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.

Sink or Swim

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Matthew 14:28-31 (NLT) Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Greg Louganis climbed the high dive in the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul Korea with his eye on the prize. He had worked all his life to prepare for this one moment. As he took the jump that would make history catapulting into a reverse somersault dive something went terribly wrong. He did not clear the 3-meter springboard but instead hit his head during the rotation. I can still feel the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. People watching around the world gasped with a huge intake of breath waiting to see if the young man was injured. He did sustain a laceration to his head requiring stitches. It is a mark which is still there today. The greatest triumph of all time would soon occur but it was all up to him. In the moments following his failed execution, Greg Louganis had to decide if he would try it again. Less than 30 minutes after the accident, he climbed back up on the board and executed the best-scored dive of the day leading to a gold medal that would gain Louganis the title of best diver of all time. It provided a new definition of human strength and resilience. The agony of defeat loomed over the young diver’s head. He had to decide whether the defining moment would end his career in fear or become history-making courage that overcomes fear by faith. It’s moments like this that separate the greats from the fakes in life.

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.

The story of the famed diver would not have been historical if Greg Louganis had given up. In fact, if he had not hit his head on the board just before securing the gold medal, he would be like every other diver in the history of the sport. His name on a list somewhere or heralded poolside for his achievements but never heard around the world. He was considered a champion in a sport often not recognized in the big arenas. The moment, he triumphed over fear to do it one more time – everything changed for him. Now the world will forever recognize him as the athlete who triumphed over fear and failure to claim victory.

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away.” Peter was doing it for an eternal prize. The storm threatened the disciples. So afraid that they even believed the figure coming toward them on the water to be a ghost rather than the Lord. Peter had purpose in his heart that he was not aware of so he called out to Jesus from the boat. ““Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” Jesus told the man to come. Peter was in training. His purpose and calling was not to survive the storm or become the first man next to Jesus to walk on water. The Lord was preparing him. Jesus saw the purpose God had instilled in him and knew it would take failure to discover faith. To be the man called him to be. Peter would have to sink not once but many times to get through the thick layers of flesh to the heart of the man. It is there that eternity and purpose would produce his victory.

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.” Every step of our natural life leads us to the purpose that God has for us. From the moment our first breath is drawn until the last one is taken, the Lord provides opportunity after opportunity to take hold of the confident hope that anchors our soul. It’s called faith. Faith produces confidence in God. It is not a one-time endeavor but a series of faith failures that produce the certainty needed to make hope secure. It is in such moments of doubt that gives us insight to the areas of disbelief in our life. If we do not see each step as destiny and consider the purpose within them, our life gospel to others might be compromised. The agony of defeat looms over us. Yet Christ died so that I might overcome disbelief, doubt, fear and failure to claim victory in my life and become a history-maker.

What about you? On the verge of giving up? God called you to this place so why are you failing? The Lord told you to come so why are you sinking? The weight of the heart that takes us under is doubt. It is disbelief. It is the very thing that hinders faith. It is the Goliath people face every day that seems too big to overcome. David didn’t meet Goliath first. He established a relationship with God during all those lonely nights in the fields caring for sheep. He overcame a lion and a bear before facing the giant that day. Each step ordained by God to prepare the King of Israel. You have a purpose far greater than the potential of natural strength. It is found in the eternity in our heart that collides with passion and persistence in our relentless pursuit of God. It cannot be denied and our flesh remains dissatisfied until it is firmly established in the natural as it is in the supernatural. How do we get there from here?

Matthew 16:13-19 (NLT) When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

When Jesus began preaching, Simon Peter was the first disciple to answer the call – “Follow me.” One might discern immediately that he was a leader with an impetuous nature. He simply walked away from his business and family to follow this man called Jesus. (Matthew 4) Peter immediately responded to the call. Many of us do. We find our way into a church building or maybe born there and hear the gospel to which our heart responds. The Love of God so profound it sparks a desire to know Him and be known by Him. However, it is not in our initial calling that purpose is found. Jesus Christ our Savior says, “Whosoever will, let him come.” It is a just as you are message for those who are lost in the darkness of this world and dying in sin. He instantly applies grace. Many people, despite the religious banter, will live in this position of servant of God for the rest of their life. Struggling with sin and trying to keep their head above water. Salvation is all about grace. It is having just enough faith to believe that He is our Savior. The victory is secured for our life and purpose fulfilled when a person exchanges fear for faith and decides that He is Lord.

Jesus called Peter from his former life to embark on a new journey. He immediately got up and followed the Lord. When Jesus asked him, “But who do you say I am?” He was asking Peter despite the opinion of everyone else, who do YOU say that I am? “You are the Son of the Living God.” It was in this moment that God’s Purpose in this man was revealed through the Word, Jesus Christ. It was way bigger than his finite brain could perceive or his weak and wavering heart could accomplish in his current state. This revelation came after Peter sank. The fact that Peter had already failed once and fallen did not change God’s Call on his life.

Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. How important was Peter’s purpose? How significant this revelation? Peter would be a credible witness to thousands of people who at the sound of his voice would give their heart and life to Jesus Christ. They would be filled with His Spirit and triumph over sin. He was to be the first great preacher after Jesus leaves. He would establish the church and begin to knit together the body of believers that would become the Kingdom of God. However, if Peter did not overcome his fear to find faith – his preaching would most certainly be disqualified. To fall is human. To get up is faith. To stay down is ultimate failure.

Matthew 26:34-35 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

The test on the water followed by the true revelation of who Jesus is was only the beginning of his training. Peter would go through many trials to discover the true meaning of faith. Faith is essential. The Book of Hebrews is very informative when it comes to revelations of faith especially chapter 11. It begins with the definition of faith. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” How many times do we try to apply faith to the natural when it is intended for the supernatural? If you can see it, perceive it, do it, or attain it outside of Jesus Christ, it does not require faith. Faith is the deposit in us that connects heaven to earth and establishes Kingdom principles in our life. It is essential in our ability to overcome the powers, rulers and principalities of darkness set on robbing us of purpose, killing our faith, and stealing our destiny. We must have faith.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Men and women line the “Halls of Faith” in Chapter 11. People who could not give up on what they hoped for and overcame by their ability to believe by faith in an unseen God and His Word. Our ability to discover faith is perceived when against all odds – we overcome. Faith is not discovered in success but in failure. All the times, we mess up and God still loves us. All the dead ends that give way to destiny. Faith is a necessity far greater than human strength of ability. It takes us out of our comfort zone. It makes us face every fear and overcome it. It challenges us to climb higher mountains and to go through the deepest valley until we reach such confidence in God that no matter what happens in the natural – the supernatural is the very thing that dictates our next step.

Matthew 15:15-16 (NLT) Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.” “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked.

Peter had some things to overcome to become the rock that was ready to form the first church. The first was religion. Peter was a religious man. Raised a Jew, the new covenant that was coming challenged everything he knew about God. He couldn’t just eat anything or do anything because he was a Jew. The new covenant would do away with Jew and Gentile to produce only Children of God. There would be no more illegitimate children such as Ishmael. Abraham asked if the blessing could go to Ishmael because his faith too small to see Isaac. Ishmael was compromised faith that sought God’s Will man’s way. God’s Plan has always been for His Children to be legitimate so Jesus came to offer His Blood for all. Faith in Jesus Christ does away with religious doctrine but there are many religious spirits in the modern church today. Guidelines, rules, restrictions and mandates not set forth in the New Covenant but outlined to appease man’s need for control and inability to fully accept grace. Grace is all that matters. The full acceptance of God’s Grace that makes us fall in love with Jesus and desire His Presence.

Matthew 16:22-24 (NLT) But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” I have to chuckle when I read this verse again. Peter told Jesus to prove who He was and how to do it. Jesus has told us to “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.Are you willing to spend the next 30 days praying this prayer without adding your own list to it? Faith in God is faith in His Word, His Way and His Will. Like Peter, we ask God to move in us and then tell Him exactly how to do it.

Peter requested of Jesus, “tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” I’m still laughing because this is the desired mode of transportation for all people. Remember Moses calling out to God on behalf of the Children of Israel, the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian army bearing down from the rear. What did God say? “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground.” Maybe that is what the Lord is telling you today. Stop crying out to me and get moving. Peter wanted to get out of the boat but he didn’t want to get wet. He wanted to be dry and comfortable. The slaves of Egypt did not want to pay the price of freedom to become Servants of God. What if the thing keeping you in dissatisfaction, disappointment and disbelief is your inability to get your feet wet? Change is marked by the removal of comfort and confidence to embark on a new journey. If you desire change to move from failure to victory – you are going to be uncomfortable. It will be a challenge because human nature does not like change. It doesn’t care for the uncomfortable. It would rather remain in the known than take a chance on the unknown. Where are you today? Is it time to get moving?

Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT) Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

Peter was challenged by grace. Forgiveness is huge in this journey of faith. It is removing expectation from all humans and focusing it on Jesus Christ. It means no matter how many people knock you down, talk about you, offend you, hurt you, betray you, or do the most heinous thing to you – you must forgive them simply because Christ has forgiven us. This eliminates the cause of rightness to replace it with righteousness. If your faith is landlocked, the cement shoes might be unforgiveness. Is it really worth it?

John 13:6-9 (NLT) When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”

Peter had a pride problem. Pride is the backbone of every religious spirit haunting the church today. The idea that there is something we can do or be outside of the Word of God hawked as the Word but only manmade rules and regulations. We must shatter every bone of pride and selfishness in us to fully accept God’s Grace and answer His Call.

Luke 18:24-29 (NLT) When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, 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!” Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God…”

Peter desired a natural return on a spiritual investment. If our motive for entering His Presence is His Hand, faith is not necessary for such endeavors. Faith makes the impossible possible. I can have earthly wealth simply by applying sowing and reaping principles to my life. If my desire is full satisfaction and completion in Jesus Christ, I must give up my desire for this world and the things of this world to be filled with more of Him. My desire must be for Christ alone. He must be that which I pursue in each step. When an earthly element restricts my ability to step out on faith, it is evidence of doubt and disbelief that God is able to supply my needs so that I will be complete lacking no good thing. It reveals dependency and trust in this world and not the God of the Universe.

Matthew 26:36-40 (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. 38 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?

Peter was weak. It is in our weakness that His Power is made perfect. The moment that I realize I cannot be who God called me to be apart from Christ. Grace is for the weak not the strong. Peter was weak soon after his nap. He would do what he said he would never do. He would betray Jesus not once but three times to save his own skin. In one account, it says that on the third time his eyes met the Lord’s as he sat before his accusers being interrogated and tortured. I am pretty certain at that moment, Peter felt like a failure who was completely unworthy of God’s Grace and Salvation.

John 21:3-7 (NLT) Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 

Peter had fallen. Peter had failed. Peter was certain his future was now dead and gone. Peter went back to the only thing that he knew how to do a broken man. When he heard the Lord call to him from the shore, he knew His Voice. He knew that it was time to sink or swim. He wasn’t going to fall again. He would not miss this moment. Live or die – nothing would separate him from the Presence of His Savior again. So he didn’t ask the Lord, is it you? No now Peter knew the Voice of God. He didn’t ask him to help him walk on the water. Peter didn’t care if he got wet so he jumped in over his head. He put all his energy and effort in swimming to shore. Forget the boat? Forget the huge net full of fish? Peter finally understood that everything he wanted, needed, desired and hoped for was in Jesus Christ and nothing no inconvenience or discomfort would keep him from reaching him. Like Greg Louganis, he was going to win. He would triumph over fear. Peter decided that he would not miss this moment. He made it to shore. He found Jesus. Peter’s faith was established.

What about you? Where are you today? On the boat or in the storm. In the water, but holding on to the dock. You know what is in your heart and hands weighting you down. What is keeping you from letting go to pursue the Lord wholeheartedly? He knows exactly what it is and is doing His Part to reveal it to you, but if you are not willing to let go of all the things Peter did to acquire faith – you will not ever experience the soul satisfaction of those who finally do. The inexpressible joy of faith in action. The triumphant victory for those who overcome ever fear and failure holding tightly to faith without wavering secured by the anchor called hope. Are you sinking or swimming today? It is really up to you. The champions are those who face their fears and overcome failures. Jesus is our Champion and in Him our victory secure. You cannot experience His Power outside of weakness that relies on His Grace. Humbly bowing our life and its contents to Him fully and completely. In fact, we only find faith and trust in Jesus at the end of self. Are you willing to go there? Will you be a history maker? A risk taker? Faith will never be comfortable, fashionable or logical on the earth. But when it comes to Eternity and fulling one’s purpose, our calling in Christ – it will be worth it every time. Come on in! The water is fine!

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.

Sowing Victory

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Galatians 6:7-9 (NLT) Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

I am tired. I am weary. I am overwrought. Worried. Stressed and fearful. Life is hard. Pressures are mounting. I believe that there are certain seasons that as the Lord fights for us that somehow it bears down around us in the atmosphere. I know that she is just a little dog. I know that God created her and many would say that she has no soul. Yet, she brings me great joy. She is loyal and loving. She is also very, very sick. As if this week wasn’t hectic enough, still no Christmas tree up, my to-do list not done, not to mention fighting off a case of the holiday blues – our little dog decided to try potpourri – it must have smelled delicious. So she foraged through a bowl of it until she found the scented pod filled with oil and decided to gnaw on it. This made her terribly ill. Now it is the end of the week, she refuses to eat. She is becoming weaker. Two visits to the vet, multiple medications and fluids – still she refuses to eat. I am sick inside. Not sure if it is all about her or the fact that life seems full of the unexpected. You can seldom rely on settled because at every twist and turn the unknown greets you.

Don’t be misled. I am being misled today. No one can mock the justice of God. No matter how I feel in this season, the seeds planted in my last season will grow its fruit. If I planted faith, it will be faith that I feast on. If I sowed worry, I will only become more fearful over time. Those who live in the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. On days like today, when exhaustion and frustration threaten the seed that I am planting, I must take another look around me and evaluate my circumstances according to the Word of God which clearly states through many scriptures that there will indeed be days like this. But it also promises that my current condition do not dictate my future that is defined by hope. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. I must not give up.

Psalm 24:7-8 (NLT) Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle.

The Lord is invincible in battle. He is strong and mighty. He is the King of Glory. He is victory. God never loses a battle or war that He engages in. He is omnipotent or all powerful. He is the Creator of everything. He has predetermined the outcome of every situation according to His Will. Before waging war against our enemies, it is imperative that one believes that our Lord is all-powerful and always victorious. Then…

Romans 8:37-39 (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. 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.

Overwhelming victory belongs to me because Jesus loves me. Not occasional wins but overwhelming victory is mine. What about days like today when I do not feel victorious? It is on days like today that the faith and hope sown in my heart yesterday bears fruit to sustain me for today. My life is lived from victory to victory. He changes me from glory to glory. This is a promise. It is not a suggestion. Victory in Jesus is given by His Grace. There is nothing I can do to earn it or precipitate it but rather must accept it. Wait for it. Believe it.

Why? With all my faults and failures, why would the Lord allow me to live victoriously? Because victory was predestined for my life and is not contingent on me but rather my existence. When I was born, God’s Plan for me was set into motion. Each day God’s Goodness and Unfailing Love pursue me. Am I running from it or stepping into it? This is the difference between whether or not I am living in defeat or walking in victory. Faith is the game changer. Do I believe that God loves me? Do I truly understand that His Grace is absolutely enough to make me a winner in every situation, circumstance, trial and trouble that I go through? If not, I should.

Finally, it is important to note that the Lord does not start naming all the seen faith inhibitors but the unseen predators. Death or life. Angels or demons. Fears and worries. Tomorrow. Powers of hell. Nothing in all of creation seen or unseen will ever be able to separate you or me from the Love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Why? His Grace is enough for me. I can overcome and be victorious in all things when faith in Christ is cultivated in my heart day by day.

Ephesians 6:12-13 (NLT) For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

We are not fighting flesh and blood. Even if your adversary has a face and breath in their body, they are not the problem. Ever. It is every – evil ruler of the unseen world, mighty powers of darkness, and evil spirits of the heavenly realm. See you cannot see the enemy although he often uses people to do his bidding. We must concentrate on winning the battle for our heart so that faith is planted and not fear. Guard our mind taking hold of every thought contrary to God and His Word and casting it down, stepping over it and putting it far behind us. We will win a few and lose a few because of our humanness and that’s okay as long as we get back up and get back to it.

These powers and rulers of the darkness – the minions of the enemy of our soul are not after us. They want to destroy the God in us. They want to steal our faith and fill us with fear. They want us to buy into the lie rather than investing in the Promises of God for our life. They are trying to convince us to forfeit that power and authority that Christ has given us to take hold of despair, disappointment and defeat. Well, I say not today devil!

Hebrews 11:32-35 (NLT)  How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.

How much more do I need to say? How many battles are you willing to engage in? How many fights are you willing to face? The faith inside you is under attack. Every force and power in hell is trying to lure you away from God’s Love because they cannot touch you. They can only lie to you. To win a battle means little if we do not win the war. Wars are comprised of many battles with varying degrees of importance. Though what you are facing seems small it may be leading to something much bigger…will you fight for it. Maybe what you are going through today seems impossible…will you give up or choose to endure? God is the God of Impossibilities. Jesus provided enough grace for us to stand in every battle. The Lord is invincible. He fights for us even when we no longer are willing to fight for ourselves. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate.

All those who were victorious attained it by faith? I am quite sure that Daniel was preparing to die when he was cast into a den of hungry lions yet once inside the lions were not hungry anymore. See God goes before us. He goes with us. The Lord works behind us pursuing us with Goodness, Grace and Unfailing Love. He perfects that which concerns us. He makes good of every detail of our life. Every step my foot takes by faith and trust in the Lord leads me to victory. We must sow victory in our life through faithfulness and by trusting the Lord so in the moment of despair, disappointment and destruction – we win victories by faith in God rather than fear of the enemy!

Psalm 144:1-2 (NLT) Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in him. He makes the nations submit to me.

To be completely honest, frustration got the best of me in the wee dark hours of the morning. As I had to reach inside her kennel and gently rouse our sick and sleepy little dog. I knew she wasn’t interested but I had to try so I once again I began offering anything I could think of she might eat. She just turned her head. I held her close to my face and in a stern whisper said, “You know what if you don’t want to eat…fine. If you don’t want to live…that’s fine, too.” Then I walked her back to her crate. Going into my office to have some “quiet time” with the Lord, I am sure He heard me coming with all my negativity and grumbling going on under my voice.

God spoke just one word to my hurting heart. Victory! You have the victory today! It is up to you to take hold of it, to walk in it, believe in it, and to secure it. I don’t have to fight for victory just fight for my faith that gets caught up in worthless things sometimes rather fully standing on God’s Promise for my life each day. All impossible things are possible. Every negative has a positive exchange. God is fighting for me. The Lord is winning all my battles. I just have to say it is well with my soul and stay firmly positioned in His Presence and stand confidently on each promise.

Thank you Jesus for reminding me today that I have victory in all things. With this revelation, I retrieved our sick fur baby from her bed and began speaking life and resurrection power over her. I had to pull up those words that cursed her and plant words of faith, hope and love in their place. I wrapped her in a blanket and tucked her in on my lap to write this blog and it is where she is sleeping right now. What’s is spoken in our life grows into the harvest of our life? Sowing seeds of doubt, worry and fear will only produce more of the same leading to death. Is there something in your life that needs resurrection power and life today? We must speak life over those things in our life that are dying. We must let go of worthless worry and sinful stress that overtakes our mind and attacks our faith. We must look past this light and momentary troubles to the everlasting glory that is to come. We win. We will win the battle but most importantly we win the war. Walk in victory today my friend! The Lord is with us. All honor, glory and praise to the One who gives me victory today.

Proverbs 21:31 (NLT) The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.

Stop Fighting

stop-fighting

Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT) I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

I am the oldest in our family. The big sister, if you will, who could aggravate her siblings with the best of them. On the contrary, the same big sister who became staunch defender and quite ferocious if you messed with those who fell under me. When I was in elementary school, probably around second grade or so, my brother and I were playing in the neighborhood when a truck passed by with what appeared to be my brother’s bike in the back of it. I was absolutely appalled that someone had the audacity to steal it. So I hopped on my bike and headed after the thief, who lived just a few blocks over. Watching them from a distance, it was my brother’s bike. How dare they? I went home to tell my parents. My father went and retrieved the missing property.

As a child, I was no match for the dishonest adults who dared to take what did not belong to them. But inside I was filled with indignation at the thought of such injustice. Now as an adult with children of my own, they trust me to look out for them and fight for them when necessary. Did you know that Your Father is fighting for you? God is our Father. Jesus is the Lion of Judah. Mighty in battle and able to sustain us through this life into forever. I am not called to fight for my victory. He gives me  victory in life when I trust Him.

In church during worship, we sang the song “The Lion and the Lamb.” The chorus is “Our God is a Lion, the Lion of Judah, He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles and every knee will bow before You. Our God is a Lamb, the Lamb that was slain for the sin of the world, His Blood breaks the chains and every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb.” I wonder…who is fighting your battles today? Is it you? Am I fighting for myself? Or am I submitted and surrendered to the Lion of Judah and the victory that He promises? My God is a Lion. He roars with power. He is God Almighty. No one or thing is more powerful than our God. Yet, we insist on fighting battles that He has already won. Wrestling for victory that is freely given. Why?

Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. 

Let all that I am wait quietly before God for my hope is in Him. Trust. Do you trust the Lord today? We all want to say yes, but it is in our everyday life and responses to conditions, circumstances and crisis that there is truth in our declaration. It is human nature to fight for our rights. It is our innate need for survival that will not allow us to rest and wait quietly before the Lord. In some instances, I believe that righteousness somehow goes to our head causing one to forget that the Power within me is not me at all but the Lion of Judah who sleeps in my soul. He is full of power. His Authority is unquestioned. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The victory in my life is secure. It is my wandering heart and wavering mind that keeps me from walking from victory to victory and living from glory to glory each day.

My victory and honor come from God alone. This is truth that changes us from revolutionists to revelationists. It doesn’t matter if the whole world rebels against God. It makes no difference if they remove His Name from every building and dollar bill. God is God. He is the Great I Am. I am His Church. His Temple. His Place. They cannot take Him from me or remove me from His Presence. Confidence in His Power and His Authority allow all that I am to rest in all that He is today. I am not called or commanded to fight for His Name but for my faith.

Revelation 5:4-6 (NLT) Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.

God has secured victory for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Our victory is in the fact that Jesus Christ, the Lamb, laid down His Life so that God’s People could attain righteousness again. The Power is in the Blood. In Revelation 5, the chapter is devoted to the Day of Judgment. The Day of Redemption is near. Who can open the scroll? The Lamb. One would think it is the Lion of Judah in all His Ferocity that would be the one to open it, but it is the Lamb. Jesus. He is our example.

The Word of God does not tell us to fight but wait for victory. Exodus 14:14 tells us to be calm. God is fighting for me. Deuteronomy 3:22 do not be afraid but have confidence in the Lord. Deuteronomy 20:4 says He goes with me. He will fight for me and give me victory. Joshua 23:10 His Power belongs to us in that our presence will set 1,000 of our enemy to flight. Flight not fight. They will run from us as our confident trust keeps us in step with God for all who humble their life to Him.

2 Chronicles 20:16-17 (NLT) Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”

King Jehoshaphat was in trouble. His nation was surrounded by many nations bent on destruction. He went to the Lord. This was the word of the Lord to the king. “You will not need to fight.” How often God speaks this to our heart but our mind will not accept it. Finding our right in rightness not righteousness – our fear and lack of trust cause us to lash out rather than lock in to God’s Word for us. “Take your positions. Stand still. Watch the Lord’s Victory.” It is not the place to which one is driven by the world and its ways. It tells us to fight or take flight. Adrenaline coursing through our body cannot be overcome by those who lack confidence or trust in the Lord’s Power and Strength. The Lord is fighting for us today. Am I fighting against Him?

2 Chronicles 20:20-22 (NLT) Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.” After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!” At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.

The enemy is a roaring lion who seeks those that may be devoured. Those who are isolated, weak and defenseless. Paralyzed by fear, confused by doubt and lacking trust in their Refuge and Strength wandering aimlessly with a toy sword. Praise secured victory that day for Jehoshaphat and His People. Praise secures our battle today in the Name of the Lord. The Lamb has handed us His Victory though some days I refuse to take it. His Grace is enough for me. Do I want grace? Grace means that I must follow His Example and lay down my life to take up my Cross and follow Him.

Luke 22:47-51 (NLT) But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, the disciples were ready to fight. They were armed with swords. They asked, “Lord, should we fight?” We brought the swords!” Jesus said, “No more of this.” The battle to be fought and won was over the death and grave. It was not a worldly war. At that moment, Jesus reached out to the man who was there to take his life and healed him. Church…this is our calling. This is our mission. We are not called to fight the battle…Jesus won the war. We are to walk in victory and power today. We have been given the Authority of Jesus Christ. Grace is the power that is given to the weak. It produces praise in us from confident hope born of faith. The enemy is real. The enemy is not people. The enemy is defeated. Our mission in life is to love and heal the broken. Find those lost in dark hopelessness. Set the captive free. Break the chains holding many captive. We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. When I came to the end of myself, I found Jesus waiting. I could do nothing to save myself…He did it all.

Hebrews 12:2-4 (NLT) 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. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Singing the song, The Lion and the Lamb, the Lord pressed it onto my heart that I am called to be like the lamb. Laying my life down for others. Reaching out even when my hand is slapped with offense, hurt and anger. To keep shining the Light of His Love, no matter how deep the surrounding darkness. He is the Lion. He fought all my battles and secured victory for me. I am not called to fight but lay down my life to Him. Fighting is my natural instinct born of a sinful nature that cannot place its trust in an unseen God. But hope arises that Jesus is the Champion of my faith. He initiated it and will complete it in me. All I must do is lay my life down and stop fighting all the battles already won. What battles are you fighting today? We become weak and weary fighting for things already secure.

It is time to stop fighting. Not everything battled in life is the enemy’s doing. Sometimes when we do not like God’s Way, His Timing or His Answer – it is our nature to rebel. I believe that our struggle is not flesh and blood but always within ourselves to wrestle just a little more of our heart and mind to surrender to the Lamb. Jesus won the victory. He is the Champion. He gives us the win when we trust Him completely, lay down our carnal weapons, and live a life of praise. You have the victory. Faith allows you to walk in it. What are you fighting for today? Is it a victory already won?

Psalm 44:6-8 (NLT) I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us. O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name. 

Moving Into Greater

moving-into-greater

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.

How do we walk from victory to victory? Do we really win? If the Spirit who lives in me is greater than why does it seem like the one who rules the world is winning? The news around the world wreaks of turmoil, death and destruction. How do I keep my hand to the plow and my eyes on Jesus? I know a man who had a difficult childhood that gave way to many bad choices as a young adult. After attending a rehabilitation program, he met a girl and they made a beautiful family together. They raised their children in the admonition of the Lord. Went to church. Seemed to do all the right things to be in the Will and Way of God. I got word recently that the two are in the middle of a nasty divorce. One of their precious babies overdosed on heroin, died and was brought back to life by her father and paramedics. One is selling the stuff that almost killed a sibling. Another lost in an identity crisis trying to figure out who and what is real. How can this happen? How can Christian families who know the Lord fall apart so completely? They are not the only ones. I know a pastor whose family engaged in the same battle our family did at the exact same time. His sister battled cancer and won. Her victory was secured in Heaven with Jesus, not as they had hoped. We experienced a different kind of victory. Why do I feel guilty sometimes? Why do I feel like life is so unfair? Every day as I pray, I plead the Blood of Jesus over my husband, babies, church and friends. The battle for them is real and the adversary is ruthless. How do I take my eyes off all the fires burning around me? How can I not be distracted by the disturbing images to see the view from God’s Perspective and walk in it? I must learn to move into “greater”.

“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.” The people referred to in this passage are the false prophets. There may even one or two still circulating in this world (written with a hint of sarcasm). The Spirit who lives in me is greater. Jesus is greater than any other power or authority. (Period) The Sovereignty of God is passed down as power and authority to Jesus Christ in honor of His Sacrifice for all mankind. If the Spirit of God lives in us based on our decision to ask Jesus to be our Savior, to repent of our sins and turn from our own way, and make Him the Lord of our life – we have the Power of God and His Kingdom hidden inside of us. We can speak to mountains and they will move. We can cast out demons. We can drink poison and it will not harm us. We can do anything in His Name and for His Glory because He has given us His Victory. So why am I not winning? Are you fighting the right fight?

We engage in “civilian matters”. 2 Timothy 2:4 reminds us that “soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.” Our civilian life are all the “things” we do to survive in this world. Kingdom business is the life we live for the Lord outside of our daily routine and scheduled activities called living the American Dream or running the rat race depending on who you are and the given day. We get caught up in too many things that don’t really matter. I get caught up in too many things that don’t really matter. People are complicated. Circumstances are messy. Complications are inconvenient. I have feelings you know? Yes, God knows how we feel yet cannot leave us all emotionally caught up but tries to loose us because He is greater than our feelings. The Lord is fighting for our freedom. The battle begins inside of you and me.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.

If only I could get past how I feel some days, and live only in the greatness of who He is. I know my life would be greater. Yet, I struggle with people and purpose every day. Less of me will always make room for more of Him. As I yield my body, mind, will and emotions to the Holy Spirit – He moves in and fills me with love, peace, joy and satisfaction allowing me to walk by faith and not by sight for that moment. I find that once I completely yield my broken heart or spirit to the Lord that He is faithful to fill up and secure it in me. Yet there are those areas that I give Him and before He can get there snatch it back. I want the greater things of God and to live for His Glory. Lord, move me into greater today by moving in and taking over more of me.

John 14:11-13 (NLT) “Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”

I have seen modern day miracles. I have seen the Hand of God touch human beings and supernaturally change their condition. Yet, there were times that I still did not believe. I believed in God the Father, of course. I believed in Jesus Christ and the fact that He died to save me. I also believed that His Holy Spirit lived inside of me. The struggle was for the greater things. I would give up to avoid disappointment. I did not fully believe or accept God’s Intervention in my life or my ability to do the same works that Jesus did. I do not believe that anymore. I absolutely believe that God is moving me to greater things. Miracles, signs and wonders. Sharing a message that will be received by many.

The confidence and boldness that I have found did not come the way I assumed that it would. It arrived at the end of me. Complete and utter brokenness. The days that I thought I could not move another step in faith and the “mustard seed” seemed too small. I found it when not a single thing in my life added up to victory, when everyone around me did not see a win and on that day when all I had left was His Word. He made me a promise. The ruler of darkness had done everything in his power to make me relinquish it. I did not wail. I did not beg. I did not plead. As I recall, it was in a quiet and calm voice that I reminded the Lord – this is what you said.

As Christians, we are always trying to “make things happen” in the Body of Christ to promote repentance and revival. I am wondering if it’s possible that we are taking the wrong approach. Am I trying to win a victory already won rather than going through the Victor? What do I mean? King Solomon called life meaningless because he believed there was nothing new under the sun. While I agree with him that there is nothing new under the natural sun, I concur with him that God has placed eternity in the heart of mankind. It is that seed of faith that changes everything in our natural life to the possibility of supernatural outcome. God put divine purpose in each heart for harvest. We must allow it to become greater than us in order to reap the reward.

John 15:19-21 (NLT) “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.”

Jesus was abundantly clear that the world pretty much hated Him and everyone associated with the Gospel. “A slave is not greater than the master.” If you think that the world is ready for the gospel, you are wrong. Christians have not helped our own cause. The Word of God tells us “students are not greater than their teacher” and that “slaves are not greater than their master.” (Matthew 10:24-25) We must be like our teacher. (Luke 6:39-40) The messenger is not greater than the one who sent the message. (John 13:15-17) Mega church is big business. Pastors reside in mansions and fly around in private jets. The world sees church as just a big business endeavor. I hear people refer to preachers and podcasts every day but don’t hear them recite the Word of God at all. If the world embraces you and celebrates me, am I serving God or man? The Love and Grace of God are wonderful. Those who experience them will be forever changed. However, they have the Gospel message when preached appropriately leads to opposition. If not, we must compare our life and our message to our Teacher, Master, Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ. He healed people. He helped the community. He did nothing wrong. He did not defend His Innocence but went to the Cross. John 15:13 says “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus laid His Life down for us all. We must be willing to lay our life down for Him to attain the greatness offered to us in His Word.

On Shark Week, the Discovery Channel shows men and women who will put blood in the water to summon sharks. They will then take a video camera, jump in a steel cage and be lowered in the water to film the shark’s frenzy. Some of the sharks will ram the cage. Others grab it with their razor sharp teeth and shake it with all their might. Those crazy, yes crazy, scientists though narrowly escaping with their life will do it again and again for their love of science and species. No thank you! I believe that as believers set their heart on revival and allow the Lord to remove lesser things to make room for greater things, they will encounter the same. We will go into the world with a message of love, peace and joy some days feeling as though we barely escape wrath.

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

Winston Churchill is credited with the statement, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Good advice. If you want to get to Heaven, you are going to “go through hell” to get there. The enemy is not going to sit lightly by and watch you pass content with those who he has already apprehended. His hatred for Jesus is too great. His demise is too eminent. He will fight tooth and nail to pull you out of God’s Best to settle for lesser things in life even if that lesser thing is religion over a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our actions must be based on the fact that we belong to the Truth and absolutely believe the Promise of God is for us and worth having. Why? It will cost all of me and every ounce of pride in me to attain it. We have been promised “far greater glory” (2 Corinthians 3:8-9) and friends we are not living in it so there must be more to it. I must believe that the God in me is greater than everything outside and around me. It will take all of me to get there. The greater ones desire to see the greater things of God and experience the Greatness of His Kingdom, the more that will be required. Are you willing to give God all of you for a higher view? A new perspective comes when we get out of the way along with our feelings about our faults and failures. We must move past our pride, insecurities and doubts that cause conflict and division in the Kingdom to work love, grace and mercy in and through our life. I want to move into greater things today. I must get past me to do it. He must increase and I must decrease not just today but every day!

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

Be Victorious

Be Victorious

I John 5:3-5 (NIV) In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Come in close. I need to whisper this as not to get everyone riled up. Closer. There are just 64 days until football season kicks off. Hallelujah! This will be the first game of the regular college season and our family gets pumped for it every year. We love our home team. It’s a fun rivalry with other state teams. A little healthy competition is fun, right? We live in a competitive world. There are many things vying for our time, attention and energy. To have a favorite hobby or pastime is good, right? It is! God did not put us here to hate life. We are not designed or predestined to leave in agony nor defeat. When God put people on the planet, His Purpose was for them to have dominion and power. To walk in His Authority and oversee all. What happened? Somehow we lost it.

I love college football. It really is the only sport I watch or follow very closely at all. The other day our son came over to watch some soccer. I am not a soccer fan but he is a huge one. During the game, naturally I was cheering for his team. It was in the final minutes. He was complaining about the score and declaring it a loss. There were a couple minutes left just enough time for a come from behind victory which is exactly what happened. There is no worse feeling then leaving the stadium in defeat only to hear your team comeback and win on the radio driving away. What if you had stayed? What if you had waiting until the end? You would be celebrating with them. Do we give up too soon? Is that the problem? How many times have we been on the verge of breakthrough about to cross the finish line of faith and claim victory when we just gave up?

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Key words to look at in these statements include “everyone” which includes you, “faith” is needed to establish victory in our life overcoming the world and finally, you must “believe” that Jesus is the Son of God and overcomes the world. We must believe that victory belongs to us enough to have faith and believe that we will always overcome.

Matthew 16:17-19 (NIV) Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

There is a team from a neighboring city who are constant rivals. Due to the close proximity of campuses, there is a mix of fans in both cities. You can tell who their team is by the mascots and emblems on cars, clothes, and displayed proudly in many ways. There are special chants for each team. We have hand gestures that go along with it. A lot of time, energy and money is invested in supporting these college teams. I have to be very careful not to get too wrapped up in the hype because it creates emotional tension in me. Close your ears honey, but football is just a game. After the stadium is empty, the lights go off, the concessions close and the last car leaves – the win is forgotten moving on to the next engagement. In the grand scope of life, football is a hobby just entertainment.

 

The knowledge of who Jesus is coupled with the understanding that He is not only Savior but our Lord gives way to a life of victory after victory as we overcome the world. Not by might or by power but by God’s Spirit invested in us because we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and made Him our Lord. Jesus told Peter in that moment that He would be the foundation of His Church, the gates of Hell could overtake it. He was handing Peter the Keys to His Kingdom. He empowered Peter to bind and loose things. We have the same power living in us. Why are we not victorious? Do we know Jesus as Savior? Most reading this would probably say, “Yes.” Okay well, have you made Jesus Lord of your life? What if we invested the time, energy and resources in following Jesus that we do our favorite sport, hobby or even television show? The world offers many distractions and detours to steal our time, talent and treasure wasting it on lesser things that are meaningless. Jesus is simply inviting us to win. Not once in a while or by a fluke but to walk in victory.

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is love. He is full of compassion and unfailing love for you and I no matter how we perform in life. His Love is unconditional. He cuts no one from His Team but offers endless abounding grace to us all through His Son, Jesus. The first key word “everyone” is important because God intends to make every single person who He created victorious. Our life and choices do not exempt us from victory. We are not the reason it is given. It is simply God’s Love being shared with us. He is all-powerful. No one can overcome Him or His Love for us. We must believe that there is nothing and no one who can separate us from the Love of God that is Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Bible says that Jesus overcame the world. (John 16:33) We belong to Jesus. When we make Him the Lord of our life living a life of respect for His Authority and Power – He gives it to us. You cannot have His Power until you accept it. By grace are we saved through faith and not of ourselves, you cannot earn God’s Love or deserve it so stop trying and learn to accept it and live it. Things will begin to change. You will find little wins popping up unexpectedly as He begins to release His Power as we begin to surrender our life to His Love.

Hebrews 11:1 and 6 (NLT)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Faith is our life investment. It is when we decide to operate in the Love of God for our life so we put our faith and hope in what we cannot see. We put our faith in the Promises of God offered through the Sacrifice of Jesus and sealed in our heart by His Spirit. No one likes to lose. Athletes do not pour their blood, sweat and tears into training and playing without the thought of victory. We will invest our life in the things we deem most important to our happiness and fulfillment. Too often we choose comfort and compromise over confidence and commitment in Christ and wonder why we live dissatisfied and defeated lives. We must evaluate the things that we give our life especially our time to. Are they worthy of our faith and trust?

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (I Corinthians 9:25-27) I am not an athlete, but a few years back my husband and I began working out together at the local gym. I am a cardio girl. I generally work out on one of the machines like elliptical or treadmill. Again, I am not a trainer or instructor but I do know this in my careful observation. You cannot possibly be giving your all to your workout or fitness routine, if you are talking on your cellphone the whole time. The breath given in your conversation could add to that workout. Your focus is divided and void of concentration. I am a “leave it all on the field” kind of person who is fiercely competitive in all things good and bad. Maybe this is why we are not living victoriously lives. We are not invested in God but everything else all at one time. Could it be that we are not giving it our all but rather living double lives? Doing halfhearted things? Looking at too many things but not focused on one? Could it be that faith is a tiny seed so we must choose where to put it?

I must have faith that in Jesus Christ that I overcome in all things. I must live my life committed to this cause willing to endure to the end even if it is in the final seconds. I must give my all to Jesus every day. If I do, I will be victorious. It begins with Jesus and ends with Jesus everything else is meaningless according to Paul. I am beginning to agree as seeds of faith are beginning to manifest in victory. How about you? Are you due for a win?

I John 4:4 (NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Do you believe that the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world? We must believe that God is Greater than any other adversary or opponent in our life vying for out time and attention. We must believe with our whole heart in order to walk from victory to victory. How do I know when I am success? His Glory fills my life. After all isn’t that what comes in worldly victory? The victor is glorified. My Victor is Jesus Christ and when I win He gets the glory! Because I live in Him and He lives in me that means I get to experience His Glory, too.

God will always be our source of victory. (Deuteronomy 20:4) He always has been and always will be. There is victory in His Name alone. His Victory was given to us when Jesus paid the price for all sin to extend God’s Grace becoming our Savior. Salvation frees us from our indebtedness so that we can live a life of victory. Victory is established in Jesus Christ. To share in His Glory – we must make Jesus Lord of our life. No one will invest their life in something or someone they do not believe in…would you?

Legendary football coach, Bobby Bowden, said, “Faith is the most important thing in the world to me. It’s the greatest strength I’ve had. It’s helped me through the hard times. You’re not going to win every one of your football games. I’ve always said I’m not going to make football my god. A lot of coaches put so much into coaching football games that they have nothing left.” Good advice. We invest our life in something. Why not faith? We need God’s Strength just to get through each day let alone win once in a while. Jesus overcame the world. Greater is He who lives in me. Through His Love, I have the potential to overcome the world and walk victorious through life based simply on the fact Jesus lives and He lives in me. What are you giving your life to? Those precious minutes that comprise each day. Is there anything left for Jesus? It is easy to make our passions and pursuits into tiny gods that demand our full attention. It is a choice to make Jesus our Lord and live in victory.

Philippians 3:14 (NIV) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Little By Little

Little By Little

Psalm 8:3-6 (NLT) When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority—

Just over a year ago, our family adopted a new member. A teacup chihuahua whose name is Izzy. She is four pounds of ferocity. Bold and vivacious bounding through life in a tiny body with mighty heart. Not the cowering timid creature who came to our house looking for love and security. Upon arrival, it was clear our newest addition had issues. She would attack her food bowl not eating but inhaling the contents as if it were her last meal. She would draw back if approached too quickly. Izzy did not trust us. She clearly had not had consistent care. The vet was ecstatic to learn that she had found a new home. It was clear that we had some work to do with her.

Izzy had an accident just before coming to live with us. One of her paws is scarred. The previous owner indicated that it was a burn of some kind. The vet could not tell me the specifics but indicated that she had been attacked. To put her appendages into perspective, her paw is no bigger than the pad of your finger. In an attempt to give her a doggy pedicure aka trim her nails, Izzy bit me. Not hard, she held my hand in her mouth fighting to get all her paws safely under her body. This was the first indication of any aggression in her. We had an immediate come-to-Jesus about the error of her ways. I put away the clippers and for about a week just took every advantage to touch her paws no matter how bad she fought me. To do nothing more than to touch them, hold them and gently rub them. We would continue this for weeks on end until finally I was able to trim her nails even though she was quite reluctant. As I sit her today, Izzy is sleeping in my lap as she does many mornings during this time. As I read and study, I realize that I am touching her outstretched paws without any hesitation from the comatose dog in my lap. Izzy trusts me. It took time. It could not be forced. With simple steps, I was able to lead her to faith in her new owner.

Why this talk about a dog? Human beings do not compare to mere animals. People are created in the Image of God and made just a little lower than Him. It says so in His Word. The thoughts of the Lord are consumed by His People. He desires our love, faith, trust and devotion. However, sin has tainted love and many are lost in the darkness of this world looking for it. It is human nature to trust no one and take care of ourselves. We learn this behavior through unmet expectation and failed relationships along the way. God has crowned us with glory and honor that most people have not yet assumed simply because of doubt, disbelief and distrust. He longs to give us charge over everything but we must know who we are and who He is before authority and dominion can operate in us and through us. How do we get there from here? Moment by moment. Step by step. Little by little.

Matthew 13:31-33 (NLT) Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

Small seeds grow into big trees. A little yeast will permeate every part of the dough. God is looking for big things but relishes small beginnings. Too many times, impatience aborts God’s Growth process in us because we cannot see the forest for the trees. There is a bigger picture and much larger plan underway in your life than the simple daily tasks performed. Each day holds a hidden treasure that is accomplished by faith. The kind of faith that causes a farmer to plant a seed and wait for it to grow. We must constantly be cultivating faith by allow God’s Seed or His Word to be pressed into the fertile soil of a heart turned over to the Lord. As long as the earth remains there will be seedtime and harvest. No matter how bad things seem to get, God is always in control. As long as you are willing to plant, you will harvest because that is what His Word tells us. However, you cannot reap what you have not sown.

Faith is our investment. When we take the things of this world turning our life over to God as residents of His Kingdom, supernatural change takes over that is not always evident in the natural right away. But it makes sense because when a farmer plants a seed, he cannot see what is going on underground as the seed begins to grow. Faith is nothing more than a farmer picking up a handful of seed, believing it will grow so he plants it on his property. No, he doesn’t walk away but tends the tiny plants that surface and cares for them as they grow. When those seeds die, grow and reach full maturity, they will produce the desired fruit. Faith works the very same way. We plant God’s Word in our heart by faith. We wait for it to grow in us until it manifests in fruit coming out of our life.

Proverbs 16:8-9 (NLT) Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

People plan but the Lord determines our steps. We want to take a leap of faith but the Word of God tells us to walk by faith. (2 Corinthians 5:7) What’s the difference? Well, if we always leap valuable steps may be missed that are the very details that God promised to work out for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) We like dramatic and climatic finishes but the Lord warns against despising small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10) Our life of faith is to be lived step by step. Moment by moment. Little by little. The Lord operates in full satisfaction and completion while our very human flesh cries out for immediate gratification, comfort and compromise.

Peter’s first step of faith is found in Matthew 14 when he stepped out of the boat to meet Jesus on the sea. It lasted a few steps and down he went. Throughout the account of his life, Peter had many mishaps on his way to fulfillment. One might even call them failures. He just kept walking it out. When Peter decided to return to his old life, he was tired and weary. Jesus was gone or so he thought. In his final moments, Peter failed the Lord and Jesus knew it. His love for the Lord hidden inside a broken man. When Jesus arrived on the beach, Peter no longer needed an invitation to come to the Lord – no the man jumped in the water swimming all the way to shore. (John 21) This is cultivated faith in action. Every step of his walk conditioned Peter to fulfill his calling of the rock on which the church would be built.

Luke 16:10-12 (NLT) “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?

Faith is a practical application of God’s Word to our life as a daily exercise. We must track our steps of faith just as one might use a Fitbit to count their natural footsteps each day. Consciousness of God comes with knowledge of God. Mark 4:24-26 tells us that the more we listen the more we will hear. In I Kings 18:43-45, Elijah sends his servant to look for the rain cloud more than seven times. Would the rain have come anyway? Yes. Obedience allowed the man of God’s servant to be part of a miracle. By what? Faith. Just before that in I Kings 17, Elijah asks the woman preparing her final meal for her and her son for bread to eat. He knew her intentions and that she was set in her way. But he asked her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first.” The Lord knows us. He sees our heart. He meets us right where we are waiting for us to come to Him. What did God do? In her faithfulness, He provided an abundant supply of the very thing she lacked. Step by step. Moment by moment. Little by little. The giving of our life and faith to the Lord are met with His Abundance.

Revelation 3:8-12 (NLT) “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love. Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

In the message to the church in Philadelphia, it says “you have little strength, but you obeyed my word and did not deny me.” In our weakness, He becomes our strength. This is faith. This is trust. This is God’s Deepest Longing and Greatest Desire for our life. In that moment when our strength fails, bodies grow weak, and human thoughts overwhelmed, this is the precise moment that Jesus becomes all that we want and need. One must be emptied to be filled with His Grace which is the one thing that allows faith to be active in our life. The power of perseverance is to be positioned in the Kingdom of God. A place of residency that allows us to reclaim Christ’s Power and Authority binding things on the earth and releasing Heaven in the form of God’s Will and Way. The Lord tells these people that He knows what they are doing and it has opened a door that no one can close. He will do the same for you. He will do the same for me. This is not a one-time acquisition or perseverance would not be indicated. This is a lifelong pursuit without beginning or end. It’s funny that these are the words spoken over the Church of Philadelphia known as brotherly love.

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

In the movie a few good men, Tom Cruise cross examines Jack Nicholson. Jack Nicholson says, “You want answers?” Then Tom Cruise says, “I think I am entitled to them!” Nicholson says again, “You want answers?” to which Cruise replies, “I want the truth!” Then comes the famous movie line, “You can’t handle the truth!” I believe this applies to the Goodness of God’s Grace in our life. If He poured out His Love on us in one quick toss, I am afraid that it would be so overwhelming that it might consume us entirely. If the Truth was revealed about our life and God’s Love, it would be very difficult to move from our current position. We would not want to go through those things that allow weakness so we can obtain His Strength. Avoiding the process and thereby aborting the process of growth, development and maturity that is the Work of God in us and how we cultivate His Word. So the Lord works in us little by little.

God is good. He is consumed with love and compassion for His Children. He cannot lie or change His Mind. All great qualities. His Love for us is made complete and unconditional in Jesus Christ who meets our need and becomes our strength in all things. Our faith invested in the Kingdom of God is complete surrender of our way, our will and our wants to His Will, His Way and His Plan. The Plan of God for me incorporates a series of steps from here to Eternity. I navigate them with faith because they are not always visible and clear. The important thing is that I remain committed and continue to obediently follow Jesus. Step by step. Moment by moment. Little by little until my life, my body, my mind, my spirit, and my soul are fully invested in His Kingdom alone.

Psalm 37:16-19 (NLT) It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich. For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the Lord takes care of the godly. Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

The Outcasts

The Outcasts

Psalm 63:1-3 (NLT) O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life I tself; how I praise you!

My soul thirsts for you. Are you thirsty today? Not naturally or physically, but spiritually thirsty for more of God. The common answer of every Christian would be “yes” or “amen”. However, is our thirst enough to be defined as desperation? When a need is prolonged, it moves from desire to desperation. I need God every day. I want Him. I desire Him. The longer it takes to finally reach the depth of my desire, the more desperate I become.

My whole body longs for in you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. If my soul is thirsty for the Lord, it will soon begin to impact the rest of body and spirit in an attempt to attain the fulfillment it desires. If my thirst is not sufficiently satisfied naturally, my body will begin to manifest many physical symptoms. Dehydration impacts us mentally and physically as the body goes into overload due to its overwhelming need for water. For example, mild dehydration produces symptoms such as dry mouth, sleepiness, thirst, decreased output, dry skin, headache, and dizziness. These warning signs are an indication that there is a physical need that is becoming urgent. When not addressed, mild dehydration turns into severe dehydration which becomes a medical emergency. Severe dehydration is marked by the same symptoms which now become extreme. Additionally, it is associated with low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, as well as, rapid breathing. There are no tears when crying. In the most severe cases, delirium or unconsciousness may develop. If these symptoms are ignored, the person will die.

The earth’s surface is covered by roughly 71% water. Water even exists in the air as water vapor. Yet there are still those who die of dehydration every day. Equally, there are many who will succumb to desperation today rather than tapping into the Life Source of Jesus Christ. They hunger and thirst. Their need turns to desperation. Doubt and disbelief coupled with ignorance and pride keep them from immersing their entire being into Living Water. “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart!’” Are you dry today? Are you thirsty? Is your soul dehydrated? Are you desperate for the Lord today? I am.

Matthew 5:6 (NKJV) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

There are many dedicated Christians. People who attend church regularly. Reading God’s Word and applying it to their life, they live in a comfortable relationship with the Lord. They are committed to basic obedience that yields more blessing than they ever thought possible. However, in their routine structure of life Jesus bears a certain role rather than becoming the Source of Life. When trouble comes or chaos hits, it is met with a natural reaction rather than confident hope. I don’t want to be a dedicated Christian.

It is my life goal to be a desperate disciple. I do not want to stop until I discover the width, length, height and depth of the Love of Jesus Christ for me. I want to know what He means in His Offer to do exceedingly abundantly more than I can ask or think according to His Power at work in me. The Love of Christ that surpasses earthly knowledge so I may be filled with the fullness of God. I am desperately seeking the kind of relationship with Jesus that brings His Kingdom to the earth along with every sign, miracle and wonder that the Realm called Hope promises to produce. I want to experience the impossible made possible at His Word. I want to be the one who goes against the flow of religion and tradition who, just like Peter, jumps out of the boat by faith as many times as it takes to make it to Jesus Christ. I am hungry and thirsty for righteousness or right standing with My God. He promises me that I will be filled. I will find satisfaction.

2 Kings 7:3-4 (NLT) Now there were four men with leprosy sitting at the entrance of the city gates. “Why should we sit here waiting to die?” they asked each other. “We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway.”

The King of Israel had made pact with the Arameans. The King of Aram was at war with Israel. He would plan an attack with his officers which the Lord would convey to Elisha who then would warn the King of Israel. Time and time again saving Israel which infuriated the king of Aram. So the Aramean king plotted to capture Elisha. Elisha’s servant was afraid so the prophet asked the Lord to open his spiritual eyes. When God did the servant saw the hillside filled with horses and chariots of fire. When the enemy troops approached, they were struck blind and led right into Israel’s hands. The king of Israel wanted to kill them but the Lord had other plans. Instead, a great feast was prepared for them and they were sent home again.

When King Ben-Hadad of Aram mustered up some courage, he sent his army into Samaria to besiege Israel. This time his invasion brought a great famine to the land. New devil, new level. The king of Israel encountered a woman who had made a pact with another woman to eat their children. She had gone through with it and the other woman reneged on the pact. He was overwrought by this news. Tearing his clothes, he wanted to kill Elisha as he blamed him for this disaster. (II Kings 6) When the messenger arrived at the home where the prophet was staying, the Lord had already let his man know that they were after his head. He sent him back with a message that then next day the famine would end. The officer of the king persisted and Elisha assured him that he would not partake. This brings us to four lepers sitting just outside the gate.

The four lepers were in a desperate situation. They were hungry, thirsty and literally starving. In their desperation rather than trying to seek help from their people who obviously could not help themselves, they decided to surrender. For if the enemy let them live, it would be better than this. If they were killed, what did it matter for they were dying anyway? When they arrived, they found the camp was deserted. The soldiers were gone yet all their belongings remained. The Lord had come and scared away the enemy but left the blessing for His People just as Elijah told the messenger. The four lepers went back to tell the gatekeepers the news who shouted it to the people. The king still not convinced sent out scouts who confirmed the news. In their hunger and haste, the officer of the king who doubted was trampled at the gate by the people rushing out for provision. Everything happened exactly as Elisha told them it would.

Our response to desperation reveals the contents of our heart. What we do in desperation determines our destiny. The king became desperate and turned on God. His inability to believe the God of the Impossible caused great despair so he turned his heart and hand against the Lord. The four lepers were desperate before the famine. Their condition created a great need anyway complied with famine left them nothing. Their situation was impossible. Yet rather than rising up against God – they chose to surrender. They went to the enemy’s camp and took back what the enemy had taken from them. What is your response to the desperation of your soul, mind and body today? Will you blame the Lord? Will you surrender and take back what the enemy has taken from you? I am desperate to take back so many things that the enemy has stolen from my life. I am desperate for the victory and fulfillment of God. Am I desperate enough to surrender my entire life to faith in the Living God? Will I hunger and thirst for right-standing with Him day by day, moment by moment, crisis to crisis?

Judges 15:18-19 (NLT)  Samson was now very thirsty, and he cried out to the Lord, “You have accomplished this great victory by the strength of your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of these pagans?” So God caused water to gush out of a hollow in the ground at Lehi, and Samson was revived as he drank. Then he named that place “The Spring of the One Who Cried Out,” and it is still in Lehi to this day.

Believers and followers of Christ are promised a life of transformation from glory to glory. The Lord works in us constantly turning our heart back to Him. With each new revelation accepted by faith and confident hope, there will be victories. Will we rest on our laurels? Samson had just killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey filled when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. After the battle, he was very thirsty. With great victory comes added desperation as the Lord fills us again because we live victory to victory. It is hard to imagine a single person killing 1,000 attackers yet it happened. When Samson cried out to the Lord, God immediately responded with water and he was revived.

It is human nature to control certain things. To believe natural outcomes are physical results and forget that our spirit man (or woman) needs nourishment. Even living as an overcomer, it is easy to lose sight of where our source of strength began all in fighting the good fight of faith. We do not seek replenishment from the Lord but allow our soul to run dry, become dehydrated creating desperation. God will meet your need today. Just because you are weak doesn’t mean you have failed or lost a battle, it simply means you need more of Him. God doesn’t make bad things happen. He uses the attack of the enemy to renew us, restore us and revive us because it increases our dependency on Jesus so we surrender more of ourselves to Him.

Psalm 145:13-16 (NLT) For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does. The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

In Genesis 17:7, God confirms His Covenant as an everlasting one. “This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God…” Everlasting is without end. His Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom which means it is the supreme authority and most powerful of all because it will never end. It will outlast every other authority and power ever known. We are members of that kingdom. We have all the same power in us that overcame death and the grave. Greater is He who lives, breathes and exists in us.

Why the desperation? Why the great need? Why do we have unfulfilled desires? We have not brought His Kingdom to earth…yet. I hear the cry for revival and join in the song. It will not come until men and women of God become desperate for the Lord again. Not just a good life with good things, but with a God Life where the impossible is always possible. The kind of faith that accepts nothing less than the full satisfaction of God. Those who will tarry until His Spirit comes. Pray until each request completely answered. It will take full surrender of our current condition, abandonment of comfort zones and for committed Christians to become desperate disciples of the Living God.

Some translations refer to the four lepers as outcasts. There were only four of them. This is not a popular lifestyle because it means giving up this life to save our soul. These men bravely were willing to face death to take back what the enemy had stolen from them. What has the enemy taken from you today? Does he have your joy? Has he hidden your hope? Did the enemy rob you of heath? Captured your thoughts? Is he messing with your kids? Has he helped himself to your stuff? It’s time to take it back. Take it all back.  I want to be an outcast of this world and a citizen of God’s Everlasting Kingdom. The Lord always keeps His Promises. He has promised to satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. Lord, let that be me. Is that you? It is definitely me. Lord, I am desperate for you today!