Beautiful Crown

Beautiful Crown

Proverbs 4:7-9 (ESV) The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.

We made it just in time to see the sun inches above the ocean, a stellar sunrise on a clear morning. The beach was full of other folks who had the same idea. She wanted to see the sunrise. Our littlest princess was in awe of the glorious sun. Lingering along the surf, I gathered shells while she walked in the water. Casual conversation turned to a serious discussion very quickly. This one is our thinker. She contemplates life on a regular and ongoing basis rather than the carefree spirit of other young teens. The mystery of life is not good enough for her. She wants all the details now. The unknown does not appeal to her. I assure her that the Lord knows exactly what He is doing in her life and as long as she loves and trusts Him it will work out just fine. Well, that’s not good enough for her…

How many times has an adult said, “If I had known then what I know now…” Would it have made a difference? Considering the details of life and weighing all the good and bad, what would you have done differently? The bad marriage wouldn’t have produced the blessing of your children if it had never happened. The poor choices and challenging consequences may not have given you the sound wisdom you have today. God promises to work every detail of our life for our good and His Glory when we answer His Call. There is no depth too deep or place too dark that His Light will not come to our rescue. Regret does not exist in the one who is fully redeemed. Fear and anxiety are the enemy’s tools to steal, kill and destroy the knowledge and understanding that will soon become confident hope that leads to fulfillment. Is there more to life than this? Absolutely. We must desire it to have it. Pursue it to find it. Believe it for the reality to manifest in our life.

Our little girl doesn’t want to miss what God has for her. She struggles with the uncertainty of not knowing what the Lord is doing and desiring it just the same. Don’t we all yet unwilling to admit it with childlike faith to the listening Father. God has put it in my heart that He is doing a new thing. Looking around at my life, I am pleased with the way things are turning out. God is good. He is giving me the desires of my heart. There is more to this thing called life. I must go after it. Forgoing my comfort, complacency, convenience and control – I want the complete package labeled fulfillment. As we walked on the beach, I did my best to calm the concerns of my little one. She is not so little anymore. Her questions about her future valid. Trust is new to her. She only knows it in a limited sense. But I believe the Lord is calling her deeper. He is asking her to step closer. She is answering His Call and I am challenged to continue to answer mine. Whatever it is? Whatever it looks like? Even if it feels a bit uncertain, uncomfortable, inconvenient, and illogical, faith makes all these things unacceptable.

The wisdom of God is found in His Word. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh to portray the Father’s Love and Desire for His Children. He desires us. He wants us. He made the Way for us. Righteousness is the right path in every situation. It requires wisdom. Knowledge and understanding applied to our daily life not once or twice a week. It is not religious but relational. Instruction is the Gift of the Father to His Children. He longs for us to choose the better way and walk in the blessings and promises that He has already prescribed for our life. He doesn’t force us to choose His Path but offers it to us as a precious and valuable gift. Righteousness is only possible through Jesus Christ. The sacrifice of His Life is the only possible way for God’s Word, His Way and His Will for us to be fully accessed and completed in us. Confident hope is discovered by faith in God’s Word completely.

In the handful of children the Lord has given us, we have both impulsive and intellectual individuals. The spectrum of personalities is uncanny considering they are all from the same brood. Being the mom of such diversity, each one has been raised with a slightly different approach according to their personality. I have some that come directly to me when in need of advice or an opinion. There are others who call in the time of need. The cautious generally communicate more openly in contrast to the reckless for whom I am still here. God is a Good Father. He is pouring His Unconditional Love on the just and unjust. If only all of His Children would take some time to discover the vast potential of limitless love, it would change the church forever. It would bring the Body of Jesus Christ together into a blameless and unblemished bride once and for all. We don’t understand such a concept therefore cannot live in it completely.

Proverbs 4:10-13 (ESV) Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.

Wisdom in our life is the result of knowledge applied in our life. Many receive instructions every day and ignore them. For example, the speed limit posted on the side of the road is not a suggestion but the law. If an officer catches me speeding, do I really have a right to get mad about it? Choosing to ignore the law creates a consequence. When I was an offender a couple of years ago, I was given a ticket that carried a hefty fine. I was required to pay the fine, but also given the opportunity to attend online traffic school to waive the points which would have resulted in higher insurance rates for the next several years. I chose to attend the class.

Sin is an offense to God. He hates sin. It separates us from him. Given the opportunity of grace, it is hard to say no. But there is more to God’s Divine Character than just getting by. The Lord offers us full restoration. Welcoming us home as the prodigal son is received upon his return, the Father desires to guide us along the right paths that lead to full satisfaction and fulfillment. I choose whether or not I will follow Him. Wisdom is offered to me. Instruction given. Understanding in every word, precept, scripture and verse. Will it be the valuable commodity that I live by? Will I remain under God’s Table scrambling for crumbs? Will I sit at His Table and feast before my enemies? It is all up to me.

Wisdom is a “graceful garland” or a “beautiful crown.” It represents a life lived in the Presence of God – triumphant in Christ and fully redeemed as a Child of God. In order to live such a life requires pursuing knowledge, instruction, and understanding found only in God and His Word then choosing to apply it to our everyday life. Faith only becomes practical when fully exposed to God’s Word. It is illogical compared to human intellect and rationalized by average thoughts. We have been given a precious gift to unwrap, open and use in our life. It begins in His Word and allows us to live in Christ who is the Word.

Psalm 23:1-6 (ESV) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Walking with my daughter on the beach contemplating the rest of her life, our conversation grew quiet and in my heart I longed to be able to tell her every detail of the fairytale written for her. I don’t know what her life will be like. I pray for her every day. God loves her more than I do yet I still cannot comprehend such a thing. I know that God has a plan for her. I know it contains a future and hope. I know that she loves the Lord. She will not live on mountaintops but journey through the valley of the shadow of death as we all do. I know that every day will not be a good day. She will need to learn to trust and depend on Jesus just like I have had to. No one could tell me how to do or when it would happen. Everyone needs the rod of discipline and staff of instruction in their life. They need these two valuable things so that knowledge and understanding will one day be wisdom even our little princess. God is good! His Goodness and Mercy follow us all every day of life just waiting for understanding to kick in and wisdom to be set forth. It is in that moment when we respond to the Lord that the garland of grace and crown of redemption are fully put in place.

I can give my children instruction. I can encourage understanding. I can continually pour the knowledge of my life into them. Wisdom is something that is discovered individually when truth is applied personally to our life. Our life in Christ will begin to prosper by taking the Word of God and applying it daily, step by step and breath by breath to our life. I cannot do it for my own children. God cannot do it for you. Those who choose to do so will be crowned Sons and Daughters of the King.

James 1:12 (ESV) Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

I Peter 5:4 (ESV) And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

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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.

Birthday Thoughts

Birthday cupcake against a blue background

Proverbs 16:31-33 (NLT) Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.

Happy Birthday to me. Today marks my fifty-first year of life. I say it, but cannot truly feel it. Age is really just a number. It has never really impacted me like some of my friends. But the idea of fifty-one has made me slow down a bit and take a look at the scenery. I am pretty sure my nose-to-the-grindstone, press-thru-the-pain, and get-the-job-done attitude has caused the last decade of my existence to pass by in a blur. In our ladies Bible study, we talked about our lifetime estimated in the Word to be about seventy years. Seems like a long time and maybe even endless to a teenager, but I took that number and broke it down into days. If I live exactly 70 years, it means that I was born with 25,500 days of which I currently have about 6,935 days left as of today. To some it may be an instance of glass half empty, but to me it is a glass full of possibility. I am not worried so much about my life running out as it ending without fulfilling my purpose.

Gray hair may be a crown of glory for some but as long as my hairdresser will schedule another appointment – not on my head. However, in the Word of God, it is called our crown of glory just the same. I have gray hair carefully hidden under hair dye but that doesn’t keep them from popping up from time to time. Proverbs says – it is gained by a godly life. Perhaps the point is that if we make it in life long enough to have gray hair that it is an accomplishment. Mine mark years of survival. It is representative of a life given to pursuing the Lord and missing Him a lot. It shows that there is grace to overcome our mistakes and misgivings. It marks me as one who should have something more to give for it is the crown of glory that should be woven with wisdom and good common sense that has led me through impatience and impetuousness to the place I am now. The truth about my place in life is that it is usually a crossroad. The place where many decide to dig in or give up on their dreams and inspirations. Is it folly to think that at this age dreams really do come true? Is it possible that we have buried seed meant for planting in the barren field of hopelessness marked with the sign called unmet expectation? It happens all the time. We left life get ahold of our perception and make it into a harsh reality absent of faith, hope and even trust until believing in what we see overshadows the truth of what we know to be true.

“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” The final fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Perhaps patience and self-control are not possible in our youth because endurance and perseverance are necessary to find them. Seeds don’t grow overnight. You may be full of potential that just hasn’t been given enough time to grow, develop and mature into the purpose that God intended it to be. Too often, like the fig tree, it is human nature to cover up a lack of fruit with a plethora of leaves and foliage. Hiding behind a well-constructed façade, no one is as they seem. But God knows…He sees inside of our heart. He knows our deepest desire and while we try to bury it, get over it and move on. The Lord whispers wait a minute. It is part of my plan. Hold on. Don’t be so impatient. You have to live a little more life in order to produce the harvest. Waiting is not a bad thing. It is part of God’s Timing and vital to His Process. If you compare the older me to the younger version, it is clear that I have developed patience. They came at a high price – through difficulty, lack of control, waiting and more waiting and helplessness. I am finally beginning to see small hints of patience in my character. Praise God – it only took five decades to achieve. Self-control. It has been a tough one. I have always been a great starter but horrible finisher. I lacked the self-control to remain engaged when the “woo-hoo” wore off and the process grew tiring. There is the ever so slight but definitely noticeable change in my character to hang on, wait for it, and stay put. All this is to the Glory of God. None of this is human nature, but godly influence. It didn’t come through personal victory but daily defeat. As I sit here this morning, I finally see His Glorious Plan coming together. Though the pieces are definitely spread apart, His Hand is carefully aligning them into a beautiful picture that I am excited to see even in my fifties.

Proverbs 16:1-4 (NLT) We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes…

The Lord has blessed our family. I spent Saturday with our youngest daughter. She is the only one who is still bound to us as she will not drive for a couple more years. Her oldest sister lives in New Hampshire and will arrive today for a visit. Her middle sister has a full agenda and a flourishing social life. So, it was just the two of us for a day of birthday shopping. As we wandered from store to store, she became very agitated with my lack of ability to share something I wanted that was not practical. It is your birthday, she told me. It is a big deal! My husband and I had more humble beginnings. I will admit that we have spoiled our children with love and things. They do not know the difficult times that shaped both of our childhoods. They only know the security and structure of family. I am so very thankful for that. However, walking with her, I feel a nudge inside. The Lord is pressing for my attention to this thing called dreams and desire.

We make our plans. BUT the Lord gives the right answer. When I was a little girl, I decided that I would be a professional mom with just two kids. I wasn’t interested in being a stay-at-home mom much less have a handful of children. Well, when the first one came, I knew my purpose. It was to be a mom. I wanted it more than anything else. I ended up with not two babies, but five of them. There were many times in my life that my priorities set a regulatory standard for my life which has fallen apart. I had good intentions but the Lord was moving in my heart. He has a much higher standard of living for us than we could ever plan or execute. Truth is most days – we don’t believe it any more. Fairytales and fantasies are for children and fools. Reality is adulting. Day dreaming is for the lazy. However, sitting here at fifty, I hear the Lord whispering why not believe? Why not go for it? Why not think my love is extravagant? My power limitless again. Why not?

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes. Is it possible that at my age, I am only beginning to see the harvest of years of planting and sowing in life and people? Could it be that there has been unseen purpose and greater potential in the ordinary steps of my life leading to an extraordinary finish? The Word of God tells us to commit our actions to the Lord AND they WILL succeed. What have you done for Jesus over the last days, months or years of your life? Do you know that there is purpose in each footstep to be discovered? The Lord determines our steps according to His Plan. (Proverbs 16:9) Those dreams and desires in our heart are a product of the eternity and faith hidden there. To bring them to fruition. In Proverbs 16:20 is the promise that those who listen to instruction will prosper and those who trust the Lord will be joyful. Prosperity and joy are found in fulfillment as the Lord brings to completion the work that He began in you before you were born.

Joel 2:28-29 (NLT) “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I handled it better than I thought it would. I began slinging the Word of God like a sword at it and held up my shield of faith against it. Fighting the good fight, I never considered it would take many years to accomplish. God gave me His Word that our son would live and not die. I had no idea it would be a seed that took many years to grow. This summer marks remission times three years. However, after the battle was over, I found myself dry, empty and done. How could it be? How is it possible? Victory is not always easy that’s why defeat can be so agonizing. Laying it all on the field means that if winning doesn’t happen you have nothing left to fall back on. After three long years of fighting to keep the faith and finish the course, the reality was that my life would never be “normal” again. It would not be as I had expected. The reality of life’s brevity and uncertainly loomed over me like a tiny black raincloud. The numbness in my limbs from fighting traveled to my heart. Some days, I felt like it was barely beating. I had finally come to the end of myself. It was not pretty. She was no longer in control of her life, family and destiny. For those of us who have control issues, pride barriers and any other type of fear or insecurity – this is not a fun place. It is a realization that demands a choice. It requires a change. The only good part is that finally the Lord has the opportunity to lead us to fulfillment. Grace works best in our weakness. His Power takes over when we step out of the way.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) God takes our brokenness and makes it beautiful. When the battle was won, our son declared cancer free. I rejoiced, but it was not as I expected. Three months later, more scans and still clear. I became depressed at my lack of enthusiasm. I felt very guilty because many had not been so fortunate. This would be a turning point in my life forever. I walked around in a daze for about a year. Clueless as to hold to operate outside of my overdriven and constantly controlling personality. These waves of emotions carried me yet I had no idea what to do next. That’s when Joel 2:28-29 was introduced to me in a different way.

Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike. What if brokenness and undoing is the point when potential finds its way into purpose? What if it takes reality and life to break our hearts to the point where God can reach the bottom? What if our best days really are hidden in the rest of them following our arrival at the end of self? Is it possible that the dreams and visions promised to the “old men” is really where the potential lies? Could it be possible that the course of my life is exactly as God planned it before I was even born? Yes. Yes. Yes. You are exactly where God planned for you to be. He orders our steps for His Destiny not necessarily our desired destination. He is not transporting you to the Magic Kingdom, but transforming you for His Kingdom. We want a better life, but the Lord is preparing us for eternal life. It takes time. It is a process. It will require years to yield harvest. You will have to wait. You must endure. It requires persistence. You will be remolded and reshaped – broken and more. But you know what? It will be worth it all.

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

So what if it’s true? What if God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His Purpose for them? It means that every dream I have dreamed should be dug up from its grave and given a careful and thorough examination according to the faith and hope that I have. Possibility is hidden in every detail of my seemingly ordinary life so I must be careful not to dismiss bad days and mess ups as experience but decide if there is something to be gleaned in that moment. A lot of people my age life in regret, shame and guilt over the not-so-productive choices that they “think” they made when the reality is it is all working together for their good! To God’s Glory! What kind of God would He be if He only showed up for emergencies? He is definitely the First Responder to those who call on Him, but why do we put our God, faith, hope and trust in a glass case to be of emergency. He wants to work every detail of our existence with His Power, Potential and Purpose. He’s not holding back…we are.

As I celebrate with my family today, I am thankful for every one of those fifty-one years. Lord, help me to remember all the seed planted and remind me to continue to sow in the coming year. Age is just a number. My potential is not in my days but how I choose to spend them. Time is the only commodity that cannot be bought but you restore all things. You are a miracle working God who will multiply purpose and yield promises in the time offered to You. Whether I have one more day, 6,935 days to seventy or even more than that, may I give them completely and wholeheartedly to You – Jesus. Keep my heart soft and pliant in Your Hands even it means I must stay broken. Keep my eyes on You Jesus – focused on the future never on the past. Keep my ears open to hear Your Voice, value your instruction and apply it daily to my life. God, I truly believe that the best is yet to come. Thank you for life. Thank you for your promises. Thank you for a purpose and plan worth having a lifetime of lessons to see it come to pass. This is not the end of my life – it is only the beginning. I am thankful to report… He’s still working on me… To make me what I ought to be…It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be… He’s still working on me!

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

Soul Prosperity

Soul Prosperity

3 John 1:2 (AMP) Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually].

What is prosperity? According to the Random House Dictionary, prosperity is a successful, flourishing or thriving condition especially in financial respects and good fortune. Do you believe that the Lord prospers His People? In 3 John, the author writes to “beloved and esteemed” Gaius. This man is not identified further. The next verse gives way to a new way of thinking. I pray that “in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health” just as your “soul prospers.” As a believer, it is God’s Will for you to prosper both physically and spiritually. However, like every other benefit available to us through Jesus Christ, the Cross and Resurrection, it is completely up to me if I will live in the blessings of God bestowed on me before I ever breathed a single breath. You are blessed. You were made to prosper. However, the enemy has done his best to make people believe otherwise. I hope to change your mindset and motivate you to seek out the Lord’s Will for your life including the prosperity hidden beneath layers of lies that the enemy has used to overshadow the true potential of your new life in Jesus Christ.

Genesis 1:27-28 (AMP) So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them [granting them certain authority] and said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate it [putting it under your power]; and rule over (dominate) the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

When God created man and woman, He blessed them. Do not go any further, stop right there. I did when our pastor shared this verse and the wheels of my mind began to get in gear with my spirit man. I am blessed. God released a blessing on people that cannot be revoked. Once God blesses, it stands. He does not lie or change His Mind. When He decided to bless us, the release was instantaneous. So where is it now? God SAID to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate (putting it under your power or subdue) it.” God’s has now issued a directive to His People. Rule over and dominate all living creatures and every living thing that moves upon the earth. Oh, but what about the fall of mankind? Well, that’s true. But can I introduce you to my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. In Him, “we live and move and exist”. (Acts 17:28) Everything is brought into existence through Jesus. (John 1) Thanks to Jesus – our sin is removed and live restored to us. So the blessing on our life still stands as long as we live.

God was clear in His Directive to His People. Be fruitful. We know that the Fruit of the Spirit is the very thing that feeds and nourishes our soul changing us from death to life. (Galatians 5:22-23) To be fruitful is not only physical but a spiritual accomplishment as well. He told us to increase. Prosper. To live a limited life does not represent an unlimited Lord. Fill the earth. I believe that as true believers our life should overflow in goodness and grace in all things to all people. A life of generosity is a life of fearless abundance for those who are not afraid that our God has a small supply but exceedingly more than we can think or ask. Finally, to subdue the earth. We have authority and power locked away in these weak vessels of human bodies that is ready to take over every sickness, oppression and bondage that has people held captive. Greater is He who lives in us. We have the Keys to the Kingdom. Rather than shaking them all the time, it is about time God’s People started using them to unlock the captive and lock up the enemy.

Psalm 103:1-5 (AMP) Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is [deep] within me, bless His holy name. Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of His benefits; who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle.

“Do not forget any of His Benefits…” Have we forgotten the blessings and benefits of God? Or did we ever have a clear understanding of who they are for and how to receive them? Hosea warned that people die from a lack of knowledge. It’s true. God has blessed me. He has blessed you. I have the same benefits available to me in Christ that every other person born is given. It is up to me if I take advantage of these benefits. My husband’s company offers health insurance including dental and vision. It is a benefit offered to all associates. Some consider the cost to high and opt out completely. Others, pay for the insurance but do not understand all it comes with and do not take full advantage of the benefits. Then there are others who have read the policy and procedures who utilize as many of the provisions as possible to get their monies worth. Where do you fall in this picture? Do you know the benefits offered in Christ? Do you take full advantage of them? Do you read the Word of God? Study it. Use it. Apply it. If not, you are missing out on blessings and benefits that are carefully detailed in God’s Word and waiting fulfillment in your life.

In Deuteronomy 28, the blessings of obedience are outlined in great detail including the “abundant prosperity” those who obey God. Before you exempt yourself because of sin, is the grace of God given to us in Jesus Christ enough to cover your debt? Is the Blood of Jesus still strong enough for the remission of sin? If it is (and it is), all these blessings are still in good standing. Jeremiah 29, tells us that God has a plan for our life that includes prosperity. The only thing I have to do is seek the Lord wholeheartedly. What’s the catch? You have to believe enough to use your faith to trust the Lord at His Word. How do I trust God? Simply do what His Word says while seeking His Presence wholeheartedly.

In Jesus Christ, I have been given every spiritual blessing from the Heavenly realm. (Ephesians 1:3-6) Digging deeper in God’s Word, there is a recurrent theme. Obedience. Knowing God’s Word, and doing what it says will prosper my life spiritually and physically. I have the potential for success in all things. However, it is not obtained religiously as some people and churches might want you to think. Prosperity gospel is nothing more than multi-level marketing in the church. As my soul prospers, God will prosper my life. No man has a say on the level of blessing in my life. God has granted me all blessings in Heaven and Earth according to His Word and I find it in obedience. What is obedience? I cannot possibly do everything right. Of course, not but it is in pursuing righteousness in love that it all belongs to us. What is that?

Proverbs 16:20 (AMP) He who pays attention to the word [of God] will find good, and blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) is he who trusts [confidently] in the Lord.

When asked “which is the greatest commandment in the Law”, Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first commandment. He didn’t stop there but went on to say, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. Love. It is all about love. To seek God’s Presence and live in His Love prospers our life. As our soul gets it right, suddenly the windows of Heaven open and His Blessings begin to pour out all around us. It take energy, effort and commitment. Loving God and obeying Him is contradictory to human nature. Sin separates us from the Presence of God and limits our life. (Proverbs 28:13) Everything we do has the potential to prosper in God’s Love. (Psalm 1:1-3) His Way is always prosperous. (Psalm 10:5) Obedience to God equals prosperity every time. (Psalm 128) Prosperity is all about love and faithfulness (Proverbs 3:1-6) because it is an inheritance. I cannot earn God’s Love. He just freely gives it to me. I must choose to be faithful to my first love. Righteousness lived out in love with Jesus will prosper our life as our soul prospers. (Proverbs 21:21) Perfect love expels fear from our life so the sky becomes the limit. Dream it. Believe it. Do it. There are no limits for those who live in love with Jesus Christ.

Luke 9:24-26 (AMP)For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake, he is the one who will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God]. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed [here and now] of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and the glory of the [heavenly] Father and of the holy angels.

To prosper in our natural life is the ordination of God beginning in Genesis. He did not change His Mind when people decided to find their own way but rather provided THE WAY (Jesus) to come back to Him in righteousness again. The choice to follow Jesus Christ is a personal one. Some will do so religiously and find great frustration. Those who decision to enter a real relationship with Jesus changes the outcomes of life. Seeking the Lord wholeheartedly means there will be things I choose to do and not do in His Name. My primary motivation and soul prosperity is in loving Jesus wholeheartedly and seeking Him that way. In doing so, I have many benefits available to me that He is ready to release in my life. It is up to me if I will have them or not according to my willingness to accept them. When my life means nothing outside of Christ, the things of this world fall down my priority list. As the Lord and His Spirit begin to make my heart fruitful, I find that things like love, joy and peace are the precious commodities of my life. As my soul prospers, my life naturally does as well because now I have a better perspective on how to use my resources for God’s Kingdom and His Glory. I can be generous in all things because things are not as important as My King. If the tangible blessings of God will in any way remove you from His Presence, you are not ready to naturally prosper. When your whole heart is invested in loving Jesus, then and only then will our natural life resemble our spiritual condition.

Friend, God’s Blessings belong to you. From Genesis 1, God has called us to live in a successful, flourishing or thriving condition especially in financial respects and good fortune. His Favor belongs to you as His Child. You have every right to the benefits of your salvation. All of this secured God’s Love for us and released by our love for God and our ability to transcend that love to others. In love with Jesus, our soul prospers and then so will the rest of our life. God will not put it in your hand until He has your whole heart. Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.

Jeremiah 29:13 (AMP) Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Boots on the Ground

boots-on-the-ground

Psalm 18:30-36 (NLT) 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.

“Boots on the ground” is a military term. It is used to convey the belief that strategic success can only be achieved through the direct physical presence of troops in a conflict area. It is the idea that presence makes prominence. Maybe concurrent with the thought that “possession is nine tenths of the law” which further implies that ownership is easier if one has possession of something or difficult to enforce if one does not. I believe that both convey confidence. Confidence in strength and power according to that which is attained. Man of valor fight for a cause dear to heart as they are called to serve and protect the people of their country. Their mind is focused on battle and maintaining the safety and security of those who reside in the land. They fight for freedom. Even if someone uses their freedom to protect their mission, they do it just the same.

Jesus Christ died to set us free. It is our option to use our freedom to trust the Lord or continue wandering in the darkness of this world. Truly – who the Son sets free is free indeed. However, if we do not know our rights as a believer it is difficult to understand the benefits offered by obedience. To choose to live for the Kingdom rather the world is impossible if we do not see the point. We can see, hear, feel, touch and experience this life with our senses. How does one come to their senses by faith that cannot see, hear, feel or touch the Lord in a tangible sense? How does one find confidence to walk by faith and not by sight? How do we win the war of flesh versus spirit when one is intimate and the other foreign? God has given us His Spirit but we must empower Him by eliminating the influence of our flesh. In short order, every lie must be dissolved in Truth so we can fully walk in the freedom intended for us and imparted by Jesus Christ.

“God’s way is perfect.” Do you believe this is true? Think about it for a moment. Do you really believe that God’s Word is true and valid for every aspect of your life? If so, do you do what it says? Are you willing to give up your will to have God’s Will just as it is without reservation? This is the freedom to be fought for by faith. To secure our freedom in Jesus Christ and walk His Perfect Way to overcoming victory in our everyday life. It’s not easy. It is not logical. It is faithful.

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights… You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.” I would venture to say that if following Jesus was easy there would have been more than 12 disciples. In fact, even in the handful of men with Jesus one still managed to betray Him. I am challenged today to find purpose in my steps. (1 Corinthians 9:26) To be surefooted as a deer enabling me to stand on a firm foundation of faith in all things. I long for the wide path of obedience called the Highway of Holiness that keeps me from slipping. I want to follow the Lord walking in close fellowship with Him as Enoch did until I disappear and only God remains. Is this even possible? Absolutely. Is it logical? Not in reality only faithfully.

Psalm 91:1-2 (NLT) Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

Trust labels the steps that lead to greater faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. It is faith in Jesus Christ that opens the door to Him in the first place. I must protect my faith. Feed my faith. Condition my faith. It is the most important thing in my life that leads to eternal life. Without, faith I will die. It promotes perseverance and endurance in me that is far from natural and instinctual. It is supernatural. A soldier joins the army with potential. It is through rigorous training and conditioning that changes his potential into purpose. When that purpose engages in battle, the soldier becomes a warrior. I want to be a warrior of faith. I have been in some fights in my life. I have the battle scars to prove it. The Lord promises those who seek refuge in Him will have security. A place of safety. This place is secured by trust.

If we continue to read Psalm 91, it tells us of more than just a place to hide in the Lord but a place also to take a stand against sin and darkness that attempts to overtake us and invade the good things in our life. By faith, “a thousand fall at your side, thought ten thousand are dying around you these evils will not touch you.” It goes on to promise that “no evil will conquer you” and “no plague will come near to your home.” His angels are positioned to protect you. I love this part. “You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet.” If you look at the verse right before this one, it says, “They (angels) will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.” Are you tired of stumbling? Are you sick of struggling? There is a better way. God’s Way is perfect.

Proverbs 3:21-26 (NLT) My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

God’s Word is a lamp for our feet. (Psalm 119:105) Common sense and discernment must become fast friends and constant companions to make faith logical for our life. God’s Word is the Truth for our life. We must learn to walk in it every single day. This takes our common senses and applies discernment too it from God’s Perspective. His Thoughts are higher than ours and so are His Ways so it is imperative that godly knowledge counteracts stinking thinking. Common sense and discernment is logical faith defined by the Word of God applied as wisdom for our everyday life. We must change the way we think by deciding the Word of God is true and valid for today.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT) So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

I must not evaluate my life or decide my course of action based on how I feel, what I think or the circumstances in the natural. If I do, I will have life based on fate not faith. When I set my heart and mind on achieving God’s Purpose for my life which is always by faith then I will respond to His Word rather than reacting to the daily struggles I face. This will cause me to walk in victory. The man sitting on the ground asking for handouts was limited by his ability to walk. He fell victim to his circumstance and identified with his infirmity. When Peter passed, he begged for money. Peter said (to paraphrase), “No brother I will do you one better than that…” The man was immediately healed and then “walking, leaping and praising God went to the Temple with them. I cannot give others what I have not discovered and obtained for myself. I cannot pawn fake faith that doesn’t believe enough to follow through with each day. I cannot share a truth that is not a reality in my life. So if I want to walk in victory and be boots on the ground for Jesus Christ, it is imperative that I believe. Believe enough to walk with Him and follow Him each day. Where He goes I go. Are you tired of limping through life? Have you fallen on hard times? In the Name of Jesus Christ, it’s time to get up and walk. Get those boots back on the ground. Fight for your faith. You have victory up for grabs.

Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

Why does something simple seem so hard? Our faith must be daily fed the Word of God to strengthen it. We must continually strap truth to our feet so it protects us as we tread over lions, serpents and the enemy in life. (Ephesians 6:15) The enemy is acutely aware of our weakness because most days we complain and grumble showing him the insufficiencies of our faith rather celebrating our victory in Jesus with constant praise, endless worship and consistent gratitude for our freedom. We lose simply because we do not believe we win! Not me. Not anymore. I am tired of fighting losing battles especially when I have figured that the Christ in me is enough to always overcome if only I believe. Do you believe? If not, there is no partnership between common sense and discernment. The two will disagree making it even more difficult to find the way. Jesus is the Way. He is our Champion. The Author and Finisher of Faith. If I am willing ahead and stop living looking in the rear view mirror. If I choose to fix my eyes on Jesus who is before me. If I make a conscious and decisive effort to mark the pathway of my life with the Light of His Word. My path will be safe and secure in the Lord. The enemy will remain under my feet where He belongs. I will have victory in all things.

Romans 16:19-20 (NLT) But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord. This makes me very happy. I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Raise the Bar

raise-the-bar

Ephesians 4:13-16 (NLT) This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

To raise the bar means to make something better. Raising standards and expectations especially by creating something better than previously known or experienced. It connotes a challenge to improve beyond what was thought possible before and make a mark for others to follow. More than a personal endeavor, it is a pursuit of excellence which is the unprecedented example for the benefit of all. It is believed that those who reach such a level will be successful and satisfied with life. The problem is that in this world the “bar” goes up and down each day randomly in accordance with the fickleness of mankind and their perception of perfection. Emotions and feelings along with the peaks and valleys of life cause us to question if setting a high standard and raising the bar of our life is worth the struggle, pressure and pain of endurance. Is the commitment to change worth the tragedy of transition because we must leave some things behind to have all that is promised?

I have seen the impact of the “millennial” generation in my own home. Having three twenty-something kids and two teenagers – there is a dynamic shift occurring that must be battled every day. The sense of entitlement in our next generation is startling. Thankfulness is giving way to “I can have what I want when I want it because I am me” which comes (in my opinion) from never giving them anything to strive for. Comfort has given way to compromise. Settlement to substitutions. There is no drive for betterment just simple pass the test and get by. My concern for this generation is that they are also the end times Christians who prepare the way of Christ’s Return. They are subject to the greatest deceptions that believers have ever experienced because the enemy is desperate to steal their souls. We must become intent that I can have all that Christ said I could have, be all that He said that I could be, do everything that He empowers me to do, and live with Him forever not because of who I am but based solely on Who He is and What He has done for me.

To raise the bar of our life means setting a new standard of living. One based on perfection not perception and making the commitment to stay focused on the unseen and not the world crashing down and hell breaking loose around me. There are days I feel like an unarmed civilian in my pajamas with absolutely no defense at all walking through a war zone with grenades blowing up, bullets flying overhead, fights breaking out all around me, tanks rolling by and the Spirit of the Lord says, “Just keep walking, it’s all going to be okay.” Whether you know it or not, there is a battle all around you as the Lord protects you from the enemy’s fiery darts, wicked assignments, and plots to destroy you. God is fighting for us! His angels surround us as a constant guard. The pressure you feel is real. The perception is valid though you cannot fully perceive it. Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” I couldn’t agree with him more. If you find all hell is breaking loose around you, it could be because you are finally getting it right and walking in the right direction. You must go through it to make it to it!

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

My sister is an esthetician. She is a skincare professional who offers a wide variety of treatments and beauty services. Several years ago, she received a call from the personal assistant of a very famous Christian speaker. You would instantly know her but I am not going to name her. The woman called to book an appointment. After securing a date and time, she informed my sister that her employer was coming in on her personal time and not to be bothered. She was not “ministering” so please refrain from asking her any questions, autographing or anything pertaining to the ministry. (Insert shocked face emoji here followed by a GIF with someone smacking their head with the palm of their hand.) I didn’t know what to say then and still don’t know what to say now. When did ministry become a profession and not a passionate pursuit of lost souls, to whom much is given much is required. I understand that people need down time. I also get that such a personality probably doesn’t get it very much. I do. I am not judging this person or any other mega ministry pastor. People are not a profession. They are God’s Passion. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, when you encounter a lost, dying, hurt, or wandering soul, there is no such thing as a better time than the one you are living in to reach out to them, share God’s Love, tell them your story and interact with them. What if my sister was lost? What is she were sick, hurting or dying? What it that appointment was divine not decided? Hmmm…

I apologize in advance if you are offended or upset by my ideology that ministry is not a job it’s a mission that all of those who love Jesus have been called to. It is 24/7. It is all about what I say, do, and how I live every moment of every day. There is no downtime. For everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. Even those who seem to have their spiritual junk altogether still have sin to be dealt with in their life every day. Everyone. You do. I do. We all do. Though some make it appear that they have achieved higher levels in God – need I remind you the only level of achievement in Jesus Christ is grace. Grace is the only way to achieve righteousness again. It doesn’t matter if you have only committed one sin in your whole life – you are sinner who needs just as much grace as the person who sins every single second.

Romans 9:30-32 (NLT) What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path.

Are you trying to follow God’s Standards in your own power today? Let me just be real with you. I see it in every church that I have ever attended and have been in positions that made me feel the same way. The more I know Christ and attempt to follow Him, the better my life gets. Our family is committed to tithing, our financial life has prospered over the last decade or more. Every part of my life sown by faith into God’s Promises are yielding just the same harvest. However, in all of the blessings, sometimes it is possible to forget WHO is the one prospering our life because we are living it. We are doing what God’s Word says, but we do not increase our life – He does. Before you say, I know that peek into your heart and look for any insecurity lurking there. It is the one hidden behind pride that says, “I will make my own way. I have to do it myself.”

His Grace is enough to pick you up out of your mess, dust you off, wash you in His Word, wrap you in righteousness and open the door to God’s Presence again. Just His Grace. The Grace of Jesus Christ was absolutely enough to raise the bar of our life and make God’s Glorious Standard available to us again. We can do nothing to earn it. Nothing at all. Therefore any exaltation above another person or idea that I am somehow better because I have achieved a higher standard of living is to say that it was not the Lord but me who made the difference and His Grace is not enough for me.

I Peter 2:21-25 (NLT) For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.

From His Birth to His Death and Resurrection, Jesus was always about His Father’s Business. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords did not think twice about laying down His Life to come and give us access to the Kingdom once again. But have we created our own kingdoms called church and small group creating services and experiences that are manmade and not spirit led. Are sinners uncomfortable in our churches not because the Holy Spirit is convicting them but because God’s People are condemning them? Do we believe in taking days off? Jesus is our example. Christ alone allows us to have a higher standard of living called God’s Glorious Standard. Are we using it to build His Kingdom or our own?

The Word of Christ is complete. When Jesus said, it is finished releasing His Spirit to us – the job was done – our debt paid in full. Now what? We live for Him. We love Him. We follow Him. We become about our Father’s Business, too. I can do nothing apart from Him. The goodness in my life is all a gift from God and nothing I have earned or created for myself. I must humble myself to the Lord. I must decrease and He must increase in my life so that I can raise the bar so that others will seek Him, know Him and love Him, too.

Hebrews 6:12 (NLT) 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.

I must not become spiritually dull or indifferent taking for granted the Unfailing Love that I have been given and Grace that I have received for a substandard way of life. I must follow the example of Christ and the men and women who laid down their life to inherit the promises of God. Lord, keep me humbly at Your Feet so that I may know you more. So let’s go back to the beginning…

Ephesians 4:13-16 (NLT) This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

We must get this engrained in us. To achieve the Glorious Standard of Living and raise the bar to the level God intended, I must be complete in Christ. The continuation of “church” is to perpetuate growth in the Body of Christ which means my completion in Christ is dependent on my willingness to yield my life, gifts and abilities to the entire organization called His Body. It requires knowledge, understanding and wisdom that moves past human ideology and is based on faith in Christ. As Christ begins to take over my mind, body, soul and heart, it is the Truth that begins to impact and influence our lives rather than the conditions and circumstances of this life. My life is nothing without Christ. The parts and pieces of my life withheld from the Lord lack His Power and do not benefit the Body of Christ. I am a Kingdom Builder or at least I should be. I do this by using the gifts, talents and abilities God has given me to share the Gospel with others. My complete satisfaction in life is achieved when I place all my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Withholding nothing, even my pride, say it all belongs to you, Jesus! He is the more excellent way! Christ is my example! Raise the bar today! Find that one place, the hidden place, the harbored fugitive in your heart and give it to the Lord to be revived, restored and released as you achieve excellence.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

Think About It

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Ephesians 5:15-17 (NLT) So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 

Life lessons are often those hardest to learn but quickest to reinforce. For example, from the earliest age a child may be warned that the stove is hot. Be careful. Do not touch it. But the moment, the heat of the fire is felt the lesson is burned into the mind. Caution is born of pain. Knowledge is instantly wisdom so futuristically great care will be taken to avoid the flame altogether. Knowledge is power. Power doesn’t work until cord is plugged into the outlet. Once the current is flowing it becomes wisdom. Why all the imagery? People do not think. It is human nature to be impetuous and carefree until taught otherwise by life lessons. Minds are molded and shaped by experience. The things encountered leave impressions in our thoughts that govern one’s thinking. Morality is impacted by those around us until God is discovered and allowed to live in us. We think about what we do, where we go, sometimes what we say and many other things in the course of a day. But do we think about the Lord…

Be careful how you live. Be wise. Make the most of every opportunity. Don’t act thoughtlessly. Understand what the Lord wants you to do. Do it. The wisdom of God is not found in carnal things. However what we think and know about the Lord cannot be separated from our everyday life and still produce the character that God has prescribed as our new person. A local football coach is under fire for praying before games with his team, students and participants. A group bragging of freedom from religion want him to be reprimanded, punished and lose his job. Freedom? Would true freedom take away our rights and limit one’s faith? No. Who is the hypocrite now?

Every day our feet will walk a certain number of steps. I will say an estimated 9 to 10 thousand words according to studies. I have a list of things to do. A schedule to keep. Errands to run. A routine that I will follow. Wash to be done. Children to raise. Church to attend. This is real life. In the course of that day, will I consider Christ? If so, how much? With some things or in all things? How often will He cross my mind or enter my thoughts?

Colossians 1:15-20 (NLT) Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Jesus Christ is everything. Everything is created through Him. Everything exists in Him. From beginning to end, Jesus is everything. He is the visible image of the Living God. He existed before creation and will continue be King of Kings and Lord of Lords when all this is gone. All of God’s Fullness is completely satisfied in the person of His Son, Jesus. I understand that. My kids bring me great satisfaction even in their imperfection. I love to be with them. Can’t wait for them to come home. Enjoy their company. Hear their laughter. Share life with them. I think about them all the time. God reconciled everything and everyone to Himself through His Son. He made peace with the world through His Son’s Precious Blood. How can I expect to please God and not consider Christ in every moment of every day?

Ephesians 5:1 tells us to imitate God. God loves His Son. He finds great satisfaction and pleasure in Jesus. John 14:6 shows us how to get to God – through Jesus who is the Way, Truth and Life. He is the only way to gain access to the Father. Faith is not a logical response. It is only strengthened by trust. Trust in a God who I cannot see. In a Savior, who I cannot feel when His Hands reach out to catch me. He is a Lord who I am to lay down my life for without laying an eye on. Faith is based strictly on knowledge found in God’s Word. Applying this knowledge to our life produces wisdom as His Spirit works it through our mind wrapping it around our heart. We must think about how we live, the things we do, and who I am reconciled to who He is in order to become like Him.

Hebrews 3:12-14 (NLT) Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

We have today. Tomorrow is not promised only hoped for. If it is important, then do it today. Today is the day of salvation. Though it would be nice if this were a global effort, revival begins in our home. It is reinforced the moment our feet hit the floor and our mind begins to think. Too many times it is easy to put off what needs to be done. Procrastination is a mindset that must be broken to live in satisfaction and fulfillment. Pursuit of Christ begins when our eyes open and must continue until our head hits the pillow each day. To fully reconcile our life to Jesus Christ and make our way to the Father requires wrapping our entire existence up in who He is. The world and all its distractions has no interest in God or Jesus. Why do we insist on promoting Him there? My faith must be in God alone. My hope is in Christ alone. If nobody else believes or agrees with me, it makes no difference if my faith and confidence remains intact.

Ephesians 5:10 (NLT) Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 

What pleases the Lord? Love God with all our heart, mind and soul. Love others the same. You can add your own spin, flavor or routine to it, but it doesn’t change its context. This is what please God. This is what Christ came to do and the example that He set before us. We can choose to ignore it or even overthink it but until we do it – we miss the mark. I cannot be a Christian and not know Christ. I cannot be a Follower of Jesus and not go where He goes and do what He did. I cannot know the unseen God without reading, studying and applying His Word to my life. His Spirit reveals His Character so that I can strive to be like Him and live to please Him. I must think about these things. I must think about my faith. I must think about Jesus.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

If God is good, why would my mind not want to know Him? To know Him is to disregard our flesh, feelings and emotions to grab hold of truth and promises that will be the death of me. Greater is He that is in me. I must step aside and let Him take over. My flesh doesn’t want to die. It rejects God-like thinking and a Christ-like mentality as a detriment to its well being. This is why we waver in our faith and why total trust seems impossible. But look what it says…”capture rebellious thoughts.” What does this mean? I don’t mean to be redundant. We must think about it.

The cause for Christ that becomes the foundation of our life and faith must be carefully considered every single day in every single choice made. It cannot be inconsistent but constant. Running everything through the Word and by His Spirit for validity in our life and rejecting those things contrary to Jesus Christ – His Word, His Way and His Life. This is a full-time job and life-long endeavor. Those who endure to the end will be saved.

Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

What’s on your mind today? Thoughts contrary to Christ include worry, fear, doubt, anxiety, and the like. How is it possible to avoid the cares and concerns of this world? To think about other things. Denial would be to imply that real danger, problems, trouble, and concerns do not exist. Faith is when all these things do exist and are relinquished to the care of Christ. Trust allows us to transition our thoughts from the trouble around us to the God in us. Today we must fix our thoughts.

What is true? The Word will define truth for you. Read it. What is honorable? All the words in red spoken by Jesus are relevant for your life. Do them. What is right? Jesus is perfectly right all the time. I attain rightness or righteousness through Christ alone so humility must be the life I live. What is pure? I am pure when I choose to use the Light of His Love to avoid sin in my life. I am pure through the washing of His Word and by His Grace I am saved so that is what I have to offer others for I will never be clean outside of Christ. What is lovely? He is lovely. His Presence is glorious and it is there that I see me as He sees me and not as the world has defined me. I find my peace and worth in the secret place with the Lord. What is admirable? Jesus. (Period.) Everything He said, all that He did, who He is and what He has promised…nothing more or less.

To think about things that are excellent or worthy of praise requires me seeing my life through Jesus Christ. God designed and dedicated me for His Service as His Child. Jesus made it possible for me to assume my new identity. I must think about Him to be who I was called and created to be. Nothing more. Nothing less but all of Him. To think about the Lord, in each moment, in each step and in every decision allows His Peace to guard our heart until He comes. Think about it.

Ephesians 3:18-20 (NLT)  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

 

What Am I Thinking?

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Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

It is human nature to have lapses in judgment. Making mistakes is an unavoidable part of life. It is how we learn, grow, develop and mature or at least that’s how I think it is supposed to work. Falls are not failures but opportunities to get up. Failure is futile if one gives up and does not try again. It doesn’t matter how far we have fallen, the Lord is always there to help us up. Bad choices become learning curves when wisdom is acquired. I told one of my children who was soundly beating themselves up over a mistake that it is only wasted if wisdom is not obtained. Trials, temptations, and trouble are all lessons in life. Knowledge discovered in the midst of such things give way to a foundation of truth that can be maintained.

To offer our bodies as “living sacrifices” is not about physical obedience or cleaning up our life. To be holy and pleasing God begins with a change of heart and transformation of our mind. I can come to the altar seeking repentance day after day, but when the Lord looks into my heart it is the thought process called intent that He is after. Grace is sufficient only when it releases the Power of God in our life. If we remain in bondage due to ignorance, what is the point? No really why follow Christ if my life is no better and we are getting nowhere?

Wisdom enables us “to test and approve what God’s will is – His Good, Pleasing and Perfect Will. Knowledge is good but wisdom is better. To know what to do and not do it is futility. To know the Truth and let it set us free is beneficial. Freedom allows us to do anything, but not all things are beneficial. How do we discern?

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NIV) The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

There is very real war waged for our thoughts each day. The enemy does not always have to come at us with a bold-faced lie. For the believer, He usually comes at us with twisted truth. The Word of God is turned askew just a bit. Though many are familiar with what think God’s Word says, few take the time to dig in deeper and know it. How much time do you spend in the Word of God each week? The Word of God is a two-edged sword that rightly divides the truth from all the lies that the enemy offers God’s People in exchange for His Precious Truth. (Hebrews 4:12)

No one can know the thoughts of God which are so much higher than our own (Isaiah 55:8) without knowing the Spirit of God. (I Corinthians 2:11) I was a Christian for many years in a denomination heavy in the Truth of God but that ignored His Spirit. I knew the Bible but it didn’t make any sense and I was powerless to do what it says. The biggest stronghold and obstacle in the life of any believer is ignorance. The Lord says that His People will perish when they lack it. Drawn into discouragement, despair, disagreement and dissension by slight deviations of truth their hearts and minds get lost in darkness.

We must use the divine power of God to demolish such strongholds. We must end the arguments and pretension that sets itself up against God. We must take captive every thought in our mind to be obedient to Jesus Christ. We must be ready to punish every act of disobedience. If our mind refuses to forgive, we must seek grace. If pride overtakes us, we must humble ourselves. When prejudice raises its ugly head, we must chop it off at the neck. What is prejudice? Prejudice is an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge thought or reason. We prejudge many things in life based on the knowledge base of our mind. We must change our mind and allow the Lord to renew our thoughts to see the world properly and act obediently.

Ephesians 4:17-21 (NIV)  So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

We must no longer give in to futility of thinking. The knowledge of God is His Word and the wisdom of God is His Way. We must make it a point to search the scriptures, meditate on it allowing it to marinate our mind so that it will become our way of life. It is the very thing that indoctrinates us into the Kingdom. It is a new language called love. It is a new way called humility. It is a new life called redemption. We cannot allow ourselves to be compromised by futile and worthless thoughts. We must take the Word of God and seal our hearts with it. When the enemy comes with temptation, it will be easily identified by the heart and mind immersed in Truth, Knowledge and Wisdom of God. But that’s not all…

We must have a relationship with God to know His Intentions. A text message can be read a thousand different ways and given the same amount of emotion. Misunderstandings arise from communication that lacks relationship. We are to relate to one another, exhorting each other and bonding together to become the Body of Christ.

I Corinthians 14:18-20 (NIV) I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

How effective is the Gospel of Christ if it is not communicated? Can we truly expect a revival in our midst if the church cannot convey “five intelligible words to instruct others”? When I read this today, I felt convicted. It the message of our life is not “intelligible” can there be any impact? We speak Christianese and others cannot relate. They cannot see the value in our “sacrifice” because the words of our mouth and meditation of our heart do not agree. We cannot communicate the Gospel without wisdom. We must know what we believe and experience the loving transformation of a renewed mind for others to truly understand what it means to be loved by God. When we speak one thing and live another – our words are invalidated.

Philippians 4:6-9 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What are you thinking? Our thoughts are born of the knowledge in our mind. What we think is influenced by what we know. If our thoughts are anxious about anything, given to things not of God or even simply unforgiving – there is room for improvement. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but the renewing of our mind begins now and is not over until we meet Jesus face-to-face. Be careful if you think you have arrived or know more than the next guy, because a fall is just around the corner. Our minds are assaulted by the lie of the enemy day by day. God’s New Mercy allows us to surrender our heart and mind daily to His Transformation process called Grace. As we begin to change our mind, know the Truth and allow wisdom to take over – it is to our benefit and the Gospel will become clear.

2 Peter 3:1-3 (NIV) Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.

 

Taste and See

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Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Taste and see. Well I have been tasting for a long time and seeing a change to my body that is unhealthy so it was time to do something about it. I need to make some adjustments to my intake to decrease the load I am carrying if you know what I mean. I need to change my diet. Ugh. I hate the word. It gives way to another word that I loathe even more called exercise. You are what you eat. Whatever you put inside of your mouth and choose to digest is what your body uses to sustain itself. Put junk in. Get junk out. Put fat in. Get fat out. With our move and a plethora of other excuses as long as my arm, my diet went from pretty good to terrible seemingly overnight. With this change some unwanted weight gain. Now I must evaluate the foods I eat and what I drink for caloric intake, sugar content and other important qualities to make my body healthy again.

I start each day at my computer in the Word of God with a banana and protein bar. Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium. They also have soluble fiber and natural detoxifying agents that are great for digestion. The bar contains protein which is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Protein is considered a “macronutrient” because the body needs large quantities of it. Since the body cannot store protein, it needs a new supply constantly. In evaluating my diet, I read the protein bar ingredients again to make sure it was a good choice.

Several months ago, balking at the high price of the protein bar that I was eating, I chose a less expensive brand. When I read the packaging comparing it to the old one, I realized that in an effort to save a dollar or two each week – I had definitely sacrificed in the content. Rather than the 12 grams of protein in the expensive brand, I was saving money but only getting 2 grams of protein. I quickly switched back to the one that offered more protein. We do that sometimes in life. You know – like when we set the alarm to get up early to seek God in His Word and pray but quickly turn it off opting for more sleep when morning comes. We need the content but don’t want to give up anything to get it. Taste and see that the Lord is good! The Lord invites us each day to have His Best. Taste His Goodness. See His Glory. Yet too many times we sacrifice quality for quantities of lesser things.

“Oh the joys of those who take refuge in Him!” As we read through Psalm 34, it is a reminder that in our lifetime certain conditions will come like fear(v.4), sin(v.5), desperation(v.6), opposition(v.7), hunger(v.10), temptation(v.13), distractions(v.14), troubles(v.17), and brokenness(v.18) just to name some of them. We must learn to take refuge in the Lord so that in all things – we will overcome. Each condition has a solution. Every time it is the Lord. How do we invest our life with Jesus to the max? How do we maintain a life of victory experiencing His Glory over and over again? We just keep packing Him in. Every day tasting to see that the Lord is good. Even on the days when I am not hungry or feel full, I must keep tasting the Word of God ingesting it over and over again. I must do so with expectation that I will see the Goodness of God in the land of the living. I will not live in fear or lack but confidence and fulfillment just as He promised. I must make the change in my diet and appetite to see the changes in my life that God promises. Why? He does not lie, change His Mind or relent in any way. It is up to me if I will taste and see God’s Goodness in my life today.

Psalm 40:11-13 (NLT) Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me.

The Lord does not withhold His Mercy or His Goodness from us. The enemy would like to make us think so though. Trouble comes at us from all sides. Sin overtakes us and we cannot “see” or comprehend a God who loves us in the midst of constant failure and the bondage of bad choices but He does. Our heart will fail without proper nutrition and exercise. Even by trying to maintain a healthy heart, people still end up needing medical intervention as they advance in their years. The Lord invites us to give Him our heart and allow Him to renew us day by day. In Ezekiel 36:26, it says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

The Lord is intent on keeping His Promise. We must only taste and see that the Lord is good. Change our appetite. Continue to feast on His Word to nourish our soul. We will seek the Lord’s Goodness as He begins to change our heart and mind to what pleases Him and our life follows suit. The Lord wants to save us. He loves to heal and deliver us. He desires nothing more than to flood our life with His Goodness and Glory. I must decide that He is what I want and desire to have the new heart and new life that is promised.

Proverbs 3:1-8 (NLT) My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

I have long since learned that random and radical dieting does nothing more than put my body on a physical roller coaster. There are two closets in my home filled with different sizes of clothing. Rather than reacting to the changes in my body, I can live a life responsibly instead. I don’t have to deprive myself when I choose a healthy diet every day. Just soak that in and marinate on it for a moment since we are talking about food. God did away with religious tradition when Jesus died on the Cross. His Sacrifice covered all our sin and shame so now I am free to live a righteous life with copious amounts of grace and the promise of everlasting life and complete fulfillment. It belongs to me. All I must do is choose to live in it. Each day comes with enough mercy to get over yesterday’s failures and shortcomings, more than sufficient grace to cover my sin and shame, and the same promises that were mine from the very beginning. It is up to me if I will taste and see that God is good, or choose to remain in the troubles all around me. God’s Word leads to peace and prosperity in life – do I read it, study it and ingest it each day. His Spirit allows us to directly communicate with God the Father and Jesus the Son for direction, guidance and wisdom – am I looking for that kind of relationship? Those who do will “win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” which is a good thing. We must trust the Lord with all our heart and stop leaning on our own understanding and just keep packing in wisdom like a free buffet. This will bring health to our body and nourishment to our bones. It is a good life for those who choose to taste and see the Goodness of God!

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Lacking Nothing

Lacking Nothing

James 1:4-5 (NIV) Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

As our family settles into our new-to-us home, a steady list of tasks is being constructed. The handyman came by last week for the first round of repairs and renovations. Before he was out the door, there were more things added to the list. I love home improvement. This house was a foreclosure bought by the family who sold it to us. They did some repairs but it is clear that somewhere in the process, they gave up. I understand as the list gets longer, it can be overwhelming. While I make one for the inside, my husband is mentally making his for the outside. Are we perfectionists? I don’t think so. We just like to take care of the things that the Lord has blessed us with. We like things done. We strive for completion. No loose ends.

When we come to Christ, it is like a foreclosure. A life lived to its own detriment suddenly surrendered to the King of Fixer Uppers. Foreclosed homes usually come in an abused and neglected state. Perhaps, it was just too much for the owner to maintain. Maybe the price of keeping it was just too high so they gave up and walked away. Perhaps they were forced out. The new owner purchases the home because they see its worth and potential underneath the disrepair and filth. Taking the time to clean it up, fix it, and restore it into a home worth living in. I believe that Jesus knows exactly what we need to be complete lacking nothing. Can you imagine complete satisfaction? Not in one thing, but all things. Such a state of contentment would allow us to live free from the burden of needing or wanting anything which in turn would eliminate the majority of our stress and worries in life. The trouble is sometimes there is a difference of opinion in what we think and what God knows will satisfy our soul. Things will never make us complete. People will never satisfy our full expectation. It is Jesus. Just the Lord who can complete us to the uttermost.

Completion in Christ comes with a price labeled perseverance. Perseverance requires patience. If we are committed to being made complete as Jesus intends us to be, it will take a whole lot of perseverance and patience to get there. Completion is marked by maturity. Wisdom comes from knowledge applied properly to our life in our attitude and actions alike. We read the Word of God but it is in its application that one experiences renewal and restoration by having faith in God. To love the Lord is to follow Jesus. To say we love Him, but live the same way we did yesterday, is not to love Him like we should.

John 15:10-11 (NIV) If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

God has jokes. I will let you in on a little secret. This house was not my first pick. I wanted a farmhouse with a wraparound porch. We looked at one or two. I had this overwhelming unction if you will that we would live in a farmhouse. Well, God has jokes. When we looked at this house, I knew it was the one that God handpicked for us. Walking through the home, it was the same layout as the one we were selling with some changes. Many of the changes were some that we had wished for in the other home and one day dreamed of doing. I remember feeling the peace of God yet still asking “are you sure”? This is not a farmhouse, Lord. I thought that’s what I wanted. Well, it is not a farmhouse but it is a house in a neighborhood called “The Farm”. I guess that makes it a “Farm” house.

His Ways are not my ways. His thoughts are so much higher than my own. Maturity in Jesus Christ requires a commitment to His Commandments. The Word of God is the beginning of true knowledge. The Word is seed for our heart from which our faith grows in the Lord. In our pursuit of wisdom, we cannot forget to continually read and study the Bible. People perish for a lack of knowledge. God is specific in nature. He does not lie or change His Mind. To be complete in Christ – who was the Word wrapped in flesh – means as believers we must know the Word of God.

It is not enough to know what God says but to do it. If I divided a room into three sections with one area marked as God’s Perfect Will, God’s Permissive Will and Not God’s Will at all, I am sure that if asked where you currently reside most Christians would play it safe and pick God’s Permissive Will. Sadly, there is no such thing really. God has a perfect will for us and then there is the area labeled not God’s Will at all. The world calls for compromise but that is not a welcome word in the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is to reject God completely. He vomits lukewarm Christians with a lack of sincere faith and commitment to Christ. John Bevere said it best – “There is absolutely nothing good for my life outside of God.”

Grace is enough to complete us. Grace is applied to our weakness. It is the Lord’s Deliberate Plan for us to take full advantage of His Grace in the process of maturity and completion. Grace and complacency are not the same thing. Grace is not a crutch but a pick-me-up when I fall short of the Glory of God so I can get back at it. It is for those who fall forward not backward. What do I mean? Grace is not a cushion to soften our fall but rather a set of arms that catches us as we learn to walk like a toddler taking their first shaky steps. Following Jesus is not easy. Carrying our cross is not a given. We must learn to walk.

I Corinthians 13:9-11 (NIV) For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Our oldest daughter is grown, married and gone. She and her husband are in full-time ministry. They were called away just a few short months after their wedding. Both had not lived away from home for a year, when they packed up all their belongings and moved 21 hours away. She is experiencing life on her own and some days admits that “adulting” is tough. I must concur because at 50, I am still challenged with “adulting” some days. Maturity is not easy. It is taking responsibility of our life. What we do with it from that point on makes all the difference! If we take our life and hand it over to Jesus Christ, we will be made complete. It will be a process. We must be committed to that process. Since we can only know “in part” what is perfect, it is up to our reliance on Jesus Christ to fill in the gaps with His Understanding. That’s why He gave us the Holy Spirit. The more I grow in the Lord, the more that I need to grow. The more understanding that I am given the more I know that I need to be successful in my pursuit of Jesus.

Colossians 2:2-3 (NIV) My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

It has taken a lot of hard work to begin making our new house our home. Lots of cleaning and unpacking went into getting us here. Now as we settle in, projects abound and lists seem overwhelming. I believe that as we steadily work through our needs and want for this house that it’s true potential will begin to shine through. It will take time. It requires effort. It is a commitment. There will be things that I want to do on the weekend preempted by the task at hand. I must count the cost. I have to decide it will be worth it. The same goes for my relationship with Jesus Christ. I have decide if I want the Lord to make His Home in my heart or will we just be acquaintances? Will I live a life of true repentance continually being covered in His Blood and washed by His Word? Will I give Him my time? Will I invest energy into our relationship? Will I make a commitment to become fully mature lacking nothing or is mediocre good enough for me? Anything less of God’s Absolute Best is outside His Will for us. I wonder if that makes compromise and substitutions rebellion against God?

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

True maturity in our spiritual life is evaluated by unity. Do we live in love with Jesus? Do we do everything in an effort to maintain our relationship with Christ? Unity with Christ allows Him to bear the burdens of our life as we are yoked to Him. (Matthew 11:28) Prior to His Death, Jesus told His Disciples that our bond with Him gives us the right to use His Name. (John 16:22-24) When Jesus arose on the third day, He handed us the Keys to the Kingdom once stolen by sin. He gave us His Power and Authority. Shortly after that, He filled us with His Spirit. His Desire is to be one with us as He is with the Father. Complete unity is Father, Son and Spirit living in us. (John 17:22-23) The sign of a mature church is its connection with each other through their bond with Jesus Christ. No division. No parting of the ways. No opinions. Just Jesus filling every member to overflowing until His Love and Grace unites us all to one another. This is the Will of God. This is the sign of maturity that Christ is looking for in His Bride.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV) And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Last night, I dreamed that I put up rolling bamboo blinds on the screened porch to keep out the elements. When I woke up, I thought did I really dream about blinds last night? I have home improvement on the brain it appears. Seriously though, I need to continue my pursuit of Christ more so than any other endeavor in my life until He is at home in my heart. Spiritual maturity cannot be forsaken as the end times are here. We must be aware of our connection to Jesus. We daily maintain our relationship with Him. We must communicate with Christ. His Desire is to complete us. He wants our life to be filled with joy. Joy comes with things like contentment and satisfaction. Maturity comes from knowledge and understanding that becomes wisdom when we take what we know God wants and commit to doing it in our life by faith that He knows exactly what He is doing in us and for us. It is a life of trust. When His Spirit nudges, maturity responds instantly without reservation because it knows God and His Ways choosing to walking in them until we are complete lacking nothing.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NIV) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.