Shove the Mountain

Shove the Mountain

Matthew 17:19-20 (ESV) Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

“Are you ready to shove the mountain?” What in the world? Where did that come from? The Voice of the Lord whispering inside of me, yet audible enough to make me look around. Did anyone else hear it? Apparently not. When the Lord speaks to us, it is human nature to try to excuse it away as our own personal thoughts or maybe think our mind is playing tricks on us. After hearing His Words in the innermost depths of my heart and soul, I knew in that moment that God was up to something. It begins as a thought or idea planted inside of us. Maybe it came to you as a dream or vision. It has to be the Lord because it is a notion of the impossible too great for human comprehension or execution. What if? The dare to dream mentality that overtakes fear of failure. The decision of faith that determines God is good no matter what and to grab hold of the anchor called hope.

Isn’t it funny how God works and His Perception of timing? Allowing us to make it to the end of our strength, use up personal power, run out of ideas, and about ready to give out when He comes and challenges us for more. Oh, it’s not personal but providential. See you can’t do it. The things that God has in store for us are humanly impossible but pride will not relinquish control until it is thoroughly exhausted and out of ideas. Our plan must be completely interrupted to finally accept the Will of God for our life. Desperation must become our drive which leads us to the divine. The Lord is patient concerning us. He waits for the right moment. When it comes, He is ready to take full advantage. “Are you ready to shove the mountain?” These words have been written on my heart as a challenge to experience a new level of faith empowered by higher levels of grace and greater expectation than ever before.

If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” What is your “impossible” today? What is the thing that you believe to be the biggest obstacle in your life? Many times, there is a face attached to the problem when people have nothing to do with the blockages and stoppages of life. Define the “mountain” in your life today. Though you may be plagued with many problems and situations in need of divine intervention, just pick one. The Word of God tells us distinctly that if our faith is the “like a grain of mustard seed” that “nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 4:8-10 (ESV) Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

The impossibility in your life represents an opportunity to exercise faith. Faith must be used in order to properly develop. It must be planted if expected to grow. When the “Spirit led” Jesus into the wilderness, it was a test of faith. It was to demonstrate to us how to deal with the lies of the enemy which are thrown at us every day. The Armor of God includes a shield of faith to ward off these “fiery darts”. The enemy took Jesus to a “very high mountain” and showed him the kingdoms of the world. He told Jesus that it would all be his if the Lord would bow down and worship him. Now I know it sounds preposterous to think that the devil would be so ostentatious display, but he did just that. He does it to us every day. Offering an alternate route and a subtle substitution for the very thing God has promised you in His Word. Of course, the Son of God quickly dismissed him reminding Him that “you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.”

Worship. What is it? Worship is to show profound devotion or respect. It means to adore. To profess feelings of profound adoration and genuine respect. Our words are representative of our worship. Fear is a form of worship. It demonstrates respect. Fear of God is produced by love. Fear in any other sense is the product of a lie allowed to grow in the fertile soil of our heart. Perfect love casts out all fear not associated with God. Luke 6:45 explains “for out of the heart (our) mouth speaks.” What are you saying about your impossible situation today? Are you speaking the Word of God as Jesus did? Or are you telling everyone how hard life is? How broken you feel? Crying out the people of this world rather than King Jesus who rules and reigns over the universe and everything in it? Are you complaining, grumbling or constantly expressing dissatisfaction? The contents of our heart is the context of our speech and daily communication. Sometimes we worship the giant rather than celebrating the Lord who is the giant killer. It is human nature. It can only overcome by faith invested in God’s Word, His Way and His Will. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Our faith grows when rooted and grounded in God’s Love through Jesus Christ. When faith is the substance of our heart, the words of our mouth begin to speak what God says about us, our life and our problems rather than what the enemy is trying to convince us of.

Matthew 21:20-22 (ESV) When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) First, the disciples could not cast out the demon. Perplexed they came to Jesus and He told them they needed faith. Part two of the lesson would come at the expense of the fig tree. “How did the fig tree wither at once?” Jesus replied, “If you have faith and do not doubt…” Doubt nullifies faith. There is life AND death in our tongue. We decide what flows out of it by the prevailing substance in our heart. Do you believe? Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe that He is for you? Do you believe that nothing is impossible? Do you believe that there is nothing that can separate you from God’s Love? Do you believe His Grace is enough? Do you believe? Doubt is not only evident in our daily communication.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight…” (Psalm 19:14) Schizophrenic Christianity produces nothing. To live by conflicting and inconsistent doctrines, one day the world and the next day the Kingdom, will not release God’s Power in our life. Mountains to not move with halfhearted commands but wholehearted commitment to faith. The words of our mouth must agree with God’s Word. The meditation of our heart must be God’s Word creating the abundance that flows from our mouth which empowers us to do the impossible simply by praising and worshipping the Lord with consistent and ongoing faith. The mountain shakes at its very core when a believer truly believes. It knows it’s about to move. Something is about to happen. Faith is effective when our heart, mind and mouth agree. The agreement of these three will overcome our rebellious flesh every time.

Faith is illogical without the Word of God. We walk by faith and not by sight. Like a blind man heightens other senses to overcome his inability to see with his eyes, Sons and Daughters of God must begin to see their life through God’s Word. Speak God’s Word. Pray God’s Word. And above all else plant their faith in God’s Word by choosing to believe it. “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

It was almost time for Jesus to ascend to the Father. Where did He go? He took the disciples back to the mountain. I never realized how many times “mountains” are mentioned in the Bible. Jesus taught on the mountain. There are blessings from the mountains. Escaping to mountains. Going up mountains. Mountains quaking. Faith moving mountains. Mountains removed. And here we are again…at the mountain. I wonder if all these mountains of problems in our life are by divine appointment. Is the Lord leading us to them on purpose? Yes, for a purpose. Jesus gave the disciples His Final Instructions on the mountain. But do you see what I see today? Jesus standing before them demonstrating resurrection power and life and it says, “But still some doubted”. How is this even possible? It doesn’t matter how many times the Lord saves us, heals us, blesses us, delivers us, answers our prayers, fills us with His Spirit and all the other wonderful things that only He can do for us…everyone struggles with doubt. It is our human nature. If we want to shove the mountain into the seas, we must take the seed of faith and plant it a little deeper today. We must water it with the Word of God. Speak life giving words over it. Weed out doubt, fear and insecurity. Wait for it. Worship until it comes. Praise the Lord and serve Him faithfully even in seasons of drought. Those who do will see the impossible happen and dead things come to life. Will that be you today? Will you accept the challenge to shove the mountain with me?

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

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Don’t Move

Dont Move

I Corinthians 15:58 (ESV) Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

I went to bed exhausted. Fell fast asleep, slept through the night, yet still woke up tired. My body is ready to jump into the day but my mind is not quite so enthusiastic. My plate is full. May I be so transparent today? I needed to come into His Presence just for me today. My thoughts are filled with too many details to stop the cursor from spinning 24 hours a day. I know God loves me. I am absolutely certain that He is in complete control. He is working every detail of my life for good and His Glory. I know this full well. My faith and trust are in the Lord and His Love for me. His Mighty Hand provides and protects me. His Intent is to prosper me. However, I am a human being just like you. The stone slinging hand of every giant killer needs a rest. The sword wielding arm grows weak. You know the days when it seems like carrying our cross, holding the shield of faith and dragging the sword of the spirit is just too much. Yeah…I think I am there today. Just a little while longer…

Endurance takes time. Endurance takes patience. Endurance drains all of our strength. It brings us to the end of self where the Savior is waiting. The key element of survival in the process is to be “steadfast, immovable and always abounding in the work of the Lord”. We can do this by “knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Note: It does not say “knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” This would limit the text to what we do to just those things done expressly as an act of direct service to God. No – it says that “in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Life is full of details. The more it is one’s intent to serve the Lord completely surrendered and submitted to God’s Plan and Purpose the greater the target painted on your back. The enemy doesn’t have anything to take from halfhearted servants or those who choose another way. He attacks God’s Children who seek to do their Father’s Business. He wants to move us from knowing God loves us and waiting for what is coming. He wants to steal, kill and destroy every bit of faith and trust in us in order to stop us from receiving eternal life. I know the cares and worries that fill you because the same are on my plate, too. However, at the end of the day, it is all about the Kingdom. My future. My hope. My forever with the Father who loves me.

I Corinthians 15:58 is a little different in the New Living Translation. It says, “Be strong and immovable.” Such a simple statement can be the greatest challenge a believer may face. To be completely confident means that when chaos interrupts, everything falls apart and all hell breaks loose in our life that God is in control. To believe this enough to remain strong and immovable.  “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” The enthusiasm and zeal that produces inexpressible joy is not from the outcome but the onset. To know that no matter what the task or undertaking, nothing done for the Lord is ever useless. Do you believe that today? If so, you must not move.

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

I love the Lord. Don’t you? I have come to the realization that no matter what I cannot walk away from my relationship with Jesus Christ. Trust me when I say it has been tested. It has even made me feel a little bit guilty. To love the Lord more than anyone or anything else challenges our roles as children, spouses, parents, grandparents, even with friends and acquaintances. I remember before this realization thinking it’s just not possible to ever love God more than my husband or children. Climbing the mountain with our son, there came a day when I wasn’t sure if he was going to win his battle with cancer, then what? Would I still love God? Would I still believe that He is good? Would I be convinced of His Love in my loss? I heard a weak whisper from the bottom of my heart and soul rise into soft broken words from my quivering lips say, “Yes.” It didn’t feel good. It wasn’t a celebratory moment. The accuser came to whisper – “You are a terrible wife and horrible mother to forsake your own.” But then His Grace rushed in to remind me that I can truly love through Christ way better than I ever did apart from Him. I am a better wife and mother because I know Him, love Him and trust Him with my life.

“…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love…”

I have shared before that I was once given a word from a friend. He said the Lord had given him the image of a peg being driven deep into the ground and that peg was me. I thanked him with a chuckle for such encouragement. I didn’t really think much of it until later. It was a word from the Lord for my life. I must be rooted and grounded in God’s Love. My heart must be broken from hard ground to soft fertile soil for His Love to get inside and give me the new heart that is promised. His Spirit comes in to tend to God’s Planting and strengthen us from the inside out. This wonderful power is a product of grace. When our weakness is evident, His Grace can produce His Power in our life. It begins inside of us. To change our heart and mind until we know, understand and believe His Love for us is real and immovable so hope is established by faith in such a way. This is not anything I do but what Christ wants to do in me and you “according to the riches in glory.” See God has something for us far greater than this ordinary life. Mundane is not in His Vocabulary only “magnificent”. The Lord is ready to do the miraculous. Your natural life is not representative of the supernatural life coming once you are fully invested, rooted and grounded in His Love. This is where a believer becomes steadfast and immovable.

that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

I am convinced that there is always more. Jesus came to give us an abundant life marked by satisfaction. Are you satisfied today? Me either. Are you content to point of continual thanksgiving? Nope, me either. Are you living in God’s Abundance – physically, spiritually, financially and completely? Funny…me either. There is more. God’s Love is endless, limitless and always abounding. Our faith is small. It takes time to grow it and develop it. Endurance is required. It is always in the waiting that God’s Love is most evident. In our complete desperation for Him that keeps us from giving up or giving in even when we are weary of well doing, tired of pressing on and ready to just stop. God’s Grace is enough for you to stop but you cannot move from the foundation of faith that is His Love for us. Why? Because Jesus able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Nothing is wasted. Nothing is useless. So what do I do when I cannot do anything at all?

Colossians 1:9-12 (ESV)  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 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. 

“Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” Your life is productive even in the waiting. The process called endurance can bear much fruit. Colossians 1 gives us some very practical steps to walking through tough seasons defined by waiting on God. We are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. Hold your head up confidently. The Lord is working every detail of your life for good and His Glory. You are not defeated. You win. You are victorious. God is moving us from grace to grace and glory to glory planting seeds of righteousness that are blooming into every promise that He made. You must wait. Like a good farmer, sowing seeds faithfully knowing that God is going to increase them. Successful farmers plant in all seasons not always in favorable conditions. They have faith in the process. They believe if they plant that they will harvest. We must do the same. I will never be worthy of the unconditional love and grace that I have received so I must walk by faith in the Lord and His Love and Grace rather than my worthiness. I live for Him because Jesus is worthy of my best. I live to please God. It doesn’t mean I get it all right or never make a mistake. Lord, knows I still sin despite my best effort not to. When the Lord looks into my heart, He must see good intentions and conscious effort to please Him. He knows I am incapable but am I willing to try? Bear fruit in every work…not just church work. To live out His Love in season and out of season in every societal setting. To live as a Child of God who loves like my Father does. Increasing in godly knowledge by planting God’s Word in my heart, allowing His Spirit to water it and waiting for it to grow into all He says it would be. To be thankful in all things for all things. To be strengthened by His Grace while my pride lay slowly dying. To allow His Power to work through me rather than always wrestling for control. To endure and be patient in the waiting joyfully. God qualifies us for this wonderful abundance in life that comes by His Faithfulness not our ability to be faithful. We just have to remain steadfast and immovable in His Love to attain it. It is His Work in us – I don’t work for it. I wait for Him.

Mark 14:3-6 (ESV) And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

Jesus is close to the brokenhearted. He was fellowshipping with Simon the leper. The woman who came with the alabaster flask did not have a very good reputation. The flask was all she had. It represented her total worth. Her future was in that bottle. Her past filled it. But in the present, she just had to worship Jesus. She wasn’t worried about tomorrow. When she came in and anointed Jesus – the others were offended. The worth of its contents wasted on the ground would have been a huge benefit to the poor. Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” She was not moved by public opinion or she never would have come to the house of a leper or the Presence of Jesus in her sinful condition. If she had evaluated her offering by the way she had procured it, she would have turned away in shame. She was not moved by the many faces who knew her intimately or even had taken advantage of her, it didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered to her was Jesus. She had to worship Him. She had to give her all. So she did.

I wonder if in the midst of our doing, serving and trying that we miss the fact that it is really the place of waiting that allows us to see that worship is the key. It is not what tomorrow holds but our faithfulness in just worshipping Him today for who He is. Jesus didn’t do anything for the woman with the alabaster box other than accept her worship and she was made complete. He didn’t change her or require anything of her but accepted her offering with complete satisfaction. Immediately Jesus became her Savior, Provider and Protector warding off even those closest to Him including their indignation. What seemed like a careless and thoughtless act to others drew her closest to His Heart. If this is all there is to life will Jesus be enough for you? If there is more to come will you forget this moment walking into your promise? The Lord is securing us to be rooted and grounded in His Love so that nothing will ever move us from this place. Don’t move. Don’t allow the enemy to goad you from the place of waiting and watching. The Lord is working. You must only wait. Worship Him in the waiting and do not be moved from Him but move closer than ever before.

Acts 17:28 (ESV) …For “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”

Substance of Prayer

Substance of Prayer

Psalm 141:1-2 (ESV) O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

In the Tabernacle and then the Temple, the high priest was tasked with burning incense. Incense is a gum, spice or other substance that is burned for its sweet smell it produces. Incense comes from the Latin incensus or set on fire. Incense refers to the substance consumed and burned not the aroma emitted. The high priest would offer incense while performing morning and evening prayers in the Presence of the Lord symbolic of the prayers of the people to God. Prayer is the incense of our life. It is to be sweet smelling and sacrificial. Pouring our hearts out to the Lord in reverence of who He is.

Give ear to my voice when I call to you!

God hears every word spoken. The conversations among each other. The secret whispers in the dark. The cries of His Children never uttered past thought. He is interested in us. He longs to live in intimacy with us. Too often our approach to the Lord is like the local fast food drive-thru, speeding up the window, barking our requests in detail into the speaker, pulling around to the window impatiently, and grabbing our food then speeding off. God forbid the poor worker gets our order wrong or it is delayed at which time it is our duty to angrily give them a piece of our mind. Oh, I know what you are thinking. I would never treat God like that. But I ask you to carefully consider your prayer life today as I do mine. To examine your heart for the content of godly communication in your life. How do you approach the Presence of God? Do you enter in with thanksgiving and praise or barging in to demand what’s ours? Is it an ongoing conversation between friends and lovers or a clandestine affair of convenience? God hears every word that is spoken, what is He hearing from you? What am I a saying to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords on a daily basis? “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,”

Isaiah 56:6-8 (ESV) “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Are my prayers incense to the Lord? In Isaiah, an image of prayer arises that may change one’s perception of prayer altogether. Good, I hope so. Prayer has not lost its power but people have forgotten its purpose. By joining ourselves to the Lord, it becomes our privilege to minister to Him, to love His Name, to be His Servant, and to hold tightly to the covenant given to us in our relationship with Jesus Christ. He promises His People to be brought to “my holy mountain” or into His Presence. To make them joyful in my house of prayer. The old time church believed in travailing before the Lord and there are times and seasons that may elicit such prayers. However, the true power and potential of our prayers come when our confidence in the Lord allows us to praise His Name and live in His Presence apart from the distractions of need or want knowing and believing God will do exactly what He has promised to do. These are the prayers that silence worry, fear, anxiety and doubt. Power packed petitions that silence the enemy in the Greatness of our God. The Lord waits for “the one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ESV)  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Psalm 139:16 (ESV) Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Romans 8:28 (ESV)  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Do you believe these verses are true? Is this the potential for your life in Jesus Christ? Can I ask you to consider your prayer life? If this is the Truth concerning your life, what is there to ask for? God has plans for our welfare never to be in distress. He has given us a future and hope through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord promises that when you call on His Name, come into His Presence and pray that He will hear you. When you seek Him, you will find Him. Are you seeking the Lord wholeheartedly? Only you know the answer to that. Truly believing and trusting the Lord takes our faith and plants it in His Word, relying on His Wisdom, and walks in confident confidence not in our condition or circumstances but the constancy of His Great Love. God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. Once His Word is released, it cannot come back to Him until it accomplishes exactly what He sent it forth to do. It tells us in Psalm 139 that every day of our life is prerecorded and therefore provided for by God. We do not lack any good thing because He is a Good and Gracious Father. And finally, trusting the Lord includes those days when He is still working to work all things together for our good and His Glory. What does my prayer life sound like on those days? Is it an incense filled with sweet praise? Faith and confident hope changes the consistency and content of our prayers changing them from desperate cries for help to desperate cries for more of Him.

“The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

James 5:12-16 (ESV) Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Prayer and praise are partners. They go together. Our prayer must be infused with praise to become powerful. Yes, there will be times when our human weakness needs assistance. However, the majority of our prayer time should be incense on the altar of God – day and night, night and day – let incense arise. In Exodus 30:7-8, there is a direct command for the priest to enter the Presence of God each morning and evening with incense. This represents prayers and praise to the Lord perpetually. Is your prayer life consistent? Day and night and night and day. What is the content? Is it incense to the Lord? Does it give off a sweet aroma of faith mixed with confident hope emitting praise and honor and glory to God? Or does it stink of doubt and fear crying out for what is already given? Exodus 30:37 makes it clear that prayer is not about me and what I want but the Lord and who He is. The vessels on the altar of God took human form (2 Timothy 2:21) when the Spirit of the Living God came to live in us and make us His Temples (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

My righteousness is not me, but Christ who is in me. Every good thing in my life is straight from God. Nothing good lives in me apart from the Lord. When I come to Him and communicate with the Lord, it is an opportunity to express my faith in His Power and confidence in His Plan. Am I wasting my time whining and complaining or do I spend it wisely worshipping the Lord? I can only evaluate my own time spent in the Presence of God. God is able. His Power is not in any way lessened by my ability to believe but when I do by chance get it right and plant my faith in His Power, watch out! The prayer of a righteous man or woman is powerful. My righteousness is Christ alone. If this is what I believe, it changes my prayer time. To fully invest our time and energy in praising Jesus even in our prayer time changes the content of our life. There is power in prayer, I have seen its wonderworking power firsthand. Imagine the change in the atmosphere if God’s People stopping begging for bread and began singing the praises of an abundant God. The Light of His Love would burn brightly from our passion. The incense of praise overpowering the stench of doubt. Revival would come as God rushed in to get a closer whiff of His People’s Praise. The drawing in of His Mighty Breath would pull us closer and deeper than ever before. Lord, set us on fire with passion for who You are. Make the words of our mouth and mediation of our heart agree and pour out praise. May the incense of our prayer life be praise and adoration formed from faith and trust in You!

2 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

 

Monday

Monday

Psalm 100 (NLT) Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

How does come so quickly? Five days seem to drag by yet two pass in a flash of light. The weekend is over and Monday is here. Ugh! Rocking in the chair on the front porch, I really needed to take a broom to the pollen and spider webs. Instead, I just rocked watching my husband plant the lovely hydrangeas that were my gift for Mother’s Day. As he worked, I thanked him for my coveted plants. He had been asking for weeks what I wanted, and finally I decided I wanted them. Are you sure? Yes, I am absolutely positive. As I sat there in the afternoon breeze, I knew that I had made the right choice. Their position in the bed was perfect. Morning sun and then partial shade. The soil remained moist which is their favorite. They would grow and fill the area just outside the dining room windows. I wondered what color the flowers might be. Hydrangeas don’t all bloom the same color but it is not because of the variety but rather the pH level of the soil. I wanted to just sit there in that chair and watch the flowers grow. But I knew in my heart all good things must come to an end because tomorrow would be Monday.

Sundays are my favorite days when we worship the Lord together. Fellowshipping with other believers. Finding new seeds of Truth to plant in our hearts growing into purpose as God designed. It goes by so fast and quickly I am thrust back into the rat race of this world. Work has been a challenge lately. Just the thought of the week ahead makes me want to avoid it at all costs. It also seems as though the last several weeks, the enemy has paid particularly close attention to my every move. As if in a game of Mario Kart, I am just tooling along in my little race car while all the other opponents throw everything but the kitchen sink in my way. To spin me out. Make me crash. Give up my joy. Relinquish my peace. I want to win the race that I am in. I want to claim the prize that Christ Jesus has called me to. So this morning, as usual, He meets me with mercy and provides more grace with a word for my life that will changes things – if I allow it in my heart and to rise up out of my mouth.

Shout with joy. Worship the Lord…with gladness. Come before Him…singing. Acknowledge that He is Almighty God. Creator of all things – caretaker of the same. Take full advantage of the access I have into His Presence – go to Him rather than waiting on Him to come to me. Give thanks. Praise Him. For the Lord is good…He is always good. His Unfailing Love and Grace never, ever run out so His Goodness is always available to me. Right here. Right now. It comes as peace and inexpressible joy to those who seek Him. In Christ alone I find that all the impending problems are disguised lies for God is with me and I will not fail.

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

We must learn to make our mouth and heart agree. There are many times, our head says one thing while our heart strives to believe another. Such disagreement will never provide the peace everyone longs for. To be of one mind and one spirit. Isn’t that what our purpose is in life? To be one with Christ – to live and move in Him. To count everything else as “garbage” compared to just knowing Jesus. Yet, we allow stinking thinking to sometimes muck up our conversation and words of doubt and discontentment begin to form and fall out of our mouth. I was made to praise the Lord. My mouth was created for worship. It is to declare God’s Glory in good times and even on bad days. My confession should reflect a heart in covenant with Jesus Christ. As Ruth to Naomi, “Where you go, I will go.” Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you.

Psalm 27:4-5 (NLT) The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.

The Presence of God is an absolute necessity in our life each day. When Jesus died on the Cross and released His Spirit, the very first thing that He did was rip the veil or curtain that separated mankind from the Living God from top to bottom. This was no small set of draperies. The Lord made it clear that His Intention was not to be a God who is far away or distant. He wants us to come to Him. Romans 12:1-2 talks about being a living sacrifice. To give up our bodies or natural life including desires and inclinations to be one with the Lord. Why? Because of all that He has done for you and me. The kind that He finds acceptable. Hmm… I have heard this verse explained many times in many different ways according to the doctrine of the preacher or teacher. But you know what I think this means…God loves us. He doesn’t need us. He desires us. There is nothing God requires me to do other than just repent or turnaround and find Him. My sin is under the Blood of Jesus Christ and I have full access to His Presence. It doesn’t mean I won’t sin and make bad choices. The worst thing I could ever do is claim or even try to convince others of my perfection.

The absence of honesty is insanity. It is very easy to assume the customs and behaviors of the world because of overall acceptance. It is easy to assume the identity of the church culture that one participates in but in the Presence of God there is clarity. He defines our life and how we live it if we enter His Presence. Not occasionally or when things get a little rough or even completely overwhelming, no when I make it the ONE THING that I seek the MOST is when I finally begin to see this life I live agree – body, mind and spirit. Such agreement with the Lord gives me the confident hope that produces heavenly communication. I can praise Him when things are good just like when everything falls apart. Worship is my life not a few songs laced with tears. He will clear the way of all obstacles when I stop holding on to them. I can enter His Presence no matter where I am or who I am with. Jesus gives us that kind of access. The kind of unlimited access that comes without penalty just purpose.

Psalm 50:15-16 (NLT) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) Thankfulness is the most fruitful part of communication. It is the remedy for discontentment that leads to doubt and discouragement. It turns our situation from hopeless to hope full. Gratitude will change our attitude. Rather than concentrating on what I am waiting for, if I can just begin to praise Him for all He has done. I will admit in a world driven by supply and demand with greedy temptation vying for our attention – it is hard to remain thankful. God’s Will for my life is found in thankfulness. Thanksgiving produces a change in my heart so significant that the Word of God says, He “will give me” His Glory. When I enter the Presence of God, my words are equally important as those cast around carelessly each day. Every word I speak bears fruit in my life good or bad. I must tend the gateway of my mouth and tame my rebellious tongue. My heart desires the Lord. My head knows His Way is best. I must make a careful and considerate commitment to continually monitor my conversation. Are my words filled with praise? Do they worship the Lord? Am I thankful? No more grumbling or complaining about God’s Care for me. That’s what we are saying by doing so that the God of all Creation is not a good caregiver but a careless Father. Which is simply not true!

Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

The God of Sunday is still God on Monday. The Presence of God that gave you goosebumps in church is the same Holy Spirit that is in you right now. You are a Child of God. He is a good father. Have you forgotten some of the good things that He has done? Or maybe you just haven’t taken full advantage of them yet? Praise Him today. Worship Him. Love on Him. Enter His Presence. Thank the Lord for all the good things that He has done and promised to do for you and in you. This is the best way to start the week. It will end your Monday blues and fill your life with His Presence including His Love, Joy and Peace that is hidden there for you. He fills our life with good things. Always. Every day. More than we can even think or imagine. I must only make myself available – letting go of every complaint – and make my heart and mind agree so my mouth declares His Praise – He is good! He is good on Sunday. He is still awesome on Monday! We serve a good God! Let’s sound like it.

Those hydrangeas in the flower bed have some blue and purple blooms on them right now. I have the ability to change the color of the flowers by what I put in the soil. I can add pH or alkaline depending on what I would like them to look like. I also have the ability to decide what blooms in my life, too. It is about my conversation. It is how I communicate with the Lord and other people. The foundation of my life will be evident in the fruit of my life. Let it always represent that I am rooted and grounded in His Love.

Colossians 2:7 (NLT) Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Yes

Yes

Matthew 5:37 (NLT) Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

Many Christmas’ ago, our youngest daughter put an IPod Touch at the top of her list. Midway through the holiday season, I received an IPad Mini from a blogging site and thought she would enjoy it even more because it was bigger and had more memory. She could certainly play her games on it and watch videos with ease. When the big day arrived, our littlest was on a mission. She was opening her gifts searching for the shiny new electronics. My heart skipped a beat when she finally selected the package to open. When she realized it was not an IPod Touch, her hands fell in her lap with it in her hands. She whispered, “Thank you” but my heart sank as I realized she was disappointed. We want to give our children the desires of their heart. In this instance, I thought this was a better gift but it did not meet her expectation. She later shared that she wanted the smaller version because it would fit in her pocket like a cellphone. She was too young for her own phone, but since all her siblings had one – it was the next best thing. Our little girl had an expectation and when what she found did not meet her expectation – it was only natural to experience disappointment. A human response that we all have from time to time.

Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.

Jesus was hungry. He came across a fig tree covered in leaves. On closer inspection, it did not have any fruit on it. Jesus cursed the tree right then and there, because it was not fulfilling its purpose which was to bear fruit. It put on a glorious show but when it came right down to – it was not fruitful. Who doesn’t want the Lord’s Approval on closer inspection as a Christian? When He moves past the grand show of righteous living, and the performance of service, and peers into our heart – what will the Lord see? Will there be any fruit on the vine which He planted there? “Yes, I will” or “No, I won’t.” These are the only two promises that a person is capable of keeping. The ones pertaining to self and nothing else. I have no control over heaven or the earth. These are the Lord’s domain. He has given me a simple yet great commandment to follow. It is not complicated or overly comprehensive. His Commandment is this:

Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

I am challenged today with my “Yes, Lord”. The commitment that I have made to Christ based on His Generous Gift of Amazing Grace. I take it in and apply lavishly on my life. I know that God is good because I have experienced His Goodness and Glory firsthand in my life and know that I am undeserving. For many years, I have been committed to the church and even religion if I am completely honest. I love to serve. Yet, in all the running, organizing, teaching and sharing, something was missing. I had the best of intentions but something was missing. Me. The “yes” I have to give the Lord completely is “me”. When He commanded us to love Him, of course it is with exuberant affirmation and acceptance Why not? He offers unconditional love to His People. He removes the weight of sin and fills us with inexpressible joy. However, if I do not effectively express His Love to others – I am not bearing His First Fruit.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. It is so simple. We have made it complex. When Jesus came upon the fig tree, the Lord was hungry. He had an expectation that the fruit on the tree would satisfy His Hunger. It would fulfill His Desire. But when all that He found were leaves covering the tree – it was cursed. When Jesus comes to live inside of a person – truly take over their existence – the first fruit is love. Not the kind of love found in this world but the Kind of Love that has been deposited inside of us.

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

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love has a definition. The Lord went so far as to clearly demonstrate unconditional love for us. In return, Jesus asks us to love Him and love others. He has an expectation of His People based on the seed deposited in us. To accept Jesus as Savior is to believe in His Great Love for us. As one strives to make Him Lord, our great aspiration is to serve Him. Those who seek Him wholeheartedly are saying, “Yes” to live a life of love. He is our First Love. Loving others is our mission. This is how we make disciples. But this kind of love is not a simple “yes”. It is a messy one. It requires a new kind of fasting our life that breaks the tradition of religious fasting. (Isaiah 58:8-12) Our life given to loving others provides the miracles that many search after. We literally must give our life away. How many times has the Lord inspected our tree and like my daughter on that fateful morning felt the disappointment of unmet expectation? No act of service great or small is worth anything unless it comes wrapped in unselfish love.

Love that is patient. Love that is kind. Love that is not jealous. Love that is generous. The love chapter, I Corinthians 13, goes on to say that the edifying gifts of the church such as prophecy will be gone one day and only love will remain. If we do not get love right, our tree is barren and there is nothing to offer the Lord in our life.

Matthew 26:7-9 (NLT) While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”

If the giving of time, talent and treasure is not wrapped in love and presented in worship then what good is it? If our “Yes” to the Lord is presented to this world wrapped in religion, tradition and condition – what’s the point? If I try to relay an experience that I have not encountered myself than I am a counterfeit. For example, how can I explain the Grace of God and His Forgiveness when I cannot bear the fruit of forgiveness in my life? How can I share the Jesus who did not come to condemn that world when I pass judgment on them on sight? To love others like Jesus will harvest a life of giving that displays the Gospel in living color. Isn’t that what Jesus did? He did not leave those in need unfilled even when He didn’t tell them who He was or what He was about to do. He met them where they were and loved them on the spot without hesitation, reservation or condemnation. This is true love. The disciples were worried that the worship in the form of expensive perfume could feed the hungry. Noble effort but they missed the point completely. The service performed by the church is community service unless it comes packaged in unconditional and fruitful love born of the great love give to us by Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

Jesus is looking for those who love Him to love others. Not with the kind of love that the world is known for. God’s Love has no requirement. It is by His Grace that we have acquired love. It is to be given freely and cheerfully. Love with condition is a counterfeit. People know the difference between real love and fake love. There are many broken hearts out there that will never don the doors of a church because of the judgment and condemnation that is felt when they enter. To preach a Gospel of words without true and genuine love is to counterfeit the Cross. To give from anything less than a humbled heart changed by God’s Love is a lie. To try to present a message of love with words that hold empty promises is to literally shun those who need Jesus most just like me. The seed of our life is love. Not conditional love, but radical love that meets the need of others not based on prideful religion but the pursuit of each heart as Jesus would. He pursues us with unconditional love and goodness. (Psalm 23:6)

From a very early age, I participated in church visitation. As a teenager loaded in buses and dropped off in neighborhoods to present God’s Message to the lost. Invite them to church. Pray for them. As a young adult, every Tuesday night armed with an atlas and the Bible – we would go visit those who dared to fill out connection cards at church. I remember every awkward encounter. It was after I became the woman at the well, that I finally had something to share. After wandering, I met a man who knew everything about me and still thought I was to die for. His Overwhelming Love rushed in and covered me just as I was not waiting for me to do anything or be anyone other than who I was. It would take years for this truth to finally manifest in my heart and see that God wants us to accept His Grace and grow His Love to give to others. This is what “Yes, Lord” means it is to love extravagantly and overwhelmingly giving our life to others daily even in the seemingly smallest of gestures such as a smile. The Love of God is attractive. It is perfect. I don’t need to add to it a single condition but spread it thick in the world in which I live. Nothing will ever change the heart of a person more than experiencing the Love of Christ. It is love for Christ that empowers us to make better choices and give more to Him. I can never out give the Lover of my soul. So I say, “Yes” today. Today I will love others (or try to) just like Jesus loves me – radically and unconditionally – it will be my act of service. I will call it a fast. Either way… it is the fruit of our life that He desires. I do not want to disappoint Him. Yes really is that simple. Will you do it today?

Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Stale Bread

stale-bread

John 4:21-24 (NLT) Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

My people are bread fanatics. If it is made of dough or contains any form of flour and yeast, it is the preferred manna of our home. The local grocery store carries Krispy Kreme donuts as there is not one locally – it is the best one can do to fulfill the craving for this glazed piece of heaven. However, there is no “hot” sign to signify that a warm, soft, squishy, sugar-covered concoction is ready for human consumption so one must improvise. If you reheat the donut for about 10-15 seconds in the microwave, it regains its former splendor. However, this is short lived. It must be immediately eaten or as it cools it becomes harder and less appetizing than before. No one wants stale bread so they reheat it over and over until there is no life left in it.

Stale bread. There are days that my worship seems to have arrived at the same state as day old bread. It is not as fresh as it once was. Not as sincere as before, when heaven comes down and touches my soul. Life is hard. Just like the forgotten box of donuts in the pantry or bread tucked away, it is not that it is unwanted just hidden behind other things that catch our attention or consume our time. The Lord opens the windows of Heaven over the lives of His People but there are times of wandering and settling for less than God’s Best because maybe the process is a bit inconvenient or change too uncomfortable. The Father is looking for those who will worship him in Spirit and in Truth. Can we be honest? Faith is not a fake it until you make it routine. You cannot overcome fear and achieve faith pretending that everything is great and things are going just swell. God sees much deeper than that. His Mighty Hand is reaching for the crumbs and scraps that one merely survives on to replace it with a feast at His Table to thrive on.

Matthew 15:21-28 (NLT) Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.” But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

I am a Gentile. I am not of Jewish decent. The mindset of religion was demolished by the arrival, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in many ways, Christianity has returned to its rebellious roots. Not intentionally, of course, but seeking after a God who cannot be seen and Spirit that is invisible – leads one to make certain assumptions, I guess. Jesus knew the heart of this woman who sought after Him that day. He fully intended to heal her daughter and deliver her from the demon that raged within her. But in the last few moments of her desperation, the Lord tried to change the hearts and minds of His Disciples. They believed He was the Messiah. They were ignorant in His Method, though. Jesus came to save everyone – not just God’s Chosen People but all those who He created. Ethnicity is the flavor of creation when God designed a series of individuals with differing characteristics and qualities painting a Kingdom with color and individuality perfect in His Eyes. We see limits and boundaries of differences that divide us when all along His Love was for all of us.

Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Is it hard for you to accept God’s Conditional and Perfect Love sometimes? I think it is a challenge for us all yet few are willing to admit it. God’s Grace is sufficient for me. His Power is manifested in my weakness (or humility, if you will indulge me). This woman believed that Jesus Christ could heal her daughter and do exactly what He said. I wonder if she knew the centurion known for the same. It didn’t matter what anyone thought or how many disappointments she endured. When she came to Jesus, she believed. She would not be dissuaded. Her life, her child were her world. Jesus was the Healer. She would get what she came for that day. Even in the midst of rejection of religion, she knelt before the Lord and worshipped Him all the same. Still in the same condition, pushed away by people, she knew in her heart something that her attitude and actions relayed.

Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” Are you willing to worship anyway? Are you intent on changing your pattern of worship to gain access to the Savior, Healer, Provider, Perfecter, Waymaker, Lifechanger – His Name is Jesus Christ. How far are you willing to go to gain access to His Throne? Well, she was willing to bow as low as possible, forsake all pride and simply gather the scraps beneath His Table if that is all she could get? What about you? Are you willing to fall to your knees? Get on your face before the Lord? Stay there until He comes? It is time to change my pattern of worship. Will you?

Hebrews 8:1-6 (NLT) Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands. And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

Human nature maintains the idea of corporate worship. Strength in numbers, if you will. But I believe that before our churches are empowered, each person must come back to the heart of worship first. Faith is my personal investment. It is the seed growing, developing and maturing in me that yields a harvest of good fruit. I cannot give what I have not received. The fruit in my life is born of His Spirit. The seed is defined as God’s Word. The process of sowing and reaping is firmly established. I must dedicate my life to living according to His Spirit and His Truth to prosper beyond survival to learn to thrive in life. Jesus Christ is our High Priest. He ripped the veil from top to bottom, but do we try to sew it back up? Limiting the Presence and Glory of God by holding back bits and pieces of our life due to a lack of faith or disbelief?

Luke 8:44-48 (NLT) Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Matthew 8:5-11 (NLT) When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Two of my favorite stories of great faith are the woman who had “issues” and the Centurion who believed Jesus simply at His Word. What great examples of worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth. I believe that when the woman pressed through the crowd, obviously on her hands and knees because she touched the hem of His Robe, that Jesus knew not only “who” touched Him but that she was coming. He wanted the others to see her as an example of true worship. They left their lives, families and jobs to follow the Messiah as King of Kings, but were they will to make Him Lord of Lords?

The centurion took Jesus Christ at His Word. He recognized the authority and power that was in Jesus Christ and even though he was not a member of the local synagogue or Jewish by birth, he believed with his whole heart and his mind, as well. It made sense that only the Son of God could do these amazing things that defied natural and human logic. He was confident in God’s Word. So where am I in all of these amazing people? I am a Gentile. I am not worthy of the Grace that I have received and cannot ever earn the forever that I am promised. All I can do is offer my heart and mind as a living sacrifice to be overtaken completely by His Spirit and His Truth.

John 6:26-29 (NLT)  Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

John 6:34-40 (NLT)  “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

Signs and wonders will come when the Glory of God surrounds us. It is not something conjured up but grown by faith inside of each one of us. Perfecting the process called church and revising our doctrine is not the pattern of worship referred to that will bring us into alignment with God. It is seeking the Bread of Life as a constant sustenance of our everyday life. Fortifying our heart and mind in the Spirit and Truth that grow faith more and more each day. We must trust the Lord in all things even at only His Word to build the confident trust that allows us to live peacefully in all conditions and circumstances. It is the very thing that draws us closer in heartache and brokenness rather than allowing anger and bitterness to leak out. The only way to see the Glory of God manifested in our life is to personally participate each day in gathering fresh bread rather than reheating stale donuts. You can have it hot. You can have it fast. It will not sustain you. Religion and service cannot replace a real relationship with Jesus Christ or becoming a living sacrifice. He offers you a place at His Table. Will you remain eating scraps off the floor? Old worship. Old ways. Religious tradition. Has it changed your life? Has it renewed your soul? Has it healed your body? Has it provided more than enough? Has it strengthened you in weakness? Nope. We must change our pattern of worship in the New Year or risk starving our faith even more.

But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. Our life is built on expectation. When Jesus came to the earth, He was not what they expected. His Followers constantly sought after signs and wonders. It was difficult for Jesus to get His Word or His Seed into their hard hearts. Who doesn’t come to the Lord seeking a better life? A little relief? Some provision for our lack? What if we came to Jesus, our Savior and Lord, seeking only to worship Him? What might happen if we did that? The Bible tells us that He will give us a new heart and new mind. His Spirit and His Word will change us from the inside out. Like fresh bread, there is kneading, pressing and molding to combine all the ingredients and form a loaf. The bread is left to wait while the yeast or potential rises up within. It is put in the oven to bake in extreme heat until it comes out in the form of fresh bread. Jesus wants to do the same thing in our life. If I embrace the pressure to change and endure the process of promotion, my life will prosper. Lord, change my pattern of worship. Help me to let go of every bit of staleness and stagnancy in my life to produce the prosperity of soul that you have ordained for my life.

John 6:47-50 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 

Smell Me

smell-me

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NLT) But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

The term for my wanderings this lazy Saturday morning would be referred to as “piddling” or even “tinkering” here in the South. Only one sleeping beauty in the quiet house unless you count the tiny princess running around my feet. As I begin a load of wash, making my way to the garage to close the door left open by my husband on his way to the woods. The old cabinet which is my next refinishing project catches my attention. Grabbing a sandpaper block, I begin to scratch the surface to see how many layers of poly are on it. I begin to inspect it. I bought it from a woman down an old dirt road who lived in a tiny mobile home. Her mother had passed and all her belongings were set up outside under tarped makeshift coverings. I couldn’t really inspect the cabinet in the darkness as the rain began falling so loading it up it was acquired sight unseen. As the gritty edge cut into the top layer, the distinct smell of years of cigarette smoke caught my attention. Sliding open the cabinet, I could smell it there, too. Memories came flooding back to me of my mother’s parents. Grandparents I hardly knew and spent little time with yet in that moment I was carried back to their tiny apartment. My mom’s house smelled just like it as she aged and the generational curse took over her life, too. It’s funny how certain smells trigger memories.

When I was in grade school, I tried everything in my power to eliminate that smoky smell from my belongings. I hate cigarette smoke. It just smells so nasty. I remember being mortified that people could smell it on my clothing. When I went to my paternal grandparent’s house, they would quickly whisk our things down to the basement washing them all and packing them away. Back then the dangers of nicotine were not known like now, it was socially acceptable and just about everyone did it. When I became an adult, I vowed that I would never smell like that again. I promised that my children would not be exposed to it. I had developed an aversion to it. So much so that I am very sensitive to how things smell. I use scented soap. Dumping copious amounts of laundry detergent and fabric softener in the washer and smelly sheets in the dryer to make sure our clothing is pleasant and aromatic long after they cleaned. Bathing and deodorant which seem only natural but to some may not be is a household requirement. Militant efforts to maintain an inviting fragrance to all who visit.

I believe that when I came to Christ sin had a distinct odor in my life. Jesus washed me in His Blood and rinsed me in His Word wrapping me in righteousness and covering me in grace – it is only then that the fragrance of my life is acceptable to God. Please note I do nothing more than submit to the process of complete restoration, Jesus did it all. Yet over time, it is human nature to maybe become a little stale. Perhaps, it is in those moments when sin is allowed to remain in the hidden places like a rotting potato lost in the pantry. No, seriously there is no worse smell I assure you. Or maybe the sweaty smell of exertion when I tried to do what Christ already has done for me because I cannot accept free grace as enough for me. Like boy funk from sweaty gym clothes, discarded socks and every other perspired soaked thing they can find piled high in their room because a whole 20 feet to the hamper is just too dang far for their teenage legs to carry them. My life is to be a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. Lord, smell me. How do I smell to You? Is the aroma of my attitude and actions pleasing to You? Or do I offend you with the odor of sin and perspiration of human perfection? Hmmm…

Philippians 3:8-9 (NLT) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Have you ever smelled body odor and checked your own armpits? Discreetly, of course. I have done it I will admit. I keep perfumed spray and lotion in my bag just in case. I have deodorant in my car and desk at work. Are you judging me right now? I hope not. We should all consider the aroma of our life and decide if we are emitting the fragrance of Christ. When I discover it is me with stinking thinking or smelling choices, I immediately do something about it as not to offend or run off anyone else. What about you? Have you smelled yourself lately? We must examine our heart and mind every day. We must wash ourselves in the Blood of Jesus that is repentance, and know Him more by washing ourselves in the Word. My life has purpose. It is to please God. How can I please the Lord if He cannot stand the smell of me?

Have you ever flipped open the garbage in the morning to discover the delicious dinner last night has turned into a gross, disgusting and offensive odor that assaults you? The meal discarded in the trash can sits and ripens into rottenness by the very next day. What we eat becomes waste that is not pleasant smelling if you catch my drift. We all have to take out the garbage inside and out to maintain a sweet smelling life. When allowed to sit and fester – the odor permeates other areas of our life until no one smells our goodness just our grossness. Everything else is worthless when compared to knowing Christ. We must be willing to discard those things that stink up our life as the worthless garbage to become one with the Lord. It is in that moment the fragrance of our life is pleasing to the Father again.

The message of God is desirable when the aroma denotes something tasty. No one wants to eat something that is terrible. How many times have my kids said to me, “taste this its awful” or “smell this I think its rotten”. Now why in the world would I want to smell something bad much less eat it. God’s Love is sweeter than anything that I have every tasted. He is Good and fills my life with good things. If my life does not reek of God’s Love and Goodness, why would anyone want to taste and see that the Lord is good? You with me so far.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT) Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

My plan for today is simple. I am going to work on my little project. First, I am going to take some wood soap and clean the cabinet inside and out. There are a few imperfections that I will quickly fix and adjust before I set to sanding it thoroughly. I have decided to stain the top and apply a coat of polyurethane. I want this old piece to come to life again. It has history. It bears the smells and scars of its past. With some time, attention and loving care, it will go from a piece of junk one step from the garbage to become my masterpiece.

We are God’s Little Projects filled with imperfections left by sin, our past, problems and more. Jesus finished His Work concerning us on the Cross. He bought us with for a tremendous price though God could stand the sight of us or the smell of us. Jesus washes us in His Blood and rinses us in His Word wraps us in righteousness covering us in His Amazing Grace – it is only then that the fragrance of our life becomes acceptable to God. I want to live in the Presence of God so I must go through the process of repentance and restoration day by day. He makes our life beautiful again as we become His Masterpiece again. The fragrance of our life is made new and attractive to the Lord and all who come into contact with us. Do you need to ask the Lord, “Smell me?” Today. Is there an unpleasant odor wafting from your life? Do people find you offensive and obnoxious when it comes to your life or do they find it pleasing and desirable? Do they want to know the Lord who has filled you with good things? Do they want what you have? Praise and worshipping God should emit a fragrance from our life that is inviting so others will want to know Him and love Him, too. How do you smell today? Can you smell me? Lord, may our lives become sweet smelling offerings and a perfume in Your Presence today!

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

The Next Step

in-each-step

Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT) The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Since my mom had open heart surgery, I have made a several trips back and forth to check on her. A few years ago, my parents bought a new house in a community just outside of the city limits of their former city. Thankfully my phone has a map application that gives me step by step directs how to get from my driveway to their front door. When I plug in their address, it gives me options to choose regarding my route. There are many ways to get to their home. I can choose the fastest route which means at some point I will take the busy interstate. There is the option of the completely rural route with winding back roads which takes a while longer. I can choose a combination of both if I would like. Once I choose a route, the nifty little helper will let me know if there is an accident or traffic jam up ahead and an alternative route to avoid the congestion. If I choose it, the device will reroute me so I can keep moving. When I complete a turn, it gives me the next step in the instructions. As I proceed, it will give me indications of the remaining distance at certain increments. As I approach the next turn, it will begin to countdown even measuring it in feet until the kind voice tells me to turn here.

I remember when the original Global Positioning Systems first arrived on the market. They were a bit hit or miss and not nearly as accurate as they are now. As of February 2016, there are 32 orbiting satellites in the GPS constellation. In order to obtain accurate information, at least three of those must be able to measure a single user’s position accurately. The advance of such technology is incredibly fascinating and a bit disturbing to think that this is constantly monitoring each person’s human activity according to the device that is a dependency in this day and age. What would we do without the directions of our GPS traveling through life? I have forgotten what it is like to pull out a map and try to discern my direction. I am completely dependent on map application in my phone.

Today I am praying about my some important steps in my life. Oh how nice it would be if the Holy Spirit worked like my navigation system in my phone. If an audible voice would come across the car radio telling me when to turn, go straight or reroute because of danger up ahead. The Lord is a still small voice. He directs our steps but just like the tracking system allows us to choose the direction to take. If the voice grows silent, it is human nature to wonder if somehow we are lost. Have I missed you God? Did I make a wrong turn? Have I miss-stepped missing your plan and now fully engaged in my own? These are questions that I am asking myself today to be fully transparent. I do not want to take another step if it is not by His Design.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall. He holds them by the hand. Looking back at Peter, who stepped out of the boat into the water by faith, it is clear that his faith was not yet big enough for the journey. Yet later in the midst of his booming ministry, he offers these words, For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (I Peter 2:21) I think when Peter stepped out of the boat that he expected the Lord to carry him safely across the water. But what he learned is that each step to Jesus requires faith, not in the current conditions of our life but total trust that even when we fall, face hardship or don’t know where to step next – the Lord is holding our hand. Faith will not allow us to necessarily “see” the next step but allows us to walk on water for those who believe. Believe that Jesus is in each step of life – He is the Way Maker.

Exodus 20:24-26 (NLT) “Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me—your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you. If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use. And do not approach my altar by going up steps. If you do, someone might look up under your clothing and see your nakedness.

Plugging the desired destination into my time with the Lord today, I came across the passage tucked right after the Ten Commandments. The section was labeled, “Proper Use of Altars”. Our purpose in life is always to find our way to worship the Lord with all of our heart. To follow Him wholeheartedly (Jeremiah 29:13) and seek His Kingdom above all other things. (Matthew 6:33) How we get there is mandated by the Lord, but we are free to choose our path. God is in each step. To reach the Promise and obtain the Kingdom, my feet must always be pointed toward the altar of God, pursuing His Presence and taking steps toward total surrender and submission. Surrender is to our Savior and submission is for our Lord.

“Build for me an altar of earth…” As I journey with the Lord, God has provided everything I need for proper worship in my present life. We do not have to make it up as we go along or try to do anything ourselves. Jesus Christ did it all on the Cross. “Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered…” God promises to come and bless those who live a life of identification with the Presence of God in each footfall. God is always pursing us with unfailing love and overwhelming goodness. (Psalm 23:6) As long as my want and desire is His Kingdom and I am committed to Christ – God will bless me each time I stop and worship Him. To stop what I am doing and build an altar (worship) is to develop a consistent life of worship as the Holy Spirit cultivates faith in us helping it to grow. “If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones.” Religion can allow us to think that we can rework the pattern of worship predetermined by God which is just not the case. My ability to worship is innate. The right to worship fruitfully is a product of grace alone. I cannot make my worship anything of worth. Worshipping the Lord is an absolute surrender of my Will, Way and Works to the Cross to be covered in His Blood and made acceptable to God. It does not in any way influence God’s Love and Acceptance of me. This is completed start to finish by the Work of Christ on the Cross. This is simply how I choose to serve Him the Master of my life. Finally, “do not approach my altar by going up the steps. If you do, someone might look under your clothing and see your nakedness.” Humility allows me to walk God. Nothing more or less. If I ever come to the place that I feel somewhat entitled or think I have reached a higher level of saving grace, I have lost my way.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Many steps have added up to where I am today in this moment. Yet the sum total does not equal my expectation. As I sit and think upon God’s Word concerning the next step in my life, I am overwhelmed with a burning desire to be where He is. I want to walk humbly with my God. I want to do what is good. To do what He requires. To do what is right. I don’t want to move a single inch if it is away from Jesus. Today I am building an altar in this place, I am waiting for Him to come. To cleanse my heart and clear my mind. I don’t need to see the next step as long as I can hold His Hand all the way to the other side. There is pain in this process. Fighting hurt and discouragement every moment of the day. Yet standing here looking forward, I know that God is in every single step that I take and delights when I choose godliness.

Proverbs 2:20-21 (NLT) So follow the steps of the good, and stay on the paths of the righteous. For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it.

Reading today, I revisited Joshua in the moments before crossing the Jordan. All those years and miles of journeying to the Promise Land culminated in these final moments. (Joshua 3) The exodus was over and now it was time to enter in. The only thing between the Israelites and their promise was the surging Jordan River. God had a plan. The waters did not recede before they arrived or because they prayed. Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’” They had to get their feet wet. Stepping out on faith is never easy, but the Lord will not show you the next step until you take the first step of obedience and trust in His Word. Psalm119:133 says, “Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome with evil.” It is not enough to just read God’s Word but it must become the guide for each step. We can plan our next fifteen steps from here to what we want and desire, but the moment I cry out to the Lord to have His Way all that changes because He is the Way, Truth and Life. (John 14:6) I cannot get to God expect through Jesus. My steps must line up with His Steps and follow His Way.

Proverbs 14:12-16 (NLT) There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains. Backsliders get what they deserve; good people receive their reward. Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps. The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.

Finally, there are some pitfalls to avoid as we walk in step with Jesus today. We must not be caught up in being right but being righteous. Rightness is driven by pride. Righteousness is the fulfillment of a life surrendered to Jesus Christ. My heart must be in it. All of my heart must be invested in this journey. My heart cannot remain heavy laden with all the burdens and cares that Christ has requested yet still think I have the strength to move one step closer to Him. Backsliders get what they deserve. I cannot entertain sin. To do so is to rebel against God. The thought that I am doing all these things right so I am better than anyone else is false. To go about God’s Work my own way is wrong. The only way to keep from falling is to hold His Hand firmly. We must be prudent in pursing the Truth. The Word of God is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. I will not get through to the Promise without God’s Word and His Spirit to guide me. Finally, we must carefully consider each step in life. Commit the one’s not clear to prayer. Don’t move until God lights up the way. Be patient and enduring when we just want to escape and run away. As I sit and think about all these things, I have peace that God has considered my next step and is clearing the way. I just have to surrender my way to have His Way.

Psalm 43:3-4(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!

My prayer today is for the Lord to send out His Light and His Truth to guide my next step. To lead me to the place where He is and to where He lives because that is where I long to be. This is the place of worship that I need to be and the place He has reserved just for me. This earth and the things in it are temporary so I must focus on the eternal. Forever. When I read about David today in 2 Samuel 6:12-16, he was in the process bringing the Ark of God – His Presence back to the city. The priests and David stopped every six steps to offer a sacrifice to God and David danced before the Lord. The life of worship is in each step. What might happen if I stopped looking for the whole staircase and took a single step wearing it out with my worship and treading it with praise. I may not be certain but my God is for sure. Life is to be lived in each step. Each one is important. It is worthy of an altar. It is worthy of my Lord. Lord, lead me.

Psalm 73:23-25 (NLT) Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.  Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.

Broken Worship

Broken Worship

Psalm 51:15-17 (NIV) Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

It’s Sunday. The day set aside by most Christians to “worship” the Lord in a congregation during a church service. I love Sundays. I love to worship Jesus. I have been a believer for a very long time. I have attended countless services not only here but in foreign countries. Most people associate worship with music and the songs sung to prepare our heart to receive God’s Word or at least it should. Worship is music, but it doesn’t start there. Worship is more than that. Worship is a demonstration of our reverence for the Lord. It is a deep respect tinged with awe that should reverberate through our life like a ripple in an endless pond. However, most of the time it is hidden in a box, stored on a shelf, and taken out only at the appropriate time.

I am challenged today to dig deeper and find a place hidden within me that may not be fully expressing the Love of God as it should. I want my worship to transform my life rather than using it as a shot in the arm that gives me an instant boost. However, to truly know what worship is and what it requires may not be the immediate gratification that one desires. Worship requires brokenness. Raise your hand if you want to be broken? Yeah, me either. However, in this broken state in which I live now, I can attest that I do not necessarily want to be put together again after all.

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God will not despise.” God does not “desire despair in us but in necessary humiliation and sorrow for sin. It is a heart breaking within itself and breaking from its sin; it is a heart pliable to the Word of God and patient under the rod of God, a heart subdued and brought into obedience; it is a heart that is tender, like Josiah’s, and trembles at God’s Word.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary) The Lord is always looking at our heart not our intentions. He looks deep inside of us where no one else can see. He is looking for those who are humiliated that they have sinned against Him. Those who have true sorrow that sin exists in their life. See worship is born of repentance first. If I am not humiliated by my sin or sorry that I am unable to completely avoid it, I cannot worship the Lord as He desires. Worship requires repentance. Repentance requires a change. Repentance turns our heart over to the Lord so He can prepare us to be true worshippers. I must live in a state of repentance to worship God each day.

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

To be a “living sacrifice” and live a life “holy and pleasing to God” is to express “true and proper worship”. Conformity is not just a pattern in this world but it has infiltrated our church. The transformation that comes from Spirit and Truth has been put in a box by religion, doctrine and tradition. God is trying to rip the lid off that box and pour out revival in these last days. I do not want to be the one who is stopping it from happening. True worshippers must do so in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4:24)

Luke 7 tells the story of the woman with the alabaster box. It was filled with expensive perfume which she acquired from her suitors. She was a woman who lived a sinful life. When she came to the house of Simon, a Pharisee, she broke the jar of perfume and anointed the feet of Jesus. Her actions sparked outrage among those in the house that night. As she wept at the feet of Jesus wiping them with her hair, those around expressed their disapproval. The disciples felt her efforts a waste because the cost of her sacrifice would have padded the benevolent fund to feed the poor. The religious order of the day were indignant and judgmental immediately dismissing Jesus as a prophet or He would have known what a “sinner” she was. This woman, indeed, was a sinner just like you, me, the disciples and Pharisees, but one thing she was that most of us are not is a true worshipper.

Mark 14 gives the same account in less detail. There is one point in this account that is important not to miss. She “broke” the jar. True repentance is brokenness. She did not intend to return to her old life so she did not need the jar to collect any longer. By breaking the jar, her worship was the loudest. She gave her all. I cannot help but also consider her act of worship in facing all of her accusers and those who judged her the most to worship when there are some days that I will not go to the altar to pray because of what someone might think. What about the act of weeping at the feet of Jesus and wiping his feet with her hair? If our Lord sat before us, would we be so humble? Humility comes from complete brokenness and sacrifice of our pride to serve Jesus. Can we worship like she did? Are we willing to break our alabaster box?

Matthew 21:42-44 (NIV) Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Reading this passage again, I wonder if the Lord has hidden a message to those who desire to worship Him. A word of encouragement in the midst of refinement. “Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken into pieces.” I thought this was about them. All those fingers pointing to Pharisees, hypocrites and sinners…you know them. But what I have discovered is that those who do not repent will be the ones who are “crushed” when judgment finally comes. The ones who “fall on this stone” are those who call on the Name of Jesus to be saved, repent and turn to follow Him the rest of their life. We are the ones who will be broken into pieces. It is what it means to be a living sacrifice. We must be broken to express true worship but as always it comes with a promise.

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

My heart rejoices today that even as I submit to brokenness and attempt to live in it that the Lord is close. My brokenness allows His Grace to cover my sin. It is a Robe of Righteousness that covers my naked state and allows His Love to wash over me again and again as I live to worship Him. This is the life that I must live. For far too long the church has tried to relay an image of perfect people who have it all together but the Lord is close to those on the verge of falling apart. His Presence is open to those who are broken. Those who live in a state of brokenness not because of sin but surrender and submission to the Lord in reverence full of deep respect tinged with awe.

Psalm 147:3 (NIV) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

It is time to rip the lid off the box and break some alabaster jars at the feet of Jesus today. It is time to stop acting like we have it all together and allow ourselves to be broken as we fall at the feet of Jesus. It is humbling and necessary. To be broken allows the Lord to heal those open exposed wounds that have festered beneath the surface of pride for years. It is the opportunity to move closer to Jesus than ever before. In Luke 7, Jesus told the woman “your faith has saved you; go in peace.” And in Matthew 26 and Mark 14, Jesus tells the others, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Oh friend, don’t you want your worship to be memorable to Jesus today? I know that I do!

Psalm 96:1-9 (NIV) Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.

 

Undignified Worship

Undignified Worship

Psalm 30:11-12 (NIV) You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

When our oldest daughter married a couple of years ago, her wedding was truly a celebration. After months of planning and preparing, her big day finally came. It was clear that everyone was intent on making the most of it. Not only did it mark the end of a courtship turned into a covenant, but it also was the end of the long treacherous road to her brother’s battle against cancer. When dinner was over and the music started, no one could have imagined the celebration that would begin. The carefully set tables would be pushed aside, shoes were flying, ties and jackets discarded. It was quite undignified from that moment on. The DJ said that he had never seen such a reception without alcohol. God is good!

Sitting on the front row on the cold November day, I turned to watch our bride walk with her handsome dad to meet her groom who had dissolved into tears at the sight of her. I was holding it together quite well at this point thanks to a mixture of exhaustion and mascara keeping me intact. But when she reached her destination, I panned the wedding party to find that all my beautiful children were standing before me. Handsome and beautiful, as well as, healed and whole. The enemy tried to take one of my sons but the Lord saw it fit to give me another. God is good!

Today as I think about the wedding reception, I remember the relief that it actually went off without a hitch. Wedding planning and preparation is stressful. Bringing two families together is difficult even when everyone is saved and sanctified. But in that moment, everyone in that place danced together. It didn’t matter if they were from the bride’s side or the groom’s side. I wonder if we should be dancing more as believers as I ponder the moment. I wonder if our faith gets stifled inside of us at the thought of a display considered a bit undignified. Faith without works is dead according to the Word of God. I wonder if redemption without celebration is dead, too. I wonder if we sing but don’t move beyond lip service to celebration if we have missed it.

I Peter 1:6-9 (NIV)  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Genuineness of faith is expressed in inexpressible and glorious joy. It is the salvation of our souls. Working out our salvation is a God process and our surrender to His Will and Way for us. Obedience is not a mundane following of a mediocre God. When obedience begins in our heart making its way to our hands, our soul begins to prosper and so will the productivity of our life. It matters what drives our actions and attitudes in life. If I treat others better than myself, yet secretly have hate or prejudice against them in my heart – all good deeds are fruitless. Love is the bottom line in all things. My husband and I have been married almost two decades. We have had great times and difficult seasons yet the prevailing commitment between us is always upheld by our love for Jesus first and then each other. It allows us to wake up each morning and find joy in each other even if we were at odds last night. This is the care over of faith in life. No matter what happens – the Lord gives us new mercy each morning to keep hope alive in our hearts.

Our love for the Lord should produce joy in our life that is more than just words. Singing a song comes from memory but when it causes us to lift our hands, tears running down our face, or even leads us to an altar then our praise made it into our heart. If my praise is rehearsed, I wonder if my life may be too. Habit rather than holiness. If my worship is dry, I wonder if my heart is hard and barren. When declaring His Great Name, does it press me to draw closer or do I tend to remain self-controlled. Where are the David’s who choose to dance before the Lord in an “undignified” state? Are they hiding from the Michal’s?

2 Samuel 6:14-17 (NIV) Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord.

The Lord will not force us to love Him with all of our heart. He will not force us to praise and worship His Holy Name. He provides new mercy and plenty of grace that allows us to step into righteousness and ushers us into His Presence. When will we come as David did, “dancing before the Lord with all his might”? David was leaping and dancing before the Lord as the Ark of the Lord was brought to the city. The Ark represented the Presence of God. The Spirit of the Living God now lives in us. Are we expressing the precious treasure invested in us to the watching world? Why not? Michal was David’s wife. She worshipped idols not the one true Living God. She was embarrassed by her husband and king’s ridiculous behavior. David was a man after God’s Own Heart. It did not stop him from worshipping the Lord openly. What is stopping me? What is stopping you? When God moves on our heart, why do we refuse to move?

Joshua 6:2-5(NIV) Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

Six days of silently marching around a solid wall seemed silly to those who did not understand. On the seventh day, when the people broke out into a giant praise break, the enemy must have been very confused. There was no battle. There was no fight. However, through careful obedience the walls of Jericho fell completely flat. Could it be that in our mundane praise and mediocre worship that we have limited the Lord in bringing down the strongholds of our life and breaking all the chains? We are at the wall chiseling and hammering at it but God is telling us to stand back it will fall flat. Faith doesn’t mean fighting our own battles. Faith is believing that God has given us the victory. Waiting on it. Watching for it. It means praising God today for the victory that is coming tomorrow. It is to allow Him to heal the heart hurting from past battles and overwhelming storms. We must find our way to praise the Lord with all of our might again to bring down every stronghold and set all the captives free.

Psalm 8:1-2 (NIV) Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

True and valid faith will not allow us to live in the doldrums of life. In fact, according to Psalm 8, it is through praise of children and infants that God places a barrier of protection around our life. What does our praise and worship tell the next generation? Does it portray the Living God who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Are we showing them that faith is worth it? I want my children to love and serve God. If my witness to them that it leads to a mediocre life, will they want to know Him personally? Jesus wants to set our soul free today to prosper. He desires to give you inexpressible joy that cannot bear to be contained. It is not a change in circumstances, but rather a heart change. One that doesn’t base praise and worship on how we feel about life but our love for God and His Son, Jesus alone.

Psalm 149:3-9 (NIV) Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them—this is the glory of all his faithful people.

What would happen if our life was characterized by undignified worship every day? What if rather than complaining with praised the Lord for His Faithfulness? What if rather than taking matters into our own hands, we lifted those same hands to surrender all to the Lord each day? What would happen if our live was devoted to praising the Lord in all things and blessing His Holy Name? What if our praise and worship made its way out of the four walls called church and became the premise of each temple (we are the temples of the Holy Spirit)? I am challenged today to undignified worship. The kind that gets the enemy’s attention. It says that “praise of God can be a double-edged sword” in our hands. The Word of God gives credibility to our worship as it is the foundation of faith that produces hope in us. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness to find something…anything praiseworthy and boast of the God in us. We will never be truly free until faith in the Son of God sets us totally free. Prison doors open with praise, strongholds come down with worship, and chains fall off when we life our hands to the Lord. God has given us victory and the power to overcome in all things. Undignified worship will release it in our life.

Psalm 30:4-5 (NIV) Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.