An Abundant Life

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John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Living as a believer means taking up your cross. Your cross is the burden of living your life in such a way as to bring glory to the Father. It means forsaking the ways of the world and that can be sometimes frightening and exhilarating all at the same time. There will be days when there is a longing in your spirit to get more of the Holy Spirit and there will be days when it’s more than you can bear. It’s a complexity that is hard to describe and this is why, for the most part, religion sells you on the peace and the joy and forgets to mention the suffering. Let me tell you there will be suffering. But living your life in Christ is worth it.

When I started this series of blogs my point was to show that we were all cracked when left to our own devices. We had areas of our lives that needed to be fixed and patched up. That fix can only come from allowing ourselves to be broken by God Himself. You see, to live a kingdom life, a life set apart, you must be crucified for there to be a resurrection. Oh! How I wish I could tell you that it’s easy but I can’t. How I wish I could tell you that it won’t hurt but it does. It will never be as bad as what Christ went through, but I’m telling you that it will be as bad as Christ went through to our hearts and minds. For to live this kingdom life means we have to let go of everything we’ve been taught and learn a new way. A love way and exposing ourselves to love means great gain and great pain. I wish it weren’t so but anyone whose been hurt in love catches a small glimpse into what I am talking about.

A cracked vessel can hold no water. In the bible water represents the Holy Spirit and Jesus was clear that if we believed in him that out of our hearts would flow rivers of living water.

John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

What a blessing we have to live in these days beyond the cross to have a far greater reward of the Holy Spirit indwelling daily. Yet, we get to the end of this series and we see that although our teachers had tried, Jesus had tried, our cracked vessels could not contain the Holy Spirit for any length of time to be effective on the earth. So the abundant life that has been promised hasn’t yet manifested because we could not contain it in our current condition. YET being the key word to hang onto.

Choose life today and choose to allow the breaking of your thought process to bring you to a higher level of consciousness than you could have ever thought possible. It will be in that process that you will find abundant life. Did you know that the mind is at least as powerful as medicine? Yes, if you can change your mind to speak health, you will see it manifest itself in your life. As a man thinks in heart so is he. Proverbs 23:7. If you can get with like-minded thinkers/believers you can be even more powerful. It’s called the power of agreement and it works both for good and for evil so watch your associations.

Abundant life means life the way God would have you live it. It may mean that you trade in that corner office and the BMW for a missionary post in a third world country but I promise you that if that was your original purpose you will be beyond happy.

Choose life today. Allow the potter to remake the vessel so that it can contain so much of the Holy Spirit that it changes every single thing in your life and the lives of those you come in contact with.

Thank God

I am not going to wait until the journey gets easier or the challenges are removed; I am thanking you right now.

I received this in an email, thanks Cynthia, and thought it was worth repeating:

DEAR GOD:

I want to thank You for what you have already done.

I am not going to wait until I see results or receive rewards; I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until I feel better or things look better; I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until people say they are sorry or until they stop talking about me; I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until the pain in my body disappears; I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until my financial situation improves; I am going to thank you right now.

I am not going to wait until the children are asleep and the house is quiet; I am going to thank you right now.

I am not going to wait until I get promoted at work or until I get the job; I am going to thank you right now.

I am not going to wait until I understand every experience in my life that has caused me pain or grief; I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until the journey gets easier or the challenges are removed; I am thanking you right now.

I am thanking you because I am alive. I am thanking you because I made it through the day’s difficulties. I am thanking you because I have walked around the obstacles.I am thanking you because I have the ability and the opportunity to do more and do better. I’m thanking you because FATHER, YOU haven’t given up on me.

God is just so good, and he’s good all the time.

Take Up Your Cross

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Ecclesiastes2:3I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives

What is good for the sons of man to do under heaven? What are we supposed to be doing that we haven’t been doing? Jesus taught us to pray continually, making a way in our lives for a deep rich relationship with the Father. Yet, even the disciples couldn’t completely grasp the concept of this as we see in the garden of Gethsemane.

Matthew 26:36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless F146 I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

So what is good for the sons of man to do with their time? We are to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. Why does this seem so hard? In the midst of the hardest night of the life of Jesus he is asking us, his disciples
“Can’t you stay awake in the hour of my agony?” What is he truly asking us to do? Does it mean physically staying up? Sometimes it does. Sometimes in the middle of the night the Lord will awaken you to pray. He will bring you revelation in the midst of your times of exhaustion. Most of the time it speaks to being spiritually awake and being aware of those things around you. The Lord will then show you the goodness of a life lived in peace and rest.

Psalm 4:6 There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?” Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. 7 You have put gladness in my heart, More than in the season that their grain and wine increased. 8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

So then, what does it mean to take up your cross? It actually is an act of faith. It begs the question whether we have the ability to leave the comforts that the world temporarily offers and walk a different path with Christ? This path will be costly both in material things and emotional things. Regarding taking up our cross in the material realm Matthew Henry says:

Every man, according to his ability, must relieve the poor, and be content, when there is occasion, to straiten himself to do it. Worldly wealth is given us, not only as maintenance to bear our charges through this world, according to our place in it, but as talent, to be used and employed for the glory of our great Master in the world, who hath so ordered it, that the poor we should have always with us as his receivers.

To take up our cross is costly. It means that we give up the things of the world in order to obtain the heavenly things that await us. It’s a big price to pay. Are you ready to really do it? Begin by watching and praying.

Conscious

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Isaiah 30:18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 22 Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!” 23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.

When we wake up and realize that our ways are not working, then we will begin to see and hear God clearly. It’s at the moment that we become aware, for that is what being conscious means, that life is not about self, then our life will grow in richness and depth. In fact, just as the scripture above tells us there will be abundant life.

Jesus said, John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Therein lies a key to stop living as a gerbil on a wheel and actually do something with our lives. Actual conscious living, living our life on purpose with purpose, means to stop trying to outrun our pursuer but rather to recognize his schemes and get off the wheel. We must quit waiting until our lives are perfect to serve the one and only true living God. We need to stop caring about what others think and get authentically real with ourselves to fix those things that need fixing. We have to stop running from our problems, face them, fix them, and move on to the things that are truly important. The bible calls these things the weightier matters. We never get past the children’s play if we can’t get real and see the world for what it is and then to see our lives with Christ as it really is.

Abundant life means we don’t concern ourselves with our neighbor for the sure pleasure of gossip but rather we concern ourselves with their betterment. We don’t judge them or think we have all the answers but instead we serve them. We do these things because we want to see our nations healed and moving forward, rather than just being out for ourselves and what we can get.

What would submission to one another truly look like? What would it do for our lives to walk only where God said, “This is the way; walk in it”? I think we’d quickly find that joy and health and true prosperity of the soul would return. What a heavy, heavy price we’ve paid for being unconscious.

The Awakening

Yesterday we ended with the thought that we are cracked yet bulging from the sheer amount of information that is at our fingertips but uselessly spilling out to no avail. The word from Isaiah that was posted yesterday said the wall would collapse suddenly. Let’s read on:

Isaiah 30:14 It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.” 15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. 16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! 17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.”

Beth Moore made a statement in one of her teachings that it was much better to allow God to break us rather than to snap. I believe this statement wholeheartedly. For we see, in this passage, that if we had come to repentance and rest, if we had stopped the murmuring and complaining and trusted God it would not be as it is today.

We thought, as children often do that our freedom bared no burden of responsibility. Ask any teenager with an allowance and they will tell you that they can buy whatever they want. Only whatever they want may not be good for them or fit into the family dynamic of what is acceptable and not. So the argument ensues as to what is appropriate and what is harmful. They believe their right trumps their father’s rules. So it is with our heavenly Father. We believe our freedom trumps His desires. Yet, the bible tells us that the Lord will prevail in the end. So we end up fighting a losing battle thinking we are somehow winning.

Better to be broken than to snap, just ask any economist today. Better to be broken than to snap, just ask anyone who signed an interest only home loan. Better to be broken than to snap, just ask any spouse who pushed the other just a little too far. Better to be broken than to snap, just ask any person who experimented with drugs and alcohol only to find themselves chained to their addiction. Better to be broken than to snap, just ask any of us who have demanded our own selfish desire over the will of the Father.

As mature of a believer as we want to seem to be, we are still children in many ways. We don’t take the time to cleanse ourselves, like every 10 year old in America others can smell the funk across the room. Just like children, we never learned to rest our desires in God’s hands and so we restlessly reach for the next adrenaline rush from whatever source it comes from. Just as toddlers who want to talk incessantly we are never quiet enough to access the still small voice that leads us to victory. Just as teenagers who think they can make it on their own, we never fully understood what it means to have our strength in Him.

We are going through a period of testing and proving and the lessons which could have been easy will be hard instead. For those whose desire is to wake from their slumber to attempt to serve the one they call Lord and Savior, it will mean some radical changes. Times are tough and will be getting tougher. The difference will be the children who decide to grow up and have the faith to see God provide. Then there will be the others who will continue to murmur and complain and decide that God is only as good as what He’s done for us lately.

Cracked and Bulging

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It’s time we begin to see the cracks in our lives. Not being able to live authentically, not understanding the goodness of God and that evil only exists outside of that goodness and that the length of time that we wander in the desert is about our personal choice to give up our ego. We are mere children crying out for a great move of the spirit. We pray for revival and we ask for the bride to awake from her slumber and all the while we are cracked. Which brings us to the point where God has been directing us to see.

Isaiah 30:1 “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; 2 who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge. 3 But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace. 4 Though they have officials in Zoan and their envoys have arrived in Hanes, 5 everyone will be put to shame because of a people useless to them, who bring neither help nor advantage, but only shame and disgrace.” 6 An oracle concerning the animals of the Negev: Through a land of hardship and distress, of lions and lionesses, of adders and darting snakes, the envoys carry their riches on donkeys’ backs, their treasures on the humps of camels, to that unprofitable nation, 7 to Egypt, whose help is utterly useless. Therefore I call her Rahab the Do-Nothing.
8 Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. 9 These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. 10 They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11 Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” 12 Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says: “Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, 13 this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant.

We have become a people who want to feel good at any cost. Yet, ask yourself, what good does it do to fill a cracked pitcher with water? It will only leak. Yet, we pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and then watch as it leaks out and amounts to nothing. We blame God for the lackadaisical response in the earth today but it is really our own cracked method of attempting to retain a word from the Lord all the while swimming with the sharks.

We aren’t in and we aren’t out but we certainly ask for the Lord to hurry it up. We demand Jesus Drive Thru each Sunday. Yes, we want a family meal and make it fast and cheap and remember we don’t have all day. It leaves us bulging in excess without substance. As quickly as we consume, it is voided out and we say, “The Lord is not in this place!” We lament, “The Lord has forsaken His people.” This is nothing new, man has been doing it since the beginning of time and yet there comes a time when ignorance is no longer an excuse.

In the age of technology with every scripture reference, commentary, concordance, Greek and Hebrew translation literally at our fingertips via the Internet, we can’t say we didn’t know. Our only excuse is we didn’t care.