Finding My Joy

Finding Joy

Psalm 16:5-11 (ESV) The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Do you have joy today? Are you overcome by worry and stress? What is your state of mind as you begin this new day with great possibility? Is the reality you live in just the same old same old again? Psalm 16 tells us that “in Your Presence there is fullness of joy” so why aren’t Christians filled with overflowing joy and happiness each day? Why do churches sing songs of victory without any enthusiasm? How come believers don’t even smile? I have found my joy. Today, can I help you find yours?

Galatians 5:22 outlines the Fruit of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit commissioned to remain in you and I. The first fruit that is produced is love. God loves us. It doesn’t even matter if anyone loves Him back. His Divine Character is love. It defines God from any other god or idol of manmade creation. The second Fruit of the Spirit is joy. Struggling just to live in love, it seems it is hard to move on. Or maybe it is because people approach the Lord like the produce department at the grocery store carefully perusing, picking and choosing which fruits are desirable and passing on the rest. Fresh fruit is expensive. Canned fruit costs much less but doesn’t have the variety or taste of produce fresh from trees, vines or bushes without all the packaging preservatives. What if I told you that for one day only the farmer’s market was offering fresh fruit for free? Many would schedule their day around such an event to partake of costly goods paying nothing at all. Jesus died so that the Holy Spirit would live in us and produce every spiritual blessing that the Lord has already provided AND PAID FOR so why won’t we at least taste and see that He really is good?

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” It begins by our belief. Do you believe that the “lines” in your life have fallen in “pleasant places”? Do you believe God loves you? Do you believe that God is good? He is faithful? Those who do will make Him their chosen portion and their cup. This puts the entirety of our life in God’s Hands. The giving and receiving. The sowing and the reaping. The planting and harvesting in our life becomes God’s Divine Plan. He promises to give us a future and hope. To work every detail of our life for His Glory and our good. He perfects all that concerns me. Christ offers to yoke with us and shoulder the burdens and cares of life while passing through to eternity. Where is our joy? It is in the decision to give every aspect of our life to Jesus Christ. The evidence of such a choice is joy. “I have a beautiful inheritance” that is only accessible if I believe enough to choose the Lord as my portion and offer my cup to Him.

Psalm 43:2-4 (ESV) For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

When our daughter got married, she did a change of address and forwarded her mail. She took her birth certificate, social security card, driver license, and marriage license to change her name on everything. Four months later, she moved to a new state and was tasked with the process all over again. I still get her mail from time to time. Even though she changed residency twice and was diligent in her attempts to notify everyone who may need to contact her, her mail still doesn’t make it to her until I forward it myself. Moving through life, it is possible to lose sight of our residency in Heaven and begin to rely on natural outcomes and human strength. We must make an effort to establish our residency in the Kingdom and remain faithful in our allegiance to Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 13:15)

We are temporary residents of this place. I have a place in heaven with the Lord. As I make my way from here to eternity, it is a challenge and test not to become accustomed to this life but continually seek the character and qualities of those with future hope beyond death and the grave. It’s tough because everything in this place is geared toward living the fullness of life now and avoiding death at all costs. If this is life and there is nothing beyond it, I would completely understand the desperation and devastation of unmet expectation. Disappointment would be defeat in my eyes. A wise person once told me – “do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances.” I believe that there is hidden joy in our life that is missed because of distractions that are meaningless to the believer. Perfect love casts out all fear leaving plenty of room for joy and peace. Total trust gives up the right to worry and stress knowing with God all things are possible and He is our Provider.

We must learn to live in the Presence of God. (Psalm 21:6) Take our eyes off the enemy. (Psalm 27:6) Silence his lies with the truth by making a joyful noise to the Lord rather than grumbling and complaining. (Psalm 98:4; 100:1) Transfer the potential in our life from an earthly position to a heavenly inheritance. Rather than sowing seeds in the ground – sow them in the Kingdom. Decide to make finding joy your plight rather than superficial happiness in people, things, and earthly success. It took a terrible tragedy for me to find my joy. Joy is a constant state for the believer if they choose the Lord to be their portion and cup relying on His Inheritance rather than earthly treasure. God’s Favor is for a lifetime. (Psalm 30:5) This time and place called the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) Those who look believe enough to look for God’s Goodness in each day will find it. God’s Steadfast Love never ceases. His Mercies never end and arrive each morning. (Lamentations 3:22) With it comes the opportunity to have joy with it. (Psalm 30:5)

Colossians 1:10-12 (ESV) “…So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”

Joy is not a naturally occurring commodity of the world. It is not human nature which is selfish and greedy always crying out for more. Soul satisfaction is the key to a rich and satisfying life living in the prosperity of God’s Promises. Joy and peace partner together to produce other fruits of God’s Spirit such as patience. It accompanies us in our waiting when our refuge is the Lord. “I have set the Lord always before me.” We must learn to live with Jesus in every aspect of our natural life. To filter every thought, idea and motivation through our love and commitment to Him will allow joy to rise up in the most unlikely of places. The threat of losing something often will heighten awareness and appreciation of what we have versus what we want. Suddenly all those other things are not as important as the Christ in us and moving through us to be expressed out as life giving light to a dark and dying world. Without Jesus, there is no hope only a life that will lead to disappointment and defeat. But when I decide to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” and “fully pleasing Him”, I will begin to bear every fruit in every good work AND with my increasing knowledge of God. Finding joy is not a life venture but a heart vindication. I am justified in Jesus. I am approved for every blessing and promise God has for me because He has given me the Gifts of Grace and Righteousness. When I begin to believe this, I will find joy. When I choose to live as a Child of God trusting and believing He is a Good Father enough to release burden, cares, worries and stress – the Spirit will begin to produce inexpressible joy in my life.

I Peter 1:8-9 (ESV) Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Sitting in a hospital room for the umpteenth time, I was discouraged. In the bed was our son who was undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Three years of trusting, praying and believing – I would put in headphones and join churches on YouTube in the midst of worship. I needed to leave the room if only in spirit. The reality of his health weighing heavily upon me – I came across Kari Jobe singing “Forever” with the Bethel Worship Team. The reality of Heaven finally became clear to me. If he didn’t survive this treatment, it wasn’t over. Jesus was right here and right there. The bridge of the song is “we sing hallelujah – the Lamb has overcome.” I finally got it as the final piece of the puzzle clicked into place. Something changed in me that night. Joy began to flow in my heart and through my tears to realize that in this hopeless and devastating wasteland void of love and covered in darkness that Jesus is my joy. Forever. Nothing the enemy can do to me or my family will ever be able to take victory, love, joy and peace from me because I have found my joy. His Name is Jesus. Have you?

Life is hard. We still have hope. Bad things happen to good people but it is not over yet. Jesus is our victory. Each day brings the mercy we need to sow in tears…we have the opportunity in doing so to come home with shouts of joy and the abundance of God. (Psalm 126:6) We must fully invest our life and love in Jesus Christ to have inexpressible joy that will overcome every trial and trouble ever faced. Faith is the opportunity to live for this new Kingdom and life that is coming. To reap its benefits now as the windows of Heaven open and overflow in our life. Those without hope have no joy but those with hope in Him have fullness of joy. Lord, I ask you to restore the joy of my salvation in any area of my life that I may have allowed fear or doubt to rise up. Create in me a clean heart. Renew a steadfast spirit with its sights set on Heaven today. Cast me not from your Presence, Lord but fill me to overflowing with it. I yield to the productivity of the Holy Spirit and give Him full access to every area of my life. Give me joy today Lord Jesus. Overwhelming and inexpressible Jesus Joy just as You have promised. Lord, I am willing and where I am not uphold me with Your Grace and Tender Mercies. Thank you Jesus for joy!

Romans 15:13 (ESV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Holding Hope

Holding Hope

Psalm 43:3-5 (NLT) Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

Hope deferred makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12) Discouragement is a bummer. It is not the product of confident hope that is incapable of leading us to disappointment. God loves us. We know that but it is difficult to hold tightly without wavering to hope which cannot be seen or experienced right now. The absence of hope is discouragement. How can a believer be discouraged? Don’t beat yourself up too bad. We are all human beings comprised of dying flesh no matter how pretty the package or righteous one appears. Some days life is more than to be handled and burdens just too heavy to bear. If perfection were possible, grace wouldn’t be necessary. However, the Word of God is clear that grace is always enough. We need God’s Grace. No one can live beyond their last breath without it. In fact, no one can live a life of potential and purpose in the here and now without it.

Faith is the reality of what we hope for – it is the evidence of what cannot be seen but is relevant to our life. If you can see it, do it or produce it in your life – faith and hope are not necessary. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith makes all things possible if one believes. Hope is the essence of what we believe and invest our faith in. Yet there are days when our heart, mind and soul can empathize with the psalmist. Our prayer to the Lord is one for help and rescue. “I am slipping!” (Psalm 94:18) The support that keeps us from going under in such times is the hope that anchors our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) Like the massive piece of metal resting on the bottom of the sea, it holds the ship safely. But still, the vessel moves up and down in the waves, feels the weight of the wind, and experiences the natural conditions of the atmosphere. Lord, help me to hold on to hope today even though I cannot see it – it is holding me in place. Let me feel its strength and security surround me and hold me even tighter than I cling to it.

Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me.” God’s Word is our Source of Hope. Spoiler alert – Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:1-5; 14) He came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love for us. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) I need God’s Word in my life spiritually to survive beyond my last day. Even reading the Word of God can be difficult when the wet blanket of discouragement finds us. These are the days our prayer might be “send out your light and truth.” Obedience to God’s Word is nothing more than accepting His Guidance from Glory to Glory as one lives in the Presence of God. We need His Presence to comprehend illogical faith that makes no sense outside of the Word of God. God’s Word gives us knowledge and understanding that allows us to hold to our hope. It gives it substance. Psalm 119:105 calls the Word a light and lamp that helps us find our way. Proverbs 24:13-14 compares it to honey that is sweet to taste. Nothing will overcome bitterness like the sweetness of the promises found for us in God’s Word. We must always use God’s Word to anchor our heart and mind to the reality of faith and hope that is to be clung to. Life is hard. The struggle is real. Our anchor is secure.

“Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy.” The Presence of God is the place of restoration, renewal and revival of the weary and fallen who are righteous. Just because you are down doesn’t mean you have fallen. Just because you are discouraged doesn’t mean that you have lost your hope. It just means you need more Light and Love found in His Presence to drive the darkness away. Some people make Presence about manifestation. I say that sometimes the greatest miracle that can happen is to find peace in the storm and joy in the midst of great sorrow. It produces satisfaction and contentment that God is enough. He is no bigger than when His Love surrounds us and His Goodness overtakes us. To sit in the Presence of God and decide not to move until He comes will allow you to experience the faithfulness of God in the absence of doing, moving or even speaking. It is to allow Him to be God and in control at least for those few moments. God is the God of perfect peace and inexpressible joy. He is the One who promised to do more than we can think or imagine to ask for. Jesus promised a rich and satisfying life that can only be discovered in His Presence. Stop worrying about what you can do for God and let God do what He wants to do for you today. “The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.” Psalm 145:14-16) Too many times we put certain conditions on our life that Jesus never mandated or authorized. Our feeble attempt to somehow earn what has already been given makes us think there is something of worth in our actions that Christ did not already complete on the Cross. This burden is not one that I am called to carry so the weight overwhelms me until I realize again that Christ is enough. He is all that I need. He is my hope. His Name is hope. (Matthew 12:21) I must put all my faith, hope and trust in the Lord to avoid discouragement in life. I will fall. I will fail. I will be discouraged. The Lord promises to be my refuge. I must go to Him.

Hebrews 10:20-23 (NLT) By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

My hope is in Christ alone. Period. God’s Plan for my life comes with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) God doesn’t say, “Now go make it happen.” No, the Word of God goes on to say that those who seek Him wholeheartedly will find it. (Jeremiah 29:13) Maybe I am discouraged because I somehow took parts of my heart, mind or life back? It’s possible. Romans 8 is not for babies. It is not spiritual milk. No friend, Romans 8, is the reality of hope. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:1) Therefore, I have absolutely nothing to fear or be sad about. It doesn’t matter what other people think or how harshly I may be judged. There is no condemnation in Jesus because His Grace is enough. If I continue in His Word to build a new knowledge base for faith to become wisdom and I invite the Holy Spirit to live, breathe, move and have His Way in my life – I will not be led to disappointment. If I find myself discouraged, I have everything I need inside of me to be encouraged by hope yet again. I am not in this alone. The entire body of Christ longs for and groans for completion in the Lord. “We were given this hope when we were saved.” (Romans 8:24) Since we do not have it yet, we must wait patiently and confidently in it. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. He will even pray for us. (Romans 8:26) God promises that He is working together every detail of my life for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Things are looking up. Finally, the greatest detail of hope is that no matter what I have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ and absolutely nothing can separate me from His Love…not even me or my bad attitude or inability to hold “tightly” to hope. He still is holding on to me no matter what! (Romans 8:35-39) I didn’t learn these truths in the last couple of hours but have invested and reinvested my life in believing, trusting and living in God’s Word and His Presence. He is my hope when everything is hopeless. Jesus makes all things possible when life is impossible. This is what I believe and today what God is reminding me of.

Lamentations 3:20-24 (NLT) I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

Could it be that God uses discouragement to reproduce faith and confident hope in us? Those times when our burdens overwhelm us push us into His Presence. When the details of life just don’t make sense, it forces us to find the reality of our faith in the Truth concerning us (the Word). Sin is rampant. Love is cold. Bad things happen to good people every day yet still God’s Mercy is new every morning. Day after day an opportunity to experience new faith and confident hope that fills our life with His Glory and Goodness. It is time to reinvest faith in hope. It doesn’t matter how far you have fallen – the Lord can still reach you with His Love. He is strong enough to rip bitterness from its root and restore the soul drowning in doubt. The anchor of hope may be unseen but rest assured it is secure, unmovable and unshakeable in the foundation of faith who is Jesus Christ.

Psalm 94:18-19 (NLT) I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

I have to laugh a little today even feeling a bit overwhelmed and slightly discouraged at the irony of Christ. I cry out to the Lord, “I am slipping!” But the reality of it is I am secure! His Unfailing Love is holding me tight. He is supporting me in this time of weakness of spirit and feebleness of heart offering me time, grace and mercy to get over it and keep walking with Him. Isn’t this what being yoked to Jesus Christ is all about? (Matthew 11:28-30) He says, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens…” Is that you today? “Take my yoke upon you…” Jesus is inviting us yet again to partner our faith and hope with Him, it’s called trust. The Lord offers to teach us His Way. He will give us a new heart that is gentle and submissive to His Way that never leads to disappointment but victory to victory and glory to glory. The promise is that we will find rest for our souls. Hope gives us peace so that we can rest on God’s Promise even in the midst of a storm. His Yoke is easy and burden is light because Jesus will do just as He promised. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He completed His Work on the Cross and released His Spirit to live in us. Our hope is secure. Faith attaches us to hope. It doesn’t have to be “big” faith just enough to truly believe. Lord, as I read your Word and enter Your Presence, I ask you Jesus to bring me comfort, renew a right spirit in me, and give me the inexpressible joy and cheer that is only found in You! Teach me to hold on to hope as tightly as You are holding me!

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

Live Courageously

Live Courageously

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

As the sun began setting on Sunday evening, I could feel it coming like a dark shadow falling in step behind me. Working on some furniture, piddling in the yard, playing with the new puppy with no real timeline or agenda, I could smell it in the air. Monday. I have felt this foreboding for weeks now as our office is in the midst of transition. The relentless pressure of responsibility falling squarely on my shoulders – it begins to suffocate me. I cannot make the clock turn back or add another day to the reprieve. I hate this feeling. I generally do not experience stress and pressure that is overwhelming. Anxiety is not my usual response to challenges or unfavorable conditions. Now it is morning, I have to go and face this day. The one I dreaded. The time I loathed. I know it is only for a season but sometimes it feels like a lifetime. Does anyone else know what I mean?

I cannot help but wonder sometimes if the Lord allows me to experience certain situations because it is my nature to analyze it thoroughly and completely then share it right here. Tearing through the Word of God, like a messy sock drawer looking for a matching pair, I need a promise or truth to tie to these feelings together with a solution. Jesus is always the One who has my solution. I used to look for answers other places. I found some substitutions. I discovered compromise. However, once I found myself in Word…it all changed. When I came to realize that Christ lives in me…I then found my Source.

Yet…means at the present time, now, in the time still remaining and before it is all done. Yet. It means that there was a whole lot of stuff before the adverb but there is something coming after it worth noting. I am linking my past condition with my future courage. I am yoking my circumstances to my commitment to Christ. Something is about to change because in spite of everything else or yet I am confident. Not confident in myself, but that I will see the Lord’s Goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Have you brought Christ to the forefront of your life today? Is He the One who is our Connection and Source? Connection and source of what? Jesus Christ is my courage. I must be confident in the Lord to receive the fearlessness that He offers me. Let’s talk about courage today. How’s your confidence in the Lord?

I John 4:18 (NLT) Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

Perfect love expels ALL fear. Stress, anxiety, worry and insecurity are all byproducts of fear. Fear is the absence of confidence and it will drain courage quickly. When Peter and the other disciples were in the midst of a raging storm, Jesus came walking by them on the water. Once he identified Jesus, Peter asked to join Him on the water. Jesus said, “Come.” Peter took just a few steps before the waves and wind in the midst of pummeling rain caused his faith to turn to fear. When he began to be overtaken by the storm and sea, Peter called out to the Lord who quickly grabbed hold of him. (Matthew 14:24-31) God’s Love seems too good to be true. He would be a fool to love us unconditionally, right? How could a perfect God love such imperfect people? I scrutinize these questions many times especially if I fall or fail God which is just about every hour of every day minus when I sleep. I can try to do all the right things and speak life, but if I do not have confidence in the Love of God – courage will not be within my character.

All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” (I John 4:15-17) What does love have to do with courage? The sufficiency of God’s Grace accepted in our life gives us access to His Strength. If I am not fully aware and embracing of God’s Love for me demonstrated by His Grace, I have no hope. I must be confident in His Love to become fearless in life. Too many times, once discovering the Love and Grace of God, it is human nature to attempt to earn it or somehow become deserving of it. But friend that is not what the Word of God tells us to do at all! We are to live in Christ because now God lives in us. Each day is the opportunity to get out of the boat no matter what the weather conditions or circumstances surrounding my life and walk with Jesus by faith and confidence in His Love. It does change the outward atmosphere of our life, but gives us the courage and strength to face whatever comes simply because the Love of God is enough to keep me.

The Presence of God in our life is our confident hope that no matter what happens – I will experience His Goodness in the land of the living. I don’t have to wait for Heaven to win but just wait on the Lord to finish what He started in my life before I was born. All I need is to live in His Presence. It is the Presence of God and Permanence of His Love that sustains me. He gives me boldness, courage, strength, fearlessness and boundless opportunity. He will never leave me. He cannot fail me. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Obedience based on confidence in Christ’s Love and Commitment will foster obedience in my life that will give me success in all I do. (Joshua 1:7) Even in the midst of overwhelming circumstances and daunting challenges, the Word of God and His Presence enables and encourages me throughout the building process of faith. (I Chronicles 28:20) Hope is our courage because it is the strong anchor that steadies our wavering heart. (Job 11:18) The Lord wants to revive and restore us with His Love, Grace and Goodness today. To fully immerse us and overtake us with His Abundance. We must be confident in this to have the courage to do all He has created and called us to do.

Confidence is full trust. Do you trust the Lord today? Do you believe that in spite of you being you, His Love is compete? To be confident in Jesus means to absolutely believe in His Power, Trustworthiness, and Reliability which comes from His Presence in our life. Do you believe that Christ lives in you today? Confidence in the Love of God for me is essential for courage to rise up and take over every stronghold of fear in my life. I must be completely convinced that God loves me. His Grace is enough for me. His Goodness is for me. His Presence within me. Courage is evidence of confident trust that nothing and no one can ever separate me from the Love of God. Not because I am strong or have it all together, but He holds me in His Hand. I cannot be taken from the Love of God as He wraps me in His Righteousness and lavishes His Goodness in my life each day. Would you stick it out at work another day if you knew promotion was coming? Would you keep watch over your field of harvest if you knew the abundance of the crops that are coming? Would you pray one more prayer if your loved one would be saved, healed or delivered? God’s Love and commitment to us is never in question. It is our confidence in His Love that is waning. Where is the line? When do you stop trying? Will you give up? Those who are confident live from Glory to Glory in every season knowing that God is with them and they cannot fail.

Hebrews 3:6 (NLT) But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.

God is with us. Christ lives in us. He is more than enough to lead us from victory to victory if only we would have enough confidence in His Love to live fearlessly by faith. Faith sounds so big but really it is only the size of a mustard seed. It is the decision to reject fear and accept the Love that makes all things work together for our good. It is confidence that the Love of God is committed to perfecting all that concerns us. Confidence in the absolute and total completeness of God’s Love will give me the courage I need to face whatever challenges arise today. To focus on His Love and not my unloveliness allows me to live life by His Grace according to His Word and become fearlessly bold and courageous every day. I must become less while Christ explodes inside me making His Way outside me permeating my life with all of His Goodness just like He promised. Good things are for me in this life I live today. Lord, give me the confidence to live courageously.

James 5:7-8 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

Thief Among Us

Open Window

John 10:10 (NLT) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

There is a thief among us. He tried to climb through the window of my mind this morning and steal the joy rising with the morning sun. He tried the handle to my heart hoping to get his foot in the door. Little lies spread all around like almost unnoticeable traps carefully laid to ensnare my foot or cause me to stumble. His pursuit is relentless. He wants all that is mine. Not for himself because he cannot have it. Jesus has given me a rich and satisfying life. The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy every good thing that God has for me. It is his purpose. It is the onslaught in each moment of every single day that there is breath in my body. Jesus has overcome the world. I have the same power that rose Him from the dead living in me. He is becoming greater as I become less yet in the moments of attack – my thoughts can be misled, deceived and even easily overtaken no matter how far I walk this journey called faith.

I am not generally given to worry. Stress is not something I easily take on. I would not classify my thoughts as anxious. My nature is contrary to such think. I relish in optimism. I believe that when the thief finds his way into my life that it is a bit more difficult to fight back because it is not a battle that I fight every day.

Psalm 127:1-2 (NLT) Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

From time to time, a door may be found unlocked in the morning or the garage door left open the night before and my husband is most unhappy. He is concerned that our carelessness could have allowed an intruder to easily enter and put our family at risk. I, on the other hand, possess a very different perspective on life. I thank God for His Protection and move on. I believe that while both mindsets have strengths and weaknesses that is more prudent to check doors and windows routinely to make sure each one is secure. Many years ago arriving home after a long day, I noticed the door leading from the garage inside the house was cracked open. I did not think too much about it because our little dog sometimes would push on it looking for us and if not closed tightly it would do the same. The children went on high alert immediately. I scoffed at their concern and began give them instructions for the afternoon. Well once inside, it was clear that things were not okay. Thieves had come and helped themselves to valuable contents inside the home and now our children were fearful that they were not safe inside their own house anymore. We must secure not only the doors and windows of our home for safety and security but we must close tightly the entrance to our heart and mind as well.

We become busy and distracted with life and soon the cares and worries of life become burdens to us. Dependency on Christ gives way to insecurity and soon the weight of the world falls squarely on our shoulders. How we feel overtakes what we know and overwhelming fear, worry, stress and anxiety hold us captive. God did not give us the spirit of fear but how many times do we simply take it? The Lord has given us the ability to pursue potential and passion in our natural life. However, it is to remain secure in the Kingdom that gives our potential purpose that is able to become a rich and satisfying life.  

Luke 12:32-34 (NLT) “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

It gives God happiness and exceeding pleasure to give me the Kingdom. He wants to give it to you, too. The Lord promises that He will “accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” That is a lot by anyone’s standard. He wants to restore the glorious standard of living that sin and the enemy stole from us. Jesus is giving us back our birthright. It says, “So don’t be afraid…” As believers – there is an opportunity to give up this life and secure the Kingdom. Not just futuristically but practically – even today. It begins with peace of mind. The kind of peace offered in Isaiah 26:3 – perfect peace. The Holy Spirit is our helper who teaches us and instructs us. (John 14:26-27) He takes God’s Word and inscribes its meaning for us on our heart until all that we know is the Love of God and Grace of Jesus Christ which will change how we think about life in general. Do you believe that Jesus Christ overcame the world? (John 16:33) Do you believe that He has given you the Keys to the Kingdom for your security and use? Faith is the first step to perfect peace. It is the gateway to a secure place in life where confident hope leads to complete trust lacking no good thing. With met expectations taking the place of those unmet by other people, it is the freedom to pursue God wholeheartedly without divided interest.

Luke 12:25-26 (NLT) Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

Worry, stress, fear and anxiety are all byproducts of insecurity. I know I don’t like to hear that word any more than you do but it is true. When I worry about a situation or stress over life, it is an immediate red flag or alarm that the thief is attempting to break in. The most precious commodity given in life is time. You cannot replicate or reproduce it. Once a single second is gone, it is gone forever never to be reclaimed. Worry cannot add a moment to our life but rather wastes it completely.

The cares of life – food, shelter and clothing are all covered for the creature by their Creator. Yet, we think that it is up to us to do something when He already did it all. We worry about the minutest details of life especially what we do not have so much that sometimes it keeps us from seeing clearly all things that we do have. To worry, stress and fear over our well-being is characteristic of limited faith. Faith that only goes so far in need of conditioning. The enemy is always willing to offer a lie for the Truth. It is tempting to take it. However, then with his foot in the door, he will quickly fill our heart and mind with countless fears and many worries in an attempt to steal our peace, kill our faith, and destroy our life. Faith must lead to confidence in God’s Ability and Willingness to do infinitely more than we can think or ask. However, doubt tells us that God’s Promises are not good enough and it is up to us to add to it.

Hebrews 12:15-17 (NLT) Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

The enemy pounced on my thoughts last night, continued in my dreams and I awoke fighting fear and worry this morning. I am willing to admit my humanness. Are you? There are days when faith carries us and other days it is a fight just to keep it. Faith must overcome insecurity every single day. People are at an extreme disadvantage because I have nothing to offer God to reciprocate His Love and Generosity of Grace in my life. Nothing. In fact, before the day is over, I will most certainly fail Him several times. I have no reason other than faith and trust to believe that I am somehow worthy of limitless and unconditional love that leads me from victory to victory and glory to glory. Jesus is the only reason I have any kind of real purpose and potential in my life. With that being said, I cannot help but wonder if it is not always the thief stealing from us but sometimes us. Do we give up our birthright for a single meal as Esau did? In Genesis 25, Esau was “starving” so he offered his brother, Jacob who was an excellent cook, his birthright for one meal. One might think Esau was either really hungry or Jacob an even better cook than described or could it be that Esau did not value his birthright? I know…stung my heart a little (or a lot) to think that rather than the enemy stealing what God has given me that it might just be my own doubt and insecurity giving it away. Leaving the door to my heart open and the windows to my mind unsecure, allowing the enemy to come into my life and steal what God has so graciously given me or promised to come.

In Genesis 27, Isaac is nearing death and giving his final blessing to his children. Esau wept bitterly before him as it is clear Jacob has received the blessing. Jacob duped him again. Or did he? Finally, Isaac, shares these words with his devastated child, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” Read that last sentence again with me…”But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” What if it is me? I have been given a birthright. I am a Child of the Living God. I have Christ living in me. He overcame the world. Could it be my own doubt and insecurity causing the limitation of faith and prosperity in my life because I do not believe or understand the value and worth of my birthright so I give it away?

We give ourselves to worrying about people. (Matthew 7:2-4) We stress out about our position in life. (I Corinthians 7:20-22) Fret about what might or might now happen. (I Peter 3:13-15) We allow bitterness to take the place of forgiveness. Our heart is driven with desire for more and a hunger for this world rather than satisfaction and contentment in Christ. Crying out for His Word, Will and Way in our life – we leave the doors and windows of our heart and mind open so the moment God pours it in the enemy quickly snatches it out. I am asking the Lord today to “search my heart – point out anything that offends Him – and to lead me to the everlasting – not temporary and worthless. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Lord has created and called us to live peace-filled and satisfied lives. If that is not reminiscent of your life today, it doesn’t mean it cannot be. It is up to you and I to take hold of our birthright as Children of God, secure it with faith, fasten it like an anchor called confident hope to our life and decide to trust the Lord each day. Trust is a choice. Faith is an investment in the Kingdom of God not useful in this life. If you can do it, you don’t need faith to have it. We must decide the new life in Christ is worth having and invest our whole being in becoming the new creation that He promised. We must secure the door to our heart and fasten the windows of our mind to ensure that every thought and motivation are subject to the Gate Keeper, our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. (John 10) There is nothing left for Jesus to do. The rest is up to you and me. Will we choose to let the thief in or shut him out of our life for good? There is a thief among us. He wants to stop us. Our faith is his death and defeat. Jesus has given us the victory now it is up to walk in it confidently and consciously each day. Securing our life with more faith and confidence in God than ever before so every stronghold of insecurity is smashed by it. True freedom in Jesus Christ produces a rich and satisfied life that begins in our heart and mind. It is called peace. Peace leads to everlasting life and hope that will never cause us disappointment.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Overwhelm Me

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Isaiah 61:10 (NLT) I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.

Life can be overwhelming. Circumstances, conditions and even change can overcome our mind, run rampant through our emotions, and stir up anxious thoughts and feelings. I would rather face an issue in my body then to deal with my mind. Sickness in our body, in my opinion, is much easier to overcome than weakness in our mind holding us captive in our mind, will or emotions. Physical ailments are one thing, but mental impairment is twice as debilitating. Our spirit, mind and body must work together in our pursuit of Christ and all that He promises, but it is our flesh that fights for its life. It is our will that refuses submission and clings to stubbornness. There will always be things that overwhelm us in this life. We choose who holds us captive. Will I live in bondage to negative thinking and limited vision or will I be captivated in the inconceivable yet always perceivable love of God? Lord, overwhelm me with Your Love today!

2 Corinthians 4:7-8(NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.

The pressures of life are inevitable. There will always be something attempting to weigh you down, block your path, pull you back or divert you altogether. The enemy is relentlessly and ruthlessly attempting to quench that tiny fire burning inside you. He wants to make sure that it does not become a bright and shining light representing God’s Love, Goodness and Faithfulness that will lead others from the dark and dying places in the world. He is after that seed of faith. If he can just pluck it out of you or maybe overcome the Word in you with the weeds of problems, troubles or trials – you will stop this foolishness called faith, hope and love.

The word “overwhelm” means to load, heap, treat or address with an overpowering or excess of anything. The word itself is not negative. How one responds to it determines the meaning? How do you respond to pressure in life? Do you press in? Do you give in? There will always be pressure. There will always be something that is trying to overwhelm you. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! We have the freedom to choose that which overwhelms us today! Will it be the great load of temporary things that threaten us in this moment or will it be God’s Faithful and Abiding Love that is greater than death and the grave? Will it be the sufficiency of His Amazing Grace that empowers me when I am weak and flailing? There will always be a “master” in our life. Jesus gives us the right called freedom to choose who it will be. I choose the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! How about you?

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Generally, it is not the problem that brings the pressure but our perception of the problem. Have you ever looked in the side mirror of the car? There are words written on it that warn us – “OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.” We look back rather than looking ahead. Our focus should be on the future but the past is bearing down on us. It seems like the enemy is hot on our heels. Out of breath. Losing hope. Wondering if today is the day. Will I fall? Will I fail? Oh Lord, I am so overwhelmed! The Lord says to us today, “Look again!”

Psalm 23:4-6 (NLT) Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

What if that “thing” you think is after you is really the Lord? Is it Him who is the one pursuing you and positioning you for an outpouring of His Goodness and Unfailing Love? When I was in fifth grade, I had an unwanted suitor. He would taunt me at the bus stop at school every afternoon. Rocking back and forth poised on his bike. He would push me to run away threatening me with the most heinous and horrendous threat – a kiss. I didn’t want to kiss him. I didn’t want him to kiss me. He would chase me around in circles until a teacher came along or the bus arrived. One kiss – it was harmless but to an unsuspecting child an unwanted advance. Fast forward forty years to now, I will chase my husband around or let him catch me just to steal a quick kiss. It is all about perception. It is all about possibility. What if the seemingly impossible situation is just a divine set up for the Lord to catch us and keep us just a little closer? After all, His People are His Bride. His Heart longs to connect with us. His Spirit to remain intimately acquainted with our soul. Jesus is pursuing you and me with His Goodness and Unfailing Love.

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

We are human. I wish for just a moment even the strongest Christian would be transparent enough to admit this is true. Everyone sins and falls short of God’s Glorious Standard every single day. The message of the Gospel is not good news that sin is completely extracted from us making us flawlessly perfection but that in our absolute and complete imperfection that His Grace is enough to cover me in His Love. We must use God’s Mightiest Weapons to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and destroy all the false arguments arising between humans. All humans. All people. God desires every single one who He created. Jesus died for them just like you and me. The Spirit of the Lord full of His Faithfulness, Goodness and Unfailing Love is after them equally. We must destroy every prideful obstacle IN US until our complete and total focus is on Jesus Christ. We must capture the religious and rebellious thoughts that give us some kind of superiority. The truth is that I fail in my attempts to be faithful every day, but God never fails at being faithful. In fact, He overwhelms me with His Love and Commitment to me even when I fall, fail or quit.

No matter how hard I try, I will mess something up today when it comes to my good fight of faith. (Romans 7) I will find myself off shadowboxing rather than doing what I know to do and resting in the Peace that God has offered me. Like a toy – wound too tightly – bumping into the wall with wheels still spinning but getting nowhere at all, I will get distracted and caught up in temporary troubles or momentary weakness. I am human. So are you? The true character of Christ is His Love. The identity of God is He is love. Love is the challenge that I am given. To accept His Love and then distribute it throughout the world. This is a far cry from religion, but a genuine invitation to a real relationship with the Living God. Obedience to Christ is not in one’s ability not to sin. It is in my ability to love the Lord and His People. It is that simple even though we make it so hard. It begins with allowing God to overwhelm the strongholds in our mind. Releasing us from every fear, doubt and insecurity and drowning us in His Love. This is what allows us to become real light in this world. The kind of light that attracts others to Jesus rather than driving them farther apart.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Despite all these things, every situation, problem, people, trial or circumstance, overwhelming victory belongs to me. I win. No matter what the weapon is I am victorious. I believe it. Do you? The Power of God is made available to me by His Grace. His Love provides all the grace that I need to endure this life. He has made us more than conquerors. If I find my place in Christ, I will never now the agony of defeat again. I will always have the opportunity for the impossible to be made possible in my life. It is all according to what I believe, and my ability to hold on to that hope.

There is absolutely nothing in heaven or on earth that can or will every separate me from the Love of God. Nothing. No sin. No shame. No regret. Nothing in my past. Nothing in the present. Nothing in the future. Even if I wander off or wonder more, God is still pursuing me with His Unfailing, Unconditional Love. So today if a care or concern begins to overwhelm you, overwhelm it instead. Tell it what the Word of God says about. Remind the enemy who your Daddy is. Take captive every single thought that is contradictory to God’s Word and hold it subject to His Promises. Praise, praise and praise some more. Protect that little light inside you until it burns passionately. Fan the flames until the whole world can see it burning again. The Spirit of the Living God lives in you and me, too. Every detail in our life works for our good and His Glory according to His Plan that is unfolding. We must only wait and watch because God will make it happen for those who believe. Let your mind be totally overcome and your heart fully apprehended by the Love of God today. Nothing can ever separate us from Him or snatch us from the folds of His Mighty Hand. His Love is overwhelming. Lord, wash over me today and overwhelm again with Your Amazing Love.

John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Chasing the Wind

Chasing the Wind

Ecclesiastes 11:4-8 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. 

Saturdays are precious in our family. Five work days and one day of church worship leave only one for my husband and I to do spend time with our children and do some chores around the house. To wake up when we want to and dawdle through the day is quite nice rushing through the week. The alarm this morning did not greet a happy and expectant employee ready to jump up and seize the day. With a sigh, I immediately began to pray and thank the Lord for the opportunity I have in the workplace and the great weekend that we had. Gratitude seems to change my attitude. It is a great help when the dark cloud of drudgery tries to overshadow God’s Goodness, His Grace and His Glory in our life.

This Saturday an industrious spirit took over as Spring Fever was in the air. Our neglected front porch is right outside the windows of the study where I write. As the morning sun beamed brightly through the windows, I decided to wash away the residue of a long winter and pollen that collected as spring arrived. Armed with all my supplies, I tackled the windows inside and out. The front porch of our house was barren. There really was no point upon our arrival and many other areas of our “new” home that needed our attention, but an image filled my head of two porch rockers. Well, you know the old saying, if mama ain’t happy then… well you know the rest. My husband and I headed to our favorite date place or the home improvement store. Loading a hand cart with two black rocking chairs, a couple small palms and a can of black paint along with a couple other “necessary” items – we headed home. After some assembly required, the two rockers were just as I imagined. We sat down to overlook our work for the day. The yard was manicured, the windows washed and porch cleaned – all the details in place. Sitting in the cool breeze, just rocking along, I realized that the newest chapter in our life had finally arrive. Our littlest girls are almost grown. The three older ones all in their twenties and living their lives. Me and my best friend rocking on the porch in the chairs that will be the place to rock our grandchildren, visit with friends, or maybe even share the greatest love story ever told with someone who is hurting. I have named the two chairs – one is satisfaction and the other will be contentment.

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.” If a perfect life were possible, grace would not be necessary. Since people are not perfect, the ability to live such an existence escapes them. To live this live pursuing our dreams and working for our goals outside of satisfaction and contentment is chasing the wind. I believe this is the meaning behind 3 John 1:2. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” Funny that it comes in 3 John and not 1 John. The prosperity of our soul is satisfaction. The confidence in Christ born of faith is called contentment. Both are qualities birthed by trust, yet hard to grasp much less hold on to in a world that lives according to immediate gratification and a constantly changing perception of what will bring these two qualities. If it were power and wealth by the world’s standards, there would not be so many people who end their life in the height of success because of dissatisfaction and disappointment feeding a disease called depression or fueling the fire of anxiety buffered by mood altering drugs and pain killers. So many talented people who no matter how successful could not catch the conditions they desired most – the peaceful stillness found in two rocking chairs on a front porch in the county.

“Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.” Balance is the art of both hard work and peace of mind that is very hard to achieve outside of Jesus Christ. Striving becomes thriving when this balance is achieved. God gave us goals, dreams and desires when He placed eternity in our heart. Without a perspective of heaven or His Kingdom including the blessings and benefits that His Children have there, the joy and peace marked satisfaction and contentment are impossible. The Lord planted a seed in you and I called faith. It is the substance of all that we hope for. Unless this seed is cultivated in every area of our life – it will only bloom where it is planted. A diversified life will only contribute to stress and worry increasing our burdens but Jesus invites us to “yoke our life with Him” and He will partner with us in all our endeavors sharing the heavy load of responsibility that weighs us down in life giving us a precious promise called rest. (Matthew 11) You have the potential of prosperity in you. It will yield the two things you desire most but we must work into the fields and furrows of our heart to be incorporated in every endeavor of life or we are just chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11-12;17 (NLT) Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

The Lord has a plan for our life. Recorded before our birth (Psalm 139), it is a good one with a future and hope. God didn’t design our life for disaster. God promises to hear our prayers. He will be found by those who look for Him wholeheartedly. This is an important detail often missed in a world that cries “what is in it for me.” Life. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) All of us. He didn’t go to the Cross just so you and I could just make it but that in Him find live a prosperous life according to God’s Riches in Glory. To restore the glorious standard of living that sin had taken from us but Jesus came back from the grave to give us. He didn’t force us to take the Keys to the Kingdom but rather offers them to us each day. Our willful disposition fostered by the old Elvis anthem, “I Did It My Way” will find many in the same position that the world renowned “king of rock and roll” did. A man who could have had anything he wanted, denied himself nothing, reaped a huge reward for all his labors and fully accomplished in his industry died in addiction. We must seek soul satisfaction or risk putting all our efforts into a success that will never reach the innermost part of us. Without faith it is impossible to please God – without faith there is no satisfaction and contentment continues to wave in the wind at those who pass it by.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 (NLT)  So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” (James 1) The realization that every good thing in our life is from the Hand of God can change one’s perspective. The greatest revelation is that of Romans 8:28 in the promise that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them.” To find truth in the words and apply trust to them will change our lives forever. To believe that every good thing in our life is a product of God and not self or random fate is one thing, but to also see the potential of God in every situation and know that He will work it in our favor – now that my friend is life changing and soul altering. Soul satisfaction comes from faith that trusts God and believes in His Goodness even on our worst day.

Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 (NLT) Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. “Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.” And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”

Comparison is a joy killer. It comprises faith because it plants a seed of envy that will bloom into bitterness. God has no favorites. Before declaring the grass is greener in someone else’s yard, perhaps one might ask what fertilizer they use. See God uses every detail of our life for our good. Before comparing our life journey to another, one might decide if it is worth the cost. We are a masterpiece – each one of us an individual work of God with his or her own process of completion. The end result is the same. The process is different. To be jealous of another displays disbelief in God’s Purpose and Plan for us. It destroys satisfaction. It corrupts contentment. A seed demonstrates the growth process in God – one must first die to self. Our present form must be completely undone to incorporate His Goodness in every facet of our life until His Love completely overtakes us and trust allows all good things to grow hidden in our new heart – new life – new creation. To prosper without satisfaction and contentment is not to a blessing. Any form of prosperity does not change our heart but simply magnifies what is already in it. The Lord offers us the Mind of Christ. We must know Him, trust Him and believe Him to have perfect peace that is not challenged by condition or circumstance but leads us to safe harbor every time. The truest blessing of prosperity is a satisfied soul resting in the Peace of God even in a stormy situation.

Ecclesiastes 5:15-20 (NLT) We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

I love our new rocking chairs. I love the front porch. The wind feels good blowing on my face. I love the promise represented called satisfaction and contentment. I know they are a product of age and maturity. There is no need to chase the wind for it will blow where it will. Looking back, I do not see the broken life that I have lived and all the bad things that have happened. I do not look ahead with fear, worry or stress but I sit there rocking and thinking of all the good things that the Lord has done for us. Our youngest daughter sits at our feet with playing with our little dog laughing at her antics. She is the last of our children who is growing up so quickly before us. But I am not afraid my role as mom will soon be over. Sitting next to me is my best friend and soul mate given to me by a gracious God. Our journey has not been easy but it has been worth it. From the beginning, we decided to be yoked with the Lord. He has carried us to this point. As I continue to rock envisioning children running around the yard as the days turn into years, I ask the Lord not for more of anything but to continue this work in my heart. Give me a wealth of satisfaction and rich contentment to fill every nook and cranny of my heart. There is nothing in this world worth more than a prospering soul. It shines a new light on an ordinary life magnifying far greater potential then hard work and motivation could ever afford. To find satisfaction is really what we are after no matter how hard we try to seem confident and uncaring. We want to be loved just as we are in a world that cries to take – maybe God wants us to give. You cannot give to others what you do not possess yourself. It is common sense. You cannot share the fathomless love and endless grace of God with others until it is found within ourselves. You cannot faith it until you make it. Faith is a solid footstep in God’s Direction. Real love and true faith produce satisfaction in life because they are the seeds that God planted in us and faith in Jesus will begin to grow. Once our soul is satisfied, the sky is the limit literally as the windows of Heaven open and His Light reveals all the blessings in our life and sends down all every promise day by day.

I Timothy 6:6 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great worth.

Halfsies

Half Empty Half Full

Matthew 6:21 (NLT) Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Call me an optimist. I have heard it before. I always believe that when it comes to the age old question, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” I will always say, “Half full!” Without hesitation. I have always believed that there is more to life if we just keep a good attitude and work hard. I believe that people are good, but life is hard. I am quick to apologize. I hate broken relationships and strained communication. I was raised by a man who wasn’t afraid to try. If he broke, he always tried to fix it and many times was successful without the need for a repairman. Not everyone is like that – there are pessimists and they cannot understand such thinking. The glass is always half empty and surely has a hole. Living in bondage to stress and fear of failure, they do not try new things and become frustrated in setbacks. They often live in a state of “it is what it is” and that’s just my luck. Trust is hard for them. They seldom can apologize and struggle to forgive. Unmet expectation overshadows their victories in life. Living under a little black cloud, they do not dance with the optimist in the rain. It is all about perspective. Life perception dictates the outcomes in life because it is what fuels our motivation. To live a life that is half empty is draining. But to live a life that is half full without real expectation is to live a life of misdirected zeal and enthusiasm. We are born with a plan and it’s a good one. It comes with a future and hope that cannot be realized by the optimist or pessimist without a true change of heart. Regardless of perception our life is supplied by sowing and reaping or planting and harvesting. Positive people are rewarded with positive results. Negative people may experience success for their efforts but their perception of life robs them of the reward called satisfaction. Whether you fall into one of these personas or the other – your perception may be flawed. No really.

2 Kings 4:3-7 (NLT) And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

As I tiptoe back to this woman’s house, peering in her windows again, I cannot imagine the wonderful hope that flooded her heart and soul as she began pouring the flask of oil into all those jars. Container after container from empty to full and empty to full right before her eyes. It was a miracle that speaks to my heart today. Yes, even the optimist needs some direction when it comes to faith, trust and hope. The Lord has blessed my family and me. I cannot begin to share all the ways that the Lord has provided for us physically, financially and supernaturally. However, lately I have been nudged by the Holy Spirit to leave this place of comfort that produces complacency in life. Most of the time pursuing the deeper things of God are only possible in desperation. Look at this little lady, the threat of losing her children drove her out of her tiny box into a realm of hope overflowing. She was poor then rich not because someone gave her anything or even working two jobs. The woman took what she had, broke it open and it began to flow through her life. She saved that flask for a rainy day or maybe for such a time as this – all along all that she needed to provide increase for her family was bottled within her reach.

Matthew 6:22-23 (NLT) “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

Perception is from the Latin word meaning comprehension, literally or taking in. It is how we perceive things. To perceive means to become aware of, know or identify by means of senses and feelings. Our perception is formed by how we perceive things. Personal recognition, discernment, envisioning and understanding of life and how it works is formed by our five senses, feelings, emotions, education, knowledge, and influences in life. Our parents and guardians begin the process and then the baton is passed to instructors, mentors and even those held in high regard from presidents to pastors. It can be a mixture of many things in our life and defines how we live our life.

Jesus warned us about perception in Matthew 6. In fact, it relates to our treasure and the reality of faith in our life. Wherever your treasure is that is where your heart is pointing to and headed in the direction of based on our perception. Our eye works on the basis of its ability to process light through the lens to display an image on the retina. The retina receives the image through the lens and transforms it into an image into electrical impulses that are carried by the optic nerve to our brain. I wear contact lens to see clearly. If something gets caught between the synthetic contact lens and the lens in my eye, it obstructs my view of things. Over time, my eyesight changes and I need new lens when things are not clear anymore. Jesus is the Light of the world. We must take our perception of life, whether optimistic or pessimistic, to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven rather than the things of this world. In doing so, my perception of life changes from what I see to what I know. Jesus is the Word. Faith is illogical outside of the Word so one must focus on natural elements to survive much less thrive. Jesus said, “Your eye is the lamp that provides light for your body.” To see our life as God planned it and fully utilize the Presence of God in us – our perception must gain understanding and then apply it to our life through the Word. In doing so, life is perceived from a Kingdom perspective rather than a natural one. The greatest influence will become our life perspective.

Matthew 6:24 (NLT) “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

No one can serve two masters. If the desire of my heart (vs. 21) is to connect with God through His Son, Jesus Christ and live in His Presence. My perception of life must change from darkness to light. What does that have to do with serving two masters or even being enslaved to money? The earth is bound by economy that is not the currency of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is bound by love, grace and increase as it is a place of abundance and increase. I will connect my life to one of two sources – the Kingdom of God or the world in which I live. I researched the word “economy” and it is not what I thought it would say at all. Synonyms for the word economy are “thriftiness, thrift, and saving”. Interestingly enough the opposite of economy is “lavishness and extravagance.”

Sin caused us to “fall short of God’s Glorious Standard.” Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life who gives us access to the Father again. Do you believe it? When the Blood of Jesus washed away sin and grace is applied to my life – God’s Glorious Standard of Living becomes possible again. Are you with me so far? I must allow the Spirit of God to change my perception so I live with a Kingdom perspective of life rather than selling out to the world’s economy which keeps us in a state of thrift and, dare I say, lack. What if I told you today that the glass is not relevant? The substance in it is not as important as the substance of faith in you and I? What I do with the contents is the potential of my life? Will I keep trying to protect the glass in its half full state and add my own provisions to it? Or do I insist on constantly emptying it out so God who is my Provider and Resource must continually fill it up to maintain His Standard and radiate His Glory in my life. Let’s keep going.

Matthew 6:25-30 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. 

Jesus gives a directive – “I tell you not to worry about everyday life.” What is the source of stress, anxiety, worry, fear or doubt today? What is keeping you from doing what God has called you to do? Are you married to your job? Do you live from paycheck to paycheck? Are you constantly longing for things you cannot afford? Are you content? Are you satisfied? God is good. He is our Provider. Salvation is consummated by seeking out the Lord and living in His Presence. He put His Spirit in us and we connect with Him by pursuing Him. We pursue Him by following Jesus. The secret to success when striving for God’s Will and His Way that are His Plan for us is in our ability to trust the Lord enough to seek Him wholeheartedly. Perfect love expels fear from our life because no matter how life looks our perception of the light of His Love completes us. Our full expectation once invested by faith into God as our Provider and Christ as our Resource allows us to do things like the woman did. She took a small flask of oil and turned it into enough to cover her debt, save her sons and provide well for her household. Whether our glass is half empty or almost full in the natural doesn’t matter as much as what our faith allows us to do with it.

Matthew 6:30 (NLT) Why do you have so little faith?

Paul said this when instructing the Corinthians in his second letter. You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.” (2 Corinthians 8:9-12) Our decision to accept Jesus Christ is to ask Him to be our Savior and our Lord. When coming to Jesus it is with the best of intentions but soon it is overshadowed by “real life” and “real problems” so we begin to recant the “Jesus is Lord” part of our promise. We live a diversified life. We trust Him with our soul but not our natural life so when our soul prospers but our life does not – our perception is perplexed. Holding tight to our resources, including but not limited to our time, talent and treasures, we never fully connect to His Limitless Resources. We sow but do not reap. We plant yet never see a harvest. If we do, it is not marked by prosperity or abundance – it is just enough.

Paul’s advice for the Corinthians works for us today. We must return to our First Love and give Him our first fruits in all things. We must learn to trust God with all our life not just the portions that are comfortable to give. To live in the Presence of the Father is only possible by faith. We must seek Him to find Him. We must knock to gain entrance. We must believe that He rewards those who seek Him. Once we do, it will be evident as insomnia gives way to rest. Stress is given up for trust. Worry is no longer a problem as peace floods our heart, mind and soul. Fear gives way to perfect love that clears our perception of live to perceive the opportunities and potential of God in all things pertaining to our life. See the glass is just a glass. The contents unimportant. Given to God it will become increased, abundant and fulfilled. Take your eyes off the glass that contains that which is desired. Put your eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith. Faith fills every need and produces Godly Riches and Resources in our life to flow from the Windows of Heaven. Abundance flows from a heart full invested in knowing Jesus Christ. He promised to give us a rich and satisfying life. If the Lord cannot do that, then how can I trust Him for the Kingdom? Do you trust Jesus today? Do you believe that His Promises are true? If not, it is never too late to start. His Grace is sufficient for you. He has already given you a measure of faith to start with. Sow it in just one area of your natural life. Yoke up with Jesus Christ today and let Him show you how to walk through life in constant and confident trust. (Matthew 11:28-30) Let Him give you peace and rest. Strive for it. Fight for it. Do not stop pressing until your stress, worry, care and anxiety give way to peace. God is a good father. You are well supplied. He has already supplied every need you have. To those who keep seeking, knocking and asking – He will be found. He will open the door to His Presence. He will answer doing more than you can think, imagine or ask. Faith is the solution to a changed perception of life. Jesus is the light that changes our perspective.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word. Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

 

Am I Content?

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I Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

Am I content? Am I satisfied? Did you know that contentment and satisfaction are two different things? Our purpose in Christ is to become complete. Satisfaction is completion. Our faith is tested so that endurance grows within us producing the fruit of God’s Spirit so that we will become fully developed, perfect and needing nothing. (James 1:4) In a world motivated by supply and demand, it is hard to discern sometimes what real satisfaction looks like or how it may be achieved. The Word of God tells us that true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. Contentment is not satisfaction but rather the idea that in all circumstances, conditions and situations that it is well with my soul.

I brought nothing into this world. However; once arrived it becomes a life of acquisition. From the earliest age, images are placed in the minds of children that they “need” things to be content. Parents with good intentions fill their kid’s lives with all the “things” they never had trying to give them a better life. If I have food and clothing, I should be content. Am I? Are you? It is important that believers discover the meaning of contentment and strive for it in this life. Otherwise, distractions and detours will take over as the demand for more takes over and we forget that less is more in the Kingdom. The first will be last. Less of me. More of Him. I must decrease. He must increase in my life. Satisfaction is fulfillment. Contentment is our disposition until it arrives.

To understand the concept of contentment, I looked it up in the dictionary. The meaning is to be satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else. Wow! Not very encouraging… What does the Bible say about contentment? Believe it or not – the dictionary offered the Bible’s perspective in great detail on the meaning of contentment. Contentment as the world sees it is weakness. It means to settle for what life hands you and just be mediocre if that is your “lot” or some random throw of fate’s dice. When I take this meaningless, mediocre existence I have on the earth and invest it in Jesus Christ suddenly my life as extraordinary and supernatural potential. Contentment is the waiting place for God’s People. It is where we grow, develop and mature while God takes every detail of our life and works it for His Glory. Lord, I desire contentment today. Teach me to be content.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Contentment is the state of mind in which one’s desires are confined to their lot in life whatever that may be. I believe that God will generously provide all I need. I say that but do I believe that. God supplies seed to the sower. If I am not giving from my current supply, there is no need to increase it. The beginning of contentment is to set our heart and mind on God’s Will for our life. To decide that His Purpose and His Glory are what is desired over money, influence and earthly power. We cannot go in two different directions. I must choose my destination. Money is nothing more than a tool or resource in life. Contentment is a heart condition not based on what I have or have not. It doesn’t pursue God’s Hand but is intent on knowing His Heart.

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 

Believe it or not, I found this “Biblical” definition of contentment listed in the dictionary. “It arises from an inward disposition and is the offspring of humility and of an intelligent consideration of the rectitude (righteousness) and benignity (favor) of divine providence, the greatness of divine promises and our unworthiness, as well as, the gospel opens us up to rest and peace forever.” Contentment is clearly a product of faith or our inward disposition of hope that stems from a relationship with Jesus Christ alone. It is the “offspring” of humility. Pride is man over God – humility exalts Christ above all things. Faith is intelligent consideration of God’s Righteousness – the part of Him that does not lie or change His Mind because He is always right and always exceeding in goodness towards us. The favor of God is for us. He pursues us daily with unfailing love and goodness. To receive it means to make the intellectual choice to repent and turn around to receive it. I cannot have God’s Righteousness and Favor in my life completely that produces contentment if I am a heart divided chasing after other things.

The greatest asset of my faith is confident hope that affords me rest and peace right in the middle of the uncertainty of the life I live in this world. It means that no matter what occurs in my “temporary” residence I do not invest eternal confidence in those things that will rot and decay fully trusting the Lord for full satisfaction. “And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” (2 Peter 1:4)

I can do all things through Christ is to value the Lord above all things. To put Him at the center of our life including mind, soul and body without excluding all natural and spiritual pursuits. He is the priority in all things to those who desire contentment that leads to full satisfaction and completion. This is an ongoing process in a world filled with the contrary. We must take control of our thoughts, emotions, and desires turning our passion from worldly things to invest them fully in Jesus Christ.

There are five things that contentment opposes. These are critical in evaluating our current state of mind and if contentment is our mindset.

  1. Contentment opposes envy.

“For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” (James 3:16) Do you envy what other people have or the life they live? Do you get mad when others are blessed? Envy is the root of bitterness that strangles contentment is us. It dims the light of God’s Love in us. Confidence is shattered in comparison because I can only see the outward product and cannot see the source. All that glitters is not gold. You do not know their circumstances or situation. You cannot see their heart. We must not allow jealously to ruin us from the inside out.

  1. Contentment opposes greed.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Money cannot satisfy our soul. It cannot save us. It cannot heal us. It cannot deliver us in all things. When the money runs out or is not enough, what then? I shared with someone yesterday the story of our son who was denied coverage for the treatment that ultimately put him in remission. He would have died without it. The price of human life was about $300,000. What is the price of a human life? The world places a limited sum on your head. I hope you will never find out what that is. Jesus Christ decided you were priceless. Worth having to the extent that He died just to give you life and spend eternity with you. Do you always want more? Is your job more important that church? Church feeds our soul. To come together as believers is agreement that prospers our life. What is your priority? God’s Word asks us to tithe just ten percent giving back to the Lord just a tenth of the monetary wealth that He gives us. Do you tithe?

  1. Contentment opposes ambition.

“Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.” (Proverbs 13:10) Humility is the offspring of contentment. Human ambition and drive runs over a whole lot of people every day. It is a dog eat dog world. Life is not fair so often it is the source of discontentment. Bad things happen to good people. Bad people get good things. I am not a resident of this world but a temporary resident who has allegiance to a far greater Kingdom. It is my absolute faith and confident hope that will allow me to lay my life down now to have it all. Are you humble? Do you think if you don’t do it nobody else will? Do you look down on others or lend a hand to pull them up?

  1. Contentment opposes anxiety.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34)

When I worry, stress and become anxious – I am no longer content. On those days when I feel such emotions overtaking my mind, stealing my joy, and compromising my confidence, it is an instant sign that I need to run into the Presence of God. To be content is confidence in God’s Love, Favor and Goodness to fully supply our life and satisfy our soul. To worry is to doubt. Doubt is evidence of disbelief. Disbelief means I need to fortify my faith. I do this by feeding on the Word, diving into my prayer closet, and praising my way out. We must be constantly aware of this condition and seek the Lord to overcome it. These are not the seeds that produce the abundant harvest of promises that is promised by God to His Children.

And finally (as if I wasn’t already convicted enough):

  1. Contentment opposes complaining.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” (Philippians 2:13-15)

What is the confession of your mouth over your current condition or situation? If set our heart and mind on praise and promises, it will come pouring out of mouth. The Holy Spirit will remind us of all of God’s Promises if we feed our heart, mind and soul God’s Word deciding it is the truth that prevails in our life. When I complain, I am saying that God is not able to do what He promised. I am declaring that the Grace of Jesus Christ is not enough for me. I am professing discontentment with the Lord because He is my provider. Ouch! Lord, I ask you to forgive me for all the times I have unjustly complained about your provision and blessings in my life. Give me a heart that always resounds in praise and thankfulness for You indeed have been so good to me.

Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT) So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Are you content today? You don’t have to be satisfied with who you are or where you are because God is still working to perfect all that concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) It takes time to work out every detail for our good. (Romans 8:28) It takes a lot of time and energy to fully invest our life in the Lord and allow Him to help us work out our salvation. (Philippians 2:12) The Lord has promised us His Goodness IN the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) It is my absolute belief, complete faith and confident hope that allows me to be content while God has His Way in my life. It doesn’t mean to settle for anything but rather engage in the process of completion with peace of mind, rest and wellness in our soul. God is not finished with the masterpiece called you. Don’t rush the project or abandon it altogether just because what you see currently is not what you want or think you need. I must examine my own heart today. I must uproot everything that opposes contentment in my life and plant seedling promises from His Word in my heart. God will do exactly as He promised. I must only trust Him. Thankfulness must overtake those thoughtless words and accusations. God is good. He is good father and perfect provider. It is well with my soul.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

The Gift

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Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT) For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Twas the night before Christmas (well morning actually) and all through the house not a creature was stirring except for our little dog not much bigger than a mouse. Christmas Eve is here. Walking quietly as not to awaken three sleeping kids, I am acutely aware of my surroundings today. The silence gives me time to think. It reminds me that my life is not as chaotic as I sometimes perceive it. I realize that this house of barely six months has become our home. Even more so I feel, then the last one of twelve years. I love its rooms. Yesterday, I painted our daughter’s room so the “girl wing” of our humble abode is now coming together nicely. The Christmas tree illuminates the family room that is comfortable and homey. Under it lies more gifts and packages than one family deserves wrapped and ready to be torn open, Lord thank you for blessing us. The endless list of home improvement remains but I see all the things accomplished for some reason today. Timehop, the phone app that recounts past years in personal history, shows that for three long years this day would be spent traveling back from Shands Hospital. The battle is over. Cancer lost. Jesus won the victory for our son who will soon graduate from college and start his new life. I guess with all the busyness I forgot those years shared with hospital staff rather than baking with family. Lord, you are our Healer. It is easy to be consumed by life, all its hurts and heartaches along with daily responsibilities both common and unexpected. To focus on the things undone rather than achieved. It is easy to overlook a Savior who came to us in the middle of our self-consumed rush hour to change everything in a single moment that might take our whole lifetime to see.

It’s Christmas Eve. The day before the Greatest Gift of all time would arrive. The Messiah was not what anyone expected. Yet in that tiny baby was exactly what we needed to saved, healed, delivered and fulfilled. Our Lord of opportunity bearing His Own Gift of a brand new life. His arrival was a statement. The enemy put on notice. Satan knew that if Jesus made it to the Cross it would be finished. The one who seeks to steal, kill and destroy us could not stop the King of Kings and Lord of Lords from fulfilling His Mission. The Gift was given. Will it be received? The enemy did not stop at the Cross, throw up his hands and admit defeat. If he could not stop the Kingdom at least he could wage war against it taking as many souls as could be distracted, deceived and drowned in darkness. What will be our choice today? To see the Gift of Jesus and enjoy all of His Blessings and Benefits or allow the enemy to capture us, saturate our mind with fear, worry and anxiety, separate us from family and friends with mere words or thoughtless actions, be consumed with everyone else forgetting the One tomorrow named for.

Wonderful Counselor

Colossians 3:12-17 (NLT)  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

The arrival of Jesus Christ marked the Word of God becoming flesh to demonstrate a love that prior to that time mankind could not comprehend. He didn’t come as they expected. He was not who they built Him up to be. The logic of a baby born in a stable becoming King of Kings and Lord of Lords would demand a faith and trust far greater than human beings could find on their own. When Jesus died, He released His Spirit to each one of us. He is the Wonderful Counselor. What is a counselor worth if nobody listens or does what is suggested? I have struggled with the holiday blues for many years. My husband was shocked by the revelation. He had no idea. I have hidden it well as I intended to, but today I do not feel sad, lonely or depressed but filled with hope.

Hope never is reliant on what we see now or how things are in this moment but is reserved for that which is coming. To be alive is the opportunity to grow our faith which is focused on unseen things not reality. Faith becomes logical when the Word is applied to our life rather than the things happening to us right now. Thankfulness recounts former faith made into the manifested promises of God. There is no better way to show appreciation for a gift to the giver than to say thank you. Thankfulness is not only in words of appreciation but acts of affirmation. How do we do that? We affirm our appreciation by using that which has been given.

I am a representative of Jesus Christ. I can tell others that I am a Christian. There are many who profess to believe in Jesus Christ by calling themselves Christian but remain exactly the same as the day they asked Him to live inside their heart. Why? They have left the Gift of Salvation wrapped in His Love and Grace unopened. Why not make a difference this year? To be present in Christmas rather than getting wrapped up in presents. The Wonderful Counselor will guide us through the holiday rush just like He will do every single day – if we let Him? We must clothe ourselves in love. We must be representatives of Christ this Christmas. We don’t do that by putting on the best performance but by basking in His Love and sharing it with others.

Mighty God

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

Nothing in creation will ever be able to separate me from the Love of God revealed in Christ Jesus my Lord. Say it again. Jesus came to make a statement. Nothing in this life can separate me from the Mighty Love of God when I choose Him to be my Savior and make Jesus my Lord. Despite all these things, every tactic of the enemy to make us let go of faith and confidence in God’s Love should be removed by this promise. The Gift of God’s Love did not come from a weak and whimpering being who could not maintain it. No, it says that overwhelming victory is ours in Jesus Christ. It is not earned and completely undeserved but His Love for us maintains it even when our choice is to give in or even give up. His Love is maintained by His Power. Where do we find His Power – in His Grace! When I am weak, I become strong simply in trusting that His Love never fails and He is more than equipped to maintain it.

Everlasting Father

John 1:12-14 (NLT) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. 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.

Do you believe? No not in Santa, but in Jesus Christ the Father’s One and Only Son. Do you believe that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life? If your answer is “yes”, you are a Child of the Living God. He is our everlasting Father who created us fully knowing what we were capable of and still decided to send His Son to make sure there would be a place for us with Him forever. A father’s love longs for his children all of his children. This holiday season brings families together. Families are dysfunctional. ALL families are due to imperfection and human nature. When gathering together, if for a moment could put our full expectation in our Everlasting Father maybe then we can cut each other some slack. My parents are not perfect and neither am I. My birth mother died addicted to alcohol that built a barrier separating her from children and grandchildren. I loved my mom even though I could not have a healthy relationship with her. My siblings are a little crazy, too. My own children get on my nerves sometimes but I would do anything for them. This year maybe if our expectation was in our Everlasting Father – relationships could be mended. Walls could come down. Lives brought together again in harmony and unity which our Father loves the most as evidenced in the Gift given to maintain one with us.

Prince of Peace

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Holiday stress is overwhelming. Depression is heightened during the Christmas season. Fear, worry and anxiety will take over if not dealt with completely. Stop. Today. Just stop. Put the list down. Push the bowl aside for just a minute. Drop the scissors. Just stop. Jesus is a wonderful counselor. The Lord came offering joy and peace in the midst of our personal chaos and expectation. He offers to help those who weary carrying heavy burdens. When was the last time that you sat down and talked to Him? Minus the list, the worry and every other distraction this time of year brings. Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor. He understands distraction. He knows that it is our habit to grab hold of more than we can carry. He says, “Come talk to me.” What will our heart respond today? On the Eve of His Birthday, will you grant the Lord some time?

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

In the classic Dicken’s story, A Christmas Carol, is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge a cold-hearted miser who hates Christmas. The story is about redemption. Traveling through his life past, present and future – onlookers can see the details of life that molded this man and froze his heart within him. When he awakens to find that it is Christmas Day and he is very much alive, Scrooge sets out to change his ways. As long as there is breath in our body, there lies within the opportunity to take advantage of every spiritual blessing, gracious gift and hidden purpose that Jesus Christ brought with His Arrival and released to us in His Death and Resurrection. Our life remains the same only if our choice is to remain that way. If Christmas is stressful, busy and overwhelming, it is our choice to change that tradition. I cannot take something new without releasing old things – ways, habits, attitudes and actions. Jesus Christ is the Gift that takes all the details of my life and makes them work together for my good. He is the personification of God’s Love for me that brings victory. He is the One who helps me work through the tough times and heals my brokenness. He is the Gift that keeps on giving. My life is proof of that and so is yours if you woke up today. Why not visit the Savior today? Why not come to the Lord? Spend some time with the Gift you have been given. Jesus Christ changes everything for those who do.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

 

 

 

Choose Well

choose-well

 

Proverbs 2:10-11(NLT) For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.

Life is full of choices. From the moment, our eyes open each morning until our head hits the pillow at night it is one thing after another. Sometimes it becomes overwhelming when the decisions are tough or painful. Knowledge means nothing until it is useful. Understanding takes knowledge and makes it somewhat beneficial if we use the understanding to develop wisdom. Wisdom is the difference between good choices and not so good choices. Our physical and emotional life is filled with opportunities each day to make critical determinations that impact today, tomorrow and forever. Our spiritual life is filled with the very same choices. God gave us the right to choose how to live our life and whether or not to receive His Son and pursue His Kingdom. Why would He leave it up to us when He knows how fickle our heart can be? Love is a choice. It is the first choice. It is the last choice too.

John 3:16-17 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

God loves us. He gave us His son so that His People would have a way of return to righteousness and live with Him forever. However, He did not send Jesus to judge the world. Jesus came to save the world. These words of encouragement often leave out the choice that is made in our life daily.

John 3:19-21 (NLT) And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

God gave us a choice when Jesus came and died for our sins. The choice is darkness or light. Death or life. God will never force a decision on us but rather offers us daily opportunities to choose well. He empowers us with grace that is our strength in weakness. The Lord orders our steps so if we follow Him wholeheartedly every road leads back to Him. Wise choices watch over us. Wisdom comes from understanding. Understanding needs knowledge. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” He is our access point, roadway, and destination. It is our choice to seek Him first and foremost that offers us hope to see past today and all its troubles overlooking tomorrow and its impending trial to see Jesus. The Light. His Love.

Matthew 6:31-34 (NLT) “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Worry, stress, anxiety, fear and doubt are characteristic of disbelief. To entertain such qualities in our life without persistent effort to remove them or replace them with faith, hope, and confidence is to choose our way and His Way. “What will we eat?” Not to make light, but this is a stressful question when asked in our car on a Friday night when mom doesn’t want to cook. I long for restaurants called “I Don’t Care” and “It Doesn’t Matter to Me, Baby”. What will we wear? Don’t get me started on this one. This begins on Sunday night and leaks into Sunday morning all the way across the house. Our youngest usually undergoes no less than three wardrobe changes on any given Sunday. Thankfully live five minutes from church. We worry about many details in life beginning at an early age. This is driven by earthly expectation. Our need to fit in and be accepted. Our goals drive us to a successful future. No one grows up wanting to be homeless or a failure in life. However, life is full of choices. Things happen. Life also comes with this promise…

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” What if I cannot be righteous? Oh friend, yes you can. Righteousness comes from seeking the Kingdom of God which is God wholeheartedly. There is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ, His Son. He doesn’t expect you to be perfect, make all the right choices or never wander off. The requirement of grace is repentance. The desire in our heart and intent to seek the Lord is all that He expects of us. But what if I know better? What if I know that thing that keeps tripping up is sin and cannot help myself? What if I keep holding on when the Lord is telling me to let go? What if I cannot do what I feel God wants? Are you sure it is from God?

People. Jobs. Co-workers. Family members. Friends. Churches. Congregations. There are many opinions governing our life day by day if allowed to. Everyone has an opinion on how to live. Who God is, where He lives, and if He is at all. There is only one way, one Truth and one who gives life. His Name is Jesus. He must be our daily choice. Every decision I make today should come from my love and commitment to Christ. Friends, there are days I ask the Lord to guide me in ALL things. Every single step even if I need something which store to go through – I ask Him directly to give me direction. The sad thing is that these days come after seemingly endless days of struggle trying to do it all, my way and with limited knowledge or experience. See if I choose to seek the Lord first everyday – my expectations would be met. If I take His Knowledge turn it into understanding and use it, it becomes the wisdom that makes me wise.

Matthew 11:2-6 (NLT) John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

In Matthew 11, Jesus tell the people that “of all who lived none is greater than John the Baptist”, yet in the verses preceding this declaration John is asking “are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting or should we keep looking”? Huh? How can John be the greatest and doubt Jesus at the same time? Everyone does it. When human expectation forms an assumption, it is easy to try to make Jesus into who or what we want Him to be rather than Who He really is. The Word is clear. There is only One Way. Our steps are ordered by the Lord, yet still distractions create detours in our life. See we can love Jesus, follow Him and still have days of doubt, fear, and anxiousness. Our knowledge has formed an assumption rather than full expectation.

“The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.” (Proverbs 10:28) When our expectation is not met, it is a direct hit to our faith and hope in God. Our expectation is not met because of assumption that God will do it our way, in our time according to our will rather than in accordance with His Will, His Way and His Word. I have hope in Him. My expectation must be fully formed by faith based on knowledge according to His Word not the world.

I John 3:2-3 (NLT) Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews11:1) It is the invisibility of hope that causes us to lose faith so easily. We hope for an unseen reality that belongs to us. It is a precious inheritance but without the shine of gold or weight of it heavy in our hand, we do not hold on to the treasure of knowing Him. Faith in Christ means to choose Him on those days when our assumption did not meet our expectation. It is to choose joy when sorrow surrounds us and continues to close in. It is to believe the unbelievable. It is to hear the Truth over the lie. It is to make the conscious choice that even though my way is easier, I will choose His Way today. To hold this promise without wavering requires faith bigger than our fear. To laugh in the face of danger means that our hope expects the Lord and does not assume how or when He will come simply knowing that He will. Our choice to follow Jesus is because I know that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life even when the way is steep, the lie seems real and life is not going as I planned.

Ephesians 3:16-20 (NLT) I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 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.

Just because you and I are willing to compromise or settle in this life doesn’t mean that God will. In fact, the purpose of Christ in our life is completion and fulfillment. He does not change. The Lord does not lie and He will not change His Mind. We do. Every single day wavering back and forth between faith and fear, the Truth and the lie, and His Way versus our way. Time and time again people compromise, settle and substitute to remain comfortable and in control. Heaping human assumption on God rather than hopeful expectation. To choose “Your Will God not mine” and asking for “His Kingdom to come” rather than our world to be made better is all that He is after. Why? Because Jesus wants to use His Mighty Power at work in us to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Could it be me? Am I the reason I am dissatisfied or discontent? Am I the one making the wrong choices while the whole time the Lord is nudging me in the right direction? Are my hands pushing back the promise? Is my heart the stronghold from breakthrough? Life is full of choices today. I must choose well. When my choice is to follow God wholeheartedly – I have hope. I have a life of promise and opportunity well on its way to complete fulfillment! Amen! Amen! Amen!

Psalm 16:5 (Message) My choice is you, God, first and only. And now I find I’m your choice!