Embracing the Path

rugged

Jesus taught that we enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation, so the portal to the kingdom of God is suffering and hardship. Upon hearing this, the fleshly nature goes right into survival mode and starts searching for ways to disqualify the statement. However, someone with a great deal more knowledge, wisdom,…Hold on, correction…He that IS knowledge, wisdom, and understanding has designed it this way. If you have ever seen a butterfly struggle to get out of a cocoon, or a hatchling struggle from a shell, or a plant pushing through earth to reach the light, then you have a reference for what it takes for godliness to come out of these carnal frames. You have a reference for the birth process of the spiritual person you were created to be, getting delivered from the bondage of the rebellious, prideful, and selfish orientation of carnal life. To the human, there are times when God seems inhumane, but the scale of humanity is insufficient to begin to weigh the body of God’s work for the eternity of man.
You will never understand the things of the spirit as long as you hold life in the flesh more dear. Paths that require suffering in the flesh will always seem unreasonable to the carnal mind. In the journey of life, trusting God will require you to accept some things beyond your reasoning, which makes perfect sense because man does not understand half of what God has created in the physical, so to approach the spiritual is going to take faith. After you learn to value spiritual things higher than physical things, like the Apostles Paul, you will count all things but loss for the more excellent things of the spirit. We can become the enemy of salvation by disqualifying suffering as a path to deliverance.
Mark chapter 8:31-38
31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
1 Corinthians 2:14
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
To walk with Jesus, we have to crucify the flesh, which is to mortify carnal reasoning and to stand against the dominance of sensual compulsion. So the next time you or someone else is going through a rough place in life, stop and prayerfully consider it; maybe that rough place is putting a finish on you as sandpaper does, maybe that pressurized situation is correcting your form, maybe that fiery trial is purifying your heart, maybe you are in the hands of a great potter and you are being made into a masterpiece  and he is using all of these circumstances as his tools. Look for instruction, counsel, and truth in every circumstance in life and when they are to hard find, ask God to reveal his hand at work. I hope you are able to find peace in just knowing his hand is at work, whether you can see it or not, this again takes faith.

The Music Maker

High contrast music instruments silhouette in circle shape. Vector file available. Stock Vector - 11859954

When you think of an instrument maker and how he crafts different instruments you will realize there are vastly different processes employed to produce each instrument. Take brass instruments, first the brass has to be extracted from the ground and then fired to extreme heat to be formed. Now look at wood winds, they have to be taken out of trees and be carved out with sharp tools and treated. Then we have drums and xylophones and harps and pianos, all with their unique processes. Take each instrument with its unique construction process and consider the differences in sound that they produce. Now look at your life and take a look at the experiences you have gone though and how that has impacted your unique voice, your unique perspective. God desires to make all of us unique instruments to be played harmoniously together to express His heart song. It is an inspirational song of love, beauty, and peace.

There is a scripture which says, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love the God and are the called according to His purpose.” We are all called to be instruments of God and He has begun our varied construction processes however those that love Him are the ones concerned about His purposes.  When we are concerned about His purposes we surrender our instruments to be tuned how he sees fit, whether that means tightening our strings further or loosening them a bit, whether that means we are fine the way we are or we need a few more holes drilled in us, whether that means we are formed as a tuba or a trombone. We have to trust that He is in control of the process. In the end some of us will give our sound when the hands of God seems to pound on us, some of us will give our sound as He plucks on our strings, and some of us when the Holy Spirit moves though us as a rushing wind.

What I have written here is just a metaphor to say ALL that you have been through in your life is being used to bring you to the knowledge that God has a purpose for your life and if you will trust Him and try to tune into His direction, He will bring a harmony into your life that vibrates with love, beauty, and peace.

Love Supreme

What do you think of when you think of your first love? Do you think of your first serious crush or perhaps the first person you gave yourself to. Now think…does that love still inspire you, fulfill you, strengthen you, protect you, give you peace, give you joy, give you life. Jesus says, if you drink of the water He offers you will thirst no more, as a matter of fact He says His love will be as living waters springing up inside of you. This is the message He gave to a woman who met Him while she was trying to draw water from a well. She had several husbands and obviously was still searching, still thirsting, for true love. We all have a thirst for love, a deep desire to be truly known yet still accepted, appreciated, and valued. If you have never been totally open and honest in a relationship then you have never been truly open to receive love in its fullness. The fact that Jesus gave His life for you while knowing all that you are capable of, the good as well the bad, is a testimony of His enduring love. Truth is, until you have experienced the love of Jesus you are yet to have your first love. I pray that you will open your heart to Jesus, that you might receive peace that surpasses understanding, joy unspeakable, and love that gives life abundantly. A Love supreme!

The Crossing

River

Time races like a raging river, moving from east to west, from sunrise to sunset, dragging everything in its grasp along its course,

However in this mighty river there are monuments as great stones that stand immovable,

Stones that stand as memorials in time of momentous events that were life changing,

When we learn from those life changing events, we are able to build structures on these monuments that transcend time,

Through wise counsel we can connect these structures across this mighty river from its southern side to its northern banks,

This structure can serve as a transport that carries us and generations after us to our higher purposes for living,

So that we are not just lost drifts in the river, drug to our sunsets without fulfilling the purposes for our day in life,

Let us learn from the past and be open to wise counsel, endeavoring always to move toward our higher purposes for living,

Then time will no longer dominate us but instead serve as a reminder to stay on our own God given course.

The Seeds of Joy

The harvest is always so much more abundant than the seeds sown. It takes one peach seed to grow a peach tree but after the tree comes forth think about how many sweet peaches will be enjoyed.  This relationship is not coincidental or happenstance but the whole process of sowing and reaping is a law created by God ordained to teach us about life. The implications of this law extend beyond growing vegetation. I have been considering a lot lately the verse of scripture that says, “Sow in tears, reap in joy.”  Consider far a minute the implications of tears being the seeds for joy. In order to have an abundance of joy in your life you have to be willing to sow a few tears. We often avoid getting involved in to situations to a level that opens us to the possibility of experiencing sadness, hurt, and pain but in doing that we also avoid our greatest opportunities at real joy. We have to live courageously and engage life with our whole heart or we will experience life anesthetized by fear. Christ teaches us that in this world we will have tribulation however be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. In this world there will be tears but be of good cheer Christ has secured our harvest of joy. The scripture says that Christ endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. The focus of the Savior was the joy, not the tears, because the joy is so much greater and more abundant, it is worth the sacrifice. So do as the scriptures instruct, “whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Be brave and live life with your whole heart engaged, knowing that you will have to sow some tears, but let the PROMISE of “abundant life” and “joy unspeakable” be your motivation. When tears fall in light of the gospel a rainbow appears in our hearts, a promise from God that it will not rain for ever. Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning!

Rainy Days

I wait for you at the well of my love but you will not come and drink.
I call for you to come and you seem bothered by the invitation.
I think maybe the drawing of the bucket is too much, so I make the well to run over.
Yet you still will not come.
So I go to my vast oceans and cause my water to rise, defying gravity, forming clouds of rain, to seek you out over dry land.
I keep my love high above the rudiments of the earth so that when I find you I can rain upon you with pure refreshing love.
I find you and pour my love down upon you, drenching you with the abundance of my desire to satisfy you, yet you complain.
You complain that the rain of my love restricts your activities and spoils your plans but in all of this you never stopped to drink.
You have become accustomed to your thirst, and to die of dehydration has become an expected end.
You don’t understand that I formed you in my love as a baby in the womb, you were made to live on the waters of my love, and even your body is composed mostly of water.
Now you carry your umbrella whenever you see the clouds coming to block the rain, and repel my love.
But I am patient, I am steadfast, I am faithful. It is the time of refreshing you should drink and be filled.
Soon there will be drought and extreme heat and those who did not drink and fill with my water will perish.
The forecast TODAY is rain…will you drink?

Picture from the movie, “The Shawshank redemption.”

Who You Gone Call?

Most friends and acquaintances prefer to be around us when we are celebrating or have good news to share and that is understandable. I find it extremely comforting though to know that the Almighty desires to be around us MOST when we are hurting and discouraged. When we are AT our worse or IN our worse, most people we know would probably prefer we go (like someplace other than where they are) somewhere and get ourselves together or hurry up and get over it.  We may have a rare friend that wants to stay near and listen, empathize and support, but even they have their moments when they have issues of their own and just don’t have the strength to support us and deal effectively with their own circumstances. However, The Wonderful Counselor, as He is also called, inexhaustibly calls us near to take our burdens and to give us joy and peace. Isn’t that uplifting to know! The question is, do we take advantage of that? When we are going through something, do we go to our quiet place and call upon His name? Do we open up our bibles and search for the Bread of Life? Or…..Do we turn to our relationships and look for a person to console us? Do we throw comfort food at our appetites that seem to invigorate during times of duress? Do we escape reality altogether with a movie or some other form of fiction?  It is natural to do all those things but we have to cultivate a habit of going to God first. Instead of the quick and temporary gratification natural remedies offer, God restores us and in process spiritually vaccinate us from future injurious effects of what ever was ailing us. We become stronger. He is calling us to do this. He is calling you when you are burdened and heavy laden and when you have a broken spirit and contrite heart. He welcomes us to come as we are but He has not intentions of leaving us that way. The Lord will renew your strength and you will feel as if you could soar as if you had wings life the eagles.This experience is not a mere high but a deliverance that elevates your life, bringing you to another level of freedom. Don’t misunderstand me, friends and loved ones are a definite blessing but there is one that sticks closer than any other and He truly is the Prince of Peace and He should be our first love in every way.

Satisfying The Soul

The greatest gift you can receive from God is simply His love, via an intimate relationship. God can shower us with miracles and provisions for living but none of these things alone can satisfy the truest craving of our heart. The truest craving of our heart is to know God intimately, to love Him and be loved by Him. Many, many, people have occupied themselves with trying to quench the desire of their heart with all sorts of pleasures and curiosities only to discover that the disquieting desire still beckons. A heart beckoning for the love of God will not give you rest. Like an icy draft from a deep place in your soul keeping you from getting comfortably warm. You are constantly trying to find things to throw on your fire to stay warm however the flames never remain intense enough to give you sustained comfort. In fact, some of the things people seek to build their fire take them so far from the flames that they become cold and hardened. The bible has depicted the Holy Spirit as descending like fire upon the church. I find this depiction of the Holy Spirit very suitable to Her work (don’t be alarmed that I have referred to the Holy Spirit in a feminine tense, remember mankind collectively both male and female reflect God’s image). The Holy Spirit ascends like fire to spread the love of God abroad in our hearts.

God’s love for us is a very fervent love that warms us to our core when we truly receive it. I say truly receive because many people confess that they have received His love however they are not at rest. They are still burdened with hunger and thirst of the soul. In the gospels, Jesus talked about giving special water that would end thirst and special bread that actually gave life. When your relationship with God is healthy  there is a completeness that you abide in that gives your soul rest and comfort. You will find people who have truly received the love of God seem really comfortable in their skin. The comfort I speak of is not one seated in pride or self-assurance but one seated in a tangible awareness of God’s providential love. The Holy Spirit is referred to as the comforter. The Holy Spirit comforts us in many ways. One major way is through leading and guiding us into all truth. This  truth includes the reality of God’s loves for us. The reality of God’s love transcends many of our worldly notions of love. Until we are open to hear from the Holy Spirit on the realities of life and love our deep cravings will remain. On the other hand, if we are willing to empty ourselves of our worldly notions and contrived philosophies of life, then God can satisfy our souls exceedingly and abundantly beyond all expectation. The love of God will usher in a trust that frees you to surrender all that you might TRULY receive everything.

In the old testament of the bible, there is an account of the battle between the prophets of a false god and Elijah the prophet of the true God. The battle was to see which prophets represented the one true God. The prophet that could provoke their God to send fire from heaven to ignite a fire on earth was to be the true prophet representing the one true God. Elijah prevailed as the winner of the challenge because he represented the true God. Only the true and living God can send fire from heaven. May God ignite in your soul with fire from heaven that brings eternal comfort and rest through the knowledge of His love.

Wait On The Lord

Can you soundly say of the Creator that set the seasons in their time, and the moon phases in its time, day and night in their time, and even gestation in its time that His timing is off pertaining to circumstances in your life? How can we not trust God’s timing? I declare that I trust God’s timing in every area of my life for His timing is perfect and His timing sustains my life.

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart: wait I say, on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

As we wait on the Lord for change to come into our lives we must still live. The charge to be of good courage speaks to this. As we go through trials and tribulations and wait on our deliverance we must still live. We must rise and eat and we must feed others. We must maintain. If we can’t move the line forward, we should still do all we can to ensure that we don’t lose the ground we have won. We must learn how to be strong in the power of HIS might. We must draw strength from our confidence in God’s universal sovereignty and omnipotence in order to stand. As you stand, the Lord will encourage you and when the expectation is fulfilled you will be assured of His love. You will see that your hope was not in vain and that the Lord heard the prayers. Your heart will be strengthened. Your faith will increase. Your testimony will be established unto the Glory of God!

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when the desire comes it is a tree of life”

(Proverb 13:12)

Wait I say on the Lord.

Tenacious Love

When you think about God’s truly awesome power and might do you ever consider the source of it. We know God is self-existent so His power does not come from any source other than Himself but how awesome is it that God’s power is Love. God is Love. I am not saying that God is just a force or power called Love. God’s inexhaustible will, to create beauty, life, peace, righteousness, and fulfillment, is expressed in what we understand as Love. God has captured my heart in all His efforts to save me and give me life. He has exercised all of His power to rescue my heart so that I could know that He loves me, and so that I could know the joy of loving others. Love is central to our existence. Look at 1 Corinthians 13.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 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, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

If you don’t have Love, all that you do have amounts to nothing. If you have knowledge of God but fail to understand that all that He is and all that He does is rooted in His inexhaustible love for you, then you are missing the riches part of Life. If you see love just as a power or force, you are missing the intentional will of the creator to have an intimate relationship with you. The scripture says in Jeremiah 31:3,

“The Lord appeared from old to me saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.”

The bible is a love letter to you, don’t sleep on it. Let your heart awake to the awesome love of God. All that Jesus suffered, He suffered to win your heart. Receive the life and sacrifice of Jesus as a testimony of God’s love for you, and just as He was resurrected, you will find your heart renewed as His loves fills it. As you grow in your understanding of God’s love, you will learn to sense His love in the warm sun on your face, and the gentle breezes which refresh you. You will also learn to sense His love in the dark ominous clouds and thunder which shakes the earth. You will learn to trust His love even in what you don’t understand, because you will embrace His promises like Jeremiah 29:11,

 “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.”