March 29, 2014

Oh Happy Day!

It is a good day today. It is a good day to be alive and living in the will of the Lord. I am blessed, and I am content with my life. I look up, and I wait upon the Lord, for He is faithful. He keeps His promises, and He never turns His back toward me. He is good. He is good. He is good.

Today as I consider my life, I cannot help but think about my past. I cannot help but look at the changes in my life, where I have come from, and where I believe the Lord is leading me toward. I trust Him. I rest in Him. I believe His word. I believe His promise to me.

The Lord is Good. His word is Good. His will is Good.

There is nothing I see that overwhelms me today. I look forward, I look to the left and to the right. There is nothing ahead that appears insurmountable to me. Thus, I can rest knowing that the Lord has me covered, so very well covered.

New day dawns and I look forward to it. Yesterday passes and I thank the Lord for that day. I live in a state of constant motion, moving forward through the days, learning to lean on and to trust the Lord. He leads me steadily, helping me to focus, to remain calm, and to be disciplined and determined. I feel faint at times, but I never grow weary. I have felt weariness before, and in those times, I remember thinking my life has ended, my life is so difficult that I cannot go on. The Lord gives me rest, time to think and to recover my senses. Most of the time when I feel worn it is because I refuse to rest (to let go and give control to God). It is like always holding on because you are afraid of falling. Your muscles grow tired and will finally give out. We do this with God. He has such a firm hold on us, on our lives, yet we feel we must grab and hold on to things instead of letting them go. Once we let go of them, we experience relief, and we can rest.

It has taken a very long time for me to understand the nature of His rest. I have struggled to rest for so many years. I think I am trusting Him, resting in Him, only to find that I am grabbing on and holding so tightly to things in my life that I become weary and worn out. Then I let go and immediately I feel relief. I sense that I can relax and know that He is God. He has me covered. The longer I live in this place, this peaceful place, the more I come to realize that He is God, and that as God, there is nothing outside of His grip. There is nothing that is too hard, too high, too difficult for Him.

It is all about His will. It is all about living in His will.

I made the decision a long time ago to seek His will. I made the decision to settle myself in the middle of His will. It wasn't easy, and it required a lot of work on my part. I had to accept His will. I had to acknowledge it, and then I had to be agreeable to it. Three "A" words that MATTER when it comes to His will.

Accept:  The Lord asks us to accept the fact that He has a specific will in mind for us. We must come to the point where we understand that there are two types of will, general and specific. The Lord's general will covers His creation. It is that all men (women) should come to faith in Jesus Christ, to experience reconciliation, restoration, and renewal through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. This is His general will that all men should be saved. Then there is His specific will. His specific will is for you and me. It is the plans that He has for our lives. Some people think we have control over our lives, that we make the decisions and the Lord agrees (yea or nay) based on our obedience to His word. This is legalism whereby we believe we must live in a perfected state to receive the Lord's blessing on our lives. This is not the case at all. We never can live perfected lives on our own. We couldn't do it before the CROSS and we cannot do it after the CROSS. We must live fully immersed in GRACE and allow the Holy Spirit to live and work through us. Once we understand that He wants to live in us, not just clean us up, but live in us (active and at work), we surrender to Him and we come to learn how to fellowship with Him. With this experience, we then become aware of the fact that the Holy Spirit is active. He has plans, and He wants to accomplish certain things. He moves and He makes changes and He makes decisions based on the Father's will for creation. He knows the Father's heart, and He knows us well. He moves in us and makes changes in us that not only improve us (better us), but also accomplish what He wants and needs to be accomplished (whether in work, in ministry, in evangelism, etc.) Therefore, we must accept the fact that the Holy Spirit has a job to do, and He needs willing members of Christ's Body to use for His service. He is ready to give gifts to help us do that work, and He will train us in how to do the work, but we must be ready to let Him do that work.

Acknowledge: This is when the rubber meets the road, so to speak. It is the point when you realize that the Lord has a calling on your life. He wants to use you for a specific task, and you have to be ready to let Him do that work. I think this is the point where many Christian's stop short. They may accept the idea that the Lord has specific plans, but they are not willing to let Him accomplish those plans through them. They often are afraid of what this means, and of how the Holy Spirit will do His work. They imagine the terror of having to evangelize or of having to go on the mission field. They think the Lord will place them in danger, make them a martyr or cause them to do something that will embarrass them in front of others (family and friends). They don't want to let go, so they miss out on the best part of the Lord's will. They miss what great things the Lord wants to do through them, and they instead remain stuck in this quasi-fellowship that is predicated on part GRACE and part Legalism. They think that they can be pleasing to the Lord through their obedience. They keep a moral code, the LAW, and they judge others who do not. They do everything they "think" is right, and they pray for the Lord to bless their efforts. Now I am not saying that you shouldn't be obedient, but what is obedience after all but a submission to something (to the law, to the Lord, to authority?) What is the difference then? One is submitting through your own efforts and the other is letting God submit to Himself through you. One says "I am good enough because I keep X, Y, and Z" while the other says "I will never be good enough so I will let God keep X, Y, and Z for me." Acknowledging that the Lord has a specific will for your life moves you from acceptance into the "I am ready state." You must acknowledge that you have received a call from the Lord for a specific work. He will not hide this from you once you are fully accepting of His will for your life. He will reveal it to you and help you understand what is involved in doing it. He will train you, build you up, establish you, all to prepare you for His work. He is good like that, and He never will put someone who is unprepared and untrained into any of His work (we do that, we do that when we think we can use our natural gifts and abilities to do a ministry work -- this is working without the Holy Spirit's leading and empowering).

Agreement: This is the last step of the process. This happens after you have agreed with the Lord, and you have acknowledged His specific calling on your life. You know the plans He has for you, and you are ready to do them. Now you must agree with Him, and that comes down to being willing to do the work He wants to do through you. You agree and you relinquish control. God steps in and takes over and whoosh! You are off and running. Your life begins to change, and everything aligns with His will. You begin to let go of more and more things so that He can move you today or tomorrow. He can take you here or there. You no longer fear when He might ask you to go because you trust Him. You know Him, and you rely on Him. He has shown Himself to you. He has proven His worth, His faithfulness, His trustworthiness. In this way, you are now able to be a vessel, a jar that is emptied out of all humanness (a shell) and filled to the brim and overflowing with God's Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has the reigns and He moves here or there, and you agree with Him. He will tell you why, and He will always ask you if it is OK. At some point, you will come to remain in agreement and then He moves without stopping because He knows you are in full agreement with Him. He knows you are on board with His plans and that you will answer "Yes, Lord. So be it." This is a wonderful place to be in because it means that you are fully at the mercy and will of the Lord. He works in you and through you for His Name and to bring honor to Himself. You are there, but you are not the cause of the work. You are participating in that work, knowing that whatever it is, there is no way you could have done it to begin with and that there is no way you could sustain yourself throughout the time of the work. It is a blessed place, and blessing precedes and follows you. You have His favor, and whatever your hand touches there is favor. You begin to understand how His way works. You begin to see that it is all about Him, and not about you. You matter, don't get me wrong. He died for you. He saved you. He loves you. But this is about God and God's Glory. This is all about His Name. You begin to express this in words, in prayers, and in actions. You think about His Name and what it means, the power that is within, and you wonder about His Majesty. You look to Him and you stand in awe, not just because He saved you, but because He is AWESOME, and MIGHTY and filled with TERRIFYING but GLORIOUS POWER. Then you get it. You understand who He is, and what He has done, and what He wants to do, and you surrender to Him. You give in, you give up, and you find that sweet REST.

I am at this place in my life. It was not an easy journey for me. It was not something that went "poof" one day and I was changed to be able to accept, to acknowledge and to agree. Nope, not at all. There is intense struggle, and there were wrestling matches. I lost. I always lost, but in my vanity and in my bravado, I thought I could retain some of my way while being willing to accept His way. I was wrong. There is only one way, and it is His way. I am fully convinced that the majority of Christian's do not experience His way. They experience bits and pieces of His way. They retain far more of themselves in the process, and because of that fact, they suffer needlessly through decisions and choices that were of their own making. They buy the lie that says "If I am good enough, then the Lord will bless me." They even go as far as to say "I know I am not good enough, and I know that I am under GRACE," but they still try to do it in their own way, praying their efforts will be blessed." What I am saying is that you cannot do it any other way. You cannot have you and Him, it doesn't work. It has to be HIM with the least amount of you in the mix. And, hear me, you don't lose you in the bargain. You never lose YOU. You are there, God doesn't want to eliminate you. He loves you. He loves your quirky personality. He loves your passion, your strength, your desire. He wants to take all that you are and conform it to His image, to His way, and in doing so, He will reshape your passion, your strength and your desire so that they are in accordance with His passion, His strength and His desire. It is a very GOOD thing to be used by the Lord in this way. It brings the sweetest experiences, and the greatest challenges, and the deepest connection to Him. It is a GOOD THING.

As I consider my path, my place on this road, I know that God is working through me in a great way. He has plans, and they are coming to pass. I can see them unfold, and I can watch as each item it ticked off His GRAND CHECKLIST. I am doing what He asks of me, and He is having His way in me. It is a beautiful thing, and I love the way I get to partner with Him. My little contribution, my hands, my feet, my brain, my body -- all for His Name and His Glory. It is amazing to see Him do what He does in me and through me. God is good, so very good. I love the Lord, and I think this is what it means to love Him with all your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength. There is nothing in reserve, there is nothing set aside. It is a state of "All in" and I am blessed, so very blessed.

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