“‘Truly I tell you’, Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’”

- Matthew 26:34 NIV

Have you walked with God long enough to fall from grace?

Ever felt unworthy of His love?

Did you ever encounter a guilt or shame that felt so heavy you didn’t believe God’s grace was strong enough to get you up from under the weight of it?

‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.. – Romans 8:1-2 NIV

How do you think Peter felt when he was told he would deny even knowing Jesus by Jesus? This is the same Peter who felt unworthy to be in the presence of Jesus when he witnessed Jesus raise a multitude of fish from the ocean into his nets after toiling all night. The same Peter, also, who later wanted only to be out on the sea with Jesus, walking on water, instead of remaining in the boat when he saw his Master in the midst of the storm.

Ever wondered what the purpose is in reading the bible after hearing all the Sunday bible stories year after year?

‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ – Luke 22:31 NIV

Our Savior continues to pray for us, at the right hand of the Father, that our faith will not fail, we will turn back when we fall from grace, and strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ! The Spirit of God intercedes for us, within us, to communicate our continual need for God.

Do you believe Satan still asks for permission to sift God’s children as wheat as Jesus stated then? Do you believe you’re on his request list?

“But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” – Mark 16:7 NIV

Beyond salvation, God desires that we know (encounter) the full breadth of His love to sustain and strengthen us to uplift and encourage others as we sojourn with Jesus until He returns to take us to the place He prepared for us!

“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the LORD!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the LORD,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.” – John 21:7 NIV

Regardless of what you have heard said about Peter, no shame, guilt, sin, or past failure could deter him from getting to his Savior, or decrease his sincere passion for Jesus! The same faith that moved Peter to encounter the miraculous, walking on water, moved Peter, to jump into the water, to encounter restoration and redemption! Believe God’s grace is sufficient for you! Plunge head first into His love for you!

May God bless you and help you to remain steadfast, immovable, and unshaken in your faith walk so you may experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

 

‘Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.’

- Isaiah 43:7 NIV

What comes to your mind when you hear that you were created for God’s glory?

‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’ – Isaiah 43:2 NIV

Have you ever wondered how God is glorified through your misfortune, suffering, or adversity?

In John 12 27-28, Jesus openly shares His distress about dying on the cross: ‘Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’

What do you think God was saying about glorifying His name in the context of His discord with His Son, Jesus in John 12:27-28?

I believe God, the Father, was referring to the crucifixion, Jesus’ resurrection, and everything that has transpired in the lives of those who believe from that moment God said, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’

‘This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.’ – John 15:8 NIV

From the context of this statement in John 15, what brings God glory?

What then, is the concept of ‘glorification’ from the context of scripture, according to the word of God?

Is it the external context of my life that brings glory to God, or the internal context of how I choose to conduct myself regardless of external conditions that glorifies God?

Do I possess the ambition of glorifying God with my life as I possess the ambition to progress, succeed, and prosper?

May God bless you and help you to glorify Him and experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

‘This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool.”‘

- Isaiah 66:1a NIV

What have you seen God do for you that would make you say He’s great?

Can you testify to someone about what God has done for you that would describe His greatness to someone else?

While you are transitioning from what was into what will be, can you recall the last great thing He did to help you endure, persevere, and keep the faith?

Despite the reality of the condition of your current circumstances, even though it may be some time now since you can recall encountering anything ‘good,’ do you still see God as great?

Have you walked by faith long enough to see God do exceeding, abundantly above anything you could think, imagine, or ask?

Have you walked with Him intimately to witness His power at work in you to accomplish something great?

Have you encountered the miraculous, the impossible, seen God heal, deliver, transform, bring forth life from death, call into your life something that was not?

How about experiencing God lift up your head from depression, sorrow, sadness, grief, rescue you from injustice, hardship, adversity, or comfort you in times of misfortune, loss, and mourning?

Ever been forgiven by Him? I mean understanding you really messed up and watched Him turn it around, work it together for good, bless you in the process, and helped you overcome your shame, guilt, and sense of feeling invaluable to Him?

What about the times He made ends meet when you had NOTHING?

Has He ever provided you company, companionship when you felt isolated, ostracized?

Remember that time His word came to you at that critical moment that made the difference in getting you from where you were to where you are now?

What about the breakthrough that transitioned you into something greater, better, and new?

Had the privilege of traveling this great earth and being a witness to the wonder, splendor, and majesty of His glory displayed in Creation?

Has God ever used you to be a blessing to someone else?

How about the moment you looked back over your life and wondered how you got through and actually felt like what was incredibly difficult to go through was worth it in the end?

Ever been inspired, had a good cry, or laughed so hard it hurt lately?

Enemies ever been made your footstool?

God ever silence those who have spoken against you unjustly?

Have you learned to lay down your life for someone or witnessed someone lay theirs down for you?

May God bless you and help you to encounter His greatness in its various forms so you may experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

‘Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.’

- Psalm 103:5, 8 NIV

What’s your favorite verse of scripture?

Have you ever had the encounter of coming across a particular passage, verse of scripture and, upon reading it, you were overcome with joy, or broke out in praise?

That happened to me the very first time I read Psalm 103.

I was overcome with an intense joy and broke out in praise reflecting on all the benefits of God as I read Psalm 103 line by line!  I was sitting alone at the time and as my eyes met with the words written there was this eruption of joy and praise that overcame me and filled me. It was an encounter with His word I will always cherish that is a reminder to me of His intimate presence and the type of interaction He seeks for us to experience with Him as we walk by faith.

Ever labor in faith, through prayer, and saw God reward it?

Have you experienced being satisfied by God, declaring, like David, ‘I shall not want,’ both feeling it and believing it?

What about encountering a season where it was more important to be a vessel to distribute His goodness to others than looking for what God could do for you?

Has anyone ever said to you, ‘I am always encouraged, uplifted, or inspired when I talk with you,’ or felt that way about someone you talk with?

Have you ever considered it was God speaking through them to you?

Can you recall that moment when you heard His Holy Spirit whisper the timely word, or apt reply, that spoke life, light, and hope into the soul of someone engulfed in darkness and despair?

How many times have you been in fellowship, or conversation with someone, the conversation leads to a reflection upon a particular passage, or verse of scripture, and by the end of the week you hear it in a sermon, read it in a book, or it is preached from your television screen?

Can you recall the time when you were thinking about something needed, wanted, or desired, didn’t pray about it, but God provided it?

What about after you did what God desired, yours was given to you on the other side of your obedience?

What about the way God equipped, enabled, and empowered you to come through your misfortune, grief, loss, and injustice like pure gold?

Has you ever felt uplifted by God, like David said, ‘he lifts up my head,’ in Psalm 3?

When Moses requested of God, ‘Show me your glory,’ God responded by saying to Moses, ‘I will cause all of my goodness to pass in front of you.’ When we encounter God’s goodness, it is a display of His glory! (see Exodus 33:18-23)

May God bless you and help you to experience His goodness in its various forms that transitions you into the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

‘You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.’

- Isaiah 26:3 NIV

How would you explain what it means to be content?

The Apostle Paul told Timothy that godliness with contentment is great gain (1Timothy 6:6).

Paul mentioned in his epistle Philippians 4:12 that he had learned ‘the secret of being content.’

A text came to me recently that included the verse from 1 Timothy 6:6. It was a timely message coming the day after I encountered a disappointment. I received it as God encouraging me to be content despite what was happening. I felt like it was God’s way of saying, ‘Don’t worry. Something better is on the horizon. This momentary disappointment is not worth fretting over.’ So I began to study different verses that were highlighted in my study bible associated with the verse 1 Timothy 6:6. Paul’s statement in Philippians 4 always comes to mind when I think about the subject of contentment, but this time I desired to reflect on how I would explain what it meant to me when sharing it with someone else.

After writing many thoughts down on paper, my final summation came as inspiration that helps me to identify with what Paul disclosed as the secret he learned in Philippians 4:12.

Contentment- accepting the will of God; being at peace, at rest, and surrendered to God’s will (good or bad). I believe this is what the Apostle Paul was alluding to in Philippians 4:12 as his secret learned in being content.

The inspired illustration from scripture I associate with this is Mary’s response to the angel who greeted her as blessed and highly favored and she replied by saying, ‘May it be unto me as the LORD has said,’ upon hearing the news she was chosen to give birth to Christ, the Anointed One. I see her response as a response of surrender to God’s will for her life. (see Luke 1:38)

Also, in Philippians 4:7, Paul talks about the peace that passes all understanding. That same peace is described as ‘perfect peace’ in Isaiah 26:3. Christ’s encounter in the garden of Gethsemane as He labored in prayer about God’s will for His life is what comes to mind when I think about this peace described in scripture. The peace that overshadows you and keeps you at rest despite the reality of the condition of your current circumstances. It is the manifest presence of God that sustains and strengthens us to endure, persevere, overcome, and prevail against what seeks to overcome and prevail against us! It’s the peace that allowed Job to believe that he would come out as pure gold on the other side of his grief, misfortune, and loss and declare, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.’ – Job 13:15 KJV

May God bless you and help you to position yourself before Him with the proper posture that will allow you to encounter His peace that invokes praise despite the reality of the condition of your current circumstances.

‘Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.’

- Psalm 103:3-4

Beyond your initial salvation encounter, when you first came to Christ, have you lived long enough to ‘see’ why Christ died for you?

Another way to put it, have you come to that place where you had fallen so far from grace and saw God lift up your head with merciful hands of compassion, and it deepened, strengthened your emotional connection to what Christ did for you on the cross?

Have you lived long enough, walking by faith, where you’ve been a front row witness to God working everything together for good, on your behalf, when you were the one responsible (or made choices that contributed to) for things going wrong?

Have you progressed, persevered beyond, endured, pressed forward, and pushed through oppositional forces long enough to see God roll away the stone right at the moment you felt you couldn’t go any further?

What about feeling like you were in circumstances that, from all appearances would be considered dead, and saw God speak light, life, and hope in, through, and around you in a way that brought forth life and made something that was not into something greater, better, and new?

What about seeing God be good to you when you know you were undeserving?

Were you ever encumbered with emotional chains and weighed down with pain from the past, doubt, insecurities, unbelief, depressions, guilt, shame, unforgiveness, suffered injustices, anger, bitterness, frustration, or resentment and, yet, God still broke through the clouds and made the light of His countenance shine brightly upon you?

How about being entrenched in a habit, or sin, that mastered you and made you a slave long enough that you cannot ever remember what it felt like to be free and God touched you, spoke with compassion by His Spirit and said to you, ‘Your faith has healed you. Go and sin no more.’

Maybe you have not seen any real, significant changes to the reality of the condition of your external circumstances, but you see God walking with you, intimately present with you keeping you uplifted, encouraged, and motivated to hold onto hope despite everything around you saying give up?

Rejoice in His mercy!

May God bless you and help you to be strong in Him and in the power of His might as you move toward the ‘better’ place and the fullness Christ came for you to have.

‘Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.’

- Psalm 103:1-2 NIV

When you hear, ‘celebrate His grace,’ what comes to mind?

The topic of ‘favor’ has come to my mind frequently as 2013 transitioned into 2014. Though some things have changed, progressed favorably on my behalf, and gotten better, there are other things occurring that could make me think, ‘God, do you see this?’ Despite how I may be feeling, or the thoughts that transition through my mind due to the condition of my current circumstances, I am learning to ‘celebrate His grace!’

My desire to be in the place called ‘better’ has brought me into an experience with fulfillment in ways that I could not have foreseen when I started the journey. I have learned that there is a level of grace God desires to extend to us by extending us beyond ourselves and putting us in circumstances that exceed our ability to handle in our own strength in order that we may encounter Him in ways we would not have otherwise! As I learn to be content as the Apostle Paul describes in Philippians, that’s when I begin to see God’s grace and favor expressed in ways I could not have imagined. The challenge includes being willing to surrender to circumstances and situations that would be considered unstable, uncomfortable, risky, and unsettling long enough to allow God to work.

‘Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.’ – Psalm 37:7a NIV Celebrate His grace means to me: Acknowledge how I see God working on my behalf (in, through, and around me) to help me experience Him that reinforces His promise to be present with me and help me. Celebrate His grace makes me think about sharing what God has done for me with others, expressing thanksgiving to God for all He does, and sharing His word with others. I received two texts within the last 7 days and each included a verse of scripture (Jude 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17) that expressed to me that God loved me. I felt it was God communicating to me His love for me, because the timing of the texts, the content, and the circumstances in the context of receiving them was a tremendous source of encouragement to me that God cares about me and He is concerned about me! ‘May our LORD Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.’ – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV

May God bless you and help you to endure, persevere, and strive to thrive despite the obstacles, opposition, and circumstances that seek to deter you from the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.