Time for Release

Time for Release

I Corinthians 1:27-31 (ESV) “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

A thought occurred to me while dying on the dreaded elliptical. As I literally prayed for my legs to keep moving and the Lord to give me the strength to continue and finish the workout routine, my thoughts suddenly shifted. I realized in that moment just how weak my body is and strong the mind can become. My brain was telling my legs to stop moving and exhaustion was taking over. I began telling myself, “Greater is He that is in me.” In an effort to overcome my flesh by discipline, I had to literally change my mind. With a lowered head watching sweat hit the pedals, I asked the Lord to overcome my flesh and move from the inside of me to surround me with His Presence. That’s when it hit me…

Many will boast “greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world.” But do we ever allow the Christ in us to become our refuge? In order to do so, one must allow the Jesus who empowers us on the inside to become the place of residence. It is an act of engagement were faith moves from the inside to the outside of us. It is a conversation with the Living God that invites Him into our present. Salvation makes a deposit in us. He gives us a Helper called the Holy Spirit to cultivate good fruit in us. God already is before us, behind us and right beside us. Jesus is the access point of connection who invites us to yoke or partner our life with Him and He in turn bear the weight of every burden, care, worry and concern turning broken lives into supernatural existences with Kingdom productivity. We must make Jesus where we live.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (ESV)  So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Verses in 2 Corinthians are often quoted but kept in context it reveals a stunning bit of knowledge that could empower us today. Paul said, “To keep me from becoming conceited…” Our pride would like nothing more than to keep Jesus locked up inside of us. If our faith and trust never permeates the atmosphere of life it cannot exhibit its wonder working power and supreme sufficiency. It is in our absolute weakness and complete brokenness that allows Christ to move from the inside of us to the outside. It is the very moment that the invitation to live and abide in Him truly yields its fruitful benefits. Paul, in his humanness, did not see the powerful revelation at first and continued to ask the Lord to take away his “thorn”. What is the “thorn” jabbing the tenderness of your heart, softness of your flesh or most vulnerable of thoughts today? God may not be willing to take it away. His Love too great to leave you just as you are, but rather to demonstrate the reality of Christ in you so that you might allow Him to come out.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. What is the boasting of your life today? Could it be confusing with complaining or a lack of contentment with God’s Care? Do you praise Him in the storm or rage on with the wind? Do you walk by faith or live in hindsight? The Lord allows us to have weaknesses to increase dependency on Him. We will stop cheering on our problems when the triumphant victor, Jesus, makes His Way on the scene. He comes at just the right moment. There will be no mistake that it is Him. Once you experience His Presence along with perfect peace – you will not want to force the Lord back into the box of a closed mind or limited expectation.

2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (ESV) But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

There is purpose in our dying flesh, my friend. It is the breaking of our heart and death of our fleshly confidence that gives way for our faith to usher King Jesus on the scene. His Supremacy will never be compromised by our inability to believe or unwillingness to partner with Him. He remains full of power and authority. Yes, greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world. You must give your allegiance to Jesus and invite Him out into your present situation. You will never do that if you feel strong, competent and complete. It is when our insufficiencies and lack are brought into the Light of His Love that He always offers something better. You have the opportunity to live the best life ever. A supernatural existence of blessing and favor from a Heavenly Father that has nothing but love for you. The place of transition is when our boasting about Christ becomes an invitation to give up our life to let Him be Lord. To seek His Presence. To listen for His Voice. To strive for obedience in every detail. To assist in the death of our flesh with constant discipline. God has a great plan. Jesus died to give you the rights to have His Plan. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If He is not your Way, your Truth and your Life – it is time to make the transition.

Hebrews 6:17-20 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

The Lord has given us freedom. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. To keep Jesus locked inside of us is to allow our flesh to have supremacy by default. We need to live in His Presence to release His Kingdom from the inside to flourish in faithful hopefulness that Christ released offers. God ripped the veil from top to bottom showing that Jesus had restored access to heavenly things – not just heavenly thoughts. Light hidden under a basket does no good. So the Christ inside us must be released in order for us to live in the sufficiency of Grace and fulfill our purpose according to His Plan. Maybe the frustration you are feeling is the bubbling inside as Jesus gets ready to burst forth and offer you refuge. Or perhaps, the discontentment is the Mind of Christ telling your natural being that there is more to life than this. Take control of your rebellious thoughts and change your conversation. Overcome the enemy with the Word of God that causes Him to flee. Know what God says about you and live like it. Greater is He that lives in us but now it’s time to release Him into the rest of our lives.

Psalm 62:8 (ESV) Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

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Same Old Way

Same Old Way

Psalm 18:30 (ESV) This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

Oh how I hate stains. They are my arch nemesis. It’s funny that the older I get the more like my grandmother I become. She was a nurse back when the profession wore bright white uniforms – spotless and starched. She never used bleach yet her uniforms meticulous. She always hung out her clothes and rarely used her clothes dryer. She believed the harsh chemicals and high heat were not good for fabric. I have taken to some of her ways. So when our little grandson stained his onesie with baby food with blueberry and blackberry, I was in a frenzy to get the purple spot out. After a quick treatment and run through the wash still showed a faint mark where the bright colored stain once was – it was time for stronger measures. I tried everything I could think of while in the back of my mind I was telling myself it is probably less than $5.00 to replace it but now it was the point. Standing over the sink, surrounded by modern day cleaning solutions, and staring at my ominous opponent, I remembered my mission trip to Africa. I brought a white skirt and it was soiled in the orange clay indigenous to the area. The ladies who did the missionary’s laundry had my stained garment laying over a rock in the sun while hanging the rest on the line to dry. Applying some baking soda and a bit of lemon juice to the blemished apparel, it was now laying out allowing the sun to finish the work. The skirt was spotless by the end of the day. I tried it on the onesie minus the sun and the spot disappeared. Oh glorious day!

This God – His Way is perfect! Too many times – God’s Instructions for life are disregarded as out-of-date, old-fashioned, and impossible in this world of settlements and substitutions called compromise. We disregard the lessons that seem simple for the much more elaborate plans of society forgetting that normal will change with each turn of the calendar page. God is sovereign. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and always present. But that’s not all – He is filled with unfailing love, unending grace, overwhelming thoughts, and forever patient with us. With all this in mind, before our first breath turned into a cry, the Lord predestined us with potential and purpose carefully handwriting the details forming His Plan. (Psalm 139) As I sit here pondering how simple removing the stain and achieving victory was a few moments ago, I cannot help but consider the missed opportunities caused by choosing another way rather than trusting and believing that He is the way! God’s Way is perfect!

Deuteronomy 32:3-4 (ESV) For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”

Is this the declaration of your life today? Is it the dedication and determination of your life? To declare it is just words but when it becomes our dedication and determination which turns into discipline everything changes. Our declaration turns into the prophetic voice that leads us to destiny. To ascribe greatness to God and never move from this season or exceed your current condition is evidence that though your voice says that God is great – your heart, mind and soul are yet to agree. When our soul prospers so does the rest of our life. It is a natural reaction to the supernatural response of those who choose faith and trust to back up their words. God is the immovable rock which is good news for us. We will never have to wander to find Him or wonder if He will be faithful. The Truth is His Word. The Word is His Son. Jesus always leads us from grace to grace and victory to victory.

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus is the Way. He is the Truth. Both of these characters will always produce new life. Choosing God’s Way is to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus was the Word. When He came to the earth as a man, the man obeyed the Word set forth flawlessly. Since sin had separated mankind from God, Jesus died to allow us to enter the Presence of God and become His Children. The Word did not change in order to accommodate our sin but paid the penalty for our sin. The Word of God doesn’t change so it is up to us to align our life with God’s Word. I cannot have a fully functioning and flourishing life as a believer outside of obedience to God’s Way. His Word. Jesus.

Isaiah 58:9-12 (ESV) Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.  And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.

Could it be that the Lord is calling us to be the “repairer of the breach” or “restore of streets to dwell in”. It is not our mission or the great commission to save the world. God’s Heart and Mind is set on His People. To prepare the way of the return of the Lord to bring us all together as His Kingdom. The unity and harmony called Kingdom starts with agreement to terms. The terms and conditions of our life do not change. God has set them forth in His Word. The Word is a guide to success and prosperity as a direct result of salvation. Obedience is the only requirement. It is our choice thanks to freedom. It is silly to get mad when others are blessed or prospering when it is an opportunity in our life as well. The terms of God’s Word are non-negotiable or He would be like any other man who could lie or change his mind. God is perfect in ALL of His Ways.

I cannot help but examine my heart today for obedience in all things. I must continue to study God’s Word, apply it first to my heart and make it my lifestyle. It is in such agreement that the Power of God who is Christ in me is released to change the atmosphere. I believe that it is his message to us today that it will be simple repentance and obedience to His Word that will cause the radical revival that the modern day church is desperate for. It begins in me. I am the rebuilder. I am the restorer of the breach. I must simply rely on the Rock who is my refuge and Jesus (the Word) who is the foundation of my faith.

Psalm 118:21-13 (ESV) I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

Commune with Me

Commune with Me

Revelation 3:19-21 (ESV) Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Today is Sunday. The day of the week set aside for most churches and organized religions to meet and worship God together. Since before my eyes opened, I have felt a gentle summoning in my spirit. Not the one that requires me to hop out of bed and get the day going but the still small voice of invitation to linger. The Lord loves me. He desires me. He covets my attention. Not the afterthoughts given after I portion my mind out to my family, friends, and the world but the first fruits of this day. He doesn’t want to be my second thought but in this moment the only One on my mind. It is easy to turn it into a working relationship rather than living in a worship experience. Just like in marriages, friendships and partnerships to get caught up in the responsibility to the relationship rather than remembering how it all came together in the first place. The enemy has ordained busyness in our life to compromise time. He has ordered distractions and step traps that keep us tangled in lies rather than continuing in love. He knows exactly what he is doing. Yet, in this moment of alone time with the Lover of my soul, I am aware that He has already overcome the enemy and killed the giants that I face so I can continue in my ponderings and revelations of His Love if only for a few minutes longer before the day begins.

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

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

The Lord is my shepherd. The authority and direction of my life. Confidence in the Lord to lead me to complete satisfaction is essential in true repentance. The difficulty of the pursuit is not in His Presentation but our perception of His Love, Faithfulness and Intentions. To walk by faith into the unseen realities of hope that cannot be perceived but experienced. I can share my faith with someone else but until you encounter Jesus Christ for yourself there is no possible way to ever fully comprehend what I am talking about.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me… Where is comfort in reprove or discipline? Well, for those who are seeking a better way they are the confidence needed to leave this world behind and enter Kingdom living instead. The rod and staff or reprove and discipline are not punishment. When our bodies begin to suffer or gain excessive weight, it is a personal decision to choose a better way so diet and exercise become the focus of change. Our workout may be “punishment” and the sweat a sign of dying fat, but at the end of the day it is our personal choice for a healthy life which causes us to make better choices. This is the essence of repentance. Not to punish us but lead us to the purpose, promise and prosperity that is our inheritance in Jesus Christ – it is a personal choice to turn from the darkness of this world and live in the Light of His Love. Yes, it is not always easy. Sometimes it even hurts, yet in all things it proves to be worth it.

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)Come to me, all 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.”

Jesus never intended to overload us with rules and regulations. Religion does that. His Desire and Purpose was to make a way for us to have a thriving relationship with God the Father through Him. Jesus offers to aid us in our labor and remove the heavy burdens. We are to be yoked to Jesus. But in yoking one must give up their way or risk never moving an inch toward purpose. We must give up our way to have the Way, the Truth and the Life that Jesus offers those who come to Him. It means giving up the worries, cares, and fears that doubt constantly hands us wrapped in insecurity. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The Lord desires an intimate relationship with His People. Each one of us have a place at His Table that cannot be filled by another. There are no favorites because each one of us is His Favorite. There is no partiality because our purpose is individual and characterized specifically for us. The concept of communion with the Lord is not that of a tiny cup of grape juice or wine followed by a thin wafer that tastes like paper. We do this as a religious representation. I believe in communion – corporately, privately and individually. However the relationship that Christ desires with each one of us is to commune together in intimacy. To sit together and talk. To come together and linger. To love each other in every way through each day. It is I Corinthians 13 love mixed with the Blood of Jesus that makes us inseparable even in our imperfection. He is knocking on our heart each day. Asking if we will let Him in. To trust Him just a little more. To let His Love go just a little deeper to stay a little longer. He pursues us with goodness, mercy and unfailing love every day in the hope that our heart will turn the knob of repentance and by faith swing the door wide so He can come closer than ever before.

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

The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

You are more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ through His Love. In all things, believers have the power, authority and dominion to overcome. It is in our acceptance of His Love that empowerment by grace makes this the reality of our life. When Jesus died, the veil that separated mankind from the Presence of God was torn from top to bottom so that no one could ever put it back together again. God was sending a message through His Son. His Love for you is unstoppable. He created you to pursue you with His Love and will not stop until He has found you. You are the one in the ninety-nine that He left His Throne in Heaven to apprehend. He has a place for you in His Kingdom that no one else can ever dwell in. I think if we understood for a single second the vastness and overwhelming nature of His Love with any kind of confidence things would change for the better in that second. The burdens would be lifted. Chains broken. Worries vaporized. Sin released. Freedom would reign in the Body of Christ because someone chose to open the door and let Jesus in.

Could it be that it is our own fear, doubt and uncertainty of God’s Love for us that keeps the door of Heaven closed from us? Is He knocking but we refuse to open the door? Repentance is not an immediate change but a commitment to keep turning our life over to Christ for more new life. It is the opportunity to let His Glory fill us and overtake us. There is no punishment for God’s Children. Just reprove and discipline, divine guidance to better things and new blessings in every single day. We do not see the Lord like this because we do not know Him intimately. We have not communed with Him outside of communion. He is inviting you today. You! To come and talk with Him. You can hear it in your heart, but have been too afraid to answer. What do you have to lose? Nothing that His Love will not renew, restore or revive. Let Jesus in today! He has secrets to tell you, new things to reveal to you, and a new life that He has prepared just for you!

I John 5:3-5 (ES) For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Live Free

Live Free

I Corinthians 1:7-9 (NLT) Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:36) Free indeed. Unrestricted. Unbound. Unhindered. Unrestrained. The life of the believer is completely free in every possible way. The debt in life that kept us from living as sons and daughters of God was sin. Jesus paid the price in full and gave us the key that unlocks every door that keeps us from what the Lord has promised us. “Now” we have every spiritual gift needed to eagerly anticipate and wait for Christ’s Return. No longer are we subject to eternal judgment for there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:1) It is up to us to learn to live free.

“Freedom always comes with a price.” (C.S. Lewis) Jesus paid for our future. It is ours to embrace by faith in the One who secured it for us and released it to us. There is nothing I can do to earn freedom only live in it. I do not deserve the Gift of Grace that I have been given. However, to fully utilize it may very well be the best response to the Giver of Life. The new life given to us in Jesus Christ is without limit. It is abundant. It is extravagant. It is priceless. Always good and futuristic. Freedom is to be cherished and valued. To exercise our freedom in becoming the masterpiece that God designed is to live a life of liberty in His Spirit. How is it even possible? How do I engage in freedom when the Law seems so strict? How does one overcome religious doctrine to live openly in a loving and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ? It is really quite simple. It begins with “yes”.

Galatians 4:28-31 (NLT) And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit. But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman.

God made a promise to Abraham. A promise that could only be delivered by faith in the Living God. Like many of us, Abraham and Sarah grew tired of waiting on the Lord and doubt caused them to try to help God fulfill His Promise. Abraham would have two sons – one born to a slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of Hagar represents a human attempt to fulfill the promise of God. This is also the representative of the Law. The Law kept us bound until Jesus came to set us free. Sarah was a free woman. She is figuratively a spiritual mother of those who live by faith. There are promises born by human effort and then there are those birthed by the power of the Spirit. We are called to be the sons and daughters of the Living God who have been given every spiritual blessing. Too often waiting on God’s Word, His Will or His Way to come to pass produces bondage again to negative thoughts, shortcuts and substitutions that are not the product of freedom.

Luke 1:34-38 (NLT) Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.” Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Freedom always says, “Yes!” To live in complete and absolute freedom according to God’s Holy Spirit is to say, “Yes!” The greatest conviction of a free man or woman in Christ is that nothing is impossible for God. To believe that the Word of God will never fail. Mary would become the mother of our Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ. She was a teenage virgin when the angel of the Lord came bearing wonderful news that might prove catastrophic to her social circle and religious beliefs. Her response the example for us all – “I am the Lord’s Servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Yes! Mary said, “Yes!” What is your response to God’s Promise today? How will you respond to His Word, Will and Way for you? The freedom of potential and purpose is subject to our response to God’s Promises. Will it be yes? No? Maybe? To live in complete freedom is to let go of the things of this world including time to allow God to have His Will and Way for us.

Proverbs 10:22 (NLT) The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich and he adds no sorrow with it.

By way of His Son, Jesus Christ, God has given us freedom. The freedom given is not true liberty if it cannot be used as we choose to use it. Think about it for a moment. You are free. The Son has set you free. You have the right to choose how to live and the fruit produced in your careful cultivation. You can try human effort to respond to God’s Promises or simply live by faith. It is up to you because who the Son set free is truly free. It is up to me. The choices made produce consequences. The consequences are directly related to our freedom. How will you use your freedom today?

The blessing of the Lord makes us rich. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Such a life is not of wealth as the world sees it but of a prospering soul. If our freedom is used properly, the blessings and promises of God will not add sorrow to our life but produce wonderful things like love, joy and peace that passes all understanding. This is the life I want. To live free. The Lord has opened doors that no one can shut. I must look for them. He has closed those that are not for me. I must stop trying to reopen them. To live free means to lay my life at the feet of Christ and accept the new covenant. I can’t do it. He must increase and I must decrease. This is how I find true freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17 (NLT) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Working in Me

Work in Me

Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

“Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.” Buddha

There is more to the story of salvation than to escape the ramparts of hell. To engage in an experience of repentance and leave the same person with the same problems with a lack of purpose is a great tragedy considering the deposit and investment that is conceived in that moment. We live in a visible world serving an invisible God. His Presence surrounds us and His Spirit lives in us but the tangible being is not so evident. We must work hard to show the results of our salvation through love-driven, passion-infused, reverent and radical obedience to the Living God. The words of Buddha hold true even if not the intent. We must work out our own salvation independent of people and fully reliant on the Lord. God is working in us even before our first encounter with Christ leading us to that moment. Once we have found our Savior and Lord the continuation of our life has the potential to be powerful and purposeful in every single endeavor because Jesus is now inside of us.

We must make a personal investment in the potential of our future. But the Work of God in us is not an external effort but rather an internal transformation. It is not an act of doing but rather a work of becoming. The work completed on the Cross by Jesus was enough to provide all the grace needed for the Power of God to fully finish that which He predestined and preordained for us. All the blessings and promises are predesigned with our only act of obedience to fulfillment. We must work God’s Plan so it will work in us. The distinguishing factor in all of this is to keep our relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life of every purpose and promise rather than becoming a willing participant of religion that is consumed by what we do more than who we are.

Mind, will and emotions are pivotal to the change of God beginning to take over within us. We must sacrifice them along with our feelings to let the Holy Spirit produce good fruit that nourishes our heart and soul instead. As our soul prospers, our spiritual life becomes primary and natural life is impacted by a crucified flesh giving way to the Holy Spirit. It is a takeover of sorts by those who long to be pursued and overtaken by God’s Unfailing Love, Amazing Grace and Constant Goodness. It is a submission of our mind, will and emotions to the Cross so that confidence in Christ and what He promised to do is our primary position. It is the moment that we take up that Cross to follow the example of Jesus that things begin to change in a good way.

James 2:19-22 (NLT) You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 

Working the Plan of God is not what we do but the confidence to lay down our life in careful and continual obedience. To trust the Lord means doing things His Way when all logic points another. Abraham is a prime example of working God’s Plan. There was no reason for him to believe that he would father one child let alone a nation. Yet, he dared to believe. The unbelievable was his absolute confidence and so he lived loving and serving God. Did he mess up? Yes. Did he make mistakes along the way? Absolutely. God did not look for his perfection but rather his perseverance that no matter what he still believed especially when there was absolutely nothing tangible to be confident – the person of God – the Great I AM – was simple enough.

“Salvation is not a self-improvement program. That can only change us on the outside. The work of God changes us on the inside.” (Zac Poonen) It is easy to change habits and make better choices. Hard work, determination and motivation will change our way of living and produce a better life. Even religious obedience can produce the benefits of sowing and reaping, but in the end if our relationship with Jesus Christ is not established – we gain absolutely nothing. There are those who will come to Christ and have a better life just because they decided to work the plan. The Bible is the precedent of obedience that leads to productivity. However, if we do not allow the Lord to work His Plan in us – our life is worthless and meaningless void of God’s Glory found in His Grace.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Greetings from Paul to the people in Philippi who belonged to Christ is one of thanksgiving for the testimony these people lived. As he continues, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work in you, will continue His Work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Friend, we are a work in progress. The only time that Christ stops working in us and through us is when we decide go our own way (He is the ONLY Way), to live a lie (contrary to Truth), and choose something other than Resurrection Life and Power given to us for today. God will do exactly as He promised. Our only job is to continually surrender our life to Him. How? “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:5) He finished the Work on the Cross for the joy set before Him. Jesus did not live for immediate gratification but eternal pleasure. His Good Pleasure is you and me. He thought we were to die for and He did. He marched into hell and took possession (title and deed) to our life. When Christ came out of the grave, His Motive always was love so rather than take ownership of us and enslave us. He gave us freedom to live in love with Him or choose something else. What is your choice today? Will you work God’s Plan by submitting everything to Jesus? Will you surrender your heart to the work that was begun in you? Do you trust that God will complete it? That is what this life is all about – falling in love with Jesus Christ! Living in a loving relationship that transcends the boundaries of time and brings heaven to earth. He gave it all to us. We must only work out our salvation with fear and trembling as His Love consumes our ordinary life and produces an extraordinary existence.

“Salvation is a work of God to show His Glory. That’s why He’s not going to let it fail.” (Paul Washer)

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Oneness

one

Colossians 3:10-11 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Christ prays in me. Christ works in me. Christ looks through my eyes. Christ speaks through my words. Christ works with my hands. Christ walks with my feet. Christ loves with my heart. As St. Paul’s prayer was – I belong to Christ and nothing can separate me from the Love of Christ. It was that oneness – oneness with God in the Holy Spirit. (Mother Teresa)

I am struck by the words of this meek and mighty woman of God. Mother Teresa gave her life to passionate prayer and pursuing complete oneness with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Her words echo through the recesses of my mind, body and soul asking the question, “Are you one?” Am I experiencing the fullness of oneness with Jesus Christ? To be fully consumed by love for the One who loved me first and always loves me the most. The holy inhabitation of God’s Spirit is given in order to live in complete consummation of our relationship to Christ. Have we lost our passion for God? Have we lost our first love – Jesus Christ? Busyness robs us of precious moments better given to Christ. Distractions keep us from seeing the opportunity offered in each encounter. Stress and worry produced by fear erode the confidence that is conviction of God’s Timeless and Endless Love for us.

Put on your new nature. Our identity is not an orphan but dearly loved Child of the Living God. It goes deeper through Christ now we are a bride. We prepare for marriage with Him similar to that of natural marriage in the confession and conviction forsaking all others – I choose You – Jesus! Is that your heartfelt desire today? To be a Child of God. To become the Bride of Christ. It is through the pursuit of oneness with the Lord and reconciliation to Christ that this is accomplished. Christ is all that matters. He is alive in us.

2 Corinthians 5:14-19 (NLT) Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

Comparison to people and personal evaluation to human standards will build and fortify pride in our life. We can always find someone who will make us feel better about ourselves. We can use the scales and balances of the world and find self-satisfaction in our own rightness. But that is not the standard of living that the Lord has called us to. Reconciliation to Jesus Christ will produce a godly standard of living impossible apart from Him. It removes every arrogant thought and prideful excuse to give way to complete submission and surrender to the Lover of our Soul. When two people married it is perceived that they become one. No longer two separate individuals through the bond and covenant of marriage they are one. It is from this union designed by God that our union with Christ is personified. Except two come together in agreement and harmony giving up their way to pursue life together – there is no relationship but constant striving and struggling to maintain our own way.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! Do you belong to Jesus Christ? Mind, soul and body have your given your heart to the Lord? If so, then you know it requires a change of direction called repentance. God does not lie or change His Mind. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The unchangeability of the Trinity makes it impossible to pursue oneness unless I am willing to give up my way, the lie of the enemy and engage in new life together with Jesus. The church cannot properly reconcile the world to God until the individuals comprising the Body get it together first. We must reconcile our life to Christ completely to create unity of the Body as a whole. We must stop evaluating the success and failure or the church by numbers and begin to identify with the person of Jesus Christ again pursuing oneness with Him in every possible conceivable way.

Love is a commitment. It is a covenant relationship that forsakes self for oneness. If you have been married more than a few days, you understand that success in a marriage is giving. Taking is not conducive to continued unity but the constant and consistent giving of yourself. It is the pursuit of oneness that keeps us on the altar with our flesh slowly dying when it comes to our commitment to the Lord. It is this sweet smelling sacrifice that entices others to engage in such an endeavor to give up this life for so much more.

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

Our first two children are boys. After that, we have three girls. Lord, help me. Boys are pretty straight forward. Girls on the other hand test every fruit given by the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. The emotional overtures are ridiculous. My childhood was very different from our family. The relationships of this generation are mind boggling to say the least. I know people who have sons pray for daughters so consider yourself duly warned – be careful what you pray for. All joking aside the on again off again relationships sometimes hormonal and always emotional are like a rollercoaster that is out of control. I am currently working with our girls on humility and forgiveness whether their adversary deserves it or not. The teenage culture is brutal. I want my girls to arrive at the doorway of adulthood with tender hearts. I want them to be a blessing even if they are cursed by others. The only way this is accomplished is to be of one mind with Christ. I wonder if we are setting a good example for our children. The heart of God is love. The mind of Christ is love. The Holy Spirit cultivates love in us. The confidence of my commitment to Jesus is that He loves me. Nothing can separate me from His Love. This must be the foundation of my life – body, soul and spirit.

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

The joy of the presence of Jesus, you must be able to give wherever you go. But you cannot give what you don’t have. That’s why you need a pure heart, a pure heart that you will receive as a fruit of your prayer, as a fruit of your oneness with Christ. (Mother Teresa) Oneness with Christ must be our lifelong pursuit. It fuels the Light of His Love within us. It is the saltiness that flavors our message making it palatable to a lost and dying world. Unity with Jesus cultivates the fruit of His Spirit – the first one is love. To be one with Jesus of the same heart, mind and purpose requires an overtaking of our self with His Unfailing Love and Overwhelming Grace or it is a religious learned behavior. I can change habits. I can make better choices. But I cannot be a new creation living a new life outside of oneness with Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)  I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 

No Change

No Change

Hebrews 13:8 (ESV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

My present employer provides insurance companies consulting services navigating insurance legislation. Recently there have been some House Bills come through government that will necessitate change for some of our clients. Essentially all insurance is regulated by state statutes. When a new law is signed and change is needed, business picks up. The companies depend on us to keep them statutorily compliant. Due to the ever change and evolving legislative climate – it dictates the ebb and flow of business. A couple years ago, there was a flurry of business when two house bills were signed into law and now another is coming. Change in life is inevitable. As public opinion is often influenced by many factors and opposing objections, there is never anything for sure. For my business, this is a good thing. It keeps our company alive.

Helping my daughter strap our grandson into his car seat, he looks like an astronaut getting ready to head into space rather than a baby about to venture to Target for coffee and a stroll. When I was little, there were no such thing as car seats. I am not even sure seatbelts were required in automobiles yet. Over time, companies began to produce these new innovations and marketed them for protection. Lobbyists went into the hallowed halls of government and now it is a legal requirement that children are buckled into special approved safety seats. Did you know that car seats now have expiration dates? Crazy huh? To think how many miles my brother and I traveled with nothing to keep us from flying out of the car. So many changes in just the five decades that I have been alive. Change happens every day. So many rules and regulations to keep up with…even church has been transformed over time.

Why all this talk about change? The world is changing. Nothing on the earth stays the same. God is Sovereign. He does not ever change. He cannot lie or change His Mind and still be Sovereign. This is both wonderful and terrible news for us. It keeps the steadfastness of His Love intact but also keeps His Judgment inevitable. God is always good. He cannot tolerate sin or evil and still be God. Therefore, He made a Way for us to return to Him. Not in the same condition that took us from His Presence but through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He had to lay down His Life and shed all of His Blood to cover our sin and wash us clean so once again people could enter the Presence of God without immediate death.

The Law of God that kept us from Him is made complete in Christ. Now everything God has promised becomes our inheritance through adoption. The Holy Spirit identifies us as God’s Beloved Children Blood bought by Jesus Christ. Now we have faith that allows us to live in confident hope forevermore. I am so thankful for the Blood of Jesus that opened the door to eternity. I am also thankful that the Lord doesn’t wait until then to reside with us. Christ lives in us. Our life now has the potential to change for the better according to His Way. All those rules and regulations that once kept us far apart from the Lord now unites us in obedience to the better life and new creation given to those who believe.

Matthew 16:15-19 (ESV) He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

“But who do you say that I am?” The revelation of Simon Peter in his answer to this question changed everything. The moment of realization that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. Do you remember when it finally hit you? Did it come in one experience? Or in waves over your lifetime? The most important belief one can have is in the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. The Way, the Truth and the Life that we must cling to as hope until His Promise of eternal life is realized. Eternity is the product of faithful endurance. As time brings overtures of change to remain steadfast and secure in the constant belief that Jesus is the Son of God living in you and me changes everything while He remains exactly the same.

Why is this a good thing? The unchangeability of God demonstrated in His Son. It means that His Love remains unconditional and unfailing. It means our victory is secure. It maintains that grace is always enough. It is the very credibility of our covenant with the Living God that nothing can ever separate us from His Love. But what if I sin? Fail? Fall short? Lose my way? Wander? Worry? Stress? Doubt? Jesus knows our heart. He can see our thoughts and hear our words before a single one is spoken and yet He remains the same yesterday, today and forever. How do we fully embrace this truth in a world forever in transition that is always changing? There used to be a time when it was uncommon for people not to pursue God at least on Sunday morning. What happened? Times are changing. Jesus never will.

Psalm 16:5-11 (ESV) The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I make a point not to discuss politics or religion in mixed company. My opinion doesn’t really matter in the scope of forever. Relationships will always be threatened by our need to prove a point or be right. I choose neither. The only thing in my life that doesn’t change is Jesus Christ. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is in this very place that I find rest. To discover the person of Jesus Christ that is to know, understand and believe that there is nothing that can ever separate me from His Love. On the flip side, there is nothing I can do to earn or deserve His Love and Grace either. I am because Christ lives in me. Faith based on the person of Jesus Christ becomes Light that drives out darkness and salt that salty. The confidence of the hope I have found is not in religion but in the steadfastness of the Lord. When my expectation is properly placed in God’s Promises, Provision, Purpose and Plan the evolving and changing world and all its opinions don’t really matter anymore.

Rise above the waves of doubt that toss us to and fro in the tide of times. Reach for Jesus who does not change. He is the Rock that we hold on to. The hope that proves immovable when held on to. What if rather than focusing on all our differences and trying to make our way right – what if we focused on Jesus? The Body of Christ might gain a pulse and new life. The windows of Heaven would certainly open over us as it did over Peter that day. With impossible faith in a possible God our life would change for the better and we would have something substantial to give to a hungry and thirsty world in need of change. My opinion doesn’t matter. All the changes in my life irrelevant. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is my portion and the filler of my cup. If I can learn to set the Lord every before me, my way remains straight for in Him there is no change just the promise of full transformation into a supernatural existence. Lord, take my eyes from worthless things. Clear my mind of rebellious thoughts. Keep my heart fixed on You today – Jesus. You never change. I can trust You to do exactly as your promised and remain with me until the end. Amen and amen.

Psalm 18:30-34 (ESV) This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?—the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

The Quest

The Quest

I John 5:1-3 (ESV) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Obedience is to live a life of submissive compliance to God, His Son – Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Though many strive to live in such a state, it is a struggle with our flesh, pride and natural inclination. To overcome disobedience requires one act of obedience. It is the message of our life in submissive compliance with God’s Word, Will and Way that shines the brightest light. We must live a life of faith in action that relies on confident hope rather our own self-assurance.

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, oh what a foretaste of glory divine, heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His Blood. Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blessed. Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His Goodness, lost in His Love.” For many years, I sang this hymn without really knowing or experiencing the true meaning. To live a life of blessed assurance is a magnification of faith and trust in God’s Word. To live in complete confidence that His Goodness belongs to me as a product of His Love and nothing else. Grace really is enough to restore me as a Child of God and reconciliation with Christ affords me a happy and blessed life. Nevertheless I must daily fight against my mind, will and emotions that want to control my thoughts and guide my choices in this life and most of all preserve my flesh.

When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest in that moment God will endow us with power. (Ezra Taft Benson)

Romans 6:15-18 (ESV) But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Slavery to sin can be exchanged for servanthood of righteousness. Sin leads to death. I do not mean to sullen you this morning but the sin in our life always leaves a mark. A wound in need of healing. Sin decays our thoughts. It influences our actions. It is the unchecked heart that is the most rebellious. The Grace of God and His Goodness are not imparted to just anyone. They are given to the one who believes by faith. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ that gives us this precious gift that must be opened to be fully enjoyed. I cannot serve the world and serve the Lord. It is impossible as they are in direct conflict with one another. It is through remorseful repentance that radical obedience becomes our quest. To know the Love of God and seek to maintain a right relationship because of our love for Him. Sin becomes less appealing when pictured as a nail driven into the Hand of the Lover of our Soul.

Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience. (Steven Furtick)

2 Corinthians 10:5-6 (ESV)  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

The cry of the modern day church is revival. Revival starts at home. In our prayer closets and quiet times alone with the Lord. Those times when we lay our life down and pick up the cross when no one is watching and it is just us with Jesus. It really doesn’t matter how well I clean up or successful I am in changing bad habits and old ways – if I do not fully embrace faithful obedience to God out of my absolute love for Jesus Christ – I have nothing.

Our example of the greatest obedience is Jesus Christ. He submitted His Life in order to set us free and give us the opportunity to become sons and daughters of God once again. He prayed and cried out to His Father. It did not deliver Him from the obedience to the Cross but gave Him the outcome that He was after. He went to the Cross desiring us. When there was no other way, Jesus became the Way. Now our obedience is to the Way, not the law or rules and regulations of church doctrine or religion. Too often we look for a way out of our trials and temptations rather than seeing the example of Jesus who gave us the power to overcome by way of the Cross. Obedience to God doesn’t always lead to easy street but it will be the road less traveled that leads to a glorious destination with hope that never leads to disappointment. Lord, lead me to complete obedience.

God’s Promises are all on condition of humble obedience. (Ellen G. White)

Hebrews 11:8 (ESV) By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

Abraham lived a life of faith. Faith that stretched the span of 99 years until the Promise of God finally arrived. He is the example of living in righteousness before the blessing and radical obedience to the Living God. I wonder how more quickly we would respond to the Lord, His Word, His Will and His Way if we could see what was behind the curtain marked “obedience”. What if one step of faith gave us the ability to see our life from God’s Perspective? Abraham obeyed God. He wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes. He tried to find shortcuts, but in the end – the Promise of Isaac arrived just as He planned. God will never send a blessing that compromises our belief. He makes miracles out of impossible or others would take credit for the sign or wonder calling it coincidental. The blessing and promises of God are found in His Presence. We enter such a place by humble obedience. To accept God’s Grace is an act of humility magnified by faithful obedience when God’s Children begin to take Him at His Word rather than waiting for a sign to follow suit. How many times does God give you a dream that is dismissed by your condition? How often does the vision come yet is not written down or seriously considered in our own sad state? God is a miracle worker and you are His Miracle.

Obedience to God is the most infallible evidence of sincere and supreme love to Him. (Nathanael Emmons)

When we love the Lord, obedience ceases to be a burden. Obedience becomes delight. (Joseph B. Wirthlin)

Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Samuel told Saul, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” A single act of disobedience took the royal power from Saul. In I Samuel 15 – it goes on to liken disobedience to rebellion and presumption as rejection of God’s Word. How many times do we act in such a rebellious way? The Holy Spirit nudges us from the place of comfort, convenience or control and we decline His Offer for more. Every leading of God is to His Goodness. Every act precipitated upon His Grace which is always enough to infuse us with His Power. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We cannot get to God except through Him. Through Him is a loving and active relationship based on trust. When our heart truly falls in love with Jesus Christ, our feet will follow and hands will get to work. Obedience is the product of faith in action. Faith in love with the Lord and eager to live in His Presence. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Those who desire Him and His Kingdom arrive through simple acts of humble obedience carried out day by day. For those who take one step many more will follow – obedience unlocks the door to an open heaven. It is my quest. Full and faithful obedience that takes me from complacency to confident hope that is found only in a right relationship with My Father. He calls us “beloved”. God is working in us. His Spirit leads us to obedience which will always produce His Blessing as our faith grows and hope becomes confident. One moment will change a lifetime when it is a step of faith toward humble and heartfelt obedience to the Lover of our soul – this is my quest.

This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long! (Blessed Assurance)

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Barriers

Barrier

Psalm 119:45 (NLT) I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.

There is a young lady in my life who I love dearly. She is a beautiful girl with a sweet heart. Like many people her age, she is struggling to make the right choices and apply her faith to life. She didn’t come to church so I reached out on social media. One of the qualities that I love about her is brutal honesty. She doesn’t hide behind a churchy façade of perfection but admits that her struggle is real. I told her I loved her and missed her this morning. She replied, “I was too ashamed to come.” My heart broke in that moment. I told her that God had her and that His Grace was always enough for her, not to mention that I love her no matter what! I hate that the very thing she needed most was restricted by her distrust. She stayed home rather than facing the hypocrites, mockers and stone throwers. “Whosoever come” limited by the line drawn by Christians of boundaries and barriers that keep the seeking from actually making through the door.

I will walk in freedom.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Gospel is only good news when covered by grace. Outside of God’s Grace given to us through Jesus Christ there is nothing good in us. The new creation is a result of God’s Word coming to live in us. His Name is Jesus. He is the Truth. The Truth always sets you free and never limits you. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. This is the inherent struggle of humanity with the Lord. How do we conceive and birth change in our life without rules, regulations and better choices? Jesus. How often do we try to change our attitude and actions only to fail miserable but then hide behind the things we can do and be by ourselves? Disciples of Christ remain faithful to His Teachings. His Primary Purpose and Motivation in all things is unconditional love and overwhelming grace. These are the qualities that establish our freedom and erase the line of religion drawn in the dust and dirt our flesh is made of.

John 8:36-37 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

Everyone who sins is a slave of sin. I absolutely believe that I am a slave to sin. I cannot help but find a way to fall into it at least once if not a hundred times a day. If you think there is no sin in your life, then you are sadly mistaken. All fall short of God’s Standard for living. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. My way of life is not for anyone else other than me. God recorded every day of my life in advance. (Psalm 139) He predestined me with a purpose only found living as one with Jesus Christ. Within that plan and purpose, the Lord has given me a future and hope (Jeremiah 29) with a provision of love and grace sufficient to empower me in every weakness. He works every detail of my life for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8) I have to believe this includes my mistakes, shortcomings and failures.

John 8 begins with the story of a woman who was caught in adultery. I cannot help but wonder where the other person engaged with her was hiding. If she was caught in the act, there had to be another party. Yet, he is absent. If we are all slaves to sin engaged in the same act, why do we not include ourselves when crucifying Christians or calling out their issues. Pride tells us that there is a hierarchy of transgresses not found in the Word. If we can pretend better than others, we win. This is absolutely not true. God’s Love and His Grace are offered to us one way. His Son – the Only Way – to access the Father. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – He is our freedom.

Twice in this account, Jesus stoops to write something in the dirt. Many scholars conclude the Lord may have been listing the sins of her accusers. I wonder if maybe Jesus was erasing the barrier of religion to form a relationship. Perhaps our Savior and Lord was actually wiping away the line between sin and salvation while her accusers left one by one. Guilt and shame form regret that removes us from the Presence of God. His Love and Amazing Grace will lead us to “spacious places” (Psalm 18) but unresolved sin and judgment lead us to deeper darkness than before we knew Christ. He is the Light of the World. What is done in secret will be made public? His Light drives out darkness. It leads us to freedom. True freedom. Free to love Him without shame, remorse, or regret and openly enjoy His Pleasures evermore.

Revelation 3:7-8 (NLT) “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open: “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.”

What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open… Do you believe this passage today? Do you believe that Christ has set you free? What is limiting your life today? Jesus is the Gate. Those who come in through Him will be saved. “They will come and go freely and find good pastures.” The enemy will try to shut the gateway of freedom to our life by putting us back in our sin or at least reminding us of it so guilt and shame tries to shut the door and throw away the key. (John 10) Jesus reminds us today that His “purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” He does not mention our past, present or future shortcomings and promises that His Grace will always be enough for us. Jesus knows how we feel, what we do and yet still loves us unconditionally. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.

Galatians 5:7-8 (NLT) You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.

The religious folks had trouble accepting the matchless and magnificent grace of Jesus Christ. They could not comprehend or accept equality with common sinners. The established order of Jewish culture demanded personal retribution. Pride required a level of accountability. We must be very careful not to become trapped in their culture. The “Saul” in us must become “Paul” through our new life in Jesus Christ or it is a waste of time and energy. God has called us to freedom even providing the Way. It is up to us if we will take it, pursue it and live in Him. Legalism will never produce the kind of change that love will. Faith is in us but must be continually fed and watered the Word of God and cared for by His Spirit to grow and flourish into something reliable in our life. Bad choices do not hinder us. Unwillingness to admit our sin and meet Jesus at the Cross daily does.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had 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.

Have you drawn a line in the sand? Is there a list of unpardonable sins that keep you from love and forgiveness? The limit in your life is self-imposed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. Freedom to engage in a new life and find an inheritance as a Child of the Living God. Sin made us all slaves. Your only way to freedom is sonship. Turning to the Lord means that the veil of human expectation and accountability is irrevocably broken. Expectation placed in people is misplaced. If we set our heart, mind, body, souls and spirit on the Living God our life will be complete. Satisfaction will be found. Abundance of heart will fill our hands with outpouring of generosities beginning with love and grace for all mankind. It removes the barriers and obstacles of faith marked doubt and disbelief so faith can come alive in our life. Remove the restrictions today. Forgive freely. Turn from rules and regulations to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our freedom allows us to grant others the same becoming a beacon in the darkness for those who desperately need the Light. I am a sinner. I am saved by the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. This is my story. It is the Truth that allows me to come to the Cross to be set free. To live free. To experience abundance to overflowing for others in need. Lord Jesus – please do not ever let me be the barrier blocking another from coming to the Cross. Forgive me if I have. Remind me if I do. Remove me from their path! In Your Precious Name, AMEN!

Psalm 119:96 (NLT) Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit.

Desire & Destination

Desire and Destination

I Corinthians 12:31 (NIV) Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

Our desire will lead to a destination. Desire defines our drive, dictates our dedication and decides our destination every single time. Desire is not an opinion but an inner force of combined thoughts that become our attitude and actions. Desire is a strong feeling. A feeling of wanting something or wishing for something to happen. God has a desire. His Desire has a face. It is your face and mine. God desires people. To create an everlasting Kingdom of those He loved first and still loves the most.

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” (Plato) Our attitude and actions first formed deep within us are motivated and mastered by sin. Our flesh knows no other way until introduced to the better more excellent way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is by way of Jesus that humanity is reconciled to God through His Grace that is always enough. To know the Way is not enough – even demons know the Name of Jesus and tremble at it. However, to the Way and decide to follow Him is a new thing altogether. Our destination is decided by our desire. Desire dictates our drive. Desire is the motivation for dedication. When we desire anything other than Christ, it leads to dissatisfaction.

Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 (NIV)  I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

The Lord loved Solomon. In I Kings 3, King Solomon was faithful to the Lord God and so God offered Him anything. Solomon chose wisdom and a discerning heart. I wonder how the same person who was so invested in serving God would come to such a place as Ecclesiastes 2. At this point in his life, “everything was meaningless.” His desire and drive made him successful. He denied himself nothing that his eyes could see. Maybe if he had heard Paul’s warning that all things are permissible not all things are beneficial. When he surveyed his success, all that his hard work had achieved – he found it all meaningless. He had gained the world and lost his soul. Anytime that our life prospers without soulful participation – life becomes meaningless. The purpose and plan of God that leads to fulfillment cannot be achieved apart from Him.

Mark 4:18-20 (NIV)  Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Overcoming doubt in our life is accomplished by faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Seeds of faith planted by the Word have various results. Seeds sown among the thorns hear the word and maybe even believe it but quickly the “worries of life”, “deceitfulness of wealth” and “desires for other things” literally choke the word and it does not bear the fruit it was intended to. This was King Solomon’s dilemma. God was true to His Word and gave the king exactly what he asked for. However, his human desires overtook his desire for the Lord and well we see what happened in Ecclesiastes 2. It happens to us all. God blesses us and then our desire overtakes our desire for the Living God and well you know the rest of the story. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:17-19)

Romans 8:5-6 (NIV)  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

We must master our desires and place them fully into Christ. The mountain you are facing marked doubt will not move until the very thing you desire is Jesus Christ. Why would God move a mountain if the everlasting was not waiting on the other side. The Lord has placed His Spirit in us to cultivate the fruit that leads to everlasting life and hope that never disappoints. Are we using these gifts for righteousness sake or do we simply desire the Hand of God? Are we after His Heart in the process? The things of this world will pass away. Our life in Christ is eternal. It is the admission point of eternity. Jesus died to give us access to His Kingdom. His Father will not give us the things that might block our entrance. His Grace is enough to endure our wrath of unmet expectation. “Desire increases when fulfillment is postponed.” Maybe the mountain is not moving because secretly you desire something different than Christ? Is it possible to know the Lord but not desire Him? Absolutely.

The Spirit of the Living God will lead you to life and peace. Feeding our flesh starves our soul. Feeding our soul, likewise, starves the flesh. The Fruit of God’s Spirit changes our appetite for the things of this life as eternal life becomes a reality. Suddenly, all the things we wanted, needed and desire change to one thing – Jesus Christ. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Psalm 145:13-16 (NIV) Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same. (Unknown) Are you satisfied with your life today? Are you struggling with unmet expectation? King Solomon had it all according to earthly success yet found life to be meaningless. How many of the rich and famous who appear to have it all end their life due to depression, discouragement and distress that the world could not see for the notoriety of fame and influence of wealth? Life outside of Christ is preset and predetermined. Sin produces death. Our life in Christ must become more than just knowing His Name but we must desire the Lord. He desires a relationship with us. His Hand opens with His Heart. His Hand will not open outside of an established relationship or risk losing us forever. His Desire is for us so He will do nothing to keep us from Him even if that means withholding what we ask of Him.

C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” You were born to be part of an everlasting kingdom yet arrived in a temporary world. The Lord is trustworthy and true. He created you with purpose. You have a handwritten plan prerecorded for your good. The only investment you make in your future is faith. Faith in God’s Love. Faith in God’s Son. Faith in God’s Grace. Faith in God’s Promises. It is all about living a life of faith that overcomes doubt in every area of our life. This is when the mountain will move and be cast in the sea. The very moment our heart’s desire is for the Lord and Him alone. God will then open His Hand and satisfy our desire.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (NIV) With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ