A Fresh Crop

“Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him.” Revelations 22:1-3.

I’m convinced, as you read this verse, you are like me in that you will have new revelation of God’s Word explode on the inside of you! Lately, as I’ve read and studied the Word of God, a new hunger has been stirred on the inside of me! I hunger and thirst for more revelation knowledge of the Word because I’ve come to the realization that I’m not walking in revelation of what I already have – what Jesus has already paid the price for me to possess!

As l read these verses, “yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” came alive to me. In the natural, I can’t name a tree that produces new fruit every month? However, in the spiritual realm, this means a continuous harvest of a fresh crop is available to us; a continuous harvest of healing. Not just healing for the physical body, but healing for the mind (revelation); healing for finances (restoration); healing for every area of your life, for every person in Christ!

Psalm 103:2, reads, “Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits.”

Every month you have a fresh crop of healing! That mean in your personal age – where you are right now, this very moment; your personal situation, you have access to fresh healing, fresh restoration, fresh mercy, because it is one of God’s benefits.

“It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

God is faithful to deliver what you stand in faith to receive; be it healing, restoration, mercy, grace, or whatever you need. He is faithful!

Grace

You may have sin, but God has grace! Can you wrap your mind around that statement? It doesn’t matter what you have done, what you are doing, or what you are going to do, God’s grace has already got you covered. Your sins are already forgiven. I know! I know! It was hard for me to wrap my mind around that statement, too because I know my past! But…let’s look at the Word of God and let it be the final authority of this wonderful gift called “Grace!”

In Romans 5:6-21, The Message Bible explains the New Covenant (a better covenant) of grace compared to the Old Covenant law. “So, my friends, this is something like what has taken place with you. When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for God. For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths. But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God…

“But I can hear you say, “If the law code was as bad as all that, it’s no better than sin itself.” That’s certainly not true. The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behavior would be mostly guesswork. Apart from the succinct, surgical command, “You shall not covet,” I could have dressed covetousness up to look like a virtue and ruined my life with it…

“Don’t you remember how it was? I do, perfectly well. The law code started out as an excellent piece of work. What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of “forbidden fruit” out of it. The law code, instead of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me. Without all the paraphernalia of the law code, sin looked pretty dull and lifeless, and I went along without paying much attention to it. But once sin got its hands on the law code and decked itself out in all that finery, I was fooled, and fell for it. The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong. So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead…

“I can already hear your next question: “Does that mean I can’t even trust what is good [that is, the law]? Is good just as dangerous as evil?” No again! Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me. By hiding within God’s good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own.

“I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for me and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

“But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

“The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”

Romans 8:1-4 goes on to say, “With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

“God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.”

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. Grace does what the Law cannot do!

Honor

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life. Proverbs 22:4 Honor is the central focus to all other principles of the Bible. Proverbs has much to say about honor and covenant by a wise man who’s teaching his son how to live a righteous life style.

Abraham was chosen by God to establish His covenant because He knew Abraham would teach his children to “keep the ways of the Lord”…or in other words, he would live a life based on and filled with honor for God. Genesis 18:17-19. When he did this, Abraham was in right-standing with God.

Proverbs 21:21 tells us that “He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness and honor.”  Jesus repeated these same words in Matthew 6:33, when He said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  In these two verses we’re guaranteed that anyone who follows, or seeks, after mercy and righteousness (right-standing with God) will receive both with honor.

The person who gives will find life, dominion, authority, and honor. Matthew 10:39 reminds us “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” In order to give, a person must make himself vulnerable just as Jesus did when He gave Himself on the cross for us. Losing sight of ourselves will cause us to find life. When he gives his life, or puts it at risk, when he make himself vulnerable obeying the Word of God, he places himself in a position in which God can trust him with dominion, authority, life, and honor.

To go a step further, the Word of God tells us that we are to honor one another in Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.”  The honor of God (His covenant with us) will change our attitude.  When we live in honor, it brings God into the situation.

When we honor the covenant God offers us, He’ll honor us with love, grace, mercy, and prosperity.

Generosity

As I sit by our Christmas tree in the quiet, stillness of the predawn morning, I enjoy looking at the glowing red lights shining a reflection on the red ornaments with gift boxes and tissue paper hiding the special gifts for our family and friends. Proverbs 11:25 comes to mind, “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” 

I remember several years ago, we had no gifts under the tree for our children, yet they had gifts Christmas morning. Generous souls blessed our family and they were blessed in the process.     

Since then, we’ve been able to give to others and we couldn’t help but be blessed ourselves. The joy that fills your heart when you give is a true blessing from God.  What a treat it has been to see our children, who are actually young adults now, plan what they are going to give to their friends and family this Christmas. They are so excited. Little do they know the blessing and joy they will experience in their hearts as they give to others.     

How much more exciting it is to give an eternal gift; a life changing gift of a word fitly spoken in due season or an act of kindness that has a “priceless” price tag on it? You know what I’m talking about – simply showing someone the love of God through your kind actions and words!     

Kindness and giving are not just for the holiday season; it’s for everyday life!  As you give, give generously; you can’t help but be blessed generously in return.  My prayer for you is that you will not only embrace a lifestyle of generous giving, but that you will embrace God’s love for you and let Him bless you lavishly in return. His desire as your Heavenly Daddy is to pour out His love on you – and he does that through other people.     

Pride would keep you from receiving anything from God or others; however, a humble person has learned to receive by simply being like Father Abraham.  He received by faith beforehand by simply saying “Thank You!”

Relationships

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)  Who have you been associating with over the past few weeks or months that has sharpened you spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially?  A recent trip to the Smokey Mountains presented this subject to me; as a matter of fact, it was an in-your-face presentation! Up close and personal presentation!

I will tell you straight up – I was sharpened! My flesh was in great pain. My emotions and attitudes were called to attention. Change was on the horizon!

Imagine a dull knife blade being laid on the grinding stone to be sharpened by the blade smith.  Although the metal resists, the pressure of the blade against the stone creates a smooth, razor sharp edge removing all the dull edges. A knife sharpener doesn’t always move quickly, but applies steady, consistent pressure. To sharpen a good quality steel knife that is new, he uses a high quality, diamond, knife sharpening steel. A few strokes every time before being used and it will keep the knife razor sharp.

It is the same principle when you position yourself to be sharpened by a friend. Find that “diamond” friend who will speak high quality words into your life so you’ll be sharpened to a razor sharp edge.

If the knife is very dull, a carpenter’s sharpening flat stone is very good at reviving the knife’s edge. Just be aware that the angle you sharpen a knife at is crucial. It’s best to take dull knives to a professional sharpener, and then maintain them as noted above. There will be times in our life when we get dull.  As painful as it may be at the moment, present yourself you to your “diamond” friend and allow their words to sharpen you.  At times, it may not be the words you want to hear; however, a “diamond” friend will present those hard words to turn dull edges into razors sharp tools.   

Contrary to what some people believe, sharp knives cut people far less than blunt knives. When a knife is sharp, less pressure is used to cut. Care for your knives and they will last a lifetime.  How fitting for this subject.  When you stay sharpen by the Word of God and the relationships you cultivate, you don’t hurt other people and you can help others become sharp.  The sharper you are, the less pressure you have to withstand. 

Take time to hang out with those people who will sharpen you and help you become a better person.

Triumphant

Paul said we are persecuted but not forsaken. We’re cast down but not destroyed. One translation says, knocked down but not knocked out! Just because the devil is able to get a punch in on you, just because something is delayed, just because something is hindered, just because the symptoms stay longer than you think they should….don’t cast your confidence away. Don’t give up and quit! Don’t listen to the raven saying “Never more!  You answer the bell again. If you’ll just keep answering the bell, you’re going to win. God said so! Keep answering the bell because you don’t know which bell it is that has your victory attached to it. You don’t know which bell is going to be the last bell, the last round causing you to win. But one thing is certain, if you lay there in the middle of the floor with your face in the carpet crying and you don’t answer the bell, you’ve lost. The only way for you to lose, is to quit and throw in the towel.

You may feel like you have a broken leg, a skinned up head, a cut ear, fractured nose, and you’re just seeing out of one eye…when you hear the bell ring you reach down on the inside where the Greater One lives and you answer that bell one more time. You keep saying “it is written” and God has promised me…the  unchangeable word of God says “I WILL ALWAYS TRIUMPH, ALWAYS WIN! ALWAYS! Through Christ Jesus.”

Say this out loud right now….I ALWAYS, always, triumph, through Christ Jesus.  I refuse to quit.  I refuse to give up.  I refuse to be discouraged.  I refuse to be dismayed.  I always triumph in Christ! Say it like you mean it! Say it until it takes hold of you in your spirit man and it gets rooted deep inside you. “I ALWAYS, triumph.” 

The Message says “God leads us in one perpetual victory parade.”  That’s ALWAYS!

Purpose

Have you ever wondered why you are here – right now, doing what you’re doing? You may have had thoughts that you were not planned by your parents or that they really didn’t want you, or you may be the result of a rape incident. Quite frankly, all that doesn’t matter!

According to Jeremiah 1:5, God knew you before you were ever conceived. The Word says, “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you… that’s what I had in mind for you.” Jeremiah 1:5

And, not only that, He loves you with an everlasting love according to Jeremiah 31:3. “The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love;

Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” So you see, it really doesn’t matter what your parents thought about you or how you came into existence, because God has a purpose for your life, and He loves you passionately and forever…so much so, that He knows the exact number of hairs on your head! Matthew 10:29-31

“You may not know Him, be He knows everything about you.” Psalm 139:1.He knows you intimately; to include your biggest dreams and your deepest fears. He loves you no matter what you do, how you act, or what you think! There’s nothing you can do to make Him love you more than He does right now. Plus, there’s nothing you can do to make Him love you any less! His love for you doesn’t change.

He is intimately involved in every area of your life; it doesn’t matter how insignificant it may be to you, God chose you when He planned creation and He’s promised to never leave you or forsake you. Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” To Him, you aren’t just another statistic; you are incredibly unique, with a special purpose only you can fulfill.

It’s sad to say, but many of us have been taught that God sits in heaven just waiting for us to mess up and then He punishes us. We’ve been taught that He is very legalistic and there’s no room for error, which is so contrary to the Word of God. He draws us to Himself with lovingkindnes. God is a merciful God, His mercies are new every morning and they endure for forever. Actually, He’s not distant or angry, but He is the complete expression of love. “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16 ESV

The fact is this – you don’t have to do anything special to receive God’s love and grace. You just have to receive His offer of eternal life and put your trust in Him. The more you spend time with Him, the more you will trust Him, the more you trust Him the more your heart will be knit to His and His purpose for your life will be realized. And remember Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, “I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for,” because He is the perfect Father. Matthew 5:48

Completion – Quit Procrastinating!

 What a day! It’s been very fruitful as I’ve determined to complete unfinished projects that have been calling my name and waiting for my attention day after day, month after month!

Have you ever noticed that when you don’t complete a project before you begin another one, it always causes stress later on? The old saying of “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today” is great wisdom to take to heart.  We’ve all put things off until a later time with the result of feeling pressure to get today’s work, as well as yesterday’s tasks completed…and you can add to that pressure the unexpected issues or opportunities that come but because of lack of preparation you’re not prepared to handle them or accept them.

In Ecclesiastes 9:10a we read, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”  I really like how The Message Bible tells us to live life, “Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, drink wine with a robust heart. Oh yes–God takes pleasure in your pleasure! Dress festively every morning. Don’t skimp on colors and scarves. Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange for the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! This is your last and only chance at it…” 

Not only are we supposed to work hard and enjoy the fruits of our labor, but Ecclesiastes 7:8 tells us that “Something completed is better than something just begun,” or “The end of a matter is better than its beginning.”

You can tell where I’ve been reading and what God has been dealing with me about – Completing what I start.  My daughter, Emily, and I had a conversation this past week about leaving dinner dishes in the sink overnight.  As I was washing off the dishes to put them in the dishwasher, the Holy Spirit explained to me that I was taking care of yesterday’s chores before I could even begin today’s responsibilities.  I was bringing yesterday into today – a brand new day, full of new opportunities and possibilities that I could not take advantage of because I was dealing with yesterday’s stuff!

What a simple illustration for such a profound revelation. Since God’s mercies are new every day and He loads us daily with His benefits, why would we want to drag our yesterdays into our todays? I challenge you as I have myself, to discipline yourself to complete your daily tasks and goals for each day so you can start your new day excited about what God’s gong to do for you, and through you to help others. 

Not only that, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have done everything you can do to go forward today – being a better person and being all that you can be to show others Jesus!

Restoration Is A Promise

We recently moved into a bigger home, closer to church and church family. This has been a goal of our family for almost five years. As I had my hands in the dish water doing the dishes yesterday, I was thanking God for bringing restoration to our family. I was overcome with the presence of the Holy Spirit to the point all I could do was worship Him through my tears. I’m so thankful for what He’s done for our family.

He’s opened doors for us to step through which has allowed us to experience His goodness, His restoration, on a very personal level. Five years ago, as I looked over our belongs strowed across the lawn like the aftermath of the recent tornados, I was devastated and wondered if we would ever get our lives put back together. For five years I stood on the Bible verses from the Message Bible found in Jeremiah 30:18-19, “Again, God’s Message: “‘I’ll turn things around for Jacob (Lucia). I’ll compassionately come in and rebuild homes. The town will be rebuilt on its old foundations; the mansions will be splendid again. Thanksgivings will pour out of the windows; laughter will spill through the doors. Things will get better and better. Depression days are over. They’ll thrive, they’ll flourish. The days of contempt will be over.”
 
That was and is my promise of restoration! I say “is” because I still believe God for restoration of other things that were stolen from us.

That verse is in the Old Covenant and so is Jeremiah 33:10 which reads, “…I’ll restore everything that was lost in this land. I’ll make everything as good as new.’ I, God, say so.” Since we are no longer under the Old Covenant, but under the New Covenant which has better promises, let’s look at the following verse from Romans 3:22 that reads, “…He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” That is Covenant my friend!

Covenant means you have a binding agreement; compact; a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action. So, when God tells you He is going to do something, it is a sure thing it is already done because of the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is up to us to receive everything that Jesus has already done for us.

You may ask yourself, “How do I receive what Jesus has done?” I’m so glad you asked!! Your faith activates God’s power in your life and when you simply say “Thank You!” like Father Abraham did, you are using your faith! Faith takes what has already been done for you. What you are desiring may not have manifested today, so you get up in the morning and say, “Thank You, Lord! I believe I receive it now! Today is the day!” That’s how simple it is to work your faith muscle; and like any other muscle, it has to be developed!

The devil would try to discourage you and tell you what you are standing in faith to receive will never come to pass. He’ll bring delays, discouragement, and disappointments, BUT, God has promised restoration and all we have to do is stay in faith, don’t quit, and rejoice before we see it manifest!! If He did this for us, He will do it for you because He is no respecter of persons!

A Covenant of Redemption

It was early this morning or late last night, depending on your perspective, when I kept hearing the word “redeemed” roll around in my spirit. I thought about the green stamps my parents would get when they would buy gas and then we would “redeem” them for something of value that we wanted.
 
So this morning when I got up, I decided to look up the definition of the word “redeem”. This is what I found: it’s a verb so it shows action. It means to buy back; repurchase; to get or win back; to free from what distresses or harms – as to free from captivity by payment of ransom or to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental or to release from blame or debt; clear – to free from the consequences of sin. It also means to change for the better – reform, repair, restore; to free from a lien by payment of an amount secured thereby to remove the obligation of by payment, or to exchange for something of value; to make good – fulfill; to atone for – expiate or redeem an error; to offset the bad effect of; to make worthwhile; retrieve.
 
As I thought about what Jesus did for us when he went to the cross in relation to redeemed, I have a better understanding of what actually happened on the cross…Jesus bought us back! He paid a debt that we couldn’t pay ourselves. He redeemed us from the curse as we read in Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself.” Do you remember the Scripture that says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”? That’s what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham’s blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God’s life, his Spirit, in and with us by believing—just the way Abraham received it.”
 
As we look back at the Old Testament to Isaiah, which is a type and shadow of the New Testament, where you see “Jacob” (whose name was changed to Israel in Genesis 35:10) you can insert your name and personalize each verse which will help you have a better understanding of redemption…Isaiah 44:21, reads “Remember these things, O Jacob. Take it seriously, Israel, that you’re my servant. I made you, shaped you: You’re my servant. O Israel, I’ll never forget you. I’ve wiped the slate of all your wrongdoings. There’s nothing left of your sins. Come back to me, come back. I’ve redeemed you.” And in Isaiah 44:23 we read, “High heavens, sing! God has done it. Deep earth, shout! And you mountains, sing! A forest choir of oaks and pines and cedars! God has redeemed Jacob. God’s glory is on display in Israel.”
 
When you ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart and be your Lord and Savior, you are redeemed, not only bought back or ransomed from the enemy, but helped to overcome something detrimental! This should encourage you to know that you can overcome anything that comes your way when you focus on what Jesus has already purchased for you with His Blood. When you were born again, you entered into the finished work of Jesus Christ. There’s nothing else that has to be done for you to experience victory except for you to receive by faith the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ!