Thursday, June 23, 2016

Close To The Vine




 Lord God, Great and Mighty are you O God!  I am grateful for all that you have done in my life and I'm thankful for your many  blessings. Bless missionaries throughout this world--those  domestically and internationally. Send your spirit before them to prepare the hearts of the people for the good news. Bless my superior as well as my colleagues. Bless me with wisdom and grace to be a wise steward of my time. Help me to draw nearer to you that the overflow of you working in my life will touch someone elses life. Father, I want to be closer to you, In Jesus' name, Amen. 

                Close To The Vine by Veronica Garrett 
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:1-4
 All Christians do not live the same distance from God. Some are closer to Him than others. Why else does scripture tell us to draw near to God? Quite interestingly enough  those who have close relationships with the Lord are admired but every believer has the same opportunity to draw closer to Him. We are compelled to draw near to God. Jesus Christ is the true Vine and God the Father is the Gardener.  And when we draw nearer to Christ an evident by product is that we are fruitful.
The modern church is at times confused on this one point.  At times she measures her health on her  busyness.  We may view all of our church and community obligations as indication that we are productive while spending little to no private time drawing near to Christ. Sometimes the church is   far to focus on growth plans and competitive analysis.  We miss the opportunity to stay close to the Vine. Often times we have real obligations and commitments that require time that have to done but we must strive for personal intimacy. In this passage, the truth nugget speaks loud and clear. Beautiful edifice, gifted oratory, and modern presentation is not what makes for a healthy body--abiding in Him is the secret.   
What I've learned is that in my own strength my attempts are empty. I must be a spiritually connected person to do spiritual work.  In a healthy love relationship couples are cautious to spend time together.  The hours may be odd for many and the activities may be different than most but they strive for healthy communication in the relationship.  After going through a season of living close to God and winding up seemingly far away from Him I've learned that staying close to anyone is intentional.  Relationships we nurture tend to grow unlike those we neglect. 
I've learned to protect my time with the Lord from family, friends, and ministry. The overwhelming motivator is that time spent with the Lord makes me better for my family, friends and ministry.  During times of weariness and wandering of my heart I recognize it as such and I pray that Christ will woo my wandering heart so that I may be close to Him.  When I abide in Him, He supernaturally takes my human effort and turn it into something meaningful.  When I focus solely on my effort I miss the opportunity to be blessed of God as well as forfeit what it means to truly be a blessing.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Can You Keep A Secret?

March 4, 2010
Can You Keep A Secret?

Merciful Father,Great and Awesome Wonder! This is the day that you have made and I will 
rejoice and be glad in it. Please help me to walk in victory in Christ. Please deliver me from 
sin that so easily entangles me. Help me to not focus so much on being 
a perfect Christian as I am a true witness of your redeeming love. In Jesus' name, Amen.

 Can You Keep A Secret? by Veronica Garrett 

The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:5  
If we are ever to dismantle one of Satan's greatest devices we must first learn the power of keeping a secret.  Some are private matters and are better kept between those closes to us. However, far too often the body of Christ is unhealthy because we have lots of secrets. Quite naturally it seems that if we are struggling with sin we should hide it, but this my friend is the enemy's greatest power in our struggle.  When we expose our struggle with sin the power of darkness is overcome by light.
The enemy's strategy is to divide and conquer so when we are involved in isolation and deception we play right into his hand.  We dismantle his devices when we expose our struggles to trustworthy men and women. As soon as we tell what he’s harassing us about in darkness his greatest weapon of secrecy is destroyed. The secret is brought to light and he loses the threat of exposing us. We relinquish the guilt and embrace the redeeming love of Christ.
The fear of being exposed gives him power over our confidence because we retreat from the freedom we deserve. If we lie to others eventually we believe the lies which lead us deeper into darkness and his deceptive tactics.  As we read the New Testament, the apostle Paul addresses all types of sin in the early church.  God's people are not infallible, only He is. When we willingingly walk in darkness and pretend that we are walking in light we are hypocritical.  
Sharing our struggle with those who make fun, gossip, or condemn us wouldn't be wise. Nevertheless, we find great encouragement and compassion in the arms of those who will help and pray that we overcome.  Satan needs the dark to help us in destructive behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes. We must find freedom by exposing ourselves to the light of God's word. We pray that God will lead us to people who can help us in our time of need and not let keeping a secret have power over us.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Truth like Surround Sound


Awesome God, in you I live, move and have my being.  You beckon me to draw near to you, abide in you, and to seek you with my whole heart. Most gracious Father, allow your truth to flood my life through all my reading, listening, and speaking. I humbly present myself to you so that your Spirit may flow through my life and overflow into the lives of others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.    

Truth like Surround Sound by Veronica Garrett 
  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist… Ephesians 6:14

When you buckle the belt of truth around your waist you are surrounding yourself with those things that are true. This sounds simple and yet it can be very difficult to do in our world.  If you work, live, or play in an environment surrounded by people who don’t share your love for Christ you must create the right atmosphere. 
 How do men and women who love God turn away from truth?  Simple. By living outside of it. Gradually, we trade the truth for lies.  If you stay in darkness long enough you your eyes readjust and you begin to see with distortion. The world tells us these are our ways walk in them.  These are our truths believe them.  Precious one, if you are not consciously rebelling against, disagreeing with, and transforming contrary to worldly truths it will happen all too gradually and your eyes will focus just like those who have no Savior.
 It begins with simple things. You begin to fear what they fear. You begin to value what they value. You begin to define success the same way that they do. You begin to believe you are strong when in fact you are weak. You begin to think you are rich when indeed you are poor. You begin to have short sighted, temporal goals with no eternal perspective.  You begin to work hard to get to places in a perishing world and spend no time thinking of the life that God rewards in eternity.  You begin to see people in terms of class and race, have and have not’s, instead of considering that all things are truly no value in comparison to knowing Jesus Christ.   The truth is those identified as children of the Lord Jesus Christ are most precious regardless to their position in this world.  And one day it will be obvious that they know the One in the highest place after he splits the sky and they meet him.
 There was a season in life when through the work of the Spirit there was a cleaning of my home to sweep out those things that deny the truth of God.  It could be compared to spring cleaning because the books, cds, dvds, clothing, internet sites, and television shows had to be tempered by truth.  It was a painful process but indeed it was necessary.  I am one being transformed from the inside out and everything changes when Truth takes over.
 Legalism is a kill joy but those who walk in truth, work together for truth, and love the truth must first surround themselves with its belt that secure us against our evil desires and the enemies schemes.



Thursday, June 2, 2016

God's Cycle of Sufficiency

God's Cycle of Sufficiency



 Lord God, I thank you for supplying my every need.  You know what I need before I realize
 my need. I thank you for my work and the job that you have given me. Help me to be a better 
steward of the time you have entrusted to me. Bless the leader of this nation, the pastor of my 
church, and the leader of my home.  Give them wisdom and grace to lead in the way that is 
most pleasing to you. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

                God's Cycle of Sufficiency by Veronica Garrett 
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty. Malachi 3:10-12

Many people trust and believe in the workings of the lottery and the casinos much more than God's willingness to provide for his people. Years ago I was visiting a relative and while purchasing a lottery ticket the relative recommended that I buy one too. I was a freshman in college at the time and at first I lacked interest in purchasing a lottery ticket.  As the individual went on and on to say how a single dollar could change my whole life and begin to paint a picture of me winning the lottery, I must admit I reached into my pocket and pulled out several dollar bills. 
I vividly recall holding the ticket in my hands and as I studied it and read it the odds were listed on the back, I was dumbfounded. If I can recall the odds were about 1.5 million  to 1.  Let's just say, after seeing how great the odds were against me I have never played the lottery again. Which would eventually be followed by my convictions.
What seems to amaze me is that many Christians are very cautious about trusting God with all of their possessions. The enemy has sold us this lie that if we freely give all that we have to God he will make us impoverished.  In fact, he persuades many to use much needed money at the casino and lottery convincing them they will win "big".  In the meantime, the deceiver attempts to convince others that investing all that we are in God is not wise.
Do you really want to be blessed of God?  You must learn to cooperate in God's cycle of sufficiency.  I have come to observe a group Christians who appear to get special treatment but the truth is these people know the secret of living a blessed life. It seems as if these people own nothing because they consider themselves stewards but God releases everything for their use. These are people who give until it hurts- they give of their time, talents and treasure extravagantly. The astonishing thing about it is the people that God blesses lavishly are those who have open hands, freely they give and lavishly He blesses.
What I've learned is that if I close my hands when God wants me to open them He doesn't pry it open. He allows me to hold on to what I have. And yet when I release all that I have to God he gives me access to His resources in ways that my mind can barely comprehend. I knew what it was to be blessed of God before but the secret to greater access is greater availability. When what you have is at God's disposal for His purposes you have tapped into the cycle of sufficiency.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Just Plain Salty

  My Father, My God.  Creation bears witness, you are Creator and Sustainer of all. The 
sunrise and sunset, the moon and the stars, the oceans and the rivers, the mountains and the 
valleys, the heavens and the earth.  No man can fully comprehend what happens in the earth
 in a single day.  Worthy is the Lord to be praised for all the great things that He has done! 
Please help Christians throughout the world to declare bold witness and testify to the 
goodness of Christ.  Help us to be a unique and distinct flavor in our times, those not waiting
 to be influenced but those willing to influence others with the love of God. In Jesus’ name, 

                              Just Plain Salty by Veronica Garrett 
  “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” (Matthew 5:13)

Regardless to how politically correct we would like to appear, we are always forced to consider what’s right and what’s wrong. Our culture demands that everything is relative, yet when great tragedy occurs we all agree that there are moral absolutes. Beware of empty philosophies that eliminate the sense of judgment, responsibility or accountability. Any people willing to remove all moral restraints are destined to self destruct. 
 If we are not careful, in our great opportunity to exercise our religious freedom and support those who disagree with us, we shrink back from being salty. Salt acts a preservative; in essence it adds flavor to that which it has been added.“Righteous exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people(Proverbs 14:34).” 
 I have a God given responsibility, as I apply God’s word to my life to affect the community, city and nation in which I live. I lose my saltiness when my being included in a culture does not add any distinction.  My saltiness should be the fact that my life is marinated in what the Bible teaches and therefore it affects how I live my life and how I view the world.  I’m not asserting to what I think, feel, or experience but agreeing with the God breathed word of the Bible.   
Many Christians say, it has to get worse before Christ returns anyway.  Although I think this is wrong who am I to impose my views on those who disagree with me?  They say you have to separate church and state, we cannot hold political leaders to God’s moral standards. This is a cop out. When you live in a democracy, the leaders are a mirrored reflection of the preeminent views of the people. As a Christ follower, my ballot is caste with a consciousness towards Him.  In as much as I have self interest and a personal agenda, I willingly forsake them both for Christ sake.  If any man wants to be his disciple he must deny himself.  I am persuaded that He will take care of the things that I entrust to Him.
We spend far too much time thinking what effect things will have on us when we have been left here to affect everything. What is being preserved does not ruin because the salt is just plain salty.  In 2 Chronicles 7:14, the “if my people who are called by my name” are God’s people. When God’s judgment befalls a nation it is not because of the disobedience of unbelievers, it is because God’s people became so culturally relevant until they lost their saltiness. 
In as much as those living in darkness may call us intolerant, the paradox is they are unwilling to tolerate us agreeing with what God has said. We’re not making it up as we go.  In fact, some of it challenges us. As long as there is life in me I have a responsibility to agree with the living God. In the mists of trials, mockery and slander, my purpose in the earth is to be just plain salty.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

To Know and To Be Known

 Lord God, I thank you for your unfailing love. You are a merciful God, slow to anger and 
abounding in love.  Awesome Father, I pray that we will know you and that you may open the 
eyes of our hearts to what it means to be known by You. Loving Master, restore to us 
salvation's joy that our lives may be filled with an overflow of You. Please help us to boast in 
only in You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

To Know and To Be Known by Veronica Garrett 
 Not Everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! Matthew 7:21-23
We have all met the type of people who like to drop names of their affiliation with important people.  They are the types who usually don’t have a real connection with the famed or celebrated personalities, but in their search for significance they bask in the glory of the most noteworthy person they know.  However, the celebrated person doesn’t really know them. Although modern media has made this more attainable, it’s not a new thing.  From the early days of Jesus’ ministry there were those who claimed to know Him and yet he declared He never knew them.  
We know that Jesus is omniscient; He is all knowing so he is not referring to a lack of awareness of the person.  To be known in this case is to have a relationship with Him. They had not accepted Him as Lord and Savior. Quite honestly we meet people today who will tell you they know the Word and they know Jesus but when asked have they accepted Him as Lord and Savior it is here they fail the essential of what it really means to know and to be known by Him.  They know about the Word and they know about Jesus but know him they do not. 
If we are not careful we will allow those closest to us to think that due to some legacy of faith and generational commodity they have inherited what it is to know and be known. How often do people say I’ve been Christian as long as I can remember? I grew up Christian…When this happens we must persuade them to think harder to a point of exchange—When did Christ become their Redeemer? When did He become your Savior? Maybe he never has but we should compel them to come to know Him and be known by Him today.
To know and be known is not due to my generous service or monetary giving. In most cases my service and giving preceded or succeeded it.  Many people have participated in church service all of their lives and spent great energy on religious tradition but die without knowing Him. They can give testimony of all that Christ has been to everyone else except self-- they have no relationship with Him. All mankind is God’s creation but not all are His children. I believe this is by far the greatest blessing in the life of the Christian, to known and to be known by Him.  
Social networking gives a real picture to our desire to know and be known. Quite honestly I can be overwhelmed by the constant feed from hundreds of friends on the internet. Who’s in the grocery store, on their way home from work or Wal-mart at times can at times be just plain tedious.  And yet, there is one who delights in each of us even to the numbering of the hairs on our heads. My mom was still calling me the baby and He was well aware of my name. In fact, before I was formed in her womb He saw me. 
I too have this overwhelming need to know and be known but there is only One who can answer my enormous need.  Guilty I am of sharing the tedious with Him and I find great pleasure in what it means to know and be known by Him. He answers my questions before I voice them and He shows Himself to be worthy of all my praise.  The relationship of knowing and being known by God does not make me self consumed. Quite the contrary, it humbles me to a posture of praise. I am convinced that the greatest gift in life is to know and to be known by Him.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Alien Nation

My Lord, thank you for calling me out of darkness into your marvelous light. Thank you for 
calling a people who were not a people and making them into a chosen people. Thank you for 
making this same people into a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people belonging to You.
Bless my family and friends richly with your presence.  Bless 
godly men, women, and children throughout this city, state, country and world. Please Lord 
richly bless the efforts of  your servants. Father, please bless abundantly and give
 grace and favor to the family, ministry, and career 
of all your disciples. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Alien Nation by Veronica Garrett 

 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 1 Peter 2:11

When a foreigner is visiting a country, he or she does not have the rights of the citizens of that country. For example, foreigners do not have the right to vote. As a Christ follower, my allegiance is to God. There are certain rights that Americans may have but due to my heavenly citzenship I forfeit these liberties.  There are many civil disputes, life choices and alternatives in our nation that do not take take this into account.
In fact, many foreigners may have a working visa that allows them to live in this country. A working visa allows a person to stay as long as they are working. I too have a work assignment that designate my length of days in this foreign land. My life's purpose is to complete the works that were prepared in advanced for me to do.
Most often the stand out trait of a foreigner or alien is the dialect. It is often intriguing because the accent speaks of a different land.  It may even sound strange. I too speak a language that is strange to many. My beliefs and values are so contrary to the norm until I  am type caste as an alien.  The mere fact that I refuse my sinful desires is counter culture.  Living in a foreign land and being an alien is at times challenging, my words are misinterpreted, my work is misunderstood, and my country's identification is mistaken.
The fact that the apostle Paul urges me to live as an alien and stranger in this world let's me know there is urgency in resisting sinful desires. These desires are are at war against my very soul.  They are apart of a greater plot and scheme. They will play me right into the hands of my enemy who seeks to bring me captive. His schemes are like those of a terrorist and his plan for me includes massive destruction instead of the abundant life that God's people should enjoy.  Those who belong to a royal family most boldly express allegiance to the King of kings. Consider yourself an alien and a stranger, realizing that you have been sent here on assignment by God.  You have all the right connections to influence the lives that He has purposed. Today I am reminding myself that I am a stranger and an alien to this world liken to one visiting a foreign country.