Chaos

Chaos

I Corinthians 1:9 (ESV) God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Chaos! Utter chaos! The words scribbled in my journal this morning. The last few weeks have been a runaway train. Today our fourth child graduates from high school – breathe mama breathe! Time is flying by and the winds of change are clearly stirring up my heart and soul. With a mind fully of memories, thoughts and a to-do list that keeps on growing – I am seeking peace this morning. I need rest for my mind. Rest for my body. I am looking for the Peace of God and calling on the internal comforter – His Spirit inside of me.

The words that come next are from a place of deep reserve. The reservoir of hope filled each morning in this quiet time begins to spill forth from my mouth even though my head and heart may not agree right this second – God is faithful. The faithfulness of God is not surprised by circumstances or shaken in our disbelief. He is faithful always. Let that sink in for just a moment as I have this morning. Even though I have lost control – God is still sovereignly in absolute control of my life. My world is in His Hands because I have placed it there and refuse to take it back. It is in this passage I find new breath on a morning of absolute stress, worry and well…chaos.

Our little fur baby, Izzy, is asleep in the chair next to me. Our giant fur baby, Scout, resting at my feet. Both are completely passed out and intermittently snoring. They are resting after an early morning breakfast and frolic in the yard. They do not worry about their next meal. They are not concerned with the details of the day. The rain is of little to no concern to them in the shelter of the home provide. They trust me to take care of them. They follow me from room to room plopping down right where I am working, sitting or even sleeping if possible. I wonder today if that is the lesson in the busyness of life – a gentle loving reminder of the faithfulness of God that is for us and the rest found in Him. I must only trust Him. Believe Him. Take Him at His Word. Love Him. Desire Him. Seek Him. Serve Him. Follow Him…and all these other worries, concerns and details fall into place. Lord, let me find my way back into your Presence today.

Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV) Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations…

Do you know that God loves you with steadfast love today? It is not performance based but a covenant promise to you, His Beloved Child. God keeps His Covenant with us because He is faithful. My ability to keep my covenant with Him was irrevocably broken by sin. So His Faithfulness provided a sacrifice for my sin to pay the debt owed and rescue me from certain death – He has apprehended me with love not by force. His Love set me free to choose who I love and serve in this life. I choose You, God! I have decided to follow Jesus and accept the grace that I have been given. God only desires our love. Not just any love, but a committed love. A love that tries to be faithful and is remorseful in our failures. We have made a very structured idea of church and set mandates for the Body of Christ never detailed by God. He asks only that we love Him enough to seek Him, follow Him and trust Him.

Deuteronomy 32:4 (ESV) “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”

The firm foundation of our life, faith and confident hope is the unchangeable, all-powerful, fully authoritative, all-knowing, and ever present Rock who is the Lord. He is incapable of lying or changing His Mind without altering His Perfection. If something is perfect, it has no need to change. It is our imperfection that calls for change. God promises to be the Rock. Our shelter. Our refuge. The hiding place of the righteous who come boldly before Him. He is a Good God who is faithful and without iniquity. He offers divine disciple but thanks to grace there is no punishment involved. When faced with challenging seasons or long processes, it is the faithfulness of God that is our hope. We must look above the wind and waves to see that He is still right where He has always been and perfecting all that concerns us according to His Word. (Psalm 138:8)

Hebrews 3:3-6 (ESV) For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

God’s faithfulness was demonstrated in Jesus Christ. Though tempted by the enemy, Jesus overcame him by simple telling him what God said. The enemy fled. Christ lives in us. The resurrection power and life that overcomes is in you and me. Moses built a tabernacle for God’s Presence in the wilderness. God revealed His Glory to the people. Forty long years of wandering and there were few who would ever enter the promise of rest. King Solomon built a beautiful temple. God was pleased. He went on to waste his life indulging in sinful conquests. God had a better plan and a more glorious thought – He sent His Son to inhabit those who would be His People. We are His House. Christ lives in us. He gives us the desire and drive to be faithful to God so it is no surprise that the enemy comes to tempt us. He reminds us of our past. He sows regret, remorse and shame to choke out new life and hope. He tells us that God is mad at us. He says that He is punishing us. He tells us that the Lord has forgotten us. Or maybe just that we deserve the consequences of our choices. He is a liar. The Word says that God has other plans for “His House”. Christ is building a strong “Body”.

I Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

The greatest temptation commonly faced by believers each day is to abandon trust. To believe something other than the Word God has given us. To pursue lesser things hoping to achieve some other kind of glory. We have been given the Glory of God for our broken vessels. He resides in us and wants to shine through us. I don’t know what you are facing today – I only know the insufficiencies of my own heart. What I do know is that God is faithful! Some days, like today, I must remind myself that He is faithful. He is always faithful. His Faithfulness is unreserved when it comes to me. He is relentless in His Passionate Pursuit of me. I must learn to run to His Refuge and seek His Shelter when tempted not to trust Him. To seek His Peace that passes all understanding to pull in my rebellious thoughts. I must only call out His Name and He always rushes to my aid. He will leave the 99 just to carry me back. He is faithful today. He has already provided everything I need to overcome temptation and achieve my purpose today and every day. I must remind my heart, mind and soul – God is faithful every day even today!

Psalm 62:8 (ESV) Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

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Tiny Box

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Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Oh what if we could wrap our thoughts in a tiny box and put them on a shelf. To unclutter our mind and organize our thoughts in such a way that worry, anxiety and stress could be alleviated in such a simple gesture. Each morning when the alarm sounds at 4:30 a.m., it is easy to hit the snooze button. One would think after years it would be a habit but I still moan and groan about it most of the time. So when my mind wakes me up somewhere around 3:00 a.m., my body begins to revolt. Tossing and turning, adjusting and readjusting, from the right to the left. I often begin to pray since I believe God is the only one up at such an awful hour. Finally, it is useless to try to drift back asleep so I tumble out of the bed. Those thoughts circling in my head are the things that wake me up. If I allow my mind to start to contemplate the day yet before me, I know I have lost the battle and will give in.

Set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits… How do I set my sights on the realities of heaven, when life keeps me completely preoccupied? How does one walk by faith and not by sight in actuality? Is faith really practical thinking? Is it logical at all? If so, how do I set, put, place my mind in the realm of hope as if wrapped in a tiny box and put in the Hands of God? The challenge is often accepted in powerless situations when life is too hard to handle so you have to let it go, but what about every other day? How do I live a Kingdom life in a loud, intrusive world? To think about the things of heaven and not the things of earth seems irrational and irresponsible somehow yet it is the reminder given in Colossians 3 today.

2 Timothy 2:3-7 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.  And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

We have but one enemy and a fierce adversary. He has nothing to lose. Everything to gain. So he sows weeds to choke out God’s Words, and lies to trip us up along the way. Eve was not persuaded by a boldface lie but rather a subtle half-truth. Jesus overcame every temptation by the Word of God. Jesus did not have to defend who He was instead he simply recited the Truth which is the Word of God to the enemy until he left. As believers, too often we get caught up in “civilian” affairs. Rather than fighting the good fight of faith, we fight everyone else including ourselves for things already given and promises already made. We are Kingdom kids. We have an inheritance untouched and untainted resting in the Presence of God and acquired through repentance and reconciliation to Jesus Christ. There is nothing in this world for us. We are temporary residents on a journey to eternity. Faith gets us there. The power to believe beyond what is perceived by human senses but carried in our heart. We must learn to keep our heart and mind set on Heaven. The realities of faith are given to the righteous who can do this – those who remain undaunted and undistracted by the common problems of life given to the reality that God is enough in every situation.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Last year, my husband and I were overjoyed to find out that our daughter and her husband were moving closer to home. For three long years, they had lived in the North about 21 hours away. Shortly after the news another announcement came that they were expecting their first child. I could not believe God’s Goodness and Grace in giving me the desire of my heart. Well, soon after that, plans began to unravel. The church delayed the transfer. It seemed as though she would deliver before moving. How would I get to her when the baby was coming? How could this be happening? So my daughter and I made a pact to put the situation in a tiny box and pray about it. We did not discuss it further. It literally was such a hard thing that we both just put it in God’s Hands and walked away. Well, as it turns out, God moved them as planned but closer than originally thought. Instead of four hours away, they live 30 minutes from us. Our grandson came right on time with us all gathered to celebrate his arrival. God had a plan. The Lord worked out the details. We didn’t have to worry or work it out – He did it all!

I share this with you because I am learning to live life through Christ. The new life that He promised us can only be attained by faith that becomes confident hope. Our confidence is built on trust. We must learn to trust the Lord in every situation even when it is beyond logical comprehension or even the slightest possibility. This is how the reality of heaven is discovered in an ordinary life. When the Lord opens doors, no one can close it. We have the power to bind and loose things but only by faith. We must make faith practical and intentional in our life. Everyday life not just overwhelming situations. To take each worry, care, fear, insecurity, doubt, what if, regret, and every other negative thought or idea and put them in tiny boxes sending them up to the one who relieves all fear and takes care of His Beloved Children. God did not give us the spirit of fear. Do not take hold of it. He gave us His Spirit to produce the fruit that nourishes our soul, fortifies our heart, and changes our mind.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Word of God is clear. Don’t worry about anything. What are you worried about today? What is your greatest concern? Does fear rule your life and make your choices? Do you doubt the validity of God’s Word today? Doubt is manifested in our thoughts in the form of fear, worry, stress, and anxiety. All are characteristic of insecurity. We must become firmly rooted and grounded in God’s Love through His Son, Jesus Christ. Pray about everything. It sounds crazy to whisper things to God rather than rushing off to try to them. You must tell the Lord exactly what you need and wait for Him to respond to experience the new life found only in Jesus Christ. When the impossible comes, give it to Him. When you are overwhelmed, cry out to Him. He is waiting for your call. He is ready to respond to your cries in the night. When our faith begins to wrap each impossibility in a tiny box and send it up to Heaven, it is exchanged for peace that exceeds anything we can understand. The Holy Spirit guards the faithful heart willing to trust the Lord and live life through Jesus Christ. He gives us perfect peace that goes beyond human comprehension and logic. It is the conviction that anything is possible if we just believe enough to give it all to God!

Do you have something ready for that imaginary box? A problem too great. A circumstance too overwhelming. A situation that seems to have no positive ending. Give it to the Lord today. You have tried everything else. The secret is letting it go and filling the void with God’s Word. His Promises always produce good things by faith in the heart willing to believe.

Romans 12:2 (NLT) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Time Bandit

Time Bandit

I Peter 5:6-8 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

This week has been a busy one at work. The days stretching past the normally scheduled hours to get the project out the door. Hours seem like minutes as the emails and calls keep coming. In the midst of activity, my daughter sends me a text. She would like to go to the store and was wondering if I could watch our newborn grandson. I obviously accepted the opportunity to have the little guy all to myself. The new “me” values time way more than the old “me” did. There was a time in my life when work consumed the majority of my attention. Nothing left undone everything took a backseat. Leaving early and coming home late, I would give my family what was left of me if any. Exhausted and overwrought overtaken by the cares, worries and burdens of life. Caught up in the tasks losing sight of my treasure but not anymore.

Sitting in the quiet apartment and staring at the sweet cherubic face of my sleeping grandson, it seems surreal that I am a grandmother. Five decades of life gone – I am so thankful for this moment. The precious time of bonding with the newest member of our family. At the same time, I am sad for my friend whose husband has made his transition into eternity. We met at the Hope Lodge. A housing facility for patients and caregivers in the fight of their lives. Cancer taught me a valuable lesson. It reorganized my priorities by taking the “normal” and ruthlessly shattering it like a glass vase hitting the floor and breaking into a million pieces. Nothing in my life will ever be labeled “normal” again, I refuse to accept that life of hopelessness anymore. Every good gift is from the Father above. Lord, teach me to humble myself to receive it.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

It is absolutely humbling to relinquish control of one’s life. To come to know and understand that despite my best efforts – I am not in control. I am okay with that… now. My flesh hated the idea at first. Many tears of painful frustration and overwhelming pain the moment I learned that I cannot always make happy endings. Yet in humility before the Lord – it is a sweet and gentle exchange. To transfer the burdens of my life in exchange for His Perfect Peace. Peace that passes all understanding cannot be derived from pride but in learning to trust that God is good. He is a good father with a good plan for us. He promises to work every detail of our life for good. In the midst of a world crashing down around you, it is not the first thing that comes to mind.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

The enemy is a time bandit. He is a thief. He wants to steal your joy and peace. He will crush our confidence in Jesus if allowed to have a place in our heart and mind. Any door or window left open is an access point. He is constantly telling us lies and half-truths. The devil has three namesakes that he uses – distractions, disappointment and doubt. All will produce disbelief if allowed to manifest in our life. I have a friend. I visit her often. Her name is Martha. She is found in God’s Word. She reminds me on those days when I attempt to return to my normal life to be sober-minded and watchful. The thief is coming!

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Let’s hear it for the Martha’s out there. The real go-getters and hard workers who get the job done. Pride tells us that “if we don’t do it who will.” In reality, our doing is what keeps pride alive. The thought that there is something to do to maintain the love of God or earn His Great Grace. Doing for people to meet their expectation in the hope that they will reciprocate. There is nothing wrong with hard work. Motivation is the heart of change within us. It becomes a problem is when our doing is a distraction. I am too busy is an excuse not an explanation. Our time belongs to us. We have the privilege of giving it to whoever or whatever is deemed worthy.

Martha was distracted with much serving. What are you distracted by today? We pursue the desires of our heart. Sometimes it becomes a cluttered place filled with worthless ambition and futile pursuits which are the product of a lie planted in us long ago. We must weed out our heart and reprioritize our time. God should always get the first fruit but note that He is not interested as much in our doing as our knowing. Mary sat in the Presence of Jesus first and the Lord clearly favored her decision. Faith and family should be our first priority. There is room for everything else.

John 11:21-26 (ESV) Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Disappointment is consistent with failure of hope. To become depressed or discouraged when one believes that there is no reason to hope. The Word of God promises that our hope will never lead to disappointment. It doesn’t say anything about God doing it our way. So often the confusion comes when God doesn’t do things according to our expectation or timeline. We discard it or decide it just isn’t going to happen. When Martha met Jesus on the road that day without any kind of greeting, her grief spilled out of heart falling from her lips, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Martha was so devastated by her present condition that she was blinded to the hope standing before her. Jesus was there now. His Presence brought resurrection life and power. But her unmet expectation in her way and her plan overshadowed the hope that was before her. “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” She tried to say the right thing in her darkest hour, but her faith was not in Jesus in the present but the One who held the future. How many dreams lay in the tomb of disappointment? Buried by depression and discouragement deemed lifeless and void. God’s Word does not return to Him void. He will do exactly as He promised to do – His Way and in His Time. Are you disappointed today? God is with you. His Presence is all around you. His Goodness is pursuing you. His Unfailing Love is for you and His Hand outstretched. We must lay aside disappointment in order to have victory in Jesus.

John 11:38-40 (ESV) Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 

Doubt is the mountain that needs to be moved in our life. Doubt is the firmament of the enemy like cement boots to keep you from walking in the Presence of God, experiencing His Peace, living in His Victory, and filled with inexpressible joy in every circumstance and situation. When our pride is in conflict with our faith something has to give. Only one will have its way. Jesus was ready to call Lazarus from the grave but Martha had her hand on the stone. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha protested. How many times do we do the same thing? We label it impossible forgetting that nothing is impossible for the Lord.

Stinking thinking keeps us from the miracles, blessings, promises and prosperity that God has apportioned just for us. Our words and ways hold the stone over the grave of dead dreams ordained and predestined to be a reality. We cannot wrap our head and heart around an impossible God ready to do extraordinary things in a supernatural fashion for those He loves and calls to Him by name. You are that person. Dead things are coming to life. His Spirit is ready to pour out visions for the new hope reserved just for you. All you have to do is have faith? Not verbiage but a new heart and mind set on the Father believing that all things are possible if you only believe.

Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

There is no place that I would rather be than rocking that little boy. The contentment of being a grandmother fills my heart with new joy. The Word of the Lord is coming to pass in my life. I don’t make things happen but the Word of God spoken over me in my mother’s womb is becoming my reality. (Psalm 139) It didn’t happen as a result of anything I have done or become. I cannot take any credit for the change of heart and mind. It came when a normal life became impossible. The Light of God’s Love was discovered in absolute darkness. The faith in my heart was not revealed until it was irreparably broken. All my worries and cares do not add a single moment to my life but stole precious time better spent living and loving God and enjoying all the good things that He has placed in my life. If we could learn to do everything to the Glory of God and not man – I wonder if a change of heart might happen accompanied with the signs, wonders and miracles that we pray for. Why is it that in the face of death – we finally appreciate the things that really matter? Do we really have to lose our life to gain it? Yes! We do!

There is a thief among us. He is a time bandit ready to fill your life with worries, cares, fears, doubts and insecurities. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfied life. A prospering existence that as our soul prospers so will every area of our life. Are you missing out? Do you feel cheated and robbed watching others live in joy and peace? Does it seem like others are thriving while you are barely surviving? Stop comparing your life to other people. The grass is not always greener on the other side. You have the same seed and potential called faith. Nurture it. Grow it. Pay attention to it. Weed out the distractions, disappointment and doubt. God will do for you exactly as He promised. You just have to believe. Shut the door to your heart and the windows of your mind to the enemy’s lies and fill them with the truth. Nothing is impossible with God. Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. His Grace is always enough. Nothing can separate you from God’s Love. Christ promised you victory so it’s coming. You just need to trust Him! Your hope will never ever lead you to disappointment when your faith and hope are in the Lord!

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

 

Practice What You Preach

Practice What You Preach

Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

I heard a voice in the darkness. “Honey, it’s after 5:00 AM. Did you set the alarm?” I guess not although I thought I did. Too late to worry about that now, I try to pull myself from deep slumber. Immediately the cares and worries I went to bed with come to greet me. Warding them off, I stumble out of bed as my husband, the makeshift meteorologist, tells me that is a whopping 26 degrees outside to which I mumble, “Of course it is!”

For just a moment, let’s pause. Let me set the scene for you. I am late. I usually get up at 4:30 AM and need every moment of that time to take care of the dogs, spend time with the Lord, make lunches for my family, and get ready for work. Today is Thursday which is cleaning day in our house. I try to get our bathroom out of the way before I head out. It is also my weekly trip to the grocery store so a list is being made simultaneously. Add to this already scheduled day, our daughter’s baby shower is in two days. Her due date in just a month. Oh, did I mention that I have been sick for almost two weeks so very behind in last minute details. My mom, sister and sister-in-law will arrive tomorrow night to stay with us. On top of all that, I have a scheduled dental procedure on Monday. To some that is no big deal just a date on the calendar – but in my mind it is a date with absolute torture. Hate the dentist as a profession although mine is very patient and kind. All of these “things” came rushing into my head this morning, I almost became entangled in worry, stress, fear, and anxious thoughts. But now it is time to practice what I preach…

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things…

This is not a message for the unbeliever today. This is hope for the imperfect Christian. It is a word of encouragement to put down the bat and stop trying to do everything right. It is an invitation to rest. To rely on the Lord and trust in Him. Today, there is no possible way that I can do all the things that I think I need to do. The expectation heaped on me by my own hands is just too much. The Bible says, “I can do all things THROUGH Christ who gives me strength.” I must practice putting all the details of my life including those things I call priorities into the Hands of Christ and allowing Him to hand back what I need to do, say and be in any given day. So I called a meeting inside my head…

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The only weapon in the enemy’s arsenal is the lie. If he can change your mind about God just enough to believe anything contrary to the character and nature of God – you will question everything you know about Him. If he can somehow convince you that the Lord is not with you, for you, and in you, he will have the power to persuade you to engage in detours, distractions and delays. We must learn to practice what we preach and become consummate doers of the Word until our mind and heart align with God’s Word, Will and Way and cannot be swayed.

When I was in gymnastics, I decided that I wanted to do a back handspring. I am not athletically inclined but I really wanted to accomplish this feat. So what did I do? The instructors showed me how to do a back handspring. They instructed me on proper form and execution. They encouraged me to practice all the time. So that is exactly what I started to do. I fell countless times. I made several attempts. Time and time again, I couldn’t get my feet over my head. I was on the verge of giving up but something in me just kept nagging me to try one more time. You know what happened? I learned to do a back handspring. Can I do one today? Nope. I stopped doing them and am what? Out of practice…

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV) For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

As believers, we must protect our thoughts. Seeds of faith planted in our heart cannot grow until our heart is made up that God is for us. He is good. Working in us. Our dependency on the Lord requires a heart and mind that agrees. We must…We Must…WE MUST destroy arguments and EVERY lofty opinion raised against the Knowledge of God and take every thought captive to OBEY Christ. Why?

To say one thing and do another is a contradiction. Once our mind is made up – our flesh must follow. To worry, stress and be anxious is to accept that lie that there is something to fear other than God alone. To decide that change is impossible is to allow pride to tell us our flesh is stronger than our Savior. Disobedience to God comes with a heavy price. Grace covers sin completely. God does not punish His Children. The discipline of God is to right our way and send us into the Promise. Disobedience is the enemy’s ploy to keep us from all God has for us including blessings, favor and prosperity.

Psalm 111:7-10 (ESV) The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

When I woke up late today, the enemy presented me with anxiety overload before my eyes even opened. I reached my hand out until it was just beyond my grasp. But you know what else met me this morning, the new mercies of God – Jesus offered me His Hand – “Here let me take that from you.” It was definitely a standoff like an old-time western movie – I had to choose who I would give my burdens and cares in that moment. I haven’t always made the right choice. There have been many days when the things that happened this morning would have resulted in me rushing around completely overwhelmed snapping at my husband and children. I would have given up my time with the Lord in order to regain some lost moments. BUT NOT TODAY!

Today I must practice what I preach. God is love. So I will be loving even though I don’t feel very loving but agitated and stressed. God is good. He will work every detail of my life out for His Good. God is with me. Christ lives in me. The important things will be done if I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and do what He has called me to do. We must make it a conscious effort each day to respond to the promises of God rather than reacting to the lie of the enemy. To focus on the call of God rather than the taunts of the giant. What is my purpose today? “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) The Lord knows the desires of my heart. He knows my motives and good intentions. He will never let me down if I put my whole heart and all my trust in Him. I must not only read the Word of God but do what it says to have its promises. So today…I will practice what I preach!

Romans 8:35-39 (ESV)  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Steadfast

The Steadfast

2 Chronicles 27:6 (NIV) Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.

The view of strength and power based on human perception implies influence and affluence. One might think those who have it all are set, when in truth their souls are empty. Void of peace, looking for love, and hoping for acceptance outside of the social circle, those envied and sought after often are the loneliest of them all. Even in the church, people paint a pretty picture over the reality of a life lived in fear and insecurity. Setting up a religious order, that makes us feel comfortable in our inability and effective in human weakness. The Lord tells us His Grace is enough. He has overcome the world. We have the victory. If only we believed Him enough to stand steadfast. To wait and watch for the Lord rather than human acceptance, affirmation and acknowledgement. To order each day and every single step in accordance with the one who offers all of this one neat package labeled Jesus Christ. The One who will fill us with His Spirit to produce all the things ever longed for that will overflow from a prospering soul into our natural life. If only we became the steadfast…

To be steadfast. It doesn’t sound exciting. It really seems to be quite boring. Maybe the enemy tells us it is such to keep us from the blessing and prosperity found in walking steadfast with the Lord. To daily be loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependent, steady, true and constant to our calling in Christ. What would be the impact? We would grow more powerful. It happened for Jotham, King of Judah and son of Uzziah. Though he never entered the temple built with human hands, He walked steadfastly before the Lord His God. His reign only lasted sixteen short years yet he defeated his enemies and grew in great wealth. He was a good king who walked in alignment with God’s Kingdom.

What about Enoch? He walked faithfully and steadfastly with God until he was no more because whisked him away. There is no record of his death only that God took him away. Hebrews 11:5 says that “he did not experience death” for “he was commended as one who pleased God.” Faithfulness until the end is exemplified by a steadfast and immovable heart that does not react to this life but responds to the Promises of God and His Purpose for our life now and forevermore.

I Corinthians 7:37 (NKJV)  Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well.

This passage from I Corinthians is part of Paul’s letter to Corinth regarding principles of marriage particularly referencing the unmarried and widows. While this refers to the one who cares for the unmarried, I love the inspiration to stand steadfast – He who stands steadfast in his (or her) heart, having no necessity (content) but has power over his own will (self-control) and has so determined in his (or her) that he will keep ________ , does well. There is instruction in the Word of God that is to lead us to a better life. A life filled with a future and hope. Jesus has given us freedom and complete liberty to choose how we live and make our own choices. He has given us abundant grace when we choose less than His Glorious Standard or decide to sin. True repentance leads us back into the waiting Arms of God who never left us and waits for us to respond. To be steadfast is a heart decision to choose the Lord over anyone or anything else in this life. The impact of steadfastness blesses this life – it doesn’t make sense but the Grace and Goodness of our Lord seldom does.

I Peter 5:8-11 (NIV) Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

You do not fight for victory but from victory. Jesus Christ has given us victory. We must only assert His Power and Authority in our life to secure it. The stand of steadfastness is our battle stance. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God which is the details of our covenant and what belongs to us as Children of God. It is not our job to oppose the enemy or even other people but rather to oppose our flesh. The inner tendency to try to do something that has already been done for us. The drive to be perfect or at least appear worthy of the priceless gift that has been given. To stand in opposing flesh demands a certain death. Will your faith die or your flesh? You decide. Day by day – a steadfast heart must stand on faith in God’s Word, His Will and His Way to overcome the thief who will try to steal from, kill or destroy you. How is your stand today? Are you unshakeable, immovable and fearless?

Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV) Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

Fear is a symptom of insecurity. Something inside of us is not convinced and unbelief exists. We must secure our heart and eliminate fear. The spirit of fear is not given to us by God and therefore can be refused. Fear rears its head in many ways. Stress, worry, and anxiety are just a few. When we experience any feeling or emotion of dread and do not have perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) there is a trust issue that requires immediate attention. Our steadfastness is compromised and in need of immediate attention. A steadfast mind produces a peace-filled life. Trusting the Lord defies who we are as human beings. Circumstances and situations do not impact or influence our heart when set on the Lord. It is a daily pursuit of His Presence guided by His Spirit to become a new creation as He promised. It will cost us every ounce of our flesh. As more of our natural life is yielded to Christ, He fills our voids, heals our wounds, roots out insecurity and doubt to fill our life with the good things that He has promised beginning with the soul-strengthening Fruit of His Spirit.

Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Could this be the guidelines for a steadfast life? A steadfast heart is important to our spiritual success. We have a plethora of promises yet to come to pass. There is an abundant life waiting for those who desire it enough to pursue it. Our flesh wants to fight, but our spirit guided by the Holy Spirit tells us to stand fast on the Word of God and let Him complete the work that He has begun in each of us. To be steadfast is not a proud position but a humbled existence that considers God’s Word, Will and Ways before our own. Jotham grew in power because he walked steadfastly before the Lord. Enoch did not die but instead was simply swept up in the Presence of God. The lives of both men are briefly detailed in God’s Word. The message of faithful obedience and steadfastness speaks volumes. In our need to acquiesce our flesh, it is human nature to complicate things with overwhelming details and complexity. It weaves a tangled lie making the excuse that such an existence is impossible. The simple truth is a life lived in steadfastness before the Lord is powerful.

Proverbs 4:25-26 (NIV) Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

Can You Feel It?

Can You Feel It

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

It happened in the middle of the local superstore. Holiday shoppers scurrying all around. A cart full of supplies for the ladies Christmas party. The checklist of details in my head somehow got tangled up in my brain. Completely turned upside down with every other to-do list it began sucking me into the vortex of too much to do and too little time. My heart began racing . My head pounding. Stress, anxiety and pressure met together and staged their attack and it worked. I left the cart and walked out the door.

Can you feel it? The pressure, stress and anxiety waged against the human heart and mind during this busy season. The Light shining in our heart somehow grows dim under the shadow of human expectation and high demands. It doesn’t have to be the world. It can even be the church often found to be a shelter of peace and place of rest. I have openly shared my own struggles with the holiday season in an attempt to help others overcome the enemy’s plight to steal the love, joy and peace out of Christmas. To somehow overshadow the hope that arrived when Jesus made His Arrival.

“We are pressed on every side by troubles…” The first step to overcoming the burden of our heart is to find the source of the pressure. Trouble comes in all shapes and sizes. It is no respecter of persons. The uninvited guest overstaying their welcome – it begins to take over our thoughts and feelings. Like a thief in the night, it comes unexpectedly and takes others belongings. There is a promise in the pressure. We will not be crushed. When we are perplexed, there is a limit before reaching despair. Though hunted down by a ruthless enemy, we are never abandoned or forsaken by God. No matter how many times knocked down, we cannot be destroyed. It is through suffering, our life begins to resemble that of Jesus. What is your response to pressure? Walk away? Tap out? Shut down? Melt down?

Proverbs 24:10 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

Reading this today, I can’t help but thing “no kidding”. What if this is not a slight or cut down but a simple observation? God’s Word is instruction. It is not uncommon for Christians to think that every bit of opposition and adversity that creates pressure in our life is from the enemy of our soul. I believe God uses the very thing the enemy has tried to break us for His Glory. What if the pressure is not from the external force but the internal God who lives in us? What if it is the Holy Spirit pressing out the doubt, uncertainty and insecurity found in hidden unbelief in the deepest darkest recesses of our heart? To fail under pressure often reveals parts of our being reliant on an insufficient source.

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

The father brought his son to Jesus. Filled with an evil spirit, he was constantly tortured. Convulsions that through him violently to the ground. Foaming at the mouth and grinding his teeth. It even tried to kill the boy by throwing him in water and fire. The father was desperate so he came to Jesus. The disciples tried to cast out the demon but could not. So the father came to the Lord sharing his plight. He said to the Lord, “Have mercy on us and help us…if you can.”

“If you can…” Words fatal to our faith and evidence of unbelief. Driven to the edge of despair, the contents of the father’s heart poured out before the Lord. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Do you believe today? The father was honest in his response to Jesus. “I do believe but help me overcome my unbelief?” This is the product of pressure. Pressure forces what is in our heart out of it. It allows us to carefully inspect the contents. Careful examination often reveals the fears, doubts and insecurities hidden within so that we can give them to Jesus so He WILL DO what He has already promised to do!

Psalm 119:143 (NLT) As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.

Pressure is applied by expectation. Expectation in any other source than Jesus Christ has the possibility of being unmet. God’s Word tells us exactly what is given to us by the Lord and what is not. It is a light for our path and compass for our soul. It reveals the traps and pitfalls set for us by the enemy. Jesus gives us examples time and time again of ways to overcome fear with faith and triumph over trouble by simply believing. We need the Word of God for faith to become logical and for practical application in our life. The Word was made flesh. Jesus is the Word of God. There is no way to know Him without knowing the Word. There is no way to reach the Father without Jesus. Faith is seeded by the Word and then watered by it as it grows, develops and matures in our life. A seed undergoes tremendous pressure to be transformed into its true potential as do God’s People.

Matthew 9:17 (NLT) “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

Are you pressed today? What if the pressure is coming from the inside and not the outside? What if the Holy Spirit is working in you and through you so that God’s Goodness and Glory will be manifested in your life? Pressure requires change. Our old life, old ways, and old habits must be revealed to be removed. As God begins to change us from the inside out and do that new work inside of us – it produces pressure. Those who choose to stay the same will burst under pressure – give up, go back and quit the process of redemption, restoration and renewal that the Lord has begun. Those who allow the Lord to transform them from the inside out will see new life, new hope, and all things become new because they believed.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Can you feel it? God is pressing us today. He wants to give us new life. To make us into a new creation. There are some things that must go and seeds to be planted in its place. Generosity in our life begins within our heart. We must not give in response to pressure but rather willingly. God will do exactly what His Word says for those who believe. He is doing for those who do not believe but because their faith is in other things – they do not see results. Pressure, stress, worry and burdens are part of life. What we do when trouble comes dictates the outcome. I can choose to retain them in fear and doubt caused by unbelief or I can surrender them all to Jesus Christ.

Faith is an action not just a word. It means taking my life and sowing it as seed into the Kingdom. When pressure comes don’t blame the enemy but seek the Lord. Failing under pressure means our strength is not coming from God but either self or some other unworthy source. You are a Child of the King. Live like it. Let Him show you who you are and what He has for you in His Word. Talk to Him and listen for His Whispers to you. Your life has purpose and it is glorious. Lord, let us be vessels that do not give into pressure but give way to Your Spirit – In Jesus Name!

John 16:33 (NLT) “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

What’s Your Superpower?

whats-your-superpower.jpg

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

What is your superpower? Is it physical strength? Natural ability? Are you super organized? Totally driven? Highly motivated? Are you massively intelligent? Do you have good common sense? What are your strengths? Or is it easier sometimes to list our weaknesses? Those tiny mishaps or monumental failures that keep us from focusing on the power invested in us by Jesus Christ. We have been given the power to do everything.

This time of year gives way to exhaustion. Already busy lives with loaded schedules become unbearable with the added burden and stress. It is easy to transition a load once partnered with Christ to our own insufficient strength and accept the unnecessary added weight of human expectation until it is too much to carry. Coming home later than usual last night, the already full day seemed to drag on and on. A doctor’s appointment with my daughter, a full day of work, a trip to the grocery store, a house to clean, dinner to cook and a second meal for a friend recovering from surgery had me at the end of myself. When I pulled in the driveway, every single light was on and several chores only half done had me on edge. I was gently pushed over standing in the rain trying to extract everything the mailperson had crammed in my mailbox. I prayed a quick prayer that I know He heard but my heart couldn’t hold on to – walking in the house I unloaded. Not the car full of groceries, but my emotional overload. On the ones, I love most I dumped a day of baggage. I felt like a failure as soon as the burden was emptied.

It is important that rather than trying to be super human that believers learn to continually channel their entire life through Christ. Giving only to the Lord what “I can’t” too often forgetting to give Him all “I can”, too. What is your super power? The thing you continue to do rather than submitting it fully to Christ. Pride tries to hold on to those things that bring the affirmation, acceptance and approval of people rather than resting humbly and completely in the Power of Christ who is in us. I must do all things THROUGH CHRIST who gives me His Strength.

John 1:16-18 (NLT) From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

The Blessing of God to us in the Gift of His Son, Jesus is an invitation to live in His Abundance. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. It was no secret. He put the enemy on notice in John 10:10 ripping the mask off the thief to expose the lie. In stating His Purpose, the Lord also warns us that the enemy has come to steal, kill and even destroy us if possible. God’s Unfailing Love driven by amazing grace and His Faithfulness are secure in His Son. Therefore, no weapon formed against us can prosper even the lies set forth by the enemy to discourage, distract and dissuade us along the way. The only way that a believer cannot prosper is in unbelief. Lord, help the areas of my life where unbelief have handed me burdens, stress, worry, anxiety and fear that I willingly picked up. Today, I release it to you through Your Son, Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT) You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Religious folks hate this verse unknowingly. Relationship driven believers understand that the sufficiency of God’s Grace is underlined by the freedom given to us in Christ. “You can never fall too hard, too fast, so far that you can’t get back what you’ve lost. Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much that you can’t change who you are.” (Who You Are – Unspoken) There is no limit or mandate on God’s Grace. If you want it – you’ve got it. We decide to cultivate our relationship with God through Christ and do what is beneficial in bringing us into full unity not by what we do but by fulling embracing who we are. I promise sin becomes avoidable when it is a product of love and respect rather than rules and regulations. Religious stipulations do not garner a loving and abiding presence in our life just another set of standards we can’t live by. A relationship gives us a safe haven of love and grace so our imperfection does not factor in it and our heart’s desire is to make it grow.

Not everything is beneficial. Surrendering your life to Jesus Christ does not add burden but relieves us of the weight and heavy laden lifestyle of human expectation once carried. Dying every day our fruitless and barren life longed for purpose and life. Now that we have life through Christ – His Power is manifested in our weakness and willingness to channel everything through Him so He can show us what is beneficial and what is not.

Colossians 1:19-21 (NLT) For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

To reconcile means to restore a friendly relationship. Christ did more than that for us. He gave us His Spirit. The Spirit of Adoption that has stored a right relationship with God. We are His Children. In Christ, every promise, purpose and plan God has for us is fully restored. Now His Goodness takes every detail of our life past, present and future to make something good out of it according to His Word. Reconciling also means to cause to coexist in harmony to bring back to compatibility. The Grace of God given to us through Christ allows us to live life with God. To gain access to the Presence of God through the Blood of Jesus. We now come boldly before His Throne and ask whatever we would like and He will answer us. Our life is again in partnership with the Lord and His Kingdom. Reconciliation with God through Christ allows us to live consistent to God’s Standard unhindered by the much lower standards of this life. God in all His Fullness dwells in us and will align our life to His in our willingness to surrender all of our life to Him.

2 Corinthians 3:4 (NLT) We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.

Our greatest super power of self is confidence. To become so confident in God and His Son, Jesus so we become willing to take Him at His Word. Trust is not easily constructed or maintained. It is the very thing the enemy attacks as often as possible. To uproot seeds of faith, choke out any growth and sow seeds of doubt and disbelief in its place. We must believe God at His Word. To do so means knowing, understanding and constantly calling to our recollection – His Word for our life including every single promise as the reality and future that we live for. Through Christ, we have grace that is enough to allow His Power to fully manifest in our life. The Holy Spirit is our advocate and helper who continually works to cultivate good fruit that nourishes our soul and grows our confidence in the Lord.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)  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.”

Are you overloaded today? Is stress, pressure and anxiety putting a damper on this holiday season? Are you ready for it just to be over? I have good news for you today. It is not too late to salvage the season and turn things around. The weight and burdens weighing you down, stealing your joy, robbing you of peace and casting you into a pit of darkness despite the bright lights and festivities – is not of God? He gave you His Son, Jesus. Through Christ, we have overwhelming victory. Not just over sin and death, but His Power and Authority belong to us.

We can hand Him our burdens and those things weighing heavy on our heart – ALL OF THEM in exchange for His Rest. The Peace of God that Jesus gives us passes all understanding. The things that used to keep you all spun up, overwrought and sleepless are given to the Master in exchange for love, peace, joy and full satisfaction. When you lay your head down, you will sleep knowing full well that the Lord is in complete control of your chaos making it a beautiful masterpiece out of all the broken pieces. Find your super power today. Run every area of your life through Christ. There is not a single detail that He is not mindful of or ready to take off your hands! You don’t have to do it all! The things that are beneficial will be accomplished through the Strength of Christ in you when you decide to do it all through Him!

I Corinthians 4:20 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.

 

What’s the Rush?


What's The Rush

Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. 

Well, it’s that time of year again. The holiday rush is upon us. My goal has been not to be overtaken by the wave and to enjoy the most wonderful time of year. To control the overtures of urgency as crazy schedules, long to do lists and heavy demands burden my mind and try to influence my heart. The expectations placed upon us during this time of year are tremendous. It is important as believers to rely on the Lord and His Offer to partner with us. He will share the load of life with those who allow Him to. However, that means pride must take a seat to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Busyness is a product of pride. To take full responsibility for the happiness of others is not what God intended for us. If our motto is “if I don’t do it who else will” is a prime indicator that pride has crept into our heart and mind. God is ultimately in control, in charge and the confidence of our life. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and have the privilege of choosing how to use it. It is the freedom given to us by the Lord. We can rush out or rush in. Rushing is the result of urgency. Urgency is driven by importance that creates persistence and earnest drive that insists on our immediate attention. Insecurity and fear play roles in the development of urgency. To try to survive on anything other than the Love and Grace of God given to us in ample portions is to live a life of urgency for lesser things that will not satisfy us but fuels our flesh.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God for my hope is in Him.

All that I am must learn to wait quietly before the Lord. He is my confident hope. The only hope that I have a rich and satisfying life. I can make people happy for a moment or even a season but as surely as the sun rises and sets each day – that is always subject to change. Those who applaud you one day will revile you the next – it is human nature driven by fickle hearts. God has given me a wonderful husband. He is my best friend and soul mate. I am blessed to have him. However, there are times when our imperfections cause us to be at odds and it is our commitment to each other that keeps us together. If my hope is in anyone other than the Lord, the relationship is subject to failure because it is God who fills the voids left by sin and imperfection.

To wait quietly before the Lord requires my spirit to rule over my flesh. We see in Romans 7 that this is not an uncommon plight among people who want to do all the right things and live a life pleasing to God but fail miserably on any given day. To transfer my life and all my expectations to Jesus Christ takes time. It demands my full attention. It takes a whole lot of energy…just like any good marriage does. It takes all of me – not some of me.

I Kings 19:11-13 (NLT) “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” The Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

What are you doing here?

When Elijah rushed away to hide from Jezebel, it seems so ironic. After the miracle of God on Mount Carmel, one would think that he would be full of confidence. Yet, the threat of one person landed him on another mountain hiding in a cave. Life happens. If faith were easy or came in large quantities, it would not be compared to a tiny mustard seed. If confidence were a cloak easily worn on a daily basis, we would not experience fear, doubt and unbelief on a daily basis. Faith and confident hope in the Lord is a day by day and moment to moment decision. If you are overwhelmed with fear, anxiety or stress today, the Lord is ready to meet you right where you are. He asks only one thing, “What are you doing here?” What has caused your insecurity? What is the root of your bitterness? Why are you so down?

The Lord does not force us into His Presence. He invites us. God doesn’t beat us into submission. He offers a better way. The Holy Spirit doesn’t barge into our heart demanding space. He waits for us to open the door and let Him in. The area of your life that has created this urgency and need to rush about is the very place the Jesus stands at the door waiting. You have the mind of Christ. You have been given the opportunity to rest in perfect peace. He gives understanding to those who ask and seek Him. Rather than being influenced and driven by this life, we must become Kingdom minded and Spirit led into the peace that passes all understanding. To the place of refuge. To the strong tower given to us to lean on and live in. His Name is Jesus. His Love is unquestionable and undeniable. His Grace unfathomable. His Glory incomprehensible. His Presence is our peace. His Place is in our heart and mind. As we begin to allow Him to take over, so will the love, peace and joy that brings full satisfaction to our soul.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NLT) God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 

Psalm 46:10-11 (NLT) “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. 

Be still, and know that I am God!

Stillness in the Lord is a decision to take our life and place it fully into the Presence of God. It means that rather than taking full responsibility for our life into our hands, we place it into the capable nail-scarred hands of Jesus Christ. He is our life partner. The one who can take all our worries, cares and burdens in exchange for full satisfaction. We must trust in His Goodness and Faithfulness with full confidence that His Grace is always enough especially when we are not. Confident hope relies on trust beyond the capacity of our understanding.

We must discipline our life today with stillness. Stillness not subject to the urgency placed in us by the rush hours of life. Our persistence must be in patience not immediate gratification as we allow the Lord to do exactly what He promised according to His Timeline even when it differs significantly from our own. The Blessing of the Lord comes but without sorrow, regret, remorse or indebtedness. We are to owe no man anything but love. It is not your job to fulfill the expectations and desires of other people – it is God’s Job. Let go and let God is an effort far beyond human ability, reasoning or inclination but absolutely essential to live the abundant life that the Lord has promised us. Even when God begins to move our mountains, it will create uncertainty and instability to our flesh. Those who have learned to look to the Lord rather than man will be able to stand steadfast during the shaking until faith gives way to His Glory.

Be still today oh beating heart given to so many other things. Listen for the Lord’s whisper in the stampede of the holiday rush. Pursue the Presence of Prince of Peace and let Him overtake you! He will keep in perfect peace those who trust in Him!

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

Be the Light

Be the Light

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

The calendar page and it is finally December. Christmas music is now socially acceptable on every radio station. The Christmas trees at the local department store all already on sale after breezing past Thanksgiving. The days are full and nights even more so adding even more busyness to already overloaded lives. My email box is full of enticing advertisements. One particularly caught my eye today. It is a candle sale at a local specialty shop. I clicked the link and began to view their selection. The fragrances of the holiday pine, vanilla, cinnamon, apple and even desserts gave a hint of the deliciousness in each aroma. Then there were the ones for stress, relaxation, happiness, and energy. The mixture of the holiday senses all together in candles. These candles are special. Instead of one wick to burn, there are three. I stopped adding to my cart, and decided to take some time to study the Light.

The Light of the World is celebrated this season. He is evident in the atmosphere of churches but how effective are His People in taking His Light into the world. It is so easy to get caught up in our doing, cooking, wrapping, giving and celebrating that our focus shifts and distractions take from the simplicity of Christmas and the One who is honored during this busy time. Jesus did not stand alone to be the only light but went on to tell us that “you (and I) are the Light of the world. The ones to drive out darkness with radiant light that reflects our Savior and Born on that holy night. Only two people attended the party that cold and lonely night with a single star to illuminate the sky and let the world know the Messiah was born. It was a simple night in a manager filled with animals and hay. But the impact of the One born is still shedding light on the Truth that God loves us. He desires us. He sent a gift never to be given by a parent again. I know of no one who would allow their child to die for another if life is an option. Yet God did this for us so that the Light of His Amazing and Unconditional Love could fill cold dead hearts bringing new life again.

Let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise the Heavenly Father. The true meaning of Christmas is best expressed by the Love of God given to all mankind freely. It is not in the best party, stellar performance or even the ugliest sweater. It is to be so captivated by a baby born in a humble setting who would be the Savior of the world. The best gift to bring are the fruits produced by His Spirit. Love, joy and peace are found no other place than from Christ in us. There is no greater generosity than giving from the patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and forgiveness that Jesus has given us. When our gifts begin in our heart, they are born of the Light within us.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT) This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Fan into flames the spiritual gift that God has given you. His Spirit identifies us light-filled children of the Living God. It is the inner beam with in us with the power to chase away darkness by entering a room. I have a shirt I wear this time of year that says, “Stay present.” I need the reminder with all the runaway lists, overloaded schedule, and holiday demands. The reminder that it is “presence” that is important more than anything else. I must continually enter the Presence of God to refuel the Light that lives inside me. He continually renews my passion and purpose day by day so that I do not forget who I am. The Presence of His Spirit is in me. He goes with me. I am never alone or forsaken even during those times I fall for the deception that I am isolated. I am always full of Christ. Finally, presence among people is of utmost importance. Relationship shares the Light of God’s Love with others as they get to know you they will see the Christ in you. They cannot see it if we are too busy to slow down or overburdened by details not meant for us to carry.

God did not give you the spirits of fear, timidity, anxiety or stress. You must decide that they are not for you and therefore, will not entertain them. Do not buy them either. Holiday giving should come from our heart with generosity from what we are able to give not according to the unmet or unrealistic expectations of others enhanced by a supply and demand world filthy from greed. God’s Blessing comes without sorrow added to it. We must master our emotions and not allow them to carry us away. It is not our job to give our children better than we had. It is not our job to meet all earthly expectation. We can burn ourselves out trying to do so, then where is the light to share with others.

Last night, my daughters and I took a late night run to the store for some extra touches for our tree. I realized walking through the store that I was actually enjoying decorating the tree this year. This is the first time I can remember in forever. Going through boxes of ornaments, my thoughts turned to our grandson not yet born. Next year, he will be here and our son will be married with a new bonus grandchild as well. Our family is growing. It is expanding with new life and new love. My heart is full. I am satisfied. God is slowly removing those feelings of insecurity, doubt, worry and stress from me. It has taken many years. His Word is forcing out the lies that overshadowed this miraculous season. His Spirit in me has been slowing adding those lies to a burn pile that is changing the darkness to light. Jesus is a life giver. He will make new whatever old things you entrust to Him. He doesn’t give us like for like but gives us so much more.

I John 2:10 (NLT) Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble.

This Christmas will not be successful unless there is love. Love came down from a Heavenly Throne to a dirty stable so that you and I could be part of His Family. Rightness with God was made possible because Jesus came to us. The Light of His Love was given to us when He died on the Cross and sent His Spirit to live in us. The Christmas Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The Light of God’s Love flows from us when we decide to give others the gift of love and life. We do that not by expensive gifts, fancy menus or perfect parties. No, we do it when we offer someone our place in line. Give up our right of way in traffic with a smile. To help someone carry their packages to the care. Hold the door. Thank the cashier. Invite someone to church and offer to come pick them up. Pay it forward. Buy an unsuspecting friend lunch when the bill comes. Pay for the person’s coffee behind you. Sometimes we try to share Jesus without sharing His Love and find it to be frustrating and ineffective. God is love. The character and nature of God is graceful, faithful, gentle, and giving. We must love those around us with the Light of His Love to lead them to the manager and celebrate our newborn king.

Luke 11:35-36 (NLT) “Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.  If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

Is your light burning out? Do you feel dim? Do you have a cloud of darkness on the horizon? Maybe the holiday blues have taken a hold of you? Are you feeling overloaded this first week of a very long month? I have wonderful news for you! The Light of God’s Love lives in you. He is ready to reignite the flame of passion to pursue Him this busy season. Jesus will break every stronghold of insecurity, fear, stress, worry and the like from you – you only need to ask for His Help. Light always chases away darkness. Let the Light of His Word brighten the path before you. Let the Light of His Wisdom show you what is important and what is not. Let your Savior and Lord – save and deliver you from unrealistic expectations and the demands of society to step into the Light of His Love all over again.

Father, Son and Spirit are the three-wick candle of His Love today given to us as a precious gift. He is the Gift that keeps on giving. His Love will never let us down. His Passion in pursuing us is resilient. Take charge of your heart and let His Light fill every dark corner. Be transparent with the Lord and His Light will reveal any darkness looming within. The struggle against our flesh including our will, desires and emotions is a constant battle. Feed your Spirit – starve the flesh. Fuel the Spirit and burn away the darkness. Make it a point before you light up the tree, wrap a single gift, prepare a holiday menu or attend a performance to fan the flame of His Spirit within you. It will change the Spirit of Christmas every time.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Do You See What I See

Do You See What I See

Psalm 145:15-16 (NIV) The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Tis the season of immediate gratification. It is easy to get caught up in the madness. Our eyes are filled with visions of new things and wants disguised as needs. I am guilty as charged. Much of my times spent perusing the plethora of advertising preparing to forge out on Thanksgiving evening among the throngs in search of deals and bargains. I will admit the Black Friday tradition is as much about fellowship as much as anything else. However, I wonder if the pursuit of such things keep us from the very thing desired most among people in life. Contentment. Satisfaction. Completion. Fulfillment.

It is hard to pass up really good deals. Like a woman’s version of hunting, it becomes sport. However, there is a dangerous flip side to the giving and receiving of the holiday season. I wonder if maybe before we start shopping, baking, partying, and “celebrating” our Savior’s birth – we should take a moment to focus on what is real worth. To take our eyes off the stuff or stuffing long enough to find the secret of the season. His Name is Jesus Christ. He came not only to save us but to give us a rich and satisfying life. During the month of December, believers will celebrate His Birth. The real invitation of Christmas is to freedom, a future, and forever. What better time for the enemy to try to steal that which Christ has given us.

Immediate gratification comes with a price. Yes. To overstep the boundaries of sowing and reaping the promises of God for our life. In order to abandon such a snare and not fall for such folly, I have decided that we must fix our focus on Jesus before being overtaken by the holiday rush. I must admit that as I have been delving into this stronghold I face of holiday anxiety mixed with a bit of depression, I wonder if the problem is not external but internal instead. Is it my inability or unwillingness to put aside my own insecurities in order to look to the mountain? To see things from God’s Perspective rather than getting sucked into Christmas’ past. The eyes of all who look to the Lord will be provided for. Those who keep their eyes on Jesus will experience full satisfaction. Don’t let the season of celebration be a setback.

Psalm 123:1-2 (NIV) I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.

Human expectation is a dangerous snare. When I place my expectation in people rather than placing them fully in Christ, I am given to let down. I have chosen a less than perfect source to draw from when the Maker of heaven and earth is my Father. Unmet expectation is a pitfall of faith allowing doubt to trip us up. It is a snare and trap of the enemy to remove our eyes from the unseen and put them on what we can see. The flipside to the human expectation placed in others is to accept responsibility for the expectation of others. It is not our job to bring full satisfaction to another human being. The only good thing to be offered is the Christ in us. To give love, joy and peace to others requires Spirit productivity within us. We must put our expectation and that of others fully in the Sovereign God. Jesus must remain on the throne of our life even as remember his humble birth.

Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV) I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Are you with me? Overwhelmed as the month of November becomes December. On our foray into the night for Black Friday, my favorite purchase of the evening was a simple nativity made of wood. It has all the essential characters. I immediately put it up on the mantle. It is not ornate and no color except the golden star above the Savior. I am drawn to it. It sits right next to the television. I will admit I don’t watch much T.V. anymore. However, during this season, it is all about creating the perfect Christmas. The perfect Christmas has already come and gone. Its depiction right next to a larger than life Samsung with millions of dollars in advertising telling me what I need and creating new wants. God’s ways are higher than our ways. I wonder if He placed that little reminder right in front of me to keep my eyes on the One who created me and gave me the greatest gift of all time.

Psalm 119:37 (NIV) Turn my eyes from worthless things, preserve my life according to your word.

This is my prayer for the month of December. I want to be present. I want to stay fully engaged in celebrating the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. I want to keep my eyes on what matters including love, joy and peace. Not the worthless things that cause so much stress and anxiety. The Lord has given me a gift worth sharing. It doesn’t matter if I throw the greatest Christmas party every thrown or have mounds of gifts underneath the tree. Who knows? My desire to meet every single want of my husband and children might be a hindrance more than a blessing as they look for lesser things rather than pursuing the Presence of God as Provider and Satisfier.

Matthew 6:21-23 (NIV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

As believers begin to prepare for one of the busiest seasons in the church, it would be beneficial to clean the lens of our heart. The eye is the lamp of the body. It perceives things according to light. If we fix our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith – this may be the best Christmas yet. It doesn’t revolve around a perfect presentations, plentiful parties or a plethora of presents. To fill our eyes with the Light of His Love that reveals and removes any darkness in our heart – no matter how small and insignificant. To put our full expectation in the Lord and not the “things” around us. To walk by faith means to see things through the unseen reality of faith which is only logical through God’s Word…the same word that came wrapped as a baby lying in a manger.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. I have so much to be thankful for. God has been better to me than I could ever deserve. He has given me a loving husband who is an excellent partner and wonderful father. He has filled our house with children and even delivered them from death. When the enemy came to steal, kill and destroy us – He was our Protector, Provider and Healer. Looking around our house, we are more than provided for but abundantly blessed. The future even has promise in the birth of our first grandchild early next year. God has been faithful. His Son has given us confident hope. My treasure is in Heaven. His Blessings poured out to me on earth.

I must keep my eyes on Jesus this holiday season. To overcome years even decades of depression and anxiety during this time of year would be a declaration of faith in God and appropriate proclamation of the birth of His Son. His only son who brought hope to all mankind in his arrival. If you suffer from holiday stress, anxiety and depression, I invite you to join me. Put a tiny manger in full view. In a place, where you will see it and it will remind you that you have hope. Hope that is realistic that will produce love, joy and peace in abundance as you learn to trust Him more. God is a good father. He will never let you down those who put their faith, trust and confidence in Him. Release those heavy weights and burdens that do not belong to you and take on the yoke of partnership with Christ.

Lord, I ask you today to remove the scales from my eyes. Let the Light of Your Love permeate the darkness that threatens my heart this time of year. May those who share the same symptoms have a Saul-like experience (Acts 9:17-19) with me. Fill us anew with Your Spirit, Lord. Renew us with love, joy and peace in our salvation all over again. Let us see you in this season of rushing and create stillness in us to celebrate the greatest gift ever given – it’s You, Jesus, all you!

I John 3:1 (NIV) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!