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Time to Thrive - A Devotion

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Psalm 37:3-5 (NLT)
Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the LORD and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.

There is a progression in Psalm 37 that I have never noticed before. I have read this passage over and over in the many years that I have known Christ and each time it seems to have deeper meaning. The last two years of our life have been a rollercoaster. The ups and downs associated with our son’s cancer and subsequent healing times four put me in survival mode. Rather than living a life of freedom, I have become bonded to a disease. I do not have cancer. At this point in time, our son shows no signs of cancer either. However, after three recurrences, it is hard to believe that it will never come again. Fear sits on the edge of my thoughts looking for a weakness in my faith to overtake me. I know many faithful people who walk and talk the right words but there is no manifestation in their life. I know some who have given up and live in the wake of devastation as the rolling overtures of this disease keeps them wavering in its wake. For the last six months, I have faced the stark reality that death is possible each day that we are alive. You can live bound by death which keeps us in survival mode. Or you can choose to let go of death and embrace forever by anchoring your faith with confident hope to Jesus Christ. Before you get all holier than thou, think about it. Do you live for the day or live for forever every day in every choice? What do I mean? Do you spend more time in each day tied to a routine and schedule to survive in this life or are you seeking God wholeheartedly in each moment? As our family begins our 21-Day Daniel Fast, it is my endeavor to allow God to shake up and unsettle my life so that rather than live a comfortable, casual existence on the earth that I will be moved to seek His Kingdom above all things in each and every single moment of the day. It is my profound hope that at the end of this fast, I will have broken every single bond to anything that is fear-related to only embrace faith-related truths. For the coming year, it is my choice to thrive not merely survive!

God has shaken up our life literally, figuratively and spiritually in this journey of healing and full restoration which I used to think was only concerning my son and his battle against cancer. The truth is sin is just as devastating as cancer to the human condition. It will literally eat away at our soul until there is nothing left to grow and develop into a lasting connection with our life source – Father, Son or Spirit. In the beginning, God created people and gave them this mandate. “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.’” (Genesis 1:27-28) God made everything and gave it to us to be fruitful, multiply, govern and reign over. There was no need for acquisition. He just gave it to us and said, “Enjoy!” God took responsibility but gave us the right to have it without working to get it. That lasted one chapter until Eve listened to the lie of the enemy that having everything was not enough, unless she took what was God’s too. She and Adam made a bad choice that impacted all future generations. It took people out of prosperity and put us in survival mode. The world is dying as a result of sin. The consequence is that we try to make the best of a hopeless situation. However, in our heart is Eternity because we were created for so much more than this as sons and daughters of God. Hence the constant thought – “There has to be more to life than this!” My purpose in the Lord this year is to learn to thrive again! His Grace allows me to choose it! It is up to me to do it!

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…

Who wouldn’t want all the blessings of Deuteronomy 28? I know I do and have ever since I discovered them. There are days when I have been frustrated because I have found them elusive. The problem is not the reliability and faithfulness of God but His People. We want to thrive but are unwilling to invest any effort in the pursuit of it. Prosperity is not associated with financial success but affected by its overflow. If prosperity in your life is measured by the ability to pay bills, have nice “things”, go fancy “places” or increase your influence in this life, then it is linked to the world’s economy which is worthless. Why? The currency of this world does not last forever no matter if the news says that things are going well or down the toilet. It really doesn’t matter what we think – God has a plan! He plans to bless you with a future and hope but if you are tangled up in the bondage and pursuits of this life – how will you ever participate fully in His Plan. The answer is you will not. “If you fully obey the Lord your God and careful keep all His Commands…you will experience all of these blessings…” Grace cut the rope that keep us in bondage to sin which made obedience to God futile because prosperity begins in our soul. Without grace, God’s Blessings would die with us when our life was over. The Blood of Jesus Christ paid our debt to God in full so now we can share in the Eternal Blessings of God. Grace does not change the Way to experience God’s Blessings but simply allows us to have it all again. It is like stepping back in time to the Garden of Eden before sin wrecked us. The Lord wants you to do the same as before He wants His People to “be fruitful, multiply, govern and reign over” the earth until He comes. When God was done with people and their sin, He flooded the earth all save Noah, His Family and two of every kind of animal so that we could survive. (Genesis 7) People still struggled with disobedience even after such a close call. God went into careful detail the guidelines of blessing and cursing and what must be done to make a good choice. Blessing is promised for obedience. (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) But there are provisions associated with disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:45-66) God loves you! His Grace covers! But His Blessing is covenant-based and obedience is His Contingency. How does one move from surviving to thriving? We must make a proper choice. Yes sin is rampant on the earth. Yes, love has grown cold. But God has given us His Grace, Mercy and Love to escape the consequences of our rebellion and faithlessness and flourish once again. It is a choice. “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the LORD your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16)
God is constantly and consistently trying to guide His Beloved back to a life of prosperity! It begins in our heart and soul when we make the choice to love and trust Him and mean it enough to do what He says!

Jeremiah 29:10-13 (NLT)
This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Jesus Christ set us free from the bondage of sin and captivity of its consequence. We now are free to experience all the blessings and promises of His Kingdom once again. We must choose to do so. God isn’t going to make you love Him. He will not force you to leave captivity or set into freedom. The Lord will not force you to obey Him or walk through life His Way. It is all a matter of choice which also means that you and I choose to survive or thrive. To survive means to continue to exist after death. For example, I have survived my grandparents. It is to endure or live through adversity. Jesus Christ has allowed us to survive death and escape from sin. But that is not God’s Plan for your life. Jesus Christ opened the door so that we could come “home” again. He allows us to step into right standing with God the Father. God is ready for you to come because He has plans for you. (Psalm 139:16) They are good plans with a future and hope which mean they extend well beyond life as we know it, exceeds all our expectations and more than we could think of or ask for. So many times, we stop here and call it grace. This is the promise. The choice to have it and prosper comes when we choose to have a relationship with the Lord and to seek Him wholeheartedly! Prosperity begins in our soul. To thrive means to prosper, be fortunate, and successful. It is to grow and develop vigorously a relationship with God that flourishes into every single promise and blessing that He has for us. The closer we get to the Lord the more of His Riches that we experience. Grace is God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. It opens the door to His Storehouses if we have the capacity in our heart to receive. But like the Israelites, too many people return to bondage because fear is coercing them into thinking that they cannot have the blessings and promises of God. Fear is causing them to seek survival rather than prosperity. (Exodus 16:1-5) Limited perspective kept their eyes fixed on the things of this world rather than pursuing the Righteousness and Riches of God offered through Jesus Christ. They will not pursue righteousness in fear it will rob them of something that they have attained on this earth. That is a lie of the enemy. Do not settle for your current situation because that is survival. It is time to step into righteousness and the Riches of God to prosper from the inside out!

Isaiah 44:3-5 (NLT)
For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the LORD.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the LORD’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.”

Each and every single baby ever born has a plan with a future and hope. Righteousness allows them to retrieve the plan and re-chart the course of their life through the remission of sin. Grace does not automatically give us the blessings and promises of God. They are obtained in right standing with God through faith, belief and confident hope. Grace allows us to survive in the permissible Will of God. God’s Grace will prosper those who do something with it. If you choose to use grace to serve the Lord and seek Him wholeheartedly, things will begin to change in your life as your heart does (willingness) and your soul prospers. Suddenly, compromise is not an option because you will settle for nothing than God’s Very Best. Not because you deserve it but it belongs to you in your covenant with the Lord. You will become bound to your covenant (or marriage) to the Lord rather than giving yourself to everything else that comes along. As the intimacy between you and the Lover of our Soul flourishes, crazy things begin to happen in our life. Miracles begin to manifest. Supernatural favor that is unexplainable finds us. And yes, occasionally an unexpected check will arrive in the mail. It has always been God’s Plan to bless you and prosper you. It is time for you to get with the plan! Stop surviving. The assault on your life is over. Now it is time to thrive!

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT)
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither and they prosper in all they do.

Prosperity is not seasonal – we are! By choosing God’s Blessing every day and committing our life to the service of God through careful obedience and decided to love Jesus and maintain our covenant with Him – we begin to thrive daily rather than seasonally. It is a personal choice to prosper beginning deep within in the human heart that connects with Eternity committed to keep the connection to the Kingdom of God every single day of our life. This allows His Kingdom to operate in our life every day and not just sometimes. Seasonal blessing is for “sometimes” Christians.

Psalm 21:3-7 (NLT)
You welcomed him back with success and prosperity. You placed a crown of finest gold on his head. He asked you to preserve his life and you granted his request. The days of his life stretch on forever. Your victory brings him great honor and you have clothed him with splendor and majesty. You have endowed him with eternal blessings and given him the joy of your presence for the king trusts in the LORD. The unfailing love of the Most High will keep him from stumbling.

The unfailing love of the Most High is His Grace that keeps us from stumbling in our wholehearted pursuit. He is ready to welcome us back with success and prosperity because of His Grace, Mercy and Love for mankind. How do I get there Lord? Trust the Lord. Do good. This will be your salvation that leads you to His Permissible Will. It is a great start but will never lead to fulfillment and full satisfaction as intended by the Lord. But wait there is more, delight in the Lord. Get to know Him more by spending time in His Word and praying (talking) with Him. You will most definitely fall more and more in love as you get to know His Love firsthand. This moves us from permissible things given according to His Promise to a place of prosperity. He will begin to fulfill the desires of your heart. But wait there is even more…commit everything that you do to the Lord and prosperity will overtake your life. Everything you place in the Hand of God will flourish and grow into His Full Potential! Suddenly, you don’t want the things of this world anymore just Jesus. You will not settle for the hand this life has dealt you but place it in the Hands of God to be shuffled, molded and reshaped into what He has planned. You will find prosperity! You will finally thrive…when you decide not to survive anymore!

Psalm 34:12-19 (NLT)
Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help. But the LORD turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth. The LORD hears his people when then you call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time.

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