Where You Go

Where you go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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True Freedom

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

There have been some who criticize my writing because it can be lengthy. The suggestion has been made to only reference the Word of God rather than including full passages of scripture. I have been doing this for about eight years now. I have thought about these words and carefully considered others opinions and I have come to the conclusion that I just cannot do it. The Word of God is absolutely essential to our daily life as a believer. Early in my Christian walk, I struggled reading the Bible. It seemed repetitive and boring. It wasn’t a story but excerpts of history. It didn’t seem logical. I couldn’t make it applicable to my life or so I thought. I am an avid reader though I will admit I have a pile of books that are left unread. I have produced one out of five children who also loves books and a second on the proverbial fence. My other three children abhor it. We must read, digest and implement the Word of God in our life to live in true freedom as a believer. Without it, there is potential and purpose in our life that will go undiscovered and unrealized simply due to ignorance.

Matthew 4:3-4 (NLT) During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Jesus was led to the wilderness by the Holy Spirit where He would be tempted. The enemy cannot touch a single hair on the head of God’s Children unless God allows it. But before you get all up in arms, not everything that occurs in our life is at the direct hand of the enemy as much as people love to blame him. The enemy simply offers suggestions and opportunities in the form of temptation to stray from our faith, belief and dependency on God to have our own way. There are consequential conditions as a direct result of sowing and reaping. There are things that happen due to our unwillingness to change or be changed as a reaction to our action. The Lord has given us freedom to choose our way. Those who decide to follow the Way, Truth and Life will have the condition added that God will work all things together for our good. Sin introduced evil, perversity and sickness into this world and Jesus has overcome them all giving us a better and more excellent way. Sickness may end in death but to a true believer it means stepping into forever with the Lord. The world shapes our perspective to consider more than this life and see past the temporary trials of today. Less I digress…

In the story of Jesus experiencing temptation from the enemy firsthand, He overcame every one with the Word of God. He simply repeated back to Satan the Truth which nullifies the lie. Ignorance is never bliss. It can be death even to those who think they are serving the Lord faithfully but miss out on the One who overcomes death and the grave. I can understand the concept of sowing and reaping. It can increase and add abundance to my life. Without Jesus, it is just evidence of God’s Constant Character and Solid Sovereignty but without the Word – I can never go farther than provisional principle. I want a covenant relationship with God the Father so I must go through the Son.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

 

John 1:10-14 (NLT) He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

Our daughter lives in the New England area. She and a friend were driving through the city. The story goes that our daughter screamed stopped the car and jumped out unto the crowded street. She runs up to a complete stranger and asks him for a picture. They snap a selfie thanking him she hops in the car and drives off with her friend. She posts the pic on social media all excited about the encounter and calls me to share her story. The actor is from a famous sitcom. I don’t watch television much other than thee occasional real estate or home improvement show. I have just lost interest in it and would rather do other things. At any rate, her shock was clear that I did not know this person and that I didn’t recognize his name. Her story was not very exciting to me other than I could tell she was excited. Now her husband was a different story, the actor was actually one of his favorites and she took the picture for him. He is probably still fan-guying over the whole episode. Do you know Jesus Christ? Who He is? What He came to do? His Place in the Trinity? How He feels about you? Do you really know the Lord?

Jesus is the Word of God. He was the spoken word that created the world and universe all around us. He is the very breath breathed in us that gives us life. He is the One who once believed and accepted will make us Children of God. He is full of unfailing love and faithfulness – the two qualities all of humanity search for and never find among the people who populate the planet. He is hidden in a book on the dusty shelf or Bible tucked neatly away reserved for Sundays, Wednesdays or the occasional small group…if that. The Lord said in the Old Testament that people will actually die from a lack of knowledge. The New Living Translation puts it like this – “My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.” (Hosea 4:6) God wasn’t just talking about “lost folk” in this passage. No, it was about priests who had “forgotten the laws of your God”.  Some people think they know Jesus but when they die will be devastated to find they didn’t know Him at all.

John 4:23-24 (NLT) But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

True worshippers. I want to be a true worshipper. I want to know Jesus more intimately and completely than even my husband who I know very well. We have been married a long time. Shared almost two decades together. He is my beloved. We have developed a marriage that is a partnership. Strived for two to become one even though sometimes it was a struggle and fight to the death of self that yielded two people willing to stick it out together come what may. I married this man knowing that God had given Him to me even though I met Him when I was living in the wilderness of the world. Sitting at a table in a loud crowded restaurant, I heard the Lord. I knew this was the one God sent for me. However, that didn’t mean that there would not be challenges along the way. In fact, I think the fact that we dedicated our lives and marriage to the Lord from the start even before fully coming back to God painted a bright red target on our backs. Our love for each and desire for God kept us in the fight. I cannot expect a solid marriage to Jesus Christ if I do not take the time to get to know Him. To decide that He is the One for me. To see that sweetness of His Love and full potential of His Character in my life. Salvation is an invitation to intimacy. His Presence is offered to everyone but when you arrive it is a One-on-One experience just you and Jesus. It is private. It is personal. It is intimate. You must decide your level of commitment to this covenant offered to you by Jesus Christ. Are you willing to lay it all down to pick up your Cross and follow Him? A disciple does that. To be His Disciple is to know the Truth and let the Truth set you free.

We must worship is Spirit and in Truth. The Spirit is in us waiting to take the Word of God and work it through our life. The Word does not make sense without the Spirit and the Spirit has nothing to work with outside of the Word. To live by the Spirit and ignore the Word creates a double standard and you will soon be frustrated by a lack of results. To read the Word and ignore the Person of the Holy Spirit is to apply a principle without any power. It is like plugging a power cord into a dead outlet. It just won’t work. It must all a work together. God is three persons. Father, Son and Spirit. We need them all to successfully discover the Truth and allow it to become our freedom.

Hebrews 4:12-14 (NLT) For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. 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.

When satan tempted Eve in the Garden, he did not come at her with a bold-faced obvious lie but a deviation of the truth. It was subtle. Cunning. Seemed logical. The enemy is sneaky. He doesn’t knock us off course but entices us to settle or compromise just a little. He tries to refute God’s Word on the tiniest detail. The Word of God is alive. His Name is Jesus! He lives in us. His Grace is enough so even when we fall for the enemy’s lie – the Truth will come to save us and set us free. We need the Word of God to serve the Lord with passion. We know Jesus through the Word because He is the Word. Faith is not logical outside of the Word of God. So without it, we will never understand this life we live, what to believe, or how to share Good News yet to be discovered. We cannot hold firmly to what or more importantly who we believe until we know Him. We cannot know Him without the Spirit AND Truth. You will never know what He has done for you until you know what He has promised. You will not recognize hope that never leads to disappointment until deciding that faith is worth the investment of time and energy ready, studying and digesting the Word of God. This is how Biblical Knowledge becomes Spiritual Truth that is our belief system. You will never know what you have until You get to know WHO He is!

Know the Truth. The Truth will set you free. This world is limited by darkness, sin and evil. The Word allows us to overstep the natural into the supernatural – not when we die but now. In this life, you can live totally free according to God’s Word and His Kingdom. The enemy builds barriers and obstacles in our life out of deceptive lies and half-truths that rob us of God’s Greatest Blessings. It is like being held captive in an unlocked cell. If he can convince you not to try the door or even shake it a little, the enemy can rob you of the love, joy and peace found in the Word of God our resting place. He can keep us from the blessings, prosperity, abundance and increase that comes from sowing God’s Word, watering it, waiting for it and harvesting all of His Promises and Blessings for us. You have been given a gift far greater than you will ever know trying to recognize and receive in the limitations of human thinking. With God all things are possible to those who believe. Do you believe? What do you believe? The Word of God will show you what you believe now and what is possible when you put all your faith and trust in Jesus! Be free today! Grab your Bible. Invite the Holy Spirit to show you something new there! Pray a promise found in His Word. Tomorrow – do the same thing. The next day – yep repeat. In no time at all, you will see dead things coming to life – word by word, line by line and precept by glorious precept. Get in the Word. It will set you free!

I John 2:4-6 (NLT) If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

Resurrect Me

Resurrect Me

John 16:33 (MSG) Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

Good Friday. It doesn’t feel like a good day. The list of to do is way too long. The amount of sleep way too small for the weekend filled with remembering the greatest day in history. But there had to be this day, the day that Jesus died for us. Releasing His Grace and His Power that would be available to us. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are important. The sacrifice is the very thing that saves us, but there is so much more to the story than His Death. However, one must be observed with the other for a perfect union to be made. Communion is not just that which signifies His Blood but there must be a breaking of the bread which is His Body, too. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus. Today is that day… the day His Blood ran red for me. It was a messy day filled with the failures of those who promised to be with Him, to stay by His Side, and never deny Him. The ones who were committed to even “die” for him. All empty promises in the shadow of the “old rugged cross”. Why do we call such an epic failure on our part – something good? Good Friday is the day is the day that despite our inability to be who we promised that Jesus was exactly who He promised.

The responsibilities of today are overwhelming. I have a great deal to do in just a 24-hour span. I am feeling the pressure of performance yet in the quiet place of God’s Presence – I am challenged to release this heavy burden and take hold of His Grace. Maybe the clouds in my head, and heaviness of my heart are not about my inability as a person to do all the many things I want to do but it is the heaviness of the moment – Jesus died for me. If it had ended there, it would have been enough to save me. Perfect sacrifice for imperfect people. However, God had a plan. It is was for my good. It was to prosper the purpose inside of me and release my full potential. The pressure around me is pushing this out of me. Overcoming power is rising up within me. Jesus is with me. He is the One who is everything I need to conquer this day and every challenge that comes in this life.

Luke 23:44-54 (MSG) By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours—a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” Then he breathed his last. When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: “This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!” All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil. There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character. He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used. It was the day before Sabbath, the Sabbath just about to begin.

There was a man named Joseph. The Word of God remembers him as someone who was good and had a good heart. He lived “in alert expectation of the Kingdom of God.” I like him already. He went to Pilate requesting the body of Jesus. He took him down from the cross, the broken body of our Lord, and wrapped Him carefully in linen and placed Him in a tomb. It was the day before the Sabbath. It was the day before… How many times on the brink of breakthrough do we do the same thing? Take Jesus off the Cross burying Him with our dreams and visions wrapped in the grave clothes of doubt, unmet expectation, failure, or even just plain disbelief. It is over. God, you didn’t. I failed. It’s over. Time to move on. Oh but the Sabbath is coming. The Sabbath is just about to begin. Sabbath had two purposes – rest and worship. The Lord was about to make a grand appearance. What people called the end and death of the dream was actually only the beginning and donning of miracles. It is human nature to see the physical state of our lives as reality. If our perception of Jesus goes with Him to the Cross and follows Him to the grave but gives up right there – where is the power? His Grace sufficient in His Death and Sacrifice. Enough to cover every sin I commit, fault that I have and failure that is before me. However, Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. Death had no hold. It was only the beginning.

I Corinthians 15:15-57 (MSG) God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out. This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.

On the day that Jesus died, His Lifeless Body hanging on the Cross. I wonder how overwhelmed and disappointed the people who followed Him must have felt. Fearing for their own lives – they went into hiding. Soon many would return to an ordinary life – their traditions of religion. Too often we live in the three days between His Death and Resurrection. Accepting part of the package but giving up on the Power promised on the third day when the grave was now empty. We don’t get that far as the pressures of life force us into busyness and our failures force us into hiding. Good Friday is a Good Day! Resurrection Day changed everything. Will this be the year that it marks His Triumphant Resurrection? Will this be the day that I finally take hold of the Keys to His Kingdom and begin opening all the doors and windows of my life to His Presence and Power? I call myself a Christian because I love and follow Christ. My journey didn’t end at the Cross but began there. It followed Him to the grave, but what I must do is stay there. I must stay in the dead zone called comfort and compromise but accept all the Power His Resurrection holds.

The seeds in my life will grow with faith. Trust in the Lord is what waters my potential and develops into purpose. There are two more days until Sunday – the Sabbath. Jesus died for me. Today I remember and rejoice in His Sacrifice that made a way for me. I cannot stop at the Cross. In the natural, I cannot see how in the world that I will accomplish everything on my demanding schedule in just three days. Grace is not just what saves us but empowers us. It is a busy weekend after a long week. But Sunday is coming…the Sabbath is almost here. The Lord is doing something is us that will soon be poured out of us. Our lives are becoming fully-formed and complete in Him. The Lord is enriching every area of our life and making us wealthy in every way. He is filling us with His Love and overflowing generosity to give our life away praising Him along the way. He is the Bread of Life that blesses our life making us edible. I have nothing to offer anyone even myself outside of the Christ in me. He has to live in me. I must allow Him to fill me.

John 11:21-26 (MSG) Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time. You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

Lazarus had been dead more than three days. His family including his sisters, Martha and Mary, were mourning his passage. Jesus arrived to join them. Martha told the Lord if only you had been here…my brother would not have died. Jesus told her that he was going to be raised up. He was dismissed in her disbelief. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. For His Life to end in the natural would pay the price for our sin, but it is in the Resurrection that life begins now and the supernatural abundance of God is released. His Power is accessible by His Grace. His Grace gives us an open invitation to attend His Resurrection. Nothing meant to live can remain dead when Jesus is present. It must come to life. It cannot stay in its former state. Yet, there is a process. Jesus was in the grave for three long days. It seems that Lazarus may have endured the same process before Life called him out.

“Do you believe this?” Good question for this Good Friday. We struggle just to accept the sufficiency of God’s Grace and the totality of Christ’s Sacrifice – let alone allow it to be the dominate power in our life. Good Friday cannot just mark the death of Jesus but the death of self. I remember one night sitting at my son’s bedside in a dark hospital room. For days it seemed that he had been sleeping which given the circumstances was not a bad thing. I felt so alone in that place. The clicking and beating of monitors like a ticking clock on the wall. I put in my headphones to crank up the music and drown out the noise. Ready to dissolve in His Presence and escape overwhelming isolation so I went to YouTube. Kari Jobe was the next video loaded and the song, “Forever”. One of my favorites – I cranked it up really loud closing my eyes. It was that night that I fully experienced and fully comprehended the Power of the Resurrection. The future of the resurrection insured that our son had a place. Suddenly every boundary and barrier between heaven and earth melted to reveal a Savior who is the Resurrection and Life both now and forever. So many things were broken up in my heart that night with tears streaming down my face. “Everyone who lives believing in me will never die.”

Hebrews 11:5-6 (MSG) By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.

When Jesus came back to life, He walked among the people again. But now, He was God unstoppable. His Flesh was no longer a hindrance. His Power unlimited. I wonder if that is the message of Easter. Could it be that this pressure is the response of my dying flesh? I love Easter. It is my favorite holiday. No kidding! It is the day that Jesus came to live in me. His Power made complete by grace partnered with faith. Now I can please God with the feeble offering of my life – because Christ is enough! He lives in me! He is making His Way through me so His Love will pour out of me. Now…in the land of the living. I love Enoch’s story. He walked so closely with the Lord that one day he just disappeared. God’s Glory is for us. It rose to meet us. We didn’t meet Jesus at the tomb. In fact, not a single person witnessed the Resurrection of Christ. The stone was rolled away, the grave clothes neatly folded, and the tomb empty. Jesus was gone. Where was He? Standing at the grave of our life, speaking life to us, digging up our dead dreams, and changing the reality of our life and its destination. I was not at His Grave … He was at mine.

Overcoming death to live in overwhelming grace is a process. Exchanging doubt and fear for faith and trust is a huge endeavor that must be a daily endeavor. However, need I remind you as the Lord is reminding me – His Grace is enough to release His Resurrection Power in every area of our life? Martha revealed that her faith was invested in the future. Jesus was about to release His Power right then and there. Living for forever points to the Cross and the Sacrifice of Jesus including the outpouring of His Grace. It is Good Friday! But Sunday is coming! The tomb is history. Jesus just became the history maker, earth shaker and world changer. His Power is now available today. It is our ability to establish faith and decide that His Grace and Power are for today that lead us to fulfillment. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfying life now. Today. The process of moving from death to life took the Lord three days. It was a similar experience for Lazarus. Enoch walked so closely with the Lord that He disappeared in His Presence. I want to be that person who lives and walks by faith every day. I want to live adventurously expectant of God’s Power manifesting in my life all the time not just when He raises me in the final day. I want all that He died for me to have and rose up to give me. I must live in such expectancy. So today in the midst of overwhelming pressure, overpowering details, and a chaotic life – God resurrect me. Lord, I speak life in the Name of Jesus to every dead dream, paled vision and unclaimed promise in my life. You are the Resurrection and Power for this life not just my forever! Resurrect me Lord to live in Your Shadow and dwell deeply in Your Presence now and forevermore.

Romans 8:15-17 (MSG) This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

To Give

To Give

Luke 6:38 (NLT) Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

Our small group has been studying Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way. When I first chose to use in our group, it was really a no-brainer. The Holy Spirit put on my Facebook feed, and then dropped in my email. The Holy Spirit really operates like “A Spiritual Guide for Dummies” most of the time, at least where I am concerned. At our first meeting, each participant shared a moment of brokenness. Their transparency evident as they tried to make sense of the broken pieces each held ended with giving God glory for their survival. Some shared the lesson learned in the shattering of their fragile heart. The more tears that fell the heavier my heart became threatening to spill out at any moment. I carried the burden home with me and began to pray for these ladies. At the next meeting, as I watched the video listening to the author share, I realized that there was a rattling in my chest, too. Broken pieces of my destroyed heart put under the Blood and committed to the Lord but still crashing around in there. Suddenly, my comfort with brokenness and the thorough examination of this journey became clear and discomfort rose up inside me. I don’t know if I want to do this anymore. To look into the mirror with eyes wide open and see the shell of the woman looking back at me. I gave it all to you, Jesus. Now what? Do I really have to try to put those pieces back together again? It was much easier to leave them be. To consider healing as a scar that holds them tightly within my bandaged heart rather than allow Christ to complete the process. So, on Sunday afternoon after a glorious nap, I knew that I must embark on this journey for it was part of my process. I didn’t want to. Who does? To consider all those things that we don’t understand or that did not turn out as one expected. I have a list. The list of the things that I still cannot reconcile with the Goodness of God and how it ended for His Glory. I save it for Jesus. When I meet Him face-to-face, so He can help me comprehend them.

The author talks about a cross that she has drawn on her wrist. It makes me look at the tattoo forever marking my right arm. It reminds me that this journey is all about “faith” which is what I see when I look down at it. It offers “hope” to others when they see it from a different perspective. I got it when our son was battling cancer not the first time or even the second, but the third time. I wanted to remember that no matter what the outcome was that God is good. My life is all about acquiring faith and confident hope. I was doing pretty well, or so I thought, until our son was diagnosed. I managed to somehow find my legs and walk through the first two rounds. But by the third time, I just wasn’t sure how much farther I could go. I wonder if Abraham felt the same on his journey to the mountain. To receive his promise, and now consider offering it back to God. This study brings back to a time of great victory. However, the brokenness experienced during that time changed me into someone I wasn’t comfortable with. It made me relinquish control of my life. Nothing would ever be “normal” again. The Lord wants to make something beautiful out of our brokenness. It has been not only a theme in my own personal time with the Lord but is coming from many other authors and writers. However, the evaluation of the pieces of our life requires us to go back to times of great hurt, hardship, betrayal and disappointment. The Lord promises to make good of every detail of our life. Perhaps some of those pieces buried deep within have potential and purpose that have yet to be released. Rather than being in captivity behind our scars, Jesus wants us to sow them with His Promises in our fertile heart. It has been plowed and watered with our tears. Now covered in the Blood, it has the ability to be renewed, restored and refreshed so that our giving is complete.

Brokenness is the prerequisite of giving. To give means to present voluntarily and without expectation of compensation. It is to place in someone’s care. To hand it over to someone and grant it to them. Giving is a form of communication. It is to transfer ownership and place in the permanent possession of another. There are two forms of giving. Offering and sacrifice. To give an offering allows us to maintain our life as it is. To sacrifice is to give something away for good. To give our best. To give our all. We all know the story of sacrifice offered by the hen and the pig. The farmer cooks breakfast as they peer through the window. The chicken gives an offering. The pig gives their all. What is the giving in your life? I am not talking about what you do for Christ, give to the church or offer others? What is the level of your giving? Offering or sacrifice?

Psalm 25:1 (NLT) Lord, I give myself to you.

Giving comes in many forms. We give tangible gifts. We also give intangible gifts such as thanksgiving, forgiving, care-giving, and so forth. It is a form of brokenness to be thankful because it honors another. Forgiving is humbling ourselves before others. Care giving is to offer assistance to others rather than choosing our way. Give and it will be given back to you. It is so basic yet labeled different ways in the church today. I offer this to you. If I allow myself to be broken, I will receive the blessing of the Fullness of Christ in me. It takes what I am willing to give and makes it blessed, beautiful and worth having. Suddenly, my life is complete in Christ so giving is without fear or trepidation. The Lord supplies everything I need. Jesus is the desire of my heart. His Spirit completes me.

Matthew 26:26-28 (NLT)  As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.

Covenant in the Old Testament was a mess. Each bringing a sacrifice, to tread down the middle of, yet sacred in those days. Jesus was the Blood sacrifice for our union. He gave His Body to be broken and His Blood for the remission of sin. Once His Blood covered our sin, it is our privilege to live in the Presence of God. However, what about His Body. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again? Could it be that we missed it in this old hymn? Could it be that our brokenness is blessed by the Body of Jesus instead? When the disciples gathered and Jesus performed the first communion, the Lord said, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” He had taken a loaf of bread, broken it into pieces and blessed it. They were instructed to “eat it”. The Lord’s Body now one with their own. Isn’t this what happens when the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is consummated. However, unless our heart remains broken it cannot be made beautiful. We must be broken to be blessed. That is what true repentance is after all – giving up my way for His Way. Giving up my life so that Christ will be complete in me. Religion and relationship are marked by two different things. Religion is defined by what I can do for God. My relationship with God is when I can do nothing – His Grace becomes enough for me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Ironically, or not so, this is the verse that the Lord gave me right after the call marking the third diagnosis of cancer in our son. When the doctor told me it was back and it was really bad, I fell to my knees. I was at work. My office consisted of three walls and one full of windows. Everyone in the lobby could see me go down. It didn’t matter. I was broken. To truly take in the fullness of Jesus Christ, one must consume Him in every part of life. It is in our brokenness that blessing comes. The blessing makes something of our once worthless offering and giving which is now a sacrifice of our whole life.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT) You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Why would God desire a broken spirit? It leads to repentance. A soft heart is a fertile heart. A broken heart allows God’s Word to penetrate and give way to growth. Faith needs a place to grow. The Lord is close to the broken hearted. It is in our weakness that He is made manifest in our life. Brokenness allows us to partner with Jesus and become yoked to Him. (Matthew 11:28-30) While I control my life, dictate my way and choose my path – I am not broken or repentant. To give my life to Jesus Christ means yielding all that I am to all He is. We cry out for it, want it, desire it, and even pursue the fullness of Christ never considering the brokenness that provides for the blessing.

In Psalm 129:3-4, the psalmist refers to his “back covered in cuts as if a farmer had plowed furrows.” He goes on to say, “The Lord is good; he has cut me free from the ropes of the ungodly.” Jesus freed us from the captivity of sin. The consequence of sin is brokenness. The Lord blesses brokenness and makes it beautiful. He has redeemed us from sin and now His Grace exhibits its power. Every broken thing (or detail) of our life is designated for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) We must not ignore the broken pieces or hide them away but haul them to the altar called sacrifice and give them to Jesus. We must examine our heart. To those rattling pieces of the past, the jumbled mess of circumstances, and even scars that bind our wounds to staunch the bleeding. Brokenness must not be ignored. It is meant for our good and His Glory.

Psalm 37:3-5 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.

Jesus Christ is the strength of my life. It is in my utter and complete destruction that His Power is made manifest in my life. Blessed are the brokenhearted because the Lord is close to them. Not because He feels sorry for them but because it is in such a state our heart is open to the Lord and His Careful Intervention. Pride keeps us from humbling our heart and life to Jesus. Personal strength must give out by coming to the end of self. Trusting the Lord is a noble effort until our broken heart can beat no more. In our brokenness, it is the Savior who we see. The One who rushes to hold us closely, care for us deeply, and it doesn’t matter what we are doing or where we are the moment before tragedy strikes. His Loving Compassion for us cannot help but come to our side. How can I commit everything to the Lord if I am withholding pieces of my life? I cannot. It is when my heart is irretrievably broken that I can lay all of the pieces at His Feet. Trust is born in that moment. Not ordinary trust, but complete dependency on the Lord that allows us to give our life away unrestricted. Brokenness is the perquisite of blessing that makes our life worth giving to others. Grace empowers us to be blessing. Thank you Lord for brokenness. It enables our giving and empowers our works to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus. It gives us a life worth giving. All giving starts with brokenness. Brokenness is made complete in Christ.

Philippians 3:8-11 (NLT) 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!

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?

whats-the-hold-up

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

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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

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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.