Pleasing God

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I have a longing to please my Heavenly Father, and it’s not because He demands it or I’m trying to earn His favor. I just love Him with increasing love, and want to delight His Heart by pleasing Him.

Recently I realized in a fresh way, the importance of “the blood theme” throughout scripture. And as I’ve studied and considered . . . I could sense the pleasure that it brought to God’s heart.

Perhaps you’d like to share this THANKFULNESS JOURNEY with me during these days before we celebrate what Jesus did for us on The Cross. So I offer the following Blood Reflections for your Easter worship and praise:

    From the closing of the gates of Eden (Genesis) to the opening of the door of Heaven (Revelation) it’s all about The Blood. Like a scarlet thread running through the Bible, blood sacrifices occupy a prominent place in scripture. If we don’t pay attention, we’ll miss something important!

    After sin entered the world and Eden’s gates closed, Abel brought the first sacrifice which included the shedding of blood. (Hebrews 11:4)

   NO RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD

    1600 years pass, then came the flood. Once again God pronounced His judgment on sin with the destruction of mankind. The first recorded act of Noah after he stepped off that boat was the offering of a burnt sacrifice. This signified a new beginning. (Genesis 8:20)

   NO RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD

    God’s divine command to Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac, was the revelation of Divine Truth, that only through death can a life be truly consecrated to God. Since Isaac could not be resurrected because death would “hold him down”, God substituted a ram in his place. Here we find the great lesson of substitution, giving us the picture of what Jesus did for us on the Cross. (Genesis 22:1-19)

       NO RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD

    400 years pass and Isaac’s descendants are the Israelites in Egypt. By the sprinkling of the Blood on the doorframes of their houses, the angel passed over their families, sparing them from death. Only because of the Blood were they allowed to live. (Exodus 12:12-13)

       NO RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD

    50 days later at Mt. Sinai, God laid the foundation for His Covenant by the giving of the Ten Commandments. The Law, The Altar, and The People were all sprinkled with the Blood. (Hebrews 9:18-22)

       NO RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD

    Immediately afterward God commanded that a sanctuary be built, so He could dwell among His people. The Blood was central throughout. (Exodus 25:8)

    Looking deeper I find that the Blood was needful for everything – the birth of a child, the consecration of a house, and the penitence for sin. The FB status of the Hebrew of the day might have read . . . TODAY MY FAMILY IS CLEANSED AND MADE RIGHT THROUGH THE BLOOD!

       NO RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD

Then came Jesus, and John recognized the significance of His coming . . . Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

The significance of all of this? It celebrates the Life and Mission of Jesus The Christ!

                  Old Testament – New Testament – Throughout Eternity!

Everything the Old Testament teaches about Blood and Sacrifice had to be fulfilled before the Once For All Sacrifice of Jesus took place. Then followed the Indwelling of His Spirit within all Believers.

Oh my, The Blood of Jesus is the deepest mystery of Divine Wisdom! We don’t grasp it all at once. In fact, we’ll never fully get it (I’m convinced) during our earthly living.  After all, God took 4,000 years preparing man with this sacrificial system before the birth of Jesus.

But, we CAN live a life of gratitude without fully grasping this Mystery. Taking the time and trouble to “pay attention to The Blood” will lead us to deeper thankfulness for all He’s done without understanding the spiritual nuts and bolts of it all.

Yep, my theological understanding of The Blood and The Cross are pretty limited, I freely admit. But my thankfulness is growing daily . . . and I know that pleases my Heavenly Daddy!

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The Cross. You Get It?

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What does The Cross mean to you?

I was invited to share the answer to that question earlier this week with a Bible study group. The moment I sat down to jot notes, tears filled my eyes. 

“Everything, The Cross means EVERYTHING to me” raced through my mind.

Pen and paper aside, I began to think about why that’s true. Through the tears the following realities challenged me to new levels of thankfulness for what Jesus accomplished for me personally on the day He opened the door of relationship between God and those He created. With a humbled and joyful heart, I offer the following considerations to stir YOUR heart with thankfulness.

·       God created a perfect world, and enjoyed a perfect relationship with Adam and           Eve.

·       Sin entered God’s perfect world, shattering the perfect relationship.

·       God set up a sacrificial system to teach about forgiveness of sin through a blood         offering.

·       It was all about the blood . . . 

And that’s where I used to stop. You know, mentally disengage and think about something else. In my growing up going-to-church-years, blood talk was pretty much absent from my spiritual jargon.  Oh, of course I knew that Jesus had shed His Blood for me, but the concept of it all held no practical meaning or application to my daily Christian walk.

Truth is, like many New Testament believers I heard the word blood and thought death. The Old Testament Hebrew however, heard the word blood and thought life! Living under the Old Covenant they understood that the term “covered in the blood” meant life and forgiveness of sin through the sacrificial system.

They also understood that they were guilty and that they could not, on their own merits, approach God. They knew that because of God’s perfection and ultimate judgment, they couldn’t even worship Him due to their own impurity. Their guilt needed to be “paid for.” This payment for their sinful imperfection took the form of a ‘blood sacrifice” (which meant a life sacrifice).

The best that they had – the most perfect lamb, ram, bull, whatever – they took to the altar. The priest would kill the animal, allowing its blood to drip over the altar, symbolizing that their sin-debt, for the time being, had been covered by the blood.

Yes, they were definitely at home with this practice and all the conversation surrounding it. Their FB status read, “My family is right with God today, thanks to the precious blood of our sacrificial lamb!”

So, when John saw Jesus and called Him . . . The Lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world . . . the people there with him understood the concept.

You see when Jesus left Heaven and came to earth, everything changed. He plainly declared that His life, bloodshed, death, and resurrection was His purpose for coming. God’s plan all along was that Jesus would become the once and for all sacrifice for all humanity. 

For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, He said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But You have given me a body to offer.”(Hebrews 10:4,5 NLT)

Now here’s the part that puts a lump in my throat. THIS WAS NOT EASY FOR JESUS! This willing act of love was torturous for Him mentally, emotionally, AND physically. He, in His 100% humanity, would have avoided it if there’d been any other way. How do I know that? Because it’s recorded in scripture. 

“My soul is crushed by sorrow to the point of death” . . . He fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the awful hour awaiting Him might never come… “Father, Father, everything is possible for you. Take away this cup from Me. Yet I want Your will, not mine.” (Mark 14: 34-36 TLB) 

He did the HARD part so that I could SIMPLY come. 

I’LL always remember the fresh grace that washed over me during the moments right after I’d realized I’d been taking the price He’d paid all for granted. Yes, I knew about the Cross, but I didn’t really CARE about the Cross.

You can start caring right now . . . He said

 And I did, and I do!

I don’t understand it – can’t explain it nor fully describe it. All I’m left with is to thank Him and enjoy what He’s done.

Because of The Cross I’m joyful when my hopes are dashed, encouraged when my dreams are unfulfilled, energized when I’m bone-tired, and filled with anticipation when it looks like it’s all over.

So as we wrapped up our sharing time that morning in the Bible study group. My new friend who is in the trenches fighting the physical, emotional, and mental skirmishes of the chemo/cancer war remarked…

I’m peaceful. I’m not afraid. He is my peace.

Oh, SHE gets The Cross. Do you? 

There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless

Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness.

Where all the love I’ve ever found

Comes like a flood – comes flowing down…

At the Cross, at the Cross I surrender my life,

I’m in awe of You – I’m in awe of You.

Where Your love ran red and my sin washed white

I owe all to You, I owe all to You . . . J-E-S-U-S

         (At The Cross, Chris Tomlin)

 

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Addicted (Part 1)

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 - adjective; devoted or given up to a practice or habit or to something psychologically or physically habit-forming.

This morning, the following question played through my mind…

Am I addicted to my phone?

As twinges of Yes surfaced, my mind hurled reasons in defense of my disguised addiction:

My Phone Is . . .

§  Where I research important topics. This includes Bible commentaries, Lexicons, Greek Dictionaries, Bible-Hub, etc. 

§  My connection with those who follow the Frazzled-Female ministry. So . . . FB, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, all a must.

§  My Go-To. I check news, weather, use calculator, store coupons, and keep up with the time. I also store my pictures, passwords, and take notes here.

§  My interaction with family and friends. Phone calls, Instant Messaging, texting, and face-timing – all a part of daily contact for me.

§  My alarm clock, flashlight, friend-finder, and timer.  And on the rare occasion I get bored, I can just pull up a game and PLAY.

So, AM I given up to the psychologically & habit-forming practice of being devoted to my phone?

OH YEH!

Now, with that assessment I don’t mind stating that MY PHONE is useful and a real positive tool in my life. So, I guess it’s okay to be “devoted” in that sense.

However, I readily admit (and confess) that I’m heading toward a full-blown addiction. It’s difficult to go very long without “checking in” for social media blurbs, messages, and instant gratification from responses to posts and shout-outs from others.

As I think about that, I’m reminded that good, helpful behaviors and tools are POSITIVE until they are overdone – and that turns them into NEGATIVES.

Martha, for example (Luke 10:28-42) was doing something wonderful - preparing her home along with a scrumptious meal for Jesus. But it appeared she carried on a bit too much, getting side-tracked with preparations instead of focusing on Jesus in her midst.

“But Martha, overly occupied and too busy was distracted with much serving.” (Luke 10:40A AMPC)

And you know the rest of the story . . . she becomes irritated at sister Mary, insisting that Jesus put her in her place for not helping in the preparations.

Lord, is it nothing to You that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me - to lend a hand and do her part along with me! (Luke 10:40B AMPC)

Here’s The Point

Your phone, tablet, portable-mobile device . . . all good, but used in excess can turn you into . . .

an addict totally dependent upon this extra body part at the end of your arm, leaving you functionless without it!

Just like Martha it’s tempting and easy to take our “good access” to modern technology to extreme measures, becoming overly occupied, too busy, and distracted.

But take heart. There’s HELP available for the one who wants to be set free! And I am one in that number of people who is irked at the way social media has tip-toed in and taken control of my life. . . and quite often turning a good thing into a controlling thing.

 - - - - 

Chomp on PART 1 for a while. Mull it over, asking the Holy Spirit to direct YOU if you need to make some changes in this particular area of your life. 

Oh, He’ll tell you – He sure will.

Then in Part 2, we’ll explore some steps of recovery.

In the meantime, determine to control your technology devices . . .

instead of letting them control YOU!

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Sometimes I just WONDER instead of trying to explain. 

His presence is so real, so encouraging. God wants ALL to experience His love through deep relationship with Him.

I can’t explain it, but I’m awed by Him. In a world of complication and convolution, God lays out a simple plan:

1) He opens the door. 

2) We walk through.

Yep, 

HE OPENED THE DOOR, AND WE CAN CHOOSE TO WALK THROUGH IT (OR NOT).

A one time decision to walk through That Door by faith, will enable us to live the rest of our days seeking Him and exploring His wonders.

There’s no turning back once you walk through, but you CAN lose your wonder of Him.

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”(Jeremiah 29:13)

I’m determined to keep Fascination With Him alive!

#HolyMystery

 

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WORRY ALERT

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I have told you these things, so that in Me, you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NIV) 

Oh, to take to heart these Words, this Promise!

Often, however, God’s children don’t feel at all comfortable and peaceful. Whether caught up in the past, anxious about the future, or stuck in the present – there are times it feels next to impossible to flow in His peace.

Notice.   “It feels impossible”, not “It is impossible”!

Truth is, God’s deep peace and His simple comfort enfold all of His children . . . and YOU are included in that ALL.

Take a look at God’s reproach to His children, Israel.

 I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass,
 that you forget the Lord your Maker, Who stretches out the heavens and who lays the foundations of the earth,
that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction?

 (Isaiah 51:12,13 NIV)

Friend, can you accept the same as a personal tender reproach from our God today? Can you realize He’s calling you to trust Him, to relax in His comfort? These fears, worries and concerns  - are nothing that He can’t handle and WILL handle for you. There’s no loophole of worry and angst for the child of God!

For sure, there are oppressors looming in this world. A friend shared with me, a few of her gnawing concerns about growing older. Perhaps from time to time, these fears have also gnawed at you: physical decline & demise, emotional instability, financial woes, living arrangements . . .

Look what Jesus says, 

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:25-27 NIV)

One word about worry; DON’T!

If we’re being obedient children, there’s no way around that command.

John the Baptist’s response to his disciples when they questioned him about his particular ministry – really speaks to me.

A man can receive nothing at all unless it has been granted to him from Heaven (for there’s no other source than the sovereign will of God. (John 3:27 AMP)

There you have it. God has it all planned out.

In our secret worrisome imaginings about what we don’t know, He is deep fulfillment and perfect tranquility. Every single aspect and nuance of our past, present, and future – all taken care of.

He, yes He, is our Sovereign Source of Comfort and Peace!

 

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LOCKDOWN!

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A lockdown prohibits someone from leaving or entering a building. 

But what about our mind and emotions; can they also go into lockdown mode? From personal experience, I’m shouting,YES!

Perhaps you’ve experienced this “place” too. Your spirit seems to be held in a vice and try as you may, you just can’t wriggle free.

So who, exactly, issues that lockdown order? 

Why, the world we live in along with the enemy himself.  

Let’s examine possible onsets of mental and emotional lockdowns:

·      Cares of daily living – Jesus said . . .

But the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things, come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.  (Mark 4:19 NIV)

Within that perfect set-up, Satan takes opportunity to jump onboard alongside the reality of earthly stressful living, tempting us to doubt, fear, and worry.

These “cares and worries” may be about the future, present, or past. They may be over negative, dreaded things – or they may be over positive events. The point is . . . Worry is Worry. It makes no difference, the source or rationale behind it. Being consumed with CARES & WORRY stymie the soul.

·      Confusion over God’s Plan – Jesus said . . . 

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

    (Jeremiah 20:11 NIV)

Sometimes while waiting on the Lord (and His plans), I walk right into that proverbial wall of unmet expectations. Hitting that wall keeps me blocked from experiencing PEACE as I wait. It keeps me focused instead on the fact that these expectations I have from Him regarding His plans for my life have simply not yet been met! 

Again Satan jumps onboard, filling my mind with doubts and confusion. LOCKDOWN ensues.

·      Critical nature . . . – Jesus said . . .

Don’t criticize, and then you won’t be criticized. (Matthew 7:7 TLB)

And Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes . . .

In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing.

(Philippians 2:14 TLB)

One word regarding criticizing others and criticizing the way life is treating you – DON’T!

Cares, Confusion, and a Critical nature can certainly throw you into a stalled stated of mind, causing your heart to feel locked up. 

Whatever the reason for your lockdown – Jesus is the way to fresh and energized living. One friend described her experience of bursting through her emotional/mental confinement. When LIFE tossed her into a tragic situation, here was her thinking.

I knew I had a choice. I could either CHOOSE to crawl into a corner, curling up in a fetal position . . . or I could CHOOSE to trust Jesus and keep moving.

Truth is, it all comes down to a choice. No matter what big – or not so big – trigger throws you into that paralyzed state, you determine BY CHOICE whether or not to stay there.

SUMMARY

·      Assess your lockdown. Is its source - Cares, Confusion, Critical nature, or something else?

·      Choose by faith, to allow JESUS to free you.

·      Pray . . . I can’t. You can. Free me,Jesus, for it’s not by my might but by Your Spirit that I’ll be freed.

And then, enjoy the movement of The Living Water!

The one who believes in Me . . . will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.

 (John 7:38 HCSB)

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BUSYNESS OF LIFE!

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”  (2 Corinthians 9:7 NKJV)

Giving People are often Busy People.

As I consider some areas where I “gave” during the past week, here’s what came to mind: TIME, ENERGY, FINANCES, EMOTIONS, A LISTENING EAR, TRANSPORTATION, ENCOURAGEMENT, GUIDANCE, MEAL PREPARATION . . . and etc. The list goes on and on, as I’m sure it does with you. Each season of life offers many opportunities to give, and with each one there’s the challenge to be cheerful in the giving.

One woman comments about “all her plates spinning”, saying her heart is filled with both joy AND concern.  It’s true; while friends and family bring us such happiness, within many of those relationships there are needs and care-giving demands to be met.

Yes, the demands of life often seem to exceed our ability to give, right? And, GIVING CHEERFULLY, often comes down to our level of tiredness. It’s definitely easier to give with a thankful heart if you’re not worn out.

I’m reminded of Jesus reaching the well in Samaria.  

“So Jesus, tired as He was from His journey, sat down by the well…”

(John 4:6 AMP) 

Taking a closer look at the word “tired” in this passage, we find the Greek word kopiao. It means to grow weary and exhausted with toil or burdens or grief. In addition to being physically tired, this word also means to become emotionally and mentally fatigued. 

Have you ever been THAT kind of tired? Sometimes the weariness may begin as physical, and at other times the onset is more emotional or mental. Either way, TIRED IS TIRED and it spreads throughout body, mind, and emotions. 

Just as Jesus grew tired in His journey (John 4:6), I sometimes get tired – really tired – in mine. What comfort it brings to know that God, in the humanity of Jesus on earth, gets it! I identify with Him and He identifies with me. That thought truly brings comfort to my weary soul.

Knowing that God loves a cheerful giver, gives me great incentive to honor Him in my times of pouring out to others. Within each “gift” there’s opportunity to worship and to thank Him. I thank Him for . . . the ability to give and for the recipient of my gift.

With this in mind, another Believer writes . . .

 I find that it’s easiest to give to others when I have prioritized my time with God.

Yes, getting our “time in with God” helps us grow a thankful heart, and that makes the giving much more of a pleasure!

While we may or may not receive a “thank you” here on earth, we can be 100% percent sure that our Heavenly Father takes note and receives the motive of our heart to glorify Him.

“Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people.”

 (Colossians 3:23 CEB)

 

Cheerfully giving,

 

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Moment Living

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What if this moment - this VERY moment could be a holy moment?

Well, according to God’s Word, it can be. Because His children are indwelt with His spirit, we have the capability of turning each second into a worship experience. When I really stop to think about that, the possibility staggers me.  That means every diddly-squat, uneventful, mundane instant can be turned into a glorious second of worship.

I remember first realizing this holy opportunity many years ago as I was retrieving annoying mismatched socks from the clothes dryer. The recent discovery I’d found in Colossians 3:23 all of a sudden sprang to life in my brain, and my heart followed. . . 

Whatever you do – whatever your task may be – work from the soul (that is, put in your very best effort), as something done for the Lord and not for men.

(Amplified Bible)

As the rest of Colossians 3 explains, it is the Lord whom we actually serve, not men. Therefore our reward is from Him. No matter what the moment produces in any given second of the day, we are able to turn our thoughts to Him, offering an intentional heart of worship. THAT pleases God, and it surely does slash my stress level!

Any new truth revealed comes with opportunity to practice it. Now’s the moment, THE HOLY MOMENT, to move from theory into real life experience. It happened for me as I was fuming over those contrary socks, and it can happen for you . . . well, RIGHT NOW!

If someone is annoying you . . Lord I respond with Your love and I worship You in this moment.

If frustrations are mounting . . . Father, here and right now, I lift my hands to You in worship and praise.

If waiting is becoming unbearable . . . Lord, I turn each moment I wait – each one of them, into praise and adoration. 

If negative memories of the past resurface . . . Father, thank You that I live in the NOW. I praise You in my forgiven state and love You for cleansing me.

In any moment . . . I worship You Lord Jesus, that You hear me and love me and accept my heart of praise – even when I don’t feel like praising.

Now my friend, may The Father encourage your heart and multiply your moments of holiness in Him.  Amen.

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Behaving in Truth

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Yet another LIFE LESSON unfolded as I pulled into the driveway with four-year old Ruby and two-year old Presley behind me in their car seats.

Opening the door beside Presley’s seat, I noticed Ruby standing on the floor beside her. She was calm and not one bit agitated as Presley struggled to get loose and climb out. I commented on her kindness to which she remarked . . .

The Bible says to let others go first.

There it was. Scriptural truth stated and followed without hesitation. In other words . . .

BELIEVING WHAT TRUTH SAYS, AND THEN BEHAVING IN THAT TRUTH!

Okay, let’s bring it on home. Do you believe what Truth says? And if you do, are you behaving as if you believe it?

Example: Jesus plainly states in Matthew 6, Do not worry about your life, and don’t worry about tomorrow. 

Do you believe that Jesus, Son of God stated those words to YOU, His son or daughter? And are YOU behaving as if you believe?

I see three elements needed here, for spiritual victory to Behave in Truth.

Revelation. God by His Spirit living inside of each Believer reveals a truth specifically designed for our circumstance of the moment . . . Do not worry.

Belief. The Believer experiences the revelation, and then accepts it as Truth spoken. . .

Yes, God is telling me not to worry. He’s got this.

Behavior. I then behave as if I truly believe that I have received a message from Him about my circumstance. . . I am joyful about God being in control of my life, and keeping positive – whether my circumstance changes or not.

In other words, I behave by looking like I believe, and talking like I believe. I behave by focusing on scripture and worshiping God. This encourages my belief in Him and what He says. 

The goal is to take every single truth in God’s Word and act upon it without hesitation. His Truths cover. . . emotions, finances, relationships, priorities, goals, and etc. He has SOMETHING to say about every detail of our lives.

As I consider those “earthly things” that have a hold on me right now, I’m seeing Ruby standing quietly, patiently, and joyfully in THE TRUTH – as she BEHAVES accordingly.

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32 HCSB)

Jumping Into Faith

It’s crazy to think that she would even do it, but she did – she really did it!

Three year old Lily laid her eyes on that high-diving-board, and then on her daddy who was in the water below waiting for her to take the plunge. She climbed the ladder, hoofed it to the end of the board – and jumped!

Not one person watching that day would have blamed her for deciding to wait until she was bigger, stronger, and more capable to take that leap. BUT NO! With childlike faith, fortitude, and trust, she focused on her daddy and then jumped straight into His arms.

That’s what I love about children. Their faith is remarkable and the way they trust is inspiring. No wonder we hear these words from Jesus as He embraced them on this earth:

Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.  (Matthew 19:14 NIV)

God wants you to have this kind of faith. Do you? You have to un-do what the world has done to you, becoming like a little child again – trusting, believing, and moving forward . . . 

Are you swimming in discouragement? Jump out of it into your Father’s arms!

Hanging onto guilt? Leave it behind and plunge into His forgiveness!

Do anxiety and worry consume you? There’s safety in taking the plunge of faith into God’s Love and Peace!

I can’t tell you how to do it. I can only say it’s possible because I’ve jumped lots of times. I’ve simply shut down to the world and sprung into my Father’s love.

Now, the world calls it crazy when you hope when life is in shambles. The world understands and in facts encourages retribution and doing whatever it takes to make you feel better. There are worldly answers waiting when you fall into despair and depression. But thankfully we are not of this world. Oh yeah, we live in it, but do not belong to it. There’s a Greater and Higher calling on our life.

I have some things on my mind, and I hear the WORLD shouting. But right now, I’m closing my ears and honing my focus. I’m stirring up faith, fortitude, and trust, for I hear my Daddy saying . . . Jump child, jump!

And during the leap I’m celebrating because I know I’m delighting the Heart of God.

I’m whistling, laughing and jumping (with) joy. I’m singing Your song High God.

(Psalm 9:2 MSG)

God Always Wins

 

 

Last week I took my seven year old grandson Durham, to experience Liberty Mountain in downtown Kings Mountain. This Revolutionary Drama, written by novelist Bob Inman is the story of the strong-willed and resourceful people who settled in the Carolinas – fighting for freedom and independence from Great Britain. Toward the end, as Major Patrick Ferguson and his men prepared to take on the militiamen during the battle that has been cited as the turning point of the American Revolution, Durham leaned in and whispered to me . . .

I know who’s going to win, because God is on their side – and God always wins His battles.

Yep, another poignant reminder from the “mouth of a babe”.  God is on my side, fighting my battles, and He always wins!

Friend, do you sometimes work harder at fighting, than trusting? Oh, I do. And Durham’s insight drew me to a scene that unfolds in Exodus 14.

God in His holy strategy had orchestrated a battle plan for the Israelites that would make Pharaoh think they were confused and an easy prey for capture. They had escaped this king of Egypt and God was certainly on their side. However, as Moses and those in his charge carried out God’s instructions, the Israelites became terrified. In the midst of their God-given advantage, they chose to focus on their circumstances – only seeing the immediate danger of the approaching Egyptian army heading their way. And what did Moses say to them?

The LORD will fight for you. You just keep still. (Exodus 14:14 CEB)

I needed this reminder today; how ‘bout you? Earthly living is a battle. Even at its best, earth-living becomes a battle-ground for body and soul. When I focus on my circumstances instead of focusing on my God, I think I’m going to lose.

But I have a choice. Instead of being consumed and taken under by emotional and mental strain, I can choose to train myself to trust, being still in my God Who has already won the battle!

Here you go, the Holy Reminder put before you . . .

God’s children are going to win. In the end, the victory is ours. God is on our side, and He always ALWAYS wins His battles!

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

 (2 Corinthians 2:14 NASB)

MY RUN-TO

This morning as I sat hurting over the pain a loved one was experiencing, the thought came . . . I need to “do something” to get my mind on something else so I won’t hurt so deeply. Then, almost simultaneously I sensed . . . 

Don’t run in another direction to ease your pain, masking your hurt. Run to Me instead. I am your RUN-TO when pain hits.

Immediately I recognized His Voice and knew that running to Him was the only thing I wanted to do.

Have you ever experienced something similar? It’s a human-nature defense strategy to run “somewhere” to ease pain, and get your mind off your suffering. People have run to: food, exercise, shopping, reading, FB and social media, alcohol and drugs, other people, and a variety of other places.

Truth shouted to me this morning, and I pray it will also shout to you.

There’s only one safe place to run with your pain . . . and that place is Jesus!

He’s not only the safest place, but the place where you will find solace, company, and encouragement. On earth, He was 100% God, 100% human. And in that humanity, He knew the depths of pain. And He, with His full knowledge is The One to bring comfort, hope, and restoration to the hurting heart.

Now there’s nothing wrong with “getting up and at it”.  You know - getting busy with the things that must be done, instead of allowing your hurt to swallow you whole and make you lifeless and useless. Plus, a good healthy distraction from your pain will keep you from going under. But we must never let our “run-to” become our crutch for dealing.

By turning first to your Heavenly Father, your hurt and helplessness will find a place to “settle in”. As you and He talk over the situation, you’ll become more centered in His thoughts and His loving care for you. As your Father, He will encourage you and remind you of truths you need to hear. And then as you busy yourself, it won’t be because you are trying to escape – but because you’ve left your heart’s burden with The Capable One, The Perfect One . . . and He is sharing your pain.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NIV)

Father, may Your Heart always be the first place we run when shock, pain, and suffering hit. Kind, loving Lord, please comfort Your children in the way that only You can do. May those who hurt now receive Your love in a fresh way. Amen.

 

Perfect Timing

Years ago I pulled into the PERFECT parking space outside my hotel room. I’d arrived early to my eastern North Carolina destination, in order to put the finishing touches on a seminar presentation for that night at the local community college.

Hours later as I pulled out, I breathed . . . Lord please keep this spot for me.

Approaching the hotel late that night after the seminar was over, I noticed that the parking lot was full to overflowing with cars lined up on both sides of the street. I “heard” somewhere down deep . . . Drive to your space.

Driving toward my room, there right in front of it was the very space I’d pulled out of hours ago. IT WAS VACANT. I remember that moment squealing . . . Jesus, You are so good!

But grander than that saved parking space, were the words I heard from Him as soon as I entered and closed my hotel room door. . . 

There are some difficulties in your life and you are waiting on answers. Your “answer of a parking space” awaits. You can’t see that “empty space” right now, but it’s there with the answers you’re looking for. It’s just taking longer than the twenty minute drive from the college to your hotel room – but THE VACANT SPACE IS THERE. One day – when it’s My timing, you’ll pull in, getting the resolution you desire, and squeal . . . . Oh Jesus, You are so good!

Friends, I have pulled into the parking spaces of those three issues that troubled me that night. Each - at different times, and each - resolved in Jesus . . . His timing and His way.

God hears. God cares. And He knows how and when to meet your needs. Our part is to wait on Him, for He alone knows what’s best. He is faithful to His word, and . . . He is so so good!

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under Heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NASB)

When We Stumble

I have enjoyed watching each of our grandchildren learning to walk. There’s something about the progression, the whole process of step by step and little by little – that gets me pumped.  Two steps . . . seven or eight steps . . . and then gingerly traipsing across the room.

Our #7 Sadie, is just now getting it down, and the spiritual insights are clearer than ever. 

Sadie still stumbles.

And when she does, she hops right up and keeps trying. She doesn’t let falling down along the way distract her from her mission of learning to walk.

Sadie keeps at it when we cheer her on.

The ATTA-GIRL shouts keep her moving and determined to not give up after she falls. 

Sadie keeps her eyes on her daddy.

I’ve watched her look of determination as she wobbles her way right into his arms.

Sadie’s daddy is not distracted when she falls.

His position doesn’t change. In fact His smile gets bigger, and his arms steadier as she makes her way toward him.

My oh my, sometimes I still feel like a spiritual toddler. And once again, my grandchildren are teaching ME!

I still stumble.

Sometimes I stumble over pride, and other times it’s doubt that trips me up. And sometimes I just make wrong choices. Truthfully, I’m not quite as quick as Sadie at recovering from the fall. These distractions – well, keep me distracted! I often take my eyes off my mission of loving Jesus, and place them on my shortcomings. 

I keep at it when I remember there are those cheering me on.

Hebrews 12:1 plainly states . . . Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us.

When I remember those in the spiritual realms are cheering me on, I keep at it.

I’m going to keep my eyes on my Daddy.

Keeping my heart and mind focused on Jesus gives me His perspective when distractions threaten to de-rail me…keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

My Daddy is not distracted when I fall.

Living in the truth of Hebrews 13:8 reminds us God loves us the same every moment of every day, no matter what we do, think, or feel.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Stumbling is a part of earthly living. Everything – including we ourselves – will not be perfect until Kingdom living. When we mess up, there’s no need to throw ourselves into spiritual probation. God never does that. But sometimes it feels like I should take a week or two (or longer), beating myself up over mistakes I’ve made. Thankfully, and PRAISE JESUS, there’s no probationary period before God allows me back into His grace. 

So from now on STUMBLING will cause me to remember Sadie’s stumbles and recoveries. I’m going to follow her lead . . . hop right back up, keep my eyes on my Daddy, and walk - NO SPRINT, right into His welcoming arms.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

THANK YOU JESUS!

HIT THE KNEES!

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That’s been the war whoop for more than thirty years, between my friend Micki and me.

Life’s hard and we need praying friends to help us navigate those turbulent waters that the enemy keeps rockin ‘n rollin inside our minds and emotions. Micki and I discovered years ago, that when we issued the battle cry – one to the other, it was a triple onslaught against the enemy, with CHRIST leading us in the skirmish.

Back before texting and facebook – even before cell-phones and computers, Micki and I would leave the HIT THE KNEES alert on each other’s answering machine. If I got caught off guard and needed immediate prayer, I’d call. If she experienced an onslaught of fiery darts, she’d call. We always understood what it meant to HIT THE KNEES on each other’s behalf.

Now, years later, we’re still at it. Today, the cry is delivered usually, through a TEXT. Times have changed, and technology has exploded – but God’s Truth remains unchanged . . . when we HIT THE KNEES, He responds.

It brings a smile thinking about the discussion in a dear ladies Bible study class last week. I’d made the comment as I’d spoken to them earlier . . .

First thing in the morning, somewhere between my bedroom and the kitchen, I drop to my knees.

Now for most of the gals in that class, that KNEE-DROPPING was a real challenge. And, I can truly say that for me, it’s not quite as easy to position myself there as it used to be either. And when I “park there”, it’s also not quite as easy to get up as it used to be.

Ya know what? That’s quite ok! In fact, my Aunt Margaret reminds me that you can bow down in your spirit, while your body is quite upright. (Thank you Aunt Margaret)

So how ‘bout it girls! Are you up for the challenge of grabbin’ a girlfriend, and together tackling ol’ slewfoot as he messes with YOU, God’s child? We live in a day when we need to bolster our support in fighting the distractions and lies of the enemy.

You can do this. You need to do this. We need all the help we can get, so grab a friend and . . . HIT THE KNEES!

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble.

(Hebrews 12:12)

 

The Best Face-lift

 

 

There’s a wonderful way to get noticed that will point others to God. In fact, this way of getting attention is not about you at all, but totally about God drawing others to Himself through you. When it happens, you rarely know it. God just radiates His goodness from within you.

I experienced this firsthand when I met my friend Suzie at the walking track. Having not seen each other for years, we decided to meet up for exercise and chatter. Suzie and I had taught school together and served as musicians in a former church. We were Christian sisters moving along in our earthly callings. While it was great reconnecting with my friend, it was greater than ever seeing what Jesus was doing in her!

As we talked that day, I was stunned by His presence. The Suzie I had known, always beautiful and charming – was now radiant in a new way. There was nothing wrong with the former Suzie that I knew of, but the new Suzie was so touched and transformed that she seemed to be a different person. By her own admission, she had fallen in love with Jesus, selling out to Him and allowing Him to replace “her hardness” with His gentleness, “her cynicism” with His joy.

Listen friend; if you want to spread God’s glory to family and friends, you can do it – by spending more time with Him. When my boys were young, they helped me make sure I spent plenty of time alone with God. They discovered that after being with Him, I was more patient, kind, and understanding. What was good for me was also good for my family, you see.

Time spent with Jesus erases the “hardness” of guilt, shame and worry. Time with Him softens your words and calms your interaction with others. He replaces the rough places in your personality with the gentle authority of His presence.

And . . . something happens in your face. I do not fully understand it, but I have seen it, and I know it to be true. God’s glory is the best face-lift ever!

Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.

(Psalm 34:5 HCSB)

 

THE WAY HE LOVES

Ezra is smitten with his sister, Sadie.

The love fascination began the day she was born a year ago, and has never diminished, nor grown stale – not even for a moment.

Everyday, Ezra’s agenda includes Sadie things. Although he has a busy day of five-year old boy activities, he always finds a way to make time with her a priority. He enjoys making her giggle and encouraging her as she learns to walk and talk.

Recently before going to bed, he snagged his pillow, blanket, and favorite stuffed animals. This little guy was on a mission to nestle down for the night beside his baby sister’s crib.

The word to the rest of the family as he crept into her room that night was . . .

I want to be the first person she sees when she wakes up in the morning.

Thanks God, for giving us modern day parables. This one is all about how The Father loves His child.

His love fascination began way before you were born, and has never diminished, nor grown stale – not even for a moment. His God-Agenda, though full, always includes you. He enjoys delighting your heart and filling your mind with encouragement as you learn to walk and talk with Him.

And yes . . . He longs to be The First One you see when you awaken each morning.

My Friend, this is what EASTER is all about. God loving us so much that He sent His Son to be the Ultimate and Finale Sacrifice for our sin that keeps us separated from Him. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has opened the way for us to live in relationship with God, as His child. There’s no greater way He can love us.

And, there’s no greater way you can love Him, than to accept His Love.

Oh Heavenly Father, will You open my eyes to see how much You love me? Will You help me get over my short-sighted self of “me things” and show me how to rest in Your love this day. There’s nothing more empowering, freeing, and overwhelming than to know Your love! Thank You for loving me with Jesus. Loving You back, Me – Your child.

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

 

All Done Trying

My son and grand-children were visiting last week. One morning as I was putting away dishes and Brandon was working on a project at the kitchen table, grandson Charlie was caught up in a mad frenzy trying to snag something off the top of the fridge.

With the height of a six-year old, he just couldn’t quite master the challenge. I watched amused, as he jumped as high as he could, threw a towel, and swished a broom – trying to capture his prize. Finally in exasperation he said . . .

Daddy can you tell me how to figure this out?

The response to Charlie . . .

Well, you can go get that stool . . . or you can just ask your daddy for help.

-   -   -   -   -   -   -

DROP THE DISHES!   You see, I’m always looking for spiritual lessons in the middle of practical living. And this one shouted so loudly, it caught me off guard.

How many times do I work myself into a frenzy trying to . . . figure, reason, explain, justify, solve, fix, worry it through, and make things right? Trying as hard as I can – never lands me anywhere except in a tizzy of exhaustion and discouragement. I eventually come around, but why does it continue to take me so long to ask my Daddy for help?

There are some “things on top of my fridge” right now; some things I’m desperately trying to figure out and fix. I’ve jumped as high as I can, thrown the towel, and swished the broom. My Father in all His compassion, has allowed me to try to do it myself. He’s watched in love (for He knows my heart), as I’ve taken hold of my inner resources trying to resolve the situations that are keeping me agitated.

 And still . . .

He allows me to either go get the stool or ask Him for help. That’s His way, you see. He never forces me to take what is available to me, His child. He allows ME to make the choice, and when I choose HIM, He rushes to help!

Well I’m done with trying. I’ve decided to skip that “get the stool” step, and go straight to my Father, Who alone is the Answer to the agitations I’m experiencing. And now as I make that choice, I’m experiencing His Peace.  I don’t know how He’ll answer – but I know He will!

 . . .But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.

(God’s words to Paul & to us – 2 Corinthians 12:9 TLB)

LISTEN FOR GOD'S VOICE

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

I went to bed last night with this verse on my lips and in my head. Truth is, I’ve considered this promise from God many times during the past weeks. There’s a particular decision I’m poised to make, but I’m not hearing the GO AHEAD from my Father. Last night in that semi-conscious place between wake and sleep, I realized something significant. Each time I rolled over, I said . . .

I’m turning to the right, and I’m peaceful. I’m turning to the left, and I’m peaceful.

Now I don’t know how many times I shifted and turned during the night. I also don’t know if I spoke the words aloud, but they certainly shouted loud inside my heart.

But God had more . .

Later in the morning I got His message loud and clear!

You haven’t heard my voice yet because it is not yet time to make the decision. When that time comes you’ll clearly hear . . . This is the way; walk in it.

I smiled with a burden lifted. My part is to be still and peaceful. When the time comes to move, He’ll speak and I WILL hear His voice.

FAITH THAT AMAZES

I love reading words spoken by Jesus. For me, it’s a worship experience, imagining being there in His earthly presence and hearing Him speak. I often think about watching His expressions and body language as He interacted with those around Him. Oh, how I would have loved standing close to the physical Jesus and hearing The Voice that certainly spoke with such gentle authority.

Matthew 8 records an encounter between Jesus and an officer in the Roman army. Jesus had been on the mountain teaching. As He came down, crowds began to follow Him. Probably anyone in the crowd that day was surprised as the centurion (who was also Gentile) approached Jesus. While others surely considered him unworthy, Jesus responded with compassion.

Have YOU ever felt unworthy to approach Jesus? Unworthy because of incompetence, faithlessness, or sin? I have. And I’m humbly thankful to know that the compassion of Jesus is not reserved for a select few, but for everyone – even me. The HOPE He gives is based on His Worthiness, not ours.

Try to capture the scene unfolding as you read the following passage.

Now when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”

(Matthew 8:5-10 NKJV)

When Jesus heard it, He marveled. Some other translations say, He was amazed.

I long to have the kind of faith that amazes God.

In fact, I’m becoming more and more caught up in that longing. I trust Him, and I want Him to know it! Even though I have a particular answer in mind, I want Him to marvel when I faithfully trust His response – even before I know what it is.

And, I’m noticing that the longing to please Him is - gradually - surpassing the longing to have my prayer answered my way . . .

Wow, how did He do that!?

For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ which ascends to God . . . (2 Corinthians 2:15 AMP)

Together In Faith,