Flawless

Flawless

Psalm 18:30 (NIV) As for God, his way is perfect: the Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.

God’s Way is perfect. The Lord’s Word is flawless. Do you believe it? Do I? Our words indicate a confidence that our way does not always reflect. If God’s Way is perfect, why do we choose our way most of the time? If His Word is flawless, why do not we pursue His Wisdom on a daily basis or listen for Him each new day? His Way is perfect. The Word is flawless. It is our insecurity and imperfection that challenge our heart and mind when it comes to confidently and boldly living in agreement with His Way, His Will and the Word.

We have five children. Each one with their own individual personalities. Our family rules have not changed over the years. Yet as they have grown into adulthood, our adulting kids have the right to live their life as they see fit. Once accountable to us, they are now responsible for the choices made and pathways pursued. As their parent, I love and support them but cannot change the impact of their actions or consequences of decisions. I may offer advice or opinion but it is purely suggestive.

God has given us a perfect way. From the beginning, it is human nature to choose our own way. Jesus offers us access to the Father. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life by which we can be reunited with the Father once again. All of heaven rejoices when one lost soul returns to the fold. He forgives us, loves us and immediately begins to revive, renew and restore us. It is reconciliation to Christ that begins to radically change our life. To be reconciled to Christ is to choose His Way rather than continuing to seek our own way.

How can I have God’s Perfect way when I am imperfect? How can perfection be possible once I have messed up and made countless mistakes? Shame? Regrets? Weaknesses? Is it possible to become flawless once flawed? Flawlessness is defined as having no defects or faults especially none that diminish value or worth. Or to have no discernable blemishes or imperfections. To be perfect. The word “discernable” is important to the definition of flawlessness in Jesus Christ. Sin will always be the blemish and imperfection that keeps us from oneness with God the Father. The Blood of Jesus Christ covers the sin and washes it away. I am flawless in Christ. However, when I look in the mirror – I see me staring back. To change my perception of self – I must find my identity in Christ. The identity of Christ is the Word of God.

John 1:14 (NIV) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God. The Word became flesh to come be with us. To show us the Way back to the Father. He made the way to become the Sons and Daughters of God once again. To know our true identity including who we are, what we can do, what we are given and where we are going requires knowledge, understanding and application of God’s Word (Jesus) to our life. In Hosea 6:8, it warns that people die because of a lack of knowledge. The Spirit comes to live inside of us. A holy inhabitation from on high that is given to us and accepted without action only willingness. It is the Word of God that deals with our flesh and its doubt, fear, anxiety and insecurity. The flesh is a much more challenging beast to tame.

Matthew 5:48 (NIV) Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Be perfect. Be flawless. How is it possible? It is. You can live in the perfect will of God without being perfect.

Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV) Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Who better to explain the process of reconciliation than the man who persecuted early Christians than Paul? He was a murderer. He was an enemy of the Cross? When he met Jesus it changed everything including his identity as Saul becomes Paul. You have a new identity in Christ that is flawless. The process of reconciliation takes knowledge and understanding of the Word to integrate it in our heart and mind. This allows us to become living sacrifices by the renewing of our mind. (Romans 12:2) Our identity is not established by what we think but in Who Christ is. It us up to us to allow the Word and Spirit to solidify our identity by faith and confidence in Who we are becoming rather than the world’s perception of us. To become a new creation means I must change my mind about who or rather whose I am.

Romans 5:9-10 (NIV) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:14) It is important to understand that reconciliation is fully accomplished through Christ, who is the Word. Reconciling my life to the Word allows the blessings and promises of Heaven to flow into my natural life. It is not a requirement but definitely my privilege. I can only accomplish this by giving up my way to pursue His Way completely. It is evident in Matthew 19:21 that something simple becomes complicated when we must choose between this life and Kingdom living. Jesus is the author and finisher of faith in us. He is called the “Perfecter” of faith. It is the Christ in us that permits flawless in the imperfect being called mankind. However, I must reconcile or accept and bring into agreement my life with the Word. This is the beginning of abundant life. This is consummation of worship when Jesus ordained it be in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4)

Philippians 1:6 (NIV) Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Over the next few days, we will continue to study the impact of the Word in our life. It is often easier to accept the Spirit of God who is in us because our emotions and feelings are often impacted by the Gifts and Fruits that He produces. However, if the Spirit of God in us is not properly armed with the Word of God then the lie of the enemy will win every time. The Shield of Faith gains strength from the Word and a shield protects while the sword brings victory. The Word is our sword. It is effective in circumcising our heart to expose doubt, fear, insecurity and disbelief to be routed out so that God’s Love can take root in its place. To live confidently and boldly in Christ requires a relationship with the Word. You cannot fully know Christ apart from the Word because He is the Word. Christ began a good work in us. It is by His Spirit and the Word that it becomes the Masterpiece that He promised. Christ is flawless and brings His Character to those who desire it. Who are willing to allow the Word be the map and compass of their life? To assume His Identity and let go of any other label or title. Be confident. You can be perfect even with all your imperfections. You can do, have and be all the Word promised because the Word cannot and will not return to God void of completion. To live a flawless life is to live in the sufficiency of God’s Grace fully surrendered to the Spirit and Truth. The Word is the Truth that makes us perfect!

James 1:22-25 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

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New Strength

New Strength

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He gives power to the weak…

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

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

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

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

Secrets of the Deep

Secrets of the Deep

Psalm 42:7-9 (ESV) Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Life is crazy. Change is inevitable. Becoming a Christian, inviting Jesus to live in our life doesn’t exempt us from such extremes but rather invites us to a place of utter chaos. Religion is man’s attempt to string together all the details and bring people to some form of order. The truth of the matter is that God comes to each of us on an individual basis – Jesus invites us to live in love with Him – the consummation of such an experience is the Holy Spirit. After that buckle your seatbelts as your existence is completely undone. Believers who act like that have it all together project a farce. It is not in the doing that God accomplishes great things but in our undoing. It is not when we have it all together that His Light shines through us but through our broken heart. It is not because He is cruel or controlling but rather because God created us with a plan much bigger than our finite thinking and prepared us for much more than perceived by limited sight. It is in those moments that lack understanding or make no sense at all – our inability to cope or control – that the deep surrounds us.

My husband and I were walking and talking. It would begin like most other nights. Going over the events of the days, activities of children and sharing life experiences. But last night, he dared enter the unknown. Asking the complicated question that most men would avoid – “What are you really thinking about?” I hesitated. The thoughts circulating in my head and swirling through my mind were questioning. Wondering. Contemplating. The details of life overwhelming and chaotic churning through my thoughts. The last week or so an emotional roller coaster of high highs and low lows. I feel like the toy our puppy plays with that has been shaken and pulled apart even frayed. I lay it all before my husband and become only more convinced that God has to be in all these deep places. He is ready to fill voids, level mountains and make a clear path. I have walked through deep waters before and always prevailed by His Mighty Hand and Loving Heart. I hear deep calling again. My spirit says, “Yes!” but my flesh begs “Lord, not again!”

Isaiah 35:3-8 (ESV) Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

I believe that God is good. I know that His Plan for my life contains a future and hope beyond my comprehension. His Thoughts are higher than my own and so therefore His Ways must be also. It is in my lack of knowledge and understanding that challenge me. The deep is God’s Invitation to grow in these areas. It is not in knowing what or how God works that builds faith and hope but in knowing God that makes all things possible. Faith is what pleases the Lord. Faith is not living by what we see but rather living in constant knowledge of who God is and how much He loves us. It is to put our trust in His Character and not life’s conditions or circumstances but to become fully enveloped in His Love and Grace each day. Strength, courage and fearlessness are not achieved by human sufficiency but when our confidence is completely invested in the Lord and His Process.

The Highway to Holiness unfolding before us is the pathway to victory. Holiness is not anything we do but rather what happens as one becomes the much coveted new creation Christ promised to make us. Religion has attempted to change our appearance but the Lord promises a new heart. A heart set on a pilgrimage to where He is, to do what He is doing, and make the commitment to remain in the deep as long as it takes to enter the Light of His Love.

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.” What if the deeper things of God are entered into not by our own strength or willpower but rather the moment of letting go and allowing the Lord to do it all. Weak hands let go relinquishing to His Power and Control. Feeble knees stopping trying to do it all and walk it out allowing the Lord to carry us through. Dependency on the Lord is established in the deep when we cannot see or do what we used to. Maybe this is what it means “then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.”

Daniel 2:20-22 (ESV) Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.

The Lord gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what is in the darkness of the depths and the Light dwells in Him. In Genesis 1:1-3, the whole love story of God begins with the Spirit of the Lord hovering over the deep. Read it. The earth is formless and void and then God spoke. Life perpetuated life from that moment forward. God and His Spirit were there. Jesus is the Word. When God spoke – Jesus was and is and is to come. Knowledge of God is found in the Word which is the story of Jesus Christ wrapped in flesh who came to give us life just like in the beginning. (John 1:14) The Word is our wisdom for life. We read it. Apply it. In that moment, God’s Wisdom becomes power in our life. Our words begin to line up with His and there is agreement. (Proverbs 18:4) Understanding extracts the secrets of the deep hidden there for human discovery. (Proverbs 20:5) Where can wisdom be found? It is not in the deep but the One who keeps us in the deep. (Job 28:12-14) God has had complete control over the deep forever. Darkness runs from the Light so even in the lowest valley or deepest sea the Light of His Love will surrounds those who are His Children.

It may be dark all around you today. No relief in sight. The wait may be one minute longer than you can do it. The pressure overwhelming. The pain beyond enduring. The night won’t last forever. Joy comes with new mercy each morning. God is not calling you to drown you but to drench and saturate our life in His Goodness. It is the opportunity of obedience to walk by faith and not what you see. But you know what I have found to be the greatest blessing of the deep…

Romans 8:26-28 (ESV) Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

When I venture into the deep, ready to obey, willing to trust and thrust my heart in God’s Hands – He is always faithful. His Spirit, the same one who was with Him in the beginning, helps me. When I am at a loss for words or strength to move, His Spirit takes over. The Lord searches my heart removing weights and hindrances until the only thing holding me is hope that strong anchor. Somehow and some way – everything keeps working together for my good and His Glory despite my weakness and whining. I find that as I surface again – His Purpose is clear…

Romans 8:36-39 (ESV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Through all the peaks and valleys and even in the deepest depths of life – God’s Love has never let me go. I am more than a conqueror – an embattled and scarred warrior for sure – but I refuse to put my sword down. I will fight to the end to maintain this faith I have been entrusted with and keep my deep abiding affection and trust in the Lord. It is a fight when the deep closes in around me. I feel panic and distress where peace once abounds. Then I am reminded of all the times before when His Love rushes in and He breathes new life in me. When His Perfect Love has expelled my fear – so I keep going.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The details of my life are stretch from elation to exhaustion. I cannot put into words how I feel or the emotions running through me. It really doesn’t matter how I feel now does it. My success today is based on my ability to enter the deep based on what I know. I know God loves me. I know that He has victory in store for me. I know that He is blessing me but it is only the beginning of the abundance growing in my life. One day it will be increase that will only be attributable to the faithfulness of God. Until then, I will continue to plunge in the deep when I am called. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain in obedience and trust. The deep exposes us in our weakness and insecurity to God’s Love. The width, length, height and depth of His Fathomless Love for us is evident when we can do nothing but must rely on the Lord for everything. These are the times when faith are rooted and grounded in a hard heart now broken and fertile. The Lord is letting us know that His Love surpasses our knowledge and ability to understand. He is filling our voids with the Fullness of God. The opportunity of the deep is simple. It is to invest our life and all that we believe in the Lord who desires to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to His Power at work in us! Welcome to the deep! It is full of God’s Secrets and Hidden Opportunities of blessing and prosperity for those who decide to enter in.

Ephesians 3:20 (ESV) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

When I Can’t

Life is beautiful .Young woman and clouds  .

Philippians 4:12-13 (ESV) I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I can’t do this again. I just can’t. Do you feel that way today? Life is hard. Struggles are real. The burdens can be overwhelming even to the strongest person. The harsh reality is that some things are unavoidable. Life does not present options when it comes to the tests, trials and troubles that come with each new day. When the hit comes, the employment ends, the debt takes over, the diagnosis comes or the relationship is broken – you have no other choice but to go through it. When you come to the end of your proverbial rope all that is left is to tie a knot and hang on. I understand. I truly do.

Many years ago, our family vacationed in Orlando, Florida. Visiting a water park, our youngest was thrilled to find out she met the height requirement to embark on the giant water slides. For years, I graciously relegated myself to accompany the younger children while my thrill-seeking husband would go with the older children to ride giant roller coasters and water slides. The truth is that I am not a fan of fear. I don’t like adrenaline rushes. I am not okay with being scared. I hid in the kiddie lands and pools of our trips. However, now I felt the pressure not to allow my fear to extend to her so I agreed to go with her. Ugh! Climbing the stairs slowly – she was bounding up them joyfully to keep up with the “big kids”. Arriving at the top, all I could think was “heck no” as I could see the entire park from the vantage point. It was a straight shot to the bottom. I was already backing up when I saw them pack my itty bitty in the tube and her say, “Come with me, mama!” How could I back out now? I didn’t. I want my children to be brave and courageous. I did not want to give her the spirit of fear. God doesn’t give us that spirit either. At the bottom, my little girl was jumping up and down ready to go again. Overcoming fear is a challenge every day. Some opportunities come with choices, others there is no choice.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” I wish I could say that the “I can do” comes before the trial or trouble is over but it is my experience that most days I feel the weakness in certain areas of my life. When our son was in the midst of battling cancer, time and time again people would say, “I couldn’t do it.” Friend, when that thing you fear the most does happen – you have no choice but to do something. It may not be pretty or how you expected to respond but you will do something as long as you are breathing. The Lord offers us strength and power. His Spirit inside of us the essence of His Strength and Power. Looking at the verse right before this power verse that is readily shared, printing, and projected is the truth about the strength Paul speaks of – I know…

Proverbs 8:14 (ESV) I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” is a forgotten truth found in Hosea in the Old Testament. It is true today. Faith dies, hope dies and people die because they claim to know God but simply don’t know Him at all. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh so that people could be brought back to life. The Word of God written through inspiration of the Holy Spirit are pieces of the Bread of Life to be consumed on an ongoing basis just as regular food. It feeds our soul giving us the counsel, sound wisdom and insight that gives us strength. Scripture reading, meditation, memorization and recitation is a form of communion offered to us each day. It empowers us with the truth about every situation. It shows us the possibilities of faith. It adds weight to the anchor called hope. Proverbs 24:5 tells us that “a wise man is full of strength and a man of knowledge enhances his might.” We need God’s Word to feed our spirit and overcome our flesh every day. Failure to thrive in a human being is a condition of malnourishment. It cannot be overcome in a day but is resolved with a solid nutrition plan over the course of time. Is your spirit man starving today? Have you been feeding him or her on a regular and ongoing basis? Proverbs 24:10 states candidly “if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is too small.”

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I can’t. I hate to admit this when it is true. I loathe my weaknesses. I don’t expect to fail so when I do it is the ultimate letdown. Who does? Our person comes prepackaged with this little (or not-so-little thing) called pride. It is the flesh. It rivals the Spirit inside of us because it must die to give up control. Pride fights to the death to be in control. Humility is not fashionable and deemed weakness in the world. What is that thing you have pleaded with the Lord about? What is the very thing that keeps coming back to fight your feelings and flesh time and time again? Why? Why does it keep happening? Why God? It is okay to ask God why as long as we do so with the understanding that His Ways are higher than our own and His Thoughts, so it is with full knowledge that it is probably still going to allude our intellect. I will never let God do until I can’t. There I said it… the truth that must come to light but is never going to feel good at first.

Faith is not about what I can do but what I allow Christ to do in and through me. It is in my weakness that His Strength and Power can work miracles in my life. When I finally quit trying to control the outcome, do everything for Him, or be something that I am not. It is that moment when I cry out to the Lord, “I can’t do this anymore” that He can finally rush in and fill the voided bravado and façade of control to be my strength and my power. He promises to be my strength and shield so while He is fighting my battles, righting my way, healing my body, working every detail for my good – His Hand still keeps me safe. He is covering me. It hurts. I am weak. The Lord offers to be my strength today. He is ready to release His Power in my life because when I am weak…I am strong.

Psalm 73:25-26 (ESV) Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” How do I find my way from desperation to delight in the same breath? Reading Psalm 73 this morning, I hear the Lord whisper, “I know the desires of your heart. I haven’t forgotten. I am not done yet.” Oh, how I needed such encouragement. Peaks and valleys do not change the heart or mindset of God concerning His Children. His Intentions for us are always the same. The outcome of the test or trial including our ability to remain faithful in it or not does not change what God is doing in us and for us. It is all working together for our good and His Glory if we can just remember that God is a good father. His Love is constant. His Power is mighty. His Strength invincible. He is working it in us and through us. Our flesh will fail. Our heart might go with it. BUT God…He is my strength of heart and my portion forever. He will never fail because His Love for me never fails.

Psalm 84:5-7 (ESV) Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.

Isaiah 40:29 (ESV) He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Psalm105:4 (ESV) Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!

Just like that, fireworks for my spirit and soul. These promises are for those who think they can’t do it anymore. Those who are growing weary in well-doing. The ones considering climbing down from watchtower of waiting. The ones who might feel they are drowning in doubt or weighed down by discouragement. The valley is deep but God’s Love is deeper. The night seems dark but Light lives in you. You may feel faint but don’t worry His Strength is about to take over. Maybe the drought in your life is not meant to be doused with rain but saturated by the spring welling up within you. Sometimes it is our expectation that limits us until we put all of our expectation in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the One who promised us a rich and satisfying life so maybe it is His Way, His Truth and His Life we needed all along. Perhaps it had to come to this for us to finally reach out and take hold of Him. Who knows? All I know is that when I feel like I can’t – Jesus not only promised that He can but that He will!

Psalm 68:35 (ESV) Awesome is God from his sanctuary the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

Radiate

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Isaiah 60:19 (NLT) No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

As the sun slowly rises, its rays fall on the study floor. Catching my attention, I look away from this study to see its radiant brilliance shining through dirty windows. Yes, I need to clean my windows. Put that on the list today. Just outside the window bushes have risen above the handrail, obstructing the view. Maybe Big Daddy will cut them back a bit for me, so that I can add those black rocking chairs that I have been waiting for spring to buy. Spring is here. Life is bursting forth after a long winter. We are full of life. Each day the Lord is working on the inside to make His Light shine outside of us. After all, He has called us to be His Light to this world. He placed His Spirit in us to produce His Glory through us. Is this the life we live? New life. Bursting from every facet of our life like a brilliant diamond under direct light. Or have a windows become cloudy and the cracks of brokenness subtly filled, so that the image is slightly askew, maybe a bit dimmed or has it grown dark altogether? The Light that shines from our inside must reflect the true radiance of God. It is not a light that flickers or impacted by any other source. It is a fiery passionate burning flame that consumes all that lies between us to emit light glorious unfiltered light. Is your light brightly shining today? Is it breaking through the darkness that surrounds you?

To radiate means to extend, spread and moving outward from the center. To project or cast forward. Light changes the atmosphere around it. Darkness cannot remain where light is present. Light is attractive. The emission draws and things to it. Is my life attractive? Is it engaging? Do I project and cast a true image of God and His Great Love? Isn’t that the most attractive thing about our Savior and Lord? The fact that His Love for us is unchanged by condition or weakness. He loves us. Case closed. He promises to fill us with His Love and release His Glory in us. It all begins with grace. Amazing grace. It sounds so sweet but is so easily mistaken. Grace is not a doorway to enter God’s Favor but the Source of the life. We live in God’s Grace which allows to be in right standing and live in the Presence of God. I cannot earn it but only receive it. I cannot ever exchange grace for entitlement but must live humbly before Jesus who is the Source of Grace.

I believe Isaiah 60 is not a futuristic place yet to come but the very opportunity Christ gives us now. It is for today. This very moment called opportunity. God’s Glory covers us in radiance that cannot be altered, filtered or covered by this world. It is the favor of God that allows us to be blessed and prosperous no matter how many clouds fill our sky or how long the night may seem. It begins “Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you!” Throughout the chapter, it tells of powerful influence as “everyone is coming home” drawn to the light. Not just ordinary people but kings are attracted as well. The radiance will also direct prosperity into our life as “they bring you the wealth of many lands.” As the Light of His Glory shines in us making its way through us until the substance of our faith is made into absolute trust with confident hope that allows us to be the light rather than groping in darkness any longer. The Lord will be your everlasting light. The events outlined in Isaiah 60 are not for eternity. The Favor of God for life is found in His Presence. To trust the Lord with our natural life allows His Light to shine through us. His Light is His Love. His Love makes the way. As His Love grows complete in us an extravagant exchange is made, our feeble attempts to earn His Grace become a willingness to accept His Grace as sufficient alone.

Isaiah 60:20-21 (NLT) “Your sun will never set; your moon will never go down. For the Lord will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end. All your people will be righteous. They will possess their land forever, for I will plant them there with my own hands in order to bring myself glory.”

If just for a moment, try to forget about the church culture familiar to you. No matter what denomination chosen or the doctrine that is subscribed to – for this second just focus on you and Jesus. Let the weight of service, the next offering, or even the sin that you struggle with evaporate from your thoughts and fall like heavy chains pooling at your feet. Say to yourself, “Jesus loves me.” The beginning and end of every bit of hope that I have as a believer is the credibility of this statement in my life evidence by my ability to believe it. Is Jesus enough? If I truly believe that then the things of this life no longer affect the light of His Love radiating from me. My ability to project the perfect life does nothing for those who feel helpless, worthless and defeated. My acceptance of God’s Love through the Grace of Jesus Christ that shines bright even on the worst days of my life is attractive to others. Grace is completed in our willingness to say, “I am weak. He is my strength.” This is not fake faith. I will never say the words “faith it until you make it.” It is of the same concept as fake it until you make it. Nobody wants to come closer only to find our love is not real, joy superficial, and peace a façade. We have eternity in our heart. The substance of our faith provided in a measure must grow into an abundant overflow of trust. Trust is the radiance of our life that makes others come closer to see what it is all about. An authentic life bears fruit not a leafy cover that gives nothing of worth. Is the Lord your everlasting light?

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Part of our son’s cancer treatment included radiation. After a series of scans and images were taken to precisely pinpoint the location and dimensions of the tumor growing in his nasopharyngeal cavity, a mathematical engineer studied the coordinates to make direct the radiation beam to hit the tumor and avoid other areas. The tumor in his head was millimeters from his brain stem so it was imperative that they not miss the mark. Before the next treatment, a new scan was taken and the coordinates reevaluated for accuracy. With all this precision, there was still a fair amount of radiation that was in the aura that projected to surrounding tissue. I share this to say that as God’s Love begins to chip away at our heart to find its way in – certain things in our life will begin to change. As His Grace, the source of our hope, begins to penetrate the thick walls and hard sides of our heart – it begins to fill us with inexpressible joy and perfect peace that is unexplainable. Though it may be painful in the brokenness as His Love overthrows the insufficiencies in our life with His Grace, the power that takes over changes us from the inside out. As it makes its way out – God’s Glory fills our life. We must experience God’s Love by trusting Him and encountering the Lord one-on-one in an intimate and personal relationship before the radiance of His Love can shine through us. Do not take for granted your alone time with Jesus. Do not stop striving to make more time to spend in His Word and prayer. The Light emanating from our life will only be as strong as the source in us. The radiation was painful. It was damaging. It broke our son’s saliva glands. They don’t work anymore. It burned his skin but the Lord has healed him. It was a painful process that eradicated the tumor called cancer from his body. The Lord removes all impurity so the purity of His Love, Life and Light can show through us.

In her book, The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp shares “cancer is what refuses to die to self.” You know the part of you, as do I which seems to be the source of our struggle when it comes to trusting the Lord. It can be many things. Insecurity, doubt, fear, or even unforgiveness. All of these things are the point of unwillingness to change and may be the very thing that are keeping God’s Glory from radiating from our life. Total trust in the Lord and His Love which is defined by His Grace is the thing that causes us to shine the brightest. It requires an inspection of the heart where He lives. Are the windows a little cloudy? Have some weeds popped up? What is it that keeps God’s Glory from bursting forth in our life? Wake up Jerusalem. Wake up church. Wake up friend. Wake up me. Nothing I “do” or “don’t do” for the Lord amounts to anything without first being covered in His Love and Grace. I cannot project a clear picture of God and His Grace outside of unconditional love for all people. The culmination of faith and hope evidenced in my ability to trust the Lord begins with believing His Love is complete. To know the Lord and His Love is to break the notion that anything I am or ever hope to be is worthwhile unless His Love fills me to overflowing. It is the Christ in me that is attractive. It is the Love of God that captures the attention of people. His Glory will come when His Love finds its place in my very human heart.

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT) The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 

God’s Love is on the horizon shining on us. Jesus is the Source. He wants to shine through us. His Glory is for us. His Favor is ours for the taking. His Love never ends. It never fails. It is more than enough. We don’t add to it or take from it. It is there for us always to step in, live in, and radiate every day. Jesus is the Source of Hope. His hope never leads to disappointment. I will never know that for sure until I am willing to love and trust Him with my whole life. It is a process. It is going to take some time. Why not start today? I am off to clean some windows. To let the light shine in. My desire is to radiate God’s Love, His Light and His Glory in my life. How about you? By allowing the Lord to penetrate my heart with pinpoint precision to the part I am withholding and eradicate it with His Love and change me from the inside out produces a spark inside me. It is then and only then that the radiance of His Love will break through the earthen vessel and be fully expressed as light glorious light that leads to life glorious life.

John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

I Must Press

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Philippians 3:12-14 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Vince Lombardi

Perfection is impossible to achieve on the earth. Those who live in pursuit of perfection will one day achieve it. Jesus Christ is perfect. Sinless. Selfless. He belongs to me. Paul said, “I have not obtained or been made perfect…but I actively press on to take hold of perfection.” (Paraphrased) There is a better life worth having. God has empowered us with all that is needed to attain. It is the inheritance claimed by repentance as one returns to His Father through Jesus Christ. It belongs to us. We just have to desire it enough to “come boldly” to get it. Jesus has given us the keys to the Kingdom. I am free to use them at any time. The door is locked to keep the enemy from taking what is designated as mine. Shaking the keys does not scare the enemy, however; when I decide to use the Keys to the Kingdom to release God’s Power in my life – he will tremble and flee. The devil’s roar is no match for the Lion of Judah.

I must press for perfect to walk in excellence. This is true in all aspects of life. When I decide to be the best in any given area, it is a mind, body and soul decision to press past every obstacle, overcome every weakness and push past every barrier that keeps me from success. Vince Lombardi was a great football coach. He coached in the National Football League. The highest award in football bears his name, The Vince Lombardi Trophy is given to the winner of the Super Bowl. Certainly, his attitude reflected in his statement was emulated in his life. What about you? I wonder what would happen if we set our heart on Heaven and Jesus as heavily as we do on natural achievements? What if I got up early to work the Word instead working my body? What if I left ten minutes early to make it to church as I do to get to the office early? What if I engaged in conversations with the Lord as much as other people? What if I sought the affirmation, acceptance and approval of Jesus Christ as much as every other person who roams the planet? What if my foremost expectation was in Christ alone? Would I press? Would I pursue perfection that is Jesus Christ?

“I press on toward the goal to win the (heavenly prize) of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The word “press” has two meanings: 1) to move by weight or force in a certain direction or into a certain position, and 2) to compress or squeeze as to alter shape or size. If our goal in life is to become a new creation and engage in transformation both of these are applicable in our life. We cannot stay as we were and become who God created us to be. We cannot remain still and not become stagnant. God is moving. I must learn to live, move and breathe with Him. His Spirit in me presses out the impure to make room for the pure through the process called conviction. Jesus invites us to become yoked to Him so we can go where He goes, say what He says, and do what He does. We want to remain the victim, but Jesus tells us no you are an overcomer. A victim is not a victor. It is moving from one role to the other where victory is achieved and the prize obtained in life.

Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP) “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

The biggest handicap in Christianity is ignorance. In fact, Hosea 4:6 says that people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Knowledge is to know God’s Word. Wisdom is when it is applied to life. To be a true disciple of Jesus Christ means knowing the Word. Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh. (John 1) To attempt to follow Jesus but not know the Word is to wander aimlessly without a map, compass or GPS to guide the way. To walk by faith and not by sight means there must be something to guide us where we cannot see to go. Our faith must be found in Jesus Christ. Our faith must be in the Word of God. Our faith must believe enough to follow Him.

Are you ready to press? Matthew 11:28-30 is not about Jesus picking you up and carrying you through life. Read it again. It says plainly, “Take My Yoke upon you and learn from me.” A yoke joins two together to walk as one. Jesus invites us to walk with Him. He teaches us how to live, move and breathe in Him. Our weakness is given up for His Power in grace. Grace is achieved when I humble my life to accept His Salvation and live in His Righteousness. It is when I discard the filthy rags and assume the Robe of Righteousness offered to me by His Nail-Scarred Hands. Old wineskin cannot carry new wine. (Matthew 9:16-17) With this in mind, I cannot expect a new life or to be a new creation which is absolutely necessary to claim perfection when I meet the Lord one day, if I am not willing to press today.

John 5:5-9 (NLT) One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! 

The man was sick for 38 years. The woman with the issue of blood suffered for 12 years. Both had infirmities that would be healed by faith in Jesus Christ. Faith applies pressure to the possibilities in our life that will cause us to push past impossible and receive the miraculous. However, if I am satisfied with my life remaining status quo, good enough, or I settle for less to maintain comfort and complacency – the real problem is a lack of faith. Desperation will press us to step out of our weakness and infirmity. The important question here is “would you like to get well?”

To be well requires change. It will mean doing something or a series of things that you are not necessarily comfortable doing. It will require faith that is more than rhetoric but a reality in your life. The man sitting by the pool was a victim in life. When he met Jesus that day, he was faced with a choice. Do I continue to wait for someone to carry me? Or am I going to press for perfection by responding to the Word? He chose the better. He pressed past the impossible and obtained the miraculous the moment he gave up being a victim to take hold of victory. He believed. His faith changed everything once put in Jesus and not anyone or anything else.

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” Jesus is telling us the very same thing today. Stand up. Press. Apply pressure and force to that thing called faith within you. Give it some attention. Nurture it. Feed it. Foster it. Force it to grow. Label it “purpose” and make it a priority in your life. What if the only thing keeping you from supernatural living is you? How sad would it have been if the man waved off Jesus keeping his eyes on the water and facilitating fruitless relationships hoping someone might carry him? How tragic if the woman with issues stayed home that day inhibited by the judgment of others and hindered by the crowds allowing her weakness to hold her captive forever? Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to “help us in our weakness”. (Romans 8) He is working in harmony with God’s Will for us to achieved and succeed according to God’s Plan for our life. He is our helper which means that I must still be doing something to promote this radical change faith produces in our life.

Mark 8:33-37 (NLT) Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

In an effort to improve my physical well-being, I have engaged in a “squat challenge” for the month of February. Every day I have committed to a certain number of squats. The first day it was just fifty. Today on day 18 – it is now up to 155. On the last day of the challenge, the goal is 250. I cannot even imagine such a feat. I am disciplining my body to do the exercises every day. When I begin a set, I feel good, powerful, and have the mindset for success. About halfway through, it gets more difficult. My momentum begins to slow. I am becoming out of breath. My legs grow shaky. Sweat begins to form on my brow. Toward the end of the set is when my thoughts begin to rally against my commitment. I want to stop. Give in to the discomfort. Stop and catch my breath. I must press to complete the set. I must push past the pain in my body, the discomfort in my chest, and the thoughts in my head to finish. Why? I have made it my goal to be successful in this challenge and kick start a plan for better health and wellness. Why don’t we apply such principles in our spiritual life as well?

We would not need the qualities of patience and endurance if the walk of faith was easy. It’s not. It kills our flesh and ignores our thoughts. It presses on for something greater than our natural senses can perceive therefore needs a higher perspective obtained only through the Word of God and close alignment with His Son. I must put forth the energy. I must make a commitment. I must take responsibility for my part of the partnership in my relationship with Jesus Christ. I must decide I am no longer a victim in this life but will pursue victory in all things. I must become an overcomer because greater is He who is in me. I cannot try to drag Jesus to defeat because He will not go there, but continues to lead me to victory. I must press. I must push, I cannot give up or risk being left behind. If I submit my weakness to Jesus Christ by faith, I will be made whole. But it won’t happen if I don’t press! I will remain subject to people or clothed in my issues. I must apply weight and force to my fear. I must squeeze out every doubt. The Lord promises to help me if I just yoke myself to Him. I must press. Will you?

I 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.

Had Enough?

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2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (Amplified (AMP))  Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift]. And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. 

Have you had enough yet? Are you fed up with certain conditions, situations, and circumstances in your life? Wondering where the Lord is or what He is doing because things are simply not okay. It is human nature to get tired, overwhelmed and just plain done sometimes. Believe or not – it is an ordained condition that will produce increase in a believer’s life. It is easy to become full of ourselves even when it is our desire to be full of His Spirit. When we come to the place of “I have had enough” is the exact moment when our desperation becomes motivation. Dissatisfaction creates hunger for more. Disappointment looks for hope that is unseen in our current state of mind or being. It is the point when are willingness turns from a whim to drive. Are you there yet?

God is able to make all grace including every favor and earthy blessing come in abundance to you! Well, where is He? I am working His Plan but His Plan ain’t working for me. Oh, yes it is! The Lord has a purpose far greater than mere satisfaction. It is called complete sufficiency. It is a comprehensive plan that meets the needs and desires of our body, soul and spirit all at the same time producing peace and contentment that allows us to forge forward in faith not worrying about our future. We must find total sufficiency in Jesus Christ to move from striving to thriving. Are you ready? So am I…I have had enough.

Luke 6:38 (AMP) Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over [with no space left for more]. For with the standard of measurement you use [when you do good to others], it will be measured to you in return.”

God doesn’t need anything I have to promote His Kingdom. God doesn’t need my hands, my mouth or even my heart for that matter. There is nothing good or worthwhile in me because sin infects every fiber of my being. Christ is the only good thing about me worthy of giving to another. Every action and attitude must be filtered through Jesus Christ to make it worthy of giving away. Pride and self must be completely removed to purify my offering and make it worthy of His Name. Give and it will be given to you. We spend a whole lot of our time focused on getting. Getting to work. Getting more money. Getting to church. Getting things. Getting promotions. Getting…getting…and getting. The Word of God tells us to focus on giving and generosity instead. I am challenged today by this concept as for the first time I see that giving is not about reducing my life but expanding my faith. God is trying to press down those things that are taking the place of abundance in my life. He is shaking things up so I will reach for Him. He is ready to pour out His Spirit in my life until it is running over and ready for others to receive. The thing that He is after today is not what I have but me. The previous verse hints at God’s Plan but we skip to this verse because it seems like a recipe for success. However, the Lord tells us to give so that He can make room for more of Him not for me to get more but to be more.

I Kings 19:3-8 (AMP) And Elijah was afraid and arose and ran for his life, and he came to Beersheba which belongs to Judah, and he left his servant there. But he himself traveled a day’s journey into the wilderness, and he came and sat down under a juniper tree and asked [God] that he might die. He said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” He lay down and slept under the juniper tree, and behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and by his head there was a bread cake baked on hot coal, and a pitcher of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Get up, and eat, for the journey is too long for you [without adequate sustenance].” So he got up and ate and drank, and with the strength of that food he traveled forty days and nights to Horeb (Sinai), the mountain of God.

The abundance of God is produced in obedience. Obedience according to God’s Word is demonstrated by our faith in God. Faith is not a noun. Faith is a verb. It is the unseen step into God’s Reality. Faith requires movement to be relative in my life. I cannot speak by faith and stay where I am. Faith always takes one step closer to God according to His Word – not the conditions of our natural life. In fact, faith is usually the step between the boat and Jesus. The one where we let go of natural security hoping for spiritual security relying completely on God to do exactly what He says. Too many times, we keep waiting for the Lord to pull the boat up to the dock real close and reach out His Hand to hold ours and guide us without incident to the next secure step. Where is faith? If you are waiting for God to make His Word come to pass without results, consider this – the next move may be yours. The biggest step of all is using our faith to trust the Lord.

Elijah had just killed all the prophets of Baal. Needless to say, Jezebel was livid. A woman scorned who vowed to kill the prophet. I know it is hard to believe that a mighty man of God would be fearless one day and full of fear the next, but this is the place called “had enough.” Elijah had drained his faith and so fear rooted easily in his heart. He was isolated under a solitary tree. He was ready to die. His physical, emotional and spiritual strength evaporated in the events precipitating his departure. Elijah was a man of God. Elijah was just a man.

When our son was declared in remission, I decided that it was time to go back to normal life. I was certain that our routine could be re-established, my career would continue, and it would be like three years before when our life was rocked to the core. It was not the same. Slowly I came to the realization that nothing would ever be the same. I carefully wrapped up my faith in a tight little package. Set it down on God’s Altar and slowly backed away. Why? I had had enough. My self somehow lost in years of fighting for faith. I laid down the sword because I no longer could carry the weight. Maybe you feel that way today? You have fought for faith. You have tried to be obedient in all things. You have given all that you know to give. You have followed all the rules of the church and what you know of the Word to be true. You just cannot do this another day.

Your obedience today will be the abundance of your future. I know you are tired, but you must not give up. When the Lord came to Elijah – he was determined to die right where he sat. The Lord told him to eat so he ate. The Lord told him that the journey would be too long for him without sustenance. What a meal it must have been? He ate a single meal that lasted him for forty days. I can’t last 40 minutes most of the time. This is the abundance of God in full operation. It is not to give from our enough but give when we have had enough. This is when the Power of God takes over and is made known for all to see.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (AMP) Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me; but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength].

I was talking to someone about transition yesterday and birthing God’s Promises. I have five children who I delivered naturally. The final stage of labor is called transition. It is marked by a desperate need to exit the process. I know it sound foolish, but trust me and those who have endured it. You are ready to get up and leave. Done with the whole thing. It is the point of giving up when the motivation God put in us as mothers kicks in. It is time to push. It is time to press. When it finally dawns on us that it is time to meet the little person who we are desperately and totally in love with already – our inner drive and motivation is to birth them into are arms. What if this season you are in is actually transition? What if God’s Promise is about to burst forth in your life? Why is it so hard? He is finally getting you out of the way. Weakness is the place where God’s Strength and Power take over our life to produce the promise and potential that is our purpose. I know what to do as a mother because God engrained it in me as a woman. As a believer all those years of planting faith and harvesting hope will be the very thing that empowers me to breakthrough transition and obtain the promise. When I have had enough allowing Jesus to be more than enough in my life.

Lessons of faithful obedience are learned along the way. Those little seeds of faith growing from the Word, walking God’s Way, and surrendering bits and pieces of our life to His Will are the very things that will sustain us when it comes time to push and press through to breakthrough. Elisha came to the woman and asked for something to eat. She was preparing the final meal for her family in anticipation of death over the enslavement of her children. Elisha didn’t stop her. He told her to go gather more jars and vessels. She did. Obediently. Faithfully. When she began pouring oil it did not stop until all the vessels were full and she ran out of space. (2 Kings 4) God is making space in us for more faith that will increase His Abundance in us to overflow around us. We must be willing to give up what we have for more of Him. Even if it is all we have, faith says it is more than enough. The Israelites were taught faithful obedience in the wilderness crying out in hunger. God gave them quail and manna instructing them as to its use. (Exodus 16) They learned satisfaction at the hand of God but that’s not all. When it was time to build the Tabernacle, an incredible miracle happened. These people who escaped from slavery with just what they could carry, wandering with it strapped to their backs, and begging God for food had more than enough to build God’s House. In fact, they supplied so much that Moses had to issue a command for them to stop. Where did it come from? (Exodus 36) Where do you think?

2 Chronicles 31:5-10 (AMP)  As soon as the king’s order spread, the Israelites gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, [olive] oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in the tithe of everything abundantly. The sons of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of sacred gifts which were consecrated to the Lord their God, and placed them in heaps. In the third month [at the end of wheat harvest] they began to make the heaps, and they finished them in the seventh month. When Hezekiah and the rulers came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and His people Israel.  Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and Levites about the heaps. Azariah the high priest of the house of Zadok answered him, “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat with plenty left over, for the Lord has blessed His people, and this great quantity is left over.”

They brought in the tithe of everything abundantly. I believe in tithing. I absolutely can testify that tithing will produce abundance in our life. The abundance is limited to our giving. I don’t want to lose anyone here. This is not about money but first fruits. The Holy Spirit produces all kinds of fruit in our life. It is produced in abundance for the purpose of giving. Faith is the seed of prosperity making all other fruits in our life. To tithe our life is not in our wallets but in our heart. We must portion our life according to faithful obedience in all things including time, talent and treasure. The very thing we are withholding is where God wants to grow us the most. Where have you had enough today? This is the place God wants to infuse His Power and instill His Strength. It is usually our area of weakness that is the first place to give. But see what happened to the people in 2 Chronicles, “since the people began to bring the offerings into the House of the Lord, we have had enough to eat and plenty left over.”

Every step in our life is framed in faith and its purpose is to trust God more. To release what we have to have more of Him is the only way it works. What are you holding on to? What are you unwilling to give up? It is the chain on the door to abundance in life. You hold the key to that door. The lock will give way and the chains will fall when you apply absolute and total faith in God demonstrated by radical obedience. It is the moment we give up on our plan, our way and our self that God fills us with more of Him. His Power is made perfect in what? My weakness. His Strength works best when I move out of the way. I cannot move a mountain but my faith in God can. It is not about me but my willingness to admit I have had enough – giving my all to Jesus so He can do it through me.

Hebrews 12:1-4 (AMP) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

To All the Strong Ones

Silhouette of a Boy Showing Arm Muscles Strength

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT) Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Well I did it! I made it over a major obstacle yesterday. One I have not cleared in years. It was not the current squat challenge I embarked on in February. I can finally walk and not resemble a toddler on new legs. Yes, I downed the gallon of water. I am absolutely floating. Missing caffeine a little (a lot) but the 9:00 PM bedtime does wonders for that if only my kids would keep it down. It has been a date circled on the calendar in ominous red for about three months. I finally made it to the dentist. (Insert applause.) I am not scared of many things. In fact, the only two things that come to mind are snakes and the dreaded dentist. If I were the first woman created, there would not have been incident in the garden because when the snake came slithering up to me – I would have been long gone. When the dentist called back in December to yet again schedule an appointment after five long years and my youngest calling me a hypocrite (I make them go religiously) – I agreed to a date and time.

Call it my kryptonite if you will but when it comes to the dentist, my heart races. My mouth goes dry. I literally break into a sweat driving over. I have to force myself to take a seat and wait. The dentist has a little sticker on my chart that indicates I have “white coat” syndrome. I share all this to set the scene yesterday in vivid detail. I walked into the Presence of God and prayed for peace and calm over my restless emotions and reactive body. Created a prayer circle of family and friends. I want to overcome this debilitating feeling that is straight from the enemy. It started years ago. We did not go to the dentist regularly as kids. After multiple pregnancies back to back my teeth needed some desperate attention. I scheduled an appointment. The cleaning and consultation went fine. The fillings were another story. Ever since then, I have avoided the dentists at all costs. However, I hate fear. It reminds me that I lack faith and trust in that area even something as simple as the dentist hence this long-winded story to get to my point.

When I arrived yesterday, the office was backed up. Because of my “little problem” they usually whisk me back before I change my mind. They apologized greatly. I canceled my last appointment because it was our son’s first week of treatment after his cancer diagnosis. They all wanted to ask so I quickly shared his miraculous story. My heart slowed down a bit as I could tell of my Father’s Love and Care for our kid. It opened the door of conversation with my new hygienist. She is a Christian, too. So while she worked in my mouth, she shared bits and pieces of her family and faith. She told me the story of her husband’s adoption, and as she shared it came to her mother-in-law’s faith. In the middle of the story, I heard the words that have changed everything time and time again in my walk with Jesus. “Do you trust Me?” I immediately relaxed in the chair. I do trust Jesus. Sometimes, I forget that fear doesn’t mean I lack faith. Weakness is only a lack of human strength but in no way nullifies the Power of God at work in me but rather facilitates a full-takeover. When I doubt, God always offers me a change to believe again. It usually comes in the form of the question – “do you trust Me?”

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood?” Opportunities to trust the Lord come wrapped in packages labeled fear, weakness, and ignorance. Fear allows us to experience faith when turning to the Father for refuge and security. Weakness gives us the place for God’s Power to work fully in our life. Ignorance demands knowledge to be resolved creating a hunger for the Word of God. Each one of these challenges show us that the Lord is the everlasting God. Ready, willing and able to turn doubt and insecurity into instant belief. He never grows weak or weary ready to tackle these things that compromise righteousness. No one can measure the depths of His Great Understanding that creates pathways to appointments that give us the chance to trust Him. Your footsteps are ordered by the Lord, therefore He knows exactly where you are headed. He has already gone before you. He comes in behind you, too. Psalm 23 is the perfect example of the reality of our walk with God. It is not the absence of opposition but the promise that while walking with Him there is nothing to fear and everything to gain according to His Word.

Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT)  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 

It is human pride that tells us to be strong. The truth is grace only is operational in our inability. It is weakness that allows the Lord to infuse our life with His Power – otherwise they work in direct opposition. Trust is the catalyst for God’s Power to be in full effect. Do you trust the Lord today? It is impossible to tell until it is no longer possible for you to produce the desired outcome. Challenges, tests and trials are absolutely necessary to allow us the opportunity to trust the Lord and receive all His Power offers in our life. His Promises arise from the ashes of pride when His Power fully consumes my doubt and fear. Do you believe God’s Grace is enough? Is it sufficient? Paul begged God to take the “thorn from his flesh” three times. However, in the end, he determined that God’s Grace was made perfect in his complete weakness so Paul gave God the opportunity to be His Strength. (2 Corinthians 12)

This is evident in Paul’s many letters of encouragement to the church. This once powerful, strong arm of religion was reduced to a prisoner for the Love of Jesus Christ. All his human strength drained and refilled with the Goodness and Grace of God’s Unfailing Love. This became Paul’s provision and source of strength independent of his current condition or circumstances. Christ was enough. He is enough. We must step down or fall down in order to see that God’s Power in us is greater than anything mustered in my personal strength or ability. This comes at the end of me. This is the point when I am on my knees crawling to the finish line of faith.

Proverbs 3:5-8 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

I don’t understand all the details of my life. I have a list created for the moment I meet the Lord of all the things in my life that just don’t add up. I am quite certain that when that day comes most will be resolved as I continue to see each one turn for my good and His Glory. It just takes some time. To trust in the Lord with all my heart includes those unresolved matters. Do not depend on your own understanding. Can I expound on this a bit? My understanding is based on my five senses and wrapped up in my emotions. It is a self-based, pride-driven operation. My perspective is based on what I can see around me not what is in the future. I was created by God to be a masterpiece. I cannot judge the finished product by what my life looks like today. His Plan is perfect with a future and hope that is impossible to comprehend in my current state. I cannot see the forest for the trees some days, but the Lord has a drone’s eye view taking in the whole picture all of the time. If I make choices based on the here and now, I compromise my future with delays and distractions. I must learn to put my trust in the Lord solely by faith. I must learn to live and walk by faith and not my current perception of life as I see it, know it or think it is.

Psalm 18:28-36 (NLT) In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

“In Your Strength Lord” is the secret to our success as believers. God is giving us daily opportunities to trust Him that challenge the weak areas of our faith. It may not feel like an opportunity but rather just another test, trial or temptation. If you seek the Lord in this thing, His Question is always the same – “Do you trust Me?” I have seen great and mighty miracles as a result of my weak attempts to trust the Lord. At the end of such challenges, I discover that the mustard seed of faith hidden in my heart grows a tiny bit more only to reveal more and more of my life yet surrendered to the Power of God. I am not the strong one in my life. I may appear strong person to the watching world and dependency put in that quality. However, the truth is that I am weak and He is strong. The very thing that allows me to walk with others shoulder to shoulder and share their burdens is not me. It is the Christ in me. I have yoked my life to Jesus Christ. So when I am given the opportunity to do life with other people even the messy parts, He is able to be demonstrate His Strength in my weakness so I can be a light to them. The only good thing about me is the Lord. The only hope I have to offer you is Jesus Christ. I can introduce you to the One who knew me and still thought I was to die for. But do not think for a moment, I am the strong one. I gave that up to have His Power work in me.

Proverbs 24:10 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

These simple words of truth will set someone free today. Brokenness makes us usable to God. Outside of failure and fear, it is impossible to know the depths of God’s Unfailing Love and Unfathomable Grace. To accept these two precious promises, one must come to the end of self completely. Otherwise, we get in the way. Every time. Our pride will never accept weakness as an option. Therefore, we must humble ourselves before the Lord which is totally contradictory to human nature or modern culture. If you fail under pressure, then you know your strength is too small. You are not supposed to be the strong one. You are supposed to experience weakness in order to full take on the Power of God. It will consume you. It will not force you. But the moment you are on your knees unable to take another step with your arm outstretched to Jesus, He will ask you just one question, “Do you trust Me?” When you have tried everything and are at a complete loss at the end of all understanding, and cry out to Him with your last whisper – the Lord will respond the same way – “Do you trust Me?” It is the moment you say, “Yes” even if it takes all the strength you have left and beyond your understanding but wholehearted that He makes all things possible simply because you believe.

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” What if the very thing keeping us from experiencing the Power of God is our natural strength? Could it be our inability to surrender control and let go that is keeping us from experiencing the Promises of God? What if the thing keeping you do is your hands gripping the ground rather than raised in praise to the Lover of Your Soul in surrender? The stronger you are the longer it takes to experience the Power of God because you can outlast most. However, you will one day come to a place when you cannot withstand the pressure. You will not be able to make it through. You will run out of options. Things will be deemed impossible. It is in that moment of opportunity that the Lord will whisper to you – “Do you trust me?” What will be your response?

Faith will dictate your answer. Hope will determine your decision. Why not begin the process of release today with some of the burdens you have been carrying? What about those cares and concerns you are juggling? How about just taking your whole life and all its contents before the Lord and asking Him to examine it? To show you the areas that need more faith. Here’s a hint – they are labeled fears. Doubt must be drowned in belief. Ignorance filled with knowledge becomes wisdom. Lies are undone by the Truth. It is in the complete surrender of control and power over our own life that allows His Strength to work perfectly through us. When I am weak, I become strong.

Psalm 121 (NLT) I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

 

Not By Might

not-by-might

Zechariah 4:6-7 (NLT) Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’”

When our children were very small, I taught a class at the local technical school to supplement our income. It allowed me to stay home with the children during the day. The children would stay with my husband and grandma would offer a helping hand. Our youngest was born with a very strong will. She contains quite an impressive purpose if it will require the level on stubbornness or maybe I should call it personal drive. At any rate, she was playing on the neighbor’s playset with the other neighborhood kids. One of other siblings was with her, watching over her, helping her and attempting to keep her in check. She was toddling up one side of the jungle gym and attempting to turnaround to sit on the slide. Now if you have ever watched a small child attempt such a feat – it can be quite humorous. At this stage of development, it can be quite awkward. Her brother reached out to assist her. She drew back quickly, “I do it myself” were the final words as she fell out the other side to the hard ground below. Surveying the damage, her wrist broken in two places. If only she had accepted the help that was offered, she would have successfully completed her mission down the slide that day and many more rounds I am sure. But now she had to wait and watch while all the other kids enjoyed playing together with a cast and strict restrictions.

Independence is human nature. The desire for freedom strong in our DNA. Yet, so often it is in our inability or ignorance that produce delays, detours and disappointment. Our heart is filled with eternity. God put it there during creation knowing that sin would cause us to long for and desire other things. Yet there is a desire for completion and fulfillment that cannot be denied or met with the things of this world. Only righteousness will ever satisfy the eternity placed there. The Plan of God gives us a future and hope that is fully achieved by faith and confident hope. The Word of God is His Way and His Will clearly defined for His People. One’s perception of God’s Word is defined by which side of freedom our life is based on. Freedom to choose or Freedom in Christ.

Zerubbabel was chosen to be the leader of the tribe of Judah. God ordained him to rebuild the temple including many of the gates leading in and out of Jerusalem. God brought Zerubbabel and Judah back from captivity and restored them. Zerubbabel laid the foundation with plumb line in hand. However, after that it would take 16 long years to begin the work to complete it. The purpose of God for our life always begins with a firm foundation of faith, a process to produce confidence in our hope, and ultimately leads to fulfillment. However, it is vital to our potential that these words are fully understood today – “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit.”

Hebrews 6:10-12 (NLT) For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.

Sowing and reaping or planting and harvesting is a principle set forth by God that works naturally and supernaturally. What a man sows he reaps. However, naturally productivity and supernatural productivity are cultivated differently. What is possible for man is possible with God but what is impossible for man is also possible for the Lord as well. We are the weak ones in the connection not the Lord. He has set forth in His Word the way to achieve salvation, righteousness, blessing and prosperity. It is all according to His Will. We just need to walk in His Way. Is this a violation of freedom? No, in fact, this is exactly what freedom is. The opportunity to choose our way. Love cannot be forced or it is not love. My strength is weakness. For when I am weak, then I am strong and God’s Power works in me. When the foundation of faith is established in us when we first believed, it is not a knowledgeable decision but a heartfelt one. The trouble is over time – we change our mind. There are two components that lead to fulfillment obedience that is an attempt to follow the Law or willingness which is also defined by obedience but on the basis of love.

The difference between religious and willing obedience is radical love. We can attempt to live by the Law and do all it says and the law of sowing and reaping will produce good things in our life but it will not secure our place as Child of the Living God. It will not complete us. It will not satisfy our soul. The radical love of Jesus Christ allows us to accept His Spirit to help mold and shape our heart into a willing vessel that obeys the Word of God, follows the Way of the Lord and lives according to His Will because of His Great Love for us that keeps us in love with Him.

Revelation 2:2-4 (NLT) “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”

I believe the body of Christ and its many members are frustrated. Doing the “right” things, they are not getting the expected results. What do you expect? Our expectation will never be met until established firmly on the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other foundation for us. (I Corinthians 3:10-11) A divided life will yield diversified results. The foundation of faith is established in the Truth that God loved me so much that He sent His Son to die for my sins so that I would be free to build my life where I choose to. If I choose Jesus Christ, it reconnects me with the Father now I am a Child of God. This relationship is founded and rooted in love. Love that promotes a desire and willingness to please the other person. No relationship can grow when one partner decides to withhold bits and pieces of self from the other. It is our constant desire to become one and passion for the other that writes a love story. Without love, I am not God’s Child but simply His Servant.

Love at first sight does happen. Most fall in love with Jesus Christ without really even knowing him. I believe in such a love and experienced it with my husband. I believe that God prepares people for such partnerships and when you meet that person – His Spirit inside of us says, “Hey, that’s the one.” My daughter and her husband were attracted to one another in elementary school. Love is the driving force with in us. It is the knowledge of God that takes our imperfect love and makes it strong and secure. His Love for us allows us to love others fearlessly.

I John 4:16-18 (NLT) We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

The dash between our birthday and the day of death is significant. It represents one’s success or failure in knowing the One True Living God and the acceptance or denial of His Love. I believe that this is also the purpose of endurance. The Lord ordained Zerubbabel with a purpose. The purpose would take commitment far greater than the man was born with. He would need time to prepare for the task set before him. Sixteen years to be exact, during that time he rebuilt his home and helped others do the same. Plowed up abandoned fields, planted new crops and harvested greatly. Our life is has potential that requires godly preparation.

God promised Zerubbabel that nothing would stand in his way of completion. Not time, testing, trials, or temptation would keep him from triumphantly rebuilding the temple. It was when the Spirit of God finally got to the tender heart that the tinder there became a fiery passion to fulfill his purpose. He built the foundation. He was faithfully obedient to the Lord. Until his acceptance of His Purpose was wrapped in faith and confidence of God’s Great Love and consummated in the Spirit – he had to wait. When God’s Spirit filled his heart – Zerubbabel was filled with God’s Power which is always His Love.

Perfect love expels fear. This is confirmed in Nehemiah. The rebuilding of the wall became a battleground. Men had mortar in one hand and a sword in the other. (Nehemiah 4) Stay with me – God’s Power is His Love. God’s Strength is in His Sword which is also His Spirit. (Ephesians 6:17) The Spirit produces love in us (Galatians 5:22) The Spirit is nourished and sustained by God’s Word using it to build confidence in God’s Love for us. (Romans 8:38-39) It is the absolute and complete confidence in God’s Love that is our hope. God’s Word is a two-edged sword splitting open our heart separating human indifference and spiritual desire so passion for the Lord rises up in us. The Sword is also referenced as the tongue of our Savior in Revelation. (Revelation 1:16) His Spirit is the Power. His Word is the Sword that the Spirit uses in our defense and protection. It fortifies the foundation called faith and enables to withstand the storms of life. (Luke 6:46-49) We worship in Spirit and Truth. These two essential qualities empower us to overcome every obstacle and live in the fulfillment of purpose promised by God. It is the certainty that when we live in God’s Love that we overcome every single time. We win.

I Peter 5:9-11 (NLT) Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.

Are you discouraged today? Disappointed? Heart sick because your promise seems to be delayed? Don’t be. God will not send you in a battle you cannot or will not win. He goes before us preparing the way of provision, protection, prosperity and, of course, victory. You are not stepping into your promise or purpose because you are not ready for the battle. Our strength fails when the battle is the Lord’s. If it is connected to your potential, purpose or promise – it is achieved by His Spirit in us. If our spirit man is flailing in faith or lagging in hope or sluggish in love – God is protecting us by keeping us in His Hand for now while we grow, develop and mature our faith and confident hope in him more specifically His Love. When our full expectation is placed in God, His Spirit and His Word accepted fully by the Grace of Jesus Christ imparted to us – we will succeed in overcoming every obstacle and be victorious in all things. We do not fight like other people. Our weapons are not carnal. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) We battle self. (Romans 7:22-23) We battle the enemy. (John 10:10) Until we overcome fear, doubt, insecurity, and become fully convinced that God’s Love always wins – we will wait.

“Not by force” – obedience will not force God to do what we want Him to do – it is radical love that opens God’s Heart and releases His Hand to us. “Not by strength” – My weakness allows His Strength and Power to work through me. I must be a willing vessel fully operating in confidence of God’s Love. The Word continues to strengthen my foundation of faith and arms my hand for battle. I must keep my Sword ready at all times. My purpose is at stake. Willingness comes as the Spirit changes our mind about the Lord. The more we love Him and believe how Great Unfailing and Faithful His Love is for us – we are one step closure to having our promise and achieving our purpose. Until then, God protects our purpose until our Spirit is able to apprehend us with love. We need God’s Spirit to take His Truth and make it a reality in our life. He does it because He first loved us. We must return to our first love. Allow His Spirit to be fully consummated in our heart and produce the love that becomes a burning passion for the Lord. To know the Love of God firsthand turns obedience into a privilege.

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

 

Thorns of Life

 

Thorns in Life

2 Corinthians 12:8–10 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

God’s Grace is enough for you today and every day. Let me say it again, God’s Grace is enough, sufficient, complete and intended for you today and every day. Why does God require weakness to manifest His Power and Strength in us? Why must Christians endure hardships in order to be saved? The Word of God in no uncertain terms tells us that one who endures or stands firm to the end will be saved. Jesus was warning His Disciples of the days to come and left encouragement for those who live for Him long after these men were gone.

To better answer our question, why do roses have thorns? In God’s Design could it be that the thorns protect the fruitful production of beautiful yet delicate roses. The aroma of fragrance given off by the rose could very well please God so much that He places thorns along the stems to give it solitude and protection as it grows. God allows thorns in our life, too. Paul asked the Lord repeatedly to remove “the thorn in his flesh” but God didn’t do it. Why? What is the purpose? To make us uncomfortable. To bring about change. To increase productivity. To manifest growth. All these things are true. Yet in the midst of the pain of the thorn and pressure of the messenger – His Grace is enough for me.

When I am weak, then I am strong. Our flesh hates this statement. It balks at it. Finds ways around it. Works to avoid it in every way. Weakness is submission. It is surrendering fully to the Lord before we overcome and see victory. When a believer takes God at His Word, and peacefully, prayerfully and full of praise chooses to keep walking in God’s Power rather than relying on human strength. Lord make me strong in you today. Help me to apply Your Word to my life. May Your Will be done in my family, church, and life.

2 Corinthians12:8-10 was the scripture that God gave me in response to my petition following our son’s third cancer diagnosis. At first, I thought I had grabbed it rather than the Lord sharing it because of the “third” thing. God has jokes. He finds ways to keep me guessing, entertained and intrigued enough to pursue Him daily. When the doctor shared the gravity of his condition and the invasion of cancer which was much worse and widespread than before, I literally fell to my knees and said, “God, I cannot do this anymore.” Well, His Response to me in prayer the next day was this verse. I loathed it at first. Where is the hope in “my power is made perfect in weakness”? It doesn’t say anywhere that the Lord ever took this “thorn” from him. God’s Grace was not only enough for that round of cancer but two more before our son was healed.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible was written by Matthew Henry who was a “nonconformist” of the Puritan church in England. This body of believers was considered the “free church” because it did not conform to the states mandate on uniformity of religion. They were church rebels like the early believers. I use Mr. Henry’s commentary many times when I study God’s Word. When I read his thoughts on this familiar passage, I couldn’t read it, digest it, or note it quickly enough. I will share some of his thoughts with you today.

2 Corinthians 12:1-5 (NIV) I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.

Saul was the Pharisee who met Jesus on the Road to Damascus – no doubt to slaughter more Christians. Saul thought he was on a mission from God. He believed that he was honoring God in his actions. When the Lord spoke to Saul, he was stricken with blindness. Maybe it is during this time that he saw visions of the third heaven also known as paradise, heaven of the blessed and the place where God manifests His Greatest Glory. This is when Saul became Paul through the saving knowledge found in repentance. Saul turned into Paul. The Pharisee turned into an apostle. I wonder how many Pharisees are hidden in today’s churches believing they are doing God’s Will but headed toward a Damascus-moment when Jesus reveals the truth to them.

Though Paul received these revelations and had this experience 14 years before – he chose not to share it. Paul kept it to himself. These images and inexpressible words shared by the Lord to this man where not public knowledge until this passage. Why? I think Paul believed that revelations from God should be tested by time and God’s Word, protected in our heart until just the right time. We talk too much. The church as a whole is a big chatterbox not talking about the relevant but constantly debating things that really don’t matter. What if we stopped talking and began to savor God’s Insight, Words and Revelations before making them public fodder? Could it be that our loose lips are sinking the ships?

“It is an excellent thing to have a lowly spirit in the midst of high advancements and those abase individuals shall be exalted.” – Matthew Henry. Lowly means humble. Abase means to lower or humble also. Humility is important to God and the standard of elevation in Heaven. Spiritual growth is not upward but downward. The more of our life humbled to the Lord identified in our weakness can be infused with His Power and Strength. One might call Paul a super apostle. Did you know that you are an apostle? One who is sent to share the message of Jesus Christ to the world? You are. I am, too. To share Christ and our experiences as believers humbly will always be identified by those who use the world “we” not “you”. We all fall short of God’s Glory on a daily basis. No one is perfect. Not a single one.

2 Corinthians 12:6-7 (NIV) Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

***Spoiler Alert*** Salvation does not exempt us from thorns in life. Trials and temptations will come. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1) We will experience thorns in life. Things that bring pressure and pain. Some will be easily removed and others will linger but stay tuned this is good news much better than it sounds. Jesus wore a crown filled with thorns. Perhaps this was a message to us that He bore these weaknesses of ours on the Cross. The enemy meant this for the Lord’s humiliation. But God had different plans that in His Submission to God’s Power just three days later Jesus would emerge from the grave victorious over death which is the hope we live for. Did you see it was “three days”? Jesus prayed to God in Gethsemane – three times yet still made His Way to the Cross. “Father your will not my will.”

The messenger of satan could use some discussion. Every time we mess up – the devil does not deserve the glory. When we make a bad choice – he didn’t make you do it. We are free to choose and we make that choice. There are two distinctly different voices that we must discern. There is demonic influence and then there is fleshly influence. They are different. Demonic influence was exhibited in the wilderness when Jesus was tempted by the enemy. However, many times it is our flesh acting up rather than the enemy to avoid crucifixion. Romans 7:15-25 is a transparent commentary by the apostle of his struggle with sin and his flesh. “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” The enemy has ill-intentions for us. He seeks to “steal, kill and destroy” us. (John 10:10) But God uses these challenges both external and internal with a purpose. He uses every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) God uses these “thorns” and “messengers” to reveal just how weak we are so that His Power can be manifested in this revelation.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 

“Prayer is the salve to every sore, a remedy for every malady, and when we are afflicted with thorns in the flesh, we should give ourselves to prayer.” – Matthew Henry Trials and temptations lead us to pray and seek the Face of God. When our life is contrary to His Word and His Way, we seek answers to our questions from the source of life. The thorns in life should lead us to prayer, teach us to pray, and guides to continue in instant prayer even if we find relief. We learn to persistently pray through pain and pressure in life. The very things that force us out of the way make room for more of God’s Grace and Glory in our life. There will be one of two outcomes when we pursue God through prayer. The Lord will change us or our situation. I find the first to be the prevailing factor.

What do we do when the thorn is not removed? Grace in our life signifies two things. The good will of God and the good work of Christ. Grace is the good will of God is enough to enlighten (give us wisdom or discernment) or enliven us (with power and strength as to renew and revive) us as the Lord proves the sufficiency to strengthen and comfort us in All afflictions and distresses. God’s Will is His Word active in our life no matter our current conditions. It is His Word, His Promise that we hold on to.

Grace is the good work of Christ in us is that allows His Fullness which is full of authority and power. Jesus gives us grace that is suitable and seasonable and sufficient in all things. “Jesus knows us, knows our need, and will proportionate the remedy to our malady, and not only strengthen us but GLORIFY HIMSELF. Nothing I can do will ever match or exceed what Jesus Christ is working in me and through me. He gives me grace to survive this change.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV) That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

“The Christian paradox – when we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ – when we see ourselves weak in our ourselves, then we go out of ourselves to Christ and are qualified to receive the strength from Him and experience most of the supplies of divine strength and grace.”

Jesus Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Weakness is not just a physical state, but mental, emotional and spiritual one. Pride lies to us and robs us of the power that God’s Grace is ready to administer in our life. We cannot grow spiritually when prides refuses to bow down to Jesus. Pride makes it into the church in the hearts that refuse to accept God’s Grace. To never admit our weakness, pain, trials and temptations is to send the message that God’s Grace is not needed and not enough. I need the Grace of God every day. I fall short every day. Through the illness of our son over three long years, yes three, God changed me. It started with a completely broken heart. I had allowed pride to overcome my spiritual growth. Not knowingly and unwillingly. It changed me completely. I am weak. Any strength that eeks its way out of me is Christ in me. I promise. I am nothing without Him.

“God gives us grace sufficient for us, we haven’t reason to complain, nor to say that He deals ill by us. It is a great comfort to us, whatever thorns we are pained with that God’s Grace is enough.” Matthew Henry