Ignore the Roar

Ignore the Roar

I Peter 5:6-9 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

There is an adversary prowling the earth seeking someone to devour. The word “devour” means to consume destructively, recklessly or wantonly. It is to engulf or swallow up. To absorb or engross wholly. The enemy of our soul seeks someone to devour. How does one resist the devourer? Those who remain subject to God and His Word that humble themselves under His Mighty Hand will be lifted up…at the proper time. Does it seem like you never have enough time? Or do you live from paycheck to paycheck? What are you lacking? We are people who are predestined to live in abundance. Jesus Christ came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The Lord promises to do exceedingly abundantly more we ask or think…according to His Power at work in us.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. We have a good Shepherd who carefully watches the flock called the righteous. I am called righteous in right standing with God based on the salvation of Jesus Christ who opened a gate for me. To enter the Presence of God and live in peaceful surrender to the Living God. Humility is essential to the righteous remaining in the shelter and refuge of God. The roar of the lion is loud. When I was a teenager, I went to Africa on a missionary venture. Lying in bed at night, an occasional roar of a lion could be heard in the darkness. At first it was a bit frightening, however; I was safe in a compound with whitewashed walls and members of the Maasai tribe patrolled the perimeter to keep those inside safe. The lions roar was just a reminder of the dangers lurking outside the walls of the camp. Lord, help us to see that the roar of the lion that produces fear, anxiety and stress is but a veiled threat to those who live in the sanctuary of trust and peace that you provide.

Malachi 3:10-12 (ESV) Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

“And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.” (Matthew 13) The Lord gives seed to the sower. You are a sower. You plant in your life every day. You decide the productivity of your life based on the quality and quantity of your investment. The potential in us is based on the Kingdom as we have been given eternity in our heart. A promise that EVERYTHING will be made beautiful in its own time. A gift of faith that is the beginning of great fruitfulness in our life. There is a thief who wants to steal, kill and destroy the hope that is given to us in the productivity of our seed. Jesus came to grow it in us and for us.

The seed of God’s Word must be pressed deep into a soft and fertile heart to grow into anything of worth in our life. Malachi 3 talks about the tithe. The tithe of our life is our time, talent and treasure. All should be considered in our giving to God. Our covenant relationship with the Father gives us the opportunity to reap Kingdom benefits and blessings in all three areas according to our level of faith and trust in Him. To partner with the Lord requires an investment. We must give to receive these things. Our position in life must be Presence. Our posture must be humility. It is under the Mighty Hand of God that we find the prosperity longed for. This is an act of submission and surrender to the Lord that gives our time, talent and treasure to Him – we must decide that God deserves our first fruits of each not what is remaining.

The promise of partnership with God is that He will rebuke the devourer. To rebuke means express sharp, stern disapproval. It also means to reprove or reprimand. The original meaning of rebuke means to beat back or hack down. The Lord will call off the devourer by His Word. We have God’s Word that He will deal with the devourer if we choose to trust Him more. When we move our life and all its resources from doubt and fear to live in full dependence on the Lord and trusting Him – the enemy can roar but he cannot move within the borders of faith and trust. He can only hurl lies and threats over the fence but they are quickly rebuked by God’s Word now active in our heart and mind. When Jesus was in the wilderness, the enemy came to him. Jesus did not argue with the devil or complain about the situation. His answer to every temptation was simple. He told the enemy what God said. The Word is Jesus and He lives in us now. His Word is the potential for our life. Do you know what God says about you? Do you know what the blessings and benefits of the Kingdom are for you? Do you believe it? When we decide to trust the Lord fully with our time, talent and treasure enough to give Him the most choice portion, the devourer must move back as he is beaten down by God’s Word. Jesus makes intercession for us with the Father and defends us by the Word.

Proverbs 21:20-21 (ESV) Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it. Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.

Remember the widow who cried to Elisha, her husband was dead. (2 Kings 4) He was a man of God and servant of the Lord. The woman feared the creditor was coming to take her sons. Elisha asked her, “Tell me; what have you in the house?” Her response, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Oil represents anointing. Christ lives in us. The Anointed One has chosen to inhabit our heart. With faith, nothing is impossible. Faith cannot stay in our heart but must be sown in trust. What if you already have what is needed to prosper and live in the abundance of God but it is just hidden in your “house”? You have the Word of God and the faith that moves mountains but cower in fear over simple provisions of life. You have the Peace of God that passes understanding but remain in fear, worry and anxiety over the roar of the lion. The woman changed her situation when she became a vessel. Her abundance of oil in the small flask did not run out until she stopped providing a place for it to flow.

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness and honor. Ignore the roar! Give no credence to the lion today. Jesus has rebuked the devourer. Do not let him in. He cannot touch anything resting inside the Shelter and Refuge of God’s Presence. When we plant all our expectation in Jesus Christ by faith it will be fruitful in its proper time. The Lord has promised that there is a season for EVERYTHING. He tells us that EVERYTHING will be made beautiful in its time. No seed planted today bears fruit tomorrow. There is a process and most certainly a wait time. But in the meantime, the Lord promises to the rebuke the devourer in all things given to Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

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Quiet Place

Quiet Place

I Peter 3:10-12 (ESV)  For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Faith is a quiet place. Once the battle of our heart and mind are won, faith takes the place of fear, anxiety and worry when our confidence is in the foundation of Christ alone. Few will ever find such a place because the enemy works day and not to uproot us with circumstances, conditions and concerns in that natural that keeps us from supernatural revelation that with God all things are possible for those who simple and fully believe. To say one has faith and continue to strive is inconsistent. The Lord offers us peace that passes all understanding. It is up to us to make up our mind who we believe and even more important who to serve. We do not lean on faith when our confidence is secure because it is our hope that sustains us. Trust and believing begins with seeds of faith planted in the Kingdom. Over time, it becomes confident hope that quiets every storm and keeps us in the waiting. Faith is a peaceful and quiet place of dwelling in the Presence of God no matter what the conditions of your life may be.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to love life and see good days. Do you? There are simple instructions in this passage beginning with our conversation and communication. We must keep our tongue from speaking evil and our lips from speaking deceit. What does this mean? Our heart and mind must agree to produce words that affirm our faith and trust in the Lord rather than the current situation. We must learn to speak of His Goodness to us. It is important that our mouth speaks His Word not the way it is. Rebellion is anything contrary to God’s Word, Will and Way including what we say. To say, “I believe” and then express doubt marked by complaining, grumbling and malice is to refute our previous claim. Faith is in God alone and His Careful Concern for us that gives us confidence no matter what life looks like that He works every detail for our good.

We must turn away from evil and do good. We must stop allowing evil to penetrate our heart and mind. It is imperative to the growth and maturity of faith that we carefully filter what we feed our heart and mind on a regular basis. Like a diet counts caloric intake or carb monitoring, it is the same with our soul. To read the Word of God and study its way, but then not carefully examine what we see, hear and engage in is contradictory living. We become frustrated because those things attributed to faith are not producing good fruit when the problem is that in our fertile heart are seeds of faith and weeds of sin. We must challenge ourselves in every moment of every day to do good. Regardless of how we are treated or what we face that our character resembles that of our Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ.

I must seek peace and pursue it. Peace doesn’t find us – we must pursue it. Peace that passes understanding is offered but one must decide to accept it before it takes over. The meek inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. (Psalm 37) Meekness is humility. A peaceful and quiet nature not governed by pride. Humility is exactly what God is looking for in His People to given them an abundance of peace. Peace that comes from knowing He is fighting our battles and we must only be still. Faith is quiet and gives way to thresholds of peace in God’s People. The Lord promises us peace that passes all understanding and that peace guards our hearts and minds in Christ. Do you need peace today? You must pursue it. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but it is the tearing down of strongholds in our mind. To think like God thinks and respond per His Instructions. The battle is won in the natural. We must win the war in our heart and mind to stand victorious.

I Peter 3:4 (ESV) But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

This treasure of a verse is tucked in between careful instruction regarding submissiveness. Submission is the duty of every wife to her husband. There is power in submission to authority found only by the humble. We are ALL the Bride of Christ which is the submissive role in the relationship…woman or man. Our place in our covenant relationship with Jesus requires us to submit to His Authority and Power in all things. Our heart is thereby covered in the “imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” deemed precious in God’s Sight. We do not fight for the Lord. He fights for us. If we are still, we win. It is when our flesh tells us to do more than what God has instructed that we overstep boundaries of faith into a place that we are not called to be. We do not argue the Word of God for it is truth and therefore verified all by itself. We are not in conflict with people because that would be like our right arm trying to subdue the left arm. Faith is quiet when our heart is submitted and secure in Christ alone.

Isaiah 32:17-18 (ESV) And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

Righteousness will produce peace in our life. Right standing with God is not based on performance but acceptance. Crazy I know and often times difficult to fully comprehend so it is human nature to throw ourselves into serving God as though it somehow is repayment of our debt to Him. The truth is that the purest form of worship is to do so by living a peaceful life. The result of righteousness is a quiet life wrapped in trust. It means trusting God in all matters and at all times simply because He is God. He loves us unconditionally. His Grace is always enough. He pursues us with His Goodness. We are His Delight. There is nothing we can do to ever change that even when living in the depths of darkness. His Love never fails us though we constantly fail Him. God’s People, those who live by faith, will abide, dwell, and live in peaceful habitation. The Holy Inhabitation of Jesus is the Holy Spirit. Peace is one of the fruits that He is cultivating in us with seeds of faith. Are you living in perfect peace today? Is your dwelling place secure? Is your existence a quiet resting place that draws others to it? If not, it can be.

Psalm 46:10 (ESV) “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Be still. Know that I am God. Faith is not logical. I say it all the time. Faith is not a practical form of living widely accepted by the average person. It doesn’t make sense at all most of the time. In fact, faith is usually developed when faced with the impossible. In other words, in situations where there is no other choice. God wants you and I to have faith. He desires to give us peace of mind and soul security so we can prosper in every area of life. It’s definitely not a “God” problem. God will do exactly as He promised that He would do. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. We must be still and wait for the Lord. Stop fighting for every lost cause and with every person who doesn’t agree with you and be still in the Presence of the Lord who fights for you and gives you victory time and time again. You can only do this when you KNOW that He is God. When that knowing becomes living in confident hope.

Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

When our oldest son was overseas serving our country, I had this verse on my refrigerator. I prayed this over him every time I was in the kitchen. He was in a foreign land unwanted and in the enemy’s territory but God was with him. I prayed that the Presence of God would surround him especially in his sleep. I wanted him to have peace and rest each night though far from home and in constant danger. The Lord brought him back safely. Reading this today, I wonder if we are all not facing battles every day. Battles of our heart and mind without absolute confidence in the hope we have so our striving becomes strife. We begin to fight for something that already belongs to us simply for the asking. God will give us His Peace. We can rest in the stillness of the quiet place of faith. The Lord is in our midst. He is the Mighty One who will save, heal and deliver us. He rejoices over us with gladness because He loves us. He quiets us, soothes us and revives us in His Love. He signs over us as a mother to their sleeping child out of an overflowing love from the innermost depths of their heart as only a parent could understand. God loves us. We can trust that love in all circumstances and craziness of this life. We must only step over the boundaries of fear, doubt and insecurity into the quiet place called faith.

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Assumption

Assumption

Ephesians 4:20-24 (ESV) But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

The journey of faith is long and arduous. It requires endurance as that exerted in a marathon. Many will begin but few will finish – the broken road is laden with many who heard the Word of God and wanted all of its benefits but succumbed to one of the many distractions along the way. Some of the seeds falling on a path easily devoured by the lie of the enemy which is his only weapon formed against. It will not prosper when seeds planted deep in the human heart become confident hope. Other seeds were considered and even pondered for a short time but then the busyness of life and need for immediate gratification hindered the roots of trust from grabbing hold of every fear, doubt and insecurity and crushing them in the peace of God through Jesus Christ. Without being rooted and grounded in God’s Love and Goodness through Jesus Christ there is no Living Water to sustain us during times of drought. Other seeds were suffocated by distractions and the thorns of life keep us in the ordinary when all along the new life waits in the extraordinary. You were born in the natural and through Jesus Christ have access to the supernatural. Why do so many Christians live defeated lives? They have the wrong assumptions.

There are two kinds of assumption – 1) there is the assumption that takes for granted, and 2) there is the assumption that takes possession. Let’s talk about assuming. The word jumped off the screen reading Ephesians 4 today. God never lies or changes His Mind. He is Sovereign and Perfect in every way. He loves us. He is good to us. He desires us. His Unconditional Love for us evident in the selfless giving of His Son to obtain our life in its most wretched state. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, He never changes. Our life has a plan and purpose containing a future and hope prerecorded and predestined before our natural birth only awaiting spiritual rebirth. My heart has a measure of faith to begin the growth process. It has a promise – eternity. Jesus came to be the Way, the Truth and Life. To give me access to the Father and become His Child again. All of this belongs to me including every spiritual blessing and the supplies to meet every need. I am promised victory in Jesus Christ. He is the overcomer who will never leave me or forsake me. He has given me His Spirit as a helper. The Spirit provides guidance in applying God’s Word (seed) to my life and making it grow into good fruit that will satisfy me with a prospering soul. If my life doesn’t line up to God’s Word, it is not His Fault but by my own assumption.

Do I assume natural occurrences or supernatural outcomes in Jesus Name? My strongest conviction must be that the Lord is exactly who He says He is and does exactly what He promises to do. Before Christ I took all these benefits and blessings for granted because honestly they were unattainable. Coming to Christ, I must change my assumption by faith fulling believing and adopting the promises of God in every area of my life. It is human nature to doubt. To have fear and anxiety is evidence of insecurity in my heart that Jesus can and will do exactly as promised in His Word. To lack joy, peace and every other fruit born of the Spirit is to accept these things as a way of life rather than giving this life away by faith to trust God at His Word.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

“We all make basic assumptions about things in life, but sometimes those assumptions are WRONG. We must never trust in what we assume, only in what we KNOW.” Darren Shan

Our new life in Christ requires us to make new assumptions. We are prewired by experienced to never assume but always try, test, ask and know. As I have said many times, I do not believe in blind faith. Faith is what we know about God and choose to believe. The assumption of our life as believers is through adoption. To know, trust and believe so that faith becomes logical and hope our confidence. God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He chose us before the creation of this world to be holy and blameless before Him. He decided to adopt us to become His Sons and Daughters. It is according to His Will and by His Grace that such a life is even possible. The rest is up to us. The acceptance of Jesus Christ and the new life that is offered is to know His Love and live in it.

We must fully assume our new identity in Jesus Christ in order to obtain every spiritual blessing. The Spirit of God within us is proof of our identity. Faith is His Investment so that when sown in our heart and life that it blossoms into new life. Jack’s mom didn’t believe the beans he received in trade were worth anything and threw them out the window. But the next morning those seeds became a beanstalk connecting earth to the sky. Now we both know this is just a children’s story, but what if the seeds given to us in the form of God’s Word really do have the potential to connect Heaven and earth. To change our normal existence into a supernatural lifestyle. What if our ordinary really is purposed to become extraordinary? What are you waiting for? It’s time to put some seed in the ground by faith and watch it grow in Jesus Name.

Romans 8:14-16 (ESV)  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…

“Faith grows when we assume the position of one who can’t do it all by himself. That means we go to God, follow Him, and ask Him for help.” – John Townsend

I am caught up in this thought of assumption today. Are there areas of my life that I have not yielded to Christ and assumption of my new life? Am I living as an adopted daughter of the Living God or do I still lack full assumption of my identity in Christ? How do I know? What do I expect? Do I expect God’s Love and Goodness? Do I live a confident life fully trusting the Lord to meet my need and exceed all expectations? The answer lies in my own heart. I must examine the contents carefully lest I assume without knowing. I must know the Word – not assume it doesn’t apply to me. I must know Jesus Christ through an abiding relationship – not just assume an introduction one day. I must live in a life of power by fully accepting grace that is only magnified in my weakness. Less of me and more of Him allows me to connect with Heaven by faith now rather than wondering when I die if I will enter its gates. There is no greater confidence than faith flourishing in every spiritual blessing given to those who live by faith as an assumption of all God has planned and purposed. To do so, I must assume that I am a Child of God because I know the Word and He lives in me.

I John 4:4 (ESV)  Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

The Fallen Tree

The Fallen Tree

Psalm 1:3 (ESV) He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Engaged in the morning routine, I head outside with our dogs in the pitch black darkness before the sun rises. Our black lab begins barking into the darkness followed by the high pitched retort of our little Chihuahua. Shining the flashlight, there is a fallen tree in the backyard. Oddly there was no storm or wind in the night. Closer inspection reveals the same soft bark as the other trees that have just toppled over. I am certain that when upon further inspection in the daylight will reveal the same orange fungus in the treetop that was on the others. Curiosity leads me to Google to try to discern what is killing the small hardwoods in the backyard.

The most likely suspect is called Heart Rot. A fungus makes its way into the tree either by pruning or another injury to the bark and without notice begins to deteriorate it from the inside out. Though the tree seems to be growing and changing with the seasons, it is dying day by day. If I had leaned on it yesterday, it would have toppled over. If a storm with any kind of wind, it would have fallen just the same. Could it be the same for us when injured or neglected? Is it possible for the human heart to take on such an insult or offense and unknowingly die on the inside?

Blessed is the man or woman who walks in the counsel of the godly. Those who engage with other believers and fellowship with Christians who are likeminded. Yet human are we. To be part of the Body of Christ means oneness with Jesus Christ. He is the One who makes our heart steady and secure in every season. He is the One who fortifies us and plants us. Rooted and grounded in His Love our expectation of others is replaced by love, grace, compassion and mercy.

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

Our strength and power is by His Spirit in our inner being. Christ dwells in our heart by faith and His Spirit works His Love all the way through us. We must be rooted and grounded in the Love of God demonstrated through the Gift of His Son – Jesus to withstand the storms of life with a heart wrapped up in and secured by the hopeful anchor of salvation. God is good. His plan for our life contains a future and hope well worth the transformation process. We must examine our heart daily. Moment by moment working to become more rooted and grounded by faith in trusting the Lord until our trust is fully invested in Christ alone. Full comprehension of God’s Love and His Grace that sustains us will cause us to let go of every other expectation that we may fully engage with the One “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Psalm 52:8-9 (ESV) But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.

How deep are your roots in the Love of God today? The green olive tree is a source of oil. Oil represents anointing. Christ who is the Anointed One lives in you and me. We are the Children of God. His Spirit dwells in us producing the good fruit that feeds our soul and establishes our trust in Him. Do you trust the steadfastness of God’s Love for you? Such love casts out all fear, doubt, insecurity, offense, and any other affliction placed in our heart by the father of lies. This creates a healthy root system as faith grows in us and hope anchors our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) Such a belief system creates a spirit of thanksgiving and fullness of joy that the storms of life cannot remove or uproot. It affords us patience that in the times of great turmoil, testing, trials and tribulation that God is with us, He is for us, and we are immovable and unshakeable in the Lord.

We must learn to live in the Presence of God and not the present. Such a lofty pursuit found in the quietness of space apportioned time to spend with the Lover of our soul, studying and mediating on His Word, listening for that still small voice whispering to us, praying face down on our knees, relying on His Spirit to work in us and through us as we learn to live in His Love moment by moment. To live any other way does not feed our faith or establish our heart which are stark contradictions to “normal” life.

I do not want to live a lie. To build a life on other people’s convictions and human doctrine with a rotting heart. It can happen. It is easy to live on the coattails of someone else’s faith until the rubber hits the road and you need your own faith to pass the test. I cannot cheat the Lord. He knows everything about me. He sees the innermost workings of my fickle heart and longs to change me from the inside out. I must allow the Lord access to the parts of me that are not okay. The doubtful darkness that looms deep inside the crevices of a broken heart. The wounded places that I cover so well. The pruning of hard seasons that I do not acknowledge left raw, opened and exposed. Lord, I do not want my heart to rot. I want to be someone known by good fruit.

Matthew 7:16-18 (ESV) You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.

Our backyard is partially cleared and on the backside of the property there are many trees. The trees that have succumbed to the fungal invasion are small. Funny, it was one of the things I liked the most about our lot. Those trees are now a detriment. We live in the South in an area prone to hurricanes. Soon, we will walk through the backyard and push on each tree to see if it is impacted by Heart Rot. The ones that are will give way under the pressure. These trees will need to be cut down and burned. Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” What kind of fruit is your life producing? We are called to live a rich, satisfying life. The only hindrance in our life is fear and doubt. Faith will always flourish. The places of insecurity or insufficiency need to be seeded with God’s Word and given careful attention. Why? Without faith, it is impossible to live a life pleasing to God. To remain in mediocrity is to stop the miraculous. To accept the ordinary is to reject the ordinary. These are the inheritances of every believer according to God’s Word. His Promises are all “yes” and “amen” according to the Spirit living in you. The only way not be blessed, prosperous and fully supplied is to somehow stop faith from producing its full potential in that area of your life. With God all things are possible if we believe. Do you believe today? Do you really believe? A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit. A diseased tree cannot bear good fruit. Lord, make me like a tree planted by living water who produces fruit in every season and leaves that do not wither or die.

Matthew 13:31-32 (ESV) He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

God has placed potential in our life that must be sown, cultivated and harvested to prosper us from the inside out. We are created to bear good fruit. He has given us the seed (His Word), the cultivator (His Spirit) and even the faith to wait on it. It is important that in our doing, serving and living for God that we do not forget to examine our heart daily. To come to the Lord and ask for forgiveness for our sin. It seems so simple yet many cannot remember the last prayer of repentance but readily remember the long list of requests. Everything I want, need, and desire are fulfilled in Christ. The only requirement is reconciling my life to His Way, Truth and allowing Him to produce life within me.

I must pay attention to my relationship to the Lord rather than getting wrapped up in religion or being right. God is God no matter who believes in Him. Jesus died for our sins and offers us the Precious Gift of Salvation whether anyone accepts it or not. The Spirit of God lives in us to be our helper whether acknowledged or not. The existence of God and His Great Love for you and me are firmly established in who He is and not what I choose. Humbling to think that even when I reject Him – God’s Love for me is secure. How have I rejected God? Anytime I choose something other than steadfast faith and confident hope in His Love. Every area of my life ruled by fear, doubt, worry, anxiety and insecurity is a place of void with a need to be filled.

When my life is fully invested in the Kingdom of God with flourishing faith and hope – it will appeal to others. The fruit of my life will feed the hungry. It will give sustenance to those who are thirsty. Bad fruit will spread like a fungus just the same. Just as many people if not more will be turned off to God by fruitless or faithless Christians each day. The efforts of Christianity become productive when faith is produced in us that others can see. The good fruit of God’s Spirit and confidence in His Love will be something worth having. It is not that I can do everything right, clean up my act or even preach a flawless gospel. It shines from the Light of His Love that has fully taken over my heart and soul. It makes me like a tree that can give good fruit in every season. To live a healthy and prosperous life full of thanksgiving and praises to God in every season knowing His Love for me is secure and so are His Promises.

Lord, I ask you to shine the Light of Your Love on the inside of me today. I am sorry for the sin that I harbor within thinking no one sees. Lord, you see it and desire to put good things in its place. Expose any unforgiveness, offense, or insecurity. Lord, I ask your Spirit to remove it and sow seeds of new faith in its place. I give my all to You again. Lord, give me a new heart and steadfast spirit in Jesus Name. Amen.

Psalm 92:12-15 (ESV) The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

The Light

Flashlight shining light

Luke 11:36 (NLT)  If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

A well-known columnist for the local paper passed away from a sudden stroke. There was no warning just here today gone the next. At an undisclosed time, he wrote his own obituary to be published after his death. A portion read, “And if anyone claims at the end of my life that I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, know that they are lying. I’ve spend my life as an atheist. That’s the way I’ll die. And hope that hell has been way undersold.” Wow…my heart breaks at his words for now he knows the terrible truth.

Glancing through the outline of his self-constructed obituary, it is clear that this man wanted the world to know him as he decided they should. The need for obvious control details his life from start to finish including a carefully orchestrated funeral. He even delineates what people are to say posthumously about him. Again, a life built on deception lived in darkness. He believed that his life was good and successfully but did not achieve even the seventy years promised in God’s Word. I am sad for him. Truly, my heart is grieved that he chose to be his own light rather than to let God’s Love, His Light, live in him. He made the choice to refute Jesus Christ openly and publicly. He died without faith or hope in a living Lord to save him and rescue him. Hell is not oversold. It is as real as the Heaven I hope for.

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

The Word

In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. It was God. “He” existed in the beginning. Everything was created by God’s Word. Nothing apart from Him. The Word gave life to everything. All of created is fueled by the breath of the Living God – His Word. His Life brought life to everyone. Light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overtake the Light.

Jesus is the Word of God. If you continue through John 1, you will see that the Word came into the world as a human to make His Home in us. He came to the world that He created in order to reclaim His Created Ones from the sin and darkness of their own selfish choices. To all who believe the Word is life but those who choose darkness will not live apart from the Word. Jesus, the Word, is all about unfailing love and faithfulness. He came to fill us with His Glory so that we could live radiant lives as His Children.

In Ecclesiastes 3:11, the Word tells us that God made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in each heart of each person who He created. The Purpose of God in us is to find eternity and live with Him forever. Faith is the seed of potential that must be released to become confident hope in us. However, there are many who will never realize their full potential or achieve great purpose because rather than being eternal beings by faith that will remain in a human condition that leads to nothing but darkness.

Genesis 1:1-3 (NLT) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Genesis 1:31 (NLT)  Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

There are important factors to the Creation account that must not be overlooked. God was, of course, present. This is generally the common thread of all religions – a supreme being. God’s Spirit hovered in the darkness of the unformed earth. Oh, now things start to split and splinter apart with doctrines. God said, “Let there be light.” There was light. Could this be the first birth ever recorded? God spoke and light came pouring out. Life was projected in that moment.

We read the Word of God in increments or portions of preference. We need the Word to be the Bread of Life and Living Water inside of us. The difference between scientists and servants is that those who are committed to science take all the information and form an intellectual hypothesis that is then tested for relativity. Servants of the Living God often live in ignorance. Too many do not know the Word, study it or apply it to their natural life but keep it as a supernatural fantasy. The Word is the substance of our faith and foundation of confident hope yet an untried structure of flimsy ideas and novelties not tried in our life. We must take God’s Word inspected the truth and applying intellectual thought to it. In plain terms, you have to think about it. Meditate on it. Find truth in it. Become confident of it. Faith becomes logical in the Word but no one is willing to take it for a test drive. The vehicle of acquisition in our life is the Word and where it takes us – from darkness into light.

The Light

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

If you follow me…living in the Light of God’s Love and following His Word is a choice. You don’t “have” to do it. You have the opportunity to choose eternal life. The Pharisees were appalled at this claim by Jesus. It did not jive with their religious beliefs. Yet, Jesus tells them what we believe does not change who HE is. Our choice to live in light or darkness is a life or death choice that in no one strengthens or weakens God’s Power or Authority that is given to Jesus Christ. We don’t have to fight, argue or bicker to convince others of His Validity because Jesus remains the same yesterday, today and forever. Our belief in Christ changes us.

Matthew 5:14 tells us that we are “the light of the world.” Christ in us illuminates the darkness giving off the Light of His Glory for others to see. The Word of God produces light in us. It projects the characteristics and qualities of Christ when applied to our heart and mind. As our soul prospers, so will we – In all things pertaining to life and godliness. We have been given every spiritual blessing and it is by allowing His Light to shine in us and through us that these are things are found. Psalm 139 tells us that our life is prerecorded each day written before our birth. Everything I need for today is already given. I am well-supplied. I am fruit-bearing already. I can be all that the Lord has promised. I can meet my full potential. I cannot get lost because I am already found. I may wonder but am constantly pursued by the unfailing love, faithfulness and goodness of the Living God.

Luke 15:8-9 (NLT) “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’”

What is the Kingdom worth to you today? Is it an option? An opportunity to believe the day after your death yet you live for this moment or today? What profits a person who gains the world and loses his soul? To read the obituary of this man, he was very successful. His prideful account details every accomplishment in detail. Maybe the most honest words of the whole thing are in his final statement, “I really loved life.” God wants us to love our life. To love and be loved are all part of our primary purpose. The real accomplishment is to do so full of His Love. His Light.

The woman who misplaced on of her silver coins felt the pain of her lost. She wanted it back. It says, “Won’t she light a lamp, sweep her house, and search carefully until she finds it.” Today while it is today is another opportunity to discover purpose and potential in our life. His Plan is for us to realize the promises set forth in His Plan including a future and hope that extends beyond this life into eternity. It is all worth having but if there is no value in forever for us without Jesus – we should make the most of today. I must value the One who lives in me far more than any other endeavor in order to prosper and succeed in every endeavor and one day reach eternity.

 I still remember the words offered by those at my grandmother’s funeral. She was the one who introduced me to Jesus Christ. They all continued to go on and on about her love and compassion for other people. Her kindness and love for Jesus Christ. This is the same kind of legacy that I would like. For those who one day attend the life celebration service to tell others that my life was a Light in a dark world. To know that I loved them. To know I loved Jesus Christ. The Word of God is the Light that illuminates the darkness within us exposing the true potential of our life making us life bearers in this world. I can give all my money to the pour and live a life of constant selfless service but if I don’t have the Word, the Light and Love of God in me – I have nothing. Give me Jesus. When I leave this world rest assured that it is my profound hope and daily aspiration to be with the Lover of my Soul – Jesus Christ. He is my Savior. He is my Lord.

Lord, I ask you to fill me with more of Your Word today and stir the fire within me to an even brighter light! Let your Word come to pass in me that my “whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling (me) with light.” In Jesus Name!

Song of Solomon 8:6 (NLT) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.

Due Season

Due Season

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

I was talking to a friend of my not too long ago. Experiencing a bit of discouragement, the Lord pressed upon me to share that “He never leads us to barren fields.” The Word I thought was for someone else began to resonate in me. I love how the Lord does that. A word in due season. “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23) What is due season anyway? It simply means at the appropriate time, in due course, in due time, in good time or when the time comes. Due means rightful, proper or fitting. A season is a period of time when something is best or available.

Ecclesiastes 3 sets forth the boundaries and conditions of each season. Not every season seems pleasant at the time but each one holds its own fruit. Purpose and potential are not always evident in what we seen. The process by which God grows and develops are character is often difficult. The struggle is not in the outward conditions but our inward character. It is the death of our flesh that produces new life in every season. Romans 7 reminds us that the struggle is real and ongoing no matter how hard we try to overcome it. What season are you in? Everyone loves the harvest season but our willingness to endure the planting, persevere the drought, and wait for God’s Timing is essential in the abundant prosperity that is promised. God will not allow outward prosperity without soul prosperity. Our reliance on the Lord in every season is important to have His Plan with the future and hope it promises. It really doesn’t matter if we are successful in life if it does not allow the faith in our heart to connect us with eternity.

Leviticus 26:4-6 (NLT) “I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land. I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land.”

What season are you in today? Does it seem like it will never end? Are you discouraged? Do you feel abandoned? God’s Promise in Leviticus remains the same today. He promised seasonal rains. When you think the drought will never end? He sends a downpour. The land you are in has potential and is marked with purpose that will prosper and yield good fruit. Here is the important truth to quiet the need to leave or mindset to escape – “your threshing season will overlap and harvest will overlap WITH the season of planting. Learning to continually sow seed will inevitably result in overlapping harvests in our life. We just have to learn to continue to sow and plant when conditions are unfavorable or the wait seems too long. The problem is not in the land but in our heart.

God promises that we will be fulfilled and protected in “your own land”. Too often the greener grass on the other side causes us to wander rather than staying put to fulfill the plan of God that will lead to abundance and prosperity. He gives us peace in that place marked my own. He protect us giving us rest even when the enemies are pressing in and people seem like problems. God has already ordained blessing in our life – the problem is that we do not believe Him enough to stay put and keep beating the seemingly dry and dead place until breakthrough comes.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 

“But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8) What if God’s Seasons are not set by the same time and space as our perception of seasons? What if the markers He uses are different than the ones that humanity is accustomed to? Not only probably but highly likely. The seasons of the earth are to produce natural occurrences not supernatural outcomes. God defies human logic all the time by doing miraculous things – sometimes in a second or even in lifetimes. The problem is human nature demands natural results when God’s Plan and Promise is a supernatural outcome. He doesn’t bargain with just enough but promises overflowing abundance. He promises that we will produce fruit in season AND out of season. Are we limiting our life by observing natural seasons but not sowing in supernatural outcomes?

What do people really get for all their hard work? Each person who opened their eyes and took in another breath this morning has the same 24 hours to use as they see fit. Many years ago, a friend asked how I found time to write each day. I think she was looking for some epiphany and was quite disappointed with my response. I shared that I set my alarm to get up at 4:30 each morning in order to make time to spend with the Lord and write. She said, “Well, forget that and laughed walking away.” The next time busyness becomes an excuse I challenge you to examine your time. Your schedule and routine will tell you where you are sowing in life. It will tell you where to expect a harvest or increase. When we give a significant portion of our time to the world, we will reap earthly results. Hard work will pay off in our natural life. To sow seed in God’s Kingdom and connect with Him means reprioritizing our time making room for Him. It is only as our soul prospers that all of our life will reap the benefits. We must work smarter not harder. Grace is sufficient to allow us to enjoy the blessings and benefits of God for His Children. It is investing in His Kingdom to be one with the Body of Christ that produces such a harvest.

Galatians 6:8-10 (NLT) Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. What is your investment in Kingdom Living today? If you made a pie chart, what portion of your life is devoted to loving, knowing and serving God? Do you spend time with Him each day? Does He go to work, school or run errands with you? Is He the primary resource in your life? Do you rely on Him or a paycheck or someone else? What are you expecting from Him that hard work and motivation cannot produce? Do you believe His Grace is enough? The place you are planted has a harvest just for you that cannot be produced by anyone else. It is part of your purpose. It is a product of your plan ordained by the Living God who is inside of you. Watch for it. Prepare for it. Sow it. Wait for it. Stand on that field until it produces exactly what God promised you.

At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Are you waiting for due season? Keep waiting. The harvest of blessing comes with no sorrow added to it. The time, talent and treasure invested in God’s Soil will always produce good fruit even when the land seems barren and dead. He is the Life Giver who has given us resurrection power to call dead things to life.

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. Your process must always produce the Fruit of the Spirit first. Your soul must prosper in order for the ordinary to become extraordinary and the natural to produce supernatural. The world says work for it. The Lord says, “Worship me and you will have it all!”

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

Flawless

Flawless

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Power of Discernment

The Power of Discernment

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

To be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God. What is good? What is acceptable? What is perfect? Here’s a hint. People will never lead you to perfection. It is impossible for the imperfect to go where they have not been. Maturity in Christ is an independent mission of finding completion in Him. Discernment takes knowledge of God and as it becomes our understanding it will begin to produce wisdom in our life. Wisdom is nothing more than applied knowledge. To be wise is to make choices based on sound knowledge and good understanding allowing it to change the way we think, live and speak.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6) A lack of knowledge in our natural life can cause unwanted consequences. For example, if you are not instructed that if you touch a hot stovetop that you will be burned, then when you come in contact with one that you will likely touch it and pay the consequences. Spiritual instruction is absolutely necessary to change our life from natural to supernatural outcomes. We can present ourselves as “living sacrifices” but it is discernment that keeps us aligned with God and following Jesus Christ. We need knowledge. We need understanding. We need wisdom. We need discernment. What if we have it but are not using it? Well, according to Hosea, people are destroyed because they lack…or reject godly knowledge.

I Kings 3:10-14 (ESV) It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

Solomon was the beloved son of David. David was a man after God’s Heart. Solomon following the footsteps of his father offered a sacrifice pleasing to the Lord. God came to King Solomon in a dream and asked, “What shall I give you?” The king could have asked for anything. He could have asked for riches and honor or a variety of natural desires. Solomon asked for wisdom or more importantly “understanding to discern what is right”. His request pleased the Lord and it was granted to him.

Godly wisdom and good discernment does not make us perfect. It is simply good judgment that readily discerns between good and evil. Good people are not always godly. Religious folks aren’t always godly. We are quick to follow preachers and teachers but reluctant to strike out and follow Jesus especially when He leads us out on our own. People are people. God is looking for those who desire Him above all things.

Remember when Jesus met the rich young man. (Mark 10) He called Jesus “Good Teacher” and quickly the Lord replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Discernment. Jesus was questioning the man’s knowledge and wisdom. He knew the commandments and religious rules and regulations. But did this rich young man have a relationship with God? Did he know God? Did he love Him? Did he recognize the Son of God standing before him? Well…when asked to leave this world behind, sell all his possessions and give everything away to follow Christ…he walked away. There are many people with a whole lot of head knowledge about the Lord. We need heart knowledge called discernment to change us and transform us.

I Corinthians 2:14-16 (ESV) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

We have the Mind of Christ. We must decide to adopt His Mindset and gain knowledge of who He is from God’s Word. In fact, John 1:14 tells us that Jesus is the Word of God who came to us wrapped in flesh. Without a personal working knowledge, there is no wisdom. Without wisdom, it is impossible to discern between good and evil. God is good! He is always good! His Way is always the best. To know His Way, we must know His Word and allow His Spirit to guide us.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)  Jesus is the Word. He is the only Way to God. We cannot access God through man anymore but must personally enter His Presence. To read the Word is to actively engage in the process of spiritual circumcision as the Lord removes the callous hardness applied by life to break our heart and fill it with the Light of His Love. If Jesus is your Savior and Lord, you have been given His Spirit. The Holy Spirit as you will see in the next scripture is called our “Helper”. He takes the Word of God like a surgeon to cut away the worthless and fruitless desires to give us a new life and make us a new creation just like the Lord promised to do.

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.

The Holy Spirit is our guide. He teaches us the meaning of God’s Word. He shows us how to apply it in our life through His Gentle Nudging or not-so-easy conviction. We are free to choose our way but in order to choose THE Way – reliance on the Spirit of God in us is important. The Spirit of God aligns our heart and mind with Him. In doing so, it creates inner peace as our heart is no longer in conflict with eternity. It is in this place that God changes us and transforms us. You were not created to be like anybody. God created you to be you. There is no one else that has your potential. There is no one else that can fulfill your purpose. To know Him is to love Him but aside from His Word (Truth) and His Spirit it is not possible to be a true worshipper. Our faith is planted solely in Christ to harvest the confident hoped needed to endure to the end.

Psalm 119:65-68 (ESV) You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.

I will be the first to admit that I have asked the Lord for specific “things” and detailed outcomes more than I care to mention. All those prayers “instructing” God on what I needed, wanted, desired or thought that He should do. God’s Word tells us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But then, I have had many pastors and teachers instruct me to tell God exactly what I want and to pray in specifics. This is where the power of discernment works in our life.

I find that when I pray for “God’s Will” to be done – I have greater success in accomplishing peace in my life. Thinking of all those times I thought I knew what was best, but the Lord had something better in mind. There is nothing wrong with praying for specific things but it is better to seek the Will and Way of God. His Hope never leads to disappointment. His Way never comes up short. His Promises always produce fulfillment and full satisfaction. His Economy is abundance. God is good. His Love unfailing. His Goodness always pursuing me. I must simply know Him and love Him to have it all.

Today, my prayer is simple. “Lord, teach me good judgment and knowledge. I desire discernment. To see people, situations, and opportunities through Your Eyes and consider each with the Mind of Christ. This is my heart’s desire to be a living sacrifice and live a life acceptable to You, Lord.”

Proverbs 16:20-22 (ESV) Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.

Slow Down

Slow-Down

Psalm 62:5-8 (ESV) For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

During the morning commute yesterday, I came upon a car going much slower than my vehicle was traveling. At first, I became agitated. Quite the contradiction from the praise music playing, it shook me from prayerful meditation to using every ounce of self-control not to honk the horn. The longer I followed the car the more worked up I became. Due to oversleeping and pure exhaustion, I was running late. Still fighting a cold and freezing in the unusually cold temperatures for the South, I just wanted them to get out of my way. How do we flip the script so quickly? Moments before, I was settled in for a long commute enjoying time with the Lord and then sudden inconvenience changes my attitude and demeanor. Guilty as charged. About that time, I passed a speed limit sign. The person in front of me was going the designated speed limit. I was frustrated because they were obeying the law while I was trying to speed past them. The Holy Spirit convicted me on the spot. There is a reason the law has mandated speed limits along with every other statute regarding the operation of a motor vehicle. I should know better as not too long ago I paid a hefty fine and attending four hours of traffic school for my bad choice. Yet, thinking about everything “I” had to do, where “I” needed to be, and “my” schedule – this person was actually keeping me from a possible bad choice.

There are many lessons that could be shared from my personal experience in that moment but this is what is relevant for me today. God is inviting me to rest. Slow down. When I woke up this morning, these words are on replay. Slow down. Trust me. Come to me. I will give you rest. I am your refuge. Disobedience is more a knee jerk reaction to impulse rather than the deepest longing of the human heart. Those who know Jesus and love Him want to do what is right yet our flesh is constantly challenging the idea of rest, trust, and refuge in the Lord because so much of it involves waiting.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Trusting the Lord produces rest in our heart and mind. Peace that passes all understanding is found in the Presence of God when He becomes our refuge. I am encouraged today by the psalmist’s thoughts – “pour out your heart before God.” What is your heart full of today? The contents are important as it is the context of our thoughts and motivates our actions. What is your primary motivation? Are you worried, stressed or anxious? Overloaded? Overwhelmed? Desperate? The Lord invites us to literally pour out our life before Him. He will help us. He will give us rest. However, we must be able to trust Him for relief.

Trusting the Lord means believing what the Word of God tells us about Him. Jesus is the Word who came down and was wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Profound Love for us. Here are some truths about the Lord today. God will become our refuge when we believe…

Psalm 36:7 God’s love for me is steadfast.

Psalm 18:30 God’s Way is perfect.

Psalm 31:19 God is always good and His Goodness is for me.

Psalm 34:8 God desires me and I must desire Him.

Psalm 46:1 God is my “very present” help.

Psalm 61:3 God is more powerful than the enemy.

Psalm 91:1 I must choose to live or dwell in God’s Presence.

Psalm 142:1 God wants to release the supernatural in my natural life.

Psalm 144:1 God is always in control.

These are just some of the qualities true of God as demonstrated in His Word. The Word is our compass. It keeps us moving in the right direction. It lights the way. Those who believe God at His Word and choose to trust Him through obedience will find peace that passes understanding and rest in the midst of chaos.

Hebrews 4:11-12 (ESV) Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The state traffic laws are not mandated to inconvenience me. They are put into place because it is determined the safest speed of travel given the conditions of the roadway and surrounding area. I decide whether or not I will obey the law. If I do not travel at the posted speed, I am breaking the law. If I get caught, there will be a consequence. A penalty to pay. The Word of God is God’s Way and Will for our life. Though unbound by the law, it is still the best course of action for our life. It leads to provision, protection and every other promise that God was inscribed in it. If I desire that life, I must follow the instructions that have been given. The law does not hurt me – it is put into place to help me.

We must slow down and carefully consider the contents of our heart and mind each day. It will dictate whether or not I react to the circumstances and conditions of my life creating consequences or I will begin to prosper in the promises of God set forth for me by the Living God. God’s Refuge, His Rest, is the quiet place of faith, trust and careful consideration of the course of life. It is a personal decision to sync my heart each day and align my life with God’s Plan. When I get overwhelmed – it is generally because my pride has begun to takeover and I begin to believe that I must “do” something, “be” somewhere or nothing will get down. Self-importance and pride cannot survive in the refuge of God. Those with diversified trust cannot sustain a restful state. “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that the Power of Christ may REST upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Be steadfast. Be immovable. Be abounding in the work of the Lord. Let your labor not be in vain. God did not call us to life of rushing. He did not anoint us to be “busy”. In fact, He has already promised to complete the work that He has begun in us. We have victory. We are overcomers in Christ. It is finished. Or is it? When our flesh fights for control – it seems to be full of good intentions but does not produce a life of godliness. Godliness is established in us by God alone. There is nothing I can do other than submit to the Holy Spirit’s work and continue to abide in Christ. God is doing exactly as He promised in His Word. We can trust Him. We can rely on Him. We can rest in Him every single day. It is a choice. Is it your choice? I must make it mine.

Hebrews 6:17-20 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Several years ago, my husband and I enjoyed a lovely cruise through the Caribbean. On the last night of our trip, the water was very rough. The large ship was being tossed about and warnings were posted to be very careful. Coming back from dinner, it was difficult to walk down the hallway without bumping into the corridor walls. Once inside our cabin, I collapsed in the big comfy bed and was drifting off to sleep. I was jostled not by the swaying ship but my husband. He was getting very nauseous and woke me in disbelief that I could actually sleep through it. I think of that night when I read this verse. The Peace of God that allows us to rest in Him is trust. Trust is the chain that connects the anchor marked “hope” to the vessel. I am a vessel. I must carefully inspect the contents to determine my connection with faith and hope. To trust the Lord is to live at rest in His Refuge. There are areas of my life still under renovation. The Promise of God still stands as He is patient, loving and kind waiting for me to figure out my salvation and work it through my life. Consider this – forever is not the future but encompasses every detail of our life – past, present and future. It all works together in the redemption plan. There is no falling backward or rushing forward just becoming. Today – I will slow down. Today – I will choose rest. Today – Lord I ask you to be my refuge.

Psalm 62:1-2 (ESV) For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Practice What You Preach

Practice What You Preach

Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)  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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

I heard a voice in the darkness. “Honey, it’s after 5:00 AM. Did you set the alarm?” I guess not although I thought I did. Too late to worry about that now, I try to pull myself from deep slumber. Immediately the cares and worries I went to bed with come to greet me. Warding them off, I stumble out of bed as my husband, the makeshift meteorologist, tells me that is a whopping 26 degrees outside to which I mumble, “Of course it is!”

For just a moment, let’s pause. Let me set the scene for you. I am late. I usually get up at 4:30 AM and need every moment of that time to take care of the dogs, spend time with the Lord, make lunches for my family, and get ready for work. Today is Thursday which is cleaning day in our house. I try to get our bathroom out of the way before I head out. It is also my weekly trip to the grocery store so a list is being made simultaneously. Add to this already scheduled day, our daughter’s baby shower is in two days. Her due date in just a month. Oh, did I mention that I have been sick for almost two weeks so very behind in last minute details. My mom, sister and sister-in-law will arrive tomorrow night to stay with us. On top of all that, I have a scheduled dental procedure on Monday. To some that is no big deal just a date on the calendar – but in my mind it is a date with absolute torture. Hate the dentist as a profession although mine is very patient and kind. All of these “things” came rushing into my head this morning, I almost became entangled in worry, stress, fear, and anxious thoughts. But now it is time to practice what I preach…

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things…

This is not a message for the unbeliever today. This is hope for the imperfect Christian. It is a word of encouragement to put down the bat and stop trying to do everything right. It is an invitation to rest. To rely on the Lord and trust in Him. Today, there is no possible way that I can do all the things that I think I need to do. The expectation heaped on me by my own hands is just too much. The Bible says, “I can do all things THROUGH Christ who gives me strength.” I must practice putting all the details of my life including those things I call priorities into the Hands of Christ and allowing Him to hand back what I need to do, say and be in any given day. So I called a meeting inside my head…

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.

The only weapon in the enemy’s arsenal is the lie. If he can change your mind about God just enough to believe anything contrary to the character and nature of God – you will question everything you know about Him. If he can somehow convince you that the Lord is not with you, for you, and in you, he will have the power to persuade you to engage in detours, distractions and delays. We must learn to practice what we preach and become consummate doers of the Word until our mind and heart align with God’s Word, Will and Way and cannot be swayed.

When I was in gymnastics, I decided that I wanted to do a back handspring. I am not athletically inclined but I really wanted to accomplish this feat. So what did I do? The instructors showed me how to do a back handspring. They instructed me on proper form and execution. They encouraged me to practice all the time. So that is exactly what I started to do. I fell countless times. I made several attempts. Time and time again, I couldn’t get my feet over my head. I was on the verge of giving up but something in me just kept nagging me to try one more time. You know what happened? I learned to do a back handspring. Can I do one today? Nope. I stopped doing them and am what? Out of practice…

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV) For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

As believers, we must protect our thoughts. Seeds of faith planted in our heart cannot grow until our heart is made up that God is for us. He is good. Working in us. Our dependency on the Lord requires a heart and mind that agrees. We must…We Must…WE MUST destroy arguments and EVERY lofty opinion raised against the Knowledge of God and take every thought captive to OBEY Christ. Why?

To say one thing and do another is a contradiction. Once our mind is made up – our flesh must follow. To worry, stress and be anxious is to accept that lie that there is something to fear other than God alone. To decide that change is impossible is to allow pride to tell us our flesh is stronger than our Savior. Disobedience to God comes with a heavy price. Grace covers sin completely. God does not punish His Children. The discipline of God is to right our way and send us into the Promise. Disobedience is the enemy’s ploy to keep us from all God has for us including blessings, favor and prosperity.

Psalm 111:7-10 (ESV) The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

When I woke up late today, the enemy presented me with anxiety overload before my eyes even opened. I reached my hand out until it was just beyond my grasp. But you know what else met me this morning, the new mercies of God – Jesus offered me His Hand – “Here let me take that from you.” It was definitely a standoff like an old-time western movie – I had to choose who I would give my burdens and cares in that moment. I haven’t always made the right choice. There have been many days when the things that happened this morning would have resulted in me rushing around completely overwhelmed snapping at my husband and children. I would have given up my time with the Lord in order to regain some lost moments. BUT NOT TODAY!

Today I must practice what I preach. God is love. So I will be loving even though I don’t feel very loving but agitated and stressed. God is good. He will work every detail of my life out for His Good. God is with me. Christ lives in me. The important things will be done if I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and do what He has called me to do. We must make it a conscious effort each day to respond to the promises of God rather than reacting to the lie of the enemy. To focus on the call of God rather than the taunts of the giant. What is my purpose today? “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) The Lord knows the desires of my heart. He knows my motives and good intentions. He will never let me down if I put my whole heart and all my trust in Him. I must not only read the Word of God but do what it says to have its promises. So today…I will practice what I preach!

Romans 8:35-39 (ESV)  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.