I Have Decided

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This morning, let’s go ahead and make it clear. Let’s make the choice. We will not give ear to the enemy. We will not allow doubt or fear, accusation or the threat of insufficiency dwell in our minds. We will not allow deception to divide our hearts. We will not passively listen as the enemy tries to divert us from our purpose and God’s promises for us.

We are not helpless, for the Helper has come and lives within us. We are not defeated, because Christ has overcome sin, death, and darkness. We live-move-breathe in FREEDOM because of the cross. We are not barely making it, sure to fail, or only slightly acceptable in the eyes of God. We are REDEEMED. We are wearing HIS righteousness. We are LOVED. Not only can we come boldly into the throne-room of God…He has made His home within us!

We have the strength of God Almighty upholding us today. We aren’t going to be perfect, but HE is and His grace is sufficient in our weakness. We are not defenseless, because He has given us His word and His Spirit. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have the power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

So we know who we are – sons and daughters of God. We know who He is – good, perfect in all His ways, mighty. We know His promises – all things new, all things working together for our good, all things complete in Him. We know what we have been given – His own power, His authority, His presence…

Knowing all of that, it is up to us to make the decision.

We can open our ears to the enemy and let him tell us everything we don’t have, what we are not, and how we don’t have enough to offer….OR we will use the weapons we have been given – faith, truth, the very Words of God – to cut his lies off from our hearts.

Let’s stand up and walk forward today in our rightful inheritance of peace and joy, secure with our Father going before us, knowing that offering ourselves to Him is enough. Let’s put aside the things that trip is up and put our confidence in Him. Let’s love and live to bring Him glory.

Decide here and now with me– we will NOT allow the lies of the deceiver to take up residence in our minds today.

God ALONE reigns in this home, this life, this heart.

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Renew In Me

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You chose us, even before the foundation of this world was laid. Your love doesn’t come and go. It doesn’t change. Your compassionate heart is faithful toward us. Your purpose for us is unshakeable.

You are steadfast. Firm and unwavering.

How I want those words to describe my faith, my love, my heart.

I want my heart to be undivided, wholly Yours.

Let no distraction turn my eyes from You. Let it be Your approval that I am after, unswayed by anyone else’s opinions of me. Let my own desires be re-shaped until I can say to live is Christ, to die is gain. Let my ambitions be wholly displaced by a life lived for Your glory. Let every sin that tries to trip me up be cast aside, every thought put under obedience to You. Let every doubt be replaced with trust. Let my ears be closed to fear and open only to Your voice.

Every time, Lord, and in everything–I want to say: I choose You.

forgiven

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He holds nothing against us. He does not condemn us. He is not disappointed in us.

We are forgiven.

That means sin removed from us as far as the east is from the west. It means past sins remembered no more. Forgiven means covered with the righteousness of Jesus.

Forgiven is mercy wrapping us in His unfailing love. Forgiveness is the soul made new, His Spirit within us. The Father speaks – “forgiven” – and it means freedom.

For just a moment, forget how many times you’ve heard it…and listen with your heart that is beloved and made holy. Listen with your soul that owes no debt and is not bound by shame. Listen with all of who you are…a daughter or a son of the Mighty King, one who belongs to this family He has created. Chosen and cherished, pursued and redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus. That is who you are.

Forgiven.

It’s one of the most beautiful words I know.

“I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And You forgave the guilt of my sin.” -Psalm 32:5

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”-2 Cor. 5:17

the One who loves

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If you need someplace steady to stand…if you need a love to lean on…if you need arms that are always welcoming…if you need to know that eyes of love really see & really know you…if you need to know that your future is not determined by your past failures but by a Father full of grace–call out to Him. Those who seek will find, those who knock will be answered…and so God will be there for you. He IS there, already, waiting for you to find your hope and rest in Him.

Scripture & Song: Grace Alone

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.-1 John 3:1

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.-Romans 5:8

 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…-Eph.2:4-9

GRACE ALONE

I was an orphan, lost at the fall,
running away when I’d hear you call-
but Father, You worked Your will.
I had no righteousness of my own,
I had no right to draw near Your throne-
but Father, You loved me still.
And in love, before You laid the world’s foundation,
You predestined to adopt me as Your own.
You have raised me so high above my station-
I’m a child of God by grace, and grace alone.
You left Your home to seek out the lost,
You knew the great and terrible cost-But Jesus, your face was set
I worked my fingers down to the bone
But nothing I did could ever atone
but Jesus, You paid my debt.
By Your blood I have redemption and salvation-
Lord, You died that I might reap what You have sown.
And You rose that I might be a new creation-
I am born again by grace, and grace alone.
I was darkness all of my life,
I never knew the day from the night-
but Spirit, You made me see.
I swore I knew the way on my own,
a head full of rocks, a heart made of stone-but Spirit, You moved in me.
And at Your touch, my sleeping spirit was awakened-
on my darkened heart the light of Christ has shone.
Called into a kingdom that cannot be shaken,
Heaven’s citizen by grace, and grace alone.
So I’ll stand in faith by grace, and grace alone.
I will run the race by grace, and grace alone.
I will slay my sins by grace, and grace alone.
I will reach the end by grace, and grace alone.

A Purpose & A Promise

 

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Around the year 568 BC,  Jerusalem had been destroyed and the people of God were living a life of exile in Babylon. But God had promised restoration and He began to bring His people back to their homeland. Under the leadership of  Zerubbabel, they returned to Jerusalem…and they set their hearts on rebuilding the temple of God.

But their city had been demolished – to rebuild meant starting over. And the men of Judah were vulnerable, facing opposition from the people who had settled in the area during their long absence. Their enemies did everything they could to discourage them as they worked to build the temple, even convincing King Artaxerxes to put a stop to their progress. It was a start-and-stop process, a long and difficult journey from the days of laying a foundation to the day of completion. At times, it must have seemed that it would never be done. On the worst days, it must have felt impossible.

Maybe that’s why, along the way,  the Lord spoke a word for Zerubbabel to the prophet Zechariah:

Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty. ‘What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’

Then the word of the Lord came to me: ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple;  his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?‘”

Stone by stone, step by step, day by day – the temple would be completed. It was a promise for Zerubbabel and the people of Judah – God was with them and He was still in control. Their part was to listen and obey…He would take care of the rest. They were not strong enough in power or resources to accomplish what God had called them to do — but His Spirit was greater than any obstacle they faced.

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I’ve been thinking about Zerubbabel and this work given to him.  I can imagine that wondering whispers of ‘is it even possible?’ and ‘I don’t have what it takes!’ probably ran through his mind.

Sometimes those same kinds of thoughts run through mine and I am willing to guess that you’ve heard them in your own life.

Maybe Zerubbabel’s enemies told the laborers that their work was useless, unimportant, going nowhere. Perhaps they tried to convince them that they were mistaken in believing that their city would be rebuilt. I would guess they did everything that they could do to convince the men and women of Judah to give up and to retreat, to let that territory remain in the hands of those who had stolen it, to let the rubble of the temple remain as the testimony to destruction.

But as the temple was being built, every stone set upon another stone – however small it seemed in that moment- mattered. Every meal cooked for the men who labored in the building mattered. Every word of encouragement mattered. Every person who stood firm on the promise of God mattered.

Every act done in obedience to God’s command mattered, for He empowered those acts to fulfill His purpose for His people.

In all things…it was not by their might and not by their power, but by His Spirit.

And the temple, restored, stood as a testimony of God’s power and glory.

 The same promise given to them is given to you and I.

In all things…it is not by our might and not by our power, but by His Spirit. 

Yes, we too have a vision and a work to do. Fulfilling the purpose of the Lord and building the Kingdom of God will look different for each of us – but you can be sure that you do have a purpose. We are each called to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and we were each created with good works to accomplish…we are “God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9). Jesus said that we are chosen as children of God to ‘go and bear fruit’…He said that we are to ‘go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’ (John 15:16 and Mark 16:15)

As we set out to follow Jesus, to fulfill His command, we can expect opposition. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy…to discourage and undermine as we are serving the purpose of God.

He tells us that our gifts and abilities aren’t enough. He wants us to be discouraged by waiting-days and small steps that don’t look as if they are taking us very far. He wants us to grasp the control of ‘figuring out’ the best ways to accomplish the work of our hands…He knows that our labor that isn’t done in obedience is in vain. (Psalm 127:1) He wants us to believe that it’s impossible so that we will give up, retreat, and leave the dark and rubble-filled territory of this world to him.

But friends – in all things…it is not by our might and not by our power, but by His Spirit. By His Spirit, we live out the love of Christ. By His Spirit, we shine His light and darkness flees.

Corrie ten Boom explains it like this: “We are Christ’s ambassadors. An ambassador is send forth in an official capacity by a nation’s government to represent that government in the territory of another nation. His authority is not measured by his own personal abilities, but is in direct proportion to the authority of the government he represents.”

Oh, how I love that truth! We do not base our lives out of confidence in what we can do, but in the assurance of who He is…and John reminds us that we have overcome because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world! (1 John 4:4)

Do not retreat and do not give up because the work God has given to you matters. We who know this grace and new life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ…we know that He alone restores, He alone brings light and life, He alone is the hope of the world. This is the Gospel, this is the good news that we are called to share in whatever ways God has planned for us…and this is the truth which satan would keep from those who need it.

When the opposition comes, let us be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Eph. 6:10) for our God who is greater, stronger, wiser, and true — He Himself will empower you to fulfill His purposes! He has given you His own authority, His own strength, His own Spirit so that the expectation of ‘doing it all’ and being ‘good enough’ in our own eyes is not a burden we must bear. We can trust in the Lord with all our heart, leaning not unto our own understanding. When we in all our ways acknowledge him, He shall direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). In every small or big moment, in every resource, in every gift, in every talent, in every relationship, in every job, in every single facet of our lives — when we are led by the Spirit and trust in God instead of ourselves, we bear witness to the salvation we have been given. 

May our lives — our lives that the enemy would leave  broken in testimony to his destructive deceit —  instead be testimonies to God’s glory and redemptive power, we ourselves God’s temple built upon the cornerstone of Jesus Christ, His Spirit dwelling in our midst. (1 Cor. 3:16)

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth. – Psalm 115:1 

The Power to Redeem…(Scripture&Song for the days when we need a reminder of our freedom & hope)

Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of His strength? ‘It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.’…in His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.”-Is. 63:1b,9b

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remember your sins no more.” -Is. 43:25

“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoiced in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness…” -Is.61 10

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! -2 Cor.5:17

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. -Eph.1:7

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.-Col.2:13-15

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.-Heb.4:16

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I hope in Him!”-Lam.3:21-24

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“…it was a testament to how God truly sets us free from everything that the enemy has in store for us. I love the idea that the enemy thinks that he is trapping us, but God in turn flips it on its head and says – ‘Actually, that’s gonna’ be the thing that I get the most glory from. That’s gonna’ be the thing that I redeem them from…even though we all have moments of regret or shame or failure…His love that He so lavished on us, His power has nailed all that to the tree. It’s done, it was finished at the cross and now we can walk in true redemption.” -Lauren Daigle*

*quoted from the Relevant Magazine podcast, discussing the inspiration behind ‘The Power to Redeem’