Tag: Seek first the Kingdom of God

What’s Dead in Your Life?

In this season of renewed faith, my heart is stirring—swelling with the possibilities of the concept found in Ezekiel 37. It by no means is a new idea, but as we know, the distractions of weak faith can cause a forgetfulness to settle on us—keeping us from remembering the tools God has provided for us to live successfully. And seriously, if we will apply these concepts—our life will change.

First let me give you a little insight as to what’s happening in Ezekiel 37. God takes Ezekiel to a valley of dry dead bones—this was not just a few dead bodies but a whole valley full, and asks him a question, He says, “Can these bones live?” What God is really asking Ezekiel is “Do you believe—do you have the faith to believe what’s dead can come to life?”

Such a simple question, but so deep and personal.

God is looking into our eyes—into our heart—asking you and I “Do you believe the dry bones in your life can live?”

Ezekiel’s answer to God’s question is an awesome response of faith—he turns the responsibility of such a miracle back to the Miracle Maker Himself and says “Only you know, sovereign Lord” Essentially “I trust in You and your sovereignty—you are good—you can do anything—just say the word—just look in that direction and it’ll be done.”

When our faith in God takes the hand of expectancy and partners with the truth of His Word—we’d better brace our self, because that’s all it takes for mountains to move—for miracles to happen. Faith stemming from a relationship of complete dependency on God—will bring breakthrough.

Whenever God asks us a question like this it’s rhetorical—He’s not searching for an answer, but stirring our hope—nudging our belief and expectancy—arousing our faith!

Next, God lets Ezekiel know what is required of him. Yes, we must do our part—faith is an action word. The Lord God instructed him to prophesy and say “Oh dry bones hear the Word of the Lord” I love this! All we have to do is first believe, then speak/pray God’s Word to the things in our life that are dehydrated, empty or dead. Tell the dry bones to give heed to the truth—tell them how big our God is.

Ezekiel writes, “So I prophesied as I was commanded” and when he did there was a noise, a rattling as the bones came together, as sinew and flesh covered them.

But that was not all, the bones came together but they were still void of life. This is the picture of believers today—lots of movement, but no life—a lot of information—tons of knowledge, but no knowing of God the Father, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This is the cause of the dehydration—this is why faith is weak—we need to put away our rules and come into relationship.

In verse 9, the Lord tells Ezekiel

“Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”

The meaning of the word breath is spirit. We must speak to the Spirit of God—inviting Him to come breathe life into lifelessness.

Lastly Ezekiel responds to the Lord (a response on our part is always necessary) he says So I prophesied, just as he commanded me.” And when he did what was commanded the breath entered the dead and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army!

Everyday, all day we are faced with something or someone needing life. We can speak, pray and prophesy into our own personal life, our spouse and marriage, our kids, family and churches, into those who need God, into our businesses and work place, into hopes and dreams that are dormant. We can breathe words of life into relationships, finances, health, bad character, weaknesses and addictions—the possibilities are endless!

When we speak life and when the Holy Spirit breathes His breath into a person or situation it’s the act of inflating what was deflated. What’s deflated and dead in your life?

Will you prophesy and speak to your circumstances—will you tell the Breath of God to breathe His life to those situations around you—as commanded? It would be crazy not to!

What would stop you?

Fear of disappointment?

Weak faith?

If so—be encouraged to stir yourself—start by prophesying to your thirsty faith! Speak the Word to your unbelief and watch it form—speak to the Breath of God to invade your faith and heart—then listen for the signs of life!

As you listen for the signs of life keep three things in mind…

1. Seek Him first—eyes on the Miracle Maker not the miracle

2. Patience—don’t waste the wait with worry

3. Remember—the devil’s main objective is to rob you of your faith—resist him!

Ezekiel 37:1-10,  The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”  Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

Divine Rearrangement

cs lewis

I was recently reminded of a time in my life where the landscape of my heart and soul were rearranged. Prior to this divine rearrangement I was unsatisfied with my life and my simple Christianity, I knew there had to be more.

In my thirst I cried out to the Lord asking for His rain, fire, wind and flood. I did this with an unpretentious understanding that He would come and bring something fresh. What I didn’t realize was that it would rearrange my entire life.

When we think of the rain of God—we picture Him showering us with His love, the fire of God is pictured as His intense presence, the wind—His Spirit flowing through us, the flood—an abundance of refreshing.

That’s very poetic, but in all reality when those four elements arrived they overwhelmed everything I knew, and when they left I was rearranged. Rearranged for the better of course—and in the end that’s all that really mattered.

I was reflecting on hurricanes and tsunamis, or storms of any kind—after their initial devastation the landscape, to say the least, is rearranged.

Most times we don’t understand why hardships are allowed to interrupt our life—but what I do know is—God is constantly good, and always has a beautiful purpose for divine rearrangement.

Even the simplest most sought after situations bring rearrangement. Take marriage for example—the young couple so excited to finally live together, embark on their new life and suddenly reality hits—they have to learn to live their life in a whole new manner. It’s no longer about one person, but about selflessly giving your whole self to the person who just invaded your space! Now life is rearranged.

Or how about having a new baby? The couple has hoped and prayed and imagined how wonderful this new precious life will be. And yes, this baby is the most perfect gift. But truth be told—this tiny, adorable child has many needs! And life as you know it is divinely rearranged!

In all situations it’s our heart that matters. We must keep a soft, pliable heart towards God. Embracing the good and the bad—seeking His divine, sovereign purpose—even in rearrangement.

Please be encouraged knowing that if God be for you who can be against you!

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3

Debilitating Fear

Have you ever been so consumed with fear that you could hardly move? Has your heart ever been so devastated and broken—so fearful of pain—you could  scarcely breathe—let alone continue on with normal life?

Fear is a thief—suspending and incapacitating life.

But that’s not all—let me let you in on a secret—fear is really a facade. That’s right as enormous and intimatading as fear may seem—in light of who Jesus is fear is very puny and ineffective!

I just read a story about how Jesus healed, restored and delivered a tortured man.  (Read Luke 8: 26-38)  After his healing this man clothed, and in his right mind, sat at the feet of Jesus—listening, loving and taking in every word He said. The man was truly restored.

The town’s people however, were terrified of the change that came to the tortured man—they were fearful of the peace that now filled the man. As a result of their fear they asked Jesus, even though He had only been there a very short while, to get back into His boat and leave.

I marvel at the ignorance of these people. Jesus does a miracle and the people are so afraid they ask Him to leave?

What would have happened in that whole town if the people instead welcomed Him? How many lives would have been changed and hearts healed if they had chosen faith in the place of fear?

How many times could our own heart and lives be helped—if we would just choose faith?

Be encouraged, by the grace of God, to stand in faith and draw near to Jesus. To live in hope and belief—not allowing debilitating fear to rule and ruin the peaceful life Jesus intends for you to have.

Please remember in the light of who Jesus is—fear is a puny, ineffective facade—therefore give it no room in your life!

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

What is Significant to God?

In what does God’s heart delight? We can be sure of this—what thrills God’s heart is in stark contrast to what our culture finds significant. The world typically glories in three standards: wisdom, power, and wealth. Likewise, success is widely measured by these gauges. But what is significant to God?

Jeremiah 9:23-24, beautifully relays God’s heart in this matter,

Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says the LORD.

Is God against intellect, strength or wealth? No, not all; He created them for us. The basis here is this: If we are going to find significance in anything, let it not be in our accomplishments but let it be in the fact we understand and know God.

Those who know God and understand He is the Lord, the One who exercises lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness—these are the ones that He delights in; these thrill God’s heart.

Paul writes, Philippians 3:7-10

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead.

Paul lived life to its fullest, yet concluded that nothing mattered but knowing God. In verse 12 of chapter 3 he says,

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Christ has laid hold of us so we can live, breathe and have our being in Him—essentially—to know Him and make Him known.

Paul’s desire to know God emanated from nothing less than to know Him—not for gain, but out of love. He didn’t seek His hand, just His face. God’s heart is delighted by those such as Paul, who glory in just knowing Him.

Please be encouraged not to find your significance in intellect, might or money, and certainly not in being a Christian or in doing Christian works. Instead let us find our significance in God and in knowing Him. May we be found as His delight.

Hosea 6:3

Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.

One Goal

When you’re on the verge of something new, do you feel excitement or panic? Expectation or dread?

There were many years in my life where a new year just brought dread. I was exhausted of false hope—anxiety filled my heart at the thought of making resolutions. Expectancy of change was illusive.

Why? Well—in those days my hope was in what I could do. After years of making resolutions and setting up goals for myself that I never accomplished—my hope was diminished.

As I have learned to make Christ my hope and to lean not on my own abilities but His ability in me—I’m hopeful, expectant and very excited for the new year.

As we converge on this new year, may there be just one goal in our heart—to love and know God more.

I guarantee that from this one thing of knowing, loving and submitting to God, an abundance of life, blessing, favor, knowledge, wisdom, understanding and hope will be birthed in your life.

Please be encouraged set your hope—not in what you can do—but in what He can do in you.

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: 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 inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37

Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring. Hosea 6:3

Free but Costly

If someone were to go to a free community event, would that person be free to act however they want at that event? Say they wanted to hit and offend everyone they came in contact with, could they? It’s a free event—are they free to do as they please? What if they wanted to drink alcohol and get totally drunk and act foolishly, could they? Would it be permissible for them to freely have sex at this event? Or would there be a conduct code?

What about freedom in Christ? It’s free. Can the saved person act however they want?

What does free in Christ mean? Are we free to do as we please, is that what it means?

If it’s free then why is it so costly?

Freedom is free—meaning you can’t buy or earn your way in. But freedom does have a cost. America’s freedom has cost many lives.

A Christian’s freedom is free, but it cost Jesus His life.

The freedom we have in Christ means we are free from death, sin, hell and the world—free from the devil and all his evil. We love this part and rightly so, but where things get tangled up is the world component.

We are to be in but not of the world, okay so where do we free Christians draw our line? We obviously have to live in the world and no doubt it is one of our biggest adversaries.

Now think of this as the free community event, can a person do whatever they want? The answer is no. Just because it’s free it does not mean you can freely do whatever you desire or feel like. It’s the same with Christianity; just because it’s free we are not free to do as we please.

The freedom we have in Christ translates to this—free to love and obey—we are free from the devils hold on us and we are free to love and obey God and His word.

Our freedom costs us our life as we knew it before we accepted Christ as savior. Christ bought us a relationship of intimacy with God the Father, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit—intimacy that comes by way of freely submitting (James 4:7-8).

Sadly a lot of people have a hard time with this. Until I realized that my freedom was about relationship I did too. When we are not aware of the relationship factor, then it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to do whatever we want, not caring if we grieve God, using the grace clause as our excuse. The reason being—it’s all about us and our happiness—not realizing genuine happiness is the joy that’s found in relationship with God.

Christianity is not about going to church, ministry, being good, evangelism or any other reason. These are all necessary biblical elements but they are not why we become Christians—no, we become followers of Christ because of love. He first loved us—showing us how to love Him and others.

This amazing love cannot be attained outside of a relationship with God and relationship with God will cost you your life.

It makes sense. Think about it—how can we accept the free gift and draw near to God outside of holiness? What relationship does light have with dark? None. Sin separates light from dark.

Galatians 2:20 says,

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Essentially freedom bought our ability to crucify the old worldly person/life, so Christ, the light of the world, could live in us.

Listen to Romans 6:12-14 from The Message,

That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.

The freedom of God gives grace—grace leads to obedience—obedience leads to righteousness—we are instructed in Romans 6:13 to be instruments of righteousness.

Take note of what Paul says in Romans 6:15-16 about grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

We are free to love God—free to obey—free to lay our life down as a living sacrifice—free to be in the world and not of it—His grace makes way for it.

Please be encouraged in knowing that your freedom was bought with precious blood, shed to draw you near to God Himself.

Following is Romans 6:15-23 from The Message. It’s very lengthy but so good!

So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom! I’m using this freedom language because it’s easy to picture. You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness? As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you’re proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end. But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.

Skillful Living 101—14 Upright

If you’ve read the Bible for any length of time, you’ve no doubt come across the word upright. A huge component to living skillfully, is to ascertain uprightness. I know it can seem as an out dated expression or concept, but truthfully, living uprightly is key to relationship with God and to blessings.

The attributes of the upright are: Integrity, blameless, prudent, virtue, honor, morality, truth, reliability, decency, discrete, honest and righteousness.

Two character traits of an upright person are wisdom, and understanding. The book of Proverbs is drenched with instruction on being wise and acquiring understanding.

Everyone with any sense—desires to navigate through life skillfully. Remember—the book of Proverbs is our guide for skillful living. A firm grasp on uprightness will assist us in living wisely.

One way to look at uprightness is to see it as freedom. Leviticus 26:13 says,

I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright.

The burden of bondage causes us to slump over with heaviness, worry, condemnation and shame. Freedom looses us to stand upright, both in our stature and in our heart and soul.

Almost all of Proverbs 14 has to do with walking uprightly, but I will highlight just a few (or more) significant verses, using NKJV and The Message.

Verse 1, “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”
This is huge and one of my favorites (being a woman and all). If we are not in unity and submission with God and His will, as well as with our husbands, we—with our own hands demolish our family! Careful ladies!

Verse 2—“He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.”
The Message version reiterates this verse very frankly. “An honest life shows respect for God; a degenerate life is a slap in his face.” Ouch!

Verse 3—“In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.”

Verse 9—“Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor.”
Upright people have a hard time sinning—God’s favor, is their reward.

Verse 10—“The house of the wicked will be overthrown, but the tent of the upright will flourish.”

Verse 12 & 13—“There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.”

Verse 25—“Souls are saved by truthful witness and betrayed by the spread of lies.”

Verse 29—“Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.”

Verse 30—“A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.”
One way to attain good health is to align your heart with God’s.

Verse 33—“Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding, but what is in the heart of fools is made known.”

Maybe you’re wondering—how do I live uprightly? How do I get wisdom and understanding? These are not stupid questions!

First, start with sincerely asking God—if we seek Him we will find Him. Seeking God means to wholeheartedly go after Him.

Proverbs 8:17
I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.

Next, if you’re seriously seeking Him, expect that He will answer and show you His will. When He does—deny yourself and obey His directives.

A lot of the time God keeps silent because He knows we won’t listen and do what He tells us, that’s why we must seek Him diligently. If we want to be wise and have understanding thus live uprightly—the first wise step is to listen and obey.

Proverbs 1:28-29
When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.  For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear (obey) the Lord.

Changing our lifestyle is not always easy and change has to start on the inside. In seeking God first, we can be confident that He will take care of all the things we are concerned about. (Matt. 6:33)

Please be encouraged to ask God to help you live your life uprightly, you will not regret it—there are many rewards for upright living!

Skillful Living Tools

  • To live skillfully—ascertain uprightness
  • Understand that living uprightly is freedom
  • Build your home with wisdom—don’t tear it apart with un-submissiveness
  • The home and family of the upright will flourish
  • Respect and honor God by living an honest life
  • Be slow to anger
  • The first step in being wise—is to listen and obey
  • Remember change starts on the inside

Please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated weekly) at the top of this page!

Skillful Living 101—8 Wisdom’s Excellence

The Excellence of Wisdom

Wisdom, insight and understanding sound their request. Let all who have a heart to hear—pay attention to the excellence of wisdom.

What is the excellence of wisdom? Nothing less than Christ.

As we read Proverbs 8, it’s as Christ Himself is calling to the very core of our being, saying listen—my words are plain, give ear to understanding, use good judgment, do not be foolish, but embrace Me—behold wisdom and live.

Wisdom’s value is priceless, of more worth than gold, silver and precious jewels.

What do you desire most? Proverbs 8:11 shamelessly states, nothing we desire can compare with wisdom. That’s a huge declaration, one to ponder.

Take that which is of greatest desire to you, feel its worth—and know that the scripture says wisdom is of greater value.

Be stirred to make an exchange with God—that which you desire, for that which God desires for you—Christ the excellence of wisdom and the fruit of His righteousness.

Proverbs 8:17-18 coincides with Matthew 6:33, they pronounce;

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me. Riches and honor are with me, enduring riches and righteousness.”

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

It really is simple, but most difficult for our flesh; seek Him first and He adds all things, according to His will, to you. Our human mind wants to reason how can this simple daily choice of seeking God first help me?

Listen…wisdom is calling…instructing us to choose to seek Him first.
Hear with faith…tune your spiritual ears.

Proverbs 8:19 articulates that the profit of choosing Him first is superior over any other choice.

“My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver.”

Verse 34 offers a nugget of truth on seeking Him—that will change your life.  It says, watch daily at His gates and wait at His door post.

Watch for the Lord—wait for Him, He will come. Jesus is the wisdom of God, He fills every need—every day!

If you want blessings, favor and life from the Lord, simply keep His ways, hear His instruction and make your heart His home.

Proverbs 8:33-36 “Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.”

Be encouraged to read Proverbs 8 with the perspective of wisdom being Christ—it will bless you!

Check out the skillful Living Tool Box (updated weekly) at the top of this page.

Skillful Living Tools:

  • Ask for the revelation of Christ as the wisdom of God
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
  • Keep His ways
  • Listen to instruction and be wise
  • Watch and wait for the Lord