More Than A Feeling

If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15

God’s word is a window into the very mind and heart of God. In fact, God magnifies His Word above His name (Ps 138:2). It is easy to allow the Word to take a backstage role in our lives. Why? It takes work and effort to search the scriptures and make them the centerpiece of our being. The Apostle John gives some insight into this thought:

And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. Revelation 10:9

On first inspection the word is sweet, enlightening and glorious. But upon digestion,  assimilation and prolonged residence in one’s life, it will be discomforting and contrary to the whims and the wild nature of the flesh. In short, the living Word of God does not always “feel good” in our lives.

Where are we going here? It is important to put feelings into their proper perspective.

Feelings are at best a catalyst for good, and at worst, ignorant and deceptive for the beginnings of error.

We live in a culture defined by the “touchy-feely”. Our society operates on-demand. Give it to me now. Not in 5 minutes, not in 5 seconds, put it in my hand or within my line of sight RIGHT NOW! Why? Because it feels good. And we like to “feel” good.

Unfortunately, this mindset has meandered and crept its way into our perceptions of love, specifically, God’s love. And this is our launching pad. God’s love has little to do with feelings. Let’s take a look into this.

God’s Love & God’s Word

According to the word of the Lord, God’s love IS ALWAYS in concert with obedience to God’s word. Sometimes love is convoluted with two feeling-based fruit of the Spirit; joy and peace. How does one know if they embrace joy or peace? You feel” it. How else can you define the presence of them? You feel and sense peace and you feel and sense joy.

But, God’s love, the Greek word ‘agape’, is not about feelings.

Agape love is more about actions and reactions to life than it’s about feelings in life. The Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth devoted exclusively to love (agape) pinpoints this assertion:

Longsuffering, kindness, envy-less, selflessness, modest (vs. 4), gracious, humble, even tempered, innocent thinking (vs. 5), non-judgmental & God-seeking (vs. 6), trustworthy, faith-driven, confident, determined (vs. 7). I Corinthians Chapter 13

Where do you find feelings in this list of love characteristics? These spiritual graces are not produced by feelings. They come through persistent obedience and leading by God’s truth (Word) and Spirit. Jesus has much to say on this:

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. John 14:21

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings … John 14:23-24

The New Testament scriptures (KJV) translates the Greek word agapē (ἀγάπη)- sacrificial love, a love feast, as either the English words love or charity, 144x. Of those 144 scriptures, 53 verses include the word “faith” along with the word agapē. Faith cannot be separated from God’s love.

The world has perverted into a feeling what God originally intended to originate from faith. Belief in God’s Word:

Romans 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

And faith is energized or made effective by love; through the Word of God:

Galatians 5:6  For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Worketh: Greek ἐνεργέω (energeō) to be active, efficient: effectual, be mighty in. (Strongs)

“… but faith coming to effective expression through love”. (Wuest)

The analogy being: God-focused faith is the bullet, God’s love is the gunpowder.

The world’s formula for love is based on supply-demand marketing strategy. Love is projected as a fragile and fleeting consumable sustained with products and services.

This is not God’s design. Rather the truth is, God designed love to have its roots solely in Him, not as a consumable, but based on a condition. The condition being a heart in total and complete surrender in obedience to His word. What is the result? Knowing God for who He is. And who is He?

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. I John 4:7-8

God is love.

More Love, Less Control

The broadcast on the evening radio last week could not have been more timely. With these thoughts about love lingering and swirling around during the home commute, the preacher said:

The more in love you are with someone, the less control you have over your life“.

The minister went on to say he was just fine living the life of a bachelor. But, when this particular lady entered his life (now his wife), things began to change. He began to loose control over his life. To the point of total loss that he might gain faithful love.

More love, less control:

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:42-44

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:12-13

The more love, the less control.

God is love. It’s more than a feeling.

Be Blessed!

Hacked Heart – Part I

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:4-5

Computer hacking and hackers in general are subjects not unfamiliar to our world. The advent of Internet-accessible computer systems that crunch, transmit and store personal and financial data has birthed a dark and slithery offspring known as cyber crime. It is estimated that in this year (2019) the cost of global cyber crime will reach $2.1 trillion. As the numbers indicate, someone is being hacked.

The purpose of this post is not about data breaches or computer system vulnerabilities. Rather to bring to light the fact that one of the most guarded and secretive places we think we possess – our heart, is not impervious to inspection or as sanctified as we might believe.

Our human hearts are hack-able, by either good or evil.  There is a backdoor (if you will) embedded in each of our hearts that is open for inspection by our Creator and by evil. Let’s dive into this a little bit.

Impersonation – Satan’s Most Lethal Weapon

If I can impersonate the data, I own the data” were words spoken by a cyber-security expert at a computer data security conference. Before the room’s acoustics had time to smother and extinguish the word’s last echo, it came immediately apparent there was a deeper meaning to be gleaned here and the reason for choosing the training session.

The point the speaker was making is a computer hacker’s goal is to construct his malicious code in a manner that an innocent host computer will be fooled into “believing” (if you will) that its insidious, destructive payload is benign. The computer under attack accepts the foreign code (i.e., malware) as if it belongs, accepting it as its own. When this happens nothing can stop the impersonated data from taking total control over the computer and adjoining computer systems.

Applying this concept on a spiritual level, If the devil can implant a thought of his into your heart, he can takeover and commandeer your heart. He now has access. Your heart has been hacked. The thought that was initially foreign to your established neural pathways has now made you think that his wicked thought is now your thought. This is what happened to Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Talking Serpents Anyone?

From reading the Genesis account of Eve’s interaction with the serpent one might conclude this was not the first encounter she had with him. Why? When was the last time you engaged in dialogue with a talking serpent? The Bible up to this point gives no indication that any of the other animals or living creatures possessed vocal qualities, particularly a language understood by both Adam and Eve.

So the assumption is Eve could have been acquainted with this one-of-a kind creature many times in the past, who unlike all of God’s other creatures, had an uncanny ability to verbally communicate. In any event, her dialogue with the serpent was no surprise to her. The serpent somehow eroded her apprehensions and assuaged any fear concerning his strangeness. Sounds like things have not changed much on that frontier. Let’s move along.

The modus operandi of the hacker is to work slowly, stealthily, and persistently in stages until the target’s vulnerabilities are discerned and numbed into accepting a malicious payload.

The serpent’s first hurdle was to trick Eve into believing that talking creatures were not so strange after all. He apparently succeeded on that front. His next plan of attack was to inject Eve’s heart with lies to produce doubt concerning her own faith, which snowballed into calling her husband’s integrity into question and ultimately the authority of God’s word.

What were Eve’s vulnerabilities? The same ones we battle daily. Her flesh:

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. Genesis 3:6

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16

Eve was deceived by lies and then both she and Adam became offended and shamed in the process:

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8 

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 1 Timothy 2:14

Eve’s heart was hacked by impersonation, an impostor hacked her heart with lies. And the hacker has not missed a day’s work since. Anyone whose heart and mind has not been enlightened by the light, hope and truth of the gospel is living with a heart hacked by the god of this world:

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. II Corinthians 4:3-4

Wounds of Offense

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. Acts 24:16  

This verse always seemed perplexing and left one wondering of its full meaning as it is another one of the Apostle Paul’s amazing, thought-provoking and spirit-inspired passages.

While sitting in Bible school several years ago, the instructor (a well-established pastor who is invited to speak internationally, so he knows his subject matter) quoted this very verse and proceeded to unravel its meaning in a profound way. In a nutshell, this is what was conveyed.

The Greek word ‘conscience’ here is συνείδησις (suneidēsis) which means: co-perception. This concept of co-perception is very important.

Suneidēsis is a prolonged form of συνείδω (suneidō) which is broken down as:
Sun: denoting union; with or together + eidō: to see, to know: – be aware, behold, perceive, understand.

In essence, the coalescing of a thought in our mind operates like a reverse prism by bringing together two (the ‘co’) converging reference points – our thoughts or perceptions and another reference to determine how we reach a final conclusion on a matter.

This is where offenses come into the picture. An offense is defined as: (1) a thing that constitutes a violation of what is judged to be right or natural, (2) annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principals. (source: New Oxford American Dictionary)

How is this ‘offense-free’ conscience Paul speaks about attained? Well you guessed it, God’s Word:

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalms 119:165

When our mind uses the Word of God (law) as the reference point in that thought prism, our perception at that point is pure, untainted and Holy. However, when something else replaces or personifies God’s Word (either evil or fleshly, carnal thoughts/ patterns – strongholds) we forfeit peace and become offended.

This is what happened to Eve. Satan impersonated God’s Word (truth) with lies, she then believed Satan’s word was her own and likewise caused her to become offended, shamed and doubt God’s word.

It is the work of impersonation. It is the work of an impostor; a foreign agent has infiltrated enemy lines, donned himself with the familiar garb of its unsuspecting citizens who have graciously granted him mental asylum.

The enemy is a master of disguise and deception. We know this from the scriptures:

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. II Corinthians 11:14

This is evidence of the crafty, stealthy, transformed angel of light impostor.

This is why one must search the scriptures to hide and protect God’s word:

Psalms 119:11  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

In where? In the heart.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Ephesians 6:17  

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12  

The impostor attempted to execute the same hacking campaign against Jesus that he successfully leveled against Eve:

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Matthew 4:3

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4  

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Matthew 4:7  

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. Matthew 4:10 -11

He failed. The word of God is the hacker’s greatest enemy and will stop him in his tracks every time.

Coming up next: Heart Hacked – By Good. Instead of being hacked by a lie, we will look into being hacked by something far greater and more powerful – Hacked Heart’s by God’s love.

Be Blessed!

The Dreamer

And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.
(Genesis 37:19)

Dreams: dfn. – a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep; a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal. (Source – Merriam Webster)

Dreams are powerful things. By nature, we have incredible imaginations and sometimes willingly or unwillingly dream incredible things. To shed some insight on this phenomenon of dreaming all of the following discoveries or inventions were the result of a dream:

Niels Boh – discovery of the atomic structure.
Elias Howe – inventor of the sewing machine.
Albert Einstein – the theory of relativity.
Otto Loewi – the chemical mechanisms behind neurotransmissions.
Frederick Banting – the treatment of diabeites with insulin.
August Kekulé – the atomic structure of the benzene ring.
Dmitri Mendeleev – the periodic table of elements.
James Watson – a spiral staircase as the molecular building block for the DNA double helix.

and lest we forget …. Larry Page – the brainchild of GOOGLE, the storage and assimilation of Internet content (1996).

Life – A Graveyard of Dead Dreams

It is said that life is a graveyard of dead dreams – dreamers who somehow failed to keep their hope alive in pursuing spiritual or physical achievements, aspirations of a higher calling, fulfilling challenging goals set for themselves or bringing to fruition something above and beyond the mundane and mediocre.

There are many reasons behind this. But, maybe the primary root cause is that our dreams will cost us something. The fulfillment of dreams do not come easy and the distractions intended to destroy them are many. Let’s look at someone who refused to allow his to die.

Dreams From God Are Costly

The impact of dreaming is not an infrequent bedchamber guest in the pages of God’s word. God uses dreams to get His point across when nothing else will suffice to communicate His messages.

No doubt the most “famous” or well-known dreamer and dream in the Bible is our man Joseph, the first son Rachel, the wife of Jacob. It was his dreams of the sun, moon, stars and wheat sheaves that sparked the eventual perseveration of Israel and civilization as a whole in this region of the world. All because of dreams.

When Joseph articulated and spoke his God-given dreams to his father and brothers (Genesis 37:5-11) he at that point released into the spiritual realm prophetic utterings that would ultimately “cost him” dearly.

He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:
Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him. Psalms 105:17-19

“His word” in the above verse was the dream spoken by Joseph to his family. He articulated words into the spiritual realm the perfect will of God for his life. However, the dream’s fulfillment was not instantaneous. Joseph’s dreams, future, blessings, promises and promotion were all tried by God. This is the place where most dreams and dreamers fail. They cannot see or lack the faith to see the dream materialize.

But, we must understand (like Joseph) the Lord will never allow the enemy to send you to a hard place that He will not also supply the escape plan to deliver you from that hard place (Jer 29:11, Job 42:10)! Interestingly, it was a dream that ‘first’ sent Joseph to the prison house and a dream responsible for his last and ‘final’ release from the prison house (Gen. 41:15-45). God is sovereign in all things all the time.

Think a moment here about how Joseph’s life might have turned out while nursing a defeated mindset?  What if he had defused his dreams when he was betrayed and sold to the rogue band of Ishmaelites (Gen. 37:27-28)?  What if he had become disenchanted with this whole ‘God thing’ after being falsely accused and thrown into prison (Gen. 39:19-20) and deemed his dreams not worth it? Thank God he didn’t. Joseph refused to allow his dreams to die and go to the dream graveyard.

Jesus, Resurrect the Dreamer & His/Her Dead Dreams!

How many young men and women are living far below their God calling? How many middle-aged men and women are living short of divine promises, gifting’s and callings? No doubt by the millions. There are children and grandchildren of missionaries, pastors and pastor’s wife’s, music directors, Sunday school teachers, or just plain faithful people of God who have been deceived and tricked into thinking the enemy’s leaky, hole-filled bag of worldly goods and false hopes are viable substitutes for the riches and sure promises of God.

The Lord can change that. The Lord is able to send a dream to change the whole situation. He has done it before and He is able to do it again. God is able to heal dead dreams and bring back to life the dead dreamer. Just speak it, pray about it and believe it.

It has been said that the Apostle Paul would never have endured the many hardships and impossible situations he encountered had he not first experienced divine dreams, visions and revelations from the Lord (Acts 22:6-12, 27:21-25; II Cor 12:2).

Maybe the Lord is about to send you or a loved one a dream that will change your world. When He does be like Joseph and by faith speak it into the spiritual dimension. And as Joseph, don’t fear the test that will follow to prove that dream. God is faithful. Speak it. Shout it. Claim it. And proclaim it in Jesus’ Name! And it will come to pass.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: (Matthew 7:7)

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 18:19)

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: (1 John 5:14)

All of hell trembles when Jesus walks through the graveyard of the dead dreams of broken dreamers. The One who came to give life to resurrect dead things is able to send life back into the dead dreams of a dead situation.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though were dead, yet shall he live: (John 11:25)

The question is: what dreams of yours are you prophetically speaking into your world? Joseph did. God is waiting to hear yours.

Jesus is able to once again resurrect earth’s dreamer with heaven’s God-given dream.

Be Blessed in Jesus’ Name!

Who Am I?

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14

(Note: the following  is an excerpt of a thought/message presented in a service at a Nursing Facility/Convalescent Care Center in Baltimore County, MD on Sunday March 24th by this blogger)

Who am I? The question related to identity we all ask. What is my purpose in life? What is life? Does anyone care? If so, who really cares?

We must come to a complete understanding of our worth and value in life to move beyond our present circumstances (however good or bad they may be) and reach the full potential God has for our lives.

Who cares? God cares. He cares about you. Let’s look into this.

You Are Destined To Give Glory To God

We must, it is imperative that we comprehend and come to a complete understanding of God’s value for life in general, and in particular the value God places upon our own life.

A transformation takes place when we get to the place of total surrender to God – at that point our life is no longer dear to us, but now of infinite value to God. The closer we get to God, the less we value our own life and the more our life is valued by God.

Why is this? Two words – God’s Glory

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.  II Corinthians 6:19-20

“A life totally surrendered to God totally glorifies God.”

That no flesh should glory in his presence. I Corinthians 1:29

One writer penned the following words: “God’s glory is important to Him”. Your life was destined from Creation to give glory to God. Period. Then what is the problem? What divides or separates us from bringing this glory to our Creator? The answer is simple, but oh so devastating – Sin.

Sin is the one element of our nature God will not brush off or overlook. Sin separates, it divides, it brings death:

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:15

Sin entered Creation’s story in the Garden of Eden and continues on to this day. Ask Adam and Eve about being separated from God. Ask Cain their first son. Ask Achan who along with his family was stoned to death (Gen 7:24-26). Ask King Saul. Ask King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. Ask Judas. Sin always leaves behind a bitter trail of remorse and pain.

But, there is hope. Where? Hope is found in His hands.

Read His Palms – They Tell Your Story

But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.

Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:14-16

What is graven on the palms of the Lord’s hands? Nail prints. For who? They are for you. That is how much you are valued. This is who you are. Your life is very, very important to God:

Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. Luke 24:39

The God of Glory went through the pain and agony to be permanently engraved with the value of your life imprinted on His hands. In eternity, there will be only one with a scarred body. The Bible tells us that God’s people resurrected from this life of dust, bone and death will one day be given a glorified body:

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: I Corinthians 15:42-43

But, there will be one in Heaven whose hands will tell the story of a distant time and of a distant place. The palms of God will remind Him of the price He paid at a place called Calvary where He showed the value he placed on those created in his own image – You.

Read His palms for they tell your story – they are proof of your worth and your value to Him.

Be Kind To Your Heart

It could be that there are times when God is just plain “fed up” with our mistakes, our failures, our shortcomings, our sin and decides to annihilate the whole mess. What holds God back from pouring His wrath out on a world gone mad, intoxicated by sin?

One thing. His palms.

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2

In wrath remember mercy. The great God of mercy and love looks at His hands and perhaps says to himself – “I can’t destroy them. I’m reminded of Calvary. I’m reminded of going to a cross and shedding my blood for them. My palms remind me of how much they are loved and valued. In my wrath, I am reminded of my Mercy”.

God knew before the foundation of the world that the only lasting thing that will change us is love. There is a God and Savior who loves you with an everlasting love. Be kind to your heart. His palms tell the story of who you are. You are of great value to Him.

This is who you are destined to be – in His hands, redeemed by His blood and near to His heart.

The Cobblestone Effect

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. Romans 7:21

Have you ever  rode a bicycle on a cobblestone path or road? Or driven an automobile on a street paved with cobblestones? It is an unforgiving, frustrating and bone-jarring experience to say the least. The harder and faster you want to move over cobblestones , the slower and harder it is to move at all. It is an exercise in futility to attempt to defeat and counteract its resistive forces . When traveling on cobblestones, you simply must take your time and endure the ride.

The gist of the cobblestone effect is this:

“Increasing efforts to move forward and faster invoke increasingly opposing forces to resist you”.

Or in essence, “the force of resistance is directly proportional to the effort to push; increasing the force to push, results in generating inherently  greater forces that resist”.

This  is a phenomenon known as the cobblestone effect and has real-life application. This is going somewhere. Let’s take a look.

The Cobblestone Effect

The City of Baltimore is a wonderful town rich in American history. I live there and travel its streets to work five days a week. And if the truth be told its roads still leave one with an authentic, nostalgic 18th century experience. Cobblestone-like streets are very much in vogue here.

And you can normally pinpoint a driver acquainted with the nuances of Baltimore’s byways and roads – they can be spotted as those driving up the road like slalom skiers, weaving and crisscrossing in their lane to avoid potholes, mogul fields of warped, elephant-like skinned sections of asphalt  or the misaligned, lopsided manhole covers that rudely mimic the feel of cobblestone.

How does this relate in a spiritual application? What relevance does this all have for an individual wanting to get closer to the true and living God? Immensely relevant.

The cobblestone effect is an effective tool in satan’s arsenal against the human soul and often a weapon of choice. Why? The enemy’s goal is to invoke frustration and futility while one attempts to seek the goodness and blessings available in God. We don’t have to be reminded that satan hates everything and anything where God is involved.

God is life. God is for growth. To satan, the only thing secondary to destroying life is to thwart or impede its growth – to throw continuous roads and paths of cobblestone in your life for the purpose of frustration, fatigue or even eventually just plain giving up in pursing the face and will of God. Can you relate?

Why not quit? Why not “throw in the towel”? Why not keep pushing and enduring long nights of loneliness and frustration?  One word:

Progress.

You are making progress over life’s cobblestones and onward to things with eternal significance as long as you don’t give up and stop moving forward!

Rise Above It

Outside of completely stopping or renting a hovercraft, the only way to minimize the cobblestone effect in life is to lighten your load and rise above it. How do you do that?

First, slow down:

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,(Ephesians 5:15)

Next, let someone help you pray, carry your load and burden:

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:1-2

Lastly, give it to Jesus:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.(Matthew 11:28)

But, there will be times when we need something more. We just cannot do it ourselves or with the help of those around us. What then? Jesus shows up walking above the cobblestones and just lifts us and carries us above it all:

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. (Psalms 73:26)

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. (1 John 3:20)

In Conclusion

We find in our journey through life that it is often a path lined with cobblestones; events, situations, encounters,  thoughts and experiences that “do not line up”, are disjointed, not level (‘not fair’ – anyone?) or seem bewildering to our natural minds. Could it be God has ordained it that way? Has God intentionally framed and ordained our fragile life on earth so that we walk humbly, carefully and attentively? Jesus never told anyone whom he healed to rise up and run. But, he did tell them to “walk” and keep moving forward (Mat 9:5, Mk 2;9,  Lk 5:23).

And it is interesting to note what will be found at the end of this life as we stand before God. Is the Lord so cold-hearted and cruel that He would line the street of Heaven with one of earth’s most dreaded surfaces – cobblestone? Not hardly:

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. (Revelation 21:21)

Jesus once turned water into wine. He is also able one day to turn our streets of cobblestone into a street of pure gold – if we keep pushing forward! Be Blessed.

So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19)

Just Show Up

With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:9)

There is something to be said about perseverance. Most meaningful and valuable things in life will cost us something and involve sacrifices of time, energy, finances, comfort/sleep/pleasure, personal pride, and the list goes on.

Quitting is easy. The ‘low road’ is the one more frequently traveled and water always takes the  path of least resistance. Our body weight is primarily attributed to …. you
guessed it – water. It is ingrained within our nature to always take the shortcut and to bypass the weight room.

What does all this mean? It means there comes a time when we have to face reality and know that a walk of faith in God and His word is not a trivial pursuit nor an undertaking that can be short-circuited with mediocrity.

There comes a time in our walk with God when we just simply ‘have to show up’ regardless of how we feel. Show up ‘where’ you might ask?

Show up and spend time with God. Seek Him and show up in a quiet time of prayer. Show up and meet with God’s people. Show up to read and study God’s Word. Just show up.

Don’t feel like facing frustrations with people and situations – Just show up.
Don’t feel like getting out of bed & going to church on Sunday – Just show up.
Don’t feel like going to work just to face another day of profanity, rumors, negativity, snickering, dirty jokes & innuendo – Just show up!

One thing is for certain – if YOU bother to show up HE WILL bother to show up.

Why Show Up?

There is an old saying and most people who claim to be a Christian for any length of time have heard it: “The only Bible people may ever read is the one they see in your life”. There is no doubt more truth in that phrase then we’d like to admit. And there are scriptures to even back it up. Here is one:

Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.(Isaiah 51:7)

Something mystical happens when one spends time in sincere prayer and in studying God’s word – they take on the nature of God and it eventually oozes out from the inside. After time, people “showing up” with God are noticed by those around them  (mostly subconsciously) and mark them as being cut from a different cloth or having a sparkle in their eyes that speaks of a grander place.

People are watching, they are observing and take note about those who confess to have a living relationship with God, of having an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ. People are generally not stupid. People can normally tell the difference between the fake and the genuine. Why? Because the human capacity to discern authenticity is ingrained within our fabric.

Why is this important to God? Simply because He needs us. He needs his people to be a  witness to a lost world so that he might do what he came to do – to heal and to restore the soul that it might live again. It is that simple. Jesus Christ came to this earth for one purpose – to heal the brokenhearted, the bruised and those beaten by the sins of this world:

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:11-12

And he needs his people to do it – he needs you.

Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.(Isaiah 43:10)

A New LOL

Everyone knows about and uses it in social media in response to a remark or comment – LOL (Laughing Out Loud).  Even cranking out those three letters on the keyboard with right ring finger nimbleness has a certain tingle to it.

However, there is a new ‘LOL’ being proposed here and it has nothing to do with laughter. Rather it deals with a subject having a weightier message – Love

LOL – Love On Location

That is right. Showing up and bringing LOL – the Love of God and Jesus into the situation.

When you show up people are going to see the law of the Lord resident in your heart and are going to read it. It is inevitable. They will perceive that it is something they need because they will feel its healing power and comfort:

He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.  (Psalms 107:20)

And as the opening scripture illustrates, people will “learn righteousness” through the reading of your life. But, you need to do one thing –

Just Show Up & bring your LOL!

Be Blessed.

One Thing We Must Know About God

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. Exodus 3:14  

Reflecting, meditating on this great God of creation one has to reach some very basic, foundational conclusions. One of those conclusions is this: God has free will. It is important to grasp this understanding because it lays the foundation of who God really is. Let’s take a look.

I AM THAT I AM

How do we know God possesses free will? First, because He said He did: “I AM THAT I AM”. He does not have to quantify or qualify himself. God is the uniquely sovereign One, the occupier of eternity (Is 57:15), the beginning of all things (John 1:1) and the center of all creation (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17). God simply IS.

Secondly, because we do. Humanity is created in God’s image. God created Adam and Eve, and every offspring thereafter for one purpose, for fellowship with Him. As one great man of God penned it: “We are earth forms that God uses to express Himself”. God created us for himself. Adam and Eve were given free will and freedom to make choices independently. Love is established on this premise  – free choice.

Because God possesses free will the power of choice is inherently part of His nature. Therefore, God embraces the prerogative to be any kind of God He desires to be. Think about that for a minute and ask yourself this question:

If I possessed infinite power, what would I do with it?

God could have chosen to be a god who reveled and relished in the utmost extreme dimensions of debauchery and lust while His subjects toiled in slavery and loveless servitude. But, He did not as some of earth’s mighty rulers and kings have done.

God could have strong-armed His inferior subjects into submission and mercilessly forced his power upon them. Not tolerating the slightest challenge or resistance to His authority. But, He did not as some of earth’s mighty rulers and kings have done.

God could have created a universe orchestrated with mindless robots who in mechanical and passionless expression bowed before Him in forced worship. But, He didn’t.

Instead this God, this great God of glory and mercy chose to be known as the God of selfless, sacrificial love.

And this great God knew before “the foundation of the world” the price He would eventually pay to manifest and display that love.

He did it anyway.

God chose to be love. A love that knows is no greater love:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13  

Some Things Never Change

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suff’ring and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain  ~ The Old Rugged Cross

The cross. Someone once said that if I ever get lost just point me towards Calvary and I will find my way back home. Oxygen is good to breathe. It was good to breathe yesterday and by God’s grace it will be good to breathe oxygen again tomorrow. The cross is as powerful today as it was 2,000 years ago. It is good some things never change.

Calvary expresses the dimensions and depths of God’s love. And to think that God knew what it would take to be a God of love and to become that God anyway should take our breath away. That truly is true love.

May our prayer be: “Jesus, even if I had somewhere else to go, or someone else to love, I will still always come back to you”.

May You Be Blessed.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2