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

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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

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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?

what-am-i-thinking

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. 

Depth Perception

Depth Perception

I John 2:26-28 (NLT) I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.

Who’s right? In world with a wide range of religions and opinions, how do I know that the God I serve is the one true God? How do I know that Jesus Christ is the only way? What a person believes dictates how they live? They can say anything they like freely but it is in our behavior, attitude and actions that our true colors shine through. Jeremiah 13:23 asks “can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard take away its spots?” What is he saying? No they cannot and “neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil.”  Oh please don’t be offended. I am in no way implying that you or yours are evil. I am just examining my own heart for relevance today. My life has physical implications. However, unless I develop an understanding of the spiritual implications that impact my life, I can do nothing of importance or significance for the Lord.

As believers, we are given God’s Holy Spirit to live in us and promote spiritual understanding that becomes knowledge and once applied the wisdom that guides our life in righteousness. How we see the world is reflected by one’s depth perception in life. Do we see things only in the natural? Have we dared to peer into our physical state? Do we long for the eyes of our heart to be opened? Light that shines in the darkness reveals the secrets hidden there. Once a lie is exposed to truth it can no longer be entertained as anything else. So we tiptoe as far across the line of fear into faith possible while still maintaining our ignorance and naivety when God has given us the ability to see well beyond the natural into the supernatural realm.

Ephesians 1:7-9 (NLT) He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan.

God in His Rich and Loving Kindness maximized by His Grace purchased our freedom with the Blood of His Son Jesus. He forgave our sins – past, present and future – in that moment. How? God is omnipresent meaning everywhere at once, omniscient meaning He knows everything and His Omnipotent meaning all powerful. It is in His Absolute Sovereignty as God alone that He is able to determine the Sacrifice of Christ acceptable and apply it to our life. He bestowed this gift to humanity. Limited in perception beyond what the five senses, the Lord is determined to connect with us. He not only showered us in loving kindness but gave us ALL wisdom and understanding. God revealed His Mysterious Plan to us. No He didn’t? Yes, He did!

We have the Holy Spirit. He is our guide. He is our teacher. He is significant in establishing depth perception in life that sees beyond the natural to embrace the supernatural. His Understanding reaches past the physical things to take hold of spiritual confidence. We are told to walk by faith and not by sight in a world that defines seeing as believing. Lord help us. Open our eyes to Your Glory, God.

Depth perception is the ability to perceive spatial relationships. It is the ability to determine the potions of objects in association with one another. This is heavily influenced by the development of the human brain and how it sees distance etc. It is also decided by experience. If an animal is exposed to a glass floor, it struggles to walk on it because it challenges their depth perception. If a person who is afraid of heights is given the opportunity to cross the same floor, they may be unable to do so because fear cannot see the floor just the distance between their feet and the ground. The distance between mankind and God is not as far as we think. In fact, it is not far at all because Jesus Christ lives inside of us. He has given us His Spirit to open our spiritual eyes, increase supernatural understanding, and prosper us from the inside out. However, human logic often talks us out of faith. Natural understanding defies the existence of God to the extent of its intelligence. It is because of ignorance that God’s People perish every day many thinking that they know a God that they have yet to see.

John 9:1-5 (NLT) As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus is the Light of the world. Light is the very thing that allows the eye to see. Without light, there is no sight. Light has a complex interaction with our eyes and brain that illuminate our world. Light reaches the eye and signals are sent to our brain. Our brain deciphers the information in order to detect appearance, location and movement of objects. When considering Jesus in such context, He is spiritual light. He shines brightly inside of us shedding light on our heart and soul giving us an opportunity to apply His Love, Grace and Power to all aspects of our natural life.

When Jesus saw the man blind from birth, the man was not crying out to the Lord. He was just sitting there. The disciples asked Jesus, “Why was this man born blind?” We are all born blind due to sin. We have the opportunity to have our eyes opened if we are willing to believe. The Lord used this man as an example. Note the reason that Jesus gave them, “This happened so the Power of God could be seen in him.” Well then… God will use whatever means possible to open the eyes of our mind, and the recesses of our heart, so the Light of His Love can expose anything that is keeping us from God’s Very Best.

A miracle happened that day. Now one might think this would be a happy ending to a life of disappointment. You know everyone would celebrate wildly and declare Jesus as Lord. Not exactly. One man’s healing sent a spiritual wave moving through the synagogue that day. The man’s friends questioned his miracle. Some discredited it as a mistake and that this was not the man they knew. They couldn’t comprehend such a miracle. It made its way to his parents who are called before the Pharisees. They agree that they have no idea what happened. They tell the religious leaders to ask their son essentially telling them to leave them alone. This miracle was quickly becoming their misfortune as their religion was now compromised. The Pharisees asked the man over and over again who repeated the same story. The man was ultimately thrown out of the synagogue.

Jesus met the man just outside of religion and other relationships. He asked the man, “Do you believe in the Son of God? The man answered the Lord, “I want to believe in him.” The man accepted Jesus in that moment. I believe that this occurs regularly in the modern day church when the miraculous overtakes our natural understanding. When Knowledge of God becomes too incredible to accept and His Doing too much to absorb, do we discredit the Lord among people unknowingly. The Lord is doing more than we can ask or think. We must think differently to make revival a reality or miracles will be dismissed by mindsets.

I Corinthians 2:13-15 (NLT) When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.

We must gain depth perception in Jesus Christ. We must understand the spiritual implications in our life. The Light of His Love shows us the areas of our life that are working with God’s Plan and sabotaging it as well. It is through knowledge and understanding that the opportunity for true wisdom to arise. The rippling effect of the blind man’s healing that day is no different than that which occurs in the modern day church every day. God moves and does the miraculous which is quickly shutdown. We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. Is anyone talking about the Blood? Where are all the testimonies?

Growing up Southern Baptist, I was inundated with the Word of God, scripture memorization and constant Bible study. However, the Holy Spirit was assigned the title of silent partner and the Book of Acts kept safely shut. It was quite frustrating to spend all that time in God’s Word but remaining powerless in life. Like a tiny boat tossed in a raging storm, my faith was weak and hope nearly gone. When I became filled with the Holy Spirit almost twenty years ago, something changed in me. Suddenly the Word of God began to make sense and became instantly applicable to my life. The more I read the more I wanted to know. The more I prayed the more I listened for His Voice. My life in Christ came together when His Spirit and His Truth began to commune in my life. All word and no Spirit sets up rules and regulations unattainable because there is no evidence of grace other than implied. All Spirit and no word is a highly emotional relationship status that will not be consistent or fulfilling because it lacks promise. The Word is the promises God keeps. We must live with a healthy balance of both to know and understand what the Lord would like to do in us and for us.

Colossians 2:7-9 (NLT) Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.  For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.

If our spiritual life has no depth and is not applicable to our natural life, miracles can happen in us, through us and around us that will go unnoticed. Explained away by chance, fate or misperception and we will miss the fullness of God living in us working its way out of us. Religion must give way to an intimate relationship taking God’s Word applying it to our life liberally and allowing His Spirit to have the freedom to work it through our life unrestricted. Our life cannot be supernaturally inclined without Spirit and Truth. Our life will not worship God without these two key ingredients either. Our perception of God must gain depth in our soul. Roots must grow in us connecting our heart and mind with Christ and His Kingdom rather than trying to make our life in Christ purely natural. If you do what the Word of God says, your life will prosper naturally. If you allow His Spirit to move you along there will be blessing apparent in your life as well. But if what we desire is the truly miraculous when all impossibilities become possible in Christ, we must gain depth perception that allows us to walk by faith and not sight. It will free us from human thinking and release us from bondage to empty philosophies as the Fullness of His Love reaches the inner most hidden places of our heart.

Philippians 1:9-10 (NLT) I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

Lord, give us greater depth perception of Your Love today. Life our tired hands to praise You and all wonderful things you are doing that we cannot comprehend but hold fast to in the Word. Strengthen our weak knees by Your Grace to stand in faith guarding our hearts and mind until You make it come to pass. Lord, may your Spirit mark out a straight path for my feet so I will not walk lame or limping again. Give me the courage to walk boldly in the Light of Your Amazing Love. To know You more and make You know throughout my realm of influence today Lord. Let me press harder to know how wide, long, high and deep that Your Love truly is. Let me see my life as You see it, live as You designed it and be fulfilled. Open the eyes of my heart Lord that I may live according to Your Word and Your Spirit. I give you the Glory for taking me deeper Jesus.

I John 5:20-21 (NLT) And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.

 

Personal Gain

Personal Gain

Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Would it be safe to say that life doesn’t always turn out as one might plan? I once thought…could apply to any number of situations in life. Good intentions falling short of our expectation condition our trust and limit our optimism early on. Life is hard. For those who experience the school of hard knocks, their heart and mind will try to continue to prepare for the worst giving up hope. There are others who grow up with a silver spoon that will one day be tarnished by disappointment. What then? Can they recover? Or is the fall just a little too far? Optimism and pessimism are opposites yet the same. Emotional beliefs that condition how one perceives that which they can see. It is one’s outlook on life. To the optimist who is positive, the pessimist is too negative all the time. To the pessimist who is a “realist”, the optimist is a constant dreamer. Both are feelings conditioned in our mind usually by the early experiences of life. Neither the optimist nor pessimist has a true perspective of life because each is looking at it from a human point of view. What if we looked at our life as God sees it? What if we decided to believe rather than react to our current conditions and feelings?

Paul had a change of heart. He had a changed mind. All the “things” that once seemed valuable and profitable in life were now worthless. All the religious ideas and notions thrown out compared to just knowing Jesus. What might happen if we considered everything else worthless when compared to the infinite value of knowing our Savior, Jesus Christ. Is it even possible to discredit our feelings and personality to conscientiously develop the character and nature of the Lord? I mean truly. Discarding everything else as garbage compared to knowing Him more. Is it possible to stop looking at the Law and comparing our good works to those of others? Is it thinkable to decide that our service is really servanthood of no worth other than our dedication to doing it? I become righteous through Christ. It is my faith in Him alone that I must build my life. Is there profit? What is the gain? I need to know if it is even worth it.

Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? What is a human soul worth? Each person must decide the value of life. I think in my estimation it would be between $350,000 and $650,000. At least in our son’s case, that was when the insurance company began to deny payment and the hospital would not provide treatment. The treatment was considered to be nonconventional. A stab in the dark. Not worth taking the chance. Why? Well, with treatment he only had a 2% chance of survival but without it he would die in their opinion. When you think that an abortion costs around $500, it becomes clear it is less costly to end life then maintain it.

What is your life worth to you? Let me ask you again. What is your life to you? When you look in the mirror each morning what or who do you see? Are you worth living for? Are you worth dying for? Are you worth the personal effort of caring for? Do you feel like you are worthless? Are you hopeless today? See our perception of self and personal worth directly impacts our outlook on life and willingness to live it to the fullest. Maybe your life has been hard. High five on that one, mine has definitely not been easy either. Maybe it didn’t turn out like you planned, l think most adults feel the same way to one degree or another. Is your life rich and satisfying? Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) Do you believe it?

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT) For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

As a youth leader in our church, I usually position myself in the back of the church during service. Praying and watching the kids as they enter into worship, it never fails that there are those who look to see what the others are doing. Imitating how their peers act or move and doing the same. They never really press into God’s Presence because they are trying to be like someone else. Okay let’s be honest. Adults…we do the same thing. Exchanging earthly exchanges for church lingo. Surveying the look and sound of other Christians, we change our outward image to blend in with a new crowd entering a different social circle. We look the look, walk the walk and talk the talk, but has anything occurred other than adaptation.

We have a light shining in our heart that is read to burst from within us. It is a treasure. It is a costly investment into humanity. God placed eternity in our heart. Sin blocked our entrance. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ allows us to access the Kingdom once again. Will His Grace be sufficient for me? Will it be enough to overcome my low self-esteem and denial of self-worth? There is great power inside of each believer looking for a way out. It is the same resurrection power that brought Jesus Christ out of the grave. It is inside of me. It is inside of you. So God allows pressing issues, lingering circumstance, subtle situations to become more pervasive in our life so that it will finally bring down ever wall of pride that keeps us from God’s Best right now.

It is through our sufferings in life that hard hearts are broken, ears can hear and eyes can see the Glory of God making its way through the impossible to the probable in our life. The cracks on the surface of our heart are filled with seeds of God’s Word and watered by His Spirit. If we can just provide the tiniest amount of faith our life becomes profitable again. The truth of the matter, whether we like it or not, is if we had not been broken by this life, not many of us would have experienced Christ as we know Him today. He brings dead things to life.

Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 (NLT) Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

What is the profit margin in our life? In business, this is considered to be an indicator to gauge the financial health of a business. What is the profitability of our life? In this world, profitability is the ability of a business to earn a profit. Sound business plan. However, our life has a purpose that outweighs and outlasts any natural venture. I can become a millionaire, but when I die I become penniless again. Money means nothing in the Kingdom of God. I can have great influence on earth but become one of a worshipping throng when I enter Heaven. Every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord. Those who decide to live for His Lordship now will have a flourishing soul in forever.

I do not know what the Lord is doing in my life. I know that He has a plan with a future and hope. The Lord gives me clear indications and directions by His Spirit. However, I must decide it such a life is profitable to me now. I must choose who I give my life, time, talent and treasure to. So do you? We are all given the same amount of time in any given day. What we do with it is up to us? Do we turn it all over to the world receiving tangible things that will not profit more than our pocket? Or do we turn some of it even the smallest portion back into the Kingdom for profitability? Some may say, I am too busy which only means that you have given your life to something else. We choose the way we spend our life. No one else. It is also within us to change the course of our life anytime it is our desire.

Proverbs 14:22-24 (NLT) If you plan to do evil, you will be lost; if you plan to do good, you will receive unfailing love and faithfulness. Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty! Wealth is a crown for the wise; the effort of fools yields only foolishness.

We are in the process of moving to a new home. Ironically, the new house has the same floor plan as our old one. As I begin to go through the contents packing to move, I have found many things that are not needed any longer. Now all of this stuff will fit in the new house, remember it is essentially the same house in a different location, but moving to our new place has led me to lightening our load. As I come across unnecessary things, I post them online for sale. There is hidden profit in my home that would have never been exposed without a change. We can know the Lord but never apply His Logic or Wisdom to our life remaining unchanged. Or we can take His Word and apply it to our life. Daily sowing into the Kingdom even though it is unseen and seems far away. We decide what is important to us and worthy of our life. Many times this choice reflects our own self-worth. Those who do not understand the investment Jesus made into our life will never seek after His Benefits.

When money is tight, people create a budget. Track expenditures. Cut back. Commitment to the process will yield financial security to those who stick to the plan. Often finding that there was more money than they thought but it was being wasted. One of the most common factors in divorce is financial issues. Stress and worry are often the result of money problems. Imagine what might happen if the whole world went on a budget? Imagine the fiscal change in our economy. It would actually turn our world’s economy upside down as such a decision forces contentment and curves impulsivity. So take it one step further…what if every Christian became a believer reconciling their life to Jesus Christ? Oh come on, let’s not get too crazy.

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (NLT) But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.

When our baby girl started kindergarten, I went back to work. My intention was to work while the kids were at school and be home with them. Working for the school system seemed ideal, as my schedule reflected theirs even with summers off. That was the initial plan. However, after three promotions, I no longer had a job it became a career. Hours grew longer. Summers evaporated. Stress made its way home. Work even invaded my thoughts long after the day was done. I was not a very nice person.

When our son was diagnosed, I initially was going to alternate weeks with other caregivers. After all, I couldn’t leave my job. I had to work. Deep inside I was able to squelch the guilt that kept rising up. When I arrived at the hospital to accompany our son to his first treatment, he got out of the car and I believe the Lord opened my eyes to the gravity of the situation. As if scales had fallen, I saw just how horribly sick my son was. In that moment, like a heavy chain, I could feel the responsibility of my job fall right off me. I could hear it crashing on the ground. Without the slightest hesitation, I called my boss and told him I cannot come back until I see him through. Ironically, when I returned after three years of back and forth, I tried to pick up that heavy chain again. I couldn’t and it was not for lack of trying. There was no place for it in my life anymore. Things had changed. I had changed. God had filled the void in my life for good.

What will be your breaking point? We must all be broken to be remade in Jesus Christ. The idols of life are justified by the masses yet in the stillness of His Presence it is so simple. What is the profit of our life if we gain the world but lose our soul? It is a valid question. We can answer it consciously and choose life. Or we can wait until the end and discover devastating disappointment. If we have the knowledge of God, it must become understanding. Understanding must grow feet and arms called wisdom to move us from glory to glory as the Lord transforms us into His Image. This will always be a choice never a condition.

The next time you look in the mirror, try to see past your personal appearance to your soul deep within. It is it alive and prospering today. Or has it been neglected to acquire lesser things. This is not always a financial pursuit, it can be anything that potentially takes the place of Jesus in our life. Is it producing anything of worth or just another heartache? You must decide if you are worth living the life that Christ died for you to have. He thought you were worth it. Do you?

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Lost Contact

Lost Contact

Matthew 7:1-6 (NIV) “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

 

About a year ago, I began wearing contact lenses. Tired of my glasses, it was time for a change. After the first couple of days of attempting to stick something in my eye which did not seem amenable to my doing so, it was a piece of cake. I have enjoyed them tremendously… until last night. Sundays are very long days. By the time, we finally make it home and eat some dinner. I am ready for a hot shower and bed. As I was attempting to remove my contacts which has always been a breeze, I lost one. No seriously after digging and rubbing my eyeball for an hour, I cannot find it. I don’t know if it is still in my eye, or worked its way out but my eye is screaming this morning. It is swollen, red and very irritated. Flooding it with eye drops, I cannot even gently touch it today without intense pain. Why wouldn’t I immediately seek the Lord and anything that might offer relief? I went straight to Matthew 7 this morning.

 

The plank in the eye story about judgment has always been a warning against self-righteous indignation when we decide that the behavior or actions of another are not worthy of the same grace that God gave us so we judge them according to their actions and not the grace given to us by Jesus Christ. There is a strong warning for God’s People who judge other people. Good judgment is not the problem at all. In fact, Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to give us discernment. (I Corinthians 2:10-11) God’s Ways are not like our ways. God’s Word will never return to Him void or not accomplishing exactly what God intended it to do. (Isaiah 5:8-10) The Word of God is quite clear that “whoever hears my (God’s) word and believes him sent me (Jesus) and will not be judged but passes from death to life.” (John 5:24) It is human nature to add to the context of obedience and raise the bar of life, but it is not God’s Way. His Word is complete all by itself. (Ecclesiastes 3:14) Jesus said, “It is finished” and He meant that it is done.

 

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

 

We are saved by grace through faith. There is no other way to the Father but by the Son. (John 14:6) Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Let’s talk just a little bit about that today. We all know and understand Matthew 7 when it talks about other people but I believe that if God’s People would seek discernment and allow the Holy Spirit to make our hope confident that this problem with judging one another might get nipped in the bud. Comparison to anyone other than Jesus Christ is a joy-killer and prosperity ender. Your life is unique. You are referred to as “God’s Masterpiece”. It is not only how we judge others but how we judge ourselves. Most of the time I expect more of myself than anyone else. I put my expectations in others that should be solely grounded in God’s Love and His Grace. When I decide that others are not worry of God’s Grace. I am judging them. When I am certain I have overstepped my bounds and must do something to further achieve God’s Grace as well, I am judging myself.

 

What is judgment anyway? Judgment is the ability to judge or make a decision. It is to form an opinion objectively (not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice) but based solely on facts. When we overcome human thinking and stand on the Truth according to God’s Word, we develop good judgment not based on the attitudes and actions of others but on the basis of Jesus Christ and the faith that we have in Him. We believe and are confident that the hope we have in the Lord far out measures and outweighs worldly opinions. Judgment or discernment is not a bad thing. It is when we decide to judge in the absence of grace that it gains a negative connotation.

 

There are three products of judgment that can be problematic in our life. Oppression, offenses, and opinions hold no power over us except what is given. They are three bully clubs that we use on others, as well as, ourselves. They all stem from lies and deceptions from the author of confusion. In order to overcome these three culprits, it is optimal to pull apart our thoughts and rip open our mind to examine the contents. When we find these three weed seeds, it is best to tear them out immediately or they surely will destroy us from the inside out beginning with bitterness and strife.

 

Psalm 119:130-135 (NIV) The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts. Make your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees.

 

Judgment of others and self-condemnation begins with unrealistic expectations based on lack of knowledge. They have been a great gift (salvation) but not taken the time to read the directions so all the wonderful benefits sit in the box waiting to be used. Not many people take the time to study God’s Word each day and pack in knowledge that feeds discernment and starves ignorance. To oppress means to burden with cruel and unjust impositions or restraints. It makes one subject to a burdensome or harsh exercise. We cannot earn grace. It is a God-given gift. We are called to love – one another and our self. Poor judgment based on a lack of knowledge is foolishness that fastens the shackles of oppression on the arms of God’s People. We must seek the Word of God to know the Way of God. We must walk in the Way of God to have God’s Will. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) The Truth has the ability to establish freedom in your life today. (John 8:32) The Lord desires to free us today from ignorance and the oppression of poor judgment. (Psalm 146:6-8)

 

Proverbs 19:11 (NIV) A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

 

Are you offended today? Are you harboring unforgiveness? To withhold forgiveness from another person is a form of judgment that hinders us. It takes us captive allowing the other person to remain free. 2 Samuel 25 is the story of David, Abigail and Nabal. Nabal offended David greatly and David was ready to settle the score. But Nabal’s wife was a wise woman and the moment that she heard of Nabal’s offending words and actions to David, she sprang into action preparing provisions going to David to personally offer forgiveness for her husband’s foolish offense. David accepted her gift and Abigail’s people were saved as well. What if we were so quick to respond? Would it remove the cloud of offense that hangs over the church today? People get offended so they leave. They carry that baggage to the next place they go and add to it until one day they are sitting at home alone with offense built up as a wall all around them. Do not judge them it could be you. Just because you are right does not give you the right to be offended.

 

The word “offend” means to irritate, annoy or anger. It is to cause resentment or displeasure. Clearly that is not the cause of Jesus Christ or the outcome He desires in our life or for His Kingdom. Offense is the offering of pride that exalts itself over the humble spirit of salvation and grace. It demands its own way and accountability for all actions except those of self. By choosing to foster love and grace in our life, it will cover every offense. (Proverbs 17:9) Calmness and patience will lay great offenses to rest (Ecclesiastes 10:4) so we can politely step over them and keep following Christ.

 

Proverbs 18:2 (NIV) Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.

 

An opinion is a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. It is often based on how we feel not what we know. It is not a secure position. Yet, many people will base their life and future on the opinions of other people. Public opinion is the devil’s fodder because it is an emotional reaction and not an eternal response. My tongue contains the power of life and death. The contents of my heart determine the overflow and potential in each word using my breath to resurrection my life and purpose or slowing kill it in doubt, fear and worry born of disbelief.

 

Matthew 7:1-5 warns of the dangers of poor judgment, lacking judgment or misplaced judgment. We are all guilty of it. This threat stems from ignorance. The more we study the Word of God, pray and seek out His Spirit for discernment – the better equipped we become at avoiding things like oppression, offense and powerful opinions. We have everything we need for a life of godliness. His Divine Power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3) Sometimes we forget the Gift of God that we have been given but His Word reminds us and His Spirit confirms it. We must use the Word of God as the sharp, two-edge sword that it is to allow the Holy Spirit to penetrate our soul and spirit and rightly divide us from things life oppressive, offensive and opinionated thoughts so that we can live in the freedom given to us by Jesus. (Hebrews 4:12) We cannot judge others when love and life abound in us. We cannot see our old selves when overshadowed by God’s Love, Affirmation and Approval. If we could just get the enemy out of our head and under our feet, we would come to know and realize that we have the power to walk in victory every day from glory to glory in Jesus Christ. Maybe this is how we stop giving dogs what is sacred, and allow the pigs to trample our pearls, by taking captive every single thought that creates strongholds in us like oppression, offensiveness and opinions.

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 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.

 

The enemy strives to make people believe that God’s Grace is not sufficient. He twists and turns every word God has ever spoken to use against God’s Children. The truth is that the enemy is the author of confusion. He lies ruthlessly and without regret. If he can access a human thought or make his way into our mind, he will do so. Sin begins with a lie. Always. Jesus overcame the lie of the enemy when he was tempted by him. When we allow our thoughts to be sifted like wheat by the enemy lacking confidence that comes from faith in God and a personal pursuit to know who we are in Christ and who He is to us, we become subject to poor vision. We lack discernment so even when we look in the mirror, the reflection is altered. The glass is cloudy enough without adding objects like oppression, offense and opinions to block our view and vision of God’s Plan and Purpose for our life. My contacts help me see clearly. However, when it did not come out as expected last night rather than being patient, I began to dig in my eye relentlessly. So much so that now my eye is swollen and irritated. I am not sure if the contact is still in there or not. Today I must be patient. I must allow the eye drops to calm the irritated state of my pupil. Maybe the contact has already worked its way out and I need to just allow it my eye to rest. Nevertheless, I have learned a valuable lesson.

 

God is definitely not finished with us yet. If our purpose was accomplished and plan fully achieved, He would be calling us home or coming to get us. Since we are alive and breathing, it means the process is still ongoing. Lord, forgive me for judging others. As I strive daily not to do so, let me not turn on myself. God’s Grace is sufficient for me. Let me fix my thoughts on you today. Slam the windows and doors of my heart and mind to the enemy’s lies and open my soul and spirit to more of you. I ask the Holy Spirit to continue to cultivate good fruit and remind me of who I am to You, Lord! Fix my eyes on you, Jesus and if you see fit to do so fixing my eye would be awesome but if not right this minute let it be a reminder of where my faith belongs along with all expectation and who my Living Hope is – it’s you Jesus. May I be fully consumed mind, soul and body with your Love and Grace – not only sharing it with others but understanding it is for me too!  God loves you today. Jesus is passionately pursuing us ready to overtake us with His Lovingkindness. The enemy is a liar. You have the victory. You are an overcomer. It doesn’t matter what you think or what others may say! You win! What’s blocking your view?

 

Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 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.