life. It is in the commitment of our natural life to godly purpose in each step of every day that will bring it to life as we discipline our mind, soul and body to keep persevering and never give up on what God is doing in us and Christ died for us to accomplish.

Matthew 26:36-41 (NLT)  Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

I love that the Lord inspired this passage in the Word of God. We need to see the humanness of Christ in order to understand that Jesus is truly a valid example. He saw the future. He knew the agony not only of the physical nature of crucifixion, but the torture of each sin to be laid upon Him in that moment. His Father, God, was going to turn His Face from His Son. Every wretched disease would soon leave a strip down His Back. Jesus was God incarnate but His Flesh was real just like ours. His Body would feel every terrible torture that would be endured to set us free. He asked God, “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken from me.” Jesus knows what it feels like to come to the end of self. He knows the feeling of weakness due to the oppression of flesh. It doesn’t matter how willing our spirit is to follow in His Footsteps, the weakness of our body will always try to stop us.

There are many athletes who must overcome weakness, pain and injury to become a champion. It is not the absence of such things that afford them the title but their mindset that no matter what they will give their all. They are persistent in training and strengthening of their body investing countless hours in training. They give up time with their family, friends, hobbies, and just loafing around to preparation. They endure insult and injury to play the game they love so much. Pain doesn’t stop them – they push through it willing to pay the price when it’s over. Champions see the potential and prize ahead of them and refuse to give up. They may be taken out of the game but a true champion will never leave the game willingly.

2 Corinthians 6-10 (NLT) For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

God has filled each human heart with purpose. It is marked eternity and labeled with the promise “made beautiful for its own time”. Champions pursue purpose. The potential to be the best is the drive and motivation of their heart. Where do you spend your time? What is the prevailing thought you strive for? What is life all about to you? When our passion, pursuit and purpose becomes the Kingdom it will change the pathway of our life. The Light in our heart is His Glory. It shines brightly in our brokenness and weakness as death gives way to life in us. With each step of faith – our purpose becomes more evident which means our opponent sets his sight on overtaking it. Nobody wants to play the loser. They want to play the champion to take away the crown of victory.

The enemy comes like a thief to steal, kill and destroy. His onslaught more pervasive when purpose begins to breakthrough sin, shame, doubt and disbelief. The moment you believe that you will overcome – is the second you gain the enemy’s full attention. He is going to pressure you to give up and attempt to perplex you by filling your mind with lies tempting you to stop the nonsense. A stealth predator it is not uncommon for him to wait until you are alone, feeling somewhat isolated, and vulnerable to try to separate you from others. Champions are hunted. When they get knocked down, they get back up. Endurance, perseverance, persistence and discipline cause flesh to suffer but with each conquest new life is produced in us. These are the qualities that define champions. Though they are pursued they do not stop because they see the prize and desire it more than anything.

John 16:1 (NLT) “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.

John 16:33 (NLT) “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

These are the words of Jesus before He ventured to the Cross. Before He felt the coldness of death and solitude of the grave. These were his parting words before marching straight into hell and taking back the Keys to the Kingdom which was about to hand to you. Jesus knew His Purpose. He was a champion. He won the victory over death and the grave. Super Bowl Sunday is just a little over a week away. We watched the division championships last weekend. I noticed that during the presentation of the trophy – it was not the most valuable player of the game, the quarterback or the coach who received it but in each case an elderly gentleman. The announcer would then acknowledge them as the owner of the team. He was not the one who engaged in the battle on the field, took a single hit, caught a pass or even kicked a field goal. He is the one who paid the price so each one of those players could pursue their passion and achieve their purpose.

Jesus paid it all. He overcame the world so our faith would be worth something. Our purpose is faith that produces such confident hope that we can give up pursuing lesser things and overcome in all things. My life “in Christ” can achieve its purpose. My heart will satisfied when eternity is mine. Until that time, I must remain in Christ who is my champion. I must follow His Example. He never quit. Jesus never gave up. He endured suffering, temptation, isolation and even death for me to have victory over all these things. It is up to me if I will join in. Will I choose life over death? Will I pick blessing over the curse? Will I let the Light of His Love show through my broken heart, dead dreams and failures until His Glory overtakes my life? I cannot give up and be a champion. I may lose a few, but I win it all if I persevere never losing faith but always reaching for hope.

“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Just to be clear, Jesus came to be a champion. He would secure victory over sin, death and the grave once and for all. What was the joy awaiting Him when Jesus stepped down from His Throne carefully placing His Crown on the seat to come to this world? He had all of Heaven. The only thing missing was you and me. He came to this earth for just one thing. His Treasure and Special Possession. He came for us. He left everything to have us with Him forever. You and me. Ordinary people who fall, fail and stray just about every day – but Jesus wanted us. He desired us above all things and gave up His Life to have us. Will I do the same? Will you?

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ became a champion for us because He loves us. He was committed to love us even to the death, but that wasn’t long enough so He overcame death to give us a crown of righteousness so we could live as champions with Him forever. Are you fulfilling your purpose? Do you know the true potential of your life? Jesus did and He came up out of the grave to give you the power to complete it. The rest is up to you. When you feel like you have fallen too far, you haven’t the Lord is there to pick you up. When you think you have gone too far, His Spirit will lead you right back. When you wonder if it is worth it, ask Jesus because He sure thought you were. Choose to persist, persevere, pursue and prevail in every situation because in our weakness His Power is perfect. If you don’t give up but endure by faith until the end, you will win every time. Discipline is painful but defeat is agonizing. Celebrate each victory no matter how small. It is one step closer to winning it all. You are a Champion. Jesus lives in you. Don’t give up on victory today. Hold tight to your faith for it is the key. Be confident in Your Hope because God hasn’t given up on you. The best is yet to come if you believe.

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