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“For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”  1 Corinthians 9:16 “I must” is to brave the storms of life in spite of the difficulties required of me to survive. I can only give light consideration to the cost attached to obedience. Obedience is often costly because there are so many options that could lead to paths of least resistance. Yet the call of God to obey rings strong within my heart and ears in spite of my mind fighting against it and telling me that there are other ways go and other things to be done. Some of them appear to be equally important, and at times, seem to outweigh the measure of this assignment because of greater gain and requiring less effort. But God speaks “woe” to the very thought of my disobedience to His command. Necessity is laid on me to speak the truth when the lie or even silence would be of greater benefit. “I must” do what God has called me to do. I must speak what He has given me to speak. Yet…

Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.”  Songs of Solomon 2:15 The tender grapes are the daily benefits provided to us by God. It is the knowledge of God’s love producing within us a confidence that is not easily shaken. When we are confident that we are loved, then we are empowered to love others without pretense. True friendships can be forged to last a lifetime and the expectation of a future hope of eternity burns brightly within our hearts. How delicate the balance is between our faith and our love. We can now love because we by faith can see beyond the shortcoming and limitations of the misguided and the misinformed. We can see good intentions even when bad habits inhibit positive action. We can also see the possibility of change among those whose lives appear to be hopeless and they may be blind to the true remedy of their souls. But when careless and immature foxes enter into a well cultivated vineyard, they have the tendency of destroying the very vines on which the fruit is being developed. One mishap can raise such doubt as to cause one…

“And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.” Matthew 3:10 Many have sought justification for wrong habits of the heart in which they have grown accustomed. They strain to admit when they hear an unfamiliar voice from an unfamiliar place preaching an unfamiliar message. It is baffling to the mind to accept the fact that all previously known by them was in error. The truth contradicts our folly. We by nature try to fight against what we feel is right. Yet what we may be resisting is our true love calling us to a higher place. The call is away from our pride of knowledge that we may really know truth that beforehand was too elusive. The skillful artisan does not bring a scalpel to remove minor excess but an axe to completely remove the whole thing. It must be completely uprooted if it is ever to be replaced with what contains virtue. There will be something new replacing the old once the old is brought down in defeat and ruin. There is a defeat, a loss that must preceded victory and gain. Then God will plant seed in place of plant. The potential of…

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 Giving enables us to see the dimensions and depths of the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Without personal sacrifice, we merely theorize rather than experience what He offers us so freely. It is impossible to understand the dynamics of His message and the glory of His life without participating with Him in releasing those things left in our hands to manage. The Holy Spirit will direct us to channel all things to acquire the greatest benefit. True freedom is freedom from the bondage of sin bred in selfishness.  What we have held too closely to have hindered the Lord from giving full expression of Himself to us. A freedom not yet experienced borne out of a need within us remains unmet. We were created to respond to God’s initiative in giving. None of what we manage is able to save our souls even though in the past we may have thought it would. True surrender is giving oneself completely to…

“The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness — Israel, when I went to give him rest.” Jeremiah 31:2 The challenges of today will be survived leading to the discovery of grace in a place unfamiliar to us. God has not abandoned His own children. Even when we are chastened, His everlasting love is directed towards us. These things are not allowed to destroy us, but for introspection. It is our responsibility to examine the caliber of our love and devotion towards Him in contrast to the time spent focusing on other things. He draws us to Himself with cords of love. We cannot depend upon what appeared to be the solutions of the past. Only God has the care and the answer that we so desperately need. Cast all of your cares upon Him and lean on Him for assistance. He will take away the reproach of the past. God is about to do wonders in our future. Remember the day of the sword when the enemy of faith appeared to destroy all hope for the future. God rescued us from the hands of the enemy. Now as we go through the wilderness, a lonely and barren…

“…. they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10 The motive behind one’s action is either truth or pleasure. Throughout our lifetimes we have made decisions on the basis of either of these factors. Usually it is pleasure and if truth can be found in pursuit of it, there is an added bonus. It gives one the sense of being right. The path of least resistance in pursuit of wholeness is a pursuit of pleasure and often requires the compromise of truth. The quest for truth must be deliberate unless a compromised version of it surfaces as a substitute for the real thing. The reason truth alone appears to be so unattractive is because it prohibits the full expression of free will. To follow ones heart is to allow the dictates of the world, the flesh, and the devil to dominate the life of the person. The heart unchanged will by nature violate the laws of God because of the nature of sin dwelling within the heart. “They did not receive the love of the truth,” they had not allowed their hearts to be changed by the Word of Truth. They found…

“So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27 God gives us the strength to love. The heart is guided in a direction and the soul agrees to give full expression to that particular emotion. To love is not a miracle. It is a part of man’s nature to love. Without guidance the heart gravitates by default away from God. Loving then is not deliberate, but the result of some forceful habit that captures the mind and heart in order to condemn the soul. The passions must be harnessed by an object that is capable of containing all that is offered and reciprocate by providing what is desperately needed in return. When love gives but does not provide the person with what is needed, he eventually becomes bankrupt and bitter having been taken advantage of. Then love is inverted and transforms into hatred that is primarily directed towards the true Lover of his soul.  They feel shortchanged having not received from Him what they needed, but refused to give Him what He commanded. When…

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?”  Isaiah 40:10 The question God asks causes us to think of His majesty and glory. It magnifies the Lord and minimizes all other things that once appeared to be so overwhelming and intimidating. It is not a matter of what but moreover, a question of who as we consider what we daily observe a coincidental. Things and people being held together, maintaining their set boundaries, is the result of an ordered plan. The thought and the power displayed in nature, if more carefully examined would have us stand in awe and the wonders of God! He created all things and is above all things. He calls to mind from the greatest to the smallest.  The telescopic expanse and mystery of universes created by His Hand and the microscopic expanse and mystery of the molecule both are in need of the invention of instruments powerful enough to examine what is yet to be seen. God has full knowledge of both extremes. “He has measured the…

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.”Romans 5:3-4 (KJV) A price tag cannot be placed upon the lessons learned in and through troubled times.  We often know how we should feel and respond, but to be honest, the character of that response may not been developed within us yet. Many call this faith while it is actually dishonesty. David, the Psalmist gave expression to his heart, having various trials, set-backs and disappointments, but asked God to work the right response within him. Our mere words alone will not deliver us, but what we are becoming as result of God s; working on us and in us is the aim. “Tribulation worketh patience and patience worketh experience or character. Eugene Peterson in the Message paraphrase puts it this way; “and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary — we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! It is through our…

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8 There is much about God that is attractive. His attributes will have an appeal to every part of our being if we are made aware of them. The Holy Spirit will provide the faith to see and understand what is missing.  The necessary things are offered to us to fulfill us providing both life and godliness. Without this faith we are left empty, reaching out for things around us and slipping deeper into despair. It is the distractions that allure us away from being drawn near to God. To be drawn to God is : empowered to resist the devil in all of his deceptive ways. The world, the flesh, and the devil no longer will control you once the beauty of God’s holiness is realized. He is the Lover of your soul and your soul with know this perfectly well. He draws us with cords of love. We are drawn in response with the assurance of faith. He restores us with a confidence that all is well because we abide in the secret place of God.