“Do It with Passion!”

 

There is one thing that really gets me going and that is seeing someone work their gift or talent with passion.  Oh, I have seen people operate in the blessings of the Lord with dryness and being very dispassionate about what they were doing, and can I tell you, there is no comparison.

Talent, skill and position can only carry you so far in life because if what you are working in is not a drawing force eventually people will stop paying attention to you; eventually people will become just as dispassionate about what you are trying to put forth.  John Maxwell said,

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”

I agree wholeheartedly.  People want to follow one that gets their soul stirred up.  People want to walk the same course as one who is set ablaze for a cause; who is consumed with a yearning to get things done and to excel to be all that God has called them to be.

That word consumes gives the idea of allowing oneself to be spent for the cause.  John 2:17 spoke of Jesus in this sense when it says, “And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house has eaten me up.”  Other versions actually use the word “consume,” (see also Psalm 69:9).  This was said after He overthrew the tables in the temple.  His passion for God’s house stirred inside of Him and would not allow Him to pass by and watch what was going on without saying or doing something about it.  Jesus spent Himself for the cause of God.

In Psalm 119:139 also talks of being taken over with passion.  “My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.”  The cause of God was so alive in him that the psalmist couldn’t help but to be cut to the heart when others would come against His word.

Where the Spirit of God operates there can be no dull or dry commitment.  It’s all the way or nothing at all.  There has to be fervency, (Rom. 12:11).  One has to be on fire with and for what God has placed on the inside of them.

“It is the Spirit who gives life,” (John 6:63, NASB).  There is no deadness when the Spirit of God is in full operation and if you are passionate about what God has given you, you should be Spirit-led, Spirit-full, and Spirit-alive!  You should be on fire with passion!

Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”  Put your all into it!  Let what God has placed on the inside of you bubble up and boil over to the outside that men “may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (Mt. 5:16).  The things you do may or may not gain attention but the things you do with passion draws people closer to Him.  God gets the glory when people see what He is doing through you and they want to be a part of it.

Live life passionately.  Live life like the Spirit of God is alive in you; live life on fire for Him.  If you are going to sing, let your voice ring out with a burning love till it reaches the souls of others drawing them in.  If you play the drums then beat them like the heart of God beats in you.  If you are going to write, write that your words are felt more than they are read.  If you are going to preach, preach as if the cloud from the glory of the Lord has already filled the temple beckoning men to take notice of His presence.  The same is true for any gift or talent God has placed in you.  Whatever you do, whatever your gift, whatever your skill do it with passion!

I don’t know if God is calling you to overthrow some tables but I do know that He is calling you to operate like He’s alive in you.  He’s calling you to use your might and be passionate about what He has given you!

Be blessed.

“FRAGILE!”

 

Handle with care I wish I could post,
a stick it note to remind of what matters the most.

Distractions, directions unprofitable and robbing;
relentless in their unfocused pulling and prodding.

But my days are few upon this earth,
to make an impact of valued worth.

The reins have to be taken back;
no longer the less valuable plans to detract.

Focus, you only have one life to live.
Frail, is this only life to give.

Here today, and gone tomorrow;
let me cherish each one without resentment and sorrow.

Life is fragile and can break like a dam.
So, Lord teach me to measure my days, that I may know how frail I am.

To gain the worth of each day given.
This time on earth; this limited edition.

Invest in the works, the love and matters of the soul.
To fulfill His glory is our heavenly goal.

“LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am,” (Psalms 39:4).

What Would It Have Been Like? – “To Be Ruth of the Bible”

“What now?” clawed at her throat, but the words refused to be uttered from her mouth.  Disbelief that her husband was deadlocked those words in her tortured mind.  Numbness over the reality of it all would have made her swoon if it were not for the look on her mother-in-law’s face.

“Not now,” Ruth thought as she tried to hold on to her composure despite the sadness that gripped her own heart.  “Noami needs me to be strong,” she silently willed within herself.  “First, Elimelech, and now this.  How much more can she bear…”

“Daughters,” Naomi spoke up, “it is time,” feeling greatly resolved at the decision that had to be made.

“What?” both women, Ruth and Orpah, spoke in unison.

“It is time for me to return home.  Oh, girls, Moab has been good to my family and me these last years.  But, Moab is not home.”  Looking at their pleading eyes Naomi continued, “It has recently come to my attention that the famine we fled from is now over.  God has blessed my people once again with His favor.  There is now bread in Bethlehem.  I have no more reason to stay here.  It is time for me to go back.”

“But, what of your life here,” asked one of the women?

“I no longer have a life here, dear,” Naomi cried with sobs breaking through her words.  “In this land, I have had to say goodbye to the people I treasure most in this world.  This land has taken my heart; it has taken my family.  I’ve watched my husband die and now I am forced to let go of my sons.  What is there left for me here?”

“Naomi, you have us,” Ruth spoke confidently.

“No, my daughter.  It is best if you two return to your homes as I must return to mine.  I am old.  I have nothing left to offer you.”

“Mother,” Ruth lovingly and gently spoke to her.  “We can do this together.  You don’t have to return to Bethlehem and we don’t have to leave your side.  Somehow, someway we can make this work.”

Sighing, with the prayerful hope for understanding, Naomi turned to the face that bore the sadness of her own.  “Child, I love you both, and I would that for all the world to have things as they once were.  But, it is not so.  Things will never be the same for me again.  Not here anyway.  Now, I must return to my own people where I belong to seek solace for this old, broken heart.”

“Then, permit us to go with you,” Ruth said with Orpah nodding in agreement.

“Mahlon and Chilion were my only sons.  I have no more.  I am now too old to remarry.  It’s as I told you, I have nothing left to offer you.  It would be selfish of me to ask you to give up the possibility of a better future in your parent’s homes to follow me.  Go, return now to your own people.  Perhaps God will be gracious to you and you can remarry there and start over again someday.”

“You don’t mean that do you,” Ruth questioned as she looked into the eyes of the woman whom she has come to love?  Sobbing by her side, Orpah could not speak.  Their world had been shaken, but Naomi is right, she thought within herself.

There was a decision that had to be made that day.  Both Ruth and Orpah would have to choose what path in life they would follow.

What would it have been like to stand there that day and to make that decision?  Those times were not favorable toward women who were all alone.  Should they stay or should they go?

Walking into the unknown toward Bethlehem with Naomi, Ruth chose to go.  Orpah chose to return back home to her people.  There she would hope to find some semblance of normalcy and stability.  Ruth, as the Bible says, clung to Naomi and refused to be parted from this woman who has meant so much to her.

That day Ruth walked away from everything familiar with no promise for better.  Ruth turned her back on her own family to love and support this woman who is not even of her own flesh and blood.  Ruth chose a path most would not want to travel.  Hers was a path of self-sacrifice.  Lest one take her story too lightly, they should consider her life in comparison with ours today.

Before I go anywhere I plan ahead in great detail to be sure I lack nothing when I arrive.  Ruth had no such pleasure.  Not only was she not guaranteed any provisions of life, but would they even accept her in Bethlehem.  Surely by now, they knew that Naomi’s sons married Moabite women.  How would she be treated?  People would rejoice at the return of Naomi, but what of her?  In that place, are there those who would take advantage of her?  If any of those questions ever arose they were not spoken for fear of thwarting the opportunity to follow Naomi.  Her only concern was for that very woman, not herself.

In every part of her journey, Ruth stepped into the unknown.  In her travels with Naomi, in her arrival in Bethlehem, her work at gleaning the fields to try and support Naomi, and in her marriage to Boaz.  Everything was new to her and everything was strange.  But, everything she did, she did for the love and care of Naomi.

What would it have been like to give up so much; to show so much love to make such a decision?  If we knew all the particulars of a woman in her situation during those days we would see that hers was a decision of pure love.

She knew everything she was leaving behind.  She didn’t know anything about where she was headed.  But, declaring God as her own, her mind was made up and her heart was fixed.  Onward she walked the journey where life would lead her because of that decision made that day.

In the end, God greatly blessed her life and the sacrifices she made on behalf of another.  So much so, that she ended up giving birth to Obed who is the grandfather of King David, the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It started out with a decision.  Not knowing what we were stepping into, would we have been able to make that decision?  What would it have been like to be Ruth of the Bible?

Ruth teaches us our decisions matter!

“Please, Pray Me Through to My Deliverance!”

“For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer…” Philippians 1:19

There is so much hurt going on in the body of Christ.  Saints are going through trials and tribulations like never before.  As the days draw to a close, a time when our Lord Jesus Christ will come back to whisk us away to glory, the enemy has been on a vehement rampage against God’s people everywhere.

Paul, when he wrote his letter to the Philippian church, knew something of hardships.  He was imprisoned and he was put in a place of affliction and hurt.  So, when he writes of the faith he has, that the saints will help pray for his deliverance, he knew what he was talking about.

There is a wonderful bond in the body of Christ that is like no other.  Unity, love, and compassion mean so much to our survival that our very witness to the world depends on it.  There has been, over the past few years, an awareness of how we have hurt not only one another but our witness before the world through gossiping and the tearing down of one another.

Jesus Himself said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another,” (John 13:35).  Having sincere love toward another means that we would want what’s best for them.  Even if it means exalting somebody higher than yourself; putting the petitions of prayer that someone else so desperately needs above your own.

We often hear the encouragement that, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” (James 5:16).  To avail means that we have a God-given right to have the upper hand, through prayer, against any foe that would dare to rise up against one of God’s anointed ones.  How are we using that advantage?  Are we selfishly gleaning all the grapes off the vine of blessings for ourselves, or do we have enough Christian courage to let another feast off of your effectual, fervent prayers before you get a taste?

Paul openly admitted that on several occasions how much he was dependent upon the prayers of those who had his back in ministry.  Despite his supposed super saint/apostleship position, he realized that the sweet aromas of selfless petitions were being put up to God on his behalf.  Because of that, he was assured that he would see deliverance.

How much care and emphasis do you really put on the body of Christ when you bow the knee to the Father?  How much is that hunger in you to see the salvation of the unsaved of your family and friends being fed?  Do you really believe that not only will your prayers move mountains in your life but also in the life of another?  You may be their only hope, whether they are born or again or not, to draw near to God and receive deliverance.

Paul puts it best in 1 Corinthians 13:1 where he says, “Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”  Are you just making a lot of noise when you pray or are you busting the gates of hell loose because your heart is hurting for another?  It was Abraham Lincoln that was quoted as saying, “I am sorry for the man who can’t feel the whip when it is laid on the other man’s back.”

There are some “whips” being laid on others; some burdens that you can help someone else carry if only we would do as the Philippian church did and pray.  Not just any prayer, but prayers that will let our brothers and sisters know assurance of seeing deliverance, too.

If you want to see true restoration in your own life, learn to put the needs of others before your own.  Job 42:10 states, “The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.”  We are to be a people who step in that place of praying for others and petitioning heaven on their behalf.  It was not until Job prayed for his friends were his losses restored.

Let’s work today in hedging people in under the arc of safety, the covering of prayer, so they will finally see deliverance, too. There may be a hurting soul quietly pleading for someone to, “Please, Pray Me Through to My Deliverance.”

Keep praying for one another!

“No Weapon!”

No weapon! It’s not hard to see,
Every one that’s formed, propelled against me.
It’s vanished, thrown into the dust.
It won’t prosper, in the Lord I trust.

I am fortified in the Holy Ghost.
Your condemning tongues falsify your boast.
Darts aimed, ready to take flight.
Target unreached, by His might.

Shielded in the heritage, I belong to the Lord.
Bought with a price I could not afford.
Redeemed and covered, renewed to excel.
All arrows and swords, He did dispel.

“No weapon formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD,” Isaiah 54:17

 

Devotional Reading – Accept God’s Forgiveness

“…Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more,” John 8:11

 Guilty or not guilty, that is the question?  Early one morning Jesus was in the temple teaching His followers a lesson or two.  Suddenly, there arose a commotion in the crowds.  Religious leaders began to furiously push their way to the front of those assembled there that day.  As they broke through the crowd, they pushed in the midst of all a woman.

This woman was no ordinary woman.  She was not considered like everyone else.  She was a woman of ill-repute.  She was an adulterous woman and there she stood, broken in spirit.  Her eyes were down knowing that if she looked up she would see her shame in the angry faces glaring back at her.  So there she stands, in the midst of her mess, knowing this time she has gone too far.  This time there is no way out.  Nobody here would dare to give her second chance.  Why should they?  She is just an adulteress, not worthy of anything from anybody.  She was guilty.

As she continues to stand she can hear all the murmuring going on against her.  She can feel the heat of people staring at her as her shame is displayed before all that are present.  Her time has come to a close as she hears the gathering of stones that are sure to end her story today.  Silent tears begin to roll down her face as she remembers every mistake she has ever committed.  She begins to remember every failure, every time she didn’t measure up.  Those same silent tears begin to flow a little harder – the pang of guilt is too much to bear.

All the angry voices are yelling at her.  They are shouting all the reasons she should be convicted.  More people gather close carrying with them, even more, stones.  The noise is rising higher as everyone seems to be emotionally charged with great anger.  Feeling faint with her own emotions, barely holding on, she glances at the one writing on the ground.  Then, with her guilt pressing all the more on her she lowers her head again.  The shame is too much to bear.

A shuffling coming from where the Teacher was stooped.  Perhaps He will be the one to cast the first stone at her.  She’d heard others speak of this man.  Some called Him the Son of God.  Surely her demise is at hand for she will not find a pardon here.  But, as He stood, the unimaginable happened.  He spoke, but not to her.  He lectured those who had gathered against her, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” (John 8:7).

In shock, she lifted her tear-stained face to see eyes that could penetrate a marred soul.  But, those eyes, they were looking at the others.  Just as before, He stooped once again.  Behind her, she heard not a murmur – not a mumbling word.  What she did hear amazed her.  Thumps!  Thump-thump; thump-thump.  The very stones that were ready to take her life lay motionless on the ground.  The crowd dispersed.

“When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said to her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord.  And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more,” (John 8:10-11).  She didn’t question Jesus but she accepted the forgiveness He offered and went.  Jesus didn’t justify what she did but He forgave her.  Let me make this very clear, God will never, ever condone our sin or pat us on the back for it, but we can be free from them.  Like that woman, we could be standing in the midst of our mess but He is ready, holding the keys to your release.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).   Turn to Him in all humility of heart, confess and accept it today!

Today, if you are not born again and want to be free and experience what Jesus is offering to this woman, I urge you to turn to Him immediately.  Above, I quoted 1 John 1:9 which was written to a church of believers who already knew Christ as their Savior and were being encouraged in their faith against false teaching.  If you want your confession to work you must be born again, then like the woman we too can find release and forgiveness.  “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” (John 3:5).  “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,” (Acts 2:38).  Be blessed, turn to Him and accept His forgiveness today!

“Purposing the Heart”

Reformations on the outside don’t always equal change on the inside.  It has been proven time and again throughout history, and even throughout the Bible.  A great leader can rise up and make the necessary plans and put programs into place that should foster positive growth in a specified area.  But, if those toward whom the program was geared to serve don’t have a true heart for change, then what we see is a lot of outer stuff being switched around without any real inner transformation taking place.

Jehoshaphat was such a leader.  Jehoshaphat reinvigorated the spirit of worship toward God once more for the people of Judah.  He, himself, “sought the God of his fathers, and walked in His commandments,” (2 Chronicles 17:4, NKJV).  And as such, he was compelled to make the “Book of the Law” available to anyone who would hear.  So he sent leaders throughout the region to teach God’s Word (2 Chronicles 17:7-9).

Another area of reformation that saw positive changes was with the judges.  Men who judge honestly and not take bribes.  Men who would “act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart,” (2 Chronicles 19:9, NKJV).

After many ups and downs during his reign, and even a miraculous victory that was won just through praise (2 Chronicles 20), when it came time for Jehoshaphat’s reign to end and he was noted as “doing what was right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:32, NKJV)), the very next verse tells us the status of the people.  “Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for as yet the people had not directed their hearts to the God of their fathers,” (2 Chronicles 20:33, NKJV).

Leaders are just that – leaders.  They can go out in front of the pack and try to lay the course for the best plan of action but it is up to the individual to let the compass of his/her heart to be guided in the right direction.  There is a personal responsibility to have a purposeful heart that will intentionally pursue one’s own relationship with God.

How we get on in our relationship with God cannot be put off on another.  We can’t shun the charge to follow wholeheartedly after Him and claim that it’s the fault of others for why we didn’t follow through.

The reason for the lack of follow-through lies literally at the center of one’s heart.  A heart that is not fully devoted to God is a heart that won’t be inclined to continue to live for Him when those people who bring that positive influence are no longer in our lives.  We have to want God for ourselves.  Our hearts have to be intentional in our daily living for Him.

How do we do that?  What does that look like?

A purposeful heart will diligently seek after God.  Seek Him through prayer.  Seek Him in the Word.  Seek Him in times of worship.  A heart that loves the Lord will want to know more about Him and these avenues can help turn one in the right direction.  The psalmist said, “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee,” (Psalm 119:10-11).

“I sought thee . . .”

“I hid” the word in my heart . . .

“I” denotes it is one’s personal obligation to charter the course of their own heart; to fill it with the purpose of God; to choose “the way of truth,” (Psalm 119:30).

Leaders can lead but we must make it up in our own minds and hearts to want all of Him as our own.  We must have a purposeful heart that steps closer to Him and not turns away (Proverbs 4:26-27).

David, a man after God’s own heart, became knowns as such because his desire, his goal, the purpose of his own heart was totally for God.  He is quoted as saying, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple,” (Psalm 27:4).  All the days of his life he wanted his heart directed toward God.

Purposing the heart is being intentional in going after God for one’s self.  Nobody else can do it for you.

“Joy to the World – He Came!”

 

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.” (Isaac Watts)

Christmastime, as they say, is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmastime often brings with it sweet thoughts and times of reminiscing with loved ones over the years past.  There’s a celebration of joy in the atmosphere that isn’t felt as prominently during other times of the year.

But, I’m here to tell you that Christmastime is so much more than an emotional response to a holiday and family.  It’s more than the gathering of sweet fellowship and food.

Christmastime is a declaration of all God has wanted to do for mankind since the time He created him.  It’s the time we celebrate God’s love on display in holy determination to have that relationship with man that He so desired.

Christmastime is a celebration of the healing.  There was a rift that was torn by sin between God and man – now it comes together in an era of reconciliation and peace.

Isaiah prophesies of the means by which God ushers this in.  He said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6).  This is the very foundation of the Christmas story.  Matthew picks it up and tells us in the New Testament,” And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins,” (1:21). Mankind had fallen short of the glory of God, but this little baby had an assignment on His life to save people from their sins!

The Christmas story tells us that He is the fulfilled prophesy that states, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14). We see that come to pass in Matthew 1:23 which states He shall be called “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Down forty-two generations He traveled (Matthew 1:1-17) to be with us. That’s why the carols ring out, “Veiled in flesh the God-head see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel,” (Hark! The Harold Angels Sing – Charles Wesley). He was that “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14).

That’s why Luke lets us know, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end,” (Luke 1:32-33).

This is what the Christmas story is all about. Joy to the world – He came!

The Bible declares, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn,” (Luke 2:7). He was shunned by the world with no one to care other than Mary and Joseph. Nonetheless, He came!

The angels proclaimed that night, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:11). The deliverance of all mankind made His way into the world. God’s plan of salvation broke through the flesh of humanity to rescue in the Spirit.

Joy to the world – He came!

God incarnate manifested Himself in the humility of man. He stepped off His throne in glory to dwell with a sinner like me. He pulled off His royal attire to associate with the filthy dregs of this life.

Joy to the world – He came!

Christmastime we celebrate His birth; we rejoice in His coming. But, that’s not the end of the Christmas story.

He came once so that He could come back again.  The first time He came He was encapsulated in His mother’s womb, riding on a donkey toward Bethlehem to be born. But, the true end of the Christmas story is the next time you see Him, He won’t be that same baby from the womb riding with His mama on a donkey.  He’ll be standing in the air riding the clouds of heaven.

The first time He came He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. The next time you see Him, He will stand before you as the King who broke free from the grave clothes that tried to bind Him, gaining the victory over the grave; gaining the victory over sin and death.

The first time He came only a few lowly shepherds and a few little wise men came to honor Him and pay tribute to the miracle that occurred on that night. The next time you see Him, “Every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:10-11).  That same baby they ignored.  That same baby they refused to find room for, their mouths are going to open and declare that HE IS LORD!

We celebrate the Christmas story as the ultimate gift of God’s love toward humanity. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).

But, the Christmas story is more than the celebration that He came. It stands as a reminder every year that if He came once as He said He would, then He’s coming back – just like He said He would!

We love this time of year. There’s no greater feeling than the fellowship and gifts of love shared.  But, once the gifts are unwrapped and once the food is eaten and people return to their homes; let the Christmas story remind you, the King came once, and the King will return once again.

Pope Francis is quoted as saying, “God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If he gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it.”

In preparation of His return, I must ask, “Have you received His gift?”

Joy to the World – He came. And, He’s coming back again. That’s the true end of the Christmas story.

Have a Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!

“Keep Your Eyes on Jesus!”

“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying Lord, save me,” Matthew 14:30

There was a point in Matthew 14 where the disciples were not sure if the image they were seeing was actually the Lord. Finding out that it was Him, in a move of boldness, Peter requested, “Bid me come unto thee on the water,” (vs. 28).  Jesus’ response – “Come!” (vs.29).

How difficult, had we not known this familiar story, would it have been for us to get out of that boat and venture to do the impossible?  I mean – really?!  People are not known for walking on water, which is one of the reasons, they originally thought Jesus was a spirit (vs. 26).  Watching Jesus take command over what normally cannot be subdued, moved something inside of Peter to do what Jesus did.

What would that have been like?  Awesome, indeed!  I love to swim so the idea of being able to physically walk on water would make me downright giddy.  Another thing that appeals to me about this story is the courage to at least try.  To see what it was like to break away from the normal and to do something extraordinary.

Extraordinary living!  Isn’t that what being in Christ is all about?  It’s a whole lot of faith mixed with a whole lot of stepping out that produces the results of one who has chosen to see and do life differently than those around him.  The rest stayed in the boat.  They were content with the status quo.  But, Peter felt a special draw to see what it was like to step out of the boat – to see what it was like to stand where Jesus stood.

As Peter found out, the road to extraordinary living can get rough.  A lot of stuff can and will rise up against us as those waves did, and seek to toss about our faith.  What Peter “saw” side-tracked him from getting to where Jesus was.  The truth of Peter’s experience in this story unfolds the same way for many of us.  If only the sea would be calm then we would be alright.  If only the waves of adversity would stop trying to slam you, then would you be able to walk on water, too.

Jesus never promised calm seas all the time.  But, what He did promise was, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,” (Matthew 28:20).  It is hard to try to live an extraordinary life when one takes their eyes off of Jesus and what He promised.  It’s one thing to recognize Jesus, but then we have the individual responsibility to stay focused on Him.  No matter what the seas are doing in our life, He promised to be there with us.  Always!

“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).  In essence, He was stating that He was right there with Peter, so why did Peter take his eyes off of Jesus?

Sinking in life doesn’t always happen that fast.  Little by little one begins to predominantly focus on the problems of life instead of the Life Preserver, who promised to be there for you.  God wants us to step out into extraordinary living.  By keeping our eyes on Jesus we can do the impossible.  We can walk on water, too!  He is with you, always!

“Be Happy!”

“Rejoice evermore,” 1 Thessalonians 5:16

“. . . Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” Psalm 144:15

 Happiness.  Some say it’s overrated.  I tend to disagree.  The Bible speaks over and over again about being blessed, happy, joyful, glad and rejoicing.  With so many different ways of saying it, I believe the Lord has made His point.  He wants His people to be absolutely elated in who they are –  His child!

Too often, we as Christians are waiting for conditions to be right before we choose to be happy about it.  That’s contrary to the Word of God.  Many times when we see words synonymous with being happy in the Bible, there is usually a counterweight of circumstances which doesn’t seem favorable or applicable to happiness.  Take the Beatitudes for instance:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad for great is reward in heaven . . .”

                                                                        (Matthew 5:3-12).

What the Lord Jesus Christ did was point out numerous circumstances of life that would normally account for not being happy.  But, by putting a statement of happiness in the front of it, He was relating that one doesn’t have to wait for the tides to turn in your favor to declare that blessedness.  The Beatitudes are about going through the storms of life even when the waves seem adverse and still seeing the promise of heaven at work.  Even when it feels overwhelming, to the point of feeling totally surrounded by trouble.  Jesus said happiness can still be found during those times.

How?  “Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven.”  I WILL NOT trivialize anyone’s hardships in life.  There are some unimaginable things that people have to face every day that hurt; that disappoint.  Situations that seem to do all they can to strip away one’s faith.  Our Lord is not denying the hurt, but what He is saying is there is still a reason to be joyful.

It would be totally unrealistic for one to tell another not to be upset over a wrong committed.  Yet, we have a deeper revelation that beyond this mess there is a reward.  Oh yeah, this stuff here stinks.  But, over there – AWESOME!

We may go through trials and tribulations like anybody else, but one thing we have as opposed to them is the comforting presence of our Heavenly Father.  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me,” (Ps. 23:4).  How can one not feel a measure of joy and comfort at words spoken such as these?

It just makes me feel that no matter what I am going through, I can “Rejoice evermore,” because, He is there.  He knows.  He comforts me.   He’s thinking about me.  He hears my prayers.  He sees the tears I shed.  I can feel His presence bottling every one of those tears up, working to wipe them away.  I may cry, but I can also rejoice because I have a true, living God who loves me and cares for me.

Not just words of rhetoric but words of substance.  Words that make me happy in spite of it all!  Today, I choose to be happy because I am in Him, and He is in me.  “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” (Ps. 30:5).  The tears may cloud over my eyes and fall down my cheeks, but eventually, it has to move and make room for the happiness I have in Him.  I am blessed.