Slow Leak

Slow Leak

Psalm 34:4-7 (NLT) I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

My vehicle comes equipped with a tire pressure sensor. It is very sensitive to the amount of air in each tire. Recently, I noticed that when the systems did the initial ignition check that the warning light would come on. It indicated that one of the tires was registering low on pressure. Upon inspection, it did not look any different than the other wheels. Yet each time, the light would consistently come on. I took it to the mechanic on the way to work for a manual pressure check. He looked at the tire agreeing that it did not look low but his pressure gauge showed it was indeed low on air. Over the next few minutes, he did a quick look to see if there was a nail or sharp object protruding but nothing. I made an appointment for the next day. To find the source of escaping air, the shop filled the tire with air and then slowly ran water over the tread until sure enough a little puncture was found. Thankfully the tire was under warranty and with the new one in place, I was on my way.

I have noticed lately that my heart feels a little empty, my soul just a bit dry, and I have been wondering if maybe I sprung a slow leak like my tire. Even strong Christians have days when they feel weak and tired for no apparent reason. There is usually a reason but since life is good – we focus on the good things and ignore the nagging in our spirit and warning signs that something is a bit off. That’s what believers do, right? Faith it until we make it. Recite memorized scripture and spout Christianese? Pretend it is hope that we hold on to rather than the fear, doubt, anxiety, and worry that develop into disappointment, devastation or depression? Everyone has fears. Everyone has certain doubts. Everyone worries about something. Even the strongest Christian has disappointments. We are called not to perfection but perseverance and persistence. To keep pressing past the challenges of life to grab hold of the possibilities of faith. It is messy. It can be ugly. There will be a lot of tears. We must deal with those slow leaks in our heart that cause our love, joy and peace to be emptied.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

In the believer dwells the Holy Spirit, the very essence of Jesus Christ. He is always busy producing good fruit for soulful consumption such as love, joy, and peace. These are the fruits that allow us to thrive. Living water flows in and out of us. Jesus said that He is the Bread of Life. We have everything needed to live a rich and satisfying life full of abundance. The Kingdom belongs to us. We are connected to it so if we feel like less than enough, failures or fruitless – it warrants our immediate attention. A thief is among us.

Ephesians 6:16-17 (NLT) In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

In John 10:10, there comes a warning that there is a predator of our soul who seeks to steal, kill and destroy God’s People. You can choose to ignore him but that will not keep him from firing fiery arrows at your heart and soul. If the lie of the enemy can make it past our shield of faith and penetrate our mind, it will produce a leak in us. We must be deliberate and vigilant in our faith holding it tightly and protectively over our heart and mind. While salvation is the helmet to protect our thoughts, it is important to be on the lookout and constant defense for the enemy and aggressor the believer’s body, mind and spirit. He is always aggressively attacking seeking who can be devoured.

Ephesians 5 tells us about natural relationships such as husband and wife. It refers to Jesus who loves the church. Christ loved us so much dying was not a second thought but His Sheer Determination to have us. We are offered the Mind of Christ. To allow Him to transform our mind from the inside out. I love the illustration in Ephesians 5 where Jesus washes the wounds of His Bride with His Word. He is the Word. The Lord had to pour Himself out to wash, bind and heal our heart and mind. To make us holy and whole. To cleanse us. To restore us. To renew us. To refresh us. To revive us. Do you need to be restored, renewed, refreshed or revived? Let the Lord wash you in the water of His Word to find the leaks where love, joy and peace are escaping.

Psalm 34:17-20 (NLT) The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!

Oh friends, do you feel dry, thirsty or a bit empty today? The Lord is ready to heal you. He is ready to fill you to capacity with the abundance promised to you as His Beloved. God does not forsake His Children even when we are broken. In fact, the Word of God says just the opposite. He rushes in to the broken. Grace turns to power in our weakness not personal strength. Faith is a shield meant to protect our heart not to be a logical defense but the powerful force that keeps us standing under pressure and pressing when on the verge of giving up. Life in Christ is not always easy but promised to be work it. Psalm 34 invites us to taste and see that the Lord is good. Allow Him to change our appetite and productivity in life. Yet know and understand that even strong lions sometimes go hungry…oh but those who trust the Lord will lack no good thing which means the current situation or condition is temporary. Oh if only our natural eyes could see life from the spiritual realm – we are always living half full and never half empty. God is constantly producing good things and pouring out every spiritual blessing. Lord, show me the leaks. Come in close and heal them so I may overflow with love, peace and joy again.

Ephesians 3:17-20 (NLT) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Advertisements

Soulful Sowing

Young woman reading bible by stream in summer

Hosea 10:12 (NIV) Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.

God has already provided for us. He has supplied every need. The Lord desires to bless us. To prosper us in the land of the living long before entering His Kingdom forever. This is the Will of God for us. It is not a contract with heavy stipulations but rather a covenant of love. Sow in the Kingdom – reap Kingdom rewards. Sow in the Spirit – reap the Fruit of the Spirit. Sow in the natural – reap in the natural. What you sow – you will reap. It is a principle set forth in the Days of Noah and a promise that holds true today. When God’s Promise suits us – it is called good. When God’s Promise delivers what it says it will but we do not like the outcome then He is not good. The promise is good if the outcome favorable. The promise is deemed a threat if it is considered unfavorable.

The Word of God is good because He is good. It is for us. It promises good things to us. God cannot contradict His Word. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. If He has spoken it, His Word will not return to Him until it has fully accomplished what it was sent to do. It is sometimes difficult to fully comprehend the perfection of God in that He will not relent to our notions and whims. The senseless whining and ongoing pleas of a people full of doubt lacking trust and yet His Patience prevails in His Persistence to make sure that His Promise arrives right on time because He is faithful in all things.

Isaiah 55:9-11 (NIV) “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

If only one might take the time to consider God’s Word in relation to His Promises. To sit and ponder at the wonder of His Word released to accomplish great things and not take hold of the reins to steer it, put our hand to the plow to break it, or decide that it means something entirely different. If I plant watermelon seeds in my backyard, and then tell everyone to watch and see my new zucchini plants grow. I am leading others astray for surely when the plant yields its fruit it will be a watermelon despite my declaration. We must know the Word of God including its context and content to fully understand Kingdom blessings and benefits.

In Leviticus 25, I found a passage regarding sowing and reaping that I feel is helpful. It is a command to observe the Sabbath Year. The Lord tells Moses that once the Children of Israel enter the Promised Land that they must observe a Sabbath Year. For six years, they will sow and reap from their fields. In the Seventh Year, they must not work the field. Whatever the land yields they may eat it but they cannot work it. The same account is in Exodus 23, the land is to be unplowed and unused for the whole year and not only will you and your family eat from it but others may get food from it along with livestock. An entire year of trusting God – to provide for a household. This passage ends with the warning…be careful to do everything I have said to you. What if God told you not to work for one year? To live off what you have and trust Him for the rest, could you do it? We must evaluate our sowing and determine the condition of our heart. To sow simply for the productivity of the field will not produce a rich and satisfying life. It is the sowing of God’s Word in our hearts that yield the kind of life God promised.

Mark 4:14-20 (NIV) “The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

The Lord has given us the Word to sow into our lives for supernatural productivity. However, we all fall into own of the categories described in the Parable of the Sower. I believe that many of us experience different stages of receivership according to spiritual grow and development. Spirit maturity advances us to the next level of faith that allows us to take God at His Word and trust Him a little more each time. The Word is the good seed of our life that will produce exactly what it says it will provide. We must plow through the hardness of our heart to make it fertile for the Word. Hearing the Word, it must be accepted as Truth for our life. You must believe. Believing is not enough. What you believe is of the utmost importance? We must accept God’s Word as our Truth and then do what it says. Then, a prosperous crop of what is sown will surely come up and become established in our life.

Galatians 6:7-9 (NIV) Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Prudent words to live by. Desiring God’s best must be followed by a disciplined decision to do exactly what He says. We cannot have God’s Best outside of His Faithfulness which comes to those who diligently seek Him with their whole heart. Sometimes Christians get so caught up in the sowing and reaping process that they do not find the rest of the Sabbath. So God in His Infinite Wisdom and Divine Perfection allows His Mercy to prevail and the job loved more than Christ is gone. Or perhaps, our Christian service becomes a jewel in our crown rather than another one to lay at His Feet. Perhaps vain glory and puffed up pride have convinced us that we are doing is more important than what the Lord is about to do so we ignore some of His Commands as old-fashioned or unnecessary. You will reap what you sow. Sowing God’s Word in our heart will always cause our heart to prosper and soon after our life.

It is important to engage in soulful sowing. It is easy to turn what was once faithfulness to God into something fruitless in small focusing on His Hand rather than His Heart. We must focus on sowing righteousness for ourselves. Continually reaping the fruit of unfailing love. I cannot do this for myself but fully rely on God and His Word. Allowing Him to break up my habits, practices, routine, schedule and agenda to make room for the Lord and His Work to be accomplished in me and then through me. Everyone wanders off from time to time. Don’t let anyone fool you. The enemy is a formidable foe. But the Book says that we win! We live in the Triumph of Jesus Christ who is in us. We must not allow the world or other people to influence our pursuit of righteousness but live in the Word and do exactly what it says. You don’t have to but you will certainly reap exactly what you sow!

Matthew 13:23 (NIV) “But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Humbled By Grace

Humbled by Grace

I Peter 5:6-10 (NIV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

I am a consummate over thinker. It doesn’t matter what the subject – it must be dissected and thoroughly digested before it is allowed to settle in my mind. Details. Life is in the details for me. So upon leaving our church service yesterday when I grew quiet, it was a que to my husband that my mind was at work. God’s Word is the mirror of our soul. When it is heard, it should always be considered and compared to our heart, soul and mind for validity in our life. It always applies to me and to you. The Word of God is a sharp, two-edged sword that will sever the worthless things attached to us and continue to prepare us for proper grafting to Jesus Christ and His Body. Our pastor is teaching about Kingdom culture including what does it look like and how does it apply to the church. What does grace look like? How is it applied? Do we welcome others by faith into grace? Is that something that I must do? Or is it possible for me to give grace that was sufficient for me? See how it works. Thoughts spiraling deeper into a vortex of complex contemplation. Lord, help me understand.

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.

The subject of my introspection is grace and its application. Romans 12 tells us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God calling it true and proper worship. How does it work? In the very next verse, it tells us not to conform to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Our mind is a powerful thing. It is the place where faith becomes confident hope. We must be able to test and approve what God’s Good, Pleasing and Perfect Will is for our life which means our thought process must be fully set on knowing and understanding God’s Love and the Gift that He has given us. Oh the Gift of God’s Grace that through faith changes everything.

The comment was made that when people who are not like us enter the church corridor that we are to give them grace. This is true but first one must consider our own thoughts concerning them. People who come in that look different than we do are not subject to our judgment yet they are judged just the same. The moment that I consider myself (a mere recipient of a grace so overwhelming that I still do not fully understand it decades after accepting it) on some higher level with the right to determine their condition based on appearance – I have fallen farther than the one who I chose to judge.

The consideration of my heart today is not the actions of the corporate body called church but my own heart and mind. Mercy comes to meet me every morning just like everyone else. Rain falls on the just and unjust reminding me that God’s Love and Care are for all whether accepted or rejected. Grace is received by faith and there is not a thing that I can do to earn or deserve it. I cannot repay God for His Loving Kindness exemplified in my life by the distribution of grace at the expense of the Blood of His Son. I cannot reciprocate the favor because all I have to give is the empty shell left after sin has been sent into remission. It is never fully gone. At any time, it can return like a cancerous cell gone rogue in an otherwise fully functioning body. What is the cancer of the church? Pride.

Romans 12:3-5 (NIV) For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Grace is given to us in accordance with the faith that God has distributed to us. We cannot save ourselves and did not even have the faith to receive it. God did it all. I am nothing outside of the Christ who lives in me. There is nothing good about me other than the Living God chose to make my heart His Dwelling Place. The moment that I consider my life worth something outside of the grace given to me by the Lord than pride has regained a foothold and is moving in on Christ’s Throne. We must be very careful to not think of ourselves more highly than others – all others even the most broken and lost is the same depraved wretch as me. Jesus is forming a Body that one day will be His Bride. Every single person who I come in contact with is essential to its formation. I must see past whatever insecurity that I may have allowed to manifest in the form of pride to see that grace is for the humble. Grace is for me.

Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV) The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

There is a cancerous pride in the midst of many churches. Pride will always find someone to exalt itself over. God is looking for the humble. Those who have a servant’s heart not just in doing but being truly in love with other people. It cannot be determined by appearance or even one’s attitude and actions. Fake humility cannot hide on its knees very long. True humility is found in the revelation that I am as sinful and broken as any other living breathing person wrecked by sin. I am a survivor saved by the mercy and grace of the Living God through faith and there is nothing I can do to earn or deserve it. I must accept this truth with all humility on a daily and ongoing basis in order to live in love with God and others. He must increase and I must decrease means pride must die in the overflowing grace of God.

Romans 12:9-18 (NIV) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Love must be sincere. It is such a simple statement but we miss it all the time. Love must be sincere. The description of love is extensively covered in I Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.” It is this kind of love that must be sincere. To love others like this must be our full-time pursuit once in love with God the Father through His Son and filled by His Spirit. If we cannot love sincerely, there may be an inconsistency in character that is keeping us from receiving the fullest reward of grace and favor given to us by the Lord. To have His Perfect Will only requires complete submission to His Plan that begins by accepting His Grace through faith and understanding that without sincere love our life is lived in fake humility. It is cancer for our soul. Cancer in our churches and a constant danger to the Body of Christ.

I Peter 3:8-9 (NIV) Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

I may be right sometimes but it is my life’s mission to live in righteousness always. The Grace of God given to me must be the passion of my heart and persuader of my mind. I must understand that God’s Grace is for all of us. It took the same amount to save my soul and set me free that it did for everyone else. Anyone who enters the doors of my church deserves it as much as I did which is not at all. They have the same potential of earning it as well. The Lord may be transforming my life but it all starts the same. A humble heart remembers its beginnings. It is able to love the least of these because it knows I am one, too. The Kingdom that I am called to is not small or limited. It is massive and ever expanding. The people who I come in contact with have a very special place in the Kingdom that is theirs for the taking. I must not allow my pride to stop them from securing salvation or experiencing divine security because of my own insecurity. God is always looking much deeper than that. He looks at our heart, motives and intentions. He is looking for love. Sincere love. Will He find it?

The culture of God’s Kingdom is love. It is defined by His Grace that is freely given yet hard to obtain. His Love is not human and therefore not the same. We cannot love with condition or pardon any sin. It is not our responsibility to define a new or different culture but engage in the one set forth. It says, “Whosoever will come.” When they do come, who will be exalted in their midst. Religious people or the Righteous One? Jesus said, If I be lifted up – I will draw all men to me!”

Ephesians 28:8-10 (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, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

His Faithful Love

His love endures forever. Psalm 136 Scripture art by StudioJRU.

Matthew 24:12-14 (NLT) Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

Today marks 19 years of wedding bliss to my precious husband. Sitting down to spend time with the Lord today, I am drawn to the words, “His faithful love endures forever.” No one enters a marriage contemplating a divorce date. It is a covenant of hopefulness for a future of passion and devotion. A life of constant affirmation and affection. The honeymoon is a celebration of love that is found and now secure. However, as anyone can tell you, a marriage requires all of you. It is hard work. It is not an easy road to navigate and requires our full attention. It doesn’t always meet our expectation. On my desk, I found a gift bag from a favorite store with a simple pink bow. Inside it, a dainty ring of twirling hearts with intermittent sparkle creating a band. It is perfect. The ideal representation of almost twenty years of a life invested in loving and growing together. Even in the imperfection of each heart, the design works together to create a unique and beautiful piece of jewelry. There are so many wonderful memories mixed with days of great trial and difficulty. Striving to come together and walk one path.

Marriage is a representation of our relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the Bridegroom and we are called His Bride. In a world where sin is certainly rampant and love has grown cold, the promise is that the one who endures to the end will be saved. Clinging to Christ with complete desperation and dedication to continue as one until the end is equally as challenging most days. Not because the Lord is not faithful – His faithful love endures to the end. I must rely on the faithfulness of His Love for me to find my way to the end. The Good News is preached by a life of love and kindness. To live in love with Jesus fills us with a special love for others that allows us to experience trials and temptations yet still love Him and others the same. Love is a commitment. Christ made that covenant with us when He gave His Life to have us. No relationship is one-sided both must agree. He has already approved and affirmed me with His Grace the day that He decided to love me. Now I must learn to do the same…

I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT) If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

I am not perfect. I did not marry a perfect man. We have weaknesses, faults and insecurities just like everyone else. Over the years, there have been disagreements and full blown arguments as two people fight to come together. The temptations in life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. We expect too much from fragile and flawed humans. The level of faithfulness that exceeds our expectation is found in Christ alone. When we got married, my husband and I invited Christ to join us. He is the One who held it all together over the years.

Are you tempted to leave your first love today? Are you at odds with people? Are you struggling in relationships? Are you headed for divorce? There is powerful potential for those who choose to endure. To give our expectations fully to Christ and stop looking for love in all the wrong people. No one can fulfill you but Jesus. You have eternity in your heart which requires full satisfaction. Nothing and no one can fill that space but the Lord. His Faithful Love for us endures forever and is the very thing that carries us to the end. We must release people from any expectation to experience the full satisfaction that is promised by God.

The enemy will always tempt us to leave love behind. He will threaten us with disappointment, dissatisfaction and discouragement. He will direct our attention to people and problems to lure our focus off Christ. Doubt and insecurity will always create strongholds trapping us in the present rather than projecting us to the promise. People are part of the plan that God prepared for our life. Relationship is the Kingdom economy as the Lord values souls more than anything else. He has everything else. When we live and love together fighting for agreement and harmony, God calls it precious. Successful relationships are messy. They are hard. They are worth it in the end. To reach the end requires love. Love for the one whose love faithfully endures forever will fill every void left by human love in all its messy imperfection.

Revelation 2:3-4 (NLT) “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. 

The personification of Christ in our life is love. To be loving, to give love, to accept love. This is the interworking of relationships. The complaint against the church was “you don’t love me or each other as you did at first.” It is human nature to grow bored with monotony. The mediocrity of life loses our interest. We must find passion for our first love again in order to learn to love others like perhaps we once did. Experience is a hard teacher and must be filtered through the Word of God for clarification. There must be full repentance at all times to constantly turn us back to love. All relationships requires grace, forbearance and forgiveness. Christ has given us that time and time again as each morning there is mercy waiting for us. Who are we to withhold that which is so freely given? We come to Jesus full of hopeful expectation and then heap it on people when His Timing doesn’t suit us or His Way seems too hard or long. Love must endure to the end to bring salvation. I must learn to love like Jesus to make this a reality in my life.

I Corinthians 13:7 (NLT) Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love becomes a masterpiece through endurance. Love never gives up. Love never loses faith. Love is always hopeful. If the emotion of affection you are feeling does not have these characteristics, it may not be love but a secondary emotion. We cannot rely on our feelings. Life is hard. Sin is rampant. Love has grown cold. Most Christians live in a lukewarm state. We must decide in our own heart to love. Love must be patient and kind as Christ is with us. It must not be jealous, boastful or filled with pride and self-seeking. It cannot be irritable. Stop recording all wrongs. It cannot rejoice in others failures or shortcomings but rejoice in truth and the good of others. If I live my whole life calling myself a Christian, yet never strive to endure in love – I am nothing. I will not make it to the destination that I am seeking. To live in love with Christ is to live in love with others.

The tiny twisted hearts that make up the band on my right hand are a true representation of how love works in our life. It does not always start out as we expected or turn out as we would like, but the promise is that God makes all things beautiful in His Timing. It is worth sticking it out when it comes to love – all kinds of love. It is worth forgiving one more time. Trying even when you don’t feel like it or maybe they don’t deserve it. The best kind of love is the hardest fought for because the enemy sees it’s potential. Don’t’ give up on love. Never give up on people. Always remember His Faithful Love endures forever so there is always a fresh supply!

Psalm 136:23-26 (NLT) He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.  He saved us from our enemies. His faithful love endures forever.  He gives food to every living thing. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.

Read the Instructions

Read the Instructions

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Raising five children, I am somewhat familiar with some assembly required. Many Christmas’ have taught me to dig through each box and find the manual ahead of time as there are just some things that Walmart doesn’t carry after midnight on such an important night. I realize that to some people that these are simply the manufacturer’s suggestions for construction. However, I ere on the side of caution in most things. Not all retailers provide clear instructions so sometimes I must rely on an occasional YouTube video or bloggers insight to complete the project. My advice for life – read the instructions. All of them. Count the pieces. Make sure all the parts are included. Lay it all out and patiently inspect it. Make a plan. Then, put it all together. In most cases, this will lead to your success.

It amazes me how many Christians (even pastors in recent studies) who do not read the Bible every day. It is our instruction manual for life. It tells us what to expect in a new life not based on this world but the Kingdom. It carefully outlines pathways of prosperity that lead to His Promises. It is our strategy guide to winning the battle against the enemy and even our flesh. There are so many good things in the Word for me that I cannot imagine not having it as part of my daily sustenance. It was not always like that. Like most people I did not understand how the Law could benefit me when all it did was convict me. I didn’t measure up. I fell way short of God’s Glorious Standard and the harder I tried to follow His Instructions the more inadequate I felt. God’s Instructions are for your good. He is leading you from the past into your future. He is making good of every detail in due time. The seeds sown by His Word always produce a good harvest of great abundance in our life. We must read the instructions.

All Scripture is breathed out by God. We must believe that the Word of God is from the mouth of God. To fully understand its potential is to know that it came straight from the Father through the Son to us. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh. (John 1) He came to demonstrate the story that mankind simply could not comprehend. God pursued the people with unfailing love – but they chose other lovers. He continually showered them with His Goodness – but they craved substitutions and counterfeits. He begged them to wait on Him – but they all wandered off. God is offering you today the opportunity to prosper in every promise and to benefit from every blessing. It is in His Word. It is all part of His Careful Instruction.

Profitable for teaching… We must read the instruction manual to understand the structure of God’s Kingdom. To know and realize how it works and comes together because it is not logical. Faith is illogical apart from the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. We cannot teach a truth that is not known. It is important to lean on God for understanding rather than relying on his teachers all the time. Why? God’s Divine Inspiration can be convoluted by man. Man’s interpretation of God’s Word may not work for you in your life. God wants to speak directly to you and your purpose. Teachers are good. Mentors are good. Pastors, leaders and the like – all good and beneficial but if God’s Word is not known to us – we cannot rightly discern if the one teaching us is credible. There are many half-truths taught each day readily consumed by people who are gullible. The Word is clear. People perish from a lack of knowledge. I don’t want to be that person. The profit of the Word of God is wisdom and discernment. These are especially important in the present day and age.

Now the part we don’t like so much – reproof, correction, and training. Ugh! All part of discipline. The life of a disciple is impossible apart from discipline. You cannot live apart from reproof, correction and training yet still be a follower of Christ. God is Sovereign. He is perfect. He doesn’t lie. He doesn’t change His Mind. God is constant. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus is the Word of God and never changes. If this is true (and it is), we are the ones who must change and be transformed. The Word of God is what recreates us from the inside out. His Word is reproves His Love for us each day. It is reminds us that His Grace is enough when we mess up which we will. It tells us over and over again that His Love never ends. It is steadfast that nothing can ever separate us from His Love.

Pride hates correction. Correction demands a response. To err is human but to continually commit the same mistake is sin. We cannot have God’s Best our way. God corrects us through His Word. We read it and are convicted. I have been in the Word daily for almost a year now. I have found that there are some habits that changed. There are some choices that are different. The heart absorbs the seed of the Word and things are produced in us that will begin to sustain our spirit and starve the flesh. Pride will always reject the Word because it demands a soulful engagement that leads to godly transformation that will always be the death of our flesh.

Training in righteousness. The goal of salvation is that believers would like in a right relationship with God. The Word tells us exactly how to do it. A daily manual of instruction to remind us who we are and what we are here to do. When we starve our soul, the flesh arises. It takes over with rationale rather than radical faith in the Living God. We must live in a constant state of training. Our heart is a muscle. If I go to the gym on a regular basis, I strengthen my muscles. When I stop going, I begin to get soft and weak again. The Word works our heart muscle into shape for the Kingdom. When we stop our training, we will become lax.

Deuteronomy 4:1-2 (ESV)  “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

God’s Word is the teaching needed that you may live and take possession of all that the Lord has for you. He gave it to you. You have to reach out and take hold of it. To love Jesus is to love the Word. To know Jesus is to know the Word. To live for Jesus is to live the Word. You cannot find a teacher who will add a new spin because the Word never changes. It holds secrets and truths to your purpose, promise and potential that no one else will understand but you. To try to live a godly life without God’s Truth about things is foolishness. To blindly walk in flailing faith is also foolish. You have a light that shines through all darkness inside you that is fanned into flame and fueled by His Word and its constant consumption.

John 14:25-27 (ESV) “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

When Jesus left to sit at the right hand of the Father, He did not leave us alone. He gave us His Spirit. The Spirit is our helper. He teaches us God’s Word. He helps us understand the Word. He produces the Fruit of the Spirit with it. Above all things – the Spirit takes God’s Word and uses it to give us peace. Not worldly peace – but when the earth shakes, normal falls apart or our heart breaks in a million pieces – there is still hope. We must learn to read the instructions. Build a firm foundation of faith. Continue in constant hope. Experience peace that passes all understanding.

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

The Sword of God’s Spirit is the Word of God. It is the weapon that deliver us from evil and illuminates the lie of the enemy set against us. To be a disciple or approved worker never ashamed by ignorance requires knowing and believing the Word of God. It is important to read the instructions. How can you be mad if you choose to forego them and things don’t turn out like the picture? How can you have God’s Way doing it your way? The meditation of my mouth and heart must agree. To speak the Word over my life means I must know what it says. To take the land I must know the plan. God has a plan. It is carefully outlined and detailed in His Word. The Word is not a mystery to those who choose to read it, study it, think about it, know it and believe it. It becomes a life source.

Psalm 119:28-34 (ESV) My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame! I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart! Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.

 

Easily Distracted

Easily Distracted

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

I sat down with the youth of our church last week to talk about distractions. Using these two verses, we discussed some of the distractions in their daily life that keeps them from focusing on time with the Lord. In just a brief thirty minutes, it was as though the Holy Spirit was teaching the lesson. Rabbit trails and squirrel chases had us in fifty different conversations all at once. It took extreme discipline to wrangle everyone back on topic. It’s funny how that works in life. We are so busy running around like chickens with our heads cut off that we lose sight of Jesus unintentionally. He is the founder and perfecter of our faith that is discovered by following Him rather than seeing where exactly He is going. This requires paying attention to every detail such as His Word and communicating through prayer to know and understand what to do and when to do it. The benefit is at the end of the day peace overtakes us and the lie of the enemy causing panic is dissolved in truth. Let us run the race with endurance that is set before us. This indicates a marathon and not a sprint. One must live a life of self-control and discipline to find His Way. We must learn to cast aside the weight of sin, doubt and discouragement to live in righteousness, trust and hope. How do I get there from here?

Song of Solomon 2:15-16 (ESV) Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom. My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies.

I find it fascinating that these two verses are coupled together in the Word of God. It is an intentional dialogue and one that can change our focus immediately. Catch the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards. Your life is fertile ground. You have seeds of potential to be planted in faith. The enemy knows that God has promised you a prosperous and abundant life. He is not after the fruit of our life but rather to kill our potential. The distractions of life will cause us to stop plowing, planting, pruning, and preparing for a harvest. The little foxes ate away at the base of the plant and it died. They did not kill it but rather disconnected it from the source of the soil. Our source in life is Jesus Christ. He must be our beloved. We must decide that my beloved is mine and I am His. This commitment called covenant changes everything. It demands our attention. It is a union of one.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (ESV) “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

When Jesus Christ died for you and me, He gave us freedom. Real freedom to choose all over again the life that is lived in us and through us. We have life and good or death and evil. Life and good is only obtained when we choose to pursue God through the Love of Jesus Christ. His Grace gets us there. It is a choice to walk in His Ways, keep His Commandments, and to live and prosper in His Love. Bottom line – it is a choice. The life of my choosing is not the result of God’s Lack of Goodness or the Insufficiency of Christ’s Grace but my selection of something else. God does not offer a lower standard of living – it is up to us to choose it instead of abundant life.

Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

To decide to pursue God’s Love is to believe that He is good. His Goodness is for you. It is for right here and right now. Those who believe will wait on the Lord. To be strong is not the absence of weakness but acceptance of amazing grace that affords unconditional love. The lie of the enemy is that God expects something of us other than just us. There is nothing I can do for the Lord – He did it all for me already. I cannot repay Him. I cannot in any way compensate the God, Father, Son or Spirit for the complete work. All I can do is accept it. To fully experience God’s Goodness is to fully believe that His Love for me is complete without my assistance. What a pride killer and ego buster? I am weak and helpless but all I have and all I am – I give to You – Jesus!

Philippians 4:4-8 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I love this “let your reasonableness be known to everyone”. The problem with our faith is that it is illogical. We are not convinced and so easily distracted from the truth by the lies of the enemy. We settle for less because there is doubt within us. Faith is reasonable when Christ becomes our beloved. When our relationship with Him is the foundation of all other things in our life. Fiction becomes fact when backed by Truth. To decide to pursue the Lord is not enough. We must be fully persuaded that God loves us and His Goodness is for us. Otherwise peace is compromised by rebellion and treason of the heart gives way to compromise because doubt is allowed to exist. We must focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy. This will silence complaints, grumblings, arguments and disagreement. When faith becomes a reasonable choose, it will be our choice every time. God’s Love is full of goodness. He is always good. He promises to make good of every detail of our life. It is all about believing enough to wait for Him.

Have you lost sight of the author and finisher of faith today? Have little foxes nibbled at your confidence a bit? He is the vine. We are the branches. Jesus will sustain you if you choose fix your heart and mind on Him today and stop allowing all the distractions whittle away at your faith. You are your beloved’s and He belongs to you. There is nothing that can or will every separate you from the Love of God or Christ in you… but you! Change your confession over your life today. Speak the Word not the world’s perspective. Make your faith reasonable and logical by putting God’s Word in action and living a life of rejoicing in all things. The enemy flees when we resist him. Be strong in the Lord today – He is strong in you!

Lord, I ask you to fill each person’s heart with the peace that passes all understanding. Put Your Mighty Hand over each fragile broken heart and guard it from the fiery darts of the enemy today. You are good! You love us. You pursue us with unfailing love. May each one of us accept your love, grace and mercy today – in Jesus Precious Name!

 

Good Soil

Good Soil

Matthew 13:13:3-9 (NLT)  He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

It might seem that the emphasis of this parable of Jesus is all about spreading seed. Seed time and harvest are exciting ventures in the Kingdom of God. Though the process seems a bit risky and timeframe uncertain, a harvest is the desired result and worth waiting for. Jesus shared this story with his disciples. Their response representative of our own many times. “Why do you use parables when you talk to people?” Jesus responded, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” What if the Lord is speaking to us? What if it really isn’t the Word that is elusive but our impatience that keeps us from hearing His Voice and applying His Wisdom to our life?

2 Corinthians 9:10 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

God gives seed to the farmer. God has given us seed. He gives us a measure of faith to be sown into salvation. He gives us His Word to become the promises of our life. The seed is established and already provided. Soil needs good soil. I wonder what might happen if believers truly believed in the potential of the seed given to them by God. Seed reproduces. Seed increases to become more than its present form. Seed is important. It is significant. But if the seeds of potential and promise do not find their way into fertile soil – purpose remains hidden within it. If you notice in this parable of Jesus – all the seed produced something. Seed will do exactly what it is predestined to do. It will grow into the very thing that produced it in the first place. The vulnerability of the seed is not its potential but in its placement.

What did the disciples hear when Jesus shared the parable? Were they immediately disinterested because the majority were fisherman by trade therefore this did not apply to them? It happens all the time. We seek God to solve our problem. To provide our lack. To meet our need. To heal our disease. To do something for us. The Lord has already given us seeds of faith and His Word that will become every promise that He has given us when we seek Him and pursue the harvest of faith and fulfillment. God’s Word cannot and will not return to Him void. It must do exactly what He sent it forth to do just like the seeds in the story. They grew where they were planted. You and I are permitted to know the secrets of the Kingdom. What are we doing with these mysteries of hope? Do will sift through them or sow them all in a fertile heart? God has given us every spiritual blessing. It comes in the form of tiny seeds of faith and the Word of God. When He Spirit begins to cultivate them within us what is our response?

Matthew 13:18-23 (NLT) “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

What are you doing with your seed today? Where are you planting it? Do you carelessly leave it to be trampled? Is it scattered in a heart still rocked by bitterness, regret, shame or unforgiveness? To harvest the promise of the seed means allowing our heart to be broken to receive it. Are you rooted and grounded in the Love of God offered through Christ Jesus? Or moved by the winds of change and storms of life? Are you embarrassed to be a Christian? Afraid of what others might think so you hide your faith and beliefs? What about doubt? The killer of most seed put in the ground is the worries and cares of life that choke out the new life as it begins to grow in us. That’s right in us. The fertile soil for the seed of God is our heart. When the seed finds good soil, it produces. When our seed fails to produce its true potential, it is time to test the soil of our heart.

John 12:23-25 (NLT) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.”

Jesus knew the potential of His Life. He knew that He was the Resurrection and Life for all mankind. He knew that once His Death and Repayment of sin complete that He would be placed in the grave or ground for three days. He willingly endured the tragedy and torture of the Cross to go into the grave so that He could release our full potential. We must follow the example of Jesus Christ. Giving up this life to have new life is the objective. The full potential is in us. It will die with us if not sown. Kingdom potential is inside of every man and woman ever created. We have faith and eternity hidden in our heart. God gave us His Word not just spoken and written but in bodily form to live in us. The Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, is the prime cultivator ready to produce every good thing God promised for our life as an inheritance. We just need fertile soil – a broken and responsive heart that is ready to receive. A mind and body willing to wait on God’s Timing. Everything else has already been provided for our salvation and success in this life and the everlasting.

Hebrews 6:7-8 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.

God has invested the mysteries of His Kingdom within you and me. We have vast potential outside of natural occurrences in supernatural and divine sowing and reaping. Our heart must be fertile. It must remain broken to receive and cultivate all that God has for us. The mysteries are hidden in the hard exterior of the human heart. The Lord softens us by breaking our heart and we are saved. There is more to life than a one-time prayer to accept Jesus as our Savior. Those who live calling Him Lord will experience the true potential of seedtime and harvest. The prosperity found by the prospering soul. Bountiful harvests come from broken hearts that dare to allow seeds of faith and the Word of God maximize their full potential.

Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

Our Approach

Our Approach

John 1:1-4 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.

“The Word of God is quick and powerful. In the beginning He spoke to nothing, and it became something. Chaos heard it and became order, darkness heard it and became light. “And God said – and it was so.” (AW Tozer – The Pursuit of God)

The importance of God’s Word in our life is indisputable. The Word is not irrelevant. It is not out of date or old fashioned as some might want to think. God created everything with His Word. Through His Voice – His Mighty Breath formed a world and produced light and life. The Sovereignty of God makes His Word powerful. The potency of His Vocabulary tears down strongholds beginning in our mind, wrangling our thoughts, breaking our heart and somehow producing a new and better life from the pieces left behind. God is the Creator of Life.

I think it valid to point out that babies are born every day. Life is perpetuated throughout the planet so therefore it only credible to think that God’s Word is still circulating the earth to accomplish its tasks. I set out on this journey of writing each day to prove that God still speaks to people. Ordinary people like you and me with all our faults and failures fueled by faith to have an ongoing conversation with the Life Giver – Life Changer – Jesus Christ. So it has been for almost a decade now, I get up early each morning to read the Word and listen for His Voice. He does not disappoint. It would seem that God does want to speak to us, converse with us, and abide with us in a place of intimacy meant for just the two of us.

While taking a few days off to rest and rejuvenate at the beach, I have been reading AW Tozer’s classic – The Pursuit of God. Tearing off chunks of meat each day – it has been a hearty diet of spiritual food for the hungry soul. Our soul and spirit must live in expectancy. Spiritual receptivity is essential to experience the life of a new creation. To live in God’s Abundance with a life overflowing in good fruit. The Word of God fills us with the Bread of Life. HE is the Living Water needed to satisfy our thirst for more. How many times does the busyness of life distract us? How often does the time in His Presence, reading His Word and listening for His Voice get cut short in the chaos of routines, schedules, and more? We want God’s Best. Crying out for an Open Heaven, but what if the Heavens are open but it is our eyes and ears that are closed? God is here. He is speaking to us.

John 1:14 (NLT) So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

I am quite certain that if I asked about your prayer life – there would be a list of things that you petition the Lord for each day. Conversations with God become egocentric. Often, one-sided in nature as there is nothing I can offer Him but He has a Kingdom for me. Entitlement is a dangerous venture. To come boldly before the Throne of God is not an act of entitlement but to trust Him in our approach and surrender. Jesus Christ lives in each one of us.

Hebrews 4:12 (NLT) For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

The Word of God is alive today. It is still powerful. Jesus Christ is the Word who came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love for us and allow us to live as part of the Kingdom. He opened our communication with God the Father once again. God is always listening. He continually speaks. Now we have an ongoing conversation with the Lord that produces new life in us and through us. The Word of God will always change us. It begins in us before working its way out to our surroundings. The Lord will never go against His Word. He does not lie or change His Mind. He will not contradict the Word in you and for you by giving in to our whims and complaints. The communication between us must be intimate and personal. Too often we come to the Lord with about as much respect as the waitress at Chick-fil-a. We bark our order and expect it fast. All the condiments must be in the bag and don’t forget to say, “My pleasure.” Right? Come on… let’s be honest. It’s just us.

God has a plan for your life. He will give you the future and hope that is promised. He will lead, guide and direct you by His Word and with His Spirit. It is up to us if we will listen. To engage in an ongoing conversation rather than barking orders and outlining our demands to the Sovereign God. He knows exactly what is needed to produce a rich and satisfying life. He is ready to do more than you can think, ask or imagine. The limits on our life may be in our approach. It could very well be that our spiritual receptivity is hindered by a lack of focus or heartfelt sincerity. Do you want God’s Heart today? Or are you good with just what’s in His Hand?

I Peter 1:23 (NLT) For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.

My husband and I have been together for almost 20 years. Two decades is a long time. Not many friendships last that long let alone marriages, but I have been blessed with both. God has given us a love story for which I am thankful. In Psalm 139, it tells us that all the days of our life have been prerecorded by God. He has written a love story spanning the course of a lifetime overflowing into eternity. A small fraction of that timeline will involve the things associated with this life. Those things that we think will make us happy, satisfied and complete yet now much time do we spend talking to God about worthless things rather than communicating with Him on an intimate and personal level reserved for lovers and best friends.

God has given you a new life that will last forever. It comes from the eternal and living Word of God. It is important to embrace His Word each day and engage in conversations with the Lord. My daughter is a new mother. I strongly encourage her to schedule routine date nights with her husband. She gives me a long list of instructions on how to care for my grandson, and I give her but one… don’t talk about him during the date. We can get lost in the busyness of life and lose touch with intimacy with the Lord if not careful. We must pay careful attention to our partnership with Jesus to make sure it is bound by love and devotion not laws and duty. He has such a wonderful plan for us. The Word lives in you. It is our connection with the Word and communication that new life is born. God’s Glory is looking for a way out of you. It is an overwhelming glory that no man can produce but is possible only when we respond to the Word of God and obey His Voice. Are you running into dead ends? Living under a closed ceiling rather than open heaven? Are you satisfied? Are you content? Is your life prospering as your soul does? If not, it may be in your approach or lack of it. God is always speaking, whispering, encouraging and longing for a closer walk with me and it is up to me if I will walk with Him! Just a closer walk with thee…that dear Jesus is my plea… daily walking close to thee…let it be…dear Lord… let it be!

2 Corinthians 3:7-10 (NLT) The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way.

Go the Distance

Go the Distance

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

What is your purpose? What are you passionate about? Do you have a plan? We live each day in anticipation of tomorrow and miss the moments given in each breath. How do I know? How many times do you go to bed on Monday only to wake up and its Friday again? Or write the date only to find that a quarter of the year has passed in what seems like just a few days? Time continually passes by and seasons change so what do I have to show for it? Well, I have a seasoned marriage of almost two decades. We have four adult children and one teenager. I have a beautiful and precious grandson. I am blessed to have a nice home with a mortgage attached. A good job. All these tangible blessings given by the goodness of God but the one thing still elusive is the fulfillment of purpose. All these “people” and “things” are wonderful. I do not take them for granted. Even those things not quantified but rather quality of life such as good physical and mental health. I am truly grateful for all that the Lord has given me. Yet still I have not achieved my calling or claimed the prize that I know is set before me.

How do I know? Do you ever have the feeling that there has to be more? Maybe there are things you have been chasing without success for years? In your home, marriage, job or ministry. God placed a purpose inside your heart. He sprinkled it with just enough faith to get you started. He wrapped the whole thing in eternity and said, “Go for it!” But then life happened… now you wonder if it really was for you or did it have an expiration date. Why do you travel so many miles and live countless moments yet they do not add up to the fulfillment and satisfaction you had hoped for? Why? You have not gone the distance yet. You are still en route. Premature promises are abortion of purpose. There is a time prescribed by God when that thing inside you will be birthed just like He has promised. Will you go the distance?

There are three disciplines needed to achieve Kingdom purpose that will also prove effective in earthly endeavors. We must be disciplined to make it to the end. Endurance is required for heavenly pursuits. Jesus told us that directly. Yet, we put limits on God by rewriting His Plan to meet our preference. To maintain the three “c”s of our demise – comfort, convenience, and control. These are the things that keep us in the present rather than pursuing our purpose. There are some things that have to change if we are to reach the prize of our high calling and inherit the prosperity already predestined for us.

Pursuit

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Every single person ever born was created by God with purpose. (Psalm 139) His Thoughts of you and for you more numerous than stars in the nighttime sky or grains of sand on an endless beach. He has a plan for your life that contains a future and hope. It is a good one! He predestined us to become a masterpiece. We have all the parts and when placed in His Hands – it becomes exactly what He purposed it to be. The key is pursuit. What are you after in life?

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! You can pursue whatever it is you would like in this lifetime. But you cannot have the things of God without pursuing the heart of God – Jesus Christ. He is the founder and perfecter of our faith. The one who takes a seed of faith and makes it the masterful purpose individually prescribed by God for our life. We get to the Father through the Son. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He came to give us a rich and satisfying life full of abundance. Not by chance, but on purpose. His Example was not void of the struggles faced with all the temptation that goes with it. He dealt with natural challenges such as hunger and later on torture all with His Eyes on the prize. It was for the joy on the other side of the Cross that He endured it. We must take up our Cross and pursue Jesus Christ for our purpose. It is not a diversified effort. There is no double standard. You cannot live for this world and engage in the Kingdom.

Persistence

Luke 18:1-5 (ESV) And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 

The value of purpose pays for persistence. How worthwhile is your purpose? What is the end result? Is it eternity? Eternity can be birthed in the home, workplace, and every social arena of life. It is our light shining in the darkness that makes us like a city on a hill. We are in this world but not of it. However, if our heart does not value the purpose God has placed in our heart pushing to get out then we will not be persistent. Persistence is essential. It means to continue steadfastly and firmly in purpose, maintaining the course of action in spite of any and all opposition. The widow had a purpose. The purpose was of value and worthwhile to her. She kept going to the judge, “Give me justice against my adversary.” He finally gave her justice.

During our son’s battle with cancer, it was decided that the medical team would try a bone marrow transplant. Clinical studies had shown some results in this area. It looked like we were fighting a losing battle but this offered some hope after four rounds of chemotherapy. We began the workup for the transplant but the insurance company denied coverage so the hospital refused treatment. To make it very clear, our son was going to die. We had no more time. The cancer was aggressive. Chemo was no longer working. Even with the transplant, there was only a 2% chance of survival. Without it, there was 100% that he would not according to medical science. You better believe that I began to persist for his treatment. For six months, I prayed and persisted exhausting every possible avenue from the local level to governmental level. But God… persistence pays off. I believe that when we believe the Word of God for our life nothing is impossible. My persistence did not move the heart of man but it did move the Heart of God. After the final denial, I bowed my head in an empty office with all but my desk lamp on. There were no tears. There was no wailing, pleading or begging. Honestly, I think I was too broken for that. I had been rejected over and over again. I simply repeated to the Lord exactly what He told me from the beginning of the journey – “Lord, You said, ‘Your son will live and not die…’ I am taking you at Your Word. Lord, I have done everything possible to make this happen – the rest is up to You!” I turned off the light, locked the door and went home. It was not dramatic or climactic. I had persisted now God had to provide. He did! Purpose requires persistence.

Perseverance

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Purpose becomes our passion. Passion must lead to pursuit, persistence and perseverance to yield its gain otherwise it just fizzles out like every other human emotion and feeling. If lust begins with passion, but becomes purpose when it turns into passionate love. I think sometimes just as lust and love can be confused – so is purpose and passion. The relationship of the two is bound by commitment. If you are not committed to your purpose – passion is just a feeling. If you are not passionate about your purpose – you will lose interest quickly. We talk about suffering for Jesus Christ. We do not suffer for Him. Our suffering is our flesh dying inside of us giving way to new life and new possibilities found only in a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ. Our life must become one with Him. That means that every earthly endeavor has eternal possibilities according to the purpose of our design.

Faith is given to us in a measure and grace makes it fruitful. Peace with God is a fertile field that will yield the abundance God promised for us. Misplaced passion in earthly endeavors produce only natural results. It is our passionate pursuit of Jesus Christ that makes the supernatural our reality. This requires perseverance. Suffering produces endurance when we must push past the pressure of pain to continue. Endurance produces character. Failure is not falling down but rather refusing to get up. Character is the hand that grabs hold of the fallen. Pride tells us to give up – perseverance tells us to get up. Character produces hope because it is when our identity as a Child of God becomes our life. Hope will never put us to shame. It doesn’t lead to disappointment. Those who decide to become passionate about their purpose will pursue, persist and persevere with confidence knowing and believing that God does not lie or change His Mind. What He says He will do. What He purposed will come to pass. His Word is our compass straight to success. We must go the distance. Why? “I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (I Corinthians 9:23)

Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Resurrection Life

Practice_Resurrection.Peterson

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) 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. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

“The Kingdom of God is within you…” Leo Tolstoy

Jesus Christ is alive. He is living and breathing inside the heart and soul of every believer, but not every Christian. To follow Jesus Christ is not enough. The only way to live a life of successful faith is to let the Holy Spirit change our mind and open our heart to the truth that Christ lives in us. With Resurrection Sunday just a few days away, I am filled with excitement and expectation. I like Christmas, but I love Easter. We celebrate the arrival of the Messiah in December, but the thing that makes Jesus so powerful is the fact that He died for our sin and rose again on the third day. Except Christ be crucified AND resurrected, there is not power, authority or dominion over death. It is important that believers serve the risen Savior and Lord or they are worshipping a dead god.

To believe that the fullness of God be fully invested in Jesus Christ means nothing if He is not alive in us today. How full is a broken cup? No matter how much is poured in it would only gush out. The substance of our faith is contained in the hope of the Living God. If our faith has nothing to build upon – it has no validity. Faith in God is paramount on the fact that Jesus Christ lives in us or to make a connection with Him would be sudden death. Outside of Christ – I have no chance of living in the Presence of God day by day into eternity. The fact that Jesus Christ is alive and lives in us is what changes every impossibility into future possibility. It takes a natural life making it supernatural. Our ordinary existence becomes extraordinary when Christ comes to live in us. It is time to change our mind about the God we serve and recognize that Christ is alive and well inside of us. Christ in us identifies us as part of the Kingdom of God.

“God cannot be understood by logical reasoning but only by submission.” Leo Tolstoy

Faith is not logical. It will never be understood by human reasoning. It is not validated by what we see but Who we know. The more I know Jesus Christ – the more logical my faith becomes. As I submit my life to Him, He fills me with the fullness of God that is in Him. The Spirit produces fruit from seeds of faith like love, joy, peace, and the like. He bestows forgiveness, kindness and goodness to us in epic proportions so they begin to flow from us as we cannot contain the Favor of the Living God any longer. Too many Christians are trying to pour from empty cups. I must submit my life fully to the Lord in order to have a reservoir to draw from.

Romans 8:10-12 (NLT) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

Scrolling through social media, I came across a meme posted about the recounting of sins at the pearly gates and not realizing you were that wild or something like that. All in good fun. A particularly long comment thread caught my attention beginning with a young woman who berated the poster as sacrilegious. I will not recount the back and forth banter because quite honestly the debate a complete embarrassment to Christians. Anyway, she recanted that unless we completely separate ourselves from the world and live “sinless” lives that we will not enter Heaven. I just shook my head and scrolled on. Nobody can do that. We all have a sinful nature to be crucified daily. Religion tells us to follow all the rules and regulations and you will make it into Heaven. If there is no relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never get there from here.

I share this revelation because sinless perfection is impossible in a human being ever. Even saved, sanctified super spiritual people sin – all the time. The mindset of the believer is to do everything humanly and spiritually possible to avoid it but surrender and submit our life to the Cross when we fall short. I cannot judge or condemn another person because I have fallen short. It only took one sin and Lord knows I am capable of way more than that. Our mission in life is complete unity with Jesus Christ. Laying our life down, crucifying our flesh and living in the love of God given to us through His Son. I have no obligation to sin anymore. What does that mean? It means that the Spirit of the Living God gives me power and authority over sin. I can make better choices just because He lives. But even on my best day, the good in me and greatest potential of my life is Jesus Christ. My elevation comes from exaltation and the revelation that surrender and submission are the only way to live. “Christian joy is letting Christ live His Life out through you so that what He is…you become.” (David Jeremiah)

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT) Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

“God doesn’t throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse from the bottom of the sea, takes him up to the bank, breathes into him the breath of life and makes him alive.” (R.C. Sproul) If we could get the imagine of death in our mind, the reality of it, the brutal and abrupt end of life – maybe there would be a better sense of exactly what Christ offers us in His Resurrection. We avoid death at all costs. Born dying, we try to outrun, outlive, and outsmart the inevitable end of human life. There is another option but in order to embrace the joy of eternity one must engage in the death process prematurely. The unfathomable and incomprehensible has happened. In our revelation of the true meaning of Christ’s Resurrection is that now that same power, authority and vitality lives in us. He was crucified in weakness and raised in complete fulfillment and victory. We must engage in the same process to move from death to life. To obtain grace comes at the price of strength and ability – it is obtained in utter weakness. When we could do nothing to save ourselves – Jesus died for us. “He did not come to shame the sinners. Jesus came to save sinners.” (Reinhard Bonnke) “He came into this world to make dead people live.” (Leo Tolstoy) Apart from the Grace of God our connection with Him is religious. The consummation of our relationship with the Living God is that Christ lives in us. We have live because He is life.

Galatians 2:19-21 (NLT)  For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

I encourage you to join me if examining the heart and mind in these days leading up to Resurrection Sunday. Do you believe that Christ is alive? Do you understand that He lives in you? Do you live through Him? It is important to evaluate our personal walk with Christ each day? To compare our direction to His Directive (His Word, Will and Way). To completely empty the contents of our heart and make sure it is only faith in God that is retained and worthless things thrown away. The only thing of worth in us is Jesus Christ. If we do not fully believe and base our life on the fact that Jesus lives and resides in us – what is there to celebrate on Easter? If Christ did not emerge from the grave victorious over sin and death – folks, we have a problem. It doesn’t matter how good you are doing or successful you are at avoiding sin, without the Living God – there is nothing to live for. All those efforts following the example of Christ are meaningless if the person of Jesus does not reside inside you. The Spirit gives us life. Apart from Him, death is the only option. Revive us again, Jesus. Teach us to celebrate the power and authority that You have given us and live a resurrection life.

John 11:25-26 (NLT)  Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” Do you believe this (put your name here)?