Precious Bouqet

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And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. Romans 8:28

Be Free & Stay Free 

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Free to Fly

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As I sit here and listen to Jason Upton sing about freedom, I mediate on the truth of what he is singing. (Click here)

Ah, yes, freedom! Isn’t that we all long for? True freedom to be who we were created to be in the security of safety and comfort of knowing we will not be rejected?

Strange, how even Spirit filled believers struggle to walk in that freedom. Still, knowing is not always believing, is it?  We see, but we do not believe. We listen, but we do not hear. We nod our heads yes, but our shoulders are shrugging. We can even preach His truth and believe it for anyone else, but somehow we think “It’s for everyone else, not me.”

But this is the freedom Christ gives us, to be set free in His love.

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love]. 1 John 4:18 Amp.

What does this mean?

I believe God is saying: My daughter (son) you have been created in My image from the beginning. You are Mine and nothing or no one can change that. You are wrapped securely in the palm of My hand, you are the apple of My eye. I have gifted you and created you with a purpose. You are not an accident, you were planned before the foundations of the earth. I knew you before you were even in your mother’s womb. Lay down what hinders you and embrace Me. Look around you, there is no one there to condemn you, I do not condemn you, there is no condemnation in those who are in Christ Jesus. Though others have rejected you, I will never reject you. Do not be afraid to shine. Lay down the guilt, regret, fear, and shame. When you stop trying to self medicate the injury and wounds that did not come from me, then you will seek Me and you will find Me. I am not hiding from you. Unforgiveness will hold you bondage to depression, bitterness, sickness, restlessness, anger, and death. Let it go, give it to Me. Only I can take the ashes and create beauty. My joy that I give you is not based on circumstance, but on the revelation knowledge that I love you and in My love you are free to be the you I created you to be.

Selah

Be Free & Stay Free

 

The Difference Between Pigs & Sheep

Do you know the difference between pigs and sheep?

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Pigs like mud. They will wallow in it. They find comfort in mud. It’s their nature.

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Sheep do not belong in mud. It is not their nature. 

“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up from some other place [on the stone wall], that one is a thief and a robber.  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep [the protector and provider].  The doorkeeper opens [the gate] for this man, and the sheep hear his voice and pay attention to it. And [knowing that they listen] he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out [to pasture].  When he has brought all his own sheep outside, he walks on ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice and recognize his call. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”  Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what He was talking about.  John 10:1-6

Do you understand? Have you fallen into the mud of this world? Do not stay there. He is calling you to come up.

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The devil is a sly one. He will disguise himself and if you are not listening for the Fathers voice, he will deceive you. 

So Jesus said again, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, I am the Door for the sheep [leading to life]. All who came before Me [as false messiahs and self-appointed leaders] are thieves and robbers, but the [true] sheep did not hear them.  I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out[freely], and find pasture (spiritual security). The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].

I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His [own]life for the sheep.  But the hired man [who merely serves for wages],who is neither the shepherd nor the owner of the sheep, when he sees the wolf coming, deserts the flock and runs away; and the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them.  The man runs because he is a hired hand [who serves only for wages] and is not concerned about the[safety of the] sheep. I am the Good Shepherd, and I know [without any doubt those who are] My own and My own know Me [and have a deep, personal relationship with Me]—  even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father—and I lay down My [very own] life [sacrificing it]for the benefit of the sheep.  I have other sheep [beside these] that are not of this fold. I must bring those also, and they will listen to My voice and pay attention to My call, and they will become one flock with one Shepherd.  For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My [own] life so that I may take it back.  No one takes it away from Me, but I lay it down voluntarily. I am authorized and have power to lay it down and to give it up, and I am authorized and have power to take it back. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10: 7-18

The pig finds comfort in the mud, it soothes his skin (the flesh). The enemy would have you believe you can find comfort outside of the will of God. The deception is subtle really. First you dip your toe in the mud, then you are up to your ankles, then the knees, until you are fully submerged. 

Listen… can you hear Him? He is calling you. Jesus is calling your name. He will wash you clean. Listen for His voice. Know His voice. Follow Him, He will lead you to good pastures.

Be Free & Stay Free

Love AND Abide

 

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The last post I talked about the battle we are in. Sometimes it feels like a constant battle and we wonder if we are ever going to enter our rest. You know, the place where peace resides.
I think it worthy to note: peace does not mean the absence of storms, rather it is a state where we can rest and know the storm is not going to kill us. Peace is like home, where we can rest, no matter what is going on in the outside world.
Recently, as I was reading John 15, the word “abide” just stood out. It was as if Jesus were speaking directly to me.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7

Let me give you a little back drop here…

We all go through seasons. Ecclesiastes 3 starts by saying; “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” So we know, no matter what season we are in now, it is nothing new, because Solomon, the wisest man, also says in Ecclesiastes; “…there is nothing new under the sun.” (1:9-10)

Fortunately, and thank God, we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses and because of this, we can come boldly to the throne of grace and obtain mercy and grace to help in our time of need. (See Hebrews 4:14-16)

So, I will go back to my original thought and reason for this post. I had to ask myself, what does abide look like, what does it really mean? Because I love God, I know He loves me, I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I am filled with His Spirit, yet sometimes (more than I like to admit) I feel like I am swimming upstream.

“Oh, God! What do You mean when You say to abide in You?”
I submit, perhaps, we are under the misunderstanding that just because we believe in Him we are abiding in Him? Also, maybe we erroneously believe that just because we are His we should not have struggles and things should be… easier? Hmm, interesting.
Let’s visit the word “abide.” (yea, grab your Strongs)

Abide in the Greek is Meno, and it means to stay in a given place, state, relation or expectancy, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.
It is a primary verb in the Greek. It is action; in the present, future, and perfect.

It is easy to do and seems reasonable when life is going good, doesn’t it? We recognize, and even declare, His favor on us when everything is going as we think it should. You know, all of our relationships are in harmony, we have a job that affords us to pay all of our bills on time and then have enough left over to give, our health is good, we sleep well at night and wake rested in the morning. Yes, we high five each other and raise our hands and give testimony to how good God is to us.

But, what about when things are not going as we think they should? What about when the bills are piling up and the paychecks are just not enough? What about when the person we trusted the most leaves us? What about when sickness visits our family, our car breaks down, someone falsely accuses us, and to top it off… the dog ran away? What about then?
This is where I think many of us miss it (or maybe it is just me?). Look closely to verse 9:

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”

To truly abide in His love, we must believe AND trust He loves us.

Now, I have never been a lifeguard. I have never had to jump in a pool, or the ocean, and save a drowning person. I am not an Olympic swimmer, I can’t do any fancy strokes in the water, and my idea of diving is a cannon ball followed by a big splash. I prefer swimming in pools, because let’s face it, there are big things swimming in the ocean and I don’t want to run into any of them, or become lunch for a finned friend. The few times I have swam in the ocean, it didn’t take long for my fear and imagination to convince me I am better off on the beach.

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A life guard is trained to save someone who is drowning. It takes skill to save a panicking person without drowning yourself. I don’t have that skill. But, I do know how to panic, quite well.

So, this is what I liken trusting Gods love to, being in the middle of the swells of the ocean and fear is tapping me on the shoulder and telling me I am about to drown, instead of panicking I lay back, float on the water and look up, while breathing, knowing Jesus is my lifeguard and He will not let me drown.

1 John 4:18 say’s this: There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Remember what He said? “Abide in My love.”

If we truly abide in Him, we fellowship with Him, we remain present in our relationship with Him, we refuse to be moved by anything that is contrary to His word, we have done all we can and we choose to stand… AND we trust in His love, which is perfect, without end, His love for us that took Him to the cross and rose Him from the dead… well, then we have no need to fear.

Just as the absence of storms does not mean He loves us more, nor does the presence of storms mean He loves us less, we can be sure of this… this too shall pass.

He gave His everything to give us everything.

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The more we know Him the closer we are to Him… we become conformed into His image, into His likeness, we are reconciled to Him. Because we are loved by God Who went to great lengths to show His love to us. This you can trust in and know, whatever you desire, because your desire will be in line with His purpose, you will ask AND you will receive. To God be the glory.

We did not choose Him, He chose us, and appointed us that we may go and bear fruit and that our fruit should remain, that whatever we ask the Father, in Jesus name, He may give us. Let us ask for the nations.

Hold on. Stand firm. Abide.

Be Free & Stay Free

Adam? Adam? Where are you?

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This battle is as old as time. From the very beginning it has been a battle between Heaven and Hell, good and evil, love and hatred, God and Satan, a battle for our souls.

In the beginning we were created in the image of God and we were given dominion. We were created with and for a purpose. Man once walked with God, without fear or shame, in the garden He created. Like a Father and child, man walked with God. I take liberty in imagining Adam’s eyes wide with wonder and joy as he walked with the Father through the garden, admiring His creation, as the Father’s heart swelled with love for His child; a love desiring to share everything, with and for His creation. Ah, a relationship with man, made in His image, in His likeness, a man of the Fathers heart.

We were created for relationship with God, a true love relationship. But, love is not love if it is not of free will. You see, God created man, not little robots.

The record of the first heart break is found in Genesis 3:8-11.

Can you hear His voice calling to His beloved? “Adam? Adam? Where are you?”

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Do not think for one minute that God did not know where Adam was. His question brought a conviction and before Adam answered, a plan for redemption was already set into motion, to restore the relationship between Father and man.

Despite the arrogance and ignorance of Satan, his “perceived victory” was the beginning of his defeat.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed.
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.
Genesis 3:15

So, yes! This is a battle. This is all out war!

Do you ever just feel like all hell is coming against you? Do you ever feel like you are no sooner on top, then you are kicked right down to the bottom again? You try to do the right thing, but no matter which way you turn you are being hit again, again, and again…

Do not lose hope.

You are in the middle of a battle, but He has not left you without protection. On that dark day in the garden, when death entered, there is One Who said “Yes, Father, I will lay My life down, and when I rise again I will bring with Me Your children. Through Me they will be redeemed, restored, forgiven, healed and delivered, and made whole in relationship with Us.

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
1 Corinthians 15:51-58

Although the battle is not ours, we still have a part to play. Through Jesus, we have authority. Apart from Him we can do nothing, but in Him all things are possible!

We are foot soldiers in this battle. He has given us the battle plans and He has given us authority to take back the land. We are not victims, we are victors through Christ Who strengthens us.

If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.  I have loved you just as the Father has loved Me; remain in My love [and do not doubt My love for you]. If you keep My commandments and obey My teaching, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.  I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing. John 15:7-11

and again…

I do not call you servants any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you [My] friends, because I have revealed to you everything that I have heard from My Father. You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you. This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another.

How do we fight this battle? What weapons do we use?

Love AND Abide.

I will share more on love and abide in the next post. In the meantime, read John 15, and ask… what does abiding look like?

Be Free & Stay Free

 

 

Most Important Post I Will Ever Write

I am dying of thirst by the side of the fountain. – Charles D’ Orleans

I am reminded today of the two thieves who were crucified next to Jesus. A death sentence to both for crimes they committed. Both had been found guilty and executed, but one received an eternal pardon.

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be executed with Him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull [Latin: Calvary; Hebrew: Golgotha], there they crucified Him, and [along with] the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus prayed, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. And they divided His garments and distributed them by casting lots for them.

One thing we can be certain of, as long as we are in this flesh there will always be a battle going on. The Bible says the flesh and the Spirit are at constant war with each other. What your flesh wants to do is at constant opposition with the Holy Spirit.

We want to have our own way, we are a selfish people, the flesh can never be satisfied. Give it an inch and it will take a mile. (Stay tuned for another post about fasting and bringing the flesh under submission)

Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t give the devil a ride, because then he will want to drive“?

Picture this…

Your flesh and the Spirit are wrestling back and forth.

Your flesh say’s, “I want that! Feed me! Give it to me!”

You say, “No. I can’t do that. I can’t have that. It’s not good for me.”

Your flesh say’s, “Oh, come on, just this one more time!”

You say, “But I can’t, I promised I wouldn’t do it again.”

Your flesh say’s. “No one will ever know, it will be our little secret.”

Back and forth it goes. The more attention you pay to the unquenchable appetite of the flesh, the weaker you become to resist. Then you are right dab in another battle.

And this argument sounds like this…

The Accuser, “Ha! You call yourself a Christian? Look at you now.”

You… silence

The Accuser, “You might as well give up. Clearly you will never amount to anything because you can’t even control yourself.”

You…. silence

The Accuser, “You disgust me! You are worthless! You should be ashamed of yourself!”

You… silence

The Accuser, “God will never forgive you, He is tired of your whining and crying and fake apologies. You might as well stay hidden, because everyone is going to look at you and know you are nothing but a hypocrite.”

So then you begin to withdraw. You hide from everyone, you avoid fellowship with other Christians, you stop praying, you can’t even read the Bible anymore, you feel depressed, you begin to believe maybe the accuser was right, and you slowly slip…

Now, I don’t know what the two men on the cross next to Jesus did, but it was apparently something worthy of execution. I do not claim to know what you are going through, what your secret battle and defeat is, but I do know this…

There is no temptation that you face that is not common to man. Jesus was in every way tempted the way we are tempted, yet He was without sin. The temptation in itself is not sin, it is what we do when we respond to the temptation that leads to sin.

Paul himself said, “that which I want to do, I do not and that which I don’t want to do, I do.” This is a tale as old as time.

The devil is the accuser of the brethren, Jesus called him the father of lies and in him there is no truth.

When we are faced with temptations there are three voices we hear, our voice, the accusers voice, and then the Holy Spirit. We MUST learn to discern the voice. Only ONE voice is the voice of TRUTH.

Because of what Christ did for us on the cross, we now have an advocate. He is our mediator. He is our lifeline. Through Him, and ONLY through Him do we have a pardon.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?  Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39

Does this mean there will be no consequence to our actions? No, when we do things in the natural there are consequences.

Listen to the voice of Truth. The voice of Truth say’s, “I love you. I forgive you. I will never leave you. I am not ashamed of you. You are accepted. Now, go and sin no more.”

My dear friend, you reading my words right now, this message is for you. Come out from your hiding place. You can’t hide from God. He has searched you out, He found you, now find Him. Forgiveness is there for you if you ask. Do not be afraid.

Now, back to the two thieves on the cross

One of the criminals who was suspended kept up a railing at Him, saying, Are You not the Christ (the Messiah)? Rescue Yourself and us [from death]! But the other one reproved him, saying, Do you not even fear God, seeing you yourself are under the same sentence of condemnation and suffering the same penalty? And we indeed suffer it justly, receiving the due reward of our actions; but this Man has done nothing out of the way [nothing strange or eccentric or perverse or unreasonable].Then he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory! And He answered him, Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. He came to set us free and who He has set free is free!

There is no magic formula, no twelve step process, no drug, no substitute, for what Christ has given us. He has made salvation available to all who receive.

In this world you will have tribulation, you will have struggles, you will have heart ache, you will experience rejection, temptations, and sometimes you will fall down, you will fail, but get back up. What we experience now is nothing compared to the Hope we have in Him.

I pray you hear and receive His calling to you. I pray you lay it all down and walk into His embrace. God is big, He is strong, there is nothing He can’t handle. There is no sin so great He can’t forgive. No matter what anyone has ever told you, He say’s He loves you. No matter who left you, He say’s come, I accept you. No matter what sin you have committed, how dirty and shameful you feel, He say’s let Me wash you as white as snow and give you a new garment. No matter what your past was, in Him you are a new creation.

Come to Him while He can still be found.

Be Free & Stay Free

Hidden Treasures

Treasure hunters will go to great lengths to unearth a treasure. Some may travel the far corners of the world to find the precious gem, risk life and limb, sacrifice rest and self, to excavate what they believe to be of great worth.

What may look like nothing to an untrained eye, is sheer beauty to the one who knows its worth.

The treasure seeker will dig through earth, rocks, sand, and soil, to lay hold of the prize. When they have unearthed it, they carefully lift it with their hands, as to not damage it. Upon first sight, it is covered in dirt, caked with years of debris. But with delicate hands, they will clean it, polish it, restore it back to it’s original beauty, and preserve it.

Why do treasure hunters do this? Because they recognize the value. Some treasures are worth far more value than most are willing to pay.

The kingdom of heaven is like something precious buried in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44

God did this. He is the greatest treasure hunter. He placed such value on each of us, He was willing to go through great lengths to find us, unearth us, and bring us back to our natural beauty. He sent His Son to take such a beating for us, to go into the earth for three days, to bring us up from the grasp of the thief, to restore us, reconcile us, and bring us back to our created purpose.

Even when we were caked in the soil of the world, drowning in our sins, wrapped in the bondage of our hurts, rejected and abandoned as unworthy, He saw us and He restored us. He looked beyond the outward, He looked into our hearts and He placed His strong gentle hands on us and He declared… this one is Mine.

Then He placed us on display. Paraded us past the enemy and held the banner of Love over us.

The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment. The second is like it and is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31

Who is our neighbor? The person who has need, the poor one, the broken one, the sick one, the one who can never repay…

How about those who are closest to us? Those we know so well, we know their imperfections, their quirks, their hang-ups, the one who has hurt us? What about them?

I submit to you, one of the main causes for break-ups, divorce, and division is we fail to see beyond the outward to look at the heart. For if we truly desired to be like Christ, we would delicately unearth the heart, speak words of compassion, create a safe environment, and allow God to use us to bring healing to the wounded hearts. We just might find a treasure of great worth, if we truly followed the words of Mark 12:30-31.

We are all broken vessels, but in the hands of God, we will shine with such brilliance hell will be blinded, relationship’s restored, ministries birthed, and the Glory of the Lord would rest on us and bring great revival, healing, deliverance, and salvation to many.

Be a minister He can use. With the same grace given to you, give to others. For inside each of us is something far more valuable than money can buy. Only through love can a heart shine.