Thursday, August 2, 2012
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” ~ Luke 10:38-42
I am often worried and upset over many things. I worry what could happen if I do something. I worry about what could happen in the future. The thought of “what if” can lead to many things to worry and be upset over.
But what if I turn that around? What if I turn those what ifs into possibilities?
What if God comes through in the nick of time?
What if I do such in such and it really helps someone?
What if everything works out?
What if my hard work leads to something bigger than myself?
And even, what if a miracle happens?
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
If I’m not careful, I can turn God’s Word into a self-improvement plan. Self-improvement is defined as improvement through one’s own efforts. God doesn’t want me to spend all of my energies trying to eradicate my weaknesses. He can overcome my weaknesses by helping me to walk in spite of them. My weaknesses help me to rely on God. If I succeed in getting rid of them, I would be tempted to do everything in my strength and there is no real power in that. It was never God’s plan for me to just improve myself. But it is God’s plan for me to gain strength from His word and go forth and help people in a multitude of ways. I can spend so much time trying to fix my weaknesses that I never get around to doing anything for God.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30
I often can carry heavy burdens because I’m trying to do things that I don’t need to do. I try to do what I feel is expected of me from other people. Jesus wants to lift that burden from me. He wants me to do what He has planned for me. He doesn’t want me to be overburdened by pressures I create in my own mind in order to please people. His yoke for me is no burden at all because it fits how he created me. If I bend over backwards trying to perform by doing what everyone around me wants me to do, all I get is pressured and tired. I can’t do everything that I see around me. I can’t be everywhere that people want me to be. But I can do what I’m called to do by God for His glory. That’s where I need to expend my efforts.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” ~ Psalm 46:10
When I am still and I don’t let the loud messages of the world in, I will hear God’s whispers. My attention honors Him and He speaks. I don’t hear condemnation even when I deserve it. I hear love. I hear the best ways to live my life in order to live it well. I hear that my happiness comes when I realize that my happiness is connected to helping other people. When I do the things that have been planted deep in my soul, helping others will be the result. Most of all, I hear that my life isn’t really about me—it’s about God and others.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Fearing is a desperate attempt to hold onto control
When you go forward in fear, you’re out of control
When you are out of control, you’re in God’s realm
When you’re in God’s realm, anything can happen
“Anything can happen” can be both scary and great
That is why we tend to fear
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. ~ Matthew 14:27-29
Thursday, May 31, 2012
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. ~ John 15:11
How can my joy be full? Jesus says that He has spoken to us on how to have joy—even complete and utter joy. Doesn’t that sound great? The answer is in the verses that lie before John 15:11.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. ~ John 15:1-10
Producing much fruit in my life creates joy. Staying close to Jesus and learning from Him makes me joyful. Obeying Him brings much joy.
The key is in loving Him and listening to Him each day. But then I can’t stop there. I have to produce much fruit in the specific way that He has made me. He has made me for such a time as this—the exact time that I’m living in. He has made me for a specific purpose that He knew before I was born. I need to stay near to Him so I can know that purpose and then I need to stay in that purpose until much fruit is created. And with much fruit comes much joy!
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination! ~ John 6:18-21
Fear can overtake me at any moment. When I look at the winds and waves of my own feelings, I can become paralyzed. All that I see is a little me surrounded by overwhelming circumstances. But Jesus is right there too. He tells me to not be afraid, not because the circumstances aren’t alarming, but because He is with me. When I am in the middle of feeling fear, I need to recognize that Jesus is right there as well. Then if I let Him, He calms me and I arrive at my destination.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Long-term history contributed to my insecurity and uncertainty. I picking up a little here and there. Things people said. Things people did. Ways people looked at me. It all added up to me not feeling good enough. Add to all of that, the world’s view of a warped perfection—no physical flaws, not one pound overweight—actually underweight seems better in the world’s eyes, having every goal met, having all your ducks in a row, seeking to have it all. It’s no wonder that I didn’t measure up.
But God speaks differently. He speaks of a love that loves me in the middle of my messes. He doesn’t wait for me to have it all together. He loves me instantly and completely. He doesn’t want me to stay sinful but He gently leads me to change. Not to measure up to what other people consider worthy but to measure up to His plan for me. His plan is attainable. With His help, it’s attainable one day at a time. Unlike the very unattainable perfection that the world offers, God’s plan won’t keep me striving and striving on a treadmill that’s going nowhere.
I need God’s power in order to live fully. If I do everything in my own strength, I'll never be out of my comfort zone. If I feel comfortable doing something, I'm probably in my comfort zone. I should require more of myself and reach above my strength into His strength. I can just to do the best I can and that’s “okay.” But it isn’t living fully and abundantly. Living fully and abundantly requires a constant reliance on His strength. Doing things that are beyond my own capabilities. That is when God shines through me.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
I tend to think of producing fruit for the Lord as doing things for Him. But the bible defines fruit as nothing like that. It defines fruit as character qualities such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Chances are, Chuck Colson recently heard those words that all Christians want to hear from their Lord, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” But he didn’t necessarily hear them because of his works even though his works were great. He heard them because of the motivations for his works—love and kindness for people.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
2 Peter 1:2-8 tells me that the Christian life is a steady progression that always requires diligence. It begins with faith. I pursue virtue. I gain knowledge. I hold myself back with self-control. I persevere onward and upward toward godliness. I try to be kind and seek to grow in my love for others. As I walk in these ways, my life will be fruitful. The Lord will make sure of that. He has given me everything I need in order for me to live in this manner. May the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, that I may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
If I have felt comfort from the love of Christ, I need to share it. In addition, trust that God can use my willing heart and fingers to bring hope to others. Christ can be magnified in my actions, my speech, and me. Where there is Living Water, it should flow. His Spirit should come into us like a waterfall but it also needs to have an outlet—a stream of constant encouragement, words of hope, and two listening ears for people that God puts in my path. Don’t let that water just sit stagnant like a swamp.
Eagles soar. Soaring means to rise, fly, or glide high and with little apparent effort. Soaring requires very little wing-flapping, enabling eagles to conserve energy. In my own strength, I just expend a lot of energy with minimal results, tend to go in circles, and burn out quickly. In His Strength, it is possible to soar like an eagle. What does it mean when walking with the Lord is compared to soaring like eagles? I have always loved this Scripture but the idea of soaring like an eagle rather alluded me. I wanted with my whole heart to live my life for the Lord in that way but most of the time it didn’t feel like soaring. It did not feel effortless. It felt a bit rigid and even legalistic. I read and studied about grace and God’s love and I believed wholeheartedly that nothing I can do would make Him love me less or more. Nevertheless, in my mind, I was still trying to do things in my own strength so it didn’t feel effortless. When I am living daily in my strength, it will never feel effortless. I will always be trying to do better and using a lot of energy worrying over the things that I’m not doing. When I am living in His strength, it will feel effortless. By effortless, I don’t mean that I do not do anything. A good definition of effortless is apparently requiring no effort. It looks like there is no or little effort. Actually, the effort comes from another source that isn’t seen. An eagle soars by the effort of the wind but it does have to open up its wings. When I let God take control, life becomes effortless in the same way.
A self-conscious thought life is a downfall to me. Do I look all right? Do I feel okay? Do I fit in? Am I too fat? Am I pretty enough? This is a basic emphasis on: Am I good enough? Jesus didn’t care about being good enough. He said that no one was good except God the Father. The opposite of self-conscious is not self-esteem. It’s unconscious. I want to be concerned with others more than myself. The more I think about God and doing His Will, the less time I will have to think about myself.
In Matthew 14:22-33, the disciples were scared when they saw Jesus walking on the water but immediately Jesus told them that he was there and to not be afraid. Peter began to walk on the water toward Jesus but soon feared and began to sink, Jesus immediately reached out his hand to catch him. God is always there for us—even before we get around to asking Him for help. Even though he feared, Peter still got the sheer delight of walking on the water however briefly. When Jesus told him to come to him on the water, Peter immediately got out of the boat and tried to do it. His obedience was immediate. Mine should be as well.
I can’t get too far off-track with my life if I’m following Christ. He’ll guide me and when I make mistakes, He’ll turn me in another direction. He also delights to give me the patience I need along the way. When a seed is sown, it must first take root, then break through the ground, then it grows and buds, and eventually fruit is born. I cannot rush this process just as I can’t rush how God works in me.
I can delight in the fact that I don’t have to be perfect. I am not called to perfection. I am called to point to God even when that means repenting when I do wrong. God brings delight even in repentance. That delight is called grace. If I repent, I have God’s forgiveness and the grace to go on and do better.
There’s also a delight and a freedom that “rules” can be altered a bit as long as I don’t change the “principles” of God’s word. Peter, the Jewish disciple, was called to go to the home of a gentile named Cornelius. Peter always ate what was kosher–approved and prepared by God’s rules—but Peter ate what Cornelius set before him–even though it wasn’t kosher. He learned that the principle of loving others and preaching the gospel to them was more important than what he ate (Acts 11:7-9). Sometimes it’s not what I do, it’s my mindset as I do it. God’s love and forgiveness work in me to change me and I need to apply that same grace when dealing with others.
The Father God delights me with his glorious creation. The whole earth is full of his glory (Isaiah 6:3). I love to see beautiful landscapes and nature’s beauty. It gives me a glimpse of something that is beyond myself—something that in my wildest dreams I couldn’t create. However, I find joy and delight when I attempt to imitate God and strive to create something beautiful.
“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time,” said Oswald Chambers. I don’t necessarily see but I know He’s good and so I continue on—that’s faith. God places things in my life to encourage and even delight me along the way. Those things keep me on track and going forward. God doesn’t want me to get stuck.
God sent his only Son, Jesus, to show us how to live. He also lived a perfect life and became the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Then, God sent his Spirit to dwell within those people who believe in the sacrifice his Son made. The Spirit helps me to obey the Bible. God also used his Spirit to dwell in multiple writers so that the Bible could be written. Three things that God did to delight his children were: 1.) to cover their sins, 2.) to show them the way, and 3.) to help them to obey.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. ~ Psalm 107:1
Gratitude is a way out of all kinds of stressful situations. There’s always something to thank God for—even in the midst of a burden. It’s not a magic wand that I wave and the problem disappears. But it is a way of focusing on God. And when I focus on God, I see things more clearly because my heart shifts. I may not see an answer right away but I do see the God who has this and every answer.
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. ~ Exodus 16:4
I’m more afraid of the imaginings of my mind toward the future than I am in a current situation of trouble. That’s because I have God’s manna (strength) for today’s trouble but I don’t have God’s strength for my perceived problems of tomorrow. I can’t eat manna for tomorrow. It’s impossible. And I don’t even need to eat manna for tomorrow because often when tomorrow comes, there’s not even a glimpse of my imaginings.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. ~ Psalm 62:7
I have had an ongoing fight against my own tentativeness and fear. God is the rock solid foundation for my life. I should have nothing to fear because He is with me always. But I do fear taking steps forward. I want God to take the fear away so I can serve Him better. But maybe I was given my tentativeness to keep me looking toward God and away from myself. Maybe God wants me to feel that fear so that I’ll lean on Him as I go forward and His strength will show. Maybe that fear will never go away--for if it draws me to God, it's doing a good thing.
God is just a prayer away. I can feel that tentativeness and still go forward. This could be the practical definition of faith--feeling fear but knowing God is with me so I go forward anyway. I want His presence to shine ever brighter with each step I take.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Friday, March 9, 2012
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” ~ Revelation 3:20
Jesus knocks. I invite Him into my heart. I’m very happy He’s here. I begin to show Him around. It is comfortable and warm in my heart. He tells me that my heart is soft and pliable and that is good. But then He looks around a bit more. There are windows on each wall that portray nature in all its glory. There are chairs under each window—big comfortable, soft chairs. These are there for me to be comfortable while I watch the world. I’m happy with God’s creation of the world—it brings me joy. But I stay too comfortable looking out of those windows.
Jesus says to me, “My child, arise and go forth. Do what I’ve always called you to do. Be a light in this dark world. Go.”
I gulp and swallow a lump of fear. He takes my hand and says that He’ll be with me. I smile and go.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
My Dear Child,
I know it’s hard to go through circumstances when you don’t see the end. And I know you don’t always understand. But I do. I am using circumstances to strengthen your character. Come to Me no matter what. Come to Me with your thoughts and feelings. I’m listening. I want you to tell Me everything. Even when you are speechless, come to Me and listen. Know this for sure, I see you everyday, in every circumstance. I have not forgotten you. I will not forsake you. I love you. Daily seek My will for your life and when you know it, walk in it. When you walk with courage, hope and perseverance, you show your faith to others. It is on display for all to see. And that is one of the best advertisements for knowing Me. When you feel discouraged or even depressed, come to Me. I will speak My Truth to you through My Spirit. I will continue to speak that Truth until you absorb it. You need to read My Word and listen.
Satan knows your weaknesses and he knows how to magnify them so that is all you see. He is happy when he can get you to stop walking and he is happiest when you step off the path completely. He gets you to wait for a more opportune time to do My Work. He tells you that you can do that later. There’s plenty of time, he says. He holds up a mirror and gets you to see only yourself. He is cunning and shrewd. Don’t try to fight him. Call on Me. Speak My Word out loud and he will shrink back.
Your heart is prone to unbelief. Discouragement grows in there so easily. If you can’t do something perfectly you think why do it at all. This is an absurd thought straight from the enemy. I welcome whatever you do as long as it is done out of love and gratitude. I don’t look for your successes; I look for your faithfulness. I can take the smallest act and use it for My Glory. Meditate on the gratitude you feel for My Work on the Cross and let it well up inside you until it comes out as loving, compassionate, kind acts toward others. And excel at trying to outdo those deeds. Every day think of new loving acts that you can do. Keep reaching for the next rung of the ladder not to earn My Love but to shine with the Love I already gave you.
My Holy Spirit will never leave you until I have accomplished My Work in you. Don’t ever forget that My Spirit is within you – not next to you, not near by – but within you. Cry to Him. Don’t grieve Him. Cry out to Him to flood your soul with Living Water. So much that it has nowhere else to go except to overflow onto others.
Expect the unexpected. Believe that all My Promises are true. If I am with you, why should you fear? If I am your refuge, then even if the earth is removed and the mountains fall into the sea, you will be safe in My Everlasting Arms. Be faithful and true and know that nothing you do in My Name is ignored by Me. I see it all. I saved you and I aim to give you blessings. Keep looking to Me. I will give you life. And what I start know for certain I will finish. I have loved you since the beginning of time and I will love you for all eternity.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Lord, You know me so well--You know when I am weak
You know when I am positive and strong
You know my thoughts even before I think them
The path I’m on is clear to You--You see its end
You know when I’m striving to get there
You know when I’m holding back
Every word I speak, whether blessing or curse, is known by You
Even when I wander – which I’m very prone to do
You place boundaries so I can only go so far
Your guidance is a treasure – so undeserved and free
Where can I go that You won’t be waiting when I get there?
Where can I run that You don’t see?
Even when my deeds could send me to hell--You pull me back again
When I let go of Your hand--You grip mine even tighter
You shine Your light into the darkness of my heart
You created me to be who You wanted me to be
You designed me without my consent – imagine that
I may have done it differently--My ways are not Your ways
I see things I’d rather be instead of what I am
I’m sorry for this foolishness – this rebellion – this sin
Your works are marvelous--when I see it Your way, I win
You knew the plan of my life from the start
You knew my hindrances and my weaknesses too
And You always had it under Your sovereign control
Nothing shocks You--You know it all
I thank You for Your thoughts of me
Thoughts of peace, of hope, and of a bright future
I will continue to seek You--to know Your will
And You will show me each day clearly
You probably won’t show me more than a day at a time
Because You know me all too well
You know what I can handle and You know what I cannot
I pray that my love for You never wavers
Because I know that Yours doesn’t for me
Help me to trust in You more fully
And let Your will be the all-in-all for me
This scene, based on the heart and character of a young King David, illustrates God’s immense love for us. He guides us, comes after us, keeps us safe, and loves us with his whole heart.
In a desert right outside of Bethlehem, we see a lamb underneath a bush. Its fleece is stuck in the thorns of the bush. It is crying.
A voice calls out in the distance, “Where are you? Little lamb, I’m looking for you.”
The lamb’s head lifts up in recognition. It tries to get up but only gets tangled up more. It cries out again.
A handsome young man gets closer to the bush and notices the lamb. David smiles, “There you are. I”ve been looking all over for you.” David bends down and gently rubs the lamb’s head. He notices that its fleece is caught in the thorns. “Well, look what you’ve gotten yourself into now.”
David proceeds to loosen the lamb’s fleece from the thorns. He gets him free and pulls him out from under the bush. He hugs the lamb gently. “I’m glad you’re okay. Come on, let’s go home.” He then puts the lamb around the back of his neck. The lamb, knowing it’s safe now, rests its head on David’s shoulder and closes its eyes.
My Hand will always be upon you. I will always be there to help. What? You say that it doesn’t always “feel” loving? That may be true. It doesn’t always “feel” loving. My Hand brings anointing but that same Hand applies pressure when needed. My precious child, don’t resist that pressure. It is there to refine you and make you new. I am about new things. I am the same yesterday, today and tomorrow but My Work is new each day.
You are my vessel. But you are marred and not as transparent as you need to be. You tend to obstruct My Light instead of reflecting it to others. Rest in Me. I will work those problems out. Walk beside me. Not in front of me and not behind me but yoked beside me. In that way, we will get to those new places I mentioned. Trust Me. I know every facet of your life. I know where you’ve been. I know where you’re going.
Most of all, believe Me. Don’t just say you believe. Believe.
Friday, January 20, 2012
The Kingdom of Heaven is powerful. It doesn’t take much to make a difference. Little acts can be used by God in amazing ways. It’s like yeast in bread making. It only takes a small amount of yeast to permeate every part of the dough. Small things grow to have great impact—that is when God is involved. God’s work is often subtle. Changes aren’t always visible right away but there will be a difference. If a lump of dough can turn into fresh, warm, fluffy bread, then people can change too.
Friday, January 6, 2012
God dislikes complacency. He spits lukewarmness out of His mouth. Being content with the riches of this world ushers in complacency. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the riches of the world but being content with them alone is a different story. Not realizing that you’re poor, blind, and naked leads to complacency. Thinking you’re okay on your own and you don’t need God takes away joy because joy comes from loving God and seeking to please Him.
The cure for complacency is: 1.) Get “gold” from Christ—the riches of His Word and Spirit. 2.) In humility, realize that you need to be cleaned up and accept the “newness” that Christ can give you. 3.) Let His Spirit open your eyes to the “riches” of His Kingdom--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Repent of complacency—seek to really see God—seek to feel life again—seek to hope—seek to do what you’re called to do. Sow goodness with enthusiasm and reap a bountiful harvest.
Christ is knocking on your heart. Are you listening?