Thief Among Us

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John 10:10 (NLT) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

There is a thief among us. He tried to climb through the window of my mind this morning and steal the joy rising with the morning sun. He tried the handle to my heart hoping to get his foot in the door. Little lies spread all around like almost unnoticeable traps carefully laid to ensnare my foot or cause me to stumble. His pursuit is relentless. He wants all that is mine. Not for himself because he cannot have it. Jesus has given me a rich and satisfying life. The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy every good thing that God has for me. It is his purpose. It is the onslaught in each moment of every single day that there is breath in my body. Jesus has overcome the world. I have the same power that rose Him from the dead living in me. He is becoming greater as I become less yet in the moments of attack – my thoughts can be misled, deceived and even easily overtaken no matter how far I walk this journey called faith.

I am not generally given to worry. Stress is not something I easily take on. I would not classify my thoughts as anxious. My nature is contrary to such think. I relish in optimism. I believe that when the thief finds his way into my life that it is a bit more difficult to fight back because it is not a battle that I fight every day.

Psalm 127:1-2 (NLT) Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

From time to time, a door may be found unlocked in the morning or the garage door left open the night before and my husband is most unhappy. He is concerned that our carelessness could have allowed an intruder to easily enter and put our family at risk. I, on the other hand, possess a very different perspective on life. I thank God for His Protection and move on. I believe that while both mindsets have strengths and weaknesses that is more prudent to check doors and windows routinely to make sure each one is secure. Many years ago arriving home after a long day, I noticed the door leading from the garage inside the house was cracked open. I did not think too much about it because our little dog sometimes would push on it looking for us and if not closed tightly it would do the same. The children went on high alert immediately. I scoffed at their concern and began give them instructions for the afternoon. Well once inside, it was clear that things were not okay. Thieves had come and helped themselves to valuable contents inside the home and now our children were fearful that they were not safe inside their own house anymore. We must secure not only the doors and windows of our home for safety and security but we must close tightly the entrance to our heart and mind as well.

We become busy and distracted with life and soon the cares and worries of life become burdens to us. Dependency on Christ gives way to insecurity and soon the weight of the world falls squarely on our shoulders. How we feel overtakes what we know and overwhelming fear, worry, stress and anxiety hold us captive. God did not give us the spirit of fear but how many times do we simply take it? The Lord has given us the ability to pursue potential and passion in our natural life. However, it is to remain secure in the Kingdom that gives our potential purpose that is able to become a rich and satisfying life.  

Luke 12:32-34 (NLT) “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

It gives God happiness and exceeding pleasure to give me the Kingdom. He wants to give it to you, too. The Lord promises that He will “accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” That is a lot by anyone’s standard. He wants to restore the glorious standard of living that sin and the enemy stole from us. Jesus is giving us back our birthright. It says, “So don’t be afraid…” As believers – there is an opportunity to give up this life and secure the Kingdom. Not just futuristically but practically – even today. It begins with peace of mind. The kind of peace offered in Isaiah 26:3 – perfect peace. The Holy Spirit is our helper who teaches us and instructs us. (John 14:26-27) He takes God’s Word and inscribes its meaning for us on our heart until all that we know is the Love of God and Grace of Jesus Christ which will change how we think about life in general. Do you believe that Jesus Christ overcame the world? (John 16:33) Do you believe that He has given you the Keys to the Kingdom for your security and use? Faith is the first step to perfect peace. It is the gateway to a secure place in life where confident hope leads to complete trust lacking no good thing. With met expectations taking the place of those unmet by other people, it is the freedom to pursue God wholeheartedly without divided interest.

Luke 12:25-26 (NLT) Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

Worry, stress, fear and anxiety are all byproducts of insecurity. I know I don’t like to hear that word any more than you do but it is true. When I worry about a situation or stress over life, it is an immediate red flag or alarm that the thief is attempting to break in. The most precious commodity given in life is time. You cannot replicate or reproduce it. Once a single second is gone, it is gone forever never to be reclaimed. Worry cannot add a moment to our life but rather wastes it completely.

The cares of life – food, shelter and clothing are all covered for the creature by their Creator. Yet, we think that it is up to us to do something when He already did it all. We worry about the minutest details of life especially what we do not have so much that sometimes it keeps us from seeing clearly all things that we do have. To worry, stress and fear over our well-being is characteristic of limited faith. Faith that only goes so far in need of conditioning. The enemy is always willing to offer a lie for the Truth. It is tempting to take it. However, then with his foot in the door, he will quickly fill our heart and mind with countless fears and many worries in an attempt to steal our peace, kill our faith, and destroy our life. Faith must lead to confidence in God’s Ability and Willingness to do infinitely more than we can think or ask. However, doubt tells us that God’s Promises are not good enough and it is up to us to add to it.

Hebrews 12:15-17 (NLT) Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

The enemy pounced on my thoughts last night, continued in my dreams and I awoke fighting fear and worry this morning. I am willing to admit my humanness. Are you? There are days when faith carries us and other days it is a fight just to keep it. Faith must overcome insecurity every single day. People are at an extreme disadvantage because I have nothing to offer God to reciprocate His Love and Generosity of Grace in my life. Nothing. In fact, before the day is over, I will most certainly fail Him several times. I have no reason other than faith and trust to believe that I am somehow worthy of limitless and unconditional love that leads me from victory to victory and glory to glory. Jesus is the only reason I have any kind of real purpose and potential in my life. With that being said, I cannot help but wonder if it is not always the thief stealing from us but sometimes us. Do we give up our birthright for a single meal as Esau did? In Genesis 25, Esau was “starving” so he offered his brother, Jacob who was an excellent cook, his birthright for one meal. One might think Esau was either really hungry or Jacob an even better cook than described or could it be that Esau did not value his birthright? I know…stung my heart a little (or a lot) to think that rather than the enemy stealing what God has given me that it might just be my own doubt and insecurity giving it away. Leaving the door to my heart open and the windows to my mind unsecure, allowing the enemy to come into my life and steal what God has so graciously given me or promised to come.

In Genesis 27, Isaac is nearing death and giving his final blessing to his children. Esau wept bitterly before him as it is clear Jacob has received the blessing. Jacob duped him again. Or did he? Finally, Isaac, shares these words with his devastated child, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” Read that last sentence again with me…”But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” What if it is me? I have been given a birthright. I am a Child of the Living God. I have Christ living in me. He overcame the world. Could it be my own doubt and insecurity causing the limitation of faith and prosperity in my life because I do not believe or understand the value and worth of my birthright so I give it away?

We give ourselves to worrying about people. (Matthew 7:2-4) We stress out about our position in life. (I Corinthians 7:20-22) Fret about what might or might now happen. (I Peter 3:13-15) We allow bitterness to take the place of forgiveness. Our heart is driven with desire for more and a hunger for this world rather than satisfaction and contentment in Christ. Crying out for His Word, Will and Way in our life – we leave the doors and windows of our heart and mind open so the moment God pours it in the enemy quickly snatches it out. I am asking the Lord today to “search my heart – point out anything that offends Him – and to lead me to the everlasting – not temporary and worthless. (Psalm 139:23-24)

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 Lord has created and called us to live peace-filled and satisfied lives. If that is not reminiscent of your life today, it doesn’t mean it cannot be. It is up to you and I to take hold of our birthright as Children of God, secure it with faith, fasten it like an anchor called confident hope to our life and decide to trust the Lord each day. Trust is a choice. Faith is an investment in the Kingdom of God not useful in this life. If you can do it, you don’t need faith to have it. We must decide the new life in Christ is worth having and invest our whole being in becoming the new creation that He promised. We must secure the door to our heart and fasten the windows of our mind to ensure that every thought and motivation are subject to the Gate Keeper, our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. (John 10) There is nothing left for Jesus to do. The rest is up to you and me. Will we choose to let the thief in or shut him out of our life for good? There is a thief among us. He wants to stop us. Our faith is his death and defeat. Jesus has given us the victory now it is up to walk in it confidently and consciously each day. Securing our life with more faith and confidence in God than ever before so every stronghold of insecurity is smashed by it. True freedom in Jesus Christ produces a rich and satisfied life that begins in our heart and mind. It is called peace. Peace leads to everlasting life and hope that will never cause us disappointment.

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.

Overwhelm Me

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Isaiah 61:10 (NLT) I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.

Life can be overwhelming. Circumstances, conditions and even change can overcome our mind, run rampant through our emotions, and stir up anxious thoughts and feelings. I would rather face an issue in my body then to deal with my mind. Sickness in our body, in my opinion, is much easier to overcome than weakness in our mind holding us captive in our mind, will or emotions. Physical ailments are one thing, but mental impairment is twice as debilitating. Our spirit, mind and body must work together in our pursuit of Christ and all that He promises, but it is our flesh that fights for its life. It is our will that refuses submission and clings to stubbornness. There will always be things that overwhelm us in this life. We choose who holds us captive. Will I live in bondage to negative thinking and limited vision or will I be captivated in the inconceivable yet always perceivable love of God? Lord, overwhelm me with Your Love today!

2 Corinthians 4:7-8(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.

The pressures of life are inevitable. There will always be something attempting to weigh you down, block your path, pull you back or divert you altogether. The enemy is relentlessly and ruthlessly attempting to quench that tiny fire burning inside you. He wants to make sure that it does not become a bright and shining light representing God’s Love, Goodness and Faithfulness that will lead others from the dark and dying places in the world. He is after that seed of faith. If he can just pluck it out of you or maybe overcome the Word in you with the weeds of problems, troubles or trials – you will stop this foolishness called faith, hope and love.

The word “overwhelm” means to load, heap, treat or address with an overpowering or excess of anything. The word itself is not negative. How one responds to it determines the meaning? How do you respond to pressure in life? Do you press in? Do you give in? There will always be pressure. There will always be something that is trying to overwhelm you. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! We have the freedom to choose that which overwhelms us today! Will it be the great load of temporary things that threaten us in this moment or will it be God’s Faithful and Abiding Love that is greater than death and the grave? Will it be the sufficiency of His Amazing Grace that empowers me when I am weak and flailing? There will always be a “master” in our life. Jesus gives us the right called freedom to choose who it will be. I choose the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! How about you?

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Generally, it is not the problem that brings the pressure but our perception of the problem. Have you ever looked in the side mirror of the car? There are words written on it that warn us – “OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.” We look back rather than looking ahead. Our focus should be on the future but the past is bearing down on us. It seems like the enemy is hot on our heels. Out of breath. Losing hope. Wondering if today is the day. Will I fall? Will I fail? Oh Lord, I am so overwhelmed! The Lord says to us today, “Look again!”

Psalm 23:4-6 (NLT) Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

What if that “thing” you think is after you is really the Lord? Is it Him who is the one pursuing you and positioning you for an outpouring of His Goodness and Unfailing Love? When I was in fifth grade, I had an unwanted suitor. He would taunt me at the bus stop at school every afternoon. Rocking back and forth poised on his bike. He would push me to run away threatening me with the most heinous and horrendous threat – a kiss. I didn’t want to kiss him. I didn’t want him to kiss me. He would chase me around in circles until a teacher came along or the bus arrived. One kiss – it was harmless but to an unsuspecting child an unwanted advance. Fast forward forty years to now, I will chase my husband around or let him catch me just to steal a quick kiss. It is all about perception. It is all about possibility. What if the seemingly impossible situation is just a divine set up for the Lord to catch us and keep us just a little closer? After all, His People are His Bride. His Heart longs to connect with us. His Spirit to remain intimately acquainted with our soul. Jesus is pursuing you and me with His Goodness and Unfailing Love.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 

We are human. I wish for just a moment even the strongest Christian would be transparent enough to admit this is true. Everyone sins and falls short of God’s Glorious Standard every single day. The message of the Gospel is not good news that sin is completely extracted from us making us flawlessly perfection but that in our absolute and complete imperfection that His Grace is enough to cover me in His Love. We must use God’s Mightiest Weapons to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and destroy all the false arguments arising between humans. All humans. All people. God desires every single one who He created. Jesus died for them just like you and me. The Spirit of the Lord full of His Faithfulness, Goodness and Unfailing Love is after them equally. We must destroy every prideful obstacle IN US until our complete and total focus is on Jesus Christ. We must capture the religious and rebellious thoughts that give us some kind of superiority. The truth is that I fail in my attempts to be faithful every day, but God never fails at being faithful. In fact, He overwhelms me with His Love and Commitment to me even when I fall, fail or quit.

No matter how hard I try, I will mess something up today when it comes to my good fight of faith. (Romans 7) I will find myself off shadowboxing rather than doing what I know to do and resting in the Peace that God has offered me. Like a toy – wound too tightly – bumping into the wall with wheels still spinning but getting nowhere at all, I will get distracted and caught up in temporary troubles or momentary weakness. I am human. So are you? The true character of Christ is His Love. The identity of God is He is love. Love is the challenge that I am given. To accept His Love and then distribute it throughout the world. This is a far cry from religion, but a genuine invitation to a real relationship with the Living God. Obedience to Christ is not in one’s ability not to sin. It is in my ability to love the Lord and His People. It is that simple even though we make it so hard. It begins with allowing God to overwhelm the strongholds in our mind. Releasing us from every fear, doubt and insecurity and drowning us in His Love. This is what allows us to become real light in this world. The kind of light that attracts others to Jesus rather than driving them farther apart.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Despite all these things, every situation, problem, people, trial or circumstance, overwhelming victory belongs to me. I win. No matter what the weapon is I am victorious. I believe it. Do you? The Power of God is made available to me by His Grace. His Love provides all the grace that I need to endure this life. He has made us more than conquerors. If I find my place in Christ, I will never now the agony of defeat again. I will always have the opportunity for the impossible to be made possible in my life. It is all according to what I believe, and my ability to hold on to that hope.

There is absolutely nothing in heaven or on earth that can or will every separate me from the Love of God. Nothing. No sin. No shame. No regret. Nothing in my past. Nothing in the present. Nothing in the future. Even if I wander off or wonder more, God is still pursuing me with His Unfailing, Unconditional Love. So today if a care or concern begins to overwhelm you, overwhelm it instead. Tell it what the Word of God says about. Remind the enemy who your Daddy is. Take captive every single thought that is contradictory to God’s Word and hold it subject to His Promises. Praise, praise and praise some more. Protect that little light inside you until it burns passionately. Fan the flames until the whole world can see it burning again. The Spirit of the Living God lives in you and me, too. Every detail in our life works for our good and His Glory according to His Plan that is unfolding. We must only wait and watch because God will make it happen for those who believe. Let your mind be totally overcome and your heart fully apprehended by the Love of God today. Nothing can ever separate us from Him or snatch us from the folds of His Mighty Hand. His Love is overwhelming. Lord, wash over me today and overwhelm again with Your Amazing Love.

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.”

Chasing the Wind

Chasing the Wind

Ecclesiastes 11:4-8 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. 

Saturdays are precious in our family. Five work days and one day of church worship leave only one for my husband and I to do spend time with our children and do some chores around the house. To wake up when we want to and dawdle through the day is quite nice rushing through the week. The alarm this morning did not greet a happy and expectant employee ready to jump up and seize the day. With a sigh, I immediately began to pray and thank the Lord for the opportunity I have in the workplace and the great weekend that we had. Gratitude seems to change my attitude. It is a great help when the dark cloud of drudgery tries to overshadow God’s Goodness, His Grace and His Glory in our life.

This Saturday an industrious spirit took over as Spring Fever was in the air. Our neglected front porch is right outside the windows of the study where I write. As the morning sun beamed brightly through the windows, I decided to wash away the residue of a long winter and pollen that collected as spring arrived. Armed with all my supplies, I tackled the windows inside and out. The front porch of our house was barren. There really was no point upon our arrival and many other areas of our “new” home that needed our attention, but an image filled my head of two porch rockers. Well, you know the old saying, if mama ain’t happy then… well you know the rest. My husband and I headed to our favorite date place or the home improvement store. Loading a hand cart with two black rocking chairs, a couple small palms and a can of black paint along with a couple other “necessary” items – we headed home. After some assembly required, the two rockers were just as I imagined. We sat down to overlook our work for the day. The yard was manicured, the windows washed and porch cleaned – all the details in place. Sitting in the cool breeze, just rocking along, I realized that the newest chapter in our life had finally arrive. Our littlest girls are almost grown. The three older ones all in their twenties and living their lives. Me and my best friend rocking on the porch in the chairs that will be the place to rock our grandchildren, visit with friends, or maybe even share the greatest love story ever told with someone who is hurting. I have named the two chairs – one is satisfaction and the other will be contentment.

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.” If a perfect life were possible, grace would not be necessary. Since people are not perfect, the ability to live such an existence escapes them. To live this live pursuing our dreams and working for our goals outside of satisfaction and contentment is chasing the wind. I believe this is the meaning behind 3 John 1:2. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” Funny that it comes in 3 John and not 1 John. The prosperity of our soul is satisfaction. The confidence in Christ born of faith is called contentment. Both are qualities birthed by trust, yet hard to grasp much less hold on to in a world that lives according to immediate gratification and a constantly changing perception of what will bring these two qualities. If it were power and wealth by the world’s standards, there would not be so many people who end their life in the height of success because of dissatisfaction and disappointment feeding a disease called depression or fueling the fire of anxiety buffered by mood altering drugs and pain killers. So many talented people who no matter how successful could not catch the conditions they desired most – the peaceful stillness found in two rocking chairs on a front porch in the county.

“Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.” Balance is the art of both hard work and peace of mind that is very hard to achieve outside of Jesus Christ. Striving becomes thriving when this balance is achieved. God gave us goals, dreams and desires when He placed eternity in our heart. Without a perspective of heaven or His Kingdom including the blessings and benefits that His Children have there, the joy and peace marked satisfaction and contentment are impossible. The Lord planted a seed in you and I called faith. It is the substance of all that we hope for. Unless this seed is cultivated in every area of our life – it will only bloom where it is planted. A diversified life will only contribute to stress and worry increasing our burdens but Jesus invites us to “yoke our life with Him” and He will partner with us in all our endeavors sharing the heavy load of responsibility that weighs us down in life giving us a precious promise called rest. (Matthew 11) You have the potential of prosperity in you. It will yield the two things you desire most but we must work into the fields and furrows of our heart to be incorporated in every endeavor of life or we are just chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11-12;17 (NLT) Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

The Lord has a plan for our life. Recorded before our birth (Psalm 139), it is a good one with a future and hope. God didn’t design our life for disaster. God promises to hear our prayers. He will be found by those who look for Him wholeheartedly. This is an important detail often missed in a world that cries “what is in it for me.” Life. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) All of us. He didn’t go to the Cross just so you and I could just make it but that in Him find live a prosperous life according to God’s Riches in Glory. To restore the glorious standard of living that sin had taken from us but Jesus came back from the grave to give us. He didn’t force us to take the Keys to the Kingdom but rather offers them to us each day. Our willful disposition fostered by the old Elvis anthem, “I Did It My Way” will find many in the same position that the world renowned “king of rock and roll” did. A man who could have had anything he wanted, denied himself nothing, reaped a huge reward for all his labors and fully accomplished in his industry died in addiction. We must seek soul satisfaction or risk putting all our efforts into a success that will never reach the innermost part of us. Without faith it is impossible to please God – without faith there is no satisfaction and contentment continues to wave in the wind at those who pass it by.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 (NLT)  So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” (James 1) The realization that every good thing in our life is from the Hand of God can change one’s perspective. The greatest revelation is that of Romans 8:28 in the promise that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them.” To find truth in the words and apply trust to them will change our lives forever. To believe that every good thing in our life is a product of God and not self or random fate is one thing, but to also see the potential of God in every situation and know that He will work it in our favor – now that my friend is life changing and soul altering. Soul satisfaction comes from faith that trusts God and believes in His Goodness even on our worst day.

Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 (NLT) Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. “Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.” And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”

Comparison is a joy killer. It comprises faith because it plants a seed of envy that will bloom into bitterness. God has no favorites. Before declaring the grass is greener in someone else’s yard, perhaps one might ask what fertilizer they use. See God uses every detail of our life for our good. Before comparing our life journey to another, one might decide if it is worth the cost. We are a masterpiece – each one of us an individual work of God with his or her own process of completion. The end result is the same. The process is different. To be jealous of another displays disbelief in God’s Purpose and Plan for us. It destroys satisfaction. It corrupts contentment. A seed demonstrates the growth process in God – one must first die to self. Our present form must be completely undone to incorporate His Goodness in every facet of our life until His Love completely overtakes us and trust allows all good things to grow hidden in our new heart – new life – new creation. To prosper without satisfaction and contentment is not to a blessing. Any form of prosperity does not change our heart but simply magnifies what is already in it. The Lord offers us the Mind of Christ. We must know Him, trust Him and believe Him to have perfect peace that is not challenged by condition or circumstance but leads us to safe harbor every time. The truest blessing of prosperity is a satisfied soul resting in the Peace of God even in a stormy situation.

Ecclesiastes 5:15-20 (NLT) We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

I love our new rocking chairs. I love the front porch. The wind feels good blowing on my face. I love the promise represented called satisfaction and contentment. I know they are a product of age and maturity. There is no need to chase the wind for it will blow where it will. Looking back, I do not see the broken life that I have lived and all the bad things that have happened. I do not look ahead with fear, worry or stress but I sit there rocking and thinking of all the good things that the Lord has done for us. Our youngest daughter sits at our feet with playing with our little dog laughing at her antics. She is the last of our children who is growing up so quickly before us. But I am not afraid my role as mom will soon be over. Sitting next to me is my best friend and soul mate given to me by a gracious God. Our journey has not been easy but it has been worth it. From the beginning, we decided to be yoked with the Lord. He has carried us to this point. As I continue to rock envisioning children running around the yard as the days turn into years, I ask the Lord not for more of anything but to continue this work in my heart. Give me a wealth of satisfaction and rich contentment to fill every nook and cranny of my heart. There is nothing in this world worth more than a prospering soul. It shines a new light on an ordinary life magnifying far greater potential then hard work and motivation could ever afford. To find satisfaction is really what we are after no matter how hard we try to seem confident and uncaring. We want to be loved just as we are in a world that cries to take – maybe God wants us to give. You cannot give to others what you do not possess yourself. It is common sense. You cannot share the fathomless love and endless grace of God with others until it is found within ourselves. You cannot faith it until you make it. Faith is a solid footstep in God’s Direction. Real love and true faith produce satisfaction in life because they are the seeds that God planted in us and faith in Jesus will begin to grow. Once our soul is satisfied, the sky is the limit literally as the windows of Heaven open and His Light reveals all the blessings in our life and sends down all every promise day by day.

I Timothy 6:6 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great worth.

Halfsies

Half Empty Half Full

Matthew 6:21 (NLT) Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Call me an optimist. I have heard it before. I always believe that when it comes to the age old question, “Is the glass half empty or half full?” I will always say, “Half full!” Without hesitation. I have always believed that there is more to life if we just keep a good attitude and work hard. I believe that people are good, but life is hard. I am quick to apologize. I hate broken relationships and strained communication. I was raised by a man who wasn’t afraid to try. If he broke, he always tried to fix it and many times was successful without the need for a repairman. Not everyone is like that – there are pessimists and they cannot understand such thinking. The glass is always half empty and surely has a hole. Living in bondage to stress and fear of failure, they do not try new things and become frustrated in setbacks. They often live in a state of “it is what it is” and that’s just my luck. Trust is hard for them. They seldom can apologize and struggle to forgive. Unmet expectation overshadows their victories in life. Living under a little black cloud, they do not dance with the optimist in the rain. It is all about perspective. Life perception dictates the outcomes in life because it is what fuels our motivation. To live a life that is half empty is draining. But to live a life that is half full without real expectation is to live a life of misdirected zeal and enthusiasm. We are born with a plan and it’s a good one. It comes with a future and hope that cannot be realized by the optimist or pessimist without a true change of heart. Regardless of perception our life is supplied by sowing and reaping or planting and harvesting. Positive people are rewarded with positive results. Negative people may experience success for their efforts but their perception of life robs them of the reward called satisfaction. Whether you fall into one of these personas or the other – your perception may be flawed. No really.

2 Kings 4:3-7 (NLT) And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

As I tiptoe back to this woman’s house, peering in her windows again, I cannot imagine the wonderful hope that flooded her heart and soul as she began pouring the flask of oil into all those jars. Container after container from empty to full and empty to full right before her eyes. It was a miracle that speaks to my heart today. Yes, even the optimist needs some direction when it comes to faith, trust and hope. The Lord has blessed my family and me. I cannot begin to share all the ways that the Lord has provided for us physically, financially and supernaturally. However, lately I have been nudged by the Holy Spirit to leave this place of comfort that produces complacency in life. Most of the time pursuing the deeper things of God are only possible in desperation. Look at this little lady, the threat of losing her children drove her out of her tiny box into a realm of hope overflowing. She was poor then rich not because someone gave her anything or even working two jobs. The woman took what she had, broke it open and it began to flow through her life. She saved that flask for a rainy day or maybe for such a time as this – all along all that she needed to provide increase for her family was bottled within her reach.

Matthew 6:22-23 (NLT) “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

Perception is from the Latin word meaning comprehension, literally or taking in. It is how we perceive things. To perceive means to become aware of, know or identify by means of senses and feelings. Our perception is formed by how we perceive things. Personal recognition, discernment, envisioning and understanding of life and how it works is formed by our five senses, feelings, emotions, education, knowledge, and influences in life. Our parents and guardians begin the process and then the baton is passed to instructors, mentors and even those held in high regard from presidents to pastors. It can be a mixture of many things in our life and defines how we live our life.

Jesus warned us about perception in Matthew 6. In fact, it relates to our treasure and the reality of faith in our life. Wherever your treasure is that is where your heart is pointing to and headed in the direction of based on our perception. Our eye works on the basis of its ability to process light through the lens to display an image on the retina. The retina receives the image through the lens and transforms it into an image into electrical impulses that are carried by the optic nerve to our brain. I wear contact lens to see clearly. If something gets caught between the synthetic contact lens and the lens in my eye, it obstructs my view of things. Over time, my eyesight changes and I need new lens when things are not clear anymore. Jesus is the Light of the world. We must take our perception of life, whether optimistic or pessimistic, to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven rather than the things of this world. In doing so, my perception of life changes from what I see to what I know. Jesus is the Word. Faith is illogical outside of the Word so one must focus on natural elements to survive much less thrive. Jesus said, “Your eye is the lamp that provides light for your body.” To see our life as God planned it and fully utilize the Presence of God in us – our perception must gain understanding and then apply it to our life through the Word. In doing so, life is perceived from a Kingdom perspective rather than a natural one. The greatest influence will become our life perspective.

Matthew 6:24 (NLT) “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

No one can serve two masters. If the desire of my heart (vs. 21) is to connect with God through His Son, Jesus Christ and live in His Presence. My perception of life must change from darkness to light. What does that have to do with serving two masters or even being enslaved to money? The earth is bound by economy that is not the currency of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is bound by love, grace and increase as it is a place of abundance and increase. I will connect my life to one of two sources – the Kingdom of God or the world in which I live. I researched the word “economy” and it is not what I thought it would say at all. Synonyms for the word economy are “thriftiness, thrift, and saving”. Interestingly enough the opposite of economy is “lavishness and extravagance.”

Sin caused us to “fall short of God’s Glorious Standard.” Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life who gives us access to the Father again. Do you believe it? When the Blood of Jesus washed away sin and grace is applied to my life – God’s Glorious Standard of Living becomes possible again. Are you with me so far? I must allow the Spirit of God to change my perception so I live with a Kingdom perspective of life rather than selling out to the world’s economy which keeps us in a state of thrift and, dare I say, lack. What if I told you today that the glass is not relevant? The substance in it is not as important as the substance of faith in you and I? What I do with the contents is the potential of my life? Will I keep trying to protect the glass in its half full state and add my own provisions to it? Or do I insist on constantly emptying it out so God who is my Provider and Resource must continually fill it up to maintain His Standard and radiate His Glory in my life. Let’s keep going.

Matthew 6:25-30 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. 

Jesus gives a directive – “I tell you not to worry about everyday life.” What is the source of stress, anxiety, worry, fear or doubt today? What is keeping you from doing what God has called you to do? Are you married to your job? Do you live from paycheck to paycheck? Are you constantly longing for things you cannot afford? Are you content? Are you satisfied? God is good. He is our Provider. Salvation is consummated by seeking out the Lord and living in His Presence. He put His Spirit in us and we connect with Him by pursuing Him. We pursue Him by following Jesus. The secret to success when striving for God’s Will and His Way that are His Plan for us is in our ability to trust the Lord enough to seek Him wholeheartedly. Perfect love expels fear from our life because no matter how life looks our perception of the light of His Love completes us. Our full expectation once invested by faith into God as our Provider and Christ as our Resource allows us to do things like the woman did. She took a small flask of oil and turned it into enough to cover her debt, save her sons and provide well for her household. Whether our glass is half empty or almost full in the natural doesn’t matter as much as what our faith allows us to do with it.

Matthew 6:30 (NLT) Why do you have so little faith?

Paul said this when instructing the Corinthians in his second letter. You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.” (2 Corinthians 8:9-12) Our decision to accept Jesus Christ is to ask Him to be our Savior and our Lord. When coming to Jesus it is with the best of intentions but soon it is overshadowed by “real life” and “real problems” so we begin to recant the “Jesus is Lord” part of our promise. We live a diversified life. We trust Him with our soul but not our natural life so when our soul prospers but our life does not – our perception is perplexed. Holding tight to our resources, including but not limited to our time, talent and treasures, we never fully connect to His Limitless Resources. We sow but do not reap. We plant yet never see a harvest. If we do, it is not marked by prosperity or abundance – it is just enough.

Paul’s advice for the Corinthians works for us today. We must return to our First Love and give Him our first fruits in all things. We must learn to trust God with all our life not just the portions that are comfortable to give. To live in the Presence of the Father is only possible by faith. We must seek Him to find Him. We must knock to gain entrance. We must believe that He rewards those who seek Him. Once we do, it will be evident as insomnia gives way to rest. Stress is given up for trust. Worry is no longer a problem as peace floods our heart, mind and soul. Fear gives way to perfect love that clears our perception of live to perceive the opportunities and potential of God in all things pertaining to our life. See the glass is just a glass. The contents unimportant. Given to God it will become increased, abundant and fulfilled. Take your eyes off the glass that contains that which is desired. Put your eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith. Faith fills every need and produces Godly Riches and Resources in our life to flow from the Windows of Heaven. Abundance flows from a heart full invested in knowing Jesus Christ. He promised to give us a rich and satisfying life. If the Lord cannot do that, then how can I trust Him for the Kingdom? Do you trust Jesus today? Do you believe that His Promises are true? If not, it is never too late to start. His Grace is sufficient for you. He has already given you a measure of faith to start with. Sow it in just one area of your natural life. Yoke up with Jesus Christ today and let Him show you how to walk through life in constant and confident trust. (Matthew 11:28-30) Let Him give you peace and rest. Strive for it. Fight for it. Do not stop pressing until your stress, worry, care and anxiety give way to peace. God is a good father. You are well supplied. He has already supplied every need you have. To those who keep seeking, knocking and asking – He will be found. He will open the door to His Presence. He will answer doing more than you can think, imagine or ask. Faith is the solution to a changed perception of life. Jesus is the light that changes our perspective.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word. Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

 

Power of Stillness

power-of-stillness

Mark 4:38-40 (NLT) Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Today is Friday. Tomorrow begins a long weekend, I cannot wait. I do not have any solid plans or places that I must be. I am free to stay home and lounge around. Piddle with projects. Discover new ones. I do not have to wear “real” clothes rather delighting in yoga pants and a t-shirt. I love our home. It has become my refuge. Looking back to my younger days, I used to thrive on weekends on the go. Running about as many places and doing as many things as possible until time was up and back to the routine of life, but not anymore. Cramming as much life into every minute, I must have thought I was missing something only to find I have it all right here. Over the years, the more that God has given us and the more we have been able to do – I value the stillness of this sanctuary called home.

Where do you find sanctuary? Where is the place called rest? Do you have a quiet place or retreat? Do you have a refuge to find solace in? A breathing space not consumed by activity and time constraints. I don’t think it is a natural space at all but a place satisfied in our heart. The confidence in knowing that it is well with our soul that soothes the need to find more, do more and be more. Complete trust in who He is rather than what we must do allows us to be still in the Lord. One thing I have noted over the past five decades of life is when that stillness is required to hear the Voice of God, sense His Spirit and build our faith. Fear tells us to run but faith says stand right here. Doubt promotes disbelief that makes us indecisive causing a drift that carries us here and there. Anxiety creates anxiety that will not allow us to stop moving.

Jesus was asleep. One might think that the disciples would notice that He was absolutely undisturbed therefore not concerned about the storm that raged around them. The rocking of the boat did not unsettle His Confidence that He was in full power and had absolute authority the wind and the waves. They panicked. They didn’t tap Jesus on the shoulder and gently awaken Him to tell him about the storm. They shouted. “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” I will be the first to admit that I do that sometimes. When all hell breaks loose, give the Lord a not so gentle reminder that I am in trouble, I am not going to make it, why me or don’t you care Jesus? So Jesus got up and commanded the storm to cease. Turning to them – “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

These men were not new converts. They had given up their life to follow Jesus, witnessed many miracles, heard the Word of God spoken by the Word, and lived in His Presence. Yet still struggled with faith that produced a confidence in hope so profound that not only could they keep their position in the storm but recognized the power and authority that Jesus had over the environment of their life. Faith without confidence is not faith at all but just an idea. It is a concept longing for understanding to solidify our stand that we hope is a reality. Stillness expresses full confidence in God even when our environment is unfavorable, disaster looms around every bend, people lose all senses, and the world comes crashing down around us. It is the strictest of confidence that is completely convinced that God is in control. I will not be moved.

Psalm 46:10 (NLT) “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

On our moving day, the house empty of its contents. Every possession crammed in trucks, cars, trailers and any other vehicle offered to us, I received a phone call from the bank. There had been a miscalculation and there were additional funds needed to close. Not a hundred but thousands. I am discussing this with the lender, when the new buyer comes to inspect their pending purchase. The realtor interrupts me to question a higher than usual utility bill discovered when they contacted the city about new service. It must be settled before closing early the next morning. Meanwhile, all of our helpers were beginning to panic that there might not be room for the remaining items and the rental company had closed for the day. Finally in my car, so loaded it barely moved , I dared to take a breath. I knew in my heart that God had ordained this move to the county for our family. As new chapter of life and new season was turning it felt like all the words were falling off the page. What seemed so certain suddenly chaos! The phone buzzed but my thoughts overwhelmed me. At that moment, I couldn’t even tell you where the kids were or if anyone had loaded up the dogs. I did what any sane, rational, human woman might do…I sobbed.

Well, it all worked out. Every single detail to the tiniest degree just like God had planned. I share all the details with you because doing the Will of God does not always mean a peaceful journey from here to there. “There” is forever. It is the future and hope we live for whether we know it or not. It takes tests and trials of trust to convince our hard, stubborn and wavering heart that God really is in complete control. This is only possible when I yield control to Him. I will never yield complete control of my life to Jesus Christ without storms to try my faith and reveal its insufficiency. God’s Power is only perfect in my weakness. He doesn’t need my help though I attempt to do so all the time. He doesn’t need my opinion, His Word will do exactly what it says it will do. He needs nothing from my but to trust Him wholeheartedly.

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!

My power flows through Presence. Jesus did not come to bring peace to the world but stir things up. (Matthew 10:34-36) We live here so obviously this stirring occurs in the environment where we live. If you happened to come upon a house that was on fire, would you leisurely walk up to the front door and ring the doorbell. Wait for a few minutes, then knock. Wait a few more and call out to see if anyone was home. Of course, not. You would do everything in your power to alert anyone inside. Get the picture? However, Jesus did bring peace. He packaged it as a gift for those who belong to Him. (John 14:27) Peace is not found in conditions or circumstances but to be still in His Presence and maintain our position. Peace is discovered by faith in confident hope.

With this in mind, it is important to note that while transferring our existence from death to life and allowing God’s Renewal and Restoration to remodel our heart and mind, there may be uncertainty along the way. The transition of moving unsettles me. I don’t like the homeless feeling or nomadic state. I long for the security of my home, refuge, space. Yet there are times when God compromises my comfort to remove complacency from my life. He wants me to invest all of my life in His Kingdom. To live in His Peace. To take full advantage of His Power. My power flows from His Presence in my life.

Psalm 46:4-7 (NLT) A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. 

Stillness is the strong confidence in God’s Full Power and Authority over every condition of our life. It is not in the environmental condition surrounding this life. Love is growing colder by the day. Sin is rampant and quickly multiplying. The world is shaking at the close proximity of Jesus Christ. Christians are finally believing the Book of Revelation just might be true. Believers desire revival again. Movement is not the answer. The power of His Presence is. To step out of this world’s ideology and stand on the Word of God refusing to move at any cost. If you read Matthew 24, it gets worse before it gets better. There is no need to panic. Just to move our life into His Presence fully. God is our Refuge and Strength. He fights for us. He will deliver us. We must only believe without seeing and endure to the end to be saved. He didn’t tell us to win but rather has already given us victory! Do you believe? Will you be still?

Psalm 37:5-7 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Stillness is a position of trust. To be still and know that He is the Lord takes more than a casual relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a full on marriage to Him. To become one with Him. It is to know Him. To believe in Him. To be committed to Him. I love my husband. There are days when I am not so lovable and neither is he but it is our commitment to Christ and each other that bridge the gap of human imperfection, selfishness and pride. Jesus is perfect but I am not. On the days, I don’t understand, become overwrought, or believe the lie of the enemy even for a second, I must decide to remain still based on what I know not how I feel or how things look. His Presence is my position of power in all things and every situation. It is not an emotional reaction but a committed response to who He is not how I feel.

To trust the Lord requires letting go of certain feelings. There are emotions that keep us from fully trusting the Lord and the blessing of His Presence. Psalm 37 lists some of those emotions that must be replaced with faith. Things such as worry (1-2), anger (8-9), fear (12-13), greed (21-22), pride (27-28), ignorance (30-31) and more. There are certain things that comprise our position in His Presence because they destroy our faith. These are some of those things. Certainly the world would justify our feelings and need to react. However, trusting the Lord means to wait until His Word comes to pass in our life. Holding our position in His Presence even though our thoughts tell us to run or escape. To move from this impossibility and settle for less. What are you going to do today? We are free to choose. Lord, help me to choose faith and confident hope over anything I feel today.

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. 

Is your home your refuge? Do you find comfort in place where you live? I am blessed to have a peaceful home. Partly because our children are most grown but mostly because our family has invited the Holy Spirit to live here. Most every day, just like you I must go about my daily tasks and responsibilities outside of the four walls of this place. The same Holy Spirit (the Presence of God) goes with me. I can allow Him to be my peace, refuge and strength by faith and confident hope. This allows me to excel in the stillness of trust to allow Christ to have complete authority and power over my life. When we divide our interests between the Kingdom and the world, it makes for a shaky foundation. Our marriage to Christ compromised when we give our attention and love to other gods. The stillness of God including the overwhelming gift of perfect peace and inexpressible joy can be with me always when I choose to live in the Power of His Presence and be still. It allows me to respond to His Promises rather than reacting to worldly problems. My natural home is a refuge only because Jesus lives here, too. He lives in our heart. He goes where we go so we can always be still. Greater is He who lives in me – to believe it means to trust Him, have faith in Him, have confidence in the hope I have in Him and to be still in Him – all day…everyday! So let the wind blow, let the storms surge, let the whole earth shake…my heart is full of His Presence and I will not be moved. There is power in stillness to live in His Presence undeterred and unshaken you will not be moved.

Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT) I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

The Gift

the-gift-2

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT) For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Twas the night before Christmas (well morning actually) and all through the house not a creature was stirring except for our little dog not much bigger than a mouse. Christmas Eve is here. Walking quietly as not to awaken three sleeping kids, I am acutely aware of my surroundings today. The silence gives me time to think. It reminds me that my life is not as chaotic as I sometimes perceive it. I realize that this house of barely six months has become our home. Even more so I feel, then the last one of twelve years. I love its rooms. Yesterday, I painted our daughter’s room so the “girl wing” of our humble abode is now coming together nicely. The Christmas tree illuminates the family room that is comfortable and homey. Under it lies more gifts and packages than one family deserves wrapped and ready to be torn open, Lord thank you for blessing us. The endless list of home improvement remains but I see all the things accomplished for some reason today. Timehop, the phone app that recounts past years in personal history, shows that for three long years this day would be spent traveling back from Shands Hospital. The battle is over. Cancer lost. Jesus won the victory for our son who will soon graduate from college and start his new life. I guess with all the busyness I forgot those years shared with hospital staff rather than baking with family. Lord, you are our Healer. It is easy to be consumed by life, all its hurts and heartaches along with daily responsibilities both common and unexpected. To focus on the things undone rather than achieved. It is easy to overlook a Savior who came to us in the middle of our self-consumed rush hour to change everything in a single moment that might take our whole lifetime to see.

It’s Christmas Eve. The day before the Greatest Gift of all time would arrive. The Messiah was not what anyone expected. Yet in that tiny baby was exactly what we needed to saved, healed, delivered and fulfilled. Our Lord of opportunity bearing His Own Gift of a brand new life. His arrival was a statement. The enemy put on notice. Satan knew that if Jesus made it to the Cross it would be finished. The one who seeks to steal, kill and destroy us could not stop the King of Kings and Lord of Lords from fulfilling His Mission. The Gift was given. Will it be received? The enemy did not stop at the Cross, throw up his hands and admit defeat. If he could not stop the Kingdom at least he could wage war against it taking as many souls as could be distracted, deceived and drowned in darkness. What will be our choice today? To see the Gift of Jesus and enjoy all of His Blessings and Benefits or allow the enemy to capture us, saturate our mind with fear, worry and anxiety, separate us from family and friends with mere words or thoughtless actions, be consumed with everyone else forgetting the One tomorrow named for.

Wonderful Counselor

Colossians 3:12-17 (NLT)  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

The arrival of Jesus Christ marked the Word of God becoming flesh to demonstrate a love that prior to that time mankind could not comprehend. He didn’t come as they expected. He was not who they built Him up to be. The logic of a baby born in a stable becoming King of Kings and Lord of Lords would demand a faith and trust far greater than human beings could find on their own. When Jesus died, He released His Spirit to each one of us. He is the Wonderful Counselor. What is a counselor worth if nobody listens or does what is suggested? I have struggled with the holiday blues for many years. My husband was shocked by the revelation. He had no idea. I have hidden it well as I intended to, but today I do not feel sad, lonely or depressed but filled with hope.

Hope never is reliant on what we see now or how things are in this moment but is reserved for that which is coming. To be alive is the opportunity to grow our faith which is focused on unseen things not reality. Faith becomes logical when the Word is applied to our life rather than the things happening to us right now. Thankfulness recounts former faith made into the manifested promises of God. There is no better way to show appreciation for a gift to the giver than to say thank you. Thankfulness is not only in words of appreciation but acts of affirmation. How do we do that? We affirm our appreciation by using that which has been given.

I am a representative of Jesus Christ. I can tell others that I am a Christian. There are many who profess to believe in Jesus Christ by calling themselves Christian but remain exactly the same as the day they asked Him to live inside their heart. Why? They have left the Gift of Salvation wrapped in His Love and Grace unopened. Why not make a difference this year? To be present in Christmas rather than getting wrapped up in presents. The Wonderful Counselor will guide us through the holiday rush just like He will do every single day – if we let Him? We must clothe ourselves in love. We must be representatives of Christ this Christmas. We don’t do that by putting on the best performance but by basking in His Love and sharing it with others.

Mighty God

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing in creation will ever be able to separate me from the Love of God revealed in Christ Jesus my Lord. Say it again. Jesus came to make a statement. Nothing in this life can separate me from the Mighty Love of God when I choose Him to be my Savior and make Jesus my Lord. Despite all these things, every tactic of the enemy to make us let go of faith and confidence in God’s Love should be removed by this promise. The Gift of God’s Love did not come from a weak and whimpering being who could not maintain it. No, it says that overwhelming victory is ours in Jesus Christ. It is not earned and completely undeserved but His Love for us maintains it even when our choice is to give in or even give up. His Love is maintained by His Power. Where do we find His Power – in His Grace! When I am weak, I become strong simply in trusting that His Love never fails and He is more than equipped to maintain it.

Everlasting Father

John 1:12-14 (NLT) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

Do you believe? No not in Santa, but in Jesus Christ the Father’s One and Only Son. Do you believe that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life? If your answer is “yes”, you are a Child of the Living God. He is our everlasting Father who created us fully knowing what we were capable of and still decided to send His Son to make sure there would be a place for us with Him forever. A father’s love longs for his children all of his children. This holiday season brings families together. Families are dysfunctional. ALL families are due to imperfection and human nature. When gathering together, if for a moment could put our full expectation in our Everlasting Father maybe then we can cut each other some slack. My parents are not perfect and neither am I. My birth mother died addicted to alcohol that built a barrier separating her from children and grandchildren. I loved my mom even though I could not have a healthy relationship with her. My siblings are a little crazy, too. My own children get on my nerves sometimes but I would do anything for them. This year maybe if our expectation was in our Everlasting Father – relationships could be mended. Walls could come down. Lives brought together again in harmony and unity which our Father loves the most as evidenced in the Gift given to maintain one with us.

Prince of Peace

Philippians 4:6-8 (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. 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.

Holiday stress is overwhelming. Depression is heightened during the Christmas season. Fear, worry and anxiety will take over if not dealt with completely. Stop. Today. Just stop. Put the list down. Push the bowl aside for just a minute. Drop the scissors. Just stop. Jesus is a wonderful counselor. The Lord came offering joy and peace in the midst of our personal chaos and expectation. He offers to help those who weary carrying heavy burdens. When was the last time that you sat down and talked to Him? Minus the list, the worry and every other distraction this time of year brings. Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor. He understands distraction. He knows that it is our habit to grab hold of more than we can carry. He says, “Come talk to me.” What will our heart respond today? On the Eve of His Birthday, will you grant the Lord some time?

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

In the classic Dicken’s story, A Christmas Carol, is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge a cold-hearted miser who hates Christmas. The story is about redemption. Traveling through his life past, present and future – onlookers can see the details of life that molded this man and froze his heart within him. When he awakens to find that it is Christmas Day and he is very much alive, Scrooge sets out to change his ways. As long as there is breath in our body, there lies within the opportunity to take advantage of every spiritual blessing, gracious gift and hidden purpose that Jesus Christ brought with His Arrival and released to us in His Death and Resurrection. Our life remains the same only if our choice is to remain that way. If Christmas is stressful, busy and overwhelming, it is our choice to change that tradition. I cannot take something new without releasing old things – ways, habits, attitudes and actions. Jesus Christ is the Gift that takes all the details of my life and makes them work together for my good. He is the personification of God’s Love for me that brings victory. He is the One who helps me work through the tough times and heals my brokenness. He is the Gift that keeps on giving. My life is proof of that and so is yours if you woke up today. Why not visit the Savior today? Why not come to the Lord? Spend some time with the Gift you have been given. Jesus Christ changes everything for those who do.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

 

 

 

Holiday Blues

holiday-blues

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Today. It is a gift unwrapped when your eyes opened and you drew in the first breath of what has become a new day. It is clear that you have purpose otherwise your eyes would have beheld Jesus this morning, but instead it was the darkness, the spouse, the kids, the dog or maybe some coffee. Last night, a good old-fashioned case of the holiday blues overtook me. Not really sure why or how just like a light blanket tossed over my head. Do you ever get that way? The feeling of “so this is how life is going to be” kind of feeling. Not really satisfied or dissatisfied – you just feel like you are here. My routine has been disrupted for about a week. My schedule is not finely tuned as usual. My to-do list is finally almost caught up but my things I wanted to do list has been pared down significantly. Mama said that there would be days like this…or even if she didn’t I am going to say it and I am a mama myself. There will be days like this.

The most important step you take is the next one. Not the one that is coming two miles down the road, up the mountain or in the valley. Those are not certain. The only one that is completely possible is the next one. Think about it for a minute. Let it sink in. This holiday season is like all the rest that suck us into a vortex of doing and overdoing, scheduling and overscheduling, and producing expectations far beyond what is humanly possible. Our attempt to make memories waste moments that are precious. Traditions quickly overtake opportunity. Our spirits are to be renewed day by day but cannot be if we live in the past. Are you with me? Are you experiencing a bit of the holiday blues today? Maybe life in general is just too overwhelming and you want to give up?

To pick your mind at ease and your heart at rest, the perfect Christmas already happened. No matter how many events, pageants, services, parties, and festivities there may be what could match a sky full of angels heralding the birth of Jesus to the waiting and watching world while our Savior and King lay in a manager next to livestock in stalls on hoof-trodden hay wrapped in animal blankets. Jesus was perfect and He still is today. The first Christmas wasn’t ideal for the birthday of a King, but the King is perfect and still is today.

Galatians 6:8-10 (NLT) Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Why do Christians get the blues? Why do God’s People not always live by faith and confident hope? Hey, wait a minute, I didn’t say that I didn’t have faith or hope but that I was just a little down. Well, generally speaking, when my heart is not satisfied is usually stems from discontentment with the productivity in my life. If the things I see, do not meet my expectations. If the things I don’t see but long for somehow become impossible. When things don’t turn out the way I want them to, when I want them to or how I want them too – my faith is challenged. If not, I would never experience times like this because inexpressible joy would overflow from my life. I would do good to everyone all the time and no one would be impacted by my bad attitude, hurtful words or inability to deal with the stress of any given day. Oh, hang on, I may be the only one subject to my own agitations. If so, please bear with me today.

Nobody is perfect. It doesn’t matter if their house is perfect. Yard immaculate. Decorations on point. Presents exceptionally wrapped positioned uniformly under the tree. Outfits all matching. Menu delicious. Table set with metallic charges. Even if it smells like a fresh cut tree when you walk inside their door, it is probably an air freshener as most people have artificial trees and carefully constructed facades that they hide behind. The truth is that comparison has forced people into hiding. Hiding hurts, disappointments, pain, bitterness, dissatisfaction and the like. Surely I am the only one who gets the holiday blues or feels overwhelming so let’s tie on an apron and spread out some food invite everyone over and sing some Christmas tunes. No one will know and maybe I will feel better. Well…nice try…but it doesn’t work.

The Spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit released when Jesus died on the Cross. He sent His Spirit to live in us. His Spirit uses each new day to produce new faith and new hope in us. He renews us day by day and season by season. It is when our body, mind and spirit get caught up in the natural and forget about the supernatural that our mind is susceptible to depression, anxiety, and stress. We don’t mean to do it. Life can do it. Holiday pressure. Christmas lists. Menus to plan. Meals to make. Cookies to bake. Mix it all together with holiday traditions and life unexpected. This is the recipe the enemy uses to distract us and keep us from the Presence of our Savior and Lord. Jesus is the reason for the season. Of course, have I taken the time to search for Him and seek Him out in this season?

Lamentations 3:21-24 (NLT) Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us a new way, we never give up. (2 Corinthians 4:1) Some of you reading this today may think I am crazy, after all it is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas music is playing on every radio station. Parties every night. Gifts, gifts and more gifts. Family coming together. Fun and frivolity. But for some, the holiday season only makes them feel worse. I have struggled with the holiday blues my entire life. I am not really sure why but they come uninvited no matter how hard I fight. Some will be celebrating Christmas minus a loved one or significant other this year. They will smile with tears just behind their eyes as they watch others experience the joy they have lost. Some will feel sadness because the budget too tight to fill the stockings and overload the tree just happy to have a home to live in and food to eat. Others have a dark place deep inside their hard, cold heart that has never experienced the Light of Love born in a manger that Christmas so long ago. See everyone is susceptible to having a bad day. Experiencing the blues. Fighting the darkness. Being overtaken with sorrow or a sense of great loss. Stress. Anxiety. Fear. Family issues. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His Mercies never cease. Great is His Faithfulness. His Mercies begins fresh every morning! Amen and amen!

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NLT) The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

As my mood began to plummet last night, I thought a hot shower might do the trick. A place of solitude to seek the Lord. When I don’t feel like myself or can sense the darkness closing in – I run to Jesus. He is my Hope. His Grace is enough for me. My weakness makes room for Him. His Mercy is new each day and it is the very thing that refreshes me. I have learned the hard way that I need the Lord every single day especially during the holidays. It’s funny that as long as I have read the Bible and studied God’s Word, I always somehow overlook the simplistic wisdom looking for some hidden knowledge or great secret tucked within. God’s Promises always come with instructions of exactly how to attain that which is desired.

The Lord is good to those who depend on Him. How dependent am I on the Lord today? How much am I doing myself? What is beyond the limits of my control because that is where God is? What am I hanging on to? Is it worth anything at all until I release it to the Father? The Lord is good to those who search for Him. Have I abandoned my pursuit of my Savior in exchange for busyness? Have I given up seeking for Him to search for the perfect gift? Have I stopped pressing due to exhaustion? New mercy comes in the morning, I really need to maintain rest. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Am I waiting on the Lord? Meditating on His Word. Sitting in my prayer closet silently waiting for Him to answer. Have I stopped long enough to receive what the Lord has for me? Well, there you have it the cure to the holiday blues and Christmas funk that you may be in. Jesus is all that I need to overcome all that ails me. But I won’t find Him if I don’t seek Him every day.

Luke 2:8-15 (NLT) That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

The Savior of the world. King of Kings and Lord of Lords came into this world and found no room for Him in the Inn. Though the world did not welcome Him, it did not stop Jesus from coming and completing His Mission. The town hustled and bustled just the same and darkness did not flee when the cries of the infant rippled through the universe shaking the gates of hell. Darkness could not silence the angel’s song as they announced God’s Glory had arrived. The shepherds tending flocks in the field heard the message and went to “see this thing that is happening”. They were not the only ones as the wise men followed the star seeking Jesus. Will we do the same?

In this season of giving, will Jesus receive some time and attention? While seeking out satisfaction, will I let Him satisfy my soul? In just a few short weeks, life returns to normal but will I remain the same. Are you just trying to survive the holidays or celebrating the season? Trust me. I know how hard it can be. As I prayed last night, I asked the Lord to open my heart to see His Light and feel His Love all over again. Have you done the same? Too many of our expectations this time of year are based on worldly precepts and traditions of man, but wise men and women still seek Him. Maybe all you need is the joy that comes in the morning and the mercy that refreshes given to us each new day. The Lord is waiting. He is watching. He came for you to have everlasting life. Jesus came to complete us not to compete. Comparison is a cancer that eats away at contentment. Find a few moments. Take a shower. Go in your closet and shut the door. Seek the Lord. Call on His Name. Let the Light of His Love break through the darkness and remove the heavy holiday burdens. He is the Prince of Peace. Not world peace but our personal peace! Jesus be my peace today! Let me feel the Light of Your Love. Chase away the darkness as I bask in Your Light and new life!

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT) For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Not Moment to Spare

not-a-spare-moment

Matthew 6:26-27 (NLT)  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Stop. Just stop. Stop moving. Stop talking. Stop thinking. Stop worrying. Just stop for a moment. Now take a deep breath and one more. With the first breath, the natural process of oxygenation put life giving air back into the cells of your body and in that second you became a little bit healthier whether you felt it or not. The second breath, hopefully, allowed God’s Spirit along with His Peace to permeate your weary, stressed out, overloaded, maxed out self to feel the Presence of God all around you. If not, maybe by the time you read this, it will happen as it should.

This season is already a rush hour but the general consensus of people I know who live and work around me is go…go…go and then some. I cannot begin to delineate all the unexpected things going on around me as if everyone I know is being pelted with worry, fear, sorrow and more including our family. After going through a rough season, things seemed to be getting back to normal. After Thanksgiving, it was like every irritating minion of hell was meddling all around. Every time something was planned…something came up. Each time a list has been made… it has been torn up. Nothing was getting done. Everything was in an upheaval. Can I get an “amen”? AMEN!

By the end of the week, my heart was heavy. I was exhausted. I was agitated. As if holiday stress was not enough…life stressors were mounting, too causing a domino effect. Sometimes it is not the big things in life that cause us to fall apart but all the little things that bury us! Many believers reserve their faith in the Lord for the big things and hold tightly to all the small and seemingly insignificant details of life. You are valuable to God. He created you to be a priceless masterpiece and his personal treasure. You are not the person you see in the mirror but the One who He dearly loves and desires above all else. So quickly we forget…

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? No they cannot but instead rob us of special moments prepared for us by God. Consumed by control and steered by stinking thinking, quickly we forget who we are in Jesus Christ. We are the Sons and Daughters of God. Every need is met. Every promise given. Every blessing prepared. Every moment lined up to perfection. God has a plan consisting of moments in time that lead to a future and hope. It is beautiful by design and perfectly timed.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

I am usually a very calm person. Over the years and with age, my panic button has been pushed further and further from my hand. I have endured many things, trials, troubles, heartaches and brokenness. I have seen the Hand of God revive, renew and restore things in my life over and over again. It takes a lot to break me to the point of tears and giving up. Last week, it was a perfect storm. By Friday, I was done. Finished. Our little dog was poisoned on Monday night which turned into three different vet visits including hauling her to work. I had a carefully planned holiday list that was now coming apart. We did not have a tree. Christmas shopping had not yet begun. People I loved I would not be able to see due to holiday schedules beyond our control. This piled on a whole lot of life already in progress when my husband reminded me that he was going out of town broke me. I could not see Christmas coming together, the dog on the mend, the presents bought, wrapped or delivered. I could not think beyond right then enough to prepare yet another list to discard. You know the kind of week that I am talking about because many of you have experienced the same. Well…

God makes everything beautiful in His Time. Each day I poured out my heart to the Lord. Christmas is a struggle emotionally for me. Why God? Why are you allowing all these other things to pile up? Finally unable to carry the load, I just pushed it across the table until it all fell into His Lap. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Meeting everyone’s expectations is hard. I don’t know how He is able to do more than we can think or ask other than He really is Perfect in all of His Ways. Worry and stress cannot add a moment to our life. I believe wholeheartedly that faith and trust can redeem time and add moments to our life filled with supernatural qualities that far exceed anything you or I could do with a spare moment. So here’s what happened…

The vet cleared our little dog of permanent damage and sent her home to rest and recover with a plan to keep her nourished for the weekend. She began to perk up bit by bit. By Saturday, she was beginning to eat a little bit here and there all on her own. Looks like she is going to make it. At a Christmas party, some of my loved ones surprised me with a quick trip to town to celebrate Christmas. Game on devil God is doing His Thing. At the party, suddenly hopelessly broken relationships showed some signs of mending. After the first night of solid sleep and good rest, Saturday seemed a bit brighter. By the end of the day and four hours of shopping with my sweet husband who hates the mall, Christmas shopping is almost done. A quick trip to the local hardware store, a tree was chosen in about five whole minutes which is a family record. It is decorated and I am almost positive one of the most perfect trees our family has ever gotten. The first Christmas celebration was a success and by the end of the night the first batch of decorated cookies produced and consumed. In a single 24 hour period, everything I was worried about is already done. But how? God redeems our time according to His Plan when we trust Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is often read at funerals but maybe it should be read long before. It reminds us that in accordance with Psalm 139 every moment of our life is prerecorded by God before our birth. It points back to Jeremiah 29 that tells me God has a plan with a future and hope for me. I must only seek Him wholeheartedly to find it. I can look ahead to Romans 8 that promises every detail of my life will be worked out for my good and His Glory if I will just hang on and take my stand in this moment for the next one that is coming. Timing is everything to God because He is perfect and never compromises. If only we knew this ahead of time, we could see that God does everything in His Timing without a moment to spare and it is always beautiful.

What do people really get for all their hard work? Depends on who or what they are working for in a broad sense. If you are working for something you already have isn’t it a waste of time. Shouldn’t we strive for what we do not have instead? God promises to provide for us and supply our every need. He knows the desires of each heart and longs to fulfill it according to His Will. We all have a purpose and plan for our life that is better than one can comprehend so the Lord works to fulfill it by created faith experiences and God encounters. However, human nature doesn’t seek God in the good times but only under duress. What if we concluded as Solomon did to be happy and enjoy our life. Happiness is a choice. Joy is a product of God in us. Everything I have and am able to do is a Gift of God. I only carry out steps and live moments already given to me by my Father. Why am I worrying? There is purpose for my life. I have a future and hope. God has already ordered my steps and handwritten every moment. What do I worry and stress?

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT)  And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

This too shall pass…wise words spoken for a long time. It will. One way or the other this moment will be spent and this season will transition to the next. What will you do while you wait? Will you worry about a life already provided for? Will you stress over a season of joy? Emmanuel has come and God is with us. The enemy can do nothing more than knock on your door and beat on the windows, God will not let Him in.

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. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.

You know last week I felt really dumb for being so worried over our pet. I berated myself for feeling worried, anxious and stressed over her well-being. I even apologized as I prayed to the Lord for her healing when other people are going through so much. Yet in that moment, the anxiety real and heartache truly felt. I believe that the Lord loves us so much that He cares about every moment of our life. The ones used for His Glory. The ones when we barely get by. The ones when we fail miserably. The ones when we give up completely. Every useful and spare moment of our day – God is there as He works our life together for the good things that He has in store for us.

Faith doesn’t allow us to see what we hope for. Trust is the opportunity to believe that it is there. Faith is a choice. Trust is a decision. Do I believe that every moment of my life is handwritten and provided for by the Lord according to His Riches in Glory? Do I trust that His Grace is enough power and strength to keep me going, catapult me over my circumstances and move me from season to season? Hope is not anything that can be seen but filled with infinite impossibilities ready to be manifested in my life. People who tithe testify of bank accounts and registers that just don’t make sense. Those who trust the Lord can exchange every spare moment for something perfectly supernatural. Will that be you today?

Your worry, stress, sorrow and regret will not add a single moment to your life but rob us of precious moments that the Lord has in store for us. Isn’t it time to shove all those burdens over to Him in exchange for His Peace that puts a guard over the door to our heart and window of our soul so when the enemy comes making a racket our response will be – It is well with my soul because God’s Timing is perfect for me!

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) 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.

Matthew 6:26-27 (NLT)  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Stop. Just stop. Stop moving. Stop talking. Stop thinking. Stop worrying. Just stop for a moment. Now take a deep breath and one more. With the first breath, the natural process of oxygenation put life giving air back into the cells of your body and in that second you became a little bit healthier whether you felt it or not. The second breath, hopefully, allowed God’s Spirit along with His Peace to permeate your weary, stressed out, overloaded, maxed out self to feel the Presence of God all around you. If not, maybe by the time you read this, it will happen as it should.

This season is already a rush hour but the general consensus of people I know who live and work around me is go…go…go and then some. I cannot begin to delineate all the unexpected things going on around me as if everyone I know is being pelted with worry, fear, sorrow and more including our family. After going through a rough season, things seemed to be getting back to normal. After Thanksgiving, it was like every irritating minion of hell was meddling all around. Every time something was planned…something came up. Each time a list has been made… it has been torn up. Nothing was getting done. Everything was in an upheaval. Can I get an “amen”? AMEN!

By the end of the week, my heart was heavy. I was exhausted. I was agitated. As if holiday stress was not enough…life stressors were mounting, too causing a domino effect. Sometimes it is not the big things in life that cause us to fall apart but all the little things that bury us! Many believers reserve their faith in the Lord for the big things and hold tightly to all the small and seemingly insignificant details of life. You are valuable to God. He created you to be a priceless masterpiece and his personal treasure. You are not the person you see in the mirror but the One who He dearly loves and desires above all else. So quickly we forget…

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? No they cannot but instead rob us of special moments prepared for us by God. Consumed by control and steered by stinking thinking, quickly we forget who we are in Jesus Christ. We are the Sons and Daughters of God. Every need is met. Every promise given. Every blessing prepared. Every moment lined up to perfection. God has a plan consisting of moments in time that lead to a future and hope. It is beautiful by design and perfectly timed.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

I am usually a very calm person. Over the years and with age, my panic button has been pushed further and further from my hand. I have endured many things, trials, troubles, heartaches and brokenness. I have seen the Hand of God revive, renew and restore things in my life over and over again. It takes a lot to break me to the point of tears and giving up. Last week, it was a perfect storm. By Friday, I was done. Finished. Our little dog was poisoned on Monday night which turned into three different vet visits including hauling her to work. I had a carefully planned holiday list that was now coming apart. We did not have a tree. Christmas shopping had not yet begun. People I loved I would not be able to see due to holiday schedules beyond our control. This piled on a whole lot of life already in progress when my husband reminded me that he was going out of town broke me. I could not see Christmas coming together, the dog on the mend, the presents bought, wrapped or delivered. I could not think beyond right then enough to prepare yet another list to discard. You know the kind of week that I am talking about because many of you have experienced the same. Well…

God makes everything beautiful in His Time. Each day I poured out my heart to the Lord. Christmas is a struggle emotionally for me. Why God? Why are you allowing all these other things to pile up? Finally unable to carry the load, I just pushed it across the table until it all fell into His Lap. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Meeting everyone’s expectations is hard. I don’t know how He is able to do more than we can think or ask other than He really is Perfect in all of His Ways. Worry and stress cannot add a moment to our life. I believe wholeheartedly that faith and trust can redeem time and add moments to our life filled with supernatural qualities that far exceed anything you or I could do with a spare moment. So here’s what happened…

The vet cleared our little dog of permanent damage and sent her home to rest and recover with a plan to keep her nourished for the weekend. She began to perk up bit by bit. By Saturday, she was beginning to eat a little bit here and there all on her own. Looks like she is going to make it. At a Christmas party, some of my loved ones surprised me with a quick trip to town to celebrate Christmas. Game on devil God is doing His Thing. At the party, suddenly hopelessly broken relationships showed some signs of mending. After the first night of solid sleep and good rest, Saturday seemed a bit brighter. By the end of the day and four hours of shopping with my sweet husband who hates the mall, Christmas shopping is almost done. A quick trip to the local hardware store, a tree was chosen in about five whole minutes which is a family record. It is decorated and I am almost positive one of the most perfect trees our family has ever gotten. The first Christmas celebration was a success and by the end of the night the first batch of decorated cookies produced and consumed. In a single 24 hour period, everything I was worried about is already done. But how? God redeems our time according to His Plan when we trust Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is often read at funerals but maybe it should be read long before. It reminds us that in accordance with Psalm 139 every moment of our life is prerecorded by God before our birth. It points back to Jeremiah 29 that tells me God has a plan with a future and hope for me. I must only seek Him wholeheartedly to find it. I can look ahead to Romans 8 that promises every detail of my life will be worked out for my good and His Glory if I will just hang on and take my stand in this moment for the next one that is coming. Timing is everything to God because He is perfect and never compromises. If only we knew this ahead of time, we could see that God does everything in His Timing without a moment to spare and it is always beautiful.

What do people really get for all their hard work? Depends on who or what they are working for in a broad sense. If you are working for something you already have isn’t it a waste of time. Shouldn’t we strive for what we do not have instead? God promises to provide for us and supply our every need. He knows the desires of each heart and longs to fulfill it according to His Will. We all have a purpose and plan for our life that is better than one can comprehend so the Lord works to fulfill it by created faith experiences and God encounters. However, human nature doesn’t seek God in the good times but only under duress. What if we concluded as Solomon did to be happy and enjoy our life. Happiness is a choice. Joy is a product of God in us. Everything I have and am able to do is a Gift of God. I only carry out steps and live moments already given to me by my Father. Why am I worrying? There is purpose for my life. I have a future and hope. God has already ordered my steps and handwritten every moment. What do I worry and stress?

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT)  And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

This too shall pass…wise words spoken for a long time. It will. One way or the other this moment will be spent and this season will transition to the next. What will you do while you wait? Will you worry about a life already provided for? Will you stress over a season of joy? Emmanuel has come and God is with us. The enemy can do nothing more than knock on your door and beat on the windows, God will not let Him in.

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. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.

You know last week I felt really dumb for being so worried over our pet. I berated myself for feeling worried, anxious and stressed over her well-being. I even apologized as I prayed to the Lord for her healing when other people are going through so much. Yet in that moment, the anxiety real and heartache truly felt. I believe that the Lord loves us so much that He cares about every moment of our life. The ones used for His Glory. The ones when we barely get by. The ones when we fail miserably. The ones when we give up completely. Every useful and spare moment of our day – God is there as He works our life together for the good things that He has in store for us.

Faith doesn’t allow us to see what we hope for. Trust is the opportunity to believe that it is there. Faith is a choice. Trust is a decision. Do I believe that every moment of my life is handwritten and provided for by the Lord according to His Riches in Glory? Do I trust that His Grace is enough power and strength to keep me going, catapult me over my circumstances and move me from season to season? Hope is not anything that can be seen but filled with infinite impossibilities ready to be manifested in my life. People who tithe testify of bank accounts and registers that just don’t make sense. Those who trust the Lord can exchange every spare moment for something perfectly supernatural. Will that be you today?

Your worry, stress, sorrow and regret will not add a single moment to your life but rob us of precious moments that the Lord has in store for us. Isn’t it time to shove all those burdens over to Him in exchange for His Peace that puts a guard over the door to our heart and window of our soul so when the enemy comes making a racket our response will be – It is well with my soul because God’s Timing is perfect for me!

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) 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.

Merry and Bright

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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 holiday crush is on. Busyness and rushing around is inevitable. Planning and preparation in full swing. My daughter and I went to a store yesterday to pick out some new Christmas decorations. The place was a wreck. Deep discounts created a feeding frenzy with garland, ornaments and ribbon everywhere – kind of made me think of Santa’s Workshop on December 26th. You could not navigate the buggy through the place. Shameful. One more stop on the way home to another home store was much nicer. This store was dimly lit. The aroma of cinnamon and apples wafting through the air. No hurry just people strolling and browsing. When the clerk asked one group of ladies if she could assist them, they replied, “We just stopped because it was so pretty and inviting when we drove by and saw the warm lights.” Hmmm. Made me think…

People put a great deal of effort and money into Christmas. Creating the perfect holiday is really what they are after with memories to match. The stress and pressure of perfection robs of us the joy of Christmas so often. The need to perform and produce mounds of gifts causes great anxiety. Schedules overfilled and routine completely shattered, it is easy to become overwhelmed. In all our busyness, even as Christians who insist on “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays”, I wonder if in all the form and fashion – our light goes out. The Christmas pageant and production with all its extravagance means nothing if it does not project the Light of God’s Love to all those who come searching sitting in the crowd. We need the Light. We are carriers of His Light. We must learn to make this Christmas merry and bright or miss it altogether.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 (NLT) If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

Jesus tells me, in Matthew 5, that I am the Light of the world. See it. “You are the Light of the world.” Got it. Or do I truly understand the origin or importance of the Light that God has given me along with His Grace. I must know the Light to appreciate what I have and effectively express it to other people The Gospel is no good without the light. It becomes do as I say not as I do which we all know never works on people. Just saying.

We are first introduced to light in Genesis 1 the first few moments of existence that we are privy to thanks to God’s Word. The earth was formless and empty. It was covered in darkness over deep waters. The Spirit of God (Jesus) hovered over the water. The God said, “Let there be light.” There was light and the light was good. Jesus illuminated the world at God’s Command. God was pleased.

Moving into the New Testament, God has sent His Son to redeem His People. At the baptism of Jesus, the skies opened and the Holy Spirit descended like a dove so people could see that this indeed was God’s Son… the Messiah. (Matthew 3) Anyone who spent any time in church can usually recite John 3:16, “For God so loved the world: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” Woo Hoo! We are saved. We win. My life will be perfect because my Savior has come…but wait there is more. Jesus did not come to judge us but that we may be saved through Him. Okay, I get that commence celebration again. No wait…keep reading there is more.

John 3:18-21 (NLT) “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

Jesus is the reason for the season. I am sure every believer concurs with this familiar sentiment. However, there is a house in our neighborhood with a sign in their yard with this slogan on it. Nothing more. Nothing less. There is no Christmas tree by the window. Not a string of lights on a limb. The porch light of the house is off and all the blinds closed. No light just a yard sign stuck in the ground. Now I do not know the situation or the traditions of the family who live there and I am certainly not challenging anyone’s convictions, but here is what I am saying: We are the Light of the world. Have we our lights go out? God’s Light came into the world. His Name is Jesus. He did not come to judge or to condemn but make a Way to the Father. He did that and then put the Light that lives in Him in us to light the way for others. The merry message of this season is not “turn or burn” but come and see what the Lord has done for me.

Can we keep it simple? My mission in this life is to be light. Jesus illuminated unconditional love and never ending grace for those who flock to the Light. Is my light even shining? Is it the Light of His Love? Our “good deeds” should relay the Truth of God’s Love who was present in the beginning and filled this world with light. The One who came down as a baby born in a manager to bring hope to the hopeless and ignite the Light of God’s Love in our hearts. Jesus was quite frank when He said, “I am the Light of the world.” (John 8:12) He told us that we are the light of the world as His Followers. When Jesus was transformed during his transfiguration, He was covered in bright light. Our flesh covers a light that attracts others to God’s Love. Can we take a moment to get us out of the way so the Light makes its way to the darkness?

There is no question that a momentary experience with Christ can change everything. Just ask Paul who as Saul encountered a bright light from Heaven. When he asked who was speaking, the voice said, “Jesus.” Do not every downplay the power of the Light that lives in you but strive to let it emanate from your life. Perfect Christmas’s should be merry and bright. The Light of His Love is the brightest light of all.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (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.

Our family missed out on adopting a family for Christmas this year. When the opportunity to take some children who had not received anything came about – I was ecstatic that God allowed us to participate. I love to give. It is my favorite part of Christmas though this has not always been my favorite time of year. I struggled with Christmas for many years for many reasons. Not the meaning of Christmas, of course not. Some may be able to relate, as a child it was a power struggle between parents. A stressful time of having Christmas and dinner at one house and then at noon doing it all again which to a child of divorce only exemplifies the painful stress of loving two parents who don’t love each other. So when my own children were born, I became militant about staying at home for Christmas. I became overwrought with doing all the “things” and making all the “traditions” to make it like a Christmas card. I hated decorating our house, putting up the tree, planning the menus, organizing events and all the parts of making it a successful holiday season. The only part I truly enjoyed was giving. Can you relate?

For some Christmas only makes the loneliness and depression they live in more prominent. Others become anxious in their inability to meet the expectations of others. I could go on and on. Yet a whole lot of people pretend it is the most wonderful time of the year when deep down inside they are only enduring its passage.

The light given to us is placed in fragile clay jars. God knows what we are made of for He is after all our Creator. He put the Light of His Love into broken vessels so it could make its way into a waiting and watching world. The same place that is filled with darkness and death. You are the Light of His Love. I am the Light of His Love. We are the Light of the World. What if for a moment our mission became uniting as one light and making this season merry and bright together. Admitting that our flaws and weaknesses are real but sharing the Message of Love and Grace that has been given.

John 12:35-36 (NLT) Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.”

Do you trust in the Light of His Love today? Do you trust it enough to let Him change your holiday tradition into a Christmas Experience? Tear up the list. Stop fussing over the tree. It doesn’t matter if there is one light or a whole strand out on the house. He says, “Come to me all who weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” Jesus wants to ignite a spark in your heart today so that we can have a merry and bright Christmas. It doesn’t matter if the Christmas play is not perfect. Truthfully it is all the mistakes and miscues that keep it real. What would happen if rather than trying to make Christmas perfect, we focused on the One who perfected it? Jesus is the reason for this season. He is the only one who really matters. What difference does it make if we create the perfect Christmas but do not experience the Living Light that is within us trying to make His Way out of us so others will come to know our Savior, too?

Like our neighbor with the simple statement posted in their yard, what good is the Truth without the Light that comes with it. I can tell people that God loves them. I can even tell them all the ways that He has blessed me. But until I become like the Light and immerse my words in the Light of love and good deeds, the words continue to fall on cold, untrusting hearts. The Light of His Love is the warmth that melts hard hearts and attracts weary souls. We must walk in the Light even when it makes us a little uncomfortable. Through us, Jesus will make this season merry and bright for those who we choose to share the Light of His Love with and in the process will change our hearts and minds, too. Lord, make my light shine before others so they will experience the Light of Your Love today, too.

John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

Why Am I Surprised

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Luke 12:24-26 (NLT) Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

As I have shared before, we have two little fur babies in our family. One of the Chihuahuas is thirteen and the other just turned three. Both are rescue puppies. Families took them not realizing the responsibility and now they live with us. Each morning when I get up before I do anything else, I feed them and take them outside. Once outside due to their small size, I watch over them as birds of prey have shown interest in them before. I am their provider and protector. I have not forgotten to feed them or care for them a single day. Yet every morning when I head to the kitchen, they are elated. Exuberant beyond what should be over less than a cup of food between the two and the tiny treat when they come in from outside. They seem so surprised that I do this every day. Today as I did the same thing that I do every day, three ravens circled overhead. I was pretty sure that I heard their call but looked to sky to be certain there was no danger. As the sunshine covered my face and I felt its warmth, I had to shield my eyes from its intensity and brightness. That’s when it hit me, God does for me every single day what I do for his smallest creatures. Do I greet Him as they greet me with enthusiasm and awe in each moment? Am I surprised in His Excellent Caregiving? Do I find it unexpectedly even though it is promised every single day? Do I worry? Do I fret?

God promises to provide for us and supply all of our needs. He has already told us that His Plan is for our good and that He will take every detail of our life working it out for this purpose. His Glory is reserved for us and is reflected by faith that is confident enough in His Love to trust Him. Trust is expressed in peace. Our peace is found in the Lord. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. God desires to sustain us in life. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Why am I so surprised that God is good and when He remains faithful? That’s right – God desires to prosper you and overload you with every good gift Heaven has to over as He throws open the windows of His Dwelling Place allowing it to overflow and flood the life ready and willing to receive. You are dearly loved. Highly favored. Greatly desired. God is caring for you even when you feel lost, alone, disappointed and afraid. Our perspective in life never changes our position in God’s Hand and Heart.

Luke 12:27-31 (NLT)  “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

Seek first the Kingdom of God above all else. He will give you everything you need. Do you believe that today? No, do you really, really believe it. I think sometimes people are quick to make confessions that have no place in their heart but have been engrained in their head. In our head, it is simply a reaction. When it comes from our heart, it is a response.

Are you a worrier? I used to be a chronic stress monkey. Having a houseful of children and a handful of a husband, I decided from day one it was my “job” to perform miracles giving them a perfect life. I was to provide for them physically, emotionally and spiritually. I was to protect them with my life. I was to “do” everything that I could to fulfill every need, want, desire and dream every expressed. I was to be the constant encourager and motivator. Lead facilitator. I could go on but I think every mom gets the picture and even some dads. (Wink!) Personal performance pressure that even seeps into our church life sometimes but let’s not even go their today. The list is long enough already. The reality of this who sordid mess of details is that all of the “me” stuff I was trying to do did not express my belief in the Lord but rather was emanating my unbelief. Lord, help my unbelief so that I may believe. Be careful what you pray for friend…God is always faithful.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I was floored. Yet still able to get up and “manage” our life accordingly. I was able to work remotely from the hospital and care center. I could run household affairs via internet, cellphone and my little command center. It was all running smoothly and order quickly restored … the first time. But then there was a second time… okay I still managed to get myself up, dust myself off and keep going. And then there was relapse number three less than three months later and without warning we entered the “realm of hope” and now everybody was scrambling a bit unsure of our son’s future anymore. The call came that cancer had spread throughout his entire body. Well, that is when my whole well-constructed life and perfectly planned lifestyle feel completely apart. If you can imagine a fragile vase in all of it brilliant perfection be slammed by a giant hand on your driveway as hard as possible, yep friends that was my very prideful and fully self-consumed heart. There was no going back. I could not put the pieces back together again. Normal would become something completely new. My perspective on life completely changed during the long trial and battle for our son’s life. I realized I have absolutely no control over my life. I cannot give my husband or kids a perfect life. It was that moment or series of moments in time when my quest for God became a passionate pursuit. I had to find Him. I had to find shelter “beneath His Altar” like the sparrow. (Psalm 84:3) When I let out my breath in desperation, His Breath could finally fill me and His Spirit take over. Now I depend solely on the Lord…He is my expectation. He is my confidence. He is the one who I trust! This is how His Grace becomes our strength. Not in our ability to keep it all together, and do things for ourselves but when the reality finally hits us that Jesus is all we need. It took a lot for me to get there. Pride stood in the way. Past hurts kept me prisoner. If no one else would do it (even the Lord) then I would just do it myself. When I got to the end of me, thankfully my Lord was there waiting to help and do everything that He promised.

Luke 12:32 (NLT) “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

The Father wants to give His Kingdom to you. Nothing would make Him happier. Like the father of the prodigal son, the Lord is just patiently with great longing anticipating your return. The moment that you will turn from worry, stress, anxiety, doing and not doing to find Him right there waiting for you. In exchange, His Spirit will fill your life with good fruit like love, joy and peace just to name a few. These things will nourish your heart and soul. It will change your mind, thoughts and perspective on life. It gives God “great happiness” to give you the Kingdom. He gave what was most precious so that you and I would have the opportunity to be righteous again and benefit from every blessing the Kingdom has to offer. He never changed His Mind or stopped loving you. He has been waiting for you with great anticipation and expectation.

The other day our old dog got left outside accidentally alone for more than ten minutes. In the fenced back yard with the back door to our porch open, he was safe but he panicked. Somehow he made his way out of the yard and was wandering down the road when I found him. Why? He was afraid that he could not get in the house where we were so he started looking for another way. He was impatient when he barked and we didn’t immediately respond and open the door. He has cataracts so his vision is not clear. He is very old and feeble so had he encountered any form of opposition from even the smallest creature – he is too weak to fight or even run away. All he had to do was sit on the nice rug by the back door in the enclosed porch on a picture perfect day with great weather and rest until we got around to letting him back in. But no. He began to worry. He became impatient. He started to stress. He got anxious. Y’all better not be judging my dog who has a brain the size of a walnut and an IQ to match when we do EXACTLY the same thing day after day after day. When God doesn’t do it our way or fast enough – we wander. Our thoughts wander and then our feet will follow. So what should we begin doing instead…

Philippians 4:6-10(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. 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.

I hear those engines idling high out there. I know the holiday season begins next week. In fact, I just realized it on Wednesday myself. Managed to work all day, grab some paint to refinish a dresser and visit two grocery stores to complete the shopping for one meal that seems to cost a fortune AND STILL forget a couple things. I get it. It is go mode because right after that is the Christmas rush, push and ugh. Stress overload in three, two, one…NO! Not today. Not this year. Not this season. Don’t worry about anything. We must command our mind to stop worrying it will not happen on its own. Dig into the Word and find your peace to make it through a season that promotes pressure and performance not required by our Father to possess the Kingdom.

Tell God what you need. Thank Him for all He has done. Yes, done. It is done. It is finished to quote Jesus. Nothing in this world, life or holiday season is worth relinquishing the peace that the lord offers our heart. His Peace will guard our hearts and minds how? As you live in Christ Jesus just like the sparrow and tiny birds that dwell at His Altar so can you? Faith is the seed the size of a mustard seed meant to grow into a tree that what? “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Let the Peace of God reign in your heart and home this holiday season. Each morning when I get up, those two little fur babies jump and bark overjoyed by my arrival to do just what I promised nothing more or less. Two scoops of food and trip to the yard where I carefully watch over and protect them. It is what I promised to do for them when I adopted them and became their master. God does the same for me and you. How do we greet Him each morning? Do we acknowledge Him at all? Has fear overtaken our faith? Has doubt stolen our trust? God is still providing. He is always pursuing us with His Unfailing Love and Goodness. He is always working on our behalf. Do we even notice? Or are we still trying to “do” it all ourselves? Lord, forgive me for all the days that I have taken your loving kindness, provision, protection, blessing and prosperity for granted. Today will not be that day!

Romans 16:20 (NLT) The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.