Make A Choice

Make A Choice

Isaiah 1:18-20 (NIV) “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Come now, let us settle the matter. In the course of a single day, people make more choices than they realize. Before arriving at work, there are more than a handful of decisions that must be made. Habits and routine take over so it becomes a ritualistic lifestyle. Like cattle through a turnstile going out to pasture in the morning, and coming back to the barn at night. Sounds monotonous doesn’t it? Well, how about getting up, head to work, stop for coffee, clock in, make eight, punch out, sit in traffic, cook dinner, do laundry, help with homework, and collapse in bed times five days a week. Where is the extraordinary in the midst of ordinary? How does one find the supernatural surrounded in the natural? It begins with a choice.

Psalm 27:13 (NIV) I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer the first time, God asked me to trust Him and I did. The Lord promised me that our boy would live and not die to declare His Works. (God’s Promises do not change – He repeats them often.) Then our son was diagnosed again, and again multiple times. The third discovery was the most invasive covering most of body from neck to torso. The reality that God’s Healing might not be as I expected was weighing heavy on my mind. The Lord brought me to this verse. I must remain confident that God’s Goodness is for the land of the living. How quickly we dismiss God’s Promise for the future when things don’t turn out the way we expected? How often do we give up on faith when it doesn’t yield the return in the right time as our plans indicated? It was only when I had absolutely no control over our son’s life that I had to truly learn to trust the Lord from beginning to end. I had to make a choice. I had to settle it in my heart and soul to keep breathing. It was at that point in my life, I trusted God for Who He was rather than the outcome I expected. In total weakness, His Grace and Power flooded my life.

Free will can be difficult when one comes to the understanding that the Lord gives us the right to choose. Jesus chose to die for our sins and hand us the Keys to His Kingdom. He loves us. Therefore, love cannot force us to do anything and be love. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous. It doesn’t boast. It is not proud. It honors others and is not ever self-seeking. It doesn’t get angry. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. Love never ever fails. For Jesus to force us to do anything would be contrary to His Own Definition of love found in the Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God. So with this in mind, the Lord will not make us do anything that we do not want to do. It is important to note that the Christ in you sets you free from sinful captivity which means the devil can’t make you do anything either. You have a choice to make. Who will you serve today?

Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV) “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

All the time in the wilderness, God did everything in His Power to show the Children of Israel a better way. His Way. The way of blessing and prosperity. (Deuteronomy 28) It is now time to enter the Promised Land. “Fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness”. This was the intention of Joshua for his household. It was settled with in his heart and soul. However, listen to the Word of the Lord to the people, “if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” God wants us to choose. Why? Half-hearted service to the Lord will only produce disappointment and discouragement in our life. It is only when we seek Him wholeheartedly that His Plan for our future unfolds. It is our willingness to serve Jesus with our life body, mind and spirit that our life will prosper as our soul does. The Lord detests “dishonest scales”. Sin is abhorrent to the Lord. Grace is provided because despite our best effort to remain sinless – our sinful nature will get the best of us sometimes but the Lord looks deeper than that to the intent of our heart. Who are you serving? The outcome of our life is directly connected to the master we serve.

John 15:15-16 (NIV) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Bear with me as I try to work this out in my own heart and mind, but God has called me and chosen me to prosper in all things. He appointed me that I might go and bear fruit. Fruit that will last. Whatever I ask in the Name of my Father it should be given. After our son went into remission, I was completely awestruck by God. At that moment, God did not have to do anything else for me for the rest of my life. Jesus saved me. He created a beautiful family out of all the pieces I brought to Him. Our children all love the Lord. The one on the verge of death with only a 2% chance of survival was back in school living his life. One would think it to be the greatest spiritual high of my life. It was not. The new normal was a difficult adjustment. The enemy came and somehow convinced me that I had reached the limit of expectancy. After all, God had granted life to our child. What greater gift could there ever be? I was so underserving of the new life that I have in Christ – it would be selfish to ask for anything else…right? Wrong! God’s Plan for my life is not finished or complete until I breathe my last breath, endure to the end and reach eternity with Him.

I am a friend of God. My relationship with Jesus Christ is a friendship with benefits. Do you have any friends in “high places”? Influential or powerful people who the Lord has placed in your life. A friend who favors you? God operates in relationships. Friendships are important to our reproductive growth in the Spirit. Fruit of the Spirit is cultivated in our fellowship with other people. The first commandment is to love God but the second cannot be fulfilled outside of relationships. God has called us to cultivate fruit. In Genesis 1:27-28 – He calls us blessed. Not you might be, could be or possibly will happen – God specifically blessed mankind. He also ordained them for certain things – be fruitful (purpose), increase (prosper), fill the earth (generosity), and subdue it (rule and reign over ever earthly thing). Sin separated us from God but did not end stop the blessing or calling of our life. Jesus came and His Blood eliminated the debt of sin so that now all mankind is free to walk out the ordination of God for their life. Purpose is both earthly and heavenly. Prosperity is earthly and heavenly. Generosity is earthly and heavenly. God’s Power is for the earth just like heaven. It is time for believers to stop segregating their life into earthly and heavenly things. Our existence in Christ makes the unification of earth and heaven complete. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)

Psalm 65:4 (NLT) Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.

We must choose who to serve each day. James 4 is a firm and true commentary on submission to God. God waits for us to surrender our life to Him. This is not an act of authoritative force meant to make us miserable but instead to entrust with everything He promised because we know what do with it. Most lottery winners lose their fortune in the first three years. Why? Having money doesn’t change our life and habits. If the winner could not manage the resources at hand previously more money is not going to change their behavior. God has power to release in you when you are ready to receive it. He will not let a thief in the Kingdom. If you are only after God’s Hand with no intention of knowing His Heart, the door will remain closed to God’s Promises and Prosperity. Those are obtained only in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

In Isaiah, the Lord says, “Come let us settle the matter…” Do you want God’s Promises and Prosperity in life? To settle means to appoint, fix, and resolve definitely and conclusively in agreement. It means that our life must agree with God’s Will, His Way and His Word. It is to place our life in a desired state of order pursuing the pathway of life. We must decide to agree with God concerning our life. Those who do will apply God’s Word to their life more and more each day which produces the good things He has promised. (Proverbs 8:8-11) We will speak God’s Word over our life and not man’s predictions. We will listen to the Lord and His Still Small Voice over the roar of the crowd and opinions of people and we will prosper! (Psalm 25:12-13) I must believe that God’s Goodness is for the land of the living enough to live for the Lord right now.

Revelation 3:15-17 (NIV) “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Life is limited in lukewarm living. The entire planet is subject to sowing and reaping or planting and harvest. It is natural productivity. When we choose to invest our life into something wholeheartedly, there is generally a substantial return. Why? God honors a choice. However, for those who choose to remain lukewarm – their life is equated to vomit. Is the yield of your life satisfying? Sometimes we may have more than we ever thought possible yet have no peace or rest. I cannot live in close friendship and fellowship with Jesus Christ and be yoked to anything else. (Matthew 11:28-30) I must surrender my life to His Will, His Word and His Way to have the Way, the Truth and the Life that is rich and satisfying. Prosperity in heaven does not mean I must live an impoverished life – nothing could be further from the truth. Who wants that kind of parent? The one who gives stones to hungry children rather than bread. Nobody! He is a Good Father. God’s Plan contains a future and hope secured when I pursue Him wholeheartedly. I must choose today who I will serve. I cannot serve two masters for I will love one and hate the other. To choose Jesus as not only my Savior but my Lord leads me to discover the goodness here in the land of the living. It will bring heaven to earth.

Psalm 25:12-13 (NIV) Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land.

What’s the Hold Up?

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Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 

Trusting and believing would not be so hard if God did not insist on keeping His Own Timeline. Those days that add up to endurance and perseverance that push us past our patience. We love God. Why does He keep us waiting? What’s the hold up? I have divulged on many occasions that patience is not a personal strength but my total weakness that it seems God is intent on fixing in me. I find that each day I am presented with opportunities to wait on people, wait on traffic, wait at the store, wait at the doctor, wait on results and wait some more. My ability to wait indicates the importance of that which I am waiting for. For example, if our pantry and refrigerator are borderline empty – I will wait in a long line at the grocery store on a busy Saturday in order to buy the food our family needs. However, if I am there to pick up a few items to make a batch of cookies on impulse – I am more likely to put the ingredients back and walk out the door. It is all based on need and desire.

Waiting on God is just as important as working for Him. One does not discount the other. To plow through that which God says do but not be still when God says wait will impact our purpose. Our obedience to the Lord determines the abundance in our life. He is not rewarding us – He is releasing what He has already stored away for us. Before I get pummeled with all the scriptures that indicate God rewards good behavior and obedience. Please allow me to explain. The reward that is reserved for me in Heaven is not subject to the hands of others. My reward is labeled an inheritance because it belongs to me. It is mine by birthright as a Child of God. I am not in competition with anyone else for what God has for me. By choosing obedience, patience and stillness over the impetuous nature of my flesh, God releases that which He has reserved for me. The only thing standing between me and God’s Richest Blessing in my life is – you guessed it – me!

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” What is the hold up? What is keeping God’s Word from coming to pass in my life? Well, quite frankly and not to hurt any feelings – it is me and it is you. The very thing desired of the Father begins with the promise that we cling to. The Word of God clearly outlines every benefit and blessing that He has for us. It is a careful inventory of the supplies and surplus called abundance. Do you read it as such and believe it to be so? Have you ever gone into a restaurant hungry? When you peruse the menu, everything looks good. You order more than you can eat. Our appetite and hunger must become focused on God’s Word and God’s Way. This will produce satisfaction and contentment rather than a lifestyle of trying it all in hope of finding peace and rest.

Through the temptations, trials and tests of life, believers are forced to evaluate the things held tightly in our heart and in our hands. This is not because God wants to take from us but rather pour into us. What I hold on to can absolutely keep me from taking hold of those things that the Lord has for me that only faith and hope can produce. I will not trust the Lord for more if I have no idea what is available to me. It is also important that we seek the Lord personally and intentionally outside of the preachers and teachers that spoon feed the Word. Though they are necessary and beneficial to the Body of Christ, if we do not taste and see the Lord’s Grace and Goodness for ourselves – we will never let go of lesser things to obtain all the great blessings God has reserved for us.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

“Let us hold firmly to what we believe.” I am challenged in Genesis and I Kings when God asks His Children like “who told you that” and “what are you doing here”? God will ask you the same thing if you listen for His Voice. It is easy to settle for good over God. It is much easier to maintain a level of control than to give up all control to trust the Lord. The absence of personal strength allows His Grace to take over and produce God’s Wonder Working Power in our life. Who is willing to take such a chance? We didn’t have a choice when our son was diagnosed with cancer. God didn’t ask me if I was up to the challenge or interested in following Abraham to the mountain. He just said, “Do you trust me?” I charged the Throne of God reciting every promise in His Word. He did not deny me but continued to ask, “Do you trust me?” The answer “yes” was not a powerful declaration such as David charging the giant but rather a whisper from deep within my devastated and demolished heart which I no longer had the strength to even pick up. One might think such a confession was enough. But I had prayed for years for more faith, to know Him more, to trust Him implicitly – and now I was given the opportunity, yes opportunity, to do just that. I had no idea what it would require. One diagnosis, four relapses, complete denial by the insurance company for lifesaving treatment until the very end of all medical intervention and the dead-end of all financial resources. One might think it was all those steps leading up to the moment when the final denial from our last appeal came in – but that was not the end it was only the beginning.

The shaking and struggling in life is not always the enemy sometimes it is the Holy Spirit trying to get us to let go of our word, our way and our will because our prayer is for His Word, His Way and His Will. We pray for one thing but don’t necessarily know that which is requested. When we finally make it through the stronghold of self to enter boldly into the Throne Room it is usually not a grand entrance but what is left of our person crawling into the Presence of God asking for grace and hoping for mercy just to make it through. God didn’t make it like this – we do by fighting for our way first and then seeking Him when all else fails. We can change all that but it means letting go now. Surrendering our life before Him daily rather than on demand. Service to God begins with humility that begins each day with less of me and more of You, God. It is to scoop up new mercy and to let go of the idea that there is anything I can do to earn it but must come before Him boldly to receive it. Boldness is born of confidence. Are you confident in the Lord today? Do you believe that He keeps His Promises? Or do you hope for less to see Him more? Do you lower your expectation to a human level because you are not willing to wait for Him to work all details for your benefit and blessing? Guilty as charged.

Deuteronomy 11:22 (NLT) “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.

Obedience allows all the benefits and blessings tucked away for us under the careful guard of angel armies to be released to us. It is not to punish us or force us to do anything that we do not want to do. For example, while cooking dinner last night, I had a certain dish in mind. I read the instructions and pulled out all the ingredients. I followed each one line by line and precept by precept because I wanted the dish to turn out right. I did not deviate from it because the person who wrote it was sharing a secret with me that would become a glorious meal. I wasn’t mad that I had to add salt or not add sugar. I didn’t get frustrated when I had to wait for it all to simmer and the flavors to mesh together. That would have been ridiculous right? Why do we get mad or offended at the thought of godly obedience? Taste and see that the Lord is good is an open invitation to come try the food at His Table. To sit and sup with God and enjoy all the blessings and benefits of His Kingdom. If I deviate from a written recipe the food will not taste the same and I risk failure. Heck, I am pretty good at messing up recipes I follow to the letter. Do I throw out the pots and pans? Do I stop cooking forever? Do burn all my cookbooks? No, I try again.

We must take a logical approach to illogical faith. We must be sure that in learning to walk by faith not by sight that the very thing held most tightly is God and His Word. It will be evident in the productivity in our life. Holding tightly to faith produces the many fruits of God’s Spirit including love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness and more.

Romans 12:9-12 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

It is only reasonable to believe that if the things I am doing, seeking and believing are ending in frustration and dissatisfaction that I need to do something else. Insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting different results. I had this thought the other day. My husband and I have moved to a more rural area in the county outside the city limits. When we decide to “go to town”, it usually includes a meal since options are limited in the county. I ask him, “Where would you like to go?” He says, “I don’t know, how about you?” I respond, “It’s up to you.” I am embarrassed to admit that we usually frequent the exact same places where we used to eat before we moved. In fact the last few months, it has been the same restaurant every time. Shameful when there are so many choices. Inevitably as we continue to run errands that day and pass the many other venues, one of us will say, “We should have eaten there instead.” We are all creatures of habit. The Lord offers new ways and new things but change is difficult for the flesh inside of us. We miss faith full opportunities because we live on status quo. I know the place I go has what I want. I do not try new things in fear that I won’t like the food or be willing to pay a different price. This same principle is applied to our Christian walk. We set boundaries and limitations in our life because we give up on what we first believed and limit Christ to this life rather than letting go of what we hold tightly to embrace all that He is. Greater is He who lives in me is activated by the Truth – He must increase and I must decrease. His Power works best in my weakness always.

It is time to hold tightly to what is good. All ways and every day – those who choose to live by God’s Word, His Way and His Will cannot continue to do things the same way. Love. Forgiveness. Hope. Grace. Mercy. These are the qualities that produce boldness in our walk with Jesus Christ. These are the life giving words and principles that motivate us. Just because someone doesn’t believe doesn’t mean they don’t belong. Just because the Holy Spirit convicted you of something doesn’t mean it must be their conviction too to produce unity. It means that putting all differences aside and discarding indifference in our life that the Love of God become the prevailing principle and purpose for all things in our life. Genuine faith cannot be found aside from absolute trust in Jesus Christ. The kind of trust that continues to love and serve God no matter what this life looks like. Clinging to His Robe of Righteousness, burying our face in His Presence, and intently hanging on to His Every Word until our primary motivation in all things is Jesus.

Revelation 3:2-3 (NLT) Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.

Juggling the responsibilities of this life and yet trying to incorporate faith that cannot be seen only experienced, we sometimes forget that if God is our priority everything else will fall into place. I challenge you today to let the balls fall where they may and enter boldly into Your Father’s Presence. Lay your life and everything you hold tightly to at His Feet. Let Jesus sort through it with you. He will carry your burdens and cares. He will relieve all worries. He will give you the strength that only grace provides. He will be Your Portion producing satisfaction is seasons of famine and contentment in moments of drought. I know that when I first came to Christ I had this fairytale in my head that the Lord would make everything better…instantly. It doesn’t work that way – trust is the avenue to all that we hope for. His Word is roadmap to the Destiny of fulfillment that is prepared for us. We are not dead men (and women) walking but charging toward victory which is our destination. Let go today of everything you thought being a Christian was and take hold of God’s Word, listen to His Voice and do what He says. He knows you. You are His Masterpiece. Don’t mark up your Mona Lisa with all the things others tell you to be – let God’s Word, His Way and His Will prepare you and place you in Your Purpose and Calling.

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

Disappear

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Genesis 5:21-24 (NLT) When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

I am completely enthralled and intrigued by the life of Enoch. So little is said about him in the Word of God yet it says…walking in close fellowship with God, then one day he disappeared because God took him.” End of story. Disappearing in the Lord surrounded by His Glory so close that He just sweeps you away. It says that Enoch “disappeared”. How does one achieve such close fellowship with God that their entire life is summed up in walking so close with God that one day he just disappears? I want that life. Such unity with God through Jesus Christ, that my life no longer as important as the Presence of God that overtakes me. To live by faith to the point that no one really knows where I ended and Christ took over. To be one with Jesus Christ that is my goal and aspiration.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Enoch’s life earned him a place in God’s Hall of Faith – Hebrews 11. Enoch’s faith was the thing that united him to God the Father. A bond so tight that when it came time to leave this earth – he would be the only man spared a natural death. His Partnership with God so involved and consuming that there was no definite mark where Enoch’s life on earth ended and forever began. How is that even possible? It was by faith. Enoch lived by faith. He pleased God. It is impossible to please God without faith. Trust is evidence of faith.

Jude 14-15 (NLT) Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

How could Enoch have the kind of faith that leads to salvation before Jesus Christ? Well, Jesus Christ was in Enoch. Enoch is the seventh generation of Adam but the genealogy of Adam ends in Jesus Christ. Enoch was a man of God. He was a prophet. His example is noted in Jude’s letter that was intended to share the Good News yet again and encourage the recipients. However, Jude changed the content because “some ungodly people (had) wormed their way into your churches, saying God’s Marvelous Grace allows us to live immoral lives.” Such was the time when Enoch lived and prophesied. So it is even today within the four walls of the church…

I Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT) 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.

Oh Enoch, I hear you. I see your example. I am convicted to my core. I must decrease, Christ must increase. (John 3:30) I must become so wrapped up in the robe of righteousness that I disappear and Jesus is the Shining Light that resonates. I must live in partnership with Jesus Christ. I must be yoked to Him at all times. My relationship with Christ must dissolve into oneness. I must disappear to have the life that I am after.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. (Period) We must believe that faith is our potential in life and make our purpose to attain it at all cost. We have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living and must strive to achieve it again. God decided in advance and made a plan called grace for us to achieve it. Grace is not accomplished by my power but my weakness. It is total surrender of my entire life to live in Jesus Christ. In Him, literally not figuratively. To establish my whole personality and lifestyle including every goal and dream in the Person of Jesus Christ. The trouble is that my flesh wars against such measures. (Romans 7:21-25) I must fight the battle each day to avoid sin and be overtaken by God’s Mercy and Grace. This requires discipline. It will mean going against the flow and defying society’s norm. I know that the struggle is real but so is the Love of God manifested in Jesus Christ.

He is offering a partnership that raises my standard of living even if not evident in this life and its conditions. The purpose of our life is to become so united in faith with Jesus and others that our life measures up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Do you have faith? Do you trust the Lord? Can you find the places in your life where Christ is and is not?

It is time to erase the gray area and middle of the roads until the only thing evident in us and around us is Jesus Christ. This will produce the Fruit of God’s Spirit in us as an offering to the world. This offering is the first fruits of trust birthed in us. Without faith it is impossible to please God. We must desire such unity with Jesus Christ and completely consummated partnership so there is no longer evidence of where I end and Christ begins. We must become one.

Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

We have made something so simple quite complicated with our rules, religion and doctrine. The world has created grace to be a doormat to which all are invited. My life is not dependent on what other people think of me. It doesn’t matter if I attend church, tithe, and serve in ministry every single day for the rest of my life. If I do not have faith and walk in close fellowship with the Lord my life is still compromised. My relationship and proximity to Jesus Christ is up to me. I have eternity in my heart so I have the potential to become a Child of God. I am set to inherit every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way that I can live, walk, breathe and be united with my Father God. There is no other way. Grace is sufficient in my weakness when I surrender my life to the Lord choosing to walk in close fellowship. This is the place where new life begins. This is the place where I disappear and Christ takes over. I cannot maintain my pride, my rights or my natural inclinations but fully surrender my way, submit to the Word in order to have God’s Standard of Living. The Kingdom door is open for those who will trust Him. Do you have faith in God today? Do you trust Him? Nothing can separate us from His Love but sin will always get in the way of our fellowship and communion with Him.

I want to know Christ today. I want to be found in Him. The only way to do this is by giving Him my all. My everything. I cannot walk in close fellowship any other way but to disappear in His Presence and His Person until all they see is Jesus. Lord, examine my life. Reveal any hidden sin, compromised faith or delayed trust in me. Have your way Jesus. I don’t want my way but to walk in close fellowship with you until I completely disappear and all they see is YOU!

Philippians 1:11 (NLT) May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ[a]—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

Dare To Be Disciplined

discipline

Proverbs 10:17 (NLT) People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.

The dirty little word called “discipline.” It makes our pride buck up. Our mind comes to complete attention. The call to order within our mind, body and soul. It is the pathway to life called the Highway of Holiness. If you look around, it can be a lonely road. The destination is important. It is eternity. Forever. To cross from death to life forever with our Savior and the Lover of our souls. How I choose to live this life directly impacts my future. Do not be deceived. Without proper discipline, I will not see the Kingdom of God. I will not endure. Destination is secured by direction. Direction is heeded by discipline. I can route and reroute as much as I want because I am free to do as I please. However, if I have a particular goal in mind, a certain desired destination then I must choose a disciplined life to obtain that which I am after.

This is not just applicable to our life in Christ but all endeavors. We must set a course. Develop a plan. Decide our course. Discipline is the vehicle that carries us from point A to point B successfully. Discipline is behavior in accordance with rules of conduct. My attitude and actions must be maintained by training and control that is not natural. It is taking the knowledge given to us by God and applying it to our life. The reward of such an endeavor is called wisdom. Why? Why is this thing called “discipline” so important? Jesus has given us grace to overcome our weakness. God supplies new mercy each day to erase yesterday’s mistakes and make a way for today. Why do I need discipline?

Genesis 5:23-24 (NLT) Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

Genesis 6:8-9 (NLT) But Noah found favor with the Lord. This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

My deepest desire in life is to walk like Enoch. To exhibit the faithfulness of Noah in response to God’s Direction in my life. To live a life of absolute faith in Jesus Christ and complete dependence of God in all things. This is not a natural lifestyle but requires supernatural discipline. My flesh wants no part of it because it is pride’s death sentence. My mind will always create opposition to the unseen relied on by faith and confident hope because it desires knowledge that is common and logical. My heart and soul desire a connection to God so close that I disappear and all that is seen is the Light of His Love through me. I want my offering to become the sacrifice of seed in others honoring the altar Noah built after the flood. The one that produced promises for all mankind not just goodness and grace in His Life. If this is your goal to be one with the Lord, one must take hold of discipline and never let go.

Revelation 3:19-21 (NLT) I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

Each day the Lord desires to move closer to you. His Deepest Desire is to commune with us dwelling in our life as friends. This type of relationship is not movement on His Part but acceptance on our part. To give up my way and fully embrace the Way is an act of discipline. Discipline opens the door of fellowship between the Lord and I. It allows me to partake of the feast that is set before me by the Hand of God and have His Favor in my life. The key to spiritual success is not found in religious duty or church doctrine. The door of communion with Christ is opened by relationship. Discipline rights indifference. We must become diligent in discipline to have a right relationship with the Lord.

Hebrews 12:11 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

The month of February became the new January for me. My usual foray back to the gym and decision to make healthy eating choices did not start until the second month of the year. For the last couple of weeks in January, I plotted and planned my strategy. As the new month grew closer, my body loathed the turn of the calendar. My mind made many excuses as to why the timing was not right. However, come February I started. One of the changes was a “squat” challenge recommended by a friend. She faithfully followed the plan for a month with excellent results. The first couple days were tough, but by the third day – I could barely walk. My legs were stiff and every muscle in my lower extremities ached to the point of tears. These muscles had been dormant for months. I disciplined my body to endure the discomfort, press on, and keep doing it despite all these things. Now well into week two, my body is beginning to accept the new way of life.

No discipline is enjoyable. It is painful most of the time. Whether physical, mental or spiritual – our humanity is not a fan of discipline because it requires giving up our way, comfort and complacency to accept change. For forty years, the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness. During that time, the Lord provided everything they needed according to His Plan. The people became disciplined in following the Lord and indifference was killed off never making it to the Promised Land. The Children of God were not punished during that time as some complained but rather in a training process under the strictest control by God. Their shoes didn’t even wear out during the journey. God protected them from the tops of their heads to the souls of their feet. The difference between punishment and discipline is relationship. If my child enters my house when I am not home, he or she is welcomed. My adult children all know how to get in. They are still my kids. But if a stranger comes in uninvited, well they are consider to be an intruder and the law will be called. Discipline versus punishment is defined by our relationship with God. He will not let anyone come to Him over the fence but must come through the Gate called Beautiful. His Name is Jesus and there is only one way – God’s Way. Faith opens the gate and discipline guides us through.

I Corinthians 11:27-31 (NLT) So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.

If our goal in life is to be close to Christ and live in His Shadow, discipline is absolutely necessary to filter our life of those things which keep us from a right relationship. It is by paying careful attention to our walk with Christ to ensure a proper relationship. This is not about never sinning though our goal is to avoid sin. Never falling – everyone makes mistakes as part of the growth process. It is not absent of failure – it takes the pit to make the palace just ask Joseph. Failure produces humility that causes the King of Kings Face to shine His Favor on us. Discipline is a commitment to never give up making our way closer to God by allowing His Word, Will and Way to shape our behavior. We must love discipline. (Proverbs 12:1) Respect for the Lord and His Ways are the foundation of wisdom. (Proverbs 1:7) To reject discipline is harming us. (Proverbs 15:32) Discipline purifies our heart so that we come to the Lord’s Table worthily. (Proverbs 20:30) Not just during a Communion Service at church, but in our daily fellowship with Jesus Christ as friends. Discipline is not just a change in our attitude but our actions back it up. (Proverbs 29:19) Discipline must be evidenced in our deeds as well. The Holy Spirit helps us as He offers self-control to become a fruit in our life that sustains us causing discipline to thrive.

Isaiah 38:16-18 (NLT) Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness.

A woman at church approached me a few years back at the gym of all places. She had discovered this blog sharing that she also felt called to be a writer. She then asked, “How do you find time to write every day?” I quickly responded, “I get up two hours early each day to spend time with the Lord.” She began shaking her head, “Well, I can’t do that. I love my sleep.” I chuckled a minute because I love to sleep, too. Mornings are not my favorite at all. Then I realized she was completely serious and my heart grew heavy for her in that moment. She gave up an hour almost every day to maintain her health but she was willing to give up her calling for a couple hours of sleep. What have you given up your calling for? What is the thing that makes you comfortable and complacent enough to become indifferent to the whispers of Jesus to come deeper? Discipline will break the stronghold of indifference in our life. It connects us with our destiny. It puts on the course to the proper destination which is eternal life. We cannot have a right relationship with God our Father and Jesus if we do not accept discipline from Him. If the goal of my life is to be found IN Christ, I must use discipline as the vehicle to get there. Faith without works is dead. Discipline is evidence of deeds worthy of His Calling. Discipline never leads to disqualification. It is the pathway to life.

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT) Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

The Humble Way

the-humble-way

I Peter 5:6-7 (NLT) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

I had the rare pleasure of a telephone conversation with my sister who lives in Missouri. She happened to reach out to me during my commute to work which usually is my extended quiet time, prayer time, and worship session at the beginning of the day. She does not call often so when she popped up on the caller ID, I knew it was important. She had an important prayer request and shared her heart with me. It was serious and intent conversation. As she began to speak, I prayed silently that the Lord would help me hear her heart and offer the encouragement that only His Spirit can give. If you know my sister, she is hilarious. Even in a moment of complete transparency and total relevance, I should have known that she would say something to make me burst out laughing. This would be no exception. She said, “I do not have time to get on someone else’s hamster wheel and let their junk hit me in the head.” Now, you may not think this is funny for a variety of reasons, but I was dissolved into inconsolable laughter and added the immediate disclaimer that I would indeed be using this illustration many times to come. She gave her complete consent. We continued our conversation all the way to my office and as usual my kid sister completely blessed my heart.

“Give all your worries and cares to God for He cares for you.” Are you the hamster on the wheel today? Running fast and hard but getting nowhere day after day? Are you getting hit in the head (and heart) with the same junk over and over again? Are you praying but hearing nothing? Are you petitioning but seeing no change? Are you tired? Are you weary? Do you need rest? Do you need a win? Do you need peace? Though I laughed at the thought, it began to penetrate my heart throughout the day. Are there areas of my life that are lacking because rather than choosing God’s Way, I have chosen my own? Could the very things repeating in my life be evidence of my own doing and not a form of spiritual attack? Is it me, Lord?

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites us to bring Him all of our cares and concerns in exchange for peace and rest. He calls to the weak and heavy laden carrying burdens. Is that you? “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart.” Take my yoke. It is an exchange of my weakness for His Power as indicated in 2 Corinthians 12:9. The breaking point when I give up my weakness to accept His Grace and He gives me His Power. The Lord does not take our load so we can go find more baggage. Jesus invites us to learn from Him and do as He did. “For my yoke is easy to bear and my burden is light.”

Micah 6:8 breaks it down quite nicely into bite-size pieces for every believer. Do what is right. To love mercy. To walk humbly with Your God. That is Christian Living in a nutshell, but we act allergic to nuts. Finding excuses along His Way to do it our way. The very thing that is choking the life out of us is pride. It is a problem. It stops us from doing what is right, loving mercy and worst of all walking with our God.

James 4:5-7 (NLT) Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

Satan was once the most beautiful angel in all of heaven. He was the model of perfection. Full of wisdom and exquisite beauty. He was ordained and anointed as the mighty angelic guardian giving him full access to God. What happened? “Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor.” (Ezekiel 28) We think about the devil as a beast hard on the eyes and disgustingly evil but consider this. He lived in the Presence of God. He experienced His Glory firsthand. He was right there with a front row seat. He even is permitted to return as seen in the book of Job. Yet his pride told him that he was greater, could do more and be God. How is this possible? I have experienced just a glimpse of the Glory of God in worship, during prayer, and even when studying His Word. It undoes me completely. I melt to my knees totally overwhelmed by His Goodness. Yet the enemy of our souls who lived with God did not feel the same way. I cannot even imagine. What was his problem? Pride. God opposes pride. God is a “yes” or “no” kind of guy. He never says, “Maybe.” He chooses right over wrong and good over evil never entering the gray areas of life or acknowledging the middle of the road. With this in mind, how detrimental pride is even in the smallest portion! It took one sin to require all of the Blood of Jesus Christ. It takes a hint of pride to keep us from moving closer to the Lord.

The enemy decided to exalt self over God. He wanted to be God. This precipitated his great fall to the earth and is the subject of his rage against it. (Isaiah 14) We must be very careful to not assume the position of Satan in our everyday life. We must focus intently on our passion and pursuits in life to determine if pride is a factor. God opposes pride on every level even religiosity which thinks grace is something that can be earned rather than inherited by our Father. To live in the Presence of God we must resist pride. If pride is in us, it will invite the enemy’s pursuit. To live humbly in God’s Presence causes him to flee.

James 4:8-10 (NLT) Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

True repentance is characterized by complete humility. It is to be loyal to the Kingdom of God and by grace gaining access to the Father. To share a yoke with Jesus Christ means sacrificing pride completely. What is pride? Pride is self-esteem. It is the idea that I have a level of power and control over my life and ability to change my circumstance or condition. I do, but only in a natural sense. If I desire the resurrection power of God to transform me from death to life, I must give up my life now to gain it. Pride divides our interest between Heaven and earth. How do I know if I am prideful? Do you feel entitled? Do you withhold forgiveness from those who hurt, betray and abuse you? Do you submit to God’s Authority by obeying the Word of God completely? Do you find deep satisfaction in your personal accomplishments or give God all the Glory? Do you believe that pursuing the Lord will promote you in His Kingdom? Do you seek the approval and affirmation of other people? Do you worry? Do you stress? Are you anxious? Do you want to give up? Do you have peace? God has invited us to do what is right, love mercy and walk humbly beside Him. We must be willing to give up our right to be right, choose mercy over judgment and surrender our Way completely to walk His Way. To choose closeness with God is to be humble.

John 5:19-20 (NLT) o Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing.”

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” Jesus humbled His Life to the mighty power of His Father when He came into this world. He only did what God instructed Him to do and never strayed from His Father’s Word, Will or Way. He is our example of humility. True humility is evidenced in our ability to trust the Lord fully. It is confidence in God’s Mighty Power that allowed Jesus to endure the Cross and visit the grave knowing that “at the right time” God would “lift him up” which is resurrection life. To humble myself to God and walk in His Way will give me resurrection power in my everyday life. Humility allows us to radically pursue God because there is no longer anything to lose. Once pride gives way to humility, our life is no longer our own but given to the Power of God in us. He is passionate that the Spirit in us faithful to Him. Our passion is worthless enthusiasm and misdirected zeal until pride is eradicated. Humility gives us access to God in full measure. Humility makes faith in God fruitful because our confidence is in hope and not what is visible by the naked eye.

What does this mean? The humble way chooses to step off the hamster wheel and let the junk fall were it may knowing that God promises to make every detail of our life work out for His Glory which is our good. It means that I don’t have to run the rat race to get ahead but to just follow God’s Word, do His Will and choose His Way. Yoked to Christ I have grace that allows me to utilize God’s Power rather than wallowing in human weakness. It gives my life new purpose. It fills my life with promises. It gives me peace. Allows me to rest. My life will prosper because I chose to humble myself before the Lord. To wait until He resurrects my mind, soul and body. God is good. Today I choose to do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.

Psalm 25:8-10 (NLT) The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

Joy of Obedience

joy-of-obedience

Psalm 119:1-3 (NLT) Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.

Our oldest son was a challenging kid. High energy and very impulsive, he was a handful to say the least. He loved to find the line and cross it. He struggled with obedience and the household rules always intent on overstepping boundaries. When he entered high school, he joined the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) which was offered as a course. I really didn’t think too much of it as he had always been interested in history and military. His reading collection demonstrated his interest and his choice of programs made it clear that such things were fascinating to him. My father is a Vietnam veteran so he also engaged him as well in things of that nature. I did not link his interest to his purpose until he came to us his junior year to express interest in enlistment. Thank God for the grace given to us as parents. It seems that wisdom comes with age so the first kids produce it while the younger children benefit from it. I honestly laughed.

When our boy took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, he scored off the charts. On his first time, cold, his score was impressive enough to earn the attention of recruiters. Even though I knew he had done exceptional on the test, enlistment was a total commitment. He felt like this was his purpose in life to defend his country and the people in it while upholding the constitution. Please understand it was never my intention to dash his dream, but at this point, he was barely making it through his school. Not only that, our buddy had a problem with authority. He struggled with basic obedience such as making his bed. He ignored house rules and curfew, but how expressed a deep heartfelt desire to become a soldier who must respect authority and become radically obedient. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. He did go on to join the military and still serves in the National Guard today. He has also joined the brotherhood of law enforcement. I am proud of him. Truthfully, I was proud of him before but now I understand more fully the quality that promotes obedience in life – it is called purpose.

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey His Laws AND search for Him with all their hearts. Jeremiah 29:11-13 eludes to the very same. God has a plan for our life that includes a future (here) and hope (eternity). The catch is that those who desire such an existence and promise must seek Him wholeheartedly. Just as our son had purpose in his heart at a very young age, we all are born with purpose in our heart. God placed it there along with eternity. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) It is in the pursuit of one’s purpose that satisfaction is produced. Here is the catch: “they do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.”

So our son decided that he would enlist and did so his junior year in high school. The Army at that time offered a split option enlistment. He would go to basic training during the summer before his senior year, come home to graduate, and then finish training before immediately being deployed. I was skeptical. I have to admit, but something changed in our kid that summer as his potential started to become his passion. Upon his return, he carried out each task with his heart set on the future. His grades somewhat improved. His character was changing. During a counseling appointment, it was discovered that to graduate he would have to have almost a perfect GPA that semester. School had been a challenge for years. He graduated with just one B on his report card. Purpose releases potential in our life. When we discover our purpose and begin to walk in it our life begins to yield the potential locked away. It is our motivation. It becomes our passion and we pursue it. What is your purpose? What is the promise of God not yet evident in your life? Partial obedience will never allow us to walk with purpose.

Psalm 112:1 (NLT) Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.

God’s Purpose and Plan for my life is different than yours. It is the calling on my life. You have one too. The Body of Christ has many members each one diverse and individual. The human body is evidence of that design. Each part has its own function that keeps our organs working, limbs moving and maintains overall health. If one part of my body becomes diseased or dysfunctional the entire design is handicapped. The purpose God has placed inside of you benefits the Body of Christ and you.

The blessings of obedience are listed in Deuteronomy 28 and Psalm 112 as well as many other places in God’s Word. The most obvious is joy. How is it possible to “delight” in obeying his commands when they challenge us each day? There are benefits to obedience such as provision, protection, prosperity, promotion and many other things detailed in God’s Word. In order to enlist in the Kingdom of God, one must believe that God is good. His Love is unfailing. His Grace enough. His Plan perfect. Hope secured. Faith is required to achieve one’s purpose. Many claim to have it but few will make the conscious choice to walk in it. Those who do will find joy in the face of danger, obstacles, trials and even pain. Purpose gives way to passion that yields our person to Jesus Christ. When I am convinced that God is good and His Way perfect, I will find my purpose in Him along with every promise.

Romans 4:16 (NLT) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.

The promise of God is received by faith. The idea of obedience is overshadowed by ignorance. Obedience is not required. However, those who believe will obey. Why? They believe in the God of Abraham who “brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” If you have faith in God the evidence is obedience. Grace is sufficient in our weakness to release the power of God in us. This occurs not because we choose to willfully sin due to human weakness but because we have strived to obey God’s Word and fallen short due to human weakness. His Grace is sufficient to bridge the gap between my inability and God’s Perfect Plan for my life.

Our faith allows us to hope when there is no reason to hope. To believe based on God’s Word backed by all His Power and Authority so that no matter how things look now I can press on passionately and persistently until purpose and promise come to pass. It makes life worth living. It changes who I am into God created me to be. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. It took his whole life pursing God to find His Purpose, Isaac. God then required Abraham to make a choice. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises…are you?

Psalm 37:18-19 (NLT) Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

No matter what one’s potential in life – if we obey the Lord it will produce His Promise and Prosperity in our life. He gave you that purpose and it is directly linked to our willingness to obey. Hence the psalmist prayer, “Restore to me the joy of salvation and make me willing to obey.” In I Samuel 15:22-23, God had appointed Saul as King of Israel and things were going good. That is until Saul chose partial obedience over willing obedience. What happened? God removed His Ordination and David would become the new king. Why? God views partial disobedience as rebellion. The gray area or middle of the road called compromise is a manmade creation made to make us feel better despite our shortcomings and inability to always do the right thing. Grace is made for those who desire God and yet still fall short. Saul did not obey the Word of the Lord and the Lord told the prophet to tell him, “Listen, obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshipping idols.”

The act of willing obedience to God is connected with one’s ability to have enough faith to trust the Lord. Not when I can make a way, but when there is no way and I still choose to trust and obey God. I Kings 17 tells of a woman and her family in the midst of famine. The prophet comes requesting a meal. Luck would have it she was about to prepare their last meal. There was no more food. She had decided to give up. Elijah did not thwart her plan but told her to go ahead but first…”make a little bread for me…” Obedience. She obeyed. God promised her that if she fed His Servant honoring the Lord with her obedience that there would “always be flour and olive oil left in your containers” to last until rain produced new crops again. She didn’t give much. She gave what she had to the Lord first. Obedience. The Bible says that God was true to His Word and she was well supplied. This was not the end of her story but only the beginning, when her son became sick. He finally died. Elijah came to her. She was obviously hurt and grieving. The prophet took the boy and God returned Him to life. She had faith in God. She trusted the Lord. She obeyed Him fully in the smallest measure so when it came time to trust Him for her son. She had the faith to bring resurrection life to her family. Our obedience to God leads us to everlasting.

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

God created you with purpose. You have far greater potential within you than you will ever express according to your own ability and strength. It is our connection with God through the Blood of Jesus Christ that makes sacrifices unnecessary. Our position as Children of God secure in order to have all God promised – we must simply obey. Willing obedience that understands any other way is rebellion and stubbornness stagnates our purpose within us. There is purpose in every single step taken no matter if it results in good things or bad times because God promises to turn every detail into something for His Glory and our good. Obedience is evidence of burgeoning faith that dares to trust God in each step. To try His Way. Decide to have His Will. To live according to His Word. Not because we have to, but because we want to. Love will always add passion to obedience. When God’s Love consumes every fear, doubt and worry so boldly each day is an exercise of discipline to walk closer to the Lord than ever before. To know that sin separates us from Him so we will work to avoid it. To know that my full potential becomes purpose when connected with the Kingdom is all I need to press, push and pursue Him in each step in each day. Lord, give me a willing heart. I want to be obedient in all things. I don’t want to be disqualified but my promise, potential and purpose fully realized according to Your Will, Your Way and Your Word. In Jesus Name – this is my humble prayer today!

Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT) Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

Intentional Planting

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Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

The seeds planted in our life today yield the harvest of tomorrow. Intentional planting of the proper seeds will give us the things desired in the future. In the natural, people prepare for the future. Carefully considering investments, retirement accounts and even creating a will to divide their assets once departed. No matter how carefully I plot out the rest of my life, there is always uncertainty. Even those who plan and prepare for the future seldom are completely satisfied with the results. Seeds planted in this life for daily provision that provide a sense of control will never satisfy the longing in our heart for eternity. We can strive for a comfortable life with careful planting and planning for the future. However, human beings were created to thrive. If there is no planting in us for our spiritual future, the things of this world will fall far short of meeting our expectation.

I know that my heart’s desire is to be a living sacrifice. What about you? However, to do so requires a transformation. This can only be achieved by depositing all that I am into all of who Jesus Christ is. I must be found in Christ to enter heaven. Jesus is my righteousness. Religion does not produce rightness with God, but is through the Grace given to me by Son that gives me the privilege of peace with the Father. The fine line between sacrifice and offering are confusing. In a world full of compromise, it is hard to comprehend God who does not accept such a thing. It is by transitioning one’s life from this world into the Kingdom that residency is established in Eternity.

John 15:1-5 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

What if the problem is not our action but attitude? What if the lack of abundance in our life is a disconnection from the Source of life? We cannot produce good fruit or godly character apart from Jesus Christ. In fact, apart from Him there is nothing we can do to change the sowing and reaping productivity in our life because it is directly connected to the world. When I place all of my life in Christ sacrificially which is ALL OF ME versus an offering of my life in service and partial commitment – complete alignment produces abundance. I must be intentional.

I was visiting my parents when I noticed a stick sitting by the back door. It was a limb barren of leaves and slumped over leaning. I inquired as to its purpose. He encouraged me to take it home and plant it. I couldn’t help but laugh kind of like Sarah laughed when God promised her a son at 99 years old. He continued to press me to take it home so I finally relented. If you know my father, you know the source of my pushiness. When I got home, I couldn’t just throw it away as was my original intent but decided to test my dad’s word. The more I considered putting the dead limb in the ground rather than carelessly sticking it somewhere, I decided to choose the proper place for it in the event it did actually grow into the crepe myrtle it came from. There was a place by the deck in our backyard that could use some privacy and shade. I watched and watered it without real hope anything would happen just doing what my father said. Well, low and behold the little twig became the mighty tree that dad promised it would. It grew so big in fact you can see it over the privacy fence from the road next to the house. The roots so deep and vast that when I wanted to replant it at our new house, it was impossible. I wonder how many blessings we miss out on because we refuse to believe and take our Father at His Word. In Christ is new life, a life marked by abundance. Abundance is released when our life is in alignment with the Word. When the Word begins to work in our life, it is clear that God is the One doing it.

Ezekiel 36:25-30 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God. I will cleanse you of your filthy behavior. I will give you good crops of grain, and I will send no more famines on the land. I will give you great harvests from your fruit trees and fields, and never again will the surrounding nations be able to scoff at your land for its famines.

God’s Grace given to us by Jesus Christ erased the bloodlines of Jew and Gentile. Every promise given to Israel is now available to all God’s Children. As I studied changes in human behavior and its direct connection to sowing and reaping, I came across Ezekiel 36:29-30 which promises good crops and great harvests when He becomes our God. It is to choose the Light of His Love over the darkness of this world that facilitates such a change. But when I read the reference, I immediately realized that one of my favorite promises was just a few scriptures above.

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender responsive heart.” I cannot produce the fertile ground for God’s Word- His Seed – to grow in me. He has to give me the heart, mind and spirit to produce an abundance in my life. I must give Him my heart. All of it. I must give Him my mind including every wayward thought. My spirit of pride and selfishness must give way to His Spirit in order to produce the kind of life that satisfies our soul and secures our future. We must sow seeds of righteousness. I don’t know if the church will ever fully understand that this has nothing to do with religion but everything to do with one’s relationship with Jesus Christ.

Hosea 10:12 (NLT) I said, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.”

Plant good seeds of righteousness and you will harvest a crop of love. Rightness is the law of God. No one is righteous. Our righteousness is in Christ alone. His Love produces seeds of love in us worthy of planting in others. Religion is about being right. Religion can change a person’s behavior and perhaps improve an attitude, but it cannot and will not ever produce the seeds of righteousness that only Christ can give. His Spirit cultivates the crop worth sharing in us including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Intentional planting requires directing our efforts in life to spiritual cultivation and not natural acquisition.

Jesus did not come to make this world a better place but to draw a line in the sand. He did not come to make peace but war against sin and darkness. He came to provide the way for all humanity to come back home and live with the Father forever. It is all about a Kingdom not this world in which we live. If you are after God’s Hand, you don’t need to waste your time for every good and perfect gift already in your life is from Him. If you desire His Kingdom, it is found in His Heart. Jesus Christ is the fullness of God’s Heart and the place where our life must be planted to be transformed from a lifeless limb into a tree of life. Doing God’s Word will produce good things in our life. Every act of obedience will yield the connected promise. Is that enough for you? It will change your life today and even make tomorrow a little easier. However, it will not afford you the peace with God necessary to secure faith, hope and love forever. Do you want a good life? Do you want a God life? It’s completely up to you – who the Son sets free is free indeed – to choose the abundance of their life. You will reap what you sow. You will harvest where you plant.

Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your  life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

When my dad told me to plant the dead stick in my yard, I did not believe that anything would grow out of it. I planted the twig because I trusted my father. Knowing him, I decided in my heart to be obedient and see what happened. God has given us His Word. It is filled with opportunities to take something from it and apply it by faith. Not just throw it on the ground, but intentionally plant it in our life. Trust is essential in our relationship with the Lord. We must trust His Word. We must believe His Word. We must follow His Way. Salvation is choosing the Light of His Love over the darkness in this world. Jesus did not come to condemn anyone but that everyone might know Him and be saved. This is very different from making Him our Lord. The Lordship of Christ is established through obedience. To do what the Word of God tells us to do makes Jesus the Master of our life. This allows me to tap in to the resources of His Household – the Kingdom. I benefit from every bit of the abundance because of our union.

The truth is that by faith in Jesus Christ and acceptance of His Grace – I am a Child of God. No longer a slave to sin or just a hired servant – I am His Child. Do I act like a Child of God? I have shared this many times. Three of our children have entered adulthood and live their own life. Two still live at home. The ones who remain in our house have access to everything. We care for them completely. They do not worry or fret about their next meal, clothing or having shelter. All that we have benefits them right down to money. When they grow up and leave the house, they must care for themselves. Provide the things that are needed. While they live under this roof, there is no need to do anything but maintain our relationship. When our children buck the house rules or demand certain rights – I gently but firmly (okay maybe a bit sarcastically) remind them that if such is coveted it must be accompanied by a lease or mortgage but in our home this is the requirement. We want heaven on earth. We desire the abundance of the Kingdom. We must abide by the house rules to have them.

Set your sights on the reality of heaven. If Heaven is real, it is worth living for. Think about the things of Heaven…not the things of the earth. Jesus gives us a new heart and new spirit for the asking. We decide how to respond. Wholeheartedly, half-heartedly or not at all. The life worth having is hidden in Jesus Christ. I must be in Him to find it and yield the harvest that is found only in the grace that empowers me through weakness. I must exchange being right for being righteous. I must live as though Christ is all that matters. (Colossians 3:11) Before I can share anything of worth with the world, God must produce an abundance of His Love, Joy and Peace along with all the other fruits of His Spirit to share with others.

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

Through Jesus Christ, I am a new creation. Before I anything worthwhile can be produced in my life, I must plant all that I am in the Person of Jesus Christ completely. All that I am for all that He is. This means that I must not conform to this world but be transformed. Transformation is only possible if I commit to the process. It is a sacrifice not an offering. Christ becomes my example. (Ephesians 4:21) Behaviors have to change. I must not continue to react to the conditions, circumstances or situations that I face but to Christ who lives in me. It doesn’t matter how thinks look. Dead things must give way to the resurrection power inside of me. Without faith, I will never trust the reality of heaven enough to put my whole life in the pursuit of it. There are certain behavioral patterns that I must work diligently to change in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Pride fortifies our right to be right. Acceptance of God’s Grace no longer allows it. Now I live to sow seeds of peace with God and every other person I come in contact with. I must check my attitude. Evaluate my actions. Not by religious practices but relational values such are listed in Ephesians 4, Colossians 3 and 2 Timothy 2. I don’t need to fix others, I need the Lord to continue to transform me. Intentional planting of our life in Christ, growing deep roots in His Love, trusting Him in all things and producing even the smallest seed of faith will create an abundance in our life that satisfies our soul, strengthens our heart, enlightens our mind, and nourishes His Spirit. The best is yet to come for those who choose to respond to God’s Love by sowing seeds of righteousness.

James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

 

Invisible Ink

invisible-ink

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

Many Christmas’s ago, my grandparents gave me a science kit. It had various little experiments that were quite intriguing including invisible ink. After writing a message, it would disappear leaving a clean white page. There was a super-secret special chemical that would bring the image back when applied. I found it quite fascinating. On Valentine’s Day, I also liked the scratch off cards  with sentiments hidden under metallic-like seals. My kids have always enjoyed scavenger hunts. A series of messages leading the chase to a gift tucked away somewhere. The thrill and anticipation of the chase before realizing the blessing seems to be enjoyable to them. They are definitely my children.

After fifty New Year’s celebrated, this morning I have invisible ink and hidden messages on my mind. I have made more resolutions than I can count. Some have become useful habits and others long since forgotten. I have had many revelations since coming to Christ which culminate on the famous eve as prayers and commitments for the coming year. So this year, I am all out of ideas. I want Jesus. I want His Way, His Truth and New Life. I have seen many social media posts that indicate “today is the first blank page of a 365 page book” going on to encourage people “write a good one”. Well, I have tried this approach for many years now and find that this may not be the approach I will continue to take.

“Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.” On this first day of the New Year, as I consider resolutions and revelations that might promote new habits for a better life, I cannot help wonder if I have gone about it all these years. I posted many years ago, that my resolution was “instead of deciding what I want to change or telling God what I am going to do…this year all I have to say is ‘God change me into who you want me to be the way you want to do it!’” I may have been on to something back then, but it is not necessarily the way things turned out. It was the first Christmas after our son’s diagnosis. We thought he was in remission, but little did anyone know that it was only for a moment. Would I have prayed that prayer knowing what was to come?

Our life is a mystery. It is already prerecorded by God. It was written before our conception at the time of our creation. The same time when God the Father prescribed everything I would need to live a complete life. How many times as believers do we forget this important detail? Thinking there is something…anything in us that has the power to perfect our life and make positive change outside of total surrender and submission to Jesus Christ. If it were possible, it would have happened long before desperation and devastation came to call. The inner power and strength of self would have been able to change our situation, endure our condition, or overcome our circumstance… but it didn’t. His Grace is enough for me and His Power works best in my weakness. Jeremiah 29 reminds me of this perfect plan elaborated upon in Psalm 139. It also tells me that the only way to find it is to seek Him wholeheartedly. This is how new life is revealed. I can do nothing. But through Christ all things are possible.

Psalm 138:8 (NLT) The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

The Lord will work out His Plans for my life. This is my revelation for 2017. I have tried everything that I know to do to make God’s Plan manifest in my life. I have “done” the things I thought were required. This year, I am doing the one thing that I know is required. I must seek Him wholeheartedly. I cannot look for something if I think I found it. I cannot search for what is already revealed. Deep is crying out to deep today because my life is not complete. I am not completely satisfied in my proximity to Christ or content with the fruitful productivity in my life. Yes, there are some habits I intend to change and new attitudes I am working on but that is for this life. It is not for the future and hope that I have in Him. This year I will not work for the church but become the church. I will not wait for the move of God to come but let God move me so I become the current that brings revival. I cannot offer the world something I have not found or attained. I need Jesus this year.

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

Reading this today, I am reminded that His Glory has not completely filled my life…yet. God knew (me) in advance. I am called according to His Purpose for me. God knew me in advance as evidenced and recorded in Psalm 139. He gave me a future and hope as delineated in Jeremiah 29. Having chosen me, God called me to come to Him. Having called me, I have the right to stand with Him. Having given me right standing, the Lord gave me His Glory. If I do not see God’s Glory manifested in every detail of my life, it is because I have not fully assumed my position standing next to God in righteousness. The only way to come to the Father is through the Son. If my life does not line up to God’s Written and Spoken Word in my life, I just need to move a little closer than before. Skip all the fancy fasts and habit changes. Fasting is good. It is an act of not service. To fast without prayer and true repentance is a diet. To do more is not the design or plan of God but rather to give more of my life to Jesus.

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them. Did you know that? It says, “And we know…” Knowing is not the same as believing. I know a lot of useless information that I do not necessarily believe. You cannot know until the idea or thought is tested. This mystery called life is not a mystery to the Lord. If I put all of my life in His Hands, it becomes all that He planned and purposed it to be. Every single moment of my life becomes seed to be sown. Every tear is caught. Every sorrow is recorded because My Redeemer lives today. It is only by investing all of the real estate of my natural life in Jesus Christ that I gain the Kingdom.

I Corinthians 13:12 (NLT) Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

My new commitment for the coming year is for clarity. To continue to pursue God wholeheartedly and give more of me than ever before to Jesus Christ. It is important to realize that even if we think our life is almost sinless and perfectly aligns to the doctrine our church completely dedicated to serving Christ that it is still “partial and incomplete”. I will not know for sure that I worked out my salvation successfully until I stand before Jesus on the Day of Judgment. It is then that completion is realized. Tears redeemed. Sorrow satiated. I am humbled by the thought today that no matter how far I have come…I have so far to go. His Plan is for my whole life not just bits and pieces.

Revelation 3:5-8 (NLT) All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. 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.

Welcome to a brand year! It is a mystery to you and me what God has in store for us, but He knows exactly what is coming. He has provided everything that I need to get over the mountains and through the valleys. He has lit every dark place and gone before for me to prepare the way. Doors are opened and shut soundly around me. I must simply trust and obey. There is nothing more “I” can do. I must seek the Lord wholeheartedly. He is working every detail for my good. Examine my heart today, Jesus. Reveal any part of me that is not in complete alignment with Your Will, Your Way or Your Word. Wash me in Your Blood and rinse me in Your Word so that the magnificent masterpiece called Your Purpose is revealed in me more than ever before in 2017. Show me my wanderings and lead me back to Your Way. Show me my rebellion so that I may submit to Your Will. Lord, thank you for Your Word today that sheds light on my life. Let the invisible mysteries be visible to me according to Your Plan for my life. It is a good one. Be with me this year Lord, as I seek You wholeheartedly.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 (NLT) “In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

 

Are You Hungry?

are-you-hungry

Psalm 107:8-9 (NIV) Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

It never fails. Our family can agree that everyone is hungry and sometimes even exaggerate a bit to use the word “starving” but follow-up with the question – “where would you like to eat?” Nobody can decide. Once someone does voice an opinion then no one can agree. I may ask them, “What would you like to eat?” Oh course, no one knows. I offer suggests that are batting down like a goalie deflecting a hockey puck. Finally after debating over and over, our car pulls into one of the usual hangouts with a disgruntled person who had the same thing just the other day, one who truly still does not care, a victorious one who is truly glad to eat here and my husband who “for the love of God” just wants out of the vehicle. Sound familiar? It is the sound of those who have choices, options and more than enough. Too many choices it sounds like to me.

Now let’s flip the script for a minute, bear with me. I am definitely going somewhere with this little rant. If I am in the kitchen cooking dinner, inevitably one of the kids will come in to investigate further. They will inquire as to the menu which I will happily relay to them. Nothing irks a mama worse than planning meals for a week, working all day, coming home to prepare the meal of the day and have someone sigh in utter disgust at all her hard work. Just a hint people…this is not Burger King and you cannot have it your way. There are times when one might attempt to stage a protest with “I’m not hungry” or “I’m not eating”. This is a personal choice and I am not going to force feed my children especially with them half-grown into adults. However, no you may not make something else. Yes, you will join in the fellowship around the dinner table even if you do not choose to partake of the evening meal. Why? Because I am the mom that’s why.

Unless you are alone and deciding what you will eat for your next meal, one of these two scenarios will likely be faced when dinnertime comes around. Hunger and thirst are natural driving forces in life that can also have spiritual applications. God desires to satisfy us body, mind and spirit. The satisfaction of our soul is a top priority to the Lord. However, Christians have developed a sense of entitlement that somehow has decided that there is a choice. Well, this is partially true. But unless fully explored, it is easy to become deceived. Eve became deceived. Hunger was in the Garden of Eden hence there was fruit growing from the tree. Water flowed through the center of it indicating a thirst. When introduced with a choice, man immediately fell into the trap of doubt and disbelief. Wow, that didn’t take long.

 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) The Lord was clear in His Direction. Offering mankind every other option but one. The one that would kill them. Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:1-6) Before one judges Even too quickly or too harshly, be reminded that our inability to completely trust the Lord in all things causes us to make bad choices each and every day. Humans have a tendency to desire the one thing that is withheld. It becomes the very thing they have an appetite for ignoring all other good things that the Lord has provided for them. It is the very reason many will choose the crumbs under His Table rather than feasting and fellowshipping with the King.

God wants to satisfy your hunger and thirst with good things. This is a true statement that demands a choice. Just one decision that changes everything. Will you choose Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life? Or will you pick something else? Each day there are many offerings in our life because God has given us total and complete freedom. Everything God does is complete. His Plan for you is complete. His Provision for the plan is complete. His Prosperity is predestined for our life. Everything God has in store for us is good, satisfying and fulfilling. So why do we still hunger and thirst each day for other things? Why are Christians dissatisfied with their life? Why do we hunger? Why do we lack?

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

Revival is an appetite for righteousness. It is a hunger and thirst for Jesus Christ that cannot be satisfied by lesser things. It must become the driving force of the church to see the Glory of God manifest itself. Let’s go back to the dilemma of hunger. When presented with choices, no one can decide what they really want. When in a group of people, the decision is more difficult as public opinion weighs in. Each person, family, church and community puts a little different spin on what righteousness really is. My righteousness comes directly and completely from Jesus Christ alone. I believe that McDonald’s has the best French fries of any fast food restaurant in the world. Now, you may agree or disagree. If I go to another fast food chain and order fries, but expect them to be just like McDonald’s I will be disappointed. I may not be hungry anymore but I will not be satisfied because my desire is not met. Welcome to most churches in the world today. Buildings full of people who cannot agree on the choice of righteousness. Congregations at an impasse because though they desire revival no one knows, understands or believes that it will come so they settle for lesser things. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Free to choose who and what they will worship in life. We didn’t earn the right choose, but Jesus gives us the right to choose how we live our life with the opportunity to be righteous again. To be satisfied. To live in complete contentment. To see His Glory fall all around us again. To experience in expressible joy, supernatural miracles, and purposeful prosperity every single day. This is His Gift to us. But…

Romans 3:22-24 (NIV) This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 

Just as many cannot agree on true satisfaction is and where to receive it, many struggle with the fact that it is God’s Way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life as stated in His Word. No one comes to the Father but through the Blood of Jesus Christ. Here is the problem. People demand choices. They want to decide how to live their life. Isn’t that freedom after all? It is. You are free to choose. The Way to God is clearly defined. This is a stumbling block for many and the barricade that holds back the Glory of God and revival from hitting our altars, pews, churches, homes, workplaces and communities. We want to choose how, when and where God will visit us. However, Christ lives in us. We choose to honor Him with our life or choose another way.

The enemy challenges what we know and believe about God every single day. The only way to achieve righteousness is faith in Jesus Christ. It is the only way. He takes the little bit of word that we know and tiny bit of knowledge it has grown challenging our right to choose each day. Pride chimes in with a voice of its own creating dissatisfaction and discontentment in God when He has provided every spiritual blessing for this life. If my life is not all God has promised me, it is not because God is not doing His Part. He chose to love me first. He sent His Son to make a way for my return. He has given me every spiritual blessing to lead to complete and total fulfillment. Every lesser thing in my life and substitution allowed to exist is according to my free will. I choose to accept less than God’s Best when I choose some other way that is not God’s Way.

Nehemiah 9:13-19 (NIV) “You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. You made known to them your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses. In their hunger you gave them bread from heaven and in their thirst you brought them water from the rock; you told them to go in and take possession of the land you had sworn with uplifted hand to give them. But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.”

The Lord will never take away our right to choose who we serve. He will not restrict our freedom and contradict our word. Faith is the choice to believe in the hope that He has given us. We cannot live in the realm of hope and live life in reality. The reality of faith is hope. Hope cannot be seen. It requires trust. Trust that is not set on what we see or know in the natural but every promise given supernaturally by God. We must have an appetite for righteousness. We must hunger and thirst for right standing with God. This is only found in Christ alone. No matter how religious a person is, or how right they think they are. It doesn’t matter if you have great influence in your community or church – if you choose any other way than Jesus Christ. Revival will come when the Body of Christ agrees on righteousness. When we come together collectively to hunger and thirst for one thing, giving up our way and completely embracing God’s Way of righteousness fully accepting the Grace given to us by Jesus Christ.

Psalm 34:8-10 (NIV) Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Many people do not make wise food choices. Opting for fast food, convenience, and satisfying hungers that have nothing to do with their physical need for food. Many suffer from obesity and even some eating disorders. Hunger and thirst in the natural sense often will tell its own emotional story. With the New Year only a couple of weeks away, many will make the commitment to make better health choices in the coming year. Gym memberships will increase. Salad bars will be ravished. The church will embark on its on spiritual diet called fasting. It has become a “fad” over the last several years to fast for an allotted amount of time in January. Self-depravation and starvation will lead to a whole lot of moaning and complaining but not enough praying. To make a difference means to make better choices. What are those things in our life that must change to see the Glory of God reach us?

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. Those who fear Him lack nothing. They are fulfilled. Satisfied. Content and complete in Jesus Christ. It is this confidence that makes are faith strong. Grace becomes our strength in human weakness. Human weakness is perceived as the giving up our way to someone else. This would solve a lot of food wars on Friday nights, and even more fights over family dinner. Until the church unites in its appetite for righteousness, hungering and thirsting for one thing, the same thing, that is Jesus – friends there will be no revival. We will continue to eat different things, dine in different places and see God differently from place to place. Disunity causes dysfunction. To cry out for revival and not hunger and thirst together is like everyone calling out for the “food” they want and not the “fulfillment” God desires to release among us.

Can we all agree to hunger and thirst together for the same thing? It strengthens our cry for revival as everyone becomes in one accord. God loves unity. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. To follow Jesus means that we all end up in the same place. One step in either direction other than in wild pursuit of Him offers something different for each one us. We must agree on an appetite of righteousness and the Glory of God will join us. You don’t have to go to the same church or be a member of the same congregation to be after the same thing. We are part of a Kingdom and its gateway is righteousness.

Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV) As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 63:1-3 (NIV) You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

 

 

Lost My Way

lost-my-way

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

When the children were little, each one was carefully instructed in what to do if they were ever separated from me. The first thing I taught them was the information to identify themselves and their parents to tell an adult. The second was to stay exactly where they were the moment they realized that that they were lost. Don’t move. Then they were to begin calling me as loudly and possible. If someone else touched them, they were to yell and shout “you are not my mom” or “you are not my dad” and fight with all of their might to gain the attention of others. This was our disaster plan. With five children, it was absolutely necessary to be sure that I did not lose tract of anyone. The poor Dillard’s clerk was the first to test our emergency plan when she thought my son was separated from his mother. She grabbed hold of his arm to stop his wandering and it began yelling and screaming at the top of his lungs. She was traumatized. He was quite proud of his survival techniques. We all lose our way. It doesn’t mean that we wander off or even leave our walk with the Lord. There are just sometimes when faith does not illuminate the way far enough ahead for our human comfort and so it threatens our confidence in the Lord.

What should we do when the way of God is not as clear as it used to be? What is the next step when I don’t understand His Way? How can I trust a God I cannot see, feel or touch and follow His Way completely in the dark? Think about our friend, Peter who as he ventured out on the water was confident in Jesus. When the wind and waves kicked in, suddenly he could see his next footstep “on top of the water” very well so what did he do? He panicked. What did Jesus do? He caught him. The Lord promises to do that for righteous people. (Prov. 24:16) It says that as the Heavens are higher than the earth so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. There will be days that I just don’t understand what God is doing or how He is doing it or if He is STILL doing it. He is.

I Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT) As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.

When I read this verse today, I said, “God that’s me today. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point.” What do we do as believers on those days when every step before today added up to this moment? When we have a promise, but in each step it seems further away? When every natural condition defies God’s Word, Promise or Plan as we know it? Then what? I am here today. I seem to have lost my way.

Luke 21:19 (NLT) By standing firm, you will win your souls.

Standing firm. We must stand on the Word of God. His Promise for our life. His Word that He has spoken to us. The Plan that He prepared for us. Even when our natural life does not add up to the supernatural mandate that the Lord has inspired us to receive. God always gives us a promise. Always. He gives us His Word. Always. He instructs us by His Spirit. Always. He empowers us with everything we need to stand firm and endure to the end. We are fully equipped. We also have a free will powered by a reprobate mind that would rather give up on God and have immediate gratification – I don’t care how saved and sanctified that you think you are.

When we reach the end of our own understanding, this is the beginning of faith and trust. We must come to the end of ourselves. Some call it the realm of hope. I usually long to hear the word “impossible” or “forever” because this is where the ruler of this world tries to overstep his boundaries and enter God’s Sacred Territory of complete sovereignty and wrestle away the authority and power that He bestowed Jesus when He beat death and the grave. But just before I get there – I run out of “me” power. My optimism is gone. My enthusiasm wanes. My patience begin to run out. I am running on reserve power rather than maximum potential. I feel weak and weary. What do I do here? I must stand. Just as I told my children to stand in the place where they lost their way – God is reminding me to do the same thing today. The place where He led me until I lost sight of Him. Stand on the Promise. Stand on faith. Trust Him. See if I lose sight of my child, I am going to retrace my footsteps to find them. God never loses sight of us. He keeps us in His Hand. He also goes before us preparing the way of that thing He has promised. He has not left us at all. He is simply perfecting that which concerns me (Ps. 138:8) and working every detail for my good. (Romans 8:28)

I John 5:18-21 (NLT) We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.

This is what we know for sure. I am a Child of God. Nobody can snatch me from His Hand or take me from His Love. I have a very real and ruthless enemy. Jesus has come and before He left the Lord gave me something vital. He gave me His Spirit. His Spirit is my understanding about a God I cannot see and Savior who I cannot touch. He confirms in me the Word that I read and digest each day. The Word of God contains the Bread of Life that feeds and strengthens my spirit man to engage in the battle for my mind, will and emotions each day. I must rely on what I know about God to trust Him. I must keep anything else from taking God’s Place in my heart, soul and mind. God is the Source of my hope that makes faith possible. (Romans 15:13)

But wait there’s more…

Hebrews 6:17-19 (NLT) God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

God meant exactly what He said to you, confirmed in His Word and confided in His Spirit. If all three agree, it is a title deed to what we cannot see but know belongs to us. It is with this in mind that hope becomes the anchor that keeps us in place during those times that we do not understand and begin to lose heart. God holds us in that place. It is during such times that we must “hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His Promise.” (Hebrews 10:23) Time to put our money where our mouth is so to speak. If you trust God, it is time to show it. Trust keeps you hoping when you have no reason to and standing on faith without anything to show for it. It is called endurance. Only those who endure to the end will be saved. “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:35-36) Ugh! This is not easy…but He promises us today that it will be worth every drop of sweat on your brow, your weak knees, and your broken heart as we lift tired hands to praise the Living God while we wait and cannot see the next step before us.

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

During chemo treatments, my son would often just drift off to sleep. The infusion room was a flurry of activity with nurses rushing back and forth, monitors beeping, alarms sounding, televisions blaring in each little cubicle made of curtains. Yet, he would be sound asleep. I used to wonder how in the world this child could just conk out like that when most people would be completely unnerved by all the distractions, not to mention, bags of poison being pumped in his body time and time again. Yet, he was completely peacefully sleeping. Why? He trusted the doctors who cared for him. The nurses became his friends. He knew that I was sitting right next to him watching every move and asking endless questions to understand. From the beginning, our son trusted God to save his life. He believed that the Lord was in control so he did not worry about the details and people around him. He just endured. This allowed him to sail through four rounds of chemotherapy in that room without any apprehension or fear just peace that allowed him to sleep. I remember time and time again thinking God this must be perfect peace.

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NLT)  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Sitting in this chair today thinking about the “things” I find perplexing, I still don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Heck, I don’t know what will happen in the next ten minutes for that matter. I cannot understand how our family arrived in this place at this moment or where the Lord is leading us from here. All I know is that here is the last place I found Him before I became lost. Lost in my feelings. Lost in the moment. Lost in the pain. Lost in the confusion. Lost in the wait. Here I will wait because at the end of the day – I trust the Lord. My understanding has led me to places I didn’t want to go. My way is a dead-end. In His Presence I do find peace. He is there waiting for me every time I come. He doesn’t always tell me what is next but He promises that He is already there. I’m really not lost just waiting. Thank you Lord.

If you are lost like me today, I pray that from His Glorious and Unlimited Resources that the Lord will empower you with inner strength. His Grace is enough and weakness allows His Power to work in us and through us. May Christ gain more real estate in our hearts today as we learn to trust Him more and let our faith grow just a little more. Lord, give us another glimpse of the vast capacity of your Amazing Love for us. Your Love is too great to fully comprehend or completely understand. Thank you for your ability God to accomplish infinitely more than we could think or ask. Maybe that’s the reason the wait is so long and the road so narrow. Your promises are always larger in hindsight than in our approach. I surrender my life, my way and my will to your process of completion. You have made a way for me and I intend to find it.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NLT) May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.