Just to Know

To Know

Psalm 46:10-11 (NIV) He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of praying people at the end of our church service. I am always moved by such an honor when connecting and agreeing with other believers standing before the Lord. As the pastor began to exhort and dismiss the congregation, I was acutely aware of the woman standing next to me. She had not come forward yet I felt strongly that I was to share this verse in Psalm 46 with her. So just as any “obedient” believer would do – I returned to my seat to gather my belongings without saying a word. The Holy Spirit began tugging at my heart. I could not leave without telling her. Of course, as only God can do, she knew exactly what the Lord was saying to her and her husband’s face confirmed her affirmation. I had to laugh when it popped up in my Bible application as the verse of the day. Was this a word for my life, too? Maybe yours?

Performance is human nature. Sin gave us full responsibility for the life that it wrecked. Rather than full reliance with God – our lack of compliance called for a penalty. With Jesus Christ repaying the debt of sin, we are gifted with our freedom once again. Freedom to choose the path of life to take. Course of life to engage in. Righteousness to live in right relationship with God again. Free to live in the peace of His Presence or continue to try to outperform His Grace. There is no obligation in freedom. Yet somehow humanity has decided that the gift of eternal life is not free. Grace is not enough. Righteousness – some kind of lost leader that draws us in only to discover that it is not exactly what originally promised. When the Lord calls you – He equips you – when religion tells us otherwise. By grace – we are saved through faith – not of ourselves but through Jesus Christ. It is a gift that cannot be repaid. Set free to choose who to serve and how much passion to invest. The Lord invites us into the quietness of living at peace with Him. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Your God. A Good God. A Loving and Graceful God. A Kind God overflowing with goodness for you. A God of Refuge. A Mighty Fortress that protects you in the storm and keeps the wind and rain from moving or displacing you. I Am. No, really, I AM!

Psalm 46:1-7 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Do you dwell in the Peace of God today? I try to. Yet there are days when distractions and delays challenge my human nature. When God is ever-present and still ever-elusive to me, the stillness produced by confidence turns to insecurity. Sink or swim? Neither be still. To be completely still and unmoved by my situation, circumstances or current conditions to KNOW and believe that God is with me. It is an exercise of extreme discipline to persevere past our emotions and natural inclinations. To stand rather than try to build a new exit. To stay the course rather than reroute. To be still and know that God is going to do exactly as He promised if we would only persist in knowing and trusting Him more.

God is constant. He is our refuge. He is our strength. He is an EVER-PRESENT help in danger. THEREFORE – I will not fear. Fear is produced by doubt and insecurity. This is the downfall of most believers in claiming their calling and stepping out by faith. Fear consumes the faith that is growing from a heart given to God but not fully committed to becoming convinced.

Matthew 14:28-30 (NIV) “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Peter was a risk taker. Whenever Jesus said, “Follow me.” Peter followed. I believe that there was an immediate connection between the two that kept Peter pursuing the Living God. Peter was not the perfect disciple. The Bible tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Faith is a whole lot of fear and trembling. If we do not face our fear and confront it with faith, then it will hinder us for the rest of our life. How better to face our fears than to walk by faith? To walk by faith and not by sight. Fear is a natural emotion conducive to survival of humanity. Healthy fear, for example, if I do not look both ways before crossing a road that I may get hit by a car. Healthy habit of self-preservation. Common sense. This behavior came from parents or guardians who instilled it. Coming to Christ, we can now live a fearless life yet nevertheless should still look both ways before crossing the street. Faith is the same. It is not about leaping off mountains or running blindly across busy highways during rush hour. Faith is fear of God as in awe and respect. To put our perspective in the perception that God has of our life from beginning to end and live according to His Word by faith. It is way more disciplined and specialized then some religious folks make it. Taste and see that He is good. Test me. Try me at my Word. See God is all about opportunities. The prime opportunity for every believer is to trust Him. Trusting God is not a dangerous venture but the sublime moment when peace replaces the need to perform and we become followers of Christ rather than trying to build our own road to nowhere.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place through the Blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the House of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings… (Hebrews 10:19-22) We can live in perfect peace when our heart and mind agree with full assurance that faith has great potential. The belief that the hope given to us by Jesus Christ will never lead us to disappointment makes us followers. Peter got it all wrong a lot. He kept messing up. He proclaimed Christ to His Face and then denied Him on His Way to the Cross. However, Jesus still met him on the beach that day. Jesus called Peter a rock. Not just some rolling stone, but the foundation of His Church. You are part of the same Body as a living stone in His Temple. You have a place of importance. You are not insignificant to the ministry or in the effort to share the gospel. You must only be at peace with the Living God.

Peace with God is a complete confidence – mind, body, spirit and soul that He will do exactly what He promises in His Word – in you, for you and through you. The belief that His Grace is sufficient. The understanding that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us and to walk through the gate each and every day. Your ability to change your life does not impress God. To develop certain disciplines and holy habits is not what He is after. You can do nothing for the Lord because He did it all for you. Complete and absolute stillness comes when peace prevails in our life. When we decide that He is perfect in all of His Ways, trust becomes our refuge. We will not be moved from His Presence when peace is found there. To be still and KNOW that He is God – it changes everything beginning with me.

Isaiah 26:2-4 (NIV) Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

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A Time to Reflect

A Time to Reflect

Philippians 4:8 (NLT)  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

This morning writing the date in my journal, I still cannot believe it is the last day of 2017. Where did this year go? It flew by in an instant. I love the New Year…every year. It is always a new beginning. A fresh start when gym memberships flourish, new habits are formed, and so many good intentions are set forth. Looking back over the past year, how many were successful? What about the unexpected things that happened? Did you lose someone close to you? The seasons of life go by and without time to reflect one becomes another until our life is nothing but a course of events.

The last couple of weeks have been challenging as our family has been hit by a nasty virus that I have labeled the “plague”. Sickness and exhaustion have kept us homebound. It has been a quiet time. The usual hustle and bustle stilled to a snail’s pace. My husband actually went to Target with us yesterday desperate to get out of the house. Ironically, it is in this sickness when activity grinds to a stop and best intentions turn into a long winter’s nap that I have time to reflect.

The highlights of the past year far outweigh my disappointments. God is good. He is always good. His Faithfulness is evident in my life. We have many things to look forward to in the coming year. However, human nature often discards those good things to focus on what didn’t happen. Reflection will often lead to regret if not redirected. Perception is driven by perspective. I must align my perspective with God’s Promises and by faith accept them as the inevitable. Faith believes all that confident hope offers as a definitive in our life or at least, it should. Fear tells us to give up on faith when it doesn’t produce what we want in our timeline. God has placed eternity in our hearts and we are eternal beings. The Grace of God offered through His Son, Jesus Christ, gives us access to the Kingdom and every blessing God has for us. His Promises become the premise of our life.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. God will do exactly what He has promised to do in you and through you. He will prosper you as your soul prospers right where you are. The effort that releases such things in our life is faith. We must fix our heart and mind on faith for 2018 to experience the life God promised for us. It is important to reflect on the past year but to leave regret in 2017. God’s Grace is always enough. It is completely sufficient and will make a way where there is no way. It opens doors that no one can shut. All you have to do is believe. There is no need to carry regret, disappointment or sadness into the coming year. It is not the lifestyle of the believer. Repentance offers things like refinement, renewal, restoration and revival which are all good and life-giving qualities. The enemy can take nothing from you or the Hand of God in safekeeping for you. God is all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere. He is protecting your promises and potential until the time comes for fulfillment.

I Corinthians 13:11-13 (NLT) When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. I am reminded in my reflection that I cannot see things with the clarity of God. At least not yet, there are things that exist in my life that create uncertainty. Not because God is not completely confident in His Way, but because like everyone else I struggle with believing sometimes. When God speaks to my heart, I grab hold of His Words a paint an elaborate portrait in vivid detail of what it will look like creating a master plan of my own. When He has only given me of a glimpse of the greatness of the work that He is doing in my life. When it does work out the way that I planned, I am often humbled at the feet of my Lord in the realization that He didn’t let me down. I let myself down. If I can do it, it’s not God. This year, I want to be mature in childlike faith. When God speaks listening, but not assuming.

Three things will last forever – if the thought, attitude or action is not representative of faith, hope and especially love then I must let it go. Rebellious thoughts that come disguised as good intentions, motivation or even hard work that are really just pride trying to get a leg up – they must also be subject to God’s Word and His Three Essentials – faith, hope and love. It sounds simplistic. It is. We have so complicated the gospel of Jesus Christ that no one seems to be finding their way to Him. I don’t want to be that person. My hope for 2018 is for my life to reflect Jesus Christ to all mankind. I must fight my flesh to make this a reality.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In 2018, it is my goal to make every effort to respond to God’s Promises and NOT REACT to everything and everyone else. This is going to require a disciplined life. It is a character change from humanity to Godly Identity. To live in the spiritual and supernatural realm yet function in the natural. I can do it. But it will mean a great deal of self-control which is a fruit of God’s Spirit in me and not human nature. I must strive to allow God to build my character to acquire every promise set forth for my life. I must grow, mature and develop in order to be more productive and useful for Christ.

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

In 2018, I will live in freedom. Free from fear, worry, anxiety and doubt that will restrict and inhibit the freedom given to me by Christ. I ask the Lord to help my unbelief. My relationship with Jesus Christ is defined by freedom. To live, love and laugh. To pursue the dreams and aspirations that He has given me. To live a limitless life unrestricted so the Lord can change our ordinary existence to extraordinary abundance as I am changed into His Image. God has not given me the spirit of fear so I must strive daily not to accept it in my life. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. It is in this freedom that God can complete the good work that He began in us.

Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 (NLT) And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

In 2018, I will enjoy the gift of life that God has given me. Are you happy? Are you content? Are you at peace? What is missing? There is an attitude of gratitude that can overcome many of these problems. God’s Goodness is for us in the land of the living. Too often – we get so busy living that we lose sight of the goodness evident in our everyday existence. I have a good life. Thankfulness for this gift that I have been given and His Goodness all around me will change my life. As my soul prospers, so will everything else. To a life aligned with the Lord is to acknowledge the good things that He has already done for us. Thankfulness overcomes discontentment. It will change our sadness into joy turning our face from the clock marked “waiting” to all the answered prayers around us. Every good thing in my life came straight from God.

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake.

Looking ahead to 2018, I carry the hopeful expectation of God’s Word that has not yet come to pass in my life. I will leave behind regrets and disappointments because they are all just lies of the enemy. Worthless weight better left in the past. Lord, I will enter the New Year full of expectation. As I reflect on 2017, all I can say is “Thank You!” You are awesome as usual. Moving ahead, I will continue to trust your Plan for my life because “a day is like a thousand years to (You) and a thousand years is like a day.” You are not in a hurry because time is not an issue for you because you have made a time for everything already. Moving into the next year, I realize that there are things from this year that will bloom, blossom and reproduce there that would have been aborted if risen up too soon. Thank you Lord that Your Promises are my reality. Keep me close in 2018 – it will be another good year – of this I am quite sure! Let my life and everything in it be a true reflection of Your Love and Faithfulness and the fact that You are always good!

Proverbs 27:19 (NIV) As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.

In Due Season

In Due Season

Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV) And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

As the New Year approaches, all the Christmas decorations are back in the attic. The house is restored to its normal order. I find comfort in the week between Christmas and the New Year. The weight of responsibility the holidays bring are waning while expectation of what’s to come breathes excitement into my weary soul. Looking back, the past year has yielded many unexpected blessings. Things that seemed impossible that suddenly became a reality. There are many unexpected things that turned out far better than I expected. There are some things in 2017 that I thought would happen that have not yet. I try not to heap my own aspirations unto my own back but human tendency is to do just that. God is faithful so if it didn’t happen or turnout the way that “I” planned then I must have done something wrong or missed Him altogether. Pride launches a subtle attack to lure me from waiting and watching. If it can only get me off the watchtower to the ground level so I will be impacted by what I see rather than faithful to what I know.

Are you weary in doing good? Are you ready to give up on that dream? Give in to discouragement? Throw in the proverbial towel? Call it quits? Life too hard. People too stubborn. Your heart growing hard. There are plenty of excuses to stop waiting, watching and wanting what God has. Our need for comfort, convenience and control validate them all. But those who are determined to wait on the “due season” will reap what they have sown. You cannot give up but you must give in to the proper seasons of a perfect God.

Genesis 1:14-15 (ESV) And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.

God created seasons when He created the world. They were set into motion before humans were created. Why did God create the seasons? Man was not destined to work the land until sin entered the world. Could this be an image of God’s Grace for us? Did He know that His People would betray Him from the start and provided for us anyway? Food for thought today as one considers giving up on the seasons of life due to unproductivity. The seasons of our life are predetermined and predestined by God NOT our ability to do good, be right or any other human quality. Seasons bring forth the hidden potential of fertile ground. The seed of possibility sown in fertile soil and given the proper season will produce something in us and through us because it must complete the directive of God’s Word.

Genesis 8:21-22 (ESV) And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

God created seasons with promise which would be released in Genesis 8. When Noah presented the Lord with an offering after exiting the Ark, the Lord said in his heart. I can imagine a breathless whisper. God knew people were evil and up to no good. He knew that Noah was just a man who would sin just like the rest of us. But in that moment of complete devastation, Noah chose to worship the Lord. Every earthly possession gone, he would have to rebuild from the ground up. All he had left was his family. Noah worshipped God. God instituted His Blessing on the seasons and promised that as long as the earth remains what is sown will be harvested.

Isaiah 28:23-26 (ESV) Give ear, and hear my voice; give attention, and hear my speech. Does he who plows for sowing plow continually? Does he continually open and harrow his ground? When he has leveled its surface, does he not scatter dill, sow cumin, and put in wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and emmer as the border? For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him.

God did not just create seasons and institute seedtime and harvest but He also teaches us all about sowing and reaping. Most farmers come from generations of farming families and their education is in the field. Jesus gave us His Spirit so that our sowing and reaping potential goes far beyond the natural into supernatural realms. Our eyes must be fixed on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith so that sowing and reaping will not be limited to what we see but have far greater potential. The Spirit cultivates fruit in us and reproduces enough for a generous soul. It doesn’t always come when we want it to, but it always comes in due season. I am just as guilty as the next believer. You hear the Voice of God. You grab hold of the promise and a paintbrush in the other hand. Then rather than allowing God to create the Masterpiece that He has planned – we try to do it ourselves. The Spirit of God within us knows the proper seasons and will keep us in the waiting times.

Psalm 107:33-38 (ESV) He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.

God doesn’t do things in the ordinary but extraordinary. Miracles are only possible in the midst of impossible. If I put my money in a savings account, it will generate interest according to the current market. It is complete logically and fully disclosed by the institution. God promises that every seed placed in His Hand will produce much fruit. God is always throwing in a plot twist so that no one can steal His Glory. When God does it, He makes sure that everyone knows He did it. What if the dry, barren land you are ready to abandon is actually the birthplace of your miracle? Such a place takes faith to cultivate because in the natural it is a hopeless situation, but that still small voice keeps you in place, sowing seeds, watering it with the Word, and waiting.

The answer – Keep sowing. Keep waiting. Don’t move. Stay put. In due season, at that proper time, God’s Word will come to pass. He is not mandated by a human clock or natural calendar. He waits until a thing is completed so there will be no premature delivery. The wasteland will become a waterfall. The desert will be refreshed with new springs. You must establish your city, your life, your being on the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and refuse to move until every seed comes forth that has been planted. Do not leave the field anymore. Stop making excuses. Dig in for the long haul. The Lord will do exceedingly abundantly more than you can think, ask or imagine if you do!

2 Corinthians 9:6 (ESV) The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

 

Highly Favored

highly favored

Luke 1:28-30 (NIV) The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

You are blessed and highly favored. From the beginning of your life to the last day, your life has been handwritten by the Lord with a wonderful plan. The culmination of which is a future and hope far exceeding the temporary circumstances or conditions surrounding you today. When the angel came to Mary, she was a young girl engaged to her betrothed preparing for marriage. She was a good girl. When the angel came to her it was with the words, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you!” He went on to proclaim her “blessed among women.” She feared the awesome appearance of the angel before her but that would not be the end. It was only the beginning.

For just a moment, let’s talk about some of God’s Favored Ones. Those who He proclaimed favor over in their lifetime. Abel who was murdered by his brother, Cain. Noah, who singlehandedly built an ark and rebuilt from scratch after enduring the flood. Jacob who was tricked and taken advantage of by Laban. Joseph thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, wrongly imprisoned and completely forgotten. Moses risked life and limb to lead God’s People out of captivity and died never reaching the Promised Land. Hannah prayed for God’s Favor in the form of a son who upon weaning would be given back to serve in the House of God. David had to kill a giant. Daniel was cast into a lion’s den not to mention his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who had to walk through fire when they would not bow down. Esther was enslaved as a virgin given to the king. Just to name a few…and what about Jesus favored by God, His Only Son, nailed to a Cross for our sin. All considered favored by God and there are more. I am favored by the Lord. Living in favor is not the end to my trials or temptations but the power by which to overcome them all in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 84:11 (NIV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

What is favor? How does it work? Favor is something granted out of goodwill rather than justice. It is to be given something better than that which is deserved. It is the excessive and unfair partiality of God and His Preferential Treatment given to humanity despite their sinful condition. Grace makes favor possible in our life. Grace alone is the conduit to God’s Favor. Faith in God is to believe grace is possible outside of human ability. To accept the Gift of God given by His Son, Jesus and live according to His Word (Jesus is the Word who came in the flesh).

The Lord withholds no good thing from those whose walk is blameless. Now, you and I both know that we need God’s Mercy every morning and grace all day long just to make it through. Our salvation is assured through faith alone because if were based on our obedience and willingness – we would all be doomed. The Lord God is our sun and shield. He bestows favor and honor to us. Back to young Mary, she could not possibly know the life laid before her as the mother of Jesus. God knew that no matter what Mary would love and trust Him. All the way to the Cross watching her son be brutalized and murdered – God already knew the substance of her human heart. She was blessed and highly favored but that did not exempt her from the test called endurance.

Proverbs 16:15 (NIV) When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

In the New King James Version, this verse says, “His Favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.” Let’s talk about that for just a moment. We live in a world marked by immediate gratification. We want it all right now. Unwilling to wait for anything and everything this thing called endurance is a challenge. The Promise of God is not yet evident in our life but His Favor is assured. What if the problem is the latter day rain is coming in the form of a storm cloud over our life, but unwilling to wait for the harvest – we keep leaving the field? What if God’s Favor is shining upon you but you are not willing to wait and watch for it? What if the problem is not God or His Word but our inability to be inconvenienced, uncomfortable or out of control? God has made us blessed and highly favored. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. He has already given us every spiritual blessing with the promise that He will make good in every detail of our life. We must only believe. The Favor of God belongs to me. It belongs to you. It comes with a process. The process of endurance which means that when the going gets tough – the favored stick to God’s Word, watching and waiting for Him to come. The Lord will not pass you by.

Psalm 30:6-7 (NIV) When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.

“Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:21-23) What if the truth of the matter is you and I could not handle the Glory of God dispensed in our life right now? What if God is preparing you for a blessing you cannot contain but you keep leaving the process for man’s favor, personal promotion and lesser things? What if God is preparing you to be the next great man or woman of faith but you don’t trust and believe enough to receive it?

Do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. This is probably some of the best advice that I have ever been given. It was by a pastor. The choices of our everyday life should be as God’s Children not the sons and daughters of man. To believe that He is working in us and through us just as He promised. To believe in His Blessing. To respond to the call of “highly favored.” What if God is moving and shaking up your surroundings so that you will look to Him? Our life is changed by the Presence of God in it. To step “in Christ” in every area and facet of living. To be unmoved and unaffected by the daily changes that are the molding and shaping of our heart and remodeling of our life to be filled with His Glory. You are blessed. You are highly favored. What if God is just making room for it today? How can I be more than a conqueror when I run from every battle? How can I live from victory to victory when I don’t believe I win? How can I experience God’s Favor when I cannot believe that His Grace is enough? Whatever the thing challenging your acceptance of God’s Favor today – let it go. You are a Child of God. You are blessed. You are highly favored. I see a cloud. It is filled with latter day rain. It will burst over those who are ready and waiting for His Glory to come.

Psalm 5:11-12 (NIV) But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Psalm 30:4-5 (NIV) Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 90:17 (NIV) May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.

Soul Wellness

Soul Wellness

Psalm 131 (NKJV) Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

Psalm 131 describes the heart of one who fully and completely trusts the Lord. The words are not eloquent painting a picture of divine intervention and a perfect life. It is more a surrender and submission of the psalmist’s heart, mind and soul to the Sovereignty of God. It is simple truth about simple trust. My heart is not haughty or my eyes lofty. Pride crucified. Completely convicted of its own inadequacy and inability to be effective on its own. The first step to trusting the Lord is humility. Grace is accepted in our absolute weakness. It is the moment the Power of the Living God is manifested in us…not necessarily around us. The expectation that Jesus came to change our situation and save the earth is false. He came for one thing. He died for a single cause. It was for me. It was for you. His Desire for us so great that He set aside His Throne to come and live a humble life as our example and to be crucified as a sacrifice for us. My heart is humbled at such a thought. The idea that a perfect and sinless man would lay down his life for me is overwhelming in the first place, but to add that it is the deity of God who took my place is incomprehensible even to those who believe.

As I write these words today, there is a hurricane headed in our direction. The sky is growing darker and the wind beginning to pick up. It is midmorning and the neighborhood is eerily quiet as the community waits, watches and wonders what will happen next. Fully prepared with food and supplies, the unpredictability of nature and the weather is still unnerving. Standing outside it is clear even the birds, squirrels and animals that live in the trees around our house have gone into hiding. Vivid images being broadcast from the center of the hurricane make it clear things are destined to change. In the stillness, I am reminded – the will of God is stillness for our soul no matter what the situation. I do not understand the nature and condition of the world in which I live. I am not entirely sure why bad things happen to good people or why the innocent die young. The more I think I know the less I seem to understand many things. However, I have come to know a few simple things – God is good. He loves me. He is for me. Christ lives in me. His Spirit helps me. In the Lord, I will trust.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

Yesterday, the wind began to pick up just a little bit. A tree fell in our yard. There was only a gentle breeze. How could it cause such damage? On closer inspection, I found that the tree was completely rooted on the inside. Though it looked fine from the exterior, the interior was fragmented and crumbling easily picked apart with my bare hands. It wasn’t the wind that knocked over the tree and caused it to fall but rather the tree was dying on the inside already. When the breeze came along it could not stand anymore. An object lesson for me, I believe. Maybe it Is not the problems in life that cause us to stumble or fall crying out to the Lord, but rather out inward condition of distrust and disbelief that push us over when things start moving and shaking around us. Rather than trusting our Good Father, Loving God, Savior, Redeemer, Protector and Friend, our inward condition causing outward consequences. I want to trust the Lord. I want to be welcomed into the Kingdom of God. I must be unshakable and immovable in my faith which is evidenced by trust.

What if the situations and circumstances that come with life are not the cause of our fall, fail or future? What if it is just the conduit that causes us to see our current condition? The tree was on the verge of falling already. It was deteriorating rapidly on the inside. The first brisk breeze that came along knocked it over. Could it be that it is not the things that happen to us that are the problem but rather reveal the contents of our heart? Psalm 131 says, “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul…” The security of our heart, mind and soul are manifested by trust. To trust the Lord making Him our refuge and strength. This means letting go of the three “C’s” (comfort, control and convenience) to fully embrace Christ in all things.

Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) Be still, and know that I am God…

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God is our refuge. He is our strength. He is a very present help in trouble. The humble heart knows this and puts trust in the character and divine nature of our loving, faithful Father and Friend. We must trust the Lord. Trust is reliance on the integrity, strength, ability and surety of the Lord with full confidence. It is the confident expectation or hope given to us as an indication of faith in our life. Hope is futuristic. It is intact whether our natural circumstances or condition indicate its relevancy. God is God with or without our belief. Our belief does not fuel His Power but aligns us within it. Miracles are made up of impossibilities. It is such times that God becomes our hope and security. Without impossible situations there would be no signs, wonders or miracles. It is the shaking of our heart, mind and soul that reveal the contents of our heart and soundness of our trust. It is when we can be still in just knowing that He is God when simple trust becomes evident.

Psalm 62:1-2 (NKJV) Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

There is a great deal of uncertainty in the city and surrounding area. Our lives may change dramatically in the next 24 hours depending on the intensity of the hurricane when it reaches our area. More than 20 people have died in its wake. We have prepared to the best of our ability for the storm. Our home is well-constructed and completely insured. There is a generator with a fresh supply of gasoline and plenty of food and water if needed. Now we wait… If tomorrow tragedy strikes what will be my response? Will I be able to say, “It is well with my soul”? Where we wait is the tell-tale sign of the outcome in moments such as these.

Triumph over tragedy is found in the Lord and in God alone. It is the peace that passes understanding that allows us to draw our next breath when it is all we have left. His Love is the place where shattered pieces of broken hearts find healing. The Refuge called Presence is the hiding place for God’s People. His Grace is our strength yet only evident in our complete and utter weakness that causes us to humble our heart before Him.

Today as I wait for the storm to pass, I am challenged to examine my heart and listen for the inner voice of my soul. Will I wait silently before the Lord knowing that He alone is my salvation? Will I be moved? Will I stay put in my faith and simple trust believing that no matter what tomorrow holds that He holds me firmly in place? We put so much emphasis on what we can see, feel, hold and touch in this life that sometimes it is the moving and shaking of those things that cause us to inspect the contents of our heart and soul. My deep desire is that when morning comes – the voice that I hear will say, “It is well with my soul!”

When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul”.

Romans 15:13 (NKJV) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

New Strength

New Strength

Isaiah 40:28-29 (NKJV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.

Fasting and prayer are excellent means to delve deeper in the Presence of God and move higher in understanding and faithful expectation. Fasting is a form of discipline that removes the strongholds imposed by life to take hold of the supernatural strength and power of God. Fasting often creates weakness in our body. It is an opportunity to allow God’s Strength and Power to take over. Fasting inevitably creates weakness as our flesh is denied the natural portions it usually receives. It rebels. It becomes fatigued, tired and pained by the process. Our mind doesn’t help matters as it promotes shortcuts along the way to bring relief to the body’s suffering. For me, the third day of any fast is the toughest. It seems that all that is within me is saying, “Enough is enough!” It is in such moments, we need God’s Strength. His Power is made perfect in weakness if we can wait it out. I have come to the Lord today not in my earnest weakness but frustration. I have endured this process many times and yet still my flesh has a strong influence in my life. I know the proverbial wall that rises up yet I still think of ways to compromise and substitute obedience to God with excuses. I concur with Paul today, For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NKJV) Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Turning to the Word of God, I am looking for new strength today. Strength to overcome my flesh and human weakness and experience the renewal promised in these verses of Isaiah 40. My flesh is weak. It is ready to give up and find another way other than self-denial. My desire today is for the renewal of strength and release of God’s Power. I must wait on the Lord to receive it. There is no other way to have His Strength. To mount up high above circumstances and conditions. To run the race of faith and not be weary. To walk upright in humility with God and not faint. I want it all. I want it now. But God says I must wait on Him…

Lamentations 3:25 (NKJV) The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

Waiting is not my favorite. However, it is essential to experiencing God’s Goodness in our life. To wait (qavah) is to wait for, look for, expect, and hope. Qavah is the root word of tiqvah which means hope and expectancy. Waiting on God is more than just sitting around in idleness but a place of hopeful expectancy born of faith. Like a farmer, watching and waiting for each seed to grow into an abundant harvest. He waits and watches anticipating the tiniest sprout and carefully observing the process to full maturity. Every seed has the potential to produce far greater than itself but it must endure the process and press through the dark until it reaches the light and its purpose is fulfilled. You have a purpose. You have a plethora of promises. You have far greater potential than you are aware of. It is all a product of faith that decides to wait in full anticipation and confident hope that God is faithful. The Lord is good. His Word true. He rewards those who seek Him.

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NKJV) You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

I can remember days that I thought would never end. Trials and temptations, whether pass or fail, that I was not sure how I would make it past or rise above. Maybe you can relate, all those times you just didn’t know how to make it one more day, one more step or even one more breath. But you did! The Power of God is not for the strong. It is not born of natural strength but in our human weakness. “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” New strength that comes from the Lord is birthed in our weakness and inability to do it alone. It is in our complete undoing before Christ that there is room for Him to fill the void left in its place.

He gives power to the weak…

Before balking at weakness, we should understand that the power received in it is far greater than anything you or I could produce naturally. In Deuteronomy 8:18, the same word is used to describe increase. Power (koach) means vigor, strength, force, capacity, wealth, means or substance. His Power can produce a variety of desirable things our life when given proper placement. All of these things are attributable to physical, mental or spiritual vitality. In our weakness, His Power has room to move and reproduce. It renews us. As our soul prospers, our life is increased in all areas. The first step to new strength, power and prosperity is total weakness and humility before the Lord.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

The weakness I am feeling today is by choice. Subjecting my body to fasting along with prayer, it is evident it is working as I am weak, tired and fatigued. My mind is reeling with all the reasons to stop short, give up and give in. And then I hear the Spirit of the Lord say, “But wait…” Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. Wait on the Lord. Know that He is for me. He is ready to release His Power in my life as I am completely undone. Total weakness is the way to receive it. The invitation clearly set forth in Matthew 11 is presented to me today, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” I am not ashamed to admit that I need Jesus today. I want His Power and His Strength so rather than giving in to my weakness, I surrender my weakness to the Lord. I need new strength and power. He promises to renew my strength and help me to rise above physical inability to run and not be weary. He promises that I will walk and not faint. His Grace is enough for me. The promise is claimed after waiting while hope is found within it.

Psalm 18:1-3 (NKJV) I will love You, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised…”

All in the Waiting

All in the Waiting

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NKJV) The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

The end of a thing is better than its beginning. The conclusion reveals a concept fully conceived and completed. The destination is the end of the journey. When our children were younger, trip planning and preparation was essential. The word “spontaneity” was not in the vocabulary when accompanied by almost a half dozen children. I would begin the process months before our trip. I would reserve condos or homes rather than hotel rooms. Plan activities that would be kid-friendly and parent approved. The day before would be endless checklists of everything one might need for the family and a printed map to the nearest Wal-Mart close to our accommodations. But when we finally arrived at the desired location, unloaded the car, and began our vacation – the end was definitely better than the beginning while enjoying our family and making memories. May I encourage you just a little today? The place that God has promised to take you – He is now preparing you for. The end will be better than the beginning if you choose to allow Him the time to prepare you for it and prepare it for you.

The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Having five children is the product of multiple pregnancies. A tiny egg inside the body that becomes a living breathing person. It is nothing short of miraculous. Pregnancy is the process to the promise. Just ask Abraham, who for his entire lifetime desired a child. When it finally came to pass, he was in his nineties. I cannot even imagine such a thing. Once the process of pregnancy begins so does the waiting. It takes nine months or 40 weeks on average from start to finish. In my case, I tend to gestate for 42 weeks which means I had to wait two extra weeks to meet my children. Our last child was a scheduled induction. She was due to be born on Christmas, and due to my readiness to be done, the doctor picked a day to induce the labor process. After three completely natural childbirth experiences, I was not ready for what was in store. Tweaking the natural process of childbirth does not always work with our body or timing. My other children were delivered in about two hours. It took more than 12 hours to see her beautiful face. She had trouble along the way due to the fact she was not fully in position. God’s Timing is an essential part of His Plan and Process. You are pregnant with promises today that the Lord planned for you and is preparing for you. Waiting is an important part of that process to have the desired result of God’s Very Best. Just as interrupting my body’s birth plan made the delivery much harder than before, so it is when we do not endure God’s Process. If you want God’s Promises, there is always a process that goes with it. The promise has a time and place for its arrival. We must wait for it.

Proverbs 14:29 (NKJV) He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly.

The literal translation of the word “impulsive” in this verse means “short of spirit.” Impulsivity is characteristic of human nature and can only be overcome by self-control. Our will can overcome many things by changing habits or applying knowledge to become wisdom in our life and essentially making better choices. However, to become the person God has called you to be and do what He has commissioned you to do requires the Spirit’s self-control that overpowers our flesh giving way to God’s Plan. To be impulsive is to be swayed by emotional or involuntary impulses. It is the opposite of steadfast and immovable qualities which are essential to growing our faith into hopeful confidence and the ability to trust the Lord even in His Timing. Impulse is the influence of our feelings, emotions or mental state so it is subject to change with our condition. We must learn to be patient in our faith. Patience is developed and matured by the art of waiting. We must learn to be patient and faithful in the waiting.

Hebrews 6:11-12 (NKJV)  And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

When a pregnancy ends too soon, there is an abortion, miscarriage, or prematurity. Abortion is when someone chooses to end the process. Miscarriage is failure to attain the just, right or desired result. Prematurity means occurring, coming or done before maturity or proper timing. Babies who are born prematurely are not fully developed and ready to sustain life on their own in many cases. A promise aborted, miscarried, or prematurely released will never reach its full potential because it is out of God’s Timing. God’s Promises are made beautiful in His Timing. We must wait for God to complete the good work that He begins in us rather than forcing a counterfeit or substitution by accepting less than God’s Very Best. We must show the “same diligence to full assurance of hope until the end.” We must endure to the end to be saved. Do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Hebrews 6:15 (NKJV) And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

Abraham had to wait until he was over 90 years old to receive his promise. How long have you been waiting? Does it feel like a lifetime? Does every old season just give way to a new season of preparation rather than the prospering harvest of God’s Promise? Faith and patience inherit the promise. Nothing less and nothing more. Our willingness to wait on the Lord and trust Him until He delivers is essential in obtaining every spiritual blessing and fulfilling every high calling in our life planned by God and promised in Christ.

Psalm 37:3-7 (NKJV) Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

The prosperity of patient and faith is God’s Promises. Trust takes dedication to doing good, dwelling where God placed you, and dining on His Faithfulness. It is to delight in the Lord while He plans, prepares and promotes His Promises for you. To make the commit to see this thing out to the very end and trust Him UNTIL He brings it to pass. Trusting God’s Timing is one of the biggest challenges because walking by faith and not by sight is tough. His Timing usually leads us to the impossible so that by faith the impossible becomes our promise. He is bringing forth His Righteousness and Faithfulness so your life will resonate His Glory all around so others can experience His Goodness and Love. Rest in this season of waiting friend as I try to do the very same thing. Wait patiently for Him and do not compare your life to other Christians but accept your calling in Jesus Christ. He is preparing you for something more than you can think to ask for or even imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

Zechariah 4:10 (NKJV) For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

Do not despise small beginnings. Israel faithfully completed the second temple but to them it seemed small. They became discouraged. The temple was only a tiny step in God’s Great Big Plan. God is still building His Church, His Kingdom, and completing the Body of Christ. We must celebrate new beginnings, patiently wait through each process, and endure to the end to receive every promise ordained in our life. The bigger the promise the greater the preparation. Patience is born in the waiting rooms of life. It is the place where tiny seeds of faith sprout and blossom into trees of life with leaves that do not wither and bearing fruit in every season. Abraham carried the tiny, single seed that would become Isaac inside of him for almost a century. Faith is the size of a mustard seed but has the potential to become life everlasting. It takes time to grow. It is not an overnight sensation but a lifelong legend. God is doing something in you and through you far greater than human comprehension understands. You will need to invest your faith and time into waiting so His Spirit can produce the characteristics and qualities necessary to have all that He promised because honestly right now you couldn’t handle it. Do not resent small begins. Do not vacate waiting on the things of God. Give yourself wholeheartedly to do all that He is asking you to do. Jeremiah 29:11-13 expresses the connection between wholehearted obedience and God’s Plan. Read it. Trust becomes confidence when exercised properly. Faithfulness in the smallest things will produce more as God increases us in our ability to have faith, trust Him and wait while He works all things together for our good and His Glory. It is all in the waiting friend. I must choose to wait.

Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…

 

Cloudy Days

TX_Road_Into_Rain_HDR

2 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV) For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Just before the alarm began to vibrate on the nightstand, my eyes opened as if shaken awake. Laying in the quiet, a flash lit up our bedroom. In the distance a soft low rumble, I thought it sounds like rain. Trying to shake myself from slumber, the room was bright again. I stumbled out of bed gathering my senses and calling my mind and body to work together and start this brand new day. The thunder again could be heard far off. A bit of urgency got me moving. I have two little dogs that need to go outside. If I hurry, I will beat the rain. Outside the air was heavy with anticipation of the low pressure that would soon burst forth the clouds and produce a downpour. Thankfully our fur babies cooperated and we made it in just as small droplets turned into the promised overflow.

The anticipation of rain led to immediate action today. Hearing the thunder and seeing the lightning – all signs pointed the coming storm. I had to choose to act on the signs around me or ignore them and sleep just a little bit longer. Those five or ten minutes would have changed the outcome of my morning as I trudged through the rain with the dogs. But instead, the action of anticipation changed the outcome and everything worked out just fine. Now the rain can water the grass and flowers around our house, wash away all the dirt and pollen and the earth is replenished by the Mighty Hand of God. Who knows I might find rainbow on the way to work?

Anticipation is influenced by expectation and hope. It is the sense of what is coming, intuition, foreknowledge, or prescience. It is the realization in advance. It is the very thing our faith in God works from. If our faith is in the Lord, He sets forth our expectation and promotes anticipation. Faith is to expect, look forward to and be sure of … before anything happens. As believers called to walk by faith and not by sight, it is important to allow the Holy Spirit through God’s Word to change our expectation so anticipation calls us to action in advance of the desired outcome. To become aware of the Spirit of God moving and changing the atmosphere around us. If our faith in God does not change our expectation – it cannot influence the action of anticipation.

I Kings 18:42-46 (ESV) So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Elijah had declared three years of drought according to God’s Instruction. Now in the third year, God was ready to send rain to the people again. Elijah was on his way to tell Ahab when he met Obadiah along the way. He asked his fellow prophet to announce his arrival to Ahab. Obadiah considered this a death sentence as the last message delivered by Elijah had brought a terrible drought and severe famine. Surely, Ahab would “shoot the messenger.” Ahab was definitely not amused or overjoyed at Elijah’s arrival. The next scene would be at Mount Carmel. Elijah would put his faith in God up against the prophets of Baal. Of course, all prophets were no match for God’s Power that day and none would live to tell of it. It was after that the prophet told Ahab to “Go up, eat and drink for there is the sound of rushing rain.” Ahab followed his advice. Elijah did not join him. Instead, “he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees.” Elijah began to pray. Do you think it is odd that though Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal and was the overcomer that it was Ahab who went to eat and drink while he went to pray? Why pray after the events of the day? Because though God showed up in a miraculous way, Elijah did not come for a show of signs and wonders. He came so that it would rain and replenish the earth. He came to bring the Word of the Lord to restore the land. He did not lose sight of his mission in the midst of great success. Have we lost sight of our mission?

Elijah didn’t go to Ahab to show off God’s Power but to give Him God’s Promise to deliver God’s Word. The Lord was ending the drought. He was going to rain on the land and end the famine. His message of hope for Ahab was that the Living God was coming to restore the land. Nothing was expected of Ahab. There was nothing that he could do. He was the king but could not control the atmosphere or environment. God manifested His Glory on Mount Carmel so the king went back to doing what king’s and ordinary people do. Elijah was not ordinary but extraordinary. God was with Him. His Word in the prophet. Elijah expected rain. He anticipated the rain. Yet, the Man of God still went to pray. To seek the Face of God again, not for His Hand but His Heart. God had already promised rain. In fact, Elijah sent his servant not once, not twice but seven times until the first sign of rain was evident.

We are called to walk by faith not by sight. Walking implies movement or action. Our action is driven by anticipation and expectation. Elijah expected it to rain even though at first there was no sign of rain. If our daily motivations are driven by the atmospheric pressures of life, our outcomes will remain ordinary. We are dependent on the natural resources and not supernatural abundance produced in an abiding relationship with God. The kind of relationship not influenced by people or the problems of the day but completely driven by God’s Word and His Spirit within us.

2 Chronicles 7:13-16 (ESV) When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

Life is a series of seasons. Some pleasant while others are long and harsh. Winter with its bitter cold. Spring as the earth is replenished and replanted. Summer with high temperatures and little rain. Fall brings the harvest. The manifestation of every seed put in the ground. Our spiritual life is perpetuated by seasons, too. Ecclesiastes 3 delineates most of them. God’s Promise for each season is that all things are made beautiful in His Timing.

I have been in a very dry season. My soul has experienced almost drought-like conditions. I know God is good. I know He has a plan for my life in full motion. I know that if I walk by faith – I will have all that God has promised and willed for my life. I believe God’s Word. I am filled with His Spirit. Yet, there are still days, weeks and even months that turn into years of waiting are tough. During those times, it is important to continually seek His Face, look for the clouds of His Presence all around us and more importantly humble ourselves and pray.

The pressures of life push out the God in us and produce the fruit that is planted in the deepest recesses of our heart. Whether we remain engaged in the process and continue to expect God’s Best or settle for what is currently available is truly up to us. This morning I awoke to the sound of rain. The thunder seemed distant. The lightning lit up the sky but it was not loud at that point. The air was heavy. A choice had to be made. I could move with expectancy finishing the task at hand in anticipation of the rain or I could slough it off and sleep another 15 minutes or so. This is our life in Christ. A series of opportunities each day to seek and serve the Lord or put it off one more day. We want revival. It comes like the rain. There is a small cloud in the distance rising up. It is not from the church house but the prayer rooms of God’s People who desire Him to come like the rain. Their eyes fixed on the clouds in full anticipation of His Arrival that brings them to their knees and faces to the ground. If my people who are called by my name. Are you a Christian? Are you a believer? Do you expect Jesus to join you each day in each new adventure? I know that Elijah did. On Mount Carmel, the prophet expected God to come and consume the sacrifice offered not because it was a fancy show but because He is a Faithful God ready to rain down on those who anticipate and expect Him to by faith that seeks Him and desires Him before He comes.

For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

God chose you. He loves you. He desires you and your heart above all things. He is desperate to reach you. He sent His Son to save you. The Spirit of God fills us as we have become His Temple. He has given us a new name and relationship – we are the sons and daughters of God. His Eyes are on us and His Heart is with us. Do you love God today? Do you desire Him wholeheartedly? Do you expect Him to come? Do you look for His Presence in your everyday life? His Word says clearly and boldly that “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land…” God is ready to send revival like rain to restore our dry and weary land. To end the drought-like conditions in our churches and fellowships. The cloud is on the horizon. Will you be like the servant that continues to seek after Him? Once, twice, seven or more will you look and listen for the Lord. Or will you be like Elijah praying, facedown before the Lord inviting Him in and welcoming the Lord in full anticipation and expectation of His Arrival. Or will you be like Ahab and just go about your day business as usual? It is really up to us. Those who humble themselves and seek His Face will experience the God of the Breakthrough who opens the windows of Heaven releasing the Abundance of His Kingdom to those waiting and watching on the earth. Lord, let me walk by faith and not by sight today. I will humble myself and pray before you. Please Jesus rain down revival on our dry and thirsty land. Send healing to our land. Let my actions show anticipation of Your Arrival. May every expectation be fully invested in You!

I Corinthians 13:12-13 (ESV)  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

Shortchanged – Dealing with Disappointment

Shortchanged

Romans 5:3-5 (Message) There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Romans 5:5 (NLT) And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Disappointment – To fail to fulfill the expectations or wishes of. To defeat the fulfillment of hopes or plans. To thwart, oppose successfully or prevent from accomplishing a purpose. To frustrate.

Disappointment is a dangerous word. It ends the pathway to fulfillment in thought and theory. It is a stumbling block caused by disarmament of God’s People. It is the lie of the enemy that he can stock God’s Ability or someway hinder the Lord accomplishing more than we can think, ask or image. It is the persuasion that God’s Word might in somehow or someway return to Him without accomplishing what it set out to do. It is the thought or whim that the Christ living in me is not enough to overcome every obstacle in the way of destiny and myself. Disappointment is the cultivation of doubt. To feel that in some way grace may not be enough which eludes to the idea that the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ was not sufficient in providing a rich and satisfying life. It is a pitfall. We must learn to deal with disappointment and do away with it in our life.

Disappointment and discouragement are weapons in the enemy’s arsenal against every believer. If he can successfully introduce doubt to the heart and mind of a believer, it subtly begin to eat away at our faith sowing seeds of bitterness along the way that will captivate our thoughts binding our minds in the lie that God does not love us. He is not good. He does not care. Fulfillment is not possible. All of these things begin to work within the person to prevent fulfillment of purpose. How does one deal with disappointment? Overcome doubt? Move past the delay? Find joy in the deferment? This hope will not lead to disappointment. Are you holding hope by a thread today? Wondering if God really is working all things together for your good or making you a prime example like Job? Friend, I am right there with you.

There’s more to come… Our life is prepackaged with a future and hope handwritten by God and set into motion not according to our faithfulness but His Faithfulness. His Grace is enough. God is good. His Love for us is always working in our favor. No matter how long the wait…fulfillment will always exceed our expectation. There is more to come. I must wait for it.

God forgive me but I am sick and tired of being patient. Would you be so honest to say the same? Tired of waiting, watching and wondering when the Lord will do as He promised. Impatience has been my biggest challenge in life. I was born with a stubborn nature and strong will. Patience is the pathway. God is always found in the waiting.

Proverbs 13:12 (NLT) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.

Joseph understood disappointment. When his face hit the hard ground at the bottom of the pit, his dream could have died from the fall. But instead as he was sold into slavery and destined to a life of serving others under a heavy yoke of oppression. Joseph held on to hope. The dream that God had given him playing over and over in his mind. In the house of Potiphar, Joseph faithfully served his new master. The Lord was with Joseph. God blessed Potiphar’s house for Joseph’s sake. Joseph was promoted to the highest position. (Genesis 39) Then his master’s wife decided to seduce young Joseph, but his character and integrity would not give in to her powerful persuasion. The woman scorned reared her fangs and claws. Her attack successfully landed Joseph in prison falsely accused and wrongly convicted. But the Lord was with Joseph, even in jail, and soon he was promoted again. The Lord was with Joseph and caused everything he did to succeed.

While incarcerated, Joseph interpreted the dreams of two men working closely with Pharaoh. His only request was “please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place.Yet another painstaking betrayal by people as the men left that day and completely forgot their new friend. (Genesis 40) Two full years later, Pharaoh had a couple of disturbing dreams that no one could make sense of. It was then that the cupbearer remembered Joseph. You know the rest of the story…Joseph successfully explained the meaning of the dreams and soon Pharaoh would put him in the highest position in the land. Not only did God save and prosper Joseph, but Joseph was able to save his family in the midst of famine. His dream became a tree of life just as the Lord has promised.

I Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

All praise to God. Oh, the power of persistent praise in the life of a believer. I have learned through many deferments, detours and delays that praise is a valuable partner. People can say some really dumb things as they struggle to offer encouragement from an empty well. They want to lend a hand but don’t want to fall in with you. Offering prayers of encouragement, maybe a little advice, a quick hug or pat on the back – they are gone as fast as the cupbearer and baker that day the invite from Pharaoh opened the prison door. They forgot Joseph…or did they? His time had not yet come. I know this may come as a jagged little pill if you are in the midst of a long waiting period, but purpose born too soon is an abortion. God makes everything for a season and it will be beautiful in that season. In the meantime, He builds our character to receive it.

We live with great expectation or at least we should. We have a priceless inheritance. The Lord is an awesome caretaker who provides our needs according to His Glorious Riches. (Philippians 4:19) He doesn’t stop there but blessed us “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are untied with Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) It all comes together with the promise that the Lord will make us “complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:19) And finally, “God, who is able, through His Mighty Power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Do you believe the Power of the Living God is at work in your life today? Even with the smallest measure of faith, and hope hanging by a thread that decides to praise God one time, serve Him one more day, believe Him for one more second and let it be the anchor for our soul will cause disappointment to dissolve as His Spirit is free to move through us uprooting bitterness, drowning disbelief and filling us with His Love and empowering us by grace even in our weakness. God isn’t finished working out the masterpiece of our life. (Ephesians 2:10) We must remain His Steadfast Canvas in the midst of being stretched, stressed and pressured to give in. It will be worth it.

Romans 4:16-22 (NLT)  So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 

Faith makes the impossible possible. Miracles require the impossible. God’s Glory shines brightest in the impossibilities of life. However, these can be some of our darkest days. Trials and testing produce God’s Glory in our life. Those times when trusting God is the only option. When our hands are too small to hold all the pieces of our broken heart that is when we give all its pieces to the Lord. When I cannot possibly make it without Him, I learn to trust Him more. God has promised that He will never lead us to disappointment which means I must follow Him to fulfillment. Nothing is impossible for those who believe. I believe. I trust. I have faith. I have confident hope. Even on those days when my heart is sick and mind plays tricks on me, the Holy Spirit accompanies me through the challenges of my humanity to the place of His Presence. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. Not only waiting for his son to come, but all the way up the mountain of sacrifice when nothing seemed to be going right. Even when there was no reason to hope, Abraham kept hoping. Our does not, cannot and will not ever lead to disappointment.

Feeling shortchanged by God today? I fully understand. Wondering if the promise will ever arrive? God’s Word says it will so I must believe it. Go with what I know not how I feel. Remind myself how many times impossibilities became realities in my walk with God. The enemy wants us to accept disappointment so we become defeated in life. Choose faith and confident hope today. Take control of every thought rebellious to God’s Word, His Will and His Way. Speak God’s Word in and over your life and every situation. Pray without ceasing. Ask for God’s Help and He will gladly give it. Tell the giant what God says, not God what the giant is saying. On those days when life is overwhelming, put off fixing the problem for another day and rest in His Presence. Our hope in Jesus Christ never leads to disappointment. We are not shortchanged have a priceless inheritance. God will never stop short of His Best for us. Until then, we must wait. Hold our hope. Keep the faith. God is faithful. He is good. He will never let the righteous fall. He knows the desires of our heart. He is working it all out for our good and His Glory.

Mark 10:27 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

Finding Joy

Finding Joy

Psalm 34:4-8 (NLT) I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

The word “joy” is often confused with happiness. Happiness is a feeling based on the current condition of our life but joy is confidence in the God of our life. Our youngest child’s middle name is “Joy”. It wasn’t our first thought. I was convinced she was a boy. When the ultrasound tech told us she was a girl and not a boy, I asked if she was sure. She was confident enough to bet her paycheck on it. My husband clearly in shock muttered, “We don’t even have a girl name.” The name selection process started all over again. Shortly after our surprise came the devastating news that my grandfather was ill. It would soon be his time to join Jesus. It was a devastating time. I began to contemplate a namesake. His name was Isaac. His namesake was Isaac in the Bible. Isaac was given his name when his mother laughed upon hearing she would bear a child in her nineties. I would have laughed, too…all the way to the looney bin. Joy was noted as the female version with the same meaning so it would become our youngest daughter’s name. Joy came in the midst of devastation. It’s funny how that works sometimes…I never really thought about it until today.

As Ecclesiastes 3 clearly delineates there are many seasons in life – both good and bad. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” All of them. I think it is important to remember that sin was not God’s idea but mankind’s rebellion against God’s Perfect Plan and Glorious Standard of Living. Yet God in His Unfailing Love and Infinite Grace STILL loves and desires His Children. God preordained our life with a future and hope that is attainable if so desired but gives us the freedom to choose who we will serve. This is important as one will soon see in the Word of God. As always, God includes a promise of recovery, renewal, restoration and rebirth in all seasons – “yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the scope of God’s Work from beginning to end.”

While happiness is temporary coming and going according to each season, the joy of the Lord remains constant for those who put their trust in Him. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy. Those who look to him for help can only mean that there will be times of need, fear, desperation and desire in our life that turn us from the lesser things to grab hold of hope. Impossible precedes every miracle. Trials are an opportunity to trust. Even in the darkest night, the Light of His Love surrounds us. He sings over us a joyful song. Joy is coming in the morning when His Mercy comes and offers us a better way. Finding joy is not an outward pursuit but an inward mission.

Deuteronomy 28:47-48 (NLT) If you do not serve the Lord your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. The Lord will put an iron yoke on your neck, oppressing you harshly until he has destroyed you.

We choose each day who to serve. Will I serve the Lord today? Or will I serve something else? There are really only two choices. Our feelings and emotions are linked to rebellious flesh. We can choose to give into our feelings or serve the God who is greater than our feelings (I John 3:20)! To serve the Lord with joy and enthusiasm in the midst of trial or trauma is evidence that His Spirit lives inside of us and has been given control. He produces “love, joy, peace” and so much more. He does it. I cannot produce joy for myself. I cannot serve the Lord apart from the love, grace and mercy of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and my acceptance of His Gift. I call Him Savior. I must also call Him Lord to reap the benefits and blessings of pure joy. I cannot find it on the earth. It lives in depravity. Love grows colder each day as it is dying plant. Sin is rampant as the departure from God is evident. But…the Light of His Love shines in the darkness as a beacon for those who love and desire Him. One promise of many is joy. We must choose joy each day.

I do not discuss politics. I will not be lured into an argument with anyone about elections or presidents. No matter who is in the White House, the Word of God says that God chose them whether I did or not. The one thing I do tell people all the time is that if you do not vote then you forfeit your right to complain. If you do not choose, then you do not have a right to be mad about it. We have been given the right to choose who we serve in this life and beyond. To choose Jesus is to choose a life of joy. It is not an exemption from every problem but a promise that in every situation you will overcome and have victory according to the Champion that lives inside of you. You must choose one or the other. To Jesus is to have consistent and constant joy as a product of the faith and hope as the unseen reality that produces such power in our life.

Ezra 3:11-13 (NLT) With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord: “He is so good! His faithful love for Israel endures forever!” Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid. But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.

The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance. The rebuilding of the temple was a big deal. It represented a place to house the Presence of the Lord. When the foundation was laid, the young praised God, shouted to Him, and celebrated openly. The older leaders began to weep aloud. Such a mixture of emotions filled the air, it could be heard far away. When I read this today, it struck a chord in me. My life is filled with much happiness. God is doing so many good things. But there are struggles and challenges, too. Things that are not as they should be. Situations that require the Lord’s Attention beyond my own ability. Mountains and valleys with definite highs and lows that take human emotions on a rollercoaster ride to nowhere but insanity if allowed to run its course. Isn’t that really what life is all about? We have highs and lows every day. Great things, good things, not-so-good things and then those things that just are not good at all. God promises to work it all out for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) How do I find joy in such a mixture? How do I allow it to be the place where I live?

Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT) And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

To summarize Nehemiah chapter 8, the wall of Jerusalem was finally finished after much adversity. The people gathered together to dedicate the new wall and celebrate their success together by having church. As the Word of God was read in the form of the Law of Moses, the people were overwhelmed and began to weep. Nehemiah exhorted the people, “This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” I think sometimes our feelings get in the way of our joy…okay all the time. These people lived before the dispensation of God’s Grace, but we live a new free life in Jesus Christ. If I look at my life through my choices, decisions, and errors – I am clearly unfit and unworthy of any good thing God does in my life. However, if I decide to look at my life through Jesus Christ deciding that His Grace is the power driving my life and learn to love and trust Him then I will have joy in that place of surrender.

Psalm 16:11 (NLT) You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Joy is found in the Presence of God. To live in His Presence is to find a way of life not defined by current affairs but a constant love affair with Jesus. We find peace in this place that nothing else can ever provide because it is on the inside working its way out. (Psalm 4:6-8) To live in the prevailing Presence of God gives us more joy than tangible things or natural success. His Joy gives a place of peace to rest our head and heard each day. The world cannot comprehend it or understand it because they cannot experience it outside of Jesus. The Temple build in the Old Testament was the place where the people could experience His Presence but they could not enter into it only the priest could after offering substantial sacrifices for sin. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit and tore the veil from top to bottom as an open invitation to step into His Presence and live there. He put His Spirit inside of us so love, joy and peace can be the productivity of our life. We have His Presence therefore we have found our joy. It is up to you and me if we choose to enter in and live there. It is a daily decision to allow His Spirit to produce good fruit or continue to try to control our emotions and feelings by pursuing happiness rather than hope.

Psalm 20:4-5 (NLT) May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.

God promises to grant our heart’s desire when He is the treasure we seek. He promises to make our life rich and satisfying. Full of abundance. Who doesn’t want that kind of success? Praise Him today. Not because everything is going great and every problem has been solved, but because you have victory. You win. We win! Christ lives in us. He is working it all out for our good. In the meantime, His Presence is our waiting place until the final score is posted. We must raise the banner in the Name of Jesus and decide that He is our Father, Healer, Provider, Protector, Prosperity, and Confident Hope. To believe that He has it under control gives us peace that produces joy in us. Joy comes from the desperate times, broken hearts, and the impossible because usually that is the only time one truly turns to God. Don’t let that be you. Let His Presence fill you with peace and produce joy in your life today. Finding Joy is simply finding Jesus. Grabbing hold of hope with both hands and letting go of control. To constant plant faith in every barren situation and waiting until new things grow. God loves you. He is for you. He is as desperate for your turnaround as you are. Find joy in the Lord today. He is waiting for those who seek Him. They will find their joy.

Psalm 30:11 (NLT) You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy…