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.

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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

Until Me Becomes We

Until Me Becomes We

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where’s My Blessing?

Wheres My Blessing

Ephesians 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

God has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. I am united with Christ. Where is it? Where is the “every spiritual blessing” that is clearly indicated in the Word of God? Why don’t I see it manifested in my everyday life? His Word says also that the Lord’s Goodness is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) Confidence plays a key role in accepting every spiritual blessing that is in the heavenly realms. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) The access point to reestablishing a relationship with God the Father. He is the only way to the Father who has our inheritance. An access point is only as relevant as our ability to enter it. To walk through it and move in the appropriate direction. In order to receive spiritual blessing, there must be a turnaround and movement in the appropriate pathway to have what is beyond this point. Many will open the doorway to heaven, but few will enter it.

The first step of the journey is faith and confidence is the momentum that keeps us going in the right direction. Believing is not enough if trust never produces movement toward that which is desired. Demons believe in God and His Son, Jesus. They tremble at the mention of His Name. If only God’s People might do the same, given a free will – obedience is the response to such revelation. Those who choose to obey will step into every spiritual blessing reserved for them in Heaven before stepping into eternity.

Numbers 20:9-12 (NLT) So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”

“Because you did not trust me enough…” I am convinced this is the limitation in our natural life. We do not trust God enough. Partial obedience demonstrates a lack of trust in God. God tells us to do something so controversial to what He has done in the past or that which has ever been done so we cut corners or compromise on His Word. To review, the people were complaining to Moses and Aaron (as usual) this time about their lack of water. They were thirsty. They approached the men with their complaints, whining, moaning and groaning so the two retreated to the tabernacle to seek God on the matter. The Lord gave Moses and Aaron explicit instructions to satisfy the people and demonstrate His Glory. Everything seems good so far…right? We pray to the Lord and He answers with careful instruction. The Spirit of God convicts us with nudging and urgings to trust the Lord and do what He says.

Moses went before the people just like the Lord said to do. But rather than raising His Voice which God told him to do, Moses struck the rock as he had done in the past. Ugh! Water came gushing out. Yay, God! Wait hold on! The people were satisfied. Everyone was happy. However, God was not pleased. Moses did not obey the Word of the Lord completely. He did what he had done before. He relied on his previous experience rather than stepping out in faith. He kept control and did what he was comfortable doing and God delivered to the people but Moses would pay a terrible price. The Lord told his servant, “You will not lead them into the land I am giving them.”

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT) “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) From glory to glory – God changes us to be more like Christ through radical faith, constant confidence and absolute obedience. The Glory in us is the Light of the World – Jesus Christ. As we submit our way to Him and yoke our life to Him – His Glory resonates through us and around us including the windows of Heaven opening and pouring out spiritual blessing. He will not do anything in our life without doing something in us first. I was made for the Glory of God. I was made to give glory to God through His Son, Jesus. My life should point to God’s Grace and Goodness and nothing I do. With this in mind, the error of Moses serves as revelation to us. We can reach heaven and still miss heaven on earth.

Moses did not enter the Promised Land for which he labored in leading the people. Why? He did not obey God fully. It did not exempt him from eternity but robbed him of success on the earth in this area. God made water flow from a rock in Exodus 17. When it came time to go before the people again, Moses reverted to experience rather than the new way God had instructed. Comfort over confidence – it happens all the time. The three C’s that threaten our confidence in God and ability to trust Him are comfort, convenience and control. God is going to move you out of your comfort to experience His Glory. Faith is often inconvenient. His Glory is beyond our control. You must decide that you will obey God to the very end and in every detail to have the fulfillment attached. The promise is accepted when faith and trust overcome fear and doubt.

“For I am about to do something new.” To walk by faith and not by sight means God’s Way is not always clearly visible or humanly logical. That’s why it requires faith. We are becoming a new creation. God is always doing new things. Miracles require the impossible. God gets the Glory completely when we lose all control. When there is nothing left to do but trust the Lord – His Light shines from our life. Obedience connects us to every spiritual blessing. Why? God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. His Word cannot return to Him void or without doing exactly as He said. It will not change course or redirect for you. Therefore God’s Mind is made up long before the trial or trouble comes our way. He already made a way. We just have to trust Him enough to do what He says completely.

Deuteronomy 28:1-8 (NLT) “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.  “The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!  “The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands… What if we made this the mandate of our life? God has given us this Book of Instructions like a cookbook of delicious recipes. Each one leads to spiritual blessing, increase, favor and abundance. We want the outcome but chose partial obedience. Picking and choosing those things that do not compromise our comfort, convenience and/or control but then wonder why we are not experiencing the success and prosperity promised. If you pick and choose to obey some of the steps in a recipe or substitute the ingredients you will alter the outcome. You may like what you get or maybe throw it in the garbage as inedible. The moment you decide to compromise is the same time when you decide for a differing result. A pilot must set the coordinates of the airplane with precision or risk reaching the destination. Obedience is not forced upon us, but a God-given choice every day. I don’t understand why one would pray for financial provision from God when they do not obey the Biblical mandate to tithe. That’s like going to a bank I do not have an account in and asking for my money. If you pick and choose obedience, you pick and choose your blessing right along with it.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Who doesn’t want the blessing of the Lord on their life? Who would shun God’s Favor? Everyone wants to prosper in their home, church and business? Those who are serious about basking in the Glory of God will seek Him wholeheartedly which includes obedience in all things. God has promised every spiritual blessing. He is our Provider. We have an ample supply of whatever we need and the means to do it for His Kingdom. Like the widow woman, we must act obediently first with finding what we have and then using it for the Glory of God. Her supply did not run out until her jars did. Our faith is the conduit of blessing in our life. To believe will lead to obedience. Obedience always releases the full blessing of God when it is wholehearted and uncompromised. So try something new today? Go to the Lord. Seek Him in His Word. Do exactly what it says. Spiritual blessing, prosperity and abundance will follow when we take Him at His Word.

Psalm 84:11 (NLT) For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Where You Go

Where you go

Ruth 1:16-17 (ESV) But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

What caused Ruth to make such a declaration to Naomi? Reading this passage today, I am struck by her commitment to her mother-in-law. Naomi was obviously grief stricken and hopeless. She had lost her husband and both of her sons. Her other daughter-in-law had taken her advice. Why was this one being so stubborn? Something in Ruth would not let her go back to where she came from and she could not return to the way it used to be so she made this commitment to her future – “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

Ruth became attached to Naomi’s hip. She would venture into a new place and find a new husband. The future of both women would be secure for the rest of time and they would find their images clearly set forth for others in the Word of God. Ruth made a commitment to Naomi that day that would change her whole life. What would happen by doing the same thing to Jesus Christ? What are the possibilities if rather than running from place to place looking for immediate gratification or rainbows rather than rain? What might happen if someone…anyone…decided to see where faith might take us and just what hope really looks like? Nothing is impossible for the one who believes.

Genesis 28:10-17 (ESV)  Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

I think everyone will agree that life does not always turn out as one expected. Jacob was running from his brother. His own flesh and blood who Jacob bought Esau’s birthright with a single meal and tricked his father into releasing Esau’s blessing. Esau hated Jacob. Joseph dreamed of his brothers bowing down to him but wound up in a pit, sold to slavery, falsely accused, sitting in a prison, still being faithful yet forgotten. No one for sees the hardship that leads to fulfillment. Those situations and circumstances that turn our hearts back to the Lord. We must live not only hand in hand with the Lord carefully walking His Way but chose to live heart to heart with Him. Since it is our calling to walk by faith and not by sight, the vantage point of our voyage is not always a clear cut perspective of the pathway to promise. We stumble along groping to see God in the chaos of our life. Jacob was no different. Life had not turned out as he expected. He was in the middle of nowhere and weary so he found a stone to lay his tired head on.

Perhaps, you can relate. You love God. You love Jesus. The Holy Spirit lives in you. Life has been a struggle. Times just a little too tough. The enemy is chasing you into the wilderness of the unknown or at least you think. There is no one left to rely on or call out to. All your family and friends are too busy or long gone. Now what? The Lord came to Jacob that night to give him a new perspective. Could it be that is all that is needed by you? To see that God is with you. He is for you. He will never leave you or forsake you even in the most unlikely of places. I know I need that, too.

And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it…

What is your dream? Where is your destiny? Are you desperate to find your way through the wilderness to the promise of God? What if you have to stay right where you are to find Him? What if the course of life you are traveling is exactly what God has for you? It is important to see God in the moment rather than looking all around. Christ lives in us so the atmosphere around us has no impact on faith and hope. No matter if life is beautiful or barren – God is with us. He is for us. He will stop at nothing to have us or to be sure we have His Promise. In that place, God opened Jacob’s eyes to see Heaven on the earth. Is it possible for us to do the same? To see things from the heavenly realm rather than being immersed in reality? I believe that it is. What if it is not in a dream or vision but so subtle that the human eye cannot perceive it? The disciples lived, ate, and existed in the Presence of God while Jesus was with them yet they all struggle with doubt and unbelief. They could reach out and touch the Messiah with their hands. Talk to Him. Know the Lord intimately and conversationally. Yet, still it was hard to believe.

Genesis 28:16-19 (ESV) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel… 

Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head. He set it up for a pillar. He poured oil on top of it. He called the place, Bethel, House of God, or the holy place. What if you are standing on holy ground right now and don’t even know it? Where you go I will go Lord? The same Lord that orders our footsteps will fill them. He fills them with His Love, Grace, Mercy and Faithfulness so that our foundation is solid if only we will walk by faith. From the highest of hills to the lowest valley, He is with us pursuing us with unfailing love and goodness but it doesn’t always look like sunshine and roses. It might just be weariness that gives way to worship. Brokenness that opens up blessing in our life. The very thing that was the most uncomfortable the most fruitful. Jacob woke up from the dream and vision God had given him in the very same place but with a new perspective. He took the hard stone that was once his pillow and made it a pillar before the Lord.

Isaiah 43:18-21 (ESV) “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

Human expectation is the driving force of our flesh. It sets up our school of thought. It becomes our way of thinking. The flesh needs some sort of control. We take the Word of God and rather than allowing it to mold us, we try to shape it into some logical and applicable form according to our natural life and normalcy. When God does not do it that way, it becomes a fight in our mind and soul for ultimate control. God is doing a new thing in our life. It is for our good. It is to His Glory. If it can be explained away logically, who needs faith? God works in the impossible. Does your life look impossible to you? Is it hard to see the forest for the trees? Take off your shoes. Get on your knees. Raise your weary arms. You are not in the wilderness but on the way to your promise. The less logical life is the more miraculous it becomes.

Forget the former things. Do not conform your thinking to tradition. God is doing something new in you and through you that is not comprehensible in the flesh but must be observed solely by your spirit. Once you take hold of God’s Perspective, a life of worship is inevitable especially when you find yourself in the wilderness, wandering and wondering until worship finally finds you because you know God is with you! I have come to the conclusion that no matter what it takes I want the Lord to keep me right here until His Word is fulfilled. Some days it is easy. But there have been many more when the giants seem to get bigger and the promise even farther that I have to remember and remind myself that this is holy ground. My life is God’s Masterpiece and it is not ready yet. I must make the commitment like Ruth to Naomi that day, “For where you go I will go…”

Matthew 8:18-22 (ESV) Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

It is easy to get caught up in emotionalism and zeal for the Lord. To get all pumped up in church and crash into life just outside the door. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way that you and I have access to the Father. Do we follow His Ways impeccably? To we know the Truth from cover to cover? Is it the wisdom of our life? Jesus understands our weakness. He was human once too. He knows that we struggle with our faith and ability to believe. His Words to the scribe seem harsh, but they are truth to feed our hungry, thirsty and weary souls today. “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go!” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Bummer right? Jesus was not saying looking for pity. No, the Lord was setting up expectation. Don’t make your home here. Set your sights on the heavenly not the earthly things. Jesus did not come to save the world but to save us. To move us from this life to eternity. “Follow me” is not a call to a better life but a new life. It is not an invitation for new comfort and convenience but to become a new creation. To be molded, shaped, pressed, crushed and broken so that the Lord can make you into a Masterpiece.

Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When God met Jacob in the desert that night, He did not divinely change his situation but confirmed his position. He reiterated the promise and potential of Jacob’s life to change his perspective. It worked. Will it work for you today? The hard place is giving way to a new life filled with promises and prosperity for the one who says, “Where you go, I go!” We must set our minds on Christ where He is and not focus on where we are. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God and that’s a good thing for us. He is interceding for us. He knows our weakness and His Spirit helps us when times get tough. My new life is hidden with Christ in God. I find new life and full satisfaction when I live in His Presence even in the pits, prisons and problems of life. My situation cannot change the Way, the Truth and the Life living in me. It is all just temporary. Lord, help me to see You today. To take this hard thing and build into a new place of worship. Jesus, where you go – I will go! You will be my God and I am Your Beloved Child!

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.