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Looking for the Forest - A Devotion

Looking for the Forest - A Devotion
Looking for the Forest - A Devotion
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Ephesians 3:14-20 (NLT)
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

I want to experience God today. I want a face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ today. I want the Holy Spirit to rise up in me and doing something real and relevant with my life. Is that your heart’s desire today? Many Christians want the same thing but have no idea how to get it. They set out each morning to walk in the God’s Mercy and Grace, do all the right things, say all the right words, and avoid all sin only to fall short before they leave the house. There was an article on the Internet recently that boasted that someone had “found a healing code in a Bible verse.” To be honest, I didn’t even read it. Healing is not found in a Bible verse but when we allow the Word of God (Jesus Christ) and His Spirit to work His Way in our heart produce faith that allows us to hope in Eternal life. Healing is an experience with the Lord not a miracle that makes everyone “ohh” and “ahh”. It reminds me of the woman who pressed in just to touch the hem of Jesus’s garment. Her faith so strong in belief that He was her healer that she didn’t need His Full Attention if she could just press into His Presence. This forced His Healing Power to come right out of the Lord without any effort at all. The Love of Jesus Christ is what we are after although too many times there is such a long list of wants and needs delineated by the details of life that we do not seen the forest for the trees. Your life is the Master Design of God. Every single detail has the potential to be turned into good. But we remained so focused on each and every situation and circumstance that we never fully comprehend what God is doing in our life. We settle for substitutions and counterfeits because our perspective is limited to the here and now rather than forever. We have the opportunity to experience Jesus Christ every single day that we are saved. This is the salvation that He is working out in us and through us. Maybe if we would be willing to take a step back or even a step up to see things as the Lord does then we could experience the vast potential of the Love of God working in our life. His Glorious and Unlimited Resources are not the things of this world. Have you forgotten that we will walk on streets of gold? Gold is the most valuable resource with the greatest earning potential in the world. One day it will be the pathway under our feet. Think about it. Jesus Christ wants to make His Home in our heart. He wants us to trust Him enough to abandon the pursuits of this worthless life and pursue Him. God wants us to fully experience His Love on a daily basis. The Love of Christ is too great to fully comprehend in a moment or instance, but takes a life time just to get close enough to step over into abundance. God wants you to be complete – satisfied and content no matter how things look in the here and now. Jesus came so that we could have life more abundantly. Have we defined abundance as something less than God’s Very Best? God is able to work in us and do infinitely more than we think or ask? Have we allowed Him to do so? Do you want to experience God today? It means a higher perspective so that you will see the forest (God’s Whole Plan) rather than worrying about each tree (momentary and temporary circumstances). Do you want a face-to-face encounter with Jesus? You will have to follow Him to find Him which means giving up your way and will to fully experience His Word, Will and Way for your life. The Lord has invested His Spirit in your life to help pull it all together and lead you to where He is. Will you follow? Will you seek the Lord today? Will you obey?

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (NLT)
“If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the LORD your God…”

Too often believers experiment with the Lord rather than positioning their life to experience Him. Our knowledge of the Word of God is limited to the things which we desire and chase after in this life…for example. “You will experience all these blessings…” Woo Hoo! I am blessed. God’s going to bless me. It’s my time for God’s Favor. Gimme, gimme, gimme God! However this verse is wrapped up in more than just God’s Desire to bless us. If you fully obey the Lord…if you carefully keep all his commands…if you set the Lord high above all the nations of the world (and the things of this world, too)… and if you obey the Lord your God. If you do not obey God’s Word, you will limit your ability to be blessed – plain and simple. Grace doesn’t erase the need for godly commitment and righteous obedience. Grace is the eraser for when we fall short or leave marks along the way into the Presence of Jesus Christ. Our middle daughter has a neurological deficit that affects her muscles. When excessively tired or stressed, she tends to bump into things a little more or stumble over her own two feet. As a small child, I was very concerned when as she passed certain developmental milestones, these qualities did not pass. A toddler will bump into things, stumble over their feet and fall as they learn to walk. But once they are walking on a regular basis, these tendencies will go away. When this did not occur, we sought the help of several specialists until we discovered the problem. I share this to say that as believers the Grace of God should assist and support us in spiritual maturity but it does not excuse failure to thrive and lack of development. We are to obey God’s Word and walk in His Way by faith to have all that He has promised. No more excuses. We must fully press in to experience the Lord for ourselves.

To experience means to personally encounter, to obtain knowledge or practical wisdom, and to directly participate. This is the type of life that you have been called to live as a believer. We must strive for an ongoing personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Read, study and meditate on His Word to obtain knowledge that we will turn to practical wisdom changing our attitude and actions to be more like Christ. To experience the Lord, we must be fully committed to direct participation with His Word, the Spirit and Kingdom. In Deuteronomy 28:1, it says that God’s People should “carefully” keep all His Commands which means that we must be cautious of our actions and work to perform these duties with all accuracy. To experience the Lord and the full benefits of one’s salvation requires an ongoing experience with Jesus Christ. Are you willing to carefully commit your life each day, moment by moment to experience God?

Deuteronomy 30:1-3 (NLT)
“In the future, when you experience all these blessings and curses I have listed for you, and when you are living among the nations to which the LORD your God has exiled you, take to heart all these instructions. If at that time you and your children return to the LORD your God, and if you obey with all your heart and all your soul all the commands I have given you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes. He will have mercy on you and gather you back from all the nations where he has scattered you.”

When you experience all these blessings and curses – (insert screeching brake sound here). What do you mean when I experience all these blessings (yeah) and curses (ain’t nobody got time for that)? Let’s rephrase that. Do you walk in full obedience to the Lord? No. But what about grace? Grace is our way back to Jesus Christ when we do sin…and trust me – you are going to sin it is unavoidable. The good news or rather the great and awesome news is that the Lord knew this about you from the start. He knows you will experience great blessing as a result of your salvation and Jesus also knows how and how many times that you are going to fall short. But God in His Infinite Wisdom made a provision for this, if you return to the Lord and obey with all your heart and soul all the commands that I have given you, I will restore your fortunes. Because the Lord knows you so well, He stepped into the future to secure your fortune before you were ever aware you lost something and there was more to life than this! By faith we accept Jesus Christ as Savior AND Lord, we take such knowledge turning it into wisdom by applying His Principles to our life, we walk right into the Blessings of God as we experience more and more of the supernatural life that He prepared, planned and perfected for us! You lost nothing in your rebellion, you will receive all God’s Promises in righteousness.

Ecclesiastes 8:15-17 (NLT)
So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun. In my search for wisdom and in my observation of people’s burdens here on earth, I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night. I realized that no one can discover everything God is doing under the sun. Not even the wisest people discover everything, no matter what they claim.

When I read Ecclesiastes, it is difficult to discern if Solomon loved God or not sometimes. Oh I know he did, but his heart was clearly comprised by worldly pursuits. He asked God for wisdom but sometimes I think his great intellect kept him from the simplicity of faith in God. Have fun. Enjoy life. Experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives you. Geez, thanks for the advice. The man is clearly disappointed in his inability in all of his great wisdom to fully understand the character of God. That’s because the character of God can only be fully discovered by a committed heart and surrendered life. You will never get any closer to God in your own strength and wisdom. It takes the Word. It is reliant on His Spirit. Grace covers our sin so we can move closer and not be consumed by His Justice. Humility must accept that there is nothing we can do to earn salvation or repay Christ. All we can do is our very best in obeying His Word, carefully keeping all His Commands, and moving deeper into the Presence of God by believing Him more. Solomon admitted, “While seeking wisdom, I clutched foolishness…” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-3) Happens to us all from time to time. You can try to experience happiness in this brief life, but outside of experiencing Jesus Christ you will not find it.

Proverbs 20:29 (NLT)
The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.

There is nothing that compares to experience when it comes to wisdom. It is wisdom that allows us to pick and choose our battles after losing all our strength in unnecessary skirmishes not intended for us at all. We must learn from our mistakes to call them experience turned to wisdom rather than trying to do the same thing over and over expecting different results which I do believe is the definition of insanity. If you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. (I Corinthians 10:12-13) The best teacher for many is trial and error but that is not God’s Plan for your life. His Word reveals His Way to His Will. It is a simple plan to a supernatural life but we make so much more of it than it really is. If you are standing strong be careful not to fall, but if you are standing firm in faith you have nothing to worry about ever.

Matthew 12:39-45 (Message)
Jesus said, “You’re looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind. All you want is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles. The only proof you’re going to get is what looks like the absence of proof: Jonah-evidence. Like Jonah, three days and nights in the fish’s belly, the Son of Man will be gone three days and nights in a deep grave. “On Judgment Day, the Ninevites will stand up and give evidence that will condemn this generation, because when Jonah preached to them they changed their lives. A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about ‘proofs.’ On Judgment Day, the Queen of Sheba will come forward and bring evidence that will condemn this generation, because she traveled from a far corner of the earth to listen to wise Solomon. Wisdom far greater than Solomon’s is right in front of you, and you quibble over ‘evidence.’ “When a defiling evil spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return it finds the person spotlessly clean, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits more evil than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse off than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place. “That’s what this generation is like: You may think you have cleaned out the junk from your lives and gotten ready for God, but you weren’t hospitable to my kingdom message, and now all the devils are moving back in.”

Almost two full weeks ago, I sent out two final appeals for our son’s bone marrow transplant. One appeal was immediately denied within 72 hours. I expected it to be. We are waiting to hear the status of the final appeal. When you are waiting for something like this, time seems endless. However, when I sent out the two final appeals I felt the Peace of God as if His Hand covered me telling me to wait for “His” response. I am still waiting. Waiting is a lonely place. Time spent here seems endless. However everything I know about the Lord from my experiences with Him tells me that He is worth waiting for. Friends and family prod me to launch the next objective. The aide of a member of the House of Representatives is working hard on his behalf. I am flooded with contacts and “escape” routes from every side. Yet something deep within me keeps whispering, “Wait on the Lord.” So I wait… This is the meaning of standing firm even in the midst of overwhelming weakness. This is the place where less of me must be fortified with more of Him. This is when the sufficiency of grace is all that I have. We are constantly testing and trying the Lord for more “proof” of His Love. We want more “evidence” of His Power. We demand “encounters” rather than living in the experience. We are not called to rush in and out of the Presence of God but to come boldly into our place of righteousness and dare to live there day by day experiencing such pleasure forevermore. However our lack of faith keeps us in the courtyard never making it into the Temple reserved for those who choose to be uncompromisingly righteous. Jesus Christ is all that you need. He is the solution to every problem that I have. He is able to meet every single need and make all things new in the process. The trouble comes when I don’t believe Him enough to experience Him day by day. How do I experience the Lord? By carefully obeying His Commands and doing what He says to have all that He promised. When we repent and run back in the world we have voids that the enemy will rush in to fill. He will attempt to fill every void with counterfeits and substitutes. Disbelief allows him to do so keeping us from God’s Very Best in every situation as promised by His Love.

2 Corinthians 7:9-11 (NLT)
Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.

I Corinthians is Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that really rubbed them the wrong way. Paul then sent 2 Corinthians to smooth things over, but as he notes in this verse “I am glad that I sent it not because it hurt you but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways.” God’s Word is not designed to be a buzz kill, dream crusher or party crasher. It is the way to a better and more fulfilling life. God will allow certain circumstances and situations if they cause us to turn back to Him, repent and change our ways. Why? Because He loves you silly. He wants the very best for you, His Precious Child. He will stop at nothing just to show you how much! Life is divinely designed to point us to eternity and help us make it across to the other side. Godly sorrow leads to repentance while worldly sorrow only offers regret. If we can learn to experience God even in the hardest times of our life, we will gain a clear perspective of His Amazing Love and we will never walk away but strive to move in closer and closer just to experience more and more of His Mercy and Grace. The blessings of God are not random. True wisdom allows us to stop working to receive that which is given and position our life to receive. The Law of God never produces spiritual blessing but directs us to where we will find it when we consume His Word, walk in His Way and allow His Will to become our will. Wisdom is true knowledge applied to our life to position us in the Blessings that God preordained for our life. Faith keeps us there when the storms rage and chaos kicks in. Hope reminds us that what God has for us is greater than the light and momentary trial, temptation or test. I embrace godly sorrow because I learn to love God more and experience the life that He has for me in abundance. To experience the Lord is a position. It is righteousness obtained by faith and trust in the Lord – nothing more and nothing less. It is the marking of each tree that has created the forest that we call life.

Galatians 3:1-7 (NLT)
Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the Law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced[a] so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it? I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ. In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.

I want to experience God today. I want a face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ today. I want the Holy Spirit to rise up in me and doing something real and relevant with my life. Today Jesus I give you back my life all of it especially the parts that I was trying to fix myself. Work out your salvation in my life according to Your Word, Will and Way. I will do my best not to get in the way and keep my heart open and available to you. I need you Jesus. Don’t let me be easily led astray by the enemy or fall for any of his counterfeits or substitutions but empower me to stand firm in my faith, strive for righteousness and redeem every promise that I have in you! Help me to see the forest rather than focusing on each tree as I reach out in faith past this life to hold tight to Eternity which is my everlasting hope in you.

John 3:30-35 (NLT)
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands.